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259: Samuel Brown – Joseph Smith and Translation

Today we sit down to talk to Sam Brown LDS author and scholar and discuss the upcoming conference “New Perspectives on Joseph Smith and Translation” that is taking place on March 16th 2017 from 9am to 5:30pm at Utah State University and is free to the public.

We talk about the conference, translation, and Book of Mormon historicity.  It is short and sweet.


7 thoughts on “259: Samuel Brown – Joseph Smith and Translation”

  1. This particular podcast perked my interest since Dan Witherspoon had a similar podcast with respect to the upcoming conference. I am so elated that these kind of topics are being discussed. I’m particularly thrilled that someone like Samuel Brown has the ability to articulate a reasonable and sound response to the LDS community on favorable ways to approach secular vs. devotional means of faith and practice. His comments and positions mirror mine so closely it made me actually clap for joy!

    I too, like Samuel and others, can’t help taking a “secular” perspective on my approach to faith. And analogous to Sam’s “hybrid” conclusion in the “translation” methodology and outcome it reminded me of the Mormon epistological process of both mind and spirit that is referred to in D&C per Oliver Cowdrey’s failed attempt at translation. Also, the parallel of the body and spirit making up the soul with respect to the “hybrid” translation theory was something I never considered. So interesting to tie these kind of ideas together as we attempt to understand what Joseph Smith was really doing with respect to translation etc.. The expectation of both the temporal and the antiquity in the Seer or Translators work is a interesting perspective and deserves further review.

    In conclusion, my problem has always been the inability to voice my concerns in the area of giving the Church the benefit of doubt in areas that deserve such. I am most likely a minority with respect to the many listeners of Mormon Discussion but still enjoy being part of the family and Samuel Brown helped me further in that area. These are the kind of voices I’m hoping to emulate and encourage those who are struggling with their faith to find the ability to take heart in themselves. It is so sad to see good people fall way hopeless when there is really so much hope at our disposal. Great job Bill in this interview!! Hope many more like this in the future!!

  2. So basically, you are able to have an understanding of the way things really occurred with our history and how drastically different it is compared to what is taught on Sunday. Or, in Richard Bushman’s words, the narrative being taught is completely false.

    Meanwhile, all those people in the pews who are ignorant of the facts are dedicating their lives, their money, their time, their talents, their everything to the church, under the belief that the story they were taught by the church is accurate.

    It strikes me as quite insensitive and absurd that you propose that all those people keep believing the false narrative and not understand things as they truly are. This is unconscionable to me and I’m disturbed that you would advocate that most people are better off not knowing and it would be better for the church as well.

    Tell the truth and then let people decide if they want to dedicate their lives to a cause! Anything else is morally and ethically wrong and it’s disturbing to hear someone who knows the messiness of it all advocate that the church and “most people” are better off by believing the ancient, false narrative. Just leave them all in ignorance???

    I am sure you are a wonderful human being (I am being sincere here). I appreciate that you can look at issues from an honest point of view and I am thrilled that people like you have the courage and authenticity to participate and put together this “New Perspectives on JS and Translation.” I can’t commend you enough on that and I am so grateful for those of you who are speaking on these types of things.

    However, I wish you would at least advocate accurate history being taught to all members so that we are truly free to choose. In your circles, you can have these discussions with your friends and actually acknowledge that Nephites and Lamanites probably never existed while all of us in the pews would be ostracized and ridiculed for doing the same in our wards. You are fortunate to have these friendships with people you can trust and people with whom you can have real discussions. Most of us don’t have that luxury and advocating that the status quo continue, will only lead to more damage in our lives as we don’t have the luxuries that it seems you may take for granted.

    Best of luck next week. I hope the event is amazing. I wish I lived closer than 2,000 miles away so that I could attend.

  3. Ryan, I’m sorry for the frustration that you feel. And I’m sorry that in trying to be gentle I’m not always clear. Some of that is by design–hoping to make room for many people–and some of it is entirely by accident (I ramble in filigree sometimes). While I feel strongly that the body of Christ can and should welcome those who can’t make sense of the Book of Mormon as an ancient text, I personally believe that it is an ancient text, brought to life in the nineteenth-century and thus bearing the imprint of that birth into English. So it would feel disingenuous to me to advocate that the institutional church teach the contrary (i.e. that the book is wholly modern). My worry–and I think this is based on decent empirical evidence–is that treating religion (specifically here, our religion) in wholly secular terms diminishes the world, limits the human experience, and makes a logical category error. I don’t understand myself to be suggesting that the church “hide” “the truth” (I’m using generic scare quotes, not trying to quote from your thoughtful post) from non-academics. I believe that the church is true. I understand myself to be saying that the overwhelmingly urgent task that stands before us is to understand our relationship to God. Some of us can only start to fathom that relationship when we connect it to the secular world we now inhabit, but many of us best fathom that relationship when we limit the encroachment of secular sensibilities. To try to make the church over in the image of that secular world would, I believe, be an error, not just pragmatically (e.g., in terms of maintaining membership), but logically/intellectually/methodologically.

    I hope I haven’t been too forceful. I’m mindful of the importance of assuring that the church as the body of Christ can maintain bonds of love and tenderness even with those of us who are hopelessly torn between secularity and religious belief. But I don’t think it can do that work if it remakes itself in the image of the secular.

    I hope that makes sense.

    I wish you all best in navigating these tensions. It can be exhausting.

  4. Pingback: Samuel Brown Mormon Scholar on Cross Pressure - LDS Church is True Blog

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