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.

Monday, September 10, 2018

M2C web part 7 - EME-OT and 2 Nephi 27

People are asking me why I am commenting on the Early Modern English theory. After all, Brothers Skousen and Carmack are experts in these areas.

making assumptions about Joseph's dialectal usage
I repeat that I greatly admire and respect them and their work, overall. I just think they've made a major mistake on the Earty Modern English issue.

Here's a passage from p. 13 of Part One of Volume 3 that explains their position that I disagree with.

It reads:

In quite a few cases, the Book of Mormon usage is restricted to Early Modern English and died out by the 1700s. One surprising finding is that nearly all the Book of Mormon usage that many have thought to be simply Joseph Smith's Upstate New York dialect has actually been identified as Early Modern English. In other words, the original Book of Mormon text is archaic English (dating from Early Modern English) rather than Joseph Smith's dialectical English.

[I don't think anyone can say what Joseph Smith's dialectal English was apart from the text of the Book of Mormon, because we don't have an electronic recording of it. Brothers Skousen and Carmack assume Joseph's dialect can be reconstructed from his brief writings, but no one speaks the way they write, as I've discussed before. Certainly we can't discern a particular dialect from examining ngrams of published works.]

This important finding will be thoroughly discussed in part 3 of volume 3 of the critical text. There Stanford Carmack and I will consider virtually all the strange words, phrases, and syntax from the original Book of Mormon text, most of which have never been edited out of the text but which fit best as examples of Early Modern English usage rather than Joseph Smith's dialectal usage from the early 1800s.

Well, we'll see.


BTW, Here are two specific points you might find interesting.

One of the rationales for the revisionist history that has Joseph simply reading the English words off the seer stone instead of translating is an interpretation of certain passages from 2 Nephi 27, as Brother Carmack lists them in Part 1 of Volume 3:
11- the words of the book ... shall be read by the power of Christ
19 - the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned
20 - wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee
22 - when thou has read the words which I have commanded thee
24 - the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him

I can see how some people interpret these passages to mean Joseph was merely reading the words on the seer stone; i.e., that he didn't actually translate the Nephite records, but simply read the translation that had been accomplished by someone else who, inexplicably, used Early Modern English. This is what I call the EME-OT theory; i.e., the Early Modern English-Other Translator theory. 

However, that strikes me as an implausible interpretation for all the reasons I've been discussing, as well as the reasons I'll explain at the conference on Sept 28-9.

In the meantime, I wanted to address this specific theory about reading the words. Here are the verses from 2 Nephi 27, with my commentary:

5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.

[When the M2C intellectuals tell me (and others) that they don't care what the "dead prophets" have said about the New York Cumorah because the current prophets and apostles haven't specifically reaffirmed the New York Cumorah (the last time an apostle taught it in General Conference was 1978, 40 years ago), I think of this passage. 

Here Nephi tells us that when we reject the prophets, the Lord covers the seers. Beginning around 1978, LDS intellectuals began specifically and overtly rejecting the prophets' teachings about the Hill Cumorah, and most Church members since then have gone along with them thanks to the Academic Cycle and the M2C employees at CES. BYU and COB. According to verse 5, we should therefore expect the seers to be "covered" on this topic.]

6 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered.

[Notice here that Nephi does not say "shall bring forth unto you the words of this book." This is additional evidence of the two sets of plates; i.e., that the plates of Nephi (D&C 10), which we call the small plates, were not part of the set of plates Moroni put in his stone box on the hill Cumorah. Joseph never had the plates of Nephi when he was in Harmony. Had Martin Harris not lost the 116 pages, Joseph would never have received the plates of Nephi in Fayette. Today we would have had what Joseph called "the Original Book of Mormon," not the combination of part of the abridgment plus the plates of Nephi which we have instead.

Speaking of D&C 10, notice how in verse 45 the Lord told Joseph "it is wisdom in me that you should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work." The reference to "this work" relates back to D&C 9:1, when the Lord told Oliver to continue "until you have finished this record," meaning the plates Joseph got from Moroni's stone box. Once they finished those plates, the Harmony plates, there would be "other records" to translate; i.e., the plates of Nephi they didn't have yet (and didn't even know about until Joseph received D&C 10). 

Notice also that the Lord told Joseph to "translate" the "engravings of Nephi." He didn't say read someone else's translation. He didn't say "just leave the plates under a cloth, because you don't need them." He told Joseph to translate the engravings. 

7 And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof.

Again, this is not the book Nephi was writing; it did not include 2 Nephi 27. This book is yet to come forth, of course.

8 Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them.

We still live in the day of wickedness and abominations, so the book is kept from us.

9 But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;

The physical book was delivered to Joseph by Moroni. Joseph then delivered the words of the book to Oliver Cowdery (meaning, he translated the words and dictated them). 

10 But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.

Joseph never delivered the book; i.e., he never gave over the plates, except to the witnesses. 

11 And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.

This is yet future, but certain.

12 Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.

Here are the 2 witnesses.

13 And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.

This deserves a little comment. This has always seemed a little strange; why would verse 12 specify three witnesses, only to have verse 13 say "a few" would also view it? Usually we interpret this to mean the eight witnesses, but I think they more likely handled the plates of Nephi instead of the Harmony plates (the abridged plates), for all the reasons I've explained. But there were "a few" others who saw the Harmony plates, including Josiah Stowell and Mary Whitmer. They did bear testimony of the word. Alternatively, maybe the eight witnesses would have handled the Harmony plates, including the sealed portion, had Martin Harris not lost the 116 pages, in which case Joseph would not have needed the plates of Nephi.

14 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!

15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.

Notice, the Lord did not tell Joseph to take the words on the seer stone; instead, he told him to take the words of the engravings, which is what Joseph gave Martin to take to New York. Obviously, had these "words" consisted of an Early Modern English translation, the professors in New York could have read them. 

BTW, some people think Joseph didn't know about this prophecy until after Martin Harris returned from New York, but President Cowdery's letters explain that Moroni told Joseph about this prophecy the first night he visited him. 

16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.

17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.

18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.

Anthon couldn't read the engravings, but he could have read Early Modern English if that was what Martin Harris had taken him; i.e., if the term "words" in verse 15 means EME. 

19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.

This is Joseph saying he's not learned. It's not clear what it means by "deliver again," because we don't have a record of Joseph giving up the book when Martin Harris left for New York.

20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.

Joseph has to read the words that the learned could not read; i.e., the engravings. Here, though, the passage could also refer to the words the Lord would "give" Joseph through the Urim and Thummim.

21 Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work.

We don't know exactly how they were sealed, but apparently they were not sealed in a matter that prevented Joseph from getting into them if he wanted to, so the Lord had to tell him not to touch them. Of course, all of this is inconsistent with the now-popular opinion that Joseph never used the plates.

22 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.

Brigham Young explained that Joseph returned the plates to the depository in the Hill Cumorah, which is consistent with this passage. Those would have been the plates Joseph showed to the Eight Witnesses; i.e., the original plates of Nephi. Joseph also explained in JS-H 1:60 that he gave the plates to the messenger "according to arrangements." Those would have been the Harmony plates he gave to the messenger before leaving Harmony.  

23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.

Once we have the faith to accept the teachings of the prophets and of the Book of Mormon, we will get the rest of the plates.

24 And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him:

This is consistent with Joseph reading the engravings that were delivered to him. 

25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men

26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.

The conflict between the prophets and the intellectuals will be resolved in favor of the prophets. Including on the issue of the New York Cumorah.


No comments:

Post a Comment