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Showing posts from June, 2015

Oliver Cowdery's Failed Attempt at Translation: Notes From the Earliest Manuscript

Doctrine and Covenants, section 9, is one of my favorite set of scriptures. The following post is a quotation of Royal Skousen, found HERE, which I think sheds light on the circumstances surrounding that revelation:
"Another kind of evidence for the length of dictation can be seen in a change of scribe found in Alma 45:22 of O; Oliver Cowdery (OC) suddenly stops acting as scribe and Joseph Smith (JS) himself takes over the scribe's task for twenty-eight words:
OC:  . . . therefore Helaman & his Brethren went forth to establish the church again in all the land JS: yea in every citty throughout all the land which was possessed by the people of Nephi and it came to pass that they did appoint priests and teachers OC: throughout all the land over all the churches . . .
These twenty-eight words in Joseph Smith's hand are written very carefully. And except for one spelling variant (citty), all the extant words are spelled according to standard orthography.
One possible expl…

King Lamoni and Xibalba

One of the strangest exchanges in the Book of Mormon, strange to us, takes place between Ammon  and King Lamoni, in Alma 18. Having finally gained his attention and the opportunity to teach him the true religion, Ammon and Lamoni have the following exchange:
And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth? 

And he said: Yea, I believe that he created all things which are in the earth; but I do not know the heavens. 

And Ammon said unto him: The heavens is a place where God dwells and all his holy angels. And king Lamoni said: Is it above the earth? 

And Ammon said: Yea, and he looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart; for by his hand were they all created from the beginning.
Using Mayan texts to illuminate the Book of Mormon, the way a student of Hebrew Bible might use Akkadian texts, Lamoni's ignorance of the location of "the heavens…

The Nephite Sacred Bundle

Sacred bundles, which generally contain the ritual paraphernalia of a cult, were among the most sacred object of the Aztecs, and some of the other Mesoamerican peoples, as well as the Plains and Pueblo Indians. There where individual bundles held by priest-shamans, and there were institutional bundels held by tribes, clans, ceremonial organizations and villages. The institutional bundles were brought by the tribe on it's migration to the present locale and formed the focus of the group's commonality"(1).

"The textual histories that record the Mexica migration often mention the presence of Huitzilipochtli's sacred bundle and its importance in directing the progress of the journey. The bundle(tlaquimilolli) of Huitzilipochtli appears throughout the pictorial migration in the Codex Azcatitlan" as a man's head, topped by a humming bird head.(2). Huitzilipochtli's sacred bundle was supposedly passed on through the generations and was spirited away from it…

The Interweaving of Allusions: Moroni's Construction of Scripture

Probably, the best book ever written on the Book of Mormon is: Understanding the Book of Mormon, by Grant Hardy. It's published by Oxford University Press, so it's written with an academic tone and not a devotional one. I highly recommend it; the following are two of my favorite passages, on Ether, chapters 9 then 12:

"The borrowings here are not random: all of Nephi's come from the final chapter of his second book, with most (again) deriving from his prophecies of the latter days in 2Nephi 25-28, while Mormons are taken from his own late writings (3 Ne. 29-30; Morm. 5) and from his one extant sermon (included later by Moroni in Moro. 7). Again, it appears that Moroni is not so much composing this conclusion as constructing it, extracting phrases from particular texts by Nephi and Mormon in order to weave them together and thereby unify the voices of these two illustrious predecessors."
"Finally, in section IV, Moroni brings this second conclusion to its en…

Gidgiddoni: Brass Plates in the North Kingdom?

John Gee and Matt Roper have pointed out the existance of the non-biblical Book of Mormon name, Gidgiddoni, in Neo-Assyrian texts, the same Assyria mentioned so many times in the Bible.
As they note, "The simplest explanation is that an Assyrian individual with the name Gidgiddanu was mentioned in the brass plates. This was then the source of the name for this particular military leader several centuries later." They also explain that the a is long, an important fact since Assyrian(Akkadian) long a becomes o in Hebrew. Cuneiform does not have an o sound thus various strategies are used to reproduce it. 
What's fascinating about this is that the Assyrians conquered and dispersed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722BC. By 600BC, Lehi, a Mannasehite, and Ishmael, an Emphraimite, are living at Jerusalem thus indicating that they and Laban, a fellow Josephite, were descended from northern refugees who fled down to Judea. What's more, Lehi's genealogy was recorded on …