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Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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April 29, 2021 9:40 pm

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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April 29, 2021 9:40 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.

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Be sure to pick up your copy today at your favorite Christian bookstore viewpoint on Mormonism program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism 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 so glad to be with us for this additional viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at M.

R. M. Order finishing up our look at chapter 4 in the book of the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement. A chapter that deals with how the book of Mormon was allegedly translated now as we mentioned when we began this series were not trying to be exhausted by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're interested in more regarding what John Charles Duffy, the author of this particular chapter has to say about the book of Mormon and how it was translated. I would strongly encourage you to get this book.

The LDS gospel topics series. There's a lot of good information and as we said earlier, there is a lot of information that even could be used in a witnessing scenario when talking to LDS members about the book of Mormon and perhaps how they believe the book of Mormon came forth on page 120. It mentions the speech that Russell M. Nelson gave in 1992 that ended up being an article in the July 1993 & magazine having to do with how the book of Mormon was translated was titled a treasured testament now. In that speech. As we mention Russell M. Nelson cited word for word the testimony of David Witmer who was one of the three witnesses and David Witmer gave this account in a booklet he wrote in 1887 titled and addressed all believers in Christ.

Why is that important because in that testimony. David Witmer says very clearly that Joseph Smith used a seer stone and a hat and that Joseph Smith read characters off of the seer stone to a scribe who, when read back correctly.

The wording went on to the next set of characters. This is what is come to be known as the red translation not a lot of margin for error if that's how the book of Mormon really came about and that's what many Latter Day Saints really do believe will now in the book is not only going to mention Russell M. Nelson in the speech that he gave but he's going to talk about an essay that was written by another Mormon apostle, an apostle by the name of Neil Maxwell who Duffy says on page 121, Maxwell held degrees in political science and had been a university administrator prior to his call to the 12.

He goes on and says, as an apostle. Maxwell was an important supporter of farms foundation for ancient research and Mormon studies which readers may recall, became part of a center at BYU name for Maxwell after the apostles death. Maxwell was more aware than Nelson of the problems with the witnesses accounts of the translation process as evident in an essay, Maxwell published in the end sign in 1997 we should insert here Eric that this is 1997 Nelson stock was in 1992 and published in July 1993, so there's a few years gap there. You would think though I find Duffy's conclusion. Curious because he's assuming that Maxwell disagrees with Nelson, but I don't know if that is totally the case maybe. Maybe I'm missing something but go on, what is he say Maxwell's essay attempted to reconcile arguments for the red translation and compose translation scenarios in support of a red translation. Maxwell quoted from the three witnesses to establish that Smith had read the English translation as it appeared in the interpreters. Maxwell did not, however, quote the portions of these witnesses statements that asserted what scouts and called quote unquote ironclad control, no royal scales and is a BYU professor and he is the head of the book of Mormon critical text project when royal scales and was asked how many changes there are in the book of Mormon.

This is what he said I don't know for sure, and I'll tell you why it's hard to count them in my computerized collation of the two manuscripts and 20 significant editions of the book of Mormon. I can count the number of places of variation there places where there's a textual variant. The variant itself can involve spelling, punctuation, words missing or added a grammatical change, and so on. In all, he said there are about 105,000 places of variation in the computerized collation. I find that statement interesting because many Mormons like to point out how Bart Ehrman wants to say that there are over 400,000 variations in the New Testament alone. So here we have scouts in saying that we have for the book of Mormon.

He adds that that there's about 105,000 places of variation in what he calls the computerized collation goes on and says Maxwell did not quote the witnesses claims that the translation remained on display until correctly recorded.

Furthermore, Maxwell hedged on the reliability of the witness's claims by noting that two of the witnesses never use the interpreters themselves and by twice prefacing his conclusions with a qualifying if, as in this example, quote if these reports are accurate. They suggest a process indicative of God's having given Joseph site and power to translate." Despite the cautionary if the thrust of Maxwell statement was to affirm that the witnesses descriptions are consistent with the scriptural statement about the book of Mormon translation, thereby lending credence to the witnesses red translation claims. When I read this Eric. It appears that some point, almost sound like it's self refuting.

The hike is Maxwell supporting what Nelson said or does Maxwell disagree with what Nelson has said or years earlier. I don't know if I could put a whole lot into Maxwell's using the word if in the example that's given is if these reports are accurate. They suggest a process indicative of God's having given Joseph site and power to translate. I could see Maxwell using the word and still agreeing with the traditional understanding of what's known as a red translation that Joseph Smith did in fact do what David Witmer said he did, that would be where we get this I could be missing this that Maxwell really disagreed with what Nelson was saying.

I think it would probably be a little bit dangerous being only a few years after Russell M. Nelson cites David Witmer's account to come out and just flat out contradict him and say, well, Nelson got it all wrong. So I don't know if I place the same kind of strength in the word if that John Charles Duffy places and it but I do find it interesting that he does conclude that Maxwell was lending credence to the idea of the book of Mormon was translated in this reading scenario that he was reading characters off of the seer stone or off the plates through the urine, the spectacles that were buried with the gold plates so I think were right back to a very traditional understanding of how the book of Mormon was translated and of course, as Duffy has admitted that is the scenario that appears to be the official version now whether the scholars like it or not, they are now the outliers, you might say because these essays are in fact supported by the church. The church even though there is no general authority involved in the writing of any of these essays that we know of because they're all anonymous and it doesn't appear that general authorities were involved in but still, the church leadership has commended the essays to the membership to read them and know what's inside of them because as I would probably be correct in understanding this is the position of the church as it is today.

Page 123 he says this.

If we read the LDS church's gospel topic essay as an invention in this century long LDS dispute over how the book of Mormon was translated on which side does the essay come down answer the essay squarely endorses a tightly controlled red translation without even acknowledging the existence of other scenarios. According to quote virtually all of the accounts of the translation process" left by witnesses.

The gospel topics essay declares quote Joseph read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument." One of the historical tax. The essay quotes to support this assertion is an account attributed to Martin Harris.

As recently as Stephen rex in 1993.

Advocates of the compose translation scenario had contended that this particular account was problematic because one Harris was describing something he had not seen for himself to he was describing events, 50 years after the fact and three. His words had been preserved in a secondhand report without acknowledging these problems or earlier LDS scholars reservations. The authors of the gospel topics essay except the Harris account as support for their red translation scenario.

However, the essay ends its quotation from Harris literally just before the point at which that source claimed that the interpreters left an English translation on display until accurately recorded that his essay the authors of the gospel topics essay present the Harris statement as reliable insofar as a statement supports the contention that Smith read an English translation, but they omit the statements claim in support of what royal scales and called and quote unquote ironclad control theory of translation Neil Maxwell in 1997 had selectively quoted that her statement to the same effect. And I guess like I guess it all is in the eyes of the beholder. If Duffy wants to take that as being a really big deal. I don't know if I'm quite there. Bill toward the end of the essay on page 129 at the bottom. Duffy says this. What does the gospel topics essay portend for the future.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Richard bushman, who we saw favored a red translation reported his impression that the expansion scenario was attracting more more fairly faithful church members will the gospel topics essay lead such members to feel alienated from the church. What about LDS who subscribed to a compose translation scenario such as that promoted in the end sign as recently as the 1970s. The fact that the gospel topics essay came down on the side of the red translation scenario does not rule out the possibility that the compose translation scenario will continue to thrive among LDS intellectuals is even possible that the compose translation scenario will continue to find its way into church publications the gospel topics essay intervenes in the century long dispute over book of Mormon translation on behalf of the red translation scenario, but that does not mean the LDS at large will grasp that this is what the essay has done, nor that they will follow. Nevertheless, the gospel topics essay represents an institutional victory for theological conservatives who see the expansion scenario and even the compose translation scenario as insufficiently faithful to the testimony of the miraculous left by Smith and his associates but the fact remains, folks, there certainly have been differences of opinion, not only between LDS scholars and their general authorities. But even differences of opinion between general authorities. So what is a Latter Day Saints supposed to believe that becomes a little bit tricky. You would think, however, if a Latter Day Saints is going to believe this particular gospel topics essay regarding the translation. It sounds like they have to go with the traditional red translation theory. Thank you for listening you would like more information regarding this research ministry.

We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint is


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