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Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 2:30 pm
by Dr Moore
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... ion-1.html

I am completely floored by the part in bold. It seems a giant leap towards de-literalizing the Book of Mormon.

Skousen appears to be saying that God performed the creative and cultural translation. Is there some other way I should read the statement? This would suggest that it was not Joseph's bricolage at all, or in any way, but God doing all of that as a service for Joseph in advance, and showing the precise words as dictated on the stone/instrument. Whether or not that explanation is to be embraced, Skousen is clearly de-literalizing the book's historical claims, is he not?

All of this quoting from the King James Bible is problematic, but only if we assume that the Book of Mormon translation literally represents what was on the plates. Yet the evidence in The Nature of the Original Language (parts 3 and 4 of volume 3 of the critical text) argues that the Book of Mormon translation is tied to Early Modern English, and that even the themes of the Book of Mormon are connected to the Protestant Reformation, dating from the same time period. What this means is that the Book of Mormon is a creative and cultural translation of what was on the plates, not a literal one. Based on the linguistic evidence, the translation must have involved serious intervention from the English-language translator, who was not Joseph Smith. Nonetheless, the text was revealed to Joseph Smith by means of his translation instrument, and he read it off word for word to his scribe. To our modern-day, skeptical minds, this is indeed “a marvelous work and a wonder”.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 2:53 pm
by moksha
If not for the discrepancy in the timeline, wonder if Skousen was suggesting Jules Verne or H.G. Wells as the unknown author?

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:49 pm
by Shulem
Apostate Skousen wrote:What this means is that the Book of Mormon is a creative and cultural translation of what was on the plates, not a literal one.


As opposed to:

Joseph Smith wrote:I wish to mention here, that the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title-page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon, as recorded on the plates.


I move that Skousen be excommunicated for teaching false doctrine and trampling on the words of Joseph Smith! The Book of Mormon was a literal translation! The very title page of the Book of Mormon was a literal translation.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:28 pm
by Fence Sitter
Skousen wrote:All of this quoting from the King James Bible is problematic, but only if we assume that the Book of Mormon translation literally represents what was on the plates. Yet the evidence in The Nature of the Original Language (parts 3 and 4 of volume 3 of the critical text) argues that the Book of Mormon translation is tied to Early Modern English, and that even the themes of the Book of Mormon are connected to the Protestant Reformation, dating from the same time period.


The KJB itself is intricately tied to the Reformation. Four-Fifths of the New Testament in the KJB is simply Tyndale's work from eighty years before. By imitating language in the KJB when he made up the Book of Mormon, Joseph was aping EmoD.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:55 pm
by Dr Exiled
I think we are witnessing a robbery in progress. How much has Skousen taken from the interpreter over the years?

I have a new theory: Inter-dimensional, shape-shifting Nephites. These guys could travel through space and time and take on pretty much any form one can think of and they are known for their inventive theories about ghost committees. In fact, here is one posing as Dr. Skousen:

Image

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:39 pm
by Gadianton
You are reading correctly, Dr. Moore. The apologists barely care about Book of Mormon history anymore, anything they can get there is gravy. Their express concern has been that the book itself is historical. What if it's a historical novel? Well, I've psychoanalyzed the apologists and I've determined that their deep hidden concern has little to do with it being history (what they go after the new MI for being coy about) but rather, it needs to have been produced in a miraculous way, such that critics can't explain it. Skousen's theory, oddly, does exactly what the new MI's work has done at the end of the day, and "brackets" the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. If you watch enough Skousen on Youtube, I think you will find that he does claim there to be Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon, which can't be explained by EmodE, thus seemingly staying true to the Book of Mormon as a historical document. But it does no such thing. A Hebraism with Joseph Smith as author is impressive, how could he have known! But a translation committee in the spirit world, surrounded by all the greatest books in the universe, and with plenty of time to kill? They could have gotten the Hebraisms from anywhere. Oh yes, the apologists are onboard, because Joseph Smith can't cover either the Hebraisms or the EmodE, it's miraculous! That's what they really care about. Explain that, critics! But the Book of Mormon can now be miraculous without being a historical document. And since the evidence for it as historical is so utterly atrocious, if Skousen's theory were to take root, which I doubt, but if it does, then slowly but surely, the non-historical yet miraculous theories will be explored.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:48 pm
by Lemmie
But the Book of Mormon can now be miraculous without being a historical document.

Gadianton, if I could be so bold as to suggest a variation on this, Skousen’s work allows the Book of Mormon to be miraculous, without Joseph Smith being held accountable for it not being a historical document.

It’s genius, really. It takes the question of fakery totally out of the picture, because if it was a fake, it was the faker masquerading as a ghost committee faking it, NOT Joseph Smith. His honor and intent are intact, and the historicity is someone else’s problem.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:57 pm
by Lemmie
Another thought. This frames the gold plates as fraudulently manufactured artifact in a different light. Suppose Smith nobly but misguidedly intended to convince his companions of the divinity of his ghost committee- seer stone communications. He was positive that the ghost committee sent him a translation from literal gold plates, but how could he convince others of that if they, NOT he, had the gold plates?

Answer: convince them he did have plates by making a set of fake ones. Problem solved. Sneakily and dishonestly, but whatever. Eyes on the prize.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:18 pm
by Dr Moore
I am so confused. Where are the hidden cameras? Is this Punk’d?

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:27 pm
by consiglieri
It almost seems like Professor Skousen is willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads.



Except to the obvious conclusion.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:39 pm
by Doctor CamNC4Me
Zzyzx Zybisco > Dr Moore • 4 hours ago • edited
Either God or someone He commissioned. I like to think it was Moroni, or maybe one of the Three Nephites.


Kinda puts a whole new spin on ghostwriting...

- Doc

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:49 pm
by Doctor Scratch
Dr Moore wrote:I am so confused. Where are the hidden cameras? Is this Punk’d?


Hopefully, Dr. Moore, you can see why I picked this--i.e., the "Ghost Committee"--as the 10th most important Mopologetic development of the past decade. It is absolutely bonkers. And remember: the Interpreter Foundation has sunk something like a quarter of a million dollars into this project! (Or, maybe Mormon Voices / the Church itself did?)

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:50 pm
by honorentheos
Lemmie wrote:
But the Book of Mormon can now be miraculous without being a historical document.

Gadianton, if I could be so bold as to suggest a variation on this, Skousen’s work allows the Book of Mormon to be miraculous, without Joseph Smith being held accountable for it not being a historical document.

It’s genius, really. It takes the question of fakery totally out of the picture, because if it was a fake, it was the faker masquerading as a ghost committee faking it, NOT Joseph Smith. His honor and intent are intact, and the historicity is someone else’s problem.

I think this is a great suggested variation. Joseph remains the world's greatest guesser whether or not the Book of Mormon needs to align with facts regarding the Mayans or simply demonstrate linguistic characteristics unfamiliar to the day-to-day workings of an American farm boy in the early 19th C. US frontier.

They just need to find anything that distracts from the obvious 19th C. parallels in the book and viola! How could Joseph have known? Therefore, the Church is true. Or at least truish. At least as truish as needed to claim that God is behind it so it is good and one need not look outside it for something better.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:52 pm
by Doctor Scratch
Gadianton wrote:You are reading correctly, Dr. Moore. The apologists barely care about Book of Mormon history anymore, anything they can get there is gravy. Their express concern has been that the book itself is historical. What if it's a historical novel? Well, I've psychoanalyzed the apologists and I've determined that their deep hidden concern has little to do with it being history (what they go after the new MI for being coy about) but rather, it needs to have been produced in a miraculous way, such that critics can't explain it. Skousen's theory, oddly, does exactly what the new MI's work has done at the end of the day, and "brackets" the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. If you watch enough Skousen on Youtube, I think you will find that he does claim there to be Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon, which can't be explained by EmodE, thus seemingly staying true to the Book of Mormon as a historical document. But it does no such thing. A Hebraism with Joseph Smith as author is impressive, how could he have known! But a translation committee in the spirit world, surrounded by all the greatest books in the universe, and with plenty of time to kill? They could have gotten the Hebraisms from anywhere. Oh yes, the apologists are onboard, because Joseph Smith can't cover either the Hebraisms or the EmodE, it's miraculous! That's what they really care about. Explain that, critics! But the Book of Mormon can now be miraculous without being a historical document. And since the evidence for it as historical is so utterly atrocious, if Skousen's theory were to take root, which I doubt, but if it does, then slowly but surely, the non-historical yet miraculous theories will be explored.


Dean Robbers:

Do you really think that they are going to use this to try and bail themselves out of the LGT?

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:15 pm
by Dr Exiled
It's such a crazy theory that some other person translated the plates when all the Mormon god had to do was directly dictate the book like he supposedly did with the book of Moses. Or perhaps prepare it and give the finished copy to the world. But, magic ....

It puts unnecessary complexity into the story and the simple explanation why the supposed archaic structures (EmodE) are there is because our favorite charlatan wanted to appear biblical. It won't sell. It'll make Mormons more of a laughing stock than they already are. Does the Holy Fund want to save mystery at the expense of sanity?

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:34 pm
by Gadianton
Lemmie wrote:Gadianton, if I could be so bold as to suggest a variation on this, Skousen’s work allows the Book of Mormon to be miraculous, without Joseph Smith being held accountable for it not being a historical document.


Yes Lemmie, you may be that bold. I permit it.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:46 pm
by Gadianton
Doctor Scratch wrote:Do you really think that they are going to use this to try and bail themselves out of the LGT?


No. The apologists are too stupid to control their own destiny like that. They never see beyond twenty meters of wherever they are, which is why the GAs might use them to settle a quick score here and there, but don't bring them into the board room for serious consultation.

The apologists don't realize that their regard for historicity is so shallow. They are attracted to the EmodE stuff to a moderate degree because it deals with taking the English language so seriously -- you know, the whole anglophile thing. But mainly it's another "How could he have known!" theory. But they are fixated superficially to that magic without considering the implications. If they do get far enough to throw that goo on the wall to see if it sticks, it won't be because they had planned it, but because in that moment it makes sense to say it.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:03 am
by Lemmie
Gadianton wrote:
Lemmie wrote:Gadianton, if I could be so bold as to suggest a variation on this, Skousen’s work allows the Book of Mormon to be miraculous, without Joseph Smith being held accountable for it not being a historical document.

Yes Lemmie, you may be that bold. I permit it.

:lol: You are too kind.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:37 am
by Lemmie
Gadianton wrote:The apologists don't realize that their regard for historicity is so shallow. They are attracted to the EmodE stuff to a moderate degree because it deals with taking the English language so seriously -- you know, the whole anglophile thing. But mainly it's another "How could he have known!" theory. But they are fixated superficially to that magic without considering the implications. If they do get far enough to throw that goo on the wall to see if it sticks, it won't be because they had planned it, but because in that moment it makes sense to say it.

I have to agree with this being a superficial, or at the very least, not a thoughtful fixation. Midgley gave something away recently that speaks directly to this blindness.

Midgley

The previous tiny little difference of opinion that Professor Peterson and I had with "Little Old Donkey" over whether the traces of the DNA of the three migrations mentioned in the Book of Mormon now be present in all native Americans rests on ignorance of the reasons this simply has to be so.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... 4759479061

the reasons this simply HAS to be? That's the basis for a mopologists' evaluation of evidence?

In my opinion, current Maxwell Institute publications don't make this error. Faith is faith, and arguing for believing by faith in the context of some motivational Mormon Studies paper is far less egregious of a presentation than making the error of assuming the conclusion in pseudo-scientific analyses such as those found in playground peer reviewed Interpreter papers. (Hint, hint, Messrs Dale.)

An error like the one Midgley makes above, in a publication presented as a scientific analysis, is inexcusable. Notwithstanding Sic et Non staff writers' attempts to denigrate nonreligious views, the Interpreter presents more "scientism" than science. Midgley's comment explains why.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:57 am
by Physics Guy
Royal Skousen wrote:[T]he Book of Mormon is a creative and cultural translation of what was on the plates, not a literal one.

To employ a phrase which is one of the great Mormon contributions to culture, what does that even mean?

Did the glyphs on the plates literally have Captain Moroni writing on his coat about some ancient value like ritual cleanness instead of the 19th century American ideal of Liberty? If we're not talking about changes that big, then I don't think we're solving the problem of anachronism in the Book of Mormon. If we are talking about changes that big, though, then how is the Book of Mormon a translation at all? It's more like one of those movies loosely "based on" a book.

And if God is only kind of riffing off these ancient records, and not really passing them on unchanged, then why does God even bother with the plates at all? If the original story of the Nephites wasn't good enough for the Restoration then why didn't God just make up a better inspiratonal story and reveal that to Smith through the rock in the hat? Well, gee, maybe that's just what God did. There were no Nephites at all—God just made up that part.

Okay, it's not really a long, slippery slope straight from Skousen's admission of "cultural" translation all the way down to the Book of Mormon being entirely a 19th-century fiction. Skousen could insist that the liberties that God took with the real ancient text were not unlimited, but merely a bit larger than a literal translation would allow.

But it's not a short and gentle slope, either. The anachronisms are large and important. The liberties which must have been taken, if the Book of Mormon was derived from an ancient text, must have been quite substantial. And once one starts reading the Book of Mormon with the idea that any given passage might have been re-imagined for a 19th century audience, rather than faithfully representing an ancient world view, then one is no longer reading the Book of Mormon in order to see an ancient world view.

In "creative and cultural translation" a little leaven leavens the lump. A translation with extensive re-imagining, to the level of inserting major themes, is like a documentary film in which major scenes are re-enactments. It doesn't take very much of that at all before the whole film stops being a reliable documentary and becomes speculative story-telling.

So if one accepts "creative and cultural translation" then even if one still believes that the ancient Nephites really existed, the fact that they really existed becomes irrelevant. And once the real existence of the Nephites no longer matters, it's a very short step to acknowledging that maybe they didn't really exist after all. Skousen's slippery slope may not be a black diamond route but it's not just the bunny hill.

Re: Skousen: creative and cultural translation

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:12 am
by Dr Moore
And now it all makes sense, but it makes no sense at all. The theory or anything resembling it has got to be the absolute most absurd idea I have ever heard in my entire life in Mormonism!

Also, given that Skousen has now publicly asserted that Joseph was NOT the translator, has he not by implication fulfilled the $100 challenge?