EAllusion wrote:This is different in that the phrasing and content, in context, is so similar to Book of Mormon at points that it is a good potential candidate to establish direct narrative influence. I don't think we've realistically seen that before. It plainly is something deserving further study. To hand-wave it as nothing new, especially with some very weak references, seems desperate and beneath the usual quality of Nevo's comments.
Sorry to be a disappointment, EAllusion. I thought some of the references I gave were pretty strong. I think Eran Shalev's new book should be the starting point for any serious discussion of similarities and differences between the Book of Mormon and other pseudo-biblical writing in the post-Revolutionary period.
I can understand why the ex-Mormon crowd is salivating over this, particularly those whose knowledge of Joseph Smith's cultural context is next to nil, but I'll be very surprised if this "find" (Rick Grunder should be suing!) gets any traction among serious students of the period (I'm thinking here of folks like Jared Hickman
So far I haven't seen anything to persuade me that Hunt's book is the
source, or even a
source, for the Book of Mormon. The linguistic and thematic similarities I have seen pointed out so far do not rise to the level of establishing literary influence, much less dependence. Most strike me as superficial (e.g., "curious workmanship"). Perhaps a cumulative case can be made. Time will tell. But I'm not holding my breath.
Is there nineteenth-century influence in the Book of Mormon? I think there plainly is. Blake Ostler, Richard Bushman, Terryl Givens, Philip Barlow, Mark Thomas, Dan Vogel, and numerous other scholars have pointed this out. I myself have pointed out such things (see, for example, here
). Is this a problem for believers? Not really. If God wanted to tailor the Book of Mormon to a nineteenth-century readership (cf. 1 Nephi 19:24; Mormon 8:35), why should it be otherwise? As Terryl Givens has written, "nineteenth-century parallels . . . are part and parcel of the self-proclaimed prophetic texture of the work."