Skousen: creative and cultural translation

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Gadianton
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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Gadianton »

I really wanted to get back to Dr. Moore's point but one more, as the Sic et Non comment section is hurling towards fiction with breakneck acceleration.

The same Jr. tier guy who expressed doubt about the "conglomerate" Sermon on the Mount says:

Elliot wrote:Answering my own comment re: "I believe it is still a translation of an actual thing Jesus said, not an addition or conglomeration that some 16th century English translator decided to attribute to Jesus." I should add: unless that translator is Jesus himself.


Breathtaking.

And he's supported by the slightly more seasoned Jr. apologist Mike Post:

Mike wrote:Elliot, you've hit on a valid point, and it is a topic that we do not address very often. Inasmuch as He is God, Christ has power to speak of His own accord.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Dr Exiled
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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

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I don't know how many here watched the old 70's Shazam T.V. show but I think it might have some connection to the "ghost committee." In the show, a boy was granted super powers, that enabled him to turn into Captian Marvel, by a committee of sorts that consisted of Greek Gods. The boy would travel around the U.S. in a motorhome with an old man, getting into adventures, solving crimes. Lights would flash from a console in between the driver and passenger and the boy would be taken up to visit the committee and learn what his next adventure would be. The committee would tell him something like "today you will meet someone who doesn't tell the truth."

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9NLuRZ3A76U

Perhaps Joseph Smith, in revelations obviously too sacred to tell, would be summoned to visit the ghost committee from time to time to learn of his calling and adventures? Perhaps like "today you will rendezvous with a fair maiden in the barn to 'discuss' certain transactions?

Maybe there is something to this theory of ghosts writing the book of Mormon after all?
Last edited by Dr Exiled on Sat Jan 25, 2020 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Physics Guy
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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Physics Guy »

The final judgment of God, coming from a fully-developed Christian culture, wouldn't work in literal Nephite translation, of all things? ...

I mean, taken far enough, we can legitimately ask whether the Nephites actually practiced Christianity...? Maybe they worshiped an owl who sacrificed itself for all the other owls, but that's a creative and cultural translation of Christ.

Good point. If the Nephites were anything like what the Book of Mormon makes them out to be, then the need for creative translation cannot have been so great. If they weren’t, then the excuse of creative translation cannot stretch all that far.

How much sense does it make to have a creative translation of McDonald’s? Sure, some countries might feature McSquid and some not, but it’s either the same McD’s or it’s not. Christianity is a pretty distinctive brand.

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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Physics Guy »

Skousen believes the Sermon on the Mount really happened as a conglomerate, but since DCP believes that Skousen believes that "The Sermon on the Mount really happened", "The Sermon on the Mount really happened iff the Sermon on the Mount is a unity" is false. DCP believes the Sermon on the Mount really happened, and personally believes it happened as a unity, but he admits it's possible to believe the Sermon on the Mount is a conglomerate and also believe that The Sermon on the Mount really happened. This is one giant step toward a future fictional theory.

Nicely parsed.

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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Lemmie »

When I was young, my Dad disapproved of me reading The Chronicles of Narnia. When I asked why, he said it was because of the story of Aslan, the lion who rose from the dead after offering himself as a sacrifice in the place of another character. In his opinion, the story was too similar to the New Testament story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the fact that C. S. Lewis’ retelling was creatively fictionalized with a cultural setting more acceptable to his intended audience might make people think that the scriptural version was fiction also.

I didn’t think much of his argument then (because what is a world without the option of diving into a million different fictional worlds fantastically created in the minds of my favorite authors?) and continued reading, but in light of Skousen’s comment, it’s making a little more sense. To paraphrase my Dad’s objection:

“Translating ancient history into a setting that is more suited to a different time period by making cultural and creative changes to the literal story makes the resulting story, no matter how historical the original, virtually indistinguishable from fiction.”

I think Skousen’s concept is more a surrender, albeit subconsciously, to the idea that it is simply not possible to literally reconcile the Book of Mormon, as is, with real world history. It has to be read as fiction, because it clearly isn’t non-fiction.

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Philo Sofee
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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Philo Sofee »

Interesting post Lemmie.........Richard Carrier's refutation of a historical Jesus gets stronger by the month......this is precisely one of his points in his research. Everything assumed to be history could have been written as detailed fiction...
Is Midgely serious? Peterson's blog is a patty-cake, surface only, all too frequently plagiarized bit of ephemeral nonsense. Why would anyone suppose avatars must be real? Midgley has lost his tiny little mind. Maybe he can go over to never-neverland and harass Peter Pan for not really knowing how to fly. -Lemmie-

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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Manetho »

Philo Sofee wrote:Everything assumed to be history could have been written as detailed fiction...


Except, as Kishkumen and Symmachus said here years ago, ancient writers didn't think like modern historical novelists.

Symmachus wrote: For one thing, the conception of massive cultural change over time is not something that existed as it does for us, and history was viewed cyclically rather than linearly, so anachronism did not pose problems and thus did not diminish plausibility. As a result, modern historians can detect when a story might be invented in an otherwise sober text from antiquity because they can track the anachronisms (Ammianus Marcellinus's Gallic excursus is a great example). We should therefore expect a made up story to contain a host of anachronisms, but the gospels contain very few and these are not wild anachronisms (which actually helps us date them relative to each other and relative to other events). Adding accurate historical details would not help meet the threshold of plausibility, since anachronism was irrelevant…

…the amount of accurate detail in the gospels is astonishing for an invented text: about how the Roman government worked in Palestine in first century (which was radically different from how it worked in the second century!), the sheer existence of the synoptic problem, the nuances of the Jewish communities in the first century that didn't exist in the second—one could go on, but the basic point must be grasped that the amount and level of detail in the gospels would mean, if Carrier is right, there must have been at least one researcher (probably more) with a curiously anachronistic post-enlightenment sense of historiography who was endowed with philological skills unparalleled in antiquity.


I'm not sure if I should have posted this, and I don't want to derail this thread, but the more I read about Jesus mythicism, the more I'm convinced that it's dumb. Not nearly as dumb as believing that the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham are history, but I first showed up here because the Book of Abraham is a stupid imposition of 19th-century ideas onto ancient Egypt, and its defenders have to ignore a mountain of evidence against it. I think some of the same thought patterns, although less severe, are at work in Jesus mythicism. In order to work, it has to ignore numerous references to Jesus as a human being in Paul's letters, as well as at least two early, independent references to Jesus (see here and here), and it has to twist the way the people of the first-century Roman Empire actually thought and behaved.

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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Gadianton »

The apologists are congratulating themselves on Sic et Non for their great understandings of linguistics, relating times when a foreign language teacher showed them that a certain phrase in a foreign language is meaningless in English. Mr. Midgley boasts of being a great translator of Kant. Others speak of delving into Egyptian and Greek. They understand what's going on in the Book of Mormon and why a creative translation is necessary. But within their impressive learning and bravado is no point at all that I can see. That certain Klingon dishes can't be named properly in English is a pedestrian point, and it doesn't appear to be the point that Skousen is making.

Do they mean to interpret Skousen as saying that all translation is creative translation? If so, why call it a "creative translation," isn't that redundant? Skousen seems to be saying that a "creative translation" is a special case of translation, but it's not clear to me to what extent Skousen means the Book of Mormon is a creative translation or why a creative translation is necessary. For instance, it's easy to understand why a Klingon dish is difficult to describe in English. However, to "sit at meat" vs. Da Vinci's "last supper" is a totally different example. Is it not possible to draw people from Galilee sitting in the dirt and eating a humble meal without utensils? (or whatever it actually was) Skousen's other example is creating the Sermon on the Mount to cover various disparate sermons. Was it impossible to describe the disparate sayings as they happened in their various contexts? It doesn't seem that what Skousen is saying has anything at all to do with the vacuous points the insufferable rubes in the comments section are making about the difficulty of translating certain foreign or ancient ideas into English. And it seems that what Skousen is actually saying, contrary to his denials, is that a "creative translation" is in fact at the very least, a mythologizing translation, if not a fictionalizing one (by the apologists own standards even; see DCP's disagreement over Sermon on Mount).

I didn't mean to expend so many words on that point. That point is an introduction to getting back to Dr. Moore's point:

Dr. Moore wrote:I mean, taken far enough, we can legitimately ask whether the Nephites actually practiced Christianity... did they, or was that also a creative and cultural translation?


Moore introduces a fascinating constraint. Given "Christianity" is a holistic practice -- there are a lot of moving parts that all work together -- how is it possible that the Sacrament prayer that must be followed word-for-word when we bless the sacrament today and "do over" if a word is missed, is literal, but "judgment bar" is creative? I get that in everyday discourse, we mix figurative language in with literal language all the time, but this is a case of translation decision. It really does seem to be that "Christianity" within the Book of Mormon is most consistently on the whole, a creative cultural translation as Moore suggests.

This problem with expansions being fictional to a degree isn't new with Skousen. But there is something new that is very interesting to me. Whereas an expansion by Joseph Smith is a constraint of the mind of Joseph and represents "weaknesses of men", in Skousen's theory, the expansions are conspiratorial-level choices. The Ghost Committee had decades or centuries in the spirit world with all the best scholarship from the great Spirit Library at their disposal, and it's even worse if you choose Jesus himself as the translator. A choice was made to produce a flamboyant "Da Vinci's Last Supper" epic. And so argue until blue in the face that it was ultimately based on something that was historical, but just as Moby Dick wouldn't have lessons that are any better had it been real, we are taking a turn into the realm of the literary rather than the historical, and eventually, some sharp apologist out there will understand one day that Ockham's razor prefers an entirely fictional Book of Mormon in the case you've gone to the lengths of having a spirit world committee produce an epic work of 15th century literature. And with it, as Lemmie points out, all the problems with historicity are flushed.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Kishkumen
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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Kishkumen »

I would say that a creative and cultural translation is one in which the real history and culture of an ancient people is overlaid and obscured by a hybrid of European and later Native American ideas via the Ghost Committee. The results are so far from the real history of Ancient America that some would be tempted to call it fiction.
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Tom
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Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Post by Tom »

For the benefit of Dr. Peterson and other readers here, I wish to note that video of Dr. Skousen's presentation has been posted online here. Drs. Peterson and Carmack provide introductions.

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