From Nephi: A can do kinda guy (Book of Mormon as a white, colonial text)

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_Kishkumen
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From Nephi: A can do kinda guy (Book of Mormon as a white, colonial text)

Post by _Kishkumen »

The Book of Mormon is a white man's attempt to give the Native Americans a Christian foundation myth. It does incorporate some ideas from Native American culture, but it is so obviously, from start to finish, a white colonial text that it baffles me that anyone would bother arguing that it is a genuinely ancient Native American document.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
_Runtu
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Runtu »

Kishkumen wrote:The Book of Mormon is a white man's attempt to give the Native Americans a Christian foundation myth. It does incorporate some ideas from Native American culture, but it is so obviously, from start to finish, a white colonial text that it baffles me that anyone would bother arguing that it is a genuinely ancient Native American document.


Yep. To be fair, it didn't always seem that obvious to me. Even learning a little about the cultural environment around Joseph Smith's day and place, you immediately see it's just an expression of what white people were thinking.
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_Water Dog
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Water Dog »

Kishkumen wrote:The Book of Mormon is a white man's attempt to give the Native Americans a Christian foundation myth. It does incorporate some ideas from Native American culture, but it is so obviously, from start to finish, a white colonial text that it baffles me that anyone would bother arguing that it is a genuinely ancient Native American document.

I earnestly wish someone would take the time to write a book dedicated to this point. The closest attempt is Grant Palmer's "Mormon Origins" book, but obviously he lacked the requisite background to really dig into the literary and historical themes. He does a great job of offering an emotionless presentation of the facts pertaining to translation, though. Someone with a background in history and religion/theology needs to tackle this. Hint, hint.
_Kishkumen
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Kishkumen »

Water Dog wrote:I earnestly wish someone would take the time to write a book dedicated to this point. The closest attempt is Grant Palmer's "Mormon Origins" book, but obviously he lacked the requisite background to really dig into the literary and historical themes. He does a great job of offering an emotionless presentation of the facts pertaining to translation, though. Someone with a background in history and religion/theology needs to tackle this. Hint, hint.


It is a topic that is waiting for the right scholar. I have poked around enough to see it, but I lack the expertise and talent to do it the right way. I know others in the Mormon Studies community are beginning to do the right kind of work to really illuminate this, but some of them are LDS, so there are limits to what they will say and how they will say it. We can see the future of Book of Mormon Studies, but it will be a while before the right scholar with the right voice will put it all together. In the meantime, a lot of good work is being done by both LDS and non-LDS scholars.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
_Runtu
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Runtu »

Kishkumen wrote:It is a topic that is waiting for the right scholar. I have poked around enough to see it, but I lack the expertise and talent to do it the right way. I know others in the Mormon Studies community are beginning to do the right kind of work to really illuminate this, but some of them are LDS, so there are limits to what they will say and how they will say it. We can see the future of Book of Mormon Studies, but it will be a while before the right scholar with the right voice will put it all together. In the meantime, a lot of good work is being done by both LDS and non-LDS scholars.


My guess is the reason this has not been done is that for most scholars of that part of American history, the connection between frontier American ideas and the Book of Mormon is obvious.
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_Kishkumen
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Kishkumen »

Runtu wrote:My guess is the reason this has not been done is that for most scholars of that part of American history, the connection between frontier American ideas and the Book of Mormon is obvious.


Maybe, but that does not hinder scholarship. The time is perhaps not yet ripe, but I think it will be before long. We understand so much more, and people are putting things together in ways they have not done before. I think the topic will hit a certain "critical mass" and then we will see the kind of historical interpretation we desire.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
_Runtu
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Runtu »

Kishkumen wrote:Maybe, but that does not hinder scholarship. The time is perhaps not yet ripe, but I think it will be before long. We understand so much more, and people are putting things together in ways they have not done before. I think the topic will hit a certain "critical mass" and then we will see the kind of historical interpretation we desire.


What I mean is that most scholars take that relationship for granted, and it's hard to publish a book when your thesis is something people take for granted. That thesis is about as controversial as "Ice cream is cold. Discuss amongst yourselves."

Yes, there's a lot you could do with it, and as far as I know, no one has ever fully articulated the context within which the Book of Mormon emerged. I remember reading Brodie and, for the first time, realizing that Joseph Smith was a product of his time. He wasn't unique, as there were many prophets before and after him; he was just the most successful. In the same way, such a study would contextualize the Book of Mormon in ways no one has attempted before. I don't have the tools to do it, either.
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_Simon Southerton
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Simon Southerton »

Water Dog wrote:
Kishkumen wrote:The Book of Mormon is a white man's attempt to give the Native Americans a Christian foundation myth. ...

I earnestly wish someone would take the time to write a book dedicated to this point. The closest attempt is Grant Palmer's "Mormon Origins" book, but obviously he lacked the requisite background to really dig into the literary and historical themes. He does a great job of offering an emotionless presentation of the facts pertaining to translation, though. Someone with a background in history and religion/theology needs to tackle this. Hint, hint.

The Moundbuilders, by Robert Silverberg is a good starting point.

http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/The+Mound+Builders
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_Lemmie
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Lemmie »

Kishkumen wrote:The Book of Mormon is a white man's attempt to give the Native Americans a Christian foundation myth. ...

Water Dog wrote:I earnestly wish someone would take the time to write a book dedicated to this point. The closest attempt is Grant Palmer's "Mormon Origins" book, but obviously he lacked the requisite background to really dig into the literary and historical themes. He does a great job of offering an emotionless presentation of the facts pertaining to translation, though. Someone with a background in history and religion/theology needs to tackle this. Hint, hint.

Simon Southerton wrote:The Moundbuilders, by Robert Silverberg is a good starting point. http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/The+Mound+Builders

Wow, simon, thanks for the recommendation! I searched the title and author and got this:
“Our forebears, finding large, incomprehensible earthworks scattered down the Mississippi Valley, refused to believe they were built by the aborigines who still cluttered up the place and impeded settlement. Mr. Silverberg describes, with gleeful and copious quotation, the nineteenth-century literature of speculation which attributed these monuments to Phoenicians, stray Vikings, the lost tribes of Israel, refugees from Atlantis, an extinct race of giants, and Welshmen. The book, which is charmingly written, ends with a history of the archaeological work which gave the mounds back to the Indians.”

—?Atlantic Monthly
http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/The+Mound+Builders
_Kishkumen
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Re: Nephi: A can do kinda guy

Post by _Kishkumen »

Runtu wrote:What I mean is that most scholars take that relationship for granted, and it's hard to publish a book when your thesis is something people take for granted. That thesis is about as controversial as "Ice cream is cold. Discuss amongst yourselves."


Sure. I guess I was thinking that one can fruitfully discuss Dickens as an author of his time and place (and his works), so why not Joseph Smith as author of the Book of Mormon? I don’t doubt there is no rush to prove the obvious—the 19th century Book of Mormon written by Joseph Smith. But to interpret and explicate it according to its significance at the time? That would be invaluable.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
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