Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

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jfro18
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Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by jfro18 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:27 am

I've been listening to some podcasts while at work about biblical scholarship lately - some have to do with Mormonism (David Bokovoy, Brent Metcalfe are two good ones) and some don't (Bart Ehrman is a great resource)

The thing I wonder is why biblical scholarship doesn't seem to be cited nearly as much against the Book of Mormon as a way to show it was created by Joseph Smith.

The biggest examples of this would be:

1. Deutero-Isaiah - this is where Joseph cites passages from Isaiah that he thought were original, but were additions by a "second" Isaiah author (Deutero-Isaiah) as well as the references to passages written by a third Isaiah (trito-Isaiah)

2. The long ending of Luke - Scholars are just about unanimous that a longer ending to Luke was added on hundreds of years after the original manuscripts by scribes as the earliest ones they have do not contain it. The apologetics can be found @ Book of Mormon central if anyone cares to read it... it's short but cites "some scholars" to basically say we can't know. (https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/ ... -of-mormon) I would love to hear from a Bible scholar such as Bart Ehrman or David Bokovoy about their thoughts on the apologetics that defend the long ending because there are some compelling evidences that people knew of the longer ending earlier, but if that's the case why is the ending missing until it shows up and then is always included?

3. Sermon on the Mount vs. Sermon at the Temple - this one I've seen cited more often, but still not that much. Scholars are certain that there was no literal 'Sermon on the Mount' by Jesus and that it was a collection of sayings (Q source) that was used to weave this narrative. Obviously this is a problem for the Book of Mormon since it effectively copies the Sermon on the Mouth into the BoM, changing the most egregious problems (changing the coin verbiage) but leaving in some other references that would have no meaning to the BoM times (Roman law of going the other mile)

4. New Testament usage at all - this is cited obviously, and the apologetics is that the "revelation" to Joseph allowed him to incorporate NT ideas because God inserted them in. But this kills any idea of a literal translation, which is a problem because the narrative forces a tight translation with the rock in the hat and the plates in the first place.

5. Elias/Elijah - this one is not for the Book of Mormon, but Joseph's claimed vision in the Kirtland temple. He did not know that Elias and Elijah are the same person with different translations, so he claimed to see them both. Apologists claim that Elias is a "title" for a forerunner, but again that doesn't make sense in the context of the revelation. It would be like saying I got to meet NBA Player instead of saying "I was told I would get to meet an NBA Player and when I got there I got to talk to Charles Barkley."

6. The documentary hypothesis -- this one doesn't impact the BoM as much (I don't think), but does show the Book of Abraham is Joseph Smith's creation. David Bokovoy discussed this on a Mormon Stories episode and outlines how Joseph Smith didn't know it was pulling from two sources, but he ended up including parts of both in the Book of Abraham, which would make no sense if it was an ancient record. I have his quote on a page I hadn't finished yet because the formatting is screwed up, but it's at ldsdiscussions.com/btf-abraham - scroll down to Biblical Scholarship and the BoA after the facsimiles.

Anyone else have any of these that they have discovered? I find this fascinating as I try to give the Bible some of the same critical thinking I've given to the Book of Mormon, and as I learn more about the Bible obviously it impacts the BoM as well.

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moksha
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by moksha » Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:03 am

David Bokovoy used to post on the Mormon Discussions site as Enuma Elish. Wish he would post here too. The scripture I would like to ask him about comes from the Gnostic Gospels.
The disciples said, “What is the place to which we are going? The Lord said, “Stand in the place you can reach.”
~The Dialogue of the Savior
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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Hagoth
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by Hagoth » Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:08 pm

moksha wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:03 am
“Stand in the place you can reach.”
Didn't Michael Stipe say something similar?
“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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græy
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by græy » Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:54 pm

Over the course of 3+... wait 4+ (?!?!) years of study I have certainly come across all of these arguments before. I think they are very damning. However, I also think they require some amount of foundation to really understand they're true scope.

The vast majority of biblical scholars who have that foundation and understand these arguments don't care about Mormonism, at all. Only an extremely (very extremely) small number of TBMs would ever care to really undertake that necessary study.

Heck, I'd bet there are very few among the crowd of ex-mormons who would care to take on the study. Most ex-mormons are content with the lower hanging fruit of JS marrying 14 year olds, BY offering to kill mixed-race couples, or steel in the BoM.

Mormonism is great at teaching us to hold onto convictions without teaching us how to understand why we have those convictions in the first place. In-depth study about things of "eternal significance" are not our people's strong suit.

The phrase Deutero-Isaiah means nothing to most Mormons. Even if you explain that it refers to chapters 40-55 of the book of Isaiah and how they likely weren't written until the Babylonian Exile, it still won't matter to 98% of them. If you go beyond that and explain that Nephi quotes directly from some of those chapters most still won't blink an eye. If you roll it all up and point out that Nephi left before the Babylonian Exile and therefore could not have had access to those chapters in order to quote them on the gold plates, but that JS did have them and likely didn't know they weren't written until after 600BCE, they might start to see the problem. However, it will still likely get set up on the shelf as something we'll understand "one day."

The same for the other arguments. The people who care about Mormonism don't care to understand the arguments. The people who care to understand the arguments don't care about Mormonism. Those of us who have connections to both worlds, are few and far between.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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jfro18
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by jfro18 » Wed Jun 10, 2020 5:07 am

græy wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:54 pm
Heck, I'd bet there are very few among the crowd of ex-mormons who would care to take on the study. Most ex-mormons are content with the lower hanging fruit of JS marrying 14 year olds, BY offering to kill mixed-race couples, or steel in the BoM.

The same for the other arguments. The people who care about Mormonism don't care to understand the arguments. The people who care to understand the arguments don't care about Mormonism. Those of us who have connections to both worlds, are few and far between.
These are both true - I think once you get into church history and have that initial shock of finding out it's just not true, most won't really stick around to pick up the pieces or try to make sense of it.

And those who are in the church will do whatever they can to ignore diving into the history because they don't want to have their illusions shattered.

I find it fascinating though - especially when you can see the developments and place them into the historical context to see how the Biblical stories were developed, embellished, and changed... much like Mormonism but on a much grander scale. And then, of course, taking those pieces and realizing that Joseph Smith was unaware of it and made some big mistakes when he lifted those materials. :lol:

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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by 1smartdodog » Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:20 am

I find it interesting that LDS folks claim that all the “plain and precious” parts are lost from the bible, yet the reality is all the miracles and such were added much later. The original text would have supported modern Mormonism even less.


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græy
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by græy » Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:57 am

1smartdodog wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:20 am
I find it interesting that LDS folks claim that all the “plain and precious” parts are lost from the bible, yet the reality is all the miracles and such were added much later. The original text would have supported modern Mormonism even less.
Very true.

I'm always boggled about how members will spout off about how critically important it is to have the gospel in our lives, it is central to EVERYTHING we do, our lives would be lost without all that it brings, and yet, most of them never actually study it.

We can go through our whole lives accepting the singular importance of the gospel without ever understanding where it came from or what the teachings really mean beyond what is presented to us in Sunday School by a man or woman who has done no more study than the rest of us. Let's talk about the blind leading the blind.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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jfro18
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by jfro18 » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:06 am

1smartdodog wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:20 am
I find it interesting that LDS folks claim that all the “plain and precious” parts are lost from the bible, yet the reality is all the miracles and such were added much later. The original text would have supported modern Mormonism even less.


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Which ones specifically? I assume you're talking about the miracles in the Bible?

Just curious as I have seen a lot of scholars who talk about how they were likely added through oral storytelling before being written down, but I don't believe the miracles were added to the scrolls later aside from Jesus and the woman in adultery... which isn't a miracle as much as just an incredibly important story.

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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by Apologeticsislying » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:09 pm

graey
I'm always boggled about how members will spout off about how critically important it is to have the gospel in our lives, it is central to EVERYTHING we do, our lives would be lost without all that it brings, and yet, most of them never actually study it.
They don't need to study it these days, they just follow Trump...
The same energy that emerges from the fountain of eternity into time, is the Holy Grail at the center of the universe of the inexhaustible vitality in each of our hearts. The Holy Grail, like the Kingdom of God, is within. -Joseph Campbell-

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Hagoth
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by Hagoth » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:28 am

One of the things that led to my disaffection was how easily LDS teachers and authors dismissed and criticized centuries of Bible scholarship as the work of a bunch of lightweight morons or intentional deceivers, yet they were quick to embrace the most shallow conference talk or Ensign article as genuine scholarship.
“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: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by Ghost » Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:47 am

Maybe some of these arguments don't come up as much as others because the Book of Mormon becomes less relevant when you've reevaluated the Bible itself. By the time you reach the point of acknowledging some of these issues, your view of the Bible has probably evolved to some degree. And, similar to what graey said, if you don't already have a background in Mormonism it's not likely to come up at all.

I'd think that those most interested in discrediting Mormonism publicly have either rejected Christianity/religion entirely (and have little reason to care about flaws in Mormonism specifically) or have held on to some flavor of Christianity that still relies on a traditional view of the Bible that does not incorporate textual criticism (and so any Bible-based criticisms remain limited to the superficial or interpretation-based ones).

I also find biblical textual criticism fascinating, personally, including the points where it clashes with traditional Mormon narratives. I devoured several of Bart Ehrman's books, and I also greatly enjoyed Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Friedman on the Old Testament side.

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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by alas » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:43 pm

Plain and precious things taken out of early Christianity and the Old Testament. (That would make most Mormons choke)

1. Ordination of women to the priesthood
2. Belief in reincarnation.
3. That when the Bible call a woman a prophet, they mean exactly the same kind of prophet as what we now insist is strictly male, except possibly that she was a priestess/prophet of the *Goddess* rather than the male God.
4. That the Godhead consisted not of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all being male, but of Father, Mother (Holy Ghost), Son, and Daughter, two of which were female.
5. That the snake in the Garden of Eden represented the Goddess of Wisdom. The serpent always represented the Goddess of Wisdom and check out the Wisdom literature in the Bible in the Songs of Solomon. That is talking about our Mother in Heaven the Goddess of Wisdom.
6. Solomon’s temple had statues of trees that along with the serpent are symbols of the Mother Goddess.
7. The Jews today use a stylized tree as the menorah.

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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by deacon blues » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:15 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:28 am
One of the things that led to my disaffection was how easily LDS teachers and authors dismissed and criticized centuries of Bible scholarship as the work of a bunch of lightweight morons or intentional deceivers, yet they were quick to embrace the most shallow conference talk or Ensign article as genuine scholarship.
Yeah this. There is little perspective of history on most LDS Sunday school classes.
God is Love. God is Truth

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jfro18
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by jfro18 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 9:23 am

I'll give another good example, which is one I was taught while a member repeatedly and one my wife was teaching my kid the other day.

The idea that Isaiah is prophesying about the coming of Jesus in Isaiah... yet when you read the entire passage in context, you realize that there's no possible way that Isaiah is prophesying about Jesus.

I didn't have the courage to speak up and mention that Isaiah is being taken out of context to backdate it to Jesus, but it was one of the first times I had heard that reference since leaving the church and studying biblical scholarship and it just had that crystallizing moment when you can kind of see how the church (and not just the Mormon church in this case) can manipulate text to backdate it to their needs.

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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by Hagoth » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:17 am

jfro18 wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 9:23 am
... that crystallizing moment when you can kind of see how the church (and not just the Mormon church in this case) can manipulate text to backdate it to their needs.
Oh yeah. The church is neck deep in these. Putting the stick of Joseph and the stick of stick of Judah together in one hand gives you... ta dah! the LDS quad, because the sticks are the things they used to roll scrolls around, right? It couldn't possibly mean staffs that represent leadership of groups of people that might be joined together under a single leader.

A voice speaking out of the ground as if from the dust could only be the golden plates.

The reference Paul's discussion of bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial is probably the worst, sloppiest piece of proof texting ever.

What are these wounds in thine hands? They are the wounds I suffered in the house of my friends. That one is a simple mistranslation. In all modern translations they are wounds on his torso, between his hands/arms. It's not talking about Jesus at all, but the practice of pagan priests wounding themselves as a sacrifice. And to add insult to injury the D&C adds "and in thy feet." (D&C 45:51)

"The destroyer" passing you by because of obedience is misinterpret it as talking about Satan but the Hebrew is clearly talking about insects eating the crops.

And on and on and on.

But the New Testament writers did it too. They had to get Jesus born in Bethlehem by inventing a fictional census, and then they had to make him flee to Egypt by creating a myth of baby slaughtering, just so they could satisfy contradictory OT references to the Messiah. He had to be descended from David, and two of the gospel writers achieve that by creating entirely different genealogies.
“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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jfro18
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by jfro18 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:29 am

Hagoth wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:17 am
But the New Testament writers did it too. They had to get Jesus born in Bethlehem by inventing a fictional census, and then they had to make him flee to Egypt by creating a myth of baby slaughtering, just so they could satisfy contradictory OT references to the Messiah. He had to be descended from David, and two of the gospel writers achieve that by creating entirely different genealogies.
The first dive I ever took into biblical scholarship was an Infants on Thrones episode that covered the Christmas story in the NT. I had no idea how much they backdated prophecy to make Jesus work, and then the way the two gospels took such different paths to create that origin story was mind blowing.

For anyone who has not heard it - it's incredibly helpful to deconstructing a lot of the NT stuff, and John Hamer does such a fantastic job with it. http://infantsonthrones.com/the-christm ... -of-sorts/

I did not know about the wounds mistranslation... that's new to me, and that's another brutal one where we can see how Joseph was making it up as he went along.

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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by moksha » Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:15 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:08 pm
moksha wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:03 am
“Stand in the place you can reach.”
Didn't Michael Stipe say something similar?
Scripture in song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=AKKqLl_ZEEY
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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Hagoth
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by Hagoth » Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:27 pm

jfro18 wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:29 am
I did not know about the wounds mistranslation... that's new to me, and that's another brutal one where we can see how Joseph was making it up as he went along.
Check this out: https://biblehub.com/zechariah/13-6.htm

Adding feet, as Joseph Smith did in the D&C is absolute baloney, and he has it coming out of Jesus' own mouth.
“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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John Hamer
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by John Hamer » Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:36 pm

Biblical scholarship (literary criticism) proves that the historicity of the Book of Mormon is not in question. Since the book is literarily dependent on the King James Bible (with italics) there is zero chance that it is anything other than a modern text. I explain the issue here:

https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/j ... -creation/

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Hagoth
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Re: Biblical scholarship vs the Book of Mormon

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:27 am

Yeah, that's a must-listen podcast. Thanks for reminding me. It's going back on my list for a second listen.

I'm finally listening to Seven Deadly Heresies IOT series and you touch on some of these points there too.

The back and forth between you and Mike Tannehill, by the way, is fascinating. It has an almost Aesop's Fables quality, like ants and grasshoppers, hares and tortoises... with Mike insisting that literal equals meaningful and you trying to explain how they are opposites. It is interesting how often the discussion leads to a dead end for Mike and a switch onto a new track, which seems to be a pattern in LDS apologetics. The story of the Russian neanderthal was eye-opening.
“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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