Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Many Great New Resources at LDS.org and on the LDS Gospel Library App

I am impressed with how rapidly the Church has moved in the past couple of years to make more information readily available to its members and the public. Have you explored the new features on the LDS Gospel Library app and at LDS.org?

In the Church History section of the LDS Gospel Library, you will find the Gospel Topics Essays that take on some of the toughest or most controversial issues in Mormonism, the various accounts Joseph Smith gave of the First Vision, the new book, Daughters in My Kingdom about the history of the Relief Society, details on the lives and teachings of the prophets, some basic books and manuals related to Church history (including the Church History Study Guide for this year's Gospel Doctrine course), and a valuable new resource written by authors whose names are listed, Revelations in Context, giving historical information related to each of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. This is a significant departure from standard manuals prepared by committees that allows individual historians to share their work. I presume that this may have a positive effect on the quality of the scholarship and writing.

A few examples include Jed Woodworth's "The Messenger and the Manifesto" (pertaining to Official Declaration 1 ending polygamy) in Revelations in Context, the Gospel Topics essay, "Race and the Priesthood" (I'll also mention the essay on the Book of Abraham since it's relevant to some recent posts here), and the essay on the First Vision accounts of Joseph Smith, complete with links to the Joseph Smith Papers material where you can see the actual documents and read the transcript. A wealth of resources awaits you. Kudos to the many programmers, researchers, writers, editors, and others who have worked so hard to make all this possible.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for these links. I wasn't aware that the Church had made available so many resources. I came across something interesting in the first five minutes of perusal. They had a link to the Joseph Smith papers, specifically the known accounts of the first vision. There is only one of these accounts which was written by Joseph himself (see at http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/1). I was struck by how similar his language is in his account of the vision to the language and imagery of the Book of Mormon. It seems like the linguistic professors who are trying to make lame attempts to discover Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon, could instead be exploring these similarities in usage and establish a singular authorship between the two. A short exploration of both revealed some interesting similarities.

First, I noticed that the language and style of the introduction of the vision transcript is extremely similar to the translated cover page of the Book of Mormon. Note the run-on, almost stream of consciosness style:

Vision Transcript

A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought forth and established by his hand he receiving the testamony from on high seccondly the min istering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of— Aangels to adminster the letter of the Law <—the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—> and in ordinencs, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God pow er and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstra tion of the spirit
the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c——

Cover page of BoM

An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi
Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Next, I saw phraseology that was very Book of Mormon-ish and did some searching. Here's what I found:

Phrase "Great and Marvelous" appears in his First Vision Manuscript in a paragraph that sounds like it could be an excerpt from the BoM (more examples of this phenomenon later). "Great and Marvelous" appears twice in the Bible, both times in the book of Revelation. It appears 25 times in the BoM, and 7 in the D&C.

The phrase "from all eternity to eternity" shows up in the First Vision Manuscript. It shows up zero times in the Bible, 3 times in the BoM, 2 in the D&C, and 3 times in the book of Moses alone (to be fair, it is “from all eternity to all eternity” in these books).

Another favorite phrase which appears in the First Vision Manuscript is “suffered many persicutions and afflictions,” which, to me, is a Book of Mormon phrase. Indeed the phrase (minus the persecutions part) appears twice in the Bible, 19 times in the BoM, and 2 times in the D&C. By way of full disclosure, this search yielded different versions the phraseology, including “suffered much affliction,” “suffered many afflictions,” & “suffered afflictions.” There were also a couple that weren’t in the exact “suffer . . . afflictions” word order but the words “suffer” and “affliction” were clearly used together.

The last two are a little less convincing, but interesting to note. The First Vision Manuscript contains the phrase “therefore I cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul.” This agony of soul concept is interesting. I got no hits for this word combo from the Bible, but one hit from the BoM: Helaman 7:6 Now this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites, in the space of not many years; and when Nephi saw it, his heart was swollen with sorrow within his breast; and he did exclaim in the agony of his soul. I also searched for the word combo “therefore he was desirous” as it shows up in the First Vision Manuscript and has a uniquely BoM ring to it. I got no hits from the Bible, but 6 from the BoM, though admittedly, the words were never in this specific order.

Anonymous said...

Lastly, I found 5 examples from the First Vision Manuscript that, if read outside of the context of the Manuscript, could easily be mistaken for BoM passages. Those who are familiar with reading its text will likely agree:

"and it came to pass when I was seventeen years of age I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision for behold an angel of the Lord came and stood before me and it was by night and he called me by name and he said"

"and he revealed unto me many things concerning the inhabitents of of the earth which since have been revealed in commandments & revelations and it was on the 22d day"

"therefore I cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul why can I not obtain them behold the angel appeared unto me again and said unto me you have not kept the commandments of the Lord which I gave unto you therefore you cannot now obtain them for the time is not yet fulfilled therefore thou wast left unto temptation that thou mightest be made accquainted of with the power of the advisary therefore repent and call on the Lord thou shalt be forgiven and in his own due time thou shalt obtain them"

"that peradventur he might convince them of the truth therefore I inquired of the Lord and the Lord said unto me that he must not take them and I spake unto him (Martin) the word of the Lord and he said inquire again and I inquired again and also the third time and the Lord said unto me let him go with them only he shall covenant with me that he will not shew them to only but four persons and he covenented with the Lord that he would do according to the word of the Lord therefore he took them and took his journey unto his friends to Palmire [Palmyra] Wayne County & State of N York and he brake the covenent which he made before the Lord and the Lord suffered the writings to fall into the hands of wicked men"

"was not able to obtain them for a season and it came to pass afte[r] much humility and affliction of Soul I obtained them again when Lord appeared unto a young man by the name of Oliver Cowd[e]ry and shewed unto him the plates in a vision and also the truth of the work and what the Lord was about to do through me his unworthy Servant therefore he was desiorous to come and write for me"

This was only a short session of observations and searching. I wonder what could be turned over by others with more time and scholarly training. . .

Anonymous said...

You nailed it, anon. 'Looks like the same guy who translated the Book of Mormon also wrote the First vision manuscripts. Who'd've thunk?


bearyb said...

Agreed. I'm not sure what Anonymous is trying to prove here. He "might" have some sort of an argument depending on the chronological production of the BoM and the transcripts, but all he's really saying is that the styles are similar. So what?

What might really be interesting is a comparison of Joseph's writings before and after translating the BoM. I would expect a significant change in linguistic style to have occurred following the production of such an extensive work, especially since his formal schooling was so limited.

Isn't it common for many of us to use phrases or styles of speech that we've been made aware of through our education and experience?

Anonymous said...

Styles are similar--so what? One is a personal account, the other is supposed to be a "translation" of someone else's writing.

Anonymous said...

Since the personal account was written AFTER the translation, though, it is easy to imagine that Joseph's personal account was influenced by the style of the more than 500 pages he had previously dictated.

Anonymous said...

It's easier to imagine they were both written by the same author.

Allen Ford said...

Against both frequent and occasional Book of Mormon usage, Joseph Smith’s 1832 History does not employ:
▪ periphrastic did in positive declarative statements
▪ the relative pronoun which after personal antecedents
▪ the {-th} plural (archaic {-th} inflection after plural subjects)
▪ leveled past participles (past-tense verb forms used as past participles)
▪ finite complementation after the verbs desire and suffer
much with plural nouns

Anonymous said...

These usages are neither consistent nor regular in the BoM. Their presence in this manuscript would help bolster my argument, but their absence means nothing.

Allen Ford said...

Utterly inaccurate. Positive declarative periphrastic did (30%, 1,800+ instances), personal which (90%, 1,000+ instances), and the {-th} plural (about 200 instances) are essential morphosyntactic components of the earliest text of the Book of Mormon. The hypothesis of independent linguists would be that these were not part of Joseph Smith's language in the early 19th century, based on English usage generally. The 1832 History supports this hypothesis.

Conclusion (based on hard, systematic linguistic evidence): Joseph Smith was not the English-language author / translator (in the usual sense) of the earliest text of the Book of Mormon.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thanks, Ftan. When I read this comment, I was also surprised at the absence of "did" in the passages selected. In fact, in the entire 1832 statement, "did" is not used at all. Certainly there are no instances of "periphrastic did" that has been so carefully documented by Stanford Carmack as a unique signature of the Book of Mormon text as dictated by Joseph Smith which corresponds not just in frequency but in the details of use with a slightly pre-KJV era of Modern English, a signature that also differs from the use of "did" in the Bible.

I also found it noteworthy that Joseph did include "and it came to pass" and "thy" and "thou" a couple of times. After all, he is describing a sacred even laden with biblical relevance, and it makes sense that he would draw upon KJV language a bit for this account. Those are the easy, obvious touches that anyone who has heard some Bible verses can imitate. But clues about authorship are more easily found in the subtle, almost unconscious choices one makes such as how to express past tense, how to use participles, use of relative pronounces, etc., where there are different acceptable styles. In those matters, there is little in common with the many aspects of the Book of Mormon that distinguish it from the Bible and from the English of Joseph's day and ours. Ftan's list is a meaningful sampling of some of the linguistic evidences staring us in the face about the authorship of the Book of Mormon and its puzzling connection in many cases to non-KJV Early Modern English. Why we don't yet know, but the data is there, demanding to be considered, and it points away from Joseph as author.

Now if we found these distinguishing features in his 1832 account of a sacred event, written shortly after his Book of Mormon translation was done, we might expect to see more of the same, including a high rate of "did" in past tenses and the details of how "did" was sued. See my post, "How Did Joseph Do What He Did in Translating the Book of Mormon? Further Evidence for Early Modern English Influence" and especially see "The Implications of Past-Tense Syntax in the Book of Mormon" by Stanford Carmack and his several other related articles at MormonInterpreter.com.

This document is an interesting test case for Book of Mormon authorship. Thank you for raising the issue by pointing to superficial similarities (long sentences, "and it came to pass", talk about visions and angels, etc.) that turn into a world of difference on we look at the subtle details of the text.

On the other hand, one similarity between the 1832 document and the Book of Mormon that can be considered is the mixing of both "thou" and "you" in a single sentence. While consistent with Early Modern English, it also occurs today when people pray at church and may not be a particularly useful issue on its own.

Allen Ford said...

Yes, Jeff, thou and you mixing can be found in the 1500s, 1600s, and later. You overtook ye as the dominant subject form by at least the 1570s. The 1611 KJB has subject you and ye mixing in the same verse multiple times. This was all eliminated through the years so that by the 1769 edition there wasn't any left. That subject you and ye mixing occurs in the BofM doesn't mean that it is faulty in this regard. Because of things like periphrastic did, personal which, the {-th} plural, etc., it is more likely that it means it's a match with usage of the early modern period.

Jeff Lindsay said...

The "did" issue is actually quite significant, IMHO. The Book of Mormon is radically different from the Bible in this regard. It has 2,000 instances of "did" and uses it in 27% of the past tense cases while the Bible uses it 2% of the time. The KJV era came shortly after a period in the last 1500s when "did" spiked in popularity with levels consistent with BOM usage. But by the time of the KJV translation, it had fallen out of favor and so have a low level there and a low level in Joseph's day. Significantly, Joseph's 1832 account doesn't use did once. ZERO PERCENT.

That's just the beginning of the many differences between the Book of Mormon language and the language of Joseph's day and KJV that are also not found in his 1832 document. I agree that this is an area for more detailed scholarship and analysis from a trained linguist. But on the basis of the subtle nature of "did" and the absolute lack of the Book of Mormon's fascinating "did"-related signature, it seems that this is a rather large problem for those claiming Joseph Smith is the author of the Book of Mormon. In a context where he is describing sacred events and bothers to use some biblical language, we should expect Joseph to reflect the language of the Book of Mormon. But the subtle, consistent, distinguishing patterns of the Book of Mormon don't appear to be there.

Significant? It seems that way to me at the moment. But further analysis is needed.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Some other resources to consider from Stanford Carmack: "A Look at Some “Nonstandard” Book of Mormon Grammar" and "Why the Oxford English Dictionary (and not Webster’s 1828)."

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thanks, Ftan, for some very valuable remarks.

Anonymous said...

30% usage is hardly consistent. 90%, though significant, does not indicate that this usage is essential to prove authorship.

Anonymous said...

So With such a distinct language, it is safe to assume a tightly controlled translation? Specific words appearing within the darkened hat held tightly against Joseph's face?

Jeff Lindsay said...

The presence of strong strands of Early Modern English in the dictated text don't fit well into a model of purely loose translation. Is there a mix with loose translation in some parts but generally tight? All tight? The names are certainly tight since they were spelled out. The work of Welch and now Carmack seems to be favoring tight control for much of the text, but Gardner argues for at least some loose control still. An issue for further debate. But the data increasingly challenges any theory based on Joseph as the fabricator of the Book of Mormon. Such theories lack explanatory power.

Allen Ford said...

Anon 1012p, your comments reveal that you don't have a very good understanding of the language and linguistics that are relevant to this matter. Since you are ideologically driven in this matter, you need to somehow increase your objectivity, and also do some serious study of language and linguistics in order to understand natural language variation and how English changed over time in these domains.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me there is no explanatory power at all for the Book of Mormon. We need to rely on loose control to explain anachronisms, tight control to explain Early Modern English, loose to cover the bad KJV translation and tight to cover the spelled out names.

I suppose as each unexplained issue occurs, shifting the theories with the ease of an automatic transmission will create a single explanatory power!

Anonymous said...

[T]he data increasingly challenges any theory based on Joseph as the fabricator of the Book of Mormon. Such theories lack explanatory power.

Actually, nineteenth-century authorship explains many, many otherwise puzzling things about the Mormon scriptures, such as the appearance of the "Hamitic theory" in the Pearl of Great Price; the racialist theology of the "skin of blackness" and the like; similarities to View of the Hebrews and its bogus theories of Native American origins; the use of the KJV style; the many anachronisms, from horses to the discussion of modern Christian theological controversies; the misidentification of symbols in the Book of Abraham illustrations; the lack of archaeological support and DNA evidence -- all of these and many more are readily explained by 19th-C authorship.

Jeff, we know you disagree with the idea of 19th-C authorship of the Mormon scriptures. But to say it "lacks explanatory power" is silly. It explains a lot.

-- OK

Allen Ford said...

Anon 720a, it was almost certainly tight control all the way. Some critics have declared there to be many KJV errors in the BofM. Most of these are not errors, and of course an occasional minor error could have been allowed to stand. The Lord isn't concerned with inconsequential things as much as critics are. They get hung up on them even though overwhelming evidence exists on the other side.

Allen Ford said...

OK, that evidence isn't as strong as the form and structure of the text which were mostly produced subconsciously, as all such things are. The skin of blackness is only racialist once you assume JS to be the author. You can't use it to show he was the author since it it is much weaker evidence than the language of the text. All the language surrounding the phrase is archaic, something JS probably couldn't have produced, since he wasn't an expert in archaic English, and it wasn't part of his own language.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ftan. I can now move on with the knowledge that anachronisms were spelled out by God :)

Mazel said...

Actually, Ftan, I find the linguistic arguments of Carmack and Stubbs to be riddled with fundamental methodological errors that will be pointed out if they ever gin up the courage to take their work mainstream and submit it for independent peer review. There's nothing in these works that "Joseph couldn't have produced," including the did-syntax, the chiasmus, the purported Hebrew etymology, etc.

Since Carmack and Stubbs seem so reluctant to submit their work for any kind of meaningful peer review, you might consider emailing links to their public/online articles, with a request for comment, to someone like Mark Liberman or Geoffery Pullum over at Language Log. They might look at it just out of curiosity and discuss it on the blog. If they do, I predict they will rip the methodology a new one -- bad case of Texas sharpshooter, it seems to me -- but maybe I'm wrong, and if so, if the evidence is actually as "overwhelming" as you say, what have you got to lose?

Anonymous said...

When the latest theory is now to piece together a "tight control" potpourri of modern English, King James English and now early modern English that also includes God given anachronisms rather than consider JS might be the author, there's nothing else to discuss.

Everything Before Us said...

All this talk about Early Modern English all over again. Okay...Smith couldn't have been the author. That still doesn't rule out the possibly that Smith was channeling deceptive spirits through his occultic skills. Necromancy, seer stones, etc etc etc.

Let's say a Young Man from the America First Ward spent his youth looking into peep stones, communicating with dead spirits, carrying around occultic parchments and talismans stands up one day in Fast and Testimony and says that he was peeking into his quartz crystal the previous night and through it he received a message from the spirit of one of the members of the Jamestown Settlement, and this spirit told him that Jesus Christ is the very Eternal Father of Heaven and Earth, and that His doctrine is to repent and be baptized, and anything more than that doctrine is of the devil. This spirit says that it is a most egregious sin to adorn our churches and temples with such lavish luxurious decorations, and no leaders in the church should be receiving dollars from the coffers of the church as compensation, but should, like King Benjamin, be working for their own support.

Now...this young man...he has a history of engaging in mild fraudulent behavior. He brags about these stones he carries around with him through which he sees things. He is even rumored to have participated in magical rituals in the woods late a night, drawing circles in the ground and whatnot.

This kid...he stands in testimony and gives this report.

No one would believe him. Not a single soul. In fact, I'm sure he'd be hauled into the Bishop's office for some rather intense questioning. No one there, nor anyone here, would be comfortable with this. Most Latter-day Saints would suspect he was lying outright, and the other minority would suspect that if he did indeed speak to any spirit at all, it was an evil deceptive spirit. Even though what the spirit transmitted was solid Book of Mormon doctrine, no one would be comfortable with this scenario.

Yet...after the young man is appropriately dealt with, next Sunday, everyone would gladly open up their hymn books and sing, "Praise to the Man."

Even if this archaic language proves some supernatural intervention in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, you still have to prove that it wasn't a false spirit. And you can't say, " But it preaches of Christ!" as your evidence. Because the Catholic Church preaches of Christ, too, but it ain't the one and only true church. Besides, the Bible says the servants of the devil will come disguised as ministers of righteousness.

And you can't say, "But it inspires people to do good things," either, because lots of non-Mormons do good things, but they are still wrong.

How can you verify that Joseph Smith wasn't tapping into deceptive spirits. He was basically using the 19th Century equivalent of a crystal ball or a ouija board. The spirits he spoke with claimed to be dead men. This is called Necromancy.

Isaiah 8:19: And when they shall say to you, Seek to them that have familiar spirits, and to wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek to their God? for the living to the dead?

Leviticus 20:6: And the soul that turns after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, EBU, was Jesus practicing necromancy when Moses appeared to him?

Everything Before Us said...

Anon 10:04

No, I wouldn't call that Necromancy. But Jesus also wasn't claiming to find buried treasure with a peepstone, nor was he getting tarred and feathered for propositioning young girls, either. He never lied to his wife about the number of wives he was enjoying. He didn't set up a fraudulent banking scheme. And he never requested that the Roman Government make him a soldier so that he could lead forces to aid in the colonization of the West. And we all know the Roman's could've really used some help with that.

But Jesus did, like Joseph Smith, enjoy wine hours before his death. So maybe you have a point.

Allen Ford said...

Mazel and ebu, what do you think of the following:

Philip L. Barlow, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion, 2nd edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 27–28:

Like other translators of ancient texts and following the precedent set with earlier revelations, Smith cast the book into seventeenth-century prose, though his own vocabulary and grammar are evident throughout. Because Jacobean speech was not his native idiom, he sometimes rendered the style inexpertly: “ye” (properly a subject) sometimes lapsed into “you” (object) as the subject of a sentence, as in Mosiah 2:19; an Elizabethan suffix attached to some verbs but was inconsistently omitted from others (“yields . . . putteth,” Mosiah 3:19). Much of this strained language was refined in the second edition (Kirtland, Ohio, 1837). The preface, for instance, was changed from its 1830 rendering, “. . . now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men.” Similarly, some 227 appearances of “saith” were changed to “said.”

Mazel said...

Well, Ftan, I wouldn't use the phrase "other translators of ancient texts," since I see no reason to believe that Smith ever actually translated any ancient texts. Other than that, the Barlow quote seems unexceptionable to me. Based on what little I just read of it on Google Books, Mormons and the Bible looks like an insightful book.

Allen Ford said...

I wouldn't use that phrase either, Mazel, but for different reasons.

This Barlow quote is full of inaccuracies. OUP, because of ideology, let it pass unchallenged and unedited. The bad scholarship didn't matter since it fit the generally accepted, favored view of OUP and academia.

First, Skousen has worked 100 times as much on the vocabulary and grammar of the BofM as Barlow, and has a different, studied view of things. Barlow should have either acknowledged his ATV work and his preface to the 2009 Yale edition or refrained from making this speculative statement.

Second, this is a book about Mormons and the Bible. Barlow doesn't know biblical usage very well. The 1611 KJB is full of subject you ~ ye mixing. Very sad to see Barlow make this glaring error.

Job 19:3
These tenne times haue ye reproched me:
you are not ashamed that you make your selues strange to me.

Mosiah 5:15
that you may be brought to heaven,
that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life

Third, the yields ~ putteth variation of Mosiah 3:19 was introduced by JS in 1837. Skousen's ATV was available to Barlow; he could have easily corrected this in 2013. Also, nearby yields ~ putteth variation is found in searchable databases of earlier English that were available to Barlow for this updated edition.

Fourth, "if there be fault, it be the mistake of men" is attested Early Modern English usage -- one might call it echo subjunctive. But indicative "be", without any preceding subjunctive, is often found in plural contexts, and occasionally in singular contexts.

Fifth, historical present "saith" is biblical usage; JS was modernizing in 1837, as is easily shown by the biggest 1837 edit: changing most cases of personal "which" to "who".

That you find this Barlow quote unexceptionable, Mazel, reveals that you accept bad scholarship when it fits your view. It also probably means that you attack good LDS scholarship in knee-jerk fashion when it doesn't fit your view.

Mazel said...

Wow, Ftan. You're really willing to engage in insults on the basis of someone's cursory reading? Do you think someone can really judge, on the basis of such a short passage, whether Barlow is right to say that "sometimes [Smith] rendered the [KJV] style inexpertly"? No, they can't, and hence they qualify their response with words like "seems." (For that matter, do you really think a re-issue of a 1991 book needs to engage with scholarship from 2009? "Updated editions" typically feature a new introduction, but not a wholesale revision of the original argument in light of more recent scholarship.)

Do you enjoy laying little traps, and then pouncing? Shame on you.

Anyone can see what you're doing here. You're changing the subject from Carmack and Stubbs to me and Barlow. Oldest argumentative cheap shot in the book.

So, forget Barlow. Are you prepared to defend the methodology of Carmack and Stubbs? Are you eager to see it undergo independent peer review? If not, why not?

Allen Ford said...

Virtually all of that was bad scholarship in 1991, Mazel. Only the first item is exempt.

The general point is accurate and applies to you and to OUP and to peer review in general.

I laid a trap for you to make an important point and to dissuade you from laying traps of your own, which you have done quite frequently in the past for the insufficiently informed who are susceptible to your attacks against the Book of Mormon. My specifically targeted trap is inconsequential, but your traps can damage those who don't have the knowledge or judgment to see through them.

Everything Before Us said...


How's the view from up there?

Engraved on Ftan's tombstone: "My trap was better than your trap."

Mazel said...

Ftan, you haven't convinced me that any of it is bad scholarship.

Again, how long are we supposed to wait for the peer review?

My guess: Of that day and hour knoweth no man.

Everything Before Us said...


I think they avoid peer-review because it isn't as much fun. It is far more enjoyable to throw the information out to a crowd that will gush over it and praise it. It is not nearly as enjoyable to throw it out to a crowd who will actually approach it objectively. When I am feeling bad about myself, I don't ask a disinterested party about my worth. I go to my wife and get her opinion.

Allen Ford said...

You're kidding, right Mazel? As with ebu, strong anti-Mormon sentiments are apparently clouding your judgment. You'd be better off focusing on non-Mormon topics.

Jacobean language was close mixing of subject you and subject ye. It was close mixing of {-s} and {-th}. It was indicative "be" or echo subjunctive "be". It was historical present "saith", as well as with other verbs. Barlow could have and should have known this in 1991, and should have corrected it by 2013. It doesn't reflect well on him or OUP.

If JS did render the language, then he actually did a much better job than pseudo-biblical authors did.

Everything Before Us said...


How do you explain archaic English in a book from ancient American translated in New York in the 19th Century.

I conceded...Joseph Smith couldn't have written it. So explain the why, not just the what.

Why is archaic English in this translation?

Mazel said...

If JS did render the language, then he actually did a much better job than pseudo-biblical authors did.

A pretty poor job, I'd say. Haven't you ever been reading the BoM and noticed how things pick up whenever Smith starts quoting Isaiah, and the deflation that occurs when he resumes his own voice? The shift is from poetry to, yes, chloroform.

I freely concede that I approach these matters without the benefit of the spirit that makes you privy to so many hidden wonders. I guess I'll just have to live with my infirmity.

Now, tell us again, how long are we supposed to wait for Carmack's and Stubbs's peer review?

When will their work go mainstream and turn the world on its head?

Of that day and hour, knoweth any man?

bearyb said...

Anonymous @ 7:44 AM said...

Styles are similar--so what? One is a personal account, the other is supposed to be a "translation" of someone else's writing

Are you aware of how many styles the English Bible has been "translated" into? How can that be, if they are all supposed to have come from some original source?

Everything Before Us said...


It isn't just about style. It is also about content. The Nephites are expounding Christian doctrines that weren't developed until the Middle Ages in Europe. The Nephites are preaching against infant baptism using the same language as Christians in the 19th Century, calling it an "abomination" and a "solemn mockery." The Book of Mormon seeks to settle Christian controversies that were raging in the 19th Century. It also seeks to answer political questions regarding liberty, democracy, monarchy, etc that were very relevant to Americans in the 19th Century, but would not have been relevant to Jews from 600 BC.

These would not be the kinds of debates expected of an ancient people. These are uniquely American political and religious issues. It is so obviously a 19th Century American book that it takes a very profound willful blindness not to see it. Then, when you toss in Isaiah chapters that Bible scholars agree would've post-dated the time of the Book of Mormon, and when you toss in nearly word-for-word retelling of the the Sermon on the Mount....It just fails. Completely fails.

It fails so much that strange obsolete English is simply not enough to convince me. Seriously. Even though it is obsolete, Joseph Smith WAS an English speaker. Right? It's a mystery, but come on! This is a record of a group of ancient Jews in the Western Hemisphere, not a record of ancient inhabitants of the British Isles. This conversation about Early Modern English is just so utterly stupid.

We have a test case, you know. We know what happens within Jewish communities when Christianity is introduced. We have the writings of Paul, and in those writings, we can discern what kinds of controversies are faced. But strangely, the Jews in ancient America have no questions about circumcision or no circumcision, food restrictions, temple rituals etc. This is very strange. Paul never expounds upon the abomination of infant baptism. He never tries to answer deep esoteric questions regarding the "probationary state" imposed upon Adam and Eve. But 19th Century Christian writings do. And they even use the expression "probationary state." 19th Century Christians are also talking about "plain and precious truths," and "new and everlasting covenants," and "true and living church," and "satisfying the demands of justice," and "not looking on sin with the least degree of allowance," and "God ceasing to be God," and "opposition in all things," and "dwelling in unholy temples," and "procrastinating the day of repentance," and "after all we can do," and "denying oneself of all ungodliness."

They are all found in 19th Century writings that pre-date the publication of the Book of Mormon.

Allen Ford said...

ebu, since these phrases are surrounded by 16c and 17c language, some of it obsolete and extra-biblical, shouldn't you look in earlier times to discover the roots of these phrases? An objective scholar would do so. For instance, I note that "plain and precious truths" originates with the German Jakob Böhme, 1575-1624. "Fountain of all righteousness" comes from 16c translations of Calvin, incoporated into the confession of the French church. I am interested to know what original modern instances of the latter phrase you find.

Everything Before Us said...


I never included fountain of all righteousness in my list, but whatever. Expressions in Christian literature using "fountain" are numerous in the early 19th Century. fountain of "wisdom (1818)" "all goodness (Wesley's writings 1805)" "justice (1826)" "all our works (1815)" and on and on. Many.

Look, I am not trying to find the roots of these phrases. I've been through this before here. It doesn't matter if the phrases I listed go back further than the 19th Century. They were part of the Christian dialogue in the 19th Century, because I've located sources from that time period.

It's great that "plain and precious truths" originates from the time period which shares similar grammatical structures with the Book of Mormon. Are you now arguing that the Book of Mormon was translated in the 16th or 17th century?

Jeff has hosted these conversations about early modern English for a long time now. Orbiting Kolob has called for peer review on this research. I've been more willing to accept the finding of Carmack and just agree that there is obsolete English in the BoM. I'm okay with that. It's fascinating to me.

But no one who is expounding this theory has come to any other conclusion than that Joseph Smith couldn't have written it. I concede that point. Okay?

What is the conclusion? Joseph Smith didn't write it? Okay, but this theory opens up a whole other bag of worms

Someone on another site, Mormon Interpreter I believe, said that this theory suggests that the spirits of dead 16th Century English speakers were instrumental in the translation of this book. Maybe that was you who said it. I don't know. But that is the only decent attempt at a conclusion that I have heard. And frankly, it is so far inside the border of Crazytown that it makes Joseph Smith's story about the book's origins look quite sane.

But hey...why not. Tyndale translated it in Heaven and relayed it to Joseph Smith. Very sound theory. Joseph Smith was a necromancer. There is no telling what he was able to channel through that seerstone of his.

James Anglin said...

What I want to see from peer review of the Carmack-Skousen Early Modern English stuff is an assessment of whether they've made a basic methodological error. To wit: is their method really able to distinguish archaic dialect from fake archaic dialect? Or have they just naively applied analytic techniques that are only intended for dating texts written in natural dialect, to a 19th century text that was trying to imitate King James English?

It seems likely that an amateur effort at imitation would overshoot the mark, and overdo the archaism of the King James Version, the way a clumsy imitation of Parisian French will include far more "Oh la la" than you will ever hear in Paris. If Carmack and Skousen are using methods that assume only honest, contemporary writing, then those methods probably would falsely identify overdone archaism as pre-KJV English. Unless the method is somehow geared to distinguishing genuine Early Modern dialect from overdone archaism, the data presented by Carmack and Skousen may actually tend more to show that Joseph Smith did fake the Book of Mormon, than to show that he couldn't have faked it.

I don't feel I can just assume that Carmack and Skousen are too highly qualified to screw up that way. Naively applying methods beyond their limits of validity, by failing to notice when circumstances no longer conform to the assumptions on which the methods depend, is exactly the kind of error that highly qualified experts can and do make—especially when they're highly motivated to present a hot story. The history of parapsychology, for example, has several embarrassing episodes of distinguished physicists who were sucked in by fakers, because the physicists overconfidently applied experimental controls that were stringent enough for experimental physics, where electrons can't cheat, but laughably inadequate to detect human fraud (even childishly simple fraud, in fact).

Catching problems like this is one of the main things that peer review tries to do. I'm not saying that Carmack and Skousen actually have this kind of problem with their theory. I'm not an expert in this kind of stuff, so I probably couldn't tell, if they did have this problem. I'm saying that the question of misidentifying overdone archaism as real archaism, because the method isn't designed to cope with fraud, is an obviously legitimate question which really needs to be answered by an independent expert. Things like this absolutely do not just go without saying.

Another point to bear in mind, about what kinds of things Smith could or could not have written, is that he didn't have to have an old book in his hand, to know a phrase from an old book. He could just have heard the old phrase in a sermon some time—or heard them repeated by somebody else who had heard them in a sermon. Yes, it's a shame that it's impossible now to know what Smith might have heard, so speculations about what Smith might have heard are untestable. That doesn't make them implausible. The easy possibility of hearing old-fashioned phrases quoted by other people, from books that Joseph Smith never saw for himself, means that archaic phrases are inherently inadequate evidence for Smith being a prophet.

bearyb said...

Let's say a Young Man from the America First Ward...(etc.)

Let's say a young man from the Nazareth First Ward spent His youth meditating and communicating with some Unknown spiritual source, and as He grows He starts hanging out at the temple and saying all kinds of things. Then, when He grows up somehow it gets out that He spent 40 days and nights fasting and declares Himself the Great I Am. He is accused of hanging out with sinners and even of blasphemy. The best He can do when accosted by accusers with a woman caught in adultery is sit there and draw on the ground. He even has the audacity to say He can forgive people of their sins! And then goes and does things that really shouldn't be done on the sabbath.

Not many believe Him. And most of those who do are persecuted and put to death for doing so. Why, He is even put on trial and crucified between thieves! How ignominous! Even though the things He taught were solid gospel doctrines, not many were comfortable with His teachings.

EBU, There are those who know about the story of Jesus but do not believe He was who He said He was. But some did and do. Though He is said to have lived a perfect life and completed a perfect Atonement, no one really understands everything that that means.

There are those who know about Joseph Smith, who never claimed (nor was it ever claimed about him) that he led a perfect life. Many do not beleive he was what he said he was. But some did and do. No one really understands everything he saw and witnessed and experienced, much less how he processed those things based on the times in which he lived and the experience and knowledge he gained daily.

One thing you cannot accurately say of him is that he is anything like a "wizard" who "peeps and mutters." He left a bold, unflinching legacy and statements of doctrine that have been both followed and debated since being made known, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. How is it that such a common, lowly man has been the subject of such fierce discussion the world over, a discussion that if anything is only growing? My answer is that it was because he was involved in something truly great. Greatly good or greatly evil - we each have to make a decision about that.

We are left to judge the man by his fruits, and by the many testimonies given of him. Hopefully we will judge - and choose - wisely.

Everything Before Us said...

He wasn't a common lowly man. That is the lie the church continues to promulgate about this man to make it seems that what he did was larger than life. It wasn't larger than life. What he did was relatively common. Many people who have followed many errant paths have reported having profound spiritual experiences in the presence of their leader that bonded them to that man or woman. I am not talking about just "feel goods," either. I am talking about transcendent "light emanating from behind the head" kind of stuff. Many spiritual leaders have channeled spiritual writings throughout history. Many a claim has been made that there is no way such-and-such a book came from the human source that produced it.

The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it is so utterly human. Poetry. About sex, even! Letters to friends. Letters to congregations. Legends. Genealogies. Numbers. Records. Stories. It is the real deal. A real book. It makes no claims about itself despite what its followers do. That's reality. Whether or not you are a Christian, it is an authentic book.

I do judge Smith by his fruits. Warren Jeffs is just as much a fruit of Mormonism as the wonderful humanitarian services that the LDS church provides. The man who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart was well-read when it came to the polygamist writings of the early Mormons. So were the two men who slaughtered that mother and baby in Utah. They were experts on early Mormon polygamy. These are also the fruits of Mormonism. You can't pick and choose which fruits you'll keep and which fruits you'll toss.

The Catholic church's fruits include both their marvelous humanitarian and educational services as well as their sex molestation problems.

The Anglican church's fruits include both good and bad. Islam's fruits are both good and bad. This is the way it is for every institution on this planet. The LDS church isn't "all that." It really isn't it. I'm glad you like it. But that is all it is...you like it. It works. You believe it. That is nothing special. It is nothing more than what any other man or woman of religion can claim.

bearyb said...

Well, obviously Joseph wasn't a common, lowly man by the time he sealed his testimony with his blood (and how common was that, by the way?). By then the Lord had made him much greater than he would have become on his own.

Tell me, if what Joseph did was "relatively common," why was he singled out for such harsh persecution? Who are the others you speak of, and were they and their followers similarly treated?

You might want to read Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 again to refresh your memory of some of his accomplishments.

Common? I don't think so.

And, if what Joseph did was so common, where are the common-type followers of those other common-type "spiritual leaders?"

So now the Bible is just a "human" book that makes no claims? How could you expect anyone to take it seriously then? Does God expect us to do anything with the information it contains, or not? Will we not be judged according to what we learn from it? Does it not contain the words of God at all?

Finally, you place judgment on an individual (Joseph) for good and bad acts committed by others. I suppose you could take that all the way back to Adam and Eve then, right? After all, if they hadn't partaken of the fruit we wouldn't be here. Of course, if God hadn't put them in the Garden in the first place, none of that would have happened either. Are you prepared to praise and blame God for everything good and bad that has happened in this world, including your kidnappings and slaughters, since you can't pick and choose which fruits you'll keep or toss?

What happened to individual agency?

bearyb said...

The man who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart was well-read when it came to the polygamist writings of the early Mormons. So were the two men who slaughtered that mother and baby in Utah. They were experts on early Mormon polygamy.

What does that even mean, "experts on early Mormon polygamy?"

I will share two statements from the essay Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah. One makes their "expert" assessment indefensible, and one makes it meaningless.

The first is that "Only the Church President held the keys authorizing the performance of new plural marriages...

"Women were free to choose their spouses, whether to enter into a polygamous or monogamous union, or whether to marry at all. Some men entered plural marriage because they were asked to do so by Church leaders, while others initiated the process themselves; all were required to obtain the approval of Church leaders before entering a plural marriage."

If they had been "experts" they would have known that what they were attempting was outside the bounds of acceptability in the first place.

The second is that "Latter-day Saints do not understand all of God’s purposes for instituting, through His prophets, the practice of plural marriage during the 19th century." So that even among the people who should know "all about it" there is no claim to such knowledge, meaning that "experts" on at least one fundamental matter concerning it do not exist - the "Why."

bearyb said...

These are also the fruits of Mormonism. You can't pick and choose which fruits you'll keep and which fruits you'll toss.

But people do that every day. We all keep the things we think are the most important or relevant to us, and toss the ones we don't. I do it, you do it, we all do it. None of us makes the perfect choice in doing this because we are not perfect. These people you spoke of picked the "fruit of polygamy" and left behind so many others, like observance of the basic Ten Commandments.

The Church teaches in ideals. It is impossible for anyone to do all that is asked. It is not expected by us that anyone will in this life. But unless we are stretched in ways the Lord would stretch us, when or how would we grow and improve?

Anonymous said...

A few other interesting figures comparing word choice in the transcript to the Scriptures:

"For behold"

Old Testament 21
New Testament 7
BoM 251
D&C 52
Pearl of Great Price 7


Old Testament 1
New Testament 5
BoM 57