Revelation, not Peter, is the Rock Upon Which the Early Church was Built

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A wonderful talk given by Hyrum W. Smith in 1988 at Rick’s College (now BYU-Idaho), “Why 1820?”

PDF text:

audio on YouTube:

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From 1975 Ensign by Richard Lloyd Anderson:  Simon Peter

A few paragraphs below:

“Was Peter impulsive, pious, or vacillating? Was he the first pope?

These questions reflect distorted opinions of the personality and life of Christ’s chief apostle. The authentic Peter towers in the New Testament, where more information is found on this apostle than any other except Paul.

None of the first disciples is mentioned as frequently in the gospels and the Acts; Peter’s recorded speeches, letters, and deeds exceed what remains from any other original apostle.”

From Elder McConkie in 1981:

Key section of Elder McConkie’s talk:

“Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona,” Jesus says, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17.)

Then again Jesus alludes to the difference in paternal ancestry between him and Peter and continues his words of blessing and doctrine by saying: “And upon this rock”—the rock of revelation—“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18.)

And how could it be otherwise? There is no other foundation upon which the Lord could build his Church and kingdom. The things of God are known only by the power of his Spirit.

God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown. No man can know that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.

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From the LDS Student Manual on Matthew 16-18:

Matthew 16:18. Revelation Is the Rock upon Which the Church Is Built

As the Savior taught Peter about revelation, He used a wordplay on Peter’s name, declaring to Simon, “Thou art Peter [Petros], and upon this rock [petra] I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

The Greek word petros means an isolated small rock or stone. The Greek word petra can also mean “a stone,” but in addition it can refer to stony soil, bedrock, or a large mass of rock.

From these words we learn that it was not upon Peter as a man that the Church would be built, but upon the bedrock of revelation.

To read about the significance of Peter’s name being changed from Cephas, see the commentary for John 1:42.

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President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) taught: “‘And upon this rock I will build my church.’ Upon what rock? Peter? Upon a man?

No, not upon a man, upon the rock of revelation, the thing which they were talking about.

He had just said, ‘… flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.’ This revelation that Jesus is the Christ is the foundation upon which he would build his Church” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 112; see also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 195)

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Gates if hell shall not prevail…

This talk discusses what this part of the verse means.  A few paragraphs below:

“The Greek word used to denote church in Matthew 16:18 is ecclesia, which literally means a “calling out” and originally referred to a civil assembly. Thus Jesus’ use of the phrase “my church” referred to an assembly “called” by him.

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In the present dispensation, the Lord used church in this same sense. He revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. …

“Behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” (D&C 10:67, 69.)

In these instances the “church” is not so much an institution as it is a group of individuals who repent, come unto Christ through the ordinances of the gospel, and endure in faith to the end. Upon them the adversary has no claim.”

We all must be personally built upon the rock.  Read this 1992 Ensign talk:  Built Upon the Rock.

 

Seer stones, Reformed Egyptian, and Translation

Stephen Jones shares insights:

Another introductory video on seer stones:

Jeff at LDS Q&A shares Joseph’s journey in using his stone to help find objects to gaining inspiration for scripture.  

 

Wonderful contributions by John Welch.  In the first video below, Jack presents a timeline of the Book of Mormon translation.  “Hours Never to be Forgotten:  Timing the Book of Mormon Translation.”

In September of 2018, Jack discusses the beginning of the translation:

The Interpreter reports on Book of Mormon grammar, finding examples that reflect more from the 16th Century than from Joseph’s day.

Barlow on Book of Mormon Language: An Examination of Some Strained Grammar

The Church has long been transparent about the seer stones.  Read this article in the Friend in 1974:

“To help him with the translation, Joseph found with the gold plates “a curious instrument which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in a rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.”

Joseph also used an egg-shaped, brown rock for translating called a seer stone…”

The Ensign in 1977 provided many details of the translation process, including an account of the rock in the hat.

Several podcasts about Joseph’s seer stones:

The Salt Lake Tribune interviewed Richard Bushman on the topic of seer stones:

More from Bushman on seer stones:

Discussion about reformed Egyptian:

Many languages are reformed from another language. That is, languages evolve and are constantly impacted by neighboring languages.  They were reformed.  Reformed Egyptian isn’t a title, but a description.  

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Consider the process through which English evolved:

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Hebrew — the language spoken by Lehi — likewise went through a long evolution:

Proto-Semitic gave rise to Arabic, Aramaic (likely what Jesus spoke), Phoenician, Hebrew, Ethiopian, and other languages.

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The Phoenician alphabet is derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures.

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Egyptian impacted Phoenician, which in turn influenced Greek, Roman, and Hebrew (and others).

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Egyptian itself also developed from another language family:

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Three types of Egyptian writing:

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Demotic was a cursive form modified from the already-established cursive Heiratic.

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Heiratic and Demotic are variations of the original language script (Egyptian hieroglyphs).  Heiratic was a cursive script used on papyri.  Demotic was an even more cursive, more compact variety.  

But — as with virtually all langages and writing scripts — one was developed or reformed or altered from the other.  That is, Demotic was modified from the earlier version, Heiratic.

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Egyptian has been modified in other ways in other places?  Yes, Egyptian was reformed and became Coptic.  Coptic is a modified Greek alphabet with modified Egyptian characters.  Further, Beowulf English isn’t today’s English.

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Small section of Beowulf (and Old English) below:

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Further, Japanese is reformed Chinese.  Although, we don’t typically categorize Japanese this way, but it’s true. Linguists and scholars know this.  

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Scholars may not use the exact words “reformed” to describe Japanese.  That’s fine.  We could say “evolved” or “modified” or “reformed” Chinese.  Japanese descended from Chinese, however 1 wants to explain it.

Evidence exists of compact reformed Egyptian writing of Hebrew represented by Egyptian characters.  In other words, texts exist that are composed of Semitic languages written in Egyptian characters.  Consider reading this article:  Jewish and Other Semitic Texts Written in Egyptian Characters.

From the link above:  “One such text is Papyrus Amherst 63, a document written in Egyptian demotic and dating to the second century B.C.  The document had, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, been preserved in an earthen jar and was discovered in Thebes, Egypt, during the second half of the nineteenth century.

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For years, Egyptologists struggled with the text but could make no sense of
it. The letters were clear (Demotic script), but they did not form intelligible words.  In 1944, Raymond Bowman of the University of Chicago realized that, while the script is Egyptian, the underlying language is Aramaic….

At both Arad and Kadesh-Barnea, there were, in addition to the “combination texts” discussed, other ostraca written entirely in either Hebrew or Egyptian hieratic.

The implication is clear: Scribes or students contemporary or nearly contemporary with Lehi were being trained in both Hebrew and Egyptian writing systems. The use of Egyptian script by Lehi’s descendants now
becomes not only plausible, but perfectly reasonable in the light of archaeological discoveries made more than a century after Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.

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Both hieratic and demotic were in use in Lehi’s time and can properly be termed “reformed Egyptian.”  From the account in Mormon 9:32, it seems likely that the Nephites further reformed the characters.

Lehi would have spoken Hebrew.  In Moroni 9:34 we learn Egyptian was used by the Nephites to compact language.

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Charles Anthon (language scholar) first explained that Martin’s copied characters were an example of “shorthand” Egyptian.  Harris was convinced Joseph had a real (not fabricated) record.

Several podcasts providing evidence for reformed Egyptian:

The fun Backyard Professor:

Brian Stubbs on the Egyptian and Hebrew cognates found in Uto-Aztecan: language family spanning from Mexico to Utah:

John Hall’s 2007 FAIR speech:  “The Problem with Tampering with the Word of God:  As far as it is translated correctly.”

Another video on the translation:

Book of Mormon Translation, Manuscripts, Original Text, and Textual Variants

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Tad R. Callister delivered a masterpiece on 10/1/17 about Joseph’s translation process.  Joseph was neither a creative nor theological genius.  He was an inspired prophet!

Watch Elder Callister’s talk here.

 

Watch this video about the 2 manuscripts:  1) the dictated or original manuscript and 2) the printer’s manuscript.

Watch this about the preservation of the printer’s manuscript by David Whitmer:

 

LDS Truth Claims insight:

Royal Skousen in his 2003 Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum Presentation.

Book of Mormon textual changes

Summary: The claim is often heard that there are more than 4000 changes to the Book of Mormon text. The majority of these are typographical. Few of the changes are significant. We examine the more noteworthy changes.

JUMP TO SUBTOPIC:

 

John Hall’s 2007 FAIR speech:  “The Problem with Tampering with the Word of God:  As far as it is translated correctly.”