"Ei rouva, ei tuo ole historiaa"

Hugh Nibley — rpcman

Tällä sivulla on Hugh Nibleyn lievästi sanoen vääristelevä arvostelu Fawn M. Brodien Joseph Smith-elämäkerrasta No Man Knows My History sekä rpcmanin kommentit Nibleyn tekstiin. Sivu on hieman kesken.

Tämä on luultavasi heikoin näkemäni kirja-arvostelu. Mikäli tämä on kirkon paras oppinut, silloin kirkko on vaikeuksissa. Nibley viittaa Brodieen seksistiseen sävyyn "leidinä" läpi koko arvostelun. Luettuani hänen arvostelunsa jäin miettimään, eikö sen julkaisematta jättäminen olisi ollut parempi?

Lyhyesti sanoen Nibley ei vastannut Brodien parhaisiin argumentteihin tai lähteisiin. Myönnän kernaasti, että Brodien työssä on joitakin puutteita, ja Nibley huomauttaa niistä. Perustavasti voi sanoa, että arvostelu, joka ei käsittele avain- ja pääkohtia, ei ole paljon mistään kotoisin minun mielestäni. Kuka tahansa voi osoittaa joitakin puutteita melkein mistä kirjasta tahansa, mutta se ei merkitse, että pitäisi hylätä sataprosenttisesti kaiken, mitä tuo kirjailija kirjoittaa.

Hugh käytti myös suuren osan vastineestaan (ja muista esseistään teoksessa "Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass") tehden henkilöön kohdistuvia hyökkäyksiä, ivaten niitä, jotka eivät ole samaa mieltä hänen uskonnostaan, ja olemalla inhottava sen sijaan, että olisi kumonnut mormonismia vastustavat vahvat kohdat. Tämä kai on hänen tyylinsä, mutta sellaisesta ei tule oikein kunnon vastinetta.

No Ma'am, That's Not History by Hugh Nibley

[rpcmanin kommentit hakasulkeissa punaisella]


Ei rouvaWhen the writer first read Mrs. Brodie's book 13 years ago he was struck by the brazen inconsistencies that swarm in its pages, and so wrote this hasty review. At that time he had no means of knowing that inconsistency was the least of the author's vices, and assumed with other reviewers that when she cited a work in her footnotes, she had actually read it, that when she quoted she was quoting correctly, and that she was familiar with the works in her bibliography. Only when other investigations led the reviewer to the same sources in ensuing years did the extent of Mrs. Brodie's irresponsibility become apparent. While a large book could (and probably should) be devoted to this remarkable monument of biographical mendacity, more than a decade of research abetted by correspondence with Mrs. Brodie's defenders has failed to discredit a single observation made in our 1946 review, which is printed here with only a few typographical corrections.

What Brought This On

People are still trying to explain Joseph Smith. That is as it should be, for no man who claims as much as he did should go unchallenged. Joseph Smith's own story is by no means the only possible explanation of his career; for everything in the universe there are as many explanations to hand as the mind is willing to devise. Only one rule must be observed; it is the old "law of parsimony," which states that of all explanations of a thing that one must be given preference to the exclusion of all others which is the simplest, i.e., the freest from contradiction, requiring the fewest qualifications and the least elaboration of explanation.

[This "law of parsimony" or Occam's Razor, as it is usually called, should be heavily considered as Nibley suggests. The problem is that you rarely see it used in Mormon writings (including Nibley's). When do you see Mormons looking for philosophies that are "freest from contradiction"? When do you see Mormon Church publications mentioning that the simplest explanation for something like the 19th century influence on the text of the Book of Mormon is that it is a product of that century rather than a literal history of ancient America?]

The latest explanation of Joseph Smith is Mrs. Brodie's. It is not animated by violent hatred. That fact is reassuring but, strangely enough, irrelevant. The average man is as free from prejudice as Rhadamanthus when it comes to tensor analysis or the interpretation of Sumerian text--but that does not qualify him to speak on either subject, and if Mrs. Brodie preserved the calm of a Nestor we would still have to judge her explanation strictly on its own merits, and not assume that she must be telling the truth because she is not mad at anybody.

Brodie takes an awful beating from the law of parsimony. Far simpler and more to the point are the thumping biographies of an earlier day, that simply announced that the man Joseph Smith was a complete scamp, and there an end--simple and direct. With that same admirable simplicity and directness, these authors ran headlong into a brick wall of contraditions, and that was their undoing. Altogether too much is known about Joseph Smith to let the "total depravity" theory get by. So Mrs. Brodie will qualify it by introducing into the picture an element which she thinks solves everything: Joseph Smith was a complete impostor, the New Light teaches, but he meant well. He was just an easy-going rustic with irresponsible ways and an overactive imagination. That takes care of everything.

[This is the first of many instances in which Nibley puts words into Fawn Brodie's mouth. His approach is to make the picture Brodie painted to be far worse than it really was. Then he attacks this new picture of his rather than the one actually drawn in the biography.]

But as soon as we get down to cases, the new and humane interpretation of the prophet, far from improving things, makes everything much worse. Brodie's Joseph Smith is a more plausible character than the consummate fiend of the earlier school in that his type is much more likely to be met with on the street any Tuesday afternoon. But he is actually much less plausible as the man who accomplished what Joseph Smith did.

[What exactly does Nibley think he accomplished that Brodie didn't include? She discusses his accomplishments and failures. The portion that Nibley appears to have a problem with is that she includes the failures--unlike the apologetic biographies.]

Some kind of an inspired super-devil might have got away with some of the things he did, but no blundering, dreaming, undisciplined, shallow and opportunistic faker could have left behind what Joseph Smith did, both in men's hearts and on paper.

[Again, he is putting words into the text that just aren't there.]

Brodie's task is to fit the recorded words and acts of one Joseph Smith to her idea of a well-meaning but not too reliable oaf. To do this the words and acts in question must be changed around a bit: there must he a good deal of critical interpretation and explaining in the light of the answer she wants to get. All this is pardonable if it does not go too far. But how far does it go? That is the all-important question which can be answered only by consulting the book itself.

[We get the first taste of Nibley's hypocrisy here. He claims that Brodie had to change Joseph Smith's words and acts around to get her message across in a sentence immediately following one in which he changes her words around. Where does Brodie ever call Joseph Smith an "oaf"? Who is really changing the words around to get the result they want?]

After a glance at those learned pages we shall be able to point out a real and solid contribution which Mrs. B. has made to the advancement of knowledge. It is in view of that contribution that we are moved to discuss a work that might otherwise have been gravely misunderstood. We believe in giving credit where credit is due-but not elsewhere and for that reason take the pains to point out a few interesting aspects of Mrs. Brodie's celebrated biography.

[So far we have learned nothing about the problems except that they are very great indeed. Some of the faithful may stop reading here and think that Mr. N. has adequately laid Brodie to rest. Hopefully, thinking people read on to find out what all the problems really are.]

A Little Discourse On Method

Mrs. Brodie begins her study with the observation that though there is no lack of documents for the history of Joseph Smith, these documents are "fiercely contradictory." In that case it is necessary for a writer to pick and choose his evidence. Now by the simple process of picking and choosing one's evidence, one may prove absolutely anything.

[Nibley appears to have learned this from experience. ;) Seriously though, this is no secret. Every biography or history written is biased based on the sources the author picked and the author's background. The question is, when all the evidence is looked at (especially the original, non-re-written history) whose story of Joseph Smith is more accurate? Is Brodie's "warts and all" biography closer to the truth, or is the church's current version of Joseph Smith (which tends to exclude or almost completely ignore such significant events as polygamy, the Kirtland Bank, his Masonic connection, the non-literal translation of the Book of Abraham, the early 19th Century context in which the church obtained its doctrines, etc.?]

For which reason it is important to ask what principle Mrs. B. follows in making her choice.

This is not hard to discover. Our guide first makes up her mind about Joseph Smith and then proceeds to accept any and all evidence, from whatever source, that supports her theory. The uncritical acceptance of evidence from all sources gives her work at first glance an air of great impartiality. At the same time she rejects any and all evidence, from whatever source, that refutes her settled ideas.

[Nibley has hit the nail on the head! Now if only he and his friends at FARMS could follow his reasoning and not reject any and all evidence that refute their settled ideas, the world would be a better place. Given the track record of Nibley (and now FARMS), I don't think a more hypocritical statement could be made.]

Thus (p. 18) she flatly rejects the sworn affidavit of fifty-one of Joseph's neighbors because their testimony does not suit her idea of the prophet's character.

[She does not state this. She says that "there is no evidence that viciousness was a part of his nature". This is one of many cases in which Nibley distorts the actual text.]

We would applaud such strong-mindedness were it not that on the very next page she accepts the stories of the same witnesses regarding "seer stones, ghosts, magic incantations, and nocturnal excavations." Now scandal stories thrive notoriously well in rural settings, while the judgment of one's neighbors regarding one's general character over a number of years is far less likely to run into the fantastic. Yet Brodie can reject the character witnesses as prejudiced while accepting the weirdest extravagances of their local gossip.

[Nibley has left the non-reader of Brodie's book with the idea that she has doctored the evidence. The fact is, Brodie doesn't "accept the stories of the same witnesses" at face value as Nibley implies by his inclusion of only a selective portion of the quote. He conveniently omitted the portion before "seer stones" which says in Brodie's words that the stories told by the neighbors were "tales". Nowhere in the book does Brodie state that "tales" equals acceptance of the stories. Nibley also neglects to point out that Joseph Smith himself admitted in the church's "Elder's Journal" (later added to the official "History of the Church") that he was a money-digger who only got $14 a month for it. He also ignores the abundant evidence of Joseph Smith's use of a seer stone.]

In the same spirit, Dogherry and Howe, Bennett, Jackson and Law, all "unreliable witnesses to say the least" become reliable sources whenever their testimony supports Brodie, and hopelessly prejudiced when it does not.

[By not making reference to which portions of the book he is referring to, it is difficult to see the validity of Nibley's claim. However, in many cases, when Brodie uses witnesses who may be "unreliable" she states why and offers additional sources. A witness who is unreliable due to bias may not be stating 100% falsehoods. In cases where biased sources are used biographers usually back up the situation in question with additional evidence from other (non-biased) sources. Brodie's biography is not abnormal in this regard.]

"The press accounts" (there is only one such "account") of the charlatan Walters "stated significantly that when he left the neighborhood his mantle fell upon young Joseph Smith." (19). What is "significant" about it? What is meant by the vague figure of speech more than that one scamp was succeeded by another?

[Perhaps the significance is that both Joseph and Walters claimed to find an ancient Indian record, both were treasure seekers, both lived in Palmyra, and the only one such contemporary town newspaper, the "Palmyra Reflector" noted it. "Accounts" is referring to the six articles published by the "Reflector" on Joseph Smith even though Nibley tries to make it look as if Brodie is exaggerating.]

Even Dogherry does not do more than insinuate that Joseph was one of Walter's audience of yokels. Why should his bitter enemies not come out and say he was Walter's disciple if he was--why nothing but an extremely non-committal hint and a veiled figure of speech if they had anything at all to go by? Yet this is the whole evidence for one of Brodie's proudest discoveries. For her it is an absolute certainty (31) upon which she repeatedly insists, that Walters was Joseph's most particular teacher.

[She only mentions Walters once more in the entire book. Walters isn't the crux, or even a crux, of the biography, and I didn't find an insistence in the book that "Walters was Joseph's most particular teacher" as Nibley implies.]

"No two of Joseph's neighbors had the same version of the story" of the plates, we are told (37) What does one do in that case? One simply accepts or rejects the stories according to one's own fancy. This is fun until one runs up against flatly contradictory evidence that cannot be sidestepped or ignored. Regarding the claims that no one ever saw anything but an empty box, Brodie sagely observes (80): "It is difficult to reconcile this explanation with the fact that these witnesses, and later Emma and William Smith, emphasized the size, weight and metallic texture of the plates." Yes, how do you reconcile them? Here is Brodie's method:

"Exactly how Joseph Smith persuaded so many of the reality of the gold plates is neither so important nor so baffling as the effect of this success on Joseph himself." Whereupon she drops the question for good. There may be ten thousand things more important and more baffling than the problem of disproving the plates, but that fact has no bearing on the problem and can hardly pass for a solution in a book "where honesty and integrity presumably should count for something." She is simply side-stepping the issue, and the law of parsimony screams bloody murder: it must have an explanation of those plates, but such is not forthcoming from our oracle.

[Is an explanation of the plates forthcoming from the oracle of the church? Perhaps Nibley could explain to us all why they had to disappear? It's not possible to "disprove" the plates. Anyone attempting the disproving of an object at a previous time is attempting the impossible. The people making the claim that they existed are the ones who bear the burden of proof. Why weren't the plates necessary for translation? Why did Martin Harris say he only say them with his spiritual eyes? B. H. Roberts became convinced that the plates were subjective rather than objective. Why not allow Brodie the same opinion? The law of parsimony seeks the simplest explanation. Which explanation is simpler? A supernatural being gave Joseph Smith plates that were later taken back or Joseph Smith's gold plates were subjective?]

The Hebraic origin of the Indian is an idea which seems to have come chiefly from Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews (46). Though this possibility quickly becomes a dead certainty for Brodie "it may never be proved that Joseph saw View of the Hebrews before writing the Book of Mormon." Since there is nothing in his own words to give him away, that for Brodie is the proof that he was careful to cover up his traces. What proves the stealing of the Book of Mormon from Ethan Smith is the presence of "striking parallels" between the two.

[Nibley appears to be putting more words into Brodie's mouth. She never says that "this proves it" as Nibley implies. Her correct argument is that "mere coincidence" isn't a very sturdy case for dismissing Ethan Smith given the time and place of publication of "View of the Hebrews". Nibley's case for the parallels is still based on "mere coincidence" and his unique science of ignoring the obvious parallels and choosing to only point out the "unparallels".]

This brings up a very important aspect of the Brodie method, namely the use of parallels as an argument. It has become the favorite device of non-Mormon writers.

[This is truly an incredible statement for Nibley to make given his countless volumes of parallel speculation in order to try and "prove" such things as the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, and the temple endowment. Nibley's parallels are based on cultures and time periods far removed from each other--yet he doesn't want "View of the Hebrews" to be looked at even though it was produced by the same culture and just prior to the Book of Mormon.

As Ed Ashment accurately stated in "The Word of God", "By the study of parallels Nibley can refer to documents which are temporarily and/or culturally disparate in the extreme. Here is an illustration of this commonly used 'parallelomania' methodology in Nibley's writings. To show how 'typically Egyptian' the first several verses of the Book of Abraham are, Nibley juxtaposes them against several quotations which range from the Egyptian Old Kingdom (2575 B.C.) through the Christian Period, including quotations from Plutarch and Plato. In this manner, he asserts that the Book of Abraham and Egyptian inscriptions 'confirm and support each other.' Unfortunately, this methodology does violence to the historical integrity of the documents used in the manner described."

Nibley, in "Abraham in Egypt", dismissed using parallels within proper context (i.e., the parallels related to the same location and text from a previous time period) as "pointless preoccupation with method and intrigue to avoid head-on confrontation with the text".]

Oriental literature bristles with parallels to the Book of Mormon that are far more full and striking than anything that can be found in the West.

[This is a nice attempt at diverting the reader, but it has nothing to do with refuting the influence "View of the Hebrews" may have had on the Book of Mormon. Why does Nibley even bother comparing Oriental literature with the Book of Mormon?]

There are "outside" parallels for every event in the Old and New Testaments, yet that does not prove anything.

[Did Brodie say it does?]

Of recent years literary studies have shown parallels not to be the exception but the rule in the world of creative writing, and it is well known that great inventions and scientific discoveries have a way of appearing at about the same time in separate places. A scholar by the name of Karl Joel has recently amassed a huge amount of material on the subject, and though we need not accept his conclusion that the same sort of thing that is happening in one place at a given time will be found to be happening all over the world at that moment (!), still his vast volumes present a great wealth of undeniable parallels. The fact that two theories or books present parallelism, no matter how striking, may imply a common source, but it certainly does not in itself prove that the one is derived from the other. We know (thanks to Brodie) that there was a great and widespread interest in the Indian problem in Joseph's day, and we also know that these people of that day had a way of referring everything to the Bible; in that case it is hard to see how anyone could have avoided the Indian-Hebrew tie-up.

[Nibley here is completely missing Brodie's point. What is "hard to see" is why a book with an "Indian-Hebrew tie-up" would just so happen to be translated from supposedly ancient records just after the moment in time (and place on the planet) when (and where) others are postulating the same "tie-up". No scientists since then, outside of Mormonism, have postulated the same tie-up. In fact Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews" theory and the other widespread early 19th century Indian-Hebrew theories have been proven false through archaeological and other kinds of evidence.]

Mrs. Brodie sees parallels everywhere.

[And Mr. Nibley doesn't? If the parallel speculation in Nibley's works were pulled out, we'd be left reading a booklet instead of dozens of volumes.]

To cite a few of her howlers, there is the case of a herdsman who kills a number of rustlers with a sword (not a sling). Now herdsman have been fighting with rustlers since the dawn of time, but for Brodie this is simply a direct steal from the story of David and Goliath. Again, the barges of the Jaredites "contained everything which the settlers might need on the new Continent," (71), like any Chinese Junk, Viking ship, or the Mayflower itself; in fact ships have a way of carrying with them whatever the personnel will need. Brodie, however, knows that the whole thing is a dishonest adaption of Noah's ark. Certain fortifications of earth and timbers mentioned in the Book of Mormon resemble those in western New York. Also, we add, in Russia, England, Africa, France, China and everywhere else. Such structures are universally common to a certain type of war-like culture.

[Again, he is missing the point. Joseph Smith was describing 19th century North America in a book that was supposed to be of ancient origin. Other countries have nothing to do with it.]

At one place in the Book of Mormon, atheism is denounced; since there were atheists on the frontier, Brodie knows that the whole idea is simply an adaption of the local scene. The fact that atheism has been an issue in sundry civilizations since the world began, means nothing to our author she chooses her parallels as she chooses her evidence, where it suits her.

[Perhaps Hugh could be so kind as to show us when and where the Ancient Americans denounced atheism like that found in the Book of Mormon or practiced a theism similar to the 19th Century Christianity described in the Book of Mormon? The scientific evidence of the religion practiced by the ancient inhabitants is abundant, and there is no sign of the Book of Mormon's brand of atheism or Christianity. On the other hand, the atheism described in the Book of Mormon had the exact same rationale and characteristics of the atheism that existed in the early 19th Century. If Joseph Smith was writing the Book of Mormon in the 20th Century, we wouldn't be surprised to read about a denunciation of Darwin's theory of evolution.]

Sidney Rigdon once in an article "openly quoted" from Thomas Dick's "Philosophy of a Future State." That to Brodie proves that Joseph Smith "had recently been reading the book" (171).

[Considering that at the time Rigdon and Smith were best friends who did practically everything together, Joseph Smith's reading or hearing about the contents of this book is well within the bounds of reason. Those who know the history of Sidney Rigdon would probably even go so far as to suggest that he had a larger impact on the doctrines found in 1831-1839 Mormonism than Joseph Smith.]

Dick mentions the old familiar doctrine that the stars may be inhabited by intelligent progressive beings. So Brodie knows that all the prophet's "later teachings" on the subject "came directly from Dick."

[She never states that *all* his later teachings came from Dick's book. Again we find Nibley trying to re-write Brodie's biography to make it appear to say what it does not.]

He could not very well have got his earlier teachings from Dick, though his later teachings are simply a continuation of them. Yet as soon as a work appears that resembles what he is doing, Brodie immediately pounces upon it as the prophet's only source.

[She never says that it is his "only source". Perhaps Nibley should write a revised edition of Brodie's book for her with his interpretation of what he thinks she is saying even if the text does not.]

If she would show how the doctrine of progress was stolen from Dick, the lady [the lady? He wrote this over 30 years ago but still. . .] should not have been at such pains to show that progressivism had been a basic part of its background from the first.

[Nibley omits several features of Dick's teachings. Dick stated such things as God having organized the heavens and earth out of matter existing. Dick held that "the systems of the universe revolve around a common centre . . . the throne of God". These items too made it into the Book of Abraham which included some of Dick's other teachings. We are basically left with three options--all but the first shedding negative light on Nibley's conclusions: mere coincidence, popular theory of the day, or borrowing from an author his best friend, counselor, spokesman, and translating assistant Sidney Rigdon read and quoted.]

A useful form of parallel is the "identical anecdote." To prove Joseph Smith's dishonesty in operating the bank "several apostates at different times related an identical ancedote" about money-boxes (196). Now identical anecdotes can be assumed to indicate a common source, but no more: they say nothing as to the nature of that source or its reliability. For Mrs. Brodie the fact that they are identical proves not that they are commonly derived, but that they are actually true! What kind of history is that?

[She doesn't say that identical anecdotes prove the stories are true. She discounts the stories honestly by stating that the reports were from apostates. Nibley has taken some admittedly flimsy evidence that Brodie used and attempted to make it look as if the bank was legitimate. The fact remains that the bank was illegal from the start, the people running it (Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon) did not know what they were doing, and it was never a viable operation based on the way it was set up and ran from day one. It was supposed to be a means for the leaders to make money, and it ended up being a detriment to everybody involved--despite the prophecies Joseph Smith made to the contrary.]

The greatest possible wealth of "identical anecdotes" attests the orgies in the temple, and yet Brodie does not hesitate to scout the lot as absolutely worthless, identical or not. How infinitely weaker is the "whispered talk" (214) which attests the activities of the Danites?

[The evidence is overwhelming, although Brodie didn't have access to much of it at the time, of the Danites existence and activities. One need not even look past orthodox Mormon sources (mostly journals and letters from the true-to-Utah-Mormonism Danites themselves) to see that Brodie was accurate (although far from complete) with regard to the Danites. See "My Best for the Kingdom" and "Mormon Hierarchy" for a couple of the many sources. See also: "Brigham Young University Studies", Winter 1988, page 14 for Joseph Smith's admission of the Danites and their purpose, "We have a company of Danites in these times, to put right physically that which is not right, and to cleanse the church of very great evils which hitherto existed among us inasmuch as they cannot be put to right by teachings & persuasions."]

Yet Mrs. B. accepts it, forsooth, because it is "fragmentary (to say the least) but consistent." The stories once current about the nocturnal orgies of the early Christians and the child-eating rites of the Jews were not too fragmentary and were remarkably consistent--only they weren't true.

[Then Mr. N. must be insinuating that a great number of faithful Mormons (who discussed Danite activities like John Lowe Butler and Joseph Smith) are liars with this anecdote.]

"Bald parallels with Masonic rites" (65) the lady finds particularly crude. [the lady?] How did he dare it? Why didn't he disguise it? (279ff). The answer is that to those who know both, the resemblance is not striking at all; it is not nearly so striking as the resemblance between the church Joseph Smith founded and the other churches, and yet even though the Mormon Church and these institutions present one parallel after another, they are really totally different in form and meaning.

[Not according to those who are both Mormons and Masons. The resemblances are striking. They are an impossible coincidence for the orthodox. Is that why Nibley doesn't bother to explain the parallels away?]

Speaking of parallels, however, one cannot pass by one of the most remarkable studies in religious parallel ever written. The name of the most learned man who ever made a study of the Mormons, and one of the best-informed men who ever lived, does not appear in Mrs. Brodie's pages. At the end of the last century the great tradition of European scholarship in the grand style culminated in the person of Eduard Meyer. If he did not have the stature of some earlier scholars, it is certain that he was in a position to survey and assimilate more of the learning of the past than any human being before or since his day. To his famous rotunda at the University of Berlin flowed, as it has never flowed since, all the learning of the ages for his examination and exploitation. No other man ever combined the learning both of the East and the Classical world in a work of such high and lasting authority as Meyer's "Geschichte des Altertums"--the ultimate and, in fact, the last general history of antiquity to be the work of a single mind.

Now this man had a particular interest in ancient religions, and it occurred to him that in Mormonism he might study at first hand how a real religion gets started. So impressed was he by the possibilities of such a study that he packed up and went to Utah in 1904, to devote a year of his priceless time to studying the Mormons. Few churches have had the good fortune to be examined at first hand by a man of such vast learning and complete impartiality. For in keeping with the high "Wissenschaft" of his day, Meyer himself professed no religion. He was neither partial nor hostile to the Mormons, who as far as his feelings were concerned might have been beings on another planet or a heap of ants.

Meyer's entire Ursprung und Ceschichte der Mormonen is a study in parallels, comparing the new religion with revealed religions of the past. While grandly contemptuous of Joseph Smith's low coefficient of "Kultur," the great savant illustrates at length the "exact identity" of his church both in "atmosphere" and sundry particulars with that of the Early Christians. A "striking and irrefutable" parallelism supports Mormon claims to revelation, "with perfect right" they identify themselves with the apostolic church of old. The similarity extends to the faults as well as the virtues of the prophet and his followers--they may be matched "at every point" by the faults and virtues of the ancient prophets and the ancient church. We shall have occasion to refer to Eduard Meyer a number of times below, not because he was favorably disposed (he is in fact far less sympathetic than Brodie), but because with his infinitely greater knowledge he reaches such totally different conclusions. He is a necessary "control" in testing our author.

Incidentally, the faithful need not be too utterly crushed by Brodie's erudite announcement (256) that the word "Nauvoo" is purely a figment of Smith's imagination,

[This has been changed in the second edition. Nibley had a valid point with the word "Nauvoo", but in any case, it is no secret that Joseph Smith studied Hebrew. The problem is that the Hebrew influence shows up in his post-Hebrew-studies' writings--including those that weren't supposed to have been translated from Hebrew like the Book of Abraham which was claimed to have been translated from Egyptian.]

since no less an Orientalist than Meyer himself is naive enough to be taken in by the prophet's ruse. He observes (Urspr. U. Gesch. p 142, n.2) that the word is a plain transliteration of the Hebrew nava, which is feminine (the proper gender for place-names) and happens to mean "the beautiful." Mrs. Brodie can put her stuffed mourning dove back into its box now: her philology is of the same brand as her history.

[Ouch! Is it really necessary to result to cheap insults like this in a book review?]

Part 2 in which Nibley turns into the out-of-context quoting king

Evolution At Any Price

[or distorting Brodie to save the faithful]

Of all Mrs. Brodie's preconceived ideas the most fundamental is her certainty that Joseph Smith did not receive revelations. That sudden and dazzling enlightenment which is the essence of religious experience of the highest sort is unthinkable in his case.

[Revelation is the essence of religious experience of the highest sort? What does this say about religious experience when there is a multitude of contradictory "revelation" that religions cling to? Would Nibley consider the revelations received by the leader of some group like Heaven's Gate to be the 'essence of religious experience of the highest sort'?]

All his own statements on the subject are to be discarded out of hand. To Brodie "there are few men who have written so much and told so little about themselves." Which is simply to say that though Joseph Smith tells a great deal about himself Brodie does not choose to believe it.

[Nibley has missed the point. When Brodie says that he has written so much and told so little about himself, she is referring to his personal history--not his "revelations". He didn't leave much of a record of his life, the in-and-outs of how church doctrine was formulated, and his daily doings. He left his diaries but they consist more of his already formulated theology (rather than the process and sources that led to them) and mundane frequently repeated activities than descriptions of his unusual daily activities and the means by which his revelations and scriptures were received. For instance, when his brother Hyrum asked him to relate how the Book of Mormon came about, the "History of the Church" states, "it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the book of Mormon, & also said that it was not expedient for him to relate these things". 1:219n]

Instead she will cling to the theory that all the prophet's thought and action was the result of a slow and gradual evolution. This is an easy mechanical rule-of-thumb that may be employed to make any thesis sound very scientific. The first objection to it Brodie ignores entirely, namely, the well-known fact that great religious conviction is usually born of sudden insight.

[What sudden insight does Nibley want Brodie to focus on? He was interested in religion from his earliest years. Perhaps he wants her to use the apologetic line of the First Vision being the 'sudden insight' even though Joseph didn't tell that story to anyone for years. Even that story evolved over the years.]

Other religious leaders may have their moments of inspiration, but in Joseph's case everything is slow and gradual.

[Does Nibley have evidence to the contrary? If so, why does he not include it here? Let's see Joseph's moments of inspiration that produce revelations that look nothing like his early 19th century environment.]

Barring this objection, how does Mrs. Brodie support her evolutionary theory?

To begin with, there was no "first vision." True, such visions "were the common folklore of the area" (22) and Joseph was the most imaginative youth in the world, still he had no such vision-not even a false one! The proof is that the newspapers say nothing about it.

[Brodie never says that the proof is that the newspapers say nothing about it. She compares the fact that Joseph Smith in his official version (published 18 years later) claims that he was persecuted for telling everyone about his first vision immediately after it happened when in fact the earliest account that anyone ever wrote down about it (even in passing) isn't for over a decade after it supposedly occurred. This seems very strange given that Joseph Smith claims his telling of the story immediately afterward "excited a great deal of prejudice". These same "prejudiced" people wrote much about his stories of finding gold plates and seeing an angel, but none of them ever mentioned the first vision.]

The argument of silence is always a suspicious one, yet how much more suspicious when we are told (14) that there are no detailed descriptions of the revivals in Palmyra and Manchester when they were at their wildest?

[Much research has been done on this issue since Brodie and Nibley wrote what they did. The evidence has lined itself up into Brodie's corner. Perhaps the best source for all of the original documentation on the subject can be found in Early Mormon Documents. The church has even published apologetics on the issue in the "Ensign" basically claiming that even if there wasn't a revival in 1820, Joseph Smith still wasn't lying since there were revivals a few years before and after 1820.]

If the press ignores the revivals at their wildest why should it not ignore a mere episode of the movement? Joseph Smith specifically says it was the ministers who united to persecute him--it was persecution from the pulpit (not as Brodie insinuates, a sort of militant mob movement).

[Brodie doesn't insinuate this on p. 14 or any of the pages around it. I'm not sure what Nibley is referring to, however, Joseph Smith's history and his mother's both indicate that the persecution went further than the pulpit. His mother tells a fantastic story about him running through the woods, with injuries, and while carrying the gold plates, in order to escape a militant mob.]

But, says Brodie, these same newspapers '"in later years gave him plenty of unpleasant publicity." In later years he was an important public figure with a large following--their silence at this time merely proves his own statement that he was "an obscure boy" and anything but news.

[Nibley needs to refresh his memory of what the official first vision account really says. Joseph Smith says he was "an obscure boy" before the first vision and that afterwards "men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects--all united to persecute me" and that they thought he was then "a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling". So whose interpretations of Joseph Smith's own words is more accurate--Nibley or Brodie?]

If Joseph Smith claimed to have had a vision in 1820 "the newspapers took no notice of such a claim either at the time it was supposed to have occurred or at any other time." (23). Therefore we can only conclude that no such claim was made, either in 1820 "or at any other time." The last clause nullifies the whole argument, for if the silence of the newspapers is proof of anything, then Joseph Smith never at any time claimed to have had the vision, which Brodie knows is false.

[The inaccurate statement which Nibley has pointed out was changed in the second edition by dropping the erroneous "or at any other time".]

However, she hastened to corroborate the silence of the press with the testimony of Master Dogberry: "It is well known that Joe Smith never pretended to have any communion with angels until a long period after the pretended finding of his book." Even if Dogberry were a reliable witness (which he definitely is not) we can only ask, "well known" to whom? Why, indeed, to the thousands of people to whom the prophet never mentioned his visions.

[If Nibley has evidence that Joseph Smith talked of the first vision or Moroni visitations before claiming to have the gold plates, then he should present it here. Since there is no such evidence, and there are many statements by his family and other close associates to support Brodie and Dogberry, Nibley shouldn't bother with his ridiculous argument hereafter of people not associated with the time or place for the events.]

A million people in London and Paris could have sworn affidavits that Joseph Smith never told them a thing about the angel; the entire city of Peking and large areas of the Central Sudan could honestly report that they had never been informed of Moroni's visit. That Joseph Smith should not noisily divulge the great and sacred things he had been ordered to keep secret does not seem possible to Brodie.

[Where does it say that he was ordered to keep them secret? If such unwritten orders were made then why did Joseph Smith in his own story say that he immediately started telling people? Nibley's subterfuge continues to mount in his review.]

If the first vision was so "soul shattering" how, she asks triumphantly, could it have "passed totally unnoticed in Joseph's home town." It never occurs to her that there are things, especially if they are of a transcendent and "soul-shattering" nature, which one does not run off to report to the press and the neighbors. Joseph reported his vision only to his family and to a minister he thought he could trust. It was the minister who caused the trouble.

[His family and the minister never mentioned it either though. In their later histories, they got the events wrong. He may have only claimed to have related the account to a minister in v. 21, but in v. 22 he goes plural by saying, "the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase". Does their silence at the time really sound like he told them the events when he said he did? They reported later events. Why would they omit the early claims?]

What was the first vision, then? A remembered dream, says Brodie, "created sometime after 1834," for "dream images came easy to this youth"--in 1834, that is, but not in 1820!

[These dates were changed to 1832 in the second edition based on the 1832 account which was discovered in the 1960s. See "The New Mormon History" for BYU History Professor James B. Allen's essay on the subject.]

As a final clincher to her argument of silence against the first vision, our author points out that in 1820 Joseph was not religious at all: "he reflected the irreligion and cynicism of his father," he was merely a "likable ne'er do well," (16) "immune to religious influence of any sort.' (24). Later on, after the first vision has been thus debunked and forgotten, in order to prove something else, Brodie flatly refutes all these judgments as worthless: "It is clear that he was keenly alert to the theological differences dividing the sects and was genuinely interested in the controversies." (26). Now it is his version she is accepting, and that in the teeth of all testimony to the contrary. If that much of his story turns out to be true against positive testimony, what about the rest of the story? There is no contemporary mention of Joseph's religious propensities, and yet those propensities are real, Brodie decides; the same sources fail to mention his most intimate and hidden religious experience-therefore such an experience never occurred, Brodie decides!

[This is yet another case of Nibley combining unrelated quotes, out of context, in order to put words into Brodie's mouth. What he is trying to explain (or prove?) here is very unclear from the muddled dialogue.]

The next major issue is the Book of Mormon. "For a long time," we are told (38), "Joseph was extremely reluctant to talk about the plates." Extremely reluctant indeed; why didn't he simply let the matter drop? Be' cause "once the masquerade had begun, there was no point at which he could call halt." (41)

[The full quote reads, "Perhaps in the beginning Joseph never intended his stories of the golden plates to be taken so seriously, but once..." This is after Brodie discusses how his family completely believed his stories even after the plates weren't discovered under the floor of the house where they were supposed to be hidden in a nailed shut chest. Joseph then told them that he had taken them out the night before and hid them elsewhere--nailing the chest shut. In context, the quote Nibley distorts makes far more sense.]

Why not? Everyone would have been glad to forget the business. If his own family believed implicitly in the plates they never saw, they certainly would believe in any explanation he might give for their disappearance: they willingly accepted his story later that the angel had taken the plates back. And was Joseph of the super-resourceful imagination, devious, cunning, agile and "utterly opportunistic" in the matter of the Book of Mormon, the one to be at a loss for explanations? Why did he hang on to the plates that no one could see, that only made trouble, that he hated to talk about? Surely he of all persons could think of a better game than that. And at the time, remember, he had absolutely no conception of the Book of Mormon-to-be, according to Brodie.

[Brodie supposedly says that he had no conception at the time, according to Nibley, but that is not what she really says. In the same paragraph Nibley is referring to she discusses how Martin Harris is spreading the story and is going to finance the publication of the translation. She also states that Joseph Smith is "fully determined" to write a successful book at the time. How can Nibley think that Brodie says he has "absolutely no conception of the Book of Mormon" when she clearly states in the same paragraph that he is fully determined to translate it? If Nibley is referring to Book of Mormon content then shouldn't it also be Nibley's view that Joseph Smith had no conception of the contents? After all--he hadn't begun 'translating'.]

The writing of the first one hundred and sixteen pages was "painfully slow . . . for Joseph had yet to learn how to write," (53) a long and difficult process at best. Yet less than a year later we find him tossing off a 275,000 word manuscript in three months.

[This three month's translation feat is something Nibley and other apologists frequently flaunt as 'proof' of the Book of Mormon's authenticity. I heard Nibley claim on another occasion that it took only 60 days to write the entire Book of Mormon. The methodology used in computing the time is seriously flawed. The lost 116 pages according to the text of the Book of Mormon itself is essentially duplicated in the subsequent version which we now have as first and second Nephi. That takes up a significant amount of the 275,000 words. The first 116 pages took months to create alone. During the interim period, after the manuscript was lost, of about a year (which Nibley and others don't include in the calculation) Joseph wasn't doing much of anything. He didn't have a job. He could have easily been coming up with text for the book. Joseph Smith's mother stated that Joseph was telling stories about the Indians from the time he was young. The plot and narrative could have been worked on for two or three years or more. Nibley's assertion that it was done in only two or three months is pure speculation at best. Considering that the content of the Book of Mormon is largely borrowed and adapted from the KJV of the Bible, the time involved to 'translate' need not be significant anyway.]

This feat simply proves to Brodie that Joseph Smith's stupidity has been deliberately exaggerated: he was really rather smart.

[Here we find Nibley putting words in Brodie's mouth to 'poison the well' for those who come into the reading of Nibley's words as near-worshippers of Joseph Smith. Brodie doesn't call Joseph Smith 'stupid'. It is apparent that Nibley's intended audience are those who haven't bothered to read Brodie to begin with.]

Only she resolutely refuses to face the problem she has raised:

Here was a man of twenty-two giving free rein to a "completely undisciplined imagination," an imagination that "ran over like a spring freshet" in a riot of "intense color and luxuriant detail," a wild, unbridled fancy that was "not to be canalized by any discipline";

[Without references, it's impossible to see where Nibley is pulling all of these descriptions from. How distorted he makes them and how out of context he has pulled them is also not possible to tell. Based on the other out-of-context and distorted quotes we have seen him use, how much trust can be placed in Nibley's methodology in this instance?]

the man sits behind a curtain and dictates to a semi-literate peasant

[Note that Brodie doesn't call Cowdery a "semi-literate peasant"--Nibley does. Brodie refers to Oliver as a gentle schoolteacher.]

on the other side ("none of Joseph's secretaries knew the rudiments of punctuation").

[What is Nibley's point in quoting the secretaries' punctuation problems? It is no secret that thousands of changes had to be made to subsequent editions to correct poor punctuation, grammar, and spelling.]

He simply dictates: he takes no notes and holds no conferences, for he must impress his secretaries and not appeal to them for aid--once a sentence is spoken "revision was therefore unthinkable" says Brodie. What a hilarious document this will turn out to be! What an impossible tangle of oriental vagaries, what threads and tatters of half-baked narrative losing themselves in contradictory masses what an exuberance of undisciplined fancies flying off at wild tangents! What a wealth of irrelevant sermonizing at unexpected moments (as in the Koran), what a collection of bizarre conceits and whopping contradictions it must be! Surely all one needs to do is to cite a page of the stuff--any page--to expose the whole business; a few obviously faked passages will do the trick far more simply and effectively than the laborious chapters Mrs. Brodie devotes to it. Why the laborious chapters? Because the inevitable flaws of a book produced in the manner Brodie describes strangely fail to appear!

[Who is Mr. Nibley kidding? The Book of Mormon is packed with flaws and false history.]

Instead of an opium dream, we find an exceedingly sober document, that never flies off at tangents, never loses the thread of the narrative (which is often quite complicated), is totally lacking in oriental color, in which the sermons are confined to special sections, and which, strangest of all, never runs into contradictions. Joseph might get away with his "outrageous lying" (27)

[In context, Brodie doesn't say that Joseph Smith was "outrageously lying" as Nibley implies. She states, "What was really an extraordinary capacity. . . was looked upon by the more pious townspeople as outrageous lying". Is anyone else beginning to think that Nibley is a firm believer in the 'lying for the Lord' doctrine?]

in little matters, but what outrageous liar can carry the game to the length of the Old Testament without giving himself away hundreds of times? Brodie doesn't say.

[Actually, she does--Nibley just fails to list them here. She spends a great deal of the book showing where Joseph gave himself away beginning on page 58. Subsequent to her writing this book, entire books have been written discussing the text which gives himself away. Nibley also forgets when he says that "Brodie doesn't say" that he previously said that the Book of Mormon problems had "laborious chapters Mrs. Brodie devote[d] to it".]

Early in her hook the lady prepares us for the Book of Mormon by making much of Joseph's gaudy imagination, and especially of his skill in holding everybody spellbound for hours by his exotic and colorful tales. Why then is the Book of Mormon, his best effort, simply "chloroform in print," lacking all the qualities for which the author was remarkable?

[Perhaps 'the man' failed to read page 69, which completely contradicts Nibley's assessment of Brodie's analysis, in which Brodie says, "[the Book of Mormon] reveals in him what both orthodox Mormon histories and unfriendly testimony deny him: a measure of learning and a fecund imagination. The Mormon Church has exaggerated the ignorance of its prophet, since the more meager his learning, the more divine must be his book. Non-Mormons...have been content to pin a label upon the youth and have ignored his greatest creative achievement because they found it dull. It's structure shows elaborate design, its narrative is spun coherently, and it demonstrates throughout a unity of purpose. Its matter is drawn directly from the American frontier, from the impassioned revivalist sermons, the popular fallacies about Indian origin, and the current political crusades." Brodie doesn't call the book "chloroform in print" as Nibley deceptively alludes. She correctly states that some Non-Mormons, like Mark Twain, did.]

Why does the language, with its strained and remarkably Semitic structure in no way resemble his own vigorous and extravagant prose?

[The Semitic structure can be attributed to nothing more than his familiarity to the KJV of the Bible. Portions of the Book of Mormon do reflect his extravagant prose as Brodie, and later Roberts, point out.]

To prove that the Book of Mormon was the product of gradual evolution Mrs. Brodie maintains with great insistence that until the first one hundred and sixteen pages were finished it was not a religious book at all but "merely an ingenious speculation," (55)

[In context, this reads, "what might have been merely...". Given the fact that the subsequent version of the Book of Mormon has Nephi saying that the lost pages were a history and he is writing a religious book allows Brodie's speculation that it might have originally been intended as something other than a religious history to be justified.]

a mere "moneymaking history of the Indians" (83); as to the plates themselves "no divine interpretation was dreamed of" (38).

[This isn't a quote of Brodie as Nibley suggests. This is a quote from the Palmyra newspaper.]

Yet all along these plates had been too holy to be seen, nay, according to Brodie, Joseph maintained that the very sight of them would strike one dead! And it never occurred to him for a moment that such a singularly holy document might have even the slightest religious significance!

[Again, we find Nibley grabbing quotes from random places in the book, out of context, and then interpreting for us Brodie's conclusions in a way that say something different from what she really says.]

To demonstrate how the book evolved, Brodie observes that it improves in style and story as it goes along. That is her version: to others the first part of the book is by far the most interesting.

[How many Mormons does Nibley think would vote for the seemingly endless repetition of the KJV of Isaiah which is found in the first part of the book as "by far the most interesting"?]

Anyway, as he was finishing it up, the prophet, being worried about the scientific aspects of what he had produced, decided, according to Mrs. Brodie, to add another book to it. In this book, designed specifically to correct the unscientific tone of the rest, he was far more careless than ever before, mentioning all sorts of domestic beasts "when it was known even in his own day (and very well to a man of his sly researches) that Columbus had found the land devoid of these species."

[Here is more of Mr. Nibley putting words into her mouth. She doesn't say that he adds a book to correct the unscientific tone of the rest. She claims just the opposite when she states that "he was careless in his choice of domestic beasts" and he had "the Nephites produce wheat and barley rather than the indigenous maize and potatoes". She never postulates, as Nibley does in the portion he added in parenthesis to her quote, to him knowing "very well" that there were scientific errors in the book or being "a man of...sly researches".]

In criticizing the Book of Mormon or any of the other writings of Joseph Smith it is necessary first of all to find out what these writings say. The theories and doctrines which Mrs. Brodie exposes are not found in these books, but are picked up from various people's ideas about them. The Book of Mormon has suffered particularly from a glib jumping at conclusions by its attackers. The book describes the doings of "a lonesome and solemn people" who do not claim for a moment to be the sole inhabitants of the hemisphere. When Brodie talks of Mound-builders and Mongolians she is not talking about the Book of Mormon at all; she is setting up a straw-man for her "science" to "disembowel."

[Again, just the opposite is true. Nibley sets Brodie up as the straw-man by not referencing or elaborating on his claims that he thinks Brodie is making. I don't see how someone can honestly read Brodie and come away with the opinion that she exposes things that are not found in the Joseph Smith's writings. She is very specific with regard to which portions of the Book of Mormon she examines. For instance, on page 65, as she discusses the how the Gadiantons appear to be pre-Columbian freemasons she states, "Before burying the golden plates, Moroni engraved a solemn warning to the gentiles of 1830: '...whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations...'". I don't understand how Nibley can honestly say that she exposes things not found in these books, when she is quoting directly from them.]

Having finished the Book of Mormon Joseph Smith was "rapidly acquiring the language and even the accent of sincere faith". He had no sincere faith, you understand; what he had been through in the past had been merely drill to improve his "accent." (80).

[Here is Brodie in context: "The miracles and visions among his followers apparently served only to heighten his growing consciousness of supernatural power...he was rapidly..." This does not say that "he had no sincere faith" as Nibley claims. He already had faith in the supernatural. Brodie merely asserts that it was continuing to grow. Why must Nibley distort the text?]

Next "he slipped into" the role of prophet "with ease, without the inner turmoil that preceded the spiritual fervor of so many great religious figures of the past." (84)

[Brodie isn't referring merely to his "role of prophet". She is referring to the numerous titles that he gives himself. Here is the full text: "A fortnight after the publication of the Book of Mormon Joseph Smith announced to his following his official title as 'Seer, a Translator, a Prophet, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and Elder of the Church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ.' It is not easy to trace the steps by which Joseph assumed this role. Apparently he slipped...".]

The fact that Joseph is the only prophet, true or false, who never once gave evidence of doubting his calling, closely engaged the attention of the great Eduard Meyer, to whom the explanation is obvious: the prophet had a vision--a real vision--right at the outset of his career.

[Nibley here ignores the fact that no one had yet heard about the First Vision--nor would they for several years. Hence Brodie said, "It is not easy to trace the steps by which Joseph assumed this role" and "since the history of this period is based on documents written many years later".]

If we do not accept that interpretation, we must follow Mrs. Brodie's psychological gymnastics.

[Actually, it is the historical record she was dealing with--not psychological gymnastics.]

Joseph Smith was a deceiver, she decides, and "the casual reader will be shocked by his deceptions . . . in the field of religion, where honesty and integrity presumably count for something." (84)

[Brodie is referring to the rewritten history. Does Nibley not think that changing a certain 'revelation' later in time to give the church a divine origin deceptive? What about rewriting history to bolster the faithful?]

He had no honesty or integrity; instead he had a "highly compensated" but "very real" sincerity, however he had no real faith.

[Brodie never says that he had 'no honesty or integrity'--nor does she ever say that he never had any 'real faith'. Nibley's strawman continues to grow.]

And so now you know. "What Joseph created," our authority tells us (100) "was essentially an evangelical socialism which made up in moral strength what it lacked in grandeur." So, you see, the completely undisciplined imagination, devoid of honesty and integrity and lacking, moreover "the diligence and the constancy to master reality" produces an organization noted for its lasting stability and characterized by great moral strength! What kind of reasoning is that? If there is anything which should mark a brainchild of Brodie's "Joseph," that would be a tendency to grandeur and a lack of moral strength: just the opposite is found to be the case.

[Perhaps Nibley just forgot on this one occasion to use the quote in context that he then extrapolates? Who knows? All I know is that a definite pattern is being formed here. When Brodie says that "it lacked in grandeur" she is comparing it to the "elaborate clerical dress and ritual, and ostentatious display" of worship of the day which she had just described in the previous sentence. When she says "moral strength" she is not referring to morality as Nibley asserts. She is referring to numbers and the Mormon clergy she describes in the previous paragraph which is "entirely composed of laymen...practically all the laymen in his church".

Next in the process of Joseph's evolution an amazing thing happens. He performs a miraculous healing. "Joseph must have been overwhelmed by this miracle," says our shrewd informant, "for he had no idea how common were such occurrences." (86). No idea! And that after Brodie has been at pains to tell us (14) how he had grown up in a world of "faith healers and circuit-rider evangelists" and camp-meeting miracles. Miracles of this sort had been his everyday fare from infancy and yet in 1830 he has no idea that faith cures are common occurrences. His performance is not half as overwhelming as Brodie's discovery.

[Nibley may have a point here. It is however difficult to tell from a careful reading of the entire text, in context, whether Brodie is saying that he had "no idea" how common faith healings were or if he had "no idea" how common exorcisms were (since it was an exorcism rather than a faith healing as Nibley suggests). Given the fact that Brodie didn't drop the "no idea" phrase from the second edition, she probably meant the latter.]

Shortly after this Joseph founds the church and "with an insight rare among the prophets of his own generation, he did not make a complete break with the past. He continued the story, he did not present a new cosmology." (91).

[Nibley leaves out (presumably so he can manipulate the quote to fit the rest of his theory in this paragraph) that she is referring to New Testament titles such as "apostle, elder, priest, deacon, teacher, and patriarch".]

In her summing up, however, our author takes the prophet severely to task for this "insight" and speaks bitter words: "Within the dogma of the Church there is no new Sermon on the Mount (why should there be? The old one is good enough.) no new saga of redemption . . ."

[Nibley didn't leave a reference here so it is hard to check up on him, but I imagine Brodie is probably referring to the Book of Mormon and how Joseph Smith borrowed liberally from the New Testament in the Book of Mormon's creation--even though it should have no New Testament influence given the time and place it was supposed to have been written.]

Joseph Smith, according to her, should have brought a new saga of redemption; she is actually disgusted with the man because he makes no attempt, absolutely none, to displace Jesus Christ!

[I'm going to have to agree with Brodie here. This, to me, is the biggest problem of Mormonism. The redemption of Jesus makes absolutely no logical sense. Why stick with it when you are creating a new religious tradition?]

She is equally disgusted when at this time he speaks through revelation, depending on God rather than "standing squarely on his own feet." (92). This to her can only mean that he is "still troubled by a sense of inadequacy."

[Neither of these quotes are on page 92. It's impossible to comment on them without checking the context. "Standing squarely on his own feet" may have been a reference to the fact that he originally could only get revelations through the stone (or in Oliver's case--the rod).]

This sort of forced and predetermined reasoning makes one wonder, [just as we are all wondering about your forced and predetermined reasoning Hugh ;) ] but no more so than her observations on the coined word "telestial" and the idea of a third degree of glory which is as that of the stars. It is almost unbelievable that anyone presuming to write on religion should not be perfectly familiar with this very well-established and ancient doctrine--it is regular old stock-in-trade in ancient times, though the sources were not accessible to Joseph Smith.

[It's a shame that Nibley didn't bother to show us the stock-in-trade usage of 'telestial'. Brodie says nothing about it not being a 'very well-established and ancient doctrine' so why is Nibley having a fit over it?]

They are accessible to Brodie, if she is competent to judge of religious matters, and true or false, the doctrine is anything but the fantastic aberration she makes it out to be. (118).

[You'd think after reading Nibley that Brodie gives a lengthy discourse on the topic containing much "fantastic aberration". Brodie's entire commentary on the subject is just one sentence as follows: "Then he coined the word 'telestial' for a third kingdom, whose glory was that of the stars, to be peopled with those who had refused the law of God." Who is guilty of a 'fantastic aberration'--Brodie and her one sentence on the subject or Nibley's exagerated paragraph on the same?]

Part 3 (coming soon--maybe)


 Etusivu | Sivun alkuun


 2000-10-13 — 2002-11-22