Was Nibley a Genius, Scholar, or Crackpot?

The catch-all forum for general topics and debates. Minimal moderation. Rated PG to PG-13.
grayskull
CTR A
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:36 pm

Was Nibley a Genius, Scholar, or Crackpot?

Post by grayskull »

Note that the non-exclusive sense of "or" is intended here. Here are three criteria, which ones did Hugh Nibley fit? I'd especially be interested in Backyard Professor's take.

Was Nibley a:

1)Genius
2)Scholar
3)Crackpot

1. Yes, in terms of language aptitude and memory it seems this would be the case.

2. No. Or at least, not much past the fact he held a Ph.D.. But here's especially where I'd like input.

3. Absolutely.

Again, the three are not exclusive in any way. Isaac Newton was all three. Francis Crick was 1) and 2) and teetered on 3). Richard Feynman was certainly 1) and 2) only. Roger Penrose is all three. There is certainly a trait within some of the great thinkers that puts them at substantial risk of slipping into crackpottery if left unchecked. While we can all get bored with reality, bored genius can assert itself into novel, fascinating, and even convincing ways. I've always thought the noted high IQs of UFO abductees by UFO apologists were evidence against their case, neutral at best, rather than in favor. It's easy to want to overlook, or even apologize for the crackpottery when solid contributions are substantial enough. So I'm here wondering about Nibley's actual contributions.

What was Nibley noted for in the academic world? What work of Nibley's is often quoted by antiquarians in their books and papers? Did his published essays make any kind of dent in the real world of scholarship? From what I've seen, Nibley worked mostly outside of his field, and always with an eye single to making a political or religious statement. Was he a genius like Newton, with oddities, plenty of weird ideas, but also stack of renown contributions, or was he a genius like Immanuel Velikovsky, with a lot of wasted potential and ultimately unrestrained victim of his own imagination? Not being a scholar myself, I have little else to judge Nibley's fruits as a scholar other than by what FARMS put out.

User avatar
CaliforniaKid
God
Posts: 4247
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:47 am

Post by CaliforniaKid »

I will not deny Nibley either of the first two titles, but at the same time I think he fits in the third category quite nicely. By the way, Margaret Barker has admitted that an essay by one H. Nibley inspired her to become a student of biblical arcana. No wonder she's a crackpot too.

User avatar
moksha
God
Posts: 22020
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 2:42 pm

Post by moksha »

Was Nibley a:

1)Genius
2)Scholar
3)Crackpot

I would love to hear Dan Ackroyd, doing his Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet imitation, ask these questions.
Cry Heaven and let loose the Penguins of Peace

User avatar
Jersey Girl
God
Posts: 33436
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:16 pm

Post by Jersey Girl »

Having read only a few articles written by Hugh Nibley, I'd have to take "genius at misdirection" for 200$, Alex. My opinion so far...

Jersey Girl
Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.
Chinese Proverb

Ray A

Re: Was Nibley a Genius, Scholar, or Crackpot?

Post by Ray A »

grayskull wrote:What was Nibley noted for in the academic world? What work of Nibley's is often quoted by antiquarians in their books and papers? Did his published essays make any kind of dent in the real world of scholarship? From what I've seen, Nibley worked mostly outside of his field, and always with an eye single to making a political or religious statement. Was he a genius like Newton, with oddities, plenty of weird ideas, but also stack of renown contributions, or was he a genius like Immanuel Velikovsky, with a lot of wasted potential and ultimately unrestrained victim of his own imagination? Not being a scholar myself, I have little else to judge Nibley's fruits as a scholar other than by what FARMS put out.


Nibley was published in non-Mormon academic journals. There's no doubting his genius. A non-LDS scholar once heard Nibley recite very lengthy passages of Shakespeare without notes, and said it was "obscene for one man to know so much".
If you want to read what I consider the best biographical sketch of Nibley see Truman Madsen's bio at the beginning of Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless. This will give you a good insight into man and his mind. However, his imagination does run wild in essays like "Strange Ships and Shining Stones", and he is noted for "parallomania". Newton spent more time writing on biblical themes than on physics. He was no less of a "crackpot", if Nibley was one. I prefer the word "eccentric". Throughout history many "crackpots" have made revolutionary discoveries, because they were unafraid to go beyond "the citadel of science", as Wilson called it.

Why are the 'skeptic' authors wrong? Let's look at the details. Their argument with the crackpots starts when, over and over again, particular skeptical researchers dismiss extraordinary claims without first inspecting the evidence. They justify their refusal to inspect evidence in various ways. Here are a few, some made as arguments, others as unspoken assumptions:

* If a new theory or observation is obviously crazy or impossible, we should distrust the evidence which supports it. Evidence which contradicts well known theory is almost certainly wrong, and only VERY STRONG evidence should be accepted. After all, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

* Hundreds of scientists hurl ridicule at this theory, and history shows that the concensus opinion of a large group of scientists is invariably trustworthy.

* Science only grows, it does not backtrack. Therefore if a new discovery suggests that modern science has made an extremely major and unnoticed mistake, and that massive backtracking is required, then that discovery is wrong.

* Modern science is nearly complete, there are no more gigantic scientific revolutions possible, so if the new discovery was real, scientists would already know about it.

* Inspecting the details of a crazy claim is distasteful, and it's a big waste of time. Crazy claims are always just what they seem, and in this case we can safely judge a book by its cover, with no need to read one bit of it.


http://amasci.com/freenrg/arrhenus.html

User avatar
dartagnan
God
Posts: 2750
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2006 10:27 am

Post by dartagnan »

In many ways Nibley was all of the above.

But he is practically worshipped in Mormon circles in a manner that is not prportionate with his contributions as a Mormon scholar. So many of this theories have been shot to hell, as to make him look like a desperate apologist whose only interest was apologetics. The apologetic overtones of his works are what turned off most scholars who would otherwise recommend him as an authority.

User avatar
truth dancer
High Goddess of Atlantis
Posts: 4792
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:40 am

Post by truth dancer »

Nibley was brilliant, no question.

A scholar... sort of.

Eccentric? Certainly.

Unfortuantely he used his incredible brain to come up with oftimes nonsensical and unsupported theories.

It is as if he had the outcome in his mind and came up with all sorts of things to prove his theory but the theory was completely incorrect to start with.

I'm not just talking about LDS teachings here...

For example, IIRC, he had this idea that language came to earth from God in a perfect form (The Adamic language) and disintigrated over the years (or something like this... its been a while).

I don't think there is a linguist in the world who would come up with such a theory let alone try to find support for it.

But, it seems to me one could come up with any nonsensical theory and find something that would sort of give "evidence" for it, regardless of how nonsensical the "evidence".

At one time I was such a fan of Nibley... until I went to the library (still a believer and prior to the net), and started looking up some of his references and assumptions and discovered he was either completely delusional, or out of touch with reality, or disingenuous...

Today, I think he was just really out of touch with reality.... brilliant as he was.

~dancer~
"The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it destroys the world in which you live." Nisargadatta Maharaj

christopher
Valiant A
Posts: 177
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:17 am

Post by christopher »

How about a wasted genius.

That he was smarter than the average bear, I don't think you will find much disagreement. The problem is the product he chose to spend the majority of his life on. If he had applied all of that brain power to true history or linguistics or probably most anything that fancied him, think of what he could have done. What a waste of a mind.


Chris <><

User avatar
Mercury
God
Posts: 5543
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:14 am

Post by Mercury »

Jersey Girl wrote:Having read only a few articles written by Hugh Nibley, I'd have to take "genius at misdirection" for 200$, Alex. My opinion so far...

Jersey Girl


Nibley was the apologist prophet. I bet if he was just a little bit more tossed up by the task to prove the Mormon god existed he would have blown his brains out.

He delivered an exercise in comparative mythology.

He's like a tolkein literary scholar drawing threads to germany/mordor except theres more value in the Tolkien fantasy world...like an enjoyable story and realistic characters.

Joes characters seem like a post pubescent country boys masturbation fantasy, his stories worse than some of the plots I created after smoking up the Ganj.
And crawling on the planet's face
Some insects called the human race
Lost in time
And lost in space...and meaning

User avatar
Gazelam
Lightbearer
Posts: 5659
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:06 pm

Obituary from a friend

Post by Gazelam »

In searching through online obituaries I came across this one that offers insights from someone who studied under him.

Hugh Nibley 1910-2005
Renowned LDS scholar, Hugh W. Nibley, passed away Thursday at the age of 94. He made an incalculable contribution to LDS scholarship. FARMS is expected to publish his magnum opus on Abraham facsimile No. 2, One Eternal Round, which he did not finish in his lifetime.

I took Nibley's Pearl of Great Price class twice, once for credit and once I attended with my wife who was taking it for credit. Some classmates regularly taped his lectures (which my father once described as trying to take a drink from a fire hose -- read his foreword in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless), so there were often two or three tape recorders on the table at the front of the classroom. Nibley was completely oblivious to them. During one lecture, he tripped over the electrical cord of one of the machines, and it crashed to the floor breaking into several pieces. Nibley didn't even pause, but simply continued on giving his lecture.

I also had the opportunity to check his footnotes for "Treasures in the Heavens" -- there were more pages of footnotes than pages of the essay itself -- before it was published in Old Testament and Related Studies (the first volume in the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley series published by FARMS). It was a daunting task because the sources were in a dozen languages: German, French, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Italian. It was made easier because Nibley's pencil notes (!) in the books in the BYU Library he had used as his sources often guided me to the quotes. I relied heavily on senior scholars to confirm Nibley's translations. But often, I simply had to consult with Nibley himself.

Given his incredible gifts and the cosmic sweep of his scholarship, the man himself was completely unpretentious. I was gratified that he remembered me and greeted me by name whenever we passed on campus.

Well fought the fight, good soldier. "May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Source:http://oddbits3.blogspot.com/2005/02/hugh-nibley-1910-2005.html
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. - Plato

User avatar
maklelan
God
Posts: 4999
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:51 am

Post by maklelan »

VegasRefugee wrote:
Jersey Girl wrote:Having read only a few articles written by Hugh Nibley, I'd have to take "genius at misdirection" for 200$, Alex. My opinion so far...

Jersey Girl


Nibley was the apologist prophet. I bet if he was just a little bit more tossed up by the task to prove the Mormon god existed he would have blown his brains out.

He delivered an exercise in comparative mythology.

He's like a tolkein literary scholar drawing threads to germany/mordor except theres more value in the Tolkien fantasy world...like an enjoyable story and realistic characters.

Joes characters seem like a post pubescent country boys masturbation fantasy, his stories worse than some of the plots I created after smoking up the Ganj.


One man who spoke several languages fluently and published extensively is being heavily criticized by a man who doesn't even speak English properly (his only language, as far as I can tell) loves to make jokes about pederasty and masturbation, and who smokes pot. I wish I had as firm a grasp on reality as those of this board who think this man and his arguments are respectable in the least, because it makes absolutely no sense to me and everyone here seems to think it's fine.
I like you Betty...

My blog

User avatar
Gazelam
Lightbearer
Posts: 5659
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:06 pm

Video biography

Post by Gazelam »

Click here:http://maxwellinstitute.BYU.edu/multimedia/index.php?cat=NIBLEY to view a biography entitled "Faith of an Observer"

Its really excellent and I own a copy myself. The great part is when he starts expounding on the Egyptian Temple rights and how they stole them from the writings of Noah. Great stuff.

I love to read Hugh Nibleys works. Kerry Shirts has a website that discusses them at length. http://backyardprofessor.typepad.com/the_backyard_professor/
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. - Plato

User avatar
Mercury
God
Posts: 5543
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:14 am

Post by Mercury »

maklelan wrote:
VegasRefugee wrote:
Jersey Girl wrote:Having read only a few articles written by Hugh Nibley, I'd have to take "genius at misdirection" for 200$, Alex. My opinion so far...

Jersey Girl


Nibley was the apologist prophet. I bet if he was just a little bit more tossed up by the task to prove the Mormon god existed he would have blown his brains out.

He delivered an exercise in comparative mythology.

He's like a tolkein literary scholar drawing threads to germany/mordor except theres more value in the Tolkien fantasy world...like an enjoyable story and realistic characters.

Joes characters seem like a post pubescent country boys masturbation fantasy, his stories worse than some of the plots I created after smoking up the Ganj-and Mac is a fag


One man who spoke several languages fluently and published extensively is being heavily criticized by a man who doesn't even speak English properly (his only language, as far as I can tell) loves to make jokes about pederasty and masturbation, and who smokes pot. I wish I had as firm a grasp on reality as those of this board who think this man and his arguments are respectable in the least, because it makes absolutely no sense to me and everyone here seems to think it's fine.


To say I do not have a grasp on reality is immature and based on your interpretation of my interpretations, you cult peddling numb nutz.

Ignorant generalizations concerning Monolinguists, pot smokers and those with potty mouths. Gawd man, Do you think you can come up with an argument based on my argument instead of this jerk-off BS we have to put up with every time you open your mouth?

I for once would like you to concisely break apart any of my arguments instead of the hohum form letter character assassination that is your stock and trade?
And crawling on the planet's face
Some insects called the human race
Lost in time
And lost in space...and meaning

User avatar
Mercury
God
Posts: 5543
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:14 am

Re: Video biography

Post by Mercury »

Gazelam wrote:Click here:http://maxwellinstitute.BYU.edu/multimedia/index.php?cat=NIBLEY to view a biography entitled "Faith of an Observer"

Its really excellent and I own a copy myself. The great part is when he starts expounding on the Egyptian Temple rights and how they stole them from the writings of Noah. Great stuff.

I love to read Hugh Nibleys works. Kerry Shirts has a website that discusses them at length. http://backyardprofessor.typepad.com/the_backyard_professor/


Wow, considering that Noah never existed THAT makes a whole HELL of a lot of sense.

(end of sarcasm)

Gazzy, Noah never existed. How can someone steal a nonexistent persons ceremonies?

Nibley was a crackpot. You just proved it.
And crawling on the planet's face
Some insects called the human race
Lost in time
And lost in space...and meaning

User avatar
Gazelam
Lightbearer
Posts: 5659
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:06 pm

Post by Gazelam »

Noah never existed? Now whos showing their ignorance?

Even those who don't believe in his Prophetship and don't believe in a global flood accept that there was a Noah. I just watched a discovery channel special where they stated that the real Noah was some phonecian barge merchant who outlasted a flood by eating and drinking his cargo. This based on ancient writings they have found that mention a Noah who outlasted a flood.

Try again my verbose, obscenity spewing friend who has run from the flood of illegals here in Vegas. Whats wrong, you get tired of all the billboards you couldent read here in town?
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. - Plato

User avatar
Mercury
God
Posts: 5543
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:14 am

Post by Mercury »

Gazelam wrote:Noah never existed? Now whos showing their ignorance?

Even those who don't believe in his Prophetship and don't believe in a global flood accept that there was a Noah. I just watched a discovery channel special where they stated that the real Noah was some phonecian barge merchant who outlasted a flood by eating and drinking his cargo. This based on ancient writings they have found that mention a Noah who outlasted a flood.

Try again my verbose, obscenity spewing friend who has run from the flood of illegals here in Vegas. Whats wrong, you get tired of all the billboards you couldent read here in town?


When did he live (and not the b***s*** discovery channel, im talking peer reviewed concensus),? Where are the writings of noah the egyptians ganked? What elements in the Noah ceremony were gleaned from the egyptian ceremonies?

You have nothing but poorly understood mythologies you can defend Nibley, the know-nothing crackpot.
Last edited by Mercury on Sun Mar 11, 2007 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
And crawling on the planet's face
Some insects called the human race
Lost in time
And lost in space...and meaning

User avatar
Mercury
God
Posts: 5543
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:14 am

Post by Mercury »

maklelan wrote:
I am, in reality, a homosexual.



I KNEW it!!!
And crawling on the planet's face
Some insects called the human race
Lost in time
And lost in space...and meaning

harmony
God
Posts: 18195
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:35 pm

Post by harmony »

VegasRefugee wrote:
maklelan wrote:
I am, in reality, a homosexual.



I KNEW it!!!


Vegas, quit fiddling around with mak's words. It's not nice, and the homosexuals I know would never claim him as one of their own.

User avatar
Gazelam
Lightbearer
Posts: 5659
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:06 pm

Post by Gazelam »

Noah was born around 2944 B.C., putting the Flood at roughly 2344 B.C. This according to W. Cleon Skousen's fold out chart in the back of his book "The First 2,000 years". I'm not a big Skousen fan, but that was the first source I could think of to answer your question.

In regards to stealing the writings of Noah, this comes from the Pearl of great Price. Abr. 1:21-28

21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.
22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.
23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;
24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.
26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;
28 But I shall endeavor, hereafter, to delineate the chronology running back from myself to the beginning of the creation, for the records have come into my hands, which I hold unto this present time.

So there you have it. Being denied the priesthood because he was carrying the curse of Cain, he took the writings of Noah and made his own religion. That is why the Egyption temple ceremonies so closely resemble the true temple teachings. Watch the video I linked, he explains it.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. - Plato

User avatar
maklelan
God
Posts: 4999
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:51 am

Post by maklelan »

VegasRefugee wrote:To say I do not have a grasp on reality is immature and based on your interpretation of my interpretations, you cult peddling numb nutz.


You misunderstand. I was being facetious by saying that I must not have a grip on reality because everyone else seems to think your opinions are rational, but they seem utterly ludicrous to me.

VegasRefugee wrote:Ignorant generalizations concerning Monolinguists, pot smokers and those with potty mouths. Gawd man, Do you think you can come up with an argument based on my argument instead of this jerk-off BS we have to put up with every time you open your mouth?


I forget that your posts are so much more mature and intellectual than mine.

VegasRefugee wrote:I for once would like you to concisely break apart any of my arguments instead of the hohum form letter character assassination that is your stock and trade?


Every time I show that your arguments are ludicrous you just stop posting. Then I have to insult you to get you to respond, but then you never engage the evidence. I was making a general observation and rather hoped that others would respond concerning the board's general approval of your idiotic posts. How do I get under your skin so much that you have to resort to quoting something i never said just to make yourself feel better? Is your life that pathetic?
I like you Betty...

My blog

harmony
God
Posts: 18195
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:35 pm

Post by harmony »

Gazelam wrote:Noah was born around 2944 B.C., putting the Flood at roughly 2344 B.C. This according to W. Cleon Skousen's fold out chart in the back of his book "The First 2,000 years". I'm not a big Skousen fan, but that was the first source I could think of to answer your question.


Psst. Gazelam. I hate to break it to ya, but he's not going to accept Skousen as an expert either. He's not going to accept anyone except a verifiable source, like an ancient relic or papyrus with Noah's name and address on it, and the museum in which said relic is kept. Noah's kinda like Adam... there doesn't seem to be any non-religious mention of him. That's the trouble with ancient myths. They just don't stand up to the glaring light of substantive sources.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot] and 14 guests