Sunday, December 13, 2015

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

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. 
    11. Commend. “and now I would commend you to seek this Jesus” (Ether 12:41)
    Skousen: We would say "recommend," and that should be the word here, not "commend."
But what about Christ on the cross, when it is said, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46). Obviously, he would not say, Father, I recommend my spirit.
    Webster defined commend in 1828 as "to commit," "to entrust," "to make acceptable or more acceptable," "to send."
    Thus, the word is correctly used. The Lord, about to die, "commended" his spirit to his Father, i.e., he committed his spirit, he entrusted his spirit, he had made his spirit more acceptable to God, he was sending his spirit to his Father. All of these make sense, but "recommend" does not.
    Once again, Joseph chose the correct English word and the scribe wrote it down correctly.
    12. Counsel. Counsel the Lord in all thy doings” (Alma 37:37). Also, “Counsel your elder brothers in your undertakings” (Alma 39:10).
    Skousen points out that the word "counsel" by itself does not convey what was intended, and in 1920, a revision was made of these two scriptures, and the word “with” was added after the word “counsel.”
However, in 1828, Webster points out that the word “counsel” was not a one way, arbitrary dictation of what should or should not be done, but meant: “to consult," "to have an interchange of opinions,” also a "deliberation and an examination of consequences” also “to judge with caution.”
    Thus, counseling the Lord meant to not only have an "exchange of ideas," "but to examine the consequences," as well as "to judge with caution"—all of which would be acceptable behavior in dealing with God. As the Lord has said, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18)
    In addition, in counseling with elder brothers, both senses of Webster’s use of the word would be correct. Again, Joseph used the right word and phraseology.
    13. Put. “Yea come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness and ye shall not be put down” (Alma 5:35).
    The typesetter, John Gilbert, for the 1830 edition, changed it to “hewn down” and Skousen believes it should be “cut down,” though there is no original to compare it against.
    On the other hand, one of the definitions for “put” in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is the meaning, “to thrust aside,” and also “to discard.”
    Thus, the statement in the verse, “ye shall not be put down” would be rendered in meaning, “you shall not be thrust aside into the fire,” or “you shall not be discarded and put into the fire.” Either way, the word “put” would be correct, even though by today’s standards it sounds out of rhythm in the sentence.
    Again, Joseph translated the correct word and the scribe wrote it down correctly, even though Skousen doesn’t like that word used.
    14. Rejected. “Wherefore wicked are rejected from the righteous, and also from the tree of life” (1 Nephi 15:36)
    Skousen claims this should have been rendered "separated."
    However, "separated" is a mild term, meaning "parted," "disconnected," and "disunited,"
while "rejected" means to “refuse to grant or accept," "rebuff, to discard as useless," "to cast out or eject,” all of which is a far stronger act than "separation." Which is consistent with the fact that “God cannot look upon sin” (Habakkuk 1:13), nor tolerate even the slightest amount of evil. Evil is rejected by the righteous, not just separated. Therefore, the righteous reject the wicked, and during the thousand years of the millennium, when Satan will be bound, it will be because evil has been rejected by the righteous.

    Thus, the word Joseph Smith translated as rejected, is the correct word and the scribe wrote down correctly.
    15. Shock. “And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thine hand again unto thy brethren, and they shall not wither before thee, but I will shock them, saith the Lord, and this will I do, that they may know that I am the Lord their God” (1 Nephi 17:53).
    Skousen claims this is the wrong word, that it should have been “shake,” to agree with the following up verse: “And it came to pass that I stretched forth my hand unto my brethren, and they did not wither before me; but the Lord did shake them, even according to the word which he had spoken.”
    However, the word “shock” in 1828 New England, according to Webster, also meant "to “shake,” i.e., that is the “verb transitive” (an action verb with a direct object) of “shock” is to “shake by sudden collision,” to “meet with force; to encounter," "to strike or cause to recoil.”
This is exactly what happened. Nephi’s touch "shocked" his brothers and the result “shook them,” probably violently.
    Thus, Joseph Smith’s original word “shock” is correct, and the scribe wrote it down correctly.
    16. Fathers. “Wherefore, the record of my father, and the genealogy of his fathers, and the more part of all our proceedings in the wilderness are engraven upon those first plates of which I have spoken” (1 Nephi 19:2)
    Skousen claims that the word “forefathers” should have been used, not “fathers.” However, in the Hebrew of the time, the word “fathers” meant forefathers, as shown in (1 Nephi 3:19; 4:2, 3; 5:14, 16; 6:1; 15:14; 17:23, 33, 34, 35, 40; 19:10, 15; 22:6—only twice in 1 Nephi is forefathers used and both cases used along with fathers having the same meaning).
    Thus, Joseph used the correct word once again and it was written down correctly by the scribe.
    17. What. “I, Nephi, did make a record upon the other plates, which gives an account, or which gives a greater account of the wars and contentions and destructions of my people. And this have I done, and commanded my people what they should do after I was gone; and that these plates should be handed down from one generation to another, or from one prophet to another, until further commandments of the Lord” (1 Nephi 19:4).
    Skousen claims that “what” is in error, and the word should be “that.”
    However, Webster tells us “that” is a Pronoun or a noun, as well as a pro-sentence, the substitute for a sentence already spoken or written, to save the repetition of it as in –
“When Moses heard that he was content” (Leviticus 10:3). On the other hand, “what” is defined as “a substitute for a sentence or clause of a sentence to follow,” i.e., “the plates were to be handed down from one prophet to another in each succeeding generation.”
    Again, Joseph Smith used the correct word and the scribe wrote it down correctly.
(See the next post, “The Critical Text Project or Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: An Interesting Comparison-PtX,” 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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