Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

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jfro18
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Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by jfro18 » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:04 am

As I've been doing these overviews I have been working through the main problems with the BoM, and now I'm working on a final section that kind of talks about *how* I think Joseph Smith did it.

Within that I'm trying to illustrate a few areas in the BoM where you can really show how Joseph Smith was able to aggregate sources to create the text.

The first example I've already written out is Jacob 5, which is the parable/allegory of the olive tree and how Joseph Smith is directly pulling from Isaiah and Paul (with a few other direct phrases from the NT). That shows not just how Joseph Smith was able to create the BoM by using the KJV, but how he leaves his fingerprints all over it. If you've never dug into this, there's a fascinating recap @ https://2think.org/hundredsheep/bom/zenos.shtml

Anyway - are there are passages of the BoM that would be a good illustration of showing *how* Joseph was pulling sources around him to create the book?

The other ones I've previously covered but I think are good examples are when Joseph Smith writes the Charles Anthon visit directly into the BoM, Lehi's dream being Joseph Sr's dream, and the Sermon at the Temple being a copy of the Sermon on the Mount with small changes.

I'm fascinated by this and the Jacob 5 one is just so telling in that you can see that he's directly pulling these sources to the point where you can see the exact moment that Joseph Smith switches the sources. Once you're on the other side the Book of Mormon isn't just not a miraculous work, but so easily explainable.

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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Palerider » Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:10 pm

Wasn't sure if you had encountered the passage from Lehi where he nearly quotes Shakespeare and/or Josiah Priest in The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed.

Shakespeare:
"The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveler returns"


2 Nephi 1:14
"Awake! And arise from the dust,
and hear the words of a trembling parent,
whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave
from whence no traveler can return;..."


Josiah Priest, “The Wonders of Nature and Providence, Displayed”, 1826, p. 550
"I then requested him to leave me,
as my time was short,
and I had some preparation to make
before I went hence to
“that bourne from whence no traveller returns.”

Obviously, Josiah is lifting his quote from Shakespeare so it shows that Joseph had a number of places he could have acquired this language. However Josiah's book "Wonders" is quite close to home as you can see below.

I also read recently where apparently in the Masonic discussion of "the Level" the person of Hiram also quotes the same passage from Shakespeare. But then Joseph Smith wouldn't have been privy to that information until after the BoM was already published, right? Except that he had several close family members who were Mason's before the BoM was written as I recall.

Additionally, I believe Josiah Priest was related to Oliver Cowdery and I'm pretty sure Oliver had his book "The Wonders"...
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:33 pm

John Bunyan’s The Pilgram’s Progress (1678) parallels the story of Abinidi.


https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/hi ... 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.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:58 pm

Here’s a pretty good site that shows plagiarism.

http://bookofmormonplagiarism.com/
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 09, 2021 8:20 am

I have mentioned this before but I think it is a good example of Joseph winging it as he was dictating. These are what I call the "oops!" moments, when Joseph catches himself saying something wrong or stupid, and then tries to smooth it over. It also presents another big problem for tight translation. It is hilarious to imagine someone inscribing these kinds of things into metal plates without thinking their sentences through before they start engraving:

Mosiah 16:6 And now if Christ had not come into the world (oops!), speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.

Helaman 12: 15 And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still (oops!); yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun.

Mosiah 7:8 And it came to pass when they had been in prison two days they were again brought before the king, and their bands were loosed; and they stood before the king, and were permitted (oops!), or rather commanded, that they should answer the questions which he should ask them.

Alma 43:38 ...they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body (oops!) , or the more vital parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites...

Grand prize winner: Alma 24:19... and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace (oops!), or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by jfro18 » Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:56 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 8:20 am
I have mentioned this before but I think it is a good example of Joseph winging it as he was dictating. These are what I call the "oops!" moments, when Joseph catches himself saying something wrong or stupid, and then tries to smooth it over. It also presents another big problem for tight translation. It is hilarious to imagine someone inscribing these kinds of things into metal plates without thinking their sentences through before they start engraving:
These are great!

I have a note to lookup the times when Joseph Smith goes off on a tangent in the BoM and then has to circle back to the original point... but this is another area where you can show it's an orally dictated text that Joseph Smith sometimes has to catch himself on because he can't tell Oliver that he just botched it instead.

These will be in that final boM overview for sure - I'm trying to look at these other parallels/similarities as well to see which ones would be more "bulletproof" as well as I know some of these have gotten some pretty strong apologetic responses to any claims that JS was aware of or used those books/sermons/etc.

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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by deacon blues » Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:27 pm

I have wondered about some confusion in the Lehi/Nephi vision. 1 Nephi 11:25 Nephi says: "...the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God."
but-
later in 1 Nephi 15:27 Nephi explains to his brothers: "And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water."
Once I asked in a Sunday school lesson, "Were there two rivers, or were the river and the fountain different?" but never got a satisfactory response.
It does seem a little nit picky, but it also seems like a mental mistake in the narrative.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:24 pm

Speaking of Lehi's dream (and veering wildly off topic) something I like to point out on the rare occasion that I get the chance is that Lehi did not find the Tree of Life by following the iron rod. He found it while wandering in mists of darkness.

Another reminder that not all who wander are lost.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:31 pm

jfro18 wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:56 pm
These are great!
There's a similar thing that keeps gnawing at my skull but I can't remember where it's found. The BoM author is talking about a biblical or historic date (the crucifixion maybe?) but doesn't seem to be able to pin it down, then he comes back at the beginning of the next chapter with sudden certainty and the insistence that he knew it all along. Does that ring a bell for anybody?
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by jfro18 » Tue Feb 09, 2021 7:37 pm

deacon blues wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:27 pm
I have wondered about some confusion in the Lehi/Nephi vision. 1 Nephi 11:25 Nephi says: "...the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God."
but-
later in 1 Nephi 15:27 Nephi explains to his brothers: "And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water."
Once I asked in a Sunday school lesson, "Were there two rivers, or were the river and the fountain different?" but never got a satisfactory response.
It does seem a little nit picky, but it also seems like a mental mistake in the narrative.
Dan Vogel talked about this and said the later correction is Nephi correcting his father in the same way that Joseph is correcting his father.

Joseph Sr believed that everyone would be saved and was a universalist, but Joseph Jr obviously wanted him to believe that you needed to believe in hell.

So Nephi is basically telling Lehi that what he didn't notice in his dream is that the water is filthy and taking people down to hell, which is also Joseph not so subtly correcting his own father in the process.

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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by LSOF » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:47 pm

Mosiah xv: 1-4 is apologetics for the ridiculous nonsense (excuse me, holy mystery) of the Trinity. Much of the Trinitarian stuff (like calling Mary the "mother of God") has been edited out of the Book of Mormon, but not that passage. Also the testimony of the eight witnesses says that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one god rather than three persons.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by annotatedbom » Wed Feb 10, 2021 10:48 am

Hagoth wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 8:20 am
I have mentioned this before but I think it is a good example of Joseph winging it as he was dictating. These are what I call the "oops!" moments, when Joseph catches himself saying something wrong or stupid, and then tries to smooth it over. It also presents another big problem for tight translation. It is hilarious to imagine someone inscribing these kinds of things into metal plates without thinking their sentences through before they start engraving:
This. And, I think these "oops!" moments go hand-in-hand with the wordiness of the book to show that it was some guy, who was a good story teller, riffing around a plot line he'd already put together. It's not just that the book is long. It's that it could be re-written to cut out maybe 80% of the verbiage without missing a relevant point. See my post about Come Follow Me, lesson 19 for specific examples I noticed.

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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:58 am

Then there's the part in Mosiah 5 where the entire crowd says this in unison:
2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
3 And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.
4 And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.
5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.
Straight out of The Life of Brian
Image

Note: the apologetic answer is that they were performing a memorized ceremony. :roll:
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by LSOF » Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:37 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 8:58 am
Then there's the part in Mosiah 5 where the entire crowd says this in unison:
2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
3 And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.
4 And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.
5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.
[...]
Note: the apologetic answer is that they were performing a memorized ceremony. :roll:
That is a ridiculously long statement for a crowd of presumably thousands to say in unison. And would you look at verse 2: "in us, or in our hearts". There's Joseph Smith correcting himself again.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:02 pm

LSOF wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:37 pm
And would you look at verse 2: "in us, or in our hearts". There's Joseph Smith correcting himself again.
Hilarious. Imagine:
a) a huge crowd of people saying that in unison
or
b) a memorized ceremony (as per the apologetic explanation) with that correction written into it
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Sat Feb 13, 2021 7:12 am

Here's another observation about the how of it.

Martin Harris said that Joseph would show up ready to translate in the morning and then at some point would take a walk in the woods, skip rocks on the river, etc. and then return ready to resume translating. So here's how I think about it. He prepared the previous night maybe he read notes, memorized, whatever. He slept on it, and then dictated what was fresh on his mind in the morning. Then he took some time at midday to mentally compose the next segment, exercise his imagination, maybe pour over some notes, and gather his thoughts for the next round. Sort of the way Paul McCartney, Elton John, or Ian Anderson would show up at the studio in the morning with just some rough ideas (or none at all) in their head and then flesh out a musical masterpiece by lunchtime.

John Hamer observed that even if you stick to the church's claim that the entire book was translated in 65 days, that could be done with about 45 minutes of dictating per day.

But the point that is continually overlooked is that Joseph actually had a LOT of time to work it all out. I think the answer, for people who marvel at how Joseph could possibly have done it, is that he did it the way many other authors have done it. He worked on it for the better part of a decade. Members of the church, in their worshipful adoration, fail to notice that people outside of the bubble generally aren't impressed, especially experts in any field that relates to the nature and claims of the BoM.

We know Joseph had been thinking about these stories since his teens. He claims he first learned about the Gold Plates and his mission to translate them in 1823, which gave him 6 years to prepare before he actually started dictating. On top of that he got a mulligan after writing the 116 page first draft.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Sat Feb 13, 2021 7:39 am

Also when talking about the hows of the BoM I think it's useful to compare the timelines of Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham translations.

The official story is that Joseph translated 500 pages of reformed Egyptian in 65 days (or something like that, it seems to vary).

Later he worked on translating just 5 pages of text (plus the facsimile translations) of the Book of Abraham over a period of 7 years from 1835 to 1842. And most of that translation was a retelling of the Genesis creation story. Shouldn't he have been able to whip that translation out before breakfast of the first day?

What was the difference? Unlike the mysterious gold plates, Joseph had a source document for the BoA that everyone could see, and he had to translate it in a way that appeared to correspond with the source material. Post-Champollion we know he entirely failed to do that, but he had to convince the people around him at the time that he was actually translating. He worked really hard to develop an alphabet from the Egyptian characters, and he tried to stick to it for the first few rambling lines of text, but then he just started winging it again.

In the end apologists are stuck with the conclusion that Joseph didn't use the papyrus at all, but that he dictated a revelation of what a Book of Abraham would have actually said. So why is it that he could produce 500 pages in a couple of months when he was totally inexperienced but later it took him years to translate a few pages even though by then he had produced reams of text by channeling the Gift and Power of God? Something doesn't add up. David Whitmer thought it was because he was a fallen prophet. I think it was because he was stuck with a source document.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by jfro18 » Sat Feb 13, 2021 12:12 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sat Feb 13, 2021 7:12 am
Here's another observation about the how of it.

Martin Harris said that Joseph would show up ready to translate in the morning and then at some point would take a walk in the woods, skip rocks on the river, etc. and then return ready to resume translating. So here's how I think about it. He prepared the previous night maybe he read notes, memorized, whatever. He slept on it, and then dictated what was fresh on his mind in the morning. Then he took some time at midday to mentally compose the next segment, exercise his imagination, maybe pour over some notes, and gather his thoughts for the next round. Sort of the way Paul McCartney, Elton John, or Ian Anderson would show up at the studio in the morning with just some rough ideas (or none at all) in their head and then flesh out a musical masterpiece by lunchtime.

John Hamer observed that even if you stick to the church's claim that the entire book was translated in 65 days, that could be done with about 45 minutes of dictating per day.
I was going through this in the last BoM overview, but under John Hamer's baseline, Joseph Smith should have only needed 3 hours a day of dictation to produce the BoM in 85 days - that is not even taking off the chunks that were copied directly from the KJV.

And the idea that Joseph Smith never referenced the manuscript is very unlikely... he could have easily done so during his breaks or in the morning before Oliver came in.

The Book of Mormon's production is super ordinary after just doing some basic math, and then when you start to layer in all of the mistakes that show how he was cobbling pieces together it's just clear as day. The Jacob 5 example was just mind blowing to me when I saw it a while back and included in the write-up - not only can you see which sources he was pulling from, but you can pinpoint the exact moment he switched sources because he changes the entire metaphor in the process.

I'm not saying anyone could just sit down and do what Joseph Smith did, but I think anyone who was familiar with the KJV and was a gifted storyteller could do it because it's not that great of literature, and the fingerprints are all over it as to exactly when it was written.

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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Mon Feb 15, 2021 1:05 pm

jfro18 wrote:
Sat Feb 13, 2021 12:12 pm
I was going through this in the last BoM overview, but under John Hamer's baseline, Joseph Smith should have only needed 3 hours a day of dictation to produce the BoM in 85 days - that is not even taking off the chunks that were copied directly from the KJV.
Oh yeah, that's right. The 45 minutes was how long it takes to read it out loud. Dictating and waiting for transcription would take considerably longer, but 3 hours/day is still very leisurely, assuming you have a good idea what you want to say. Stretching that out over a few more hours gives you even more time to compose as you go.
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Re: Examples in the BoM where you can show *how* Joseph Smith authored it

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:40 am

Hey jfro, have you heard this week's Mormonstories interview about this topic?

https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/v ... m-l-davis/

I have listened to the first hour and found some tasty nuggets there.
“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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