If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

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annotatedbom
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If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by annotatedbom » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:02 pm

Come Follow Me, week 2, Jan. 6-12
And, Annotated BoM starting at 1 Nephi 1

If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand believing Mormons better, I might ask: "Why did Nephi think he had to kill a defenseless, unconscious Laban for the brass plates?"

Context making the killing problematic:
  • The LDS Church teaches that when personal revelation contradicts the prophets (as in “Thou shalt not kill”—kind of a biggie), the contradicting personal revelation is wrong.
  • Two big themes I gleaned from the Church’s study guide this week are (1) God always prepares a way for a person to do what God commands (1 Ne 3:7), and (2) exercise faith to gain a testimony. God commands “Thou shalt not kill,” but Nephi kills Laban anyway. Doesn’t this show a lack of faith on Nephi’s part?
  • Reasons given to obtain the brass plates are to preserve their language (1 Ne 3:19), to have the word of God (1Ne 3:20), to keep a nation from dwindling in unbelief (1Ne 4:13), and to have the law of Moses (1 Ne 4:15). Yet, Lehites were apparently capable of writing to preserve their language, and certainly an all-powerful God could provide revelation to accomplish the other purposes listed.
  • But, let's assume the plates were needed. Couldn't the Lord provide a way for Nephi to follow his commandment to not kill? Laban was grossly inebriated which could have led to an alcohol-induced blackout (especially if said God wanted it so) in which all about the night's events were forgotten. Or, God could have given Laban other misdirection so the Lehites could not be thwarted in their escape with the plates. Look at what the God of Abraham allegedly did to protect Israel during the Exodus.
  • The explanation given by the Spirit to Nephi (“It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” - 1 Ne 4:13) is the same explanation given by the high priest Caiaphas for killing Jesus (“It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” - John 11:50).
  • "Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records" [plates of brass] (1 Nephi 5:16). It's possible there could be more to the story, but it would seem that Nephi stole the plates owned by or left in the charge of Laban. Again, according to the Church's teaching, personal revelation is trumped by commandments given by prophets (ie. thou shalt not steal). So if these plates belonged to someone else, Nephi does not exercise the faith to follow the prophets and allow the Lord to provide a way for him to keep this commandment. ETA: Random made the following observation, and I think it's important to include it here to show how week my last point is:
    But Nephi and his brothers brought a ton of wealth to Laban earlier in an attempt to buy the plates. Laban told his servants to kill the boys. He did not succeed in doing that, but he did succeed in stealing their property, therefor it could be logical to suppose they had legally bought and paid for the plates. They made an offer, he took all the "money" they offered him, so the plates were legally theirs - in the eternal sense of fairness (I don't know about their actual laws).
Mormonism has been tempered over time, so it no longer directly promotes violence, but doesn't this Book of Mormon killing show how revelation can be harmful and dangerous? When even prophets fail (Adam/God doctrine for example, even incorporated into the endowment ceremony for years), revelation seems horribly problematic.

If you could ask believers questions about this week's Come Follow Me lesson, what would you ask?

Have fun studying!
Annotated Book of Mormon

Previous Week's Question Week 1
Last edited by annotatedbom on Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Hagoth
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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jan 05, 2020 5:19 pm

annotatedbom wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:02 pm
  • The explanation given by the Spirit to Nephi (“It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” - 1 Ne 4:13) is the same explanation given by the high priest Caiaphas for killing Jesus (“It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” - John 11:50).
I have always found this ironic almost to the point of humorous.
annotatedbom wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:02 pm
  • "Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records" [plates of brass] (1 Nephi 5:16). It's possible there could be more to the story, but it would seem that Nephi stole the plates owned by or left in the charge of Laban. Again, according to the Church's teaching, personal revelation is trumped by commandments given by prophets (ie. thou shalt not steal). So if these plates belonged to someone else, Nephi does not exercise the faith to follow the prophets and allow the Lord to provide a way for him to keep this commandment.
Additionally, Joseph's translation method and the way he produced other texts like the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses demonstrates that the plates weren't even necessary.

Probably the biggest problem for me about this story is that the brass plates are presented as a canonical Old Testament at the time of Nephi, which seems very unlikely.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by annotatedbom » Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:20 am

Hagoth wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 5:19 pm
Probably the biggest problem for me about this story is that the brass plates are presented as a canonical Old Testament at the time of Nephi, which seems very unlikely.
I like your thinking. I didn't go there with the OP, but here's what I observed for Mosiah 1:4:
So, the plates of brass are written in Egyptian. The plates of brass “contained ‘the five books of Moses, … and also a record of the Jews from the beginning, … down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah; and also the prophecies of the holy prophets’” (Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon, ellipses in the original). As such, the plates of brass would have been what one might consider the Jewish Bible (The Tanakh) up to that point in time (though the Jewish Bible wasn’t canonized by this point in history, and it’s even questionable as to whether the various writings indicated would have been gathered into one book). As such, the original language of the writings included in the brass plates would have been predominantly Hebrew. It would have been an enormous process to translate these writings into Egyptian and then engrave them unto metal plates into one book. (Here)
The more you dig into this stuff, the worse the case for the Book of Mormon gets.

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by Hagoth » Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:38 pm

The claim that the plates were written in Hebrew using Egyptian characters is another massive problem. Just having them written in Hebrew makes much more sense. First of all, it was the language the authors would have used naturally, and second it is much more concise, compared to English, because it doesn't use written vowels.

The BoM authors presumably used Egyptian to save space, which fits Joseph's misconception that Egptian writing was a way to compress information, when in reality it is a very inefficient form of writing compared to Hebrew. Big whatever-you-call-the-opposite-of-a-bullseye! Some of the supposed BoM authors whine about having to learn Egyptian, but for exactly the wrong reasons.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by annotatedbom » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:10 am

Hagoth wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:38 pm
Joseph's misconception that Egptian writing was a way to compress information, when in reality it is a very inefficient form of writing compared to Hebrew.
Interesting! I had wondered about this and remember trying to do a little research, but I guess my interest wasn't high enough, so I didn't come to any hard conclusions. Maybe you could help me understand this better.

When I was considering and looking at this, my speculation was something like, "Maybe there could be something to the BoM claim that Egyptian took of less space, because it seems like one glyph can represent an entire word." But then I saw that there were three forms of Hieroglyphs: hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic, and my interest didn't match the work it would take for me to decipher the information between the three, figure out which seemed most like the characters Joseph said he copied from the plates, and then compare the space that form of glyphs would take compared to Hebrew. Not to mention, it seems that many glyphs were used in Egyptian to modify other glyphs. It all left me confused.

TL;DR:
With the characters Joseph said he copied from plates most similar to a form of Egyptian that takes up more space than Hebrew? And, how controversial is that with non-Mormon scholars?

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by Hagoth » Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:49 am

annotatedbom wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:10 am
Maybe you could help me understand this better.
Joseph believed that each Egyptian character was composed of individual components of meaning that together created something that was greater than the sum of its parts (e.g. an underline changed or added to the meaning of the character), and that a single character could be unfolded and deciphered into many words, and sometimes into an entire paragraph. If you compare the Hor papyrus characters to the their translation in the KEP you can see that he translated single characters into entire sentences. He believed that each character contained five degrees of information. I don't know whether this concept originated with him or whether it was something floating around at the time.

For example, the Egyptian character that Joseph said represented Egypt breaks down like this:

1st Degree: “The land of Egypt”
2nd Degree: “The land which was discovered under water by a woman”
3rd Degree: “The woman sought to settle her sons in that land. She being the daughter of Ham”
4th Degree: “The land of Egypt discovered by a woman who afterwards sett[l]ed her sons in it”
5th Degree: “The land of Egypt which was first discovered by a woman <whter [while?] under water>, and afterward settled by her sons she being a daughter of Ham”
annotatedbom wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:10 am
When I was considering and looking at this, my speculation was something like, "Maybe there could be something to the BoM claim that Egyptian took of less space, because it seems like one glyph can represent an entire word." But then I saw that there were three forms of Hieroglyphs: hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic...
You understand that, but Joseph didn't! When he reconstructed the lacunae on Facsimile 2 he mixed hieroglyphic characters with hieratic and sometimes even copied them upside down. For someone who claimed to be able to decode the characters down to their 5th degree of meaning he sure seemed ignorant about them.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by annotatedbom » Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:09 pm

I knew from study about the Egyptian alphabet/decoder ring project that JS. et. al., thought one character could represent a rather large paragraph, but I didn’t know about the belief about 5 degrees of meaning.
Hagoth wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:49 am
You understand that, but Joseph didn't! When he reconstructed the lacunae on Facsimile 2 he mixed hieroglyphic characters with hieratic and sometimes even copied them upside down. For someone who claimed to be able to decode the characters down to their 5th degree of meaning he sure seemed ignorant about them.
I didn’t know about Joseph’s mixing of hieroglyph types either. Here I am, 11 years after realizing I no longer believe, having spent way more time studying Mormonism than is healthy, and I’m still finding tunnels in this rabbit hole I didn’t even know existed.

Thanks Hagoth!

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by Hagoth » Tue Jan 07, 2020 8:33 pm

annotatedbom wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:09 pm
I didn’t know about Joseph’s mixing of hieroglyph types either.
Here's a pretty good summary from Wikipedia:
As stated by LDS Egyptologist Michael D. Rhodes: "A careful examination of Facsimile No. 2 shows that there is a difference between most of the hieroglyphic signs and the signs on the right third of the figure on the outer edge as well as the outer portions of the sections numbered 12–15. These signs are Hieratic, not hieroglyphic, and are inverted, or upside down, to the rest of the text. In fact, they are a fairly accurate copy of lines 2, 3, and 4 of the Joseph Smith Papyrus XI, which contains a portion of the Book of Breathings. Especially clear is the word snsn, in section 14, and part of the name of the mother of the owner of the papyrus, (tay-)uby.t, repeated twice on the outer edge. An ink drawing of the hypocephalus in the Church Historian's office shows these same areas as being blank. It is likely that these portions were destroyed on the original hypocephalus and someone (the engraver, one of Joseph Smith's associates, or Joseph himself) copied the lines from the Book of Breathings papyrus for aesthetic purposes."
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by moksha » Wed Jan 08, 2020 6:14 am

If you could ask believers questions about this week's Come Follow Me lesson, what would you ask?
Shouldn't Lehi have suspected that an order to kill was from Satan, since God said quite explicitly, "Thou shalt not kill"?
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by annotatedbom » Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:12 am

moksha wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 6:14 am
Shouldn't Lehi have suspected that an order to kill was from Satan, since God said quite explicitly, "Thou shalt not kill"?
You would think, right?

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by Corsair » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:19 am

Luckily for the LDS church, making Sunday School occur only on the first and third week of the month shortchanges the detail on each lesson. Elders Quorum and Relief Society will not cover this crazy story. By the time week three rolls around, Laban's homicide will be ignored in favor of "Lehi's Vision of the Tree of Life". Nephi leaving the naked, headless, bloodstained corpse of Laban in a Jerusalem back alley can be pushed aside. It's more affirming to brittle testimonies if Sunday Schools spends time trash talking apostates and "the world" partying in the The Great and Spacious Building.

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by annotatedbom » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:57 am

Corsair wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:19 am
Luckily for the LDS church, making Sunday School occur only on the first and third week of the month shortchanges the detail on each lesson. Elders Quorum and Relief Society will not cover this crazy story. By the time week three rolls around, Laban's homicide will be ignored in favor of "Lehi's Vision of the Tree of Life". Nephi leaving the naked, headless, bloodstained corpse of Laban in a Jerusalem back alley can be pushed aside. It's more affirming to brittle testimonies if Sunday Schools spends time trash talking apostates and "the world" partying in the The Great and Spacious Building.
But . . . but, we’re all studying these lessons at home too like we’re supposed to, right?

All kidding aside, I wonder how many LDS families are faithfully studying this material at home a encouraged. 12 years ago I would have been making an honest effort to do so, but I was one of those who took it all seriously. Maybe that category of Mormon makes up about15-20% on average?

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by deacon blues » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:29 pm

Corsair wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:19 am
Luckily for the LDS church, making Sunday School occur only on the first and third week of the month shortchanges the detail on each lesson. Elders Quorum and Relief Society will not cover this crazy story. By the time week three rolls around, Laban's homicide will be ignored in favor of "Lehi's Vision of the Tree of Life". Nephi leaving the naked, headless, bloodstained corpse of Laban in a Jerusalem back alley can be pushed aside. It's more affirming to brittle testimonies if Sunday Schools spends time trash talking apostates and "the world" partying in the The Great and Spacious Building.
I think this is likely one of the reasons for two hour Church.
God is Love. God is Truth

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by Random » Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:11 pm

annotatedbom wrote:
Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:02 pm
"Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records" [plates of brass] (1 Nephi 5:16). It's possible there could be more to the story, but it would seem that Nephi stole the plates owned by or left in the charge of Laban. Again, according to the Church's teaching, personal revelation is trumped by commandments given by prophets (ie. thou shalt not steal). So if these plates belonged to someone else, Nephi does not exercise the faith to follow the prophets and allow the Lord to provide a way for him to keep this commandment.
But Nephi and his brothers brought a ton of wealth to Laban earlier in an attempt to buy the plates. Laban told his servants to kill the boys. He did not succeed in doing that, but he did succeed in stealing their property, therefor it could be logical to suppose they had legally bought and paid for the plates. They made an offer, he took all the "money" they offered him, so the plates were legally theirs - in the eternal sense of fairness (I don't know about their actual laws).
There are 2 Gods. One who created us. The other you created. The God you made up is just like you-thrives on flattery-makes you live in fear.

Believe in the God who created us. And the God you created should be abolished.
PK

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Re: If I could ask them one question . . . Come Follow Me Week 2

Post by annotatedbom » Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:43 am

Random wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:11 pm
But Nephi and his brothers brought a ton of wealth to Laban earlier in an attempt to buy the plates. Laban told his servants to kill the boys. He did not succeed in doing that, but he did succeed in stealing their property, therefor it could be logical to suppose they had legally bought and paid for the plates. They made an offer, he took all the "money" they offered him, so the plates were legally theirs - in the eternal sense of fairness (I don't know about their actual laws).
Random,

This 2nd week Come Follow Me post was the one I got the most pushback on (at Mormon Reddit). This thing is, the pushback was all emotional and not reason-based. Yours is the first argument anyone wrote against something in my post that I think makes sense. It’s the type of thing I try to catch in my own thinking. Thank you for pointing this out so I won’t include this point in the future, or if I do, I’ll point out this weakness of the point.

Thanks!
A-BoM

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