There are 11 thoughts on “The Book of Mormon’s Complex Finite Cause Syntax”.

  1. Bro Carmack ….just a “thank you” for these two articles. As a grass roots member I greatly appreciate your many continuing contributions.. I’ve read all your articles on this subject…. the BoM is so simple on a readability level, yet so surprisingly complex on EME syntax level … and this complexity is hiding in plain sight….. basically there is no person capable of personally producing the BoM in 1829 or today …. you’ve taught me that archaic languages are not recoverable by the current generation of writers … it is so interesting to me to see this EME syntax phenomenon being revealed …. turns out that when JS says the BoM was produced by the “gift & power of God” ….. he wasn’t kidding! I stand all amazed at JS huge prophetic gifts!

  2. For me it’s reasonable to say that the possibility of Joseph Smith getting Early Modern English from books is exceedingly remote; but also, not being able to imagine any details of how translating “by the gift and power of God” works, who’s to say that it’s possibility isn’t also exceedingly remote? What about the possibility of his hearing Early Modern English-isms (and bad grammar-isms) that were subconsciously recalled?

    I’m remembering the Bridey Murphy craze of the mid 1950’s where a Colorado housewife under hypnosis supposedly regressed to a previous life as an Irishwoman named Bridey Murphy, born in 1798 in Cork. She recounting impressive details of her former life complete with appropriate accent. It was widely presumed at first that reincarnation was the only possibility, there being absolutely no way the untraveled housewife could have come up with this. Later investigation revealed that she had lived with her partly Irish birthparents until age three and that an Irish immigrant named Bridie Murphy Corkell (who immigrated to the U.S. in 1906) lived across the street from her childhood home. It’s now firmly suggested that the housewife was recalling things she heard as a child.

    So where could Joseph Smith have heard Early Modern English-isms? Some Book of Mormon critics have suggested that exhortations by its prophets sound a lot like sermons of preachers in the early 1800’s. Having been heard by young Joseph, could they have been subconsciously recorded in his memory? If there were instances of early 1800’s preachers in the Burnt Over District preaching in King James English and maybe someone sprinkling in Early Modern English-isms, this possibility might not be so exceedingly remote. What’s the possibility of researchers finding word-for-word transcriptions of such sermons?

  3. Some wonder why the Reformed Egyptian on the Gold Plates wasn’t translated into current English. When I read the Book of Mormon, the King James English inspires feelings of reverence and piety and I can visualize it as being written long ago by ancient prophets. The Early Modern English-isms in the First Edition disturb those feelings which is why I believe Church Leaders have been inspired to remove them in later editions. They would seem to have no divine purpose except to test my faith.
    (My definition: “Faith is something you have to have to believe in something you wouldn’t believe in if you didn’t have it.” – Richard Hills)

  4. I’ve mentioned before the possibility, if not the probability that at some point in the future, if we accept that eModE is prevalent, provable and authentically attested to in the Critical Text of the Book of Mormon, that the next step for those of such a mind, is to “discover, locate or find” that “undiscovered text” which was written by some unknown, unheralded and un-championed playwright of the past who must obviously have written the manuscript now known as the Book of Mormon.

    Obviously, said author must be of the near-caliber penmanship of a William Shakespeare in order to explain the intricacies, geography, prescience, Hebraic poetry, Onomastic wordplay and yet a totally compelling storyline commensurate with that book as now published. Said manuscript would obviously (with its apparent eModE stylistic patterns) have been written near the same time, place and vintage as William Shakespeare’s writings, although it perchance could have originated as easily in the Old World as it could have in the “Colonies.” Either location would work for this now forgotten genius to have penned his opus magnus, one never to be published in his lifetime, nor the lifetime of his children, nor even that of his grand-children. And not only not published, but not mentioned, not described and kept totally and completely secret. In order to have been written in the eModE era, it means that indeed, the author must have been a veritable genius with near-prophetic vision and undeniably lucky in describing anachronisms which would all prove out to actually have been correct, but only provable and discoverable hundreds and hundreds of years later. Amazing and outstanding set of circumstances, almost as virtually impossible in that early day as what Joseph Smith claimed in his!

    Almost certainly, the Smith family would have had to have retained the manuscript and passed it carefully down from generation to generation waiting for just the right individual to come along. (Why they would have picked Joseph Smith, Jr. instead of Joseph, Sr. or a sibling like Alvin or Hyrum is way beyond the scope of this conjecture. How they managed to acquire it, retain it and keep its existence hidden for generations is also beyond the scope of this conjecture…)

    The ludicrosity of this avenue of thought boggles the imagination. Let alone the difficulty involved in managing to utilize (translate) the supposed manuscript under the confines of the actual historical methodology as we now understand it to have functioned during the translation process. If Joseph Smith had produced any manuscript from which he read or “translated” as his scribes hurriedly transposed, then that avenue as described above could potentially become plausible, but even then doubtful.

    After everything is said and done, Occam’s razor applies most unerringly to the question of Book of Mormon origination. The easiest and most forthright manner for its appearance is as Joseph Smith said, that it came by “the gift and power of God.” All other inventive and belabored accounts punish the issue to the point of irrationality and way beyond the tipping point of easy feasibility required by Occam’s razor.

    Granted those unwilling to acknowledge the Supernatural or Divine will not be satisfied with Joseph’s explanation, though the man himself, to his dying day insisted upon Divinity as his source. In their minds, it is easier to thread a camel through the needle’s eye than it is for God to speak to man, especially a man as unexpected, unheralded, uneducated and uninformed as was Joseph Smith.

    Well, here’s to Joseph Smith. Either the world’s greatest charlatan and imposter or a simple farm-boy utilized by Divinity for Divinity’s sake. Indeed, it is but for these two choices which are really all we have left to choose between.

    • Just a thought on who prepped the manuscript that was transmitted to JS thru the seer stone …. the book “Wide as the Waters…” has a pretty good list of individuals that could have been involved + it’s an awesome book start to finish …

  5. As is typical of a Stanford Carmack text, this paper shows a great deal of painstaking and in-depth textual analysis with research that goes well beyond the exigencies required for a typical paper of this nature. Stan is required to “go beyond the mark” for the simple reason that if he didn’t cross every t and dot every i, then his conclusions could be misinterpreted or contradicted. By that I mean that there are those who would take his silence on any given situation to suggest that the absence of proof is sufficient to provide proof of its opposite. Because of that contrarian stance, Stan is required to go beyond mere research to first provide examples and from there he provides counter-examples, and by this method ensures that all his bases are covered. He does a marvelous job doing so and it is difficult to determine how, for instance, anyone can claim to find evidence contradicting his research.

  6. I am so grateful that scholars like Stanford Carmack and Royal Skousen have done and are doing this kind of research. It is easy to make hasty assumptions about how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon absent the specific examples that their research unearths. Those who question Joseph Smith’s prophetic role make that claim that the Book of Mormon is pseudo-archaic. This shows the falsity of this “easy to claim; impossible to prove” accusation. This is strong proof of the BoM’s authenticity. Thank you!

  7. Another brilliant contribution, Stanford.

    However, you state that this “dataset provides additional strong evidence for a revealed-words view of the 1829 dictation,” as opposed to the sometimes suggested “revealed-ideas” theory.

    Wouldn’t it be even more likely to indicate that Joseph somehow got his hands on an EmodE pseudepigraphon, or that he managed to obtain a text translated by someone like William Caxton?

    • Not knowing Stan’s mind on this, still I think that “yes” he easily could have said what you just said. But, the evidence just doesn’t point to that. “Yes,” Joseph could have done this, could have done that, could have done a multiplicity of actions, and none of which bear resemblance to what we actually know of his experience.

      I think that all Stan is saying is that the evidence as he outlines shows that eModE is analytically and statistically evidenced in the Critical Text, regardless of where it came from. Stan leaves the resulting decision to the individual to determine, or for other historians to demonstrate. For as other historians have readily shown, Joseph did not have manuscripts, ledgers, Bibles nor other notes and texts hidden in front of him nor within his hat.

      Once again, Stan was not trying to find proof of point of origination when he said that the text was revealed-word dependent, he was just trying to say that the words as delivered reveal eModE dependencies which cannot be concluded from pseudo-archaic depictions.

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