Every time Dr. Royal Skousen and/or Dr. Stanford Carmack makes a presentation or publishes something arguing for the presence of Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon, some critics instantly begin to mock them for advocating a wacky ghost-committee translation theory, a theory that is usually said to involve William Tyndale.
It is, say these critics, utterly astonishing that anybody would propound or believe so stupid and so desperate a theory. Mind-boggling. Absurd. Ridiculous. Indeed, some hyperventilating critics actually seem to have been driven to their thesauruses, vying with one another to find ever more dramatic ways of expressing their amazement at the silliness of such Mormon pseudo-scholarship.
During his presentation at the 2016 FairMormon conference on Thursday morning, Professor Skousen expressly denied believing in the theory that such critics jeer at. But the jeering and sneering continues, nonetheless.
Why? Because the critics who bemoan this supposed crackpot theory can’t be bothered to read or to listen to what Drs. Skousen and Carmack actually say. They don’t engage the actual scholarship. Instead, they deride a straw man largely of their own creation, jumping and dancing around it but never really noting what it really says.
I say that it’s largely of their own creation. By which I mean almost entirely. But not quite totally.
I think I may, in a few firesides some years back, have helped this nonsense along by relating a humorous anecdote about a conversation I had with Professor Skousen. When he first began to tell me about the evidence he was finding for the unexpected presence of Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon, I was mystified. “What does this mean?” I asked him. “How do you explain it? What would account for it? Where did it come from?” He responded, with a smile, that maybe William Tyndale was on some sort of committee in the spirit world. “Are you serious?” I asked? “Oh, I don’t know,” he answered. “Maybe half-way.”
He’s never actually tried to account for the puzzling linguistic phenomena that he and Dr. Carmack have been identifying. He simply reports what they’re finding.
I hereby offer a personal check of $100 to anybody who can locate any passage in any published writing by either Dr. Skousen or Dr. Carmack in which either of them seriously advocates the proposition that the Book of Mormon was rendered into English by a mysterious spirit-world committee of translators, with or without the leadership of William Tyndale.
There’s plenty of material in which to search for this crazy notion, which should, if there’s any truth to the critics’ allegations at all, offer plenty of rope with which to hang Dr. Skousen and/or Dr. Carmack:
I’m curious to see whether these critics care, even slightly, for the truth.