Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, September 27

“Bible: Jesus’ Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard—Is It Really OK?” by grego

Bible: Jesus’ Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard—Is It Really OK?

grego
(c)2008

Ok, it’s not in the Book of Mormon–even though there are discussions of laborers in vineyards there… In the Gospel According to St. Matthew, we read about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard:
CHAPTER 20
1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

I attended Institute for four months at BYU where the teacher discussed the New Testament; a Brother M. Gerald Bradford. It was the worst class I have ever attended in my life for any type of religious learning, hands down. Ok, I really tried not to be biased. He had spoken at our stake conference earlier, and it’s the only time (I think) I’ve ever wanted to walk out on a talk, as I felt the Spirit really leave the room as he stood up and spoke. Not only that, the guy sounded like an … &^#@?. A few months later, and I had to be with him two hours, every week, in a small room, with very few other students! I tried to learn anything I could, really; but I don’t remember having learned anything the entire semester. Wait, on a personal/ personable level, he did share one thing one time: he had an aunt he cared for. Four months!!

Discussing the (wait, we never “discussed” during his lessons–he spoke to us, and if he asked questions, he was only being rhetorical) lesson, he covered this parable, commenting: “We think it’s not fair. We all do.”

I tried to keep it in as I had every time in the past he had made an assuming, stupid comment or judgment, but this time our differences had to come out: “Not really”. He wasn’t ready for that. Some little son of a peon had dared to…!! Aghast, he exclaimed/ threatened, “Yes we do!” I laughed. (I truly wish the man good luck, have prayed for him, and hope his classes are much better for everyone nowadays.)

At this time, I have my opinion for further reasons, which I’ll explain here:
When laborers look for work and accept a penny for a day, it’s because they need it, not because they want it. The early laborer had to work longer, but he had meals, had a pay he knew was coming at the end of the day, and knew he was safe for the night.

Those that stand idle do so not because they are happy to pass the time yakking and joking instead of working. Really, who waits all day, into the eleventh hour, looking and desperately hoping for work—if not those that desperately need it? Sure, the late laborers didn’t have to work as long; but they did have to worry all that time they were idle and waiting that there might be no future, no work; there had been no meals; but maybe, maybe they and their families would at least get a little something in pay and be safe for the night.

Which would you rather choose to be?


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2008, September 18

Bands, Chains, Sorrow, and Pain: Examples of Hebrew in the Book of Mormon?

Bands, Chains, Sorrow, and Pain: Examples of Hebrew in the Book of Mormon?

by grego

The other day I read that Cliff(ord) wrote about:

(http://mymormonworld.blogspot.com/2008/08/chains-and-cords.html )

Psalms 116: 3-4, 16 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me:
I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul …Oh Lord, thou hast loosed my bonds.

and he related it to this:

Alma 36:18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

He wrote:
“In my study of the Hebrew Tanakh today, I learned that the word, (chbl) translated “sorrows” in this Psalm can also be translated as “bonds” or “cords.” The authors of the King James Version preferred to stick with “sorrows” but the authors of the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh use “bonds,” which runs a clearer thread of continuity through the psalm. The bonds (chbl) mentioned at the beginning are released at the end.

The latter translation also more closely matches Alma’s psalm, he who had found himself encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. True, “chains” (ziyqah) is a different word from cords or bonds, yet easily a synonym.”

I thought that a little interesting. Today, I heard something else in Alma 14, and that sparked a small investigation.

For some reason, “sorrows of hell” is never used in the Book of Mormon.

Here are a few other translations of Psalms 116:

From the Jewish Virtual Library:
3 The cords of death compassed me, and the straits of the nether-world got hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow.
4 But I called upon the name of HaShem: ‘I beseech thee, O HaShem, deliver my soul.’
16 I beseech Thee, O HaShem, for I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, the son of Thy handmaid; Thou hast loosed my bands.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible/Psalms116.html

This interpretation is from The Judaica Press Complete Torah (chabad.org):
3. [When] bands of death surrounded me and the boundaries of the grave befell me, and I found trouble and grief,
4. And I called out in the name of the Lord, “Please, O Lord, save my soul!
16. Please, O Lord, for I am Your servant; I am Your servant the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my thongs.
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/16337/jewish/Chapter-116.htm

In the Book of Mormon, here are more examples with which “sorrows”, “bonds”, “cords” might have connection:

Alma 14:6: And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell.

Alma 5:7: Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

Alma 26:13: Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?

Jacob 3:11: O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.

The Book of Mormon also has this pain/cord/ chain relationship. An English-speaker might ask, “How do you ‘loose yourselves from the pains of hell’? You loose yourself from cords/ bands, not pains.” And after this, it makes much more sense. Surrounded by pain/ cords/ chains, loosed/ loosened from them.

Another interesting thing:

Alma (and Ammon once) often uses “chains of hell”:
Alma 5:7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

Alma 5:9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.

Alma 5:10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?

Alma 12:11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

Alma 13:30 And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

Alma 26:14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

Once more, an English speaker might ask, “How do you ‘loose’ someone from ‘chains’? Don’t you ‘unlock’ them or ‘smash’/ ‘break’ them? And you don’t wrap someone up in chains (‘encircled’).” And now it makes a little more sense (though not fully yet to me).


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2008, September 13

“A Short Response to Richard Packham’s ‘A Response to Orson Scott Card’s article: Book of Mormon: Artifact or Artifice?'” by grego

“A Short Response to Richard Packham’s ‘A Response to Orson Scott Card’s article: Book of Mormon: Artifact or Artifice?'”

by grego

Card’s article is at http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-bookofmormon.html
Packham’s article can be found here: http://packham.n4m.org/card-bom.htm

Packham does have a few points, sure. And reading Card’s article, I did not get the impression that it was perfect or impeccable (see my previous post on it for an example). But if it isn’t, neither is Packham’s–but to a much lesser degree. In making his points, Packham also does a lot of what I’m going to do: refer readers to other writers/ authors. Unlike what Packham does, I’m going to refer you to writers who seem much more fair, honest, and scholarly. Packham also avoids many of the stronger points in Card’s argument; likewise, I’ve avoided some of the lengthy and more complex points of Packham’s article. But, I will show that the ones Packham actually does take on, are often done so in an elementary, illogical, and incomplete fashion.

Still, it would not be fair to extrapolate my judgment of these few, to the many points in Packham’s article that I haven’t answered here; yet it would be fair to keep this judgment of the few in mind, when considering the many.

Let’s start:

-=-=-=
Packham: “…Card begins his analysis of its authenticity:
‘Either Joseph Smith’s account is true, or it isn’t. Either the witnesses who said they saw the plates lied, or they didn’t.’

These are false dilemmas. Two sentences and two logical fallacies. Smith’s account could be partly true and partly false.”

grego: And that would make Smith’s account… “isn’t true”. (I’ll agree with the second sentence, though.) Now, if Card had said “All true or all false”, I’d have agreed with Packham; but Card didn’t.

-=-=-=
Packham: “Card then proceeds to show elements of the Book of Mormon which do not reflect the ideas of 1820s America. This is one of his principal arguments. His first example is when Amaleki turns over the records to King Benjamin. Card says:
“[Turning over records to a king] is something that would certainly not be a cultural idea available to Joseph Smith. You don’t turn ancient records over to kings in the world of the 1820s in America. Kings would have nothing to do with ancient records. You would turn ancient records over to a scholar. ”

Card overlooks the fact that the author of a fiction about times when there were kings will certainly realize that the fictional culture which he is creating would have different ideas and customs from his own. (grego: And yet, Card shows over and over in his article that this is not the case!) Smith’s notion of a king (especially a righteous king such as King Benjamin was supposed to be) having sacred records has an excellent model in the story of righteous King Josiah (2 Kings 22), to whom the priest Hilkiah delivered the sacred record which was found in the temple. Card’s argument makes Smith too stupid.”

grego: Here are two typical anti-Mormon methods at work: “‘it came from the Bible’ vs. ‘it came from 1820’ vs. ‘it came from Spalding’ and ‘it came from Ethan Smith’ (even though it more likely came from Frost’); and “‘Joseph Smith was very smart’ vs. ‘Joseph Smith was very stupid'”. Yes, I guess it’s ok, but in doing so, the reader is continually see-sawed up and down, and might, after getting dizzy, really start to wonder what the ride was all about. And often, the ride gets so dizzy, the same author forgot he just oxymoronically used one explanation in front of the other… If Joseph Smith sounds like the Bible, he plaigarized it; if he doesn’t, then either he consciously decided not to sound like the Bible, or else he got it from the devil. Guilty as charged every time–no matter what the charge!

Maybe it’s examples like this where I see the critics must admit that Joseph Smith had an “almost” divine ability to pilfer things. I mean, of all the things Joseph Smith *could* have pilfered, he happened to choose the right ones–every time so far. It’s like winning the grand lottery: he just happened to pick the right twenty two-digit numbers in order, when every “expert” was telling him he was stupid and the numbers were wrong–but when every digit starts showing up right, see, he was only very lucky or somehow very smart to have chosen that correct number. Or, the devil told him the numbers to pick…

So, an “excellent model”, eh? Let’s see: Hilkiah saw that the king was supposed to be doing some things he wasn’t doing, so he gave him the book that he found, so he could repent.
Amaleki had the sacred records/ scriptures; they were full; he handed them over to king Benjamin.
Ok, there’s a parallel, but is it that strong? Did Joseph Smith just strip this out from the Old Testament?

This is also different than other examples we see in the Book of Mormon, such as where the prophets (such as Abinadi) preach against the king.

Where is Huldah the prophetess (or Deborah or similar woman prophet) in the Book of Mormon, and in this story of the plates and their purpose? Oh, that’s right, I remember Packham saying: “…The principal themes of the Book of Mormon are the preaching of the gospel to sinners, and the many wars between the righteous and the wicked. Those are male-dominated areas, and they were also male-dominated in America of the 1820s. It is only males, in the Book of Mormon, and in Smith’s day, and in Smith’s church, who did the preaching and the fighting.” That’s why no women are in the Bible, also. Whoops…

-=-=-=
Packham: “In doing so, he points out a difference between a science-fiction writer and Joseph Smith:
‘[When we write science fiction, o]ur name is on it as author, and we expect to get credit for our inventiveness.’
Card seems to be unaware that on the title page of the first edition of the Book of Mormon it said: ‘Joseph Smith, Author And Proprietor’, and he sent two of his followers to Toronto to try to sell the copyright. Apparently just like an author of science fiction would do.”

And so Joseph Smith was going to get credit for his inventiveness by selling the copyright?? Maybe it makes sense to some people… And with the money he was going to buy a house and live comfortably, or…? Yup, “…” is likely correct.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith_and_Book_of_Mormon_copyright
http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=2&num=1&id=44
In this last article, Norwood writes:
“Persuitte makes much of the fact that the first edition of the Book of Mormon has Joseph Smith’s title listed as “author” rather than “translator” (see pp. 11, 114). Not only has it been demonstrated that the title “Author and Proprietor” conformed to the laws governing copyright in 1830,23 but another question must be raised: If Joseph Smith goofed by identifying himself as “author” – – if he made a blunder of that magnitude while trying to deceive the public, could it reasonably be said that such a harlequin could produce the Book of Mormon? Would a forger be so inept as to blow his cover in such a major way in producing the Book of Mormon?”

Let’s see, this last article was written in 1990; Packham’s article is from 2003, and in 2008, it’s still up… at least 18 years after being thrown in the garbage. That’s a long time to rot on the wall…

Well, what about selling that copyright? First, note that it is for Canada. Why would a US author try to sell a copyright in Canada, if he wanted to “get credit for his inventiveness” or money? (Was Canada greater then than it is today??) It seems Joseph and the church were in need of money, and this was something that might help. Oh, look, here’s another article:
http://en.fairmormon.org/Did_Joseph_Smith_attempt_to_sell_the_Book_of_Mormon_copyright%3F

-=-=-=
Packham: “…the flood of written material exposing the Book of Mormon has hardly slowed in 170 years, and still continues, based partly on the inescapable evidence that the Book of Mormon is “deeply wrong” about the history of ancient America and the origin of the American Indians;”

grego: *Still* waiting for a true or even somewhat credible “exposing”; can Packham perhaps mention some that stand up to tests? Especially ones based on “deeply wrong” history of ancient America?

-=-=-=
Packham: “…even after being exposed, Smith continued to be prominent and respected by many;”

grego: “Exposed?” Care to elaborate? Maybe, “falsely accused, lied about, slandered, libeled,” etc.?

-=-=-=
Packham: “…only those who are ignorant of the facts are still deceived by the Book of Mormon. It is quite obvious that the overwhelming majority of people who have examined the Book of Mormon have recognized it as false. Only a very small number of those to whom the missionaries present its story end up as members of the Mormon church.”

grego: Yes, that’s why Mormon apologetics still uses thrown-out argument from 18 years ago… (Hint, hint.)
Any statistics? Reasons? Research? Evidence? Ah, “appeal to the majority”, wonderful logic. Since the majority of the peole on the earth don’t believe in the Bible, that makes it untrue, right? Right? Right??
By Packham’s reasoning, even though reading and believing the Book of Mormon is one small part of joining the LDS Church, those that don’t join don’t join because of the Book of Mormon, and they all *know* it’s a fake. Huh?

-=-=-=
Packham: “Card says that a science fiction writer, no matter what era of past or future in which he sets his tale, will betray his own decade, its culture, its attitudes and its science. And what do we find in the Book of Mormon? The attitudes, culture, science, and burning issues of frontier America in the 1820s. For details, see the extensive examples listed in David Persuitte, Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon, Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon edited by Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe, the earlier collection of essays edited by Metcalfe, New Approaches To The Book of Mormon, and many other works.”

grego: I would love to hear Packham’s responses to the responses of other scholars that heavily criticize the work in those books (which Packham heavily relies upon in his article)… Here are a few to start with, for any fair reader:
**http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=2&num=1&id=44 (“Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon”; see footnote 5 for more critiques)
**http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=15&num=2 (*Five* critiques of Palmer’s book)
**http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=12&num=2&id=364 (“Magic”)

Here’s an example of the content from one of the links above: L. Ara Norwood writes:
“My analysis of Persuitte’s parallels reveals that, with one exception, no single book in the Book of Mormon received more than 8.09% influence from View of the Hebrews (see chart 1). According to Persuitte, two of the fifteen books in the Book of Mormon received no influence whatsoever from View of the Hebrews, and in one book (Moroni), only one out of 163 verses had some influence. After doing a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the Book of Mormon, I found that, according to Persuitte, less than 4.5% of the Book of Mormon was influenced by View of the Hebrews.11 I also discovered by doing a page-by-page analysis of View of the Hebrews that, again according to Persuitte, 111 out of 284 pages (39%) of View of the Hebrews had some influence on that 4.5% of the Book of Mormon.”

So, 4.5% makes it the source?? Where did the other 95.5% come from?

As Hugh Nibley wrote:
“The game is to look for some mysterious person or document from which Joseph Smith might have got the few simple and obvious ideas and then cry triumphantly, “At last we have it! Now we know where the Book of Mormon came from!”

“If only someone will show me how to draw a circle,” cries the youthful Joseph Smith, “I will make you a fine Swiss watch!” So Joachim or [Anselm] or Ethan Smith or Rabelais or somebody takes a stick and draws a circle in the sand, and forthwith the adroit and wily Joseph turns out a beautifully running mechanism that tells perfect time!”

I have only one suggestion: keep searching!

-=-=-=
Packham: “Card attempts to deal with the “horse” problem as a linguistic problem:
” if in fact there were no horses in America at the time of the Book of Mormon, the Hebrew word for horse could still quite readily be applied to some other animal that functioned like a horse.”

One must immediately ask, “And what animal was that?” There was NO animal in ancient America that “functioned like a horse.” There were no draft animals. There were no animals which a man could mount and ride. There were no large domesticated animals at all (the only animals domesticated by the Maya were turkeys, ducks, bees, and dogs – see Gallenkamp, op. cit. p. 132). And then one must ask – since the translation of the Book of Mormon was supposedly done with divine assistance – if the Nephites were using a Hebrew word for “horse” for something that only reminded them of a horse, but was really a deer or a tapir or some other animal (which we can presume is not extinct), why did not God inspire Smith to translate it with the correct name, rather than one which would later (as God should have known) call into question the authenticity of this translation?”

Card comments:
“But no one in the Book of Mormon rides anywhere. How did Joseph Smith know to keep his made-up Nephites and Lamanites on foot — and how did he keep himself from ever pointing out the fact? ”

Card has not read his Book of Mormon very carefully: He should look up “chariots” in the index.”

grego: For an article that shows Card is absolutely correct and Packham assuming, see here: http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/AshHorse/ .

-=-=-=
Packham: “Hoax detection is really just a matter of having sufficient facts and being sufficiently skeptical. The Book of Mormon stands out as a product of the 19th century. It incorporates the ideas and attitudes of that time, clothed in the pious-sounding language of the King James Bible, which makes up much of its content.”

grego: And thus, I detect Packham’s hoax.
How much does the King James Bible make up “much of its content”? “Much” = ?% 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20% or less? I’m guessing it’s not the first few…

-=-=-=
Packham: “The Book of Mormon is a very clever combination of Joseph Smith’s imaginative tales of Indians, his familiarity with the King James Bible, his knowledge of popular ideas about the origin and culture of the American Indians, Campbellite theology, Ethan Smith’s ideas about the Indians as Israelites, and Smith’s own experience as a treasure-hunter.”

grego: Ah, to this list, Packham somehow forgot to add: Spalding, Cowdery, Rigdon, “The Gold Pot”, Josiah Priest, the Hebrew Bible, his knowledge of both Hebrew and Egyptian, his knowledge of Mesoamerican culture and history, his knowledge of the Pseudigraphia and the Apocrypha, maps of Arabia, the Masons, his unfamiliarity with the King James Bible, his familiarity with all the other church theology of all the other churches around him (especially the ones his family belonged to), his knowledge of a future map of the New York area with place names, necromancy, and a whole bunch more (we all know the key to a good fake document is eclecticism!)–all conveniently located at the local library or with a wandering mysterious stranger from out of town, if nowhere else.

I’ll close with this quote from Brigham Young:
“Do you understand the reason why such feelings exist against this people? Go to the United States, into Europe, or wherever you can come across men who have been in the midst of this people, and one will tell you that we are a poor, ignorant, deluded people; the next will tell you that we are the most industrious and intelligent people on the earth, and are destined to rise to eminence as a nation, and spread, and continue to spread, until we revolutionize the whole earth. If you pass on to the third man, and inquire what he thinks of the “Mormons,” he will say they are fools, duped and led astray by Joe Smith, who was a knave, a false Prophet, and a money digger. Why is all this? It is because there is a spirit in man. And when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached on the earth, and the kingdom of God is established, there is also a spirit in these things, and an Almighty spirit too. When these two spirits come in contact one with the other, the spirit of the Gospel reflects light upon the spirit which God has placed in man, and wakes him up to a consciousness of his true state, which makes him afraid he will be condemned, for he perceives at once that “Mormonism” is true. “Our craft is in danger,” is the first thought that strikes the wicked and dishonest of mankind, when the light of truth shines upon them. Say they, “If these people called Latter-day Saints are correct in their views, the whole world must be wrong, and what will become of our time-honoured institutions, and of our influence, which we have swayed successfully over the minds of the people for ages. This Mormonism must be put down.” So priestcraft presents a bold and extended front against the truth, and with this we have to contend, this is our deadliest foe.”


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2008, September 10

Book of Mormon: The Five Questions the Mormon General Authorities Could Not Answer

Response to: “The Five Questions the Mormon General Authorities Could Not Answer” (about the Book of Mormon)

by grego

http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/138.htm

“THE FIVE QUESTIONS ROBERTS COULDN’T ANSWER
The five questions the Mormon General Authorities could not answer:
[and then the five]”.

See this for the questions and answers: http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=9&num=1&id=248.

That response, folks, was written in **1997**; and I doubt it’s the first of it’s kind. So that means the questions have been adequately answered now (and I’m sure we’ll continue to get better answers) for over **11 years** and yet it’s still up on the http://www.biblestopics.com as a reason why the Book of Mormon and Mormonism and Joseph Smith are frauds! Oh, don’t feel too bad, though–“Five Questions…” is also up on a whole bunch of other “religious” websites.

To the principle: there are lots of questions lots of top people in fields don’t know. That includes LDS (Mormon) leaders. Was there an urgent need to get these answers that required immediate revelation? Nope. But we have answers now. Cool, huh?


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2008, September 9

grego: Critique of “The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts”

grego: Critique of “The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts” at bibletopics.com

It’s quite short, actually, because there’s not really much to the whole article.

“The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts”
(http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/138.htm)

Here, I’ll sum up the article for you: Brigham H. Roberts, a church leader and thinker, couldn’t answer some questions, and it troubled him, and at one time doubted the book of Mormon was of divine origin but thought it was written by Joseph Smith. Of course, this is all cast in wording that persuades the reader to follow along with Roberts.

Oooohhhhh. No doubt if B. H. Roberts doubted, the Book of Mormon is therefore false!

Huh?

Oh, yeah, that old illogical fallacy of “appeal to ‘authority'”. (Not that B. H. Roberts was “authority”…)

And if a man had doubts about something, what did that prove? Anything? Anyone?

If you want a better, clearer, deeper answer that shows much of what was written was wrong, check here:
http://en.fairmormon.org/B.H._Roberts’_testimony_of_the_Book_of_Mormon
farms.byu.edu/display.php?id=248&table=review

There is one more part of the article that I’ll respond to:
“He [B. H. Roberts] investigated “the imaginative mind of Joseph Smith.” He quotes Joseph’s mother who recalled how Joseph would give “amusing recitals” in which he would describe, “the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship.” All this, Roberts acknowledged, “took place before the young prophet had received the plates of the Book of Mormon.” Roberts suggests that Smith became caught up in spiritual “excesses” out of which he imagined prophecies and manifestations:
“His revelations become merely human productions. . .Morbid imagination, morbid expression of emotions [were] likely to find their way into the knowledge of Joseph Smith and influence his conceptions of spiritual things.”

Ok, there’s stuff in the Book of Mormon about warfare and religion, true. But I would like to know, where is all the “morbid imagination” and “morbid expression of emotions” in the Book of Mormon? Where is all the “amusing recital”? (Wait… So was Joseph Smith morbid or amusing??) Where are all the descriptions of “the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular”? Where’s a connection? Anyone? You can’t find them either, eh? There seems to be a very big difference between Joseph’s stories and the Book of Mormon…

For the five questions (and their easy answers), see the next post…

Bibletopics.com is False! Proof on their home page…

Bibletopics.com is False! Proof on their own home page…

After finding “The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts” at http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/138.htm, I found the homepage.

That’s right, go to http://www.bibletopics.com/ and see this for yourself:

“What the Bible Says About… Software for PCs”

As if the Bible says *anything* about PC software!! Now we can be assured that they are straight from the evil devil Satan fallen Lucifer himselves. Beware, beware! Will they now twist the Bible to try to prove that it actually says something about PC software? Trying to pull the wool over our eyes, are they? It won’t work, I tell ya! I won’t buy their software, I fear it will contain hidden messages that will drag my soul in chains down to hell!

So, who’s behind http://www.bibletopics.com? It doesn’t say; no one takes credit. However, PC Shareware, Inc. copyrighted the website design, and it seems the only purpose (from the home page menu) is to sell the PC software. Clicking on that link takes you to a page for PC Shareware, Inc. to download the software. The company that is linked to from this page reads: “Welcome to PC Shareware, Inc. We are a software publisher located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We have been providing low cost, high quality “try before you buy” software to tens of thousands of families, schools and businesses since 1988.
Voice: 1-540-899-4203 FAX: 1-540-371-3905″

Why would a computer “software publisher” have hidden negative articles (I couldn’t find them from the main menu) about other religions (Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.) on their website? Or is this a religious front organization/ company? Which religion are they? (Luckily under the topic “Lawsuits” at http://www.bibletopics.com/topics.htm they show that the Bible they believe in says people shouldn’t enter into them!)

2008, September 8

Critique of One Section of “The Book of Mormon – Artifact or Artifice?” by Scott Orson Card

Critique of One Section of “The Book of Mormon – Artifact or Artifice?” by Scott Orson Card

by grego

While I differ and disagree with many parts of this article (found at: http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-bookofmormon.html ), it’s a very fascinating and insightful read on a brilliant topic: the Book of Mormon as fiction, by a highly-acclaimed (science) fiction writer. I have read of critics trying to show what should have been in there but isn’t (jaguars, macaws, etc.) and what was around Joseph Smith in the 1820’s and was in it (religious topics, Masons, etc.); this talks about what was around Joseph Smith in the 1820’s and should have been in it, but wasn’t, and other aspects of what a fiction “should” have been like.

Here’s one part, though, that was just too big, too out-there, to leave alone:

-=-=-=

“Speculation on Zarahemla.
Let me offer an aside on the matter of Zarahemla and the Mulekites. Much has been made of the statement by King Zarahemla that his people were descended from the youngest son of King Zedekiah. Extraordinary and completely unconvincing efforts have been made to find such a son, overlooked by the Babylonian captors of Jerusalem; just as much effort has been devoted to explaining how a good Jaredite name like Mulek could show up in the family of an Israelite king. But is this really necessary?

In Meso-American culture, every ruling class had to assert an ancient ancestor who was a god or, at the very least, a king in an admired culture. Whoever ruled in the Valley of Mexico always had to claim to be descended from or heirs of the Toltecs. Rival Mayan cities would play at ancestral one-upmanship. Imagine, now, the vigorous and dangerous Nephites, coming down the valley of the Sidon River from the highlands of Guatemala. King Zarahemla is negotiating with King Mosiah. Mosiah tells him of his ancestry, of course, and the story of how God led Lehi and Nephi out of Jerusalem at the time when Zedekiah was king of Israel.

To Mosiah, what he is doing is bearing his testimony and asserting the divine guidance that he receives as the legitimate king of a chosen people. To Zarahemla, what he is doing is claiming that his lineage gives him the right to rule over the people of Zarahemla and displace him from the kingship. So what does Zarahemla do? Well, Mosiah admits that his ancestors were not kings in Israel. So Zarahemla picks his most noble ancestor, Mulek, and then declares him to be the son of that last king of Israel. Thus if anybody has the right to rule over anybody, it’s Zarahemla who has the right to rule over Mosiah and his people. But Mosiah kindly points out that if Zarahemla and his people are descended from Israelites, they certainly seem to have forgotten the language and writing, and therefore have obviously degenerated from the high culture of Israel. The Nephites, on the other hand, have preserved a writing system that no one else uses, and which Zarahemla can’t read. They have a history accounting for every year since they arrived in America, which Zarahemla of course cannot produce.

In the end, whatever negotiation there was ended up with Zarahemla bowing out of the kingship and his people becoming subject to rule by the Nephites. But the story of Mulek served a very useful purpose even so — it allowed the people to merge, not with the hostility of conquerors over the conquered, though in fact that is what the relationship fundamentally was, but rather with the idea of brotherhood. They were all Israelites. Thus no one had any reason to question the Mulek story, because, while it failed in its original purpose, to allow Zarahemla to prevail over Mosiah, it still served the valuable function of uniting the newly combined nation as a single tribe. It wasn’t completely successful, of course, or there wouldn’t have been a later revolt of Kingmen against Nephite Freemen, but considering that the people of Zarahemla outnumbered the people of Mosiah by quite a bit, the Mulek story may well have contributed to the ultimate victory of the judges in that struggle.

If this speculation is true, it does not imply that the Book of Mormon is somehow false. No one in the Book of Mormon ever claims that the story of Mulek came to anybody by inspiration. The source is never more than Zarahemla’s assertion during his negotiations with Mosiah. That Mormon and other writers believed the story does not prove it true or false, it simply proves that it was part of the Nephite culture. And if my speculation is right, and Mulek was no more a son of Zedekiah than I am, we are spared the confusion of trying to reconcile this account with the utter lack of convincing evidence that Zedekiah had a boy named Mulek who escaped the Babylonians without generating a vast amount of Jewish tradition looking for the return of the lost son of the last king of Judah. We don’t have to account for a migration to America led by the Lord but without the same kind of preparation and commandments given to Lehi and Nephi. We don’t have to account for the fact that we think of America as being the inheritance of Manasseh and Ephraim, while in fact two thirds of the Nephites would have been descended from Judah — which to my mind, at least, would make hash of the literality of the application of the parable of the stick of Joseph and the stick of Judah to the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

But this is only speculation, and if I’m wrong, and there really was a Mulek led to America by the Lord, I’m not going to lose my testimony about it! I just think it’s something to think about, a possibility to consider.”

-=-=-=

Yes, that is “only speculation”–in fact, there’s an incredible amount of speculation throughout the entire line of thinking to!!

But I see four big wrenches in this line of thinking:

1. Mormon writes about these Mulekite “others” as if there is something big and different; he never writes about any other “others”. For those who don’t believe there were many others, that’s not a problem; but for those that do, there’s some explaining to do: if the Nephites were always assimilating, from the start to the end, why only this mention?

2. Zarahemla had an interesting reaction: “Now, there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly, because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews” (Omni 1:14).

Why would anyone other than a descendant of the Jews be interested in, or care about, much less “rejoice exceedingly”, over that?

3. Zarahemla knows the story:
Omni 1:15 “Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.”
Omni 1:16 “And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth.”

How would Zarahemla know:
from Jerusalem, at the time that Zedekiah was king of Judah, carried away captive into Babylon, journeyed in the wilderness, came across the great waters? He got all that info from Mosiah, and used it for his story?

4. Zarahemla gives his lineage: Omni 1:18 “But it came to pass that Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language. And it came to pass that after they were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates.”

So… what, they meet, Mulek learns a few Nephite names (not Jewish names), maybe he reads/ hears some Brass Plates stuff, and then he gives a lineage of his fathers, from that time (279-130 BC) all the way back to 600 BC? I don’t think so. Not only that, but everyone there in Zarahemla already has a name–had the names all become corrupted to, or did they have to give fake Jewish/ Phoenician/ who-knows-what names to everyone else?

So, even though it’s a pretty cool thought, it seems the text doesn’t really allow this line of reasoning.

P.S. “which to my mind, at least, would make hash of the literality of the application of the parable of the stick of Joseph and the stick of Judah to the Book of Mormon and the Bible.”
Not so–the Book of Mormon was written by descendants of Joseph–the Nephites–not the Mulekites.

2008, September 3

grego: My Critique of “A logical proof that Mormonism is false” by CARM

grego: My Critique of “A logical proof that Mormonism is false” by CARM

from: http://how2becomeachristian.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/a-logical-proof-that-mormonism-is-false/

“Mormonism teaches an infinite regression of causes. This means that it teaches that each god was made a god by a previous god. This means that as far back as you look in time, this process has always been occurring. This means that from an infinity of time in the past, the Mormon plan of exaltation (become gods) has been in effect. The only problem is that this is logically impossible. Since it is logically impossible, this means that Mormonism is false. Let’s look closer.”

-=
grego: Wow! That is so cool, that was simple to disprove all of Mormonism with that little thingy.

Here’s something else to wrap your mind around: God was always God. Can you? Not really, huh. Is it logical? I mean, he’s been God for trillions times trillions times trillions times googols and more and more–he never started, and will never end; and is *always* the same. (And angels have been singing and singing for almost that long, too–well, maybe–he created them, too, just to have some music in the house or something?) Infinite in time. How did he get there? (I mean, I know he didn’t get there, he’s infinite, but…) Is it lonely to be God, or is that why he created us, to keep him company? So he waited an infinity to create us, and we’re going to sing an infinity afterward to him? Did he create Satan like he created us and the angels, or is Satan infinite, too? Is Satan never-changing like God, too? “Always the same” means to these people, I guess, that he can’t brush his hair or teeth or talk (I guess that includes giving scripture) or walk or move in any way at all, can’t change form (Trinity, anyone?), can’t feel sorrow for the sinner or joy for the repentant, … Whoops. I’ve contradicted the Bible and the gospel, which means that, according to these people, there is no God for them. Is that all logical? Not quite.

Let’s start somewhere else in the article: “As far back as you look in time…” Is there time with God? Can you imagine “no time”? What is that? What does it mean? Any logical answer, CARMS? Help me, because I’m not there yet.

When you talk about “logic” like CARMS, you need some strict definitions and structure for it to hold true. And CARMS doesn’t provide the correct foundation–which was the point of my first paragraph.

Hey, here’s some better logic to prove a church is false that even CARMS could appreciate, I guess: if one facet of one not-clear and not-fully-explained teaching of one church is, according to my interpretation, illogical/ doesn’t make sense, then the entire church and any other teaching of theirs that I disagree with, are also false! (I love this!)

I wonder if this also means that if someone interprets the Bible differently than me, according to my interpretation (which is always correct, of course), then everything else the person disagrees about with me, is also false! And also the Bible is false, because he called himself a Christian and he interpreted wrong! (Is this working for you, people? No? I didn’t think so! It doesn’t work for me, either.)

That way, I get to stay at the center of the universe (not just “my” universe, mind you!), never have to admit to being wrong, never have to change much, never have to give any mind to how illogical my thinking might be…

So, well, this isn’t “logical proof that Mormonism is false”. It can be said to be something that doesn’t seem to make sense given their understanding, and to seek further clarification. But why bother with understanding and seeking clarification when you just know it’s wrong in the first place, anyway?

Hey, if a man says something, and a woman’s not around to hear it, is he still wrong? ;)

Inconsistent Stories in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s First Vision

Inconsistent Stories in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s First Vision

Much has been written about inconsistent stories in the Book of Mormon and the First Vision, and something recently put it into better perspective for me. 

I have recently been helping a student apply to college.  Doing so has involved helping translate a recommendation letter from her high school teacher; writing a “what can I offer” essay; ticking off somewhat generic boxes of “activities I’ve done”; and writing a 300-word autobiography, a goals essay, and leadership/ service essay. 

Wow!  You’d think, by it all, that these are all different people (though sometimes closely related) writing.  In addition, in one essay she even made the mistake of writing that she graduated in the top ten of her class, then in the top three of her class.

What makes this different than the inconsistent stories in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s First Vision accounts is that her audience is always the same in these writings, and there is ample time for both the author and me to double-check, make changes, and clarify–all in writing. Not that it will necessarily be perfect anyway…

Colors in the Book of Mormon

Colors in the Book of Mormon

by grego

Wow! This hit me today: there are very few colors in the Book of Mormon, especially for descriptional purposes. For those who hold the belief that Joseph Smith, an American, wrote this book of fiction, this is incredible to me.

Here’s the number of times each color is mentioned:

Yellow: NONE
Blue: NONE
Green: NONE
Orange: NONE
Purple: NONE
Violet: NONE
Brown: NONE

Red: References to “Red Sea” (name), and this:
Alma 3:4 And the Amlicites were distinguished from the Nephites, for they had marked themselves with *red* in their foreheads after the manner of the Lamanites; nevertheless they had not shorn their heads like unto the Lamanites.
Alma 3:13 Now we will return again to the Amlicites, for they also had a mark set upon them; yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of *red* upon their foreheads.

Grey:
1 Nephi 18:18
Because of their grief and much sorrow, and the iniquity of my brethren, they were brought near even to be carried out of this time to meet their God; yea, their *grey* hairs were about to be brought down to lie low in the dust; yea, even they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave.

**Black: skin and hair color; Isaiah:
2 Nephi 26:33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, *black* and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

3 Nephi 12:36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair *black* or white;

2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of *blackness* to come upon them.

2 Nephi 7:3 I clothe the heavens with *blackness*, and I make sackcloth their covering.

**White: Most every reference to white is a symbol of purity/ godliness, including the fruit and the skin of the Lamanites (which is also a symbol); other is skin color:

1 Nephi 8:5 And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a *white* robe; and he came and stood before me.

1 Nephi 8:11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was *white*, to exceed all the *whiteness* that I had ever seen.

1 Nephi 11:8 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the *whiteness* thereof did exceed the *whiteness* of the driven snow.

1 Nephi 11:13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and *white*.

1 Nephi 12:10 And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed. And, behold, they are righteous forever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God their garments are made *white* in his blood.

1 Nephi 12:11 And the angel said unto me: Look! And I looked, and beheld three generations pass away in righteousness; and their garments were *white* even like unto the Lamb of God. And the angel said unto me: These are made *white* in the blood of the Lamb, because of their faith in him.

1 Nephi 13:15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were *white*, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

1 Nephi 14:19 And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a *white* robe.

2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were *white*, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

2 Nephi 26:33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and *white*, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Jacob 3:8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be *whiter* than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

Alma 5:21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed *white*; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.

Alma 5:24 Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and *white*?

Alma 5:27 Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made *white* through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?

Alma 13:11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed *white* through the blood of the Lamb.

Alma 13:12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made *white*, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

Alma 32:42 And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is *white* above all that is *white*, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

Alma 34:36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made *white* through the blood of the Lamb.

3 Nephi 2:15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became *white* like unto the Nephites;

3 Nephi 11:8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a *white* robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.

3 Nephi 12:36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair black or *white*;

3 Nephi 19:25 And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as *white* as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the *whiteness* thereof did exceed all the *whiteness*, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so *white* as the *whiteness* thereof.

3 Nephi 19:30 And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were *white*, even as Jesus.

Mormon 9:6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and *white*, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

Ether 3:1 AND it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were *white* and clear, even as transparent glass; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying:

Ether 13:10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are *white* through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.

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