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Gospel Topics Chapter 3 Duffy Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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April 28, 2021 9:38 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 3 Duffy Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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April 28, 2021 9:38 pm

We continue the review of The LDS Gospel Topics Series published in 2020 by Signature Books, as we look this week at chapter 4 written by John-Charles Duffy titled The “Book of Mormon Translation” Essay in Historical Context. We hope you are enjoying this series of cutting edge issues.


Jim, your own words a collection of Mormon quotations compiled by women as research ministries Bill McKeever is a valuable resource when wanting to know what Mormon leaders have said on a given topic and pick up your copy of the neutral lighthouse bookstore or viewpoint on his commandment examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism. What was the manual theory controversy. Welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder director Mormonism research ministry in with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM we continue looking at chapter 4 in the book the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement.

This chapter deals with how the book of Mormon was translated and that is one of the gospel topics essays that the LDS church produced in late 2013 the author of this chapter is John Charles Duffy and Eric, I really think that where we are at in this chapter is probably part of the genius of this whole chapter and that is Duffy is showing that there were controversies among the LDS scholars, as well as some inconsistencies with how the LDS leadership handled this topic of how the book of Mormon was translated and we show that in the 20th century, Joseph Fielding Smith, the tent present, the church did not believe that Joseph Smith used a seer stone at all in bringing forth the book of Mormon.

But then we find also that Russell M.

Nelson, the 17th president of the church didn't agree with David Witmer's account David Witmer being one of the witnesses to the authenticity of the book of Mormon whose testimony is found in every edition of the book of Mormon, but that Nelson held more to this idea that Joseph Smith read the characters off of the seer stone to describe describe read the characters back in when they were correct they would go on to the next set of characters that idea though. It was quite popular among many members of the LDS church did not sit very well with some of the more intellectuals and scholars in the LDS church and there was also a general authority by the name of BH Roberts that we've mentioned in this series as well that had problems with that. But in order to understand what this manual theory was all about. Let me read what's at the bottom of page 100 under the subtitle the manual theory controversy 1903 to 1906, a composed translation versus a red translation as the 20th century open. Duffy says the LDS community was being transformed LDS were transitioning out of the polygamist period of their history into a phase of selective assimilation into the American cultural mainstream teachings and practices of the 19th century were being reassessed and in some cases revise or abandon as when church leaders quietly retreated from Brigham Young's Adam God doctrine or when they revise temple endowment ceremonies during the 1920s a small but growing number of LDS young people were traveling outside the Mormon cultural region to receive college educations and were bringing modern ideas back with them. For instance, about organic evolution and political criticism. It was in this context that the church's governing first presidency authorize publication of a then innovative and as it proved controversy all theory about the book of Mormon's translation quite different from the scenario espoused in the gospel topics essay. A century later, it continues the theory in question was dubbed the manual theory because it appeared in a lesson manual distributed by the LDS church is young men's organization for the years 1903 to 1904 the manuals author was BH Roberts, a mid ranking general authority. One of the seven presidents of 70 and assistant church historian, much like the gospel topics essay Roberts drew on 19th century witnesses to affirm that Smith had translated the book of Mormon with the aid of two different interpretive instruments the year and Thummim and a seer stone but that was not the innovative or controversial part of Roberts theory in 1903 the seer stone was still familiar to LDS readers what was innovative was that Roberts rejected what he called the popular understanding of among the Latter Day Saints of how Smith had used the interpretive instruments. The popular understanding was that Smith looked into the arm and Thummim or the seer stone and saw an English translation, which he then dictated word for word to describe as Roberts describe pejoratively.

This scenario quote the instruments did all while he who use them did nothing but look and repeat mechanically what he saw there reflected" instead, Roberts argued for a scenario in which Smith looked at the ancient characters through the instruments quote bending every power of his mind to know the meaning thereof." And then receive mental impressions, which he had to render into quote such language as he could command in such phraseology as he was master of." Let me ask Eric if that's really the way it happened. What does that say about the statement given by David Witmer and cited by Russell and Nelson in 1993. It would seem that it's undermining that account because remember the last part of that statement that Russell M. Nelson red was thus the book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by any power of man does that sound like the description were reading here when it comes to BH Roberts, understanding it sounds like it's very much power of man that is involved in what we have in today's book of Mormon so you can understand why this could cause some confusion among members of the church. They've always known a certain way that the book of Mormon came about. They were familiar, no doubt with what David Witmer said as even Duffy admits that idea was still around in the early 20th century.

But now, BH Roberts.

He comes up with this new idea of what's known as the manual theory and now were finding a whole different understanding that's being used and what it says, as Roberts describe pejoratively. This scenario, the instruments did all while he who use them did nothing but look and repeat mechanically what he saw there reflected Bill that would seem to be the way that the LDS church membership has understood it over. I would say the past hundred years that Joseph Smith did see and repeated it word for word exactly the way he saw, but according to Roberts there was more to it than that in an earlier show. We were talking about BH, Roberts, and what Duffy calls the composed translation scenario on page 102 Duffy is going to explain what that really means in the popular scenario Smith read an English translation that appeared to him in the interpreters and Roberts knew scenario Smith compose the translation based on mental impressions he received from God and Robert scenario the language of the English translation originated with Smith not with the interpreters.

That distinction was crucial for Roberts because it explained quote the faulty English" that peppered the original edition of the book of Mormon. It also accounted Roberts argued quote for the sameness of phraseology and literary style which runs through the whole volume."

Even though the book of Mormon supposedly contains writings by multiple ancient authors. In other words, Roberts aim was apologetic.

He urged the LDS to abandon the idea of a red translation in favor of a composed translation in order to answer challenges to the book of Mormon's authenticity. Why would a revealed text contain faulty grammar. Why does the supposedly multi-author book have only want authorial voice Roberts answer because the language of the translation was Smith's own not a divine dictation. It's amazing how BH Roberts sees all this and even though the church had been quite content to go along with this, this red translation disease reading it off of the seer stone through the spectacles. Nobody seems to catch this until BH Roberts comes about. It seems and starts recognizing hey the way we've always understood it. We need to check that again because there's people out there that are reading this book of Mormon in the reading it more with a critical eye, not a faithful reading. As you might think.

Most Latter Day Saints are using in their starting to see problems and I think BH Roberts recognized the problems as well and I think Duffy is absolutely correct when he says that Roberts was wondering why would a revealed text contain faulty grammar, if he's reading the text off of the seer stone and he's saying what he sees on the stone and reading it to describe and the scribe has to read it back and it only changes when it's correct. When that include faulty grammar. Now I personally even though I'm critical of the book of Mormon.

I don't know if I would go quite that far into go into punctuation and things like that Mike does give them a pass on that. But I do have a problem when we find a comparison between a modern translation of the book of Mormon, and in 1830 translation we see words that are inserted and phrases that are changed while you might not have a problem with that bill.

But as we cited from Russell M. Nelson when he cited David Witmer's and addressed all believers in Christ. This is what Witmer said one character at a time would appear and under.

It was the interpretation and English built to me it sounds like it's character by character, so it would seem if he was getting it directly from God that there should not been any mistake, so I think what BH Roberts sees the problem and he has to come up with something different than what Witmer was saying it. Isn't it interesting when we are talking with some Latter Day Saints.

They always want to point out how the Bible was not transmitted accurately down through the years, but many Latter Day Saints tend to think that what they're reading now was what was in the 1830 edition I had many conversations with Latter Day Saints were not aware of all the significant differences between a modern translation in the 1930 edition when it first came out, the book of Mormon, then, is not a translation in the traditional sense of the word, because even today the LDS artwork has Joseph Smith translating by looking into the hat and the plates on the table are covered up so they're not even available to him. So it really is a miraculous translation if that's what you want to call it, but it's not a real translation that he's taking the actual words that were written on the place. He has to trust that God is giving him what those words are because he can't see it on the plates if they're covered up and it brings up the statement at the bottom of page 102 were John Charles Duffy says the main challenge to Robert scenario was that it contradicted accounts of the translation process left by 19th century witnesses, especially David Witmer and Martin Harris familiar to LDS readers as two of the three witnesses who attested that an angel had shown them the golden plates according to these accounts, Duffy says when Smith looked into the interpreters. He saw an English translation which would disappear once Smith had read the translation aloud in the scribe attested that it had been correctly recorded Witmer's account claimed even more specifically that the English translation of each character appeared to Smith directly beneath that character one character at a time so you could see why BH Roberts account is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way. Thank you for listening you would like more information regarding his research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website at you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research.

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