UPDATES FOR 1985 NOW AVAILABLE
Updates: Every month, the most exciting discoveries and developments in Book of Mormon research are reported in the F.A.R.M.S. Updates. These are scholarly, documented, quickly readable executive-type reports, mailed to researchers and substantial contributors. At the end of each year these Updates are collected and made available as a F.A.R.M.S. Preliminary Report. For anyone who likes to keep up on Book of Mormon developments, these Updates are a gold mine. Topics this year were:
1. New Year's Celebrations: Covenant renewals and major festivals fell on the New Year. Several Book of Mormon connections can be drawn.
2. Dancing Maidens and the Fifteenth of Av: A possible connection is proposed between the matrimonial dancing of the girls in ancient Israel on this summer festival and the dancing of the Lamanite daughters in Mosiah 20:1 before their marriage.
3. Jacob's Ten Commandments: Jacob's ten "woes" in 2 Nephi 9:27-28 are related in content and usage to the "thou shalt nots" of the Decalogue.
4. Nephi's Garden and Chief Market: Recent archaeology confirms central and multiple marketplaces in Mesoamerican settlements, consistent with the description in Helaman 7:10.
5. What Did Charles Anthon Really Say?: Early evidence from W. W. Phelps and (if the 1830 letter is authentic) from Martin Harris confirms the use of the phrase "short-hand Egyptian" to describe the characters taken by Harris to Anthon. This technical use of terminology is shown to corroborate Harris' account, which Anthon later denied.
6. Moses, Moroni, and the Salamander: The meaning of the salamander in ancient Jewish, Greek, Arabic and Medieval traditions, as well as sources contemporary with Joseph Smith, show the salamander to be associated with immortal, divine, enduring, resurrecting, and protecting spirits. One should note, however, that recent developments have left the authenticity of Martin Harris' so-called Salamander Letter very unclear.
7. Lost Arts: Solid examples of the true arch and the potter's wheel in the New World are discussed as typical examples of the way a society's technology can be lost over time. After this Update went out, Paul Hoskisson added the point that the use of the wheel was lost in the Near East after about 200 A.D.
8. Joseph Smith: "Author and Proprietor": In the first edition of the Book of Mormon Joseph Smith called himself its "author and proprietor." Federal copyright law of the period explains why.
9. Abinadi and Pentecost: Recent work by Professor Moshe Weinfeld, Hebrew University, links the recitation of the Ten Commandments with Pentecost, allowing us to put Abinadi's use of the Decalogue into its festival context.
10. View of the Hebrews: "An Unparallel": This Update summarizes many ways in which the Book of Mormon ignores, diverges from, and contradicts Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, an alleged source of parallels to the Book of Mormon.
11. No, Sir, That's Not History!: B. H. Roberts is shown to have written his "Study of the Book of Mormon" in 1922 (contrary to assumptions others have made); several problems regarding essays about Roberts and the Book of Mormon are discussed.
12. Number 24: Our 24th Update deals with the significance of the number 24 as a judicial and priestly number in the courts of law and temples service in ancient Israel, Rabbinic Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Book of Mormon.
The 12 Updates of 1984 are also still available on the attached Order Form.
Best of the Newsletter, 1981-1985: In addition to the Updates, excerpts from the F.A.R.M.S. Newsletter over the past five years have now been gathered into one set. Part articles are abotu synagogues, metonymy, Nephi's arrows, and a "day and half's journey." For new F.A.R.M.S. participants, here is a chance to get caught up on some past reading.