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August 12, 2008

Comments

"We unfortunately don't have temple squares or relics"

What about the TBN headquarters (temple) and Jan Crouch (relic)? :-)

There is always the Bible themed
amusement park in Florida if you are into that type of thing.
The only thing I can think of is have a room in the Airport where Baptist cook free pot luck dinners and pass out STR buisness cards.

"What about the TBN headquarters (temple) and Jan Crouch (relic)? :-)"

*plays rimshot*

It's strange how Mormonism keeps popping up in front of me lately. A good friend of mine recently told me she's a Mormon, so I've been learning everything I can about. I've been reading the Book of Mormon lately. On part of my flight home Sunday, I was reading the BOM while the guy beside me was sleeping. Eventually, I put the BOM back in my bag, and just a little later, HE whipped out a copy of the BOM and started reading it. Ever since then I wondered what might've happened if he had noticed I was reading the BOM. Maybe we could've talked about it. Maybe I should've said something to him. I didn't feel like it, though.

I don't blame you Sam, I've gotten pretty tired out by mormons at times. Its difficult sometimes to feel very motivated to even bother.

Some versies of encouragement. Joshua 1:5-7 (English Standard Version)
5(A) No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just(B) as I was with Moses, so(C) I will be with you.(D) I will not leave you or forsake you. 6(E) Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7Only be strong and(F) very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law(G) that Moses my servant commanded you.(H) Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go.

2 Thes. 3:13,14
13As for you, brothers,(A) do not grow weary in doing good. 14If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and(B) have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.
1 Cor 9:16,17
16For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For(C) necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with(D) a stewardship.
Phillipians 3:7-16
7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

16Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Phillipians 4:12,13
12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Keep sharing the gospel, love ya'll.

One can always ask questions. Like, "If you were to explain to someone, how to know for sure he was saved, what whould you explain?" Listening to the answer or non-answer can tell you a whole lot. To a Mormon, you could ask, "If you were to explain the difference between being an LDS christian and an evangelcial Christian, what would you explain?" You'd be suprised to note, most Mormon missionaries would tell you they don't know. That can be an opening. Not to argue, but what is the difference.

It seems to me we are missing one important Biblical truth. My wife and I were reading in John6:43 that no one can come to Me unless
the Father who sent Me draws him..

We would do well to remember that we have less to do with salvation than the Father's drawing a person
to Jesus. That's not to say we aren't to be involved, just don't get to caught up in things like tours and the like.

A word of caution on reading the BOM, you can experience the 'burning in the bossom' as a born again Christian. Remeber demonic entities can effect certain physical manifestations.
I would recomend reading works like 'The Kingdom of the Cults' and 'One nation under Gods' before you get to far into the BOM.

Too late, I'm already more than half way through it. But don't worry. I haven't gotten any burnings in my bosom, and even if I did, I don't think it would cause me to think the BOM is true. It's obvious to me that it's a work of fiction. There are too many anachronisms, and it makes several allusions or outright quotes from parts of the Bible that hadn't even been written yet when the people of Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem.

I'm glad you're up to date. I've spent some time reading the back
ground history of the LDS and JWs
as well as some other cults.
My main concerns are 1) The Biblical illiteracy of people today, and 2) The willingness of a lot of people to accept any 'spiritual experience' as from God. I was in the 'New age' movement 30 years ago and had two very distinct spiritual experiences that I now understand
to be encounters with a demonic
entity.
I was revisited by that same entity a few years ago, after
coming to faith in Christ. I recognized it and just asked the Lord to rebuke it. It left and hasn't returned.
I like you will try to research the background of a movement. You seem to have a grasp of Biblical
chronolgy and where the LDS differs. Biblical literacy is a good thing.
Another glaring problem is that there isn't any historical or
archeological evidence such as there is with the Bible.
On a theological note, an LDS missionary will proudly point out that they 'use the 1611 AV'. When you point out that they are being disingenuous in that they left out ' in so far as it is correctly translated ' they will generally try to move on to something like the burning in the bosom thing. The 'translation' statement directly implies that Smith and others were more qualified than all the scholars who came before and after him. That's probably one of the easiest fallacies to point out.
Anyway keep up the good work. I
would still recomend the two works in my first post, there are some real eye openers in them.

Speaking of translations, that's what I wanted to ask the guy on the airplane about. In the introduction of my copy of the BOM, it says that it had undergone some revisions. But the explanation of how it was translated seems to be at odds with the notion of revising it in any way. Supposedly, God translated it, one phrase at a time. A section would be lit up until it was written down correctly, and then the next phrase would be lit up. If that's how it was done, then it's impossible for the BOM to have any errors at all. Why, then, were there revisions? I was also going to ask him what sorts of things were revised.

"Translation" doesn't mean that Smith et al. were "more qualified than all the scholars who came before and after him." If we take him at his word, his translation was inspired which doesn't require a lot of scholarly acumen or knowledge. There's plenty for you to criticize in the Book of Mormon and Mormonism without bringing up silly things like that.

If you are looking for good introductions to Mormonism, don't look to _Kingdom of the Cults_ or _One Nation Under Gods_ (if I believed the things they put in there I would reject Mormonism too). If you want a non-LDS introduction see Douglas J. Davies' _Introduction to Mormonism_ and _The Mormon Culture of Salvation: Force, Grace and Glory_. One good "insider" author is Terryl L. Givens; see his _People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture_, _The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy_, and, on the book of Mormon, his _By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion_.

For theologically savvy works, see Blake Ostler's _Exploring Mormon Thought_ and the recently published _Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies_, edited by David L. Paulsen and Donald W. Musser.

On the question of the translation and 'changes' in the Book of Mormon, the most exhaustive account is being worked out by Royal Skousen. See his _Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon_. The accounts in works like _Kingdom of the Cults_ and your average anit-Mormon pseudo-scholarship are fundamentally inadequate.

Kevin,
I wouldn't expect that a Mormon apologist would want a historically accurate review of LDS church history to be used as a refference guide by someone looking into becoming a Mormon.
The 'translation' phrase in the 1611AV Bibles published by the
LDS sources, is a direct reference to Smith's claim that only he had the correct translation. In fact he started a project to produce his own translation konwn as the JST. As far as the information in the references I cited, you need to take that up with the authors. The LDS church tried that and gave up. Now they just disengage when the topics start getting specific, and move on to someone less likely to draw attention to numerous obvious discrepencies. You haven't refuted my position at all. Most of the sources you're citing have already been discredited. Unless they can stand the peer review process, they are no more than someone's opinion. The Bible has been challenged many times on it's historical accuracy; more often than not the archeological evidence supporting the Bible comes from secular explorations.
No such evidence exists for the civilizations in the BOM. The truth be known, the LDS itself sent research teams to validate the historical claims and quietly disbanded the efforts when they came to the same conclusions, no supporting evidence.

On the theological side, the LDS still has to answer for doctrines such as Jesus being the spirit brother of Lucifer; father god having physical sex with Marry so Jesus could have a human body and other such bizarre doctrines. You're on shakey ground Kevin. I don't think I would want to risk my eternal future on a faith system with so many flaws.
As far as Smith goes, he should of read Galatians. He would have seen that turning Jesus into the spirit brother of Satan was another gospel, because that makes Jesus a created being, rather than the creator with full devine authority.
Sam also brings up some very embarrassing points about the BOM. Most of which are answered in the two works that I cited. Again, it's not what the LDS says
(certain revisions), but what was actually revised, what wasn't said. There are close to 3,000 revisions now. More than a few are foundational doctrines for LDS theology. Smith by the way, claimed that the BOM was the most correct book ever written.

Tim,

My goodness, I don't even know where to begin with your plethora of half-truths and false assertions.

No, I have no problem with an honest history. In fact, you can find extensive discussion of the problematic issues in LDS history in peer reviewed historical journals and a number of books (Bushman, a nationally acclaimed historian, something not shared by Martin or Abanes, is an excellent example).

On the JST, the issue is much more complicated than you are leading on. The word "translation" was used much more broadly back then than we use it now, as can easily be seen by looking at dictionaries and uses of the time.

On the veracity of your sources, "the LDS church" has not interacted with them, nor has it given up. You can find individual members of the Church who have addressed the likes of "Dr." "Dr." Martin and non-historian Abanes. Stop pretending like it was some huge institutional attempt at answering pseudo-scholarship.

On the sources I gave, could you please substantiate your claim that they have been discredited? Sorry, but I'm not just going to take your word for it.

On peer review, can you show me someone in religious studies who uses Martin's _Kingdom of the Cults_ as an accurate depiction of the beliefs of the various religions he discusses? What peers reviewed Abanes' pseudo-history? Givens' _By the Hand of Mormon_, _People of Paradox_, and _The viper on the Hearth_ were all published by Oxford University Press, which I imagine has a rigorous peer review process. Richard Bushman's work on Mormon history has received numerous awards and he is a worldwide recognized authority on Joseph Smith (an honor not shared by Martin or Abanes, who are only revered in their own little Evangelical market). It is Evangelical scholarship that is ignored and not taken seriously. Try to she me how widely _Kingdom of the Cults_ is used as a reliable source in peer reviewed journals on religious studies and you'll see how widely his work is used by the academic world.

On your next point, again, the Church did nothing of the sort. There have been many individual LDS who have attempted to find Book of Mormon sites and such, but the Church itself has done nothing of the sort. That you keep affirming that "the LDS church" did this or that in relation to these issues simply shows more of your ignorance on these matters.

That said, the historical evidence for the Book of Mormon is not as dire as you think, a myth that Evangelicals have been perpetuating since the beginning. We have Nahom, Wadi Saiq, and a parallel ancient trade route that fits exactly Nephi's description of their travels in the desert, incredibly intricate chiastic structures (including one that spans the entire Book of Mormon itself), a long tradition of Jewish seafaring, the presence of authentic farewell addresses that mirror ancient Biblical farewell addresses, a coherent and intricate Feast of Tabernacles (King Benjamin's oration), examples of ancient Hebrew males named Alma, a coherent limited geographical theory that can be seen in the text itself, a remarkable account of a volcanic eruption and earthquake (in 3 Nephi) that aptly parallels descriptions of the eruption of Pompeii, an accurate description of ancient guerilla warfare tactics by the Gadianton Robbers, many cases of Hebrew uses and appropriations of Egyptian language and symbolism during Lehi's time (including Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid languages that could be rightly termed "reformed Egyptian"), ancient references (e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls) to Bethlehem being in "the land of Jerusalem" (just as Alma says in Alma 7:10), the use of the term "Mosiah" (Mosia) as a title for a deliverer, which is the constant theme in that book and is an apt title/name for all the Mosiah's in the Book of Mormon, a coherent and accurate account of how to take care of olive trees (Jacob 5), the presence of Near Eastern cognate accusatives (which are incredibly ungramatical in English), the structure of the initial Book of Mormon manuscripts that were written without punctuation or paragraphing (which is consistent with the claim that it was dictated), and there is still much more.

Now, don't get me wrong: the above does not "prove" the veracity of the Book of Mormon. But the common presence of all these features is an incredible feat for a book supposedly written by some country bumpkin who had no more than a few years of formal education at most.

On the theological issues you raise, they are both rather weak: what does it matter if Christ is the brother of Satan? If I were the brother of Hitler or Dahmer, what does that mean about me? Furthermore, the potential consequences of this for the nature of what it means to be divine has been dealt with on a number of occasions.

On the next issue: I don't know anyone who believes that God the Father had sex with Mary. It was *never* official doctrine, the manner in which Christ was conceived has never been officially pronounced, one can be a good Mormon, can go to the temple, can serve in callings if they explicitly reject this doctrine. Its relation to these practices shows just how inconsequential it is, including its unofficial status. Please do your own homework rather than relying on the likes of pseudo-scholars like Martin or Abanes before you pronounce someone else's beliefs "shaky." This must be what it feels like for you to talk to a "New Atheist": continual misrepresentations of what you believe...

Lastly, on the "3,000 revisions," *EXACTLY LIKE THE BIBLE*, the vast majority of these "changes" are spelling, punctuation, and other other formatting issues. Like I said above, the original transcript for the Book of Mormon has NO PUNCTUATION, so it had to be added on later, then there were printing errors (which even happens today, despite our technology), and other such things. If "the LDS" say otherwise, then you are obviously ignorant of Royal Skousen's _Critical Text Project_ that documents *each and every* change, no matter how small or inconsequential, in the various printings of the Book of Mormon. It's there, published in beautiful binding for *everyone* to see who wants to look. There is no conspiracy to hide this from the LDS, especially when it is the BYU Maxwell Institute that is publishing these texts.

And with that, I'm done as it is very frustrating talking to someone who is so ignorant of what he is talking about. I don't have the time or energy to correct every misunderstanding that is present in every single sentence you write, nor the illogical consequences that you think follow from what you present. Again, if I believed what you wrote above I would reject Mormonism too...

Kevin, I'm sure I have some misconceptions about Mormonism, too, but I hope you won't mind answering some questions.

Why were the revisions to the BOM necessary? With the exception of some KJV-Only people, Christians don't claim that any translation or copy of the Bible was divinely revealed in the same way Mormons claim that the BOM was revealed to Joseph Smith. Given how it was translated, I don't see how it's possible for there to be errors in it.

That is, unless the errors crept in between the time Joseph Smith translated it, and the first publication. How many times was it copied before being published, though?

I can understand having typographical errors and such, but when you google the changes, there are all sorts of differences other than mere spelling and typo. There are also grammatical changes, and even changes in content. And there is a scanned copy of the 1830 edition on the internet for anybody to check them out:

http://www.inephi.com/

What happened to Joseph Smith's original? Do we still have it? It seems like these textual issues could easily be resolved if we did, but I haven't heard anything about it.

Is it official Mormon doctrine that God was once a man who became exalted, and that he had a father before him, and that he had a beginning of existence? Or is that just the opinion of some?

If it's true that there are other gods in other universes, how can that be reconciled with the many statements, especially in Isaiah, that there is only one God in all of reality, and that God doesn't even know of any other gods or anyone like him? Or is this just a common misconception about Mormonism?

Is it official Mormon doctrine that Jesus had a beginning? Mosiah 3:5 seems to suggest that Jesus had no beginning.

Alma 34:35 seems to preclude the Mormon idea that baptism for the dead can give the dead the opportunity to be saved in the afterlife. Have I misunderstood something either about Alma 34:35 or about baptism for the dead in Mormonism?

Alma 11:38-39 and Mosiah 15:1-5 sounds like modalism, and Alma 11:44 sounds like trinitarianism. Do Mormons believe the father and son are the same person? Do they believe the father, son, and holy spirit are the same God? How do Mormons view the Trinity?

How did synagogues get in the BOM since they left Jerusalem in 600 BCE, and there were no synagogues until sometime after the exile? And "synagogue" is a Greek word.

How did Greek words, such as "Alpha and Omega," "synagogue," and "Antipas" get in the BOM? In Alma 47:7, there's a guy named "Antipas."

I've been taking notes as I've been reading the BOM, and I have more questions, but I don't want to exasperate you. I plan to talk with a friend of mine about some of these things, and the last thing I want to do is misrepresent Mormonism or make poor arguments. Please help me out. By answering my questions, maybe I can strengthen my case and be more persuasive when I talk to my friend.

In answer to your religious studies query; Ravi Zacharias.
He has a website, try some of your arguments with him. And answer some of Sam's questions as well.
Most of your frustration comes from defending the indefensible.
One last bit of evidence about the nature of Smith's 'translation' skills. The
papyrus that Smith supposedly translated the 'Book of Abraham' from, was found in the archives of a major museum a number of years ago. When Egyptologists translated it, the papyrus was a funerary text.
Kevin look, I like Sam, am more than a little uncomfortable when I see someone becoming frustrated.
I suspect though that your frustration is a result of having to try to defend glaring discrep-
ancies, rather than 'giving a defense for the hope that lies within you.' Trust me, I get tired of answering the same arguments from ahteists, after their arguments are proven fallacious time after time.
However, there is a huge difference in defending a faith with so much extra biblical evidence, than defending a religious system like Mormonism. Mormonism isn't ancient history. Many of the original source documents such as court records, are still in existance. The writings of the Mormon 'Prophets' have been published, and are a matter of public record for the most part. We don't have to speculate about the 'Doctrines and Covenants', or 'The Pearl of Great Price', and what they say. Many of the sermons of prominent Mormons were published and are still available. We know what Mormon doctrine was, and what was changed, and what hasn't. I'm truely sorry for your frustration,
but prudence would make anyone warry of a system with so many problems. Martin & Abanes by the way, used proper research methodology. They actually went and looked at the records where they were available or used evidence by those who had. Just one case in point; New York vs. Joseph Smith, March 20, 1826 reveals that Joseph Smith..." had a certain stone which he had occaisionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were..". The court records still exist. Smith's conviction on 'Peep-stone gazing' was discovered by Rev. Wesley P. Walters, in 1971, at the Cheango County Jail, Norwich, New York. The passage quoted is from the recently updated Kingdom of the Cults. Such evidence would be to easily refuted if it were fraudulent, by any legal researcher. The evidence indicates that Smith was heavely into occult practices, something expressly forbidden in the Bible. Abones' book actually goes into much greater detail, and is focused mainly on Mormonism and it's history. I've been exposed to enough legal research to understand the implications of this type of evidence. You don't have to be a 'historian' to imploy proper research techniques and publish the results.

Sam,

Those are many questions and will require some time to track down some useful sources regarding the issues you are raising. Will need some time.

Tim,

No, the frustration comes when you misrepresent the facts. I don't think the case for Mormonism is ironclad, but there is plenty for Evangelicals to criticize from their perspective without having to fabricate other issues. So-called counter-cultists have completely ignored the hierarchy of doctrine that can be seen as early as Brigham Young (read the statements by the First Presidency from that time on and how they deal with doctrinal issues). You accept the words of our prophets as official doctrine *EXCEPT* in those blaring cases when they talk about the nature of their own statements (i.e. that they aren't official, that the scriptures should be our basis for judging what they say). And then you rather haughtily present this information as if I have never seen them before, as if I were ignorant of these issues. I guarantee you that I have read into many of them extensively and am quite familiar with them. In fact, I would wager that I'm a good deal more familiar with them than you are as you seem to be relying exclusively on a few secondary sources.

Zeal without knowledge is dangerous and I have no desire communicating with ignorant people who think they are informed, or relying on self-proclaimed experts who have fake PhDs or have demonstrate no expertise in the areas they are writing in.

Tim,

One more point: I'm still waiting for you to justify your claim that the authors I have named have been discredited.

Refute the single 'secondary source' I quoted. Have you gone to New York and researched the evidence? Not likely, nor have I. I'll point out that all of your sources are 'secondary' as well.
I do have to ask forgiveness for leaving out the most important element though, that is Jesus. The entirety of the Bible is to bring us face to face with Him. But we need to make sure we have the 'right Jesus', not one fabricated to fit a particular religious doctrine. The 66 books of the Bible are the final authority on Jesus. Who He is, what He has done, what He is doing and what He is about to do.
There isn't anything of any value in the Book of Mormon or any other publication that can add to those 66 books. It differs from commentaries in that in that it claims to be 'another testimony'.
The fact remains that Paul warned about such deviations in Galatians and in other places. You have to explain away the internal witness of the Book of Mormon and why it directly contradicts just this one element, let alone all the rest of the evidence. And no I haven't taken the time to read the entire BOM, nor do I intend to, the research of those who have, plus the 'another testimony' right on the front of it is enough warning for me.
I was saved out of a works based religion, I certainly don't intend to get involved in another one. I know why I'm saved, how I'm saved and why the Bible is true from verse 1 to the last verse. My advice is to set down with the Bible and go verse by verse and then go and research everything Mormonism has said about it. Then make your choice.
All we're doing is playing a game of 'your source, my source'. So to end my part of it, my final
'source' is the Bible as it has been handed down, if you want to add the Book of Mormon and all the rest of the baggage that goes
with Mormonism, that's your choice. John 14:6 says Jesus is the only way to the Father, I don't need a signed certificate from Joseph Smith or anyone else for that matter. I'm praying that you find the right Jesus before it's to late.

Kevin Winters is probably correct.

What are evangelicals doing?
http://www.cometozarahemla.org/others/mosser-owen.html#_1_4

The Apostle Paul wrote this warning:

". . . if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him]. . . "For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. ... ." -- 2 Corinthians 11:3, 13-15.

So the question of a different Jesus is a valid question and issue.

Jesus speaking against the Devil cited, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." -- Matthew 4:4 regarding the Law as found in Deutonomy 8:3.

The importance of this is, IF the BOM and other prophetic writings of the LDS Church and Joseph Smith were of God they would need to be heeded.

I personally (even as a Christian) believe these two axioms:

1)The universe is everything which is IN existence.

2) And anything IN existence is NOT God.

The LDS doctrine of "eternal matter" makes the LDS Gods not God to me.

Yes, I believe in only One true God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent. And I believe Jesus Christ pre-existed as both "with God" and "was God" with His Father. And that God is a Spirit. So I believe in One God who is three Persons. And that those three Persons are that One God. So I'm tiniarian in my belief in God as a Christian.

The LDS understanding on this is quite different.


Kevin,

There's another issue I discovered today. The BOM repeatedly says that Jesus will be born 600 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (1 Nephi 10:4, 2 Nephi 25:19, etc.). Lehi left Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah (1 Nephi 1:4, 1 Nephi 2:2-4, etc.). That means Jesus should be born 600 years after the 1st year of Zedekiah.

The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the 11th year of Zedekiah, which was the 19th year of Nebachadnezzar (2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 39; Jeremiah 52). That happened in 587 BCE, which means that Lehi left Jermusalem in 598 BCE.

If Lehi left Jerusalem in 598 BCE, that means Jesus was born in 3 CE.

But the problem is that according to Matthew 2, King Herod was still alive with Jesus was born. Herod died in 4 BCE, which means Jesus had to have been born in 4 BCE or earlier.

It seems like the only way to make the BOM chronology work is to argue for a different date than 587 BCE for the destruction of the temple, but that date is supported by some pretty strong evidence (see "The Gentile Times Ronsidered," by Carl O. Jonnson). Another way would be to argue for a different date for King Herod's death. I'm not sure what the evidence is for the date of his death, but from what I've read, there definitely seems to be a consensus about it.

The footnotes in my copy of the BOM say that Lehi left Jerusalem in 600 BCE, and that Jesus was born in 1 CE. That would put the destruction of the Temple in 589 BCE, and the death of Herod no earlier than 1 CE.

Sam,

One issue at a time as I have time to gather sources for them. On the textual issues, see the following free (as I don't want to require that you buy anything) sources:

Changes in the Book of Mormon
by Royal Skousen
http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2002_Changes_in_the_Book_of_Mormon.html

The Book of Mormon Critical Text Project
by Terryl L. Givens
http://farms.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=15&num=1&id=402&q=critical%20text%20project

On the extent of potentially significant changes (which are less than a dozen in number), see: http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_textual_changes#Significant_changes


On the question of modalism in the Book of Mormon, the most extensive analysis of the texts and issues can be found here:

The Development of the Mormon Understanding of God: Early Mormon Modalism and Other Myths
by Ari D. Bruening, and David L. Paulsen
http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=13&num=2&id=392&q=modalism


On the question of the calendar and Lehi's 600-year prophecy, see the following:
The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar
by Randall P. Spackman
http://farms.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=7&num=1&id=170&q=calendar

And that's all I have for now and will try to take the time to find more shortly.

I tried posting some links in relation to a number of your questions, but it was marked as spam and said it had to have moderator approval. So I guess we'll just have to wait till it shows up as anything else I post will be treated the same, as it will have a number of links.

Kevin Smith,
I am not an expert on Mormonism and have not read the primary literature.
But thinking about it after your postings I have a question and wonder if you might answer it.
I was wondering if Joseph Smith, reading the works of the ancients and under the guidance of an angel in translating them (I hope I'm right so far) used the word "Jehovah'?
In looking at the BoM online I se he did.

To whom does this name refer and why did Joseph Smith use it?

I don't know if this issue has been raised and if it is answered in the scholarly work of Nibbley, or FARMS, so I hope you'll forgive me if I am not raising an original question.

You aren't Kevin Smith.
Kevin Winters, I meant.

Kevin,

Thanks for the links. So far, I've only read the article on the chronology. The article was actually kind of surprising to me because in the end, the author claimed to have solved one problem, but in doing so, created another--the problem of whether Lehi left Jerusalem in the 1st year of Zedekiah, as Mormon said in the heading of 3 Nephi, or whether he left between 588 and 587 BCE, as the author argued (being the 10th or 11th year of Zedekiah). To deal with THAT problem, the author quoted the preface to the BOM, which says, "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ."

That is a really interesting response. It sounds like the author is saying in that section that Mormon made a mistake. There's a contradiction in the BOM about when Lehi left Jerusalem. But if that's the case, then why go through this long explanation, trying to reconcile the 600 year prophecy? Why not just BEGIN with this claim about human error and avoid the whole thing?

This "human error" solution creates another problem, too. The introduction of the BOM quotes Joseph Smith as saying that "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth." If the BOM is fallible, then there isn't an infallible book on earth--neither the Bible nor the BOM. We might as well give up worrying about contradictions and chalk them up to human error.

I admit that the author's solution works. I did the math, and, indeed, 600 lunar years (without adding a 13th month every three or so years) is equal to about 582 solar years, so 600 lunar years before 5 BC is 587 BC.

But I am highly skeptical that if this story were true, the Nephites, out of ignorance, would've failed to add the 13th month every 3 or so years. After all, they had every reason the Mesoamericans, Hebrews, and Egyptians had to notice a problem--harvests and festivals, especially. And living in the Hebrew/Egyptian world for much longer than 3 years before leaving like they did, and being acquainted with their calender, surely they would've known about the 13th month.

But if that's the case, then why not just say these are "the mistakes of men" and live with it?

Daron, I know I'm not Kevin, but I thought you might like an answer to your question anyway. It sounds like you're just asking if "Jehovah" is used in the Book of Mormon. If I've misunderstood your question, I'm sorry. Yes, "Jehovah" is in the BOM at 2 Nephi 22:2 and Moroni 10:34.

Hey Sam,
Thanks for answering.
Yes, I had wondered if "Jehovah" was used in the BoM, but then I looked online and found that it was.

The reason I wonder if this point has been raised before is because it would seem like something that needs explaining. The Hebrews never said or wrote anything resembling "Jehovah".

The word is an accidental amalgam.
From What Do Jewish People Think About Jesus by Michael L. Brown:

The name Jehovah is actually based on a mistaken reading of the Biblical text by medieval Christian scholars who were educated in the Hebrew language but were not aware of certain Jewish scribal customs.
...
they wrongly read this amalgam as Yahowah, or Jehovah in English. That is to say, the name Jehovah (or Yahowah) did not exist in Israel - despite the popularity of this name in English-speaking Christian circles, and despite religious organizations like Jehovah's Witnesses.

JWs also, of course, claim to have the superior translation of the original texts.

So why did BoM ancient Hebrews use a word, Jehovah, which was not invented until almost two thousand years after they left Judah? Why would they have translated a Hebrew word into a modified Egyptian word which translated in English as Jehovah/i>; which just happened to be the accidental form created by non-Hebrew medieval scholars in the 12th century?
It seems unlikely.

And since Smith actually had no compunction about correcting the King James translation where it was flawed why did he not correct this error - especially if he was being divinely guided to spell proper names letter by letter when he couldn't pronounce them?

It seems strange to me also given the fact that he was translating into what he said was a modern and understandable vernacular. Given that the name was wrong there was no reason for him to perpetuate the error just because his listeners might already have been familiar with it (he corrected other mistaken familiarities) . He could have just said "God" or "Jesus", depending upon which he took it to mean, or "the Father" and "The Son".

I haven't seen this objection raised anywhere before, but I don't really expect it is original. As such, I also presume there is a FARMS explanation - I wonder what it is?

Doesn't worrying about savvy witnessing, come close to implying that people's salvation depends on our skill as propagandists?
Admittedly one could go the other way and say we shouldn't do anything because God will figure everything out. Still one might wonder.

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