[b-hebrew] Hebrew "If-and" construction and the Book of Mormon

Joel Stucki joel at stucki.ws
Thu Aug 24 20:48:51 EDT 2006

On 8/17/06, Harold Holmyard <hholmyard at ont.com> wrote:
> HH: I've never read the Book of Mormon, but I notice above that a lot of
> clauses above start with "and" as well. Perhaps somebody who knew some
> Hebrew once told Smith that Hebrew clauses regularly begin with the
> equivalent to our "and"? Perhaps he even talked about this kind of
> construction with Smith.
Astute observation Harold. I believe it was Mark Twain who commented
that if "And it came to pass" were removed from the Book of Mormon it
would be reduced to the Pamphlet of Mormon.

But I believe the argument of Skousen is that Smith as an illiterate
farm boy could not have known these things. Regardless of this
specific argument that does remain true. Smith produced a 500+ page
book covering many important theological issues and quite a complex
narrative when he was in his early 20's in just over 60 days of
dictation. Before this he had never published a sentence or even
preached in public. This has led many historians to propose alternate
sources for the book's production. Most historians who have spent much
time on it now agree the work is from Smith. LDS claim inspiration
allowed him to produce it and make many claims of its antiquity such
as this one. Non LDS historians generally acknowledge that Smith must
have given considerable thought to theological issues of his day to
produce such a complex work.

Certainly there were plenty of people who knew Hebrew in Smith's day
and Smith studied Hebrew in later life, but for those of the LDS faith
it is impressive that such details exist. To say Smith could not have
known these things is a bit of overstatement on Skousen's part but it
is also not like he picked it up during his Cambridge years either.

Joel Stucki

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