Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beware of the Experts—They Often Have an Axe to Grind Part III

Continuing with Sorenson’s presentation to students at Brigham Young University at the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall, Sorenson’s statements follow his name, and our comments follow “Response.”

Sorenson: “because of the compressed meaning of logograms (often used in hieratic Egyptian), the script used by the Nephites resulted in a lack of clarity, which an alphabetic script like Hebrew would not have been subject to." Citing John Gee, Sorenson noted that Egyptians often had a difficult time reading and understanding their own script. "The title page of the BofM may reflect this as one human factor leading to some imperfections in the book – along with occasional slips of the stylus.

Response: First of all, a logogram is a single symbol representing an entire word or phrase, such as $ meaning dollar, or % meaning per cent, or # meaning number or pound. Other logograms:

Logogram: Earth (Old Persian); Duck or Son (Egyptian); East (Luwain); Wool (Mycenaean--Ancient Greek); Person (Mayan); Camping (U.S.); to sprinkle (La Mojarra)

It  really doesn’t matter what clarity the Reformed Egyptian had when Joseph Smith translated it—he was not dependent upon a Rosetta Stone or some other system designed by man. When Joseph interpreted the hieratics on the plates, he had at his disposal the Urim and Thummim as well as the Seer Stone. And, most importantly, and ultimately, it was the Spirit that acknowledged the error or correctness of his interpretation.

Secondly, “slips of the stylus” claims errors in writing that obviously would have been noticed to the writer, which suggests in Sorenson’s comment that they knew they had made mistakes but left them in their writing. However, Moroni says that while the record of he, his father, and “them who have written before him” had imperfections, that “the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof” (Mormon 9:34), which can only mean that when the record was to be read by the means of the Lord, it would be read correctly. Consequently, when we talk about the Book of Mormon, it is immaterial if there was a “slip of the stylus” since the interpretation through the Lord’s means would be correct.

Sorenson: “Mormon’s main aim was to insure that the descendants of Lehi (Lamanites) would know their history and descent, a tribal history. His compilation was intended as a moral history."

Response: What a short-sighted view on the part of Sorenson. Actually, Mormon wrote to the entire earth and all its inhabitants. As he said, “Therefore I write unto you, Gentiles, and also unto you, house of Israel, when the work shall commence, that ye shall be about to prepare to return to the land of your inheritance; Yea, behold, I write unto all the ends of the earth; yea, unto you, twelve tribes of Israel, who shall be judged according to your works by the twelve whom Jesus chose to be his disciples in the land of Jerusalem. And I write also unto the remnant of this people, who shall also be judged by the twelve whom Jesus chose in this land; and they shall be judged by the other twelve whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem. This was not, then, a “tribal history,” but a record of God’s dealings with man, and contained not only a “second witness of Jesus Christ,” but also a fullness of the Gospel and a better understanding of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Sorenson: “Mormon must severely limit his editorial plan."

Response: We have no way of knowing if Mormon limited his plan in abridging the plates. Consequently, such a statement by Sorenson is completely without merit, suggesting to his young hearers that he, Sorenson, knew things no one else knew about the translation of the Book of Mormon.

Sorenson: “Mormon’s “Work schedule was short—a little more than 3 years” and “Might not have had had time to read through all his records or edit his record much."

Response: As stated above, Mormon began his writing when he was 24 years old, and the full plates were in his possession for ten years (375 A.D. to 385 A.D.) for the period of his abridgement.

(See the next post, "Beware of the Experts—They Often Have an Axe to Grind Part IV“ for more of Sorenson’s statements during the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall) 

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