Insights: An Ancient Window
The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
The 1995 FARMS banquet, scheduled for the evening of Thursday, September 14, will feature remarks by Elder L. Tom Perry, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The banquet will start at 7:00 p.m. in room 375 of the Wilkinson Center on the campus of Brigham Young University.
Each fall the annual banquet provides FARMS workers and friends the chance to share ideas, receive a report on the past year's activities, and hear about plans for the future. If you have not taken the opportunity to attend recently, we hope that you will be able to fit this year's banquet into your schedule so that we can get to know you better.
The banquet is not a fund-raiser, but to help us plan the right amount of food, we request that you purchase tickets in advance (see the order form or call the FARMS office). Free parking is available in the lot directly east of the Wilkinson Center (accessible from 900 East).
Approximately 600 students of the scriptures from throughout Utah and from other parts of the United States gathered in Provo on May 20 for the Eighth Annual FARMS Symposium. This year's theme, "Isaiah in the Book of Mormon," inspired presentations in areas as diverse as textual analysis, doctrinal exposition, manuscript transmission, imagery and poetics, wordprint studies, and intellectual history.
The day began with a keynote address by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve. Emphasizing Isaiah's witness of Christ's ministry, he discussed the Messianic prophet's prophecies of Christ's birth, ministry, and atonement. Elder Holland stressed Christ's roles—as merciful Judge, King of kings, Prince of Peace, Father, and Almighty God—and His continued care for Zion. Elder Holland also answered questions from the audience about our part in facilitating the Second Coming, how speaking with the tongue of angels is linked to redemptive power, and how the mortal Messiah progressed from grace to grace.
One topic that received considerable attention from several speakers through the day was how we can better understand the portions of Isaiah that are included in the Book of Mormon. For example, Donald W. Parry, assistant professor of Hebrew at BYU, spoke on "Nephi's Keys to Understanding Isaiah." Of the five keys he presented, Parry felt that having the spirit of prophecy is the most important; as Joseph Smith said, "salvation cannot come without revelation."
John W. Welch, professor of Law at BYU, addressed "Getting through Isaiah with the Help of the Nephite Prophetic View." Welch maintained that understanding how the Nephites perceived the future can help us to better understand why Isaiah's prophecies were so precious to them. Welch observed that the Nephites understood the future in four stages, and remembering the sequence of those stages helps us to orient the Isaiah quotations; he used the analogy that the Isaiah quotations are like puzzle pieces and that the Nephite prophetic view is like referring to the picture on the puzzle box.
Other lectures provided understanding of Isaiah by comparing his writings to those of other prophets. Ann Madsen, senior lecturer in Ancient Scripture at BYU, was struck by parallels in the lives of "Joseph Smith and Isaiah: Prophets of God." Madsen pointed out that Isaiah prophesied of Joseph and that Isaiah's words have instructed prophets throughout time; for instance, both Christ and Moroni quoted Isaiah to Joseph as part of his instruction.
Stephen D. Ricks, professor of Hebrew at BYU, drew out connections between "Heavenly Visions in Isaiah and the Revelation of John." With slides of early Christian works of art, Ricks showed similarities between the themes of Isaiah and those of the New Testament prophet, such as hope for the righteous, the promise of Israel's return, and prophecy of Babylon's judgment.
Andrew C. Skinner, assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, discussed "Nephi's Lessons to His People: The Messiah and the Land." He pointed out that Nephi's prophecies about a mighty nation of Gentiles to arise in the land are only slightly different from Isaiah's.
Another common thread running through some of the lectures was the nature and selection of the Isaiah texts found in the Book of Mormon. Royal Skousen, professor of English at BYU, laid the foundation for the day's presentations by examining "Textual Variants in the Isaiah Quotations in the Book of Mormon." He drew upon his work on the critical text of the Book of Mormon, which is providing a clearer understanding of the nature of the original English text and of the nature of changes introduced at various stages of the text's transmission to our day.
John Gee, who is pursuing his Ph.D. at Yale studying Egyptology, also shared thoughts on "The Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon." He showed that Nephi chose to quote certain sections of Isaiah that dealt with Christ's condescension because the Book of Mormon prophet knew the prophecies had not yet been fulfilled; he was reminding people of the signs of Christ's advent given to King Ahaz. He discussed how the purposes behind the selection of Isaiah passages matches the purposes listed on the Title Page of the Book of Mormon, and that the passages selected help to convince Jew and Gentile "that the records of the prophets and the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true" (1 Nephi 13:39).
The nature of the text was also the focus of the presentation by John L. Hilton, adjunct professor of Statistics at BYU. He gave the audience an "Update of Wordprinting on the English Isaiah Texts and the Book of Mormon." Using graphs and 3D diagrams, he showed how wordprinting helps scientists and mathematicians map an author's freeflow writing. He discussed some of the problems involved in wordprinting poetic styles and complex works, such as the writings of Isaiah.
Another theme frequently explored by presenters at the symposium was the idea of covenants. John S. Thompson, a seminary teacher from Orem, discussed "Isaiah and the Covenant Speech of Jacob," focusing on the covenant pattern found in Jacob's speech delivered at the temple, presumably around the time of Nephi's coronation as king of the Nephites. Both Cynthia L. Hallen and Victor L. Ludlow also examined covenant teachings, particularly in Isaiah 54.
Hallen, assistant professor of English at BYU, focused on "The Lord's Covenant of Kindness." She portrayed Isaiah 54 as a love letter from Jehovah to a barren woman, with allusions to courtship and marital duty. Christ promises the woman posterity after a trial of her faithfulness, a subject "almost too beautiful to talk about," said Hallen. She concluded her presentation by breaking into song, a token to the Lord.
Ludlow took a different tack in his lecture, entitled "The Savior's Covenant Teachings Encompassing Isaiah 54." He discussed three covenant sermons from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, pointing out the common themes in these covenants with Israel, which are presented in a familial context with Christ as a protective parent.
Other lectures centered around imagery and symbolism. Dana M. Pike, assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, in "How Beautiful upon the Mountains: The Imagery of Isaiah 52:7-10 in the Book of Mormon," discussed the symbolism of the watchmen sounding the arrival of a messenger or a herald with "beautiful feet"—that is, one who brings good tidings to Zion. Several prophets use this same imagery, and Pike indicates its meaning for us: everyone who proclaims the gospel of Christ is a messenger with "beautiful feet," as is Christ himself.
Robert A. Cloward, an institute instructor in Cedar City, Utah, spoke on "Isaiah 29 in the Book of Mormon." The audience followed along as he discussed particular words, such as Ariel, dust, and familiar spirit, from the first few verses of Isaiah 29 and explained that the images were of the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophecies of Isaiah that will be fulfilled in the last days with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon draw on that imagery, he said.
There were several other approaches taken to understanding Isaiah in the symposium presentations. David Rolph Seely found warnings against "The Theme of Pride" in 2 Nephi. He taught that pride leads to worshipping the works of your own hands, or idolatry, which separates the idolater from the Messiah; thus, rooting out pride is crucial to salvation.
John A. Tvedtnes, a senior researcher from Salt Lake City, lectured on "Lucifer, Son of the Morning." He taught about Isaiah's reference to the "lightbearer's" attempt to become higher than God, which caused Lucifer's fall. Tvedtnes also discussed fallen mortals mentioned in the Bible whom Lucifer encouraged with similar notions.
In "Isaiah in Early America," Andrew H. Hedges, a University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate in Early American History, described how enlightenment gained from the Book of Mormon's Isaiah text changed the way the Old Testament Isaiah was taught in Joseph Smith's day. The American colonists had identified with the Israelites' cause, but ministers had not focused on Isaiah much because of its complexity. Unlike other religious leaders of the day, Joseph used revelation and faithful study to untangle and appreciate Isaiah.
The Foundation would like to thank all who made this year's symposium a success: organizers Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch, the presenters, the audience, and all of you whose subscriptions and donations make such scholarly activities possible and whose interest make it worthwhile.
All of the presentations made at this year's symposium are now available on video (four lectures per tape) or audiotape (two lectures per tape), and all of the papers will be published in a volume that should be available early in 1996.
When King Benjamin crowned his son Mosiah, all the people in Zarahemla sat in tents around the temple while Benjamin addressed them. Because he "could not teach them all within the walls of the temple, therefore he caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them" (Mosiah 2:7). Was the need to improve the acoustics the only reason for the construction of this tower? Recent research has discovered ancient precedents for the use of such "towers" in royal convocations and coronation ceremonies. These biblical and Jewish precedents are not obvious to the casual reader and may well shed light on Benjamin's tower.
In the King James translation of 2 Kings 11:14, we read that King Joash, at the time of his coronation, "stood by a pillar, as the manner was." After Joash was made king (2 Kings 11:12), the priest Jehoiada conducted two covenant ceremonies, one "between the Lord and the king and the people," and the other "between the king also and the people" (2 Kings 11:17).
Likewise, when king Josiah rededicated the temple of Solomon, he stood "by a pillar" to read the book of the covenant and to put the people under covenant to keep its commandments (2 Kings 23:2-3). The Hebrew text in both these instances is al-haammud. The preposition ªal can be translated "by," but it is much more often rendered "on" or "upon."1 The Greek Septuagint version of these passages uses the comparable preposition epi, which on occasion can also mean "near," "by," or "at," but more generally means "upon" or "on." One manuscript of the Jewish historian Josephus, accordingly, placed King Joash "upon the stage" (epi te¯s ske¯ne¯s) at the time of his coronation.2 Consistent with this technical textual detail, the Book of Mormon is on strong ancient ground when it reports that King Benjamin spoke, not while standing beside a pillar or post, but "from the tower," presumably while positioned on top of his tower (Mosiah 2:8; compare also Nephi's speech in Helaman 7:10, from upon his tower).
The pillar (ªammud) mentioned in connection with the coronation of Joash and Josiah can also be associated with the "brasen scaffold" that Solomon built (2 Chronicles 6:13), upon which he stood and knelt "before all the congregation of Israel," and from which he offered the dedicatory prayer for the temple in Jerusalem.
Another such structure is mentioned in Nehemiah 8:4, when Ezra "stood upon a pulpit of wood" to read the law to the people as they sat in booths for seven days following their return to Jerusalem from Babylon. Ezra's platform is clearly related to the platform that was used by the king during the Feast of Tabernacles according to the Mishnah:
After the close of the first Festival-day of the Feast of Tabernacles, in the eighth year, after the going forth of the Seventh Year, they used to prepare for him in the Temple Court a wooden platform on which he sat, for it is written, "At the end of every seven years in the set time . . ." (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).3 As has been discussed elsewhere, the Feast of Tabernacles and ancient coronation ceremonies have many points in common with King Benjamin's speech.4 One of the clearest yet subtlest points of comparison is the tower that Benjamin stood upon when addressing his people.
4. John A. Tvedtnes, "King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles," in By Study and Also By Faith, ed. J. Lundquist and S. Ricks, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 2:197-221; John W. Welch, "King Benjamin's Speech in the Context of Ancient Israelite Festivals," (Provo, F.A.R.M.S., 1984); Stephen D. Ricks, "The Coronation of Kings," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, ed. J. Welch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 124-27.
Based on research by John W. Welch, Terry L. Szink, and others.
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Sidney B. Sperry, an individual who did much ground-breaking work in the study of the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. In honor of that occasion, and to make Sperry's writing more available to a new generation of Book of Mormon students, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies has devoted its Spring issue to printing some of his essays that are out of print, hard to find, or never before published.
As editor Stephen D. Ricks explains, "Although Book of Mormon research has progressed beyond the pioneering explorations and views of Dr. Sperry, his works deserve attention. They identified issues and proposed solutions that still remain stimulating to Book of Mormon scholars."
Included are several chapters from Sperry's 1947 Our Book of Mormon. Three of these discuss "What the Book of Mormon Is," presenting in outline form the contents of each book. Six chapters deal with the Book of Mormon as literature, citing examples and providing parallels of sixteen different types of literature found in the Book of Mormon. The remaining chapters reprinted here deal with literary problems that the Book of Mormon helps to solve, including the authorship of the Pentateuch and Isaiah and issues relating to the Book of Mormon use of biblical materials.
Other essays included are:
In addition to Sperry's writings, this issue contains a Sperry bibliography and remembrances and appreciations of his life and work written by friends and colleagues.
M. Gerald Bradford, Director of Research for FARMS (who was highlighted in the June issue of Insights), and David Rolph Seely, assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, have joined the FARMS board of directors.
Brother Seely received a B.A. in Classical Greek and M.A. in Classics from Brigham Young University, followed by a Master's degree and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. He is currently an assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU.
His publications, including some chapters in FARMS volumes, have focused primarily on biblical studies, with some attention to the relationship between the Book of Mormon and biblical materials. They also include articles in both the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and the Anchor Bible Dictionary. He has participated in a number of FARMS projects, including making presentations at symposia and the brown bag seminar, writing reviews, and serving as a peer reviewer and on the editorial board of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. And he has recently been appointed to the team of editors led by Emanuel Tov who are preparing the Dead Sea Scrolls for publication.
The unique and productive relationship that Brigham Young University and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies have enjoyed for nearly fifteen years has recently been elevated to a new level of cooperation. While FARMS continues to be an independently managed and independently funded foundation, the BYU Board of Trustees has now endorsed a protocol between BYU and FARMS that expands the range of opportunities for cooperation on scholarly work on the Book of Mormon and related topics.
The active involvement of almost a hundred BYU scholars in a wide range of FARMS projects demonstrated the need for a university policy regarding these kinds of faculty activities. FARMS and BYU have always had a warm working relationship. BYU has provided FARMS with low priority office space on lower campus and has allowed FARMS to use some campus facilities. FARMS has provided BYU personnel with staff and financial support for scholarly work on LDS scriptural topics and related subjects, including opportunities for scholarly publication and access to peer review systems.
This new agreement extends to FARMS an invitation to use a full range of campus facilities. It formally recognizes FARMS publications as suitable outlets for faculty scholarship. And it indicates that BYU will cooperate with the Foundation in its efforts to obtain better space to house the rapidly expanding FARMS activities, perhaps even allowing FARMS to build a new building on campus: "BYU and FARMS will work together in locating—and possibly building—suitable space on or near the campus." Such a FARMS-built building on campus would further foster cooperation between BYU and FARMS, make it easier for BYU students and faculty to participate in FARMS projects and activities and to use FARMS resources, and act as a visible symbol of the University's strong commitment to scholarly research on the scriptures.
The new protocol articulates that commitment clearly. "The University gives high priority to faithful and competent teaching and scholarship on religious topics," the document states. "The University Administration will both foster and coordinate the work of all BYU individuals and entities on Church-related research." This emphasis does not apply solely to Religious Education faculty. "BYU faculty from other departments may also undertake research and other academic activities on scriptural and religious topics when approved by their department chairs according to University policies," in the same way they undertake research on any other topic.While FARMS projects already involve faculty from many departments at BYU, this renewed emphasis by BYU on scriptural research and the enhanced level of cooperation between BYU and FARMS mean that more faculty members from more departments will likely be involved in scriptural research in the future.
The following broadcasts of FARMS material may be of interest:
We have partial information on the following broadcasts:
If you would like to have FARMS material broadcast in your area, please contact the FARMS office.
In Mosiah 1:14, King Benjamin reminds his son Mosiah that if the Lord "had not extended his arm in the preservation of our fathers they must have fallen into the hands of the Lamanites." The English words used in this translation of the ancient record differ from those used for the same concepts in the English translation in the King James Version (KJV) of the Old Testament, thus shedding light on how independent Joseph Smith may have been from KJV phraseology in his translation.
In the KJV, the word "extended" is not used with the word "arm." The English word that often does appear with the word "arm" in similar contexts in the KJV is "outstretched" (17 times, in Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 9:29; 11:2; 26:8; 1 Kings 8:42; 2 Kings 17:36; 2 Chronicles 6:32; Psalms 136:12; Jeremiah 21:5; 27:5; 32:17; 32:21; and Ezekiel 20:33-34). However, the Hebrew verb used in these instances is na¯t-a¯h, which in other instances in the KJV is in fact rendered as "extend."
Similarly, the KJV does not use the English words "preserve" or "preservation" with the concept of preventing someone or something from falling "into the hands" or keeping "out of the hands." But there is a Hebrew word na¯tsal that in dozens of instances is used with "into the hands" or "out of the hands." In most of those cases, the KJV translates the word as "deliver," but never as "preserve." But in 13 other instances that do not involve the idea of hands, that same word is translated "preserved" in the KJV (Genesis 32:20; Psalms 12:7; 25:21; 31:23; 32:7; 40:11; 61:7; 64:1; 140:1, 4; Proverbs 20:28; 22:12; and Isaiah 49:8).
Thus the Hebrew words that elsewhere are translated "extended" and "preserved" are used with "arm" and "hands," but they are not translated that way in those contexts in the KJV. Joseph Smith's translation of this Book of Mormon verse is in keeping with the meanings of Hebrew words that probably underlie it, but is different from the typical KJV translation. If, as some have claimed, Joseph was greatly dependent on KJV phraseology, we might have expected that he would have used the words consistently used by the KJV translators to express the same concepts.
Contributed by Terrence L. Szink.
An increasing workload in the publishing division of the Foundation has led to the hiring of two new full-time editors in the last few months. Stephanie Terry has joined FARMS as Associate Editor. Before coming to FARMS, she worked for six years on the staff of Foreign Policy magazine, a quarterly that is one of the top journals in the field of international relations. During that period she also edited book manuscripts for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She received a B.A. in English from BYU and her M.A. in English Literature from the University of Virginia.
Jessica Taylor is the new Assistant Editor at FARMS. A recent graduate of BYU in English, she has gained editorial experience working as assistant editor for the BYU Faculty Center and in an internship with the Utah State University Press.
"Both of our new editors are off to a great start," says Executive Editor Mel Thorne, "and with Shirley Ricks also able to work with us more now than in the past, for the first time in years it seems we are getting caught up on our work instead of falling farther behind. I am grateful to be able to work with such fine people."
Ricks, who has edited part-time for FARMS for a number of years, is now working an increased number of hours with additional responsibilities as Senior Production Editor. These editorial staff members are also assisted by some fine freelance and volunteer editors.
Eugene E. Clark has just returned from a month-long, FARMS-sponsored field survey in Oman, looking for sources of iron ore that could have been used by Nephi to make shipbuilding tools.
Working primarily in the Dhofar region identk&0ied by FARMS researchers Warren and Michaela Aston as the most likely candidate for Old World Bountiful, Clark logged over 7000 kilometers on his rented 4x4. He also used a fair amount of shoe leather hiking and climbing where there were no roads. He examined approximately 200 locations and collected over 40 kilograms of samples.
He located seventeen sites that contain at least minor amounts of iron mineralization. Nine of those seventeen contain good to excellent samples of limonite, earthly hematite, or specular hematite—all forms of ore that could have served Nephi (specular hematite is probably the best iron ore for this purpose).
Clark will prepare his findings for formal publication by a scholarly journal in his field, but the preliminary indications are that the existence of iron ore of a type that could have been used by Nephi, close enough to have been a practical source, is no obstacle to the increasingly likely identification of Khor Kharfot in the Wadi Sayq as Old World Bountiful.
People interested in Book of Mormon studies and the activities of FARMS who have computer modems now have online access to FARMS information and some FARMS papers, and more material is being added regularly. FARMS has a small library located in the Nauvoo section of America Online and a Home Page on the World Wide Web, an international network of computers.
To coordinate its efforts online, FARMS recently created an Online Database Committee consisting of Steve Booras, Pat Eyler, and Kent Wallace. The committee is preparing a paper showing all the known lists and sites of interest to Latter-day Saints—a difficult task because the subject area changes almost every day. This paper will also serve as a beginner's guide to cyberspace, with step-by-step instructions for many basic tasks such as subscribing to a list. It will contain a list of the most common terms and abbreviations of online-speak.
"So far FARMS's efforts online are like a toddler's first steps," states Wallace. "But very soon the Online Database Committee plans to make much more material available electronically, including pictures of FARMS books, excerpts from books, reviews, listings of FARMS firesides and broadcasts, current and back issues of Insights, and many of FARMS's scholarly papers."
Nauvoo is the brainchild of LDS author Orson Scott Card and is moderated by Kathy H. Kidd, a popular Mormon writer. Card hopes that Nauvoo will serve as "a forum where believing Saints can talk to each other candidly about matters of importance to us within the Church—but always from the perspective of loyal members whose testimonies and support for the Church are not in question."
FARMS papers, many from the popular Book of Mormon Lecture Series, are located in the FARMS library in Nauvoo and may be downloaded via modem. "Our first efforts with Card and Kidd have been very rewarding," says Wallace.
The FARMS Home Page on the World Wide Web was created by Walter Reade, a graduate student in chemical engineering at Penn State University. The Home Page, which serves as FARMS's "address" on the international network and gives basic information about the Foundation, will soon contain all of the FARMS material that is found in Nauvoo and also "hyper-text" links to other areas of interest to Latter-day Saints in cyberspace. Reade points out that "already we have 40 people a day browsing through the FARMS Home Page."
Questions or comments concerning FARMS in cyberspace may be directed to Kent Wallace through the FARMS office or to KBWALLACE@aol.com. Anyone wishing more information about membership in Nauvoo may write to Kidd at e-mail address KathyHKidd@aol.com. The FARMS HomePage is located at Web address (http://kolmogorov.che.psu.edu:2222/farms/farms.html).
NOTE: The FARMS Web site is now at farms.byu.edu.
With the increased pace of operations, FARMS has outgrown its offices in Amanda Knight Hall, so the distribution center and operations offices have been moved into a house converted into offices at 551 East 870 North in Provo, just west of the BYU Health Center. To reach the house by car, turn north onto 500 East off of 800 North (see the map). It is most easily reached on foot from campus by walking south on the sidewalk just east of the Widstoe building, crossing Campus Drive, going down the steps toward the west end of the Health Center, and taking the sidewalk that angles westward directly toward the FARMS house.
The move not only frees up more space for the editorial and research offices of FARMS that remain in Amanda Knight Hall, it also provides more space for inventory and order fulfillment and for the growing FARMS library. While we still lack space for all of the library, for displays of FARMS projects, and for displays of FARMS products, we hope that this move will let us serve you better until we have a more permanent solution to our space needs.
The main office phone numbers (including FAX and toll-free numbers) remain the same, with new numbers for the Director of Research (801-378-8764), Executive Editor (378-8765), editorial and research staff (378-8763), and FAX for these offices (378-5310).
For a limited time you can purchase through FARMS this useful scripture study tool at a 30% discount. Compiled and published in 1989 by Steven J. Hite and Julie Melville Hite, it displays the full text of the four New Testament gospels in parallel columns, with the additions and deletions made by Joseph Smith highlighted by bold or strikethrough text.
The book contains over 230 pages in a large, 81/2-by-11-inch format, with a well-bound soft cover. The regular retail price is $19.95, but until the end of September it may be ordered from FARMS for only $13.95. We hope that this tool may be useful in your study of the New Testament and in comparisons with the New World gospel, 3 Nephi.