Since some people refuse to seriously consider Book of Mormon evidence unless it’s in a non-LDS academic sources, I’m happy to help these earnest pursuers of truth by pointing out occasional works that they can read and treasure. In addition to the work by Dr. John Tvedtnes that I mentioned in my last post, a more recent contribution comes from Noel Reynolds. I mentioned this a few weeks ago in comments to one of my posts here, but I should have highlighted it in a post of its own to help those who need peer-reviewed testimonies.
Related to the issue of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is the Hebrew tool called inclusio,
in which a phrase at the beginning of a passage is mirrored at the end
to mark a section. Interesting insight into a sophisticated case (or 3
related cases) of inclusio in the Book of Mormon is treated by
Reynolds in a peer-reviewed publication: Noel
B. Reynolds (2015). The Gospel according to Mormon. Scottish Journal of Theology, 68, pp 218-234. doi:10.1017/S003693061500006X, available for download at http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/facpub/1479/.
Reynolds’ work reveals some consistent elements in the text regarding the Book of Mormon’s concept of the core doctrine of the Gospel, and the way its authors use inclusio to emphasize it. It’s one of many interesting subtleties in the composition of the text.
Speaking of chiasmus, one of my favorite works related to the Book of Mormon in a non-LDS publication is John Welch’s chapter on chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, included in the ground-breaking book on chiasmus that he edited, in collaboration with some significant scholars and published through a noteworthy publishing house. The reference is: John W. Welch, editor, Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis (Hildesheim, Germany: Gerstenberg Verlag, 1981). This scholarly work in a non-LDS press with non-LDS authors (apart from John) includes a forward from Dr. David Noel
I recommend reading David Noel Freedman’s preface to the scholarly book, Chiasmus in Antiquity, edited by John Welch. The full text of that intriguing book is available free online at the Maxwell Institute. Here is part of what Dr. Freedman has to say:
The more extended uses of chiasm raise further questions. As with much
of literature, especially poetry, ambiguity and obscurity are inherent
in the form and content: chiasm only adds to the uncertainty and
mystery. Scholars now recognize chiasms beyond the simple type described
above, chiasms which involve passages of verse or prose ranging in
length from a few sentences to hundreds of thousands of words. This more
complex form of chiasm is not merely grammatical but structural or
intentional; it systematically serves to concentrate the reader’s or
hearer’s interest on the central expression. The number of such chiastic
constructions which satisfy both sets of criteria: inversion and
balance on the one hand, and climactic centrality on the other, is
substantially less than the simpler mechanical variety. But wherever
they are present, these structures may add novel perspectives and
unexpected dimension to the texts in which they appear.
There is yet a further extension of the term chiasm. Even more difficult
and controversial issues arise when chiasm is defined in terms of
thought and theme, rather than the more visible words and patterns.
Inevitably a large subjective element enters into these discussions, and
the presence or absence of chiasm on this level can become almost a
Scholars, therefore, may range between separated areas of research in
their approach to chiasm. On the one extreme, the phenomenon itself can
be described or defined rigorously, so that it is verifiable and often
self-evident; while in this sense it is part of a deliberate pattern of
composition, it nevertheless leaves the wider world of symbolism and
significance to others. At the other end of the spectrum, definitions
and limits are hard to determine, and speculation is rife; but large
issues of meaning and intention can be raised, and important questions
about the nature and significance of extended literary pieces are
considered. The study of these great chiasms has enormous implications
for analysis and interpretation, but the wider the scope and the more
extended the reach, the less certain the results necessarily become. In
the end, neither approach will escape if carried to extremes.
Only a book with many varieties of presentation can display the present
state of chiastic studies. While a great deal of important work has been
done across the many domains of ancient literature, the study of
ancient literary techniques is still in ferment and flux. A common fund
of axioms and assumptions and a single sure-handed methodology are yet
to be established. The present volume reflects accurately both the
ferment and the progress which is being made on a variety of fronts, and
is all the more to be welcomed for bringing together the results of
research in different literatures of antiquity. The editor is to be
commended for his catholicity and courage, and for his own original
contributions in several domains including a unique treatment of the
Book of Mormon. His introduction to the whole work is indispensable. [emphasis added]
–David Noel Freedman
Dr. Freedman has been called one of the world’s foremost scholars on the Bible. You can also read about him on Wikipedia. He passed away in 2008.
Welch’s book is cited by Roland Meynet in Rhetorical Analysis: An Introduction to Biblical Rhetoric.
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 256
(Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), 392 pp. I don’t
have access to it at the moment, but according to Noel Reynolds,
“Meynet credits BYU’s own John W. Welch, whose 1981 book re-ignited
chiasmus studies and helpfully provided the world of biblical scholars
with the first complete bibliography of chiasmus publications, enabling
contemporary scholars to get a grasp on the extent and quality of the
work that had already been done.”
41 thoughts on “Another Book of Mormon Publication in a non-LDS Academic Source”
Nonsense. According to our anti-mormon folks who post here, merely reading the bible gives anyone the innate capability to unconsciously construct complex chiasms and every other form of parallelism without knowing they are engaged in Hebraic poetical structures.
It could happen to anyone, really. Piece of cake. Just because no one other than Joseph Smith pulled it off means nothing! It's not evidence!
Vance, Speaking of the Bible, I personally don't care if the BoM is peer reviewed or delivered by an angel from heaven, any other gospel than what was taught by Jesus and the apostles is a fraud (Gal.1:8)
I reject your premise. Angels or not, the Book of Mormon doesn't preach "any other gospel". It preaches the divinity of Jesus, without which, I could not believe in the Bible or accept Jesus as anything more than a moral philosopher.
Anonymous do you know why Galatians 1 8 was written? Let me help you. This book is written to the Gentiles, who were being told, by the Jews who accepted Jesus of Nazareth as their Savior, that unless one was circumsized, then they were not saved. This was the Gosple that the Gentiles were being taught by the Jews, which is another Gospel, other than what the Apostles were teaching.
Anon 8:49. The Mormon stance on Galatians 1:8 is that Paul and Jesus WERE teaching the Mormon Gospel.
Of course, I don't agree with that. Not in the least. Jesus, the same guy who said that we can't put anything into our mouths that will defile us is not the same Jesus who kicks people out of the temple if they drink tea and coffee…
Jeff, the chiasm phenomenon is small potatoes compared to the amazingly accurate 2 Nephi 3:6–18 prophecy of Joseph Smith himself! Not even the Old Testament prophesies of Jesus by NAME but 2 Nephi 3:6-18 incredibly does this about Smith!
Anon… the Old Testament doesn't prophecy of Jesus by name, but it does prophecy of Joseph Smith by name. You just have to read Joseph Smith's translation of it to find it. Genesis 50:33. It's right there for all to see.
That's amazing! How incredible that the prophet (Smith) would correct the Old Testament to include a lost prophesy about himself!
LOL, you guys crack me up. Don't break your arms patting yourselves on your backs 😛
FWIW, the Gospel often refers to salvation through Jesus Christ. Mormons don't preach a different gospel. I would be wary if a religion were to teach that Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation. That would be a different gospel.
EBU, I'm sure you would agree that there are poisonous substances that you, I and Jesus are aware of so let's not take it too literally the phrase that what enters a mouth does not defile a man so let's expand Matthew 15:11 with some followup verses:
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
You can probably see the point that Jesus was making with his parable. It is almost as if you have one of those little booklets you can buy at a random Christian bookstore labeled "100 Things to Ask Your Mormon Friends."
This is too big to brush off, Steve! This should convince everyone of Smith's authenticity! He's literally named in the Gen.50 (JST) and 2 Nephi 3 as the great prophet! How is this not news?
Steve, can you be exalted all the while indulging in a habit of tea drinking? Will you have the Spirit with you if you drink wine or coffee in moderation?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you need to see your bishop.
If you answered no, you believe that those substances defile you.
I think if you are honest with yourself, you know Jesus doesn't believe in the Word of Wisdom as a requirement for eternal life.
By the way, you should do some reading. In the journal of Woodruff, he mentions enjoying a glass of lemonade and brandy. And William Clayton is frequently served a pint of porter from a young English Mormon woman who later becomes his plural wife. And Joseph Smith talks about drinking beer in Moesser's.
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If I drank coffee I would have had it coming out of my nose!
An especially nice turn of the phrase.
Always enjoy your posts, Jeff!
I realize it's a bit off topic, but continuing this Word of Wisdom discussion, ultimately, it does not matter if or how the Word of Wisdom contradicts the Bible. To the LDS, the Bible takes the back seat as fairmormon explains:
Members of the Church follow the Word of Wisdom not because of logical or health reasons, but because God, speaking to prophets, has given these instructions. Some LDS are confused at the apparent mismatch between the prohibitions as we follow them today and the text of D&C 89, but the underlying reason has to do with the fact that LDS are not Protestants. We are more like Catholics and Jews, in the sense that authority is not ultimately vested in books, but in living interpreters and the tradition of interpretation. For LDS, these are obviously the prophets and apostles, for Catholics the pope and magisterium, and for Jews, the Rabbis and Talmud. Ultimately, what is binding on LDS is not the text, either of the Bible or uniquely LDS scriptures, but how they are interpreted today by living apostles and prophets.
The sooner LDS and evangelicals can realize the Bible plays a less significant role to LDS than to mainstream Christianity the better understanding there will be to just how different the two really are
And let's be honest with each other, to follow this line of LDS reasoning, the words of Jesus (the Bible) are ultimately trumped by the LDS prophet
That is because in the LDS church the prophet is Jesus, for all practical purposes, to the members who sustain and support him.
you Mormon haters……
go back to your vacuous religion with the carnival barker preacher, the narcissistic non substance non message service (theologically bankrupt), where the entertainment determines how many people will show up and the entertainment determines who will want to attend, where the only message is to puff up peoples pride, where people wear graven images and worship graven images…….all about consumerism in mainstream Christianity.
it is obvious you do not want real dialogue.
Enter your civil, intelligent comments here. Insults are discouraged
Anonymous, thank you. There is some old-time Mormonism that would make Orson Pratt and Brigham Young so proud.
As a note, if you believe that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament, then He did indeed institute a code of eating that makes the Word of Wisdom seem like nothing. Clearly, He had no problem with the idea of a health code. Sometimes He required it, other times He relaxes the rules.
But then, I've asked you several times why you reject all the core concepts of the Old Testament. The idea of Temples, of Covenants, of Ordinances, of remaining in a covenant state with God; even of commandments– according to you, all balderdash and nonsense, more of the devil than of God. You have even remarked that the Law of Moses did not save people.
Which of course means that God was playing a cruel joke on the Israelites then, wasn't He? "Here, I'll set up a Priesthood and temple structure, authorized by Me, and all of these ordinances and sacrifices for removing your sins; including stuff like the Sin offering and the Day of Atonement. Follow these rules, Israelites, for I command you to. What I'm not going to tell you is that it means nothing at all, and the real way to be saved is to believe, nothing more, in someone who I won't tell you about for a few thousand years. All of this stuff I just commanded you to do? Completely and utterly pointless. You aren't going to be saved at all. You are welcome! By the way, all of this stuff is supposed to teach you–be a schoolmaster, if you will — about this mysterious person coming along a few thousand years from now, and how He will just require you to believe and not do any of this ordinance and sacrifice or commandment keeping. Sorry, you get the raw deal of having to do stuff, and not even be saved. Because I really, really want you to engage in pointless activities so that future generations can avoid doing that kind of stuff. I love you anyway! Suckers!"
You may believe in that kind of God, but that's not the God the Bible reveals.
I am trying not to be rude, but how old are you? How many years in the church do you have under your belt? Returned missionary? Where did you serve?
Come over to my blog. Click on my username above. Make any comment you want on any of my posts. We'll continue our discussion there. I've offered this a few times now. You seem reluctant.
Really, Vance. I am a nice guy. Much nicer in smaller crowds. We'll hit it off. We'll have a good talk. I'm am sincerely interested in hearing your story. What has your experience been like? Where did you serve? What do you do know? I'd love to get to know you better.
Ok, so I went to your blog. I found it interesting that in one post (about our being created in God's image) you were able to surmise that it didn't really mean "image" the way we (Mormons) understand it to mean "physical" image. And in your explanation you cite an article that doesn't address the possible physical likeness we may share with God at all.
But in another post, you were adamant that the language used in referring to Christ as "The Word" was exactly what was meant, without any possible variations.
How do you determine which way to go ("tight," or "loose") on interpreting the meaning of biblical words?
How do you determine which way to go (tight or loose)?
If Jesus sitting on God's right hand means that God literally has a right hand, then do you also believe the Holy Ghost, who descended in the form of a dove, is actually literally a bird?
Do you advocate for a strictly literal or a strictly metaphorical interpretation yourself? If you don't advocate for only one or the other, why do you seem to be holding me to one or the other?
But even if we stick with just "image" and "word," in both cases we have a "loose" interpretation going on. Jesus isn't really a word. And being in God's image doesn't mean we are physical replicas of God. See…both "image" and "word" are being used metaphorically, not literally. So I am actually consistent here. So you don't have an argument against me here.
But there is some language that is literal and some that isn't, sure. How do you determine which is which?
I love how nobody here even pretended to try to address the evidence presented by the post. Scream and demand evidence, but when it's presented, just ignore it and change the subject. The whole thing just turned into a big "Faith vs. Works" argument, which is kind of funny when you consider that the Mormon view on "faith and works" actually represents the majority view within Christiandom. Or are we just supposed to ignore the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox? You want tough eating rules, try being a Copt. 2/3 of the days of the year are some kind of rigidly defined and mandated fast and you can't ignore the import of the Sacraments/Mysteries. Mormons have fewer rules than Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. But I guess Evangelicals want to excommunicate them too, along with anybody who lived before Martin Luther invented the notion of faith-only salvation.
My position is that once you buy into the idea that the LDS church has authority to alter the Word of God, denounce past prophets and exist as a fluid, ever changing theology, no evidence of historicity or chiasm matters much at all. If this BoM/theology/ordinance/prophetical teaching doesn't work, the church will just change it.
I would prefer the word "discussion" over "argument."
Most of what I regard as the correct interpretation of scripture is not my own, but does make sense to me. All of us are usually taught by others about most things. It saves time (life is short) and allows us to build on what they've learned.
Many prophets throughout the ages have given descriptions of the physical nature of God, for they saw Him (the present translations of John 1:18 and 1 Jn. 4:12 notwithstanding). Have I seen Him? No. But I believe they did. And I build my understanding upon their testimonies.
Please tell me, if God doesn't have a right hand, what is the meaning of Stephen's account in Acts 7:55,56?
If no man has seen Him, or He doesn't have a face, what is the correct understanding of Genesis 32:30, or Deuteronomy 5:4 and 34:10
If God is all three manifestations rolled into one entity, what are we to understand about what happened at Christ's baptism in Matt. 3:16-17? Or the many passages where Christ testified that He was sent by the Father?
Of course, I don't need to tell you that what we call latter-day scripture sheds much more light on these and other subjects, and from our point of view they do not disagree with the biblical accounts.
If I understand your background correctly, you were taught for most of your life in one tradition (the one I was, as well), but fairly recently decided it didn't make sense to you. I guess my original question to you about how you decide to interpret scripture was more just wanting to know how your understanding of biblical passages changed, and what changed them. Do you have explanations for biblical passages that seem at odds with each other, or at least at odds with your current point of view as we might see it (for example, as noted above)? Did you arrive at your current understanding on your own, or did you find a different spiritual leader to consult?
What I find most troubling is that if agreement on the true nature of God (or the question of His existence at all) cannot be worked out, how will agreement be reached on anything He has ever said? Not that the truth of the matter requires any agreement by anyone, but still…
Genesis 32:30, Deut 5:4, 34:10. As a Mormon, you believe Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. Thus, these verses talk about encounters with the pre-mortal Jesus. Not God the Father. It is God the Father who is the invisible God, whom man has not seen. I would agree with you…these scriptures are not speaking about seeing the Father.
As for God being three manifestations of one entity…that is Modalism. That is not Trinitariansim. Trinitarians have no problem with what happened at Christ's baptism. In Trinitarianism, there is one God. This one God eternally exists in three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. THey are not three Gods. They are one God. There was no God before this God. There will be no God after this God. Isaiah 43:10.
In Mormonism, these three are three Gods. And apart from these three Gods, there are many other Gods, and we all can become a God, too.
A spiritual experience changed my understanding of the Biblical passages. It wasn't a new spiritual advisor that got involved and pulled me away from Mormonism.
An understanding of the true nature of God is essential. But I have a hard time believing like the more conservative Christians do that unless we embrace the Triune God we are all damned. I think God is a little more lenient than that.
I am fine with the Trinitarian doctrine, but if I were to give advice to a Mormon coming out of Mormonism and into traditional Christianity, I would say, "Don't get too hung up on Trinitarian formulas. Just ask yourself this one question: Was God eternally God, or did God become a God?
At the heart of it, that is the key difference between Christianity and Mormonism. God was not once an intelligence who became a spirit who became a man who became a God. God was eternally God. And that means, as Moroni 8:18 so perfectly states it, the he was God FROM all eternity and TO all eternity.
Joseph Smith altered the Christian conception of God in 1844, and Mormonism has never gotten back on track.
You are correct about the references to the pre-mortal Jesus. But it should also be clear from other passages that there are three distinct beings or personages involved, such as in John 14. Interestingly, that is where Christ also teaches that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father, but also that they are not the same being, else why would He "pray the Father" to give another Comforter? Taken with other passages, one could certainly draw the conclusion that Christ and the Father have similar – if not the same – appearance, and that we were made after the same pattern. In my opinion, it takes substantial mental and interpretive gymnastics to arrive at any other conclusion.
I suppose it might make better sense if we had a word like "God-cy" – you know, in the same sense that we use Presidency when talking about the First Presidency and Stake Presidencies. Each member of those groups are referred to as "President," though they are separate, distinct beings. I would even be okay with "God" being an office in the Priesthood, though I'm not sure that's doctrinal.
You say that Joseph Smith altered the Christian conception of God in 1844, when it is our point of view that he restored the true concept of God that had been altered soon after Christ's ministry. Apparently it was much more common even around AD 200 that Christians understood and accepted the concept of deification until it gradually fell from favor. All this is explained rather well in this article: https://www.lds.org/topics/becoming-like-god?lang=eng
Speaking of the origin of God, President Hinckley said it best when he said "we don't really know much about that." I expect Joseph Smith might have known more about it than he ever told anyone, but there we are. It is sufficient for me to know that, concerning my existence, the God I know is the only God there ever has been or ever will be, for me or any of the rest of us.
Paul taught, “we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." What does joint-heir mean to you?
Trinitarians believe in three distinct personages. One being, three persons. That is the Trinity. Does it make perfect sense? No. But anytime Trinitarianism begins to make perfect sense, you can be sure to have departed from Trinitarian doctrine and into something else.
Trinitarianism is the attempt to reconcile three things the Bible teaches:
1. There is one God.
2. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all God.
3. The Father, the Son, and the HOly Ghost are not the same person.
If you deny the first statement, you have Tritheism. The belief in three Gods. If you deny the second statement, you have Arianism. This is the belief that Jesus is not fully God, but is subordinate to the Father. If you deny the third statement, you have Modalism or Sabellianism. This is the belief that there is only one God, and this one God manifests in different "modes."
There is a little bit of Tritheism and Arianism within Mormonism. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism outright declares Mormon theology to be a from of "subordinationism," the belief that Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father. Christians believe he was subordinate only while in the flesh.
As far as "God-cy" is concerned, you already have a word for this concept. It is the Mormon redefinition of the word "Godhead."
But this is erroneous. Godhead comes from the Old English "godhede." Today, we say Godhead. But "head" in the Old English does not meant "head" as we use it today, eg. "head of the English department."
This is an erroneous understanding of the word. Godhead, godhede – it means "deity" or "divine nature."
Godhead only shows up three times in the New Testament. All three times, it is clear that it is referring to "divine nature."
In Christ Jesus is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. This is Colossians. In Jesus is all the fullness of the divine nature.
Mormons might say they believe this, but all the doctrine doesn't bear this out. For in Mormonism, those who receive the Terrestrial Kingdom receive the presence of the Son, but not the presence of the Father. They cannot abide the presence of the Father.
But they can apparently abide the presence of the Son. How can this be if Jesus is the fullness of the divine nature? How can they then abide his presence, but not the Father's?
This is why some Christians do not consider Mormons to be Christian. If Jesus is not fully God as is the Father, then they see Mormons as falling prey to the Arian Heresy. You deny the full divinity of Jesus Christ. It is not good enough to just say, "Jesus is God." Clearly, in Mormonism, that statement has a different meaning than it does for a Christian. The Christian doctrine, from start to finish, has a Jesus that is eternally and fully God.
Recently, in an Ensign article by Elder Holland, he says that Jesus come to earth to work out his own salvation. Now, why would a being who is fully God in the flesh need to work out his salvation?
What does it mean for Jesus to be "divine?" And at what point did he become divine? Or was he always divine?
Good ol' EBU is finished here. It isn't right for me to divert the conversation away from Jeff's topics. If anyone wishes to continue to chat with me, debate with me, or whatever, you can do so on my own blog, linked by my username above. If you don't want to do it there, that's fine, too. Enjoy yourselves.
Dan Peterson believes
The Book of Mormon is true
Because of Chiasmus
But Chiasmus can be found in blog posts
Just like the Book of Mormon
In which Daniel Peterson believes.
Lame, Randy. Why don't you add 3 to 12 more levels, include some obscure Hebraic matching, do it quite a few times during a steady dictation, and do it all unwittingly. I must conclude that you have poor judgment and have trouble weighing evidence.
EBU (if you decide to come back and read this),
I am impressed to know but confused as to why you still read the Ensign. You make it abundantly clear that you do not seek enlightenment from any LDS source.
Holland's choice of words about Christ's salvation is curious, but only because I'm not used to it being discussed that way. It could certainly refer to the very specific mission He was sent here to accomplish, including being baptized, paying sin's ransom, overcoming death, and showing us the way by obedience and example.
I do not fully understand the glories and limitations of the Kingdoms of the hereafter. But you bring up an interesting point to think about. There are a lot of such issues that can and are raised concerning our understand of certain things. I just wish I knew whether the gate to heaven swings, or slides.
I didn't know Shakespeare was a Hebrew! good god!
Arthur, This is correct but it goes a little deeper than that. Paul also tells the Galatians that if righteousness could've come law, then a law would've been given to produce righteousness. It wasn't so much that circumcision that was the problem, it was the Galatians' belief that faith alone was not sufficient for justification. They had come to Christ by the Spirit, now they were seeking justification through the flesh. This is precisely what Mormons do. They come unto Christ through spiritual experience, and then from that point onward, they take upon themselves laws in order to be exalted. But Paul rules out this possibility. Once you take upon yourself a law to seek justification, you are fallen from grace. So the very gift that saved a Mormon when he/she came unto Christ is also abandoned by that Mormon when they start on the law-lined path to exaltation.
To our hecklers here, I should point out that there is more depth to the prophecy from Joseph recorded in 2 Nephi 3. Here is an excerpt from John Tvedtnes in "Joseph's Prophecy of Moses and Aaron":
While admonishing his son Joseph, Lehi told him of a prophecy uttered by their ancestor Joseph of Egypt, who had foreseen that the Egyptians would bring the Israelites into bondage. Part of that prophecy spoke of “Moses, whom I [the Lord] have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people, O house of Israel. And Moses will I raise up, to deliver thy people out of the land of Egypt” (2 Nephi 3:9–10).
Joseph further declared: “And the Lord hath said: I will raise up a Moses; and I will give power unto him in a rod; and I will give judgment unto him in writing. Yet I will not loose his tongue, that he shall speak much, for I will not make him mighty in speaking. But I will write unto him my law, by the finger of mine own hand; and I will make a spokesman for him” (2 Nephi 3:17). This prophecy is also found in Genesis 50:29, 34–35 of the Joseph Smith Translation, which adds that the name of the spokesman would be Aaron.
Joseph’s prophecy of Moses is confirmed in Jewish tradition, notably in two of the second-century-A.D. targumim, or translations of the Bible into Aramaic.1 In a lengthy addition to Genesis 40:12 in Targum Neofiti, Joseph interprets the three branches of Joseph of Egypt, by Robert E. Barretthe butler’s dream as representing “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the sons of whose sons are to be enslaved in the slavery of the land of Egypt and are to be delivered by the hands of three faithful leaders: Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, who are to be likened to the clusters of grapes.”2 Similarly, in the Talmud, Rabbi Joshua interpreted the three branches as representing Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (Babylonian Talmud, Hullin 92a).
From the standard account in Genesis 50:24–25, it is clear that Joseph was aware that the Israelites would someday leave Egypt, though he says nothing about the bondage they would endure in the meanwhile. But Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 48 cites the passage from Genesis and includes Joseph’s prophecy of the bondage and deliverance of the Israelites.3 In Targum Pseudo-Jonathan of Genesis 50:24, Joseph tells his family, “Behold you will be enslaved in Egypt, but do not make plans to go up out of Egypt until the time that two deliverers come and say to you, ‘The Lord surely remembers you.'”4 This suggests that Joseph knew about the coming of Moses and Aaron to liberate Israel and confirms Joseph Smith’s addition to that very place in the Genesis account.
Though the Jewish tradition regarding Joseph of Egypt’s prophecy about Moses and Aaron can be traced to the second century A.D., the relevant texts were not available to Joseph Smith. The existence of that prophecy in both the Book of Mormon and the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis provides evidence for the historicity of the account.
No-one is saying that Smith did chiasmus by accident. He did it on purpose. He just didn't know the term 'chiasmus'.
Reading the Bible and then imitating chiasmus, Smith was like a little girl watching ballet, and seeing the dancers keep doing that funny thing where they jump high, and twitch their legs back and forth very fast while they're in the air. The agile little kid thinks it's cool, so she goes home and practices until she can do it herself. She never takes ballet lessons, never learns that the maneuver is called a pas de ciseaux, and never becomes a great dancer. Nonetheless she can do a mean scissor-kick jump when she tries. It's not unconscious at all.
Could you care to elaborate how Joseph did that? Where and when did he read the Bible? Did Joseph even own a Bible at the time? Why weren't others able to do something similar?
Are you seriously saying that if I can't prove that Joseph Smith had read the Bible, then I have to accept your whole story about angels and disappearing golden plates? You imagine that Bibles were so rare in Joseph Smith's place and time, that the chance of him ever finding a Bible would have been comparable to the chance of him receiving a direct revelation from God? Your whole faith in Mormonism collapses if Joseph Smith knows the Bible?
If so, then you don't need any more trouble from me about the Book of Mormon. You have enough already.
If not, then you accept that Joseph Smith may well have been very familiar with the Bible, and you have grounds for believing in the Book of Mormon that you think will still hold, even if Joseph Smith actually did know the Bible well.
In that case, why the heck are you pressing me for evidence about something which you concede may very well have been true, and which doesn't matter to your real argument, anyway?