The Princess Bride’s relationship to the scriptures. Bear with me here. This is not one of those “William Goldman [the author of the book and screenwriter for the movie] was LDS” things (like “Yoda is President Kimball” or whatever from other franchises). When I first read the book (which came before the movie), it shocked me. I did not expect what I found. Almost everything from the movie was in there (although often in different ways – the famous “life is pain” quote comes from Fezzik’s parents in passing during a flashback, for example), but there was so much more. There was a lot on “his” [scare quotes on purpose] dysfunctional family life, his career, his childhood, and a lot more plot in the actual tale of Buttercup.
Category: Mormon Arts
Arts – Music – Poetry – Cinema – Television
(Almost) Everyone Gets Battlestar Galactica Wrong….
The most cited article I’ve ever written was also my first professional publication: “Why Your Mormon Neighbor Knows More About This Shows Than You Do” in Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy from Open Court Press (not to be confused with the Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy from Blackwell Press). One reason I wrote that article was that while there were a few scattered articles, websites, and other venues that acknowledged LDS/Mormon influence on the original show (and the faint traces of it in the more recent version), nearly all of them got something wrong – often egregiously so.
Sink Me, the Prophet’s a Poet
Joseph Smith rarely wrote poetry, but there are a couple notable exceptions.
The 1927 Latter-day Saint Hymns
At the start of each year, there is a whole collection of publications that enter the public domain. This year is a relatively big year for people interested in Latter-day Saint song books, since the 1927 Latter-day Saint Hymns, along with a few other song books (the 1927 edition of the Primary Song Book and some anthem collections) are now public domain.
Sacrament Meeting Hymns
Choosing music for sacrament meetings is an interesting responsibility sometimes. One of a few different challenges is that there are only 27 hymns specifically selected as sacrament meeting hymns, so there is a lot of potential for repetition.
Linguistic notes on the 1843 letter to the Green Mountain Boys
Joseph Smith’s 1843 appeal to the Green Mountain Boys, ghostwritten by W. W. Phelps and published in (the original) Times and Seasons contains a series of foreign language quotations that are interesting not only because they include using the GAEL as a source for Egyptian.
VIII. Catalyst theories of revelation
The previous posts have put us in the vicinity of catalyst theories of revelation, but none of the formulations that I’ve seen are adequate for describing the Book of Abraham translation, and I think “catalyst” is the wrong chemical metaphor.
VII. The GAEL and Linguistic Typology
The GAEL provides for a mode of interpretation that finds expansive (but not unlimited) meaning in seemingly simple characters. Zakioan-hiash, as we have seen, is both a name, a word with a specific phonetic realization, and the equivalent of at least one sentence.
VI. Non-Egyptian Linguistic Influences on the GAEL
Champollion – and Egyptian – aren’t the only influences on the GAEL.
V. The GAEL’s Degrees and the Structure of Abraham 1:2b-3
Two related features of the GAEL that have been the focus of the most controversy and puzzlement are how one character might represent much longer English texts, and the GAEL’s use of a five-fold system of degrees to expand a character’s potential meaning.
IV. The GAEL and the structure of Abraham 1:1-2a
In his 2009 article, Chris Smith argued for the textual dependence of the Book of Abraham on the GAEL. While Dan Vogel’s recent book about the Book of Abraham and related apologetics strenuously objects to any suggestion that the GAEL was reverse engineered from the translation of Abraham, Vogel nevertheless entirely rejects the basis of Chris Smith’s argument.
Robert Alter’s Translation of the Hebrew Bible
I’ve always wondered how well the talks of different general authorities translate to other languages. For example, I can imagine that a lot of the alliteration that a few apostles adopt in their addresses doesn’t carry over. And I know from my work on translating Spanish hymns that translating between languages is an inexact science and involves compromises to keep certain aspects of the original language – rhyme, meter, literal meaning of words, nuances conveyed in idioms, etc. It’s almost impossible to carry all of those together across from one language to another. Largely because of this, translations of the Bible have proliferated, with each trying to convey the meaning of the texts from the original languages in different ways. For example, Robert Alter’s English translation of the Hebrew Bible focuses on carrying the literary forms of the Hebrew texts. In a recent interview at the Latter-day Saint history blog From the Desk, Robert Alter discussed his translation. Robert Alter is a noted scholar who received his doctorate from Harvard University and is a Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature. His doctorate was in modern comparative literature, but he noted in the interview that: “as an undergraduate I spent three years studying biblical texts rigorously with H. L. Ginsburg, one of the leading philological scholars of the Bible of his generation.” His familiarity with literary forms and biblical texts came together to lead to his translation: In the late 1970s I published…
III. What Joseph Smith Knew About Champollion
With the preliminary deliberations out of the way, it’s time for a close look at the GAEL.
II. What Joseph Smith Would Have Known About Champollion
Before we get to the heart of my argument – which is coming up next in a long post with a detailed look at what’s in the GAEL – we need to look at what Joseph Smith and his associates would have known about Champollion and the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics by 1835.
I. Putting the grammar back in GAEL
Scholars from seemingly every corner of Mormon Studies agree: While working on the Egyptian papyri, Joseph Smith and his associates were either unaware of Champollion’s recent work to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, or simply unaffected by the recent advances in Egyptology. Not only is this position untenable, it’s demonstrably incorrect.
Christmas Carols in the French Hymnbook
A few years ago, I talked about Christmas songs that are included in the various translations of the Latter-day Saint hymnbook that are not in the English hymnal. I’m hoping to share the music and translations of those songs over the next few Decembers, starting this time with the music in the French hymnbooks. In this case, there are three Christmas hymns in the hymnbook that appear in the French edition that aren’t in the English: “He Is Born, the Divine Christ Child” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” and “Sing We Now of Christmas“. He Is Born, the Divine Christ Child “He Is Born” (“Il est né le divin Enfant”) is a relatively well-known carol that is included in the French and Tahitian hymnbooks. For the translation presented below, I’ve used the Samuel Bradshaw translation paired with the music from the French hymnal. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen”) is a well-known German Christmas song frequently sung during the Advent season that leads up to Christmas. It is also one of the Christmas sonsg featured most frequently in Latter-day Saint hymnbooks outside of the English edition. It is included in the German, Dutch, French, Icelandic, and Swedish editions of the hymnal. I’ve elected to use the translation that I’m most accustomed to (the Theodore Baker translation) paired with the music from the French hymnal. Given that the French…
“Final”, Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 9
“Our Savior, Jesus Christ, understands our pains and our afflictions. He wants to ease our burdens and comfort us.” ~Moisés Villanueva Hymn Text: “Final”, by Joel Morales was included in the Spanish hymnals from 1912 – 1992. The 1912 hymnal indicates that it is intended to be sung to the same tune as Songs of Zion, no. 168, which was “Ye Who Are Called to Labor” by Daniel B. Towner . When printed with music in the 1942 hymnal, it was published with the tune of “A Happy Band of Children” by Edwin F. Parry. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any information about Joel Morales himself. Table 1. Comparison of the hymn text in different editions of the hymnal 1912 1942 Ya suena la trompeta, Los justos llaman ya, Y Cristo se presenta, Los hombres juzgará. Ya suena la trompeta, Los justos llama ya, Y Cristo en su trono A todos juzgará. Serán las obras jueces, El mal á condenar; A justos dar la gloria, El bien á premiar. Serán las obras jueces, El mal condenarán; A justos dar la gloria, Lo bueno premiarán. En nube de la gloria, El Cristo ya vendrá; Del hombre la historia Escrita, El tendrá. En nube de la gloria, El Salvador vendrá; Del hombre la historia Escrita, él tendrá. La salvación eterna, A justos, les dará; El romperá las ligas, Y les libertará. La salvación eterna A justos, él dará, Eterna…
“Venid, Hermanos”: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 8
To the degree that members of the Church live the gospel and follow the counsel of the prophets, they will, little by little and even without noticing it, become sanctified. Humble members of the Church who conduct daily family prayer and scripture study, engage in family history, and consecrate their time to worship in the temple frequently, become Saints. Note: This is a part of an ongoing series. To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: “Venid, Hermanos” by José V. Estrada G. was published initially in the 1912 edition of the Mexican mission hymnbook, though it did not make the cut past the 1933 edition of the same hymnal. It bears a similar name and the same author as the previous hymn discussed in this series (“Hermanos, Venid”), though it is a distinct hymn. The original edition indicates that it was intended to be sung to hymn 87 from The Songs of Zion, which was “How Firm a Foundation.” In this case, the same tune is used for “How Firm a Foundation” in the current hymnal. It took me a bit to figure out how to do the translation, since rather than using an iambic meter (every other syllable is stressed), it uses a dactyl-based meter (every third syllable is stressed).
“Hermanos, Venid”: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 7
Problems form an important part of our lives. They are placed in our path for us to overcome them, not to be overcome by them. We must master them, not let them master us. Every time we overcome a challenge, we grow in experience, in self-assuredness, and in faith. ~Horacio A. Tenorio Note: This is a part of an ongoing series. To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: “Hermanos, Venid” by José V. Estrada G. was initially published in 1912 and continued to be published up through the 1942 hymnbook. It was intended to be sung to the tune of Latter-day Saint Psalmody, 254, which was OMEGA by John Tullidge (“We’ll Sing the Songs of Zion”). It was also published in the 1942 hymnal, though set to a tune by George Careless called SUPPLICATION (“O God, The Eternal Father”). In the Latter-day Saint Psalmody, SUPPLICATION is the next page over from OMEGA, so it is possible that either there was a typo in the older hymnals or that both tunes were used interchangeably for the hymn and the latter won out later on (both tunes work for the text). Figure 1. “Hermanos, Venid” in the 1912 hymnal. Table 1. Comparison of the text of “Hermanos, Venid” in various editions of the Spanish hymnal. 1912 1942 Se oyen por doquiera Anuncios y clamor, Que dicen á la tierra, Su pronta destrucción; Ya suena la trompeta, Con…
Clarifications on Uto-Aztecan
This post by Brian Stubbs, a well-respected linguist with numerous publications on the history of Uto-Aztecan languages, is a response to an earlier post by Jonathan Green from 2019. In Times and Seasons, January 6, 2019, Jonathan Green published a post “Uto-Aztecan and Semitic: Too Much of a Good Thing.” A commenter, Steve J, asked: “I hope Stubbs will at some point address the concerns expressed in the post.” Steve’s hope is justified and a response is rightfully due. I did not learn of the post until long after it was written, thus the delay. Green is kind and fair in his opening paragraphs on my background and credentials. Later in the comments, he is again more than decent in my defense. So this is nothing against Green, only a clarification that he and many readers may appreciate. The research involves Uto-Aztecan (UA), one language family of some 30 related languages from the Utes in the north to the Aztecs in the south. UA contains a substantial amount of Semitic and Egyptian. Because some answers to the concerns are addressed in former publications, we refer to those past works with these abbreviations: Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary (2011) as UACV, which was favorably reviewed (Hill 2012) and praised by all UA specialists; Exploring the Explanatory Power of Semitic and Egyptian in Uto-Aztecan (2015) as Exploring; the 2nd edition of Changes in Languages from Nephi to Now (2020) as Changes in…