I propose that there is a continuity of method connecting Joseph Smith’s translations of ancient texts, from the Book of Mormon to his encounter with the Kinderhook plates, and that this method was both expansive and linguistic.
Author: Jonathan Green
Learning from Kinderhook
Don Bradley and Mark Ashurst-McGee have published the definitive account of Joseph Smith’s 1843 encounter with the Kinderhook plates.
Two attitudes about translation are on my mind. One is about Joseph Smith: “Seeing words appear in a seer stone is magic, not translation. Translation is when you have the equivalent text in a foreign language, like Google Translate.” The other attitude is not uncommon among translators and translation clients: “Google Translate isn’t translation. It’s just inputting one text and getting the mechanical equivalent in another language.”
Interpreters, visions and seer stones
The Interpreter has recently published two reviews of William L. Davis’ Visions in a Seer Stone. The two reviews, by Brant Gardner and Brian Hales, exemplify what I think are positive trends in Latter-day Saint contributions to Mormon Studies.
Perils on every side
Our unhappy political moment has unfortunately corrected a longstanding asymmetry in ideologically-driven exit options.
They’re not wrong
They’re not wrong. Not about everything.
I disagree with their choice of candidate. What they want would have—has had—disastrous results, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely wrong.
What I miss about home church—and why I need to go back to sacrament meeting
I’ve heard multiple people say how much they’ve enjoyed the last five months of home church. Studying the scriptures however they want, and worshiping each Sunday as a family? More, please. Now that my ward has resumed meeting, there’s a lot to miss about home church.
“By his own admission”: a one-footnote review
John Hammond’s Quest for the New Jerusalem: A Mormon Generation Sagastates that Sidney Rigdon, “by his own admission, ‘made up’ religious experiences in his youth,” which seems like something worth looking into.
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. Vb4. The utility of philology: Jacob and Sherem
Imagining the Book of Mormon as a complex work reflecting numerous steps of compilation and abridgment helps explain some curious features of the encounter with Sherem in Jacob 7.
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. Vb2-3. The utility of philology: Nephite origins
Thinking of the Book of Mormon as the result of a series of textual accretions and combinations might help make sense of how curiously overdetermined the account of Nephite origins is.
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. V.The permissibility and utility of philology for studying the Book of Mormon
Is philological deliberation useful for studying the Book of Mormon? Is it even permitted?
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. IV. The Puzzle of 3 Nephi
Why is 3 Nephi, which records the central event in the history of Nephite salvation and destruction, located between Helaman and 4 Nephi?
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. IIIc. The source structure of the Book of Mormon
If you trace the history of a text from earlier manuscripts to later ones, it’s not unusual for the text to be extended in various ways.
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. IIIb. The material culture of Nephite literacy
The material culture of Nephite literacy is the one aspect of Nephite civilization about which we have any kind of historical evidence.
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. IIIb note 1. A note on the uniformity of the Golden Plates
Mark Ashurst-McGee asks about the uniformity of the Golden Plates in eyewitness accounts, even though they contain both Mormon’s abridgement and Nephi’s small plates, and this is in fact genuinely weird.
Notes on Book of Mormon Philology. IIIa. Nephite literacy
Unless someone gets lucky with a spade or a metal detector, the full extent of Mormon’s sources will remain unknown. To keep even tentative answers on the side of plausibility rather than fantasy, how we think about Mormon’s sources should be informed by any information we have about Nephite literacy and textual culture.
Notes on Book of Mormon philology. II. What did Mormon know?
The logical place for a philological approach to the Book of Mormon to begin is with Mormon, its eponymous editor, and his sources. How much did Mormon know about the Nephites, and what kind of records did he have to work with?
Notes on Book of Mormon philology. The philological instinct
When I look at recent studies of the Book of Mormon, the biggest deficit I see is the lack of instinct for philology.
Whereas disease, as now with COVID-19, causes death to many and harm to many more, and worsens poverty and hunger even among those it does not strike directly, and causes fear in those who await infection and its consequences, and inflicts sorrow and grief on those who lose family and beloved friends; while Jesus, in His atoning mercy
The Church under Quarantine: SWOT Analysis
SWOT analysis seems to be something business majors learn their first semester. I’ve never been a business major, but it seems like a reasonable way to start thinking about what the church is facing in these virus-invested times of unknown duration.