Category Archives: Book of Mormon

An American Prophet

Mormons are not the only prophetic tradition in America. The African American spiritual community also has its own prophetic roots, and Martin Luther King, Jr. is the paradigmatic figure from that tradition. It is true that these two traditions define prophetic leadership differently. For Mormons, today even more so than in our past, the prophetic mantle is held by right of institutional authority. The prophetic responsibility is to testify to the world of Christ, and to teach the faithful. This vision of prophesy hearkens back to ancient prophetic schools which saw prophesy as a vocation, and moreso in recent times, as a tool for the preservation of traditional social values. In the African American tradition, the prophetic tradition takes the role of charismatic cultural critic, especially around issues of injustice. This tradition hearkens back to a biblical tradition of speaking out against authority in the hopes of transforming society.
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Filed under Book of Mormon, LDS Church History, Leadership

Nephi as the first autobiographer?

One of the most interesting things about the small plates of Nephi is the first person narrative which recounts his own life. The text begins famously “I Nephi,” and gives a personal account of Nephi’s family history, personal reflections, and all this is done in the first person. This is extremely rare in ancient and classical literature. What are we to make of this?
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Filed under Book of Mormon, Extra-Biblical Literature

Book of Mormon Ethics Revisited

Hi, everybody it’s my first post. Newbie that I am, I’m still becoming acquainted with everyone’s positions on various and sundry topics. Sometimes you’re really bright, and sometimes you’re godless heathens; I’m confident my final conclusion will come to rest somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. In short, though, I appreciate that questions and concerns are being discussed in the open free from fear of stoning, burning, and/or excommunication.

I mention this feeler-extending process to explain my initial reaction to TT’s post about Book of Mormon ethics which contains a harsh criticism of the Book of Mormon concept that the righteous prosper. I assume its a given here that one’s opinions of a text or its theological articulations are not to be slighted, so I’m not calling TT a heretic. Frankly, I don’t know who he is or the status of his testimony—he says he keeps his faith, and I’m cool with that. So I hope I’m not misunderstood when I say that his criticism of this aspect of Book of Mormon theodicy is at least somewhat unfair. Continue reading

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Filed under Book of Mormon, Guests

The C-F-A and a Non-literal Adam and Eve

This past Sunday I taught my 14 year old SS class about the Atonement from 2 Nephi 2 (we’re a week behind). A strange thought occurred to me after class concerning the possible effects of a non-literal or symbolical reading of the Adam and Eve story on the way we (or at least I) understand the Atonement. Continue reading

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Filed under Atonement, Book of Mormon, Doctrine

Do we really believe the Book of Mormon?

Sitting in Sunday School this week and rereading 1 Ne 1-7, I couldn’t help but wonder if we as Mormons really believed the central theological message of the Book of Mormon that the righteous will prosper in the land, or whether we were forced to read the Book of Mormon’s prophetic stance allegorically in order for it to make sense. We all know that the righteous don’t always prosper. Then, I remembered that I had guest posted on this topic here at FPR more than a year and a half ago. This is what I wrote:
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Offenders for a Word

The classic Daniel Peterson/Stephen Ricks historical defense of LDS doctrine, Offenders for a Word, has been put up on the FARMS website, along with a slew of other volumes.

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Filed under Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine

Curses!

A discussion I had recently with a friend of mine reminded me of one of my other favorite soap boxes that I haven’t stood on in this forum before. No, it has nothing to do with swearing (in a traditional sense at least). Today I’m more interested in the sort of curses that God lays on peoples. Like on the Lamanites and stuff. And yeah I know that there is nothing new in the ‘Nacle so I’ll just say outright that I haven’t even looked elsewhere to see who has already broached the subject and what they said. Feel free to restate and/or link. Continue reading

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Filed under Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine, LDS Church History, Marginalia, Personal Issues, Speculation

The Book of Mormon’s Contextual Vacuum

An interesting point made at school the other day has inspired me to rise, if only temporarily, from my end-of-school paper writing hell. The point of discussion was the alarming number of LDS people who do not read the Bible, especially the NT, with any regularity. We are a very Book of Mormon centered Church, in practice anyway, right now. At first blush this may not seem like a bad thing but upon closer inspection it can easily be seen that this approach is flawed. Continue reading

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Polygamy in the Book of Mormon

It struck me the other day that the one place in the Book of Mormon where polygamy is addressed is unabashedly opposed to polygamy. This is, of course, Jacob chapter 2 (and a little of chapter 3). However, it may surprise you to learn why Jacob was so opposed to polygamy. Continue reading

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Filed under Book of Mormon, Doctrine, Speculation

BoM Literal Translation: Hebraisms?

For several decades, the alleged presence of “Hebraisms,” or, linguistic elements of Hebrew, in the translation of the Book of Mormon have been taken as a significant proof of the Book of Mormon’s authenticity. Phrases like “rivers of water” (1 Ne 8:13, 26) demonstrate the Hebraic urtext. Some have suggested to me in private conversations that this element alone of the Book of Mormon is enough to demonstrate its truthfulness. I am interested in this topic as it relates to Handle’s post on Ostler’s expansion theory of the Book of Mormon as well as those who claim that the Book of Mormon is a literal, word for word reproduction of the original text, like Skousen. Which one solves the most problems?

Does Ostler’s theory deny the possibility of Hebraisms? Perhaps he can answer this himself, but it seems to me that a loose translation of the text that he is arguing for would eliminate Hebraisms as a possibility. Then, how do we explain these awkward English constructions? Well, perhaps they are just “biblicisms”, or imitative of biblical, or biblical sounding idiom. In other cases, they just might be English phrases. A Google search of “rivers of water” reveals that this phrase is used in English, and that it is associated with biblical idiom.

In contrast, Skousen argues that the Book of Mormon is a word for word reproduction of the original text and somehow demonstrates this from the study of the translated manuscripts. This entails that the Hebraisms the result of a wooden translation. The problem with this is that the Book of Mormon frequently quotes New Testament phrases. How does a literal translation explain this? It seems that it has to posit that the phrases are shared urtexts from a pre-exilic context that show up independently hundreds of years later on two different contexts. This strikes me as less likely than that Joseph idiomatically translates the original text to reflect familiar sacred language.

To be honest, I am unsure about how to resolve these problems. Both a literal translation and a free translation present different solutions and different problems. Can one theory solve them all?

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