BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

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Red Ryder
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BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:24 am

Simon Southerton posted a link on the Mormon Discussions board referencing an article talking about the origins of the BOM and parallels to writings by John Bunyan.

Pretty fascinating article from 2012.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/hid ... f-mormon/#

Here's 14 parallels to between Bunyan's story and Abinadi.
Bunyan’s additions were not random. He borrowed many of these elements – often using the same or similar phraseology – from John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (better known as the Book of Martyrs), a massive sixteenth-century publication that related the history of Christian martyrs from a Protestant perspective. Bunyan’s cribbings from these two texts were then cemented using original material specific to the world of Christian and his journey to the Celestial Kingdom. The result is a “clustering” of old and new narrative building blocks to form a unique pattern, one that shares no less than fourteen distinctive narrative elements with the story of Abinadi in the Book of Mormon.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Faithful and Christian journey to the wicked city of Vanity Fair on their way to the Celestial Kingdom. As the pilgrims enter the city, their presence causes a disturbance among the citizens, and the travel companions are 1) bound and thrown into prison. A town leader 2) assembles a group of associates to examine the pilgrims, and the prisoners 3) are “brought before” the town leaders and put on trial. They accuse Faithful 4) of being a “madman,” 5) of stirring up contention among the people, and 6) of slandering the town leaders. Faithful 7) speaks “boldly” in his defense, but to no avail. The trial leader 8) condemns Faithful to be “slain” and “put to […] death.” Faithful is then 9) “scourged,” and finally 10) burned at the stake. Thus, Faithful 11) “seals” his “testimony” with his “blood.” Faithful’s teachings and martyrdom 12) convert a witness, Hopeful, who becomes a major character in the story. 13) Other converts follow and depart from the city, 14) “entering into” a “covenant” to follow Christ.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Abinadi enters the now-wicked city of Lehi-Nephi and begins preaching to the people. His presence causes a great disturbance among the citizens, and Abinadi is 1) bound and thrown into prison. The leader of the city, King Noah, 2) assembles a group of false priests to examine Abinadi, and he 3) is “brought before” the leaders and put on trial. They accuse Abinadi 4) of being “mad,” 5) of stirring up contention among the people, and 6) of slandering the town leaders. Abinadi 7) speaks “boldly” in his defense, but to no avail. King Noah 8) condemns Abinadi to be “slain” and “put to death.” Abinadi is then 9) “scourged,” and finally 10) burned at the stake. Thus, Abinadi 11) “seals” his “testimony” with his “blood.” Abinadi’s teachings and martyrdom 12) convert a witness, Alma, who becomes a main character in the story. 13) Other converts follow and depart from the city, 14) “entering into” a “covenant” to follow Christ.
Last edited by Red Ryder on Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RubinHighlander
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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Pride and Holy War

Post by RubinHighlander » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:43 pm

Interesting! It seems around every historical corner more plagiarized material is discovered to be the foundations of Mormonism as opposed to some super special secrets that God reserved for his one and only true restored church in the latter daze.
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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Pride and Holy War

Post by jfro18 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:04 pm

I would love to see someone on here read Pilgrims Pride just to see if the connections are as strong as stated here.

If so... add it to Joseph's mix-tape list along with the others.

I just wonder if you have to stretch to really draw that connection. One of the areas I don't like about the CES Letter is when they put the verses side by side and claim Joseph was taking phrases... yet apologists tear that apart by showing how much the CES Letter compresses to get the verses to look so similar. It's a fair attack, and at least for my wife she clung to that as proof the CES Letter was just taking stuff out of context.

I wonder if that's the case here or if it really is that clear.

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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Pride and Holy War

Post by moksha » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:31 pm

RubinHighlander wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:43 pm
Interesting! It seems around every historical corner more plagiarized material is discovered to be the foundations of Mormonism as opposed to some super special secrets that God reserved for his one and only true restored church in the latter daze.
Joseph was a genius at taking many religious ideas and synthesizing them into something new. While perhaps not standing on the shoulders of giants, he at least stood on the shoulders of writers of unusual size.

The Pilgrim's Progress - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pilgr ... rst_Part_2
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
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Red Ryder
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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Pride and Holy War

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:58 pm

Looks like President Ezra Taft Benson referenced this book in a First Presidency Message titled “Do Not Dispair” back in 1986. Notice he uses the term celestial city and celestial kingdom? I wonder if Benson saw the parallels between PP and the BOM?

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/10/do-n ... r?lang=eng
Some of you will recall in that great book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan that the main character known as Christian was trying to press forward to gain entrance to the celestial city. He made it to his goal, but in order to do so, he had to overcome many obstacles, one of which was to escape from the Giant Despair. To lift our spirits and send us on our way rejoicing, the devil’s designs of despair, discouragement, depression, and despondency can be defeated in a dozen ways, namely: repentance, prayer, service, work, health, reading, blessings, fasting, friends, music, endurance, and goals.

May we use them all in the difficult days ahead so that we Christian pilgrims will have greater happiness here and go on to a fulness of joy in the highest realms of the celestial kingdom.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Red Ryder
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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:17 pm

Looks like FAIR took a shot at debunking this.

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Ques ... rogress%3F
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jfro18
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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by jfro18 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:03 am

Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:17 pm
Looks like FAIR took a shot at debunking this.

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Ques ... rogress%3F
"One of the major problems with using similarity (and parallels) between books as evidence of connection is that it usually doesn’t work very well. The main reason why it is misleading is that we don’t normally compare books in this way (and if we did, we would see those kinds of parallels everywhere). This is the reason why the vast majority of plagiarism lawsuits fail in the courts."

Yep... that's always the go-to move, but the difference of course is that those books being sued for plagiarism aren't being proclaimed as the direct word of God.

FAIR did similar arguments for the other ones (Late War, View of the Hebrews) where they effectively say you could find similarities to almost any book if you are looking for it.

Bleh.

edit: Just read through the FAIR piece... they do the same thing they did with the others as far as pulling the quotes and saying they're not perfect or that words are out of order, etc... ignoring the overall concepts. In addition, they do the first 2 parallels and then claim to not have "space" to do the right. I don't know if that means the other ones are better hits or not, but FAIR doesn't seem to worry about "space" when they can twist the knife.

Either way, I think this is just another area where you can see similar themes but by no means a smoking gun because as FAIR does here, it's easy to also draw differences. But that would be expected if you were creating book off the top of your head using the stories you've read over the years as inspiration.

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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by Just This Guy » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:25 am

I would postulate, that during writing of the BOM, the story for a given day was based on what JS read the evening before. So whatever he was studding got incorporated into the next day's work. It would help to explain the disorganized structure.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by jfro18 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:53 am

Just This Guy wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:25 am
I would postulate, that during writing of the BOM, the story for a given day was based on what JS read the evening before. So whatever he was studding got incorporated into the next day's work. It would help to explain the disorganized structure.
My thinking has been that the night before Joseph reads through what they did that day and plans out the plot lines, etc and incorporates what he knows from the Bible and other sources into the next part so that it sounds Biblical but stays within the story he was building.

The next Mormon Stories podcast with John Hamer is going to go over his theory for how Joseph wrote it which I am really curious to hear... that dude is amazingly knowledgeable on all of the super early stuff.

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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by Just This Guy » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:43 am

jfro18 wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:53 am
Just This Guy wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:25 am
I would postulate, that during writing of the BOM, the story for a given day was based on what JS read the evening before. So whatever he was studding got incorporated into the next day's work. It would help to explain the disorganized structure.
My thinking has been that the night before Joseph reads through what they did that day and plans out the plot lines, etc and incorporates what he knows from the Bible and other sources into the next part so that it sounds Biblical but stays within the story he was building.
It is possible the JSj may not have even realized that he was copying whole plot lines and phrases. He just took whatever came to his mind and ran with it.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

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Hagoth
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Re: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by Hagoth » Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:12 am

Boy, LDS apologists calling someone else out for parallelism is really the pot calling the kettle black. I agree, however, that side-by-side comparisons with compressed text can be easy to criticize as manipulation of the text. The crowbar used to make such manipulations, however, is dwarved in comparison to the heavy equipment required to turn Alma 36 into a ciasmus.
“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: BOM Origins? John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress and Holy War

Post by Yobispo » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:44 am

Just This Guy wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:25 am
I would postulate, that during writing of the BOM, the story for a given day was based on what JS read the evening before. So whatever he was studding got incorporated into the next day's work. It would help to explain the disorganized structure.
We tend to dream up complicated schemes. Your idea is much more realistic and sounds very... human. You're probably right. It wasn't some cloak and dagger thing but whatever happened to influence him the night before during campfire make-believe sessions.

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