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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Did You Notice? What the Doctrine and Covenants Tells Us About the Earliest Text of the Book of Mormon

Introduction and Overview

For those of us puzzled over the fascinating and fairly strong occurrence (so it seems, tentatively) of Early Modern English (EModE) in the Book of Mormon, the way it got there is a subject of debate and speculation. One hypothesis is that Joseph's natural dialect (New England?) coupled with his attempt to sound scriptural, imitating archaic forms in the KJV, might have produced the results we see. The challenge is that the KJV doesn't provide the knowledge he would need to do much of what he did in dictating the Book of Mormon text with so many EModE elements. Did his natural speech provide the rest? It's hard to say, but one suggestion has been to compare his original form of the Doctrine and Covenants, the 1835 version, for clues. So here are my initial observations.

Using the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (available online at Josephsmithpapers.org), I have considered how the word did was used in light of Stanford Carmack's article, "The Implications of Past-Tense Syntax in the Book of Mormon," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 14 (2015).

My hypothesis before I dug into the text was that Joseph, whether he was a prophet or a fraud, would likely have maintained many subtle aspects of the linguistic fingerprint of the Book of Mormon that he translated/authored, so I would not expect the two texts to be extremely different. For us believers in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, we may hypothesize that Joseph's dictation of the Book of Mormon text was largely a reflection of his own language and dialect, coupled with KJV language, or we might hypothesize that there was often tight control of the dictated text and that the language he uttered to his scribes was largely given by inspiration. Either way, I would expect the scriptural language of the Doctrine and Covenants to preserve some Book of Mormon elements, probably including some of the subtle ones with EModE flavor, though I would also expect the EModE influence to be somewhat weaker. If it suddenly became much stronger as modern scripture was generated, that would be a surprise. If it was nearly as strong, perhaps that would suggest that it was still his natural language with surprising EMoDE remnants or that the language of revelation was, for Joseph at least, somehow "dialed in" to an EModE-heavy dialect.

If a significant part of the EModE in the Book of Mormon was largely foreign to Joseph's language and seemingly the result of a puzzling miraculous transmission of translated text somewhat predating KJV language, as Carmack and Skousen argue, then I would expect that he surely would have learned from his dictation and subsequent study of the text, and would have naturally applied similar conventions and style to some degree, but to a lesser degree, as he penned the Doctrine and Covenants or even as he gave religious lectures. Again, I'd expect the EModE to be toned down somewhat.

My surprise is just how different the Book of Mormon is from the Doctrine and Covenants. Though the language of the Doctrine and Covenants has a KJV feel, the subtle things that reveal EModE influence in the Book of Mormon are much different in the Doctrine and Covenants (based on my brief explorations so far). It's as if the EModE signal has been almost wiped out. It's that way when I look at the subtle use of did to express past events. It's that way when I look at characteristic non-KJV phrases with EModE flavor like "if it so be." The Doctrine and Covenants has a touch of those things, but just a touch. A surprisingly light touch that points to something really remarkable taking place in the language of the Book of Mormon, something that appears to be surprisingly independent of Joseph's personal writing style.

These are tentative observations that will require further study. Maybe I'm missing a lot. But I think when it comes to the language of the Book of Mormon, we've all been missing a lot for a long time. There's an fascinating story waiting to be revealed. It may not be what we are expecting nor what we are comfortable with. But I'm anxious to see where it will lead in the end. The Book of Mormon invites, even demands scrutiny. It's time we dig in more.

Background

By way of background, Carmack examines the Book of Mormon's heavy use of did in ways that are archaic for modern English. What's interesting is that the way did is used in the Book of Mormon was already somewhat archaic when the KJV text was prepared, but statistically fits well with its usage in the mid to late 1500s. Carmack looks at a particular form of did, the affirmative declaratory periphrastic did ("ADP did"), in which an affirmative sentence expresses the past tense by using did plus a verb, as in "Moroni did arrive with his army." ADP usage is not intended to be emphatic ("actually, I must confess that I did eat that donut") nor is it used in questions ("Did you eat it?" is not ADP).

ADP did has several variants. Did can be adjacent the verb (that's adjacency) or separated by one or more words (ellipsis). It can occur in inverted order with the subject after did (inversion, e.g., "thus did Alma and Amulek go forth"). It can also have an adverb or an adverbial phrase between did and the infinitive (intervening adverbial use, as in "I Nephi did again with my brethren go forth into the wilderness").

The KJV definitely has ADP did, perhaps most famously in Genesis 3:6:
[Eve] took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
For critics not willing to read and consider the analysis of Carmack, that one bite of ADP did is all that's needed to demonstrate how Joseph crafted past tense in the Book of Mormon. He just glommed onto Genesis 3:6 and used that pattern over and over. In fact, he way overdid did, just like he overdid "and it came to pass." But just as subsequent analysis of the Book of Mormon annoying abundance of "and it came to pass" actually points to long-missed strengths in the text and authentic aspects of this usage that go beyond merely imitating the sparser use in the KJV (see Brant Gardner, "Does 'And it came to pass' Come to Pass Too Often?", Meridian Magazine, July 2004; see also a relevant article FairMormon.org), so also Joseph's seemingly clunky and annoying overuse of did points to something more sophisticated than mindless overuse of an infrequent KJV artifact.

What's interesting is how widely the KJV text differs from the Book of Mormon in how did is used. Of the 6,797 past tense counts Carmack has found in the Book of Mormon, there are 4,951 occurrences of simple past tense and 1,846 occurrences of ADP did, giving a gargantuan ADP did rate of 27.2%. In the Bible, with only 515 occurrences of ADP did and nearly 30,000 cases of simple past tense, the ADP did is a meager 1.7%.

The differences go beyond just the magnitude of ADP did occurrences, but also in how they are broken down among variants, as shown in Table 1 from Carmack's article.

When it comes to did and especially ADP did, the KJV text has quite a different flavor than the Book of Mormon.

Alvar Ellegård, a non-LDS scholar who dug into ADP did and its history in English, has shown that ADP did usage had a sharp peak in the mid-to-late 1500s, reaching an average rate of nearly 10%, while it was only around 2% in the 1520s when Tyndale's Bible came out that heavily influenced the KJV text. When the KJV Bible was published, ADP did was plummeting sharply again, being around 3%, and would continue to taper off. Today we rarely use it.

From documents such as the Salem Witch Trials, we can see that ADP did persisted at relatively high level in New England speech into the 17th century, but not as high as during the peak era of EModE. After the 18th century, ADP did does not appear at high rates in a sustained way as it does in the Book of Mormon, based on Carmack's searching so far: "Sustained high-rate use of ADP did has been found so far only in 16c and 17c texts. A good measure of this use seems to be past-tense expression consisting of at least 20% adjacency usage. The BofM has these high levels of use."

The ties to EModE extend beyond the high overall rates alone. Statistics for adjacency, inversion, and intervening adverbial use also show rates consistent with EModE texts and removed from modern English and from other texts of Joseph's day, including texts seeking to imitate KJV language.

The Bible use of ADP did is lopsided in the verbs it is applied to. Over 115 of its 500 counts (over 20%) involve "did(st) eat", as in Genesis 3. In the Book of Mormon, the most common verb used in ADP did is go, with only 54 counts, less than 3%, pointing to a more relatively more uniform distribution. Analysis of ADP did with individual verbs also shows fairly good correspondences with EModE texts. For example, the Book of Mormon avoids "did die," always using the simple past tense instead--a feature consistent with other early EModE texts. Analysis of other verbs gives mixed results, but generally consistent with EModE usage.

During the brief era of high ADP did usage in English, some religious texts had rates as high as 51%, even higher than what we have in the Book of Mormon. But did New England dialect maintain high ADP did rates? Carmack notes that evidence from the Salem Witch Trials points to rates as high as 3% among some New Englanders in the 1690s, when the rate in England was generally even lower. But this elevated rate in New England dialect doesn't come close to accounting for the high rates in the Book of Mormon. ADP did rates were on the decline after the 1690s, and the low rate (1.7%) in the KJV Bible would be expected to exert a leveling effect on any dialects with high rates. As further evidence of how New Englanders used ADP did in Joseph's day, Ethan Smith's scant use of it in View of the Hebrews provides further evidence that the Book of Mormon's verbiage is not a product of Joseph's environment, an issue Carmack explores at length in his article. Others who wrote text with imitations of KJV language do not replicate these high rates of ADP did. High ADP did is a surprising and unexpected feature of the Book of Mormon's dictated text.

Ellegård, the scholar who did the groundwork of analysis of ADP did in English, notes that it was heavily favored by preachers and other elites in English speaking society. Carmack builds on this to offer a possible reason for its preference in the translated Book of Mormon text:

[The ADP did form] may have been chosen to adopt a plain syntax that is more than appropriate for a formal religious text in light of its historical development. (The plainness of the syntax follows from its use of unmarked infinitival stems along with high frequency did and didst, as well as usage such as they did beat which is unambiguously past tense, as opposed to opaque they beat.)

So ADP did may have served a useful role in creating a plain and simple but distinctly scriptural text. Whatever the reason, the data point to something interesting going on, something beyond a clumsy imitation of what Joseph might have seen in Genesis 3. But was this all just an accident, just his language, his style of writing when he was trying to sound scriptural? Further tests might be helpful.

Exploration of the occurrence of the word did in the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants

In searching the nearly 300 pages of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, including the Lectures on Faith, I was quite surprised to find that the word did was not used much at all. It occurs just 72 times. It occurs nearly 2000 times in the Earliest Text of the Book of Mormon. This is a dramatic difference before we even consider the subtlety of ADP did.

Most of the 72 occurrences interrogatory or negatives. Many are buried in one section with a series of rather boring questions and answers taken from Genesis ("Q. In what year did Seth die? … Q. In what year did Enos die? … Q. In what year did Cainan die? etc. etc."). As for ADP did, there are only around 11 cases, depending on how you count them, two of which come from simply quoting Genesis 3. So out of hundreds of past tense statements from Joseph in this volume, less than 10 are in ADP form. It's a rate consistent with modern English and wildly unlike the Book of Mormon text, even though large parts of the document are in KJV-style English, laced with "thee" and "thou," the obvious stuff in KJV language, but quite devoid of the subtlety of ADP did.

Here are the 9 relevant passages (I've excluded the two occurrences quoted from Genesis 3):
  1. For instance, Abel, before he received the assurance from heaven that his offerings were acceptable unto God, had received the important information of his father, that such a being did exist, who had created, and who did uphold all things.
  2. Neither can there be a doubt existing on the mind of any person, that Adam was the first who did communicate the knowledge of the existence of a God, to his posterity; and that the whole faith of the world, from that time down to the present, is in a certain degree, dependent on the knowledge first communicated to them by their common progenitor; and it has been handed down to the day and generation in which we live, as we shall show from the face of the sacred records.
  3. We have now shown how it was that the first thought ever existed in the mind of any individual, that there was such a being as a God, who had created and did uphold all things: that it was by reason of the manifestation which he first made to our father Adam, when he stood in his presence, and conversed with him face to face, at the time of his creation.
  4. Behold thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me, and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things, that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth; yea
  5. But behold I say unto you, that I the Lord God gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I the Lord God should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine only begotten Son: and thus did I the Lord God appoint unto man the days of his probation;
  6. Thou didst baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost; but now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water, and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old.
  7. Behold I say unto you, my son, that because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me and did commence again to write for my servant Joseph Smith, jr…
  8. Now this is not all, their faith in their prayers were, that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land; and thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel, in this land, might have eternal life; yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people, they may be.
  9. ...and I have trampled them in my fury, and I did tread upon them in mine anger, and their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments, and stained all my raiment: for this was the day of vengeance which was in my heart.
What about other writings of Joseph Smith? Consider the famous Wentworth Letter penned by Joseph in 1842. It uses did once, and it's not an ADP instance but an ordinary negative usage:
But in the summer of 1836 these threatenings began to assume a more serious form, from threats, public meetings were called, resolutions were passed, vengeance and destruction were threatened, and affairs again assumed a fearful attitude, Jackson county was a sufficient precedent, and as the authorities in that county did not interfere they boasted that they would not in this; which on application to the authorities we found to be too true, and after much privation and loss of property, we were again driven from our homes.
Doesn't sound anything like the Book of Mormon, of course.

Incidentally, I also searched for the EModE phrase "if it so be" that is often used in the Book of Mormon. It does occur in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, but only 3 times. The word if occurs about 800 times, compared to 656 times in the Book of Mormon, which has dozens of "if it so be" examples. The Doctrine and Covenants does use "if it be" 10 times.

Next up: the command syntax of the Doctrine and Covenants. Since it began as the Book of Commandments, there ought to be some good command syntax there, and perhaps plenty of cases similar to the Book of Mormon. Need more time to look at that issue, I hope it will be interesting.

So far I'm not seeing easy-to-find evidence that Joseph's inherent language coupled with Bible imitation could account for the subtle use of ADP did in the Book of Mormon text. Something else must be going on.

13 comments:

everythingbeforeus said...

Okay, so we have some evidence that the origins of the Book of Mormon and the D&C are not the same. From a faithful perspective, this is promising. But you have to realize that most people would see this and say, "Looks like someone else wrote the Book of Mormon, then."

For this theory to even help your case, it must first be agreed upon that Joseph Smith wasn't lying when he said he translated it by the power and gift of God. But the people you are trying to convince reject that claim outright. What you are engaging in is apologetics only for the believers!

Some of the non-believers have been trying to tell you all along that Joseph Smith didn't produce that book! And look! While you are providing evidence to help the case of faith, at the same time you are finding evidence to support the opposing view. What a strange new era of apologetics!

Ryan said...

That would be a pretty easy hypothesis to address. Take a look at ADP did, command syntax, etc in View of the Hebrews, Solomon Spaulding's stuff and so on. Care to take that on, ETOB?

Ryan said...

...and of course by ETOB I mean ETBU. Not sure where that came from. Oops.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I follow everythingbeforeus 's logic. The faithful position has always been that Joseph Smith was not the author of the Book of Mormon; rather that he translated a preexisting text. Why on earth would we faithful be upset that the evidence shows Joseph Smith was not the author of the Book of Mormon?

See, here's the thing: Once you concede that Joseph Smith didn't write the Book of Mormon, the question becomes: who did? The canonical answer is that it was a collection of writings of ancient prophets, prominently the man Mormon.

But you who claim it was a fraud have a problem: if it wasn't Mormon, and it wasn't Joseph, then who? The only names I've ever heard suggested are Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spaulding. These two names require more faith to believe they wrote it than the story Joseph has advanced. Rigdon didn't know Joseph Smith at all until after Parley P. Pratt stopped off one day with an already completed copy of the Book of Mormon (he was a Campbellite preacher). Unless you advocate time travel in the early 1800's, there's no way Sidney Rigdon was involved at all. And as for Solomon Spaulding: nothing indicates that he would have been able to write a sophisticated work such as the Book of Mormon any more than Joseph Smith could have. Oliver Cowdery? Again, the Book of Mormon was already being translated when he showed up on the scene; how could he write it?

Widening the field, who in the 1800's anywhere could have written an early modern english text of any substantial size? Today, even, could someone pull it off? Maybe, if that's all they focused on. But then to weave all the Hebraic stuff into an early modern english text? And make it doctrinally coherent, etc? Could we do it today, even?

But assuming that somehow, someone was brilliant and sophisticated enough to do this--why pick a farm boy from New York to be the pretended prophet? And how do you propose to convince said person to die for this agreement you've come up with? Let alone producing witnesses and angels that you introduce to others.

The story that emerges if you assume it is all a fraud is even more unbelievable than the "straight" version as told by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Everything, frankly, your words hit be right between the eyes and made me realize I've been missing something obvious. I've actually been wasting my time in explaining why things like chiasmus, the Arabian Peninsula, the use of gold plates and stone boxes, etc., all were beyond Joseph Smith's knowledge bank and skill set, for simply examining the earliest text itself cries out with an obvious fact: Joseph wasn't the author. I guess I have to admit you're right and recognize that this is something so clear that critics and believers really must agree. The text couldn't possibly have been his creation, something that is abundantly clear from what we learn from Skousen's painstaking, lifetime project of bringing together the Earliest Text with all the scholarship and detail required to understand every verse.

I should have realized this immediately when I first mentioned the issue of the Amlicites of the Book of Mormon. We can see that through Oliver Cowdery's handwriting problems, the Amlicites, a name properly spelled out by Joseph when first given, was later misspelled as Amaleckites by Oliver, and then Amalekites, and these errors stuck, for reasons explained in a fascinating discussion (with photos of the original manuscript and printer's manuscript): Alma's Enemies: The Case of the Lamanites, Amlicites, and Mysterious Amalekites by J. Christopher Conkling. Those errors from Oliver and the printer (see the article) were not noticed by Joseph or Oliver and have now been corrected in Skousen's The Earliest Text, so that Alma 21:2 for example has Amlicites instead of Amalekites. What the correction does it restore to the text to its original state that has much more textual unity than what Joseph published. In other words, it should be obvious that the original text of the Book of Mormon is smarter than Joseph was. Joseph, of course, was not the author.

Now the challenge is this: Who was the author? And whoever it was, it's clear that Joseph wasn't just reading someone else's text while he was looking in a hat, concentrating on his seer stone. We don't know what was in his mind, but we're pretty sure what wasn't in his hat, unless he had an Ipad in there.

Even if we overlook the obvious oral dictation that went on in creating the original manuscript and assume that Joseph just had someone else's manuscript that he handed to a printer, the question is who could have done that? Someone with advanced EModE skills, familiar with the geography of the Arabian Peninsula, steeped in Biblical lore and poetry, capable of crafting Hebraic poetry and word plays -- the C.V. of this guy, if some mortal from Joseph's day, had to be pretty impressive, and we would expect that such a scholar had already published quite a lot. So finding the smoking gun ought to be an easy task now. It ain't Ethan Smith, Spaulding, Rigdon, Cowdery, or Charles Anthon. So who? The chase is on!

In any case, thanks for your clear statement and recognition of an important fact that jumps out from the text: Joseph was not the author. Agreed!

Anonymous said...

I don't think we'll ever know for sure who wrote the BoM. Without actual ancient manuscripts to study we're left to rely solely on what Smith and his witnesses tell us. From the beginning the story concerning the translation process has been muddled between the reading of gold plates with urim and thummin to words appearing in a hat. Was it one or the other? Was it both? Who knows?
Can we trust the witnesses testimony? They are unanimous that Smith had no papers or books during the translation process, but due to the inexplicable KJV errors and italicized words found in the BoM, (which Jeff will admit to) there is evidence Smith copied from the KJV Bible. Did the witnesses lie? Did they just forget to mention it? We'll never know.
But If Smith and the witnesses withheld, distorted, forgot, or lied about the use of a bible, couldn't the same said about any other details of the BoM?


Orbiting Kolob said...

Jeff, your analysis is wooden and mechanical -- and not at all persuasive. Consider this part of your post:

The KJV definitely has ADP did, perhaps most famously in Genesis 3:6:

"[Eve] took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."

For critics not willing to read and consider the analysis of Carmack, that one bit of ADP did is all that's needed to demonstrate how Joseph crafted past tense in the Book of Mormon. He just glommed onto Genesis 3:6 and used that pattern over and over. In fact, he way overdid did, just like he overdid "and it came to pass.".... Joseph's seemingly clunky and annoying overuse of did points to something more sophisticated tha[n] mindless overuse of an infrequent KJV artifact.


"One bit of ADP did"?

How can you expect people to take you seriously when you say such things?

Look. The construction did eat is not appearing just anywhere in the Bible. It's occuring four times, very close together, when Adam and Eve "did eat" of the forbidden fruit -- that is, at the very moment of the fall.

It's appearing not in some obscure, rarely read section, but in one of the most frequently read and referenced and remembered passages of the whole book, perhaps the single most read and referenced and remembered passage in the OT.

For you to call this "an infrequent KJV artifact" is pretty silly.

Shakespeare's phrase To be or not to be occurs only once in his writings, but we all remember it.

If someone used that phrase in their own writing, would we not suspect that they'd lifted it from Hamlet? If they used it more than once, would that lead us to say, "Oh, gee, I guess they didn't lift it from Hamlet after, because they use it so much more frequently than Hamlet does"?

But, but, but ... it's an infrequent Shakespearean artifact!

It's just one bit....

I mean, c'mon, Jeff.

By itself, comparing frequencies of use between Biblical did and Smithian did is pointless. (Ditto for And it came to pass.) The question is not whether Smith imitated the KJV style so slavishly as to reproduce those frequencies. The question is whether he had such phrases available to him in his linguistic environment.

He did. You've admitted it. This avenue of exploration is closed.

Anonymous said...

That issue is addressed directly in the did paper. As you must know, Orbiting, since you consider evidence carefully before asserting your views strongly, the Book of Mormon matches 16th-century ADP did on multiple levels: overall rate, distribution of adjacency, inversion, and intervening adverbial use, as well as individual verb correlation. It is highly unlikely that anyone could match 16th-century ADP did in the early 19th century. No one knew the rate range nor the distro nor which verbs had favored the use and which ones had not. And that is shown because no one ever did it, except for Joseph Smith, who specifically said that he wasn't responsible in the usual way for the words of the book. No nonspecialist knew in the 19th century about the unique use of the 16th century. By the 17th century distributions changed and it became a more stylized use. By the 18th century it was gone. In fact, no one knew the details till Ellegard 1953.

Since heavy ADP did is so apparent from the KJV and one verb, "did eat", then please enlighten us, Orbiting, as to why no pseudo-biblical text has the heavy use. Also, please enlighten us as to why no text for 150 years till the Book of Mormon had 16th-century ADP did. According to your view, since most authors knew Genesis language fairly well during the 18th century and early 19th century, any number of authors could have generated 16th-century ADP did in their writings from their reading of Genesis.

The most likely reason is that every author has simply viewed "did eat" as an anomaly, a quirk of old biblical language, just the way you did till you learned about ADP did. Readers don't know why there's a lot of "did eat". In isolation, it tells us nothing specific about 16th-century ADP did.

Orbiting Kolob said...

It is highly unlikely that anyone could match 16th-century ADP did in the early 19th century. No one knew the rate range nor the distro nor which verbs had favored the use and which ones had not. And that is shown because no one ever did it, except for Joseph Smith....

Oh, really. "That is shown because no one ever did it, except for Joseph Smith"?

And why in the world would anyone else even try to do it? No one else ever produced a 500+ page book using the biblical style to blend 19th-century theories of Indian origins with Protestant theological disputation, a magical worldview, and anxieties about the Morgan affair. But all that really shows is that no one else shared Joseph Smith's peculiarities of imagination, desire, and situation.

Why would Joseph Smith, or whatever divine spirit was supposedly guiding his translation, want to do it?

Among the many ludicrous things characterizing this entire ludicrous line of linguistical argument is a certain deformation of the "Joseph could not have done it himself" line.

The original, and at least potentially sensible, apologetic line was that the BoM must be inspired because it contains features that could not have been produced by either Smith or anyone else in his 19th-century circle.

Implicit in that line of reasoning, though never AFAIK stated explicit, was that the "things no modern writer could written" were also "things that make sense in relation to the BoM."

Consider the argument that Joseph had no way of knowing there was a place in southern Arabia denoted NHM, ergo he could not have written the Nahom passage in the BoM. I find this argument weak in any number of ways that have been hashed out elsewhere, but it least it has the advantage of centering on "something Joseph couldn't have known" that is also "something that makes sense in relation to the BoM."

I would say the same thing about the chiasmus argument. It's a pitifully weak, but at least the presence of chiasmus is something that would make sense in an ancient text written by ancient Jews.

But what has now happened in the wacky world of BoM apologetics is that "Joseph couldn't have done it" arguments are being built around things that have no natural relationship to the BoM whatsoever. I mean, really -- from the orthodox LDS perspective, there's absolutely nothing about the BoM, in terms of its themes, its initial writing in ancient America, its transmission, or its translation, that would naturally or logically lead one to expect it to contain snippets of EModE.

This total disconnect itself -- the sheer oddness of it -- would lead any unbiased observer to suspect it of being some sort of artifact of a flawed methodology. But because EModE is "something that Joseph couldn't have known," the apologist's response has not been to look more closely at the methodology (by seeking outside, unbiased help in the form of peer review). Instead, the apologist's response has been to crow about "Yet another eveidence for the Book of Mormon! Yay! Hah, all you doubters: are you so stupid as to think Joseph Smith knew EModE?"

Anyway, no peer review, no respect. Period.

P.S. Carmack, if you're reading this, let me remind you that you know perfectly well that without peer review you cannot responsibly claim to have discovered EModE in the Book of Mormon at all. And you know perfectly well what your secular linguist colleagues would think of your apologetics work, namely, that it's garbage. Jeff Lindsay and Dan Peterson and the rest will applaud you, but that just makes you a big fish in a very, very small pond.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but it's true. As the recent purge indicates, even the board of the Maxwell Institute sees the truth of it.

No peer review, no respect.

Anonymous said...

Orbiting Kolob: with all due respect, your demand for peer review is a copout, and you know it. For one simple reason: politics. Let's say that Carmack or whomever puts together irrefutable proof and writes a stellar paper in all respects, conclusively showing the presence beyond any doubt that EModE is rampant in the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith did not write EModE anywhere else.

No question on the technical merits of the paper. It wouldn't be published in any peer review journal at all, even if every expert who reviewed it said it was correct. Why?
Politics. No so-called scientific journal will ever publish anything that says the Book of Mormon might be true. Because if they did, the question immediately becomes "Why haven't you been baptized then?" Even if the Angel Moroni showed up in person to the entire Peer Review board, the journal wouldn't publish anything in favor of the Book of Mormon, because in today's world the commandment is: Science cannot support religion and the existence of God, and anything that hints at that must be suppressed.

You know that as well as I do. Thus, your demand for peer review and publication is an impossible demand. And more to the point, it is meant to be an impossible demand! It's your "gotcha!" moment. Carmack will never get an article published about EModE, simply because no journal would ever publish it--because of politics and bias against religion, not because of the actual science.

So your demand for peer review is meant to be a "Ha ha, you cannot prove it!" even though we all know that it's people like you on the boards that refuse to countenance anything that might support the existence of God. What you are demanding is that the Soviet Politburo approve an article that says Marx was wrong and Washington and Lincoln were right. It won't happen, but not because of anything resembling a search for truth. So why don't you address the merits, instead of making impossible political demands? The truth does not require peer review, simple as that.

everythingbeforeus said...

Anon810,

"No so-called scientific journal will ever publish anything that says the Book of Mormon might be true. Because if they did, the question immediately becomes "Why haven't you been baptized then?" Even if the Angel Moroni showed up in person to the entire Peer Review board, the journal wouldn't publish anything in favor of the Book of Mormon, because in today's world the commandment is: Science cannot support religion and the existence of God, and anything that hints at that must be suppressed."

Carmack wouldn't be submitting a paper for peer review that says the Book of Mormon is true, just like no linguist studying Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream would be submitting a paper saying that that is a true story. Carmack would be submitting a paper that only states that EModE shows up in the Book of Mormon.

It wouldn't be a paper in favor of the Book of Mormon or not in favor. It would simply be an objective reporting of the findings of his research.

But see, Carmack has yet to really even engage in this kind of objective research. He is using this research and posting his finding on apologetics websites probably because he is more interested in the open support and acclaim his work is going to receive from that crowd, as opposed to an academic crowd.

I agree that academia would be somewhat reluctant to take up anything supporting the claims of the Book of Mormon. But I think there is sufficient interest in Mormon Studies now in academia that Carmack's research could be presented in a way that would make academia take note.

He could at least try. Right?

Orbiting Kolob said...

You're wrong, Anon 8:10. You're wrong in at least two ways.

First, I'm not asking Carmack to submit a paper about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I'm asking only for a paper about the presence of EModE. Such a paper could bracket the question of religion completely -- e.g., when it comes to discussing possible explanations for the purported EModE, Carmack could stick to natural possibilities (e.g., Smith's dialect, his reading, and other aspects of his linguistic environment). It can be done. Terryl Givens and Richard Bushman have already demonstrated how.

Second, Carmack should welcome peer review because it might provide him with expert feedback that he actually finds valuable and helpful. Even if his article were rejected, it might turn out that he agrees with the reviewers' explanation of why it was rejected. I mean, surely you will admit that Carmack is not perfect, that he might have made a mistake or two, no?

My own motivations here are ultimately irrelevant. If Carmack and Jeff are really concerned with the truth, then they should welcome peer review for the feedback alone, even if the end result is not secular publication and validation. Jeff himself has just said "If [it turns out that] EModE is a fluke, that's fine. I'm interesting in finding out." Peer review would be a crucial step in finding out. So why not seek it?

Anonymous said...

.... Reading orbiting kolob screed after every post is a highlight of mine. His certainty at the begining of what was in JS mind really passes his test of "peer reviewed."