Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mormon Lent, Day 8

This is yesterdays, which I just finished. Stephen and Jasmin were on time with theirs. The passage is Romans 5:14–15:

Stephen (from Greek):
But death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who did not sin after the manner of Adam’s disobedience (who is a type of things to come). But not like a trespass; rather in the manner of grace. For if by one trespass many die, even more so is the grace of God and the gift in the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, afforded to many.
Jasmin (also from Greek):
But death ruled from Adam until Moses even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a type of the one who was to come. But not as the trespass, so also is the grace. For if by the trespass of the one many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift in grace of the one man Jesus Christ abound unto the many.
Neal (from Latin):

But death ruled from Adam through Moses, even among them who have not sinned in similitude of Adam’s transgression, who was the form of him to come. But not like the misdeed, even so is the gift. If truly by the misdeed of one, many are dead, much more does the grace of God and the gift in grace of one man, Jesus Christ, greatly abound. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mormon Lent, Day 7

Stephen was the only one to remember yesterday, but he remembered too late for Jasmin and me, apparently. But we still all three translated Joel 2:1–2:

Stephen (from Hebrew):
Blow a trumpet in Zion! Sound an alarm in my holy mountain! All of the inhabitants of the land shall tremble, for the day of Yahweh approaches; it is near! A day of darkness and gloom, of clouds and thick darkness. Like twilight spread out over the mountains, a people great and terrible! None have been like them from the days of yore, nor indeed again after them, generation to generation.
Jasmin (from Greek):
Sound the war trumpet in Zion! Herald in my holy mountain!
And all who dwell on the earth will dissolve, Because the day of the Lord approaches, even very near. A day of darkness and darkness A day of cloud and fog. As dawn will pour out upon the hills, a people great and strong. There has not been from the beginning one like it, And after it there shall not be again, Even until the years into generations of generations.

Neal (from Latin):
Sound the trumpet in Zion! Howl in my sacred mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the earth be disturbed, because the day of the Lord approaches, for its nigh. A day of darkness and of gloom, a day of covering and whirlwind. As the early morning expanded upon the mountains, a nation mighty and brave! There was nothing like it from the beginning, and will not be afterwards, on through the years, generations after generations.  

For most of v. 2, I had to translate very loosely because a more literal translation was incoherent. 

The Book of Mormon, Historicity, and Implications

Over at Rational Faiths, Paul Barker has recently posted a blog post ruminating on what he considers to be the moral implications of a historical Book of Mormon. “What if The Book of Mormon was true?,” he asks. “And by true I’m talking about what if the events described in the book actually happened from conception to translation.” This is certainly an interesting question, that has been asked by many, and explored from different angels. Barker specifically wants to ask about moral matters. “If the events of The Book of Mormon actually took place what are the moral implications? Let’s say it was historically true that there was an actual group called the Nephites and Lamanites—what do the contents of the book say about God and his relationship with his children?”

While there is much to be said about Barker’s thoughts on this, I am not going to go very far into it. But given the topic of the blog post, I was struck by this oddly self-defeating declaration toward the beginning:
Historicity, geography, and methods of authorship continue to be hotly debated among Mormons and Ex-Mormons as a way to prove that the book is true or false. … This essay is about how proving the Book of Mormon is true or false by historical landmarks or by authorship is a huge waste of time. Historical or not, its value lies in its message.

After setting out the question as specifically being about the implications of a historical Book of Mormon, Barker then states that this post is actually about how historicity is irrelevant, “its value lies in its message,” he says. Does anyone else see the inherent tension here?

Barker wants us to believe that it’s not the book’s status as a historical document, but rather the book’s message that is important. He apparently thinks he can demonstrate that by exploring what he thinks are the “moral implications” of the book as history. But if there are implications to reading the book as actual history (as opposed to fiction)—and I certainly agree that there are—then the message of the book is different depending on whether it’s history or not.

Barker seems to make this very point when he talks about Slumdog Millionaire. He was bothered by the fact that every pedophile in the book was a homosexual. But since it’s just fiction, “I can say the author has some serious homophobic issues and continue to read the book. … I can take the good parts—the serve others, be kind, be thoughtful and throw out the bad parts, just like I can with any other book.” Knowing the book is fiction gives the book completely different implications than if it was based on real events.

Implications are exactly what makes something matter. So it completely baffles me that he can, in one moment, say he wants to explore the implications of a historical Book of Mormon, yet tell us that doing so proves that the historicity of the Book of Mormon is irrelevant to its message.

Both in personal conversations and in my reading, I have often noticed that when those who don’t believe in a historical Book of Mormon start talking about the message of the Book of Mormon—what it “really” says, they often explain—it is completely different than what I understand the message to be. It is also, unsurprisingly, quite transparently based on some recent ideological trend. Meanwhile, though I grant that no two people read the text exactly the same, I find that others who read the text historically get, more or less, the same message I do from the text.

This is no accident. A historical Book of Mormon has different implications—moral or otherwise—than a fictional Book of Mormon does. As such, the message we get from the Book of differs depending on whether you are read it sincerely believing that it records real, historical events, or if you read it as a fictional narrative. Even if you read it as inspired fiction, or revealed fiction, the book’s message has different implications than if read as history.

That is why I find it ironic that Barker would tell us that debates over the history of the Book of Mormon are a waste of time because it is about the message, whilst telling us about the implications of a historical Book of Mormon. The book’s message is, ultimately, what matters most. But it’s status as history has implications for what that message is. And the message of that book is at the heart of what Mormonism is.


So there is, in fact, a lot at stake in these discussions about historicity. And no matter how much the “inspired fiction” crowd tries to convince us that there’s not, we can see from Barker’s post that when it really comes down to it, they know very well that there are serious implications on the line here. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mormon Lent, Day 6

Today we did Ezekiel 18:21:

Stephen (from Hebrew):
If a wicked man will turn from all of his sins which he has done, and keeps all of my statutes, and does justly and rightly, surely he will live; he will not perish.
Jasmin (from Greek):
And if the unlawful man turns away from all his unlawful deeds which he did, and keeps all my commandments, and does righteously and compassionately, then living, he will live, and he will not die.
Neal (from Latin):

If, however, the godless will show penance of all his sins which he has worked, and will keep my precepts collectively, and will produce [good] judgment and justice, he shall certainly live; he shall not die.
I think I was too mechanical in my Latin translation this time, but it gets the job done.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mormon Lent, Day 5

Today for Lent, our passage was Matthew 6:5–6:

Stephen (from Greek):
Whenever you go to pray, do not be as the hypocrites; for they relish to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, all so that they can be seen of others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. For your Father who sees you in secret will give back to you.
Jasmin (also from Greek):
And when you pray, you will not be as the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the squares, so that they are seen by men. Truthfully I say to you, they receive in full their wage. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner chamber, and having shut your door, pray to your father who is in secret. And your father who sees in secret will recompense you.
Neal (from Latin):
And when you pray, be not like the hypocrites who are fond of praying in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets so that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. On the contrary, when you pray within, in your bedroom, with your door closed, you pray to your Father in concealment, and your Father who sees will pay you back.
As a translators note, I am not sure if “when you pray within” is the proper sense of cum ōrābis intra, but intra is most literally translated as “within” or “inside,” and I like the sentiment that not only are you praying privately, but the prayer itself is within yourself, where only your Heavenly Father can hear it.

Also, I find it interesting that neither the Greek nor the Latin appears to justify the assertion made by the KJV that we are rewarded “openly.” Perhaps it helps to remember that the blessings we get from prayer are not always obvious or visible, nor public. Just as prayer is between your and your Heavenly Father, so are the blessings.


Happy Sabbath! 

Mormon Lent, Day 4

We did not get all the translations in until pretty late last night, but we did each get it done. Yesterday was 1 Peter 5:6:

Stephen (from Greek):
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may raise you all up in due time.
Jasmin (also from Greek):
Lower yourselves, therefore, under the powerful hand of God, so that he may raise [you] up in the proper time.
Neal (from Latin):
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the potent hand of God, so that he may exalt you in the time of visitation.
Just a note with regard to the Latin. On Facebook, I have “Humble yourself,” but after seeing both Jasmin and Stephen use the plural yourselves, I went back to double check, and sure enough the Latin humiliāminī is indeed in the second-person plural imperative. So I have corrected that here.

I also suspect that vīsitātiōnis (“of visitation”) probably has some sort of implied meaning of “proper” or “due,” and that I rendered the phrase overly literally. But I am not immersed in the reading of Latin, and certainly not familiar with the vulgar Latin of the Vulgate, enough to be familiar with all those sorts of nuances, so I figure as long as it makes reasonable sense, I am best off being as literal as I can be.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mormon Lent, Day 3

For Day 3 of Lent, we have translated Mark 1:12–13:

Stephen (from Greek):
Then immediately the Spirit drove [Jesus] into the wilderness. He was tested by Satan for forty days in the wilderness, all the while with wild beasts, as angels ministered to him.

Jasmin (a better translation from Greek):
And immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tested by Satan. And he was with the beasts, and the angels attended to him.
Neal (from Latin):

And at once the Spirit expelled him into the desert. And he was in the desert for XL days and XL nights, being tempted of Satan, and he was with the beasts, and angels attended to him.  
I found this straightforward narrative much easier to translate than the last two.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Mormon Lent, Day 2

Today, for Day 2 of Lent, we translated Isaiah 58:6–7.

Stephen (from Hebrew):
Is this not the fast which I choose? To loose the bonds of iniquity, to untie the straps of the yoke, to let free the oppressed, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into your house, to cover the naked when you see them, and not hide yourself from your own kinsmen?
Jasmin (from Greek):
Is not this the fasting I chose, says the Lord, Loose all unjust binds, Part asunder the difficult ties of violent covenants. Send forth in release those who have been shattered, and Tear asunder all unjust contracts. Break your bread for those who hunger, and bring into your home the homeless beggar. If you see someone naked, cover him, and do not disdain the house of your seed.
Neal (from Latin):

Is this not rather the fast which I have chosen? Unloose bindings of ungodliness, dissolve suppressing bundles, free them who are broken, and break off every burden. Break your bread to the hungry and destitute, and bring the vagabond into your home. When you see the destitute, serve him and despise not your own flesh.

Mormon Lent, Day 1

Jasmin, me, and Stephen are the ones with Ash on our foreheads.
The others, who are not properly observing Lent, are irrelevant.
Yesterday, me and several friends went to Mass for Ash Wednesday. In the Catholic Church and some other Christian denominations, this marks the commencement of Lent, a 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday. It is meant to help you prepare mentally and spiritually for Easter through prayer, repentance, fasting, etc. As a group of Mormons looking to observe Lent is a small way, Stephen Smoot, Jasmin Gimenez, and I decided to translate a Lent-themed passage each day from the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Yesterday, our passage was Joel 2:12–13. Here are the translations:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Afrikaans and Isaiah: Translating the KJV Book of Mormon Chapters

The Afrikaans Book of Mormon
A couple years ago, a faith promoting rumor circulated about Felix Mijnhard, a non-LDS scholar who translated the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans. As the story goes, he felt the English in the text was too awkward, and had difficulty translating from it. So he looked for a source language to translate it back into and found it was a natural fit with Egyptian.