Insights: An Ancient Window
The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
1989, No. 4
FARMS has inaugurated a new journal, the Annual Review of Book of Mormon Books. This journal, edited by Daniel C. Peterson of the Arabic faculty at Brigham Young University, will review and discuss recent literature dealing with the Book of Mormon. It will appear once each year. Many of these reviews will be article-length review essays and will deal in depth with the issues raised in the books under discussion. Others will be shorter, providing a sense of the contents of the volumes and a brief response of the reviewer to the book. Each review should, however, be useful in evaluating the most recent writing about the Book of Mormon. At the end of each volume of the Review will be a comprehensive list of books and articles dealing with the Book of Mormon that have appeared during that year.
The first issue of the Annual Review of Book of Mormon Books is now at the press. It is about 100 pages in length. You may order your copy now.
Included in this review are essays about all the new Book of Mormon books we are aware of that were published in 1987 and 1988. Among them are Richard Hauck's Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, reviewed by John Clark and William Hamblin; the first two volumes of Joseph F. McConkie and Robert Millet's Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, reviewed by Louis Midgley; Hugh Nibley's Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites; An Approach to the Book of Mormon; Since Cumorah, reviewed by Todd M. Compton; and many others.
On Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, F.A.R.M.S. will sponsor a symposium at Brigham Young University on Warfare in the Book of Mormon. The symposium will include papers on fortifications in Mesoamerica, holy war in the Ancient Near East and in the Book of Mormon, the laws of warfare in the Book of Mormon, the Gadianton Robbers as a subversive countercultural movement, war oaths in the Book of Mormon, and Nephite military caste and tribal affiliation. Participants in the symposium will include Phillip Flammer, William Hamblin, Matthew Hilton, Daniel C. Peterson, Stephen D. Flicks, John Sorenson, Terrence Szink, John Tvedtnes, Bruce W. Warren, and John W. Welch. A paper on military organization among the Nephites by the late Brent Merrill, prepared for the symposium before his recent death, will also be read at the symposium. Many of these topics were first discussed at a working group on warfare in the Book of Mormon held at Brigham Young University in August 1987. It is expected that a volume containing these papers will be published shortly thereafter through F.A.R.M.S. and Deseret Book, and will be edited by William Hamblin.
The public is invited to attend this symposium. The findings of each paper will be summarized, a prepared response given, and questions may be asked by the audience. The symposium will be held in 205 JRCB (Law Building) at Brigham Young University from 6:30-9:00 p.m. on Friday, March 24, and 9:00-12:00 noon and 2:00-5:00 p.m. Saturday, March 25.
We are pleased to report that Hugh Nibley has received the Deseret Book "Excellence in Writing Award" for 1988. We join Deseret Book in recognizing the valuable contributions of Dr. Nibley's lifetime of scholarship.
Perhaps no president of the Church in recent memory has stressed the importance of reading and studying the Book of Mormon more often than President Benson. In the October 1988 General Conference of the Church, President Benson commended the many people who have promoted Book of Mormon study, and he stated: "The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to 'sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out (His) elect' (Moses 7:62). This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work.... We need to read daily from the pages of the book that will get a man 'nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book' (History of the Church 4:461)."
F.A.R.M.S. enthusiastically endorses President Benson's challenge. During the past year, F.A.R.M.S. has continued to support research on the historical, social, and cultural settings of the Book of Mormon that would help to illuminate its meaning. Besides regular Updates that report current research on the Book of Mormon, numerous new papers and reprints dealing with the Book of Mormon have been added to the F.A.R.M.S. Catalog. Perhaps most importantly, three more volumes have been published during the past year in the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley dealing with the Book of Mormon. Volume 8, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, will appear early in the spring of this year.
The Book of Mormon deserves our best. We hope our continuing research will strengthen your love for this sacred volume. Stephen Ricks
In recent months F.A.R.M.S. has given research grants to several qualified scholars. Watch for further reports in future issues of this Newsletter as their projects progress.
(1) Dr. Curtis Wright has been assisted in compiling and organizing a definitive collection of ancient examples of writing on metal plates. He has collected photographs and descriptions of many instances of writing on gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, and other metallic scrolls and tablets from around the world. A listing of these archaeological discoveries, along with pictures and related resource materials, will be held in a collection in the F.A.R.M.S. library. A catalog listing the items in this collection will be available to the public. Dr. Wright has published several articles that have grown out of this research. He finds that writing on metal plates was an important stage in the early history of books.
(2) Dr. Avraham Gileadi is nearing completion of a lengthy study on Isaiah. Through a F.A.R.M.S. grant, together with support from several other institutions, Dr. Gileadi is writing on the unifying rhetorical and conceptual features in the book of Isaiah. Rhetorical patterns in Isaiah show how an ideal Davidic figure serves as a paradigm of the Lord's righteous people: what he does, they do; and what the Lord does for him, he does for them. The Lord's wicked people do the contrary of what the ideal Davidic figure does with a corresponding result. His work promises to assist readers in understanding Isaiah, the Book of Mormon interpretations of Isaiah, and elements pointing toward a single authorship.
(3) James Baker has been awarded a research grant to write on the development of law in ancient Israel. He will be generating working papers dealing with points of procedural and substantive law as understood and practiced around the time of Lehi.
(4) Daniel McKinlay has been funded in a variety of research projects, including the use of the words "amen," "hosanna ," "strait and straight," "seal," in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He is also researching several New Testament topics, including Protestant and Catholic interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount, and Paul's use of the allegory of the olive tree in Romans 11.
(5) Donald Parry has received a grant while studying in Jerusalem and at the University of Utah, for research on a bibliography about temples, and parallelism and literary structures in the Book of Mormon.
(6) A F.A.R.M.S. grant to Dr. Carl Johannessen, a University of Oregon geographer, last year helped support his continuing study of early American maize in Asia. Detailed photographs he took at ancient temples in southern India should enable him to determine definitely if what appear to be cobs of corn in sculptures are that or something else. He also made contacts with Indian, Chinese and Nepalese scientists who have other evidence for the presence of maize there. The right kinds of proof would demonstrate that voyagers had crossed the ocean from (and perhaps to) America before the time of Spanish and Portugese discoveries, contrary to the usual scientific view.
It is generally believed that Jesus appeared in Bountiful shortly after his resurrection, even before the dust had settled on the destructions that had occurred at the time of his death. The text of the Book of Mormon, however, is not so clear.
In their papers on this subject, S. Kent Brown and John Tvedtnes examine the texts of 3 Nephi and reach different conclusions on this question. Brown argues that Jesus appeared perhaps as much as 11 months after his crucifixion. Tvedtnes favors an appearance possibly only a few days after the resurrection.
You will want to decide for yourself, as a brief introduction by John W. Welch further explains. The issue is relevant primarily when visualizing the circumstances and frame of mind of the Nephites as they were instructed by the resurrected Lord.
In a recent address, Hugh Nibley discussed the significance of the atonement. "The atonement," according to Brother Nibley, "is nothing less than the answer to the Terrible Question: 'is this all there is?... The atonement means more than redemption in the sense that "someone has paid a price to get you off," although it includes that sense, according to Brother Nibley, who carefully reviews the scriptures for an understanding of the term. Atonement may perhaps best be understood as "reconciliation," meaning literally "to be seated again with someone" (cf. the Hebrew yeshivah "sitting down"), as "return" (teshuvah in Hebrew), and may best be symbolized by the embrace, as in 2 Nephi 1:15: "The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." This challenging and thought-provoking essay is now available as a report from F.A.R.M.S.
If you have ever wanted to attend Hugh Nibley's Pearl of Great Price class but couldn't, here's your chance. For years, this course has intrigued, bewildered, inspired, and stimulated many of the finest minds at Brigham Young University. The entire class is now available to the public on video-tape. These videos, together with transcripts of each lecture, are available exclusively from BYU Continuing Education. For copies, write to Independent Study, 206 HCEB, BYU, Provo, UT 84602. The set of 13 tapes (76 hrs), transcripts, and an extensive syllabus is $265.25 (CA residents add sales tax). These tapes are now available to the public only on a non-credit basis. They open the door to a class that for years has had a standing-room-only enrollment.
Bruce Pritchett's paper "Lehi's Theology of the Fall in Its Preexilic/Exilic Context" examines doctrine of the Fall in texts dating from the period at and before the Babylonian exile, i.e., around the time of Lehi's departure from Jerusalem.
The paper studies passages that refer to, or may refer to, the Fall, including Genesis 2:43:25, Psalms 82:7, Hosea 6:7, Job 31:33, Ezekiel 28:1119, and thirty-four other Old Testament passages. It shows that many prominent scholars date these texts either before or during Lehi's lifetime and that these scholars believe preexilic/exilic Israel (not modern Israel or Christian theology) probably held beliefs about the Fall that also appear in Lehi's writings.
The collection of Updates from 1988 can now be ordered. The topics of these executive reports on up-to-the minute research include the Sermon at the Temple (3 Nephi 1118), the tradition of Lehi's landing in Chile, wordprints, silk and linen, the Original Book of Mormon Manuscript, Israelite terms for law in the Book of Mormon, and others.
When is a chiasm a chiasm? In recent years, many scholars have been alert to the possibility of chiasmus in the scriptures. Some of the proposed structures are clear and convincing. Others are dubious and contrived.
In order to talk meaningfully about the presence of chiasmus in any text whether biblical, Book of Mormon, or elsewhere, it is necessary for commentators to be mindful of criteria. In his Working Paper, "Criteria for Identifying the Presence of Chiasmus," John W. Welch suggests a set of criteria by which one may assess the degree of "chiasticity" in a passage. "One will encounter good analyses and bad ones in the works of biblical scholars, as well as Book of Mormon commentators," says Welch. "Without some degree of rigorous definition, it is possible, of course, to find, nonsensically, chiasmus in the telephone book." This new paper will be useful to anyone working on chiasmus in scriptures.
One of the best examples of an extended chiasmus is in Alma 36. In the Working Paper, "Chiasmus in Alma 36," John W. Welch displays the text of this intricate chapter, along with structural analyses by Angela Crowell, Lowell Tensmeyer, and others. Criteria are applied, concluding that this text is a masterful implementation of the chiastic form.
In addition, related materials found in Mosiah 27 and Alma 38, which also report autobiographical words of Alma the Younger about his conversion, corroborate the authorship of these passages, and indicate that Alma 36 was restructured from the direct antithetical parallelisms of the spontaneous record in Mosiah 27 into the carefully crafted chiastic narrative in Alma 36. This paper is an important step toward a comprehensive analysis of this remarkable, complex text.
Many have enjoyed using Eldin Rick's study edition of the full text of the Book of Mormon with writing space by the text, printed in large separate folios and held in an attractive 3-ring binder. The regular price was $24.95now is $18.95, by special arrangement with F.A.R.M.S. while supplies last.
Now is the time to renew your participation in F.A.R.M.S. Each year, a $10 contribution is required ($5 for senior citizens, students, and low-income families), in order for your name to remain on the F.A.R.M.S. mailing list. Each year the computer deletes all who have not renewed. Please do not be one of the casualties. We hope you enjoy receiving the F.A.R.M.S. newsletter and materials. If you want to stay on the list, we must hear from you.
We appreciate and vitally depend upon your contributions. Each dollar is multiplied many times over by volunteer researchers and local service providers. Your contributions allow us to conduct research, and provide a world-wide lowcost distribution network for Book of Mormon materials. Thank you very much for your support in the past. We look forward to your contribution in the future.
In 1988, many people went well above and beyond the required minimum. 124 individuals contributed from $50 to $99, 89 people gave from $100 to $499, 6 individuals from $500 to $999 and 25 gave $1,000 and above. We are grateful to each contributor and pledge to use each dollar you contribute as wisely as possible.