I’ve been watching with a degree of amusement as a handful of critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have labored mightily, on a couple of message boards, to dismiss the work of Drs. Royal Skousen and John Carmack on the nature of the original language of the English Book of Mormon. That work was showcased last Tuesday evening in a well-attended presentation on the campus of Brigham Young University, is laid out in meticulous detail in two massive new published volumes, and is very soon to be briefly discussed in an article in BYU Studies — and these critics seek to refute what Drs. Skousen and Carmack argue without actually looking at their data or their arguments.
On one of the boards — the one of the two that still features genuine believing Latter-day Saints — several people have encouraged one of those critics to consider the possibility of actually reading what Drs. Skousen and Carmack have published. However, he seems unwilling to do so. In fact, he has explicitly declared his principled refusal to read a specific article in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture that has been recommended to him.
Here’s a new blog entry from Neal Rappleye that some might find interesting:
And here’s an entry from the prolific Dr. Jeff Lindsay:
And a short piece from Robert Boylan:
The Interpreter Foundation continues to provide materials that, we hope, will prove helpful to Latter-day Saints wherever they are:
By the way, are you aware of this feature on the Interpreter Foundation website?
I taught the Gospel Doctrine lesson in my ward today. Fortunately, I ran out of time at the end and was, therefore, unable to fully express my heresy, which is as follows:
To me, it’s pretty obvious that Isaiah 5:26-29 isn’t primarily about the gathering of Israel, contrary to the LDS chapter heading, which reads “The Lord will lift an ensign and gather Israel.” Rather, it’s about the armies of Mesopotamia — first of the Assyrians and then of the Babylonians — that, in accordance with the warnings and threats with which Isaiah 1-4 and even the previous verses of Isaiah 5 itself are rife, will soon scourge Palestine:
26 ¶ And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:
27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
28 Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.
I mean, look at the immediately preceding verse:
25 Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases weretorn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
And look at the immediately succeeding verse, with which the chapter closes:
30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.
This is not to be a happy event. It’s a sad and even terrifying one.
Can language from Isaiah 5:26-29 be used to describe the gathering? Yes. Absolutely. And the future gathering and peace of Israel are definitely general Isaianic themes. But that’s not the original, primary meaning of the passage, in its day.
Posted from Park City, Utah