There are 7 thoughts on “The More Part of the Book of Mormon Is Early Modern English”.

  1. There are two main possibilities regarding how the Book of Mormon translation process was carried out (after ruling out Joseph Smith or another contemporary as the translator):
    1. A member of the Godhead produced the translation.
    2. An angel or angels produced the translation.

    It seems reasonable to me that the translation was a task the Godhead delegated to an angel or angels. Undoubtedly, the Holy Ghost was also involved but probably in a transmissive, confirmatory role.

    Joseph Smith taught that all angels who minister on this earth are those “who belong to it or have belonged to it”. Given the EME character of the Book of Mormon, it is reasonable to suppose that the assigned angel (I’ll stick with the singular from now on) was someone from the EME period. It is also reasonable to suppose, particularly given the distinctly Biblical flavour of the Book of Mormon translation, that this angel was familiar with Biblical translation. The most obvious EME-era candidates are William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.

    This could go a long way toward explaining why so many Biblical quotations and allusions are found in the Book of Mormon. The angelic translator was not just familiar with these but was involved in produced them!

    Can this be tested? Possibly. Statisticians have applied word print analysis to determine the identity of long-dead authors of disputed works. Also, statisticians have applied word print analysis on the Book or Mormon to try and identify 19th century authors of it. It would be very interesting to test whether Tyndale, Coverdale or other EME-era persons could have played a role in the translation of the Book of Mormon.

    I recognize that this suggestion is a bit “out there”. However, if you believe in angels (as faithful Latter-day Saints do) and that God often works through human instruments (e.g. the angel Moroni) then this idea is not farfetched.

  2. It is certainly very interesting and curious that the Book of Mormon may contain numerous examples of Early Modern English, but the phenomenon of writing in an archaic language and form does not seem to be unique or novel to Joseph Smith. It would be interesting to hear Dr. Carmack comment, for example, on the case of Pearl Curran (1883-1937) who claimed to channel a 17th century English woman, Patience Worth, specifically Casper S. Yost’s analysis of the predominant archaic English found in Curran/Worth’s novel Telka, published in 1928, which Yost claimed to be 90% Anglo-Saxon, and is not found in that high percentage until one goes back to the 13th century. Here is a link to Yost’s article “The Evidence in Telka”:
    This, and other similar examples, are cited by Robert A. Rees in his Journal of Book of Mormon Studies review on automatic writing. Another case of archaic language use is one in which a person communicated in “a Chinese dialect not spoken in China for centuries. As an observer of this last case, Dr. Neville Whymant, lecturer in Chinese at Oxford University, reported, ‘The Chinese to which we were now listening was as dead colloquially as Sanskrit or Latin.’ To test the authenticity of the speaker, who identified himself as Confucius, Dr. Whymant recited the first and only line he knew of an obscure and difficult ancient Chinese poem and asked its meaning. He reports, ‘The voice took up the poem and recited to the end’ using intonation characteristic of archaic Chinese.” (Robert A. Rees, “The Book of Mormon and Automatic Writing,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 15/1 (2006): 7.)

    • I haven’t studied the issue wrt to Curran, but I do note that in her Sorry Tale, which has more than 300,000 words, she used the presumably archaic reflexive past-tense phrase “they went them” 35 times, and that I didn’t find it in either eModE or modE, despite there being huge numbers of instances of “they went” in the databases searched. A thorough analysis is needed.

  3. I have heard several different posters on different sites ask/complain “Why would God use such obsolete language in the Book of Mormon?” I am not going to try to read God’s mind here or anywhere else. However one consequence is that it effectively removes Joseph Smith and just about, if not all other proposed authors of the Book of Mormon text as possible authors.

    • Precisely.
      Why God would do such a thing is an interesting question, perhaps unanswerable.
      However — if the analysis offered by Drs. Skousen and Carmack is correct — such a thing was in fact done by SOMEBODY, and it’s very difficult to envision a way in which Joseph Smith did it.
      This is potentially a very powerful argument against any naturalistic explanation for the Book of Mormon that has been offered to this point.

      • Joseph Smith or his school teacher father could have possessed some books or manuscripts written in Old English? Isn’t that possible? Couldn’t that easily explain where the old English came from, if it really was meant to be old English and not simply error?

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