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.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The language of the scriptures

Readers here know that I think Joseph Smith actually translated the plates. I base my opinion not only on what he actually said and wrote, but what the revelations say.

A few years ago, that wouldn't have been worth mentioning. Now, however, the Church History Department is telling missionaries to tell visitors that Joseph didn't even use the plates.

Me, holding Part Three, in Moroni, Comoros
FARMS and BYU Studies are telling people Joseph didn't actually translate anything anyway. Instead, as claimed in the new books by Royal Skousen published by FARMS and BYU Studies, Joseph merely read words that appeared on a seer stone in a hat.

See Royal Skousen, The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon: Part Three, The Nature of the Original Language.

If you still think Joseph actually translated the plates, you're about to be marginalized by the intellectuals.

The M2C intellectuals and revisionist Church historians always say I'm wrong, but as readers here know, I couldn't care less what they think. That said, I think it's essential to know what people are thinking. It's important to have context and a good understanding of relevant facts. For decades, I have read the M2C literature, the notes in the Joseph Smith Papers, etc. I've attended lectures and conferences.

But it always gets back to the original sources.

On the topic of the language of the scriptures, here's something that Brigham Young said that makes sense to me:

When God speaks to the people, he does it in a manner to suit their circumstances and capacities. He spoke to the children of Jacob through Moses, as a blind, stiffnecked people, and when Jesus and his Apostles came they talked with the Jews as a benighted, wicked, selfish people. They would not receive the Gospel, though presented to them by the Son of God in all its righteousness, beauty and glory. 

Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to rewrite the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be rewritten, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. 

According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings. If the people are stiffnecked, the Lord can tell them but little.  


This is as good an explanation as I know of. The language of the Book of Mormon is the language of Joseph Smith, circa 1829, because he translated it as inspired by God, using the Nephite interpreters (at least for the Harmony plates). 

I'll have a lot more to say about this soon, but the question arises often enough that I thought you might like the reference.

You might notice the last two sentences. In my view, that explains the current confusion about Book of Mormon historicity and geography. As long as we're rejecting what the prophets have taught (e.g., the New York Cumorah), the Lord cannot tell us more.

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