Monday, June 10, 2019

KnoWhy #519 Abridgment

The email notification for KnoWhy #519 says this:

The Title Page of the Book of Mormon refers to its primary records as abridgments. An abridgment is a shortened version of a text, which means that the abridgments found in the Book of Mormon are only summaries of larger recorded histories. Exploring how the Book of Mormon’s various source texts contribute to its message about Christ can be intellectually enlightening, spiritually satisfying, and faith promoting.
 
“Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites … An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also.”
Title Page

Let's examine that a moment.

First, recall that Joseph explained "the title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates."

IOW, Joseph translated the actual plates. He didn't just read words that appeared on a stone in a hat.

[At BYU Education Week a couple of years ago, I was in a session on Church history when the instructor actually said, "We don't know how Joseph knew this because he didn't use the plates during the translation." That's how befuddled our LDS scholars are.]

Anyway, the Title Page explains the contents:

“Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites … An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also.”

The abridgment contains quotations of original sermons and letters, but the narrative was written by Mormon (and Moroni) as an abridgment of original records.

But we also see that the Book of Mormon we have today contains original records (1 Nephi through the first 11 verses of Words of Mormon) that we usually refer to as the "small plates of Nephi." 

The reason, of course, is that small plates of Nephi were not in Moroni's stone box. Joseph got those later, as we know from D&C 9 and 10. Accounts in Church history show us that the messenger to whom Joseph gave the Harmony plates took those plates to Cumorah. From the depository of Nephite records in Cumorah, the messenger found the small plates of Nephi and took them to Fayette.

You won't know about this if you only read material published by the M2C citation cartel and the revisionist historians, but you can read the background for yourself in the links I've provided, as well as in my book, etc. 

Now, look at how Book of Mormon Central (BMC) frames this.

First, in the email:

The Title Page of the Book of Mormon refers to its primary records as abridgments. 

No, the Title Page refers to all its contents as abridgments. BMC wants people to believe the original, unabridged plates of Nephi were in the stone box because they reject Oliver Cowdery's testimony that he and Joseph and others had entered the depository of Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah.

An abridgment is a shortened version of a text, which means that the abridgments found in the Book of Mormon are only summaries of larger recorded histories. 

This part is fine, but as we just saw, about 25% of the Book of Mormon consists of Nephi's original records, not an abridgment. 

Exploring how the Book of Mormon’s various source texts contribute to its message about Christ can be intellectually enlightening, spiritually satisfying, and faith promoting.

Agreed.

The KnoWhy itself is fine, except for the illusory "Mesoamerican" connection that I won't take the time to discuss because by now, everyone can see the logical fallacy.

Here's the link: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/why-is-the-book-of-mormon-called-an-abridgment

I do want to point out how BMC tries to fit Nephi's original record into the Title Page.

The prophet Nephi similarly referred to a portion of his writings as “an abridgment of the record of my father” (1 Nephi 1:17).

If you read the whole verse in context, Nephi tells us he's writing his own original account, starting with an abridgment of his father's record to explain how the events in his father's record affected him, Nephi, personally. This "abridgment" consists mainly of his father's dream. The rest of his account includes his journeys to Jerusalem (which could not have been part of his father's record unless his father wrote what Nephi told him), his building a ship, sailing to America, separating from his brothers, etc.

There is a stark difference between Nephi's original record (passed down all the way to Omni, with original writings all along the way), and the explicit abridgments by Mormon and Moroni from Mosiah through Ether, with Moroni sealing the account with his own few words.

You can see a graphic of the two sets of plates here:

http://www.lettervii.com/p/the-two-sets-of-plates-schematic.html