Monday, May 23, 2016

Art and Iconography 3

This post is a continuation of the material developed in the articles "Art and Iconography 1" and "Art and Iconography 2." A dominant theme in the Book of Mormon is resurrection of the dead.
Izapa monuments portray some of the most striking resurrection images ever created. Stela 1 has birth imagery in a heavenly setting.
Izapa Stela 1
 Sky Panel with Celestial Umbilical Cord
Norman 1973 Plate 2
Stela 3 depicts a journey toward post-mortality.
Izapa Stela 3
Dis-embodied Figure Ascending in a Boat
Norman 1973 Plate 6
Stela 9 also shows a figure ascending.
Izapa Stela 9
Winged Deity Bearing a Human Heavenward
Norman 1973 Plate 18
Stela 50 is unmistakable.
Izapa Stela 50
Winged Figure Rises on Umbilical Cord from Skeleton
Norman 1973 Plate 50

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Art and Iconography 2

This post is a continuation of the theme developed in the article "Art and Iconography 1." The story of Moses raising the brazen serpent as a type of Christ was important enough to Book of Mormon peoples that a variant of it appears at least seven times in the text. Eight narrative motifs are standardized across these relevant passages.

1 Nephi 17:41
a. flying serpents
b. bitten
c. healed
d. look, labor
h. rod of Moses

1 Nephi 19:10
b. crucified
e. lifted up
f. three days

2 Nephi 25:13
a. wings
b. crucify
c. healing, saved
e. rise from the dead
f. three days

2 Nephi 25:20
a. poisonous serpents
b. bitten
c. heal the nations
d. cast eyes upon
e. raise up
g. serpent

Alma 33:19-23
c. live, heal
d. look, casting about your eyes, behold
e. raised up
h. tree, springing up in you

Helaman 8:14-15
c. live
d. look
e. lifted up
g. brazen serpent

3 Nephi 27:14-15
d. draw men unto Christ, stand before Christ
e. lifted up
h. cross

Izapa Stela 25 has a fascinating version of all eight motifs blended with Popol Vuh mythology.
Izapa Stela 25
Norman 1973 Plate 42
First, the Popol Vuh connection. 1 is Seven Macaw, aka Principal Bird Deity. 2 is Hunahpu, one of the Hero Twins. 3 & 4 are Hunahpu's severed arm and the bleeding shoulder from which it was torn.
Izapa Stela 25 with Popol Vuh Motifs Identified
Next, the Book of Mormon connection. The letters a - h are the eight narrative motifs itemized above.
Izapa Stela 25 with Book of Mormon Motifs Identified
a. wings, feathers, serpent
b. figure is wounded, bitten, sacrificed
c. conch shell represents life, breath, birth, power over the earth monster
d. figure is looking at, drawn to, standing before the raised bird serpent
e. figure is raising, lifting up the bird serpent
f. three branches
g. serpent
h. crocodile morphs into a tree, rod, cross

Other aspects of this correlation:
  • The twined serpent evokes a vine as in 1 Nephi 15:15 and Alma 16:17. The arboreal green vine snake oxybelis fulgidus is native to the forests of Central America.
  • The headpiece on the Moses figure evokes the bird deity's tail implying a god/man relationship.
  • The "m" emblem inside a cartouche attached to the raised serpent's body is generally regarded as a Venus symbol as in Revelation 22:16.
  • Crocodile represents the earth, evil, and death as in 2 Nephi 9:10, 19, 26.
  • The crocodile's snout is under the ground panel denoting that he is a denizen of the waters under the earth as described in Mosiah 13:12.
  • The upward ascending scrolls above the small bird's head evoke the idea that the tree leads to eternal life as in Alma 32:41 and Alma 33:23.
  • The crocodile tree and the raised staff are parallel tracks, one temporal and the other spiritual as in 1 Nephi 15:32,  Alma 12:16, etc. Ten passages in the Book of Mormon discuss temporal/spiritual duality. See also the article "Kaminaljuyu" point no. 27.
  • The Book of Mormon links a rod and a tree 1 Nephi 8:19 as does the Pentateuch Numbers 17:8.
  • Jesus Christ has avian characteristics as in 3 Nephi 10:4-6 and 3 Nephi 25:2.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Art and Iconography 1

Texts shed the most light on the ancient world. They reconstruct to a small degree the words and word patterns that fell from the lips of the people who lived and died in that world. The next most important source of information from antiquity is art and iconography. Graphical and symbolic representations give us a visual picture of ancient life and belief systems. Artifacts offer the fewest insights. They are often quotidian rather than elite. Much of what they tell us comes from context which is frequently uncontrolled or even unknown. Important questions such as occurrence frequency and spatial distribution depend on large enough sample sizes to achieve statistical significance. Function is often ambiguous. Recall the famous quip among archaeologists that "if you don't know what something was used for, call it a ritual object."

Given the fragmentary nature of archaeological data, find frequencies are in inverse proportion to importance. In the Maya world, for example, we have millions of artifacts, tens of thousands of art objects, and only a few thousand texts. Those same ratios are typical of ancient high cultures worldwide.

The Book of Mormon is a text. It sheds vast light on the ancient world. It reconstructs to a small degree the words and word patterns that fell from the lips of remarkable people such as Nephi, Alma, Helaman, Mormon, and Moroni. Some articles on this blog have productively compared it with other ancient texts. See for example:
Notable for it absence on the list above is Popol Vuh, generally recognized as the most important ancient Maya text currently available. Stay tuned. One of the reasons Popol Vuh is so highly regarded is that echoes of and references to its creation myth are found widely throughout Mesoamerica. See the article "Iconographic Corroboration of Quichean Texts."

In the last 40 years, decipherment of written Mayan has advanced rapidly. Fundamental resources in this effort have been the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions (CMHI) at Harvard and Justin Kerr's database of rollout photography. Epigraphers' ability to read Maya texts has enabled art historians to interpret carved monuments, painted pottery, sculpted figurines, etc. with increasing confidence.

This series of articles will not compare the Book of Mormon text with other texts. It will compare the Book of Mormon text with the second most important category of ancient data - artistic and iconographic images. You can read a National Geographic article or you can look at the images and read the captions. This presentation is like the latter.

Sources for the images are listed in order of first publication.

1973 V. Garth Norman, Izapa Sculpture Part 1: Album, Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation No. 30 (Provo, UT: BYU NWAF)

1976 V. Garth Norman, Izapa Sculpture Part 2: Text, Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation No. 30 (Provo, UT: BYU NWAF)

1986 Lee Allen Parsons, The Origins of Maya Art: Monumental Stone Sculpture of Kaminaljuyui, Guatemala, and the Southern Pacific Coast, Studies in Pre-Columbian Art & Archaeology No. 28 (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection)

2006 Julia Guernsey, Ritual & Power in Stone: The Performance of Rulership in Mesoamerican Izapan Style Art (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press)

2010 Julia Guernsey, John E. Clark, Barbara Arroyo, editors, The Place of Stone Monuments: Context, Use, and Meaning in Mesoamerica's Preclassic Transition (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection)

2012 V. Garth Norman, Izapa Sacred Space: Sculpture Calendar Codex (American Fork, UT: ARCON, Inc.)

2013 Lucia Ross Henderson, Bodies Politic, Bodies in Stone: Imagery of the Human and the Divine in the Sculpture of Late Preclassic Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala (PhD dissertation, UT Austin). Dozens of parallels between the Book of Mormon and Henderson's excellent description of ancient life are in the article "Kaminaljuyu."

1 Nephi 10:8 Shoes had latchets which are thongs or laces.
Shoes with Latchets Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 67
Henderson 2013 p. 621
--
2 Nephi 9:26 Breath symbolized life and resurrection.
Breath Bead Symbolizing Life and Resurrection by Nose
Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 10
Parsons 1986 Fig. 175 
--
2 Nephi 13:21 Some people wore nose ornaments.
Nose Ornament Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 24
Henderson 2013 p. 612
--
2 Nephi 17:20 In the genetic population from which Book of Mormon peoples migrated men grew full beards.
Heavily Bearded Figure Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 8
Henderson 2013 Fig. 25 b
--
Enos 1:20 Lamanites wore a short skin girdle about their loins.
Girdle Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 65
Henderson 2013 p. 619
--
Enos 1:20 Weapons included axes and clubs Mosiah 9:16.
Ax or Club Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 24
Henderson 2013 p. 612
--
Mosiah 2:3 Nephites made burnt offerings in a sacral context.
Burnt Offerings on Incensarios Izapa Stela 24
Norman 1973 plate 40
Another representation.
Burnt Offering on Bound Altar
Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 169
Henderson 2013 p. 648
--
Mosiah 8:10 Book of Mormon peoples wore breastplates in battle.
Breastplate Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 54
Henderson 2013 Fig. 13 e
--
Mosiah 17:13 Abinadi was bound, his skin was scourged (the Yale 2009 text reads "scorched") with burning faggots, and this excruciating torture resulted in his death.
Torture by Faggots
Figurine from Campeche
Henderson 2013 Fig. 29 a-b 
--
Mosiah 27:6 Nephites conceived of their world as divided into four quarters, each oriented to one of the cardinal directions.

Quatrefoil Denoting Spatial Directionality
La Blanca Monument 3
Henderson 2013 Fig. 150 d 
Alma 17:20 Captives were bound.
Bound Captive Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 65
Henderson 2013 p. 619
--
Alma 47:23 A hand gesture had symbolic meaning.
Hand Gesture Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 65
Henderson 2013 p. 619
--
Alma 60:7 Rulers sat on thrones.
Ruler Sitting on Throne Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 65
Henderson 2013 p. 619

--
Helaman 11:13 Rain is under divine control.
Rain Gods Pouring Water out of Vessels Madrid Codex p. 27
Henderson 2013 Fig. 85
--
Mormon 4:14 Lamanites sacrificed Nephite children.
Baby in Offering Bowl Justin Kerr #K4384
Henderson 2013 Fig. 40 b
--
Mormon 9:32 Nephites wrote using Egyptian-like characters.
Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 10 Lower Text
Henderson 2013 Fig. 10 g
--
Ether 2:2 Jaredites carried fish in a vessel.
Fish Carried in a Vessel Tikal Temple I Carved Bone
Drawing by John Montgomery
Guernsey, Clark, Arroyo 2010 p. 210 
--
Ether 2:24 Wind emanates from the mouth of God.
Animate Wind Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 14
Henderson 2013 Fig. 146 b
--
Ether 6:10 Jaredites encountered whales on their transoceanic journey.
Whale Depiction Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 10 Upper Text
Henderson 2013 Fig. 9 d
--
Ether 9:5 Akish decapitated his father-in-law, Jared, in a violent coup.
Severed Head in Offering Bowl Justin Kerr #K759
Henderson 2013 Fig. 34 a
--
Ether 14:28 Trumpets were used by military forces at the time of the Jaredite collapse.
Wind Instrument Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 75
Henderson 2013 Fig. 21
--
This theme is continued in the article "Art and Iconography 2."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Smoking Gun

An impressive book provides smoking gun evidence to help us resolve the Book of Mormon New World correlation conundrum.
Smoking Gun: Scientific Evidence Highly
Favoring a Particular Theory

Shutterstock Licensed Image
The book is entitled Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea. It was co-published in 2010 by Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) and Yale University Press. Editors are Daniel Finamore of PEM and Stephen D. Houston of Brown University. Houston was on the BYU Anthropology Faculty for a number of years earlier in his career. Like David Stuart, he is a Macarthur Fellow, recipient of a so-called "genius grant."
Significant Book on the Maya and the Sea
The book accompanied a major museum exhibition displayed at PEM (Salem, MA) and the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX) in 2010 followed by the Saint Louis Art Museum (St. Louis, MO) in 2011. Contributors to the volume are a veritable who's who of contemporary Maya scholars. Pieces in the exhibit came from major museums in Europe and the Americas. Page numbers in this article refer to Fiery Pool unless otherwise indicated.

No place in the ancient Maya world was more than 260 kilometers (160 miles) from the open ocean.
Circle with 258 Kilometer Radius
The sea was a much larger presence in daily life and thought among the Maya than has heretofore been recognized. Fiery Pool was revisionist - it precipitated a revolution of sorts in our understanding of the Maya marine worldview (p. 6).

The sea loomed large in the daily life and thought of the Nephites. This list ranks various ecological features by the number of verses in the text that mention them. Features where at least some of the passages refer to the sea are highlighted in yellow.
  • 212 wilderness
  • 123 water & waters
  • 81 sea
  • 68 borders
  • 43 mountain
  • 41 river
  • 36 valley
  • 34 hill
  • 24 seashore
  • 19 mount
  • 13 forest
  • 9 waves
  • 8 deep (as a noun)
  • 8 plain (as a noun)
  • 3 thicket
  • 2 shore
  • 2 grass
  • 1 beach
  • 1 grove
This  smoking gun evidence says Book of Mormon lands are in a location - such as Mesoamerica - where the culture exhibits strong maritime influence.
--
The Maya believed some of their ancestors originally came from across the sea (p. 15). The Book of Mormon chronicles 3 migrations that originally came from across the sea 1 Nephi 18:23, Omni 1:15,
Ether 6:12.
--
The Maya believed they were surrounded by the sea (p. 15). Mormon wrote that the land southward was nearly surrounded by water Alma 22:32. If you trace the coastline and land bridges of the land mass east of the Coatzacoalcos and west of the Ulua (rougthly the area inside the circle on the map below) 88% of the littoral is salt water ocean and 12% is dry land.
Maya Area Nearly Surrounded by Water
This smoking gun evidence says Book of Mormon lands are in a place - such as Mesoamerica - where most horizons look seaward.
--
The Maya conceived of the earth as a turtle or crocodile floating on the sea (pp. 210-112).
Kaminaljuyu Sculpture 2, the Earth Crocodile
Drawings by Lucia Henderson
The Book of Mormon peoples envisioned themselves inhabiting an isle of the sea 2 Nephi 10:21.

This smoking gun evidence says Book of Mormon lands are in a watery environment - such as Mesoamerica - with coastal characteristics.
--
The Maya identified four seas, one in each of the four cardinal directions (pp. 15, 204, 212-213).
The Nephites identified four seas, one in each of the four cardinal directions Helaman 3:8.
Seas North, South, East & West According to the
January, 2010 Book of Mormon Lands Map
This smoking gun evidence contradicts those who interpret some of the seas in Helaman 3:8 as metaphorical rather than actual bodies of water. For more on bodies of water in each of the four cardinal directions, see the article "Quichean Directionality."
--
Now things get really interesting. The Maya and other ancient Mesoamericans were unequivocal in their identification of the east sea - it was the Caribbean along the coasts of Guatemala, Belize, and Quintana Roo - the sea from which the sun rises. This is the sea called the fiery pool because of its solar association.This is the sea whose color was red, the eastern color. This is the sea that symbolized fertility and abundance because the Maya believed rain came from the east (pp. 204, 212, 214-215).

This smoking gun evidence favors maps by Ric Hauck, Joe and Blake Allen, Shelby Saberon, Elder Clate Mask, Jr., and Kirk Magleby (this blog), all of whom correlate the east sea with the Caribbean. It casts serious doubt on maps by Garth Norman and Aric Turner, both of whom wrap the east sea up around the Yucatan Peninsula and down into the Gulf of Mexico. It all but eliminates John Sorenson's model which correlates the east sea with the western portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
--
The Maya viewed the world as divided into four quarters oriented to the cardinal and intercardinal points (pp. 204, 212-213).
Cardinal and Intercardinal Points
Here are three Maya depictions of this quadripartite concept from Fiery Pool p. 213.
Earth Turtles Divided into Four Quarters
From left to right, these images are from the Book of the Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Mayapan, and Kaminaljuyu. All drawings by Karl A. Taube.

The Book of Mormon mentions quarters of the land fourteen times e.g. Alma 52:10.

This smoking gun evidence favors maps by Ric Hauck, Joe and Blake Allen, Aric Turner, Garth Norman, Shelby Saberon, Elder Clate Mask, Jr., and Kirk Magleby (this blog), all of whom correlate the directions north, south, east and west in the Book of Mormon with the solar-derived cardinal directions. It repudiates John Sorenson's much-maligned attempt to skew the cardinal directions. In the words of Mark Wright, an accomplished Mesoamericanist on the BYU Religion Faculty, "Rio Azul Tomb 12 is determinant." Karl Taube in Fiery Pool agrees (p. 204). Rio Azul Tomb 12 on its four walls displays the Maya glyphs for the four directions all in their correct orientation.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Obsidian Trade Patterns

Mark Golitko and Gary Feinman are affiliated with the Field Museum in Chicago. They have a long-time interest in obsidian (volcanic glass) because it was widely traded throughout Mesoamerica, there are a limited number of sources, and individual specimens can be chemically traced back to their source. This allows the creation of accurate, although not necessarily comprehensive trade maps. Golitko and Feinman recently published an article entitled "Procurement and Distribution of Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican Obsidian 900 BC - AD 1520: a Social Network Analysis" in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (2015) 22:206-247. This is the first time a pan-Mesoamerica map of obsidian trade patterns based on statistically significant sample sizes has been attempted. Actually, the article has 6 maps by time period:
  • Middle Preclassic (900 - 300 BC) This was the end of the Jaredites and the beginning of the Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites.
  • Late Preclassic (250 BC - AD 250) Most of the Book of Mormon narrative occurred during this era.
  • Early to Middle Classic (AD 300 - 600) This was the end of the Nephites and the fluorescence of the Lamanites, Teotihuacan apogee.
  • Late Classic (AD 600 - 900) Maya fluorescence.
  • Early Postclassic (AD 900 - 1200) Widespread collapse, Toltec resurgence.
  • Late Postclassic (AD 1200 - 1520) Aztec empire.
These maps are based on large data sets derived from hundreds of individual archaeological investigations, so the data is difficult to impugn. There is bias toward sites that have had lithic analysis performed, but almost everyone nowadays does lithics when they dig a site. The fascinating results generally corroborate the January 2016 Book of Mormon Lands Map.

This is the Golitko/Feinman map of obsidian sources.
Mesoamerican Obsidian Outcroppings
And this is their map of trading activity in the Middle Preclassic (900 - 300 BC) with the proposed city of Nephi (Kaminaljuyu - See the article "Kaminaljuyu") #1, John L. Sorenson's proposed Zarahemla (Santa Rosa) #2, and Garth Norman's proposed Zarahemla (Nueva Esperanza - Calatraba) #3 identified. Darker lines represent stronger trading relationships.
Mesoamerican Obsidian Trade 900 - 300 BC
Nephi (Kaminaljuyu) #1
Sorenson's Zarahemla (Santa Rosa) #2
Norman's Zarahemla (Nueva Esperanza - Calatraba) #3
Culturally:
  • People were trading between points hundreds of kilometers distant from each other.
  • The Isthmus of Tehuantepec was a cultural boundary.
  • Olmec influence was stronger in the Mezcalapa - Grijalva drainage basin than in the Usumacinta basin.
  • People moved between highland Guatemala and the Maya lowlands via the Salama Valley and the Pasion River drainage.
  • The Pacific coast of Chiapas (Soconusco) was a very active trade corridor.
  • The Tuxtla Mountains region was important.
These are likely Book of Mormon implications:
  • Movement between the proposed land of first inheritance along the Pacific coast of Chiapas and the proposed land of Nephi in highland Guatemala is well attested.
  • The proposed land northward/land southward boundary along the Coatzacoalcos works well with this data.  
  • The isolation narrative where the Nephites in Nephi and the Mulekites in Zarahemla were unaware of each other's existence during this time period works for Norman's Zarahemla. It is contradicted by the data for Sorenson's Zarahemla.
  • The Coriantumr as a stranger narrative where no one among the Mulekites could read his stone stela during this time period works to some extent for Norman's Zarahemla. It is contradicted by the data for Sorenson's Zarahemla.
  • The Jaredites fought their final battle in the Tuxtla Mountain region near the end of this time period.
Based on Middle Preclassic obsidian trade patterns, Norman's candidate could have been Zarahemla. Sorenson's candidate is highly unlikely to have been Zarahemla. (Parenthetically, Hauck's candidate, Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, is simply out of the question.)

Moving on to the Late Preclassic (250 BC - AD 250) the map looks very different.
Mesoamerican Obsidian Trade 250 BC - AD 250
Culturally:
  • The Olmec were gone.
  • The Mezcalapa - Grijalva drainage had become marginalized into a hinterland. Not much happening along the Gulf Coast or Yucatan.
  • Highland Guatemala continued strong ties with the Maya lowlands including the Caribbean coast.
  • The Pacific coast of Chiapas (Soconosco) was still an active trade corridor.
  • Kaminaljuyu had declined in importance.
  • The Maya west around Palenque had come on strong.
  • Most of the action was east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
  • Major activity between the Usumacinta and the Caribbean.
Likely Book of Mormon implications:
  • The Jaredites were gone.
  • The Mezcalapa - Grijalva drainage, the Gulf Coast, and Yucatan were big blank spots on the map according to the January 2016 Book of Mormon Lands Model.
  • Travel and communication between the greater land of Nephi (highland Guatemala) and the greater land of Zarahemla (southern Maya lowlands) had become routine.
  • Lamanites in large numbers lived in former Nephite lands in the land southward.
  • Zarahemla (Palenque region) rose in importance.
  • The Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites were beginning to settle the land northward, but most of the action was still in the land southward.
  • Settlements were located from the central Sidon corridor to the east sea. 
Norman's Zarahemla fits beautifully in this scenario. Sorenson's Zarahemla does not fit at all. (Hauck's Zarahemla is a poor fit.)

The Early to Middle Classic map looks like this:
Mesoamerican Obsidian Trade AD 300 - 600
Culturally: 
  • The Maya were ascending toward apogee.
  • The Valley of Oaxaca was coming on strong.
  • Teotihuacan was an influence across the entire region.
  • The upper Mezcalapa - Grijalva was experiencing a resurgence, although the middle and lower reaches of the drainage system remained a hinterland.
  • Still not much along the Gulf Coast or in Yucatan.
  • The Tuxtla Mountains area had become important again.
  • The Pacific coast of Chiapas remained a major communication route.
  • The area around Los Horcones became strategic.
Likely Book of Mormon implications:
  • The Nephites established a significant presence in the city of Desolation (Los Horcones - Tonala area).
  • From there they went to the land of Cumorah (Tuxtla Mountains area).
  • The Nephites could not flee northward past Cumorah because Teotihuacan blocked their escape. They were caught in a vise.
  • Major blank spots on the Nephite map were the Gulf Coast and Yucatan.
Any of the three possible Zarahemlas would fit the data during this time period.
Conclusion: Norman's proposed Zarahemla is the only location that fits the obsidian trade pattern data well in all three time periods. The January 2016 Book of Mormon Lands Map uses Norman's Zarahemla. This data strongly corroborates our proposed Book of Mormon map at many points and on many levels.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Translations

On this day in history, Sunday, April 5, 1829, Oliver Cowdery met Joseph Smith for the first time. The place was Harmony (modern Oakland), Pennsylvania. The most intense portion of the translation miracle was about to unfold beginning with our current Book of Mosiah.
Oliver Cowdery as an Attorney in the 1840's
Image from the Library of Congress
The dynamic duo of Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack have been rapidly strengthening their theory of divine tight control over the Book of Mormon translation process. In their view, Joseph read words that appeared in the seer stone and was not at liberty to articulate thoughts in his own vernacular. Brant Gardner continues to advocate a theory of loose control that gives Joseph much more leeway to express thoughts in his own words. Jack Welch, Dan Peterson, and other Book of Mormon scholars are now lining up firmly behind Skousen/Carmack as the six eye witness accounts of the translation process become more widely known and as evidence for Early Modern English in the 1829 text continues to accumulate.

The loose control theory has been convenient for scholars because it gives them freedom to interpret and even manipulate the text to suit their purposes. One of the arguments the loose control camp makes is that the title page calls Joseph Smith the translator of the record and in order to be a translator in the modern sense he must have freedom to express translated meaning in his own vocabulary. This suggests an interesting question. The word "translate" appears in the Book of Mormon. How did Nephite record keepers describe the translation process?

King Limhi semantically linked the phrase "interpret languages" Mosiah 8;6 with the word "translate" Mosiah 8:11. Therefore, the instrument called "interpreters" in the text Mosiah 8:13, Alma 37:21 could also have been called "translators." The same interpreters possessed by Mosiah2,
Alma2, and Helaman1 were delivered by Moroni to Joseph Smith Ether 4:5. Moroni equates the process of interpretation with the instrument Ether 4:5.

And what did the ancient Nephite prophets do to interpret or translate? They looked which is why they were called seers Mosiah 8:13. Was the translation done through natural means? No. It was a miracle, a high gift from God Mosiah 8:14 and the person possessing the gift was a revelator Mosiah 8:16. Mosiah 8 is clearly intertextual with D&C 107:92 and D&C 124:125 which refer to Joseph Smith.

The Book of Mormon says the interpreters were two stones which performed the work of translation Mosiah 28:13. So, it is not surprising that the text also mentions Joseph Smith's seer stone Alma 37:23 which shone forth in the darkness of the prophet's hat.

The Book of Mormon sense of the word "translate" is to change from one state to another via supernatural power as in Ether 15:34. Joseph translated using the gift and power of god Title Page just as Mosiah1 had done Omni 1:20 approximately 2,000 years earlier. They both looked into a stone or stones and perceived divinely rendered words - i.e. tight control.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Conference Art #LDSconf

Book of Mormon Central tried an experiment during the recently completed General Conference. As speakers quoted from or made significant mention of the Book of Mormon we posted a meme on Facebook and Twitter using the #LDSconf hashtag. We missed some, but ended up with 17 memes. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.

Mary R. Durham, Saturday morning session.
3 Nephi 26
Kevin R. Duncan, Saturday morning session a.
Jacob 3:1
Kevin R. Duncan, Saturday morning session b.
Alma 18:32
Dale G. Renlund, Saturday morning session.
1 Nephi 1:20, 1 Nephi 8:8
Ronald A. Rasband, Saturday afternoon session a.
Mosiah 18:8,9
Ronald A. Rasband, Saturday afternoon session b.
1 Nephi 8, Jacob 1:17, 1 Nephi 8:12 et al.
Jairo Mazzarardi, Saturday afternoon session.
Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
David A. Bednar, Saturday afternoon session.
Mosiah 4:11
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Priesthood session.
4 Nephi 1
Bonnie L. Oscarson, Sunday morning session a.
1 Nephi 8
Bonnie L. Oscarson, Sunday morning session b.
1 Nephi 8
W. Christopher Waddell, Sunday morning session.
1 Nephi 2:13 et al.
Gerrit W. Gong, Sunday afternoon session a.
2 Nephi 29:14
Gerrit W. Gong, Sunday afternoon session b.
T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding V, 1943
Dallin H. Oaks, Sunday afternoon session a.
2 Nephi 2:11
Dallin H. Oaks, Sunday afternoon session b.
2 Nephi 28:20-22
Jeffrey R. Holland, Sunday afternoon session.
Alma 36:18
And finally, these are the hands of a lovely Beehive from Grantsville, Utah.
Smile from 2 Nephi 9:39
Photo by Ryan Magleby, April 3, 2016
The last five words of this verse are:
  • Spiritually
  • Minded
  • Is
  • Life
  • Eternal