long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Intertextuality: 3 Nephi 30

People have been discussing Jonathan Edwards and intertextuality on the Ward Radio YouTube comments (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfgj47bBAyw), in the Interpreter comments, and elsewhere. It's fascinating to see the diversity of views. I don't have time to respond to everything, but I'll post a few more things here. 

Those interested can see more background on Edwards here:

A periodic compilation of Edwards' works is here:
https://dailyjonathanedwards.blogspot.com/

Today, I'm posting an annotated version of 3 Nephi 30. Someday we'll have the entire Book of Mormon annotated this way so everyone can see the intertextuality between the text and the KJV, Jonathan Edwards, and possibly other sources.

3 Nephi 30 is a good example because it shows that a high percentage of Book of Mormon language is also KJV language. Few of the KJV words/phrases are not also found in Edwards, including the so-called "blended" passages.

The blue Book of Mormon words/phrases in the annotation are nonbiblical and also not found in Edwards. In some cases noted below, the nonbiblical language is close to Edwards (e.g., plural instead of singular). There are several examples in the Book of Mormon of paraphrased or misquoted passages from the KJV that are identical to paraphrased or misquoted KJV passages in Edwards' works.

The red words/phrases are nonbiblical Book of Mormon wording that are also found in Edwards' works.

The purple words/phrases are nonbiblical Book of Mormon wording that are plural examples of terms also found in Edwards' works.

Naturally, Edwards is not the only person who ever used this nonbiblical Book of Mormon terminology. English is a common language or we couldn't understand one another. But the ready availability of Edwards' works in Palmyra during Joseph's youth indicates that Edwards was a possible source for Joseph's vocabulary that he used when translating the plates.
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Annotation of 3 Nephi 30

Bold = KJV 

Blue = nonbiblical BofM/D&C w/o JE 

Red = nonbiblical BofM/D&C and JE 

Purple = nonbiblical BofM/D&C close to JE

Chapter 30

 

The latter-day Gentiles are commanded to repent, come unto Christ, and be numbered with the house of Israel. About A.D. 34–35.

 

1 Hearken, O ye Gentiles [1], and hear the words of Jesus Christ [2], the Son of the living God [3], which he hath commanded me [4] that [5] I should speak [6] concerning you [7], for, behold he commandeth me that I should write [8], saying:

2 Turn, all ye Gentiles [9], from your wicked ways [10]; and repent of [11] your evil doings [12], of your lyings [13] and deceivings [14], and of your whoredoms [15], and of your secret abominations [16], and your idolatries [17], and of your murders [18], and your priestcrafts [19], and your envyings [20], and your strifes [21], and from all your wickedness and abominations [22], and come unto me [23], and be baptized in my name [24], that ye may receive a remission of your sins [25], and be filled with the Holy Ghost [26], that ye may be numbered with my people [27] which [1830, revised to who] are of the house of Israel [28].



[1] BM (6)

[2] “hear the words” OT (10) NT (1) BM (12) DC (1) JE (21)

[3] NT (2) BM (4) DC (5) JE (21)

[4] “he hath commanded me” OT (1) BM (2)

[5] “commanded me that” OT (1) BM (10) PGP (1) JE (1)

[6] “I should speak” NT (1) BM (5) JE (4)

[7] “concerning you” OT (3) NT (2) BM (4) DC (11) JE (32)

[8] “I should write” BM (4) JE (4)

[9] NT (1) BM (1)

[10] “your wicked ways” OT (1) BM (1) JE (5)

[11] OT (3) NT (2) BM (43) DC (15) PGP (2) JE (136)

[12] OT (1) BM (4) JE (2)

[13] BM (9) DC (1) John Wesley (1) Note: “lying” is ubiquitous

[14] NT (1) BM (5)

[15] OT (32) BM (27)

[16] BM (5) DC (1) JE (2)

[17] NT (1) BM (2) JE (24)

[18] NT (4) BM (30) JE (25)

[19] BM (6) DC (1) Note: “priestcraft” is nonbiblical but in JE

[20] NT (2) BM (8) DC (1) JE (19)

[21] OT (1) NT (2) BM (8) DC (1) JE (25)

[22] BM (30) DC (2) Note: “wickedness and abomination” is nonbiblical but in JE

[23] OT (18) NT (8) BM (37) DC (4) JE (81)

[24] BM (14) DC (1)

[25] "receive a remission of your sins" BM (1) Note: “remission of” with “sins” is NT (9) BM (28) DC (19) PGP (3) JE (148)

[26] NT (8) BM (6) DC (1) PGP (2) JE (7)

[27] "numbered with my people" BM (1) Note: “numbered with” OT (1) NT (3) BM (5) JE (10), "my people" is ubiquitous

[28] OT (33) NT (2) BM (49) DC (3) JE (31)


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Jonathan Edwards: BYU Studies

For today's observations about Jonathan Edwards and the Book of Mormon we'll consider the latest edition of BYU Studies, which features an article by Richard Bushman titled "Translation and the World Order."

https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/translation-and-the-world-order/

In the article, Bushman describes some of the most recent approaches to understanding the text of the Book of Mormon. He explains:

In the matter of diction, [B.H.] Roberts was an environmentalist and, in Schleiermacher’s terms, saw the Book of Mormon translation as moving the text toward the reader rather than preserving foreign terms.

Recently, Latter-­day Saint scholars have increasingly followed Roberts’s line of reasoning. Instead of emphasizing the absence of nineteenth-­century language as previous apologists did, they have picked up on Roberts’s language “common to the time and locality” and joined the critics in identifying elements of Joseph Smith’s cultural environment in the Book of Mormon. 

Instead of trying to refute environmentalism, they recognize substantial evidence of Joseph Smith’s world in the text. In a recent work on translation, Jonathan Neville finds language from the influential Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards in the Book of Mormon, hypothesizing a young Joseph Smith stocking his mind with Edwardian diction heard from local pulpits and perhaps written works.10 

Brant Gardner points to phrases like “song of redeeming love” (Alma 5:26) that would be alien to Nephi’s culture but commonplace in nineteenth-­century America’s evangelical culture.11 Then there are the tens of thousands of two- to four-word phrases from the King James Bible, not likely to be found in Mormon’s language or Nephi’s.12 

In their interpretations of Book of Mormon translation, these scholars are abandoning Schleiermacher’s first translation alternative of moving the reader toward the writer and adopting his second method, moving the original author toward his modern readers.13

10. Neville has found almost four hundred nonbiblical phrases of three words or more common to Edwards’s writings and the Book of Mormon. See Jonathan Edward Neville, Infinite Goodness: Joseph Smith, Jonathan Edwards, and the Book of Mormon (n.p.: Museum of the Book of Mormon, 2021), xiii–xiv, 3–8, 185–86, 239–81.

11. Brant A. Gardner, The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2011), 256; see also 187–95. For a summary of other Latter-day Saint views on modern language in the Book of Mormon, see Gardner, Gift and Power, 148–56.

12. See Bushman, Joseph Smith’s Gold Plates, 179.

13. All of these scholars honor Joseph Smith’s inspiration but look for ways to account for the many traces of nineteenth-century culture in the book. As Grant Hardy puts it, “The English Book of Mormon may be a rather free translation that was nevertheless revealed word for word.” Grant Hardy, “The Book of Mormon Translation Process,” BYU Studies Quarterly 60, no. 3 (2021): 205.

While Bushman was correct that in my book Infinite Goodness I mentioned 400 nonbiblical Edwardsian phrases, the database has expanded considerably since that book was published. 

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In Alma chapter 1 alone, there are around 50 nonbiblical Edwardsian phrases.

https://www.mobom.org/bm-kjv-and-je-alma-1

The word count in Alma 1 is something like this (omitting common words/phrases and depending on how we could unique words and phrases).

Bold = KJV (~234 words)

Blue = nonbiblical BofM/D&C w/o JE (~167 words)

Red = nonbiblical BofM/D&C and JE (~219 words)

With few exceptions (e.g., babblings), all of the KJV words/phrases are also found in the writings of Edwards. 

Some scholars have focused on the intertextuality between the KJV and the Book of Mormon without considering Jonathan Edwards. This seems to leave them with a skewed perspective on the sources of the nonbiblical language in the Book of Mormon.

Recognizing that Joseph Smith "had an intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations" including Jonathan Edwards gives us greater insights into how God prepared Joseph Smith for his role as translator and prophet, and also expands our understanding of the text of the Book of Mormon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Intertextuality: Alma 1

I posted an annotated version of Alma 1 that shows the intertextuality with the KJV and Jonathan Edwards.

https://www.mobom.org/bm-kjv-and-je-alma-1

This system provides a quick glance and an in-depth analysis. 

Black bold = KJV language in the Book of Mormon (which is also almost always in Edwards)

Blue bold = unique to Book of Mormon

Red bold = nonbiblical language in the Book of Mormon and Edwards

(click to enlarge)

I've done several chapters in the Book of Mormon this way. It's obviously a work in progress because I don't have much time for this, but I think it's cool to see how well the Book of Mormon fits within the Christian tradition as explained by Jonathan Edwards.

And, of course, this analysis corroborates Joseph Smith's claim that he translated the plates.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Ward Radio: Jonathan Edwards and Intertextuality

Ward Radio released our interview about Jonathan Edwards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfgj47bBAyw


The Jonathan Edwards connection is one of the most significant new discoveries about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. The connection helps us understand the Book of Mormon in several ways:

- it corroborates Joseph Smith's claim that he translated the ancient record

- it offers new insights on how God prepared Joseph Smith for his role as translator and prophet

- it explains Joseph's statement that he had "an intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations" 

- it provides context and background for the non-biblical language in the Book of Mormon

- it shows Christians that the Book of Mormon is a fulfillment of their long-anticipated hopes for, as Edwards explained it, the "prosperity of the church, in its most glorious state on earth in the latter days"

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Many Latter-day Saints have never heard of Jonathan Edwards. Others have only heard about him from certain LDS scholars who offer a demeaning caricature for their own apologetic purposes.

By contrast, most Christians are familiar with Jonathan Edwards as the highly accomplished and influential 18th century Christian minister, author, and theologian.

As Christians, Latter-day Saints owe it to themselves to learn about Edwards and the important role he played in laying a foundation for the Restoration. We have a special interest in Edwards because our understanding of the Book of Mormon is enhanced by seeing how influential he was.

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There is an introduction to Jonathan Edwards at MOBOM.org, here:

https://www.mobom.org/jonathan-edwards

At that link there are additional links to examples of intertextuality that show how Joseph Smith drew upon his own vocabulary when he translated the plates. We can see that the language in the Book of Mormon draws on the King James Bible and the works of Jonathan Edwards that were on sale in the bookstore in Palmyra that Joseph visited regularly, as well as other sources of Edwards' works such as pamphlets, newspaper and magazine articles, and sermons by Christian ministers who frequently quoted Edwards.

The database of nonbiblical Book of Mormon language that is found in the works of Jonathan Edwards is large and growing. 


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For those interested in learning even more, there are two books on the subject. Infinite Goodness: Joseph Smith, Jonathan Edwards, and the Book of Mormon, offers an overview with lots of examples. It is available in print and Kindle, and soon in audio.

www.amazon.com/Infinite-Goodness-Joseph-Jonathan-Edwards/dp/1934537241

The accompanying database (currently 1,473 pages in a Word document), called the Nonbiblical Intertextual Database (NID)  is available in Kindle only. 

https://www.amazon.com/Nonbiblical-Intertextuality-Database-supplement-Infinite-ebook/dp/B0CNJBTG8R

An early version of the NID is on the MOBOM site, here.

https://www.mobom.org/nonbiblical-intertextuality-database

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Although more and more LDS scholars are coming to recognize the significance of the connections between Joseph Smith and Jonathan Edwards, others resist the growing evidence. Readers should consider the evidence for themselves. 

Some critics cite this evidence to suggest that Joseph Smith composed the text of the Book of Mormon and his other writings by plagiarizing Edwards (and the KJV). However, evidence of composition is also evidence of translation. IOW, the evidence that these critics cite merely corroborates what Joseph said all along; i.e., that he translated the ancient plates. Every translator draws on his/her own mental language bank, the same way every author does. This is obvious.

Inevitably, people interpret evidence to confirm their biases. Those who believe Joseph (and Oliver) will see corroboration, validation, and new insights in the connection with Edwards. Those who disbelieve Joseph and Oliver will confirm their own biases as well.  

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Intertextuality: KJV, BofM, and JE (Jonathan Edwards)

The intertextuality among the King James Version of the Bible and the Book of Mormon is well known. The intertextuality with Jonathan Edwards is less known.

At MOBOM.org (Museum of the Book of Mormon) we've begun posting examples.

This week in Come Follow Me covers Alma 5, so you can see the intertextuality for that chapter here:


For more info, see



Friday, June 14, 2024

Mormon History Association this weekend

This weekend is the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association.  It's an awesome organization of professional and amateur historians that offers an important service.

I've attended the annual meeting several times. I've presented twice, IIRC. Too many scheduling conflicts for this year, however.

Here's the link:

https://mormonhistoryassociation.org/

We all owe a great debt of gratitude to the historians who work so hard to collect, preserve, and present history.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

LDS archaeology conference June 21-22

For those interested, Wayne May and others are speaking at a conference in Spanish Fork, Utah, on June 21-22.

https://www.ldsarchaeology.com/events/

Most people now get their information on X, YouTube, and Instagram. Some still use Facebook and other legacy social media. The value of these conferences is meeting the speakers, being able to ask questions, and mingling with other interested people.

I have scheduling conflicts so I won't be there, but the topics look interesting.