Friday, December 11, 2015

The Critical Text Project or Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: An Interesting Comparison – Part VII

Continuing with more of our reader’s comments and our responses, and information about Royal Skousen’s Critical Test Project and Webster’s monumental dictionary.  And continuing here with words that Skousen wants to change in the Book of Mormon scriptural record:
    5. Pitch. “And they came down again that they might pitch battle against the Nephites” (Helaman 1:15).
    Skousen: A pitched battle is a planned military encounter on a prearranged battleground. Thus “they came down again that they might arrange and get ready for battle.”
    On the other hand, Webster, in listing numerous definitions for “pitch,” also states it means “to set in array; to marshal or arrange in order; used chiefly in the participle; as a pitched battle.” He also states it means “to fall headlong, to plunge, as to pitch into battle, to fall, as to fall upon the enemy.” Could also mean a point of battle, i.e., where a battle is to take place or took place; or the “thrusting down to or for battle,” and also “to stop or light, as to stop and do battle.”
    Skousen suggests that “pitch” here means to set up both sides in array for battle before the battle begins. However, since the word is used in a sequence of events, i.e., coming down to the place, then arranging a battle, is out of sequence.
    However, that is not the term used in history.
Recorded in history as a "pitched battle" at Nanshan in May 1904 when the Japanese attacked under the cover of a thunderstorm while the Russian commander was away in Moscow consulting with Tsar Nicholas II, leaving no direct orders for his ground and naval forces
    Examples of “pitched battles,” i.e., “a hostile meeting of opposing military forces in the course of a war,” of World War II, include the Battle of Nanshan, a vicious land battle of the Russo-Japanese War in which Japanese forces landed on the Liaotung peninsula, 60 miles from Port Arthur while the Russian Viceroy Alekseyev was called to Moscow and not even at the battlefield. Certainly no prearranged battle was known or expected as the Japanese attacked during a heavy thunderstorm in May 1904; another “pitched battle,” defined as “a fierce military engagement on close combat on the ground between two armies at war, with both intending on fighting the other and not retreating or escaping before the main engagement that constitutes the battle,” took place and called "a pitched battle" in history is that which occurred at Culloden in Scotland when Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobites were soundly defeated as they retreated from Derby in England heading for Inverness in Scotland in August, 1745, and was a running battle against a retreating army. Perhaps the largest “pitched battle,” was fought in the First Punic War in 256 B.C., when Rome built 200 ships to carry its legions and equipment to Carthage; however, having knowledge of the pending sailing, the Carthaginians caught the Roman fleet (each ship with 300 rowers and 120 combat troops) off guard at Cape Ecnomus (Licata, Sicily), in what is probably considered the largest naval battle in history. However, the Roman fleet recovered from their surprise in time and outmaneuvered the approaching Carthaginians and after the battle set in to Sicily to rest the troops and repair their fleet. Throughout history, the term "pitched battle" is used not for a pre-arranged battle, but for all sorts of encounters, especially those that were fierce and the fight progressed to the end.
    Examples in the scriptural record show letters or epistles exchanged prior to many movement of forces; however, many other times the Lamanites were on the march without knowledge of the Nephites, and at times only an accidental spotting of approaching Lamanite armies saved the Nephites from serious defeats.
    6. Required. “Thy fathers have also required of me this thing” (Enos 1:18).
    Two other uses of “required” are also given:
1. “I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way” (Ezra 8:22);
    2. Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given” (Mosiah 18:27)
    Skousen shows that the modern meaning is “force, compulsory” and claims that the word “required” means to do so by force, though he does admit that maybe in Mosiah 18:27 it just means requested. If that is so there, then why not in the others as well, i.e., to request of the Lord? Skousen goes on to make a joking point of man requiring things of the Lord, i.e., “Lord, I require this of you!”
    However, in 1828, Webster shows the word “reguired” also meant “to ask as a favor, to request by right and by authority.” Webster even quotes Ezra 8:22 (see above) showing in this case it could have been rendered “I was ashamed to request the favor of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way.” In fact, the origin of the word is Latin “require,” means “to seek.”
    Thus what Enos said, “Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it. And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.
"And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant, which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest. And the Lord said unto me: Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine” (Enos 1:15-18). Obviously, Enos was continually asking (vs 15), which the Lord agreed to do through a covenant (vs 16), Enos was thus satisfied (vs 17), and the Lord said, thy fathers have also asked this of me, and according to their faith and that of Enos, it shall be done, i.e., the records will be preserved.
    Thus, once again, the original word “required” was the correct word that Joseph Smith used and it was written down by the scribe correctly.
    7. Fraction. “behold, we fear that there is some faction in the government, that they do not send more men to our assistance”
    In this case, the original word transcribed by Joseph Smith and written down by the scribe was “fraction,” but was changed during later revisions. However, the word fraction is actually more correct than faction even though both have separate but acceptable meanings.
    Skousen: Faction means “a party or political society.”
    Webster: Fraction means “act of breaking or state of being broken especially by violence.”
    In the case of not providing assistance to the government, it was not just a part of the government (a faction) that was impeding the sending of troops, but a complete breakdown (a fraction) in the government—Pahoran, the Chief Governor, had fled to the land of Gideon (Alma 61:5) during a rebellion against him and the government (Alma 61:3) that removed him from the judgment-seat (Alma 61:4). During this time Pahoran sent a proclamation throughout the land and people were flocking to him daily (Alma 61:6), though the insurgents had possession of Zarahemla and appointed a king over them (Alma 61:8).
Through an exchange of letters, Moroni learns from Pahoran that the government had been taken over by king-men and he was in hiding in Gideon
    The point here is that the Nephites were not just dealing with a faction or separate party—but of a rebellion, a breaking down of the government through violence, i.e., the government was broken “especially by violence,” not just divided in a philosophy by a separate faction.
    The word “fraction,” as originally dictated by Joseph Smith and written by the scribe, was correct. Faction, while a much softer term and not suggesting violent overthrow, which was what happened, is an all right word—but not as correct as “fraction” despite Skousen’s making fun of its original use.
(See the next post, “The Critical Text Project or Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: An Interesting Comparison-PtVIII,” for more of the reader’s comments and our responses, and information about Royal Skousen’s project and Webster’s monumental dictionary)

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