The Literal Resurrection

I don’t begrudge people around the Bloggernacle lamenting that Latter-day Saints don’t follow the liturgical calendar. I myself would love to follow it–because I think it would be fun and it would help some of us to be more reverent or invite some solemnity into our completely deconstructed lives. But the fact that the Church lacks the liturgical calendar is a testimony to the Church’s effort to focus on doctrine rather than tradition for tradition’s sake. Instead, Latter-day Saints focus on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and Christ’s Resurrection as an unconditional aspect of that Atonement for its own sake and not by virtue of the liturgical calendar. This brings some of Hugh Nibley’s words to mind:

We have suggested that Latter-day Saints might be said to accept certain traditions common to the whole Christian world more wholeheartedly and with less reservation than most Christians do inasmuch as they take as literal what the rest of the world accepts in a rather vague, symbolic, or sentimental sense. Easter furnishes as good an illustration as any of what we mean by this. (Hugh Nibley, “Easter and the Prophets,” in The World and the Prophets (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987) (1954), p. 154.)

Indeed, the Resurrection qua Resurrection, on the one hand an indescribable miracle in its physics (at least to our finite minds), is on the other hand an integral part in the Plan of Salvation–a generous gift of the Lord to his children, but a gift with strings attached. True, the Resurrection is in itself salvation to the posterity of Adam and Eve. Latter-day Saints believe the true doctrine of the Resurrection: that all people, whether good or evil, will be resurrected. Alma the Younger explains why:

But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.

This bolded portion illustrates the dual nature of the Resurrection: salvation of a kind to all but also a very functional gift–we are resurrected so that we can be brought to justice in the flesh for our works, whether they be good or evil, during mortality. Jesus himself taught this truth when he visited his followers in the Americas after his death and resurrection in Jerusalem to show them his resurrected body and teach them this aspect of the Gospel. All people are resurrected to stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to their works:

If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began.

So Christ literally resurrected in the flesh. It wasn’t symbolic or merely a “spiritual resurrection.” We know this not only from the scriptures, but also, and more importantly, because Joseph Smith saw the resurrected Savior and Heavenly Father, two separate beings with physical bodies. In that one moment, Joseph Smith gained more knowledge about the nature of God and Jesus Christ, and the Resurrection, than eighteen hundred years of philosophy and theology had been able to figure out.

It was not only Joseph Smith’s testimony that he saw and spoke with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ that provoked and still provokes such animosity from the rest of Christianity; rather, what Joseph Smith learned about the Resurrection itself also greatly dismays Christianity, because it runs contrary to the neo-platonic philosophy on which Christian “theology” is founded. Hugh Nibley again comes to mind here:

The only real justification for the Christian Easter is teh proposition that the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually took place–not as a symbol, a myth, a hope, a tradition, or a dream, but as a real event. The Lord himself after the resurrection took the greatest care to impress the literalness of the event on the minds of all his followers. Having risen from the dead, Christ came to his disciples and found them confused, perplexed, incredulous. He “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen” (Mark 16:14), and showed them in detail how the ancient prophets had actually predicted what had happened. He ordered them to feel him and see for themselves that he was not a spirit, but that the flesh had been resurrected; he ordered food to be brought and ate it in their presence, inviting them to dine with him. He told them that whenever they met after his departure they should continue to eat real bread and drink real wine to remind them that he had been with them in the flesh.
There was need to make this lesson perfectly clear, for men have always been relunctant to believe it. . . . The Apostles had to rebuke members of the church who simply would not believe in the resurrection, and John noted with alarm that “many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (2 John 7). “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead,” writes Paul to the Corinthians, “how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12).
(“Easter and the Prophets,” 156-57.)

Hugh Nibley proceeds to analyze the shift after the death of the Apostles in the Christian church and the “sway of philosophy” over the doctrines of the Church. Thus, “the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the oldest texts to survive after the time of the Apostles, show the spreadening and deepening of the anti-resurrection trend in the church” (Ibid, 157). Ignatius, for example, one of the early Apostolic Fathers, writes passsionately in defense of a physical resurrection (Ibid.). But this phase of apologetics in defense of a literal, physical resurrection would soon cease as well:

The sorrows and alarsm of the Apostolic Fathers were followed by the perplexities of the doctors. Most of the early doctors of the church were ardent Hellenists or Neoplatonists, and there was no place in such schools of thought for a God who contaminates himself by contact with the physical or limts himself by taking the form of a man.

This neo-platonic view might seem eminently reasonable even to a Christian philosopher or theologian reading this right now; in fact, such a person would likely use the categorical rejection of such philosophy by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is Jesus Christ’s restored Church on earth today, as evidence that the Church cannot be Christ’s true church. But that is exactly the point: these philosophers took a truth of God and because it didn’t make sense to them rationally, they rejected it sua sponte (i.e. absent guiding revelation) on the basis of the influence of the philosophies of men and, mingling such philosophy with New Testament scripture, fundamentally altered the doctrine to which the liturgical calendar now looks emptily. Hugh Nibley focuses on Origen and St. Augustine for this scepticism towards the physical resurrection.

Nibly describes the musings of Origen, “perhaps the most influential of all Christian philosophers next to Augustine himself” (Ibid., 158):

“We are stunned with the greatest amazement that this the most eminent of all natures, putting off its state of majesty, should become a man. . . . It is utterly beyond human comprehension that the Word of the Father . . should be thought of as confined within that man who appeared in Judea. But that the Wisdom of God should have netered the womb of a woman, and been born a baby, and cried and wailed just like other crying babies, and then suffered death and said that his soul was sorrowful unto death, and been led off to the most undignified of all deaths . . seeing such things the human intellect is stopped in its tracks, so stunned with amazement that it knows not where to turn. . . . It is far beyond our powers to explain. I suppose it even goes beyond the capacity of the Holy Apostles; nay, it is quite possible that the explanation of this sacrament is beyond the powers of all the celestial beings.” Not only does Origen not know what to think about the Lord’s physical presence on earth; he does not even know what to believe about it, and in his explanations is careful to specify that he is presenting only his “suspicions rather than any manifest affirmations.” (Ibid., 158 (quoting Origen, Peri Archon II, 6, 2, in J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus . . . Series Graeca (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1857-1866), 11:210)).

Nibley provides the following commentary on Origen’s musings: “Note the vanity of the schoolmen in Origen’s remarks: What he cannot conceive of because of his limited experience must necessarily be beyond the grasp of Apostles, angels, and all celestial beings! It is this sublime confidence in the adequacy of one’s own knowledge and the finality of one’s own experience that makes the resurrection of the flesh the principal thorn in the incorporeal minds of the schoolmen (Ibid., 159). This is a cogent and useful observation, and it reminds us of the limits of our knowledge when we base it on our experience, or when we claim that we can only know things from our experience.
Moving on to St. Augustine, Nibley emphasizes that belief in the resurrection is the core of being Christian, and, through Augustine’s own observations, throws the deep irony of a Christian rejection of the physical resurrection into stark relief.

According to St. Augustine, the resurrection of the flesh is the one thing that the pagans cannot take, it is the one thing with which the philosophers have no patience, and is above all the one thing that distinguishes a Christian from a non-Christian. Since it is the one doctrine that makes Christians Christians, it is alarming to learn from St. Augustine that in his day “in nothing is there so much conflict and controversy among Christians themselves as on the subject of the resurrection of the flesh.” “On no other matter,” he writes, “do they disagree so vehemently, so obstinately, so resolutely, or so contentiously as on the subject of the resurrection of the flesh. For as fas as the immortality of the soul is concerned many a pagan philosopher too has argued about that and bequeathed us vast heaps of writings to the effect that the soul is immortal. But when it comes to the resurrection of the flesh they won’t argue, but dismiss it out of hand as impossible, and that on the grounds that it is impossible for this earthly flesh to aspite to heaven.” (Ibid.)

At this point, Hugh Nibley makes one of his most useful observations about the posture of Latter-day Saints towards the literal resurrection of the flesh as compared with the posture of much of the rest of Christianity, as inherited by such philosophers, on this doctrine: “I cannot resist noting here,” states Nibley “that the objection of the pagans to the resurrection is not a physical or a biological but a philosophical one, and it is the very same objection which the Christian world today makes against the Latter-day Saint conception of God: that there can be nothing of a bodily nature in the celestial. Yet the resurrected Christ was God. Is it any wonder that the Christians could never agree among themselves on this, the central doctrine of their religion? (Ibid.) But the Apostles themselves did not dispute the literal resurrection, or the resurrection of the flesh. The doubting Thomas’s own scepticism was put to rest when he saw the Lord and felt his resurrected flesh with his own mortal flesh. Thus, concludes Nibley very powerfully:

No matter how wildly improbable or paradoxical or utterly impossible a thing may seem to the cleverest people on earth, only by witness and not by reason, theory, or speculation may its truth be ultimately established, whether the truth be scientific or religious. “This is the testimony . . . which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him . . . and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father” (D&C 76:22-23). Compare this testimony of modern prophets with that of the ancients: “That which was from the beginning, which he have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; . . . That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” (1 John 1:1, 3.) After all, it is the testimony of the prophets that gives us the real Easter. (Ibid., 162).

I am grateful for the testimony of the true prophets of the literal resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I add my testimony to Hugh Nibley’s that the words of these prophets give us the real Easter, and not, I would add, any liturgical calendar or mere tradition that serves as cultural myth, symbol, or sentimental fallback.

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10 Responses to The Literal Resurrection

  1. Linda says:

    Hugh Nibley?? This is your source for spiritual guidance? A man who spent his life defending warriors on tapirs, a continent of armor-clad armies hacking away at each other, cureloms, and other fantasies from the BOM. And I won’t mention his problem with his daughter Ms. Beck…

    The reason why the church doesn’t follow the liturgical calendar is because a) it isn’t a Christian church – I know, I was raised a Mormon, and it’s all about Joe, b) per the JofD Joe is the one who brings us salvation at the gates of the CK, and c) Mormondom has to reinforce its “uniqueness” by arrogantly proclaiming that it has the only “true” gospel. Ever wondered why other established religions don’t constantly repeat, like a hypnotic mantra, that their’s is the only “true” church?

  2. johnbfowles says:

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  3. john f. says:

    Linda, you are mistaken in your “list of three.”

    (a) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian church. It is true though that members of the Church don’t subscribe to the creeds that were invented by committees hundreds of years after the last apostles were no longer around. So, if you claim that Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians because they don’t sign on to those creeds, of which Jesus Christ disapproves and which propound incorrect information about the nature of God and the Trinity, then you are correct. However, the dictionary definition of Christian doesn’t mandate belief in the creeds as a requirement of being a Christian. It just requires a belief in Jesus Christ.

    (b) It is not all about Joseph Smith; rather, it is all about Jesus Christ. One who rejects the prophets that Jesus Christ has sent to testify of him, however, also thereby rejects Jesus Christ in a certain sense. The Book of Mormon speaks of how the prophet Nephi (son of Helaman) preached to the people about their claims that had they been around during the time of the (Ole Testament) prophets, they would not have killed and rejected the prophets as their forefathers had done. We have the same situation today; I assume you claim to be a Christian and that as such you claim that had you been around at the time of the Apostles, you would not have killed or rejected the Apostles. And yet you reject Joseph Smith and the prophets and Apostles that Jesus Christ has sent us in these latter days. When members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say things like “Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of mankind than anyone else save Jesus Christ only,” they are not doing this because “it is all about Joseph Smith” in the Church. Rather, they do so because of the great mission that Jesus Christ assigned to Joseph Smith in restoring to the earth the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, restoring doctrines to that Gospel that had been lost after the death of the Apostles and the ensuing and general apostacy of the church in the first centuries after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The world should be glad that it does not have to rely on the arbitrary creeds invented by committees in a time of revelatory darkness anymore for its knowledge about the nature of God and Jesus Christ.

    (c) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church. When members of the Church say this, they are largely referring to issues of priesthood authority. The position that there is a proper authority to act in the name of God and to invoke the power of God for the benefit of his believing children cannot be framed as an unreasonable position. Furthermore, either Peter, James, and John did appear as resurrected beings to Joseph Smith and convey this priesthood on him through the laying on of hands, as mandated by Jesus Christ, or they did not. I can accept that you believe Joseph Smith was merely lying. You are free to believe whatever you want. But if you expect to convince me of this, you have a very difficult task ahead, and the burden of persuasion lays firmly on you. I am only engaging you to this extent out of politeness. Simply saying that the Church is “all about Joe” falls far short of carrying that burden of persuasion. You might start by addressing some of Hugh Nibley’s writings if you feel so confident that Joseph Smith was lying and just made up this religion. I quoted from one of the chapters of the book “The World and the Prophets.” That might be a good place to start. Start your own blog and address Hugh Nibley’s scholarship point by point, refuting it footnote by footnote. I find it curious that out of all of the Evangelicals who decry the truth claims of Latter-day Saints, none are directly addressing Hugh Nibley’s scholarship into the historicity not only of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also of the doctrines and eternal truths that the Church preserves and maintains. And as many Latter-day Saint bloggers will attest, Hugh Nibley, while formidable, is only the tip of the iceberg. Many notable and competent Latter-day Saint scholars have followed in Hugh Nibley’s footsteps; you will likewise need to address their scholarship as well.

    Finally, since you mentioned Martha Nibley Beck’s claims that her father Hugh Nibley sexually abused her, I will only point out that if that is the best you can do to refute the LDS doctrine of the literal resurrection of the flesh, then you are indeed weak in your argumentation. First of all, Hugh Nibley is innocent until proven guilty; second, if you read the book and you still give credence to Beck’s claims in the face of the blatant falsehoods about the Church’s beliefs and life in Utah, which any objective reader, LDS or otherwise, will easily recognize as untrue and slanderous, then there is something wrong with you.

  4. Linda says:

    John: Thanks for your comments. A couple of more thoughts on my initial post re whether the Mormon church is “Christian”:

    There are innumerable references to Church leaders condemning Christianity; I will focus here on those quotations that exalt Joseph Smith as the key to salvation:

    “If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him [Joseph Smith]; if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him [Joseph Smith]”
    – 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, p. 142, Apostle George Q. Cannon quoted

    [There is] “no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth…no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God”
    – Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p.190

    “No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith…every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are… [Joseph Smith] reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim—”Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!” But it is true.”
    – Prophet Birgham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p.289-91

    “I tell you, Joseph holds the keys, and none of us can get into the celestial kingdom without passing by him. We have not got rid of him, but he stands there as the sentinel, holding the keys of the kingdom of God; and there are many of them beside him. I tell you, if we get past those who have mingled with us, and know us best, and have a right to know us best, probably we can pass all other sentinels as far as it is necessary, or as far as we may desire. But I tell you, the pinch will be with those that have mingled with us, stood next to us, weighed our spirits, tried us, and proven us: there will be a pinch, in my view, to get past them. The others, perhaps, will say, If brother Joseph is satisfied with you, you may pass. If it is all right with him, it is all right with me. Then if Joseph shall say to a man, or if brother Brigham say to a man, I forgive you your sins, “Whosoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them;” if you who have suffered and felt the weight of transgression—if you have generosity enough to forgive the sinner, I will forgive him: you cannot have more generosity than I have. I have given you power to forgive sins, and when the Lord gives a gift, he does not take it back again.”
    – Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.154-155

    I am very uncomfortable assigning the Christian label to the theology that gives Smith, with all his evidences of debauchery, the guardian role of salvation.

    And as for Nibley, and the historicity of the BofM, your faith will not allow you to consider real world evidences that it is a fiction, such as Indian DNA identified as Asian not Hebrew, a plethora of anachronisms from horses, steel, armor, chariots, armies and civilizations that cannot be found, the plagiarization of the KJV, and Smith’s attempt to sell the copyright, etc. I maintain the historicity issue is definitive; you undoubtedly will not see things in this vain.

    And as for the first vision of Smith, the version you are taught doesn’t even resemble his own notes. The church has done a wonderful job gussying it up – the official version was written by a scribe 20 years after the fact; even Smith’s followers were unfamiliar what came to be the center piece of legitimacy of the Mormon church.

  5. john f. says:

    Nice try, but your quotes about Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet and his holding those keys of authority fall far short of proving that it is “all about Joe” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we place the Atonement of Jesus Christ as the central and most important act in the history of the world and in the Plan of Salvation. We honor Joseph Smith because of his testimony of Jesus Christ and because through him Jesus Christ restored the true Gospel in its purity, devoid of the distracting and abominable alterations in the doctrine, both intentional and negligent, that first the Catholic Church, and then the other myriad Christian denominations introduced into Christ’s Gospel.

    Your old-fashioned list of “proof” that the Book of Mormon cannot be historical likewise falls far short of being convincing. LDS apologetics has dealt with each one of your concerns, so merely parroting them here will not gain you any argumentative points unless you squarely address that scholarship and present evidence and sound argumentation of your own to refute the Book of Mormon. The point you make about DNA is simply laughable. It is both a fallacy of composition and a non sequitur. Just because Asian DNA has been found in some cases does not mean that no Hebrew DNA exists. Conversely, the existence of Asian DNA doesn’t disprove anything. It can only serve your argument if you subscribe to a mistaken view of what the Book of Mormon represents. You are indeed misinformed if you believe that the Church is advocating that the American continent was completely empty at the time that Lehi landed there in approx. 600 B.C. Noone is claiming that. First of all, the Jaredites were there from much earlier, and it is possible that they had traveled over Asia to get there. But such speculation is completely unnecessary in such a discussion as this. There could have been scores of people already in America at the time that the Jaredites came. If you claim that the Book of Mormon teaches otherwise, then you have neither read it nor the ample and sound LDS scholarship related to the Book of Mormon. I can refer you to another LDS blogger, Jeff Lindsay, who has written some on this topic. He is not even a scientist, to my knowledge, but his reasoning is sound and he refers to reputable sources. Before you can gain any credibility in your argument, you will at the very least need to address what Jeff Lindsay has written on this subject. Anything less would be intellectually dishonest and lazy.

    But, before you continue in your attempts to refute the historicity of the Book of Mormon or the quality of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, you need to read this article by Evangelicals Carl Mosser and Paul Owen in the Fall 1998 issue of the Trinity Journal. This article will explain to you why such efforts as regurgitating old and outdated criticisms of the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while possibly effective with a congregation of Evangelicals uninterested in an intellectually honest approach, won’t work well in convincing many Latter-day Saints that the Church that Jesus Christ restored through his prophet Joseph Smith is not true. Unless and until you first go the route of addressing directly LDS scholarship that defends the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the doctrinal claims of the Restored Gospel (based on ancient cultural, linguistic, textual, and historical evidences), then you will fall far short of your burden of persuasion. Empty accusations that Joseph Smith participated in “debauchery” are equally unconvincing and are, quite frankly, uncharitable, dishonest, and lazy.

    The best bet for you on your little anti-Mormon crusade is to start your own blog and begin, slowly but surely, to address LDS scholarship on these issues, one article, one footnote at a time. Once again, merely dismissing Hugh Nibley in one sentence simply does not pass muster. You must address his conclusions and research, if possible with reference to the same ancient and medieval texts and cultural evidences to which he refers. If you can’t understand the original languages, then I’m sure you can find those sources in English somewhere.

    I will refer you initially to a page at Jeff Lindsay’s website for a very small (although insightful and useful) collection of some of the evidences in favor of Book of Mormon historicity. You will need to address each of these points in detail if you want to make convincing arguments against the Book of Mormon. Otherwise your vague and smug rehash of old-fashioned criticisms against the Book of Mormon and the true Church of Jesus Christ can be simply ignored or brushed aside without much thought (this is the case because you yourself will be simply brushing aside years of solid research and apologetics that reputable LDS scholars have done in this area. You also need to carefully read the articles collected at the FARMS website, the FAIRLDS website, the SHIELDS website, and the numerous publications on these topics by LDS scholars with Ph.D.s from all of the top graduate and divinity schools. I am not suggesting that you read these treatments in an effort to convert you because conversion must come through faith and a change of heart. Rather, I am telling you to read these sources so that you don’t annoy me with lame BoM criticisms that scholars have been scrutinizing in detail for more than fifty years and whose publications are readily available to you. If you do not first address these defenses, it is a sign of intellectual dishonesty on your part to raise such criticisms in spite of the treatments that have already been done. If you can first refute those treatments, then nothing is stopping you from bringing those criticisms in good faith. Anything else is merely a bad faith effort to smear God’s Church and the followers of his Restored Gospel.

    Finally, this blog will not be the place for you to analyze the scholarly and historical defenses of the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel. First of all, I will never give your arguments the time of day until you show that you are directly attempting to refute the scholarship that already addresses your concerns. Second, everything that you have said thus far points to a bad faith effort on your part to pull down the beliefs of faithful Latter-day Saints. It is a truly weak effort, to be sure, but it is misplaced on this blog. You will be far more effective in maligning the Church if you join up with one of the various ex- or anti-Mormon blogs and/or websites. At least there people will agree with your lame criticisms.

  6. Linda says:

    John

    The list of direct quotes from church leaders is crystal clear as to the role of Joseph vs Jesus in the church. This coupled with my experience as a Mormon leads me to no other conclusion than the one I have stated.

    With respect to the BofM, please cite the most compelling evidence that convinces you that the Book of Mormon is more than a fictional story.

    I’ll take DNA, archaeological artifacts, linguistic evidence, bones, remnants, armor, steel, horses, Liahonas, anything. Then we can weigh evidences on either side.

    With respect to Nibley, he ended up conceding that the Book of Abraham papyrii that Joseph used for translation have been more accurately translated as common funeral texts and that Joseph must have seen things that today’s scholars can’t; I’d suggest that this defense of Joseph is also needed for the BofM.

  7. john f. says:

    There truly are many evidences that the BoM is not fiction. A number of them are collected in a recent book put out by FARMS called Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon (2002). The details are: Parry, Donald W., Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch, eds. Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002. This book highlights a number of things included in the BoM that JS simply could not have known when he translated it. Of course, the complex and extensive chiastic structures figure into this analysis. Other things are place names and archaelogical discoveries in the Old World that substantiate the exodus of Lehi and his family from Jerusalem. Other evidences are the precise adherence of events depicted in the BoM to the strictures of legal and religious customs in the ancient world, unknowable by Joseph Smith as he translated. The book is full of examples of how JS just happened to get it all correct accidentally if the book is mere fiction. You also need to read Jeff Lindsay’s website, which I linked above, which lists many of the evidences you are seeking. I work at a large law firm and don’t have the time to sit here and list all of the things that render it implausible that the BoM is a work of fiction. But I will tell you that foremost on that list is my conviction that JS was not lying and that he was God’s prophet.

    I will also note that you seem eager to avoid the requirements that I have set for any discussion with you about BoM historicity: namely, that you first address the arguments that have already been made by numerous scholars, including but certainly not limited to, Hugh Nibley. At the very least, you need to read the article by two Evangelicals, Mosser and Owen, explaining why you seriously need to consider reading and addressing all of this LDS scholarship before continuing with your negative message about the Church. This is not because I think you will be converted, but because I hope that you are someone that is interested in intellectual honesty, and your current approach certainly does not exhibit any.

    Finally, with regards to the quotes that you gave which you claim show that it is “all about Joe” in the Church rather than about Jesus Christ, I must insist that your misconstruction is blatant even without any explanation from me. Those quote merely attest to the fact that Joseph Smith was God’s chosen prophet for this dispensation of time and that he will continue to play an active role, under the authority that has been delegated to him by the Lord Jesus Christ, in leading us to the celestial kingdom, even after this life. I know that you know this and that you are just trying to find a way to make it look like the Church does not worship Jesus Christ. I do not know what has caused this animosity in you towards the Church, but it truly is very unbecoming of you.

  8. Linda says:

    John:

    This is an example of evidence?

    “In his essay, (BYU Professor) Hoskisson provides what he thinks are examples of sufficient evidence for an ancient Near Eastern Vorlage for the Book of Mormon. The first item of evidence examined relates to the statement, “their souls did expand” in Alma 5:9. In context the meaning appears to approximate “they became happy,” in light of the structural parallelism with the phrase “‘they did sing redeeming love’ to celebrate their freedom.”24 Hoskisson points out that the King James Bible does not use the word “soul” in conjunction with “expand,” although the Book of Mormon also speaks of the soul enlarging and swelling in Alma 32:28 and 34 (respectively). He remarks:

    This phrase appears to be unusual. Why should a soul expand? If this phrase is unique in English to the Book of Mormon, could the phrase reflect an ancient Near Eastern vorlage rather than have its origin in English?25

    After pointing out a lack of evidence for this phrase in any extant pre-1830 English source, he goes on to point to instances of this metaphor in Ugaritic and Akkadian sources. However, ultimately this is not found to be an example of sufficient evidence, because the phrase “expand the soul” does occur in German, and English belongs to the Germanic language group. Hoskisson admits:

    Therefore, though the phrase “expand the soul” does not occur in any readily available pre-1830 English text, and though it is an authentic ancient Near Eastern Semitic phrase, because it is attested in German, we must conclude that the phrase “their souls did expand” is at best necessary evidence for an authentic Near Eastern Semitic Book of Mormon vorlage, but not sufficient evidence.26

    Following this discussion, Hoskisson provides three examples of “sufficient” evidence: (1) the repeated use of the cognate accusative in the Book of Mormon (e.g., 2 Nephi 5:15; Mos. 9:8;11:13; 23:5); (2) the occurrence of the Jewish name “Alma” in a land transaction found at Nahal Hever, dating from the time of the Bar-Kochba revolt;27 and (3) the concept of the oceanic waters being the fountain of rivers, which is typical of ancient Near Eastern thought, and occurs in 1 Nephi 2:9.” (Mosser & Owen)

    This is why having this discussion is so painful. There is no physical, historical, textual, artistic, archaeological, social, or other evidence, so the apologists bandy about arcana to 1) sound scholarly and learned, and 2) distract from the fact that there is no evidence but give less discerning people something to reference. You’re a lawyer, and you can’t see through it?

    Your most compelling evidence:

    “But I will tell you that foremost on that list is my conviction that JS was not lying and that he was God’s prophet.”

    It is painful coming to conclusions about myths you were brought up in. But it is also rewarding to have your mind free of the contradictions, and to see the world in the unblinkered way that God has meant it. I submit God wants us to use our discerning, rational mind.

    I am not an evangelical, and I was waiting for the anti-Mormon label, and you obliged. Sigh.

  9. john f. says:

    This is discussion is not painful for me; but it is annoying. You are a very intellectually dishonest person. For example, you took a very lame example (the Hoskisson discussion) from the Mosser and Owen article and then you act like I am saying that such is the best evidence in favor of BoM historicity. Congratulations on further proving your real interests and abilities. Far from painful, this discussion is impossible until you start taking a good-faith approach, which entails actually addressing the substantive argumentation that has been put forth by able LDS scholars. There is no reason for me to waste my own time here gathering quotes and footnotes from all of that scholarship if you are not willing to read it yourself and then make your own substance-based arguments against them. You obviously have not performed an intellectual obligation on your part to investigate these writings before resorting to old-fashioned (read nineteenth-century) criticisms of the Church, its doctrines, founders, and the Book of Mormon. This is only sound academic methodology that I am recommending to you. If I would have attempted to go the route that you are in my master’s thesis at Oxford, I would likely have been completely ridiculed. Luckily, I actually addressed counterarguments published previous to my own ideas in formulating my ideas and in writing my thesis. If I had simply ignored previous scholarly treatments of the very issues that I was investigating, then I would not have earned my master’s. This is just a recommendation so that in the future you will not come across as so incapable when you try to pull down other people’s belief.

  10. john f. says:

    This post has been removed by the author.

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