Recent Comments

  • Jack on IX. Joseph the Seer: “Hoosier: “So Joseph Smith has basically been translating Pure Language urtexts this whole time.” So, would you say that the pure language (or tongue of angels?) can serve as a “universal translator” of sorts?Jan 31, 11:05
  • Hoosier on IX. Joseph the Seer: “Seems to me like Joseph Smith found the Pure Language. Presumably what set the Pure Language apart and gave intelligibility was its divine origin, not the specific characters, phonetics, or grammatical rules. The language of God, therefore, is the Pure Language, in whatever shape it comes. So Joseph Smith looks at the papyri, sees characters and shapes forming which resemble the papyri characters but certainly are not just the papyri characters, and he interprets these. So Joseph Smith has basically been translating Pure Language urtexts this whole time.Jan 31, 10:49
  • Bert on IX. Joseph the Seer: “If I understand what you’re saying here, there’s an analogy to a project I completed years ago. I translated a novella from nineteenth-century German to English, and I tried to be as true to the source text as possible. But if I had been using Joseph Smith’s translation method, I would not have converted the German story into an English version that had the same plot, characters, and textual correspondence I tried to achieve. I would have instead converted the German story into a totally unrelated (but inspired) English novella of my own that I had been cooking up in my head. But this isn’t really a good analogy, because I understand German, and I still would have been converting a novella into a novella. Perhaps instead the better analogy would be for me to convert a Hungarian cookbook into my English novella. Maybe I’m way off base, but this is how I am understanding this post.Jan 31, 10:30
  • Jonathan Green on IX. Joseph the Seer: “Thanks, Your Food. 1. Kind of, but it’s not really fleshed out, I wouldn’t call it mechanistic (maybe “methodical”), and I don’t think catalyst is a perfect metaphor. In chemistry, catalysts just sit there (note to chemists: blah blah blah I can’t hear you I can’t hear you), but I think the hieratic characters are an important constituent that gets transformed by the translation. 2. I don’t know about from start to finish, but I do assume much more significant engagement with the characters on the plates than a lot of people do these days – I tend to think that’s how Joseph Smith first trained his mind in the habits of reading I’m suggesting here. I don’t think using a seer stone, the Urim and Thummim and/or a hat precludes looking at the plates. The evidence that Joseph Smith didn’t use the plates isn’t great. I wrote about it here: http://archive.timesandseasons.org/2020/11/use-of-the-gold-plates-in-book-of-mormon-translation-accounts/Jan 31, 10:00
  • your food allergy on IX. Joseph the Seer: “Thanks for your thorough work and writing on this. It is very interesting. I’m sure I don’t fully understand it all, but I have two immediate questions: 1. Can your proposal be characterized as a fleshed-out, mechanistic description of “catalyst theory?” If not, how would you see the differences? 2. Does your proposal require that the BoM was translated by engaging with characters on plates from start to finish? What of the rock and hat business?Jan 31, 06:33
  • Jonathan Green on VIII. Catalyst theories of revelation: “REC911, it turns out that there’s a pretty compelling argument that the median number of witnesses of any particular ancient text is 0. That is, for the couple of textual areas I’m competent in and have looked at closely (which are admittedly much more recent than anything Egyptian, but where I did have the assistance of a highly competent econometrician), there are far more texts known from 1 copy than from 2, and more from 2 than from 3, and so on. The implication that most everything is missing seems pretty plausible. So finding another copy of a very common text and having 0 copies of an otherwise unknown text is not surprising. I’m not really swayed by arguments that we’re doing something other than Joseph Smith did or intended, as I think the point was to be led by prophets through continuing revelation. As I’ll mention in the next post, I think we can identify quite a few similarities in translation method between the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. That might not prove by itself that Joseph Smith intended the Book of Abraham as scripture, but it does significantly raise the stakes on what we do with Abraham.Jan 29, 16:09
  • REC911 on VIII. Catalyst theories of revelation: “As I was reading this, a thought occurred to me that we have not found another copy of the Book of Abraham and just this week we found another entire “Book of the Dead” scroll. The chance of there being only one copy of Abraham, or at least finding a fragment of Abraham, would seem odd to me. I am not a fan of the catalyst theory either. What is left? To me the provenance has to be part of the equation or at least look at the difference as to how this came about vs BoM and D&C. When I contemplate the influence that Masonic beliefs had in the development of the Endowment, I personally think JS was just doing his best and what he felt was right, but over time, our church culture called it holy, revelation, etc. I dont think our view of these items, and lots of other things we “worship” were ever intended to be worshipped. Polygamy for example, those who read church history know that there is no doubt that this was believed to be the way to our greatest levels of salvation in the next life. The church doesn’t teach that at all now. Using the name Mormon was fine with the first 16 “prophets” and now the current one has an issue with it and we “worship” that as correct. Can the BoA have come about in the same way? Are we worshiping something JS never expected us to? Looking forward to reading what you think Johnathan.Jan 29, 12:39
  • Jonathan Green on VII. The GAEL and Linguistic Typology: “Jack, we went for a long time without easy access to all these documents – which isn’t a criticism of anybody, it’s just really hard to do before digital technology comes along – so once this stuff becomes available again, we have to figure it out from the ground up, except now we have preconceptions about what translation should look like, and what revelation should look like. And I’m hardly a specialist on anything relevant, at least if anyone could agree on what the relevant specialization is. Is it 19th c. American history? Theology and religious studies? Egyptology or other ancient studies? And what field is actually willing to own all those weird medieval apocalypses, anyway?Jan 28, 18:09
  • Jack on VII. The GAEL and Linguistic Typology: “Jonathan, I find it interesting that the whole Gael “saga” is so misunderstood by us moderns. Why is that? The people involved with developing it seemed to’ve had some sense of what they were doing. Or, at least, there seems to have been some precedent that they were aware of for doing it (and that’s another valuable detail that I’ve learned from this series). So what happened? Why does it take a specialist (like yourself) to dig into this and uncover what is beginning to look like the obvious? Strange.Jan 28, 13:08
  • Jonathan Green on VII. The GAEL and Linguistic Typology: “Mark, thanks for the comments. I feel more confident about some things than others, so feel free to push and poke on the claims. Probably all the claims of specific influence can be debated, but I’m pretty certain that all the influences on the GAEL and its internal logic are linguistic and not pictographic or esoteric or anything else. It’s a grammar! As for the “Western Indian” phrase, it also shows up in an 1857 publication (that Sam Brown has cited), and variations on the English can be found elsewhere, so the phrase seems to be in circulation. The 1819 publication of Heckewelder/Du Ponceau has a Lenape word glossed as “white man’s something-or-other” that looks pretty similar to the sample of “Western Indian” language, so at least that part looks reasonably authentic – if not specifically Lenape, it doesn’t seem to be simply invented. I need to look up the details again, so I’ll put together a short post with a few notes about it.Jan 28, 12:38