“Once Again: Joseph Smith, Richard Dawkins, and the Language of Translation”

 

The Interpreter Foundation doesn’t actually have an office, nor indeed any brick and mortar at all. But it’s busy, nonetheless.
(Click to enlarge.)

 

I’ve fallen a bit behind on calling attention to new items on the blog of The Interpreter Foundation.  So here’s the latest blog entry, from Stephen Smoot:

 

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/once-again-joseph-smith-richard-dawkins-and-the-language-of-translation/

 

Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture publishes its new articles on Fridays, typically one per week.  It has been doing this regularly, without fail, since 3 August 2012.  As of yesterday, that represents seventy-six (76) consecutive weeks.

 

The Interpreter Foundation, however, has long since branched out beyond the journal.

 

For example, the Foundation has posted well over fifty recorded scripture roundtables, a special video roundtable on early Mormon plural marriage, and, separately, a number of helpful background pieces for Gospel Doctrine lessons.  It sponsored a significant conference on science and Mormonism in early November of last year, the proceedings of which are currently being prepared for publication.  (At least two other conferences are in the works.)  Its first book is already available for pre-ordering.  And it maintains a blog.  (Blog entries can be posted — and have been posted — at absolutely any time, not merely on Fridays.)

 

I’ve come across some complaints recently that there was nothing in two links that I recently supplied here that would let people know that those links concerned Interpreter’s blog (which at least a few profess to be unable to distinguish from the rest of Interpreter) as opposed to the Foundation’s journal.

 

There is, frankly, some basis for this complaint.  Stemming from its early days, when The Interpreter Foundation’s only product was its journal, the Foundation’s website continues to be titled, overall, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.  That fact creates a certain genuine ambiguity for a casual reader.  One critic, having noticed the ambiguity, professes (rather cheekily) to be awaiting a check from The Interpreter Foundation for his services as a “consultant.”  I would be perfectly happy, of course, to pay him the same amount that we pay to our authors and editors, our peer reviewers, our legal advisors, our bookkeeper, and our accountant — which is, precisely, nothing.  But alas, this particular critic isn’t even the first person to suggest a redesign of the website in order to bring it into line with Intepreter’s now-more-richly-complex offerings.  I myself brought the matter up several months ago in a Foundation board meeting (I have the minutes to prove it), and  a redesign was authorized.  However, in an overwhelmingly volunteer operation such as Interpreter, things get done when people have the opportunity to do them — and our website designer has only just finished building and moving into a new home.  He’s been busy.

 

In the meantime, my introducing the one link by saying “I’ve fallen behind on my determination to announce entries on the blog of The Interpreter Foundation. Here’s a new one” should have provided a clue.  And the other link wasn’t, I think, impossibly obscure:

 

“This is the blog of Interpreter. It is separate and distinct from the academic journal that is peer-reviewed and professionally edited for publication. The blog is multi-authored and focused more on current thoughts, news, links, blogs, and web pages.”

 

A careful reader might have been able to figure out, from those sentences, that they were about a blog.

 

Anyway, The Interpreter Foundation offers an astonishing and constantly growing number of interesting and useful materials.  I hope that you’ll take some time to look around the site, and that you’ll return often.  It’s continually changing.

 

Posted from St. George, Utah

 

 

  • Brock Lesnar

    I enjoyed this article, Smoot. Good job!

    Smoot wrote: “So why is it that Dawkins loves the archaic English of the KJV and yet despises the archaic English of the Book of Mormon?”

    In all fairness, Dawkins is an equal opportunity offender. He believes the KJV is just as big of a fraud as the Book of Mormon.

    Smoot wrote: “Remember that Dawkins’ argument, per his TV interview last year, is that the Book of Mormon cannot be authentic because “[the Book of Mormon] was a 19th century book written in 16th century English.”

    Also, to be fair, this isn’t Dawkins only concern with the foundational claims of Mormonism. He has previously spoken of numerous other reasons why he thinks Mormonism is a fraud.

    It makes complete sense to me that Joseph Smith would have used the KJV language in the translation of the Book of Mormon for the reasons set forth in Smoot’s article.

    Finally, there were also contemporary writings that were written in the language of the KJV during the time Joseph translated the plates. For one example that appears to have been widely used in schools, see “The Late War, Between the United States and Great Britain” by Gilbert Hunt: https://archive.org/details/latewarbetweenun00inhunt

    • http://plonialmonimormon.blogspot.com/ Stephen Smoot

      “In all fairness, Dawkins is an equal opportunity offender. He believes the KJV is just as big of a fraud as the Book of Mormon.”

      But not because of its archaic language. That’s the double standard.

      “Also, to be fair, this isn’t Dawkins only concern with the foundational claims of Mormonism. He has previously spoken of numerous other reasons why he thinks Mormonism is a fraud.”

      Like what? I’ve honestly only heard him sneer at Mormonism or the Book of Mormon without any arguments except this one. He just usually asserts, “Mormons were magic underwear! Joseph Smith used a magic rock! It’s barking mad!” and leaves it at that. Kinda like he did on his Twitter account several times during the Romney campaign. (Oh, I suppose except for that one time when he linked to some random blog by some random atheist blogger who had read a few pages of the Book of Mormon she got from the missionaries the previous day before dismissing it as a fake.)

      He then usually just lumps Mormonism in with other Christian sects and condemns them all for believing in the “Abrahamic” God.

      “For one example that appears to have been widely used in schools, see “The Late War, Between the United States and Great Britain” by Gilbert Hunt”

      This example is actually used by Shalev in his article I cite.

      • Brock Lesnar

        Smoot wrote: “Like what? I’ve honestly only heard him sneer at Mormonism or the Book of Mormon without any arguments except this one.”

        Here is an article Dawkins wrote for Slate where he sets forth in specific detail some of the many specific issues he has with Mormonism. Be warned, it’s pretty derogatory:
        http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/935-mormonism-a-racket-becomes-a-religion

        There are many, many more articles and video clips of Dawkins attacking our Church for various reasons, but I would rather not post them, due to their hostile content.

        • http://plonialmonimormon.blogspot.com/ Stephen Smoot

          This was written by Christopher Hitchens, technically. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Dawkins shares many of his opinions. (It was reposted on his website, so I guess that’s indicative of something.)

          That being said, I still stand by my initial claim that Dawkins’ understanding of the Book of Mormon and Mormonism is abysmally low. Until he can articulate more compelling reasons to dismiss the Book of Mormon as a fake than he hitherto has, I will continue to reject his opinions.

          • Brock Lesnar

            Agreed.


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