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Of “Visions in a Seer Stone”

Of “Visions in a Seer Stone” September 21, 2021

 

The "London" Temple
The London England Temple is, of course, one of the places where baptisms for the dead are performed. (LDS Media Library image)

 

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New, on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:

 

Come, Follow Me — D&C Study and Teaching Helps Lesson 40, September 27–October 3: D&C 109-110 — “It Is Thy House, a Place of Thy Holiness”

 

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And here are links to five articles from an earlier number of the journal that you might have missed:

 

Stephen E. Robinson, “John W. Welch: A Personal Reminiscence”

Abstract: In these glimpses of the early private life of a very public figure, Stephen E. Robinson provides a portrait that will enable readers to see how the child became father to the man.

[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the LDS community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

See Stephen E. Robinson, “John W. Welch: A Personal Reminiscence,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 1–8. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/to-seek-the-law-of-the-lord-essays-in-honor-of-john-w-welch-2/.]

 

Matthew L. Bowen, ““God Hath Taken Away His Plainness”: Some Notes on Jacob 4:14, Revelation, Canon, Covenant, and Law”

Abstract: This article examines Jacob’s statement “God hath taken away his plainness from [the Jews]” (Jacob 4:14) as one of several scriptural texts employing language that revolves around the Deuteronomic canon formulae (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32 [13:1]; cf. Revelation 22:18‒19). It further examines the textual dependency of Jacob 4:13‒14 on Nephi’s earlier writings, 1 Nephi 13 and 2 Nephi 25 in particular. The three texts in the Hebrew Bible that use the verb bʾr (Deuteronomy 1:5; 27:8; Habakkuk 2:2) — each having covenant and “law” implications — all shed light on what Nephi and Jacob may have meant when they described “plain” writing, “plain and precious things [words],” “words of plainness,” etc. Jacob’s use of Zenos’s allegory of the olive tree as a means of describing the Lord’s restoring or re-“adding” what had been “taken away,” including his use of Isaiah 11:11 (Jacob 6:2) as a hermeneutical lens for the entire allegory, further connects everything from Jacob 4:14 (“God hath taken away”) to Jacob 6:2 with the name “Joseph.” Genesis etiologizes the name Joseph in terms of divine “taking away” (ʾāsap) and “adding” (yōsēp; Genesis 30:23‒24; cf. Numbers 36:1‒5). God’s “tak[ing] away his plainness” involved both divine and human agency, but the restoration of his plainness required divine agency. For Latter-day Saints, it is significant the Lord accomplished this through a “Joseph.”

 

Kevin L. Barney, “Baptized for the Dead”

Abstract: This thorough treatment of the mention of baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29 gives a meticulous analysis of Paul’s Greek argument, and lays out the dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of theories that have been put forth with respect to its interpretation. Barney concludes that “the most natural reading” and the “majority contemporary scholarly reading” is that of “vicarious baptism.” Therefore, “the Prophet Joseph Smith’s reading of the passage to refer to such a practice was indeed correct.”

[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the LDS community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

See Kevin L. Barney, “Baptized for the Dead,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 9–58. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/to-seek-the-law-of-the-lord-essays-in-honor-of-john-w-welch-2/.]

 

Brian C. Hales, “Theories and Assumptions: A Review of William L. Davis’s Visions in a Seer Stone”

A review of William L. Davis, Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2020, 264 pp. paperback $29.95, hardcover $90, e-book $22.99, ISBN: 1469655675, 9781469655673.

Abstract: Within the genre of Book of Mormon studies, William L. Davis’s Visions in a Seer Stone presents readers with an innovative message that reports how Joseph Smith was able to produce the words of the Book of Mormon without supernatural assistance. Using oral performance skills that Smith ostensibly gained prior to 1829, his three-month “prodigious flow of verbal art and narrative creation” (7) became the Book of Mormon. Davis’s theory describes a two-part literary pattern in the Book of Mormon where summary outlines (called “heads) in the text are consistently expanded in subsequent sections of the narrative. Termed “laying down heads,” Davis insists that such literary devices are anachronistic to Book of Mormon era and constitute strong evidence that Joseph Smith contributed heavily, if not solely, to the publication. The primary weaknesses of the theory involve the type and quantity of assumptions routinely accepted throughout the book. The assumptions include beliefs that the historical record does not support or even contradicts (e.g. Smith’s 1829 superior intelligence, advanced composition abilities, and exceptional memorization proficiency) and those that describe Smith using oral performance skills beyond those previously demonstrated as humanly possible (e.g. the ability to dictate thousands of first-draft phrases that are also refined final-draft sentences). Visions in a Seer Stone will be most useful to individuals who, like the author, are willing to accept these assumptions. To more skeptical readers, the theory presented regarding the origin of the Book of Mormon will be classified as incomplete or inadequate.

 

Brant A. Gardner, “Oral Creation and the Dictation of the Book of Mormon”

Review of William L. Davis, Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2020). 250 pages with index. $90.00 (hardback), $29.95 (paperback).

Abstract: Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon introduces a new perspective in the examination of the construction of the Book of Mormon. With an important introduction to the elements of early American extemporaneous speaking, Davis applies some of those concepts to the Book of Mormon and suggests that there are elements of the organizational principles of extemporaneous preaching that can be seen in the Book of Mormon. This, therefore, suggests that the Book of Mormon was the result of extensive background work that was presented to the scribe as an extended oral performance.

 

 

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