What is the New Testament Doing in the Book of Mormon? Intertextuality in the Book of Mormon with Nick Frederick

Another great podcast:

http://www.ldsperspectives.com/2018/08/22/intertextuality-book-mormon/

In this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast, Laura Harris Hales interviews scholar Nicholas (Nick) J. Frederick about New Testament intertextuality in the Book of Mormon.

As an undergraduate classics major at BYU, Frederick became interested in studying Book of Mormon intertextuality. He wanted to discuss with other scholars what he was finding but encountered resistance from those who thought he was attacking the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Further frustration came as he realized that the few resources on the topic were primarily written by critics of the Book of Mormon arguing against historicity. Their research was overreaching and didn’t address how these New Testament elements were functioning within the text.

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Frederick, who has since written a dissertation, book, and articles on the topic, hopes to expand the discussion of the New Testament elements in the Book of Mormon beyond that of simply whether they speak to historicity. That the New Testament can be found in the Book of Mormon is undeniable, but some might struggle with the notion of the New Testament as an antecedent text. Frederick suggests that we negotiate this roadblock by untethering the gold plates from the 19th century English document that we call the Book of Mormon because they are “two different texts that are related through translation.” Moving past the issue of why these passages are in the Book of Mormon to how the Book of Mormon affirms, comments on, corrects, and reimagines the New Testament is an important and fascinating discussion.

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Unfortunately identifying common phrases isn’t as simple as it would seem. Sometimes there are direct quotations, such as from the Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi—though even there Frederick discusses the fascinating influence of John’s gospel on quotations from Matthew. But the presence of the New Testament is often subtle. He explains that the Book of Mormon will “carefully weave these New Testament passages into the larger text,” so the interdependence does not readily stand out to the casual reader. The Book of Mormon seems to masterfully deconstruct and reconstruct New Testament concepts and phrases for its own purposes.

In an attempt to broaden the discussion, Frederick proposes a methodology for determining the probability of intertextuality, which goes beyond simply identifying common phrases. He adds four additional criteria to solidify connections. Through multiple examples, Dr. Frederick shows us how intertextual studies can enrich our study of the Book of Mormon.

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About Our Guest: Nicholas J. Frederick served a mission in Brussels, Belgium, then attended BYU where he received his BA in classics and his MA in comparative studies. He then attended Claremont Graduate University, where he completed a PhD in the history of Christianity with an emphasis in Mormon studies, after which he returned to work at BYU. His research focuses primarily on the intertextual relationship between the text of the Bible and Mormon scripture.  He enjoys teaching courses on the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, particularly the writings of Paul and the Book of Revelation.

Joseph Smith’s Treasure Hunting, Emma, Seer Stones, and Tumbaga

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General background on Joseph and the seer stones here.

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Josiah Stowell’s nephew filed a suit against Joseph.  Josiah Stowell, the man for whom Joseph worked, testified in court on behalf of Joseph against the charge of Joseph being a conman.  No conviction.

Emma met Joseph while Joseph was employed by Josiah Stowell.  Joseph, in fact, stayed in Emma’s home.  Emma’s parents didn’t approve of their courtship.

 

Bill Reel discusses the history behind well digging, treasure digging, the seer stone, diving rods, and more.

Rather than being a treasure digger, Bill argues that Joseph was a lost-item finder.  Several anecdotes support this theory.

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Josiah Stowell surely heard about Joseph’s ability to find things, and hired Joseph to find rumored Spanish gold near Harmony, PA .  Joseph had a spiritual gift or talent.  He was not, however, a serial conman.  In fact, Joseph told Josiah Stowell to stop his gold-seeking enterprise, since it wasn’t successful.

Joseph was tried for glass looking after Stowell’s nephew pressed charges.  Joseph was ultimately exonerated.

***  The fellow who did the podcast (in 2014), Bill Reel, is now far from the kind of believer he was when he made this podcast. Faith is similar to any living organism. Must be nourished.

I’ve called Bill Reel. Nice guy. Sadly, he’s now very (very, very, very, very) far from the basics.

Excellent podcast, however!

Book of Mormon: Translation, Publication, and Structure

As part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project.  Click below to watch associated videos:

Translation

Royal Skousen — the leading authority on the Book of Mormon manuscripts — hasn’t found a word in the Book of Mormon that is found to have come into English (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) later than 1720.  The Book of Mormon is an archaic, biblical-sounding text.  It’s not simply the King James Text.

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It’s an Early Modern English text, not an Upstate New York dialect.  Skousen doesn’t fully know what it means.

Skousen believes Joseph saw words, and in many cases spellings, in the interpreters.  Not simply ideas.

Printing (click to watch BYUtv video)

 

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Consider the structure of the Book of Mormon:

Structure (click to watch BYUtv video)

Interesting complexities in the Book of Mormon:

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The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (click to watch discussion on BYUtv)

 

This LDS historian, Gerrit Dirkmatt, points out details in history you’ve never heard.  Joseph and Martin visited several printers before their negotiations led them back to Grandin (who finally agreed, after getting paid much more than usual).

Dirkmatt points out additional details, such as early accounts of Joseph’s visions (possibly the first mention of the 1st Vision), that were published in a competing print shop around the time of the Book of Mormon printing.

Richard Bushman & Rough Stone Rolling (Joseph Smith’s biography)

Richard Lyman Bushman is a stake patriarch, in addition to being a world-class scholar. He currently serving as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University.
 
He is also a general editor of the ongoing Joseph Smith Papers project. Bushman sat down with host Blair Hodges for an extended two-part interview. Part one discusses Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. We discuss polygamy, seer stones, gold plates, and other Joseph Smith-related questions.
Part ONE:

Part TWO:

The Gold(en) Plates

The wonderful 3 Mormons:

BMC Studios and Stephen Smoot:

Richard Bushman’s 2010 Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF) presentation is entitled “The Gold Plates in Mormon Culture and Thought.”

Bushman also authored the widely-read biography of Joseph Smith, “Rough Stone Rolling”.  Bushman likely knows Joseph Smith better than any other living human — from an entire career of meticulous research — and is a faithful Latter-day Saint.

Another video about metals and golden plates in MesoAmerica.  Daniel Johnson shares about metal plates in the Old and New World:

The LDS Church made a pamphlet — Gold Plates Used Anciently — in 1963.  You can read the pamphlet here.   The pamphlets shows many photographs & lists the dozens of metal plates found throughout the world.

 

Brother Read Putnam wrote this article for the Improvement Era in 1966: “Were the Golden Plates made of Tumbaga?” Read it here.

 

Tangible Restoration: Eye Witnesses to Gold Plates

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3 Witnesses:  saw and heard an angel.  The angel held the Gold Plates, flipped through the pages, called David by name, and testified.  The three witnesses, additionally, observed a table on which rested many ancient artifacts:  Gold Plates, Brass Plates, other plates, Liahona, Sword of Laban, and interpreters (seer stones).  These 3 witnesses were David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris.

 

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8 witnesses:  saw, held, and hefted the Gold Plates; flipped through the metal pages; and noted the engravings on the pages.   The plates were set on a stump. The eight men reported the sealed portion and the three D-shaped rings.  The eight saw the plates 1-2 days after the 3 witnesses saw the angel and objects.  These eight were Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel Smith.

 

Richard L. Anderson (Harvard Law graduate & Berkeley PhD) is a leading authority on the Book of Mormon witnesses.  As an attorney, he understood the value of witnesses.  During Richard’s study of these witnesses, he collected documents with over 200 positive and affirming statements from the 11 witnesses.

The three witnesses:  30 interviews or reports of contact w/ Oliver Cowdery, minimum of 70 with David Whitmer, and about 50 with Martin Harris.  The eight witnesses shared up to 60 reports, affirming their experiences holding and evaluating the Gold Plates.

In contrast, a very small number of records critical to the witnesses’ testimony exist (8 to 10 total).   8-10 vs. 200.   So, around 5% of the total records relative to the witnesses argue that the witnesses made it all up.  Anderson shows how these critics — 1 named Stephen Burnett was recently excommunicated and hostile to the Church — take the witnesses’ stories out of context, misreport, and otherwise claim the witnesses were not credible.  Richard discusses the topic  and critics below.

 

More anecdotes by Richard Anderson:

 

Richard Anderson wrote a wonderful book on this topic (red book below) that you can find here.

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Dan Peterson is a professor at BYU and long-time defender of the LDS Church.  I enjoy Dan’s style and share his 2006 presentation below:

Brian Hales debunks Dan Vogel and the CES Letter’s claims critical to the Book of Mormon Witnesses: