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

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Is There Direct Evidence that the Early Saints Had Heard of Champollion?

In previous posts (here and here) on the Book of Abraham and in my article for The Interpreter, I have noted that newspapers and other sources in the United States make it fairly clear that the story of Champollion seems to have been widely known by 1835, contrary to assertions in two volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. But one reader argued that relying on possible "common knowledge" of the day still doesn't provide a direct link showing that the early Saints actually know of or spoke of Champollion. Could it be that they really hadn't heard of the Rosetta Stone and Champollion's work, the cause of so much interest in all things Egypt? Perhaps! Maybe they were gripped in Egyptomania without hearing the most basic news tied to that fad.

With that fair objection in mind, I did another search this morning and found something that I hope will help clarify the issue. It involves the account of Martin Harris going to the East with a copy of Book of Mormon characters in hand, seeking academic validation for Joseph's translation work. (See the related information in the "Scholar Gives New Insights on Martin Harris’s 1828 Visit to Charles Anthon," based on Richard E. Bennett's 2015 Sperry Symposium presentation.) 

In 1831, James Gordon Bennett, a man who would become one of America's leading journalists, gave a boost to his journalistic career with a sensational two-part article on the "Mormonites." He interviewed a couple of people, apparently E.B. Grandin, printer of the Book of Mormon, and Charles Butler, a lawyer and friend of Martin Harris, and then prepared a two-part article sharing what he had learned and his views on the Book of Mormon story. Part 2 of this article was published in New York City in the Morning Courier and Enquirer, Sept. 1, 1831. The article was soon reprinted in several other newspapers. Since it mentioned Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, it was surely brought to Joseph's attention. The story behind the article and the complete text of the two-part story are found in Leonard J. Arrington article, "James Gordon Bennett's 1831 Report on 'The Mormonites,'" BYU Studies, 10/3 (1970): 353-364. On p. 362, we see that Bennett claims that Dr. Samuel Mitchill mentioned Egyptian hieroglyphics and Champollion's decipherment to Harris:


Larry E. Morris in his excellent Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (relevant portion viewable on Google Books) is not sure that the mention of Champollion in Bennett's newspaper account came from the interviews or from Bennett's embellishment of the story (he suggests embellishment is more likely), for the notes from the interviews in Bennett's journal only mention Mitchill comparing the characters to hieroglyphics without mentioning Champollion. (The original newspaper story is document 1.13 in Morris, appearing on pp. 90-95, and is considered again on pp. 298-299, where Morris's comment on Champollion occurs.) So it may be that Mitchill had mentioned Champollion, or perhaps he merely mentioned hieroglyphics and then Bennett extrapolated with the addition of Champollion to the story. In either case, though, the Saints of 1831 cannot be viewed as ignorant of Champollion. Whether Martin had been told about Champollion by Harris, or the Saints first learned the name from this article, it seems there's little room to believe that they could have remained ignorant of the news after 1831, even if the only newspaper stories they ever looked at were the ones from their area talking about them.

The article, of course, treats knowledge of Champollion as old news that should be familiar to most people. If Joseph and his peers had not yet heard of him, surely they would start inquiring after this announcement, being relevant to the precious Book of Mormon.

Reprints of this story can be found in the Essex Gazette of Haverhill, Mass., Vol. V, No. 47, Nov. 19, 1831, under the title "History of Mormonism," available at Uncle Dale's Readings, and elsewhere (apparently include Ohio's Hillsborough Gazette, Oct. 29. 1831, shown at GospelLink.com). 

By the way, while my past posts and my article for The Interpreter provide a wide variety of sources from American soil in the early part of the nineteenth century dealing with Champollion and the Rosetta Stone, here are a couple others just as a reminder of the state of common knowledge in the States. First, Uncle Dale's Readings in Early Mormon History offers this excerpt from the Ohio-based Presbyterian newspapers, The Observer and Telegraph, Oct. 21, 1830:


EGYPTIAN  HIEROGLYPHICS.
                      Communicated.

It is well known that the Champolions have by wonderful perserverance and extensive research, unlocked the mysteries of the pyramids of Egypt, and disclosed the arcana of their interior, by decyphering the hieroglyphics which have perplexed the investigation of the learned for centuries, and thereby furnishing additional testimony to the truth of sacred history, and of the oppression of the ancient Israelites. The account of the investigations which led to the discovery of these hieroglyphics, has been lately translated from the French, by Professor Stewarts son, of Andover, and is illustrated by notes of the Professor. The work no doubt will much interest the curious, and particularly the biblical scholar. [emphasis added]
Of course, since Joseph and other early Saints spent some time in Pennsylvania, we may also with to inquire there. The Pittsburgh Recorder on April 26, 1825 published this note, also courtesy of Uncle Dales' Readings:



ANCIENT  ARCHIVES.

Discovery of very ancient Egyptian Archives, written several
ages before the Trojan war.

The learned are well acquainted with the important discoveries made by Young and Champollion in the art of decyphering the sacred writing of the Egyptians. The latter is still engaged in pursuing this most interesting object, as will appear from the following detail.... [emphasis added]


Or consider the open letter to Champollion published in Philadelphia's Atlantic Journal in 1832:


First Letter to Mr. Champollion, on the Graphic systems of America, and the
Glyphs of Otolum or Palenque, in Central America.
You have become celebrated by decyphering, at last, the glyphs and characters of the ancient Egyptians, which all your learned predecessors had deemed a riddle, and pronounced impossible to read. You first announced your discovery in a letter. I am going to follow your footsteps on another continent, and a theme equally obscure....
Here is another from New York, from Palmyra, Wayne County, a place with obvious connections to the early members of the Church, published simply as "Items," Nov. 4, 1829 in The Reflector, courtesy of Uncle Dales' Readings:
ITEMS.
M. CHAMPOLLION -- in company with other learned Frenchmen, is now in Egypt investigating the various subjects of antiquity. It is reported that this gentleman reads hierogylphics with as much readiness as his native language. Much light will be thrown upon a dark period of ancient history.

What was well known in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York in the early 1830s was probably known also to the Latter-day Saints, and almost certainly would become known once the 1831 news story in New York linked the Book of Mormon characters to Champollion's discovery with hieroglyphics from Egypt.

Understanding that Champollion's story -- the headlines, not the technical details -- surely was known by key members of the Church by 1835 helps us better question the arguments that are repeatedly made about Joseph Smith thinking that Egyptian was a bizarre language where one character could contain vast treasures of information, enabling one character to become 200 words of text with names and other details all mysteriously embedded therein. It's time to recognize that the Saints, like their follow Americans,  did not experience Egyptomania without knowledge of the news that helped Egyptomania reach a fever pitch: Champollion was translating Egyptian, and those mysterious characters were often simply phonetic, making Egyptian a language just like the "reformed Egyptian" as described by Joseph and implied in the Book of Mormon itself -- a running language.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I find it heartening that you’re now grounding your arguments about Joseph’s epistemological environment in a reasonable understanding of the circulation of knowledge. I’m tempted to say, “But wait a minute—Joseph was just an ignorant farm boy! How could he possibly have known about Champollion without possessing a vast frontier library?!”

— OK

Anonymous said...

OK - You beat me to it. I was think the same thing.

Lucubrator said...

These comments are so stupid and transparently deceitful. The library has to do with the particular knowledge Joseph would've needed in 1829 to produce the Book of Mormon. Champollion was a matter of wide general knowledge among American citizens in the 1830s, and of particular interest for believers in the Book of Mormon in the 1830s, so that increases the likelihood of their familiarity with him and hieroglyphics.

Anonymous said...

Lucubrator, the "particular knowledge Joseph would've needed in 1829 to produce the Book of Mormon" was also "a matter of wide general knowledge among American citizens."

This is true despite the apologists' many failed attempts to find particulars that were not widely known at the time. There's nothing in the Book of Mormon that someone like Joseph could not have written based on then-current general knowledge of the Bible, Native American antiquities, theological controversies, etc. Nothing. On top of that, there are items in the book that are not true but were thought to be true at the time. The book is obviously a 19th-century production.

-- OK

Anonymous said...

Lucubrator - let me be as transparent and forthright as possible. The library does not exist because no "particular" knowledge is required. The library is as much a figment of imagination as the cave full metallic books with Laban's unsheathed sword. The library is built out of facts manufactured with statistical voodoo applied to massive assumptions.

Lucubrator said...

You need to branch out, away from anti-Mormon and anti-Book of Mormon readings once in a while. Obviously there's a lot of particular knowledge evident in the Book of Mormon that the 1829 Joseph Smith would've known nothing about.

Anonymous said...

No, Lucubrator, there is not, though there are apologetical constructs made to appear such.

—OK

Anonymous said...

Interesting definition of anti. So to you anti means pro-truth?
After all, there are plenty of faithful Mormons that disagree with you. Or are they fake Mormons?

Hoosier said...

Italicization does not make it so, OK. No matter how much you want it to. Keep asserting like you do, with magisterial handwaves to the "obvious", and I'm sure you'll do fine with Not-OK, but other than that your words are a tinkling brass and a sounding cymbal, devoid of rhetorical power to convince those who are not already in agreement with you. Your epistemology is not universal, nor is it a priori superior.

Anonymous said...

Lucubrator - you provide a powerful testimony of LDS theology's ability to turn otherwise decent people into hateful anger mongers.

Anonymous said...

Hoosier - why do so many faithful LDS disagree with you then?

Anonymous said...

Mark my words, everyone. By the year 2050, LDS leaders will be hailing Joseph Smith as “the inspired author of the pseudepigrapha we call the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham, in which he ushered in the Restoration by brilliantly fusing the King James style to concepts and issues perfectly attuned to the interests of his contemporary readership. Using the venerable technique of claiming scriptural authority by attributing his own inspired writing to an ancient author, Smith resolved a number of pressing 19th-century theological controversies and elevated the status of Native Americans by integrating their ancestors into the Christian mythos....”

Sound far-fetched? I don’t think so. Given a generation or two, “anti-Mormonism” has a way of reappearing as acceptable belief, if not doctrine. Cf. polygamy, evolution, Native Americans as literal descendants of Hebrews, black people and the War in Heaven, and a sizable percentage of Bruce McConkie’s original Mormon Doctrine.

—OK

Anonymous said...

“I find it heartening that you’re now grounding your arguments about Joseph’s epistemological environment in a reasonable understanding of the circulation of knowledge.”

One very distinct difference here—all of the information available to Joseph out of his “vast frontier library,” showed up in his writing. There is no established link between Jeff’s examples above and early church documents.

Anonymous said...

In other words, he has shown that there was information available, but failed to show that it was 1) consumed, or 2) had any influence.

JoePeaceman said...

Words are marked 😊
Great job again Jeff! :) I’m looking for a new job and etc., so even more busy than normal, but couldn't resist sneaking a peek. And, Critics, I hear ya, “We never said it.” OR “Case is closed for Ritner and I, Champollion was introduced late in 1842, or 41, or 38, or 31, or doesn’t really matter, since if Joseph didn’t preach about George Wasington, he didn’t know about George Washington. : ) This has been peer reviewed by Lighthouse, so no need to question.” : )

But, anyway, the thing that got my attention is the quick jump from “he didn’t know anything, even if everyone else in the 19th C. knew” to “he knew everything anyone knew or knows now” OR “...despite the apologists' many failed attempts to find particulars that were not widely known at the time. There's nothing in the Book of Mormon that someone like Joseph could not have written based on then-current general knowledge of the Bible, Native American antiquities, theological controversies, etc. Nothing. On top of that, there are items in the book that are not true but were thought to be true at the time. The book is obviously a 19th-century production.”

I’m a bit hesitant to go along with something like that. For examples, what books or newspapers did he read to help him figure out how to create the details of the “Tree of Life Vision”, or the Geography of the Middle East and Americas?

Also, what are the 2 most important “items in the book that are not true but were thought to be true at the time”?


Anonymous said...

"what books or newspapers did he read to help him figure out how to create the details of the 'Tree of Life Vision'”

It was a dream Joseph's own father had. Look it up. . .

Ramer said...

It was a dream Joseph's own father had.

Ah, yes, the one that wasn't actually written until 1844. Using the critics' arguments against Joseph Smith's First Vision and ordination to the Priesthood, that means that Joseph Sr.'s dream was made up long after the Book of Mormon was published.

And besides, it's not like God can give different people similar visions, right?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this will be any more effective than your debunking of the CES Letter? Remember how much time you spent on that?
And how many have chosen ex-Mormon lives in that time?

Anonymous said...

So Smith didn't need books and newspapers to figure out the tree life of story?

JoePeaceman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JoePeaceman said...

Hi Anonymous, welcome to (or back to) the blog. 😊I’m pretty new also.
Sorry but it seems that the dream of Joseph Sr. doesn’t really qualify.

1- as Ramer pointed out, it wasn’t in a book or newspaper until long after the BofM was published and, since Lucy had read the BofM, it can just as easily be argued that she was influenced by the BofM, rather than other way around. And, even if God gave Joseph Sr: a dream like Lehi’s, that still doesn’t explain how they knew the ancient American and Semitic details, nor does it show that they were readily available and “widely known” in Native American antiquities, etc.

2- Joseph’s dream doesn’t contain several of the important ancient American and Middle Eastern details, for examples: the BofM explains and describes the tree in the context of the ancient primordial hill, virgin goddess, cosmic tree/waters lifted up (represented as the rising Milky Way but it would take too long to explain that so I’ll leave it out :)) , filthy underworld waters, battle between good and evil, light and dark, pure waters and rod from the mouth, etc.

😊
So, what about part 2? ....just another of those things you say hoping we’ll all fall? aaaahhh! everyone’s doing it, might as well abandon everything and join them in the spacious building......🀷🏽‍♂️ πŸ˜‰

Anonymous said...

Joe your added significance to the dream is ridiculous and asinine. Those connections to not exist in a meaningful way, pal.

Anonymous said...

“Joseph’s dream doesn’t contain several of the important ancient American and Middle Eastern details, for examples: the BofM explains and describes the tree in the context of the ancient primordial hill, virgin goddess, cosmic tree/waters lifted up (represented as the rising Milky Way but it would take too long to explain that so I’ll leave it out :)) , filthy underworld waters, battle between good and evil, light and dark, pure waters and rod from the mouth, etc.”

Just reread the account of Lehi’s dream because I didn’t remember any of that from the many times I had read it. Guess what—my memory was right.

It might be fun to see you try to make the connections, though.

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to figure out how this is like the first vision analysis. How many times did Lucy Mack tell her version of events and is the first time she describe it the most accurate?

Anonymous said...

For a very long time now, Mormonthink has an open, unanswered question specifically for Jeff. What is the rigorous methodology for determing when something is a coincidence and when is it a connection. The silence is deafening.

Anonymous said...

JoePeaceman writes that the BofM explains and describes the tree in the context of the ancient primordial hill, virgin goddess, cosmic tree/waters lifted up (represented as the rising Milky Way but it would take too long to explain that so I'll leave it out :)) , filthy underworld waters, battle between good and evil, light and dark, pure waters and rod from the mouth, etc.

This is a great example of LDS apologetics at its most ludicrous. Start with a passage from the Book of Mormon, then ransack the vast collection of ancient American and Middle Eastern lore until you find a few items that, if you squint hard enough, can be seen as parallels, and then declare that "Joseph Smith could not possibly have known about that!"*

It's bogus methodology. It's the Texas sharpshooter fallacy: finding scattered hits first and drawing the targets around them afterward. It's really, really stupid, but for some reason otherwise smart apologists engage in it all the time.

-- OK

* One can also play a linguistic version of this game, by searching through a variety of Native American languages, pre-KJV English grammatical forms, etc. More sophisticated, but just as methodologically bogus.

Anonymous said...

“that means that Joseph Sr.'s dream was made up long after the Book of Mormon was published.“

According to Lucy’s account, Joe Sr had this dream in 1811. For it to have survived with such detail to her telling in 1844-45, she must have heard it more than once from Joe Sr. Remember there was no TV and no internet then—I imagine this was a story that was recounted from tim-to-time in the Smith family home in the evening before bedtime. There’s no indication that it was “made up” nor any reason to believe it would be.

JoePeaceman said...

How quickly we spin….and that’s funny, if ex-think is trying that. Of course, for them, the criteria is that everything is a lucky guess, unless it can be used to make Saints look bad, because science hasn’t caught up with that one yet.
Critical friends, we started with Ritner and you misleading us on Champollion. Then you changed to absolutely nothing in the BofM that wasn’t “widely known” and then, when I dare question, I’m ransacking “the vast collection of ancient American and Middle Eastern lore until you find a few items that, if you squint hard enough...” There’s not even an attempt to seek or understand, only to dismiss (without seeming foolish?).

What I’m discussing is widely known today, by anyone who has read a few of the right books in the vast collection available to us ( “look it up!” as you say), but the question is- was it widely known to Joseph Smith? Did he have to ransack or simply pick up a newspaper? You’ve insisted that he couldn't have possibly known about Champollion, even though it was all over the news, but then you turn to Jeff’s nonexistent vast frontier library to explain the BofM, in hopes of leading someone from their faith, or perhaps justifying the fall. Perhaps the reason Joseph missed all those articles about Champollion is related to all that time he spent running off to libraries, digging up ruins and mapping Mesoamerica, exploring Shazer, Bountiful, etc. etc. etc. etc.?
Please stop and think….what are the chances?

JoePeaceman said...

As I’ve implied in the past, there’s a 100% chance that there is a relationship between ancient American and Middle Eastern religious symbolism. : ) I’m very busy right now and so won’t explain all, but if you don’t get Lehi’s dream, it’s most likely for some of the same reasons Lemuel didn’t understand it, no offense.
The question for now is, what did Nephi see in Lehi’s dream?
If we lived anciently, and were to humble ourselves, and ask to know the meaning of the tree, as Nephi did, we might be taken to a high mountain. We can safely assume that, for him this ascension would be a signal that it was an initiation or endowment. He’s making connections with God, cosmos, ancestors (First Father and Mother etc), seed, etc.
On that sacred mountain he sees Jerusalem first. For a typical 600BC former resident, this is the sacred center, built around a Temple on a representation of the primordial hill, where first Adam and first Eve partook of or were transformed by certain trees. A Dead Sea, sacred rivers, etc. were nearby. In that Temple of Solomon, during Nephi’s lifetime, it’s very likely that there were several symbols representing the primordial sea, etc and world trees—one “tree” being the Mother/Wife of God. On Yom Kippur the high priest enacts the return, passing through the 3 levels, sacrificing, making covenants, etc.
Of course, since you don’t see any of that you think I’m stretching it, ransacking, and that’s your choice, you can justify however u want, but notice that Nephi has asked for the meaning of the tree. he’s not telling us all, but he is given context by seeing Jerusalem and THEN he sees the tree, the loving virgin “Mother of God” (and no, it wasn’t a mistake to change it, stay focused :)) after the manner of the flesh.
Her name, MarYamm, associates her with the primordial waters, source of new life, the grave from which the faithful followers of Christ, 2nd Adam, are to be reborn. For Nephi, she would be the goddess on earth. For early Christians she was the 2nd Eve and is associated with several pagan goddesses. She is the foundation of the tree, the throne, etc. Then, she is holding the Child. He is the other part of the tree. Female and male are needed to make a whole (holiness).
I’m out of lunchtime but, quickly, the BofM makes it clear that the tree is also the waters of life, and there is also a filthy chaotic river, sweeping to the underworld. Nephi later sees the cosmic battle represented through his descendents, etc. It’s all there, and you don’t have to “ransack the vast” frontier library to find it. The Maya, for example, centered their religion around this symbolism. It’s also central to Middle Eastern theology. But, none of that will matter, I could give page after page of references, but all evidence will be dismissed.

I doubt I’ll see anything substantial on any of the rest of this so I’ll say bye, and get back to work. ❤️ Luv Ya’ll : )





Jeff Lindsay said...

Sorry, work has kept me away from these comments for too long, but OK, your belief that everything in the Book of Mormon could have been a product of Joseph's knowledge by 1830 is seriously out of touch. I'm chagrined that you haven't noticed the many counterexamples we've discussed here. It's not just the basic dream of a tree of life that makes it cool. Sure, tree of life concept was out already for any Bible reader to know about. It's the details that are so interesting. The white fruit, for example, impressed Margaret Barker as a legitimate ancient Near Eastern concept. The link between the iron rod and the word of God involves a significant word play. See "The Rod of Iron: Part of Another Intriguing Wordplay in the Book of Mormon." Another word play helps link the ancient temple and its layout to the journey Lehi makes. See "The Straight and Narrow Path, the Rod, the Spacious Field, and the White Fruit: Further Thoughts on Lehi's Dream" and "A Temple Gone Dark." Also see "The Great and Spacious Book of Mormon Arcade Game: More Curious Works from Book of Mormon Critics." The Exodus theme is intricately, artfully, and appropriately interwoven into the account. Chiasmus and other ancient poetical and rhetorical tools are appropriately employed. And there are many more issues of this kind that suggest even an adept Hebrew scholar with access the best books of that day would have struggled to create so many intriguing echoes of antiquity.

Jeff Lindsay said...

On top of that, what about the intricate correlations of the setting in which Lehi's dream takes place? It fits well as an experience encountered on Lehi's trail, a journey that was mocked in Joseph's day for the utter implausibility of traipsing across the great deserts of Arabia and not just surviving, but encountering the miracle of a luscious green spot, Bountiful. Even recently, a Harvard Ph.D. has mocked the premise that a place like Bountiful could have existed because in the Book of Mormon it seems to be uninhabited, but a place with fresh water and abundant fruit in the Arabian Peninsula would be prime real estate that everyone would flock to -- how could it be uninhabited? It's a convincing argument until you realize that there is an outstanding candidate for Bountiful that is nearly exactly due east, as specified in the Book of Mormon, from the surprisingly good ancient candidate for the place Nahom, and this candidate with the largest fresh water lagoon in the whole Arabian peninsula and abundant vegetation is still uninhabited today because it is so inaccessible -- unless one comes the way Lehi and his family did, starting in a wadi many miles to the west. Then add the folly of mentioning a stream/river that exists today in an entirely appropriate and unexpected place, when common knowledge tells us that there are no continually flowing rivers in Arabia. Lucky guess? There are many, many such subtleties and fascinating evidences in the story of Lehi's trail. We've gone from "what a ridiculous blunder!" from nineteenth century critics to desperate backpedaling: "But maybe Joseph had access to elite European maps that give the name Nehhem which he adapted and used appropriately with a Hebrew word play and maybe he read Niebuhr's description of his journey" and maybe he got a few more ideas here and there and just had some lucky guesses on this or that" to explain the many bulls-eyes that have eluded even Harvard Ph.D.s. For some of these issues, see "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Map: Part 1" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Map: Part 2."

Continuing....

OK, when you can explain how Joseph managed to get so much right about Lehi's trail, and how his environment guided him to properly describe Bountiful not only in terms of how to get there and its geographic relationship to Nahom, but also its existence of rare iron ore and many other details, and have it plausibly be uninhabited, then we'll have a more interesting conversation on our hands. All of these issues, by the way, have been discussed here. You've been there through all of them, often nitpicking at this or that, but missing the big picture -- and now after all that, you still insist that there's nothing interesting at all, that every details can simply be explained as Joseph drawing upon his environment. Lehis's trail? Nothing more that Pilgrim's Progress with a few Exodus allusions and a couple of items plucked off any rare European map of Arabia that any farmboy could have managed.

Anonymous said...

Jeff - Asked, answered, un-rejoined. You were there for it all, so yes, you should be chargrined. Yet again you ignored OK response regarding your Texas sharp shooting and you continue to hang your targets on individual trees instead seeing the big picture forest. Your conversation with your choir is officially stale and entirely until interesting.

Hoosier said...

"These comments are so stupid and transparently deceitful."
- Lucubrator, 11:31 am, August 25, 2019.

This is the only thing Lucubrator has said that could be interpreted, even vaguely, as imprecatory. If this is your standard of "hateful anger mongers", then Jeremy Runnells, the Tanners, most anti-Restored Church writers, and all the habitual anonymous commenters on this blog are indicted as well. Is "LDS theology" also to be blamed for the flaws in those who spurn it?

Hoosier said...

The debunking of the CES Letter was effective and helpful to me. And a thorough debunking it was.

Any victories you claim for the CES Letter are victories claimed by facile scandal-mongering masquerading as scholarship. Exposing the truth behind it is definitely worth the time.

JoePeaceman said...

Great comments Jeff, thanks again for all the info. and help you provide for the faithful!

I'm sure we'll hear from OK shortly, he's probably just brushing up on "View of the Hebrews" πŸ’–

Anonymous said...

Then please explain what is Lucubrator claiming is anti-Mormon?

Anonymous said...

No one claims victories for the CRS letter, but debunking FAIR's debunking, now there is a coup de grace

Anonymous said...

“You’ve insisted that he couldn't have possibly known about Champollion“

There’s no indication that he knew of or was influenced by Champollion. Remember that Jeff’s claim is that, in spite of the evidence to the contrary, Joseph and the translators clearly didn’t think that one character of Egyptian could account for multiple limes of text or complex ideas—that they “knew” Egyptian is phonetic because they knew about Champollion and his work. He has no evidence for this claim. The closest he has come is to find articles that were available around the time Joseph may have been able to consume them. The articles he has cited here make no mention of the nature of Champollion’s work (phonetic or pictographic). There also the large problem of there being no mention of him in the LDS community either specifically in regards to Egyptian translation, or in passing. To prove that information from the social milieu has influenced a work, one must demonstrate evidence of that information in the work in addition to the information being culturally present.

Jeff is fighting an uphill battle because he hasn’t shown evidence of Champollion’s influence, and the translation documents appear to support the long standing theory that hieroglyphics are pictographic. There is also the commonly held belief that Egyptian hieroglyphics were close to the Adamic language because they are so ancient (closer to the tower of Babel) and it was thought that a pure language should be able to convey complex ideas through simple means—the pure language is unsullied and the speaker and hearer will have perfect understanding of one another. These themes are present the LDS community documentation.

Hoosier said...

Jeff is a gem.

Also, Joe, you deserve some accolades yourself. Thanks for your comments.

Hoosier said...

This is an excellent summary, thank you!

Hoosier said...

That's not the logical fallacy you're looking for.

I quote from the Wikipedia entry for the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy:

"The fallacy is characterized by a lack of a specific hypothesis prior to the gathering of data, or the formulation of a hypothesis only after data have already been gathered and examined.[5] Thus, it typically does not apply if one had an ex ante, or prior, expectation of the particular relationship in question before examining the data."

In other words, Texas Sharpshooter applies when the eponymous Texan sharpshooter draws his hypothesis (target) based on the data (shots) which have already been collected (fired) as opposed to testing the data (shots) against a previously drawn hypothesis (target).

I argue that we have had a hypothesis all along: that Nephi's writings in the Book of Mormon reflect his environment in the ancient Near East. That's been the expectation for quite some time. That's why scholars since Sidney Sperry have been working with it, why the Astons travelled to Saudi Arabia. It's been the reasonable expectation since the beginning. We didn't suddenly get the idea that Nephi was writing about his environment when Margaret Barker showed up. It follows that JoePeaceman's examples are evidences supporting the hypothesis, as opposed to being the source of the hypothesis. Texas Sharpshooter is therefore not in play here.

What you're alleging sounds more like garden-variety cherrypicking, or more formally the fallacy of incomplete evidence.

Now, do I think cherrypicking is in play here? No, frankly not. These are pretty persistent themes in ancient Near Eastern religious structures, many of which had faded into disuse and obscurity by the 19th century but were at the height of controversy in the 600 BCs. Their presence in the Book of Mormon is therefore remarkable and not to be casually dismissed as "cherrypicked." If you protest, bring evidence that I am wrong, as opposed to merely asserting "common knowledge."

Hoosier said...

More of the same is not a coup de grace. Debunking FAIR's Debunking has itself recieved a number of responses, as has the most recent edition of the CES Letter.

Hoosier said...

By suggesting that you branch out from anti-Mormon/anti Book of Mormon readings, all he is implying that there are writings which are opposed to the Church or the Book of Mormon. What is hateful or angry or even particularly fearful about that?

Hoosier said...

Mormonthink has been in the business of drawing connections between the Book of Mormon and texts/Joseph Smith's environment for a while. If they want Jeff's "rigorous methodology", it's only fair that theirs is provided in return.

Anonymous said...

Hoosier - again,for the third time, what is anti-Mormon. Falsely suggestion that a person is reading something called anti-Mormon is pure fear hate and anger.

Anonymous said...

Then you are clearly confused because it is impossible to more of the same.

Anonymous said...

So you have no methodology. That is what we all thought. Mormonthink does not draw conclusion s it presents both sides. For example it may reference the sydeny rigdon collusion theory, but it also questions this methodology and consequently most objective analysis is Joseph Smith produced bom on his own. From boa to lectures on faith to DC Smith has demonstrated ability to produce. From several writings of the time and place Smith's productions are comparable. This methodology is no different to the many faithful Christians that acknowledge the jesus's story obvious ly fits the Herculean hero storirs around the hellenized Jews. Recognizing the eisegesis interpretation of the Messiah as an only begotten demi-God if miraculous birth does not make a faithful Christian anti-Christian. Even Ben Shapiro recognizes similar observations of religion (Judaism) matching it's time and place. Shapiro explains this as God working with his environment much like many faithful mormons.

However people in these threads are manufacturing something that says that Mormon s can not recognize that the bom or boa obviously matches a 19th century frontier American product . They are the ones boldly asserting reasonable observations make one anti-Mormon. But like you suggest, those people have no methodology for asserting this


Anonymous said...

Hoosier 2:09 -

Touche, OK's observation of fallacy is probably better described as cherry-picking. All along the hypothesis has been tested by sending Archeologist to New York and beyond in the Western Hemisphere. They came up with inedible cherries. The reasonable expectations did not pan out, but that never stopped confirmation basis. In the last 170 years, academia has progressed tremendously and now knows about things like confirmation basis, publication bais, etc. Most importantly, disastrous theologies of people like Karl Marx and Freud have been proven wrong because they lacked a thing now formally (rigorously) referred to as the principle of falsifiability. If all along your hypothesis could not be proven false, then it can not be proven true. The mere fact that the self-declared sweetest cherry comes from sending people to southwestern Saudi Arabia to find NHM and completely forget about an analysis of coincidence, sigh.... Then to hatefully attack (calling them the byword anti) anyone that does not drink the koolaid by agreeing, just shows how the LDS theology can take people further from Christ.

Anonymous said...

“one ‘tree’ being the Mother/Wife of God“

Which is it, mother or wife? In Mormon theology (the only “true” theology) God and Christ are separate. Also, there is no belief that Mary was the wife of God, only that she was a “chosen vessel.”

Anonymous said...

Hoosier 2:09 "If you protest, bring evidence"

What u just did the very concept cherry picking. Most " critics " do not disagree there are distinct Mormon themes. Out of 1000s of ancient themes, finding a couple then placing your hypo on them ... Combine copy transform does lead to something new. I have seen plenty of innovators attacked has producing nothing new, there are always jealous people that insist there is nothing new under the sun. That is all you doing, dismissing evidence of things copied combined transformed while picking the new and declaring it not new.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say thanks to Jeff and others here that use their time and talents to defend/support the restored gospel. While you can never convince the critics, your efforts are a blessing to the faithful.

-Dave

Anonymous said...

Hoosier 2:09, thanks for responding so intelligently. You note that the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy is "characterized by a lack of a specific hypothesis prior to the gathering of data, or the formulation of a hypothesis only after data have already been gathered and examined...." Texas Sharpshooter applies when the eponymous Texan sharpshooter draws his hypothesis (target) based on the data (shots) which have already been collected (fired) as opposed to testing the data (shots) against a previously drawn hypothesis (target)." I argue that we have had a hypothesis all along: that Nephi's writings in the Book of Mormon reflect his environment in the ancient Near East.

Let me give one example of what I had in mind, namely, all that excitement about the supposed presence of non-KJV Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon.

The broad hypothesis was, as you say, that the language of the BoM would reflect the ancient Middle Eastern and New World environments of its supposed composition --- not that it would reflect a completely foreign environment like late 16th-century England. It was only after EModE structures were found that Jeff came up with an ad hoc hypothesis to explain those structures ("God's little joke," as Jeff first called it, before revising it to "God's little irony").

Note also that the TS fallacy involves the "lack of a specific hypothesis" at the start of an investigation. It can apply in cases where the initial hypothesis is extremely broad, and the after-the-fact hypothesis is similar, but narrower. This was the case in the Swedish power line study given in the Wikipedia entry on the fallacy. The initial hypothesis was that "power lines cause[] some kind of poor health effects." That's not a "specific" hypothesis. It was only after the researchers found a correlation between power lines and childhood leukemia specifically that they came up with the much narrower and more methodologically sound hypothesis that power lines cause childhood leukemia. But the specific correlation turned out to be an artifact of the bad methodology --- just as the presence of a few EModE structures in the BoM almost certainly is.

The other part of the fallacy I want to stress is this (also from the Wikipedia entry): The Texas sharpshooter fallacy often arises when a person has a large amount of data at his or her disposal, but only focuses on a small subset of that data. Some factor other than the one attributed may give all the elements in that subset some kind of common property (or pair of common properties, when arguing for correlation). If the person attempts to account for the likelihood of finding some subset in the large data with some common property by a factor other than its actual cause, then that person is likely committing a Texas sharpshooter fallacy.

This is what I have in mind when I say that apologists "ransack" what are in effect "large amount[s] of data," such as the entirety of Mesoamerican archaeology and geography, a large set of languages that include ancient Hebrew and Egyptian plus a large number of Native American languages and dialects, etc. Root through all that stuff --- all of the many, many, many possible lexical and grammatical elements of those many languages --- and you're bound to find something, merely by chance, just as the Swedish researchers were bound to find something in a study that "ransacked" more than 800 diseases.

I'm not claiming that all LDS apologetics is tainted by this particular fallacy. There's plenty of cherry-picking and other shady stuff going on as well. I am claiming that the credibility of the whole enterprise would benefit greatly from an outside review of its methods.

I hope this helps clarify my position.

--- OK

Anonymous said...

Just want to say thanks to OK for his time and talents to defend/support sound reasoning. While many times he convinced the misled to moderate their positions, something they will never admit it, nonetheless his efforts are appreciated by those wrongfully reviled by them.

JoePeaceman said...

Great comments Hoosier! Thanks.
And, OK, still no readily available Middle Eastern and Mesoamerican Geography, waters/tree of life goddess, spacious fields (read Jeff’s links), etc. etc. etc. etc. ?
As you know, I don’t care if 19th C. people believed a character of Egyptian could produce volumes (and there is evidence that Joseph Smith did not), it doesn’t make a difference to the truthfulness of the BofA or BofM.
On the other hand, I think one of Jeff’s excellent points is that, even though we know Critics are generally wrong, and Ritner is especially wrong when he tries to pontificate on our Church History or anything in the 19th C, or anything that doesn’t involve retranslating papyri that have already been translated ... or anything to do with the BofA, BUT you should expect a little more from your minions when it comes to something about Egyptology that even maintenance workers can find, but we get this from Ritner:
“Champollion’s discovery was reported in the United States in the New York Herald, December 28, 1842. For its potential restraint on Smith’s future translations, see Brodie 1945…”

But why question the doubt promoting rumor mill? There’s one with a PhD now....plus Dehlin is about to graduate 😊 please give me the koolaid πŸ˜‚

So, I probably won’t have time to continue to wait for any of y’all to make sense. Still luv ya! ❤️😊

Anonymous said...

Joe,

OK has astutely put it: "Root through all that stuff --- all of the many, many, many possible lexical and grammatical elements of those many languages --- and you're bound to find something, merely by chance."

Your religious connections share the same problematic methodology. I guess you can create your own rules playing in your own sandbox. If BoM religious influence needs to be Christian, it can be. Semitic? Why not. Egyptian? Don't mind if I do. Or, we could even expand it to accommodate pagan Baal worship. Let's party! The possibilities are endless. All we have to do is find something similar and poof, there's proof; and because my burden of proof is based in belief and faith, facts are only important if they confirm my bias. Now I have 100% certainty about my no-brainer beliefs. Heart, heart, smiley face--all is well in Zion.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Hoosier ran away from the fights he started

JoePeaceman said...

😊❤️ Just checking to see if my favorite critics are still working on this one. You’re doing much better!—Concepts such as: sharpshooter, methodology; sandbox, and so on, and on, may have been readily available in books and newspapers in the 1820s πŸ‘πŸΌ However, they still don’t qualify as support for your claims above because they aren’t in the BofM, and they don’t exhibit any central themes in Native American or Middle Eastern religion or culture. So, they can’t explain how those complex ancient symbols (e.g. Tree of Life) made it into the BofM.

Since anti-Mormonism is a full-time job for some (no one here of course) I’m sure you’re aware that, if you’re trying to discourage faith in Christ or get people to cancel their sealing, or separate from their families, etc., then it’s best to distract from serious study of the BofM and to focus on social issues, confusion, or making church members seem like greedy, homophobic, bigots, etc. 😊

Anonymous said...

“I’m sure you’re aware that, if you’re trying to discourage faith in Christ or get people to cancel their sealing, or separate from their families, etc., then it’s best to distract from serious study of the BofM and to focus on social issues, confusion, or making church members seem like greedy, homophobic, bigots, etc.“

You’re right. We should keep our eye on the prize rather than arguing about all of this other stuff—as you say, it’s just a distraction from what we’re really trying to do.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe, I don't like talking to you in general, but I'll point out once again that the tree of life analogy predates the Book of Mormon, from Joseph's own father Joseph Smith Senior. He'd sell blessings and prophecies as a way to scratch together money when things were tight. Among his prophecies was the tree of life pablum, which really isn't all that interesting or unique. I do think it's worth considering that the "rod" mentioned in his prophecy and in the Book of Mormon quite likely referred to dowsing rods, which Smith and his cohorts were well versed in, con men that they were.

JoePeaceman said...

Thanks anonymous, that’s a great story, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy talking to you, but I have limited time right now. And, I’ll point out once again that— “....Sorry but it seems that the dream of Joseph Sr. doesn’t really qualify.

1- as Ramer pointed out, it wasn’t in a book or newspaper until long after the BofM was published and, since Lucy had read the BofM, it can just as easily be argued that she was influenced by the BofM, rather than other way around. And, even if God gave Joseph Sr: a dream like Lehi’s, that still doesn’t explain how they knew the ancient American and Semitic details, nor does it show that they were readily available and “widely known” in Native American antiquities, etc.

2- Joseph’s dream doesn’t contain several of the important ancient American and Middle Eastern details, for examples: the BofM explains and describes the tree in the context of the ancient primordial hill, virgin goddess, cosmic tree/waters lifted up (represented as the rising Milky Way but it would take too long to explain that so I’ll leave it out :)) , filthy underworld waters, battle between good and evil, light and dark, pure waters and rod from the mouth, etc. “.

Anonymous said...

Joe - The other anon is limited on time right now, so I will fill in for him. I'll point out once again that he said:

"Just reread the account of Lehi’s dream because I didn’t remember any of that from the many times I had read it. Guess what—my memory was right.

It might be fun to see you try to make the connections, though."

JoePeaceman said...

Hmmm, odd, I didn’t know ex-think, antiCES, etc had time constraints, isnt this all you do? Or
is he on a different shift, or have I been promoted to JR himself, he who had no idea what would happen if he gathered the best of anti-Mormonism and sent it to someone he knew wouldn’t respond right away and then put it on the internet to get “funding?” πŸ˜πŸ˜‰ Or is the other anon turning it over to u because you’ve already ransacked the 19th C and found something to squint at? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‰just messin. If u don’t know me I like to send back the things that y’all say about imperfect members of Christ’s Church.

Im guessing you have a plan for this, so I’ll remind u that I replied with several things including-

“...if you don’t get Lehi’s dream, it’s most likely for some of the same reasons Lemuel didn’t understand it, no offense.
The question for now is, what did Nephi see in Lehi’s dream?
If we lived anciently, and were to humble ourselves, and ask to know the meaning of the tree, as Nephi did, we might be taken to a high mountain. We can safely assume that, for him this ascension would be a signal that it was an initiation or endowment. He’s making connections with God, cosmos, ancestors (First Father and Mother etc), seed, etc.
On that sacred mountain he sees Jerusalem first. For a typical 600BC former resident, this is the sacred center, built around a Temple on a representation of the primordial hill, where first Adam and first Eve partook of or were transformed by certain trees. A Dead Sea, sacred rivers, etc. were nearby. In that Temple of Solomon, during Nephi’s lifetime, it’s very likely that there were several symbols representing the primordial sea, etc and world trees—one “tree” being the Mother/Wife of God. On Yom Kippur the high priest enacts the return, passing through the 3 levels, sacrificing, making covenants, etc.
Of course, since you don’t see any of that you think I’m stretching it, ransacking, and that’s your choice, you can justify however u want, but notice that Nephi has asked for the meaning of the tree. he’s not telling us all, but he is given context by seeing Jerusalem and THEN he sees the tree, the loving virgin “Mother of God” (and no, it wasn’t a mistake to change it, stay focused :)) after the manner of the flesh.
Her name, MarYamm, associates her with the primordial waters, source of new life, the grave from which the faithful followers of Christ, 2nd Adam, are to be reborn. For Nephi, she would be the goddess on earth. For early Christians she was the 2nd Eve and is associated with several pagan goddesses. She is the foundation of the tree, the throne, etc. Then, she is holding the Child. He is the other part of the tree. Female and male are needed to make a whole (holiness).
I’m out of lunchtime but, quickly, the BofM makes it clear that the tree is also the waters of life, and there is also a filthy chaotic river, sweeping to the underworld. Nephi later sees the cosmic battle represented through his descendents, etc. It’s all there, and you don’t have to “ransack the vast” frontier library to find it. The Maya, for example, centered their religion around this symbolism. It’s also central to Middle Eastern theology. But, none of that will matter, I could give page after page of references, but all evidence will be dismissed.

I doubt I’ll see anything substantial on any of the rest of this so I’ll say bye, and get back to work. ❤️ Luv Ya’ll : )”

😊😊

Anonymous said...

So what you are saying it is has some pretty high level universal concepts found in cultures through out the world, kinda of like creation stories, yes faithful, non-antis like us did see that, and now it appears you too finally. I knew you could do it, luv ya

JoePeaceman said...

But of course, I’m saying anon has read and reread the BofM many times and didn’t see any of that, not-OK-anon re-emphasized it (since OK was so busy and can hardly stand speaking to me, even though I care about each of you far more than you care about me : )), BUT no one saw it, everyone’s memory was correct, not there : ). Yet, you knew all along and are proud of me for finally seeing it, as you all did and as Joseph Smith obviously did in the 1820s because it’s all common knowledge today and why bother pointing out books and newspapers that he read on this (while skipping over Champollion) when everyone knows it NOW, even though no one in Joseph’s day or yesterday seems to have recognized this obvious plagiarism of detailed central Native American religious symbolism? : ) luv you more…

Anonymous said...

As you know, it has been common knowledge since the begining of humanity and you are quit deliberately pretending silly smugness is caring about people and using universal concepts means plagarism, something only claim, and until a moment ago we thought a silliness you had overcome

JoePeaceman said...

Universal since the beginning? And, my friend, we must then ask, even if Joseph knew this (let’s say he got the Hebrew parts from Seixas (like with the BofA), the Egyptian parts from Champollion, the Mayan parts from View of the Hebrews, and etc), why would he incorporate this obvious universal symbolism in the BofM in ways that you, your other selves, and almost no one else recognized for nearly 200 years, until today when u knew it all along, after saying it’s not there?

Repentance is easier. 😊❤️

Anonymous said...

Never said it was not there. You are having an one those imaginary come conversations again. You are the only recognizing for the first time, yet again

Anonymous said...

“the BofM explains and describes the tree in the context of the ancient primordial hill, virgin goddess, cosmic tree/waters lifted up (represented as the rising Milky Way but it would take too long to explain that so I’ll leave it out :)) , filthy underworld waters, battle between good and evil, light and dark, pure waters and rod from the mouth, etc. “.

As always, Joe you have provided information that makes sense to you but no one else. Your assertions here have again piqued my interest, this time in how far they have gone astray. I’ll attempt to address those that are somewhat comprehensible. Before that however, we must come to an understanding that we are discussing a static text in the BoM. It contains specific words, phrases, and images that can and should be taken at face value—to do otherwise would lead to “wrest[ing] the scriptures,” which leads to many who “have gone far astray because of this thing.”

You first mention “the tree in the context of the ancient primordial hill,” but fail to tell us what this primordial hill is either in the BoM or outside of it. The BoM makes no mention of a hill in Lehi’s vision. Nephi, in trying to understand the interpretation of his father’s vision, is “caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which [he] never had before seen, and upon which [he] never had before set [his] foot.” I would submit that there is a large and distinct difference between a hill and an “exceedingly high mountain.” If you are drawing parallels between a hill and something else from the vision, please elaborate. If this is your intended parallel, it’s obviously faulty on its face.

You next mention a “virgin goddess.” We must assume that you are referring to Mary, who appears in Nephi’s version of the vision. She is introduced as “the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.” The text explicitly states that the virgin, rather than being a goddess, is merely a fleshy vessel. Her only role is to enable “the condescension of God.” Note that her next and final mention is solely in regards to her birthing Jesus “And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.” You try to claim that “She is the foundation of the tree, the throne, etc. Then, she is holding the Child. He is the other part of the tree. Female and male are needed to make a whole (holiness).” She is not mentioned in the context of the tree. In fact, the meaning of the tree is given to us and there is no virgin goddess, no male/female, none of the associations you make are even hinted at:

“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.”

and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.”

You are making associations that just aren’t supported by the text. You are grafting on your hopes and desires for it and trying to hang your hat on parallels that aren’t even tenuous.

Anonymous said...

Below are a few more of your assertions that you claim are “American and Semitic details that weren’t “readily available and ‘widely known.’” There’s no way Joseph could have made these connections:

“filthy underworld waters” Like the river Styx?

“battle between good and evil”. You mean the backdrop of every religious narrative?

“light and dark”. See above.

“pure waters” Like Christ who is the “source of living water”? No way Joseph could have made that association.

“rod from the mouth” Proverbs 14:3 “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride” Micah 6:9 “The Lord’s voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.”

Here’s a strikingly similar biblical parallel to Nephi’s vision and interpretation:

Revelation 12:4 “and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”

“25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God”

The rod of iron mentioned in Revelation is the word of God. God’s word will rule all nations.

Anonymous said...

I see you mentioned Jerusalem in the context of the hill. One question: how can a hill be primordial with a city and temple built upon it?