Single post
Chris

“This is how I discovered truth. My name is Chris and I’m an Ex Mormon.”

I served a mission in Japan and remember all the wonderful spiritual experiences and feelings very vividly. Spirituality, God and Religion is such an interesting and passionate topic.

My life has been such a wonderful journey of discovery, and I have found so much to gain by studying these topics. My life is truly enriched because of light and truth.

I encourage you to leave no stone unturned in your quest for truth.

My advice? Learn what truth is, and seek to discern the patterns of truth. Here is what I have found so far:

Truth is not afraid of being discovered and examined thoroughly, rather it is darkness and deception that hides behind the shadows — in hopes of never being “found out”.

Truth can be sliced and analyzed in 100 different ways and it will always remain true.

Falsehood on the other hand can only be sliced a few different ways before it becomes increasingly obvious that it is false.

People who hold false beliefs avoid criticism and debate, and tend to avoid sharing their experiences publicly because they know their opinion is not well founded.

Truth tends to fit all the facts, while falsehood only fits a portion of all the facts.

Truth is independent of belief, social status, tradition, feelings, experiences or culture.

Falsehoods that persist for long periods of time (generation after generation) tend to have a propagation mechanism that takes advantage of human purposes, fears and desires.

Truth cannot contradict itself or reality.

As knowledge is gained, truth and falsehood both become more self-evident. Therefore knowledge plays a major role in discernment.

When seeking truth, physical data is better than personal testimony.

Why?

Because people make assumptions. People can be biased. People make mistakes. People can give in to societal pressures. People can hallucinate. People can unintentionally forget important facts. People can unintentionally fabricate false memories. People can lie. People can persuade each other. People can have fragile emotional conditions that affect their perception or judgement. People can have rare or dubious experiences that are not generally repeatable under properly controlled experimental conditions and therefore cannot be interpreted objectively.

Physical data on the other hand can be gathered by independent sources, repeatably scrutinized and rigorously tested, measured, checked, peer reviewed, experimentally replicated and analyzed independent of biases.

In other words if someone says there was no Tsunami in Japan “because they were there and experienced it first hand”, the overwhelming physical evidence will trump and invalidate his testimony.

When determining whether something is true or false we must remove ourselves as far away as possible from known human biases, prejudices, logical fallacies and other phenomenon that are commonly used to deceive people. For example it is a common fallacy to believe that “other people hallucinate, but I do not” or “Other people are stupid, but I am not” or “My spiritual experiences are real but other people’s spiritual experiences of other faiths are not real”. In this way, we must remove ourselves from subjectivity, and even understand human nature as best we can if we are to gain any real understanding of truth.

When determining whether or not an organization is true or false, we must first understand what true and false organizations look like.

Organizations that have truth and integrity, do not need to lie to the public nor tell their members to avoid or fear information that is critical of the organization. True organizations have nothing to fear, while those that organizations that are fraudulent have a tendency to persuade their members to avoid, label, fear or cause them to feel negatively towards critical people or anti-literature. This is how a fraudulent organization survives in a world where information is increasingly more available.

How do we find truth?

If we assume we have the truth, and we shield ourselves from outside opinion and outside influence by repeating to ourselves “Nothing can persuade me to believe otherwise….” Then we have closed off a valuable portion of our brain that could help us in the case we are wrong.

If your brain gets flooded with endorphins or other “feel good hormones” while reading a particular spiritual book, or praying, it is a natural consequence that we humans interpret that to mean that the book or experience is significant in a divine way. It is not until we find people having these very same spiritual experiences all over the world while reading books and ideas that completely contradict one another that we realize that our brain is a delicate beast to handle indeed.

An atheist can read the “God Delusion” and feel an amazing spiritual experience, while a Muslim can receive a powerful spiritual experience from the Koran — Both books plainly contradict the truths found in the Book of Mormon, so what are we to conclude?

Spiritual experiences are flimsy truth claims at best, but at worst they are so common and so integral to being human, that religions use these experiences as proof of their particular authority. This does not sit well in our more enlightened day and age where we must sift through all the marketing and advertising “hogwash” that companies are throwing our way on nearly every page on the Internet. It is easy to see that companies and religions know how to push our psychological buttons to get us to buy into their particular products, services and ideas.

To find truth we must look at all the data and see which theory fits all the facts, then toss all the theories that don’t fit. False religions generally do the opposite by assuming their theory is correct and then seek after facts that fit their theory and toss all the facts that do not fit their theory.

Picking facts that fit your theory is a good way to persuade people, but not a good way to determine the truth.

False religions also tend to create reasons to believe things that contradict reality in order to keep their theory viable, but when pushed and all the reasons are debunked, false religions will tell you to rely on faith.

Faith is applied generously and desperately as the “cure all” solution to the world’s failing belief systems. It can be fun for a while, but again, it is not a great tool in helping us determine the truth. In fact faith is only required where the facts are unknown, and when solid independent data contradicts a personal or religious belief, the belief should be tossed, not held on to with an ever tighter grip for the sake of “faith” alone.

Wise people drop their falsehoods when confronted with solid indisputable data. But being wrong is the most difficult thing to admit, and herein lies the biggest hurdle in finding the truth.

Good luck in your search.

My name is Chris Johnson and I’m an Ex Mormon.

Share Button
Sophia
May 14th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

You articulate so well the thoughts and experiences floating randomly in my exmo head. Well done. I truly believe that each time an exmormon steps forward to tell their story if nothing else it helps us know we aren’t crazy or alone! It really redefines the “many are called but few are chosen” phrase. Nice to meet you! Nice job.

Collin
May 18th, 2011 at 5:25 pm

The water analogy was perfect. Thank you again!

Naomi
May 14th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

There is no BOGEYMAN! Love that! I loved all of it. It was so well done, and clear. I want to send it to all of our family members, and say… this is why. I really am so thankful for these! I was so excited to when I got my email about another great exmormon video. These videos are going to do SO much for humanity. Such an amazing cause! Thank you.

Naomi
May 14th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I also wanted to say to Chris, how sorry I am about you losing your brother to suicide. Losing a loved one to suicide, takes one to another level of pain. I truly understand and sympathize with you. I bet he would be very proud of you and your brothers.

Peggy Strickling
May 14th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I laughed out loud when you said, “satan doesn’t exist”. I sat in my chair and clapped my hands in agreement, because it’s such a great cosmic joke, isn’t it? Love your story and all your insights.

gmotct
May 14th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

As Sophia mentioned, thanks very much for articulating the thoughts that I vaguely have spinning around in my head, usually without such a clear and effective way of being expressed. I was very touched by your story. Congratulations on finding and enjoying a genuine life.

Natalia
May 14th, 2011 at 7:51 pm

LOVED it! Thank you, Chris!

Patricia
May 14th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Great presentation Chris,

I am interested in the exact quotes of the contemporary errors in both The Bible and The Book of Mormon.

Please would you email me personally or put them up on a website…

Thanks,
Patricia

Chris Johnson
May 15th, 2011 at 1:01 am

Thanks for asking Patricia,

There is a lot that I did not have time to clarify in the video, so feel free to ask any questions you may have.

To answer your question:

Parts of the Book of Mormon contain errors that can only be explained if it were fraudulently created in the 1800′s. For example the King James Version of the bible is now known to have a number of errors which have been removed in more recent translations. The errors were unknown during the 1800′s and have been copied verbatim into the Book of Mormon. Errors that could not have been on ancient plates because they were introduced into the bible by the King James Version translators in 1611.

Some examples:

i) KJV Isaiah 3:2 & 2 Nephi 13:2: Both have: “Prudent.” Should have been translated as: “diviner.”
ii) KJV Isaiah 13:15 & 2 Nephi 23:15: Both have: “That is joined.” Should have been translated as: “who are caught/captured.”
iii) KJV Isaiah 5:2 & 2 Nephi 15:2: Both have: “He fenced it.” Should have been translated as: “he dug it,” “made a trench,” “broke the ground.”
iv) KJV Isaiah 2:16 & 2 Nephi 12:16: Both have: “Upon all pleasant pictures.” Should have been translated as: “upon all grand boats/precious things.”
v) KJV Isaiah 3:3 & 2 Nephi 13:3: Both have: “Eloquent orator.” Should have been translated as: “expert enchanter.”

(There are 33 similar examples given by Professor Wright of BYU)

And there are a few more than this that I am aware of.

Tobin
May 17th, 2011 at 8:50 pm

There is a perfectly plausible explanation for this since JS did copy the verses from the KJV of the Bible that were also in the Book of Mormon. The criticism here is attacking a strawman. It is based on an assumption that JS translated the whole of the Book of Mormon including the Bible verses. Since we know JS had no knowledge of the language or writing system and it was a time consuming and difficult task for him to produce the Book of Mormon we have. There is no reason to believe he would not have recognized that these verses came from the Bible (something he knew well) and would have just copied them.

Chris Johnson
May 18th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

What was the point of God commanding ancient Nephite historians to meticulously carve their pure and undiluted source material into gold plates if their rare and precious text would be ignored, and supplanted with an inferior version for no apparent reason over a thousand years later by God’s Prophet to make the book appear exactly like a fraud? Right at the critical point where Joseph could have proven that he was a true prophet, it fails.

You said “There is no reason to believe he would not have recognized that these verses came from the Bible (something he knew well) and would have just copied them.”

But why would Joseph Smith copy these verses from the bible when the bible was known to have errors and it was his calling to enlighten the world with truth? Joseph knew the Bible had errors because The Book of Mormon plainly states:

“because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book (Bible), which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, (…) an exceedingly great many do stumble”

- 1 Ne 13:29

So when Joseph Smith was given a chance to clear up biblical errors and confusion, he instead copied biblical errors into the Book of Mormon, even though it was his job as a Prophet to remove error and falsehood. Why did he translate in the exact same way we would expect if he were a fraud?

You say “it was a time consuming and difficult task for him to produce the Book of Mormon” — Well, he was actually translating about 6 pages per day on average which is approximately 6 times faster than the KJV translators were able to do and people often lauded Joseph for his translation speed. So it did not seem that convenience or speed was the issue here.

Additionally, if Joseph Smith did decide to copy the bible when he came across biblical passages (as you have stated), then why are there some interesting differences between the Book of Mormon verses and Biblical verses? This makes a good discussion on cladistics perhaps, but I will summarize briefly:

1. We are trying to determine if document X came from an ancient or modern source.

2. We now know the dates of two related documents: A (1611) and B (ancient).

3. We know that document B was not available when document X was translated or produced.

4. Document X is found to have portions of document A in it and has made minor changes to the text in A, but does not contain traces of the more ancient document B at all, in fact the changes between X and A do not bring Document X closer to Document B.

The conclusion is inevitable: Document X is modern.

On a more down to earth level — if I claimed to translate ancient writing by the power of God would you believe me? When you ask to see my source text and I tell you an angel took it to heaven, would you believe me? If I told you that you didn’t need to see my source text because a subjective experience (that works on fraudulent books as well) will be enough to convince you that it’s true, would that be enough for you? How would you know if I was lying? Wouldn’t it be prudent to apply cladistic analysis and see if I just copied modern sources?

You also stated that I am attacking a strawman, or in other words misrepresenting your position. But your position is an assumption at best — Joseph Smith NEVER EVER said he copied parts of the bible into the Book of Mormon to save himself a few minutes of translation time. You have created this idea from thin air. You have engineered an imaginative version of the translation process so that you can continue to believe that the Book of Mormon is divine. Go read the testimonies of those that were there during the translation process, you will find that your theory has no basis in reality.

Why do you think the Book is what it claims?

Tobin
May 18th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Let’s deal with your assumption that Nephite record was written primarily for our benefit and that is why those verses were copied into the Book of Nephi. That is not true. It was for Nephi’s descendants and that is why those verses were meticulously copied as they were. Since JS already had the Bible, there really would have been no point for him to retranslate those verses and so it is very safe to assume he just copied them from the KJV instead of trying to re-translate it yet again (and it wouldn’t have been a few minutes – it would have been very laborious and unneccessary). You state he never said he copied those verses from the KJV. I would point out he never said he didn’t either. You seem to be of the impression that the Book of Mormon is simply a corrected copy of the Bible. I believe that is a mistaken view and why I believe this whole attack is a strawman. That isn’t what the Book of Mormon is about.

The next part you are mistaken about it the plain and precious parts of the book – the book is actually the book of life or gospel. The Book of Mormon lead to the restoration of the gospel, not the restoration of the Bible. That was the intent. If it was God’s intention to simply correct the Old Testament, I’m sure God would have just had JS translate the Brass Plates instead of the Book of Mormon. In fact, he could have just had Peter, James and John and the rest of his disciples just visit JS and have him rewrite the New Testament as well.

Now, why do I think the Book of Mormon is true? That is simple. God tells me it is true. If God doesn’t tell you it is true, then don’t believe it (if you believe in God at all – but that is usually the problem?). That really is the criteria by which the Book of Mormon is asking to be judged anyway. I know you have your lists of reasons you don’t believe it and why you believe JS is a fraud. I would point out though, it isn’t much of a chore to prove something to yourself that you already believe.

Chris Johnson
May 18th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

[Tobin, I replied to your post by opening a new thread at the bottom]

MaryLynne
May 29th, 2011 at 7:56 am

Hi, Tobin,

You said “Now, why do I think the Book of Mormon is true? That is simple. God tells me it is true.” Did you watch Chris’s video? He says almost exactly this as one test of the Book of Mormon – I read it, I prayed about it, in my heart God says it is true and it feels right. If all you want is one test, there you go. However, he realized one test isn’t enough for the truth, as with the water. If it were true, all the tests should show the truth, not bring up more questions. Doesn’t it raise a flag for you that you have to add stuff to have it make sense? Would you accept the argument “Yeah, it doesn’t say he does (add from the current Bible,) but it doesn’t say he doesn’t either?” if someone where trying to prove something to you?

Also, you said “I would point out though, it isn’t much of a chore to prove something to yourself that you already believe.” I’m really thinking you didn’t watch this video. He spent half the 20 minutes saying he thought LDS was true, he didn’t doubt searching for truth would lead him back to LDS, and he wanted it to be true. He said his life fell apart when he proved to himself it was not the truth. Sounds like a chore to me.

Maybe you were speaking of yourself, though.

Tobin
June 22nd, 2011 at 11:40 am

Hi MaryLynne,

I was away so I missed you comment. Let me answer you directly.

The question isn’t really is the Book of Mormon true or not. I really don’t know what that means actually. What about it is true or what is someone really asking with that question? The question is really, is there or is there not a God? IF there is a God, that being should be able to clearly and convincingly answer us; otherwise, I’d go with God doesn’t exist. That is a MUCH better basis to believe in the Book of Mormon or Mormonism or whatever God directs you that is true.

The problem I have with the whole line of “problems” with the Book of Mormon or Mormonism or whatever your beef with Mormonism may be is that it is based on a superficial analysis. The claims around the Book of Mormon are so patently absurd that it is much safer to assume it is a fraud, except if God tells you differently. And that actually is the point of the Book itself.

Now as for Chris, I’m certainly not his judge. He can make up his own mind. I believe he is wasting his time in all his analysis though since it should be obvious that JS is a fraud w/o God speaking up. That is why I said what I did.

Tobin

mike
June 24th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

This explanation does not work. For it to be believed then you must buy into the idea that Joseph, at some point in the translation, recognizes the beginning of the verses as identical to existing Bible verses and thus stops translating, picks up his Bible, and dictates from that, returning indisriminately to wherever he feels the BoM translation picks up again with unique scripture. How does that work, exactly?

The ‘accepted’ translation story would have Joseph hanging on every letter/word of the process in order to correctly translate, especially given the idea that the Bible may not be a correct translation itself.

As well, there are parts where BoM scripture that is essentially verbatim Bible quotes also have minor changes (or sometimes an added passage or two) from the original to benefit Smith’s story. How did these changes make it through if Joseph was ditching the translation process to insert what he believed the translation to be when identical to the Bible? How are these ‘preferred’ changes inserted while the errors in verbatim passages are preserved?

Logic brings one to an obvious conclusion that there was no ‘translation’ occurring at all.

Tobin
June 24th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Mike,

You seem to be under the impression that JS was a robot and just wrote down what God told him to. He was very familiar with the Bible and so it is silly to assume he wouldn’t have recognized Isiah when he ran into it. I also don’t believe you were there or took part in the translation, so I hardly think you are the one to say how it must have been. We make guesses based on our assumptions. You assume the book is a fraud and anything that points to that as further evidence that it is. I say speak to God and do what God tells you to do and believe. I wonder which of us has the better philosophy – logically speaking, or course.

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 25th, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I say look at the evidence, and come to the best conclusion based on that evidence. Then perhaps, if you feel it is worth trying, you can try to reach out and contact an incredibly powerful/intelligent telepathic being to see if he will communicate to you about your petty concerns on a small planet in the middle of a preposterously large galaxy in a preposterously large universe. ;)

PS Have you looked at the stats showing how often the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon have changed the italicized words from the King James Version of the Bible? As if whoever was writing it down was trying to randomly correct these words as he went along? You might be interested in the study which can be found here.

This is also interesting if you haven’t seen it.

Tobin
June 27th, 2011 at 7:09 am

Dan,

I do find that interesting, but think on this. If there is a God that is incredibly powerful/intelligent, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to understand and come to terms with such a being? You seem to think that God must be busy doing something more important, but never propose what that might be. I would propose that if you wish to understand the mind of God, seek the best knowledge and experiences in life and that can be other ways of thinking and yes, even religious ways of thinking. I would ask you to consider that it isn’t tyrants or those that tear down faith and speak against the good things in life that people believe that are remembered well in history. It is those that seek to improve their fellow human condition by being a good example of a better way and serve their fellow man that ultimately are well regarded in time.

Also, IF you are correct that JS is a fraud and the Book of Mormon is not as it claims. In time, you have little to fear from it and should just say that is your belief and move on to better things (as yet I have not heard much of what that may be?). Such things have a way of entering the dustbin of history. However, IF you are wrong and such things lead to people to God and improving their fellow beings condition, you standing against something that leads people to do good in time diminishes yourself and those who faith you destroy. Simply stating you don’t believe in God is more than sufficient. These reasons that you have against Mormonism without such a pivotal belief are in my opinion highly irrelevant since if there is a God (as I believe), they hardly matter at all.

emeth_veneeman
July 11th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

>>”Highlighted verse = Contains examples that I believe are particularly intriguing since the changed words in the Book of Mormon sound similar to those in the Bible. Since the original words they were translated from obviously didn’t sound anything like the translations, a discrepancy in the translations should not sound the same (unless by coincidence). It’s evidence of possible deception.”

I agree that the examples are intriguing.

Your assumption is that if the Isaiah material in the Book of Mormon is inspired, then it will have no translation errors and contain no influence from English. Chris says he has found over 40 such errors, and you follow it up by pointing to English wordplays as “evidence of possible deception.” I’m not going to say that your assumption is unreasonable. However, I would like to offer a alternate perspective. Without nitpicking each one of these examples to see if I even agree that they are errors, I want to examine whether the presence of “translation errors” in general is a problem for the Book of Mormon.

First, a quick word on Wright’s article that you linked to. By talking about italics in the KJV, he seemed intent on making the point that “This is a sure sign that the BM Isaiah derives from the KJV.” OK. I don’t see the bombshell here. It was obvious to me the very first time that I read the BM Isaiah at age 10, long before Wright even wrote his article, that “BM Isaiah derives from the KJV.” I didn’t know quite what to make of it at that time, but the point is that it is pretty clear to everyone who reads the material, believer and unbeliever alike, that a deliberate, unmistakable relationship between the KJV and Book of Mormon exists. The dependence is so obvious, so completely and utterly impossible to miss, that I don’t see any ghost of a chance of there being effort on the part of Joseph to cover it up. Either you take it as evidence of fraud, in which case you won’t be persuaded by reading Wright’s article, or you *don’t* take it as evidence of fraud… in which case you won’t be persuaded by reading Wright’s article.

Back to the main point. It is natural, if one assumes that Joseph Smith employed conventional scholarly translation methods, to conclude that his translations must have had exactly one purpose and must have utilized at most one technique, and that it goes without saying that we know what that purpose and technique were. An examination of the actual evidence suggests that may be an oversimplification. In my view, one of the most compelling aspects of the Book of Mormon, as well as one of the most misunderstood, is that at any given moment, there may be multiple techniques being utilized and multiple trains of thought in play. It’s not how human beings tend to think or write, so its very existence often goes undetected by us. Often none of these trains of thought make use of conventional scholarship, so to someone who is judging the work on that basis alone, it can (incorrectly) look incorrect. Let’s consider the following parallel passages. In each case, the first is from the King James Bible and the second is a Joseph Smith variant. I include some of the Isaiah material from your link, but there’s no reason to limit it to Isaiah:

Matthew 10:16 Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
JST Matthew 10:16 Be ye therefore wise servants, and as harmless as doves.

1 Samuel 15:35 and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
JST 1 Samuel 15:35 and the Lord rent the kingdom from Saul whom he had made king over Israel.

Malachi 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
3 Nephi 25:2 But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of righteousness arise

Isaiah 13:15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through
2 Nephi 23:15 Every one that is proud shall be thrust through

Isaiah 14:19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain
2 Nephi 24:19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and the remnant of those that are slain

John 16:8 “he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
Discourse of March 30, 1841: “It ought to read thus: ‘And he shall remind the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.’”

I could go on, but I think these passages illustrate my point effectively enough. Of course, the thing that each pair in this set has in common with the others is that it employs a wordplay in ENGLISH. Now if you assume that Joseph Smith’s purpose in modifying these verses was to make a translation that was absolutely faithful to the original language, then these look like clear blunders. English wordplays, of course, do not imply wordplays in the source language, and in fact, if you take the translations back to their Hebrew or Greek, you will see that there is pretty much no identifiable relationship between the words. The Hebrew for “sun” is shemesh, the Hebrew for “son” is ben. Hard to imagine that the original author goofed and wrote shemesh where he meant ben, isn’t it?

But that’s actually the point. No rational person is going to assume that the English wordplays are faithful renderings of the Hebrew. Yet we see that there is a consistent trend of employing such wordplays. Taken together, it doesn’t look like Joseph Smith was even trying to restore the original MEANING of the word. It looks like he was creating an English wordplay, pure and simple. And if that was his intent, then we really have no basis to judge the text on how closely it matches the original language. Am I wrong?

Of course, there are places — many places — in which the modern scriptures do reflect more accurately the meaning of the original language, and a few of them have been discussed here. Another example is from John 16:8 above: “remind” is within the semantic range of the Greek word ελεγχω; some translations render it “convince.” But maybe taking the word back to its meaning in the original language wasn’t Joseph’s purpose in every change that he made. Maybe he had a bag of tricks. Sometimes he employed the “wordplay” trick, and sometimes he employed the “faithful translation” trick. Sometimes, as we see, he did both, with a single word. Sometimes his change may have done neither. You just have to analyze each passage to figure out which of the techniques from his bag is being employed. And gradually we see that the mistranslations conveyed from the KJV into the Book of Mormon may be a lot less significant than we first thought — because however you slice it, he had his purposes, and he knew what he was doing.

But wait a minute. The changes Joseph made were intended to restore the scriptures to their “original purity,” right? Doesn’t the fact that he employed English wordplays degrade the meaning of the scripture and remove it from its original intent? In my mind this is where things start to get fascinating. Let’s analyze a few of these passages a little more closely.

1. In 1 Samuel 15:35, the Lord “repents.” And yet, this is a direct contradiction of verse 29 in the same chapter: “the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.” So in verse 29, he refuses to repent, and in verse 35, he actually switches course and repents. What’s going on here? Is the Bible true or not? Well, I think the safest assumption is that even though the author of the passage used the same word “repent” in each case (NHM, interestingly enough), he actually meant something slightly different. NHM is broad enough to include the idea of repentance — a change of mind — and of sorrow. One way of putting it would be to say, “it caused the Lord sorrow that he had made Saul king over Israel,” not because the Lord made a bad decision at the start, but because of Saul’s actions afterward. Even though it comes across in English as a contradiction, in fact it is perfectly consistent with itself. In order to bring out the original intent of the passage to his English-speaking audience, it appears that Joseph took the phrase from v. 28, “The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day,” and taking advantage of the phonetic relationship of the word “rent” to the word “repent,” he inserted the same phrase into 1 Samuel 15:35 — implicitly calling attention to the Lord’s sorrow and explicitly restating his subsequent course of action. Inconsistency resolved, and I think we can actually make the case that although he INTRODUCED a mistranslation, the mistranslation is more true to the author’s intent than the author’s own words are. Brilliant.

2. Isaiah 13:15 — Every one that is found shall be thrust through. 2 Nephi 23:15 — Everyone that is proud shall be thrust through. If you read the passage carefully enough, you’ll notice that when Isaiah talks about the “found” he actually is referring to the “proud.” See v. 11. There are other reasons this change makes sense, but I will spare you the details.

3. Isaiah 14:19 — Thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain. 2 Nephi 24:19 — Thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and the remnant of those that are slain. Joseph retains the italicized word “and,” removes the italicized word “as,” (why not get rid of both if he is merely targeting italicized words?) and switches a few letters of raiment around to get remnant. Both phrases are a little vague, and I admit to not having a perfect understanding of either. But I believe the Book of Mormon variant is somewhat clearer, and here’s why. First, notice that the analogy between branches and remnants is a logical one, and is consistent with other usages in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 10:14, 1 Nephi 15:13, 1 Nephi 19:24). Despite the many criticisms leveled against the book, I have never heard anyone take exception with these verses specifically. Second, I did a Bible search on “and the remnant.” There are 19 matches, two of which are in the vicinity of Isaiah 14. Isaiah 16:14 “the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble.” Isaiah 17:3 “The fortress shall also cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria.” In all three of these cases, including the BoM variant, the general subject is the same — kings and kingdoms of the earth coming to an end. The remnant of those who are slain (meaning the few among the slain who remain alive) are cast out of their grave in the sense that they have been driven from their native land and, when they die, there will be none left to give them a proper burial or hold their name in remembrance. So it is for the king of Babylon (vv. 22-23), and so we see that the change in the Book of Mormon is neither inconsistent nor without an explanation. Third, Of the 19 “and the remnant” Biblical passages, the one that really caught my attention was Revelation 19:21:

Isaiah 14:19 “and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword.”
2 Nephi 24:19 “and the remnant of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword.”
Rev. 19:21 “and the remnant were slain with the sword.”

To bring this parallel into existence, the author takes advantage of three points of contact between Isaiah 14:19 and Revelation 19:21: the word “slain,” the word “sword,” and the similar sounding “raiment/remnant.” To make it more than coincidence, he introduces the wordplay, changing Isaiah’s “and as the raiment” to Revelation’s “and the remnant.” Another bizarre stroke of good luck? Well, if it is, then these strokes happen all the time for Joseph Smith. There are other reasons to think that it was intentional. I did a deeper dive into the two passages and some other interesting parallels began to pop out:

Isaiah 14:12 Lucifer
Revelation 20:2 Satan

Isaiah 14:15 “brought down to hell”
Rev. 19:20 “cast alive into a lake of fire”

Isaiah 14:18 “all the kings of the nations”
Rev. 19:19 “and the kings of the earth”

Isaiah 14:19 “as a carcase trodden under feet”
Rev. 19:21 “all the fouls were filled with their flesh”

Isaiah 14:19 “go down to the bottom of the pit” (“bottom” from Douay-Rheims)
Rev. 20:3 “cast him into the bottomless pit”

In a broader context, both passages are talking about the fall of Babylon (Rev. 18:2, 10, Isaiah 13:1, 14:4)

Now, of course, there are differences between the Isaiah passage and the Revelation passage, but there are a LOT of similarities, and I think it’s safe to say they are dealing with the same subject. By changing “and as the raiment” to “and the remnant,” Joseph effectively pointed out the similarity between the two passages so that we can use each to gain insight into the other. If you still see this as “possible evidence of deception,” then of course you are entitled to your opinion. I can’t prove you wrong; all I can say is that I see it as the hand of God in operation. By the way, one of the key differences between the Book of Mormon and parlor magic is this: parlor magic starts out looking impressive but upon scrutiny becomes easier and easier to explain away. The opposite is true for the Book of Mormon: it starts out looking unimpressive but upon scrutiny becomes harder and harder to explain away.

Louis Zucker, a Jewish scholar (and I mean a Jew who was a scholar of Judaism, not an LDS scholar who was a scholar of Judaism) wrote an interesting article about Joseph Smith as a student of Hebrew, published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 3 no. 2, p. 53. In the article he recounted the history of Joseph Smith and the Brethren studying Hebrew in Kirtland in 1835, and then he mentioned some of Joseph’s more — shall we say — unorthodox uses of the language in his preaching. Zucker’s comment was as follows: “It has not been my intention to imply that Joseph Smith’s free-handling of Hebrew grammar and the language of the Hebrew Bible shows ineptitude. Professor Seixas was undoubtedly well pleased with him as a Hebrew student. I simply do not think he cared to appear before the world as a meticulous Hebraist.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Now, what can we glean from all this? Well, here’s at least one takeaway that I can identify: if the intent of Joseph Smith wasn’t to restore the text to its original meaning to begin with, then does it really matter if you think you’ve identified 40, or 400 mistranslations of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon? Does it matter that the English of the variant sounds like the English of the original in an obvious departure from a literal rendering? Does it even matter if you could get every Hebrew professor in every major university in the world to agree with you? In my view, the approach that some take to the Book of Mormon is often limited and naive from the outset. I’ve been watching people my whole life try to make the case that the work is a fraud. Usually it’s presented as an obvious, weak, poorly crafted fraud. The theories that are put forward to support that notion look good on the surface and usually work well up to a point; but inevitably they break down, and the lengths to which the critics go to patch up the holes in their thinking always end up stretching the limits of common sense to bounds that are unrecognizable. At some point, after all the other possibilities have been exhausted, the thing that makes the most sense is to admit that the Book of Mormon may be what it claims to be — the word of God — and that our traditional approaches for evaluating other works simply may not be adequate here.

Chris Johnson
July 12th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

(Emeth, I am responding by creating a new thread at the bottom.)

res ipsa
May 14th, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Awesome video. Thanks Chris.

Maria
May 15th, 2011 at 1:49 am

I love what you write here: “Falsehoods that persist for long periods of time (generation after generation) tend to have a propagation mechanism that takes advantage of human purposes, fears and desires.” That’s something the Church is very expert on.
And yes, there’s a life outside Mormonism, and it’s great! I’m glad for you that you found your happiness and wish you all the best.
Maria (from the “We’re German Ex-Mormons” video)

Michael
May 15th, 2011 at 9:48 am

Great video. I want to add something about the KJV that I think is significant that I am sure many know but perhaps some people don’t know this.

If you look at the KJV you will notice words that are italicized. That is is because they do not translate well into English from Hebrew or Greek. Yet those same words are italicized in the BOM. The BOM should have the pure meaning but it doesn’t

Obviously because JS didn’t know this and just copied verbatim.

John D. Birmingham
May 15th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Woo Hoo !!! Atta boy Chris. You hit the nail dead-bang on my friend. You are obviously highly intelligent and you put your thoughts into words so eloquently. BRAVO. I am so sorry that you lost your brother and father, the loss of both must have been devastating for you and your family. I too served a mission, the 18 month version 1981-1983 in the Spain, Madrid mission. For me it was not a good experience only because I realized once I was there that #1, I’m Gay and #2 the mission president told all of us 18 new missionaries that we were not there to bring women and children into the church, but the men first and foremost because they were the breadwinners and the church needs MONEY MONEY MONEY to continue to grow. I was to be nothing but a salesman for the cause. So much for a testimony…

I must admit that I joined the church at the age of 18 as a convert because I came from a truly broken family that had no love shared between us and the church families were so wonderful in accepting me as one of their own, and also because I was terrified of recognizing that I was/am a gay man and the church makes it so easy to simply not think for yourself, but follow the rules and all will be well. Stupid I know, but at the time it made perfect sense to me. I still have terrible dreams of being stuck in Spain as a missionary and not being able to get home and that was almost 30 years ago ! Yikes.

I just want to thank you for your wonderful video and your highly intelligent phrasing of your own passage through ‘coming out’ of the church. I still feel the pull from time to time to go back but I know that is only because of the incredible imprint that was left on me even though I was only a member for 4 short years. I wish you and your family nothing but the best that life has to offer you.

John in Tucson, Ex-Elder Birmingham

Michael
May 15th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Chris,

Thank you for your courageous stance and taking the time to create this video. I believe that your experiences, thoughts, emotions, and trials, while extremely personal, will help many of us who have gone through, or are going through, this painful process of “awakening” to persist through it. You succinctly, yet sincerely, laid out a valid case for leaving the church. I very much enjoyed listening to your presentation as well as reading your written statement. I find myself in very much the same position as you; I have left the church but am struggling with providing the proper balance of support and guidance to my wife who remains mostly active, yet agrees that there are some disturbing doctrinal/historical issues that remain unanswered by the church. At the risk of sounding like I am prying too much, how did your wife handle this extremely disruptive change and more importantly, what was the process you followed to divulge this new found information to her? If you don’t mind elaborating on that aspect, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

SIMS
May 16th, 2011 at 10:55 am

I was nodding through the entire video. My process out was parallel to yours in almost every way. I also remember the day I realized that the Satan story was all a manipulative lie. And the day I realized that I was no longer looking at my friends as potential converts, but as just friends. I’ve been out for 5 years, but the first year was extremely difficult so I echo your sentiment that it does get better. Much much better!

May 16th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

There are so many ways in which I can relate to this story. I’m an un-official ex-mormon (I’m still on record), but my eyes have been opened. I am unplugged from the matrix, so to speak.

Though all of our stories are different, they are the same in spirit. Thank you for sharing yours!

Mike
May 16th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

You’re life my matter to you now, but you won’t even remember it mattered if you’re consciousness ends at death. For me, holding that belief causes a lot of anxiety. I really don’t know if I’ll ever be able to over come it and just live for today. It just makes me sad for you and for me, that none of it really matters. When I think about the possibility that there is a God, I just feel happier. I guess it doesn’t work for everyone.

Reginald Selkirk
May 26th, 2011 at 10:12 am

This the fallacy of “Argument from Consequences.” You want to believe that X is true because it makes you feel better. Logically, this just doesn’t hold up.

Bob
May 16th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Chris,

This is a very informative video. Thank you for explaining your position. I admire your honesty and candid approach to a very sensitive topic. You appear content with your decision to leave Mormonism, and live life on your own terms. Everyone has their own definition of happiness, and we each have a chance to create it for ourselves. Thank you for explaining your thought process as you left and created a new sense of fulfillment for yourself. If we are honest with ourselves we all recognize that we don’t know the meaning of life. Congratulations on living life on your terms and freeing yourself from another’s version of how to live a life. The most rewarding feeling is knowing that you are being honest with yourself. Congratulations to you.

Patricia
May 16th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Chris,

Thank you kindly for replying… I find the quotes you mentioned very interesting, and by actually looking up the references, I can see how they have been copied directly from The Bible into The Book of Mormon.

If the author of The Book of Mormon has copied from another ancient existing document, then obviously there is real evidence of direct copying as you already mentioned.

So are you saying, that if The Book of Mormon was divinely inspired, that it should have been written as a correct translation from the Hebrew language?

Is Professor Wright a Mormon, and what other languages does he read?

Correlating the idea that maybe the Book of Mormon was copied, not only from the Bible, but from other ancient manuscripts also, might help to inauthenticate The Book of Mormon from another valid source.

I am referring to the story of Professor Charles Anthon who verified, that the characters off the gold plates were indeed from Egyptian, Chaldean, Assyrian and Arabic origin.

So my question is, where do the rest of the stories come from, presuming they have been copied, as there is obviously some other Middle Eastern influence also?

jean
May 17th, 2011 at 12:48 am

Patricia, Prof. Anthon didn’t ‘verify, that the characters off the gold plates were indeed from Egyptian, Chaldean, Assyrian and Arabic origin’. This was just the story that was passed around the church.
Please go to this link that has what Anthon really said about the characters and the whole affair in his own words.
http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/anthonletter.htm Guess you will need to copy and paste it in if it doesn’t highlight.
I have learned so much in the past almost 5 years; the kinds of things that Chris mentioned; not so much mean-spirited, hateful things about the church as much as the many contradictions found in various accounts. Most of the things I believed about the church was false and it was an enormously painful thing to experience that kind of betrayal. I think that some of my kids feel that I betrayed them and they hurt when I left the church. If they knew what I know they would not be so badly towards me. It is just one thing after another once the blanket of deceit starts to unravel. Keep studying and please check out that link.

Patricia
May 17th, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Thank you Jean.

I have read the actual story as written by Prof Anthon. His views are interesting. However, it still does not contradict the Book of Mormon story.

There is plenty of evidence to support The Book of Mormon story, and following, I have mentioned just a couple.

Joseph Smith, was a farm boy, who only had 2 months of education. How could he possibly have written 240,000 words within a 2 1/2 months time period?

A book on chiasmus, which is a literary technique, was first published in 1950. However, that same technique was found in The Book of Mormon in Alma 41:13-15. Joseph finished the translation in 1829, so how could he possibly know about chiasmus when it was only discovered this century?

There is also physical evidence in Yucatan, Mexico of the fortified cities the Nephites built which correlates with the story in Alma 49:18.

So my question still remains unanswered about the true origins of The Book of Mormon. If the Egyptian characters are false, what about the rest of the story?

I am personally still looking for more valid evidence to contradict the whole Book of Mormon story, and nothing yet has tipped me over to believe otherwise.

If you or anyone else would care to help me in this endeavor, I would greatly appreciate it..

Celestialbound
May 17th, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Patricia said: “Joseph Smith, was a farm boy, who only had 2 months of education. How could he possibly have written 240,000 words within a 2 1/2 months time period?”

One is only bound to accept this question if one accepts the accounts given of the translation. It is possible that Joseph was working from a pre-existing manuscript that he read from. Those who witnessed the translation could have been kept from that potential fact. I am not saying that that is what happened. But it is definitely possible. And if it is possible, then the question you posed, no longer carries the weight that it does because it would be possible for a farm boy, who only had two months of formal education to write the BoM in the time span he did.

Also, if I recall correctly, Joseph’s mother talks about Joseph being a vivid story teller and that he regularly told in depth highly detailed stories about the ancient Americans before he wrote the book. This is another potential explanation. That he had it in his head.

Also, the revelations of Ellen White are worth comparison. If Joseph producing that much writing is evidence so are the writings of Ellen White evidence, and all the other writers similar to them.

Patricia said “A book on chiasmus, which is a literary technique, was first published in 1950. However, that same technique was found in The Book of Mormon in Alma 41:13-15. Joseph finished the translation in 1829, so how could he possibly know about chiasmus when it was only discovered this century?”

The chiasmus argument has been thoroughly refuted here. http://www.mormonthink.com/book-of-mormon-problems.htm Just use control-f and type chiasmus. In a nutshell chiasmus is found in many writings unintentionally. My favourite, which is not mentioned at the link, is Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

Patricia said “There is also physical evidence in Yucatan, Mexico of the fortified cities the Nephites built which correlates with the story in Alma 49:18.”

A description of a way to defend a city through a gradation of defence systems each building upon the previous level of defence actually correlating to such a system in the real world should not be considered strong evidence for the veracity of the BoM. Something that will occur some of the time in history (gradiated defence systems), should not be considered amazing evidence when such a concept appears in a book.

Patricia, I think my arguments are compelling enough to make the points you listed become not strong evidence for a divine origin of the BoM (I certainly did not disprove it). But I love learning and am always willing to consider new evidence and lines of reasoning.

Tobin
May 17th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Patricia,

I think it is better to start with the assumption that JS was a fraud and made it up. I’d say the same thing about Christ and Christianity and every other religion as well. Maybe he was just really smart and copied from all these sources, others lied for him and covered up his true character and so on. It really goes to the credibility of the man and those around him.

With that as a background, you can then approach Mormonism with a proper amount of skepticism. Mormonism is a belief that what JS said about God is true. It is a religion. It isn’t a science. If you ask a Muslim why they believe, they don’t do an analysis of the Koran and go from there. No. They simply believe in Allah and ARE muslim. I believe that is a much better way to be … simply be a Mormon. Either believe it or do not, but don’t try to believe it. It really is that simple – do you believe JS when he says there is a God and God told him to do this? If not, go do something else because that is what you believe. These lists of reasons only verify what you already believe.

Chris Johnson
May 18th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Patricia,

“There is also physical evidence in Yucatan, Mexico of the fortified cities the Nephites built which correlates with the story in Alma 49:18.”

Wherever there are humans that need to protect themselves you will find fortifications. There are numerous ancient fortified cities all around the world such as: Mdina, Eredo, Cahokia, Zhengzhou, Chang’an, Pingyao, Mohenjo-Daro, Zhang Bi.

There are many out there, your example of finding a fortified city is only surprising to those who didn’t know there are hundreds of ancient fortified cities all around the world. It’s very weak evidence.

But if we found something more specific to Nephite / Lamanite culture — something that has an extremely low probability of showing up by chance, then that could be used to support the Book of Mormon as being divine — But that is exactly what is lacking. We don’t find Hebrew writings, Egyptian writings or Semetic DNA…. we find vague things that match many ancient cultures rather than a specific Nephite / Lamanite culture.

As a kid I was sure the Book of Mormon was true and I was impressed by the Nephite’s sophisticated war strategies. That was until I read Solomon Spalding’s Manuscript Found. It was a literary fiction created about 15 years prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon and was written not too far from where Joseph Smith grew up. The story matches the main themes in the Book of Mormon including an ancient group traveling from the old world to the new, building up a civilization and nearly destroying themselves because of war. Here is one part that stood out to me:

——–
During the long period of peace, Spaulding’s people continued to “fortify their country in every part . . . provided a war should take place. Near every village or city they constructed forts or fortifications. Those were generally of an oval form. The ramparts, or walls were formed of dirt. A deep canal or trench would likewise be formed. In addition to this they inserted a piece of timber on the top of the ramparts. These pieces were about seven feet in length from the ground to the top which was sharpened. The distance between each piece was about six inches, through which they could shoot their arrows against an enemy. A country thus fortified . . . might be well supposed as able to defend themselves against an invading enemy.” (Manuscript Story pp. 54-55).

A similar story is told in the Book of Mormon. During a period of peace, “Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence . . . in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities . . . and upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man . . . And he caused that upon these works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about . . . a he caused places of security to be built . . . that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them . . . thus Moroni did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies . . .” (Alma 50:1-6).
——–

I also personally compared the voyage across the sea in both books and noticed that the events were not only similar, but were in the same order and contained similar wording. For example both groups journeyed across the ocean and encountered a storm which almost destroyed them. Then at the worst part of the storm both groups mention their fear of dying in a “WATERY TOMB/GRAVE”. Just after this is mentioned, both groups decide to pray to God, then the storm ceases and they are very soon in the Promised Land/America.

I read Spalding’s Manuscript Found extensively and concluded something was fishy. Why were the two books so similar?

Later I found out that there was a statistical analysis done by researchers at the University of Stanford to determine who was the most likely author of the Book of Mormon and they concluded “Our results indicate that likely nineteenth century contributors were Solomon Spalding, a writer of historical fantasies; Sidney Rigdon, an eloquent but perhaps unstable preacher; and Oliver Cowdery, a schoolteacher with editing experience. Our findings support the hypothesis that Rigdon was the main architect of the Book of Mormon and are consistent with historical evidence suggesting that he fabricated the book by adding theology to the unpublished writings of Spalding (then deceased).”

Rigdon’s grandson, Walter Sidney Rigdon admitted to the fraud:

“(…) He (Grandfather Rigdon) ‘found’ Joe Smith and they had a great many talks together befores they brought out the plates. None of us ever doubted that they got the whole thing up; but father always maintained that grandfather helped get up the original Spaulding book. At any rate he got a copy very early and schemed on some way to make it useful. Although the family knew these facts, they refused to talk on the subject while grandfather lived. In fact, he and they took on [a] huge disgust at the whole subject….”

There’s a lot more to my story, but as you can see there is some kind of connection with Solomon Spalding’s writings and the Book of Mormon.

Patricia
May 18th, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Thank you Chris, Celestialbound and Tobin for helping me put together some of my own thoughts about what could have possibly happened back in 1829.

It is strange that there is no physical evidence of these gold plates, although there are many witnesses. Personally I reckon they should have sold the gold plates and paid for decent wagons for those early converts.

So Joseph Smith and his learned friends put together a book copied partly from the KJV of The Bible and from other authors like Ethan Smith and Solomon Spalding.

Joseph Smith was killed by the Free Masons because he also copied some of their ancient rituals, and used them in the temple.

Joseph was also not satisfied with only his wife, but he wants someone else’s wife too.

So basically Joseph Smith’s behavioral patterns all have one thing in common. He just takes what he wants from everyone else, which is their religious writings, rituals and wives. Then he plays Mr Nice Holy Guy and markets his own religion.

Fear takes over as he preaches hell and condemnation to all the wicked souls. He offers baptism by water, wants your money and then claims to take away all your sins… For a very scared person who faces their guilt, perhaps for the first time, it seems like a pretty easy way out.

What really happens is that mind conditioning disempower’s people, and the sinners allow other supposedly righteous people to think for them.

Gosh, the power of brainwashing…. Indeed we do just become like sheep!!

The truth is that god is actually within each and every one of us. If we use our god given conscience we can improve ourselves without religious domination.

When we also use our god given brains and our own intuition, we start to come out of the brainwashing fog, and start to be more self empowered and less judgmental. In other words we actually become better people.. Strange isn’t it…

The moral of the story. Trust yourself, face your own fears, and no one will have power over you!!

Avon
May 19th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Spot On – Patricia, if you want to get to the bottom of Mormonism, study Sydney Rigdon. I think he was the founder of the whole darned thing, JS was his front man who eventually ‘learned’ to lead all by himself – much to Rigdons discust. There were frequent power struggles for leadership between the two men. Rigdon and Smith were co conspiritors in the fraud, I am convinced that Rigdon wrote or concieved alot of the BOM, and half the D&C!! He was against polygamy, and eventually distanced himself from JS and the church because of it – he knew the trouble that it would cause for the Saints. I have posted a link to a very good essay by Craig Criddle, called Sydney Rigdon: Creating the Book of Mormon

http://www.i4m.com/think/history/Book-of-Mormon.pdf

The essay puts alot into perspective, and is a valid explanation for events leading up to 1830. It is also very interesting to note that in BYUTV recent (42 episodes) series on the Joseph Smith Papers, SR is not mentioned ONCE as far as I can see. – very conspicuous by his abscence!

mike
June 24th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Patricia –

You state, “Joseph Smith, was a farm boy, who only had 2 months of education. How could he possibly have written 240,000 words within a 2 1/2 months time period?”

Two things must be considered. First, formal schooling was not a normal practice at that time for most folks so the ‘two months of education’ statement does not convey anything useful. Second, what was normal for the time was regular study of the Bible, and a great many folks of the day, faithful believers that they were, prided themselves on their ability to have memorized vast sections of the scriptures, be they ‘educated’ or not. Thus there existed a template from Smith to draw upon that was much more expansive than what he produced – as could be expected from a single author working with fruitful source material.

The second point is important as there is nothing unique about the literary style or content of the BoM when compared to the Bible. It is the same wording and syntax and even more than a few ‘unique’ BoM anecdotes borrow heavily from Biblical scripture. Keep in mind that a vivid imagination does not need a formal education to blossom, or there would not have existed storytellers and/or invention outside of such a system.

As for chiasmus, it can be found in so many literary works as to not indicate anything regarding the authenticity of the BoM itself. If anything, examination of chiasmus indicates that Smith borrowed the elements of style from what he was using to create the BoM – in other words, he was copying that style as he authored the BoM. A complex knowledge of a style is not required to copy or use it any more so that not possessing a deep knowledge of color theory would keep you from determining that two fabric swatches are similar in hue.

The Anthon account as given in JS-History is also nonsensical given this line – “and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correctn”. How does Anthon verify as correct a translation of characters that only Joseph Smith has the power to translate?

Last – the claim of cities in the Yucatan corroborating Nephite existence does not square with what we know about the inhabitants of those cities as regards their time-keeping, calendar, materials, social structure, gaming, commerce, currency, weaponry, religious practices, cuisine, visible language and language architecture, structure/habitation/temple architecture, and materials use. The evidence against such a connection is so overwhelming that any claims otherwise just end up being very thin and virtually unsubstantiated in comparison, by virtually every independent standpoint.

Matthias Merrill
March 5th, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Patricia, I found the following links helpful re; archaeology, Thomas Ferguson’s story. Also, former GA and historian B.H. Roberts brought up some interesting points.

http://utlm.org/newsletters/no69.htm

http://20truths.info/mormon/defections.html

Tobin
May 17th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

That may be true, but you are misrepresenting a fact in your criticism. We have a copy of the characters and you can verify that all of the characters were used in northern Egypt by trading carvaans in that region at that time. You make it seem that isn’t the case. Perhaps Anthon could not verify it, but we sure can do it nowdays.

Chris Johnson
May 19th, 2011 at 12:35 am

Every attempt at connecting the Anthon Transcript (Caractors) to real languages has been debunked as far as I can tell — and by pro-Mormon BYU scholars I might add. If you are not just joking around, I’d like to see some non-Mormon peer reviewed references to your claims.

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 1:02 am

Again, you are mischaracterization of what is being said. I said they resemble Egyptian, Chaldean, Assyrian and Arabic characters of that period. You are stating something completely different. You are saying that no one has been able to associate the characters with any known language. That is also true, but has nothing to do with what I stated. The point I was making is very interesting despite the fact we can’t read what it says. How do you explain that JS would know what these characters would look like? Please bear in mind that we are talking about the early 1800′s here.

Chris Johnson
May 19th, 2011 at 2:51 am

Hi Tobin,

You did not provide any references so without looking at what you are talking about, it sounds like a classic pattern hunting fallacy.

If I scribbled ANY random characters on a piece of paper today and gave it to someone with enough time on his hands, I am sure he could find 3 or 4 different languages with similar scribbles.

Why?

Because humans have an uncanny ability to see a face in the moon, see shapes in clouds, see shapes where there aren’t any… But even more importantly there is an extremely high probability of finding matches in a bag full of 6000+ characters. There are 5000 characters in Egyptian alone. And there are only so many ways one can make a unique scribble. :)

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 6:34 am

You claim that, “If I scribbled ANY random characters on a piece of paper today and gave it to someone with enough time on his hands, I am sure he could find 3 or 4 different languages with similar scribbles.”

I don’t believe that. I willing to bet if you ask someone that doesn’t know Chinese to write out 40 random characters and send them to someone that knows Chinese and see how many they get right – that they get close to zero correct. And bear in mind the Chinese character set contains 10′s of thousands of characters in it.

That is hardly inspiring when compared to JS. Here is what Crowley did with it. Seems like we can indeed find these characters.

http://www.shields-research.org/Scriptures/BoM/Anthon_Transcript-Crowley/Anthon_Transcript-Crowley.htm

Chris Johnson
May 20th, 2011 at 3:06 am

Hi Tobin,

The fact that Crowley compared the Anthon Characters to so many different languages and their various derivatives means that he has made it so likely that he will find a match, that it is inevitable. This is what happens when we dig really deep to find evidence to support our theories, rather than see if the theory fits the known facts.

Just for you, I compared the Anthon Characters to English/Roman and Chinese to see what I could come up with in a limited amount of time. Take a look:

http://split5.com/anthon_transcript_comparison_chris.png

Tobin
May 20th, 2011 at 8:50 pm

That’s interesting Chris. Maybe you can convince the world that actually they spoke latin, celtic or chinese in the ancient Middle East. Now that would be a feat. Let’s suppose you right and we match up the hieratic used in the nile lands (including ancient nubia) with ancient chinese. Are you going to climb out on a limb and claim you have proof that actually spoke chinese then? I have given you a complete analysis that is consistent with the story that these characters were used in that region and consistent with the languages seen there. You pick a hog pog of languages and claim JS copied from ancient Celtic, Latin, and Chinese. I have to wonder, do you have any proof that JS knew ancient celtic, latin, or chinese or had access to any documents written in those languages in the 1800′s though? What insight are you providing exactly? You claim randomness, but your claims seem to fall apart when an analysis shows that not only that these characters can be found in that region.

Tobin
May 20th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

hmmm – it cut it off, I meant to say “,but traced to the demotic as well. You might not find that interesting, but I sure do. Also, bear in mind, we have other texts written in similar script as well from ancient Nile and ancient Nubia. I’m sure you could do the same job on those and show each character in those documents can be found in other languages. Your analysis would only prove they are just random characters in that those documents, yet we know they were written languages used in those regions as well at that time.”

Chris Johnson
May 21st, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Tobin, I see what you are saying. Basically you are saying it is possible that the Anthon Transcript Characters represented an Egyptian-like script since the characters can be loosely matched to extant Egyptian characters.

All I am saying is that a fake ancient script could also be matched to Egyptian characters because there are so many Egyptian characters to compare to that it would inevitably lead to some loose matches as was the case with Crowley.

There are about 5000 different characters in Egyptian, including Hieroglyphics, Old Empire Hieratic, Mid Empire Hieratic, First New Empire Hieratic, Second New Empire Hieratic, Hellenistic Hieratic, Demotic and others.

To illustrate my point, we don’t we conduct an experiment? You could recruit 5 random people and I could recruit 5 random people. Next we could ask them each to separately invent 100 characters as part of a make-believe language. We would end up with 1000 interesting characters. How many of these characters would match the Anthon Transcript characters by mere chance? If only 5% of 1000 matched, that would be 50 matches which is approximately what Crowley found. That’s only with 1000 characters, but if you increase the character database to 5000, you will inevitably get more matches. In my opinion, this is exactly what Crowley has done.

How am I so sure? Because if matching Crowley’s symbols to the Anthon Transcript meant anything, then we would be able to translate it, but as I have said previously, we can’t. Many have tried, but as far as I can tell, they’ve all been debunked. It would be funny if one day we can translate it, and it ends up being a pagan document as was the case for the Book of Abraham.

And here’s something that I thought you might like: http://www.utlm.org/images/newsletters/43messagep5.gif

Chris Johnson
May 22nd, 2011 at 12:55 am

I had a few more remarks about the Anthon Transcript:

1) The church is currently hesitant to support the Anthon Transcript. Probably because they have been burnt in the past by supporting ancient documents such as the Book of Abraham Papyri, the Hoffman Forgeries and the Kinderhook plates. If they committed to the Anthon Transcript and it turned out that it was a fake, then the church would not only look bad, but in the eyes of many, it would be proof that the church is void of revelation and authority, and therefore not the one and only true church. This has already happened to the church many times before, and I’m sure they would rather leave those memories buried in the past. Another reason the church will not commit to it is because Charles Anthon himself describes a different document entirely with characters arranged in vertical columns and ended in a “rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Aztec calendar given by Humboldt,” (1834) or “a rude representation of the Mexican zodiac”. So if it is dubious that the Anthon Transcript is even the correct document, then it really doesn’t matter how close the characters are to English or Egyptian.

2. Ignoring Anthon’s remarks for the moment — If the Anthon Transcript is the one Martin Harris took to Charles Anthon, then it is still very likely a fraud since the document appears more English than Egyptian. If you look at the stylized H and stylized B, they match 19th century English better than any known Egyptian characters.

Author C. A. Shook had the following to say:

Instead of “Reformed Egyptian” many of the “Caractors” are deformed English, as any one will observe who will compare them with English letters, figures and signs. I have counted thirty-six different characters in the fac-simile, some of them occurring more than once, which are either identical with, or which closely resemble, the English. . . .Latter-day Saints are very quick to see a resemblance between the “Caractors” and the letters in the Maya and Egyptian alphabets of Le Plongeon; will they be as quick to see the similarity between the “Caractors” and the English? If similarity proves anything, it proves that the transcript is a bold, bare forgery and one not above the ability of a Smith or a Harris to execute.

3. Furthermore, if the plates were hard to engrave on, as Book of Mormon authors have stated, then why the excessive curls, serifs and projections such as on the 2, H, B, M and Z? When characters are carved into metal, shouldn’t we expect them to be more functional, more linear, and less extravagant? Take a look at real metal engravings:

i) http://religion.byu.edu/transferprofessor/courses/rela121/media/lesson14/figure9.jpg
ii) http://religion.byu.edu/transferprofessor/courses/rela121/media/lesson14/figure6.jpg
iii) http://www.culture24.org.uk/asset_arena/7/34/14437/v0_master.jpg

4. Because we don’t have the original golden plates and we can’t be sure about the Anthon Transcript, we can look at Joseph’s other translations. In 1843 Joseph Smith began translating the Kinderhook Plates and wrote:

“I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook, (…) I have translated a portion of them and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.” (History of the Church by Joseph Smith)

The discovery, facsimile and excitement surrounding the Kinderhook Plates was published in church owned newspapers, the Nauvoo Neighbor press, the Times & Seasons newspaper, and a weekly periodical called The Prophet.

Many years after Joseph had passed away, a farmer by the name of Wilbur Fugate claimed to have forged the plates as a hoax. The church however continued to defend their position that the Kinderhook plates were ancient. Eventually an original Kinderhook plate was found and the church wanted to prove once and for all that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and so they allowed the plate to be analyzed under destructive tests in 1980. To the dismay of the church the tests proved it was a nineteenth-century creation as Wilbur Fugate had claimed. This leads to all sorts of questions, the most important of which is: If Joseph Smith faked a translation once, then how can we trust him at all with his claims about translating the Book of Mormon? As you can see, as soon as something is fully testable, it proves time and again that Joseph was a fraud.

So what did the church do? To keep their reputation as the true church, they had to discredit Joseph Smith’s scribe of course. (yeah I know)

But what does this have to do with the Anthon Transcript? Well take a look at the characters on the Kinderhook Plates:

http://www.utlm.org/images/kinderhookhistory800.gif

We know they are meaningless and fake. Someone came up with these scribbles out of thin air and had no knowledge of Egyptian.

But do you think it would be hard to find these same shapes among the 5000 Egyptian characters? Do you see what I’m saying?

eric
May 17th, 2011 at 1:57 am

Patricia, have you already heard of or researched View of the Hebrews and Manuscript Found?

Patricia
May 17th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Eric,

No I have not researched “View of the Hebrews….”

I just Googled the title you mentioned and it refers to the Spalding-Rigdon theory?

I will go back and read it. Thank you for the link..

eric
May 20th, 2011 at 3:19 am

That’s the one. I just thought it might be helpful to look at those since you were asking about possible explanations for the Book of Mormon. For me personally, it blew me away when I looked at those. While we may never know exactly how the BOM came about, it shows that there are plenty of plausible alternative explanations to, “the power of God,” theory, contrary to what Church leaders would have us believe.

Eddie Fossler
May 17th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story Chris! I sent you a mental high five when you yelled out “There is no devil!” That was one the most freeing realizations of my life and I’ll never forget the time that I finally decided to put down my fear and walk forward in this life with confidence and excitement. Enjoy your life brother!

Derek
May 18th, 2011 at 11:41 am

David Wright was a Hebrew professor at BYU and his story is very compelling. I studied Hebrew at BYU and knew David while he taught there. I followed his story for sometime and he was let go because of his research and critical questions that he raised about the historicity of the BOM…David is a very good scholar and a good man. I think if you research him a bit you will find a very sincere person who like Chris asked honest difficult questions and then were honest about the answers which became apparent. I would encourage you to read David’s writings/papers as well as Grant Palmer’s book, “An Insider’s view of Mormon Origins”…. you will learn a lot about the possible explanations for the BOM and its origins…. As you study how JS did translate other “records” like the book of Abraham and the kinderhook plates, it becomes quite clear as to his translation capabilities…. why would it be any different in producing the book of mormon…? You can read Dr. Wright’s scholarship here: New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology (ed. B. Metcalfe; Salt Lake City: Signature, 1993 ) and you can read letters from David’s wife to her bishop here: http://www.lds-mormon.com/dpw.shtml they are very very interesting…. and revealing…. David is quoted in this video of the book of abraham.. http://www.bookofabraham.info/

cheers….

Derek
May 18th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

While the above video on the origins of the BOA is very interesting, I don’t like the effort at the end to proselyte people to Christianity by telling people to not throw the baby out with the bathwater….. then they go on to extend their argument that if JS didn’t translate the BOA, how can he be trusted to have translated the BOM… which seems like a logical conclusion, but they use that argument to defend that it seems reasonable to discredit Mormonism through reason and thinking, but one shouldn’t use the same methods on Christianity and/or religion in general…. ;-) I say use your reason and critical thinking skills in whatever you do…. (excepting examining your own marriage after you are married… ;-) ….

Christina
May 18th, 2011 at 11:46 am

Thank you sooo much…this was fantastic!!

Wendy Covey
May 18th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Thank you,Thank you. Well said. The only thing i looked for at the end, is that you really got to meet the real Jesus. I was raised mormon and i was lonely and miserable for 40 years. I really wanted to believe the church was true because i wanted my family to love and accept me,but there were too many signs for me too ignore as i tried and tried to be faithful to this religion. I wanted to know the truth more than i wanted conditional love. So i read the entire Book of Mormon and before i could even pray outwardly God touched me in the chest but it wasnt a confirmation or good feeling. It was like a smack, you know better than that.Within months i met Jesus and the spirit of religion had been broken in me. Oh my gosh. I have never felt so free. I am overjoyed and so grateful. Thank you Jesus.

Chris Johnson
May 18th, 2011 at 6:21 pm

[I'm opening a new thread to reply to Tobin's post]

Tobin said: “Let’s deal with your assumption that (the) Nephite record was written primarily for our benefit and that is why those verses were copied into the Book of Nephi. That is not true. It was for Nephi’s descendants”

President Ezra Taft Benson:

“The second great reason why we must make the Book of Mormon a center focus of study is that it was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us”

President Ezra Taft Benson, The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion, Ensign, Nov. 1986

It seems that the Mormon God wanted the plates recorded and translated for our day — after all there are SEVEN BILLION of us alive today compared to only a few million back in the supposed Nephite era. And God sees things from beginning to end, so preserving precious source material for our day where BILLIONS OF SOULS ARE AT STAKE sounds reasonable. But unfortunately the very material that would vindicate His prophet was skipped over and supplanted by modern source material. How convenient. This is what we would expect if it was a fraud.

My story doesn’t end there however, there are many more indications of fraud than just the Isaiah errors. Other portions of the KJV were copied (errors included) into the Book of Mormon. For example Matthew 5-7 and 3 Nephi 12-14. With over four thousand New Testament Manuscripts discovered, scholars now have the most ancient version of Matthew. The most ancient versions of Matthew 6:9-13 do not have the “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” at the end of the Lord’s prayer. It is a late addition, and is no longer included in the newer versions of the bible such as the NIV. However, it just so happens to have been copied into the Book of Mormon. It is a KJV error, but this time it changes the words of Jesus Christ himself. Why? LDS apologists say this ending did appear in an ancient manuscript called the “Didache”, but the Didache was never a part of Matthew, and the ending of the Lord’s Prayer in the Didache does not match the KJV or the BOM version. The BOM version of the Lord’s Prayer resembles the erroneous KJV more than any other version. If the Book of Mormon had left this line out, it would have proven the book to be authentic, but unfortunately it labels it a 19th century work.

You have the asian DNA, you have modern source material copied verbatim into a book that is supposed to be ancient, there is much more than this. But you will rely instead on your own subjective experience. People receive powerful revelations from God that the Koran is true and yet the Koran contradicts the Book of Mormon. Are you willing to stand up and say your revelation is better than the next guy’s? Why? Why is your revelation divine and a Muslim’s revelation NOT divine? This phenomenon happens in nearly all religions, so it appears that you have nothing to base your testimony on.

Tobin
May 18th, 2011 at 9:19 pm

You are talking about the Book of Mormon as a whole – not the Book of Nephi. This is a game of bait and switch, Mormon compiled the Book of Mormon from a series of books written for their people. Each of those books was written with different intents and for different reasons. This has no bearing on the intent of the Book of Mormon nor how it was translated. You seem to imply that JS had a magic wand and waved it over the Book of Mormon and there we go – our newly translated Book of Mormon in English magically appeared overnight. That isn’t how it happened at all. It not only took time, it took a lot of effort and translation. No doubt JS just copied the KJV of the Bible when it was the nearly the same source material because of the difficulty and since it was unneccessary to retranslate those verses.

Now, I’ll say it again. You are barking up the wrong tree. The Book of Mormon is NOT a new improved version of the Bible. It never was intended to be either. The Book of Mormon was intended to help restore the true gospel. That gospel is that God really exists and talks to us today. Otherwise, God would have just had JS retranslate the Bible instead. Pointing at places where JS copied the KJV of the Bible into the Book of Mormon because it eased the translation proves absolutely nothing. The Book of Mormon is for people that believe in God and for whom God speaks to and tells it is true. This is the key new doctrine of Mormonism and why, despite all your protestations otherwise, people believe in the Book of Mormon. It is NOT for people that don’t believe in God and who have never spoken with God. Those people could never believe in the Book of Mormon, Bible, or anything else that God does. It is silly to look for proof that JS is a fraud when you already believe that he is. When he says he saw God, just stop right there and move on please. I really have to wonder why you create these lists when you don’t believe that to start with?

Now, for your DNA issue – since you are going off topic. I have to ask, so what? There is also X2 DNA too (which is a western European, middle-east DNA group). How did that get here? You then say, but it is too old and unlike other X2 DNA groups (and no – it didn’t come from Siberia since the only group found came much later). Fine. What is your explanation? Did UFOs pick them up and drop them off before the last ice age? This little discovery is a big problem for you DNA guys. While we are going off road, I’d like to point out that you have another problem with your Asian immigration story. The stone age tools don’t match. It appears they left all their Asian hunting tools at home when they moved here and instead invented tools (Clovis points) from Western Europe and the Middle East. Now isn’t that odd? You can find these all over the place too. I have a few in my bookcase if you want to see.

Look, it is very simple. You don’t believe God spoke to JS and believe he is a fraud. Fine. Stop there and move on. I believe in God, have spoken with God and God has told me it is true. I’m pretty happy with where I am (as are most Mormons that do that). We find plenty of proof that the Book of Mormon is true and your lists of reasons does not impress me because I believe God is real. I would invite you to discover that God, but unfortunately, that is between you and God; not you and I.

Chris Johnson
May 19th, 2011 at 2:29 am

Tobin, thank you for your responses.

To answer your Clovis question, the clovis artifacts have been dated the Paleoindian period around 13,500 years ago which is outside of the scope of the Book of Mormon. Even if they were dated within the Book of Mormon era, does similar technology equate to Semetic DNA, Semetic Language, Nephite Place Names and Nephite Culture? No. And this is what is missing.

You have brought up a good point about DNA. I will touch on it briefly. The North American X2 DNA is the X2a mtDNA variant — which does not match the X2b mtDNA in the middle East. The X2a and X2b lineages have been separate for over 9000 years, so they are not related to the Book of Mormon. Additionally, the North American X2a mtDNA can be traced back to Asia just like all the other Native American DNA.

You have not addressed the following questions/concerns:

1. There are many people including Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostals and Muslims receiving revelations from God indicating to them that their beliefs are the correct beliefs. Why are your revelations better than theirs?

2. Why did Joseph Smith change the words of Jesus in 3 Nephi 12-14 to match the errors in the KJV? (My only rational explanation is that Joseph was a fraud.)

3. What was the point in Mormon following God’s Spirit into painstakingly chisel text into a rare metal if it was going to be utterly discarded and supplanted by an inferior KJV version? Why would Joseph Smith use the inferior version?

4. If I claimed to produce a similar work as the Book of Mormon and claimed that I had translated it by the power of god and that the source text had vanished from the earth, how would you know if I was lying?

A few more additional questions:

5. If the purpose of the Book of Mormon was so important in God’s plan, why would God allow Joseph Smith to save a few minutes, or even a few days to skip translating and infuse KJV errors into the parts that would have verified and vindicated the Book’s divinity? The pattern of fraud that I see in many dishonest organizations is that they create magical reasons and excuses to make their theories “untestable”.

6. If a group makes a claim that can only be tested in one way — namely, their way — then isn’t that an indication of possible fraud? Shouldn’t you be free and encouraged to test it any way you want? I’ve seen magicians perform their magic tricks and they will often allow audience members to test the equipment in only a few narrow ways so that they can give the illusion to the audience that the equipment is genuine and “what you are about to see is true magic” — but this is simply misdirection, which Joseph Smith was good at. When Joseph Smith went money digging and they found no treasure, he would claim that they had been digging at the correct location but that the treasure had “slipped away” from them for one reason or another. But isn’t it more likely that there was no treasure there in the first place?

7. You state that you rely on the Spirit of God to teach you things, such as the Book of Mormon being true. How accurate is the Holy Ghost (or Voice of God)?

- My mother was told by Jesus that a particular priesthood blessing would raise my brother from the dead. My sister also received the same revelation that the priesthood blessing would succeed. It did not.
- I have collected a list of about 40 spirit-filled visions from Temple Endowed believing Mormons that contain specific, dated future events. At the time that these were recorded it was not known if they would come to pass or not, but in retrospect 97% have utterly failed to come to pass. I didn’t pick and choose which ones to keep, so it is important to note the error rate — 97% — which happens to be the same error rate as when people try guessing the future randomly.
- I have read countless stories of people from other faiths receiving miraculous communication from God confirming that their church is true.
- I have read numerous patriarchal blessings where the indicated blessings completely failed to come to pass. (They could not even come to pass in the afterlife since the promised blessings were in reference to mortality.)
- On his mission, my brother asked a woman to pray about the LDS church being true and so she did. On a follow-up visit, she later recounted that Jesus came to her and told her the LDS church was not true.
- My other brother read and prayed about a Book called “The Mentinah Archives” and the Holy Ghost warmed his bosom and told him that the book was true. We later found out that the book was not true and the author turned out to be a known con man.
- My active Aunt and Uncle had a powerful spiritual revelation together telling them of a personal future event which failed to come to pass.
- My old bishop told me of a powerful spiritual experience that predicted a future event which also failed to come to pass.
- Joseph Smith himself prophesied through the Holy Ghost that Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery would be able to sell the Copyright of the Book of Mormon in Toronto to procure funding, but this failed to come to pass.
- Brigham Young received revelation and taught at General Conference that Adam is Heavenly Father. A later prophet President Kimball claimed this “Adam-God” Doctrine was false doctrine. (http://www.mormonwiki.org/Adam-God_doctrine , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam%E2%80%93God_doctrine)
- I have seen normal LDS members ignore and forget their own revelations almost immediately after they fail and are rarely if ever mentioned again, but when chance has it and a revelation succeeds, it is publicized over the pulpit at Fast and Testimony Meeting as if it is the norm. If 80% of the revelations are failing, we would never know about it since we tend to ignore them and only remember the rare events when chance works in our favor.

… So again I ask, how reliable is revelation? How reliable is the Holy Ghost?

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 6:08 am

Yes, I know what the dates on the Clovis artifacts are. You stated a theory that people came over from Asia solely. If that is correct, it would seem reasonable that they would bring over their technology with them instead of creating entirely new technology similar to that used in Western-Europe and the Middle East? I find that a little odd your facts don’t line up. Also, I would like to know which population of North East Asia has the X2a mtDNA, since you claim it was traced to Asia?

Now to the questions you have – although in truth I’ve already answered them. I will do so again.

1. It seems perfectly simple. The Book of Mormon states that if you pray about it sincerely and God doesn’t answer you, it isn’t true. I’d love to see Catholics, or any of the other groups you listed live and die by that statement. The problem with other religions is their God just doesn’t talk to them anymore. Such a pity.

2. I think we’ve gone over the KJV already, but it seems to be a big thing for you. You claim that the Bible is flawed (I know of quite a few Christians that would disagree) and since JS relied on the Bible, that makes him a fraud. If that is your big proof, then Jesus Christ is a fraud and why are we discussing this at all? After all, the Bible contradicts itself, makes improbably claims, and isn’t a perfect book. I would point out that the Book of Mormon doesn’t claim to be a perfect book either and contains the shortcomings of men (including JS). One of those shortcomings may be that JS relied on the Bible. So what? There is a much simpler test to determine if JS is a fraud btw, just talk to God about the Book of Mormon instead.

3. Again, I’ve already answered this. The Book of Nephi wasn’t written for us. We already HAVE the Bible. It wasn’t meant to correct or be a new Bible. It was written for his descendants.

4. Easy. I’m willing to read your book and pray about it with real intent and if God doesn’t answer me, then you are lying. That seems like a silly way to perpetrate a fraud to me.

5. The Book of Mormon is fully testable. Ask God if it is true with real intent. If God doesn’t answer, IT ISN’T TRUE.

6. Mormonism is a religion NOT a science. How do you propose to get God in a lab? If you want to know it is true, ask God and really mean it. That’s the test. You seem to have a problem with that for some reason?

7. Heartburn is hardly a good way of testing any truth (as your “study” seems to bear out). I could have a lot truthful experiences after a rather large meal. A real experience is where you personally see and hear something and it has a real impact on your life (usually in the company of more than one witness). That’s the difference between the experiences recorded by real Mormons that have had an experience with God and those that having a bout of indigestion.

emeth_veneeman
May 25th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

>>”The BOM version of the Lord’s Prayer resembles the erroneous KJV more than any other version. If the Book of Mormon had left [the doxology] out, it would have proven the book to be authentic, but unfortunately it labels it a 19th century work.”

That’s an interesting point. Here’s a question. 3 Nephi 12:22 omits the phrase “without a cause” which is supported by the most reliable Greek sources of Matthew 5:22. Does this provide the proof you are asking for? Why or why not?

Chris Johnson
May 27th, 2011 at 3:08 am

That is a good question Emeth! Thank you for bringing it up.

When I was preparing for my mission I studied the JST and Book of Mormon and wanted to see how God’s true prophet Joseph Smith illuminated the KJV. What I found was faith damaging to say the least. There were very few changes that backed up the claim:

“As to the errors in the bible … the church of Christ will soon have the scriptures, in their original purity…” (The Evening and Morning Star 2, no. 14, July 1833)

For example the only real “hits” Joseph got in the Book of Mormon were:

1. “ships of Tarshish”
2. “without a cause”

By “hits” I mean “they match ancient sources but not the 1611 KJV.”

First of all I want to say that I have counted about 40 “misses” — errors that Joseph Smith should have corrected if he really had a Nephite Record. So what’s the hit to miss ratio? For every hit, there are 20 misses — 95% of the verifiable changes are erroneous.

But then the question might be asked “But then how did he get a couple of hits?”

It turns out that both of these variants show up in Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Old and New Testament which is known to be available to Joseph Smith before the Book of Mormon was published.

“The most immediate source that might be suggested for both readings is Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Old and New Testament. It is also possible that Joseph learned of them indirectly from Luther’s German Bible, through the mediation of the Whitmer family. Or perhaps he learned of them from one and had them reinforced by the other.” (Concluding remarks from “Without a Cause” and “Ships of Tarshish”: A Possible Contemporary Source for Two Unexplained Readings from Joseph Smith By Ronald V. Huggins)

But let’s look more closely at the “ships of Tarshish” variant in the Book of Mormon. Is it really a hit? It turns out it is a miss — it proves the Book of Mormon to be of contemporary authorship.

Here’s how:

First of all the claim is that the Book of Mormon verse (2 Nephi12:16) contains both material from the KJV and a variant from a Greek version of the Old Testament. LDS authors like to cite this because they feel it is evidence that the Book of Mormon is the more ancient of the two since it contains the text of both. However, the two variants originated from a known scribal error that was caused by a mistranslation of the Greek text. Meaning the Book of Mormon contains both the error and the original in the same verse. This is a miss. For more details you can read:

“Without a Cause” and “Ships of Tarshish”: A Possible Contemporary Source for Two Unexplained Readings from Joseph Smith By Ronald V. Huggins

There is one more point I would like to bring up:

If I wrote a book and claimed I translated it from an 1700′s source and it contained two time sensitive phases:

1) A sentence copied from Shakepeare
2) A sentence copied from a 2002 article discussing the 9/11 terrorist attack

Was I lying? Yes. You cannot point to the parts I got correct (in this case Shakepeare) to prove my story was true, but you can point to the parts I got incorrect (9/11) to prove my story is false. I could not have translated the text from a 1700′s source.

So in retrospect I should have worded my phrase differently:

”The BOM version of the Lord’s Prayer resembles the erroneous KJV more than any other version. If the Book of Mormon had left [the doxology] out, it would have given credence to the book being authentic, but unfortunately it labels it a 19th century work.”

Chris Johnson
May 27th, 2011 at 4:22 am

All it takes is 1 mistake. If one contemporary source error finds its way into the Book of Mormon, then the whole thing is false and it is not an ancient book… but there are over 40 such errors…

But you are supposed to pray to God about the Book of Mormon to know whether or not it’s true!

I think that is a much more interesting topic :)

Why do people pray about other books and religions and receive the same confirmatory response from Deity?

I challenge you or anyone reading this to read 100 catholic conversion stories, 100 SDA conversion stories, 100 JW conversion stories, 100 Pentecostal conversion stories and 100 Islamic conversion stories. You will see what I’m saying.

Of course the Latter-Day Saints focus more on their “feelings” and “revelations” than most groups but upon investigation you will find that these experiences are universal — even for the non-religious.

So if the LDS hypothesis about receiving personal revelation is so central to believing in the Book of Mormon and other LDS teachings, then why does this method result in so many different and contradictory conclusions?

There can be 3 women each thinking her own beauty is the “fairest in the land”, but how can they all be correct? Their contradictory opinions can best be understood when the principle of “subjectivity” is understood. Most LDS people that I have spoken to don’t understand the principle of “subjective bias” very well. It seems that if a Latter-Day Saint gets a revelation that affirms his belief in the Book of Mormon, then he can assume that his revelation is true, but if a stranger gets a revelation that contradicts the LDS perspective, then the stranger’s experience is to be discounted somehow. The battle over “whose revelation is superior” could rage on forever perhaps until their revelations are understood under the light of “subjectivity” or backed by external evidence.

The best sort of evidence is provided by testing and observing things — by conducting experiments free of human error with falsifiable hypotheses, open for others to repeat and peer review.

So I find it funny that the feeling: “I am right!” drives so much of the religious fervor in the world, and I wonder if many will stop and ask “Am I right?” and “Why do all people feel they are right?”

It is by humility and dedication to truth that truth comes, not by believing you are right.

I am glad to be wrong, for when I find that I am wrong, I feel the excitement of discovery, and wish to courageously embark on a journey to the dawn of a new truth. Truth does not always look pretty, it does not always sound beautiful, it does not always seem desirable. We are tempted to believe in fairytales, but it is truth in the end that will empower us, save us and enable us all to make the world what we so desire heaven to be.

emeth_veneeman
May 27th, 2011 at 8:31 am

OK, that’s fair. Rather than focusing on the subjective revelation experience, we can stick with the facts.

>>”All it takes is 1 mistake. If one contemporary source error finds its way into the Book of Mormon, then the whole thing is false and it is not an ancient book… but there are over 40 such errors…”

Maybe. But I think there are a few things that call your starting assumptions into question. First, you say that there are only two real hits in the Book of Mormon. Personally, I find the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price to be replete with direct hits. Second, your definition of what a “hit” is and what a “mistake” is may be open to interpretation. For example, let’s look at John 1:14. “And the word was made flesh, and DWELT among us.” That’s the KJV. But it contains a translation error. It should read “And the word was made flesh and TABERNACLED among us.” Now in clear reference to this passage, we have D&C 93:4 “I was in the world and made flesh my TABERNALCE, and DWELT among the sons of men.” Two points need to be made:

1) The D&C transmitted the KJV’s mistranslation “dwelt.”
2) In the same context, the D&C provided a more accurate, or at least a more literal, interpretation of σκηνοω, which is based on the notion of building a tabernacle.

Is the inclusion of “dwelt” in this passage a mistake? I think you’ll have a hard time making that case. #2 suggests that the writer knew Greek. #1 suggests that sometimes he preferred the KJV anyway. It complicates the question of whether the transmission of KJV errors are really errors, doesn’t it? To me it brings up the question, when did our famed farm boy Joseph Smith find the time to learn Greek? Where am I going wrong?

By the way, thanks for pointing out Wesley’s commentary to me. I hadn’t seen that before.

emeth_veneeman
May 28th, 2011 at 11:11 am

Chris, I won’t be checking this comment thread regularly, but if you or anyone would care to continue this discussion, I know I would find it interesting and beneficial. Email me at loren-d@juno.com.

One final word though, on one of the recurring themes here. You said:

“Of course the Latter-Day Saints focus more on their “feelings” and “revelations” than most groups but upon investigation you will find that these experiences are universal — even for the non-religious.

So if the LDS hypothesis about receiving personal revelation is so central to believing in the Book of Mormon and other LDS teachings, then why does this method result in so many different and contradictory conclusions?”

Yes, that is a common LDS hypothesis, isn’t it? We read Moroni 10:3-5 from the time we can read, continue reading it throughout our lives, spend two years teaching it to people in foreign lands, debate about it on exmormon websites, and after all this, we still don’t read it carefully enough to know what it actually says. I don’t see anything about “feelings” there. There is no “emotional response” clause anywhere in that passage. It says you can know the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. How does that happen? I see a big gaping blank.

In my experience, two passages in the Doctrine and Covenants are used to support the notion that it is simply through a warm fuzzy feeling that we can discern all truth: D&C 8:2 and D&C 9:8. But even those passages are misread. One begins “I will tell you in your MIND and in your heart,” and the other begins “you must study it out in your MIND.” Take it in context. I think you’ll see that it is (at least) a two-pronged process: emotional and rational. LDS tend to seize on the one to the sorry neglect of the other. As you have repeatedly pointed out, if a feeling is all you’ve got, if you’re only standing on one leg, then you’re probably way off balance. In the mouth of two or three shall every word be established. It has to make sense as well as feel right. My advice is not to let the folklore that has sprung up and become entrenched in mainstream LDS culture cloud your view about what God is actually saying. I believe “Mormonism” is very defensible. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for all inside interpretations of Mormonism.

I hope we have the opportunity to continue this discussion, but regardless, I wish you the best.

Cheers.

Chris Johnson
June 2nd, 2011 at 3:26 am

Emeth, you are quite right that even the Latter-day Saints are confused about what the Holy Ghost is. Some get warm feelings, others get visions, some have visitations, others have God visit them, some get goose bumps and others have transcendent experiences, while still others have epiphanies and other experiences in their minds. So which one is the true signal from God? Nobody can seem to point it out. It is this very failure to commit to a common divine signal that makes the revelation hypothesis weak. If it cannot be defined, then when one test proves that a certain variety of revelation does not work, a believer can simply hide behind a new definition for safety until that too gets disproven. Then the defintion changes so the believer can maintain his faith, and so on, ad infinitum. But fleeing from testing does not a strong hypothesis make. But I had a hypothesis that religious faith induces religious experiences regardless of the particular faith. In other words, I asked, “Does revelation occur in other faiths? If so do they lead people into the LDS faith as expected? Or do these revelations generally contradict one another and lead people down divergent paths?” After interviewing people of many faiths and reading hundreds of non-LDS conversion stories the conclusion was inevitable: people everywhere are receiving contradictory answers. Catholics were being led by God into protestant churches, christians being led into Islam, mormons into Catholicism… And on and on… It turns out we humans have a hard time admitting that our brains can produce its own guidance and insights unconsciously. But neuroscientists have known this for decades. So if our brains can and do produce all our experiences, why do we turn to the brain and trust its productions as if they were the productions of Deity itself? Trusting the spiritual communications that eminate from within us has given rise to the slaughter of men, women and children. It has led to jihads, adultery and corruption. It has led to false prophecies, false healings, false sciences… in short no God of mine would use such a chaotic murky instrument such as the human mind to channel his most important messages through. Even Brigham Young contradicts Spencer W Kimball when it comes to understanding who God is. Moroni’s promise is falsifiable, scientifically outdated and leads to contradictory results. To find truth we should not seek to induce spiritual experiences that confirm our particular brand of religion, we must instead test courageously, regardless of where the truth will lead us.

emeth_veneeman
June 2nd, 2011 at 9:26 am

Absolutely so. You and I have reached a (near) agreement. My point was that LDS teaching must make sense — or as you put it, must be testable. The only difference is that you believe that Moroni’s promise precludes testability. I don’t. We can look at LDS teaching rationally, and I am willing to do so.

If Brigham Young contradicts Spencer W. Kimball, then one or both of them were wrong. OK, that was easy. I’m not doubting the fact that people can scour the volumes upon volumes of material written by and about the leaders of the Church and find contradictions. Some of what the leaders of the Church have said has been genuinely wrong or misguided. A certain larger percentage of what Church leaders have said is perfectly sound and reasonable, but can be made to appear wrong or misguided. These areas represent the anti-Mormon universe. They do not, however, represent the entire LDS Church.

So let’s get all the evidence on the table and see what story it tells. And let’s start with a real-world analogy. You are a scientist. I respect that. So tell me: is classical Newtonian mechanics true or false? It has to be one or the other, right? The question must have an answer. Yet, if you attempt to answer in a single word, you know I can produce a convincing counterargument. The correct answer must be more nuanced and will probably start with the phrase, “it’s true, but…” I suggest that any other approach oversimplifies the situation.

If Joseph Smith accurately produced a story from the Dead Sea Scrolls a century before the scrolls were discovered by archaeologists, and yet there are still contradictions between something two prophets said, how do we reconcile the facts? I suggest that dismissing it all as a fraud is overly simplistic. If you can show that your belief system accounts for facts on both sides of the argument, then you’re a scientist.

Chris Johnson
June 2nd, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Emeth, you said: “you believe that Moroni’s promise precludes testability”

If someone prays and asks God, in the name of Christ, with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ and gets no answer in a reasonable amount of time, then the test has failed. If we want to create reasons why God didn’t answer, we can, but then we exit the realm of testability and into the realm of infinite excuses. ;) It can be said that some people do get answers when they pray, but this is not unique to Mormonism, it happens to people of all persuasions. In fact I prayed in this way and received a clear answer that the Book of Mormon is false. But I am not a unique case. I wanted to know how often people get such negative or even empty answers when testing Moroni’s promise. So far, I have concluded that it is in the range of 20:1 or less. Out of 20 people, one will get an answer, that means the promise fails for 95%. I was just recently talking to a JW who lost his faith and he was looking for answers so he turned to Mormonism. He read the whole book and prayed with all the faith and sincerity that he could muster. I don’t think God could ask any more than this man gave. But he received no answer either. It is the most common answer.

To the Mormons who go to church every Sunday, have pot lucks with other members, do home teaching and visiting teaching, spend time in temples and church meetings… they will obviously collect a skewed sample set. To them, everyone who prays gets an answer or there is something “wrong” with them. They could not be further from the truth. That’s like spending your entire life in a busy mall and observing the people there — concluding that most people in the world are spending most of their time shopping. It is a biased sample.

Here are just a few samples from outside the church:

“(…) prayed intently about its truth claim several years ago. I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the BOM was fictional, and that nothing in it was actual history”

“I have read The Book of Mormon 3-4 times. I believe its theology generally fits in better with 19th century Protestantism than it does modern-day Mormonism (…)
I’m no longer open to the possibility that the book is inspired in the same sense the Bible is inspired.”

“I pondered the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, and the Holy Ghost revealed to me that it is a piece of fiction.”

“I have asked for guidance by the Holy Spirit but so far He has been silent.”

“The Bible contained the thread of redemption from cover to cover while the Book of Mormon seemed fanciful and inconsistant, not inspired”

“I have read large chunks of the BoM, and yet I dont feel compelled by its ‘truth’ (…) Subjective and esoteric experiences must not be the key, because otherwise you would have to accept the spiritual experiences of Muslims and Heavens gate as ‘real’ also.”

“I had the most profound, most poignant, strongest burning in the bosom when I got down on my knees and asked God if it’s possible that the Mormon church was not true. Yup, I had that burning in the bosom and an unbelievable feeling of peace came over me and I just knew that it was not true. I knew it and I accepted it then and there. ”

Emeth said: “If Joseph Smith accurately produced a story from the Dead Sea Scrolls a century before the scrolls were discovered by archaeologists, and yet there are still contradictions between something two prophets said, how do we reconcile the facts? I suggest that dismissing it all as a fraud is overly simplistic.”

Accurately produced a story from the Dead Sea Scrolls? Really?

If Joseph Smith produced a single word in a volume of 250,000 words (Book of Mormon) that matched a single word in a volume of thousands of other words at a then future archaeological site (which was just one site among thousands of other historical sites) — would I be impressed? Absolutely not. If I roll a dice 1000 times it is inevitable that I will roll doubles dozens of times. If Joseph produced a sentence 10 words long, that only matched a sentence in the Dead Sea scrolls — meaning none of the 10 words show up together anywhere else — then we might have a hint of something. But it’s not until someone produces an exclusive 100 word phrase (meaning none of the 100 words show up together anywhere else) that later gets uncovered in a future archaeological dig that our jaws should drop. Does this happen? Ever? No. If we don’t compare against chance expectations then we deceive ourselves.

While we are discussing statistical anomalies, if I entered a room full of 50 individuals, what are the chances that 2 people in the room have the same birthday? Would it be a sign from God?

emeth_veneeman
June 2nd, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. Let me put it another way: if the Holy Ghost leads me to irrefutable evidence of the truth of Joseph Smith’s claims — ie, if he speaks to my “mind” — is this not a fulfillment of the promise? This is your answer, man. This is what moves the Mormon experience beyond the realm of statistical fluctuation and into the realm of a verifiable belief system. You keep asking the question, but with all due respect, you don’t seem interested in the answer.

Quick you are to dismiss to the Dead Sea Scrolls claim.

Chris Johnson
June 3rd, 2011 at 4:31 pm

So Emeth, are you saying that we both agree that “revelation” is not sufficient evidence to determine if a religion is true? I can agree to that.

But you are saying something else which seems testable. You say you have been lead to evidence that irrefutably proves the church is true? Can you share this? I have never seen any evidence that supports the LDS position that cannot be explained by 1) fraud 2) statistical chance or 3) human bias (such as the clustering illusion, confirmation bias and a number of others).

My position is testable. I am claiming the Book of Mormon is a fraud. If I am wrong, then I will admit it freely with a new video and redress all the wrongs that it has created. My life will take on a new cause, to enlighten the world to the truthfulness of the LDS gospel. I will wear out my life in the service of God. I am that committed to the truth.

Please show me your strongest points of evidence. I will be happy to reconsider my position if I am wrong, and I expect the same integrity from you.

emeth_veneeman
June 4th, 2011 at 7:45 am

I’d love to. Email me at the above address. There are some things I have in an rtf file that I can’t attach to a comment thread. I don’t think anyone else is paying attention to our discussion, so we might as well take it private anyway.

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 4th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I’m paying attention!! :)

Celestialbound
June 4th, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I am also paying attention.

emeth_veneeman
June 4th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Hey thanks guys. I’m flattered. Obviously one of you is related to Chris so maybe I shouldn’t be. You can send me an email too and I’ll put you on copy after I hear from Chris. But really, this is not the best forum for taking the discussion where I’d like to take it.

Natalie
June 4th, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I’m paying attention as well! Additionally, I’ve come back to forums years after and found information useful. I would love to hear the arguments and see how they play out.

Chris Johnson
June 5th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Emeth, could you please give us a summary on here at least, as it could be the most important find in all of LDS history and may bring truth seekers such as myself back into the fold.

I’m not saying this because I doubt my position, but I think it is wise to understand both sides as clearly as possible and I am committed to the truth wherever it leads.

emeth_veneeman
June 5th, 2011 at 9:31 pm

OK, tell you what. I will copy here the draft of the email that I wrote and was going to send to you — sans the attachment, which you really need to see before you make any kind of serious comment. In the attachment I have shown what Hugh Nibley showed, but using a different approach. And if the discussion is going to go anywhere, I will only discuss it in terms that I have seen with my own eyes. I don’t want to have to spend countless hours deflecting second-hand criticism from people in cyberspace who have deliberately misread or misinterpreted what Hugh Nibley said.

As to whether this is “the most important find in all of LDS histroy,” I don’t know. I personally find it fascinating, but It’s been out there for years, and most people don’t seem to know or care. Onward.
============================
Chris, thanks for the response. I don’t plan on making all my emails as long as this one, but there are some things that should be said upfront.

First, let me say that I’m impressed by your offer to rejoin and defend the LDS Church if you see irrefutable evidence of the truth of Joseph’s claims. However, I won’t make it a precondition of this discussion, because I think the only legitimate reason for you to get back into the Church is that your questions have been answered to your full satisfaction, and I think it’s possible for me to “win the debate” without completely answering your questions at a deep level. Likewise, I will leave the Church if you can prove it false beyond any reasonable doubt — or even if you can make it look more likely false than true — but that will probably involve a conversation that’s longer than one you’re willing to have. I have (literally) 250 pages of cross references and notes on Jacob 1 – Mosiah 5 alone, and a good bulk of them will have to be addressed in a meaningful way before I’m ready to throw up the white flag. The reason I’d like to start with those expectations is that I don’t want either of us to feel like we’re going to lose a lot of face if one of us springs a “gotcha” on the other. Gotchas are fun, but they are next to worthless in the quest for truth and I don’t want to make something like membership or non-membership in the LDS Church contingent upon them.

Here are my actual objectives in having this discussion. They’re threefold. First, if you can find weaknesses in my position, I will take the corrections and incorporate them. I’m always looking for ways to modify my opinions when I’m wrong or shore them up when I’m right. You’ve already helped me out by pointing out that “without a cause” was available to Joseph Smith in Wesley’s Explanatory Notes. Second, even if this conversation does not fully persuade you to make a life-altering move, I believe it will give you some things to think about that will at least complicate, if not reverse, many of your opinions about the fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon. It’s important to me that people who put out anti-Mormon statements — at least the honest people — are equipped with enough information that they don’t lead a flock of sheep over the cliff with misinformation. Third, and I think this is the most important, the one thing I do want you to do is that if you discover that your current opinions may not be correct, to be open to your family about it. By whom I mean your wife and, if they’re old enough to understand, your kids. It kills me — *kills* me — to hear stories like yours where a wife and kids are being led to change their lives if the reason for doing so is based on a mistake. I don’t want to over-dramatize, but endless generations could be negatively impacted if you’re not right about this. So, they at least need the information that you have so that you can better decide as a family what course to take.

To the heart of the matter then. Let me give you a little back story on the attachment. Some time ago I came across Tal Bachman’s exit story on the Internet. (I don’t know if you’re familiar with him, but he’s put a lot of anti Mormon stuff out there. His story is similar to yours in a lot of respects — was fully committed to the Only True Church, served a mission, and then found some things that he couldn’t explain and left. Only his departure was, shall we say, less cordial than yours. And it ended more tragically, because after he convinced his wife that her beliefs were wrong, she went ballistic — at least that’s how he tells the story — and they ended up in divorce. Eight kids. Not pretty. But to the point.) In Bachman’s exit story he talked about the Book of Moses and referred to it as one of the doctrinal issues he had problems with. His study into current scholarship about the Book of Genesis was that it was not actually written by Moses as tradition states — but that it was the conglomeration of four different sources that scholars have labeled Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly (J, E, D, P for short). But here we have Joseph Smith in Moses 1 clearly buying into the tradition that the “Five Books of Moses” were actually the books of Moses! Shouldn’t a prophet have known better? At this point it appears we can put the whole LDS religion to bed as a failed experiment in sex, lies, and golden plates.

Hmmmm… maybe. But maybe not, because there was one thing that Mr. Bachman overlooked. There are, as you know, about ten pages of material in the Book of Moses that are not in the Bible that tell the story of the Patriarch Enoch. In his book Enoch the Prophet Hugh Nibley documented the fact that much of this Book of Moses material comes from a variety of sources in the Enochic tradition, which is a valid ancient tradition in Judaism. Many of these sources, admittedly, were published before Joseph Smith produced the Book of Moses. That of itself does not make a strong case for him to have had access to them, but it still gives the anti-Mormons an out. Where the antis seem to get stuck, however, is on p. 276 of Nibley’s book, in a section called “The ‘Enoch’ of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Here Nibley shows that some of the Enoch material from the Book of Moses seemed to come directly from a source called “The Book of Giants,” which really is a collection of fragments pieced together from a couple different caves in Qumran. The Giants/Moses correlation is detailed enough to include a proper name, which, if Nibley is correct, is in no other contemporary source discovered before the 1940s.

You can go to Nibley yourself if you want the details, but I found a couple of weaknesses in his research that I wanted to iron out, and besides that I wanted to check it out independently to make sure I wasn’t being duped, so I found another translation and went through it myself to see if his interpretation was translation-dependent. It wasn’t. Furthermore, his “weaknesses” I refer to are not inaccuracies, but rather an indirect way of making points that could have been made more directly. Many of the counterarguments you’ll find on the Internet assume that Nibley didn’t do a good enough job showing that “Mahijah” from the PoGP was the same as “Mahway” from the Book of Giants. And they’re right. He didn’t do as good of job as he could have. While he compared the Aramaic of the BG to Latin and Greek of the Vulgate and Septuagint, I think he could have been much more direct and much more convincing if he’d compared the Aramaic to its sister language Hebrew. The attachment you see is my attempt at providing a different viewpoint on Nibley’s research.

ANYWAY — details are there. Go over them and let me know what you think. If you feel that the research is flawed in any way, we can discuss, and I will be as reasonable as I can be.

But let’s assume, for the moment, that it is sound. The implications of what I’m saying here go beyond simply Joseph Smith knowing about material that he shouldn’t have known about. That in itself is interesting, but even more worthy of consideration is that it may cast the Book of Moses and perhaps all the revelations produced by Joseph Smith into a new light, and some of the most egregious problem areas in Mormonism begin to get resolved — because, as we know, the Book of Moses wasn’t written by Moses! It was a conglomeration of J, E, D, and P!

…and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

See, we’ve now added a fifth source. We know that Joseph didn’t mention any of the four sources that would seem to undermine his so-called “Book of Moses.” Why would he not have mentioned them, if he knew about them? But then again, on the other hand, he didn’t mention the fifth source either, the one that vindicates him as both a translator and as a revelator of ancient material. Why would he not have mentioned THAT, if he knew about it? Could it be — this is a revolutionary idea — could it *possibly* be that Joseph Smith knew that the Book of Genesis was a combination of J, E, D and P and was, for whatever reason, not telling us everything he knew? I’m not making up excuses for him here. An excuse is something you produce when you can’t find a reason to support something you want to believe. But in this case I think I would have a difficult time reconciling the anti-Mormon “fraud” view with the facts that I can verify with my own eyes. That is to say, I’ve come to this theory because I can’t honestly come up with a better one. This fifth source for the Book of Moses throws a wrench into the whole nice neat little package of lies which the anti-Mormons are trying to convince you explains all of Mormonism. Now we see that we can’t just dismiss it all, simply because we’ve found one thing that didn’t make sense at first. On the surface, it looks damning to the prophet. Look deeper, and you may find that we just haven’t figured out how to interpret it yet. The correct model may be that Joseph was using a traditional, though slightly inaccurate, view of Genesis as a sort of container to house truths that went much deeper than the original, surface-level tradition. Maybe he was taking a softer angle than to destroy the people’s beliefs all at once. Maybe he was using those beliefs as a starting point and refining them through successive teachings, giving unto the children of men line upon line, precept on precept, just as he said his mode was. (Oh, and let’s not forget that even if Genesis was derived from J, E, D and P, it doesn’t mean that those documents didn’t have any input from a guy named Moses living a couple thousand years earlier. All I’m saying is that it may not be necessary to prove that point in order to prove that the Book of Moses is an inspired book anyway.)

I can’t wait to get to the Book of Abraham with you. That’s the final faith-destroying nail in the religious coffin of many Latter-day Saints. For me, it was the document that finally brought all the pieces of the puzzle together and made Mormonism make sense. Turns out it is vindicated in exactly the same way as the Book of Moses, but it has an additional, fascinating detail — we can look at the so called “Breathing Permit of Hor,” the only translation source document that we have of the Prophet’s, and figure out its real relationship to the Book of Abraham. For now, suffice it to say that everyone who’s told you that Joseph Smith “got it all wrong,” got it all wrong.

I’ve rambled enough for one email however. I look forward to hearing from you.

emeth_veneeman
June 5th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

A little more background. Here’s a summary of why I’m fully persuaded that MHWY from the Book of Giants Dead Sea Scroll is the same as Joseph’s Mahujah/Mahijah. One thing I bring out in my rtf summary is that Mahijah (Moses 6:40) and Mahujah (Moses 7:2) correspond on opposite sides of a chiasm, showing that the similarity between the names is not coincidental, but deliberate. Therefore there is good reason to take them as a unit, as is done in Genesis 4:18. The argument then runs as follows:

1. Genesis 4:18 contains two instances of the same name spelled differently: מחויאל and מחייאל. In the KVJ, both are rendered “Mehujael.”
2. Joseph Smith’s Book of Moses contains the two corresponding forms of the name: Mahujah (Moses 7:2) and Mahijah (Moses 6:40), with the “el” suffix removed.
3. By removing the suffix, the Book of Moses has created the exact name, מחוי, that appears in the Book of Giants from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
4. The role of Mahijah from the Book of Moses is the same as the role of מחוי in the Book of Giants.

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 10th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Hey Emeth, I have been speaking with my brother Chris. He is taking your comment very seriously which is why he is taking so long to get back to you.

emeth_veneeman
June 11th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Cool. No rush.

Chris Johnson
June 12th, 2011 at 5:58 am

Thank you for your response Emeth. I am glad you have brought this evidence to my attention. It has caused me to think quite a lot about this over the past couple of days, and I have even read many of Nibley’s comments and compared them with some of the Enoch literature. I have spent well over 28 hours on this response, and I hope you don’t take my contribution lightly.

First of all, I would like to say that the Mahaway/Mahijah evidence in the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with the Nahom/NHM evidence is probably some of the best evidences that I have ever seen to support the veracity of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling.

First I will explain the strength of the evidence in support of the LDS church:

1. The Book of Mormon describes a place called “Nahom” and predicts that it should exist somewhere in Saudi Arabia. A long time after Joseph Smith died, an archaeological discovery was made on an altar in Saudi Arabia which revealed an altar with the letters NHM inscribed on its surface. (Early Hebrew did not have vowels, so this could be the Nahom of the Book of Mormon).

2. The Book of Moses describes a man named “Mahijah” who speaks with Enoch. Over a hundred years after Joseph Smith died, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at Qumran. In one of the scrolls was a man named “Mahaway” who also speaks with Enoch. Due to similarities in the Hebrew forms of both names, “Mahijah” could be “Mahaway”.

For believers, the conclusion is inevitable. Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

I want to emphasize that this is probably the best evidence for the LDS church. I have studied the LDS doctrines my whole life as a Pro-Mormon and as a “Defender of the Faith”, and this is the “creme of the crop” as far as evidence goes. There has been no matches for “Zarahemla”, “Ripliancum” or “Irreantum”. And there are hundreds of other matches that have not turned up as we would like. However we have these two interesting matches, and I believe many have based their faith on this type of evidence.

Let’s look at Mahijah/Mahaway first since you have brought it up in your post.

You stated that the discovery of the name “Mahaway/Mahawai” in the Dead Sea Scrolls vindicated Joseph Smith. However the name “Mahaway/Mahawai” was known before the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery (1947). For example, here are two extant fragments from Mani’s Book of the Giants that were originally written around the 3rd century:

“I myself shall damage . . . Thereupon Māhawai, the g[iant], . . . was satisfied”
(Kawan, Sogdian fragment, The Book of the Giants, By W. B. HENNING, 1943)

“Then Shahmīzād said to Sām, his [son]: All that Māhawai . . ., is spoilt (?).”
(Kawan, Middle Persian fragment, , The Book of the Giants, By W. B. HENNING, 1943)

Variations from the Book of Giants has so far been found in the following languages: Middle Persian, Aramaic, Parthian, Sogdian, Old Turkic and Coptic. Knowledge of fragments like these were likely limited in Joseph Smith’s day, but there is no reason to believe the information did not exist at least in oral form. For example some oral traditions regarding Enoch have been passed down through Freemasonry which was alive and well during Joseph Smith’s time.

But it is my opinion that “Mahijah” did not come from “Mahaway” in the first place.

Besides the similarities in their names, and their association with Enoch, are the two people even the same? It appears that Joseph Smith has Mahijah living as a tent dweller, asking Enoch who he is; while the manuscripts concerning “Mahaway/Mahawai” depict a large, winged, flying being who does the bidding of the Giants.

It seems there are more differences than similarities.

In your comparison between Mahway ( MHWY / מהוי ) and Mahijah ( MHYH / מהיה ) the ending is quite different. Considering that the “Y” has been replaced with a “W”, and the final “H” (ה – significant in Hebrew) is also missing in the Dead Sea Scrolls version, the total consecutive number of letters that match are two: “M” and “H”. Sure we could play around with the ending and make it into a match, but the more we twist names to our liking, the less convincing the match.

So is “MH” indicative of a direct hit? If so, would the following names from the bible also be a direct hit?

Mahalah
Mahalath
Mahaleleel
Mahali
Mahanaim, tents
Mahanehdan
Mahanem
Mehetabel
Mehida
Mehir
Mehujael
Mehuman
Maharai
Mahath
Mahavites
Mahaz
Mahazioth
Maher-shalal-hash-baz
Mahlah
Mahli
Mahlon
Mahali

It appears that names beginning with “MH” are fairly common, and many, like Mahlah (MHLH), provide a closer match to Mahijah (MHYH) than Mahaway (MHWY) .

But if Mehijah/Mehujah is a random match, then where did the name Mehijah/Mehujah probably come from then?

When Joseph Smith was creating the book of Moses, he was “translating” from Genesis 4-6. Within those chapters is a short 32 verse section, containing 4 interesting names, which would have been fresh in Joseph’s mind because it was exactly where he would have been translating when creating the Enoch material in the Book of Moses:

1. Methuselah
2. Mahalaleel
3. Mehujael
4. Methusael

Using just two of those names as a reference point, and using literally no imagination, what might an author be able to create? According to this Markov Chain comparison, by chance alone, a random combination of Methuselah + Mehujael will create MHYH (Mehijah/Mehujah) about one out of ten tries:

http://split5.com/enoch.php?string=Methuselah,Mehujael

In my opinion, this is the most probable source for Mehijah/Mehujah.

Randomness is a huge principle underlying our reality, right from the quantum level to huge complex emergent systems. Here’s how the principle of “chance” and “randomness” plays on our minds — and this is at the core of the issue. This is how faithful members of various denominations get duped the world over. I will present a vivid example of how our human faith works against us when it comes to finding truth.

There are 26 letters to make words with, but there are thousands of words to make sentences with. So a long sentence match is more significant than a few letters. In the following experiment, we are going to match full word phrases from the Book of Moses, to a book from the 1700′s.

Here are the Results — The following phrases appear in both books:

1. it came to pass that the
2. in the name of the
3. in the midst of the
4. face of the earth and
5. upon the earth and i
6. the spirit of god and
7. in the world to come
8. and the spirit of god
9. down into the water and
10. a strange thing in the
11. as the rain upon the
12. it came to pass in
13. which i had made and
14. on the earth and i

(there are other matches not included here that were under 5 words long)

This is far more persuasive than a 2 letter match “MH”. Did you guess what book the matches are from? That’s right! Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Imagine for a moment that you believed Joseph had stolen material from Robinson Crusoe and you wanted to prove it. Would you be able to find a match? Certainly! We can choose any two books that we want and find correlations between the two. This is life, it happens all the time. There are always more patterns out there than our brains naturally expect, and so we mistakenly think coincidences are miracles; we think patterns in life are signs from God; we think similar names mean the church is true — and so on.

Our faith serves as the motivation to find the patterns that inevitably exist in any religion.

If we are too easily persuaded by coincidences, then perhaps we will also be persuaded by Nostradamus’s prophecy which was written over 400 years before the event took place. He prophesied that there would be:

1) a man who obeys no law
2) who is named Hitler(Hister)
3) who is from Germany(Germain)
4) who would put great men in prison
5) and would be involved in a great battle.

There are people who believe in Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce and Ellen White — all because our minds will dig for patterns amidst the random noise and accept the matches at face value, without any base line to compare them to. The average person does not know how “likely” or “unlikely” rare events are. Focusing on the matches alone will never produce truth because the experiment lacks a testable and falsifiable hypothesis. We must use proper tests and have a baseline to compare them against if we are to find truth.

So how can we test the Book of Moses? I am open to your ideas.

This is what I tried: I did a statistical / linguistic analysis on the Book of Moses by removing the Genesis material and compared it to 7 other books including the Bible, 1 Enoch, Jubilees and others. I was interested in finding the most likely source material for Moses. The results? The bible beat all other texts by a fair margin. It seems that the phrases were copied from all over the Old and New Testament and inserted into the Book of Moses. I compared and normalized the results against Robinson Crusoe and the results were thousands of times more significant.

“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8)
“and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes” (Matthew 13:15)
“in the name of the Father and of the Son” (Matthew 28:19)
“a great chain in his hand” (Revelation 20:1)
“darkness shall cover the earth and” (Isaiah 60:2)
“and commanded them that they should” (Mark 6:8)
“heard a voice from heaven saying” (Revelation 14:13)
“behold the glory of the Lord”(Exodus 16:10)
“Blessed be the name of God for” (Daniel 2:20)
“all the inhabitants of the earth” (Daniel 4:35)
“all the nations of the earth” (Jeremiah 26:6)
“unto the commandments of the lord” (Deuteronomy 28:13)
“born” … “of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5)
“by the spirit of the LORD and” (Micah 3:8)
“there came a voice out of” (Luke 9:35)
“when the son of man cometh” (Luke 18:8)
“which shall come forth out of” (2 Chron. 6:9)
“the lord said unto me go” (Isaiah 21:6)
“be baptized in the name of” (Acts 10:48)
“and he cried unto the lord” (Exodus 15:25)

(There are about a hundred more like this)

It is interesting to note that half the matches come from the New Testament. If we were getting these hits by random chance then there should be way more matches from the Old Testament (rather than the New), since the OT is much bigger than the NT. But everyone knows that Christians are more familiar with the New Testament, thus they will tend to quote from it more than the Old Testament. This fits the theory that Joseph (or Rigdon, etc) was creating the text based on their familiarity with the the New Testament.

Here is an interesting case I found while reading the Book of Moses: When Moses is speaking to God (in Exodus 4:10), he says “I am slow of speech”. The same sentence also includes the phrase “thy servant”. There are many ways to say that you stammer, or cannot speak fluently, but when Enoch is speaking to God (in Moses 6:31), he says the exact same phrase “I am slow of speech” and includes “thy servant” in the same sentence just as Moses does.

Same impediment?
Same situation (prophet being called by God)?
Same wording, with quotation clustering (thy servant)?
The Lord reassures both that He will give them the words they need.

Doesn’t it seem like Joseph copied a whole idea from Exodus — wording included?

The interesting part is, no Enoch literature says anything about him having a speech impediment. That is, except one, which happens to be published in 1821:

“Being alarmed at these things, my voice faltered. I cried out and said…”
(The Book of Enoch, Richard Laurence, 1821)

The problem is, it is a mistranslation, and has been corrected in later translations:

“And thereupon a word fell into my mouth, and I lifted up to cry aloud, and said…”
(The Book of Enoch by R. H. Charles, 1893).

I have to hand it to Joseph Smith for picking up on such a little detail like this, enough to copy a whole episode from the life of Moses, but unfortunately the little detail was a translation error. As far as we know, Enoch had no speech impediment.

It is also interesting that the most amazing event in history — a man, Enoch, MOVING A MOUNTAIN — appears in Joseph’s Book of Moses, but this AMAZING event is somehow absent from all other Books about Enoch. This is the least likely thing for a scribe to omit, and yet amazingly it is absent from all the world’s literature. A direct hit? No.

What about the City of Enoch? The WHOLE CITY WAS TRANSLATED into heaven according to Joseph’s Book of Moses! Surely this is noteworthy enough for scribes to include in books about Enoch. But it is another complete failure, instead our searches through Enochian literature are rewarded with strange stories about the Watchers, Winged Giants and sexual episodes between mankind and angels.

I am not convinced by the Book of Moses nor the two consonants “MH” (Mahijah).

“MH” is only a two letter match — but what if we could find something more significant? A three letter match for example? A three letter match is about 20 times more significant than a 2 letter match because it is much less likely to occur by chance. And we have just the candidate: NHM.

First of all, contrary to what most Mormons would think, Middle Eastern scholars do not think the NHM inscription refers to a place name, but rather to a tribe called Nihm. Additionally, the “NHM” altar is not in the right location to be the “Nahom” in the Book of Mormon:

Before the “NHM” discovery, early LDS scholars predicted Nahom to be near Al Qunfudhah which is in the borders near the Red Sea — by the coast where it is “more fertile”. This is where the Book of Mormon places it, but the Bar’an temple containing the “NHM” altar is 400km away from where The Book of Mormon predicted that Nahom should be. In fact it is on the other side of a steep mountain range that is 2.5 km high. As you can see by the following verses, Nahom should be in the borders near the Red Sea, not hundreds of kilometers away on the other side of a large mountain range:

1 Ne 16:13-14 “… we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction…And we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea.”
1 Ne 16:33-34 “And it came to pass that we did again take our journey, traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning; and after we had traveled for the space of many days we did pitch our tents again, that we might tarry for the space of a time. And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.”

So it would seem that NHM is in the wrong location and refers to a tribe rather than a place name, but even if these did match up, how significant is the name itself?

To test the significance of NHM, I found its analog in another book:

For example, the three letters “NGL” (angola = ungol) match two different place names. “Angola” is a city mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and “Ungol” comes from a tower called “Ungol” or “Cirith Ungol” in Lord of the Rings. Both words have the same Hebraic consonants “NGL”. And it is significant, because both places were associated with military defence and fortification. According to the Lord of the Rings: “The principal purpose of the sturdy Gondorian tower was to defend Ithilien from attacks from Sauron’s remaining servants.” In the Book of Mormon, “The Nephites retreated towards the north countries and came to Angola and fortified the city.” It may seem a bit “amazing” to some people that both places have the same Hebraic consonants “NGL” and both refer to a place of military fortification and defense. If we are convinced by this type of evidence, we could say that we now have a verified Book of Mormon place name in J.R.R. Tolken’s Middle Earth. But for obvious reasons, nobody would take this seriously.

But why do such anomalies occur and how do we know whether they are significant or not?

We can easily check the significance of the “NHM” and “NGL” discoveries by running the 72 Book of Mormon place names through a name matching algorithm to see how often the names match up in other locations around the world by mere chance. Here goes:

If we compare the 72 Book of Mormon place names with the major cities in India we

find the following matches: (7 Hebraic matches)
Hebraic Similarity: SLM – SLM (Shelem – Salem)
Hebraic Similarity: NGL – NGL (Angola – Angul)
Hebraic Similarity: SLM – SLM (Shilom – Salem)
Levenshtein Similarity: (Siron – Sironj)
Hebraic Similarity: MN – MN (Amnihu – Mohania)
Hebraic Similarity: ND – ND (Onidah – Noida)
Hebraic Similarity: MKM – MKM (Mocum – Mokama)
Levenshtein Similarity: (Shim – Shimla)
Levenshtein Similarity: (Angola – Akola)
Hebraic Similarity: NGL – NGL (Angola – Ongole)
Levenshtein Similarity: (Lamah – Lamka)

Comparing the Book of Mormon place names to the major cities in Australia we find the following matches: (3 Hebraic matches)

Hebraic Similarity: SDN – SDN (Sidon – Sydney)
Hebraic Similarity: MNT – MNT (Manti – Moonta)
Hebraic Similarity: MLN – MLN (Amulon – Maleny)
Phonetic Similarity: (Sidon – Ceduna)

In Japan we find the following matches: (13 Hebraic matches)

Hebraic Similarity: KMN – KMN (Kumen – Kumano)
Hebraic Similarity: SM – SM (Shim – Shima)
Hebraic Similarity: SM – SM (Shim – Shime)
Hebraic Similarity: KMN – KMN (Kumen – Komono)
Levenshtein Similarity: (Kumen – Kumenan)
Hebraic Similarity: MNN – MNN (Minon – Manno)
Hebraic Similarity: KMN – KMN (Kumen – Kimino)
Hebraic Similarity: SM – SM (Shem – Shima)
Hebraic Similarity: SM – SM (Shem – Shime)
Hebraic Similarity: KMN – KMN (Cumeni – Kumano)
Hebraic Similarity: KMN – KMN (Cumeni – Komono)
Hebraic Similarity: KMN – KMN (Cumeni – Kimino)
Hebraic Similarity: GS – GS (Agosh – Ogose)
Hebraic Similarity: SR – SR (Shurr – Shari)

In Pakistan we find the following matches: (3 Hebraic matches)

Hebraic Similarity: SRN = SRN (Siron = Saruna)
Hebraic Similarity: JD = JD (Judea = Jhudo)
Hebraic Similarity: KMN = KMN (Kumen = Chaman)

In Egypt we find the following matches: (5 Hebraic matches)

Hebraic Similarity: MRN – MRN (Moroni – Amarna)
Hebraic Similarity: MRN – MRN (Moroni – Marina)
Hebraic Similarity: SRN – SRN (Siron – Sharuna)
Phonetic Similarity: (Ammaron – Amarna)
Hebraic Similarity: MRN – MRN (Emron – Amarna)
Hebraic Similarity: MRN – MRN (Emron – Marina)

Each country in this sample contained 6.2 Hebraic matches on average. By mere chance alone, 31 Book of Mormon cities matched out of the 2648 cities examined. If these results hold for larger sample sizes, then analyzing a set of 100,000 place names should yield around 1170 Book of Mormon names by mere chance. By this metric, “NHM” (being only 1 of 72 place names in the Book of Mormon) is not only insignificant, but I would expect many more such names to exist by mere chance alone.

[*NOTE: After I did this experiment I found out that there are more than 72 place names in the Book of Mormon, which means more matches would be inevitable.]

To test the significance of a “3 letter match”, let’s see how often the Book of Mormon city “Moroni” (MRN) shows up around the world:

MRN – Moroni (Comoros Island)
MRN – Morono (Spain)
MRN – Marino (Ireland)
MRN – Marne (France)
MRN – Marina (Egypt)
MRN – Merion (Pennsylvania)
MRN – Marion (Connecticut)
MRN – Marion (New York)
MRN – Morino (Italy)
MRN – Marone (Italy)
MRN – Merin (Czech Republic)
MRN – Moryn (Poland)
MRN – Morina (Kosovo)
MRN – Marino (Australia)
MRN – Merino (Colorado)
(… and plenty more …)

It should be noted that a 3 letter word with rare letters is more significant than a 3 letter word with common letters. It looks as if NHM and MH share the same common consonants “M”,”H” and “N” — So how common are these 3 letters? I compiled a list of the 2700+ bible names and ran an analysis on them to see what the most common letters are. Guess what they were? You guessed it, N,H,M showed up in the top 5 most commonly used letters. In other words, names containing N, H or M are among the most likely to occur by random chance in Hebrew.

In fact, here are a few interesting names from the bible:

Nahum (NHM)
Nehum (NHM)
Naham (NHM)

Look Familiar? Let’s see if we can find any matches for Nahom (NHM) around the world:

NHM – Noham, (Germany)
NHM – Noham, (Austria)
NHM – Nohom, (Iran)
NHM – Nhema, (Zimbabwe)
NHM – Nhime, (Angola)
NHM – Nahum, (Israel)
NHM – Anhim, (Canada)
NHM – Nehama, (Israel)
NHM – Nhaem, (Vietnam)
NHM – Enham, (United Kingdom)
NHM – Nahme, (Bulgaria)
NHM – Nhoma, (Namibia)
NHM – Nhamuai, (Mozambique)
NHM – Nhama, (Angola)
NHM – Nhime, (Guinea-Bissau)
NHM – Nahma, (Michigan)
NHM – Nahimha, (Tanzania)
NHM – Naham, (Israel)
(… and plenty more …)

So it seems rather suspicious that Mormons are claiming that “the church is true” based on 2 or 3 (MH / NHM) extremely common letters. As I have shown, both sets occur numerous times in the bible. Wouldn’t it be much more significant if the names contained 4 or even 5 letter matches? — A five letter match is about 400 times less likely to show up by chance — Mormon Apologists would have to look through 400 times more text to find a 5 letter match compared to a 3 letter match (by chance alone). But if the church were true, then only a handful of external Nephite/Israelite manuscripts should do the trick.

As you can see, after 180 years of digging through manuscripts we have exactly what we would expect if the church were not true: names like “MH” and “NHM” rather than much more significant finds such as Irreantum (RRNTM), Zarahemla (ZRHML), or Ripliancum (RPLNCM).

In conclusion, if “NHM” is statistically insignificant, is not even in the right location, and refers to a tribe rather than a place name — then that means 72 out of 72 of the Book of Mormon place names have still not been found.

Or have they been found?

The best map I’ve seen that matches the Book of Mormon place names with real place names comes from studying Solomon Spalding’s writings and life. Solomon Spalding is well known for writing a book which he called “Manuscript Found”. It was written over a decade before the Book of Mormon was published and it is strikingly similar in theme, content and style to the Book of Mormon and matches the Book of Mormon geography. Many who knew Solomon Spalding said the Book of Mormon was based off of Solomon Spalding’s writings. If this theory is correct, then the “Manuscript Found” may shed some light on the Book of Mormon place names.

But does it?

Using the “Manuscript Found” geography as a key, the Book of Mormon place names do indeed become illuminated. For example we do not need to resort to partial matches like “NHM” — we find complete matches for the following Book of Mormon places: Alma, Jerusalem, Jordan, Angola, Noah, Land of Midian and Boaz. We don’t need to remove any vowels to get these to match. Just two names with a 100% match would be a hundred times more significant than the three letter consonant match of “NHM” but here we have SEVEN full place names that are 100% letter-by-letter perfect hits, along with many other close matches — all found in the correct locations on the Eastern side of the United States in the areas Solomon Spalding lived and served. Some of these place names can still be found on modern maps. Remember that in the above analysis of 2648 cities NO PERFECT MATCHES were found, so SEVEN perfect matches all in the same area and correct location is more than a billion times more statistically significant than “NHM”. Along with these complete matches, there are many partial matches including the narrow neck of land, Ramah/Rama, Lehi/Lehigh, Omner/Omer and Helam/Hellam, all in the correct locations. Go take a look:

http://www.uwec.edu/Geography/Ivogeler/w188/utopian/mormon-place-names.htm

It should be noted that nearly all of these place names were created by European settlers after the 1600s and have no ancient origins. I have gone in and verified that at least 2 of these perfect matches “Jerusalem” and “Jordan” were definitely around before the Book of Mormon was published. I have also verified a many of the others. There is at least the possibility that some of these names inspired Joseph Smith, Solomon Spalding or Sidney Rigdon when coming up with place names for the Book of Mormon.

So could there be anything to the Solomon Spalding theory? Consider the four following testimonies:

1. On Feb 14 or 15, 1832, Mormon Elders Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith delivered a sermon on The Book of Mormon at a schoolhouse in Salem (Conneaut), Ohio. Nehemiah King, an old friend of Solomon Spalding’s, recognized it as Spalding’s work. Friends and relatives of Spalding (John Spalding, Martha Spalding, Henry Lake, John Miller, Aaron Wright, Oliver Smith, Nahum Howard, Artemus Cunningham) agreed with King. These 8 people, referred to as the Conneaut witnesses, later signed affidavits saying that The Book of Mormon “narrative followed the lines of Spalding’s novel. The plot was the same, the names of [the characters] were the same, the exact language was, in many instances… the same, and the only noticeable change was the addition of scriptural passages and religious matter which did not appear in Spalding’s original work.” (See:http://thedigitalvoice.com/enigma/enigma1.htm)

2. Another independent witness, James Jeffery wrote:

Rigdon, in hours of conversation told me a number of times there was in the printing office with which he was connected in Ohio, a manuscript of Rev. Spaulding, tracing the origin of the Indian race from the lost tribes of Israel; that this manuscript was in the office for several years; that he was familiar with it; that Spaulding had wanted it printed, but had not the money to pay for the printing; that he (Rigdon) and Joe Smith used to look over the manuscript and read it over Sundays. Rigdon and Smith took the manuscript and said — “I’ll print it,” and went off to Palmyra, N. Y. I never knew the information was of any importance — thought others were aware of these facts… ( JAMES JEFFERY )

3. Another independant witness, Oliver Cowdery’s Law Partner, Judge W. Lang wrote:

‘The plates were never translated and could not be, and were never intended to be. What is claimed to be a translation is “The Manuscript Found” worked over by C.’ (Cowdery) ‘He was the best scholar among them …Rigdon got the original at the job printing office in Pittsburgh … Without going into detail or disclosing a confidential word, I can say to you that I do know, as well as can now be known, that C. revised the manuscript and that Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the Book of Mormon.’ (Stephen Van Eck, in his article, “The Book of Mormon: One Too Many M’s,”)

4. Rigdon’s grandson, Walter Sidney Rigdon admitted to the fraud:

“(…) He (Grandfather Rigdon) ‘found’ Joe Smith and they had a great many talks together befores they brought out the plates. None of us ever doubted that they got the whole thing up; but father always maintained that grandfather helped get up the original Spaulding book. At any rate he got a copy very early and schemed on some way to make it useful. Although the family knew these facts, they refused to talk on the subject while grandfather lived. In fact, he and they took on [a] huge disgust at the whole subject….”

There are other testimonies, but you get the idea. So can any of this be verified?

In a Stanford University computer analysis of the text of the Book of Mormon, the book was compared to writings of possible authors of the text showing a high probability that the authors of the book were Spalding, Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery; concluding that “our analysis supports the theory that the Book of Mormon was written by multiple, nineteenth-century authors, and more specifically, we find strong support for the Spalding-Rigdon theory of authorship. In all the data, we find Rigdon as a unifying force. His signal dominates the book, and where other candidates are more probable, Rigdon is often hiding in the shadows.”

As linguistic analysis tools improve, we will expect even clearer results as this in the future.

So I wonder if there could be something to the Solomon Spalding theory?

Even without the Solomon Spalding/Rigdon theory, there is still the problem that Joseph Smith, the Twelve Apostles, Moroni and God himself (in the D&C) said the Native Americans were Lamanites who descended from an Israelite heritage. But BYU and other universities have scoured the Americas for the DNA and have turned up empty handed. It’s Asian, not Israelite.

The Book of Mormon was claimed to be translated by the Power of God, but it contains modern source material and their accompanying errors, proving it to be a modern rather than ancient work.

Some examples:

i) KJV Isaiah 3:2 & 2 Nephi 13:2: Both have: “Prudent.” Should have been translated as: “diviner.”
ii) KJV Isaiah 13:15 & 2 Nephi 23:15: Both have: “That is joined.” Should have been translated as: “who are caught/captured.”
iii) KJV Isaiah 5:2 & 2 Nephi 15:2: Both have: “He fenced it.” Should have been translated as: “he dug it,” “made a trench,” “broke the ground.”
iv) KJV Isaiah 2:16 & 2 Nephi 12:16: Both have: “Upon all pleasant pictures.” Should have been translated as: “upon all grand boats/precious things.”
v) KJV Isaiah 3:3 & 2 Nephi 13:3: Both have: “Eloquent orator.” Should have been translated as: “expert enchanter.”

(There are 33 similar examples given by Professor Wright)


The church tells us not to worry though, because we are supposed to pray to God and get a confirmation through the Holy Ghost.

But how reliable is the “Holy Ghost”? Consider the following:

(This is a true story)

Then, one night my husband brought a Quran home to me … I waited until he went to bed & was asleep. I prayed “Oh God show me whether or not this book is true. If the book is true I will accept it. If it is false show me.” I opened the Quran and randomly read:

[...]

There will be those of the people of the book [Jews & Christians] who when they see the truth they will recognise it.

I quite suddenly became aware of the fact that I was touching something very Holy for the first time. I was in AWE. I knew I was holding the very words of God. Then I realized for the first time that God … let me find this miracle. I felt JOY. I had found the treasure! I had finally found the truth!”

Source: http://bit.ly/gZTKmu

Before someone starts thinking that this means the Book of Mormon AND the Quran are true, let me point out the blatant contradiction:

Quran – Sura 4:157-158:
“And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. … For certain, they never killed him.”

Book of Mormon – Mosiah 15: 7
“… he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up…”

This is not an isolated case. This happens all the time outside of Mormonism. So how do we interpret this? How reliable is praying to God for answers?

An Ex-Jehovah’s Witness friend of mine wanted to learn about Mormonism and shared the following experience:

You might be interested to know, after I left the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I read the Book of Mormon cover to cover. I even said the Moroni prayer while asking for some small affirmative evidence the prayer had been heard. As one would expect, given routine experience, no answer was forth-coming.

-Randy, Ex-Jehovah’s Witness

Another man wrote about his experience praying about the Book of Mormon:

I took the “moroni’s challenge” as they call it and prayed with all the sincerety I could possibly muster. I did not get any kind of inspiration or insight that this book was true. In fact I got a strong impression that it wasn’t true. If you don’t agree that the book is true, the Mormon members claim you aren’t righteous and that there is something wrong with you

-(Name withheld), Canada


I have also prayed to God about the Book of Mormon, and have received a spiritual confirmation that it is fiction. After extensive research I have concluded that our personal spiritual experiences are highly subjective and — like dreams — they are highly dependent on our unconscious desires and expectations.

I don’t think God would ask us to use such an unreliable method to test his Book. So why would God ask us to use a method that He himself knows doesn’t work?

I used to believe the Book of Mormon was true because semetic studies backed it up, like Chiasmus. However I later learned that Shakespeare, English Presidential Speeches and even Dr. Seuss contain Chiasmus. It turned out that Chiasmus is not a good indicator of semetic origin since it also appears ubiquitously throughout the English literature.

The Book of Abraham is another stumbling block. I was on my own reading it one day, when I noticed the name “Egyptus” pop out at me. It seemed out of context, since “Egyptus” looked more Latin than Ancient Chaldean. The book also claimed that the name “Egypt” came from a woman named “Egyptus”. So I looked into Egyptian etymology and the whole thing started unraveling fast as I learned the true origin of the word “Egypt”. The Book of Abraham could not have been more wrong about the name “Egypt”.

Later I found out that the Egyptian scrolls that Joseph Smith purportedly translated from had been independently analyzed by 8 different Egyptologists and the consensus was that the scrolls were pagan documents — nothing to do with Abraham.

Joseph Smith even got the gender wrong when interpreting the human figures on some of the facsimiles. When I looked at the church’s best response to this problem, they said something about how ancient Egyptians were often cross dressing as the opposite gender. They said Joseph got a direct hit — how could he have known about the cross dressing?

So I’m thinking “What?? He got the names wrong, he got the gender wrong, and then the church comes up with a weak excuse and calls it a direct hit??”

That’s when I threw in the towel. I realized religion is a good example of “confirmation bias”.

As far as I can tell, the theory that fits all the known facts — is that the LDS church is NOT what it claims.

To put it another way, if the church were NOT true, and the purpose of life was to find this fact out — what more evidence could we ask for? It seems that we have enough to learn the truth of the matter.

But I’ll be the first to admit I could be wrong.

I’l await your response.

emeth_veneeman
June 13th, 2011 at 9:32 am

Chris, thanks for taking this seriously. I can tell you’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. So have I.

One thing immediately stands out to me. First, you go to great lengths to show that there is no statistically significant relationship between Mahujah and מחוי. But then in the next paragraph you readily admit that Joseph Smith ripped off the name Mahujah, at least in part, from Mahujael Genesis 4:18. And what is the Hebrew underlying the “Mahuja” part of the name Mahujael? מחוי.

So, which is it? Relationship or no relationship? We should resolve this point before we move forward.

In the meantime I will be going through the other points you made here. It may take me a few days because I do need to give my employer an honest day’s work. Cheers.

Chris Johnson
June 13th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Emeth, your theory has validity, but what you are doing is taking two names and tampering with them so that they will match (which decreases the significance and objectivity of the match).

In particular, Mahijah has the Hebrew ending “Jah/Yahu” (יה) as in Ahijah (אֲחִיָּה), so it requires tampering to make “Jah” (יה) match the MHWY ending (וי). In this case you have tampered with it by showing that “וי” shows up in Mehujael, but this is not how Mahijah is spelled — take a look at all the Hebrew names in the bible that end in “ijah” :

Irijah — יִרְאּיָּיה — ending: יה
Isshijah — יִשִּׁיָּה — ending: יה
Jehudijah — יְהֻדִיָּה — ending: יה
Jerijah — יְרִיָּה — ending: יה
Malchijah — מַלְכִּיָּה — ending: יה
Ahijah — אֲחִיָּה — ending: יה
Zidkijah — צִדְקִיָּה — ending: יה
Adonijah — אֲדֹנִיָּה — ending: יה
Abijah — אֲבִיָּה — ending: יה
Antothijah — עַנְתֹתִיָה — ending: יה
Elijah — אֵלִיָּה — ending: יה
Hizkijah — חִזְקִיָּה — ending: יה
Ibnijah — יִבְנִיָּה — ending: יה

They all have the “YH” (יה) ending and NONE have the WY (וי) ending. It seems that we have to make an exception to the rule to force your supernatural hypothesis.

There are other explanations for where “Mahijah” came from, that do not require an appeal to the supernatural:

1. Ahijah is a common name that shows up numerous times in the bible. Perhaps Joseph was “translating” Genesis and saw Mahaleleel and spliced it with Ahijah.

2. A better explanation is Joseph wanted to write about Enoch and needed parallels to Enoch’s life for inspiration and so he studied the life of Elijah (the other transcended prophet). With Elijah fresh on the mind, he saw Enoch’s grandfather Mahaleleel in Genesis and spliced it with Elijah to create Mahijah.

3. Or Joseph simply came across “Mehujael” in the section related to Enoch in Genesis and changed the name “Mehujael” to “Mahijah” to sound more like Elijah.

If you include my original response with the above, you now have 4 non-supernatural theories as to how the name may have come about.

emeth_veneeman
June 13th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

OK. But I’m more interested in the explanation that makes the most sense and is most likely to be true, rather than the one that is the least supernatural.

Let’s take your point 3, which in my view is the most plausible:

3. Or Joseph simply came across “Mehujael” in the section related to Enoch in Genesis and changed the name “Mehujael” to “Mahijah” to sound more like Elijah.

I don’t have any reason to believe he would want to create a random character in his story that “sounded like Elijah” (can you?) but I can find reasons that he might want to use the name, in its modified form, for other reasons. I think you are trying way to hard to ignore the similarities between the Book of Giants and the Book of Moses, and how they relate to each other through Genesis 4:18. I’ve tried to avoid getting too technical, but I don’t think I can really make my point unless I do.

The thing that ties the Moses passage to the Book of Giants is the fact that the Book of Giants contains this sequence, מחוי, that also exists in the Book of Genesis, and Joseph Smith’s English form of the name is identical to the English of the KJV of the same verse. You say that I have to modify the name in order to get the parallel to work, and that the only correlation is the MH. Not true. The vav (ו) is what is known as a “mater lectionis.” It is a consonant that can double as a vowel. In most transliterations of the name in the Book of Giants, it is transliterated w: mahWay. In the KJV *AND IN MOSES 7:2* it is transliterated u: mehUjael. The next letter is a yodh (י) which is another mater lectionis. It generally takes on the value y, as in MHWY, but is also transliterated into English as j, as in Meujael. So… SO FAR we have a four-letter name that coincides EXACTLY. If the coincidence ended there, I would probably be willing to accept your argument that it is, in fact, just a coincidence. But there’s more. Because if you look at the Hebrew underlying Genesis 4:18, you see that the name Mehujael appears twice — spelled exactly the same in English, but with two different spellings in Hebrew. The second spelling uses a yodh in place of the vav. In other words, the name is MHYY’L, or, if rendered in the style of Mehujael, it would be Mahijael. Now what do we find? We find the the other non (strictly) Biblical name in the Enoch story, Mahijah. So we don’t just have a corresponding four-letter name. We have TWO corresponding four-letter names, which are formed after the pattern of the Hebrew in Genesis 4:18. Now what about the ending H? It is actually another mater lectionis which is a stylistic way of indicating a vowel in Hebrew:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mater_lectionis

It’s just a vowel marker. So if anyone is going to remove the suffix of Mehujael, it makes sense to cap it with an H.

But still, given what I’ve covered up to this point, if you want to make the case that it is all random coincidence, I might be persuaded. But that’s not where the similarities end. In fact, the MHWY character, in both the Joseph Smith version and the Dead Sea Scrolls version, is an individual who comes to Enoch on behalf of the people to ask him direct questions. Now you’re going to point to the *differences* between the two characters to make the case that there are no *similarities?* Don’t look now, but your bias is showing. In fact, MHWY in the Book of Giants is a winged messenger of the Giants. In the Moses account, he is simply a messenger — not a tent dweller as you suggest — but just “a man” sent to Enoch as a messenger of the people. But the “cosmic journey” aspect of the story is not left out, it is only transferred from Mahijah to Enoch:

Giants (from translators Abegg, Wise, and Cook): “After a cosmic JOURNEY Mahway comes to Enoch and makes his request.

[ . . . HE MOUNTED UP IN THE AIR] 4 1ike strong winds, and flew…”

Moses 6:42 “And it came to pass, as I JOURNEYED from the land of Cainan, by the sea east, I beheld a vision; and lo, THE HEAVENS I SAW…”

This is typical Joseph Smith, by the way. Rather than leaving aspects of the story in their original form, he will very frequently modify them to create a more doctrinally accurate and consistent view of the subject.

Now, lest you think that this is the WHOLE STORY, let me remind you again — you still have not shown any interest in looking at the infamous attachment that I refer to, wherein I have shown NO LESS THAN SEVENTEEN DIRECT PARALLELS between the Book of Giants and the Book of Moses. Are you really interested in finding out the truth? You have shown great skill in responding to points that I haven’t even made, but if you’re not interested in responding to the actual points that I’m making, then I don’t think you can ever make your case.

Perhaps in a future post I will reformat the parallels document and paste it here (I lose my color-coding and boldfont type when I paste into the comment thread).

Chris Johnson
June 14th, 2011 at 5:19 am

Emeth, thanks for the reply.

I do not doubt for one moment that Mahijah can be shown through a few minor steps to have a relationship with Mehujael. I also do not doubt that Mehujael contains the Hebraic consonants “MHWY” which also happen to show up in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other manuscripts. As I said previously this is one of the strongest points in favor of the LDS position. I personally think NHM is slightly stronger, but I’m okay if you like MH(YH/WY).

I pointed out the differences between Mahijah (human) and Mahaway (large winged being) because when making a comparison it is important to know the similarities (which you have pointed out) and the differences (which you ignored) so that we can come to an objective conclusion rather than a biased one.

Do you remember all the hoopla this year about Harold Campbell’s prophecy for May 21st, 2011? Why is it so easy for you and I to see through the charade? We know the prophecy was false (especially now that it failed) and therefore the messenger was not sent by God. We don’t believe it one bit — right?

But why is it that Harold Campbell and his faithful followers can’t see through it? As soon as the prophecy failed, Harold merely changed his definitions and pushed the date back to October. His faith clouds his judgement.

It has been proven by psychologists that when you are outside of the situation you can see it much more objectively than when you are living inside it.

I am living outside the Mormon bubble. I can see the things that you can’t see.

On the other hand you are living outside the “world” (so to speak) and you feel that your view is the enlightened and divine one. And you can see things that I can’t see — except that I have been where you are and I can understand both sides now. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I have missed something vital. If so, I wonder what it is exactly?

Let’s value both of our insights and move forward to see what can be concluded, if anything.

If a Seventh-Day Adventist threw a boatload of Ellen White’s predictions at you and showed you the evidence that they all came true, would you suddenly jump ship and believe in Ellen White?

No, neither of us believe in Ellen White and so we are not clouded by our faith in her. Our lives are not precariously dependent on Ellen being a true prophet. You and I would be able to see through it easily, while the believers would not. It would be easy for you to look at Ellen’s prophecies objectively and look at both the fulfilled and unfulfilled ones to conclude that she made enough wrong predictions that her correct prophecies were nullified. In other words, the significance of her prophecies can be reduced chance — exactly what would be expected if she were guessing.

The SDA believers on the other hand would likely be upset with you for pointing out the prophecies that did not come true and they would tell you that you are biased and blinded by ignoring the ones that did come true.

I hope I don’t have to keep repeating this point because it is important: Faith causes selective thinking.

You are a smart person. You and I know how false prophecies work:

1. A prophet or psychic generally says a number of things about the future (or past, etc.)
2. The ones that don’t come true (the misses) eventually become forgotten or ignored by the believers (via “selective thinking” and “confirmation bias”).
3. The remainder, are the hits. They are the predictions that came true by chance, and they become the focus of the believers who constantly minimize the misses.

To prove the LDS position true, we need to find enough strong evidence that is far above statistical chance.

To prove the LDS position false, it only takes exposing one significant mistake by its founders.

Because most of us don’t understand statistical chance, we often get tricked easily by people claiming to have supernatural powers when in fact they are exploiting our desires and psychological fallacies to create the illusion of supernatural powers. It drives me crazy when I see psychics take advantage of people who aren’t aware of the Barnum Effect and other similar tools.

Imagine if Joseph Smith wrote “Mahaway” (Exactly) in the Book of Moses, and over 100 years later the EXACT same name “Mahaway” showed up in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This would be a SEVEN letter match — a 1 out of 1,280,000,000 chance (using a 1 out of 20 chance per letter). That’s a BILLION to ONE chance! This is fairly significant, and this is probably why this idea seems so convincing to believers. But this is obviously misleading because Joseph Smith did not write Mahaway.

If he wrote Mehewey (as an example only) then we only have 4 similar letters MHWY which is a 1 out of 160,000 chance. Not as impressive as a one out of billion chance, and it is well within the realm of chance expectations. But he didn’t write Mehewey, did he?

If he wrote Mahiwah then we would only be off by one consonant and have a 3 letter “Hebraic” match: “MHW” This is a 1 out of 8000 chance. That means out of 80,000 people, ten could have this name by chance alone.

If he wrote Mahijah (which he did), then we have 2 letters “MH” that match MHWY. That’s a 1 out of 400 chance. I have 350 friends on Skype and I just looked for “MH” matches. Sure enough there are a few that match “MH”:

Muhammad
Mhasseeb
Mahajan
Mehroz

It’s interesting that my friend Mahajan is a three letter match to Mahijah. I’m not kidding. “MHJ/MHY” is a 1 out of 8000 match.

But let’s look closer. The “N” in “mahajaN” can be considered a common addition called “nunnation” (after the semitic pronunciation nun of the letter n). Nunnation occurred in the Old Babylonian/Akkadian period and indicated a dual form (with -än as a dual nominative, and -ïn as both genitive and accusative). Similar nunnation still occurs today in Arabic. This means the singular form of Mahajan is Mahaja. And of course we should cap it with an H (as you have suggested) which gives us: Mahajah.

What are the odds? My friend is Mahijah (MHYH) from the Book of Moses!

If I interviewed him, how many correlations do you think I could find between his life and Joseph Smith’s Mahijah?

One? Maybe Two?

I bet I could find about 20 or more. Patterns are everywhere, as I have pointed out in my Robinson Crusoe vs Book of Moses demonstration. As soon as we try to dig into 2 men’s lives for similarities, we will find them. We will find differences, but selective thinking will help us ignore the differences.

Now I think you can understand why I am skeptical. As soon as you apply any tool — (Old Babylonion, Hebrew, Assumptions, Logic, etc.) to force a match… you begin to tread away from an “exact match” and into “statistical insignificance land” — without even realizing it.

So you wanted my best theory for how this all fits together. This is what I think happened:

1. Mehujael shows up in an early draft of the Book of Genesis and the name sticks.
2. Later, a new author starts creating fantastic fairy tales of winged beings, giants and fallen angels. He needed an evil winged character in his story and noticed that Mehujael means “Smitten of God”, so he thought it would be a great name for a fallen angel or demon and took off the “El” and called him “Smitten” for short or “מחוי” which became “Mahaway in English.
3. In 1830: Joseph Smith and Rigdon have a bunch of new converts begging them for more knowledge about God, the Bible and the Ancient Patriarchs. So they decide to translate the bible. To create their story of Enoch, they study some recent news clippings about a new 1821 translation of Enoch. They also study Genesis and start writing their masterpiece. While creating the Book of Moses, the names Mahalaleel, Methuselah and Mehujael, are swimming around in their heads and so when they try to come up with a name that fits the time period, the authors come up with a “good fit” for a new character: Mahijah.

If it were a real account then who was it, Mahijah or Mahaway?

If he was a real character and his name was Mahijah as Joseph prophetically predicted, then surely the Dead Sea Scrolls would turn up with the name “MHYH” rather than “MHWY”.

If he was a real character and his name was Mahaway, then surely Joseph Smith would have known the correct pronunciation with his Prophetic gift, and wrote “Mahaway”.

The theory that fits all the facts is simply that “Mehujael” inspired the creation of two characters “Mahaway” and “Mahijah”.


On a side note, I just ran a deeper analysis on the Book of Moses — just for our little discussion here.

If the Book of Moses was written by a modern Christian we would expect the following:

1) The author would be more likely to subconsciously draw phrases from the New Testament rather than the Old Testament since the New Testament is the preferred Christian canon.

2) The author would be more likely to subconsciously insert phrases from the areas under study at the time of the alleged “translation” — in this case it should show similar phraseology to Genesis.

If the Book of Moses was written by an ancient author we would expect:

1) The author would have no preference over quoting from Genesis, Old Testament or New Testament since none would have existed yet.

2) Phrase matches (if any) should be equally yet randomly distributed across the entire Old and New Testament, since they should be showing up by mere chance.

To test these hypotheses, I removed the Genesis verses from the Book of Moses, and tested to see how many 6 word phrases the Book of Moses had in common with Genesis.

Next I tested the Book of Moses against the rest of the Old Testament (excluding Genesis) as a control to determine if the matches in Genesis had any significance. Using the resultant data, I was able to calculate the “quotation density” for both Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament.

Next I tested the Book of Moses against the New Testament in the same way and calculated its “quotation density” as well.

Here are the results:

Genesis:
Total Matching Phrases: 18
Quotation Density of Genesis: 0.279%

Old Testament (excl. Genesis):
Total Matching Phrases: 57
Quotation Density of O.T. (without Genesis): 0.054%

Old Testament (incl. Genesis):
Total Matching Phrases: 75
Quotation Density of O.T. (including Genesis): 0.067%

New Testament:
Total Matching Phrases: 64
Quotation Density of N.T.: 0.205%

—-

1. The Book of Moses quoted from the New Testament 3.05 times more often than the Old Testament (per average page).

2. When Genesis was excluded from the Old Testament, The Book of Moses quoted from the New Testament 3.79 times more often than the Old Testament (per average page).

3. The Book of Moses quoted from Genesis 5.16 times more often than the rest of the Old Testament (per average page).

Conclusion:

In previous studies, it was determined that the Book of Moses had more phrases similar to the Bible than any other book tested. In this analysis the data shows further evidence of textual transmission because the phrases in the Book of Moses are not randomly distributed through-out the bible, but most similar to the New Testament and Genesis phraseology as predicted. The data fits the theory that the Book of Moses was produced by a Christian familiar with the New Testament and the Book of Genesis.

Bible Phrases in the Book of Moses – Full Data Table:
————————

Phrase Occurrences in Moses Density in Moses Genesis OT (No Genesis) NT
and it came to pass that 31 2.49% YES 1 YES 1 YES 1
it came to pass that the 5 0.40% NO 1 YES 2 YES 2
the coming of the son of 2 0.16% NO 1 NO 2 YES 3
the father and of the son 2 0.16% NO 1 NO 2 YES 4
coming of the son of man 2 0.16% NO 1 NO 2 YES 5
it came to pass that when 2 0.16% YES 2 YES 3 YES 6
and the lord said unto me 2 0.16% NO 2 YES 4 YES 7
of the father and of the 2 0.16% NO 2 NO 4 YES 8
the inhabitants of the earth and 2 0.16% NO 2 YES 5 NO 8
it came to pass that i 2 0.16% YES 3 YES 6 NO 8
to pass that the lord spake 2 0.16% NO 3 YES 7 NO 8
pass that the lord spake unto 2 0.16% NO 3 YES 8 NO 8
the gift of the holy ghost 2 0.16% NO 3 NO 8 YES 9
and it came to pass when 2 0.16% YES 4 YES 9 YES 10
from the foundation of the world 2 0.16% NO 4 NO 9 YES 11
in the bosom of the father 2 0.16% NO 4 NO 9 YES 12
all the families of the earth 2 0.16% NO 4 YES 10 NO 12
and it came to pass as 2 0.16% YES 5 YES 11 YES 13
of the lord was upon all 1 0.08% YES 6 YES 12 NO 13
the lord said unto me go 1 0.08% NO 6 YES 13 NO 13
name of the father and of 1 0.08% NO 6 NO 13 YES 14
word of the lord and the 1 0.08% NO 6 YES 14 NO 14
the word of the lord and 1 0.08% NO 6 YES 15 YES 15
a great chain in his hand 1 0.08% NO 6 NO 15 YES 16
lord how is it that thou 1 0.08% NO 6 NO 15 YES 17
all the inhabitants of the earth 1 0.08% NO 6 YES 16 NO 17
and it came to pass in 1 0.08% YES 7 YES 17 YES 18
all the nations of the earth 1 0.08% YES 8 YES 18 NO 18
all the face of the earth 1 0.08% YES 9 YES 19 YES 19
the face of the earth and 1 0.08% YES 10 YES 20 YES 20
of the son of man and 1 0.08% NO 10 NO 20 YES 21
of water and of the spirit 1 0.08% NO 10 NO 20 YES 22
came to pass when the lord 1 0.08% NO 10 YES 21 NO 22
it came to pass when the 1 0.08% YES 11 YES 22 YES 23
cried unto the lord and he 1 0.08% NO 11 YES 23 NO 23
the spirit of the lord and 1 0.08% NO 11 YES 24 NO 23
by the spirit of the lord 1 0.08% NO 11 YES 25 YES 24
there came a voice out of 1 0.08% NO 11 NO 25 YES 25
darkness shall cover the earth and 1 0.08% NO 11 YES 26 NO 25
on the right hand of god 1 0.08% NO 11 NO 26 YES 26
the son of man ascend up 1 0.08% NO 11 NO 26 YES 27
the judgment of the great day 1 0.08% NO 11 NO 26 YES 28
at the right hand of the 1 0.08% NO 11 YES 27 YES 29
and the lord said unto noah 1 0.08% YES 12 YES 28 NO 29
not hearken to my voice and 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 29 NO 29
all the kingdoms of the earth 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 30 NO 29
jesus christ the son of god 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 30 YES 30
of jesus christ the son of 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 30 YES 31
the name of jesus christ the 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 30 YES 32
in the name of jesus christ 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 30 YES 33
be baptized in the name of 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 30 YES 34
even unto the end of the 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 31 NO 34
unto the end of the world 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 32 NO 34
which shall come forth out of 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 33 NO 34
of the son of man in 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 33 YES 35
of the fruit of his loins 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 33 YES 36
when the son of man cometh 1 0.08% NO 12 NO 33 YES 37
the day of the lord come 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 34 NO 37
and he cried unto the lord 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 35 NO 37
moses spake unto the lord saying 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 36 NO 37
unto thee and they shall be 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 37 NO 37
and behold the glory of the 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 38 NO 37
behold the glory of the lord 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 39 NO 37
the glory of the lord was 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 40 NO 37
saying tell me i pray thee 1 0.08% NO 12 YES 41 NO 37
and the lord god said unto 1 0.08% YES 13 YES 42 NO 37
in the presence of god and 1 0.08% NO 13 NO 42 YES 38
the words which i spake unto 1 0.08% NO 13 NO 42 YES 39
are the words which i spake 1 0.08% NO 13 NO 42 YES 40
these are the words which i 1 0.08% NO 13 NO 42 YES 41
of the only begotten of the 1 0.08% NO 13 NO 42 YES 42
angel of the lord appeared unto 1 0.08% NO 13 YES 43 NO 42
the commandments of the lord and 1 0.08% NO 13 YES 44 NO 42
unto the commandments of the lord 1 0.08% NO 13 YES 45 NO 42
for an offering unto the lord 1 0.08% NO 13 YES 46 NO 42
the beginning and the end the 1 0.08% NO 13 NO 46 YES 43
created the heaven and the earth 1 0.08% YES 14 YES 47 NO 43
the lord spake unto moses saying 1 0.08% NO 14 YES 48 NO 43
that the lord spake unto moses 1 0.08% NO 14 YES 49 NO 43
the name of the only begotten 1 0.08% NO 14 NO 49 YES 44
in the name of the only 1 0.08% NO 14 NO 49 YES 45
it came to pass as the 1 0.08% YES 15 YES 50 YES 46
cried with a loud voice and 1 0.08% NO 15 NO 50 YES 47
and cried with a loud voice 1 0.08% NO 15 YES 51 YES 48
and he said unto them i 1 0.08% YES 16 YES 52 YES 49
came on all them that heard 1 0.08% NO 16 NO 52 YES 50
fear came on all them that 1 0.08% NO 16 NO 52 YES 51
no man laid hands on him 1 0.08% NO 16 NO 52 YES 52
man laid hands on him for 1 0.08% NO 16 NO 52 YES 53
it came to pass when they 1 0.08% YES 17 YES 53 NO 53
in me and i in you 1 0.08% NO 17 NO 53 YES 54
abide in me and i in 1 0.08% NO 17 NO 53 YES 55
said unto him if thou wilt 1 0.08% NO 17 NO 53 YES 56
ye shall receive the gift of 1 0.08% NO 17 NO 53 YES 57
shall receive the gift of the 1 0.08% NO 17 NO 53 YES 58
receive the gift of the holy 1 0.08% NO 17 NO 53 YES 59
it came to pass as i 1 0.08% YES 18 YES 54 NO 59
be the name of god for 1 0.08% NO 18 YES 55 NO 59
blessed be the name of god 1 0.08% NO 18 YES 56 NO 59
and commanded them that they should 1 0.08% NO 18 NO 56 YES 60
heard a voice from heaven saying 1 0.08% NO 18 NO 56 YES 61
thus saith the lord i am 1 0.08% NO 18 YES 57 NO 61
dull of hearing and their eyes 1 0.08% NO 18 NO 57 YES 62
are dull of hearing and their 1 0.08% NO 18 NO 57 YES 63
in the end of the world 1 0.08% NO 18 NO 57 YES 64

emeth_veneeman
June 14th, 2011 at 9:49 am

All right. We’ve each made our cases here; we can let the readers of this forum determine which of us has done a better job (of course, a website called “iamanexmormon” will show an overwhelming bias itself, in the type of readers it attracts, but I don’t mind being in the underdog position :) I don’t want to give the false impression that the mere recovery of an ancient name is the only thing that I have to support my position. You’ve tried to represent it that way, but in truth the evidence that I could delve into would fill up volumes. I simply don’t have the time or energy. But I’m with you; let’s advance the discussion.

I’m not going to deny that the Book of Moses, and the Book of Mormon for that matter, quote liberally from the KJV Bible and maybe even show a slight bias toward the New Testament. For reasons that I simply don’t have time or resources to cover here, it is Joseph’s expert handling of the Bible — even more than his recovery of lost ancient documents — that convinces me of his prophetic prowess. Do Biblical quotations mean the document is not a translation of ancient material? Turns out that the Mahijah story may actually help us determine that the answer is, surprisingly, no. When we look at the Book of Giants we find this passage, again taken from Abegg, Wise, and Cook:

“4Q530 [Thereupon] all the giants [and monsters] grew afraid and called Mahway. He came to them and the giants pleaded with him and sent him to Enoch”

Now from Moses 6:39-40 “for fear came on all them that heard [Enoch]; for he walked with God. And there came a man unto him, whose name was Mahijah…”

So we have this one parallel here. (You don’t buy into it. I get that. But bear with me.) It turns out that there is another interesting parallel, this one between the same Moses passage and Luke 7:16:

Luke: “And THERE CAME FEAR ON ALL: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is RISEN UP AMONG US.”

Moses 6:38-39 “a wild man hath COME AMONG US. And it came to pass when they heard him, no man laid hands on him; for FEAR CAME ON ALL them that heard him; for he walked with God.”

Now that’s interesting. We found a parallel with the Bible, and with the Dead Sea scroll, in the very same words. So which do we accept? The Bible obviously has a stronger influence over the precise wording, but it’s the Giants account that contains the proper name. Let’s keep on going…

Giants: 4Q530 Mahway said to him … the giants await your words.

Moses 6:40 “there came a man unto him, whose name was Mahijah, and said unto him: tell us…”

But this passage also has a Biblical counterpart:

John 10:24 “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him … if thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Moses 6:40 “there came a man unto him, whose name was Mahijah, and said unto him: tell us plainly who thou art…”

Now, what exactly are we looking at here? The name seems to be derived in part from the Hebrew of Genesis, in part from the Aramaic of the Book of Giants. The structure seems to come from the Giants account, but the details seem to be a clear reflection of New Testament thought. We see obvious parallels from the Bible, obvious (I believe) parallels from the Book of Giants… what criteria can we use to know which to accept and which to reject? I suppose you’re going to run these parallels through your highly developed and unbiased statistical models (pardon the sarcasm; you know it’s all in good fun, right?) and allow them to prove to you exactly what you want to believe, which is that the Bible parallels are highly significant and highly suggestive that the Book of Moses is a 19th Century fabrication, and that the Giants parallels are pure coincidence and something invented by naive people like myself for the sole purpose of clinging to an outdated belief for psychological reasons. But honestly, Chris, what objective reason can you give me for believing that all the parallels from sources contemporary to Joseph Smith are statistically significant, while the ones that are from more inaccessible sources are fabrications of a deluded mind? I’m no statistician, but I think if that happens every time, you might want to reexamine your statistical methods.

What seems to be emerging to me is that we may actually be looking at *conglomerate* material. This one passage shows influence, literally, from MULTIPLE sources. In fact, if this were the only way I could prove this point, it may not be too convincing. But I can prove it using literally hundreds of different examples. For most of these, you only need the Bible. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the more of an expert Joseph becomes in Biblical thought, the less impact your theories about his “mistranslations” are going to have, and the more we’re going to have to start asking ourselves, where, exactly, did he get his education?

Chris Johnson
June 14th, 2011 at 11:31 am

Emeth,

Thanks for the reply. I find your parallels interesting on a psychological level, but I am sure you know that religions, psychics and cults all around the world are also using the same “parallelomania” techniques to prove they are authentic.

I have demonstrated in previous posts that parallels are to be expected by chance. You have stated that you have found 17 parallels between the Book of the Giants and the Book of Moses. I am assuming that each parallel is not a strong “SIX WORD PHRASE”, but are a bit more on the subjective side, requiring subjective human interpretation rather than objective machine matching. I am also going to assume that your 17 matches do not have any baseline to compare to — in other words you don’t know what you should be expecting to find by mere chance and therefore you don’t know the significance of your parallels.

I have spent over 40 solid hours over the last couple of days digging and pulling parallels out for you to show you that parallels are very common. Next I gave you over 60 objective “SIX WORD PHRASE” matches to show that the most likely source of inspiration for the Book of Moses was the New Testament. I have even given you baseline data for Robinson Crusoe and the Old Testament so that you can determine for yourself how significant the parallels are rather than giving you an unqualified number of “17″ or “60″. So far the 60+ matches that I have shown you are beating your 17.

So if you want me to take your parallels seriously, then you will need to do the following for me:

1. How do your parallels differ from chance expectation? Can you put together a baseline or control so that we know that your parallels are statistically significant? In other words — any better than chance?

2. I would like you to explain how this is possible, and how significant this is:

On November 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas. Shortly afterwards people began finding amazing “coincidences” between the Kennedy assassination and the Lincoln assassination.

The list of coincidences/parallels include:

Lincoln was elected to congress in 1846.
Kennedy was elected to congress in 1946.

Lincoln was elected president in 1860
Kennedy was elected president in 1960

Kennedy’s assassin fired while in a warehouse and then fled to a theater.
Lincoln’s assassin fired while in a theater and then fled to a warehouse.

Lincoln’s assassin used three names: John Wilkes Booth.
Kennedy’s assassin used three names: Lee Harvey Oswald.

John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald was born in 1939.

Both assassins were from the South.

Both assassins had exactly 15 letters in their name.

Both assassins were shot to death before they could be put on trial.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln were shot in the back of the head while seated with their wives.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln were shot on a Friday.

Lincoln was shot while at FORD’S theater
Kennedy was shot while riding in a FORD automobile.

Lincoln was shot while in Box 7 of the theater.
Kennedy was shot while riding in car 7 of the motorcade.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln were in the company of another married couple when shot and in each case the husband of the couple was injured during the assassination but not fatally.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln had vice-presidents who were Southern Democrats, and former U.S. Senators named “Johnson” and both Johnsons chose not to run for re-election in ’68. Each Johnson was also the father of two daughters.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

Kennedy had a secretary named “Lincoln.”
Lincoln had a secretary named “Kennedy.”

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Kennedy proposed sweeping civil-rights legislation.

The name “Lincoln” has seven letters.
The name “Kennedy” has seven letters.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln studied law.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln had been ship’s captains.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln were named after their grandfather.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln lost a son while in the White House.

Both Kennedy and Lincoln were the second-born in their families.

The car Kennedy was riding in was a Lincoln.

Tobin
June 14th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Emeth and Chris,

This is alot to read and I have really enjoyed it. I can actually see both sides here and agree with you both. I agree with Emeth more because I am Mormon; however, I was atheist and I understand where Chris is coming from too. The simplest explanation as an atheist is that JS is a fraud and the interesting things that Emeth points out MUST be chance (otherwise he would undoubtedly be a theist and likely a Mormon). Chris, as I’ve said to you, it is rather impossible to believe in JS or Mormonism without knowing whether or not there is a God or having that belief and experience. Everything in the end can be dismissed as random chance or fraud or whatever is convienent at the time. However, I believe that one day you’ll be confronted with that reality and be forced to change your view (as I have) and I look forward to the day that happens for you.

Tobin

emeth_veneeman
June 14th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Chris,

Wow, that is impressive about Kennedy and Lincoln…

You know, I actually agree with you. You listed 60 some-odd points of contact between the Bible and the Book of Moses. And you made a very strong case that the KJV influenced the Book of Moses. Which, if you read my previous response carefully enough, was central to my point. So no need to argue it. I’ve conceded it. All I’m saying though, is that based on the same principles, the KJV isn’t the ONLY book that influenced the Book of Moses. Apparently one of the Dead Sea Scrolls did too, which I actually find to be quite remarkable. What does confuse me a little, though, is that in the next post you undermined your whole argument by calling the search for parallels “parallelomania,” which I assume is a disparaging term. So you tell me — do all the similarities you pull out between the KJV and the Book of Moses constitute “parallelomania,” something that is evidently a bad thing, or are they genuine parallels? If I were you I would stick with the genuine parallels thesis, because otherwise your whole premise goes up in smoke.

You said: “I am assuming that each parallel is not a strong ‘SIX WORD PHRASE’, but are a bit more on the subjective side.” Yeah. You assume too much. Here are the parallels. You’ll notice that in the spirit of full disclosure, I even indicated in the first four of them where the KJV matched both the Book of Moses and the Book of Giants. I think you’ll actually find that even in these points Moses tends to agree with Giants more than it does the KJV.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 1. The earth was corrupt
———————————————————————————

4Q531 they begot, AND, BEHOLD, ALL [THE EARTH WAS CORRUPTED...]

Moses 8:28-29 THE EARTH WAS CORRUPT before God … God looked upon THE EARTH, and behold, IT WAS CORRUPT

Genesis 6:11-12 THE EARTH ALSO WAS CORRUPT before God … God looked upon the earth, AND BEHOLD, IT WAS CORRUPT.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 2. The flood of Noah mentioned in connection with the giants
———————————————————————————

2Q26 (heading) THE GIANTS begin to be troubled by a series of dreams…The dream evidently symbolizes the destruction of all but Noah and his sons BY THE FLOOD.

Moses 8:17-18 I WILL SEND IN THE FLOODS upon them. And in those days THERE WERE GIANTS on the earth

Genesis talks about giants (6:4) and a flood (6:17) but not immediately in the same context.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 3. Noah and his sons gain favor.
———————————————————————————

2Q26 (heading) The giants begin to be troubled by a series of dreams…The dream evidently symbolizes THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL BUT NOAH AND HIS SONS by the flood.

Moses 8:13 AND NOAH AND HIS SONS hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.

Moses 8:27 And thus NOAH FOUND GRACE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and HE WALKED WITH GOD, AS DID ALSO HIS THREE SONS, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

The corresponding Biblical verse, Genesis 6:8, says simply, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The Joseph Smith version includes an addendum about Noah’s sons, which agrees more closely with the Giants account.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 4. The earth will be destroyed.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [There]upon Ohya said to Ha[hya...] [... TO BE DESTROYED FROM UPON THE EARTH]

Moses 8:30 I WILL DESTROY ALL FLESH FROM OFF THE EARTH

Genesis 6:13 I WILL DESTROY THEM WITH THE EARTH.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5a. Giants mentioned.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I AM A] GIANT, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:15 And THE GIANTS of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God.

Here The Book of Giants and the Book of Moses deviate dramatically from the Bible, but remain closely related to each other. Notice that the only place in the Book of Genesis that contains a reference to the Giants is Genesis 6:4, but Joseph Smith was able to identify and describe the greater role that the Giants played in the story of Enoch.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5b. The enemies of God make war against the people of God.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I HAVE MADE WAR AGAINST THEM; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and THEIR ENEMIES CAME TO BATTLE AGAINST THEM; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5c. The giants are unable to stand in the presence of their enemies.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I AM A] GIANT, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I AM NOT [...] ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THEM, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. And THE GIANTS OF THE LAND, ALSO, STOOD AFAR OFF; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5d. The punishment of those who fight against God’s people.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I HAVE MADE WAR AGAINST THEM; BUT I AM NOT [...] ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THEM, FOR MY OPPONENTS [...] RESIDE IN [HEAV]EN, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and THERE WENT FORTH A CURSE UPON ALL PEOPLE THAT FOUGHT AGAINST GOD.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 6. (Distinct from 5). The people are not able to stand.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I AM NOT [...] ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THEM, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 6:47 And as Enoch spake forth the words of God, THE PEOPLE TREMBLED, AND COULD NOT STAND IN HIS PRESENCE.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 7. The roaring of wild beasts in connection with the war against God.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I HAVE MADE WAR AGAINST THEM; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]ROARING OF THE WILD BEAST HAS COME, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and THEIR ENEMIES CAME TO BATTLE AGAINST THEM; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and THE ROAR OF THE LIONS WAS HEARD OUT OF THE *WILDERNESS*; and all nations feared greatly,

———————————————————————————
Parallel 8. The wild man.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and THE WILD MAN THEY CALL ME.

Moses 6:38 …A WILD MAN HATH COME AMONG US.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 9a-e. The King and Ruler of Heaven shall visit the earth.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 I too had a dream this night, O giants, and, behold, THE RULER OF HEAVEN CAME DOWN TO EARTH

Moses 7:53-54, 59-60, 65-66 I am Messiah, the KING of Zion, the Rock OF HEAVEN … When the SON OF MAN COMETH IN THE FLESH, shall the earth rest? … he called unto the Lord, saying, WILT THOU NOT COME AGAIN UPON THE EARTH? … wherefore, I ask thee if thou wilt not COME AGAIN ON THE EARTH. And THE LORD SAID UNTO ENOCH: AS I LIVE, EVEN SO WILL I COME … Enoch saw the day of THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN, IN THE LAST DAYS, TO DWELL ON THE EARTH …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 9f. As the Messianic advent draws closer, the people fear.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 I too had a dream this night, O giants, and, behold, the RULER OF HEAVEN CAME DOWN TO EARTH [...] and such is the end of the dream. [THEREUPON] ALL THE GIANTS [AND MONSTERS] GREW AFRAID.

Moses 7:65-66 And it came to pass that ENOCH SAW THE DAY OF THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN, IN THE LAST DAYS, TO DWELL ON THE EARTH in righteousness for the space of a thousand years. But before that day he saw great tribulations among the wicked; and he also saw the sea, that it was troubled, and MEN’S HEARTS FAILING THEM, LOOKING FORTH WITH FEAR for the judgments of the Almighty God, which should come upon the wicked.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 10a-d. The people are afraid and Mahway goes to Enoch.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [Thereupon] all THE GIANTS [AND MONSTERS] GREW AFRAID and called MAHWAY. He came to them and THE GIANTS PLEADED WITH HIM AND SENT HIM TO ENOCH…AND MAHWAY SAID TO HIM [...]

Moses 6:39-40 FEAR CAME ON ALL THEM THAT HEARD [ENOCH]; for he walked with God. And THERE CAME A MAN UNTO HIM, WHOSE NAME WAS MAHIJAH, AND SAID UNTO HIM:

———————————————————————————
Parallel 10e. Mahway approaches Enoch as a representative of others.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 Mahway said to him … the giants await your words.

Moses 6:40 Mahijah said unto him: Tell us …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 11. The cosmic vision, in connection with Mahway’s visit to Enoch.
———————————————————————————

(heading) After a cosmic JOURNEY Mahway comes to Enoch and makes his request.

4Q530 HE MOUNTED UP IN THE AIR

Moses 6:42 As I JOURNEYED … I beheld a vision; and lo, THE HEAVENS I SAW.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 12. Enoch commands the people to repent and pray.
———————————————————————————

(heading) Enoch sends back a tablet with its grim message of judgment, but with hope for REPENTANCE.

4Q530 LOOSEN THE BONDS BI[NDING YOU TO EVIL ...] AND PRAY.

Moses 6:52 Enoch speaking for God: turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and REPENT OF ALL THY TRANSGRESSIONS … ASKING ALL THINGS IN HIS NAME …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 13. Writing by Enoch’s own hand in the name of God.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 IN THE VERY HANDWRITING OF ENOCH the noted scribe [ ... IN THE NAME OF GOD the great] and holy one,

Moses 6:46 For a book of remembrance WE HAVE WRITTEN AMONG US, according to the PATTERN GIVEN BY THE FINGER OF GOD; and IT IS GIVEN IN OUR OWN LANGUAGE.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 14. Enoch testifies of the wickedness of the people.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 by your LICENTIOUSNESS on the earth.

Moses 6:49 MEN HAVE BECONE CARNAL, SENSUAL, AND DEVILISH.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15a-b. The earth cries out.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... AND THE LAND IS CRYING OUT] and complaining about you and the deeds of your children [ ... ] the harm that you have done to it.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch LOOKED UPON THE EARTH; AND HE HEARD A VOICE FROM THE BOWELS THEREOF, saying: Wo, wo is me the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children … THE EARTH GROANED.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15c. The earth complains.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... and the land is crying out] AND COMPLAINING about you and the deeds of your children [ ... ] the harm that you have done to it.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: WO, WO IS ME THE MOTHER OF MEN; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15d. It is because of the wickedness of the children of men.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... and the land is crying out] and complaining ABOUT YOU AND THE DEEDS OF YOUR CHILDREN [ ... ] the harm that you have done to it.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, BECAUSE OF THE WICKEDNESS OF MY CHILDREN …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15e. By their wickedness they have actually harmed the earth.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... and the land is crying out] and complaining about you and the deeds of your children [ ... ] THE HARM THAT YOU HAVE DONE TO IT.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me the mother of men; I AM PAINED, I AM WEARY, because of the wickedness of my children …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 16. The flood and the bondage of the wicked.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 DESTRUCTION [IS COMING, A GREAT FLOOD, AND IT WILL DESTROY ALL LIVING THINGS] and whatever is in the deserts and the seas. And the meaning of the matter [ ... ] upon you for evil. But now, loosen the BONDS BI[NDING YOU TO EVIL ...] and pray.

Moses 7:38 But behold, THESE WHICH THINE EYES ARE UPON SHALL PERISH IN THE FLOODS; and behold, I WILL SHUT THEM UP; A PRISON HAVE I PREPARED FOR THEM.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 17. Mortals unable to stand in the presence of the word of God.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [ ... great FEAR] SEIZED ME AND I FELL ON MY FACE; I HEARD HIS VOICE.

Moses 6:47 AND AS ENOCH SPAKE FORTH THE WORDS OF GOD, THE PEOPLE TREMBLED AND COULD NOT STAND IN HIS PRESENCE.

Chris Johnson
June 15th, 2011 at 2:03 am

Emeth, thank you for sharing the parallels between the Genesis, Moses and Giants accounts. Some of the parallels were really good and I especially liked #15 for some reason. There were a few that were fairly poor parallels, but I’m not here to complain and tear down your work. Finding parallels can take a lot of time, and I appreciate what you have shared.

Have you thought about my two questions? I have showed you a few examples of parallels occurring by chance (ie. Lincoln/Kennedy) and I would like to know how your parallels stack up against chance. This way we can know how seriously to take your parallels.

If a false church made up some phony ancient scriptures, how many parallels would you expect its adherents could find after a 180 year period? One? Two? Would it depend on how much text was written?

emeth_veneeman
June 15th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Chris,

Well, obviously I think these parallels stack up fairly well against chance. I’m not going to attempt a formal statistical analysis, for three basic reasons. First, I don’t have the skills. I took a stats 101 course in college. Think I came out with a B. Second, I don’t really have the interest. To me, the parallels are intuitively obvious. For my own benefit, I just don’t need to do it. Only so many hours in a day. Third, I think that your statistics are actually leading you to the wrong conclusions in many cases, which doesn’t just make them ineffective, it makes them detrimental. More on that in a moment.

From an informal point of view, what I can say is, just look at it. The Book of Giants and the Book of Moses are both fairly short documents that deal with the Biblical figure Enoch. To me, that alone vastly narrows the field of potential random matches. Robinson Crusoe doesn’t deal with Enoch does it? I’ve never seen Enoch in the Three Little Pigs. By forcing Robinson Crusoe into the equation, you have overlooked the fundamental nature of both works; that is to say, you are going out of your way to find a work that has the property of being fundamentally unrelated to the Book of Moses yet having similarity in some of its wording anyway. Let me remind you that that is not a random sampling, so you can’t use it to make a point about relationships appearing between any two random unrelated works.

So that’s the first thing. The major character of the Book of Giants and those chapters in the Book of Moses is already the same, and you are not going to find that character in a large percentage of the world’s literature, so it greatly narrows the scope of things you can reasonably compare it to. But I’m not sure you even need to narrow the scope by that much. If I make reference to a young woman who loses her slipper at the Ball, can you tell me the damsel’s name? I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that if you are familiar with Western culture, then the same name popped into your head as popped into mine. You don’t need to pull out Kennedy v. Lincoln, create lists of dozens of names from random name generation software, or compare thematic and phonological elements from unrelated random stories ad infinitum, just to show that we really don’t have enough information to know for sure whom that phrase describes. All of those tactics are diversionary. Their sole intention is to obfuscate the main point.

Not to say that I don’t understand why you resort to them. You looked at chiasmus in the Book of Mormon as evidence of authenticity, and then you discovered that chiasmus exists in Dr. Seuss. Thus, you concluded, since it shows up in what appears to be random places, it cannot really be evidence of authenticity. But here’s a question: how long and detailed was the chiastic structure you looked at in each of the respective works? If you assume that chiasmus in the Book of Mormon never spans more than a dozen elements, then maybe you can find a random match in Green Eggs and Ham. But what if you could find a chiastic structure spanning 100 pages, containing hundreds of elements? How hard did you look for that kind of parallelism? I can assure you that the Book of Mormon has structures on that scale, and fairly detailed ones. I think this already shows problems with your Dr. Seuss theory, because as far as I know Dr. Seuss didn’t even write books that were that long. So we see where your statistical methods went over a cliff. You appear to be making starting assumptions that are designed by their very nature to lead you to the conclusion that you expect. And if at the end of the day they’re leading you to the wrong conclusion, aren’t they defeating the purpose you had when you started to use them? You could probably try using more rigor to rectify the situation, but how much rigor is enough rigor? And how will you know if you’re using it anyway? You can prove anything with statistics. Statistics definitely has its place, but you need to use the discipline with great caution. In some cases, I think I have good reason to trust my own judgment instead of waiting for the results of detailed, possibly flawed, statistical analyses.

I can already see where this conversation is going of course. You are most interested in cold, hard numbers (and I suspect, deep down, you’re also looking for an excuse not to accept the uniquely remarkable nature of Joseph Smith’s writings — but that’s just my cynical side showing). That’s fine. Really, I’ve never been interested in convincing you or anyone against his will. So my suggestion is, just look at it. If you don’t find it convincing, you don’t find it convincing. I will respect our difference of opinion.

Chris Johnson
June 15th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Well Emeth, I just upgraded my statistical analysis tools and did an objective comparison between The Book of the Giants (from the DSS) and The Book of Moses, (using the New Testament and Old Testament as controls) and there is a detectable significance to your claims in some (but not all) of the results. It appears that the similarities that you have noticed are not subjective.

So is the only conclusion that Joseph Smith is a true prophet? Or are we being duped by a con man from the 19th century?

Chris Johnson
June 15th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Here are the details from my latest analysis:

I’ve upgraded the tool to weight words based on statistical significance.

For example the FOUR WORD phrase:

“that which is the”

may appear dozens on times in any book but a TWO WORD phrase:

“millennium falcon”

is composed of much rarer words, and therefore in these types of cases, the two word match is more significant than a match that has more words. Each word is compared to a large body of literature and ranked according to how often it shows up by chance.

The system also counts all matches rather than one match per book.

This means the method can now extrapolate meaning better since words like “in” and “the” are given less weight, reducing random noise.

The results are as follows:

For the “3 word match” test:

Giants vs Moses had the following weighted matches:

19.99 = 1.87%

Old Testament vs Moses:

5562.02 = 0.93%

New Testament vs Moses:

2476.88 = 1.31%

It should be noted that 3 word matches are fairly common and may produce quite a bit of random noise in the results, so I did a 4 word analysis as well which should give results with about 5 times less noise.

For the “4 word match” test:

Giants vs Moses had the following weighted matches:

1.58 = 0.14%

Old Testament vs Moses:

1517.02 = 0.25%

New Testament vs Moses:

867.271 = 0.46%

I also did a 5 and 6 word test which showed the New Testament come out on top, but unfortunately the Book of Giants did not have enough material to properly include in these test more significant tests.

So in the weaker test the results came up quite strong for The Book of the Giants. In the stronger test, the New Testament was the winner.

I think this at least shows however that there are some objective similarities between the Book of the Giants and the Book of Moses.

It also shows consistently that the New Testament is a stronger contender than the Old Testament.

I have about a hundred reasons to believe the church is false, but there you have it, there is some similarity between the Book of the Giants and the Book of Moses as we would predict if the church were true.

Thoughts?

emeth_veneeman
June 15th, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Well, that was a very fair analysis. I admit I’m a bit surprised, but thanks for actually being objective about this. And I apologize for my cynicism. You should understand that I’ve talked to a few people about the Church in my time and cynicism is generally justified.

Another long post follows. Bear with me.

Just curious: how does your software handle near matches like “I have made war against them” vs. “their enemies came to battle against them”? In my mind, that is a clear hit, but it would be hard to design an algorithm that caught all those kinds of nuances. If you watched Watson on Jeopardy! earlier this year, you saw that the brightest minds in the world have made great strides in writing algorithms that understand natural language, but even on the show, Watson occasionally stumbled and gave an answer that was so stupid that you realized you may not want to trust him with your life.

To your main question: “So is the only conclusion that Joseph Smith is a true prophet? Or are we being duped by a con man from the 19th century?”

You know where I’m coming down on this. But now that I know that you’re willing to make some concessions, it makes it easier for me to make some. What about DNA evidence and archaeology? I know the conversation would eventually get there if it went far enough. The truth is, I don’t know. If it’s still an important issue to you, my advice is to get it resolved in your mind before you recommit yourself to anything. I do have theories that account for the apparent misses in the Book of Mormon, but until you see how I arrived at those theories, which could take awhile, they will sound very much like I’m making excuses and propping up something that I want to believe in, just because I want to believe in it. So for now I’m going to avoid the argument and say simply, I don’t know.

What I will say is this. You need to get all the evidence on the table. Don’t be too dogmatic about anything. The reason I started this discussion by talking about the generally accepted Documentary Hypothesis that the Books of Moses were comprised of J, E, D and P is not so much that I wanted to support or detract from that theory, but only to suggest that when you take Joseph Smith’s Book of Moses and see that it contradicts current scholarship in some way, it still doesn’t make it a cut-and-dried issue that he got it “wrong.” And that doesn’t mean that the scholars got it wrong either. Maybe we’re comparing apples to oranges. Maybe the answer is that we need to turn the prism just a little and look at things in a new light. Let me throw out another hypothetical for your consideration: if a particular statement in the Book of Moses, or in the Book of Mormon, contains seven layers of truth concealed beneath one layer of metaphor, is the statement “true” or “false?” There are a lot of people who are going to spend endless hours debunking the one layer of metaphor, and may even do so successfully, but after all that I can still come away with absolute assurance that “the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth.” Just something to think about.

And another thing I’m going to say here: even if I’m wrong in some of my theories, and I may well be, the standard anti-Mormon response cannot be correct. It can’t be. Some of the things members of the Church say are pretty ludicrous, but their opponents are fooling themselves if they think that what they say is any less so. That’s why, as you may have noticed, I like poking subtle fun at the “anti-Mormon” position from time to time. Let me make one more point to establish my case.

I want to look at a Biblical parallel from the Book of Moses. It compares a simple phrase from Matthew 28:20 to Moses 1:26.

KJV: lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world
Moses: lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days
Literal translation from Greek: lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the age

What Moses is doing is very subtle. First notice that, as always, Joseph shows a strong bias toward King James English. There are very good reasons for him to do so that I won’t fully explore here. There’s a technique used here that I like to call “conservation of mass.” It’s not as universal as it is in physics, but it does happen with some regularity. The idea is that when, in his revelations, Joseph Smith paraphrases some verse from the Bible, he will keep all the elements in place, but rearrange them. So we see in the Moses variation, the word “alway” is removed, but it’s reinserted again at the end of the verse. Only it doesn’t keep its KJV form “alway,” it reverts to its more correct Greek translation “th[y] days,” and it replaces the phrase “end of the world.” But remember: we are conserving all the elements. So where did the “end of the world/age” go? Well, it actually turns up all over in Moses chpt. 1. V 8: “world and the ends thereof” V. 35 “There are many worlds that have passed away.” V. 38 “And as one earth shall pass away,” and a couple other places. Dismiss it if you want to, but this kind of wordplay happens all over the place in the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, and based on what I’ve seen I simply cannot relegate it to chance.

But now here’s the kicker. The construction from Moses 1:26 required the author of this passage to know Greek. Where did he get his information from? Here’s a hint: it’s not in Wesley’s Explanatory Notes. I checked. So you either have to a) find a second source that would be feeding insights from the Greek to Joseph Smith, or b) just throw in the towel and admit that he knew Greek. Of course we don’t have any historical basis to believe either one of those theories.

The bread and butter of the anti-Mormon position is that if they can find a source — any source — that existed previous to the publishing of the Book of Mormon/Pearl of Great Price that contains some resemlance to it, then they have made a slam-dunk case for the fact that Joseph actually used that source in producing his work. Thus, we have the King James Bible, View of the Hebrews, the Spaulding Manuscript, the Book of Enoch, the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, “The Golden Pot” by Hoffmann, the Talmud, the Zohar, the Book of Jasher, Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Old and New Testaments, the Luther German Bible, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, and many more sources that escape my mind at present — all of which found their way into Joseph Smith’s magnum opus.

Is there anything in this theory that seems problematic to you, or even the least bit suspicious? For example, that no eye witness ever saw Joseph referring to any of these works in producing his translations? Or that according to his wife, at age 23 he “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter?” Or that his family didn’t have the financical means to acquire a library of academic literature? Or that Joseph composed the Book of Mormon in about 90 days, and as anti-Mormons gleefully remind you, he did it all with his face buried in a hat, not pouring over volumes and volumes of source material? Or that none of these conspiracy theories were around in the 1830s when they would have had the most sticking power, but that they were developed at the same time they were needed, which is when the Book of Mormon went from being regarded as “chloroform in print” to regarded as a rather sophisticated piece of literature? Or that in order for Sidney Rigdon to have provided Joseph Smith with the stolen Spaulding Manuscript, it would have required him to meet Joseph before the Book of Mormon was published, whereas historical sources document that they met eight months later, and thus in order for Rigdon’s grandson (not a first-hand witness) to get that theory to stick, he actually has to rewrite history?

In order to explain the reasons that Jupiter rises in the west, does a little zig-zag pattern,and then sets in the west again, whereas the sun and other planets seem to follow their own course across the sky, we can postulate that the earth is constant and all the other planets move in wild, erratic, unexplainable patterns. That is how it looks to a first-time observer. At some point though, it seems to make more sense to simplify the model and show that it’s all explained by the rotation and revolution of the earth and all other planets around the sun. Perhaps the similarities you note between the Book of Mormon and other contemporary works are statistically significant, maybe not. But you will have a devil of a time showing how Joseph Smith got them in there. In your attempts to prove that the LDS scriptures make too many mistakes and are too clumsily composed to have been divinely inspired, you may want to consider when, if ever, your conspiracy theories begin to collapse under the weight of their own convolutedness. Of course, I can’t prove that he didn’t use those sources any more easily than you can prove that he did, so if you want to postulate 80 different sources for the Book of Mormon, I’ll let the evidence stand. Just don’t be surpirsed if somewhere along the way it ends up proving my point rather than your own.

A lot to think about.

emeth_veneeman
June 15th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

P.S. I think I got my Jupiter confused with my Mercury or my Venus. I’m no more astronomer than I am statistician. But you get my point.

Chris Johnson
June 16th, 2011 at 3:32 am

Hi Emeth,

Thanks for the comments, I think you are referring to Galileo and the orbit of Mars. Galileo finally concluded that it’s easier to explain the motion of Mars if we accept that the earth revolves around the sun.

You said:

how does your software handle near matches like “I have made war against them” vs. “their enemies came to battle against them”?

Well if it started comparing synonyms then we would run into problems because there are too many unknowns that would produce random noise in the comparison. We could do it only if we knew the likelihood that a certain word could be replaced by another word — and I don’t know how to calculate that. We would need exact numbers telling us how often “war” can be replaced with “battle”, “fight”, “contention”, “struggle”, etc. We would need a list that would properly weight each word with its synonyms, in its particular context. But luckily the method I’m using doesn’t require that sort of depth. Similarities can still be tested objectively, which was my purpose in conducting the experiment.

I’m totally fine with being wrong because my end goal is truth.

You said:

“The bread and butter of the anti-Mormon position is that if they can find a source…then they have made a slam-dunk case for the fact that Joseph actually used that source in producing his work…Is there anything in this theory that seems problematic to you, or even the least bit suspicious?”

Finding possible source material that matches Joseph’s writings doesn’t prove much, except that there could be an alternate hypothesis worth considering. If the source material matched extensively enough however, then I think it could prove something. But otherwise a word or two is not really going to prove much other than establish another possibility.

We could look at another religion so we can be objective about this.

How many books did the SDA prophetess, Ellen White write?

She wrote approximately 130 books and about 100,000 pages.

That’s fairly impressive, and I’ve actually read a bit of her work and found it to be filled with deep insights.

Her believers say her words came from God, while ex-Adventists cite sources that influenced and inspired her writings.

Which is it?

I don’t think either side is a clear win without delving deeper into their claims. In fact, all authors are influenced by their environment.

If we were to “backwards engineer” J.R.R. Tolken’s Lord of The Rings — and find all the experiences, thoughts, books, pamphlets, sermons, discussions, letters, and cultural influences that he had (and his close associates had), we would inevitably find thousands of sources that influenced his writings. To the hypothetical believer (who takes J.R.R Tolken’s book as literal history derived via a divine source), the source list would be so big it would be too improbable, too big of a stretch to accept it as a possibility. To the believer, the only conclusion is “therefore J.R,R Tolken was a Prophet.” But a big source list is exactly what occurs by chance expectations.

This type of problem is often referred to as the Lottery Fallacy:

It is unlikely that any given person will win a lottery, but, eventually, a lottery will have a winner. To argue that it is very unlikely that any one player would win is not the same as proving that it is unlikely that someone will win.

So the Anti-Adventist position which claims Ellen was influenced by her time and culture is not suspicious to me, but rather expected. It would be the exception of the rule to find an author that wrote a document without any cultural influences. I also believe it is normal to have hundreds, if not thousands of conscious and unconscious sources affecting our every thought and word. I also believe it would be impossible to trace them all.

If I showed a Seventh Day Adventist a library of 24 different books that may have been the source material (or inspiration) for Ellen White’s writings, they could respond: “That’s too many books for her to read or research to be a probable hypothesis. It’s also too unlikely that she had those exact books.”

(Notice the lottery fallacy here? If Ellen really did check out 10 books from a library and then critics later found them all, then claiming that those 10 exact books are unlikely is appealing to the lottery fallacy. After all, she WAS influenced to some degree or another by books, and the particular combination of books that influenced her is just as unlikely as any other combination )

So I could respond to an Adventist, “Twenty-four is not only a probable number of books, but way too low to be all of the sources. There are thousands of sources of inspiration and influence in each person’s life. I’m not saying she read each book directly; Sometimes books indirectly affect writers by merely influencing people or ideas that come into contact with them. These matches do not prove that your prophet is false, but it does offer an alternative hypothesis in the case that she is not a true prophet.”

Back to your post, Emeth:

For Moses 1:26 you say Joseph had to know Greek or be inspired by God? Maybe, or perhaps as a third option we could consider that he came into contact with a Douay-Rheims Bible:

“…behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
(Matthew 28:20 Douay-Rheims Bible, 1582)

I think the God hypothesis and the Douay-Rheims hypothesis both fit in this case.

To summarize my post, if an author is claiming a divine hand in their writings, the author is either 1) correct or 2) incorrect about his proposition.

1) If the author is actually writing God’s words via some divine method, then it is possible that statistically significant “hits” will be common and inherently difficult to explain by chance. Additionally, significant misses should not occur much, if at all.

2) But if the author is not writing God’s word by some divine method, then significant misses are likely to occur, and source material or environmental influences should be able to explain most but probably not all of the statistically significant “hits”.

Is that fair? I’m going to look into this some more tomorrow, cheers.

emeth_veneeman
June 16th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

That sounds fair. Although, part of my point has been that sometimes determining what is a “hit” and what is a “miss” is a subjective judgment, and I’m not sure there’s any way of taking the subjectivity out of it. Like you said, it is difficult to program a computer to know that “battle” is a hit when the search string is “war.” And even if you did so, could you make a case that the programmer’s judgment was flawed? Undoubtedly, in almost every case, someone could.

Naturally, I believe I can find reasons that Joseph Smith’s work is superior to Ellen White’s, or JRR Tolkien’s, but it’s only a hunch. I’m 35 years old now, and since I learned how to read — so for the better part of three decades — I have been studying Joseph Smith. I have not put the same amount of dedication into studying Ellen White or Mohammed, nor do I intend to. Is that a weakness in my position? Absolutely. I don’t deny it. I believe everyone has those blind spots, so take it for what it is. It’s interesting that you should mention Lord of the Rings, though, because I have read all thousand-and-eight pages of that tome and have made some high level comparisons between it and the Book of Mormon. Tolkien’s work is impressive, no doubt; but let’s not forget that as a linguistics professor at Oxford it took him over a decade to compose it. I find the Book of Mormon to be far more complex and profound than Lord of the Rings. It was published by a 23-year-old without training in linguistics, the resources of Oxford, and — if historical scholarship has accurately reconstructed the story — in about 90 days.

But there is, obviously, a lot of subjective judgment in that statement. I recognize that I have not formally defined what I mean by “more complex.” I could define it, I think, given enough time, but I’m not sure it would really make my case any stronger to an outside observer. This is something you are either open to, in which case you will be figuring it out for yourself, or you’re not.

In starting my investigation into Ellen White, I could ask: how long did she spend in prison for her life’s work? How many times was she tarred and featherd? How many witnesses claimed having unmistakable divine manifestations in her presence and as a result of her actions? What other personal and civic responsiblities did she have while she was putting her writings out there? Prolific writing is good, of course; but good writing is better. Does hers qualify? Of course, I can already see the counterarguments forming: a lot of people have spent time in prison, a lot of people have been tarred and feathered, a lot of people have “claimed divine manifestations,” a lot of people have written “good” literature, and a lot of people have had huge personal responsibilites and have claimed marvelous accomplishments anyway. So it proves nothing, right?

Probably. But from my own, admittedly biased and subjective opinion, I’m not sure how you can brush all of that under the rug so blithely. The mere fact that you use Professor Tolkien as a standard by which to judge farmboy Joseph Smith says something about how far you are willing to stretch to make your point. In my view, if it’s such an obvious fraud, it shouldn’t be that difficult to show. And if it’s a complicated, intricate fraud, then let’s give credit where credit is due and stop oversimplifying it by pretending it’s an obvious fraud.

This discussion could easily devolve into a tit-for-tat: you make some points, I make some points, but for all reasonable purposes the conversation may not be going anywhere. I don’t want to get bogged down in that because I think that’s a fantastic waste of time (already I’m sacrificing some important things I need to do so I can write my responses, so I’m not saying I don’t find it intriguing). But I think I need to get back to work on some of the more “mundane” pursuits of life. I’ll go ahead and give you the last word here. If it looks like it’s leading somewhere, I’ll jump in again, but otherwise I think we kind of have a good feeling about where the other stands, and anyone who reads is welcome to his or her own judgment. I should make it clear that I respect your opinions and your scholarship, disagree with it though I may. You’ve given me some things to think about. I do appreciate it and I wish you the best.

Chris Johnson
June 17th, 2011 at 3:52 am

Hey Emeth, I just tested some more data that I thought you might be interested in.

After seeing your list of 17 parallels and testing the Book of the Giants against the Book of Moses, I realized there is a connection. It started me thinking….

Either Joseph is a prophet or not, so which is it? As far as I can tell Joseph’s work doesn’t pass any of the “Slices” that I have applied. So why does it seem like the Book of Moses has passed my objective test? Why is there a spooky correlation with the Book of the Giants? Even more so than the New Testament in many aspects?

I had only one hypothesis left to consider: The 1821 Book of Enoch. There was an American edition printed in 1828 because evidently the demand was high enough. So if Joseph or Rigdon got a hold of the 1821 or 1828 Book of Enoch, would that explain the mystery? Is that the piece of the puzzle that we have over looked?

I decided to include it in our next test.

This is the largest and most accurate objective analysis I have done to date. I included the 1821 Book of Enoch together with the Book of the Giants, the New Testament and the Old Testament.

Here are the results for the aggregate 2,3 and 4 word correlations. They are ordered from the highest amount of textual transmission to lowest:

The Book of Enoch (1821) – - – - – 1.9988
The Book of the Giants – - – - – 1.7075
The New Testament – - – - – 1.5693
The Old Testament – - – - – 1.0135

So it turns out the most likely source was the 1821 Book of Enoch, not The Book of the Giants or The New Testament.

So that got me thinking even more…

What about the 17 correlations you pointed out? Are they in the 1821 Book of Enoch that Joseph had access to?

I spent most of this evening reading through the 1821 Book of Enoch and comparing it with the Book of Moses.

It’s subjective, I know.

But yes, I was able to find ALL of your 17 parallels in the 1821 Book of Enoch. In my opinion a few were not quite as good, but some were better. This is to be expected.

I also added 21 more (giving us a total number of 38 correlations) to show that indeed there seems to be a correlation with the Book of Enoch that Joseph and Sydney had access to:

———————————————————————————
Parallel 1. The earth was corrupt
———————————————————————————

4Q531 they begot, AND, BEHOLD, ALL [THE EARTH WAS CORRUPTED...]

Moses 8:28-29 THE EARTH WAS CORRUPT before God … God looked upon THE EARTH, and behold, IT WAS CORRUPT

Genesis 6:11-12 THE EARTH ALSO WAS CORRUPT before God … God looked upon the earth, AND BEHOLD, IT WAS CORRUPT.

Enoch(1821) All THE EARTH HAS BEEN CORRUPTED by the effects of the teaching …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 2. The flood of Noah mentioned in connection with the giants
———————————————————————————

2Q26 (heading) THE GIANTS begin to be troubled by a series of dreams…The dream evidently symbolizes the destruction of all but Noah and his sons BY THE FLOOD.

Moses 8:17-18 I WILL SEND IN THE FLOODS upon them. And in those days THERE WERE GIANTS on the earth

Genesis talks about giants (6:4) and a flood (6:17) but not immediately in the same context.

Enoch(1821) … And his posterity shall beget on the earth GIANTS not spiritual but carnal. Upon the earth shall a great punishment be inflicted and it SHALL BE WASHED FROM ALL CORRUPTION.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 3. Noah and his sons gain favor.
———————————————————————————

2Q26 (heading) The giants begin to be troubled by a series of dreams…The dream evidently symbolizes THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL BUT NOAH AND HIS SONS by the flood.

Moses 8:13 AND NOAH AND HIS SONS hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.

Moses 8:27 And thus NOAH FOUND GRACE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and HE WALKED WITH GOD, AS DID ALSO HIS THREE SONS, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

The corresponding Biblical verse, Genesis 6:8, says simply, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The Joseph Smith version includes an addendum about Noah’s sons, which agrees more closely with the Giants account.

Enoch(1821) … [Noah] shall survive on the earth and HIS THREE SONS shall be saved with him. When all mankind who are on the earth shall die [NOAH] shall be safe.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 4. The earth will be destroyed.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [There]upon Ohya said to Ha[hya...] [... TO BE DESTROYED FROM UPON THE EARTH]

Moses 8:30 I WILL DESTROY ALL FLESH FROM OFF THE EARTH

Genesis 6:13 I WILL DESTROY THEM WITH THE EARTH.

Enoch(1821) … that I may DESTROY THEM FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH

Enoch(1821) … all shall be DESTROYED WHO DWELL UPON EARTH

Enoch(1821) … I DESTROYED ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5a. Giants mentioned.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I AM A] GIANT, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:15 And THE GIANTS of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God.

Here The Book of Giants and the Book of Moses deviate dramatically from the Bible, but remain closely related to each other. Notice that the only place in the Book of Genesis that contains a reference to the Giants is Genesis 6:4, but Joseph Smith was able to identify and describe the greater role that the Giants played in the story of Enoch.

Enoch(1821) And his posterity shall beget on the earth giants not spiritual but carnal.

Enoch(1821) And the women conceiving brought forth giants.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5b. The enemies of God make war against the people of God.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I HAVE MADE WAR AGAINST THEM; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and THEIR ENEMIES CAME TO BATTLE AGAINST THEM; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the EARTH TREMBLED, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God.

Enoch(1821) [ENOCH HAS A VISION OF BATTLE, GOD BREAKS OPEN THE EARTH:] I saw … [ENEMIES OF GOD] flew down upon those lambs[PEOPLE OF GOD] … THEY DEVOURED THEM … Then the ravens CONTENDED AND STRUGGLED with them. … [AN ENEMY] cried out … to CONTEND with him and to kill him. But [THE RIGHTEOUS MAN] STRUGGLED with them … Then … [ENOCH] came … He brought assistance … the Lord … SEIZED THE EARTH WHICH BECAME RENT ASUNDER while all the [ENEMIES] SUNK INTO THE EARTH WHICH CLOSED OVER THEM … the sheep[PEOPLE] … went forth against all the beasts[ENEMIES OF GOD] … to slay them. But all the beasts and birds of heaven fled away from before their face.

Enoch(1821) … we have … been tormented and destroyed … WE HAVE BEEN DEVOURED BY SINNERS AND THE UNGODLY … DEVOUR, ENERVATE, AND SLAY US, … they have LIFTED UP THEIR HANDS AGAINST US.

Enoch(1821) … THE STARS OF HEAVEN SHALL LIFT UP THEIR HANDS AGAINST THE MOST HIGH shall tread upon and inhabit the earth exhibiting all their acts of iniquity …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5c. The giants are unable to stand in the presence of their enemies.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I AM A] GIANT, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I AM NOT [...] ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THEM, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. And THE GIANTS OF THE LAND, ALSO, STOOD AFAR OFF; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God.

Enoch(1821) All [FATHERS OF THE GIANTS] being COLLECTED TOGETHER STOOD weeping …

Enoch(1821) All of them were alarmed and TREMBLED … saying “We are NOT ABLE TO STAND before our Lord or to look upon him”

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5d. The punishment of those who fight against God’s people.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I HAVE MADE WAR AGAINST THEM; BUT I AM NOT [...] ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THEM, FOR MY OPPONENTS [...] RESIDE IN [HEAV]EN, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and THERE WENT FORTH A CURSE UPON ALL PEOPLE THAT FOUGHT AGAINST GOD.

Enoch(1821) …[they] shall LIFT UP THEIR HANDS AGAINST THE MOST HIGH … exhibiting … their works of iniquity … For in the day of their anxiety and trouble, their souls shall not be saved, … I WILL CAST THEM LIKE HAY INTO THE FIRE AND LIKE LEAD INTO THE WATER. THUS SHALL THEY BURN in the presence of the righteous …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 6. (Distinct from 5). The people are not able to stand.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I AM NOT [...] ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THEM, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 6:47 And as Enoch spake forth the words of God, THE PEOPLE TREMBLED, AND COULD NOT STAND IN HIS PRESENCE.

Enoch(1821) All of them were alarmed and TREMBLED … saying “We are NOT ABLE TO STAND before our Lord or to look upon him”

Enoch(1821) … in the presence of his glory nor in his judgment shall iniquity stand …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 7. The roaring of wild beasts in connection with the war against God.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I HAVE MADE WAR AGAINST THEM; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]ROARING OF THE WILD BEAST HAS COME, and the wild man they call me.

Moses 7:13, 15 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and THEIR ENEMIES CAME TO BATTLE AGAINST THEM; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and THE ROAR OF THE LIONS WAS HEARD OUT OF THE *WILDERNESS*; and all nations feared greatly,

Enoch(1821) …the Lord of the sheep MADE A GREAT SLAUGHTER among them in their pasture until they cried out to him in consequence of that slaughter. Then he departed from the place of his habitation and left them in the power of LIONS, TIGERS, WOLVES and the zeebt and in the power of foxes and of every BEAST. And the WILD BEASTS began to tear them.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 8. The wild man.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [... I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great strength [... any]one mortal, and I have made war against them; but I am not [...] able to stand against them, for my opponents [...] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places. And not [...they] are stronger than I. [...]Roaring of the wild beast has come, and THE WILD MAN THEY CALL ME.

Moses 6:38 …A WILD MAN HATH COME AMONG US.

Enoch(1821) … the white COW which became a MAN went out … the white COW[MAN] … brought forth a WILD ass … many WILD asses. Then the white COW[MAN] which was born brought forth a black WILD sow…

———————————————————————————
Parallel 9a-e. The King and Ruler of Heaven shall visit the earth.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 I too had a dream this night, O giants, and, behold, THE RULER OF HEAVEN CAME DOWN TO EARTH

Moses 7:53-54, 59-60, 65-66 I am Messiah, the KING of Zion, the Rock OF HEAVEN … When the SON OF MAN COMETH IN THE FLESH, shall the earth rest? … he called unto the Lord, saying, WILT THOU NOT COME AGAIN UPON THE EARTH? … wherefore, I ask thee if thou wilt not COME AGAIN ON THE EARTH. And THE LORD SAID UNTO ENOCH: AS I LIVE, EVEN SO WILL I COME … Enoch saw the day of THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN, IN THE LAST DAYS, TO DWELL ON THE EARTH …

Enoch(1821) [God] will go forth from his habitation … THE GOD OF THE WORLD … WILL HEREAFTER TREAD UPON MOUNT SINAI, APPEAR WITH HIS HOSTS and be manifested in the strength of his power from HEAVEN.

Enoch(1821) All … shall be for the dominion of the Messiah, that he may command and be powerful upon earth … Those mountains which you have seen … in the presence of the Elect One shall be like [wax] before the fire and … shall become debilitated before his feet.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 9f. As the Messianic advent draws closer, the people FEAR.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 I too had a dream this night, O giants, and, behold, the RULER OF HEAVEN CAME DOWN TO EARTH [...] and such is the end of the dream. [THEREUPON] ALL THE GIANTS [AND MONSTERS] GREW AFRAID.

Moses 7:65-66 And it came to pass that ENOCH SAW THE DAY OF THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN, IN THE LAST DAYS, TO DWELL ON THE EARTH in righteousness for the space of a thousand years. But before that day he saw great tribulations among the wicked; and he also saw the sea, that it was troubled, and MEN’S HEARTS FAILING THEM, LOOKING FORTH WITH FEAR for the JUDGMENTS of the Almighty God, which should come upon the wicked.

Enoch(1821) [God] will go forth from his habitation … THE GOD OF THE WORLD … WILL HEREAFTER TREAD UPON MOUNT SINAI, APPEAR WITH HIS HOSTS and be manifested in the strength of his power from heaven. ALL SHALL BE AFRAID AND THE WATCHERS BE TERRIFIED. Great FEAR AND TREMBLING SHALL SEIZE THEM even to the ends of the earth … JUDGMENT shall come upon all, even upon all the righteous.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 10a-d. The people are afraid and Mahway goes to Enoch.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [Thereupon] all THE GIANTS [AND MONSTERS] GREW AFRAID and called MAHWAY. He came to them and THE GIANTS PLEADED WITH HIM AND SENT HIM TO ENOCH…AND MAHWAY SAID TO HIM [...]

Moses 6:39-40 FEAR CAME ON ALL THEM THAT HEARD [ENOCH]; for he walked with God. And THERE CAME A MAN UNTO HIM, WHOSE NAME WAS MAHIJAH, AND SAID UNTO HIM:

Enoch(1821) “… I am AFRAID … now [MATHUSALA/MAHIJAH] let me entreat and request you to go to our progenitor ENOCH and learn from him the truth for his residence is with the angels.” When MATHUSALA heard the words of [Lamech], [MATHUSALA] came to [ENOCH] … and said “… And now [ENOCH] hear me … I am come to you that you might point out to me the truth.”

———————————————————————————
Parallel 10e. Mahway approaches Enoch as a representative of others.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 Mahway said to him … the giants await your words.

Moses 6:40 Mahijah said unto him: Tell us plainly who thou art, and from whence thou comest?

Enoch(1821) “…[MATHUSALA/MAHIJAH] let me entreat and request you to go to our progenitor ENOCH and learn from him the truth …” When MATHUSALA heard the words of [Lamech], [MATHUSALA] came to [ENOCH] … and said “…And now [ENOCH] hear me … I am come to you that you might point out to me the truth.”

———————————————————————————
Parallel 11. The cosmic vision, in connection with Mahway’s visit to Enoch.
———————————————————————————

(heading) After a cosmic JOURNEY Mahway comes to Enoch and makes his request.

4Q530 HE MOUNTED UP IN THE AIR

Moses 6:42 As I JOURNEYED … I beheld a vision; and lo, THE HEAVENS I SAW.

Enoch(1821) … in the house of … Malalel[Mahaway?] when I saw in a vision heaven…

———————————————————————————
Parallel 12. Enoch commands the people to repent and pray.
———————————————————————————

(heading) Enoch sends back a tablet with its grim message of judgment, but with hope for REPENTANCE.

4Q530 LOOSEN THE BONDS BI[NDING YOU TO EVIL ...] AND PRAY.

Moses 6:52 Enoch speaking for God: turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and REPENT OF ALL THY TRANSGRESSIONS … ASKING ALL THINGS IN HIS NAME …

Enoch(1821) … they must REPENT and FORSAKE the works of their hands and that glory awaits them not in the presence of the Lord of spirits yet that by HIS NAME they may be saved… He who REPENTS not before him shall perish.

Enoch(1821) … a memorial of SUPPLICATION that they might obtain FORGIVENESS and that I might make the memorial of their PRAYER ascend up before the God of heaven …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 13. Writing by Enoch’s own hand in the name of God.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 IN THE VERY HANDWRITING OF ENOCH the noted scribe [ ... IN THE NAME OF GOD the great] and holy one,

Moses 6:46 For a book of remembrance WE HAVE WRITTEN AMONG US, according to the PATTERN GIVEN BY THE FINGER OF GOD; and IT IS GIVEN IN OUR OWN LANGUAGE.

Enoch(1821) That which was WRITTEN BY ENOCH. He WROTE all this instruction of wisdom for every man of dignity and every judge of the earth for all my children who shall dwell upon earth and for subsequent generations…

Enoch(1821) Another BOOK WHICH ENOCH WROTE for his son Mathusala and for those who should come after him and preserve their purity of conduct in the latter days.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 14. Enoch testifies of the wickedness of the people.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 by your LICENTIOUSNESS on the earth.

Moses 6:49 MEN HAVE BECONE CARNAL, SENSUAL, AND DEVILISH.

Enoch(1821) …polluted yourselves with women, have begotten in CARNAL blood have LUSTED in the blood of men and have done as those who are flesh and blood do.

Enoch(1821) …to execute judgment upon them and destroy the WICKED and reprove all the CARNAL for everything which the SINFUL and UNGODLY have done…

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15a-b. The earth cries out.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... AND THE LAND IS CRYING OUT] and complaining about you and the deeds of your children [ ... ] the harm that you have done to it.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch LOOKED UPON THE EARTH; AND HE HEARD A VOICE FROM THE BOWELS THEREOF, saying: Wo, wo is me the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children … THE EARTH GROANED.

Enoch(1821) The EARTH deprived of her children HAS CRIED even to the gate of heaven.

Enoch(1821) and the earth cried out.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15c. The earth complains.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... and the land is crying out] AND COMPLAINING about you and the deeds of your children [ ... ] the harm that you have done to it.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: WO, WO IS ME THE MOTHER OF MEN; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children …

Enoch(1821) The EARTH deprived of her children has cried even to the gate of heaven. And now to you O you holy one of heaven the souls of men COMPLAIN …

Enoch(1821) the whole EARTH been filled with blood and with iniquity. And now behold the souls of those who are dead cry out.
And COMPLAIN even to the gate of heaven.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15d. It is because of the wickedness of the children of men.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... and the land is crying out] and complaining ABOUT YOU AND THE DEEDS OF YOUR CHILDREN [ ... ] the harm that you have done to it.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, BECAUSE OF THE WICKEDNESS OF MY CHILDREN …

Enoch(1821) … all the INIQUITY which was done upon it and said one to another; It is the voice of their cries;
The EARTH deprived of HER CHILDREN has cried even to the gate of heaven.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 15e. By their wickedness they have actually harmed the earth.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 [ ... and the land is crying out] and complaining about you and the deeds of your children [ ... ] THE HARM THAT YOU HAVE DONE TO IT.

Moses 7:48, 56 Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me the mother of men; I AM PAINED, I AM WEARY, because of the wickedness of my children …

Enoch(1821) the earth is spared while it trembles and suffers anxiety

———————————————————————————
Parallel 16. The flood and the bondage of the wicked.
———————————————————————————

4Q530 DESTRUCTION [IS COMING, A GREAT FLOOD, AND IT WILL DESTROY ALL LIVING THINGS] and whatever is in the deserts and the seas. And the meaning of the matter [ ... ] upon you for evil. But now, loosen the BONDS BI[NDING YOU TO EVIL ...] and pray.

Moses 7:38 But behold, THESE WHICH THINE EYES ARE UPON SHALL PERISH IN THE FLOODS; and behold, I WILL SHUT THEM UP; A PRISON HAVE I PREPARED FOR THEM.

Enoch(1821) … the earth shall PERISH, the WATERS OF A DELUGE shall come over the whole earth … the Lord said to Raphael BIND Azazyel … BIND them for seventy generations … and in CONFINEMENT shall they be shut up … after this shall he together with them burn and PERISH they shall be BOUND …

Enoch(1821) Sinners shall DISAPPEAR and PERISH from the face of the earth while those who seduced them shall be BOUND WITH CHAINS for ever. According to their ranks of corruption shall they be IMPRISONED …

Enoch(1821) This he said is the PRISON of the angels and here they are kept for ever.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 17. Mortals unable to stand in the presence of the word of God.
———————————————————————————

4Q531 [ ... great FEAR] SEIZED ME AND I FELL ON MY FACE; I HEARD HIS VOICE.

Moses 6:47 AND AS ENOCH SPAKE FORTH THE WORDS OF GOD, THE PEOPLE TREMBLED AND COULD NOT STAND IN HIS PRESENCE.

Enoch(1821) I SPOKE to them all together And they all became TERRIFIED AND TREMBLED

Enoch(1821) All of them were alarmed and TREMBLED. They cried … saying We are NOT ABLE TO STAND before our Lord or to look upon him.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 18. Enoch prays for a REMNANT of people to remain on the earth after the flood
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah? … And the Lord could not withhold … And he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a REMNANT of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand;

Enoch(1821) rise up and beseech the Lord of glory (for you are faithful) that a REMNANT may be left upon earth and that he would not wholly destroy it.

Enoch(1821) Now then O God Lord and mighty King I entreat you and beseech you to grant my prayer that a posterity may be left to me on earth and that the whole human race may not perish

———————————————————————————
Parallel 19. God’s heavens and the EARTH is his FOOTSTOOL
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 The HEAVENS he made; the EARTH is his FOOTSTOOL;

Enoch(1821) All the HEAVENS are your throne for ever and all the EARTH your FOOTSTOOL

———————————————————————————
Parallel 20. NOAH TO CONSOLE THE EARTH after the flood
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 O Lord, wilt thou not have COMPASSION UPON THE EARTH? Wilt thou not bless the children of NOAH?

Enoch(1821) … the name of that child NOAH because he was to CONSOLE THE EARTH on account of all its destruction.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 21. reveals the NAME OF THE SON OF MAN
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … and the NAME OF his Only Begotten is THE SON OF MAN, even Jesus Christ

Enoch(1821) the NAME OF THE SON OF MAN was revealed to them

———————————————————————————
Parallel 22. SON OF MAN IS A JUDGE
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 …is THE SON OF MAN, even Jesus Christ, a righteous JUDGE

Enoch(1821) … the principal part of the JUDGMENT was assigned to him, THE SON OF MAN.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 23. GREAT FEAR, TREMBLING, and MOUNTAINS FALLING DOWN
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … the EARTH TREMBLED, AND THE MOUNTAINS FLED, … and all nations FEARED GREATLY …

Enoch(1821) GREAT FEAR AND TREMBLING shall seize them even to the ends of the earth. The lofty MOUNTAINS SHALL BE TROUBLED AND THE EXALTED HILLS DEPRESSED, MELTING LIKE [WAX] …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 24. SEED OF CAIN ARE UNWELCOME ON THE EARTH
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … the spirit of Abel who was slain by CAIN his brother and who will accuse that brother until his SEED be destroyed from the face of the earth.

Enoch(1821) … the SEED OF CAIN, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.

Note: This doesn’t show up in the bible

———————————————————————————
Parallel 25. The earth will be happy when the people living on it are righteous
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 [The Earth is Speaking:] When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?

Enoch(1821) The earth shall rejoice, the righteous shall inhabit it and the elect possess it.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 26. The earth acts as a woman in labour, followed by destruction
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 and the earth groaned; and the rocks were rent;

Enoch(1821) for the earth labours and is violently shaken.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 27. (a) enoch falls on his face, (b) god changes him spiritually, then (c) he CRIES WITH A LOUD VOICE
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 Enoch … BOWED HIMSELF TO THE EARTH … Behold my Spirit is upon you, … thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me … ANOINT THINE EYES WITH CLAY, AND WASH THEM, AND THOU SHALT SEE. AND HE DID SO. AND HE BEHELD THE SPIRITS … And it came to pass that Enoch went forth in the land, … and CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE …

Enoch(1821) I [ENOCH] FELL UPON MY FACE while all my flesh was dissolved and MY SPIRIT BECAME CHANGED. I CRIED OUT WITH A LOUD VOICE …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 28. Enoch is told about hell which has been from THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … and A HELL I HAVE PREPARED for them, if they repent not; And this is a decree, which I have sent forth in THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD…

Enoch(1821) … SOULS ARE PUNISHED AND BOUND THERE for ever. And thus has it been from THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 29. SAYING: BLESSED BE THE NAME OF GOD FOR / MY EYES can see clearly
———————————————————————————

Moses 6 … SAYING: BLESSED BE THE NAME OF GOD, FOR because of my transgression MY EYES are opened …

Enoch(1821) … MY EYES beheld all … SAYING: BLESSED BE YOU and BLESSED BE THE NAME OF GOD FOR …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 30. ALL THE SONS OF MEN learn the SECRET taught by SATAN/WATCHERS
———————————————————————————

Moses 6 … that great SECRET which was administered unto Cain by SATAN … there was a SECRET combination, and their works were in the dark… and their works were abominations, and began to spread among ALL THE SONS OF MEN.

Enoch(1821) ALL THE SONS OF MEN shall not perish in consequence of every SECRET by which the WATCHERS … have taught their offspring.

NOTE: This phrase does not appear in the bible.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 31. THE BLOOD OF THE RIGHTEOUS BE SHED THAT the righteous MAY be blessed
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … THE BLOOD OF THE RIGHTEOUS BE SHED, THAT all they that mourn MAY be sanctified and have eternal life?

Enoch(1821) … THE BLOOD OF THE RIGHTEOUS which has BEEN SHED THAT the prayer of the righteous MAY not be … endure for ever.

NOTE: This phrase does not appear in the bible.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 32. FOUR QUARTERS OF THE …
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … THE FOUR QUARTERS OF THE earth …
Enoch(1821) … THE FOUR QUARTERS OF THE year …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 33. WHICH ARE IN THE HEAVENS ABOVE
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … WHICH ARE IN THE HEAVENS ABOVE …

Enoch(1821) … WHICH ARE IN THE HEAVENS AND ABOVE them

NOTE: This phrase does not appear in the bible.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 34. people blessed by THE POWERS OF HEAVEN
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … and they were caught up by THE POWERS OF HEAVEN …

Enoch(1821) … every mortal man more than THE POWERS OF HEAVEN …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 35. SECRET OATHS/EXECRATIONS
———————————————————————————

Moses 6 Lamech having ENTERED INTO A COVENANT WITH SATAN, … wherein he became Master Mahan, master of that great SECRET which was administered unto Cain by Satan; Lamech, being angry, slew [Irad] for the OATH’s sake. For, from the days of Cain, there was a SECRET combination, and their works were in the dark … had COVENANTED WITH SATAN … their works were abominations, and began to SPREAD AMONG ALL THE SONS OF MEN … and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of SECRET works, seeking for power.

Enoch(1821) Then their leader Samyaza said to them I fear that … I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime. But they answered him and said: “WE ALL SWEAR AND BIND OURSELVES BY MUTUAL EXECRATIONS that we will not change our intention but execute our projected undertaking.” Then THEY SWORE ALL TOGETHER AND ALL BOUND THEMSELVES BY MUTUAL EXECRATIONS … You have seen what Azazyel has done how he has taught every species of iniquity upon earth and has disclosed to the world all the SECRET things … These are the angels who have descended from heaven to earth and HAVE REVEALED SECRETS TO THE SONS OF MEN and have seduced THE SONS OF MEN to the commission of sin.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 36. SATAN tempts the children of men
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 SATAN hath come among the children of men, and tempteth them …

Enoch(1821) … they became ministers of SATAN and seduced those who dwell upon earth.

———————————————————————————
Parallel 37. MAHIJAH/MALALEL, and said unto [ENOCH]: [QUESTION], AND [QUESTION]?
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … MAHIJAH, and said unto [ENOCH]: Tell us plainly who thou art, AND from whence thou comest?

Enoch(1821) … MALALEL raised [ENOCH] up and said to [ENOCH]: Why do you thus cry out my son? AND wherefore thus do you lament?

———————————————————————————
Parallel 38. the nations OF THE EARTH WERE shown to ENOCH
———————————————————————————

Moses 7 … the nations OF THE EARTH WERE before [ENOCH]

Enoch(1821) The habitations also OF THE EARTH WERE shown to [ENOCH]

emeth_veneeman
June 17th, 2011 at 7:55 am

I’ve read through the 1821 Book of Enoch. Bit of a snore, isn’t it? I’m curious where you got your information that there was an American edition in 1828, because the introduction to mine says “The scarcity of Archbishop Laurence’s translation, before the publication of the second edition in 1833, produced an impression in Germany that the work had been suppressed by its author.” Anyway, I’ve already noted some rather interesting parallels between that book and the Book of Mormon, which I actually hold as further evidence of authenticity, but I haven’t pointed to them because I knew you would make the exact argument that you are making right now. I say that because I want you to know that I’m not interested in denying what you’re saying. But, I can see no reason to suspect that Joseph ever laid hands on the work. Further, there are some matches you list below that are much closer to the Giants account than they are to the Book of Enoch. In my mind, Mahijah is a smoking gun. We have Genesis 4:18 as a clear link to the Book of Giants that shows both where Joseph got his English name from, and the connection of that name to the Aramaic MHWY, via the Hebrew.

emeth_veneeman
June 17th, 2011 at 8:42 am

There’s something that I was thinking about during my exercise this morning (yeah, yeah… you’ve dragged me back into the conversation… for the moment…)

You listed the four most likely SOURCES for Joseph Smith, but then you seemed interested in talking about only “the most likely SOURCE.” I can understand why it may be good for your argument, in certain cases, to limit it to one, but does it make logical sense? Is it not possible for him to have used the Book of Enoch, the Book of Giants, the New Testament, AND the Old Testament?

That’s exactly the groundwork that you have laid, rather consistently, but as soon as I attempted to illustrate your own point, your immediate knee-jerk response was “parallelomania!” I thought that was an amusing moment. If only because it demonstrated that my intuition is on par with your statistics ;)

emeth_veneeman
June 17th, 2011 at 9:19 am

I continued thinking in the shower (yes, I’m still wrapped into the conversation…)

If you go up the thread a bit, you will remember sending me this link:

http://split5.com/enoch.php?string=Methuselah,Mehujael

wherein you attempted to show that “mehujah” or some variant thereof, could easily result from the combination of …

wait…

combination of what?

Oh! Methuselah (a homophone of Mathusala) and Mehujael!

Of course, at time time, I didn’t see the significance of the final ‘h’ and thought it was just there for stylistic reasons. But I think you’ve just added the final piece of the puzzle. Maybe you’re right. Maybe Mahijah is a derived from Methuselah and Mehujael.

This is interesting. This is really, REALLY interesting.

Really interesing…

Chris Johnson
June 17th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Hi Emeth,

You can ridicule me for being wrong, but at least I took your observations seriously enough to put them to the test. Yes I was wrong, not all the parallels are coincidences. You are right… And this has lead me to the conclusion that the actual source is the 1821 Book of Enoch.

Just days ago, I was wondering why Joseph had “MA-HIJAH” instead of “ME-HIJAH” if it came from Methuselah + Mehujael.

Well, after reading the 1821 copy of The Book of Enoch, it became illuminated for me… perhaps Joseph unconsciously took “MA-thusala (from The Book of Enoch) along with Methusel-AH (from Genesis)” and combined it with Me-HUJA-el (from Genesis). This is further evidence that Joseph consciously or unconsciously used the 1821 copy.

See how subjective this can get? LOL.

You said Mahijah/Mahaway was a smoking gun. But who is Mahway anyways?

Some people have speculated that Mahway had a father named Barakel or Virogdad, but this can only be inferred since the texts are too fragmentary to know for certain.

After comparing the 1821 Enoch with the Book of the Giants, I realized who “Mahaway” might be.

Take a look at the short story that appears in both E:Enoch and G:Giants:

———————————————————————————
Parallel 1. … became AFRAID because of what was seen, so they called Mathusala/Mahway
———————————————————————————

G1) … grew AFRAID and called Mahway. He came to them and …
E1) …became AFRAID of him … [they] came to … Mathusala and

———————————————————————————
Parallel 2. asked Mathusala/Mahway to GO to ENOCH
———————————————————————————

G2) pleaded with [Mahway] and sent him TO ENOCH. They said to him, GO …
E2) said [to Mathusala] … let me … request you to GO TO … ENOCH

———————————————————————————
Parallel 3. Mathusala/Mahway asked to learn the truth from ENOCH about how to interpret what was seen
———————————————————————————

G3) And … [ENOCH] will … interpret the dreams …
E3) and learn from [ENOCH] the truth …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 4. Mathusala/Mahway travel a great distance beyond the known world
———————————————————————————

G4) [Mahway] … left behind the inhabited world and passed over Desolation, the great desert …
E4) Mathusala … came to [Enoch] at the extremities of the earth for …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 5. Enoch hails Mathusala/Mahway
———————————————————————————

G5) and Enoch saw [Mahway] and hailed him, …
E5) [Mathusala] heard [Enoch's] voice … saying “Behold I am here my son…”

———————————————————————————
Parallel 6. Mathusala/Mahway says to Enoch …
———————————————————————————

G6) Mahway said to [Enoch] …
E6) [Mathusala] answered and said …

———————————————————————————
Parallel 7. Mathusala/Mahway asks Enoch to teach the truth about what was seen
———————————————————————————

G7) … we would know from you their meaning
E7) … I am come to you that you might point out to me the truth.

It appears that “Mahway” is “Mathusala”.

In both accounts there is a request for “Mahaway/Methuselah” to go talk to Enoch on another person’s behalf. But why didn’t they just go see Enoch themselves? Because Methuselah had a specific connection to Enoch that no one else shared. Methuselah was the SON of Enoch, and Enoch LEFT HIS SON METHUSELAH BEHIND on the earth to live until the great flood. It appears that God allowed Methuselah the privilege to continue his relationship with his translated father. This is why Methuselah became an emissary to mediate between Enoch and the inhabitants of the Earth. When people needed a dream interpreted, they called upon Methuselah, and Methuselah brought it to Enoch.

As further evidence of this hypothesis, Methuselah is strangely absent from ALL versions of the Book of the Giants, and in his place seems to be “Mahaway”. Perhaps The Book of the Giants is a corruption of the original?

It’s just a hypothesis. I’m not married to it. But if correct, then Mahaway cannot be Mahijah.

You said Mahijah is a smoking gun. Is it really a dead give away?

Even if you twist my arm so that I admit that Mahaway might be considered Mahijah, then we would still have to agree that it required subjective interpretation to get there since a computer analysis would come up with a negative match.

So if I allow for Mahaway to be Mahijah then I am by the same merit, reducing its significance. To create an objective test, we would have to program the computer with the same lenience as you have given. This would mean that on the same grounds my actual friend Mahajan could be a form of Mahijah as well. And how many other forms could we twist to match in similar ways? Hundreds! And with each one we reduce the significance of the match.

To illustrate this, if Joseph would have used any of the following INSTEAD OF MAHIJAH, you would twist my arm — and I know you would! :) — and find a way to make it match your hypothesis:

Mahajan, Mahawai, Machajah, Machajan, Mahavay, Mahavai, Machavay, Machavai, Mahahaway, Machahaway, Mahayan, Mahayai, Machayah, Machayan, Mahavayan, Mahavaian, Machavayan, Machavaian, Mahahawayan, Machahawayan, Mahayaw, Mahayaweh, Mahayawan, Mahaiaw, Mahaiaweh, Mahaiawan, Mahaawan, Mahawa, Machayaw, Machayaweh, Machayawan, Machaiaw, Machaiaweh, Machaiawan, Machaawan, Machawa, Mawahay, Mawahai, Mavahay, Mavahai, Mavahayan, Mavahaian …. (and so on)

To summarize this point, if a four letter name does not match objectively, and we force it to match using our linguistic prowess or other sophisticated methods, then we have still reduced the significance of the match, away from what it would have been if it were an exact four letter match.

I’m fine if you cannot accept that MHWY and MHYH share only 2 consecutive consonants, but you can’t seriously say that it is an exact FOUR letter match can you? It still required subjective interpretation to make it match. I’ll be generous and pretend that your 2 letter match is a 3 letters match. So instead of a 1 out of 400 chance, that’s a 1 out of 8000 chance (3 letters: 20 x 20 x 20 chance). Happy? :)

Look at parallel 29.

“SAYING: BLESSED BE THE NAME OF GOD, FOR …” (Book of Moses)

“SAYING: BLESSED BE YOU and BLESSED BE THE NAME OF GOD FOR …” (Book of Enoch)

It’s a clear 7 word match. I could stretch this into an 8 word match, but that would be dishonest.

A 7 word match is approximately 100x5x5x5x5x5x5 or a 1 out of 1,562,500 chance. That’s over a million to one odds. That’s 195 times more significant than Mahijah/Mahaway even with the extra letter.

I’ll give you all four letters.

After fudging all the numbers to your advantage, the phrase “BLESSED BE THE NAME OF GOD FOR” is still 9 times more significant than MHWY=MHWY.

Meaning that the 1821 Book of Enoch is the most likely source for the Book of Moses.

Let’s call it inspiration.

You don’t think Joseph could have had access to the 1821 or 1828 Book of Enoch?

First of all, who out of all the millions of people then alive would be most interested in such an ancient book? A catholic? An atheist? A protestant? A Buddhist? No, most people would not be interested.

What about somebody who feels their sole purpose in life is to restore the ancient doctrines, the ancient books, and the ancient ways of Christ? Wouldn’t every ancient book be attracted to such a person as Joseph, like a magnet?

Joseph, Oliver and Sydney would have been the ideal customers.

You quoted “The scarcity of Archbishop Laurence’s translation, before the publication of the second edition in 1833, produced an impression in Germany that the work had been suppressed by its author;…”

That was in Germany, and you left out this part of your quote “… but this report is CONTRADICTED in the preface to the third edition, issued in 1838, in response to a LARGE ORDER FROM AMERICA.”

A large order from America before 1838? So there was a large demand in America after all?

During the late 18th and early 19th century, America was crawling with religious excitement. Some refer to it as the “Restorationist Movement” — The demand for original Christianity, and the lost books of the Bible would have been at its height at this time in America.

According to the “National Union Catalog of Pre-1956 Imprints” there was an 1828 version of the Book of Enoch printed in America. [1]

D. Michael Quinn was able to trace the last remaining 1828 copy to the New York Public Library. Up until 1828, Americans would have been importing the Enoch Books from London, which was a common practice in the early 19th century:

“Between the mid-seventeenth and the early nineteenth century, most books in British America were published in and purchased and shipped from London … many colonial customers had no choice but to import their books; some also enjoyed the social distinction achieved by ready access to new and antiquarian books from London.” (James Raven, The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade 1450-1850) [1]

But how accessible would books have been to farmers?

D. Michael Quinn notes that “one peddler between 1809-1810 sold $24,000 worth of books”, which Quinn estimates, given the cost of a book in those days, “this peddler sold about 25,000 books to farmers in a single year.” This is only one peddler and only one year, and is suggested by Quinn to not have been a stellar year of sales. The extensive exchange of books during this period is beyond conception to most modern minds. These peddlers, numbering in the thousands enabled the sale of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of books annually in just the New England area. [1]

Why would a printing press go through all the risk and trouble to print such a “boring” book like The Book of Enoch? Because it was in high demand, fueled by the American Restorationist Movement.

Additionally, even if the supply of Enoch books were low, it doesn’t take a large supply to make it possible that Joseph had one. It just takes one book.

Did Joseph Smith attract such books? Absolutely! Ancient books seem to have a knack for seeking him out:

Example 1) In July, 1835, Chandler asked Joseph Smith to look at the Egyptian scrolls and give some insight into what was written on them, due to Smith’s notoriety and claim to have translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates.

Example 2) Six small metal plates with strange engravings on them were found by local townspeople in an American Indian burial mound in Kinderhook, Illinois in 1843. An LDS elder was there when they started to excavate the mound, and when they found the plates, he suggested taking them to Joseph Smith to see if he could translate this ancient writing.

Is the following also a possible scenario?

“Brother Smith, I have just purchased this new book, and it appears to be an authentic Book of Enoch, do you think it could be the very words of Enoch? Take a look … ”

Now I want you to be as objective as possible. If a book gets published in 1821 and its essence and phraseology shows up 10 years later in a “new” religious book claimed to be from God himself, you wouldn’t be suspicious?

At all?

———
Sources:

[1] CIRILLO, SALVATORE (2010) Joseph Smith, Mormonism and Enochic Tradition. Masters thesis, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/236/

emeth_veneeman
June 17th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I will take a closer look into the 1828 version. I’ve seen various reports on the web that there was a “summary” circulating in America, which seems more in harmony with the claim that the second edition was published in 1833 (wikipedia claims as much). If one of us could find a copy to see what it actually was, and how many of those parallels are actually in there, it would be helpful. That sounds somewhat unlikely to me, but you do seem resourceful.

Anyway, I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I’m not ridiculing you for being wrong. I’m ridiculing you for being right. I do that occasionally, with people I respect.

You said: “As further evidence of this hypothesis, Methuselah is strangely absent from ALL versions of the Book of the Giants, and in his place seems to be ‘Mahaway’. Perhaps The Book of the Giants is a corruption of the original?”

Perhaps. And that was actually one of the things that entered my mind too. What I was getting at — and the point is a very serious one — is that Joseph’s selection of the name may well have been influenced by both sources. I still don’t think you’ve adequately addressed my evidence on why I think that the name in Genesis 4:18 ties this all together so strongly. Let me create another set of parallels…

Parallel 1. Two different names

Genesis 4:18 contains two names: Mehujael and Mehijael. Both of these are transliterated the same in the KJV, because they obviously refer to the same person. But strictly speaking, they are different. May have something to do with the fact that the first is a pausal form, which gets into Hebrew grammar more than I would care to.

The Book of Moses contains two (seemingly) unrelated names, aside from the fact that they sound so similar. The names are Mahujah and Mahijah. *NOTICE* how well those two names correspond to the two different forms from Genesis. Please comment on this. It is not an insignificant point.

What this means is that we actually have TWO names in the Book of Moses which contain four letter matches. I will use the Hebrew consonantal values to illustrate:

MHWYH (Mahujah) is exactly the same as MHWY’L (Mehujael) in its first four consonants.

MHYYH (Mahijah) is exactly the same as MHYY’L (Mehijael) in its first four consonants.

Thus, taking the first four consonants of each form of the words, you have TWO exact matches of FOUR LETTERS in length, pointing to the same verse in Genesis. That plus the fact that Mahujah and Mahijah are themselves related through chiasmus, I believe makes a case that is too strong to overlook as pure coincidence.

Parallel 2.

MHWY’L from Genesis 4:18 with MHWY from the Book of Giants. Enough said? I really hope so.

Parallel 3.

As you have adeptly noted, the MHWY figure in seems to take the same role as the Methuselah figure, ie, he is someone sent to Enoch for the purpose of putting forth questions.

In the book of Moses, MHYYH, one of the two prefixes from Genesis, performs the same role.

Parallel 4.

So why did the author of Moses tack an ‘H’ on the end of MHYY? I think your theory that the author recognized the connection between Methuselah and MHWY is a tantalizing one.

Where I may have seemed to ridicule probably came from this: at first you seemed more than willing to connect Mahijah with Mehujael. Now you seem to want to put distance between yourself and that theory. Why? If Methuselah is a good match for Mahijah, and Methuselah also seems to be connected to MHWY, why has it now become such an improbability that Mahijah is connected to MHWY, especially in light of my analysis above?

emeth_veneeman
June 17th, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I want to clarify just a little more on the significance of the MHWY correlation, because I think I’ve been misunderstood.

In Hebrew, as you may know, there are consonants that can double as vowels, though most Hebrew syllables did not originally contain vowels. When the Masoretes became guardians of the Hebrew text, they wanted to standardize Hebrew pronunciation, so they added the vowel points. That is key to this observation. For our purposes, there are two “consonantal vowels,” W and Y. W is often written as a V, and Y is often written J. Thus, for example, we have Yeshua (Hebrew) –> Iesous (Greek) –> Jesus (English).

In most translations of MHWY, both the W and the Y are taken as consonants, and they are written as W and Y, respectively. That’s why you commonly see it written Mahway or Mahaway.

In Genesis 4:18, the same sequence MHWY exists, in the MHWY’L. But the Masoretes had their say, and they pointed the W such that it becomes the vowel of the second syallable, in particular, a long u. Likewise there is an a after the y. So the King James translators decided that this particular sequence should be translierated Mehuja-. This is the form that Joseph Smith adopted, though he took some routine liberty in his choice of first vowel.

In the second variation of the name, MHYY’L, we see something similar: the first Y is taken as a vowel i. So this one, if transliterated in the style of Mehujael, would be Mehijael.

If Joseph wants to capture the sequence MHWY or MHYY in his text then, you can see that he doesn’t really have 50 random choices to go with. If we can make a reasonable starting restriction, namely, that he is following the standard vocalization of the Masoretic text and KJV, while eliminating the variability in the first syllable, he has only one choice for each of those names: M*huja and M*hija.

Now if you want to get more particular, the Book of Moses has already broadcast its intention to use an a in the first syllable, forming a strong precedent. The name given in Moses 5:43 is Mahujael. We see similar variability, incidentally, in the writing of Methuselah v. Mathusala. You’ve probably noticed that when I write the name I’m not really particular about what the first vowel should be.

This hopefully eliminates the concern that I am forcing the name arbitrarily to fit my wishes.

emeth_veneeman
June 18th, 2011 at 8:16 am

Chris, I am prepared to grant you two points.

First, in the absence of key facts, the connection between the Book of Enoch and the Book of Moses would be suspicious. In the presence of those facts — the ones that show insights not available in the Book of Enoch — we see that it doesn’t really matter whether Joseph had possession of the book or not. He has seen other documents through revelation, so why not this one? Thus, I don’t see the need to start introducing additional, unnecessary elements to account for the facts. It didn’t seem likely that Joseph had the book, it isn’t necessary for him to have had the book in order for him to have known its contents, and even if I admit that he had the book, it wouldn’t account for all the observable facts found in the Book of Moses. So why overcomplicate? Think Mars. Think Galileo. Think William of Occam.

Second, whether he had the book or not, I will admit to you that he probably had heard about it, maybe even have heard a lot of things about it, and possibly came in contact with the 1828 edition, or summary, or whatever it was. And that’s not necessarily unrelated to the fact that he asked for a revelation about the Book of Enoch and obtained one. If you look through the history of the Church, there is a pattern of revelations being preceded by sociopolitical facts of the prophet’s environment. In 1832, when he made the Civil War Prophecy about South Carolina found in D&C 87, there was indeed political unrest in South Carolina, and people around Joseph were talking about war possibly breaking out there. People, in their attempts to explain away the prophecy, contend that the ultimate prophecy about the Civil War was just a lucky guess. Yet, in D&C 130:12, a full decade after the prophecy STILL hadn’t been fulfilled, Joseph was confident enough to reiterate it.

Now, I’m not going to claim that the environment had no influence over the prophecy. It clearly affected what was on Joseph’s mind, and so his mind turned to God and got the revelation. We could point to similar situations: Wilford Woodruff’s “Manifesto” and the revelations surrounding it has often been derided as a convenient excuse to end polygamy under pressure from the US government. Well, there was pressure from the government, and Woodruff admitted that playing a factor. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a revelation. In 1978, people say that Spencer W. Kimball’s revelation on Blacks and the Priesthood was influenced by the Civil Rights movement. And indeed, it may have been.

You get the point. I’m not saying that the existence of the Book of Enoch in 1821 is irrelevant to this story. I’m just saying that, despite its existence, and perhaps even Joseph’s knowledge of it, it is insufficient to account for the Enoch of the Book of Moses.

Chris Johnson
June 18th, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Emeth, I think you may have convinced me on one point… You helped me solve the apparent mystery of “Mahijah”.

Do you remember that Joseph was affiliated with Methodism?

Even according to his own account he “felt some desire to be united with [Methodism].” Additionally his wife, father-in-law and mother-in-law were all Methodist. There was a great deal of methodist preaching and activity going on around Smith during his life.

This is why he had access to Wesley’s Commentary — a Methodist work.

He also had access to Adam Clarke’s Commentary — another standard and popular Methodist work published in 1810.

Joseph said he was going to start a translation of the bible. If I were him I’d have a copy of each of those books on hand. Maybe even the Book of Enoch, and a dozen or so other books, but you get the idea. Even LDS leaders teach that “we must do all that we can” if we expect God to help us. So I imagine Joseph and his scribes gathered all the resources they could from the membership which was already around 300 members in total. Then they dove head first into Genesis and each of the related commentaries to understand the general consensus.

In Adam Clarke’s Commentary, of Genesis Ch. 25 we can see a name chart titled:

“SAME NAMES DIFFERING IN THE HEBREW”

Below the title, on the first line of the chart is:

Mehujael – Mehijael

On the next chart below it is:

Methuselah – Mathushelah

[ You can see it here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=l0wXAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA106#v=onepage&q&f=false ]

Perhaps days after reading the Book of Enoch and returning it to his friend, Joseph felt inspired to write about Enoch in the Book of Moses, but could not recall the exact name of the character that was sent to Enoch. He felt it was important, so he looks at Adam Clarke’s name chart and sees a familiar name:

Mathushelah (It was Mathusala in the Book of Enoch, not Methuselah)

Above it he also sees Mehujael and Mehijael. And he wonders “Which name was it?” He remembers there was a son named Lamech involved so he opens to Genesis and reads 4:18: “Mehujael … Methusael begat Lamech”. He looks back at the Adam Clarke’s name chart for Genesus 4:18 and sees MEHUJAEL … MEHIJAEL — it’s a simple mistake, but he thinks he just read that Mehijael is the father of Lamech and therefore he is the one who goes to see Enoch.

At the last minute he sees MATHUSHELAH under MEHIJAEL on the right hand side of the name chart and second guesses himself. So he mixes the two: MA-HIJA-H. It felt right to him, and so he quickly writes it down. He felt inspired.

Later he looks back to the title of the name chart:

“SAME NAMES DIFFERING IN THE HEBREW”

Joseph wonders, “Why would the bible include both a Mehujael and Mehijael in the original Hebrew if they were both the same name?” Another wave of genius strikes: “I’ll do the same in my book” he thinks, and throws in Mehujah for good measure.

It makes sense. I could come up with a hundred different variations on what really went through Joseph’s head, but the main elements are there. It’s one more hypothesis to throw out there.

That’s pretty much what I guessed from the beginning, but now I have two more sources that clarify what might have been going on when Joseph came up with the Enoch material in the Book of Moses. Specifically: 1) The Book of Enoch 2) Adam Clarke’s Commentary.

In my modified hypothesis (thanks to your persistence) I believe Mahaway and Mahijah ARE related to a degree. So I agree with you to an extent. I believe they are both derivatives of an ancient name (or two?). And both are associated with Enoch literature.

Ancient scribes may have gotten some names mixed up in Genesis, which may have lead to a similar name: “Mahaway”. Take a look at the naming confusion in Genesis:

1) Enosh
..1A) Grandfather is Adam
..1B) Son is Cain-an
..1C) Grandson is Mahalaleel
2) Enoch
..2A) Grandfather is Adam
..2B) Father is Cain
..2C) Grandson is Mehujael
..2C-i) Son is Methusael
..2C-i-ii) Son is Lamech
3) Enoch
..3A) 4th Great Grandfather is Adam
..3B) Great Grandfather is Cainan
..3C) Grandfather is Mahalaleel
..3D) Son is Methuselah
..3D-i) Son is Lamech

To summarize this point, the names: Mehujael, Mehijael, Mathusael, Mathusala and Mathushelah were all available to Joseph Smith, and each were associated with a son (or grandson) named Lamech. Each had a father or grandfather named Enoch. And each could easily be swapped in for the character in the 1821 Book of Enoch. I would say this find is interesting, but not significant enough to be convincing, because if you or I had a Bible, a copy of Clarke’s Commentary and a Book of Enoch we could come up with a similar “match”.

I have to reiterate that “matches” are not falsifiable. Nobody can really say that if the OTHER names in the Book of Moses do not turn up, then the church is false. Believers will always say that the information has long since been lost, or has not yet been found, etc. This means that a name matching approach is only going to work one way, so we must know what a fraud would look like, so we can compare the percent of matches against chance or fraud.

However, according to my rough calculations, if Joseph were a fraud, then we should be able to find around 4 or 5 exact Hebraic matches in the right context and a hundred partial matches similar context. We haven’t even reached 4 exact Hebraic matches yet. So we are well below the statistical significance level when it comes to proving the church is true.

But why are we even trying to match names if false name matches are expected to show up by chance?

Better than matching names, we should be matching word for word texts that Joseph supposedly restored. If Jacob really did copy a whole chapter from an ancient prophet (unknown to the modern world) into Jacob chapter 5, then that whole chapter could potentially show up at some point. But it hasn’t, and If the church is false, it never will.

In fact Joseph Smith did restore many parts of the bible in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Do you want me to go into how bad he did? The majority of ancient bible fragments that have turned up show that Joseph was not restoring the originals at all.

I believe this is why we have resorted to name matching.

Something like an ancient American Zarahelma discovery with Israelite writing all over it, including tombs of bodies with the correct mtDNA and Judeo-Christian religious material — would be fantastic — a dead give away, but the evidence is extremely lacking. So far all the ancient American tombs are still turning up with Asian DNA rather than Semetic. No Israelite cities. No chariots. No Egyptian documents.

Why aren’t we finding the stronger correlations that Joseph Smith predicted? Why are we resorting to insignificant name matching?

One more thing. You brought up Chiasmus!! I think you underestimate how common it is. The LDS are taught that it is significant evidence that their scriptures are authentic, but they don’t realize that it’s part of being human. It’s part of how we think. It’s part of nature. It’s part of life.

Take a look at the structure of any XML document, technical document, HTML page, etc:

(a) [HTML]
-(b) [BODY]
–(c) [DIV]
—(d) [P]
—-(e) Hello!
—(d) [/P]
–(c) [/DIV]
-(b) [/BODY]
(a) [/HTML]

But you won’t believe me until I point it out, so here goes. I looked at 5 of your previous paragraphs and sure enough, in 2 of the 5, you unconsciously wrote in chiasmus:

(A – THE SUN) the sun and
-(B – OTHER PLANETS) other planets seem to follow their own course across
–(C – THE EARTH) the sky, we can postulate that THE EARTH is constant and
—(D – EXPLAIN) all the other planets move in wild, erratic, UNEXPLAINABLE
—-(E – FORMAT) PATTERNS. That is how
—–(F – IT APPEARS TO) IT LOOKS TO
——(G – FIRST-TIME OBSERVER) a FIRST-TIME OBSERVER. At some point though,
—–(F – IT APPEARS TO) IT SEEMS TO
—-(E – FORMAT) make more sense to simplify the MODEL and show that
—(D – EXPLAIN) it’s all EXPLAINED by the rotation and revolution of
–(C – THE EARTH) THE EARTH and all
-(B – OTHER PLANETS) OTHER PLANETS
(A – THE SUN) around THE SUN.

And again, Emeth, you wrote:

(A – CHIASMUS) You looked at CHIASMUS
-(B – BOOK OF MORMON) in the BOOK OF MORMON as evidence of authenticity,
–(C – CHIASMUS) and then you discovered that CHIASMUS exists
—(D – DR. SEUSS) in DR. SEUSS. Thus, you concluded, since it shows up in what appears
—-(E – RANDOM) to be RANDOM places, it cannot really be evidence of authenticity.
—–(F – CHIASMUS) But here’s a question: how long and detailed was the CHIASTIC
——(G – BOOK) structure you looked at in each of the respective WORKS?
——-(H – CHIASMUS) If you assume that CHIASMUS
——(G – BOOK)in the BOOK OF MORMON never
—–(F – CHIASMUS) spans more than a dozen [CHIASTIC] elements, then
—-(E – RANDOM) maybe you can find a RANDOM match
—(D – DR. SEUSS) in GREEN EGGS AND HAM [DR. SEUSS].
–(C – CHIASMUS) But what if you could find a CHIASTIC structure
-(B – BOOK OF MORMON) spanning 100 pages [IN THE BOOK OF MORMON],
(A – CHIASMUS) containing hundreds of [CHIASTIC] elements?

Please don’t make me convert all your previous comments into Chiasmus just to prove my point. I have better things to do with my weekend :)

emeth_veneeman
June 18th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

As do I, my friend. As do I.

I will give you points for originality. At some point though, the earth has got to start moving around the sun.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Chris Johnson
June 20th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Hi Emeth,

I did a few more tests. A few more “Slices” to see what can be determined about the Book of Moses.

Test 1. 1821 vs 1893

Hypothesis:

There were two completely different translations made of the Book of Enoch. One in 1821 and the other in 1893. If Joseph received his information from his “Urim and Thummim” then his text should be independent of both the 1821 and the 1893 Enoch translations. However, if Joseph Smith was not using the power of God, but rather relying on conventional research and intelligence, then we can expect his “1831 Book of Moses” to more closely resemble the “1821 Enoch” over the then non-extant “1893 Enoch”. If Joseph lifted statistically significant phrases from the 1821 version and not the 1893 version, then we can conclude that Joseph was probably relying on conventional research and intelligence to create the Book of Moses.

So which was it? I ran a test on both.

Method:

Tested for similarities of statistically significant phrases in the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 word phrase spectrum.

Results:

Old Testament (As Control):
1.4265

The 1893 Enoch:
1.5469

The 1821 Enoch:
1.6567

Conclusion:

The results indicate that Joseph relied on the 1821 Book of Enoch as predicted if he were using conventional authorship methods.

Test 2. What part of the 1821 Book of Enoch did Joseph read?

Hypothesis:

If Joseph used conventional authorship methods, and relied on the 1821 Book of Enoch, then it is possible that he only came into contact with certain sections of the Book of Enoch, and been completely unaware of other sections. We can test this with modern tools.

Method:

The book of Enoch was split into different sections and tested for significant similarities in phraseology to the Book of Moses.

Results:

Preliminary testing shows that Joseph was familiar with the first three quarters of the book:

Old Testament (Control):
1.4265

First three quarters of 1821 Enoch:
1.9632

Last quarter of 1821 Enoch:
0.7432

Conclusion:

It appears that Joseph did not finish reading the Book of Enoch. He got about 75% of the way through the book, and then similarities drop off significantly, even below the Old Testament level which was used as a control. In another test in the 5 word phrase spectrum, the first three quarters of Enoch was found to be over 2900% more similar to the Book of Moses than the last quarter of the 1821 Book of Enoch.

Test 3: Was the Adam Clarke Commentary used by Joseph?

After finding the exact names that you thought Joseph could not know about — Mehujael(Mahujah) and Mehijael(Mahijah) — in the Adam Clarke Commentary, I started thinking: “How much did Joseph use the Adam Clarke Commentary? Does it help us understand how he was able to come up with some of his “hits”?”

———————————
#1: Jaredites put glowing stones in their barges.
———————————
LDS researches have noted that ancient stories of Noah have surfaced that speak of glowing stones being used to light Noah’s Ark. They also claim Joseph could not have known about this since these are fairly recent discoveries. So how did Joseph get this right, unless the Jaredites were real people who knew about Noah, and so they copied his method of lighting the ark?

Here is the wording in the Book of Mormon:

“sixteen small stones; and they were white and CLEAR, even as TRANSPARENT GLASS”

Here is the wording in Adam Clarke’s commentary on Genesis 6:16

(Genesis 6:16: God commands Noah “A window shalt thou make to the ark…”)

“The original word (window) signifies CLEAR or BRIGHT … A TRANSPARENCY … a precious LUMINOUS STONE, which Noah, by Divine command, brought from the river Pison.”

———————————
#2: “Without a cause”
———————————
Emeth, you stated on May 25:

Here’s a question. 3 Nephi 12:22 omits the phrase “without a cause” which is supported by the most reliable Greek sources of Matthew 5:22. Does this provide the proof you are asking for? Why or why not?

Adam Clarke’s Commentary for Matthew 5:22 clearly states:

“…the very objectionable phrase, ‘without a cause’ is left out… being more properly translated [than] above.”

———————————
#3: Chiasmus
———————————
Mormons will often point out the Chiastic structures in their sacred books as a sign that their scriptures are authentic and come from ancient Hebrew since Hebrew is known to have had Chiasmus.

Adam Clarke’s commentary on Isaiah:

“…the greatest part of the prophetic writings was first composed in verse, and still retains, notwithstanding all the disadvantages of a literal prose translation [of the KJV Bible], much of the air and cast of the original, particularly in the division of the lines, and in that peculiarity of HEBREW POETRY by which the sense of one line or COUPLET so frequently coresponds with that of the other. [Adam then cites Isa 61:10, in verse form, as an example.] Attention to this peculiarity in sacred poetry will frequently lead to the meaning of many passages…as the one line of a couplet, or member of a sentence, is generally a commentary on the other [Adam shows another Chiasmic example] … it must be observed that the PARALLELISM [ie. Chiasmus] is frequently more extended … [quotes Isaiah 44:3] … the two last lines explain the metaphor in the two preceding.”

———————————
#4: John 1:14 DWELT or TABERNACLED?
———————————
Emeth you wrote: Personally, I find the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price to be replete with direct hits. … For example, let’s look at John 1:14. “And the word was made flesh, and DWELT among us.” That’s the KJV. But it contains a translation error. It should read “And the word was made flesh and TABERNACLED among us.” Now in clear reference to this passage, we have D&C 93:4 “I was in the world and made flesh my TABERNALCE, and DWELT among the sons of men.” … [This] suggests that the writer knew Greek. To me it brings up the question, when did our famed farm boy Joseph Smith find the time to learn Greek?

Adam Clarke’s commentary on John 1:14:

” ‘And dwelt among us’ — And tabernacled among us: the human nature which he took of the virgin, being as the shrine, house, or temple, in which his immaculate Deity condescended to dwell …The original word … signifies: 1. To build a booth, tent, or temporary hut, for present shelter or convenience; and does not properly signify a lasting habitation or dwelling place; and is therefore fitly applied to the human nature of Christ…”

———————————
#5: Why did Joseph remove “EL” in “Mehijael”?
———————————

Adam Clarke Commentary:

(Genesis 16:11) Ishmael – Yishmael, from shama, he heard, and El, God;

From this comment, Joseph knew the “EL” ending meant “GOD”. Joseph knew that Mehijael had descended from Cain who was “Shut out from the presence of God”. Perhaps Joseph thought that since Cain’s descendants were cursed, they were unworthy of the EL “God” ending, so he removed it to give the name “Mahijah”.

It is significant that the next verse in Adam Clarke’s Commentary relates to material found in The Book of Moses as well:

———————————
#6: “WILD MAN” , “ON THE HILLS”, SENT OUT BY GOD
———————————

The Book of Moses refers to Enoch in the following way:

The Lord said unto Enoch: “Go forth…” … Enoch went forth in the land, … standing upon the HILLS and the HIGH PLACES… “a WILD MAN hath come among us.”

Where did Joseph get this idea from?

Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Genesis 16:12):

He will be a WILD MAN … God himself has sent the [WILD MAN] out … The wilderness is [THE WILD MAN'S] habitation; … They may be said to have no lands, and yet the range of the MOUNTAINS is their pasture.

Again, in the very next paragraph, Adam Clarke relates to material found in The Book of Moses as well:

———————————
#7: “and a MAN’S HAND was AGAINST his own BROTHER”
———————————

The Book of Moses reads:

“… MAN’S HAND was AGAINST his own BROTHER…” (Book of Moses)

This is a unique phrase. Where does it come from? Only one verse in the bible (Genesis 16:12) and the very next line in Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

“… MAN’S HAND AGAINST him; … BRETHREN” (Genesis 16:12)

But Adam Clarke associates this with WAR by adding: “the Abyssinians, Persians, Egyptians, and Turks, have endeavored to subjugate the wandering or wild Arabs; [and] have had temporary triumphs…”

And so does the Book of Moses:

“… came WARS AND BLOODSHED; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death …”

The very next verse also relates to the Book of Moses:

———————————
#8: Seeing God’s Glory Will Consume Your Flesh
———————————

Book of Moses: “…no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.”

Adam Clarke (Genesis 16:13): “… it is generally supposed that if God appeared to any, they must be consumed by his glories.”

———————————
#9: Where did the name MAHIJAH come from? Why is there a MAHIJAH and a MAHUJAH in the Book of Moses, aren’t they the same name?
———————————

Here is the best answer I have to date:

I mentioned earlier that Joseph probably only read the first 75% of the Book of Enoch. He probably lost interest. He noticed (as have many others) that the book was not authentic. It presented strange stories of Giants and Fallen Angels mating with Humans. This is incompatible with LDS doctrine and Joseph’s world view, so he lost interest in it.

However Joseph viewed himself as the “Prophet of the Restoration” and felt that he should restore lost truths, bring back lost books and uncover mysteries. He may have tried to find what truth he could in the Book of Enoch before returning it to a friend. He probably felt that it was an exaggeration of what really happened. Perhaps it had been expanded to include more stories and more characters than was in the original. For example, over time some characters may have split into 2 characters with more popular names. So he tried to look beyond the text itself and restore what he felt was the original.

The 1821 Book of Enoch describes two people whose names begin with “Ma…” and they both approach Enoch with questions.

The first is MATHUSALA asking Enoch questions on behalf of others:

“… now [MATHUSALA] let me entreat and request you to go to our progenitor Enoch and learn from him the truth …”

The second is MALALEL asking Enoch two rapid fire questions:

“…MALALEL … said to [Enoch]: Why do you thus cry out my son? AND wherefore thus do you lament?”

In the Book of Moses, Joseph has combined MATHUSALA and MALALEL into one character MAHIJAH:

“…MAHIJAH … said unto [Enoch]: Tell us plainly who thou art, AND from whence thou comest?

Notice:

(i) MALALEL and MAHIJAH both asked a double question? The second “rapid fire” question in both stories contain a similar root “WHERE” in “WHEREFORE” and “WHENCE”.
(ii) It is also evident that MAHIJAH was sent to Enoch on behalf of others similar to MATHUSALA because he uses the words “Tell us…” rather than “Tell me…”

So it appears that Joseph combined the two characters from the Book of Enoch into a single individual, to restore the original person.

He knew both names had an “MA” beginning, so the MA beginning stuck. But what about the other letters? There just so happens to be a real biblical character that is a combination of both names:

MATHUSA – LA

+

MALAL – EL

=

MATHUSA – EL

Notice that MATHUSAEL is an obscure, fairly unpopular descendant of Cain in the Book of Genesis. Joseph calculated (probably correctly in this case) that a number of scribes may have tried to enhance the story over time by changing MATHUSAEL into more popular biblical characters that would appeal to their audience. Perhaps one scribe turned MATHUSAEL into MALALEL (Enoch’s grandfather) and another scribe turned him into MATHUSALA (Enoch’s son) The stories were later combined into what we now know as “the Book of Enoch”.

After Joseph reconstructed what he thought was the original name however, he probably read the following from Adam Clarke’s Commentary:

“… the NAMES OF PERSONS AND PLACES should be distinguished ACCURATELY, and defined with EXACT UNIFORMITY. And no true critic will think lightly of this advice … No person who desires thoroughly to understand the sacred writings, should undervalue a scrupulous attention to the proper names.”

From that, Joseph decided to do it properly. And just above that paragraph was a chart with the following on the first line:

Genesis 4:18 — Mehujael … Mehijael

Under the chart it reads: “…these fifty-four proper names should be expressed with the very same letters, in the places where they are now different…”

So when Joseph looked at Genesis 4:18, he saw this:

“…Irad begat MEHUJAEL: and MEHUJAEL begat METHUSAEL…”

With the aid of Adam Clarke’s Commentary, he realized that his reconstructed “MATHUSAEL” was originally MAHIJAEL in Hebrew.

But if this is correct, MAHIJAEL was the same name as MAHUJAEL, so why did it appear that MAHUJAEL was giving birth to himself:

“…Irad begat MAHUJAEL: and MAHUJAEL begat MAHIJAEL..”

To solve the problem Joseph decides that MAHUJAEL is a place named after MAHIJAEL the person:

“…Irad named the place MAHUJAEL: for in MAHUJAEL he begat MAHIJAEL..”

Looking back one more verse, Joseph sees that MAHIJAEL is a descendant of Cain and Cain was shut out from the presence of God, so the “EL” (GOD) ending was a mistake added by scribes to make the name more palatable.

[Alternatively] Perhaps “EL” was added after MAHIJAH hears Enoch, repents, and receives a NEW HOLY NAME. Either way, this gives us the new rendition which Joseph uses in his story about Enoch:

“…Irad named the place MAHUJAH: for in MAHUJAH he begat MAHIJAH..”

And appears in the Book of Moses thus:

“…MAHIJAH … said unto [Enoch]: Tell us plainly who thou art, AND from whence thou comest? … [Enoch] … stood upon the place MAHUJAH … ”

So with hard work and study, it looks like Joseph may have nailed this one. Using his resources, he was able to reconstruct the original which was later verified by the Dead Sea Scrolls:

Mahaway = MHWY

Mahujael = MHWY’L

Mahijael = MHYY’L

Mahijah = MHYYH

Was Joseph just intelligent? Was he intelligent AND lucky? Or was there a divine hand in all this?

To answer this, we just need to count up all the HITS and all the MISSES … does it add up?

;)

emeth_veneeman
June 20th, 2011 at 11:51 am

You said: “To summarize this point, the names: Mehujael, Mehijael, Mathusael, Mathusala…”

Did you see that? It’s iambic! In one fell swoop, you just proved that Shakespeare wasn’t all that talented after all! I wish my Senior English teacher could have seen this. Would have saved me weeks of burning the midnight oil on her stupid papers…

I found an interesting comment from a reviewer on amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Early-Mormonism-Magic-World-View/product-reviews/1560850892

“Quinn make a number of implausible arguments to fit his preconceived views … One brief example is found in what he did with the Book of Enoch in claiming that Joseph Smith had to have had access to it. Quinn cites from a directory of books published in the 1820s, calling attention to an 1828 printing of the 1821 edition of that book. Of course, if one were to check the index, one would find that the work was NOT published in America and that the 1828 printing was a reprint of the first edition, which ciruclated primarily in England and on continental Europe… the first edition that made its way into America was the second edition.”

If Joseph Smith didn’t have access to the Book of Enoch, your theories all kind of unravel, don’t they?

>> “If Joseph received his information from his ‘Urim and Thummim’ then his text should be independent of both the 1821 and the 1893 Enoch translations.”

OK. I’m not sure how you learned so much about how the Urim and Thummim operates, but let me offer an alternative theory: God gave the 1821 Enoch information to Joseph because he knew that it was on its way to America in 1833 and he knew that Joseph would be vindicated by it once it arrived.

I won’t just take the word of a random Amazon user, of course, but it seems consistent with all the other evidence we’ve seen, particularly regarding the scarcity of the book before the 1833 edition. By “index” I assume he means “National Union Catalog of pre-1956 Imprints.” At first glance I can’t find an online version of the massive index, but as soon as I get to a library I will certainly check out his facts.

As soon as you have evidence to support your grandiose theories, I will check out your facts too.

As to the hit v. miss ratio, I’m pretty confident that the hits outnumber the misses overwhelmingly. Particularly because as I have better gained the ability to identify the hits, they have begun to destroy the misses one-by-one. For example, here is one of the best, although one of the most universally disregarded, pieces of research on the Book of Abraham.

http://www.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/mnemonic.htm

Was the Book of Abraham a hit, or a miss? Not only does this article suggest that it was a hit, but Nibley has added much more to the topic that shows that it was a hit on several dimensions. I’m not interested in debating it. Really. The topic will stretch far beyond the limits that Mahijah has taken us, and I’ve got work to do, a Hebrew Bible to finish reading, and a wife who will start feeling neglected any minute now. So really, gotta run. I’ll be back in a week to see if you’ve really managed to push enough of my buttons to keep me going. You have a way of doing that, but it’s not going to work forever!

Chris Johnson
June 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Emeth, you are correct, my theory would fall apart if Joseph (or Rigdon or Cowdery) had no access to the 1821 Book of Enoch. Let’s imagine that you are right, the 1828 reprint didn’t exist.

In the 1838 Book of Enoch, it states that there was a large order from America.

If you were an early American Book Store, would you place a LARGE ORDER of a book that nobody had heard about? That had no demand? The only reason someone would place a LARGE ORDER from America is because the people knew about the book and were demanding more copies of the book.

How would Americans obtain a copy of the 1821 Enoch edition?

The American and British Book Trade was alive and well in the 18th and 19th centuries. In his book, “The Rise of Book Publishing in America, 1782 to 1830″, James Green shows how common it was to import British books:

“[in 1802] Certain … types of books continued to be imported [from Britain] because the demand was too small to justify reprinting [in America]: novels by unknown writers, books in FOREIGN LANGUAGES, professional literature in medicine, THEOLOGY, and the sciences, LUXURY BOOKS … Most large libraries and many private gentlemen continued to order books from London. But almost every book that had a good sale or even a good review in England was reprinted in America. ”

To summarize: 1) If the book had a good review in Britain, it was reprinted in America. 2) If it was not reprinted in America, it was ordered from Britain.

Were there any British reviews of the 1821 Enoch?

Here’s one review that came out in 1821, the very year the Book of Enoch was published:

http://books.google.com/books?id=xn8UAAAAYAAJ&dq=book%20of%20enoch%20review&pg=PA411#v=onepage&q=book%20of%20enoch%20review&f=false

Here is another review of the 1821 Book of Enoch. This one is from 1828, in New York. It actually includes extensive citations from the Book of Enoch. Perhaps I should do a deeper analysis on this one? It may turn out to be the primary source from which Joseph derived his Enoch material:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ZtoRAAAAIAAJ&dq=%22book%20of%20enoch%22%20%22new%20york%22&pg=PA138#v=onepage&q&f=false

It is expected that you don’t want to accept the fact that there is a possible connection. Everyone outside the church can see it plain as day. However, you have an eternal marriage on the line, you have devoted over 30 years of your life to the cause. Paid thousands of dollars to the church… It’s too difficult at this stage to admit it could all be a house of cards. But if you have the integrity and courage to question your life long assumptions at this point, then I commend you. Either way I respect you.

emeth_veneeman
June 20th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

It doesn’t matter what evidence I “want” to accept or “don’t want” to accept, does it? It matters what evidence is there. When it is shown that there is clear information related to the Enoch tradition that Joseph Smith doesn’t appear to have been able to have obtained through conventional means (in this case, the Book of Giants), I see a lot of people doing a lot of flailing trying to make the case that he either got lucky, or managed to reconstruct the information from extant sources, or some other equally convoluted and unlikely solution to the problem. I don’t accept it. It’s the mark of someone who really wants the evidence to say something that it doesn’t say. If you know the answer, please give it straight up. If you don’t, you might as well admit that you don’t, because flailing doesn’t help you. Now, when the evidence actually does start to point to the fact that Joseph obtained information that he couldn’t have obtained through conventional means, and it also begins to look like another source that has been posited as the source for the Book of Moses wasn’t available either (in this case the Book of Enoch), the evidence begins to tilt toward a non-conventional explanation for the second source as well. It isn’t that I “don’t want” to consider your evidence. I’ve considered it. And I find your assumption — that Joseph Smith devoured Adam Clarke’s commentary and somehow managed to obtain information that simply wasn’t there — to be problematic.

Chris Johnson
June 21st, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Emeth,

This has been very educational. You have shown me Mahijah/Mahujah and told me that it has no explanation. I have found the source of Mahijael/Mahujael in a standard methodist work, Adam Clarke’s Commentary — available to Joseph Smith. A book I never heard about before. But it turns out that it is a widely used resource, and has been “a primary Methodist theological resource for two centuries”.

As far as I can tell, there are no other books that Joseph would have found those two names in. So now you have pointed me directly to one of Joseph’s main sources, with a high degree of certainty. I’m not saying he read it all. He did not have to. Some of the information may have come his way via sermons, debates, pamphlets, etc. But surely he flipped to it now and again for ideas or clarification.

I mentioned these 9 parallels previously:

#1: Jaredites put glowing stones in their barges.
#2: “Without a cause”
#3: Chiasmus
#4: John 1:14 DWELT or TABERNACLED?
#5: Why did Joseph remove “EL” in “Mehijael”?
#6: “WILD MAN” , “ON THE HILLS”, SENT OUT BY GOD
#7: “and a MAN’S HAND was AGAINST his own BROTHER”
#8: Seeing God’s Glory Will Consume Your Flesh
#9: Where did the name MAHIJAH come from? Why is there a MAHIJAH and a MAHUJAH in the Book of Moses, aren’t they the same name?

And I just found a couple more (and there are likely many more):

————————————
#10 Isaiah 48:16 vs Nephi 20:16
————————————

Isaiah 48:16 reads
“… there am I …”

Nephi 20:16 changes it to
“… DECLAIRED HAVE I SPOKEN …”

Adam Clarke Commentary Isaiah 48:12: “There am I”
“… I HAD DECREED IT …”
I [Adam Clarke] take sham for a verb, not an adverb.

*It is important to note that the latest scholarship and ALL major translations contradict Clarke’s assumption, showing a clear signal transmitted from Clarke to the Book of Mormon.

————————————
#11 Isaiah 48:12 vs Nephi 20:12
————————————

(Nephi 20 is the same as Isaiah 48, but with minor changes)

Isaiah 48:12 reads
“… I also am the last.”

Nephi 20:12 adds “AND”
“… AND I am also the last.”

Adam Clarke Commentary Isaiah 48:12
“… the ancient Versions, read veani, “AND I;” more properly.

————————————
#12 Ancient Israelites in America related to Isaiah 49:12
————————————

Isaiah 49:12 (see Nephi 21:12)
“See, they will come from afar—some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan.”

After Nephi quotes the above Isaiah chapter his brothers ask him what it means and Nephi answers: “… it meaneth us in the days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel.” (1 Nephi 22:6)

Adam Clarke Commentary Isaiah 49:12
“…Many of the Indians in North America, which is also a woodland, have a great profusion of rites, apparently in their basis Jewish. Is it not possible that the descendants of the ten lost tribes [of Israel] are among those in America…”

————————————
#13 “Curious Workmanship” in relationship to a metal device that communicates divine knowledge
————————————

“Curious Workmanship” does not show up in the bible, but it does show up a few times in the Book of Mormon.

1 Nephie 16:10
“… a round ball of CURIOUS WORKMANSHIP; and it was of FINE BRASS … pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness.

Adam Clarke Commentary Genesis 35:2
“… these have already been supposed to be astrological tables, or something of this kind … by them he supposed he could predict future events, and that they referred to certain astral and planetary intelligences [these were made of] of SILVER, GOLD, or CURIOUS WORKMANSHIP…”

It is also interesting to see how the Jaredites used the same phrase in relationship to GOLD and SILVER (Ether 10:23-27)
“… GOLD, and of SILVER … And they did work all manner of … exceedingly CURIOUS WORKMANSHIP.”

————————————
#14 “touch me not” to “hold me not”
————————————

John 20:17
“… touch me not …”

In Joseph Smith Translation, Joseph changed the phrase to
“… hold me not …”

Adam Clarke Commentary John 20
16 – And she ran to embrace, or cling to him.
17 – Cling not to me. Æaptomai … signifies to cleave, cling, stick, or be glued to. From Matthew 28:9, it appears that some of the women held him … This probably Mary did;

————————————
#15 Elohim is PLURAL, a plurality of Gods.
————————————

Joseph Smith said: (Meeting in the Grove, east of the Temple, June 16, 1844.)
“If the Hebrew language compels us to render all words ending in heim in the plural, why not render the first Eloheim plural? … The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through—Gods.”

Adam Clarke Commentary, Genesis 1:
“The original word Elohim, God, is certainly the plural form of El, or Eloah, … As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings … We have seen that the word Elohim is plural;”

————————————
#16 The word BARA / BARAU means “Creation” … God was organizing materials, building
————————————

Joseph Smith said (King Follett Discourse)
“The word create came from the word baurau, … the same as a man would organize materials and BUILD a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter… ”

Adam Clarke Commentary, Genesis 1
“The word bara expresses the commencement of the existence of a thing … God was … assimilating, assorting, and arranging the materials, out of which he BUILT up, not only the earth, but the whole of the solar system.”

————————————
#17 Built in the manner of the Temple of Solomon
————————————

2 Nephi 5:16
“… I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon …”

Adam Clarke Commentary, 1 Kings 6:36
“…the temple and Solomon’s house were built in the same manner…”

————————————
#18 Seer is greater than a prophet
————————————

Mosiah 8:15
“And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet.”

Adam Clarke Commentary on 1 Samuel 9:9
“…the seer was always a prophet, but the prophet was not always a seer.”

————————————
#19 Degrees of Glory
————————————

Doctrine and Covenants 131:1
“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;”

The closest to this in the bible is: 1 Corinthians 15:40-43
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:42 reads:
“… different degrees of glory, which the righteous shall possess in the kingdom of heaven.”

————————————
#20 TREE OF LIFE, GREAT AND SPACIOUS BUILDING, 12 APOSTLES, FRUIT, FOUNTAIN OF WATER
————————————

1 Nephi 11-12:
“… the FRUIT … the FOUNTAIN of living WATERS, or to THE TREE OF LIFE; … all manner of DISEASES … were HEALED … And I also beheld TWELVE … THE APOSTLES of the Lamb; for thus were the TWELVE called … GREAT AND SPACIOUS BUILDING … THE RIVER…”

Revelation 22:1-2 says very little about the “tree of life” but Adam Clarke Commentary expands on this idea:
“THE TREE OF LIFE … and on each side of the RIVER … which yielded FRUIT … As this was A GREAT AND SPACIOUS CITY, one FOUNTAIN was not sufficient to provide WATER for it, therefore a RIVER is mentioned; … fruits are the TWELVE APOSTLES … HEALED OF THE DISEASE of sin.”

Chris Johnson
June 21st, 2011 at 6:25 pm

To clarify point #10:

Isaiah 48:16

Here is the verse in ALL available translations:
—————–

New International Version (1984)
“… I AM THERE. And now the Sovereign LORD…”

English Standard Version (2001)
“… I HAVE BEEN THERE. And now the Lord …”

New American Standard Bible (1995)
“… I WAS THERE. And now the Lord …”

GOD’S WORD Translation (1995)
“… I WAS THERE. Now the Almighty LORD …”

King James Bible
“… THERE [AM] I: and now the Lord …”

American King James Version
“… THERE AM I: and now the Lord …”

American Standard Version
“… THERE AM I: and now the Lord …”

Bible in Basic English
“… I WAS THERE: and now the Lord …”

New Living Translation (2007)
“… [removed] And now the Sovereign LORD…”

Douay-Rheims Bible
“… I WAS THERE, and now the Lord …”

Darby Bible Translation
“… THERE AM I; and now the Lord …”

English Revised Version
“… THERE AM I: and now the Lord …”

Webster’s Bible Translation
“… THERE AM I: and now the Lord …”

World English Bible
“… THERE AM I. Now the Lord …”

Young’s Literal Translation
“… THERE AM I, And now the Lord …”

—————–
Notice: The above verses are all pretty much the same.
—————–

—————–
The Book of Mormon copied Adam Clarke Commentary:
—————–
Book of Mormon (1830):
“… DECLAIRED HAVE I SPOKEN; and the Lord …”

Adam Clarke Commentary (1810):
“… I HAD DECREED IT: and now the Lord …”

Chris Johnson
June 23rd, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I want to emphasize again that I knew nothing of Adam Clarke until you mentioned Mahujael and Mahijael. I did a google book search, and Adam Clarke was the only possible source Joseph could have used.

If the church is true then this hit should be as random as any, and have no other parallels.

If the church is false, then predictably this source should show more than one hit.

Subsequently, I have found over 20 hits from Adam Clarke’s Commentary and there are likely dozens more. To me this is substantial evidence that Clarke’s book was an influential source to Joseph Smith.

Here is another:

————————————
#21 Korihor’s speech: VAIN HOPES, FOOLISH TRADITIONS, PRIESTS
————————————

(comparing Alma 30:13,23 and Adam Clarke Commentary, 1 Peter 1:18, and Bible)

[Bible] “…VAIN conversation received by TRADITION FROM YOUR FATHERS; (1 Peter 1:18)

[1] “… FOOLISH AND A VAIN HOPE …” (Alma 30:13)
[1] “… FOOLISH … OF VAIN HOPES …” (Adam Clarke Commentary, 1 Peter 1:18)

[2] “… FOOLISH TRADITIONS OF YOUR FATHERS …” (Alma 30:23)
[2] “… FOOLISH … TRADITION FROM YOUR FATHERS …” (Adam Clarke Commentary, 1 Peter 1:18)

[3] “… FOOLISH ORDINANCES AND PERFORMANCES …” (Alma 30:23)
[3] “… FOOLISH … EMPTY CEREMONIES AND USELESS ORDINANCES …” (Adam Clarke Commentary, 1 Peter 1:18)

[4] “… ORDINANCES … which are laid down by ancient PRIESTS …” (Alma 30:23)
[4] “… ORDINANCES which they received by tradition from … RABBINS [PRIESTS] …” (Adam Clarke Commentary, 1 Peter 1:18)

Korihor also preached that “… every man fared in this life according to the MANAGEMENT OF THE CREATURE … leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms …”

This lead me to wonder about Korihor’s unique phrase “MANAGEMENT OF THE CREATURE” and so I did a google book search…

Martin Madan, an 18th century Methodist is the only other person in the literature that uses the term “MANAGEMENT OF THE CREATURE”. Martin uses this term to describe how natural our sexual bodies are, pushing his PRO-SEX, PRO-POLYGAMY position in his book, “Thelyphthora”. In it he states that God doesn’t recognize Man’s marriage vows, and that true marriage is performed by the act of sex itself. In other words, Madan is teaching that having sex with any woman is fine, as sex is what constitutes a true marriage. This sounds similar to Korihor’s teachings.

Interestingly, Martin’s book stirred up such an enormous storm of debate and controversy in the 1780′s that it lasted well into the 1820′s. In the after math, at least 19 books were written to counter Madan’s treatise.

Was Joseph Smith aware of this Methodist book? With the amount of controversy it stimulated, it would be hard not to be aware of it.

Take a look:

————————————
#1 no man should have more than one wife at a time
————————————

“… have but one wife at a time …” (Thelyphthora, p.122)
“… have but one wife at a time …” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:46)

“… no man should have more than one wife at a time …” (Thelyphthora, p.143)
“… no man shall have but one wife at a time …” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:46)

“… not any man among you have save it be one wife …” (Jacob 2:27)

There are many similarities between the polygamy revelation in D&C 132 and Thelyphthora. I will show just two:

————————————
#2 If you don’t practice Polygamy, you will be destroyed
————————————

“… one great end of this law [Polygamy] be answered and millions be preserved from destruction …” (Thelyphthora, p.276)

“… if any man have a wife, … and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood [Polygamy], … then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed …” (D&C 132:64)

————————————
#3 If a man has one wife and takes on another, he is not committing adultery
————————————

“… if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, … he cannot commit adultery …” (D&C 132:61)
“… it is neither true … that a man having one wife and taking another committeth adultery …” (Thelyphthora, p.153)

————————————

I am just following the trail of evidence you gave me. I am also using your preferred method of finding truth by finding “parallels”.

So is all this just “coincidence” ?

Chris Johnson
June 26th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Here is another parallel from the Adam Clarke Commentary:

————————————
#22 NAHOM/NAHAM connected to DEATH, EXCESSIVE MOURNING and MURMURING
————————————

1 Nephi 16:34-35
“… Ishmael DIED, and was buried in the place which was called NAHOM. And … the daughters of Ishmael did MOURN EXCEEDINGLY, … and they did MURMUR …”

Adam Clarke Commentary, Proverbs 5:11
The MOURNING here spoken of is of the most EXCESSIVE kind: the word NAHAM is often applied to the … incessant MURMURING of the sea. In the line of my duty, I have been often called to attend the DEATH-bed of such persons …

emeth_veneeman
June 27th, 2011 at 8:57 pm

>> So is all this just “coincidence” ?

Maybe not. But I think you have misunderstood my argument if you think I’m saying it’s all a coincidence. I’m not saying the sources such as Clarke’s commentary weren’t employed, in some form, in his writings. I’m saying that there is no evidence of Joseph Smith using them directly. You seem intent on overlooking the simple historical record.

1) Joseph’s mother said he wasn’t prone to reading books.

2) Emma Smith said he “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter,”

3) Also from the prophet’s wife:

In an interview with her son, Joseph Smith III, not long before she died, Emma Smith insisted that Joseph had no text with him during the work of translation:

Q. Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read, or dictated to you?

A. He had neither manuscript nor book to read from.

Q. Could he not have had, and you not know it?

A. If he had had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=11&num=2&id=493

4) Joseph’s ignorance and lack of source material is consistent with other eye-witness testimony and with…

5) the jubilant declarations of irr.org and other anti-Mormon outlets that Joseph’s face was buried in his hat during the translation process. They think they are making a brilliant expose when they say this, though I’m not sure why it matters. Do you agree with them or not?

6) I can’t seem to get past the fact that the copy of Adam Clarke’s commentary you referred me to says it was published in 1834. Wikipedia says 1831. Other sources on the Internet do, in fact, suggest that it was published in installments from 1810-1826. However, it’s not clear to me that it existed in any kind of palpable form in time for Joseph Smith to have used it.

7) (and this is a big one) I’m not saying that there are no similarities between Joseph’s writings and those of Adam Clarke. I’m saying that as far as I can see, Adam Clarke’s commentary did not connect Mahujah, Mahijah, Mahujael, or Mahijael, to the MHWH/Methuselah character from the Enochic tradition. Thus, if Joseph were going to put that name in his writings, and were working entirely from sources physically available to him, he would have chosen the Methuselah variant, not the MHWY variant. The fact that he made that connection, and he appears to have “guessed” correctly, is something you still have not adequately addressed.

8) Do you see what you’re doing? You are making the case for the writings and accomplishments of the farmboy from the American frontier to be regarded as extremely advanced, to have required an immense amount of scholarship and research, and to be highly accurate and erudite in his handling of academic sources. Yet in the next breath you’re going to say that his writings really aren’t that clever or advanced, and in fact that your approach to the writings of Isaiah clearly shows more understanding than his bungling of the work. So which is it? Face in the hat, with the subsequent shoddy, awkward, and amateurish prose that resulted, or a brilliant, recondite masterpiece that employed the best scholarship of his time (… and beyond)?

Always a pleasure.

emeth_veneeman
June 27th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

PS. Smiley face from above is actually an 8.

emeth_veneeman
June 28th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Just curious Chris, have you read “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins?” It seems like it’s right up your alley. If you own the book, please review chapter 5, “Moroni and ‘The Golden Pot.’” The thing that strikes me about this chapter is that it reads very much like your most recent posts to this website, complete with dubious circumstantial evidence to back up the claim that Joseph had read and practically memorized the source in question. In this case though, the source is Hoffman’s “The Golden Pot.” Palmer lays out a very persuasive case that this work was one of THE primary sources for the Book of Mormon narrative.

I have a friend at work who’s read some things on the Internet and is fully persuaded that THE source for the Book of Mormon was Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews. In his own words, when he gets around to it he is going to “grep the hell out of” both the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews and see exactly how many similarities there are. Very similar to your approach. And of course, he accuses me of being less than serious for not having much of an interest in reading View of the Hebrews.

Let’s not forget Solomon Spaulding and the manuscript that Sidney Rigdon managed to slip to Joseph a couple of years before the two met.

You want to know why none of these things bother me? Because deep down, I have a fetish of my own, which is figuring out the Book of Mormon’s relationship to the King James Bible. And what I have found fully persuades me that Joseph Smith did not, and could not, have fabricated the work himself, nor could any of his nineteenth century contemporaries.

I want you to consider very seriously the summary of what you and I have covered so far. In one two-verse passage, Moses 6:39-40, we have found at least six sources — three Biblical, three extra-Biblical.

1. Luke 7:16, from which the phrase “fear came on all” was derived.

2. John 10:24-25, from which the following phrases are derived: “there came … unto him … and said unto him … tell us plainly who thou art…”

3. Genesis 4:18, which provides the basis of the name “Mahijah.”

4. Adam Clarke’s commentary and/or the original Hebrew, which shows the two variations of said name: Mehujael and Mehijael.

5. The Book of Giants, which ties together sources 1-4 in a seamless whole, and shows a reasonable progression of the storyline from fear, to the sending of Mahijah, to the asking of the question. No offense to you personally, but as much as you’ve tried to squeeze and contort the same information out of Clarke’s commentary, go back and read what you’ve written and you’ll see it’s a garbled mass of nonsense.

6. The Book of Enoch, which does provide a weaker parallel to Moses 6:40, but also provides other, stronger parallels in other places through the Book of Moses.

So… two verses. Six sources. Three of those sources, the ones from the KJV, Joseph definitely had access to, but you must admit that his treatment of them is very subtle and not something an average person is likely to connect. Two of them, Clarke’s Commentary and the Book of Enoch, I still consider of dubious accessibility — there is positively no evidence that he used them in his writing, and first-hand witnesses to the events actually give strong credence to the fact that he neither used those nor any other written material. And one source, the Book of Giants, he almost certainly did NOT have access to, and after all of your turning, twisting, writhing, and flailing, you cannot make a sensible case that he got that information from anywhere else. Two verses. Six sources. How long do you think that this discussion would last if we picked apart all 10000+ verses from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price? Now if we were actually to get serious in analyzing this and stop making highly improbable conjectures like “the presence of parallels from Adam Clarke’s commentary proves that the Church is false!” I think we would find that there is a lot going on here that neither of us has fully considered or understood, and it may lead to startling conclusions that fly in the face of conventional scholarship. Does it prove divine origin? Well, let me just say that I’m waiting for a better explanation, and I don’t see that you have provided one.

Just my two cents.

Chris Johnson
June 30th, 2011 at 6:02 am

Emeth, I’m going to deal with your first post from June 27th, since I didn’t notice your post until today.

Before going into your points, I can see that you are intent on portraying Joseph as an uneducated, unintelligent farm boy. I don’t think anyone’s testimony should hinge on such a tale. Does education have anything to do with imagination or intelligence?

Consider these men:

1) Thomas Edison is probably the most famous and productive inventor of all time, with more than 1,000 patents in his name, including the electric light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera. He became a self-made multimillionaire and won a Congressional Gold Medal. Edison got a late start in his schooling following an illness, and, as a result, his mind often wandered, prompting one of his teachers to call him “addled.” He dropped out after only three months of formal education.

2) Benjamin Franklin wore many hats: politician, diplomat, author, printer, publisher, scientist, inventor, founding father, and coauthor and cosigner of the Declaration of Independence. One thing he was not was a high school graduate. Franklin was the fifteenth child and youngest son in a family of 20. He spent two years at the Boston Latin School before dropping out at age ten and going to work for his father, and then his brother, as a printer.

3) Although he was named Time magazine’s “Man of the Century,” Albert Einstein was not an “Einstein” in school. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist, famous for his theory of relativity and contributions to quantum theory and statistical mechanics, dropped out of high school at age 15. One teacher told him he would amount to nothing. Deciding to continue his education a year later, Einstein took the entrance exam to the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, but failed.

(quoted from howstuffworks.com)

If you quote these men’s lives out of context you will get a warped image of “failures”, “drop outs” and “addled” people who will “amount to nothing”.

I have never said Joseph was stupid or unintelligent. In my opinion he was a very intelligent man, I’m guessing his IQ was in the 130 – 160 range. He also had a great talent to persuade, to teach, and to tell stories.

It seems that your hypothesis depends on a “stupid farm boy” depiction of Joseph and I’m sure you will continue to debate this with me. However, debating a man’s intelligence should not be the crucial point for determining whether someone is a true prophet or false prophet — It is not a good test at all, because if true prophets do exist, who are we to say they cannot also be intelligent?

The only reasons Mormons bring this up at all is because it makes the story sound more spectacular. Why would someone need to make it EVEN MORE spectacular than it already is? If the Book of Mormon is true, then it’s spectacular, but if it’s false, then I would expect adherents to enhance their story by trying to portray their founder as incapable of producing it without God’s help. But by down playing Joseph’s intelligence, Mormons are basically admitting that IF HE WERE INTELLIGENT, then perhaps he could have created the Book of Mormon. If the LDS position is so weak that Joseph’s intelligence is a threat, then perhaps something is not quite right with the position.

Using the same reasoning, I could dig up amazing authors and bash their intelligence to the point that my audience is convinced that they must have had help from God… This holds no weight.

With that said, I will focus on your points briefly:

1) Joseph’s mother said he wasn’t prone to reading books.

This is what his mother Lucy said:

“…a boy, eighteen years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life; he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study…”

So according to Lucy, he didn’t peruse books like normal boys, instead he studied topics in more depth (by reading) and meditated on them (using his mind).

Before the Book of Mormon was produced, Joseph told his mother that,

“I can take my Bible, and go into the woods, and learn more in two hours, than you can learn at meetings in two years, if you should go all the time.” [Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1853), p. 90]

So it seems he was capable of reading, deep study, meditation, and was extremely familiar with the Bible. In fact Joseph did not need more than a good understanding of the bible, a few bible commentaries, a few sermons, some local debates and some good intelligence to create the Book of Mormon.

2) Emma Smith said he “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter,”

This is an interesting quote, because right in the same quote she completely lies, saying Joseph had no involvement in polygamy — Furthermore, we both have access to “well worded” letters from Joseph which contradicts Emma — so why is she lying? This whole quote is her attempt at white-washing history to leave an unblemished legacy for her children who are to govern the RLDS church. At the time, the RLDS church also took the Book of Mormon as the word of God, and so she presented it in a “faith promoting” way by down playing Joseph Smith’s intelligence — painting her desired picture that only God could have done it.

Interesting quote, thanks for sharing it.

3),4),5) Also from the prophet’s wife: In an interview with her son, Joseph Smith III, not long before she died, Emma Smith insisted that Joseph had no text with him during the work of translation.

Then why are there KJV errors in the Book of Mormon?

6) I can’t seem to get past the fact that the copy of Adam Clarke’s commentary you referred me to says it was published in 1834

Here it is: http://bit.ly/jrlIpf

7) Adam Clarke’s commentary did not connect Mahujah, Mahijah, Mahujael, or Mahijael, to the MHWH/Methuselah character from the Enochic tradition. Thus, if Joseph were going to put that name in his writings, and were working entirely from sources physically available to him, he would have chosen the Methuselah variant, not the MHWY variant. The fact that he made that connection, and he appears to have “guessed” correctly, is something you still have not adequately addressed.

We’ve gone over this a lot, so I’ll just be brief. If you are writing a story about Enoch, and you need to create a character, there are only 25 names that we can be certain existed at the time of Enoch:

Adam, Eve, Seth, Abel, Cain, Enos, Enoch, Cainan, Irad, Mahalaleel, Jared, Mehujael, Methusael, Methuselah, Lamech, Zillah, Adah, Noah, Naamah, Tubal-cain, Jubal, Jabal, Shem, Ham, Japheth.

So it’s not exactly a one out of billion chance that Joseph is going to pick Mehujael is it? It’s precisely 1 out of 25. Does he pick any more from this list of 25? Yes. He creates the land of Shem and the land of Cainan and puts that in his story too. So we have 3 matches, and can be fairly certain Joseph is using the 25 antediluvian names from Genesis to create elements for his story.

Joseph added a few more names to his Enoch story, and these do not show up in the DSS Giants text. These are “misses”:

Simeon
Shum
Cainan
Canaan
Sharon
Omner
Heni
Shem
Haner
Hanannihah

What are the chances of getting 1 hit and 1 miss?

Well if it’s a 1/24 chance of getting 1 hit with one name, then 2 names are almost twice as likely to make a match.

If I have 4 names, then the chances of making 1 match and 3 misses are about 1 in 6.

As the number of misses increase, the more likely it is a person can randomly make a match.

It’s like someone trying to guess how much money you have in your wallet — if they guess enough (have enough misses), they will eventually get it right.

This is why Mahijah needs to be taken into proper context. It’s a near hit, among many misses.

I counted over 234 non-bible names in Joseph’s writings. If a con man made up that many names, how many hits would you expect to get by chance? This is the baseline I keep referring to — do you even want to know the answer to this? This is absolutely vital to this entire thread and you have not yet answered it.

Now back to the misses in the Book of Moses (Joseph’s Enoch Story):

The most important miss here is “Hanannihah” The ending “-ihah” does not show up anywhere in the bible. In fact, it is not even an ending that shows up anywhere else with any statistical significance — except for Joseph’s other story, the Book of Mormon. This has Joseph Smith’s signature painted all over it. Take a look at these Nephite names:

Ammonihah
Cumenihah
Mathonihah
Moronihah
Nephihah
Onihah
Zemnarihah

The facts are what they are. Two completely separated cultures have the same “ihah” ending, and we know the records were both produced by the same man, Joseph Smith.

There is a third civilization that Joseph wrote about, and sure enough it too has the “ihah” ending:

Orihah (Book of Ether)

If I claimed to be a prophet and revealed the names of people from 3 different cultures and they all had the same unique ending “-uaga” wouldn’t that look a bit suspicious? Like someone made it up?

No — Not to the biased believer :)

So why did Joseph remove the EL ending on Mehija’el? I can only speculate, but since I can’t read his mind, I will show you that he commonly removed bible endings such as EL and IAH to create some of the Book of Mormon names:

Gidd’el (Bible) -> Gid (BoM)
Pagi’el (Bible) -> Pag’ag (BoM)
Ab’iah (Bible) -> Ab’ish (BoM)
Amar’iah (Bible) -> Amar’on (BoM)
Jecam’iah (Bible) -> Jacom (BoM)
Jerem’iah (Bible) -> Jarom (BoM)
Shelem’iah (Bible) – > Shelem (BoM)

To summarize:

i) Joseph is using names that are contemporary to Enoch from the Bible, giving a high hit rate.
ii) Joseph has many misses, which are ignored by biased believers, making his hit rate seem higher than it actually is.
iii) Joseph was involved in Methodism, and seems to have drawn inspiration from Adam Clarke’s Commentary where “Mehujael” and “Mehijael” both appear at the top of a name chart. It is important to note that this duplication of the name is not a hit in itself since both these names do not show up together anywhere else (wouldn’t it be nice if they both showed up in the DSS?).
iv) Joseph knows how to change name endings to create name variations with “iah” and “el”
v) There are other names that do not match the Giants story very clearly, and in the case of “Hanannihah”, Joseph’s claims start to look downright fraudulent.
vi) The most important question that I still need you to answer is:

————————————–
How many hits should we expect a con man to make if he created 234 names?
————————————–

emeth_veneeman
June 30th, 2011 at 7:44 am

It depends on whether we’re biased believers or biased unbelievers…

Chris Johnson
June 30th, 2011 at 8:08 am

Emeth, I didn’t mean to offend you or anyone else here by saying “biased believers” — obviously we all have our biases, but what I meant was, this:

It is easy for an outsider (without the believer bias) to see that the failed Jehovah’s Witness prophecies prove their church to be false.

It is easy for an outsider (without the believer bias) to see that the failed Ellen White prophecies prove her church to be false.

ALL of the religious groups have their apologetics that try to explain away the inconsistencies, but it’s so easy for outsiders to see through their explanations.

Especially the Flat Earth Society. Wow. ;) They have a lot of faith.

emeth_veneeman
June 30th, 2011 at 8:43 am

Nor did I take offense. You just need to understand my baseline. When I perceive inconsistency sometimes I point it out in a terse way, but if you knew me you’d see me do it with a little smile on my lips.

Here’s what I’m saying. Let’s use your hypothetical con-man as an example.

He makes up 234 names. I, being a “biased believer” will say that’s 234 hits. Of which I have proven one.

You, being an “biased unbeliever” will say that he got one hit and 233 misses. And the only proof you offer that he got 233 misses was that he used an “-ihah” ending in a couple names and you disapprove of that. I think I’m going to give into temptation and address that point against my better judgment. I’ll take your word for it that there are no other “-ihah” endings in the Semitic languages, although that point itself will have to be proven. But assuming that it’s true, so what? “Mahijah” doesn’t exist in the Bible, and yet we — you and I both — showed through a few different sources how it was derived and why it was reasonable.

To prove that he got 233 misses is to prove the negative. I really question your judgment if you think going there is a good idea.

“It is easy for an outsider (without the believer bias) to see that the failed Jehovah’s Witness prophecies prove their church to be false.”

And when you start using words like “it is easy,” you only enforce your own bias. To me it suggests that you don’t actually have an evidence based belief system. Really what you have is a strong suspicion and you’re going to go out of your way to find the facts that support your belief system while disregarding all the others. It’s really no different than when you were a member. You’re just on the other side of the debate now.

Do I suffer from bias too? Well, I’ve already admitted it, and that’s the difference between you and me. But that doesn’t mean I actually don’t see “hits” where I say I see hits. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you’ve made a valid case, simply because you say it looks obvious to everyone else. Maybe the thing that sets the Einsteins of the world apart is that they can see things that aren’t obvious.

Chris Johnson
June 30th, 2011 at 10:54 am

“Let’s use your hypothetical con-man as an example. He makes up 234 names. I, being a “biased believer” will say that’s 234 hits. Of which I have proven one … To prove that he got 233 misses is to prove the negative. I really question your judgment if you think going there is a good idea.”

That’s not quite what I meant. Let’s consider two worlds. In one world the LDS position is true. In the other world the LDS position is not true. Which world are we in?

To determine which world we are in, we would have to conduct an experiment. A test to figure this out.

I have listened intently to your proposal that Mahijah is Mahaway. I see some problems with that, but I’ll give it to you anyways. Let’s say that it’s a hit — a match. So if it’s a hit, what does it mean? Does it mean the LDS position is true? Is it as significant as Nostradamus’s prediction for Hitler? Is it as significant as the Lincoln / Kennedy parallels? Is it as significant as the Solomon Spalding and Book of Mormon parallels? The Adam Clarke Commentary parallels? View of the Hebrews?

As you can see, if we don’t quantify the results, it is meaningless. We need to know what a hypothetical con man could achieve and then compare Joseph to that to see if Joseph does better than chance.

If a con man came up with 234 names, how many would match ancient texts? Among those name matches, how many would match the context?

Let’s say that by chance he should get 1 name out of 234 in the right context. If true then the following “ancient text” matches are significant:

Jershon
Aha
Alma
Nahom
Mosiah
Ammon
Paankhi
Nephi
Hermounts
Mahijah

But if we should expect a con man to make 7 or 8 matches by chance, then the results start to look a bit less significant.

————————–
So if a con man came up with 234 names, how many would match ancient texts by chance alone?
————————–

emeth_veneeman
June 30th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Oh, I don’t know. A con man may come up with 7. Maybe 8. 3% sounds reasonable. I guess.

But we’re shooting in the dark with 234 names when we assume that our random guesses to verify those names are somehow meaningful. My point above, of course, is that when you’ve discovered a hit, it becomes blindingly obvious that you have done so. Before you discover the hit, you must classify it as unknown. Could be a hit, could be a miss. And I think that your insistence on classifying hits/misses according to what we currently know about ancient literature v. what we don’t may be a misguided approach. You’ll notice that what we’re looking at with Joseph Smith is probably a conglomeration. Just because King James-style English appears in the Book of Moses, does it prove that the Dead Sea Scrolls do not? Clearly, based on our discussion thus far, you haven’t made that case. So your habit of pointing out Adam Clarke’s Commentary, or the New Testament, or any other source, as “THE SOURCE of the Book of Moses,” is misguided. What we’ve learned, and what I believe the evidence is showing, is a mixture of processes, of ideas, of sources. Just because you don’t find it in your favorite source, or even in your favorite subset of sources, doesn’t automatically classify it as a miss.

Rather than looking at 234 names, let’s branch out a little. The proper noun was interesting, but I don’t want you to think it’s the sum total of why I believe in the prophethood of Joseph Smith. Let’s consider the translation process as a whole.

Book of Abraham. I told you I was dying to get there. I tried to steer the discussion in that direction up the thread a bit, but I was also experiencing overload and didn’t really feel like continuing the debate at that time, so you probably didn’t even click on the link. Now I have a clear mind, so let’s wipe the slate clean and start over.

Here’s what we know about the Book of Abraham in a highly condensed version. Joseph claimed to translate the “Sen-sen” papyrus, also known as the Book of Breathings or the Breathing Permit of Hor, and got it all wrong. Right? Not a single, solitary, sensible correlation between his Abraham translation and the papyrus. At least that’s the story we’ve all been told. BYU scholars flee from the subject by pretending Joseph was translating some *other* papyrus, poor unsuspecting Mormon missionaries are blind-sided by it, and motivated by an overwhelming “believer bias,” the entire Mormon community pretends the whole thing never happened. The Tanners laugh all the way to the bank, and enlightened non-Mormons such as yourself see it as yet another “simply obvious” sign that Joseph Smith was a fraud and that “TBM”s like me are naive and deluded. Right?

Well, I don’t necessarily see things that way. Because there was a very obscure paper published in the late 1960s that, for whatever reason, has been almost entirely neglected, but as far as I can tell, it has been neglected for absolutely no reason. It probably had something to do with the fact that Nibley ultimately took his research in another direction, and the Mormon apologetic community, in an effort to present a unified front, followed their fearless leader. I do think Nibley was pretty cool, but I reserve the right to take exception with him, and this is one of those times.

Please read this link:

http://www.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/mnemonic.htm

To summarize, the paper here supports the notion that the so-called “sen-sen” papyrus was, in fact, the source for the Book of Abraham. Or at least *a* source (see, I fall into the same trap…) The theory rests on two, fairly basic notions:

1. Joseph Smith, in preparing the Abraham manuscript, copied several of the hieroglyphs from the sen-sen text to the margins of the Abraham text. In doing so, he divided the Egyptian glyphs into nineteen syntactically correct morphemes — something that the authors of the paper say would have been statistically impossible for anyone without a working knowledge of Egyptian (I don’t claim any knowledge of Egyptian, at least so far, so I’ll have to take their word for it). This is not a minor point, and if they are correct, it needs to be addressed. But even more interesting…

2. Of the nineteen symbols copied over, each one of them appeared in a significant way in the Abraham text that accompanied it. They’re not saying that every word in the English text is in the Egyptian (an assumption made by most anti-Mormons when they attempt to tear the Book of Abraham down). But every word from the Egyptian does show up in a meaningful way in the English. Granted some of these parallels are more significant than others. For example, the Egyptian direct object appears next to a Book of Abraham phrase that contains “the,” “this,” or “these” no less than eight times. Possible lucky shot in the dark. The Book of Abraham also seems intent to associate the glyph for “water” with the word “Egypt.” This looks like a miss on the surface. The authors explain it by saying that the Egyptians were the people of the “Nile.” However, there is a much more direct way of looking at it. The Book of Abraham itself says that when Egyptus discovered it, it was under water (Abr. 1:24). So in the mind of Abraham, at least, Egypt and water have a clear association (Yes, I know, there was no Egyptus. We can discuss that later if necessary.)

The other parallels are actually very convincing, in my mind. For example, the Egyptian word ma’at, the word for truth, justice, governmental law, stability of Pharaoh’s rule, is copied next to Abraham 1:26 “Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days…” Khabyt, the ravager or destroyer, is copied next to Abraham 2:1, about a famine that kills Abraham’s brother. My personal favorite is Khonsu. He is the Egyptian god of the moon, copied next to “the god of Libnah” in Abr. 1:17. It turns out that libnah is the Hebrew word used for moon in Isaiah 24:23 (pointed l’banah by the Masoretes).

So… maybe we can’t verify 234 names in an instant. But what can you say about 19 out of 19 hits? I happen to think 100% is pretty good…

emeth_veneeman
June 30th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

*I said “direct object” when I meant “definite article.”

Chris Johnson
June 30th, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Thanks for answering my question! :)

So you are guessing a con man could get around 3% of 234. Maybe 7 name matches.

It should be noted that if the man created names not related to biblical names — like:

Xucluo
Lirfleey
Verxixo

Then the matches would be low. But if the man created names that followed biblical naming patterns like:

Hosaiah
Shelekiah
Zelem

Then he would get WAY MORE matches by chance.

But let’s assume the first method for now — let’s assume he was not intelligent, and did not base his names off bible syllables (which he clearly did).

As you can see, I’m running the numbers in your favor.

So we know there are about 234 names, and we’re going to assume that they are made up of random syllables (rather than Middle Eastern syllables as found in the bible). To figure out how many a con man would get right, we would need to know the SEARCH SPACE.

How big is the search space? In other words, how many ancient names existed? 50? 500? 5000?

If we assume there were 250 names in the entire ancient world, then we get about 5 random hits, in the correct context:

http://split5.com/namematch.php?n=250

(refresh the page to run the simulation again and again to see the variations played out in real time)

But we know the bible has over 2500 names, so it is reasonable to assume that the entire ancient world had at least as many names. Let’s try that:

http://split5.com/namematch.php?n=2500

I’m getting in the range of 50 matches. 40 two letter matches and 10 three letter matches.

But if we want to be accurate, we need to know how big the search space really is. Here’s how we can calculate it:

There were over 200 languages in North and South America. The average language has 1000 first names. That’s 200,000 first names in North and South America. If we include family names, tribal names and noun names like Curlom, Cumom, Neas, Sheum, Deseret, etc… we could easily be around 400,000 names.

Given the pre-columbian population of the Americas (50 million) and by using the land size (16,245,000 square miles) we can calculate the number of place names — assuming the same ratios as Ancient Greece which had ~74,200 place names. This includes regions, tribal boundaries, villages, cities, settlements, lakes, groves, hills, rivers, etc. We get an estimate of 338,000 – 613,000 place names in North and South America. We will take the average of the two to get 475,000.

Total: 875,000 names in the Americas (475,000 + 400,000)

If we assume that the middle eastern lands of Egypt, Persia, Israel, etc were about the size of the Greek empire, then we can add another 74,200 place names. Additionally there were around 30 languages or scripts: Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Avestan, Byblos, Carian, Cuneiform, Elamite, Georgian, Hebrew, Hittite, Luwian, Lycian, Lydian, Mandaic, Nabataean, Old Persian, Old Hebrew, Pahlavi, Palmyrene, Phoenician, Proto-Sinaitic, Samaritan, Sumerian, Syriac, South Arabian, Thamudic, Ugaritic, Berber & Tifinagh, Coptic, Egyptian, Ethiopic, Meroïtica. So that’s another 30,000 more first names and 30,000 more noun names.

Total: 134,200 names in the Middle East.

The grand total is 1,009,200 names.

Notice that we have not even included the new name variations that we would expect to occur over a 4000 year period. But let’s leave it at that. So we are compareing 234 Book of Mormon names against 1,009,200 names.

Now that we know the search space, let’s run the simulation — how many matches do we get if we simulate a con man creating 234 random names? Well my program will not exceed 50,000 names so let’s try comparing 50,000 names and run it 20 times:

http://split5.com/namematch.php?n=50000

After running the simulation, it looks like a con man would get around 23,124 names matching correctly by chance alone — provided we could find them all :) I bent the rules in your favor, so really there are probably more like 40,000 matches out there, but I’m not here to get the biggest numbers possible. I’m only showing you what the baseline expectations are for Book of Mormon name matches.

If the average Mormon knew that there should be tens of thousands of names matching IF the Book of Mormon were FALSE, I wonder if they would be so ecstatic about a dozen name matches.

This is why I said (way at the beginning of this thread) that a name match is interesting but a 10 word match is more interesting. And it is only when we get into the 100 consecutive word range that we should start to pay attention. For example, if we found the lost book of Zenos containing Jacob chapter 5, I would definitely change my position. Provided it was clearly not a hoax — and there have been many Mormon hoaxes over the years as the professors at BYU are quite aware.

I am already thinking of a few more tests that we could apply to the Book of Mormon names to determine whether or not they are authentic. Can you think of any? I think testing things is one of the most valuable things we can do to determine the truth.

[Note 1] I think your Book of Abraham insights are interesting, and I will definitely get to that in a few days if you would like.

[Note 2] I think you misunderstood what I meant about it being “so easy” to see through the JW apologetics, but no worries. At the end of the day, I am open to becoming LDS if the LDS church is true. If the JW’s are right, then I will change my position, etc. I am not afraid of truth. I trust you will be as honest.

Chris Johnson
July 1st, 2011 at 1:24 am

I just added another feature to the name generator to be fair to you. Rather then generating names with common letter frequencies, the new generator creates the names with the highest level of randomness possible — completely random letter frequencies. It does not cater to the way humans think names should be:

http://split5.com/namematch.php?n=50000&type=1

With 1M names, we get ~6780 matches by chance.

If I include all the variants through out a 2000 year time period (+50% more names) and allow the letter frequencies and syllables to match real human languages, then the simulation gives me matches in the 60,000 range.

emeth_veneeman
July 1st, 2011 at 9:08 am

OK, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I follow everything you did here.

But here’s your search space. Names in the Enoch literature. Go.

Actually it’s more fine-grained than that. We’re dealing with names of people who came to Enoch to ask direct questions on behalf of another person. We’ve identified two: Methuselah and MHWY. If you want I’ll even humor you and throw in Malalel for good measure (because I’m trying to bend the rules in your favor).

This is the problem I have with your methods Chris. You always start with assumptions that are guaranteed to give you the answer you like. You asked how many names a con man might match in random circumstances. That’s the question I answered when I said 3%. Even that was information that you fed to me. I don’t really know. But the question of how likely it was for Joseph Smith to identify the proper relationship of MHWY to Enoch is not random. It’s a one-in-three shot. And if you’re right, two of the names were given in the Book of Enoch, so if Joseph had matched either of those, the results wouldn’t be all that interesting. What he had to do with come up with the one that was unknown.

I’m not sure how you put parameters on that to measure the probability, but I am pretty sure you haven’t done it correctly.

emeth_veneeman
July 1st, 2011 at 10:38 am

Here’s an interesting tidbit from Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt, p. 534, regarding the woman Egyptus, who discovers the land of Egypt and afterward settles her sons in it:

“Question: Is there any evidence that the land got its name from such a person?

“Answer: There are plenty of ancient legends dealing with the subject. One of the oldest, certainly unknown to Joseph Smith, was reported by Herakleides: ‘It was first a woman name Aegyptia who established her son and introduced weaving…’

“From Isocrates, a diligent researcher of the fourth century B.C., we learn that a granddaughter of Zeus, being the mother of both Busiris of Egypt and his brother, the terrible Antaeus, who ruled the desert immediately west of the Nile, ‘was, they say, the first woman to rule, after whom the country was named.’

“A commentator to Plato explains how the Lady could come from Canaan but still arrive through the Wadi Hammamat far in the south by a detour: ‘Egypt was named after Egyptus the son of Belus [the Canaanite Baal] and Anchirhoea, the daughter of Nile, who was king of Egypt… This Egyptus was sent by his father to settle in Arabia, but returned and named the land of Blackfeet ‘Egypt’ after himself.”

I can give you Nibley’s sources if you want, but you might have to learn Latin to make any sense of them.

So, hit or miss for Brother Joseph? If I were to put a word to it, I’d say bullseye.

emeth_veneeman
July 1st, 2011 at 10:50 am

Oh, I forgot to mention. On p.538, Nibley goes on to show the consonants of Egypt, when transported to any Semitic language, actually do denote “that which is forbidden.” I’m not sure if I agree with his associations, but it is interesting to think about.

Chris Johnson
July 3rd, 2011 at 1:48 am

Those are some interesting parallels Emeth. I can shift my focus to the Book of Abraham if you want, but first there are a few things I’d like to address.

Most importantly I am grateful that you have taken so much time out of your busy schedule to discuss such an important topic with me. We both have families and work to attend, and I do not take your contributions lightly.

As I said previously, I am willing to publically change my position if my current one is found incorrect.

I have been taking your insights very seriously. I value truth. Do you also value truth to the extent that you would leave the church if it were false?

I think if we both make truth our goal, we will not need to be defensive or resort to personal attacks or hostility. With mutual respect and a genuine thirst for truth, I believe we can both courageously step into the unknown.

I don’t think you are here to enter into an ego battle, or for the sheer fun of debating gospel doctrine. I sense that at some level you genuinely care for my soul. Perhaps you also care about my family, and desire to bring us back into the fold. It is a pure and noble desire. Sometimes I sense your frustration. But until you understand what I know, all your attempts will fail. If you leave the safe harbour and risk your own testimony to learn what I know, you will gain the power to convert me, or at the very least gain priceless truths that can empower your life forever after.

As for our discussion, here are my honest thoughts so far:

You and I have brought up some interesting parallels. But we could both cite parallels until the cows come home, and it wouldn’t mean anything until we have a baseline to compare to. We need to know how to test against a “null hypothesis”.

I showed you how to calculate the baseline for name matching, and indicated that there should be thousands of matches like “Mahijah” — if the Book of Mormon were FALSE.

To believer and skeptic alike, the number of expected matches were surprisingly high. Ask any statistician and they will tell you why: Our brains are naturally bad at these types of problems.

I further explained what type of things would not be explainable by chance or con — the discovery of the Book of Zenos, matching Jacob 5 word for word is one example.

I don’t want to spend days boring you with statistics, psychology and scientific procedures, so I’m sending you a fun and entertaining audio clip that articulates the issue much better than I could. It still blows my mind when I listen to it:

(only the first 22 minutes are relevant)

http://audio.wnyc.org/radiolab/radiolab091109.mp3

emeth_veneeman
July 3rd, 2011 at 11:39 am

I’ll check out that video when I get a chance later this week (busy weekend upcoming).

Please understand that nothing I’ve said here has been intended in a personal way. I question your methods, I disagree with your conclusions, but I believe you are honest and sincerely believe what you say.

My intention has been to give you and any readers of this forum some things to think about. The LDS Church is frequently misrepresented — not always dishonestly or maliciously — by facts that are simply false. I too believe that we should try to remove psychological bias and all other kinds of unsound thinking from our methods to determine truth, but I think that everyone can be a victim of unsound thinking, believer and unbeliever alike, although both sides often try to present themselves as being immune to it. Any attempts to overcome solid facts by an appeal to “what is obvious to everyone else” (just as an example) is faulty thinking on the part of the unbeliever. So is assuming that the only reason I can believe what I believe is because of an irrational psychological need to do so. I believe that the facts will ultimately vindicate Joseph Smith as the prophet he claimed to be, and I am very sincere about that myself. Yes, if I am wrong, if the Church is shown to be false, I will leave it. But it’s like I said at the outset — showing it false will be a much bigger challenge than you and others here are presenting it to be. I believe you are right when you suggest that this conversation is heading for gridlock, however, and I’m sure neither of us really has a use for that.

So with that I think I’m ready to let my case rest. I’ll give you the last word, and we can let the facts speak for themselves.

emeth_veneeman
July 3rd, 2011 at 11:28 pm

So I’ve been thinking a little about this today, and I’ve wondered why you used the word “hostility” in referring to our conversations. I guess it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve used phrases like “garbled mass of nonsense” to describe some of what you’ve written. Let me clarify.

I go to lunch with a staunch atheist every day whose life’s objective (or at least whose lunch objective) is to irritate me by making irrational statements. I’ve made great strides in my recent efforts to try not to react in an emotional way to this. Some days I do better than others. Much of our banter over the last several years has been on the heated side, and much of it has been far more heated than anything I’ve said to you. And then we go out for a beer afterward (figuratively speaking). I’ve learned not to let a lot of what non-members say about the Church stick to me too tenaciously, but part of that includes the freedom to speak my mind when they say it. I’ve always made a conscious effort not to make statements that begin with the phrase “you are…” but center it more on “what you said is…” Beyond that little rule, sometimes it’s no holds barred. Really, I actually did think I toned down my rhetoric in what I said on this site, but I probably didn’t do it enough. So if I’ve come across a little abrupt in some of the things I’ve said, I apologize, but really, I was serious when I said none of it is personal. Honestly, I think if you and I knew each other personally we would be good friends. I do think you’re very intelligent and even though what you say can be a bit whacky sometimes (d’oh! There I go again…) I do respect you for taking the effort to think things through and make informed decisions.

Chris Johnson
July 5th, 2011 at 1:31 am

No worries, I was not offended and I am sure we would make good friends in real life. :) Have you had a chance to listen to the audio clip?

emeth_veneeman
July 5th, 2011 at 10:51 am

OK, I listened to the audio. I’m pretty sure I see the point you’re getting at, but go ahead and make your comments so I’m sure I’m not misunderstanding.

Chris Johnson
July 11th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Emeth, I just got back from vacation and I am extremely busy catching up with work and won’t respond until later this week.

emeth_veneeman
July 12th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I hope you had a nice vacation.

Take your time. While you’re thinking about it, I left a response to Dan above on the BoM Isaiah problem. You might want to jump in on that one too, since I dropped your name into the conversation :)

Chris Johnson
July 12th, 2011 at 3:47 pm

(Emeth I am responding by creating a new thread at the bottom)

Catherine
May 19th, 2011 at 6:28 am

Chris (and Dan) thank you for a very thought provoking video.

I am so in awe of the participants here and their ability to discuss and debate the facts and proof about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the LDS church. You guys have given me much to consider.

For me, I left the LDS church for the same reason I arrived… in my gut, it no longer rang true. With all the lies and half-truths that our modern prophets and the LDS church organization/corporation as a whole have been “caught” in — if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… well, you know the rest.

Well done Chris! Very interesting video and very interesting read!

Celestialbound
May 19th, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Tobin,

You miss the point. Let’s assume your story is correct and JS copied from the bible because it was easier. Let’s say he saves a weeks worth just to be generous. Now, look at the results of that time saving maneouver. At least Chris gone, and potentially many others over this issue, or this issue contributing to them leaving. Why would a god who talks about the value of a single soul, leave such a huge stumbling block which drives people away (honest people, trying hard to do what’s right and find what’s true). Your very, very powerful god took a short cut that ended up likely costing thousands a shot a exaltation? Further, along the same lines, why would he intentionally leave/create something so disconcerting.

Also, your proposed solution absolutely flies in the face of the translation method (please correct me if I am wrong, I havn’t look at the following in awhile). JS looked at the stone and the english letters and words appeared. This is how the translation happened. No mention of, oh, yep, it’s like the KJV, let’s save time and get it from there. If you were translating a book from god would you just go to another source, or would you continue to get it straight from the source in case there were errors, like there were?

You also have the weird use of the phrase ‘which translated means’. If it was a translation, you would never have phrases like that in the record. There inclusion is very curious.

Tobin, you have not addressed the question about how reliable revelation is. You continually point to asking and praying and seeing if you get an answer. However, you continually ignore the fact that this method has generating many, many conflicting beliefs/powerful experiences. Let’s contrast your experience, with the experience Chris mentions of his brother having a lady meeting Jesus Christ and saying to not join the LDS church/it isn’t true? Which of you is correct? Which of you had the better revelation?

I just recently had reason to re-read “Candle of the Lord” by Boyd K. Packer. He mentions that there are false spirits that can give revelations. Also, consider JS, after a failed prophecy saying that ‘some revelations are of god, some of man, and some of the devil.’ How do you know that your experience with god was not from a false spirit, besides just assuming that it wasn’t?

Further, if you have the truth, and the ask method is the correct method, the god that you believe in is horrendously unjust. Prayer demonstrably gives differing answers to different people, and even with answers such as yours, there are counters in other religions. Those who got those other answers, who do not repent, will be punished and suffer as horrifically as Christ did, in proportion to their personal sins. If your god is real, he is making people suffer horribly for not getting the right answer from an entirely demonstrably unreliable method.

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I appreciate the comments Celestialbound, but my point is it is completely unimportant. You are looking for perfection here where there isn’t any reason to expect it. That is my point. God did not translate the Book of Mormon. A flawed, relatively naive, human being named JS did. If you are looking for perfection in human beings and what they do, I’m sorry but you are in for a life of disappointment. It is also not the point of the Book of Mormon. The point of the Book of Mormon is to lead one to God and having a relationship with God. I find the Book of Mormon, Bible, Koran, and other inspired books helpful in that approach. I look past the fact they are written by men and have flaws. As far as I am concerned, it isn’t that important compared to the whole of what we do gain from it. The important questions are if they help one determine if there is or isn’t there a God, what are the attributes of that God, and can we speak with that God face-to-face. I believe we can and I believe that is the only point of the Book of Mormon and JS – flaws not withstanding. I believe it is pointless to dwell in minutia like this when there are plausible reasons for these problems in light of the more important questions of concern.

Now you may disagree that the Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon and other books lead people to God. I however differ with that view and believe millions are lead to God because of these books, not inspite of them.

Celestialbound
May 19th, 2011 at 10:48 pm

We keep claiming the other is missing the others point. Let’s see if we can come to an understanding. You are claiming that a falliable man was involved and therefore imperfection can be expected. I understand that claim.

I am claiming that if god was involved in the process, and especially if the process is claimed to be done by the power of god, and not by the power of man, that such a process should at a minimum be far less error prone that the BoM.

It is this idea that the translation is done by the power of god that leads me to believe my claim trumps your claim. Yes, mortals are falliable. Yes, they are prone to error. But if it was done by the power of god, then it was not done by mortal power. Further, if there were any mistakes or errors, god could have made sure that they were taken care of initially, rather than letting them persist.

So hopefully, your response can address the idea that a translation that claims to be done by the power of god, there should be at a minimum far less error than present in the BoM, if not no errors.

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Celestialbound,

I believe god provides us the tools. How well we implement them and do the job is up to us. It is a question of freedom of will. You might believe God can compell us to do things. I believe that may be true, but God chooses instead to let us do the best we can within our own abilities. Now, if it is true that God helped JS find a book written in a language that nobody could translate and gave him the tools to do so – that’s about all we can expect. After that, it was then a question of his own capacity and willingness to use those tools. You are making the assumption that God will intercede and compell perfection. I don’t believe that is true. We have to work that out for ourselves and that means due to our nature that we will have lapses and make mistakes.

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Also, Celestialbound – you claim I state, “if you have the truth, and the ask method is the correct method, the god that you believe in is horrendously unjust.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe you were Mormon and know that isn’t true nor remotely what I believe. I believe all people will be saved. You know that or used to. In fact, that is the whole point of the temples and the work Mormons do for the dead and those not in the church. The reason you are asked to seek God and that truth is it is a blessing in your life to know that God in this life. You seem to be of the impression that Mormons believe that not knowing God will forever damn a soul. That is not what Mormons believe. In fact, everyone will be given an equal opportunity to accept that God and do what God asks. Now, if you choose to turn your back on God and not be saved, that is not up to me. That is YOUR choice.

Celestialbound
May 19th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

D&C 19:15-19. Those who do not repent will suffer as horrendously as Christ suffered, albeit in proportion to their sins versus the whole.

The evidence provided to believe in god is debatable at best. A being who would punish someone for not having the right belief and action based on that belief (believe and repent), with that level or torment, when the evidence is debatable at best, cannot be considered to be a just being.

It is the equivalent of asking a person to walk through one of a hundred doors. Say 30 lead to no suffering. Only one leads to the greatest possible prize. The other 69 lead to horrendous suffering. The evidence for which door you should go through is debatable at best, all 100 doors have people describing why their door is the best door. A god who would allow the suffering of so many, based on such evidence, cannot be considered just.

This is LDS doctrine. To argue otherwise, is to attempt to make it what it is not and create a more palatable version to avoid cog-dis. Unless you are willing to argue progression between kingdoms, but again such arguing is herectical, or at a minimum not revealed in any manner.

Celestialbound
May 19th, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I missed a point. It goes to the ask method. It leads to demonstrably different results for many individuals. We have your experience, and Chris’ brothers, and many others. If the ask method is the best method to determine if god exists, and which is the right god, and we will suffer as Christ did if we don’t believe and repent, the being who instituted such a plan, relying on such a demonstrably unreliable method of determing truth cannot be considered just.

Hopefully, you can address why you think revelation on the magnitude you claim is relaible when there are so many counter examples that lead to directly contradictory claims in the world.

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 11:47 pm

How many of them claim to have seen God exactly? I think the answer would be zero. The next part is, if they claim to have seen God – then God can let us know it is true. I don’t have to take someone’s word for it. That is true for all supposed revelation. That is also the point of the Book of Mormon – to get experience with God and be able to tell the truth from what is not true.

Many Mormons don’t understand that and accept things at face value. But why should they? After all, when you join the church the first thing you are asked to do is read the Book of Mormon and pray to God to determine if it is true. That is good advice for everything else claimed in the Mormon chruch as well.

Tobin
May 19th, 2011 at 11:42 pm

I believe you misunderstand that scripture and who the Lord is talking to. Have you spoken with God and know he is? It is a question of what you know to be the truth. Have you accepted the Lord? Do you love him? If so, you should follow his commandments and repent (change your ways). It is impossible to follow a Lord you don’t know or follow commandments you don’t understand nor believe in. It doesn’t seem very just to demand otherwise. Now if you know different and choose not to repent, well then deal with the consequences of your choice. And to be clear, it isn’t exactly the Lord punishing you, it is the natural consequence of the choice and what follows it.

Chris Johnson
May 20th, 2011 at 3:41 am

Tobin,

After reading all your comments, I still do not know why you think your revelation trumps other people’s revelations. Lots of people talk to God, lots of people get answers, but the answers are a big mess when you compare them all.

I did not include this in my video, but I fasted heavily for many days, and prayed deeply for years to specifically know if the Book of Mormon was true. I prayed with more faith and sincerity than ever before. The answer? I learned that the Book of Mormon is not true. I was led out of the church and into greener pastures.

Tobin
May 20th, 2011 at 4:25 am

Chris, I appreciate you tried to believe in Mormonism, but that unfortunately isn’t how it works. It is never a matter of how hard you try or wish for something to be true. It is a matter of what you are or are not. It is a matter of what you do or do not. Trying has nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, that is a western philosophy and a very bad one. You either believe in God and are dedicated to God or you are not. You must be like Gautama and be determined to sit under your Bodhi tree until you achieve enlightenment. It was never a matter of trying for him (it wasn’t I’ll just try and sit here a while and then be off). Now, if that is not something you wish to do, then do not do it.

Now, if you wish to seek God, do so. But, picking at nits and find fault with human beings and their imperfections is hardly the way. Increasing your own understanding of others, allowing for their weaknesses and your own, seeking the truth is all things and perfecting your own actions is much better way in my opinion.

Chris Johnson
May 20th, 2011 at 11:37 am

Tobin, I totally agree that we should seek after the moral, good and true things in life. I’m not saying we should not, nor should we give up the quest.

You have said that I have been “picking at nits and find fault with human beings and their imperfections” rather than improving my actions. But all that has happened is I found out I was living in a fraudulent religion.

According to you, your religion is correct. For a moment, let’s say that you are right, that your religion is the only correct one on earth. Then, what if I had been born Muslim, Catholic or Jehovah’s Witness? What would trigger me to learn about Mormonism if I already thought I had found the correct religion? For example, what would drive me out of the Jehovah’s Witness church? I would need an open mind, humility, a zeal for truth and critical thinking skills(like a detective). Perhaps if I critically analyzed their claims I would see through their numerous failed prophecies. But if I bring this concern up to the JW elders, their excuses would sound very similar to yours — have more faith, don’t give up…

ANY RELIGION can tell you to have more faith in their particular doctrines.

ANY RELIGION can tell you to go ask God if it’s true or not. It turns out that if you already like your religion, or expect it to be true, then the chances are, you will get the answer that you are in the correct religion.

ANY RELIGION can give you good moral teachings.

To find truth however, we must look beyond these blind spots and analyze all angles like a detective might. For me, if the Book of Mormon is not true, then the church cannot be what it claims. It’s that simple.

Does the Book of Mormon give us anything that we can test that Joseph Smith had absolutely no access to because it was not available in his time period? Yes! DNA. Where does God and Joseph tell us we should find the Lamanite DNA?

According to God in D&C 54:8 — (…) take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.

So the D&C is telling us that the Lamanites were the Native Americans near Missouri. As a confirmation let’s see what the Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.” (Joseph Smith, The Wentworth Letter)

When the DNA was tested, why did it show up Asian rather than Semetic?

This is all the information you need to know that the Book of Mormon is standing on a weak foundation. But of course there is more. You would like us to believe that the LDS church says the Book of Mormon was not translated by the power of God, but by humans lifting and copying from the Bible. Well this is what God says about the translation process:

D&C 1:29 (…) Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.

D&C 20:8 And gave (Joseph) power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon;

So if we later find KJV errors in a Book that was supposed to be translated from “power on high” and “by the power of God” then we know that someone is not telling the truth.

You say that Joseph did it to save time, but if he did so, then he did not use the “power of God” but instead used the “power of man”… thus contradicting God in the D&C.

Also you said that translating was great effort. I ask you, did God have to make it that way? I mean really, it’s 2011 and we have Google Translate. It’s not perfect, but it’s practically effortless — you throw the English in one end, and the translation comes out the other end. Google Translate uses sophisticated error-reducing processes to ensure the best possible translation. Don’t you think God would have a much more powerful, much more error prone, faster and convenient translating system? But according to you God wouldn’t want it to be easy. God wants translating to be hard — for no good reason, he just wanted to make it so hard that Joseph had to resort to human inefficiencies and copy errors into the Book of Mormon rather than sticking to the program. Well now we are in quite a mess. Apparently God didn’t think it was necessary to have an error checking system built into his Genius translating process. It doesn’t sound very well thought out for an all powerful, all knowing, super intelligent God. Unless of course it was all according to plan.

Yes, God wanted the KJV errors in the Book of Mormon because he wanted it to look like a fraud so that people like me would leave the church and cause my mother grief and my family grief.

I just want to share with you how happy I am now that I’ve left such a twisted world view. I don’t have to come up with crazy reasons to make the Book of Mormon appear true against all odds. I don’t have to come up with crazy reasons why Joseph Smith had 33 wives and even married women who already had husbands. I don’t have to come up with crazy reasons why the Book of Abraham doesn’t match the Egyptian Papyrus and many historical facts. I don’t have to come up with crazy reasons why the church did not allow blacks to be married in the Temple or to have the Priesthood. I don’t have to come up with crazy reasons why over 95% of the people who ask God if the Book of Mormon is true don’t get an answer in the affirmative.

Life is so much simpler now. I am happier, more hopeful and motivated to make life better for all those around me, including you. That’s why I made this video — because there is hope at the end of the dark tunnel.

Avon
May 20th, 2011 at 7:51 am

You know Tobin, you remind me so much of Joseph Smith himself, I think you would have been happier living in the church back in his time. He claimed to have spoken with God, just like you have, also reading your posts you seem to be convinced that you know something that the rest of us dont (including the Bretheren). I regard JS a pius fraud, along with Sydney Rigdon they duped the world with their ‘career’ religion. They were very, very clever and I respect them for that, but the times are catching up with them – the game is up.

I do enjoy reading your posts though, but in my opinion your belief system is deeply flawed. As Chris says, there is no Satan and possibly no God.

Tobin
May 20th, 2011 at 9:40 am

We shall see my friend. It is just a matter of time.

Celestialbound
May 20th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Tobin, let’s make this very simple. I want to get to the core of the matter. We have you who has met god and been told the LDS church is true. We also have Chris’ brothers experience with a person who met Jesus and told her not to join the LDS church as it was not true. How are you or her, or outsiders to determine which is the correct revelation, as both cannot be true?

Tobin
May 20th, 2011 at 7:08 pm

That’s true. We both can’t be right. Let’s suppose Chris’s bother’s experience with that person is correct. What about it leads one to God exactly? What part of the instruction helps us understand God better, gives us an alternative, invites others to God, or teaches us anything? It seems like a very useless direction. While I on the other hand, my experiences lead me to believe in God, confirms God exists for me, and makes me passionate about inviting others to seek their own experiences with God and make up their own mind. The difference seems clear to me.

Celestialbound
May 20th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Tobin, if that is the best defence that you can muster for your beliefs, hopefully even you will be able to overcome the cog-dis and realize what a poor method for determining truth you are presenting.

What if she already had the right god, and god was just making sure she did not fall prey to falsehood? What if she understood god better, or rather didn’t come to understand god more poorly, or a combination of the two from the vision? What if she knows now what god to invite others to, or what to warn others against? It could have taught her truth, helped her make the right decision.

Further, how would you determine who had the right revelation between yourself, and someone who answered exactly the same way you just did, but in another faith tradition with a contradictory god to yours? How would you then tell the difference?

I am asking questions because it is my nature to try to lead others to the conclusion rather than give it to them. Tobin, if the best your plan has to offer is subjective experience, filtered by personal interpretation, that can be used by any religion as a way to determine that religion is true, and that way has led to many different, contradictory revelations/meetings with god, then your belief/plan is demonstrably weak.

To avoid this, you must be able to show how your revelation is from the real source, other than just assuming it, otherwise, any other claim is just as valid as yours, thereby making all the claims useless for determining truth, and more likely than not, placing those professing those experiences as ones having undergone some intense psychological experience.

I look forward to your response attempting to justify your position.

Tobin
May 20th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Celestialbound,

I’m not offering you one. I have no need to justify myself. I am saying get your own experiences or do not. That’s up to you. You pick your own path in this world, either towards or away from God. I have little concern for other religions or proving my beliefs are better than anyone else’s. That is unimportant to me. What is important to me is that you seek the truth and ultimately God and get your own experiences. I view other beliefs are waypoints on the path, but with clearly marked stopping points. Islam will lead you to God. Buddhism will lead along much the same path to self-relatization and enlightenment. Catholism and Christianity on the whole will lead you to a belief in Christ. Yet, each will lead you only so far and only has so much to contribute. Mormonism is much the same and has roadblocks as well. Whether you choose to stop there or go on and discover God for yourself is entirely up to you. I cannot offer you anything else, and certainly have no interest in justifying myself to you at all. You can find all the justification you want by speaking to God yourself.

Hava
May 21st, 2011 at 12:52 pm

First off, Chris, that was an AMAZING video. I found myself laughing, clapping, and nodding my head throughout. BRAVO! I could not believe how much of what you said paralleled what happened in my life.

I started out by doubting the existence of God, and THEN investigating the truthfulness of the gospel, strangely enough. I think that’s interesting, and points to how much time the LDS Church spends on those two topics. God is real, yes, that’s fine, and that Jesus dude is good too, but let’s focus on the important things: The teachings of the latter-day prophets, the truthfulness and accuracy of the BOM, how JS was a prophet of God…If someone took the time to compare the lesson manuals used by the Church for Sunday School – do a percentage of how much time was spent on teaching that the Church is true, JS was a true prophet, the BOM is true, etc, vs how much time is spent on God, Jesus, and their works and teachings, they would find a system way out of whack for a church that professes to be the Church of Jesus Christ. I swear, more emphasis is placed on doing visiting teaching and having food storage than the Atonement!

Anyway, after starting to question the LDS Church, I spent a LOT of time reading different books, websites, etc, and actually started applying science in the quest for truth. Like you said in your video – if it’s true, then you should be able to slice it 30 different ways and still have it prove to be true. I sliced the LDS Church one way and found it to be a giant lie. It only went downhill from there.

Oh, and you mentioned how some revelations come true, but that most do not. I have a story of my own about that:

I was married to my husband for 5+ years, and we weren’t having children. Both of us wanted kids so bad, we could taste it, but every month, here came my period. I used to see pregnant women in the store and come home crying because I just couldn’t understand why they were getting pregnant, and I wasn’t. I would have been a GREAT mother. Why didn’t God love me enough to give me kids? Especially since my patriarchal blessing talked about having children.

Then one night, I wasn’t feeling well at all – I can’t remember now what I was sick with, but it was bad enough that we called the bishop and had him come over to give me a blessing. As my husband and the bishop had their hands on my head, suddenly my bishop started into a completely different direction (after blessing me to get better, of course). He said that I would soon have a baby growing in my belly and that we were going to be blessed with children.

I was in shock. Although the bishop was a good family friend, I’d never once discussed our infertility with him. How did he know that I had been praying for a baby? I called my mother and my sister that night, as excited as could be. I started making plans – when to quit work, how much money could be saved between now and then, which room to convert into a nursery…I almost went out and bought diapers (I went to the store for the express reason to look at them, believe it or not, LOL!) but decided not to start buying anything until I had a positive pregnancy test.

I did, however, buy baby stuff at garage sales – I figured it wasn’t much money and since I’d already figured out which baby scheme I wanted to use for the nursery, I just started picking things up as I found them.

Well, as I’m sure everyone can well guess, I never did end up pregnant. In fact, I got divorce from my husband a couple of years after that blessing, and am now happily living with my fiance, who had a vasectomy years ago and cannot have any children. I will never have a baby, period.

I eventually sold all of the baby crap in a garage sale of my own, and I no longer even desire to have a baby of my own. My fiance has a daughter (eight years old) and I love her as my own. Between that and my fulfilling career, I don’t need a child any longer to “complete me.” Quite frankly, if I’m not complete as an adult, then I’ll never be complete as an adult plus child.

So, that’s my story. I’m so much happier now, out of the church, and no longer having to contort myself to fit its rule and ideas. I used to be just the tiny bit worried every time I talked to a non-member because what if they said something that I didn’t have a ready answer for? What if they caused me to question my beliefs? I remember having the daydream of moving into a town where only Mormons could live, and then that way, I could never have cause to question my faith in the LDS Church. Looking back on it now, I realize that if I am so worried about believing, perhaps it’s because I don’t have a reason for that belief in the first place, but all I knew at the time was, my whole life was wrapped up in that church. If I ever left, I didn’t know what I would do.

Well, it turns out, I would live a much more fulfilling life. :-) Here’s to unanswered prayers, and a love of science and truth!

Chris Johnson
May 22nd, 2011 at 1:06 am

Thank you for sharing your story Hava, I can relate! I am pretty sure I blessed a woman on my mission that she would have a child (even though she was physically unable to up until that point) I wonder if she was ever able to conceive or if she finally found out that the church was a lie? Maybe I will never know, but it’s sad to build up people’s hopes like that and then have it dashed to pieces when reality strikes where it hurts the most.

gmotct
May 21st, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Chris, thanks again for the video. Also, I envy your patience and persistence. It has to be overwhelmingly frustrating to debate someone who repeats nonsensical arguments and arrogantly insists that everyone else is being nonsensical.

Your continued replies, thoughtfully considered and full of reason and logic, are inspiring. I probably would have devolved into spewing curse words and ad hominem attacks by now.

Chris Johnson
May 22nd, 2011 at 1:22 am

Thanks for the encouragement.

I used to defend the church and zealously try to convert or reactivate people. The least I can do is a bit of damage control :)

Seriously though, I don’t think true progress can be made until humanity sheds itself of falsehood and superstition… and humanity has a long way to go yet.

Johnny
May 21st, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Chris,
Very insightful and engaging discussion. To claim that JS the uneducated farm boy did write the BoM is indeed not possible. Because it is a combination of many sources (Ethan Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Solomon Spaulding, Cowdery etc.) and writers.

It is clearly proven by the article you referenced earlier by Stanford:

http://llc.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/465.abstract

I’d encourage anyone to review and try to debunk this report. One of the things I learned in Grad School (marketing) is that if you want someone to chose Option B out of A, B and C you tell the target audience option A is the perfect answer but is very $$ option C is not very desirable which leaves option B as the obvious choice.

Through Church propaganda and speaking from the pulpit they will tell the membership not to go looking at Ethan Smith or Spaulding even though it is like an Option A, option C is Joseph would have written it and option B is that he actually translated it.

By the way, many times the church doesn’t want you to start looking at certain things and will place the “boggy man” there so one doesn’t go look for it.

Chris Johnson
May 22nd, 2011 at 1:59 am

It’s a great insight. Why did the church come up with the idea that there should be 3 at the head of the church? Were there 3 men vying for power? Sidney threatened at times to “Expose the Secrets of the Church”… I wonder what they were? And I wonder why he had all his writings burned?

Avon
May 22nd, 2011 at 4:41 am

Hi Chris – as stated in my earlier comment, for me Sydney Rigdon holds the keys to the whole hoax of Mormonism. Did you read Craig Criddle’s article that I linked to?
I think he never addmitted his part in everything because he would have implicated himself totally, with JS dead, the government would have come for him full steam ahead and had his head on a plate, and then maybe his family as co conspiritors as they certainly knew abou it all.

Chris Johnson
May 24th, 2011 at 11:01 am

I’ve seen Criddle’s presentation and I think there might be something to it.

Honor and reputation are a big thing to a lot of people. If Sydney had admitted to the fraud, he and his family would have forever lost their good name and gone down in history as being involved in one of the largest religious scams of all time.

It looks like Oliver held on tight to the secret as well and only told his close business associate. Oliver had a hard enough time advancing his career because his name was associated with Mormonism. It would have been far more difficult for him if he told everyone that not only was he involved in Mormonism, but that he had lied about it and cheated thousands of people out of their tithing money and even their lives.

Avon
May 25th, 2011 at 10:53 am

Yes, their good reputations would certainly have been well trashed if they had come clean. I feel particularly aggrevied that these people came to my country (England) and lied to my fellow countrymen about the whole set up back in Utah particularly – these poor, trusting people gave everything to the church, only to have been cheated. As you so clearly point out, some even lost their lives to the fraud, some I believe were even murdered as apotates trying to return to New York to get passage home. Brigham Young was particularly ruthless in his treatment of English convert migrants, many could not return home because the church had taken everything they owned – they were trapped in a strange, barren land five thousand miles from home. May BY rot in hell – if there was one !!
I’m enjoying talking with someone that shares my views on this!

Tobin
June 14th, 2011 at 7:46 am

Just reading through the comments. Haven’t been on the forums lately and something here just made me smile. It is nice to claim that the BoM were written by other people, but knowing the history of the church and when these various actors showed up I find it hard to remain silent when people say stuff like clearly JS didn’t write the BoM, he must have had help from these other people. That just flies in the face of the facts published by a number of well regarded authors and historians, even Grant Palmer who has flown the chicken coup. I’m sure he’d have a good laugh at the suggestion that any of these other people had a hand in this. Listen, it is very simple – either JS wrote the thing (Grant’s informed opinion at the moment) or it is from God. Anything less is just factually inaccurate. If you can’t believe the JS could write it, maybe you should check with God instead then because these other theories are just silly.

emeth_veneeman
May 25th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Hey Chris, just want to call your attention to a question I asked hidden about midway up the thread. I appreciate your logical straightforward approach to questions related to Mormonism and religion, and thanks also to your brother for starting what may be the first ever anti-Mormon site that is more respectful than it is caustic. I hope that you will always maintain your interest in discerning truth rather than maintaining your ideology. If both sides would do that, these discussions might actually get us somewhere.

Chris Johnson
May 27th, 2011 at 3:13 am

I have responded to it Emeth. Thanks!

Steve Lee
May 25th, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I laugh at the continued discussion about the BOM. Why spend another moment discussing this dinosaur of a belief system?! It’s a joke! It’s a way to torture yourself! If you enjoy feeling like CRAP daily, be a Mormon! If you want to feel better daily about yourself, your family, your kids, your existence, dump the Mormon religion right out of your life and feel better immediately! I spent 38 years in full activity, every day was a confusing mess. From infancy to adulthood, it’s a twisted mess! Let it go! Transcend and be really free. You’ll love it.

Avon
May 26th, 2011 at 11:19 am

We are not all where you are Steve, many of us are still figuring the whole thing out – as I’m sure you know, a painful experience. Hopefully we will all eventually be where you are now – fully recovered.

Steve
May 26th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I lived in Utah for about four years. It has some amazing and beautiful natural scenery, and Salt Lake City actually has some rather nice bookstores and restaurants. It would be a much better place, however, if the Mormons who dominate that state became ex-Mormons like Chris.

Warren
May 26th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Hey Chris, brilliant video, compelling and credible. In the end I found myself verbally agreeing with you. I’m an ex-Christian of the Baptist persuasion but all the principles you expound can be used to discount and disprove any religion. The mere fact that every single religion has millions of adherents that firmly believe their faith is real shows immediately they are all bunk. Well done mate – so many people will be helped by you. All the best.

Chris Johnson
May 27th, 2011 at 4:33 am

Thanks Warren! That’s interesting that you are neither LDS nor ex-LDS Warren, but you still found some benefit here. I’m glad!

And I feel the same as you: There are too many religions with millions of adherents that all firmly believe their faith is real.

I really think science is where to turn for truth. It is more flexible, easily updated when it turns out we were wrong and the methods for uncovering truth are constantly being refined. Scientists will even give you their expected margin of error. What religion gives us that?

“Oh by the way, in the afterlife we are expecting our religion to have a 56.4% chance of being 83.5% true for 14.2% of the population plus or minus 3.7 percent.” LOL

Reginald Selkirk
May 27th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Studies have shown that if you add an extra digit to your percentages, 62.54% of readers will find them more convincing.

Thin-ice
May 26th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Tobin (obviously a solid Mormon) calls it a strawman argument that King James errors are in the Book of Mormon, by saying that JS simply stopped using the magic glasses when translating as he came across Bible passages that he knew, and wrote from memory.
Tobin, that is an incredibly lame excuse. The logical conclusion from YOUR argument, then, is that the BOM is NOT a true translation from the Golden Tablets: it’s riddled with errors just because JS was being lazy and sloppy. Why would God (who is a Mormon I guess) allow JS to do that? If God knew there were errors in the KJV, then why didn’t he tell JS to use the magic glasses for ALL the translation?
Not to worry, evanglelical christians use the same BS excuses when defending their “inerrant” and “infallible” Holy Bible.

Tobin
June 14th, 2011 at 7:11 am

Sorry to not have responded to you Thin-ice, but I’ve been out of the country doing work and haven’t had time to comment in this forum.

Thin-ice, my comment is that it is not earth shattering to notice that the Book of Mormon contains a number of copied verses of the KJV of the Bible that JS had in his possession. Even a very cursory review of the BoM (I’ve known about this since the first time I read the BoM over 30 years ago) should make that obvious. That has never been a major concern of mine (nor should it be of any “true” Mormon). I also know a foreign language and I don’t find this very odd nor difficult to understand. If something has been translated already, it is often much easier to rely on the prior translation (even if it is not exact), then go to the trouble of retranslating something. Especially if the prior translation is generally accepted (even if flawed). Also, it isn’t the point of the Book of Mormon to correct the Bible. If God had wanted JS to do that, he would have had JS retranslate the Bible instead. Now, if you want to know that JS isn’t a fraud or that the Book of Mormon is true, there is a very simple test. Speak to God about it. If God doesn’t answer you, IT ISN’T TRUE. In that case, go find something else to do with yourself after that.

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 14th, 2011 at 11:11 pm

I know we’ve spoken about the whole “spirit” issue quite a few times… but it still makes me wonder how you can believe in a God who answers prayers in a contradictory manner… even if you HAVE met the guy! ;)

“If God doesn’t answer you, IT ISN’T TRUE.”

Many people have done this and believe it isn’t true because they have received no answer or received a “negative” answer… so the test seems to have failed, and yet you still believe it is true. How can it be true for some, but not true for others?

Tobin
June 14th, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Hi Dan,

That’s not important. The important message of Mormonism is meet the guy and do what he says. If God tells you to do ‘X’, then do ‘X’ – but you have to get to talking to the guy first. However, most of those of other faiths profess a belief in God, but never bother to actually meet the guy. Mormons that have “feelings” or turn into regular Christians (why?) don’t have a really good reason to be Mormon to start with. I believe you should just go atheist and never should have bothered with Mormonism to start with. After all, JS is only believable if God can talk to us because if not, there is no good reason to believe in gold plates and all the other stuff he said.

Now, lately I’ve been reading a lot of Grant Palmer’s stuff. He’s a smart guy, knows the history, and recognizes that only one of two things is true. Either JS wrote the Book of Mormon or what he said is all true. I would encourage ex-mormons to read his books. At least if you are going to say you don’t believe in this stuff, have some good reasons and knowledge of the history behind your position. Grant btw does not believe the JS story and believes that JS wrote the Book of Mormon. I would tend to agree with his assessment if I didn’t know better. But at least he makes a very good arguement, even though I believe he is wrong.

Tobin

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 15th, 2011 at 12:31 am

“That’s not important.”

I think this is where our big disagreement is. I believe it is the single most important conversation to have, and you do not think it is important at all. So maybe I can explain why I think it is important and see what you make of it, because it directly relates to your encouragement to “ask God”.

I questioned the validity of my “personal revelation” that I relied on as a member of the LDS faith. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you do not see these kinds of feelings as a basis for a testimony right? Anyway, after questioning these feelings and coming to the conclusion that it was far more likely to be a product of my desires/emotions and imagination, I began to see things very differently. I began to understand how fallible our human minds are. How susceptible our minds are to suggestion, bias, false memory etc. I have never had any “visions” etc, but I began to see how some people would be capable of pushing their mental faculties far beyond what I had felt as a religious person. Therefore, when you encourage others to “ask God”, I no longer see an innocent test, but a situation where the likelihood of self deception increases. Therefore, I need someone to establish a good reason for such a test (validity of such a test) if I were to take it seriously, rather than a simple trick of the mind that would lead to false evidence. Does that make sense?

Tobin
June 15th, 2011 at 11:56 am

Hi Dan,

That makes sense, but feelings are insufficient. The Parable fo the Two Builders is most appropriate in this case. One builds his house upon the sand and the other upon a rock. Building upon the rock is knowing the Lord, experiencing him, and doing his will. When we do anything else, we are easily washed away and swayed.

Let me give you an example of two men I admire. My grandfather, who was the temple president in England, and my uncle, Eugene England, were both successful, intelligent men. Both knew the history of the church and the leaders of the church personally. Neither would have been afraid to turn away from the church if it wasn’t true or a fraud and they certainly would have known. However, the reason they did not and what encouraged me is because they saw Jesus Christ in the flesh. That is why they were Mormon. The reason I did not believe in the church when I was younger is that I had not yet experienced anything like that and so I was atheist for a good part of my life. But after I did, I changed my view as will everyone here. They may not experienced God yet in this life, but they will eventually and so that is why I say it is not important. Be good people and seek the truth and do what is right. Everything else will fall into place in time.

Tobin

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 15th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I like that answer.

I hold to the idea that preayer increases the likelihood of hallucinatory experiences. I’m still wondering how you can encourage people to pray, without giving evidence that this is not a method of self deception.

Tobin
June 15th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Real prayer is just a conversation between you and the Lord where you speak to any man face-to-face. As you might expect, those types of conversations are rare.

However, I would encourage people to spend time meditating at least once per day. Finding 10 minutes or more per day to center oneself in silence, thinking about the challenges and concerns you confront, and not be bothered by distractions and other things going in your life is helpful I think. If you are concerned about deluding yourself, don’t speak to the Lord. Let the Spirit speak to you first; after all, the Lord is well aware of us and what our concerns are.

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 15th, 2011 at 11:45 pm

That’s why I like you Tobin. :)

I can certainly agree with you.

Doug Forbes
May 28th, 2011 at 3:05 am

In the interest of brevity, I will confine my remarks to my current favorite of several scenarios wherein the majority of American Indians living today could be descended from Israelite settlers who arrived about 2600 years ago.
The facts are these.
1. The Y-chromosome haplogroup, Q1a3b, includes about 15% of Yemenite Jews (Shen 2004)
2. The Y-chromosome haplogroup, Q1a3a, includes about 30% of Native Americans in the US (Hammer 2005)
3. Q1a3a is defined by the M242 and M346 mutations.
4. Q1a3b is defined by the M242, M346 and M323 mutations.
The theory is this.
If you do not look for the M323 mutation, Q1a3b can be incorrectly classified as Q1a3a. Until such time as a reasonable search is made for the M323 mutation in America, the possibility of a direct genetic link between the Middle East and pre-Columbian America via this strain of the Q haplogroup remains open.

Chris Johnson
June 2nd, 2011 at 2:24 am

Q1a3a1 (M3) is a subclade associated with all Indigenous Americas which split off from its parent stock 8000 to 13000 years before Lehi allegedly arrived in the Americas. About five thousand years later Q1a3a1 split into the Q1a3a1a subclade found among Indigenous South Americas, such as the Ticuna and the Wayuu. All this happened before Lehi arrived on the scene, so even if you find the DNA that you need to back up your theory, it is still thousands of years too early to be Israelite.

Tobin
June 14th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Chris,

Don’t you find this to be at least a problem. Let’s suppose the DNA is there (which there is quite a bit of evidence so far to suspect that it may be). Your only argument against it is it is TOO old. That leaves a big problem for you. How did it get there then? Did flying saucers pick people up from the Middle east and drop them off in North America 8000 to 13000 years ago? Let’s also suppose we are wrong about how old the DNA is or when the branching occured was 2600 years ago instead – what then? You actually have evidence for Mormonism instead of against it don’t you.

Tobin

Chris Johnson
June 26th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Tobin, if you ignore carbon dating, mtDNA mutation rates, Y chromosome mutation rates, Quantitative comparative linguistics and archaeology, then certainly you could be right :) .

It seems that you would rather ignore all evidence in favor of your theophany. People see Buddha, Yama, Vishnu and many other gods… but why does your particular visitation trump theirs? Why would you allow a subjective experience to cause you to selectively ignore science and treat other people’s experiences as inferior?

Tobin
June 27th, 2011 at 7:23 am

You seem to forget that statistics tends to throw out outliers and relying simply on that as the basis for your understanding of the world is not sufficient. You have to account for outliers. If the position is that there is no evidence of mtDNA from the middle east in North America, that position is simply false. WE HAVE OUTLIERS. Now, we have to account for them and understand why and how they got there. On average, you are correct that mutation rates would indicate that the mtDNA is older than 2600 years, but that is the thing – it is ON AVERAGE. Nothing precludes it from having happened much earlier or much later. We cannot be certain of when it actually occurred, but we do know one thing. It is there.

As for your other question, I have to ask so what? My position is IF you have no evidence of God, then don’t believe in God. But, if you do have evidence of God (Buddha, Yama, Vishnu or the Mormon deity), then folow that God. You seem to be of the opinion it is an either-or type of thing. I believe that is limited thinking. I view it as people all experiencing the same deity, but because people have different backgrounds and belief systems (biases) – they experience that same deity in different ways.

Chris Johnson
June 5th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Doug, I just wanted to make a small correction to my previous post. I may have misunderstood your position. You are not saying that you expect the Q1a3a DNA to be the correct DNA, but it sounds like you are hoping that some Q1a3b DNA may have been incorrectly classified in the Q1a3a group. That is one hopeful way of looking at it. The chances seem slim however because Q1a3a has been classified accurately enough to have at least 3 known subclades in the Americas: Q1a3a1a, Q1a3a1b, Q1a3a1c.

May 31st, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Hey Chris,

Nice video. The water analogy is excellent. I never really understood the word “brainwashing” until I realized that the church wasn’t true. Anyways, thanks again. I really liked your video.

TO DOUG FORBES,

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Q Halogroup strain to appear. And if your a TBM; try taking into account what the BOM says about Native Americans and Israelite DNA connections. (Hurry and memorize these verses before the church removes these passages.)

Alma 2: 27
27 And behold, as they were crossing the river Sidon, the Lamanites and the Amlicites, being as numerous almost, as it were, as the sands of the sea, came upon them to destroy them.

Morm. 1: 7
7 The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.

Hel. 3: 8
8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.

4 Ne. 1: 10, 23, 28
10 And now, behold, it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair (white) and delightsome people.

23 And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.

Hel. 3: 7, 9, 11, 14
But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.

So aren’t the Lehites the principle ancestors of the Native Americans? Wait wasn’t that officially changed to ‘among the ancestors’. So let me get this straight. The Lehites were just a small group of people whose DNA got lost because there was already a HUGE civilization established before they arrived? Ree-Donk-U-Lus..

SANDS OF THE SEA!? Finding any Native Americans with Israelite DNA will never happen. Finding the word, Nephi or Lehi in the Americas will never happen. Finding a sword, skeleton or building relating to the BOM will never happen. Why? Because the BOM never happened.

June 6th, 2011 at 3:50 am

That “Truth can be sliced and analyzed in 100 different ways and it will always remain true” quote is still echoing in my mind even weeks after I viewed your video. Brilliant point. I wish that schools would teach the scientific method more clearly and why it is such an important tool.

The scientific theories left standing after peer review attacks are the theories which are used until they can be disproved. This makes me want to take a closer look at the particular attacks that *were* made on current accepted scientific theories along with the refutations, and compare it with the attacks on the church and the quality of the apologetics. If the church were true, one would think that the LDS apologetics would be much stronger than the refutations of attacks on a supported scientific theory, since supported scientific theories are only assumed truth at least temporarily.

It is interesting how the church has removed the label of “doctrine” from any out-dated conference talks by the prophets. If the church is true, it should be able to boldly state that all of the conference material from the prophets past or present will remain true forever.

The church recently came out with a new handbook, and members have been asked to trade in their old ones. I would love to get my hands on both versions to see which claimed truths have needed white-washing.

cc
June 8th, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I can only thank you ! Your clip applies to ALL religions and I wish everyone would have the same approach to their ”doubts” but religions have the same(ish) way of stopping people from seeking the truth like its the devil spewing lies or your own brain (thats somehow wrong lol) trying to confuse you. ANYWAYS THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU :D

Sammie
June 11th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

What if it wasn’t Jesus’ voice that your mom heard? What if it was the master of deception’s voice?

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 11th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

How would you suggest people tell the difference? I used to tell people as a Mormon missionary that the difference can be found in Galatians 5:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance”

Jorge
June 11th, 2011 at 1:10 pm

And there in lies why I can not stand the Mormon RELIGION. Curse the Mormon church and all it’s leaders – their fate is sealed as long as they continue to pedal their lies. This man, who discovered the lies of the Mormon church on his own has COMPLETELY turned his back on the truth of God – completely. Sorry – but you are wrong,,,God does exist as does Satan. You are no better off than when you were a mormon. You’ve just been fed lies your whole life. I challenge you to take the holy bible and slice it up as you say and test it. God is real – religions – ALL religions have error in them. It’s just the degree of error that damages your faith and unfortunately you were brought up in a cult your whole life.

June 13th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I am grateful for the time you took to put your thoughts into words. I really enjoyed the video and reading your story. I had a similar experience and am trying to get through it these days. It’s a hard transition to make and I feel kind of stuck most of the time. I hope one day I will be free too.

Chris Johnson
June 14th, 2011 at 5:59 am

You’re definitely not alone, there’s lots of friendly people out here that would love to help.

Sheirza
June 17th, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Chris, first of all I want to say THANK YOU! I am currently going through the process of trying to determine the church’s “truth” right now, and it really helps to watch these videos and hear people explain their views and concerns. They are the same concerns I have, just more sure of themselves and solidified. I’m still wavering in my beliefs. I am curious though if you would answer/discuss some things with me though, via email. I would post them here but I feel that it might be a little inappropriate, especially considering the types of conversations you’ve been having here with Emeth and Tobin. lol my concerns and doubts come from a different source other than the BOM and JS which seems to be what you’re talking about for the most part. :P

Dan Johnson (admin)
June 18th, 2011 at 12:14 am

Hi Sheirza!

I was speaking with my brother Chris (in the video) recently and he has been a bit busy with his conversation with Emeth lately- as a result he said he needed to focus more on work and family. Would it be possible for myself or my friend Dustin (his video here) to attempt to answer some of your questions?

Chris Johnson
June 18th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Hi Sheirza,

I would love to help! You can contact me via Skype: chris.johnson.s5

June 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Hello Chris,

I’m an ex Mormon atheist, father of 3 boys, married for nine years, gay, and out. I’m committed to my family and my wife, so I’m in what’s called an mixed-orientation marriage. Approximately 2 million Americans are currently in or were once in a mixed-orientation marriage, and it’s actually what my research topic is on for my dissertation in Human Development & Family Studies. I came out to my wife about my atheism and my sexual orientation two years ago.

One commenter, Michael (May 15th) asked about your wife’s reaction to the changes in your theological views, and I have the same question for you. You can reply here or email me at prozim@gmail.com.

All the best,

Kevin Zimmerman
Iowa

Michelle V.
June 20th, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Thank you for your story and video. You are a very intelligent person. I just wanted to share with you what I found and ask if you’ve looked at the following issues in the BOM.

Having been born into the church, I was baptized 31 years ago. Almost 2 years ago, I began an intense study of the scriptures in order to have all the answers my teenage children would ever need and to be able to bullet proof my testimony and that of my kids and husband.

I read in 3 Ne. that Isaiah’s words were so very important to study and so I did. But this time I wanted to go the extra mile and even learn about the people at the time. I started making a time chart as I read Isaiah and compared it to history books. I also followed the instructions in the chapter headings of the BOM where it says “compare to Isaiah ….”

What I learned is that the BOM copies and pastes the chapters of Isaiah, word for word, even verse # for verse #, adding words here and there and at times adding sentences and verses. These additions sometimes change the meaning of the KJB Isaiah verses and chapters. At the time, I was fine with the changes as I believed them to be inspired. But as I made my timeline, I came across, what is for me, a problem.

Isaiah chapter 44:28- chapter 45:1 is speaking of Cyrus in present tense, who is the Lord’s anointed to who will free God’s people. The timeline for this event, according to the history books, is about 537 bc. These later chapters of Isaiah appeared to me to be written around 537 bc or even closer to 500′s bc. This led me to look into the book of Isaiah and what time period it was thought to have been written.

To my dismay, I found that scholars do believe there were multiple authors of the book Isaiah, some parts written in the 700′s bc and later chapters written around 500 bc. This meant that the chapters in the BOM that copied the later chapters of Isaiah could not have been on the plates that Joseph “translated” because Lehi left around 597 bc. I have heard apologists say that because of the issues with the dating of Isaiah, the BOM shouldn’t be thought of as a literal history, but a figurative story that was meant to inspire us to come to Christ.

This didn’t set well with me and I began studying the Bible, looking at courses offered by Yale University online, and the studies and published books by Bart Ehrman. I learned about verses, and sections of the bible that were added or changed by scribes hundreds of years after the original texts were written. Some of these verse are quoted in the BOM. To me, that means these verses were not on the plates that Joseph translated.

In addition, the Dead Sea Scrolls have failed to support the changes Joseph made to the Bible.

Maybe I could have shelfed a single problematic issue, but taken as a whole picture, I could no longer ignore them. One point after another began to dissolve my testimony and what began as the most sincere study to come to know the scriptures and Heavenly Father better ended in total defeat. I hadn’t even learned any of the real church history until after the historicity of the BOM had dissolved before my eyes.

It takes courage to choose an unpopular path and stories like yours help me in my daily struggle to stand up for what I believe is truth.

Thank you, and if you have studied the problems of Isaiah in the BOM, and if you have time, please let me know what you have found.

Thank you again,
Michelle V.

Avon
June 21st, 2011 at 8:45 am

Hi Michelle – I read with interest your post, I thought you might be interested in a recent article about the Bible written by Jim Whitefield – author of the Mormon Delusion series.
Also, others might find this of interest – see link

http://www.facebook.com/notes/the-mormon-delusion/the-bible-delusion/158764437522672

So much is now coming to light to disprove the Bible and BOM, I think as time goes on poor ole Joe is really getting found out. For me as and Exmo, I think atheism is the only way forward.

Michelle V.
June 28th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Thank you for that website. It’s awesome! They have put a lot of work into it. Thank you :)

Chris Johnson
June 26th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Thanks Michelle,

I hadn’t looked at that particular problem before, so thanks for sharing that Michelle!

After learning that the Book of Mormon was not what it claimed, I began looking into biblical claims and testing them as well. It turned out that the Bible fell apart under similar scrutiny. But for different reasons. Failed prophecies, impossible myths…

I often tell people that if the bible is false, then the Book of Mormon CANNOT be true since it is supporting a false book. It’s all so clear and obvious now. Even on a moral level, I cannot support the bible.

This is the Lord God speaking:

Go, now, attack Amalek, … Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses. (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NAB)
—-

And in another place:

“(Moses speaking) … Go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other, killing even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.” The Levites obeyed Moses, and about three thousand people died that day. (Exodus 32:26-29 NLT)
—-

(There are many more)

I’ve seen people try to defend the atrocities in the bible, but when the atrocity happens to their own family (because some guy was following his supposed “God”) I don’t think these people would happily defend their attacker’s actions.

I believe human life is more precious than that.

Michelle V.
June 28th, 2011 at 7:22 pm

AMEN.

My seminary teacher once told my class that if we read the Old Testament and compared it to the New Testament or BOM, it would appear as there were two completely different Gods. How right he was. I love the Old Testament story in Ezekiel where God is afraid to walk in his own temple because of the wicked humans and has a red mark put on the doors, not sparing even the innocent babes. And that’s supposed to be an example of an omnipotent God??

I have to say, my studies of the Old Testament origins were among some of the most bazaar for me and as a result, I came to the same conclusion you did…if the Bible isn’t what it claimed to be, the BOM CANNOT be true.

Thank you again for your posts!!

Brenda Parsons
June 21st, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Eloquently said!

Robert
July 9th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Very interesting video, Chris. I am a skeptic of many things, especially where religion is concerned. But let me state from the start that I am a devout christian. There is a difference between “religion” and “christianity”. Religion is simply man’s efforts to define God. That’s not what I’m about. On the other hand, Christianity is about a personal relationship with the living creator God.

I enjoyed the video. I must admit too that I was never a mormon. I did read the Book of Mormon but only so that I could better understand the Mormon beliefs.

I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis of truth. We should be able to dissect the truth in any way it still remains truth ! I’ve been a christian for more than 35 years and I’ve certainly had my times of doubt. But whenever I have doubt about something I turn to two sources 1) the bible and 2) ancient writings and texts that either validate a point or render the point false.

I would ask you to consider the truth. I believe the bible to be the truth. We can go back in time and read the writings of contemporaries to the apostles of Jesus Christ to validate the message of the Gospel. One organization I have recently become acquainted with is Ratio Christi (latin for The Reason for Christ). They can be viewed at this website http://ratiochristi.org/. You can be sure the gospel message is true. Christ wwas crucified and resurrected for your sins and mine. In fact, for the whole of humanity. But one thing I find common among religions or beliefs that are not in the mainstream of orthodox christianity is the necessity for extra-biblical texts such as the Book of Mormon. I’m not bashing Mormonism anymore than I would bash the faith of a muslim, Jehovah’s Witness or a Hindu believer. I didn’t write the bible nor did I author the christian faith. What I like about christanity is simpy this: I can go back in time and establish the beliefs of the earliest churches. I can read the commentaries and accounts of those who testified to the existence of the body of believers in Jesus Christ even though they temselves were not believers. You only need to read the writings of Flavius Josephus, Tacitus and many other non-believers to establish the early worship of the christian movement. You can view many of these writings, arguements and commentaries at http://preventingtruthdecay.org/jesusresurrection.shtml

My belief is simple. God loves you just as you are. You have one life to live here. Your eternal destiny is not so much determined by how you live your life here, even though I find that living a Christ centered life is very peaceful and joyful for me, but rather, your eternal destiny is simply based on what you will do with God’s sacrifice for sin in the person of Jeus Christ. What does that mean? Simply put, you either accept God’s sacrifice for your sins and believe that Jesus suffered death on the cross for you or you are lost throughout all of eternity. Jesus conquered man’s greatest fear of death. How? He resurrected from the grave. You can also find evidence of this belief in the link above. I suppose I should stress the word “believe’ or faith because it makes no difference how much physical evidence someone provides to you, without faith it is impossible to believe in God. How to you get this faith? Easy. Pray sincerely and admit to God your lack of faith and ask him to reveal himself to you. That’s what I did in 1978. He didn’t disappoint me. But that’s another story for another time.

I like your approach. Simply be honest with yourself. There is a vrse of scripture that comes to mind as I write this. I will close with that verse. James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

God bless you and may you discover the simple truth of the Gospel.

Chris Johnson
July 11th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

That is interesting Robert.

The bible has more historical value than the Book of Mormon, but after careful testing, it falls apart just as much as the Book of Mormon. I would be cautious in putting so much faith in something so old. I believe the bible was out of date way back in 1830, which is why Joseph felt he needed to update it with a new revelation — the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon clarified and corrected some problems with the Bible, but both books are still out of date, and out of touch with reality. Both books tell me more about the times in which they were produced than what we need to learn about today. Some of the wisdom however is still as valid as it has ever been, so on that point, I can agree with you.

Keir
July 12th, 2011 at 12:07 am

Best line! Bar none! “And of course, to this day, he’s still dead!”

HAHAHAHAHA

Robert
July 12th, 2011 at 12:49 am

I can’t debate the historical validity of the old testament. I have often thought that many of the stories in the old testament were allegorical and containing many metaphors. But one thing I can be certain of is the historical evidence of the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Some say he never existed. But to say this is to deny the historical evidence.

Apologetics is one field of study that I enjoy. It causes me to be prepared always to give a good reason for my faith. I told you in my previous post that I am a skeptic on many things. But when it comes to the question of Jesus Christ and what he did I am not a skeptic. Why? The best testimony you will ever receive about your person and your life is not from your closest friends or family. The best testimony you will receive is found in your adversaries or those who do not believe in you !

I would challenge you to read some of the ancient writings that are still extant. Read the letter of Pliny the Younger Governor of Bythinyia (C. 110 CE) to the Roman Emperor Trajan concerning his handling of the “superstitions of the Christians”. While these writings of Pliny the Younger do not in themselves validate the historicty of Jesus Christ, it does validate that Jesus was being worshipped in Bythynia (modern day Turkey) in his time. Read Tacitus’s history of Nero’s conflagration of Rome and his subsequent killing of the christians. Read the book of Mark in the New Testament which we can reliably date to the period of 60 – 80 AD.

I would sum up my note here simply by saying this. Faith is not something that is tangible. You can’t touch it, feel it, smell it or see it. But faith is what scripture says we must have. The bible says that “faith comes by hearing the word of God”. I steer clear of prophets who claim to have the inside track to God such as Joseph Smith, Jim Jones or more lately Harold Camping. The question is not what will you do with the words of these self proclaimed prophets but what will you do with Jesus? I believe the New Testament is reliable. Certainly, it has been rewritten many times over to bring the wording into contemporary languages but that does not negate the core theme of the New Testament, that is – Christ suffered, died and was resurrected for your sin and mine and your eternal destiny will be determined by what you choose to do with this knowledge.

I invite you to do what I did in 1978 when I stood outside alone on a clear Saturday night staring up to the stars and pouring out my doubts to a God I wasn’t sure really existed. I simply opened up and said God, do you know what my greatest fear is? I’m afraid that one day I’ll discover that you don’t really exist. (this stems from my background of being raised in the church as a child). But, God, if you really exist I want to know you personally. He didn’t disappoint me. God is up to the challenge because he truly does love us. Three weeks later I had a life changing experience when I asked Jesus to come in and rule my life.

Tobin
July 12th, 2011 at 5:26 am

Well Robert, I wish you the bets of luck with Chris. I think he’s an atheist now though. :)

I appreciate that you believe in Christ as well. I generally like Christians except for the right-wing in the US. I just have to wonder why they have so much faith in a magic book though. The Bible contains alot of stories and magic sayings, but there really is no reason to believe in it any more than the Book of Mormon if the Christian God no longer speaks. I often wonder why Christians believe in just a book (now going on 2,000 years since the last chapter was written). Of course, the general excuse is that God said he was done talking to us. I wonder what all the Bible believers are going to do when Jesus returns. Is he going to be mute?

Chris Johnson
July 12th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

(Emeth, this is my response to your comments above)

After reading your comments regarding Isaiah — it looks like we can both agree that Joseph Smith used available sources to construct the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon.

Next you pointed out some parallels without any baseline to compare to. You have done what a person of any religion can do — you have looked for patterns, and as expected, you have found patterns. But what quantity and what quality of patterns would we expect to find if the church was not what it claimed? Without a null hypothesis how can you judge the significance of your parallels? Would a non-believer really be persuaded by the fact that Joseph took parts of the New Testament (Rev. 19:21) to rewrite the Book of Mormon’s Isaiah chapters as you have suggested? It seems quite a stretch to imagine that this is in Joseph Smith’s favor.

So far you have been slicing the Book of Mormon in a single way — Looking for parallels to support your claims. Have you tried any other methods? Have you tried creating falsifiable hypotheses as a real scientist or detective might do? Anyone can search and find patterns that support their beliefs, but such techniques are used and abused by fraudulent religions as well. Again I will pick on the Flat Earth Society, but there are many others… :)

I believe it is time for us to create an experiment together. Something we can both agree to and test. We both admit that we are biased, but that can be a strength. If we use our differing views then we can collaborate together to create a fair and testable hypothesis, then we can conduct a fair experiment. Something that has never been sliced and tested before.

The truth does not hide from analysis, it does not cower from debate, it only grows brighter under examination.

What do you think? Send me any ideas that you would like to use in an experiment. We can refine them until we are both satisfied with the parameters. We will see where the cards fall.

emeth_veneeman
July 12th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Formalism can be a good thing if you do it correctly, but I’m not really interested in going down that path, for a couple reasons. For starters, if you do it incorrectly, it can be riddled with more problems than using common sense and good judgment. And when it comes to matters of the spirit, I can’t even begin to guess how you might do it correctly. We’ve already discussed certain problems with our most obvious tests. If your computer is looking for “war” and the field it comes across is “battle,” the results are going to be wrong. If I’m right and there were at least three different good reasons for Joseph Smith to change the word raiment to remnant, aside from the phonetic similarity, then it is probably impossible to design an algorithm to test it before we know what we’re looking for. My point, by the way, was not necessarily that that example proves that “the Church is true,” it was more along the lines that Dan, in his analysis, immediately flagged that line as a possible indicator of deception, and I’m saying slow down, there may just be a few different ways of looking at it. (Certainly I don’t see any algorithm or test that he might have used to prove that it is evidence of deception.) Now, if you believe that it is likely for Joseph Smith to have made the connection between Isaiah and Revelation as he was ripping through the Book of Mormon copying KJV material while indiscriminately slashing italicized words, then fine. I think that’s a stretch, particularly since those sorts of connections are almost too innumerable to count. But as I said above, I can’t prove you wrong, and I’m unlikely to put too much effort into trying.

A couple analogies come to mind. My sister teaches junior high math, and she always tells her students that if their answers don’t make sense, then their math is probably wrong. If Tommy buys three ten cent candies and five twenty cent candies and you calculate that he spent $130 on candy, your math is probably wrong. If we make a mistake in our starting assumptions, like using an unbounded namespace, and conclude that Joseph Smith guessed the name Mahijah because he had a 98% chance of doing so, well… something went wrong in our math. You can go there if you want, but I’ll be honest, it looks just as plain to me that something significant is going on as you claim it looks to you that something significant isn’t going on. And trying to be formal about it isn’t going to solve the dilemma, trust me.

Let’s go to another analogy, this one a little more familiar. I am holding a glass of liquid, and I want to determine if the liquid is water. So I look at it, and it is has a bit of white murkiness to it. I know from previous experience that water is clear. So I come up with a reasonable test: if the liquid isn’t clear, then it definitely isn’t water! Well, think about it: it could be a glass of water and have air bubbles in it. It might be tainted with a small drop of food coloring. I might have cataracts. But this is, in fact, a glass of water, and my first, clearest test has failed to identify it as such.

It raises a very difficult question, to which I don’t claim to have the answer: how can I know if my tests are valid to begin with? Your theory is that it needs to be tested in several different ways, right? That should eliminate any bias from a single test.

Let’s modify the scenario just a little. Suppose that I am holding a glass of water and all my tests have proven to me that it is water. It’s clear, it tastes like water, and I sent it to the lab and the return results showed 100% H2O. So now I want to use this glass of water to try to identify what else in my environment might qualify as water. I look up at the sky and I see a big white puffy cloud. I want to know if this cloud and my water have anything in common. I make the following observations: the cloud is big. My water is small. The cloud is white. My water is clear. The cloud is puffy. My water is shapeless. The cloud floats in the sky. My water just sits there. I fly up into the sky (we are being hypothetical, right?) and through the cloud, and I open my mouth and taste it. In texture and perhaps in taste, it is a completely different experience than drinking the glass of water. I can’t send the cloud to the lab for testing, so after these five tests, I have no choice but to conclude that the water and the cloud are made up of entirely different substances.

And I am completely wrong in that conclusion.

It’s admirable to think a belief system should be testable. I agree. And as far as you can quantify data, I say quantify! But one thing you might want to think about is what that quantifiable data actually means. And that is where I think you are often mistaken, because eventually you may have to accept that in some cases it is absolutely meaningless.

Could Joseph’s choice of “Mahijah” have been just a lucky guess or the product of statistical noise, just like the balloon landing in Laura Buxton’s front yard? Well, maybe. It’s a fair question. I need to get your answer to a related question though. In a post from above, you listed the results of your research into the Book of Enoch, and you concluded that the Enoch material from the Book of Moses was dependent on Laurence’s 1821 work. How do you know that the dependence you found between the Book of Moses and the Book of Enoch is significant, and not just the product of random statistical variation? The Book of Enoch is a somewhat lengthy work (much longer than its cousin the Book of Giants). Was there any test you used to determine that Joseph didn’t just “get lucky” 38 times?

Chris Johnson
July 16th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

[I apologize for the late response, but it has been a busy week]

Emeth, you said: “How do you know that the dependence you found between the Book of Moses and the Book of Enoch is significant?”

I found 38 similarities between the 1821 Book of Enoch and Joseph Smith’s Book of Moses, which in itself could be random chance, but it made me curious enough to develop a testable hypothesis, which lead to an objective statistical analysis.

In the objective analysis on the 1821 Book of Enoch I used a number of documents to determine the baseline: 1) The Old Testament 2) The New Testament 3) 1891 Book of Enoch 4) Book of Jubilees 5) Robinson Crusoe.

If you are unhappy with the books chosen for the baseline sample, then choose 50 more books, and I will run the tests again. I am confident that the results will become more significant for the 1821 Enoch as we add more books to the control sample.

Additionally you mentioned something about the length of the document, but in the objective analysis the length of the documents was part of the calculation, so it was not possible for me to fudge the numbers by including longer or shorter documents in the tests.

The results speak for themselves, the Book of Moses appears to have been influenced by the 1821 Book of Enoch.

I like your cloud analogy, and I agree with the point you are bringing up: Certain tests will fail to determine the truth. What types of tests would fail to determine the truth?

Let’s look more closely at your analogy.
————–
Your hypothesis: A cloud and a glass of water are the same thing.

Method: 4 visual tests, 1 taste test.

Results: After 5 tests, no correlation could be found between the cloud and the glass of water.

Conclusion: A cloud and a glass of water are not the same thing.
————–

The problem with the tests in your analogy are:

1) the tests were subjective
2) the tests had no baseline
3) Rather than 5 subjective tests, why not try 100 different types of tests?

Let’s add a hypothetical baseline to your analogy and see what happens:

TEST #1) Size comparison: “Cloud is big, glass of water is small”

For a baseline, get 20 materials. Let’s say the first material is a clump of dirt. Compare a large clump of dirt to a small clump of dirt. It’s still a clump of dirt. Size did not affect the type of material, it’s still a clump of dirt. The same goes for the majority of other materials. With a proper baseline of data, we know that TEST #1 is not a good indicator for the type of material.

TEST #2) Color Comparison: “Cloud is white, glass of water is clear”

For a baseline, get 20 materials. If the first material is soil, does the color matter? If it’s red soil or black soil, isn’t it still soil? If grass is yellow instead of green, does it cease to be grass? If the sky is black rather than blue, is it no longer the sky? If your skin is white, pink, tan, brown or black isn’t it still skin? If iron is shiny or rusty is it still iron? If water is sprayed into a white mist, is it still water? With enough baseline data, it is clear that color is not the best indicator of material type. It is helpful, and we intuitively rely on it, but with baseline data, Test #2 seems to be a poor indicator.

TEST #3) Shape Comparison: “Cloud is puffy, glass of water is shapeless.”

Similar to test #1 & #2, baseline data would show this test to be nearly useless in determining the type of material.

TEST #4) Location Comparison: “Cloud floats in the sky, water in the glass just sits there.”

For a baseline, study clouds and water and other things that can float and sit. Can a satellite float? Can it sit on the ground? Can a balloon float? Can it sit on the ground? Can clouds sit on the ground? Can water be boiled into steam and float like a cloud? Can water be sprayed into a mist and float like a cloud? The baseline for #4 gives insight into the effectiveness of this test.

TEST #5) Taste Comparison: “In texture and perhaps in taste, the cloud is a completely different experience”

Similar to the other tests, can the same material have different textures and tastes? Sweet grapes, sour grapes. Rotten Eggs, Fresh Eggs. Cotton Candy, Candy Cane… Again, by establishing a proper baseline, the test’s weaknesses can be known, and we gain further insight into the truth. Test #5 is also a poor indicator of material.

—-
Used together, these five tests might begin to look persuasive, but if the conclusion is rock solid, then further tests would only confirm that water and clouds are not the same material.

What if we conducted a few more tests?
—-

TEST #6) Does it rain water more on cloudy days or clear days?

TEST #7) What is the correlation between rain on clear days and rain on cloudy days?

TEST #8) Can the origin of rain be pin pointed to clouds?

TEST #9) Can water be converted into something that looks like steam, mist or cloud?

TEST #10) Are clouds more likely to form in arid climates or wet climates?

TEST #11) Can other liquids be converted into vaporous clouds?

TEST #12) Does water condensation happen more inside a cloud than outside a cloud?

TEST #13) Does an atmospheric water generator produce more water in a cloud than outside a cloud?

TEST #14) If water was sprayed into a fine mist would the light refraction index resemble that of a cloud?

TEST #15) Would a chemical analysis of the cloud indicate water content?

TEST #16) Would thermal infrared spectroscopy of the cloud indicate water?

TEST #17) Can artificial clouds be created from water — that have the same properties as real clouds?

—-

With each additional test, the truth becomes increasingly more obvious. In fact, a clearer and clearer picture emerges, allowing for better and better tests. With enough clarity, we can even understand why the first five tests failed — we were testing two different states of the same material. Once the relationship between clouds and water is fully understood, accurate predictions, models and simulations can be made — followed by great advancements in technology that can benefit humankind. One such technology is the new “Atmospheric Water Generators” that can efficiently produce drinking water in the middle of a desert — from thin air.

But your cloud analogy shows us that some types of tests are ineffective. You have shown that subjective and baseless testing does not work very well. It is interesting that the LDS church encourages just these sorts of tests.

For example Moroni’s promise is a subjective test with no baseline. How often do people receive an answer from God that the Book of Mormon is true using Moroni’s promise? How often do people receive the opposite answer? How often do people of other faiths receive answers from God that confirm their own beliefs? How often are people tricked by subjective experiences? The baseline is not well established, and yet people are told to believe in the church based on subjective and baseless experiences rather than objective tests.

“Parallel seeking” is another subjective method that gives random results when an objective baseline is ignored. LDS scholars such as Nibley ignore the importance of establishing any sort of baseline, and as a result are dishonest in their attempts to support their beliefs. Any religion can use “parallel seeking” to support their particular beliefs, even if they are completely wrong.

—-

I am disappointed that you are not willing to conduct any real scientific experiment on the LDS church. Wouldn’t testing be in your favor if your church is true? Conversely, if your church were not true, wouldn’t you want to know? However, this is just what I would expect from a religion that has something to hide. Perhaps deep down you know that an objective test would expose the church, which is why you gave me the cloud analogy in the first place. The cloud analogy shows that you think all the tests would point in the wrong direction, opposing your hypothesis. Why would you already be hedging your position before any experiments have been proposed? As I have indicated, further testing would only make the truth more obvious. Additionally, you and I are in an extremely good position for conducting scientific experiments together because we both hold opposing views. Our positions neutralize each other’s biases, leading to better results, and ultimately the truth.

A few years ago I ran into an organization that made some wild health claims. I attempted to test their claims, but they were just as opposed to any kind of objective tests as you have been. I later became aware of their fraud. When organizations make wild claims, and avoid objective tests, it is a red flag.

If the church is true, it would shine brighter with every test applied to it. With each test, the truth would become increasingly more obvious. The truth has nothing to hide.

But it is your call, I hope we can obtain truth together.

emeth_veneeman
July 17th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

First, you and many others have expressed dissatisfaction with the process of looking for parallels to determine truth. What is a translation? It’s a document that runs parallel to another document. How else are we supposed to determine its validity, if not by looking at parallels?

Incidentally, the only difference between a conventional translation and one produced by Joseph Smith is that a conventional translation will run parallel to only one document. Joseph’s translations may run parallel to a dozen different documents simultaneously. So looking at parallels, really, is the most natural way of evaluating the work.

>> “…you think all the tests would point in the wrong direction, opposing your hypothesis.” Not exactly. I think all the badly-formed tests would point in the wrong direction, opposing my hypothesis.

>> “Why would you already be hedging your position before any experiments have been proposed?” Again, not exactly. MANY experiments have been proposed, designed, carried out, analyzed, and their conclusions accepted or rejected. Some are better than others. I have based my belief system on the ones I think are valid. I’m not hedging anything, and I’m not saying I will never perform other experiments. But right now I may be going through a bit of a lazy streak that is compounded by the understanding that performing more experiments will probably not change the course of this conversation.

I will illustrate why I think that’s the case. You yourself have already performed one of the most relevant tests I think we could perform, and from what I can see, you have rejected your own conclusions.

We both agree that Joseph Smith was using a system, and your analysis confirmed it. He wasn’t just letting a balloon fly off into the wind and hoping that it landed somewhere cool. That’s the first, and maybe the most significant, difference between him and Laura Buxton. We can create null hypotheses and speculate all day about what his work would have looked like if he were simply making it all up randomly out of his own mind, but we’ve already gotten past that point. We’ve both rejected the hypothesis that he was making it all up, so why bother testing for it?

What can we say about the system Joseph was using? Well, certainly it involved taking Enoch material — whether physically or through revelation has yet to be agreed upon — and using it liberally as a source in writing his own treatise on Enoch. I think we can agree that that material includes, but may not be limited to, the 1821 Book of Enoch. I think I could probably talk you into believing that the King James Bible was one of the sources for that section of the Book of Moses, so there’s another thing we could agree on.

What we should also be able to agree on is that your software determined that the Book of Giants was the second most likely source for the Enoch passages, in some tests beating out even the Old and New Testaments. If you’re really looking for an objective test that tells us how Joseph Smith concocted his work, then why not continue with the method that you’ve already presented to me? I’d like you to consider something. There are several parallels we listed above (5b, 5c, 7, 8, 9a-e, 10a-e, 13 in the fact that the writing was in the name of God, 15d in stating iniquity rather than deprivation as the reason the earth cried out) in which Joseph apparently deviated from his system. He didn’t follow the Book of Enoch meticulously. In each of those cases, it is apparent that the parallel is a closer match to the Book of Giants. Parallel 5 is particularly insightful. When I first put the document together, I had #5 listed as a single parallel, because all the subpoints refer to the same paragraph of text. I didn’t want to make it look like I was “cooking the books” by creating more parallels than there were, and yet I wanted to point out the strength of the one parallel. So my solution was to divide it into multiple parts. In trying to show that your parallel was as strong, you copied material from pp. 16, 51, 54, 130, 140-142, and 171, which, at least in this one case, showed that you tried a lot harder than I did to make your point. Really — it’s no wonder you were able to find (and force) passages to fit. But getting back to the question at hand, why did Joseph deviate from his own system and start creating passages that more loosely matched the Book of Enoch than others? Maybe he just did it randomly, on a whim. That may not be impossible, but to me, it seems highly incongruent, and there is no good reason for us to consider that possibility first. Since we’ve already identified the system he is using, and you’ve already identified (at least among the sources we’ve considered so far) the second most likely source for his Enoch material, shouldn’t we just continue to follow our own method? Should we not accept that where the Book of Moses is a closer match to the Book of Giants than it is to the Book of Enoch, it is simply a further indicator of Joseph following his system rather than an indicator of him deviating from it? To me the most logical conclusion is that Mahijah/MHWY, as well as several other parallels, were at least partly derived from the Book of Giants. And since the Book of Giants was hitherto unknown, it supports the divine revelation hypothesis.

Now you’re either going to agree with me or try to weasel out of agreeing with me. I’m sorry, “weasel” is disparaging, isn’t it? You’re either going to agree with me or come up with perfectly legitimate reasons not to agree with me, but keep in mind that these are your methods I’m using. If you accept the findings of your own methods, then we’ve finally reached agreement. If you reject the findings of your own methods, then what likelihood is there of us ever coming to an agreement on what would be constitute more adequate methods? What I tend to get from a lot of anti-Mormons, and what I’ve gotten so far from you, is that you will readily admit that Joseph’s system was highly organized and astute when it comes to ripping off information you can make a case for him having had access to, but when evidence emerges that shows the same high level of organization and astuteness with respect to information that he couldn’t possibly have had access to, then you abandon your theories and his hit becomes the result of random variation and lucky guessing. The word compartmentalization comes to mind, which I’ve heard is the very kind of thing a person is supposed to be cured of when he leaves the Church.

Two more small points to wrap up.

First, if you want to discuss another experiment done by professional researchers with a baseline comparison, go back to the article I linked to on the Book of Abraham. You’ll see I’m not avoiding using tests in my analysis, and I don’t feel like I have any need to avoid it. By the way, that article is so foundational in my understanding of the revelations of Joseph Smith, it solves so many unknowns even outside the Book of Abraham, and makes so much else make sense, that you really won’t understand a lot else that I’m saying until you have really digested the points made there.

Second (and you’ll most likely think this a much less significant point than I think it is) I made it to a library yesterday and looked up the 1828 Book of Enoch imprint in the National Union Catalog of Pre-1956 Imprints. And… it was published at Oxford, not in America.

Again, let me emphasize that nothing I say is personal. I do respect you; you’re stretching my mind, and I appreciate it.

Chris Johnson
July 25th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Hi Emeth thanks for the reply. I have tried to keep the discussion simple by avoiding The Book of Abraham but I suppose we will have to come to it eventually won’t we? I’ll try to address a few of the main points.

—–
1. The Un-Testable Hypothesis
—–

A hypothesis that cannot be tested is useless for determining truth. If it cannot be tested, then it cannot offer any predictions, and is practically useless, being no more than an assumption at best. Consider the following:

A young child wakes up his father in the middle of the night saying a Flying Unicorn just came into his room and told him that the end of the world was coming in 30219 AD. Rather than discounting the story, the father decides to see if there are any hoof marks or horse hair in the boys room. When the father has done everything humanly possible and comes up empty, he tells the boy. The boy then says that there couldn’t be any hoof marks because it was “flying”, and says that Flying Unicorns never shed their fur. Then the father asks how the Unicorn came into the room and the boy tells him “through the window”. The father remembers an outside security camera was running all night that should have caught the Unicorn on film. Upon looking at the footage, he realizes there was no Unicorn entering the window. He returns to the son and explains what that he didn’t see any Unicorn. The son replies, “Of course not daddy, the Unicorn was invisible.” The father, starting to doubt his son’s experience, looks for another way to test his son’s story. He looks at the footage a second time, paying close attention to the window and sees that the window never moves or opens at all through out the entire night. He asks his son, “Why didn’t the window move? I didn’t see it open at all last night…” and predictably the son replies, “Don’t you know daddy? Flying Unicorns can pass through walls…” Quick on his toes, the father counters, “Then why did it need to pass through the window?” “Because the Unicorn didn’t want to scare me…”

The above story is a classic example of an Un-Testable Hypothesis. There are a number of points I’d like to illustrate with this story:

(i) Anyone can posit the existence of any bizarre or impossible creature, story or object — and nobody can prove them wrong as long as they make their idea Un-Testable. In other words FALSE ideas will always find safety by morphing into an Un-Testable hypothesis. To gravitate towards the Un-Testible hypothesis is to gravitate towards the realm of FALSEHOOD. It should be noted that an Un-Testable hypothesis is not a guarantee of falsehood, but if it continues to gravitate towards the Un-Testable hypothesis after repeated testing, it is likely false.

(ii) Near the end of the Unicorn story it becomes increasingly more suspicious as each and every test is countered by an ad-hoc excuse for why the test failed. It becomes increasingly more difficult to test as the hypothesis slowly morphs into an Un-Testable one. Morphing the Unicorn experience into an Un-Testable hypothesis does not make it more real. In fact the more hedging a hypothesis requires, the less likely it is true.

(iii) One might ask, “What exactly is the difference between a Unicorn that doesn’t exist at all and a Unicorn that cannot be seen, cannot interact with us, cannot be sensed by any instrument, and never affects our universe?” And some may respond, “The definitions of the two Unicorns are functionally equivalent, therefore the Unicorn does not exist.” I don’t fully agree to that, but it is an interesting thought.

—–
2. The Failed Hypothesis
—–

What would happen if a person’s hypothesis failed, and was completely wrong about something, but he was too stubborn, or had too much invested in it that he couldn’t give it up? He might turn it into an Un-Testable hypothesis (as explained above), OR he may try to rescue it by digging for things that seem significant by ignoring the baseline.

I will illustrate this with a brief story:

A man named Merid claims to have special powers that allow him to find Gold. He says that Mount Yarin and Mount Olma have gold in them. The man dies and his followers never have time to test his prediction. They feel that they don’t need to, since they already “know” that he did have the aforementioned abilities. Years later a debate over the man’s abilities erupts and so the followers hire half a dozen geologists and specialists to examine the two mountains. After years of analysis and testing, the results come back negative. There is no significant source of gold in those mountains. Some followers give up and leave the group. Others are not so hasty. They start looking through history books, geological records, rumors, newspapers and so-on. They are determined to find some parallels. Years later they present the evidence to the group:

“It turns out that the mountain did have a small trace of gold after all. About 3 parts per billion. Furthermore the word “Gold” has been used in many cultures to denote “precious metal” and Mount Yarin was found to be fairly high in the precious metal, “Iridium” which is more valuable than silver and nearly as valuable as Gold. Two decades ago, a gold mine was built only 53 miles from Mount Olma, and the natives once considered Mount Olma to include the 70 miles of territory surrounding its base — so what we have here is a bull’s eye hit. How could Merid have known all this 45 years ago before any mining had started? The only explanation is he was gifted with supernatural powers.”

Now for the baseline. Gold is naturally found at 4 parts per billion on our planet. So this is not a hit. Changing the meaning of Gold to include all precious metals opens up millions of possibilities statistically, making the parallels insignificant. Specifically, if the followers were able to change the meaning of the word “gold” and change the geographic boundaries of Mount Olma, then they would also feel justified in changing hundreds of other variables until a parallel was found — adjusting variables to fit the theory rather than admit the theory was false. It sounds convincing on the surface, but when ad-hoc justification is added and the baseline is ignored, you end up holding on to a false theory rather than the truth.

This is how someone might try “fixing” a failed hypothesis. It should be noted that the second hypothesis was “ad-hoc” — added as soon as the original hypothesis failed. It was not proposed before the professional analysis, it was constructed only after the professionals debunked Merid’s claims. It was the followers who could not drop it, and so they resorted to obscure parallels.

—–
3. The Book of Abraham Hypothesis
—–

The hypothesis presented by the Prophet Joseph Smith and the LDS church (prior to the 1966 discovery) is that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from Egyptian. The evidence is abundant and consistent.

The Book of Abraham itself says it is a translation of the papyri: “THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM TRANSLATED FROM THE PAPYRUS, BY JOSEPH SMITH … A Translation of some ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. – The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.”

Joseph said many times that he was translating from the papyri. These are some of the direct quotes from Joseph’s own diary:

… with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc. — a more full account of which will appear in its place as I proceed to examine or unfold them (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 236).

[July, 1835] — The remainder of this month I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients. (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 238)

Notice that Joseph is not saying he would some day like to put together an alphabet and grammar of the Egyptian language, as Nibley’s writings imply, but that he claims that he actually is, in 1835, “engaged in translating an alphabet” and “arranging a grammar.” Again, from Smith’s diary account:

October 1 [, 1835] — This afternoon labored on the Egyptian alphabet, in company with Brothers O. Cowdery and W. W. Phelps, and during the research, the principles of astronomy as understood by Father Abraham and the ancients unfolded to our understanding, the particulars of which will appear hereafter. (Ibid, p. 286)

Another significant entry states,

November 17, 1835 — Exhibited the alphabet of the ancient records, to Mr. Holmes, and some others” (Ibid, p. 316).

Here is an excerpt from Joseph’s ‘Egyptian Book of Alphabet and Grammar’:

Ah- broam The Father of the faithful. The first right- The elder
Ki Ah broam That which goes before, until an other time, or a change by appointment, The first, faithful, or father, or fathers.
Iota netahoch ah que a mark of distinction [p. 20] …
Iota nilahoch ah que: (as in the margin) signifies “I saw twenty five persons,” or it signifies twenty five persons”
Ah lish the name of the first being
Phah-eh The first man – Adam, first father
Pha-ah a more universal reign
Phah-ho-e-oop The lineage of the royal family
Ho-oop hah Crown of a princes, or unmarried queen
Zi virgin or an unmarried female
Kah-tou-mun The name of a Royal family in the female line
Zi-oop-hah An unmarried woman, a virgin princess
Ho e oop A young unmarried man; a prince
Zip Zi a woman married or unmarried or daughter, signifies all, or any woman
Ho-e oop-hah Crown of a prince
Oan The Earth
Toan, tou-ee tah es tou eh tou es. – A principle that is beneath, disgusting – not fit
Iota The eye, or I see
Iota toues-Zip Zi The land of Egypt
Su-e-eh ni who, whence, &c an interrogative prounoun through its degrees
Ho-e-oop-hah-Phah eh Riegn or rule, governments, power, Kingdom or dominion
Zub Zool eh In the beginning of the earth or creation [p. 21]

On November 13, 1843, Smith wrote a letter that appeared in the newspaper Times and Seasons (of which he had served as editor) which stated in part:

Were I an Egyptian, I would exclaim Jah-oh-eh, Enish-go-on-dosh, Flo-ees-Flos-is-is; [O the earth! the power of attraction, and the moon passing between her and the sun.]

These words were taken directly from pages 29 and 30 of the Grammar material:

Jah-oh-eh: The earth under the government of another or the second of the fixed stars, which is called Enish-go-on-dosh or in other words the power of attra[c]tion it has with the earth. Flo-ees: The moon — signifying its revolutions, also going between, thereby forming an eclipse. Flos-is-is: The sun in its affinity with Earth and moon — signifying their revolutions showing the power the one has with the other.

Joseph Smith also translated the Egyptian facsimiles which are still available as part of the Pearl of Great Price.

It is clear that Joseph attempted a real translation of Chandler’s scrolls.

The hypothesis is straight forward:

If Joseph is a true prophet, then his Facsimiles, his ‘Egyptian Book of Alphabet and Grammar’, the Times and Seasons letter, The Book of Abraham, and Chandler’s Scrolls should all prove to be a correct translation from Egyptian.

—–
4. The Book of Abraham Examined by Egyptologists
—–

As luck would have it, while Joseph was busy translating ‘Egyptian’ in America, great strides were made in the fields of Egyptology in Europe which lead to unlocking ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics for the first time in centuries. All because of a recently discovered Rosetta Stone. These great discoveries would serve to be the perfect test for Joseph Smith’s claims. Did he have a divine gift to translate Ancient Egyptian before anyone was capable of translating such a language?

Take a look:

(i) The Facsimiles:

Dr A. H. Sayce of Oxford, England wrote:

“It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud. His fac-simile from the Book of Abraham No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics upon it have been copied so ignorantly that hardly one of them is correct”.

“Number 3 is a representation of the Goddess Maat leading the Pharaoh before Osiris, behind whom stand the Goddess Isis. Smith has turned the [Female] Goddess into a [Male] king and Osiris into Abraham” (F.S. Spalding, Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator, p.23).

Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie of London University wrote,

“It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations” (ibid p.24).
Dr. Arthur C. Mace, Assistant Curator for the Department of Egyptian Art of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York explained,

“The `Book of Abraham,’ it is hardly necessary to say, is a pure fabrication.”

“Joseph Smith’s interpretation of these cuts is a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end. Egyptian characters can now be read almost as easily as Greek, and five minutes’ study in an Egyptian gallery of any museum should be enough to convince any educated man of the clumsiness of the imposture” (ibid p. 27).

(http://mormonthink.com/book-of-abraham-issues.htm#comparison)

(ii) Egyptian Book of Alphabet and Grammar:

Professional Egyptologists to whom the Alphabet and Grammar was submitted for examination were quick to point out that the material in Joseph Smith’s notebook bore no resemblance at all to any correct understanding of the ancient Egyptian language.
(http://mormonthink.com/book-of-abraham-issues.htm#josephsegyptionalpha)

(iii) The Book of Abraham itself:

Besides the complete lack of Egyptian translation happening and anachronisms such as “Kokob”, “Chaldean” and “Pharaoh” — I’d like to focus on the one word that really played a major role in questioning my LDS belief system: “Egyptus”.

It looked too Latin or Greek to me, so I looked into it. Sure enough, the word could not have existed anciently, but you say it’s a bull’s eye. Let’s take a look at your quote:

“From Isocrates, a diligent researcher of the fourth century B.C., we learn that a granddaughter of Zeus, being the mother of both Busiris of Egypt and his brother, the terrible Antaeus, who ruled the desert immediately west of the Nile, ‘was, they say, the first woman to rule, after whom the country was named.’

What was this woman’s name? It was Lysianassa, daughter of Epaphus a king of Egypt. There are 2 problems evident: Her name was not Egyptus and Egypt (the country) existed before she was born, so how could Egypt have been named after her? She didn’t even have the right name. This information is not even first hand, it’s coming through a Latin or Greek source. Why are you looking at Latin/Greek legends when modern Egyptologists can read the originals in Egyptian? If you look at the originals, you will notice that the country was not referred to as Egypt (Aigyptos), and could not have been called Egypt until after the rise of the Greek Empire, thousands of years after the country was formed. The scholarship stretches credibility.

Another quote from a Latin/Greek source:

‘It was first a woman name Aegyptia who established her son and introduced weaving…’

And when did Aegyptia live? It is a Greek name, originating thousands of years after Egypt was founded. Did she found Egypt? Was Egypt named after her? No, it doesn’t say anything about founding Egypt.

Another quote from a Latin/Greek source:

“Egypt was named after Egyptus the son of Belus … This Egyptus was sent by his father to settle in Arabia, but returned and named the land of Blackfeet ‘Egypt’ after himself.”

So now Egyptus is a man, and Egypt was named after him? Again this source is way too late, the name is neither Kemet nor Misr, and is Greek. But you nailed it in the sense that you found out where Joseph got his information from:

—-

A complete dictionary of the Greek and Roman antiquities, published in 1700:

ÆGYPTUS, the Son of the ancient Belus … Ægyptus according to Eusebius, gave name to Egypt … ÆGYPTUS, Egypt, a large Country Africa water’d by the River Nile, which renders it very fruitful. It was at first inhabited by Misraim the second Son of Cham, which signifies Egypt. … The Original of the founding a Kingdom in vast Country is uncertain and fabulous: only we know that it had Kings from Abraham’s time. Misraim was the Father of Ludim whom the Ethiopians are descended who dispute the Antiquity of their Original with Egyptians; but this they did out of vanity only and upon very bad grounds. The first Kings were called Pharaohs, and the latter Ptolemy’i. Egypt was represented in the ancient Medals by the Goddess Isis, the great Deity of the Egyptians; she held in one hand a Sphere as being the Mother of Arts and Sciences and in other a Vessel or Amphora filled with Ears of Corn to shew its Fertility which proceeds from the Overflowing of the Nile …

—-

Book of Abraham 1:20-27:

… there was great mourning in Chaldea, and also in the court of Pharaoh; which Pharaoh signifies king by royal blood. Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth. From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land. The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden; When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land. Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal… Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham …

—-

The parallels are numerous, and I don’t have a baseline to give any hard data, but notice that both sections contain the same errors, indicating some kind of textual transmission.

(a) They both show the relationship between a person named Egyptus and Egypt. (But both documents are wrong by modern Egyptology standards, since the name Egyptus came from recent Greek traditions)
(b) Both documents associate Abraham with the first Kings of Egypt (Abraham doesn’t date to the right time period for this).
(c) In both, it is explained that the Pharoahs are called kings. (This is wrong in both. The early kings of Egypt were not referred to as Pharaohs until about 1567 B.C.).
(d) Both show that the Egyptians descended from Ham. (This is unlikely to be true considering modern mtDNA / Y Haplogroup analysis / Out of Africa Hypothesis)

Other parallels include:

(e) Both talk about Egypt being under water.
(f) Both talk about a respected woman at the head of Egyptian society.
(g) And both talk about lineage claims and disputes tracing back to Ham.

It should be noted that this source was written over 130 years before the Book of Abraham, and it would have had plenty of time to diffuse and spread into other derivative works, including sermons, lectures, etc. There is no reason to believe the information was not available to Joseph Smith.

The most important part to note here is that Joseph transmitted errant information available to him from his environment to construct ‘scripture’.

(iv) The Book of Abraham Papyrus:

“In 1967 eleven fragments of the Joseph Smith papyri were rediscovered by Doctor Aziz S. Atiya, in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Studies of them have confirmed that they are mainly ancient Egyptian funerary texts of the sort commonly buried with royalty and nobility and designed to guide them through their eternal journeying…” (The History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Prepared by the Church Educational System, Published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Salt Lake City, Utah; 1989, 1993, 2000, 2003 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

It should be noted that after the 1967 discovery, the church began to change its position regarding the translation of the Book of Abraham. Up until this point, the Book of Abraham was touted as a real translation from Egyptian. But scholar after scholar, both inside and outside the LDS Church, declared that there was absolutely no connection between the text of the Book of Abraham and the actual content of the Egyptian documents. The papyri were clearly identified by one and all as examples of completely ordinary “funerary” documents of ancient Egypt prepared for “Horus”. Some LDS scholars created a hypothesis that the papyrus that had been recovered was not the correct ones. But the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar contained the same characters, and so did the facsimiles.

With every additional analysis, it became increasingly more obvious that Joseph Smith’s translation did not match up. He did not have the ability to translate ancient documents as the LDS church had so often claimed.

The LDS hypothesis was falsified.

—–
5. Could The Book of Abraham be translated through Egyptian in some kind of secret mnemonic code?
—–

I considered this when I began my journey out of the church. I didn’t want the church to be false, so I wondered if Joseph had translated the Egyptian differently somehow, and was still a true prophet.

This is where the “Un-Testable Hypothesis” and “False Hypothesis” sections from above become relevant.

If Ellen White claimed to translate Egyptian, and then years later dozens of Egyptologists obtained Ellen’s original Egyptian papyrus, and each translated it independently — this would be the perfect test to validate her claims. But in the case of Joseph Smith, his claims fell apart. The translation could not have been more wrong.

The only group that would not think so, are the ones who have too much on the line — Too much faith, stubbornness and bias in the way to admit their beliefs are false. These are the ones that would try to create an alternative “code” with an alternative “translation” that only applies to this particular translation, and suspiciously does not apply to any other Egyptian translation ever made, nor could it be applied in any other context due to limitations on information compression. And so, as a last ditch effort, LDS scholars looked for parallels that have no established baseline — exactly the same sort of parallels that would exist by chance.

The method used by the LDS scholars was to take the Egyptian symbol associated with the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar text and see if the symbol showed up in each of the corresponding phrases in Joseph’s Grammar text. This allowed for great flexibility and creativity because they could choose any word from a set of hundreds of words, and with each of the hundreds of words, build word associations that most closely matched the vague definitions applied to the Egyptian symbols. But even though this method gave them great flexibility and creativity, their matches were still not all that good:

Take a look at #4 and #5:

4. “Wsir” meaning “Osiris”
5. “hnw” meaning “in, inside of”
LDS scholars say this corresponds with Abr. 1:7b-10:
“the altar was built in the land of Chaldea.”

Even with a lot of imagination, I fail to see the match. In order to make it match, LDS scholars had to start expanding word meanings and associations significantly. Even after using expanded definitions and associations, a lot of imagination was still needed to make the match:

“Wsir” meaning “Osiris, Egyptian mortuary deity, the deified Pharaoh”
“hnw” meaning “in, inside of”
=
“the altar was built in the land of Chaldea.”

Let’s look at a few more. Here is #29

29. “sesh” meaning determinatives: “tie, pack, wrap, and funeral couch,”
LDS scholars say this corresponds with Abr. 2:17-18:
“I prayed that the famine might be turned away…that they might not perish (17). Abraham offered sacrifice. (18).”

That doesn’t match either does it? What about #26?

26. “iw” meaning “plural emphatic state of being”
LDS scholars say this corresponds to Abr. 2:15-16:
“Therefore, eternity was our covering…” (16).

Doesn’t match does it? What about #27?

27. “qer” meaning “round, circular, cavern, zone, sphere”
LDS Scholars say it corresponds to 26 above also:
“eternity was our covering.”

This doesn’t match so well either does it? So the LDS scholars added some parentheses to the definition.

As part of the analysis, LDS scholars looked for other patterns. Surely if Joseph was using the power of God to translate Egyptian, then we would not expect Joseph to take the word “Pool” for example and break it into two separate words “Po” and “ol” and create two different paragraphs that are based on these mutilated Egyptian words, but this is exactly what he does and the LDS scholars call it a match:

7. “S3″ meaning “pool (first half), river, lake, waterway”
corresponding to Abr. 1:11b-12:
“Now it was done after the manner of the Egyptians.”

8. “nw” meaning “pool (second half), determinative for water”
corresponding to Abr. 1:13-14:
“Pharaoh King of Egypt.”

Even if we ignore the mutilation of the Egyptian word “Pool”, do you see the word Pool anywhere? Neither do I. How do LDS scholars make it work? By brute force, they simply select the closest words out of a large group of sentences, and change the Egyptian definitions, add parentheses where appropriate, and viola, it matches:

7. “S3″ meaning “pool (first half), river, lake, waterway”
corresponding to Abr. 1:11b-12:
“Now it was done after the manner of the Egyptians (people of the river).”

8. “nw” meaning “pool (second half), determinative for water”
corresponding to Abr. 1:13-14
“Pharaoh King of Egypt (origin of Egypt from water).”

Of course there are some sentences that do match better than others, but couldn’t we take any random legend of similar length and find similar hits and misses? Yes, especially when we play with definitions and word associations as the LDS scholars have done. To illustrate this, I took a random Egyptian legend (Why Egyptian? Well Joseph Smith had the advantage of knowing that the document was related to Egypt, so it’s only fair). Next I cut it up randomly. The document is 25% shorter than the Book of Abraham material used by the LDS scholars, which means matching will be 25% more difficult, but let’s see if the matches can be made:

—-Text from The Legend of the Creation—-

1. “iw” meaning “they shall, to be (plural)”
1. “… contained a series of spells (plural)…”

2. “st3″ meaning to “tow, convey”
2. “… and dispersing … removing (towing) … and, marshaling (conveying) all the fiends …”

3. reconstruction of this symbol still uncertain (according to LDS scholars)
3. “… the Sun-god …”

4. “Wsir” meaning “Osiris, Egyptian mortuary deity, the deified Pharaoh”
4. ” … evolutions of Ra (During the Middle Kingdom Ra was combined into Osiris and affiliated with Osiris) … ”

5. “hnw” meaning “in, inside of”
5. “… all therein … In it …”

6. “py” meaning “the”
6. “… the … the whole … the most … the mere …”

7. “S3″ meaning “pool (first half), river, lake, waterway”
7. “… the god Neb-er-tcher (a name given to Osiris — known as the backbone of the Nile River) … ”

8. “nw” meaning “pool (second half), determinative for water”
8. “…Neb-er-tcher (Osiris – Nile River) existed …”

9. “wr” (Baer) “her” (Nelson) meaning “great, strong, powerful”
9. “… excellence … a vast mass of water …”

10. “Khonsu” meaning “Khons, a lunar deity who travelled across the sky”
10. “… Khepera (a solar deity who travelled across the sky) …”

11. “Wsir” meaning “Osiris, a God that resurrected out of the Nile River”
11. “When Khepera (a God) raised himself out of the ocean Nu, he …”

12. “Hor” meaning “Horus (god of the Sky).
12. “… Khepera (Sky God) …”

13. “Ma’at” meaning “Goddess of law, truth, morality, justice, order”
13. “… (a God) uttered the name of the thing … and that thing … came into being … (showing the law and order in God’s power)”

14. “hyrw” meaning “word, voice”
14. “… we should say … also speaks …”

15. “ms-n” meaning “offspring of, born to”
15. “… to create … ”

16. “T y” meaning “the”
16. “… the … the … the heart … the … the Book …”

17. “Khabyt” meaning “Tikhebyt, Isis, mother of Horus, Goddess of motherhood, fertility”
17. “…and so begot offspring …”

18. “st” meaning “determinative for woman”
18. “…Tefnut (daughter of Atum-Ra) …”

19. “Ma’at, hyrw, mity, si mity” is “Goddess of law, truth, morality, justice, order” … “a man also”
19. “… Keb, the Earth-god (represented in the form of a man, he watches the weighing of the heart in judgement)”

20. “m” meaning “after, in”
20. “… above … upon the world …”

21. “hifr” meaning “seize, grasp,”
21. “… united in an embrace …”

22 & 22a. “”wy” meaning “The two arms determinative: flesh, body, members”
22. “… Osiris and Isis married … and Isis brought forth a son … (two shall be one flesh)”

22b. “r” meaning “with, against, to”
22. “… to bring … ”

23 & 24. “h3ty” meaning “breast, heart, determinative flesh”
23. “… brought forth a son named Anpu (Anubis weighs the heart, in judgement)…”

25. “f” meaning “he, him, his”
25. “… Khepera (God represented as a human male) …”

26. “iw” meaning “plural, more than one”
26. “… god made a second Eye…”

27. “qer” meaning “round, circular, cavern, zone, sphere”
27. “… the earth … the moon …”

28. “is” meaning “now then, moreover”
28. “… and then …”

29. “sesh” meaning determinatives: “tie, pack, wrap”
29. “… is made of the … which were made … ”

—-end—-

REFERENCES:

—-Legend of the Creation (text split into 29 random parts)—-

1. The Legend of the Creation is found in the third work which is given in the papyrus, and which is called the “Book of overthrowing Apep, the Enemy of Ra, the Enemy of Un-Nefer” (i.e., Osiris). This work contained a series of spells which were recited during the performance of certain prescribed ceremonies,

2. with the object of preventing storms, and dispersing rain-clouds, and removing any obstacle, animate or inanimate, which could prevent the rising of the sun in the morning, or obscure his light during the day. The Leader-in Chief of the hosts of darkness was a fiend called Apep who appeared in the sky in the form of a monster serpent, and, marshalling all the fiends of the Tuat,

3. attempted to keep the Sun-god imprisoned in the kingdom of darkness. Right in the midst of the spells which were directed against Apep we find inserted the legend of the Creation, which occurs in no other known Egyptian document (Col. XXVI., l. 21, to Col. XXVII., l. 6).

4. Curiously enough a longer version of the legend is given a little farther on (Col. XXVIII., l. 20, to Col. XXIX., l. 6). Whether the scribe had two copies to work from, and simply inserted both, or whether he copied the short version and added to it as he went along, cannot be said. The legend is entitled: Book of knowing the evolutions of Ra [and of] overthrowing Apep.

5. This curious “Book” describes the origin not only of heaven, and earth, and all therein, but also of God Himself. In it the name of Apep is not even

6. mentioned, and it is impossible to explain its appearance in the Apep Ritual unless we assume that the whole “Book” was regarded as a spell of the most potent character, the mere recital of which was fraught with deadly effect for Apep and his friends.

7. The story of the Creation is supposed to be told by the god Neb-er-tcher, This name means the “Lord to the uttermost limit,” and the character of the god suggests that the word “limit” refers to time and space, and that he was, in fact, the Everlasting God of the Universe. This god’s name occurs in Coptic texts, and then he appears as one who possesses all the attributes

8. which are associated by modern nations with God Almighty. Where and how Neb-er-tcher existed is not said, but it seems as if he was believed to have been an almighty and invisible power which filled all space. It seems also that a desire arose in him to create the world, and in order to do this he took upon himself the form of the god Khepera, who from first to last was regarded as the Creator,

9. par excellence, among all the gods known to the Egyptians. When this transformation of Neb-er-tcher into Khepera took place the heavens and the earth had not been created, but there seems to have existed a vast mass of water, or world-ocean, called Nu, and it must have been in this that the transformation took place. In this celestial ocean

10. were the germs of all the living things which afterwards took form in heaven and on earth, but they existed in a state of inertness and helplessness. Out of this ocean Khepera raised himself, and so passed from a state of passiveness and inertness into one of activity.

11. When Khepera raised himself out of the ocean Nu, he found himself in vast empty space, wherein was nothing on which he could stand.

12. The second version of the legend says that Khepera gave being to himself by uttering his own name, and the first version states that he made use of words in providing himself with a place on which to stand. In other words, when Khepera was still a portion of the being of Neb-er-tcher, he spake the word “Khepera,” and Khepera came into being.

13. Similarly, when he needed a place whereon to stand, he uttered the name of the thing, or place, on which he wanted to stand, and that thing, or place, came into being.

14. This spell he seems to have addressed to his heart, or as we should say, will, so that Khepera willed this standing-place to appear, and it did so forthwith. The first version only mentions a heart, but the second also speaks of a heart-soul as assisting Khepera in his first creative acts;

15. and we may assume that he thought out in his heart what manner of thing be wished to create, and then by uttering its name caused his thought to take concrete form. This process of thinking out the existence of things is expressed in Egyptian by words which mean “laying the foundation in the heart.”

16. In arranging his thoughts and their visible forms Khepera was assisted by the goddess Maat, who is usually regarded as the goddess of law, order, and truth, and in late times was held to be the female counterpart of Thoth, “the heart of the god Ra.” In this legend, however, she seems to play the part of Wisdom, as described in the Book of Proverbs, 1 for it was by Maat that he “laid the foundation.”

17. Having described the coming into being of Khepera and the place on which he stood, the legend goes on to tell of the means by which the first Egyptian triad, or trinity, came into existence. Khepera had, in some form, union with his own shadow, and so begot offspring, who proceeded from his body under the forms of the gods Shu and Tefnut.

18. According to a tradition preserved in the Pyramid Texts 2 this event took place at On (Heliopolis), and the old form of the legend ascribes the production of Shu and Tefnut to an act of

19. masturbation. Originally these gods were the personifications of air and dryness, and liquids respectively; thus with their creation the materials for the construction of the atmosphere and sky came into being. Shu and Tefnut were united, and their offspring were Keb, the Earth-god, and Nut, the Sky-goddess. We have now five gods in existence;

20. Khepera, the creative principle, Shu, the atmosphere, Tefnut, the waters above the heavens, Nut, the Sky-goddess, and Keb, the Earth-god. Presumably about this time the sun first rose out of the watery abyss of Nu, and shone upon the world and produced day.

21. In early times the sun, or his light, was regarded as a form of Shu. The gods Keb and Nut were united in an embrace, and the effect of the coming of light was to separate them. As long as the sun shone, i.e., as long as it was day, Nut, the Sky-goddess, remained in her place above the earth, being supported by Shu; but as soon as the sun set she left the sky and gradually descended until she rested on the body of the Earth-god, Keb.

22. The embraces of Keb caused Nut to bring forth five gods at a birth, namely, Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. Osiris and Isis married before their birth, and Isis brought forth a son called Horus; Set and Nephthys also married before their birth,

23. and Nephthys brought forth a son named Anpu (Anubis), though he is not mentioned in the legend. Of these gods Osiris is singled out for special mention in the legend, in which Khepera, speaking as Neb-er-tcher, says that his

24. name is AUSARES, who is the essence of the primeval matter of which he himself is formed. Thus Osiris was of the same substance as the Great God who created the world according to the Egyptians, and was a reincarnation of his great-grandfather. This portion of the legend helps to explain the views held about Osiris as the great ancestral spirit, who when on earth was a benefactor of mankind, and who when in heaven was the saviour of souls.

25. The legend speaks of the sun as the Eye of Khepera, or Neb-er-tcher, and refers to some calamity which befell it and extinguished its light. This calamity may have been simply the coming of night, or eclipses, or storms;

26. but in any case the god made a second Eye, i.e., the Moon, to which he gave some of the splendour of the other Eye, i.e., the Sun, and he gave it a place in his Face,

27. and henceforth it ruled throughout the earth, and had special powers in respect of the production of trees, plants, vegetables, herbs, etc. Thus from the earliest times the moon was associated with the fertility of the earth, especially in connection with the production of abundant crops and successful harvests.

28. According to the legend, men and women sprang not from the earth, but directly from the body of the god Khepera, or Neb-er-tcher, who placed his members together and then wept tears upon them, and men and women, came into being from the tears which had fallen from his eyes. No special mention

29. is made of the creation of beasts in the legend, but the god says that he created creeping things of all kinds, and among these are probably included the larger quadrupeds. The men and women, and all the other living creatures which were made at that time, reproduced their species, each in his own way, and so the earth became filled with their descendants which we see at the present time.

—-end—-

—–
6. Conclusion
—–

A hypothesis was formulated by the Prophet himself. The hypothesis failed when tested by Egyptologists. After this happened the faithful LDS scholars acted in the same way one might expect of someone who could not give up a failed belief system. They created an ad-hoc translation method independent of the experts, or any peer review and they custom fit their ideas to their biases, and used creativity to create a system that felt satisfying, but yielded no statistically significant parallels, nor did it advance the field of Egyptology.

—-
You also brought up another point a few posts ago that I felt needed addressing. You said:

“My sister teaches junior high math, and she always tells her students that if their answers don’t make sense, then their math is probably wrong. If Tommy buys three ten cent candies and five twenty cent candies and you calculate that he spent $130 on candy, your math is probably wrong.”

That works well for Junior High perhaps. If we put three numbers together: 3,6,9 and we end up with:

198,359,290,368

It looks dreadfully wrong in Junior high, but it isn’t:

(3 x 6)^9

Just like exponential numbers, statistics is one of those areas that are counter-intuitive.

You said:

“If we make a mistake in our starting assumptions, like using an unbounded namespace, and conclude that Joseph Smith guessed the name Mahijah because he had a 98% chance of doing so, well… something went wrong in our math.”

Actually I didn’t say Joseph had a 98% chance of getting Mahijah. You are looking too closely at Mahijah alone. Take a step back, there is a huge chance that Joseph will get a high number of correct names if he creates 200+ names, but I can’t predict which ones they will be until after the fact. Like the lottery — I won’t tell you that you have a 98% chance of winning when the odds are a trillion to one against. Instead I will tell you that there is a 99% chance that SOMEONE will win, even though the odds are a trillion to one against.

With a small name space of only 10,000 middle Eastern names, chance alone would predict over 100 matches for Joseph Smith.

In fact this is how I think we can test the Book of Mormon — random matches look different than real matches. Here’s how:

In a random match, a 3 letter name match would be more likely to show up than a 10 letter name match, because the chances of a 10 letter match is extremely low.

In the case the Book of Mormon is true, a 3 letter name and 10 letter name would show up with equal probability because both are real names and we aren’t relying on chance expectations to make the match.

To test this hypothesis, we would just need a list of all the Book of Mormon names that have been found so far.

What do you think?

emeth_veneeman
July 25th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

OK. This is all very elaborate, but I am not yet convinced that it is not a very elaborate way of escaping the obvious.

I’m just going to pick at a handful of things in your post that stood out to me on a first scan. If you can persuade me that I’m wrong here, and that your system is as objective as it is detailed, then I’ll look closer.

1. You didn’t answer the main point I made in my previous post. Why are you ignoring the conclusions of your own test, if not because you really, really want to come up with a “better” test that proves you right?

2. You cited Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie of London University who said “It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations.” You understand that Rev. Spalding hired Petrie to provide him with that conclusion, right? No offense to you, Chris, but you claim that the hallmark of your system is objectivity, and you shoot your objectivity right out of the saddle when you use examples like this. Never mind who paid Petrie for that assessment, though, the assessment is verifiably false. Examples: Fac. 2, fig. 6. The Sons of Horus actually do represent this earth in its four quarters (see wikipedia, “Sons of Horus,” and do a search on “cardinal compass points.”) Fac. 2, fig. 5 “said by the Egyptians to be the sun.” Correct. (See Wikipedia: Hathor, or do a google image search of “Hathor Cow” and you’ll see a majority of images portray the cow with a sun disk over its head, even though Joseph’s version didn’t). Facsimile 1, fig. 9. The crocodile god is named Sobek and is linked to the Pharaoh. See http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/sobeka.htm and do a search on “linked to the pharaoh.” Fac. 2, fig. 4. Nibley has shown that the ship does indeed represent the firmament of the heavens, the number 1000, and a reckoning of time. (Abraham in Egypt, p. 64). And of course, for all of the differences you found in Richley and Crapo’s article (which in most cases are explained by the fact that Joseph identified the symbolism of the gods, not their names), I’m pretty sure there were too many similarities to ascribe to chance. All this underscores a much deeper, fundamental problem with the analysis, which is:

3. You haven’t yet decided whether a) Joseph Smith was completely wrong in his interpretation of the papyrus, per Petrie et al, or b) Joseph did happen to get some things right, but it was the product of randomness and lucky guessing (“I will tell you that there is a 99% chance that SOMEONE will win”), or c) Joseph’s system was highly involved, intricate, and faithful to the sources that he himself borrowed, and therefore “false,” but not random (“you found out where Joseph got his information from”). The theories are fundamentally inconsistent with each other, and yet you’ve used each of them to support your rejection of Mormonism as one alternately has become more defensible than the others. If it’s a mixture of the three (a much weaker option than being able to support one unequivocally), then what criteria do you use to know which is correct at any given moment? If the only criterion is that whatever supports your preferred position is correct, then you’ve taken a cliff dive away from your objective science. Critics of the Church want to have it “both ways,” all the time. You can’t come up with a singular unified model that both adequately explains Mormonism and is supported by evidence. To compensate you throw everything against a wall and hope something sticks.

4. You say we cannot use Greco-Roman sources in discussing the origin of Egypt. Why not? Oh, right, because Egyptologists are in a much better position to comment on the origin of the country. You make some interesting points here. It’s not quite as simple as you portray it though. In the source you listed, Misraim is identified as the first inhabitant of the land, not Egyptus. If Joseph were making “mistakes” based on that dictionary, I think it likely that he would have noted Misraim. By the time the BoA was published, he had been studying Hebrew for some time and would have known the Semitic name of the country; this dictionary certainly would have led him further in that direction. You also say that both this dictionary and the BoA mention Egypt being under water, which, from what you copied, is not exactly right. The dictionary says that Egypt is “water’d by the River Nile” and that its “fertility … proceeds from the overflowing of the Nile.” Both of these facts are true, but they simply describe the well-documented behavior of the Nile as opposed to commenting on the origin of Egypt as being submerged by water. Your argument may still have been persuasive if not for the fact that there are closer matches. After I sent you those sources, I was curious about whether there is any authentically Egyptian etymology to the name “Egypt.” I spent literally about two minutes on wikipedia finding the answer. As I’m sure you’re aware, Egypt comes from Hikuptah, the original name of Memphis, and means “home of the soul of Ptah.” Flipping over to the wiki page on Ptah, I found this in the first paragraph: “Ptah … was the deification of the primordial mound in the Ennead cosmogony, which was more literally referred to as Ta-tenen (also spelled Tathenen, Tatjenen, etc.), meaning risen land, or as Tanen, meaning SUBMERGED LAND.” Keep in mind I wasn’t looking for this — it just popped out at me. It’s a much closer hit in my mind, which both identifies the origin of the legend more accurately than “the dictionary of Greek and Roman antiquities” and takes the name and association of Egypt back to its Egyptian roots. Your biggest complaint, as far as I see it, is that in addition to the Egyptian associations in the BoA, there are also Greco-Roman associations, which just look out of place. I’m not sure why Joseph’s recounting and integrating of various ancient legends from many different cultures is such a problem for Mormonism. To you, it seems, every detail of “truth” must take the form of “literal history” or you won’t accept it as “truth.” I don’t see how that’s any different than insisting that every specimen of H2O must take the form of liquid or you won’t accept it as H2O. Whether this example proves that Joseph was inspired or not I’m not going to say, but it does complicate the debate. Remember, you left the Church in part because “The Book of Abraham could not have been more wrong about the name ‘Egypt’” and not because Joseph was a lucky guesser or had a penchant for ripping off obscure phrases from hard-to-find documents. In fact, he could have been a lot more wrong about the name Egypt.

5. The previous point illustrates one of the most problematic aspects of your analysis, which is that your standards are constantly shifting. Early in this discussion, when you assumed that I couldn’t come up with more than a two-letter match in my proper name, you implied that a four-letter match would be more convincing. Now that I’ve demonstrated that my “two-letter match” was actually TWO FOUR-letter matches that referred to the same proper name and pointed to the same verse in Genesis — ie, a string of 8, at a probability of 1 in 25.6 billion — now you’re requiring a TEN-letter match. Actually rather than following you down that path, I think I’m going to let my string of 8 suffice for the moment, because in my opinion there are a lot of other reasons besides proper name matching to believe that what I’m saying is true.

When it really comes down to it, the reason I don’t accept your analyses is that they just don’t provide what I think are satisfying answers to some of the most basic questions, and your use of numbers and algorithms, in my view, hasn’t increased the objectivity of your tests, but it has exposed some problem areas that likely wouldn’t be there if your system was less complicated. You may be able to use the Internet (note: something Joseph Smith didn’t have) to hunt and search and find matches in pre-1830 documents. You then assume that the mere existence of the document provides ample justification to accept that Joseph Smith actually used it. To me, in a lot of cases your analyses simply don’t fit. If we’re going to use your slicing method to determine truth, then I would expect the pre-1830 American sources you come up with almost always to be a closer match to his writings than post-1830 or foreign sources. I would expect there to be more eye-witness testimony to support the fact that he made use of the materials you reference. I would expect there to be a better explanation for the eye-witness testimonies that asserted he DIDN’T use any extraneous materials, other than to assume that everyone who said this was a liar. I would expect that Joseph would have had much less of a grasp on ancient languages in 1830 than he clearly had (there are a few examples we’ve discussed, and many we haven’t). I would expect that when Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie of London University asserts that not a single word is correct in the Abraham translation, he would have looked at it closely enough to know what he’s talking about. I would expect Joseph’s background to be a closer match to JRR Tolkien than to an uneducated farmer. I would expect that areas of Mormonism that look *reasonable* on the surface to look *problematic* on closer inspection, rather than the other way around. I would expect his co-conspirators such as Sidney Rigdon to actually have arrived in a timely manner to be of use. You are quite convinced that truth will become more obvious with each slice, but your slices seem to disregard every one of these points. And… if you take selective slices, then you end up with a selective view of the truth. Is that really what you’re interested in? I think that most of these points provide pretty good tests of what happened, even though they don’t always lend themselves to mathematical analysis. You either accept history as it’s written, or you don’t. I can’t see any reason to force a mathematical model to describe a series of historical events unless you are really trying hard to prove something that the evidence doesn’t support.

To be sure, traditional LDS explanations are not always satisfying either. Why doesn’t DNA evidence match an Israelite origin of Native Americans? I don’t know. What really happened with the Kinderhook plates? I don’t know. But I’m open enough in my interpretations of LDS theology to accept whatever the evidence eventually leads to. What I won’t accept is the blind assumption that because not all pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place, it means that the pieces that *have* fallen into place are automatically void of meaning. And that’s what all of your statements seem determined to prove, whether the evidence guides you there or not.

Chris Johnson
August 3rd, 2011 at 7:16 am

Emeth thanks for your patience!

I hope you have fun with my response and don’t forget to keep an open mind. :)

First of all you wanted me to answer this:

“You didn’t answer the main point I made in my previous post. Why are you ignoring the conclusions of your own test, if not because you really, really want to come up with a “better” test that proves you right? … What we should also be able to agree on is that your software determined that the Book of Giants was the second most likely source for the Enoch passages, in some tests beating out even the Old and New Testaments. If you’re really looking for an objective test that tells us how Joseph Smith concocted his work, then why not continue with the method that you’ve already presented to me?”

Actually, I did continue with this method, and I shared my results with you on this page, here it is again:


Here are the results for the aggregate 2,3 and 4 word correlations. They are ordered from the highest amount of textual correlation to lowest:

1) The Book of Enoch (1821) ——– 1.9988
2) The Book of the Giants ——– 1.7075
3) The New Testament ——– 1.5693
4) The Old Testament ——– 1.0135

After the above analysis, I continued the investigation, but did not bother posting the results here as I thought my point was sufficiently clear. To further the investigation, I used more statistically significant data (utilizing the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 word matches). The analysis gave the following results, ordered from most similar to least similar:

1) The New Testament ——– 3.7030
2) Genesis (Old Testament) ——– 2.5121
3) First 3/4 of The Book of Enoch (1821) ——– 1.9632
4) The Book of Enoch (1821) ——– 1.6567
5) The Book of Enoch (1893) ——– 1.5469
6) Old Testament (Excluding Genesis) ——– 1.4265
7) Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ——– 1.1662
8) Book of the Giants ——– 0.9366
9) Robinson Crusoe ——– 0.1422
10) Plato’s Republic ——– 0.1351
11) Alice in Wonderland ——– 0.0818
12) Around the World in 80 Days ——– 0.0682

It makes sense that there would be more borrowing from the NT than the OT if it were a Christian writing the Book of Moses, since Christians are naturally more familiar with the NT. It also makes sense that the Book of Moses would be more similar to the Book of Genesis than the OT, since Genesis was the book currently under study by Joseph when the Book of Moses was written. The 1821 Book of Enoch was the next most similar book, beating both of the other Enoch sources (Book of the Giants / The Book of Enoch – 1893), which makes sense since the 1821 source was the only one that could have been available to Joseph Smith. All of these results favor the hypothesis that the Book of Moses was created by conventional means and influenced by sources available to the author. It also shows that the Dead Sea Scrolls Book of the Giants is not a significant source, being beaten by “Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs” which was a religious book used as a baseline/control.

I am not suggesting Joseph Smith was plagiarizing here — he was simply influenced by his environment just as J. R. R. Tolken or any other author would be. Similar to other authors the majority of Joseph’s text was coming from his imagination, and was not copied directly from other books.

I didn’t stop there with my analysis however. I wanted to go deeper.

To determine authorship, a method called stylometry is used to determine a statistical “fingerprint” of the author (this is what I am doing in my analysis above). Theoretically if an author wrote an infinite volume of text, it would have a specific frequency of word patterns which would be a perfect “fingerprint” of the author’s literary style which we could then use to determine whether or not a certain work was written by him. In other words, an author’s mind is the source text for their writings. But for Joseph Smith, he claimed that his mind was not the source text — instead he claimed it was the Golden Plates, the Abraham Papyri, the Holy Ghost, or God. I wonder if we can test this claim?

Can we test whether Joseph’s text came from his own imagination, or from an external divine source? People tend to reuse their favorite phrases, words, ideas, and subjects. Even an author’s creative style, literary flavor and vocabulary are limited to their life experiences and knowledge. All this can been seen through stylometric analysis. So if Joseph Smith created both the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon from his imagination, we would expect to find significant similarities, pointing us back to his mind as the original source text.

Do you remember that I previously mentioned the “-ihah” ending? It doesn’t show up in the bible or any other Jewish books, but oddly it shows up in 3 different civilizations, all produced by Joseph:

1) The Nephites (Ammonihah, Moronihah, Nephihah … )
2) The Jaredites (Orihah)
3) The Pre-Flood civilization in the Book of Moses (Hanannihah)

This seems to indicate that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses were written by a common author. I will admit that this evidence is speculative at best, but it seems VERY SUSPICIOUS to me.

This lead me to the next question: how similar are The Book of Mormon and The Book of Moses?

(A) If both books are authentic history, they should be about as different from each other as any two religious books are.

(B) But if the Book of Mormon and The Book of Moses are not authentic history, and were simply fabricated by a single author, we would expect a high degree of similarity between the two books. Authors tend to use the same ideas, phrases, literary style and creativity in their works, and so we may expect to see a fairly high similarity rating between the two books if they were authored by one person.

So I ran the Book of Moses against the Book of Mormon in the same stylometric word analysis program, and was very surprised.

Look at the updated list of books ordered from most similar to least similar (to The Book of Moses):

1) Book of Mormon ——– 77.5225
2) The New Testament ——– 3.7030
3) The Book of Genesis ——– 2.5121
4) First 3/4 of The Book of Enoch (1821) ——– 1.9632
5) The Book of Enoch (1821) ——– 1.6567
6) The Book of Enoch (1893) ——– 1.5469
7) Old Testament (Excluding Genesis) ——– 1.4265
8) Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs ——– 1.1662
9) Book of the Giants ——– 0.9366

The Book of Mormon is 20 times more correlated to the Book of Moses than any other book tested. These results support my hypothesis that both books sprang from the imagination of a common author.

But to be honest I cannot draw any conclusions from the above data alone, because after all we know that both books were translated by the same man. So the similarity between the two books could be attributable to the fact that they were translated by the same man rather than authored by the same man. To investigate which it was, I ran a control test to find the baseline expectation. I needed to find someone who single-handedly translated a few religious documents, and I found a man who fit the bill: R. H. Charles. R. H. Charles translated the 1893 Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Here are the results of the analysis:

1) R. H. Charles Enoch vs R. H. Charles Jubilees ——– 11.3156
2) R. H. Charles Enoch vs R. H. Charles Patriarchs——– 1.9472
3) R. H. Charles Enoch vs New Testament ——– 0.7787

First of all I would like to point out that R. H. Charles translations do not rely on the New Testament as heavily as Joseph Smith’s translations. This means that R. H. Charles was dealing with documents that were independent of the New Testament, while Joseph’s documents were heavily influenced by the New Testament.

Secondly, the translations that Charles made contain similarities as expected by the “common translator” hypothesis, but the most similar documents are about 7 times less similar to each other than Joseph’s translations. This means that Joseph’s “translations” are way too similar to each other to be caused by the “common translator” effect. I wanted to verify this so I ran one more test comparing the Book of Abraham to the Book of Mormon. Here are the results:

1) Book of Abraham vs Book of Mormon ——– 38.9358

Again these numbers are extremely high, surpassing the translator effect as seen in R. H. Charles’ translations. This verifies that the problem is not just a single anomaly, but consistent among all three books Joseph wrote, confirming that Joseph Smith was probably the author (not the translator). This also means that the “Spalding-Rigdon” theory is unlikely to be true. Before doing these studies I was already doubting the “Spalding-Rigdon” theory (because it did seem a bit far fetched), but now I am beginning to completely abandon it. There are some interesting similarities between the Solomon Spalding text and the Book of Mormon, but after careful analysis I believe the similarities are due to environmental similarities and random chance. Take a look:

1) Book of Moses vs Book of Mormon ——– 77.5225
2) Book of Abraham vs Book of Mormon ——– 38.9358
3) Manuscript Found vs Book of Mormon ——– 0.9038

I believe the true source text is Joseph Smith’s mind.

Lastly, I want to quantify the number 77.5225 for you and show how similar The Book of Moses is to The Book of Mormon — because without showing the parallels, this number would appear fairly arbitrary:

Word Match Example 1

… for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God … upon them. (Book of Moses)
… for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them (Book of Mormon)
(This phrase does not show up in the Bible at all)

Word Match Example 2

… weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and (Book of Moses)
… weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and (Book of Mormon)
(This phrase does not show up in the Bible at all)

Full list of 6 word phrase matches between Moses/Mormon:

Parallel 1
saw angels descending out of heaven

Parallel 2
all the inhabitants of the earth

Parallel 3
can in nowise inherit the kingdom

Parallel 4
down into the water and was

Parallel 5
of the father and the son

Parallel 6
record of the father and the

Parallel 7
beareth record of the father and

Parallel 8
among the children of men and

Parallel 9
the foundation of the world and

Parallel 10
from all eternity to all eternity

Parallel 11
the inhabitants of the earth and

Parallel 12
the father and the son and

Parallel 13
of the father and of the

Parallel 14
and the lord said unto me

Parallel 15
the father and of the son

Parallel 16
the coming of the son of

Parallel 17
it came to pass that when

Parallel 18
it came to pass that noah

Parallel 19
the holy ghost which beareth record

Parallel 20
it came to pass that i

Parallel 21
ghost which beareth record of the

Parallel 22
holy ghost which beareth record of

Parallel 23
and it came to pass as

Parallel 24
the gift of the holy ghost

Parallel 25
pass that the lord spake unto

Parallel 26
without beginning of days or end

Parallel 27
the only begotten of the father

Parallel 28
of days or end of years

Parallel 29
beginning of days or end of

Parallel 30
to pass that the lord spake

Parallel 31
by the spirit of god and

Parallel 32
from the foundation of the world

Parallel 33
and it came to pass when

Parallel 34
in the name of the father

Parallel 35
the name of the father and

Parallel 36
name of the father and of

Parallel 37
and i looked and i beheld

Parallel 38
that the lord said unto me

Parallel 39
pass that the lord said unto

Parallel 40
i looked and i beheld the

Parallel 41
to pass that the lord said

Parallel 42
the word of the lord and

Parallel 43
the people save it were the

Parallel 44
people save it were the people

Parallel 45
and of the holy ghost which

Parallel 46
unto the inhabitants of the earth

Parallel 47
and it came to pass that

Parallel 48
is full of grace and truth

Parallel 49
and it came to pass in

Parallel 50
all the nations of the earth

Parallel 51
upon all the face of the

Parallel 52
all the face of the earth

Parallel 53
the face of the earth and

Parallel 54
father and of the son of

Parallel 55
and of the son of man

Parallel 56
things which are in the earth

Parallel 57
it came to pass when the

Parallel 58
i say unto you this is

Parallel 59
behold i say unto you this

Parallel 60
now behold i say unto you

Parallel 61
and now behold i say unto

Parallel 62
they can in nowise inherit the

Parallel 63
it came to pass that the

Parallel 64
nowise inherit the kingdom of god

Parallel 65
in nowise inherit the kingdom of

Parallel 66
foundation of the world and the

Parallel 67
answered upon the heads of the

Parallel 68
be answered upon the heads of

Parallel 69
i give unto you a commandment

Parallel 70
and i will show unto thee

Parallel 71
for the space of many generations

Parallel 72
he said unto me look and

Parallel 73
came to pass that i beheld

Parallel 74
i beheld the heavens open and

Parallel 75
baptized with fire and with the

Parallel 76
with fire and with the holy

Parallel 77
fire and with the holy ghost

Parallel 78
came to pass that the lord

Parallel 79
by the spirit of the lord

Parallel 80
for the fiery indignation of the

Parallel 81
the fiery indignation of the wrath

Parallel 82
indignation of the wrath of god

Parallel 83
fiery indignation of the wrath of

Parallel 84
unto the lord there came a

Parallel 85
the day shall come that the

Parallel 86
and the day shall come that

Parallel 87
the four quarters of the earth

Parallel 88
four quarters of the earth unto

Parallel 89
from the four quarters of the

Parallel 90
on the right hand of god

Parallel 91
jesus christ the son of god

Parallel 92
of jesus christ the son of

Parallel 93
name of jesus christ the son

Parallel 94
the name of jesus christ the

Parallel 95
in the name of jesus christ

Parallel 96
baptized in the name of jesus

Parallel 97
and repent of your sins and

Parallel 98
repent of your sins and be

Parallel 99
and be baptized in the name

Parallel 100
be baptized in the name of

Parallel 101
the holy ghost that ye may

Parallel 102
commanded him that he should go

Parallel 103
him that he should go forth

Parallel 104
and commanded him that he should

Parallel 105
that he should go forth and

Parallel 106
as it was in the beginning

Parallel 107
even as it was in the

Parallel 108
unto the children of men even

Parallel 109
even unto the end of the

Parallel 110
unto the end of the world

Parallel 111
of the lord might be fulfilled

Parallel 112
of the fruit of his loins

Parallel 113
with an oath that he would

Parallel 114
the day of the lord come

Parallel 115
unto the lord saying o lord

Parallel 116
cried unto the lord saying o

Parallel 117
them and it came to pass

Parallel 118
and the lord god said unto

Parallel 119
worship the lord their god and

Parallel 120
caused that he should be cast

Parallel 121
the words which i spake unto

Parallel 122
these are the words which i

Parallel 123
and these are the words which

Parallel 124
as many as would not hearken

Parallel 125
of the only begotten of the

Parallel 126
the commandments of the lord and

Parallel 127
angel of the lord appeared unto

Parallel 128
an angel of the lord appeared

Parallel 129
unto the commandments of the lord

Parallel 130
an offering unto the lord and

Parallel 131
said unto him i know not

Parallel 132
the beginning and the end the

Parallel 133
write the words which i speak

Parallel 134
it came to pass that it

Parallel 135
came to pass that it was

Parallel 136
for the space of many hours

Parallel 137
it was for the space of

Parallel 138
he is full of grace and

Parallel 139
for he is full of grace

Parallel 140
weeping and wailing and gnashing of

Parallel 141
and wailing and gnashing of teeth

Parallel 142
wailing and gnashing of teeth and

Parallel 143
saying in the name of the

Parallel 144
chosen and it came to pass

Parallel 145
it came to pass as the

Parallel 146
be the name of my god

Parallel 147
the name of my god for

Parallel 148
blessed be the name of my

Parallel 149
cried with a loud voice and

Parallel 150
and cried with a loud voice

Parallel 151
it came to pass when they

Parallel 152
came to pass when they heard

Parallel 153
he bowed himself to the earth

Parallel 154
and he also said unto him

Parallel 155
said unto him if thou wilt

Parallel 156
me and hearken unto my voice

Parallel 157
unto me and hearken unto my

Parallel 158
turn unto me and hearken unto

Parallel 159
come among the children of men

Parallel 160
shut out from the presence of

Parallel 161
must repent and be baptized in

Parallel 162
come unto the children of men

Parallel 163
unto the children of men ye

Parallel 164
it came to pass as i

Parallel 165
forth out of the mouth of

Parallel 166
out of the mouth of god

Parallel 167
blessed be the name of god

Parallel 168
began from that time forth to

Parallel 169
and commanded them that they should

Parallel 170
unto the children of men and

Parallel 171
all men everywhere to repent and

Parallel 172
for thus saith the lord i

Parallel 173
gift of the holy ghost and

Parallel 174
they would not hearken unto his

Parallel 175
by the holy ghost and a

Parallel 176
and a book of remembrance was

— End of Data —

To conclude this point: I have a baseline that shows that these phrases are 20 times more significant than the New Testament, over 77 times more significant than “The Book of the Giants” and almost 7 times more significant than the highest “common translator” effect.

It turns out that the “-ihah” ending was only the tip of the iceberg, pointing me towards further slicing and analysis.

The most logical explanation that fits the data is that the ideas and phrases in the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon are similar because they came from the same human mind, as would be expected if they were authored by conventional human ingenuity.

Emeth, you wrote:

“…you will readily admit that Joseph’s system was highly organized and astute when it comes to ripping off information you can make a case for him having had access to, but when evidence emerges that shows the same high level of organization and astuteness with respect to information that he couldn’t possibly have had access to, then you abandon your theories and his hit becomes the result of random variation and lucky guessing. The word compartmentalization comes to mind, which I’ve heard is the very kind of thing a person is supposed to be cured of when he leaves the Church.”

First of all, if you compare any two books there will be a great number of similarities between the two. A good example is the Robinson Crusoe and Book of Moses parallels listed above. Beyond the objective statistical similarities, I could go through both books and find dozens of other interesting parallels. This is what I call “parallelomania” — using parallels as evidence for a theory without providing a baseline or control. Whether an author is ripping off information or not, parallels can and do exist by chance.

Secondly, I can see that it appears inconsistent to you when I change my theory depending on the evidence. But I don’t mind being wrong. You have shown me some interesting facts that I had not considered, so of course I will change my position as new evidence is presented and verified. Science can afford to change theories based on the evidence, while religion is often bound to sustain (as true) the theories of religious leaders whether they are true or not. This problem occurs because religious leaders often claim their knowledge comes from God, so if new evidence becomes available that contradicts their claims, it threatens the very authority and identity of the organisation.

A good example of this happened when Galileo discovered mountains of evidence that the earth was orbiting the sun rather than the other way around. The Catholic church opposed his views and forced him into silence. Galileo’s ideas threatened the church, because if a mere mortal could prove the church’s claims to be false, then the church had no divine authority guiding their revelations. Rather than suffer a blow to their authority, they shut him up.

Centuries later a similar episode took place: In the Wentworth letter and many other places, Joseph Smith said that the Native Americans had descended from a group of Israelites. Just after Joseph died, the LDS Apostles affirmed that the Natives of North and South America are the Lamanites. These were public statements, made by men who had been given the Authority and Power of God to speak revealed truth on the earth. When their statements were falsified hundreds of years later by DNA tests and other analyses, some adherents threw out the old theories and began supporting science.

This was good for progress, but it undermined the Authority and Power of the LDS prophets, including Joseph Smith himself. Difficult questions began to arise: Did God knowingly lead the church leaders into believing a lie for over one hundred years, without trying to correct it? Countless Native Americans lived and died, believing (wrongly) that they were the very offspring of Lehi, why would God allow his “True” church to promulgate such a belief if it weren’t true? God could have revealed the truth from the beginning, but instead He lied through His prophets — But since God doesn’t lie, did Joseph simply receive a false revelation? Or was he using his human imagination? Is this consistent with a true prophet?

Members get around these problems by making excuses like “prophets are fallible human beings”. But this excuse makes God unwise or powerless, because why didn’t God didn’t fix the mistakes that his fallible servants made? It also makes God’s prophets practically useless because it leaves us wondering which words are to be taken seriously, and which ones we should ignore. After all, what is the point in having a prophet if we can never be sure when he is speaking for God and when he is only sharing his human opinion? In hindsight it is easy to pick out prophecies that came true and ignore the others by making up “human fallibility” excuses, but psychics and gamblers can do the same: They also make predictions and give similar excuses for when their predictions do not come to pass. So rather than admitting that they were just making educated guesses, they will maintain a belief in “luck”, “magic” or “psychic powers”, and create interesting excuses for why they could not predict the future for that particular event.

Here is a good example video of people unable to come to grips with the falseness of their psychic powers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VAasVXtCOI (Pay attention to their excuses as to why their powers did not work)

How different is that from someone who says that Joseph’s false predictions failed because those were (conveniently) the times that he spoke as a man? Do you see the Hindsight Bias? To find out if someone is a real prophet, the Hindsight Bias must be overcome, and no facts omitted. Otherwise you can pick and choose the sermons, texts or predictions that came true and ignore everything else.

So back to the Native American/Lamanite theory — it seems that the church’s theories do in fact change over time, but to the detriment of its own divine authority. The church must make Joseph’s statements false in order for the Book of Mormon to remain true. This is counterproductive for a church that relies on the idea that the man is supposed to be a prophet called of God. This also fits the prediction that when a false belief is finally exposed and cornered, with no way out, a believer will always find a way to make it work no matter what — even if it means ignoring their leaders and twisting facts.

But back to your point about my perspective on whether Joseph is getting things right by random chance or by using source material: I don’t think it’s relevant (at least to me) to know exactly how an author wrote their book. If it were written by conventional means then it would be influenced by thousands of sources and events in Joseph’s life, and therefore it is impossible to pinpoint every single case with 100% accuracy. Also there are likely thousands of ideas that were Joseph’s own which we will never find a source for. Would you really fuss about whether each of J.R.R. Tolken’s ideas were his own or pulled from his environment? In most cases there would be plenty of overlap, and it would be a fruitless pursuit. Why? Because if the information is statistically insignificant (such as the parallels between Robinson Crusoe and the Book of Moses) then it has no value in establishing a truth claim. To prove the church true, it is more relevant to determine if there are any parallels that could not have been due to environmental influence, and are too complex to be due to random chance.

Emeth you wrote:

“2. You cited Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie of London University who said “It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations.” You understand that Rev. Spalding hired Petrie to provide him with that conclusion, right?”

Do you really need to disparage Petrie for being paid to do an analysis? Who do you think paid Nibley to come up with his conclusions? (That’s right, the LDS church paid Nibley to support the LDS conclusions). So on your grounds should we disqualify both Nibley and Petrie? I don’t think we should ignore their work just because they were paid. If I tried to get some independent opinions from 10 different Egyptologists, some may never give me the time of day until I mention paying them for their time. Sound fair? But I don’t need to rely on Petrie’s conclusions because all the other Egyptologists — including some LDS Egyptologists agree with him:

“One life-long defender of Joseph Smith [Ferguson] made his own independent investigation of Joseph’s ability as a translator of Egyptian records, utilizing recognized Egyptologists without telling them a word about the issues that were at stake. Their verdict agreed with the findings of Mr. Nelson and Dr. Baer. Consequently, he came to reject the Book of Abraham and the claims put forth by Joseph Smith as a translator of ancient languages.”

-Wesley P. Walters, “Joseph Smith among the Egyptians,” The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, v. 16, Winter 1973, p. 45

You continued:

“…Never mind who paid Petrie for that assessment, though, the assessment is verifiably false.”

But as I mentioned above, all the main stream Egyptologists agree with Dr. W. M. Flinders Petrie. This does not seem to be a bribed conspiracy as you’d like to think. But let’s look at the assessment of the translation in a moment.

—–
How do random similarities exist between texts that are unrelated?
—–

First of all I would like to give a quick lesson on randomness. If you are trying to determine the significance of a “parallel” you must know how certain elements would have been generated by chance. This hasn’t been mentioned before, so it needs to be covered.

Here are 5 random sentences:

i) 4J0gj%9f,j-Sm4@lHLmsp#gl-dl,3-fS3ls=3lf;g#’=jGms

ii) fojo oins phokh ab pgij mkl qygb okd lkmd fldowpo

iii) Grain quite when is once detail term can our

iv) Henry’s dog was lost for twelve days, but we found him behind the school.

v) It came to pass that the Lord caused a great famine to consume the land.

The first sentence is random, and requires no understanding of human language, beyond our UTF character set. This method of generating text is unlikely to produce coherent sentences, however if we created billions of such random lines, quite a few coherent words would inevitably occur.

The second sentence is random, and shows more understanding of human language, with alphabetic characters grouped into words separated by spaces. If we produced billions of such lines, more coherent words would appear than in the first example, and even a few coherent sentences would likely emerge.

The third sentence is random, and contains English words jumbled together in a nonsensical sentence. If we produced billions of such lines, we would find many more coherent English sentences than in the previous example, but the chances of getting a bible phrase is low.

The fourth sentence has a random context, but the structure is grammatically correct. The sentences are filled with random ideas, and if we produced billions of such lines, a few would be similar to the bible.

The fifth sentence contains a random biblical sounding idea. If billions of such sentences were generated, millions would match phrases in the bible.

In summary: Similar inputs generate similar outputs. As the SCOPE NARROWS, the hits become more likely.

For example: Charles Gabriel Pravaz (1791-1853), French surgeon, and Alexander Wood (1817-1884), Scottish physician, independently invented the hypodermic syringe. These two men did not copy a previous hypodermic syringe design, nor did they copy eachother. How is this possible? This is caused by similar environmental inputs which NARROWED THE SCOPE of random chance to the point that both doctors could invent the same thing independently.

The same thing happens in literature. For example many people opposed “Thelyphthora” and coincidentally their responses were similar to each other. They did not need to copy each other, nor did they copy existing sources — their thoughts were their own, but similar because they had similar environmental influences — the scope was narrow. This is important when understanding how similar stories can be written, and can even look similar to each other even though no direct relationship exists between the texts.

Another factor that needs to be considered when humans come up with similar ideas by chance, is the human brain. Our brain is wired in such a way that our naming patterns and idea generation mechanisms have a much NARROWER SCOPE than chance expectations. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouba/kiki_effect

All of these factors play off of each other in the dance of life, creating all sorts of interesting statistical tricks. But there is a limit to the similarities that can be achieved. Not every match can be attributed to chance. Once a certain threshold is reached, the match cannot be due to chance alone. This is the anomaly one would have to find if trying to prove the Book of Mormon true.

—–
A baseline for a false translation
—–

Next (and I can’t believe I actually have to explain this) what would a false translation look like? I’m going to grab a random paragraph from the Internet in Finnish, and then grab another random paragraph in English and present the English paragraph as if it were a translation of the Finnish:

Teollisuuden tuottajahintaindeksi kuvaa tehtailta lähtevien tuotteiden hintoja. Se antaa usein viitteitä inflaation tulevasta suunnasta. Tuottajahintojen laskeminen saattaa siis olla merkki siitä, että myös kuluttajahintaindeksi on kääntymässä laskuun.

“Proposed” English Translation:

How much do you know about volcanoes? Or Racism in Asia? Or take our comprehensive United States quiz. Find out how much you know about Tourism. Test your knowledge on hanging and serial killers. Or the relationship between alcohol and cancer. If this all makes you sad, try our sadness quiz. Or if this is all boring you, perhaps you should take our boredom quiz.

Actual translation (provided by Google Translate):

Industrial producer price index which reflects the prices of goods leaving factories. It often gives an indication of inflation on the future direction. Producer prices, the calculation may therefore be a sign that the consumer is turning to fall.
—–

If you were a professional English/Finnish translator would you say that the first “proposed” translation is completely wrong? I would. Take a quick look. Wouldn’t it be correct to say the following:

“It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in this translation”

This is all that Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie was saying.

“But wait!” Say the true believers, “can’t we find enough similarities to make this translation work? (ie. force a false translation into a true translation)”

Perhaps the translation was correct after all and ALL THE EXPERTS WERE WRONG, because look at the parallels:

1) The first sentence symbolizes objects leaving their place of origin, such as lava leaving the volcano, or goods leaving a factory. The volcano exemplifies this very same meaning. It is also interesting to note that the “Industrial producer” mentioned at the beginning also signifies “Large production” which is exactly what a volcano does as it produces lava, ash and gases. It is an acceptable translation.

2) The next three sentences indicate places, and describe “leaving” to visit far away places in the form of tourism. This continues the idea from the first sentence and captures the general idea of “leaving”.

3) The next sentence captures the idea of a “notion resting ON a future direction”, which is 100% correct. Hanging represents the DOWN direction, and DOWN is associated with the FUTURE — ie. “DOWN the line” or “DOWN the road”. Here are the two sentences lined up:
(a) “knowledge (notion) ON hanging (future direction)”
(b) “indication (notion) ON the future direction”

4) Similar to the hit above, the sentence also captures the idea of “people falling down” in a negative way, another direct hit:
(a) “… (people) hanging …”
(b) “… consumer is turning to fall”

5) “This/That IS changing a mood” In the last sentence both translations use the word “IS” right after a demonstrative pronoun (this/that) to indicate a change in mood:
(a) “this IS … boring (changing a mood)”
(b) “that … IS turning (changing a mood)”

—–

Now imagine if I had thousands of words to work with rather than just a paragraph — like Joseph did in the Book of Abraham. How many more matches could I find then? Lots! And some matches would be much better than others, allowing me to ignore the poorer matches and highlight the better matches to make my case more believable.

Imagine there were 5 researchers spending years instead of hours on the problem? How much better would the matches be? Quite a bit better I assure you.

Now, what if I was not translating completely blind, but actually had images or diagrams helping me NARROW THE SCOPE so that I had a higher statistical chance of getting it right? Joseph had the Facsimiles as his guide, so it would be much easier to get a hit here and there.

To force the match in the above example, I had to ignore the overall meaning (ie. one document was a “financial analysis” and the other was “a bunch of random suggestions”). I also had to throw out lots of data (ie. “racism in asia” and “producer prices”), use word association (ie. “hanging -> down -> future”), creatively categorize concepts and find synonyms.

With all of the above factors considered, it should be easy to come up with parallels between ANY two works — but that’s precisely the problem: If parallels can be drawn between any two works, then what value do they have without a baseline? And EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY: Why are we even using statistically insignificant parallels, when we have the ability to translate the entire document and compare them both in their ENTIRETY and see if they match on a macro and micro level? Do the names match? Do the sentences all match? Are they talking about the same things? Are both stories identical? If not, then experts could truthfully say after a brief analysis that “… there is not one single word that is true in this translation”

I think you can start to see how a false translation can be doctored up to look true by using the above methods. Now let’s look at the Book of Abraham translation and see how it stacks up against the Facsimiles, Egyptian Papyri and other documents.

Emeth, you said:

“Fac. 2, fig. 6. The Sons of Horus actually do represent this earth in its four quarters (see wikipedia, “Sons of Horus,” and do a search on “cardinal compass points.”)”

I will admit this is a fairly close match. However, look at how many times the term “four quarters” is associated with “the earth” in the scriptures. It shows up ONCE out of the entire Old and New Testaments. However, Joseph seems to like the phrase because he makes the Nephites say it FIVE times, the Jaredites say it ONCE, he has it TWICE in the Pearl of Great Price (besides the Book of Abraham) and THREE times in the doctrine and covenants. He uses the phrase over 10 times more often than the bible does — again showing that he is the common source of all these books — but besides that, when he is fed a picture of four creatures lined up on an Egyptian papyrus, what are the chances he is going to interpret it with his favorite “four quarters” phrase? 1 out of 10? Additionally, Joseph could have inserted nearly anything here, and it would have been a hit because the sons of Horus are associated with so many things:

-a group
-four gods
-jars
-mummified bodies
-organs
-friends of the king
-assistants to the king
-angels
-souls
-Horus
-Pharaoh
-protectors
-human
-liver
-baboon
-lungs
-jackal
-stomach
-hawk
-intestines
-cardinal compass points
-animals
(etc)

In this case LDS scholars are picking one of many associations to make the “hit”, but the “cardinal compass points” are slightly different than Joseph’s “four quarters” of the earth phrase. In all of the scriptural references to “four quarters” it is associated with “land” not direction. So even with this “hit” Joseph seems to be off by one association. So here is the link, it took about four associations to make it into a hit:

four creatures -> four quarters -> (missing link) -> cardinal compass points (one of many associations related to the four sons of Horus) -> Four sons of Horus.

By using extensive word associations, I forced the Finnish paragraph to match the English paragraph, except here, Joseph had the advantage of using a picture representing “four” to base his translation off of, whereas my paragraph was pulled randomly from Google. The scope is totally different, and so my example is a weak baseline.

But let’s ignore that for one minute, and ask a different question: If Joseph really did have the ability to receive revelation and translate ancient documents, then why didn’t he identify the four sons of Horus as such? Why didn’t he just name each of them? Why didn’t he give us more details? The answer is simple: the more complex information is missing, because it would have been statistically impossible to guess the correct names of the sons of Horus by chance. There is a pattern here: The more complex the information, the less likely it will show up by chance, and the less likely Joseph will get it right. For every guess Joseph gets right, he gets dozens wrong. In fact, Joseph did try guessing the names of the sons of Horus on Facsimile 1, but entirely failed to mention Horus. Not only that, he got each of their names wrong. Instead of Qebehsenuf, he got Elkenah. Instead of Duamutef he got Libnah. Instead of Hapy he got Mahmackrah. Instead of Imsety he got Korash.

Additionally, here are over 130 words that he got completely wrong — they do not show up anywhere on the papyri (unless you start trying to correlate words like “the”, but I trust you are not that desperate for a match):

—–
Now the Lord God caused the famine to wax sore in the land of Ur, insomuch that Haran, my brother, died but Terah, my father, yet lived in the land of Ur, of the Chaldees. And it came to pass that I, Abraham, took Sarai to wife, and Nehor, my brother, took Milcah to wife, who was the daughter of Haran. Now the Lord had said unto me Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee. Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan and I took Lot, my brother’s son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife and also my father followed after me, unto the land which we denominated Haran.
—–

Let’s look at your next parallel:

“Fac. 2, fig. 5 “said by the Egyptians to be the sun.” Correct. (See Wikipedia: Hathor, or do a google image search of “Hathor Cow” and you’ll see a majority of images portray the cow with a sun disk over its head, even though Joseph’s version didn’t).”

Again the LDS scholars are ignoring the direct reading to make this match. There are a number of associations used to make this translation match:

a cow -> associated with Hathor -> Hathor sometimes has a sun disk -> the sun

Joseph could have said literally anything here and it would have been a hit! By using the LDS scholar’s loose standards, how could he NOT get this one right? Look at how many things Hathor is associated with:

-goddesses
-”the Great One of Many Names”
-her titles and attributes are so numerous that she was important in every area of the life and death of the ancient Egyptians.
-cow-headed goddess
-Bat
-Narmer
-Bast
-Giza
-Upper Egypt
-Lower Egypt
-the Milky Way,
-milk
-udders of a heavenly cow
-Isis
-festivals
-a sky goddess
-”Lady of Stars”
-linked to Sirius
-Sopdet
-Hethara, the third month of the Egyptian calendar
-”the Mistress of Heaven”
-Nut
-Mut
-Queen
-”the Celestial Nurse”
-a cow
-a sycamore fig
-”the Mother of Mothers”
-women
-fertility
-children
-childbirth
-power over conception or childbirth
-health
-beauty
-the heart
-cosmetic arts
-mirrors
-assured of her own beauty
-goodness
-”the mistress of life”
-joy
-love
-romance
-perfume
-dance
-music
-alcohol
-myrrh
-incense
-turquoise
-malachite
-gold
-copper
-Patron of miners
-goddess of the Sinai Peninsula
-eye makeup
-patron of dancers
-percussive music
-sistrum
-the Menit necklace
-artisans
-musicians
-dancers
-art
-sexuality
-masturbation
-”Lady of the Vulva”
-”lady of the west”
-”lady of the southern sycamore tree”
-protected and assisted the dead on their final journey.
-water
-Amentet
-sarcophagi
-lid
-fate
-fortune telling
-questioned the dead souls as they travelled to the land of the dead
-dreams
-assistance
-inspiration
-Waset (Thebes)
-Iunu (On, Heliopolis)
-Aphroditopolis
-Sinai
-Momemphis
-Herakleopolis
-Keset
-the constellations Pleiades.
-goddess of destruction
-Eye of Ra
-defender of the sun god
-blood lust
-slaughter
-hangover
-battle
-”The House of Horus”
-the sky
-the royal family
-both the wife and the daughter of Ra
-reading
-writing
-architecture
-arithmetic
-witness at the judgement of the dead
-goose
-cat
-lion
-red (the color of passion)
-power
-success
-no doubts
(etc)

Notice again that Joseph could have easily used his God given powers to reveal the Egyptian name “Hathor” which would have been quite significant, but instead, he is silent on the matter, and gives a derived connection. When Joseph does reveal specific names, they are wrong like these for example:

Abraham
Raukeeyang
Shaumau
Kolob
Oliblish
Jah-oh-eh
Enish-go-on-dosh
Kae-e-vanrash
Kli-flos-is-es
Hah-ko-kau-beam
Haran

These “hits” are no better than chance expectations, appearing exactly as a false translation should look.

Emeth you next brought up the crocodile god:

“Facsimile 1, fig. 9. The crocodile god is named Sobek and is linked to the Pharaoh. See http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/sobeka.htm and do a search on “linked to the pharaoh.””

Again Sobek is linked to many things that the hit is reduced by an appeal to association. (I can make a list as above, but the point should not have to be made twice). Furthermore Joseph did not give the name “Sobek” just as we would expect if he could not translate Egyptian.

Next:

“Fac. 2, fig. 4. Nibley has shown that the ship does indeed represent the firmament of the heavens, the number 1000, and a reckoning of time. (Abraham in Egypt, p. 64).”

The Egyptian symbol for 1000 is the lotus flower which is unfortunately missing. Egyptologists such as M. Theodule Deveria are claiming the correct translation is “a mummified hawk, called in Egyptian Ah’em. It is the symbol of the divine repose of death; its extended wings have reference to the resurrection.”

But Nibley preferred Joseph Smith’s explanation and picked a few elements from it (while ignoring others) to force a match with an unrelated story about Osiris. Here it is:

“…Osiris is also directed by [Wadj] according to which the secret of the gods in the hall, Osiris and his ship of 1000 to bring to its two heads, so that he rises to the sky and the sky goes against…”

If we allowed people to find any story they pleased and massage it into places they saw fit, surely we can force any meaning we would like.

—–

So by an Egyptologist’s position Joseph’s translation of the Papyri was wrong, and they are after all the ones who can read this stuff!

—–

Now let’s look at Fac. 3:

Overview:

Joseph: Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court.
Egyptologist: O gods of the necropolis, gods of the caverns, gods of the south, north, west, and east grant salvation to the Osiris Hor, the justified, born by Taikhibit.”
[Joseph got this wrong]

Fig. 1
Joseph: Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne, by the politeness of the king, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgment in his hand.
Egyptologist: “Label for Osiris (text to the right of figure 1 of facsimile 3): Recitation by Osiris, Foremost of the Westerners, Lord of Abydos(?), the great god forever and ever(?).”
[Joseph got this wrong]

Fig. 2
Joseph: King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head.
Egyptologist: “Label for Isis (text to the right of figure 2 of facsimile 3): Isis the great, the god’s mother.”
[Joseph got this wrong]

Fig. 3
Joseph: Signifies Abraham in Egypt as given also in Figure 10 of Facsimile No. 1.
Egyptologist: “Altar, with the offering of the deceased, surrounded with lotus flowers, signifying the offering of the defunct.”
[Joseph got this wrong]

Fig. 4
Joseph: Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand.
Egyptologist: “Label for Maat (text to the left of figure 4 of facsimile 3): Maat, mistress of the gods.”
[Joseph got this wrong]

Fig. 5
Joseph: Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.
Egyptologist: “Label for Hor the deceased (text in front of figure 5 of facsimile 3): The Osiris Hor, justified forever.”
[Joseph got this wrong]

Fig. 6
Joseph: Olimlah, a slave belonging to the prince.
Egyptologist: “Label for Anubis (text in front of figure 6 of facsimile 3): Recitation by Anubis, who makes protection(?), foremost of the embalming booth,…”
[Joseph got this wrong]

Additionally, The Book of Abraham text itself does not match Joseph’s Egyptian Papyri which reads:

… the prophet of Amonrasonter, prophet [?] of Min Bull-of-his-Mother, prophet [?] of Khons the Governor… Hor, justified, son of the holder of the same titles, master of secrets, and purifier of the gods Osorwer, justified [?]… Tikhebyt, justified. May your ba live among them, and may you be buried in the West…May you give him a good, splendid burial on the West of Thebes just like … this great pool of Khonsu [Osiris Hor, justified], born of Taykhebyt, a man likewise. After (his) two arms are [fast]ened to his breast, one wraps the Book of Breathings, which is with writing both inside and outside of it, with royal linen, it being placed (at) his left arm near his heart, this having been done at his wrapping and outside it. If this book be recited for him, then he will breathe like the soul[s of the gods] for ever and ever.

—–

In each and every case where Joseph could have proven his prophetic powers, he did not. He translated everything as poorly as chance would predict. There is really no similarity between his translations and the Egyptian text. The mere fact that you have resorted to showing me that Joseph mentioned the “four quarters of the earth” in association with the sons of Horus, shows how different these two documents are. I have already shown you that two completely random documents can be associated through the use of parallels. But this doesn’t mean they are the same document. Dr. W. M. Flinders Petrie has already said, it doesn’t match at all. You might be upset that Petrie has said that, and perhaps you would disqualify him on the same grounds Nibley does, but isn’t it odd that all the dozens of Egyptologists that have studied the Book of Abraham have come to the same conclusion? But what do you expect them to do exactly? Do you expect them to look beyond the fact that Joseph got Isis wrong, Osiris wrong, Hor wrong, Maat wrong, “pool” wrong, Khonsu wrong and hundreds of other things completely wrong, and try to find faint associations that would be expected by chance? No, of course we would not expect that of them, they have a reputation to uphold, and they don’t want to lie or deceive people.

Next Emeth you wrote:

“3. You haven’t yet decided whether a) Joseph Smith was completely wrong in his interpretation of the papyrus, per Petrie et al, or b) Joseph did happen to get some things right, but it was the product of randomness and lucky guessing (“I will tell you that there is a 99% chance that SOMEONE will win”), or c) Joseph’s system was highly involved, intricate, and faithful to the sources that he himself borrowed, and therefore “false,” but not random (“you found out where Joseph got his information from”). The theories are fundamentally inconsistent with each other, and yet you’ve used each of them to support your rejection of Mormonism as one alternately has become more defensible than the others. If it’s a mixture of the three (a much weaker option than being able to support one unequivocally), then what criteria do you use to know which is correct at any given moment? If the only criterion is that whatever supports your preferred position is correct, then you’ve taken a cliff dive away from your objective science.”

As I have stated previously, random chance can have a broad scope or a narrow scope depending on the knowledge of the person creating the text. This is exactly how you would expect J. R. R. Tolken’s writings to be — some parts would match other documents because of random chance, while other parts would match because the scope was narrow and the topic was specific, even to the point that text is partially copied from other sources — meaning the author was familiar enough with a certain topic or book that some of it was used in his writings. This means there will be times that it is impossible to tell whether J. R. R. Tolken had access to a certain book or not. Can this get any clearer?

The biggest take away here is that a true prophet would have examples of information that are so complex and yet entirely unavailable that it would be impossible to ascribe to chance or environment.

Next Emeth you wrote:

“4. You say we cannot use Greco-Roman sources in discussing the origin of Egypt. Why not? Oh, right, because Egyptologists are in a much better position to comment on the origin of the country.”

Well Egyptologists know that the original name was KMT not Hikuptah, so that’s a big problem. It is also interesting that Joseph couldn’t decide between “Ze-Ptah” and “Egyptus” as can be seen in his earliest “Book of Abraham” manuscripts. Changing names in the middle of production is consistent with someone who was creating fiction and could not decide upon the name. Or do you think God himself could not decide which name to give Joseph? Joseph’s last minute name change shows that he was very cautious and particular about his naming methods. I wonder why he changed it? Could it be that he couldn’t make up his mind after reading a book similar to “Origines: Egypt: 1825″:

“We are always to remember that AEgyptus was the name of the river long before it became that of the country. When then the Egyptians … would also denominate that sacred stream ikh Ptah, the Genius Ptah. … Thus the Ikh Ptah, daemon Ptah of the Egyptians may have been corrupted into Aigupios Gups Pta, perhaps Aigups Ptas, and finally into Aigupios. That the Greeks corrupted Ikh Ptah into Aiguptos seems sufficiently probable. From a passage in Diodorus we may infer that Sethosis [To Joseph it may have been Ze-thosis?] who took the name of Aiguptos considered Ptah as his patron God. … Whence came this name if not from an Egyptian appellation according to which Egypt was so called from Ptah? Cicero as we have seen says that Ptah was born in the Nile…” (Origines: Egypt. 1825)

So you can see the confusion: The above text says Egyptus (Egypt) was originally the name of the Nile river before it became the name of the country, but later says that ikh Ptah was the name of the river as well. Sethosis (Ze-Thosis?) was also Egyptus (Aiguptos) and he worshipped Ptah. Ptah was also born in the Nile river. So according to the document, what could Joseph determine? Was it originally Sethosis, Egyptus or Ptah? Or some combination of the three — perhaps Se-Ptah or Ze-Ptah? Joseph exibited similar confusion when naming Zeptah/Egyptus. It doesn’t matter where Joseph got these names from because in the end both names were wrong. We now know the ancient Egyptians called their country KMT. We have the advantage over Joseph because we can access thousands of ancient Egyptian documents made readable by the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.

Here is another section from the same book — compare it to Joseph’s ideas in the Book of Abraham, especially chapter 3:

“…[The Egyptian] system was formed to unite the interests of the priesthood with those of the monarch … They represented the universe as governed by an innumerable host of spiritual agents of different ranks who all acted under the guidance and by the authority of one supreme and infinite being … The Sun, the most glorious object … was considered as the visible type of the invisible God. The Moon became the symbol of the passive principle … the lunar orb which shines only by the light which it receives from the Sun. The five great Planets were selected to represent the principal and most brilliant of the etherial Spirits that stand in the presence of the Deity. The multitude of fixed Stars was compared to a mighty host and according to their different magnitudes degrees of rank were assigned to these celestial bodies which were considered as the types of the immaterial agents who in countless myriads perform the will and execute the mandates of the supreme Governor of the universe. … As the Sun the Planets and the Stars were supposed to represent the Deity and the spiritual hierarchy of heaven, symbols were chosen to designate the celestial bodies and the reverence of the multitude became attached to these new symbols …”

That being said, I’m not going to pin Joseph’s ideas for the Book of Abraham on this one book, but it is something to consider.

Emeth, you said:

“5. The previous point illustrates one of the most problematic aspects of your analysis, which is that your standards are constantly shifting. Early in this discussion, when you assumed that I couldn’t come up with more than a two-letter match in my proper name, you implied that a four-letter match would be more convincing. Now that I’ve demonstrated that my “two-letter match” was actually TWO FOUR-letter matches that referred to the same proper name and pointed to the same verse in Genesis — ie, a string of 8, at a probability of 1 in 25.6 billion — now you’re requiring a TEN-letter match. Actually rather than following you down that path, I think I’m going to let my string of 8 suffice for the moment, because in my opinion there are a lot of other reasons besides proper name matching to believe that what I’m saying is true.”

You say my standards are changing. But in this case, you have forgotten that way before you even mentioned Mahijah I said the following:

“If Joseph produced a sentence 10 words long, that only matched a sentence in the Dead Sea scrolls — meaning none of the 10 words show up together anywhere else — then we might have a hint of something. But it’s not until someone produces an exclusive 100 word phrase (meaning none of the 100 words show up together anywhere else) that later gets uncovered in a future archaeological dig that our jaws should drop. Does this happen? Ever? No. If we don’t compare against chance expectations then we deceive ourselves.”

Furthermore, I don’t even see how MHWY is an 8 letter match? (It is 4 letters in Hebrew) There are still a few things that you don’t understand about the MHWY match and statistics:

1) Mahaway and Mahijah both stem from Mehujael. I think we can both agree on this, but the point is, the names are not similar to eachother in a letter-by-letter comparison, so it would be wrong to calculate probabilities based on a letter-by-letter analysis. (only the first two consonants match using a letter-by-letter analysis, which is insignificant). Joseph has the option to create names by (A) ripping off names from the bible or other sources (B) Creating random names from his imagination (C) Creating names by modifying existing names [A, B & C have some overlap]. If Joseph is making names up from scratch, then a perfect letter-by-letter match in the same context is unlikely and somewhat significant — the longer the name the less likely the match is attributable to chance. However, if Joseph is ripping off names from the bible then he would have a high probability of getting an 18 letter match — which he did in the BOM via Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. This is reduced to insignificance by the fact that the exact same name exists in the Bible in the exact same context. But what if Joseph changes 1 letter so that it reads Mather-Shalal-Hash-Baz? If this name later shows up somewhere else at an ancient Jewish site, is it a one out of a quintillion probability match? No! It is a modified version of an existing name, therefore a different probability metric applies. Understanding this changes the probability landscape significantly. The two names MHWY and Mahijah are MORE similar to their parent “Mehujael” via Hebrew than they are to eachother. It appears that one author had access to the English variant (probably Mehija’el from the Clarke Commentary) and the other author had access to the Hebrew variant (MHWY’L from a Herbrew Old Testament).

2) It is important to note that the parent name “Mehujael” already existed in a pre-flood context. This means that any author writing about Enoch could access this name, and therefore has a high probability of getting it right. The chances of this happening are extremely high considering how many names do NOT match between the two texts, and how many other names Joseph made up that do NOT match (Libnah, Horus, Isis, Elkenah, Mahmackrah, Korash). I think you already understand that the more guesses a person makes, the more hits he will get right? But his misses will be proportional to his misses. So if he gets 3 things right, he will probably get 6 things wrong. If he gets 6 things right, he will probably get 12 things wrong, and so on. (the ratios depend on the author’s scope and knowledge of course). This is how Joseph (and psychics) gets many hits: by creating a lot of misses.

3) On the other hand, if Mehujael didn’t exist in the bible, then the match becomes many times more significant — something less likely to be guessed by chance. However, The match is only 2 letters deep on a letter-by-letter matching analysis. If we use a different method (besides letter matching) to get the match then we must evaluate it by those standards. Whichever way you twist it, it’s not a 1 out of a billion chance, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Emeth you wrote:

“You may be able to use the Internet (note: something Joseph Smith didn’t have) to hunt and search and find matches in pre-1830 documents. You then assume that the mere existence of the document provides ample justification to accept that Joseph Smith actually used it.”

The probabilities work both ways depending on whether the book is true or not, so I suggest you don’t use circular reasoning like this:

“The book is true, therefore Joseph had no access to the source texts. Because he had to access to the source texts, I know the Book of Mormon is true… ”

If the book were not true, then we are simply seeing the results of Joseph writing about what he knew about while not writing much about what he didn’t know about. If I wrote a book on a topic I knew a lot about, and then 200 years later people read it and thought I was a prophet for knowing information that I was unlikely to come across, does that mean I’m a prophet? No, it just means I had specific interests. Perhaps friends sent me books on my favorite topic, and perhaps I gravitated to certain groups and people who knew a lot about my specific interest.

Emeth: “To me, in a lot of cases your analyses simply don’t fit. If we’re going to use your slicing method to determine truth, then I would expect the pre-1830 American sources you come up with almost always to be a closer match to his writings than post-1830 or foreign sources.”

But this is the case. Consistently, the things Joseph got wrong were also wrong in his pre-1830 sources (look at the Isaiah chapters and Egyptus for example). The 1821 Book of Enoch (that you say was “foreign”) had over 10 years to hit America in many different formats including hearsay, reviews, reprints, immigrants, ordering, etc. It was provably available in America for review before 1830 (as I have already mentioned).

Emeth: “I would expect there to be more eye-witness testimony to support the fact that he made use of the materials you reference.”

Really? How would you find ALL the influencing factors on J. R. R. Tolken’s books? Eye witness testimonies or textual analysis?

Emeth: “I would expect there to be a better explanation for the eye-witness testimonies that asserted he DIDN’T use any extraneous materials, other than to assume that everyone who said this was a liar.”

It is a well attested fact that Joseph practiced polygamy, and Emma denied it. She lied, and you used the same interview where Emma lied to support your theory that Joseph could not have used any external books. But let’s pretend you are right, that Joseph DID NOT use any external books when producing the Book of Mormon — then how did the KJV Isaiah chapters get copied into the Book of Mormon? From the Seer Stone? If he did not have a King James Bible nearby, then how did the King James Bible errors get into the Book of Mormon? Please be consistent: Did he or did he not have any external books when translating?

Emeth: “I would expect that Joseph would have had much less of a grasp on ancient languages in 1830 than he clearly had (there are a few examples we’ve discussed, and many we haven’t).”

Well if he were a true prophet, it would be nice to see significant matches that were not available before 1830.

Emeth: “I would expect Joseph’s background to be a closer match to JRR Tolkien than to an uneducated farmer.”

I did a vocabulary analysis on the Book of Mormon and compared it to many other books. The vocabulary density in the Book of Mormon is very poor, like someone who had an uneducated background wrote it — nowhere near J. R. R. Tolken’s level. But this doesn’t mean the man was not gifted. Look at the baseline data to see if others with less education than Joseph Smith could produce amazing work:

(i) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Wrote musical compositions at age 5.
(ii) Kim Ung-Yong: Attended university physics courses at age 4, Ph.D in physics before age 11.
(iii) Gregory R. Smith: Entered college at age 10, first nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize at age 12.
(iv) Camille Saint-Saëns: His first composition was before he turned 4.
(v) Michael Kearney: Several degrees with the first being earned at age 10.
(vi) The barely literate Wilson

Chris Johnson
August 3rd, 2011 at 7:19 am

—————————————-
(Continued from above, got cut off)
—————————————-

(vi) The barely literate Wilson Rawls had been home schooled for only a few years. Later in his life he wrote the book Where the Red Fern Grows – a 35,000 word book in a three week period of feverish unpunctuated writing. His educated wife took the manuscript to straighten out his awful spelling and grammar. It has since gone on to become one the most widely read books in this country.

Emeth: “I would expect that areas of Mormonism that look *reasonable* on the surface to look *problematic* on closer inspection, rather than the other way around.”

The deeper I go into Mormonism, the more problematic it becomes. At first glance the Book of Mormon seems plausible, but then as you go deeper it looks problematic when you look at the DNA issues, anachronisms, Joseph’s other writings such as the Kinderhook translation, Book of Abraham, etc. But then if you go deeper, the FAIR team makes it all seem plausible again — but only briefly — because when you go deeper you realize their parallels don’t include controlled baseline data and their explanations fall short of credibility (for example Joseph incorrectly calls an Egyptian Goddess a male, and they come up with a “cross-dressing” excuse). Independent analysis of the Abraham Facsimiles don’t match Joseph’s explanations, but strangely Nibley’s analysis does. Deeper analysis reveals that Nibley doesn’t care for baseline data, and he is criticized by his own LDS peers. His goal is to prove the church true regardless of intellectual integrity. And slice after slice the Book of Mormon falls apart when the data is tested against a baseline rather than biased assumptions.

Emeth: “I would expect his co-conspirators such as Sidney Rigdon to actually have arrived in a timely manner to be of use.”

I am starting to agree with you on this, I’m convinced the Rigdon theory is unlikely.

Emeth: “You are quite convinced that truth will become more obvious with each slice, but your slices seem to disregard every one of these points. And… if you take selective slices, then you end up with a selective view of the truth.”

Selective slices? A real test for the Book of Abraham is to get an independent analysis done. Take it to 10 random Egyptologists from around the world and hear what they say of it. When you choose Nibley’s interpretations over credible Egyptologists, you show your bias. Perhaps you don’t want to put your beliefs to the test?

Emeth: “I can’t see any reason to force a mathematical model to describe a series of historical events unless you are really trying hard to prove something that the evidence doesn’t support.”

It’s not so much “math describing history” as it is about understanding probabilities. We all make decisions and we all believe certain things based on assumed probabilities. If we never question our assumptions, we may never find out that our assumed probabilities were way way off. Remember you thought there would be 7 Book of Mormon name matches by chance? You were off by over a factor of 100. That may be caused by bias or a lack of understanding, but either way, it skewed your interpretation of Mahijah and possibly dozens of other parallels. If you take anything home from this discussion it’s this: Compare against a baseline so you know the significance of your data. Don’t expect someone to believe the Moon is the Sun just because they are both round. Show a baseline that shows you understand the underlying context and significance of the similarities.

——
Other Slices of The Book of Mormon
——

I have done quite a few other slices of the Book of Mormon over the years, and the results keep indicating Joseph Smith was an author rather than a translator of an ancient manuscript. I won’t share all the results with you as it is quite technical, but I will share one with you.

About two years ago I was reading a scientific journal that brought to light a new method for determining authorship. It had to do with vocabulary, and the article inspired me with some new ways to test the Book of Mormon. Here is the hypothesis: If the Book of Mormon was written by one person over a short period of time, there should be what I call “imagination fatigue”. Objectively, this means the information density would decrease towards the end of the book. I pulled loads of books off the Internet and ran tests on two classes of literature (1) Fiction (2) History. My hypothesis was correct. In fact historical books INCREASED in information density over time as the civilization progressed in size and complexity, whereas fictional books DECREASED in information density towards the end of the book due to “imagination fatigue” — in other words the author ran out of unique ideas towards the end of the book. The bible came out as true history but the Koran and the Book of Mormon came out as fiction in this particular test.

As I ran more tests — completely different slices one after another — the conclusion became unmistakable: The book was not what it claimed. Every parallel you have brought up here falls short of the statistical methods necessary to draw a proper conclusion. This is a reg flag to me. This is why I am not convinced you understand how to tell a genuine book from a fake. There are many ways to slice it, and I encourage you to come up with a test, as I would be eager to give it another go.

——
Questioned Document Examination and Forensic Science
——

I have learned a lot by reading various books by forensic scientists who deal with detecting whether a book is “real” or “fake”. They detect forgeries all the time, day in and day out — after all it is their job. Who better to learn from than the experts? I will share a few key points I learned from them:

1) A literary fake will inevitably bear the imprint of the generation to which it belongs. As Roger Pearse cleverly words it, that which convinced the Victorians now looks evidently Victorian to us. Any fake that fails to address one of the burning issues of the day runs the risk of going unnoticed in its own generation. And there is no reward to be had for a forger whose forgery goes unnoticed in its own generation.

[My Notes]: Does the prophetic Book of Mormon, “written for our day”, deal with the burning issues of our day? Environmental concerns? Gay rights? Stem Cell research? Cloning? Exponential changes in technology and culture? The emerging global economy? The Internet and its effects on society? The Book of Mormon is silent on these issues, but if we look back at the controversies in the early 19th century just before the publication of the Book of Mormon we find people were warring, arguing and speculating over: 1) where the Native Americans came from (View of the Hebrews), 2) Whether polygamy is right or wrong (Thelyphthora), 3) Restorationism (Alexander Campbell), 4) liberty and freedom for country and religion (Revolutionary War), 5) Democracy replacing kings (Revolutionary War), 6) Infant Baptism (Four sermons: on the mode and subjects of Christian baptism 1811, published 53 miles from Palmyra) “Four Sermons” reads: “The second objection of those that oppose infant baptism supposes this to be the case. For repentance and faith are required as necessary prerequisites for baptism and as children are incapable of these they are not fit subjects of baptism and lose their standing in the church. But of whom are faith and repentance required as necessary prerequisites for baptism. Certainly not of all that are fit subjects of baptism but only of those that are capable of exercising those graces.” There are many more but it appears that the main themes in the Book of Mormon address the burning issues of the early 19th century.

2) Document Authentication is often done by examining the original document by testing the paper, ink, handwriting, and materials.

“Provenance will be more significant in the case of a sensational work, and the refusal of an owner to explain how he or she obtained an item is, prima facie, suspicious–suggestive of possible fakery… Take for example the Beale treasure papers … allegedly penned in the 1820s, the documents first came to public notice in a pamphlet published in 1885, at which time it was claimed that a fire at the printing plant destroyed the original documents. As it happens, however, the treasure tale is not only riddled with implausibilities, but the document’s text is replete with errors and anachronisms that reveal it was produced at a more recent date than alleged.

Or consider the “Lincoln conspiracy” documents of the 1970s. They purported to prove the existence of high-level government involvement in the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. However, the originals were supposedly unavailable for examination, being in the possession of certain “Stanton descendants” who wished to remain anonymous; therefore only transcripts were available. In fact Civil War historians exposed the papers as bogus based on internal evidence.

And we have already discussed the case of the MJ-12 [UFO] documents: That they were available only on film, which effectively prevented examination of the paper and ink, raised suspicions–justifiable suspicions, as subsequent study proved [them to be fake].”

(Detecting forgery: forensic investigation of documents By Joe Nickell)

[My Notes]: I never had a problem with the fact that the Gold Plates conveniently went missing after the translation — until I read stories like these. Where forgery is concerned, the original documents have a tendency to go missing so that they cannot be properly examined and exposed by experts. I didn’t realize how suspicious this makes the Book of Mormon until understanding what a common forgery looks like. But it gets even more interesting because Joseph produced two other translations, and we do indeed have access to the originals: The Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates. In the case of the Book of Abraham, the text was dated to a period much later than attributed by Joseph Smith’s Abraham, and the text has been examined by expert Egyptologists and found to be completely different in theme and content than Joseph’s translation. With Joseph’s third translation, an original Kinderhook plate was found, tested and exposed as a 19th century forgery rather than ancient. Let me quantify Joseph’s three translations:

(i) Book of Mormon source: Conveniently missing.
(ii) Book of Abraham source: Doesn’t match Joseph Smith’s translation.
(iii) Kinderhook Plates: 19th century forgery.

How can someone not connect the above evidence?

3) To determine whether a document is authentic or not, positive testing and negative testing should be done to the extent possible. Positive tests attempt to prove who the true author of the text is. Negative tests use mistakes, anachronisms or other errors to disprove the document’s attested author. If the text’s attested author can be dis-proven, it is not necessary or always possible to prove who the true author of the text is. In the case of the Niger Uranium Forgeries, the true author was never found. However, in the case of the Secret Gospel of Mark, the document was proven fake and the original author was found to be Morton Smith.

[My Notes] On the negative side, the Book of Mormon does indeed have a number of anachronisms and errors that date it to a time period much later than the Nephites. A simple example is Christ and Messiah. Messiah shows up repeatedly until Jacob introduces the name of the Redeemer as “Christ”. But Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah. Any way you look at it, it doesn’t make sense until you realize if a Christian made it all up, he may not have known that one form was Greek (NT) and the other form was Hebrew (OT). It’s an easy mistake to make. Additional anachronisms exist through out the text. For example, transparent glass window panes are a modern technology invented within the last 1000 years and has no place in an ancient document, but it shows up in the Book of Ether when Jared was trying to figure out how to light his barges. Steel swords and chariots are also problematic in numerous ways. The biggest problem is, good technology is hard to eliminate once invented because it spreads from culture to culture like fire. For example no chariots or even load bearing wheels have ever been found in the Americas (except one small toy which dates to post-European contact). The problem is further compounded by the fact that the chariots in the Book of Mormon were always mentioned as being pulled by horses which also went extinct before the Nephite civilization arrived. Both terms “horses and chariots” make perfect sense to a colonial boy who knew nothing of Ancient America. LDS scholars try to evade the problem by saying that the chariots may have vanished without a trace but ignore the fact that plenty of evidence exists in the Old World that supports the existence of chariots up to five thousand years ago. And because chariots and steel swords would have offered a huge survival advantage to the civilization that possessed them, the technology would naturally spread as it did in the Old World. It would have given power to conquer and subdue enemy nations, which would have lead to the survival and spread of the chariot and sword technology itself. ( See the Guns, Germs and Steel Documentary [National Geographic]: http://bit.ly/eokUL ) And of course there is the KJV Isaiah errors showing up in a document that was supposed to be translated from ancient documents via the power of God. When you connect the dots, it becomes fairly obvious that the book is a 19th century work.

On the positive side, my stylometric tests show a high similarity between the Book of Moses, Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham and so I don’t think we need to look much further to identify the author.

That’s it for now :)

emeth_veneeman
July 26th, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Something a little less on the argumentative side — the other night I had my wife listen to that Radiolab clip you sent. We both got a kick out of it. Thanks for passing it along.

emeth_veneeman
August 3rd, 2011 at 8:20 pm

“I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook… I have translated a portion of them …”

A statement made by William Clayton and later redacted to the first person. Joseph Smith didn’t make the statement, and according to the very link you sent me, never produced a translation.

So let me correct the record.

(1) The Book of Mormon source is conveniently missing (2) The Kinderhook Plates translation is conveniently missing. (3) The Abraham translation, which is therefore the only document we have to compare to its source, demonstrates a remarkable understanding of Egyptian. How can you not connect the dots and see the inspiration of God?

And yes. In this case (and in many others) the part of the diagram that’s missing is the connection. Just because the cow took off its sun disk doesn’t mean it stopped representing the sun. Had it been there, you would have said the interpretation is obvious.

>>”Nice, so God gave Joseph the KJV errors on purpose to make his translation look more miraculous? That is the most absurd statement I’ve heard all year.”

I didn’t say it looked miraculous, I said it was miraculous.

And yes. This is not really too difficult. The Book of Mormon has a strong dependence on the KJV, among other sources, as I have admitted all along. The Isaiah chapters are a markup. We can compare our Bible version to the Book of Mormon version and gain insights by noticing the differences, in a way we wouldn’t be able to if the dependency didn’t exist.

I am not yet convinced that the “translation errors” you’ve found are all that significant. The canonical example of translation error is “Behold a virgin shall conceive” in Isaiah 7:14. Should read “young woman,” right? The Hebrew betulah is virgin, but Isaiah uses almah. I don’t think this is really a mistranslation. When the Septuagint translated almah to parthenos, which also means virgin, no one seemed to see a problem. It only became a problem when the Christians started applying the prophecy to the virgin birth.

In other words, if you have a problem with the belief system, there will amazingly appear “mistranslations” that somehow were never there before. Funny how that works. I think you give the KJV translators too little credit. Of course Joseph Smith is not going to change virgin to young woman. Whether young woman is a better translation or not, it definitely detracts from his message.

Chris Johnson
July 29th, 2011 at 4:04 am

Thanks, I’m glad you liked the audio clip. I shared it with my wife as well, and she enjoyed it. I think it’s a great intro into the daunting world of randomness and statistics. If only our stats professors would have been as entertaining :)

I hope you have a great weekend.

Cheers!

P.S. I’ll probably be posting my reply Saturday or Sunday.

emeth_veneeman
August 2nd, 2011 at 11:52 am

Thanks Chris.

While you’re working on that response, there is something else I’ve been thinking about that I’d like to post here. It has to do with the issue of “testing.” I know this is a sticking point with you. I don’t believe my religious views are exempt from testing; I simply think that engineering a compelling test is sometimes more work than what we get out of it, partly because we’re likely to do something wrong along the way without even knowing it, and invalidate the test. But I tend to think more like you do than you realize. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years thinking about the “null hypothesis.” What would Joseph Smith’s work have looked like if he had made the whole thing up? I think tests can be useful tools for determining certain types of truth, as long as the conditions are controlled and the outcomes are properly interpreted. I also think it is important to consider what kinds of tests are appropriate to determine a particular kind of truth. If you want to determine whether Columbus sailed to America in 1492, it doesn’t necessarily do you any good to try to recreate the event in a laboratory or compare Columbus’s voyages to other explorers using a contrived statistical model. Ultimately you just need to look at historical testimony and decide whether it’s reliable. The point I made in my last post is not to suggest that there aren’t areas of Mormonism that lend themselves to statistical analysis, it was merely to suggest that if your statistics deviate dramatically from well-established history and eye-witness testimony of the events, it’s a huge red flag that you might have done something wrong.

However, I see that one of the weaknesses in my position is my refusal to devise and carry out statistical kinds of tests, so this once, I’m going to humor you.

Let’s return to the issue of chiasmus. The thought occurred to me a few years ago that chiasmus probably occurred at random with some frequency. I began to think: what is it about the chiasmus of the Book of Mormon that sets it apart from other, random examples of chiasmus? To put the question in a more concise way: is chiasmus in the Book of Mormon deliberate? I established some criteria which I never attempted to develop into a full-blown test, but a few things came to mind. If Book of Mormon chiasmus was placed there deliberately, then we should expect to see a significant number of the following statements hold true a good percentage of the time. Not every example of chiasmus must conform to every one of these points, but in general we should expect to see the following:

1) In order to be significant, Book of Mormon chiasmus should occur with more frequency than happens in ordinary prose.

2) The examples should be longer than might happen by chance. Chiastic couplets don’t cut it here.

3) It should *not* be able to be explained away by repetition. In other words, there have to be a significant number of chiastic elements whose words or phrases appear oNLY within the parameters of the chiastic structure and nowhere else in between. Also, if you end up repeating the same chiastic element too many times, it weakens its significance, because it may just be an indicator that your source author liked using that word or phrase a lot.

4) It shouldn’t be too forced: that is to say, you either need to restrict your chiasmus to exact matches or near-exact matches, or if you use a parallel that isn’t precise, you should have a good justification for using it. You need to have other reasons than “gut feeling” to believe that the parallel was actually put there deliberately.

There’s a reason I specified prose in point #1. If you use Dr. Seuss as your baseline, you will automatically find repetitive language occurring in a structured way, because Dr. Seuss wrote in poetry. When you write in HTML you will ALWAYS find chiasmus, because the creators of HTML set it up that way. Notice that any “chiasmus” you find in HTML code is DELIBERATE, so if we were to use that as a baseline then it would support my position and not yours by showing that chiasmus is NOT, in fact, something that occurs at random. I’m not going to play that card on you though, fun as it would be. I happen to believe that the Book of Mormon is poetic, and that chiasmus is one of the things that establishes it as such, but if the null hypothesis is correct then I’m probably wrong and there isn’t any reason to believe that it’s different than ordinary prose. We can’t start with the assumption that what I’m trying to prove is correct, so we must start by taking the Book of Mormon as a work of prose, and only compare it to other works of prose. If there end up being aspects of the book that contrast significantly enough with other prose — ie, if we reject the null hypothesis — then it might make more sense to compare it to Dr. Seuss and other poetry, with different research goals in mind.

I looked at a chiasmus that begins in 1 Nephi 1. Why 1 Nephi 1? Because if criterion #1 is significant, then we can’t go very far into the book without finding a chiasmus, and the beginning of the book has a random enough relationship to the chiastic structure itself as to preclude the possibility of forcing a match by my own biased selection of text. While I haven’t actually found every chiasmus in the Book of Mormon and analyzed the frequency statistically, I felt this was a fairly good heuristic to suggest a high, medium or low frequency. And, as it turns out, I found the following chiasmus beginning with the very first verse, 1 Nephi 1:1:

A) a record of my proceedings in my days (1:1)
B) the language of my father (1:2)
c) Quote from Luke 13:3-5 begun (1:4)
D) my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord (1:5)
E) he saw and heard much (1:6)
F) Jerusalem (1:7)
G) overcome with the Spirit (1:7)
H) he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting (1:8)
I) His luster was above that of the sun (1:9)
I’) their brightness did exceed that of the stars (1:10)
H’) they went forth upon the face of the earth, and the first came and stood (1:11)
G’) filled with the Spirit (1:12)
F’) Jerusalem (1:13)
E’) my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things (1:14)
D’) my father … did exclaim many things unto the Lord (1:14)
C’) Quote from Luke 13:3-5 finished (1:14)
B’) the language of my father (1:15) the language of my father subchiasmus (1:16)
A’) an account of my proceedings in my days (1:17)

I want to compare my four criteria and see how well they match up against the baseline demonstrations of chiasmus you found in my writing. To refresh your memory, you found chiasmus in the following two paragraphs that I wrote (formatted as above for ease of comparison):

(A – THE SUN) the sun and
(B – OTHER PLANETS) other planets seem to follow their own course across
(C – THE EARTH) the sky, we can postulate that THE EARTH is constant and
(D – EXPLAIN) all the other planets move in wild, erratic, UNEXPLAINABLE
(E – FORMAT) PATTERNS. That is how
(F – IT APPEARS TO) IT LOOKS TO
(G – FIRST-TIME OBSERVER) a FIRST-TIME OBSERVER. At some point though,
(F’ – IT APPEARS TO) IT SEEMS TO
(E’ – FORMAT) make more sense to simplify the MODEL and show that
(D’ – EXPLAIN) it’s all EXPLAINED by the rotation and revolution of
(C’ – THE EARTH) THE EARTH and all
(B’ – OTHER PLANETS) OTHER PLANETS
(A’ – THE SUN) around THE SUN.

(A – CHIASMUS) You looked at CHIASMUS
(B – BOOK OF MORMON) in the BOOK OF MORMON as evidence of authenticity,
(C – CHIASMUS) and then you discovered that CHIASMUS exists
(D – DR. SEUSS) in DR. SEUSS. Thus, you concluded, since it shows up in what appears
(E – RANDOM) to be RANDOM places, it cannot really be evidence of authenticity.
(F – CHIASMUS) But here’s a question: how long and detailed was the CHIASTIC
(G – BOOK) structure you looked at in each of the respective WORKS?
(H – CHIASMUS) If you assume that CHIASMUS
(G’ – BOOK)in the BOOK OF MORMON never
(F’ – CHIASMUS) spans more than a dozen [CHIASTIC] elements, then
(E’ – RANDOM) maybe you can find a RANDOM match
(D’ – DR. SEUSS) in GREEN EGGS AND HAM [DR. SEUSS].
(C’ – CHIASMUS) But what if you could find a CHIASTIC structure
(B’ – BOOK OF MORMON) spanning 100 pages [IN THE BOOK OF MORMON],
(A’ – CHIASMUS) containing hundreds of [CHIASTIC] elements?

I like your selection, primarily because I wrote this and I know for a fact that I did not deliberately insert these structures into my writing. I can certify that any pattern you’ve found here is absolutely coincidental, or at least subconscious. Let’s see how well the random sampling of chiasmus from my writing stacks up against the Book of Mormon example using my proposed criteria.

1) It has to occur with more frequency than happens in ordinary prose. Again, I haven’t run any exhaustive tests on this one, but I didn’t have to look beyond the first verse in the Book of Mormon to find a chiasmus. You said you found chiastic structures in two out of the five paragraphs of mine that you analyzed. Take it for what it’s worth. I am satisfied that additional tests would show a significantly higher percentage of chiasmus and other poetic structures in the Book of Mormon — at least more than 40% — than your baseline.

2) The length of the structure. Well, nine elements is larger than either of the examples you found in my writing. I think we have to exclude the middle element in each of your cases, which does not have a match. Thus the chiasma you found in my writing were six and seven elements, respectively. Now, I will admit that my NINE elements are probably not that much more significant than your seven. But again, if you give me the leeway of hunting around a little bit and choosing a more appropriate example, which I haven’t done here, I could come up with one that is far longer and far more significant. The chiasmus in Moses 1, for example, is twice as long as the one in 1 Nephi 1. The chiasmus that links Mahijah to Mahujah is at least 14 pairs, though I could have extended it further in each direction. There is a chiasmus spanning Mosiah 7-22 that has at least 40 pairs. But these are outside the scope of this test, which at least gives an example that is slightly longer than either of the two you chose.

3) The repetition test. One of the advantages of using phrases, as I’ve done here, as opposed to using single words, is that it is much easier to manipulate individual words to match your preconceptions. That makes whole phrases more significant. Of course, I could have just used the two-word phrase “my father” five or six times and called it good, but since the main character in 1 Nephi 1 is Nephi’s father, it wouldn’t have told us much. Of COURSE we can expect that phrase to occur over and over. By putting it in the context of longer phrases, the significance is more strongly established. The only element from my chiasmus that is repeated more than once in 1 Nephi 1 is Jerusalem, which also, notice, is the only place where I used a single word. Take that out and you still have an eight element match. Now looking at the two paragraphs in your analysis: the first example uses the phrase “other planets” in B which also shows up between C and D. Otherwise it seems to pass this test. What about the second? Well, three elements out of the seven — A, C, and F (not to mention the center element H) — are the word “chiasmus,” which also happens to be the main subject of the paragraph. Fail. (I mean that respectfully, of course. All I mean is that the test didn’t pass.)

4) It shouldn’t be too forced. The 1 Nephi chiasmus flows pretty well. Really, I’m being as critical as I think you can reasonably expect me to be, and I think the only one that I might be accused of forcing is element H. You might call ‘I’ into question, but again, one of the advantages of using phrases is that you can look at parallel elements within the phrase itself:

A) His
B) luster
C) was above
D) that of the
E) sun
A’) Their
B’) brightness
c’) did exceed
D’) that of the
E’) stars

It actually flows quite nicely. I’m confident enough that the parallels are obvious that I’m not going to comment further on them. I don’t have to force anything here.

Now what about your examples? In example 1, I think I have to strike E. Everything else looks good. Second example? Well… Not one of A, B, D, F or G even contain the same word in the corresponding parallel! You had to add it yourself! Fail.

So based on this analysis, I’m starting to think I might have reason to believe that the chiastic structures I claim to have found are at least somewhat more significant than ones that you claim to find at random. Certainly the test could be extended and maybe should be, to see if these results continue to manifest themselves. But you know — life is only so long. I do what I need to do to establish significance in my own mind, and then I move on.

A couple of footnotes though. I actually left some of my analysis out. I could have added another parallel element associating “repent” in v. 4 and “come unto thee” in v. 14. I didn’t include it because I know you would have balked at it, but is there reason to suspect that the parallel between those two phrases is significant? Well, it turns out variations on the phrase “repent and come unto me” occur at least 15 other times in the Book of Mormon. Even if we allow our baseline to include other poetic works, this hints at a level of consistency that I doubt you will ever find in Dr. Seuss.

Here’s something else to think about. We can talk about chiastic structures, but that’s not the extent of Semitic parallelism that exists in the Book of Mormon. Consider the following:

1 Nephi 1:1 I, Nephi
2 Nephi 1:1 I, Nephi

1 Nephi 1:1 I was taught
2 Nephi 1:1 teaching

1 Nephi 1:1 my father
2 Nephi 1:1 our father (note: a repetitive phrase in 1 Nephi 1, but not in 2 Nephi 1)

1 Nephi 1:1 favored of the Lord
2 Nephi 1:1 how great things the Lord had done for them

1 Nephi 1:1 goodness and mysteries of God
2 Nephi 1:2-3 mercies of God

1 Nephi 1:4 prophesying that Jerusalem must be destroyed
2 Nephi 1:4 I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed

I could go on, but let’s stop there. Am I starting to force things again? Is the “goodness and mysteries of God” really close enough to the “mercies of God” to count? Well, it turns out that the phrases have two other links. First, notice the phonetic relationship: mercies, mysteries; mercies, mysteries; mercies, mysteries. It’s alliterative. And I am persuaded that the alliteration employed in the Book of Mormon happens too frequently to be random. Again, I could devise a test for this… but I probably won’t. Just think about other examples we looked at in Isaiah though. Found, proud, raiment, remnant, break, bring. This is not a coincidence. As long as your hypothesis states that similar sounding words are “evidence of deception” you accept them as being significant. Let’s see if their significance diminishes in your mind when I use them to make my point. There’s another thing that adds significance to the “mercies of God” parallel. Notice 1 Nephi 1:14 “goodness and mercy.” We’ve connected mysteries with mercies, and this verse connects goodness with mercies. So there are multiple reasons to believe that “goodness and mysteries of God” is a deliberate parallel to “mercies of God.” When I start to see two or three reasons to believe that the parallel is legit, I accept it and move on. You may be able to come up with ONE reason to believe that there is parallelism in my prose, but can you come up with two or three reasons? How hard do you have to stretch to come up with those reasons?

How about that last parallel I listed? You may notice that Parallel ‘C’ in my chiasmus above references the same phrase from 1 Nephi 1:4 that the 2 Nephi 1:4 parallel references. That is to say, this one verse, 1 Nephi 1:4, is SIMULTANEOUSLY a part of TWO different parallel structures that happen to intersect each other. Phenomenal. You may question how I know that the reference to Luke 13:3-5 is significant (or you may just take my word for it, assuming that anachronisms like New Testament quotations can only work in your favor. Whatever). Either way, here are the parallels with that verse. Judge for yourself:

-Luke 13:4-5 or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above ALL MEN THAT DWELT IN JERUSALEM? I tell you, Nay: but, EXCEPT YE REPENT YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH
-1 Nephi 1:4 my father, Lehi, having DWELT AT JERUSALEM IN ALL his days; and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that THEY MUST REPENT, OR THE GREAT CITY JERUSALEM MUST BE DESTROYED

-Luke 13:4-5 or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye REPENT YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH
-1 Nephi 1:14 thou wilt not suffer those who COME UNTO THEE that THEY SHALL PERISH.

-Luke 13:4-5 or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that DWELT IN JERUSALEM? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH
-2 Nephi 1:4 I know that Jerusalem is destroyed, and had we REMAINED IN JERUSALEM, WE SHOULD ALSO HAVE PERISHED

Notice that by juxtaposing “Jerusalem is destroyed” with “we should also have perished,” 2 Nephi 1:4 strengthens the parallel between 1 Nephi 1:4 (“Jerusalem must be destroyed”) and 1 Nephi 1:14 (“they shall perish”), which gives us yet another reason to accept this as a significant parallel in the chiasmus. It gets fairly complicated farily quickly, but as long as all of the components of the system are working together in such a beautifully integrated and mutually beneficial way, it becomes self-fortifying and quite difficult to explain as the product of chance. It no longer suffices to find a random chiasmus in some random source, like in my ramblings, and say that you’ve established the same level of significance as the parallelism in the Book of Mormon. To put it tersely, I find that rather unlikely.

Another couple thoughts on the 1 Nephi/2 Nephi parallel that add to its significance. The beginning of 1 Nephi is separated by over 50 pages from the beginning of 2 Nephi. This means that any parallelism that arises naturally within the context of a single train of thought is eliminated. For example, in the conclusion which I am about to present here, you will see that I have introduced parallel wording between the first two paragraphs. That is deliberate and is done for ease of comparison. Notice that the parallel is wholly contained within the framework of a single unit of thought. Separate it by 50 pages, and neither that unit of thought, nor the parallel wording that accompanies it, would exist in a significant way. And certainly in neither case could you expect to find more than a dozen or so elements. I followed the 1 Nephi/2 Nephi parallel through the first 100 elements before I got bored and stopped. It does tend to break down now and again, not sure why, but it always picks up several verses later.

So — imposing parallelism within parallelism and parallelism on top of parallelism. How often does Dr. Seuss do THAT?

Conclusions (tentative)
———————–
Chiasmus may occur at random in about 40% of prose paragraphs. This type of randomly-generated chiasmus is heavily weighted toward one-word and two-word parallels, often relies on insignificant repetition, is typically shorter than the Book of Mormon examples, and may only become apparent after additional clarifications are inserted into the structure by the person doing the analysis.

Two forms of parallelism including chiasmus occur beginning in the very first verse of the Book of Mormon, suggesting that similar structures may continue to occur at a frequency of higher than 40%, although this has yet to be tested. If the hypothesis is correct, then Book of Mormon chiasmus and other parallelism occurs at a more regular rate than is found by chance. The examples of such parallelism frequently contain whole phrases, do not rely on random repetition, contain more elements than random examples, and don’t require the addition of extraneous clarifying words to establish significance. Further, there are often multiple reasons to accept the significance of the Book of Mormon parallel, other than the fact that it is in the right position in relation to the rest of the structure. Multiple associations — phonetic, semantic, structural, and thematic — serve to strengthen the significance of the chiasmus itself.

The analysis gives support to the belief that chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is deliberate and not random.

Now, if you see anything wrong with this test — and I admitted upfront that I never took the time to fully develop or formalize it — then by all means give me your suggestions and if they are reasonable I will incorporate them. However, if I detect a pattern of you or anyone dismissing it out of hand because it doesn’t support an outcome you like, then I will probably ignore the suggestion. Of course, that’s where the subjectivity of every test comes in, and neither you nor I can escape that.

As always, I enjoy the discussion.

emeth_veneeman
August 3rd, 2011 at 8:40 am

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your well-researched response.

>>”The most logical explanation that fits the data is that the ideas and phrases in the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon are similar because they came from the same human mind, as would be expected if they were authored by conventional human ingenuity.”

Well, I certainly agree that these sources came from the same mind, whether human or not. Just curious: did you compare the results of your tests against the Wentworth Letter or the King Follett discourse? What was the outcome?

>>”Now, what if I was not translating completely blind, but actually had images or diagrams helping me NARROW THE SCOPE so that I had a higher statistical chance of getting it right? Joseph had the Facsimiles as his guide, so it would be much easier to get a hit here and there.”

So you’re telling me that you think any rational person with no understanding of Egyptology would connect a crocodile to the Pharaoh, the sons of Horus to the cardinal compass points, the cow to the sun and the ship to the number 1000? Really? This would actually be very easy to get a baseline on, as you see that Jeff Lindsay already did. Just poll 100 people and see how many of them come up with similar hits. My belief is that it would overwhelmingly show that these connections were statistically unlikely, if not statistically impossible, to derive by chance.

(see Jeff Lindsay, http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2005/02/can-you-spare-four-quarters-for-old.html who demonstrates that the cardinal points and the four quarters are the same thing)

I recently learned the word “pareidolia” which describes a person who finds patterns where no patterns exist. I wonder if there’s a word for the opposite kind of person who fails to find patterns where they do exist. I think you might fall into that category. You may find two dozen associations for Hathor, but you know what? It’s the solar disk that separates most variations of the cow from the one Joseph Smith had. And that’s the association he supplied.

>>”it would have been statistically impossible to guess the correct names of the sons of Horus by chance.”

Yeah. Just like guessing the name MHWY and his correct relationship to Enoch.

>>”they have a reputation to uphold, and they don’t want to lie or deceive people.”

Right. They have a reputation to uphold, and they don’t want to align themselves too closely with a religious viewpoint that would be toxic to that reputation. The fact is, Petrie and others have said there was not a single word that was correct. They are wrong.

>>”Please be consistent: Did he or did he not have any external books when translating?”

He did not, other than the ones he admitted to. Which makes his nearly perfect reproduction of a third of the book of the KJV Isaiah miraculous, in and of itself.

>>”Remember you thought there would be 7 Book of Mormon name matches by chance?”

Well, not exactly. I think you supplied me with that number, and I went along with it to advance the discussion.

>>”Compare against a baseline so you know the significance of your data…I encourage you to come up with a test, as I would be eager to give it another go.”

See below.

>>”If the Book of Mormon was written by one person over a short period of time, there should be what I call ‘imagination fatigue’.”

If I understand the term, then I certainly agree. And I don’t believe that the Book of Mormon shows it.

“Joseph produced two other translations, and we do indeed have access to the originals: The Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates.”

OK, send me a link to the Kinderhook translation and we’ll do the same kind of analysis on it that we did on the Book of Abraham.

emeth_veneeman
August 3rd, 2011 at 8:44 am

Correction: see above. (I haven’t quite got the feel for where my finished product will end up on the page).

emeth_veneeman
August 3rd, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Hmmm…

I just did a search on the word “taught” in the Book of Mormon. It shows up for the first time in 1 Nephi 1:1, the first verse in 1 Nephi.

There are 67 occurrences of this word in all. Can you guess where the second occurrence is? 2 Nephi 22:31. Last verse in 1 Nephi. Two occurrences in 1 Nephi. First verse and last verse. Have I found a third parallel beginning in the first verse of the Book of Mormon?

Hmmm…

Yeah, never mind, you’re right, it’s probably just random coincidence.

Chris Johnson
August 3rd, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Hi Emeth, actually I like where you are going with this. I’m not trying to be as hard on you as you might think, and I applaud you in this examination of 1 Ne and 2 Ne — I know that finding these structures can be tedious work.

Here are some thoughts that I would like to add to this test:

1) I noticed that the largest Chiasmus structure you mentioned also took up significantly more words than the other structures you mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The 40 elements found in Mosiah 7-22 contains 16,314 words. Compare that to the 1 Ne. example of 18 elements spanning 907 words and 10 elements spanning 29 words. Here is the pattern:

(a) Mosiah 7-22: —– 40 elements: 407 words per element.
(b) 1 Nephi: —– 18 elements: 50 words per element
(c) 1 Ne. 9-10: —– 10 elements: 2.9 words per element

As the number of words increase in the analysis, the more material there is to pick from, and the easier it is to pick and choose elements to construct a chiastic structure with. If correct, then this means that a large enough text would exhibit similarly large scale chiastic patterns. To counter this effect, we should add a rule related to “density”. The higher the density of the chiastic elements, the more significant the find.

2) Contrary to what you might think, I believe chiasmus DOES EXIST with statistical significance in the Book of Mormon especially in Alma 36:1-30, Mosiah 3:18-20, Mosiah 5:10-12, and Helaman 6:9-11. There also appears to be some less significant chiasmus structures in D&C, Abraham, and Moses.

My bigger questions are:

i) Do similar examples of Chiasmus show up in other English works?
ii) Is it a common literary style that certain story tellers or preachers exhibit?
iii) Does it show common authorship — does it indicate that Joseph was the common author of the BOM, BOA, Moses and D&C?
iv) Do Jewish works exhibit similar chiasmic structures spanning 18 elements in dense spaces, or do they exhibit smaller structures than what Joseph produced? In other words — did he exhibit a slightly different form of chiasmus than the Jews?

—–
On a side note, I recently watched “Inception” and afterwards noticed the following Chiasmic structure:

(a) Sees his kids playing
-(b) Runs away from Home
–(c) Cobb gets on a plane
—(d) Sees Robert
—-(e) Enters Robert’s Dream
—–(f) Eemes is in diguise
——(g) The team gets in a van
——-(h) They sedate Robert and enter his second dream
——–(i) The team goes into Robert’s third dream
———(j) weapons are used
———-(k) Robert opens a safe
———–(l) Robert talks to his father just before he passes
———-(k) Robert opens a second safe
———(j) weapons are used to wake them
——–(i) The team leaves Robert’s third dream
——-(h) They wake up from Robert’s second dream
——(g) The team gets out of the sunken van
—–(f) Eemes is in diguise
—-(e) Exits Robert’s Dream
—(d) Sees Robert
–(c) Cobb gets off the plane
-(b) Returns Home
(a) Greets his kids.

Chris Johnson
August 3rd, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Emeth: “Just curious: did you compare the results of your tests against the Wentworth Letter or the King Follett discourse? What was the outcome?”

That’s a good idea. I’ll look into it.

Emeth: “So you’re telling me that you think any rational person with no understanding of Egyptology would connect a crocodile to the Pharaoh, the sons of Horus to the cardinal compass points, the cow to the sun and the ship to the number 1000? Really?”

No this is not what I meant at all. This is a complete misunderstanding of what I said. A good baseline would be to give the Abraham Facsimiles to 10 people that are confident with their creative and psychic abilities, and who have no internet access. Give them a few months to create their best possible translation of the Facsimiles. What would you expect?

A lot of the translations would be completely off, but some parts of them would seem strangely accurate. Some parts would be more accurate than Joseph for some symbols, and some would do worse.

Emeth: “I recently learned the word “pareidolia” which describes a person who finds patterns where no patterns exist. I wonder if there’s a word for the opposite kind of person who fails to find patterns where they do exist. I think you might fall into that category.”

Well if it makes you feel any better, I feel the same about you. We’re two of a kind. (1) The Book of Mormon source is conveniently missing (2) The other two sources that we actually do have access to don’t match Joseph’s predictions. How can you not connect the dots and see the fraud? (This is how a fraud would look, and this is what actually happened.)

Emeth: “You may find two dozen associations for Hathor, but you know what? It’s the solar disk that separates most variations of the cow from the one Joseph Smith had. And that’s the association he supplied.”

So the part of the diagram that’s MISSING is the CONNECTION? Now I see your logic. ;)

Chris >>”it would have been statistically impossible to guess the correct names of the sons of Horus by chance.”

Emeth: “Yeah. Just like guessing the name MHWY and his correct relationship to Enoch.”

As I said the MHWY match relies on an existing name in the Old Testament, in close proximity to Enoch:

Gen. 4:18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.

Enoch is in the exact same verse as Mehujael, separated by only 6 words. Yes it’s possibly a different Enoch, but how likely is it that the human mind would associate these names on some level? After reading that verse and sleeping on it, a creative person could easily wake up the next morning and write a story about Mehujael and Enoch without even realizing where the association came from. This is exactly how our imagination works — pulling ideas from our unconscious network of associations. With Mahijah, Joseph did not point to a symbol and say “This is Mahijah” and later Egyptologists independently translate it and realize he got it correct. That would be quite amazing especially if the Old Testament didn’t have an association between Enoch and Mehujael. But this didn’t happen and there was a connection in the Old Testament that reduces the significance of this match. There is still doubt that “Mahijah” and “MHWY” are even the same person since one seems to be a flying creature, and the other a tent dweller. To be objective we can’t just look at similarities and ignore the differences.

On the other hand the names of the sons of Horus did not exist in any form for Joseph to copy, and we know for sure that Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah and Korash were associated with the very same symbols that should have been translated as Qebehsenuf, Duamutef, Hapy and Imsety. This could have been the most vindicating part of Joseph’s career, but it failed.

Emeth: “The fact is, Petrie and others have said there was not a single word that was correct. They are wrong.”

In some sense I get how you see it. You think that if one out of 10 words can be shown to have a loose association, then it makes the translation correct. Of course this is what I expect to happen by chance, and I don’t believe it excuses all the errors. So are all the Egyptologists wrong in your opinion?

Chris >>”Please be consistent: Did he or did he not have any external books when translating?”

Emeth: “He did not, other than the ones he admitted to. Which makes his nearly perfect reproduction of a third of the book of the KJV Isaiah miraculous, in and of itself.”

Nice, so God gave Joseph the KJV errors on purpose to make his translation look more miraculous? That is the most absurd statement I’ve heard all year.

Chris >>”If the Book of Mormon was written by one person over a short period of time, there should be what I call ‘imagination fatigue’.”

Emeth: “If I understand the term, then I certainly agree. And I don’t believe that the Book of Mormon shows it.”

Well this affect does occur, and it occurs against a large baseline of data. I took a statistical sample every 10,000 words and counted the number of unique words that show up in each sample. Generally the number of unique words decrease over the course of the book if it’s fiction, and increase if the book is a true history.

Chris >> “Joseph produced two other translations, and we do indeed have access to the originals: The Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates.”

Emeth: “OK, send me a link to the Kinderhook translation and we’ll do the same kind of analysis on it that we did on the Book of Abraham.”

Read all about it here: http://mormonthink.com/kinderhookweb.htm

emeth_veneeman
August 3rd, 2011 at 8:24 pm

$%#@! See above. Do a search on “William Clayton.” I’m having a problem with message placement today.

emeth_veneeman
August 4th, 2011 at 8:01 am

(Response, part 2):

I have a bit of an issue with something else you said:

>>”A good baseline would be to give the Abraham Facsimiles to 10 people that are confident with their creative and psychic abilities, and who have no internet access. Give them a few months to create their best possible translation of the Facsimiles. What would you expect?

“A lot of the translations would be completely off, but some parts of them would seem strangely accurate. Some parts would be more accurate than Joseph for some symbols, and some would do worse.”

Two things: if you actually think this would be a good baseline, then you need to perform the experiment to see. A lot of the problem with performing controlled experiments with baseline data occurs when you have to make statements like “A lot of the translations WOULD be completely off, but some parts of them WOULD seem strangely accurate.” I don’t happen to think that’s the case. I think if the experiment is properly controlled, then the interpretations derived by these people after a few months will be no more reliable than the interpretations given by people you stop at random on a street to ask for their guess. But since I don’t have the time, means, or motivation to actually conduct the experiment, and I presume you don’t either, you HAVE NO BASELINE DATA. What you have is what you started with — our contradictory assumptions.

Now suppose I were to accept your assumption and admit that “some parts of [their interpretations] would seem strangely accurate.” Do you have a *reason* to believe that they would be strangely accurate? It sounds to me that you’re taking their clairvoyance a *little* seriously. Not seriously enough to be labeled a crackpot of course, but just seriously enough to excuse yourself from explaining why the interpretation of the psychics is more accurate than a random baseline. If the experiment *IS* in fact properly controlled, these people have no Internet access and no other way of obtaining information about Egyptology from any other source, and you have no explanation about how they got luckier than random people on the street, then you have no choice but to admit that, hey, yeah, they sure do look psychic. And you increase the likelihood that Joseph Smith gained his insights through “supernatural” means.

What you really need to do is explain how you can derive Joseph’s hits from the symbols on the facsimile — ie, create a logical relationship between the four canopic figures and the four quarters of the earth, or between the cow and the sun, that you can explain as a probable means of deriving the symbol. Then test your ten clairvoyants against THAT baseline and see if they are actually able to use your methodology to arrive at an appropriate conclusion. Until you do something like that, you haven’t proven anything.

Next topic, and I really hate to belabor this, but you seem bound and determined to oversimplify the Book of Giants hit. Remember, it’s not *simply* that Joseph *connected* an Enoch to a Mahujael. He connected the names, gave the proper relationship between our Enoch and our MHWY, and provided several other elements of the story. I listed several parallels above that are closer matches to the Book of Giants than they are to the Book of Enoch. I would like you to account for those in your attempts to brush aside the hits that Joseph got.

Never mind. I don’t really hate belaboring this, and I’m likely to do so every time you go back to dismissing several relevant points to make your case.

Cheers. :)

Chris Johnson
August 5th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Hi Emeth,

I think we have both brought up a plethora of points, and it is clear that we have a differing point of view on each one. The reason we both have different opinions is because we both have underlying assumptions about reality that differ — perhaps ever so slightly.

I could be wrong about my assumptions and I am willing to change them if the evidence points the other way. I was probably wrong about Solomon Spalding’s contribution to the Book of Mormon, but more examination is essential to a establish a firm conclusion. I was also wrong about my initial assessment of Mahijah, because I failed to understand the significance of Mahijah and Mahujah both appearing in the Book of Moses (This lead me to Adam Clarke’s Commentary). I was also wrong regarding the Book of Moses and the Book of the Giants — and thanks to you I learned that the 1821 Book of Enoch and Book of Giants had some similarities with the Book of Moses. This lead me into further testing to see which book had the most similarity to the Book of Moses, so I am glad you brought this to my attention. I am happy to be wrong, because being wrong is the first step in progressing towards greater truth.

On the other hand I have noticed that quite a few LDS people I talk to are wrong with their baseline assumptions. There were two that I noticed here on this site: 1) Tobin’s assumption of the significance of the “Caractors” document 2) the assumption of the significance of a few names matching out of thousands of names.

So it seems that both sides can learn from having this discussion, but I don’t think any progress towards truth can be made until fundamental assumptions are tested.

I have 3 tests coming to mind, so please tell me what you think:

1) Book of Abraham: If you truly believe that the Book of Abraham Facsimiles were translated correctly, then why don’t we hire some Egyptologists that have nothing to do with our Mormon/Ex-Mormon cultures — someone in the Middle East, Egypt, Russia or India perhaps? We should not tell them anything of our experiment. Ask them to translate and explain everything they can about the facsimiles. Do you really think they will match Joseph Smith’s translations? My hypothesis: I expect the similarities between each translation (on a word for word basis) to be minimal, perhaps 3% to 7% as expected by chance. Tell me what your hypothesis is, or if you have any suggestions for this experiment.

2) Chiasmus: I like your chiasmus ideas. I would suggest making a tool that can automatically find chiasmic structures similar to the one found in Alma 36. We could throw hundreds of books into the tool and see what types of chiasmus appears in normal English and Jewish literature. I don’t have a clue what we would find, but I want to come up with an interesting hypothesis, so here goes: I expect that some but not all English literature will have good chiasmic structures. Some will beat the Book of Mormon. Jewish literature will also beat English on average. English Fiction books will also beat English history books. I would like to know if chiasmus appears in the Book of Mormon because A) it shows up in English literature or B) because it shows up in English Fiction or C) It shows up in Jewish literature. If there are no English books that can beat or match the chiasmus found in the book of Mormon, and the Jewish literature beats the English literature by a wide margin, then I think you have a good case for chiasmus. If English and Jewish literature both have roughly equal amounts of quality chiasmus, then we would be unable to use chiasmus as evidence for or against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. If English Fiction has the highest amount of quality chiasmus, while Jewish and English literature are roughly equal — then I think chiasmus may be evidence against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

3) Names: I have an untested hypothesis that I am curious about. I wonder if the syllables in the BOM names are diverse enough from eachother to represent a real culture, or if they are too similar to eachother — meaning they were generated from the limited imagination of the same human mind. An extreme example of what I mean is: Imagine a book representing a 1000 year culture that had names that looked like: Mikoo, Mikee, Nikee, Nikoo, Kinoo, Kimee, Kikoo — and if real cultures don’t look like that, then this may count against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. If real cultures do have naming pattern diversity that are remarkably similar to the Book of Mormon’s diversity, then this could count in favor of the Book of Mormon’s authenticity.To test this I would need to get a list of all the names from a few cultures representing roughly 1000 years of history and see what types of diversity exists in real life. We could create an objective method or tool that measures diversity, and see what we find.

What do you think?

emeth_veneeman
August 8th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Hi Chris,

So … do you really think the thing this conversation lacks is expert opinion? It seems to me we have plenty of expert opinion to refer to. What we lack are common starting assumptions. We know and agree, for example, that the Hathor cow is often depicted with a disc over her head representing the sun. The thing that separates us is how meaningful the representation is, and no Egyptologist or panel of Egyptologists will ever succeed in defining our value system. I should clarify something. When I said that Dr. Petrie was wrong to say that there wasn’t a single correct interpretation in the papyrus, I didn’t mean to imply that every interpretation Jospeh provided was in complete harmony with conventional Egyptology either. I’m not in denial about any of this. I’m just saying there is some space between the two extremes. Here are some things that will probably surprise you: I agree that the Breathing Permit of Hor is an ordinary funerary document. I’m not actually trying to repudiate the Egyptologists on this one. I think most of what they have said about the papyrus is correct and correlates very well with generally accepted Egyptology. But in certain cases (and I’m excluding the cases where laziness, conflicting interests or other motivating factors prevented them from giving an accurate reading) they are approaching the Book of Abraham itself as a well-qualified Egyptologist would, and not as it actually ought to be approached, which is as something more than as an Egyptian document. To say that Joseph interpreted some of the characters in a different way than Egyptologists would interpret them is accurate. To say point-blank that he got the whole thing wrong is irresponsible, and I believe the only reason a person would insist on this point of view is that to admit otherwise is to put oneself in the unfortunate position of having to explain how Joseph Smith, through the earthly means available to him, got anything right at all.

The more I read, the more correct Joseph looks, by the way, which shouldn’t be happening if he were guessing. Just this morning I was glancing through Jeff Lindsay’s FAQ page on the Book of Abraham, and I came across this: “As we argue over what the figures mean and whether the priest [in facsimile 1] should be wearing a mask or not, let us not forget what Joseph Smith definitely got right: the person standing over the couch/altar is a priest of Pharaoh.” (http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_Abraham2.shtml) That’s a REALLY good point. I was able to verify (again just through a simple search on wikipedia: see Anubis) that “during the funerary rites of mummification, illustrations from the Book of the Dead often show a PRIEST wearing the jackal mask supporting the upright mummy.” There are a whole bunch of other interesting details on Jeff Lindsay’s page, but the point he’s making here is significant. Critics of the Church want to zero in on the things that look wrong, like the missing jackal mask, and deny the very essence of the symbol, that the guy that should be wearing a jackal mask is a priest of Pharaoh. This is another undeniable hit for the Prophet. Let me remind you that if we were to lock ten people with confidence in their creative and psychic abilities in a room for a few months and compare their evaluation of the facsimiles against Joseph Smith’s, the first thing we would have to do is read everything that has been written about Joseph’s interpretations and figure out exactly how many hits he got to begin with. I think th