Monday, July 13, 2020

Censorship by Hugh Nibley

In 1955, Hugh Nibley wrote a series titled "The Way of the Church" that explored ...

In the March issue, he discussed censorship.

I doubt Brother Nibley intended this article as a guide for future generations of Church historians and self-appointed "experts" on the Book of Mormon, but these two groups of intellectuals have managed to adopt each of the techniques Nibley discussed.

The Way of the Church
Part 1:
   Controlling the Past -III
 by Hugh Nibley, Ph.D.
Improvement Era 58 (Mar. 1955), 152-4, 166, 168
Excerpts:
CENSORSHIP
WHEN Joseph Smith announced that the very first words of the Bible had been edited and their meaning changed by "an old Jew without any authority," he knew whereof he spoke.[1] Not that the manipulation of that particular passage has been definitely proven—there is not yet enough evidence, one way or the other—but that the common practice of such manipulation has of recent years become an established fact, thanks to the labors of Kahle and others. The work of the Masoretes, far from being, as it was meant to be, the final and definitive fixing of the sacred text for all time, simply laid the groundwork for new and daring "reconstructions."...
Censorship example from Nibley's article

Here's how the Saints book "reconstructed" Joseph Smith--History, 1:52. 
Nibley continued. The rigorous and arbitrary censorship of ancient texts belongs to the common heritage of all the "people of the book," being an established routine in every age. Antiochus ordered all copies of the Jewish scriptures burned, and pronounced the death penalty on anyone guilty of possessing a copy...
Good luck getting caught with a copy of Letter VII if you work for Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, BYU, CES, or Meridian Magazine. Whatever you do, don't read the packet on Cumorah.
Nibley continued. A subtle and very effective form of censorship is the silent treatment. "It is permitted," writes St. Augustine, "for the purpose of building up religion in things pertaining to piety, when necessary, to conceal whatever appears to need concealing; but it is not permitted to lie, of course, and so one may not conceal by way of lying."[21]  The distinction is too fine, for silence can be very mendacious. 
To accommodate M2C intellectuals such as those who run Book of Mormon Central, Volume 1 of Saints managed to censor Cumorah completely from Church history. 
The Gospel Topics entry on Book of Mormon Geography also de-correlated Cumorah by not even mentioning it.
Since its inception, Book of Mormon Central has censored alternatives to M2C. That makes sense, because it is merely a front for its corporate owner, Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (http://bmaf.org/) which has promoted M2C for decades.
Fortunately, we all have access to the Joseph Smith Papers, which are awesome. Some of the notes promote M2C and SITH, but otherwise the material is outstanding in every way.
The Church History Library is also awesome.
And, we always have the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. As long as you don't get sidetracked into the commentaries, especially the commentaries that change the wording of the texts, you'll be in good shape.

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