Thursday, June 26, 2014

Modern Counters to Bruce Malina

As was recently pointed out to me, even the updated version (3rd edition from 2002) of Bruce Malina's work has its issues and counter-arguments. Specifically, U. Bockmuehl of Cambrdige wrote in a review (in 2002):
Nonetheless, after more than two decades of remarkable popularity, the book's re-release does invite a number of critical reflections. First, for a third edition this book remains surprisingly unpolished in some respects. Typos old and new continue; so does a prose style that borders at times on the trite and repetitive -- even when allowing for undergraduate attention spans. There still is no comprehensive bibliography and no index of modern authors, so that specific references remain difficult to find. Although updated, the chapter bibliographies still suggest inadequate interaction with anthropological approaches critical of the author's own. While this may be understandable in a pioneering work that first brought the insights of cultural anthropology to the table of New Testament studies, in a third edition one might like to see a more nuanced picture. A good deal of recent classical scholarship on honour and shame, some of it rather critical of J.G. Peristiany's and J. Pitt-Rivers' old view that these 'pivotal values' governed every social transaction in the 'Mediterranean' world, is simply not cited here (e.g. B. Williams, Shame and Necessity (1993); D.L. Cairns, Aidos (1993); M. Herzfeld and M.A. Marcus in D.D. Gilmmore (ed.), Honor and Shame (1987)). It is instructive to look up the recent edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary under the relevant headings. 
As a result, astounding generalizations proliferate, seemingly unsupported by evidence and reminiscent of grand anthropological theories of a bygone day, when Polynesian cargo cults could be thought to shed the same inexhaustible light on the social realities of Steeple Bumpstead as of ancient Xanadu. We hear about what is characteristically, and it appears timelessly, 'Mediterranean' behaviour. But for every valid or at least plausible insight one stumbles over others burdened with rather too many unmentioned exceptions, be they ancient or modern or both. All the while, the cultural stereotypes merrily accumulate to an extent that would be unthinkable if the object were contemporary 'African' or 'native American' people groups. The Index of Ancient Authors is remarkably underpopulated for a book of such tall claims; and readers who, like the present author, come to the study of the New Testament from that of the classical world may well scratch their heads to find all ancient (and modern?) inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin thrown into the one cultural melting pot, as if Parthians, Carthaginians and Iberians all subscribed to exactly the same social dynamics and assumptions. A reader of Tacitus or Juvenal would find that Romans easily recognized major anthropological differences between themselves, the Greeks and the diverse barbarians and Scythians who inhabited the wider orbit of mare nostrum. What is more, they had a particular revulsion for Oriental cultures and customs -- especially Jewish ones. 
And it is Jews, after all, whose role in the 'New Testament world' arguably matters more than most. Both in their own eyes and in those of their pagan critics, they were culturally unique. Little of that distinctness, however, comes into the fore in this book. Malina refers to ancient Jews and their literature in curiously arm-waving and unspecific terms ('Semites', 'Semitic subculture', 'Ben Zakaiists', 'late Israelites'), citing the Mishnah only twice and the Dead Sea Scrolls not at all, and virtually ignoring the first-century role of the Pharisees, who (rather than the priests) were in Josephus's view the real 'bearers of the Great Tradition'. A good many of Malina's cultural generalizations are plainly untrue for the followers of Jesus and for some or indeed most other religious Jews. For example, individual decision rather than family ties did matter for Jesus and at Qumran; Jews did not believe that 'stars were living beings, intelligent and powerful'; they did not wear tassels on their garments primarily to ward off the evil eye; at least the Dead Sea sect did prohibit marriage with nieces and cousins; 'Ben Zakaiists' (i.e. rabbis) did not develop 'a viable Israelite domestic religion... largely through interaction with post-Jesus groups' (i.e. Christians). And so forth. Exaggerated claims for a homogeneous and apparently timeless Mediterranean culture seriously compromise the anthropological and historical applicability of Malina's model to the highly specific and unusual context of religious first-century Palestinian Judaism. The contention that public honour and status mattered supremely to the elites of places like Corinth or Ephesus is at least plausible. The Palestinian Jewish 'New Testament world', however, was in fact a culture in which many, not least in the Jesus movement, prized humility more highly than secular conventions of honour, and saw social status and influence in a frame of reference that prioritised divine revelation and the judgment of the world to come.
Some of the criticism is not specific to Malina, but to his larger camp of co-researchers, the CONTEXT group that he belongs to. Zeba A. Crook of Carleton University, in her review of TODD D. STILL and DAVID G. HORRELL (eds.), After the First Urban Christians: The Social-Scientific Study of Pauline Christianity Twenty-Five Years Later (London/New York: Clark, 2009), points out that the Horrell especially, in the introductory methodological essay, criticizes Malina's hard distinction: 
Arguing against Bruce Malina’s strongly articulated distinction (The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology [Atlanta: John Knox, 1981]), and taking his cue from two recent social-science works—one by a sociologist, Grace Davie (Religion in Modern Europe: A Memory Mutates [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000]), the other [p. 441] by an anthropologist, David E. Sutton (Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory [Oxford: Berg, 2001])—H. claims that the distinction between social description and social-scientific criticism is no longer sustainable and is not actually reflected in current work.
Crook disagrees with the assessment, but agrees that a revamping of Malina using newer literature is in order.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Internal Evidence Biblical Criticism

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, the early English Deists, Spinoza, and French criticism of the Bible are most useful for reconstructing the level of Biblical Criticism for the time of Joseph Smith Jr, because they all use internal evidence exclusively.

Once the different codices rise to the level of awareness and people begin to argue in terms of the languages used and in terms of the textual families, the situation becomes for the experts only and cannot be expected to find reflection in the theological discussions of Upstate New York. The professionalization and scientific status of the discipline eliminated the participation of the lay people.

David Friedrich Strauss cites Reimarus about how apologetic all of that Biblical analysis had been in the past (and this tack still covers a good range of what is presently happening, to my own mind, as it captures apologetics, e.g. Terry L. Givens).

Noch andere fangen wohl an, über ihren Glauben nachzudenken, und finden bald hier bald da einen Stein des Anstoßes; "aber ihre Untersuchung ist darum nicht aufrichtig, weil sie dabei nicht gleichgültig sind. Sie wünschen immer, daß ihr Endurtheil so ausfallen möchte, daß sie dasjenige, was sie bisher nach ihrem Katechismus geglaubt haben, wahr und gegründet finden könnten." Dies ist besonders bei den Gelehrten der Fall, …. (Strauss, Reimarus, p.48f)
Others clearly start to ponder their faith, and find one or another issue; "but their investigation is not honest, because they are interested in the outcome. They always wish to achieve a final judgement such that they can discover that which they have so far believed according to their Catechism, as true and founded." This is especially the case with scholars .... 
Apologists are often frustrated by this asymmetry, but it is to be expected; the claims raised by a book purporting to be a revelation are extraordinary, and thus the majority of these claims should be assumed to be false. Thus, the healthy skepticism of the dispassionate is not only the stance to be expected, but in some sense the correct stance. And that stance can not be short-circuited by appealing to the religious intuition (cf. Moroni 10:3-5).

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Strauss thinks Reimarus read of the English Deists

In his description of the inspirations of Hermann Samuel Reimarus, David Friedrich Strauss mentions not only the obvious cases, such as Spinoza's Theological Political Tractatus (esp on prophecy), or Pierre Bayle's Historical Dictionary in the 1st edition, esp. on Abraham (cf. the entries on Sara and Abimelech) and King David, but a whole raft of English Deists---Strauss is clear (p.40) that the Deists were more like popular writers and journalists than scientists---to wit:

The laundry list like enumeration hides some of the dependency in these writings. For example, the 2nd volume of Morgan's Moral Philosopher was a response to John Leland's The Divine Authority of the Old and New Testament Asserted, published in London (2nd ed 1739; 4th enlarged edition of 1739 in 5 vols: volume 1, volume 2, volume 3, volume 4, volume 5), which in turn was a response to Tindal's Christianity as old as the Creation.

This presentation also hides the temporal information, which will require a separate pass to sort out.

Of course Reimarus had read more than that: Charles Blount and Shaftsbury are mentioned as well (p.42f). Blount's supposed commentary on Apollonius of Tyana of 1680 was rapidly suppressed, with the effect that few English copies are now extant. However, the French translation (by Marc Michel Rey & Jean-Louis Castilhon) and re-issue in 1779 in Amsterdam in four volumes (volume 1, volume 2volume 4) made the notes available more widely.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fragments of Reimarus (Part II)

(continued from Fragments of Reimarus---Part 1)

Chapter V---Worldly Ambitions of the Apostles

  • For Reimarus, the Apostles (p.85) where in it to become judges over Israel in the new Kingdom of Heaven. When the death of Jesus dashed those hopes, the doctrine (p.86) but not their motivations, underwent a change, Reimarus contends. After Easter, the apostles had nothing to look forward to (p.89), having lost their job infrastructure---boats, nets, etc.---and disgraced themselves as well. But preaching provided both sustenance, as their own travels and the wealthy women following Jesus had shown (p.90f), as well as glory, as the crowds had shown (p.91). Commonweal and alms (p.93) were tools to power, honor, and glory. Partially this worked because the other followers (p.94) did not want to be dupes either.
  • [RCK: While Reimarus thinks that the apostles disposed of the body (p.95), the editor of the volume, Volsey, believes that Jesus was resuscitated by Joseph of Amarithea, and then fled into Galilee in the dress of the gardener, and that the disciples and Jesus were preparing for a return to glory.]
  • Reimarus thinks the 50 days before Pentecost were the amount of time needed to make the body decay enough (p.96). Resurrection was generally accepted, esp by the Pharisees, and the number of eleven witnesses was sufficient to pass the threshold of three (p.97; p.102). Paul especially rode the pro-resurrection stance successfully (pp.97f; p.104), combining it with the batkol, the heavenly voice, which the Jews also expected and accepted (p.98). Reimarus notes how the Kingdom of Heaven was conceptualized as an earthly thing that would last a thousand years (p.100), a stock company in which everyone wanted to buy a small share by contributing to the common pot. The result was a state within the state (p.106). Reimarus retells the story of Ananias and Sapphira under the view point that Peter noticed that money was missing and brought about the death sentence (p.107) for the two. Reimarus wonders why there was no inquest when two wealthy members of the community die and are buried without their heirs receiving any of the money (p.108). In recounting the Pentecostal event, Reimarus wonders why God had not chosen a more suitable spot for the resurrection (p.110), rather then among the apostles, e.g. the synhedrion or similar. 
  • Reimarus points out the complications in the Pentecostal story, such as the small room (p.115f), to the fact that the population of visitors to Jerusalem would have equalled the number of converts (p.117). Rather, Reimarus sees the shared wealth of the early community (p.119) as the source of the large number of members joining (Acts 4, 34f). 

Notes on Reimarus

There are two structural weaknesses with the ideas of Reimarus that jump out on a first pass of the book.

  1. The notion of the resurrection and the parousia are not interestingly different from the miracles, in that they belong to the conceptual space of Judaism, esp. the Pharisees, of that time. They are worth separating since their time horizon is much longer, and they are singletons in terms of the event structure---other than the miracles, which can occur multiple times. It is true that their foundational role segregates them, but they share the problem that they prove nothing, in Reimarus' natural theology notion, and confirm nothing, due to their semantic ambiguity.
  2. The idea of the Priesterbetrug, which is essentially what Reimarus is accusing the Apostles of, flies in his own argument by virtue of a socio-economic class distinction. But that is problematic for two reasons, because the Pharisees, as the NT shows, believe in these things and are the antagonists of Jesus; and the Galilean apostles are if anything even lower on the socio-economic ladder. Thus, socio-economically speaking, people like the apostles either believed in the resurrection, parousia, miracles and prophecies, or they did not. But if they did not, then they would not have been able to make any more converts; and if they did, then it is not clear how they would have come up with the "lie" that Reimarus claims they invented.
In general, it would be good to know more about how the Romans did with their executed prisoners. It strikes me that the idea of Joseph of Amarithea might be dependent on being able to pinpoint a grave that can then be empty; and Paul for example famously knows nothing of the empty grave.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fragments of Reimarus (Part I)

It is sort of amusing that I end up using an English translation of the Fragments, but it is convenient for works written in English. The work itself also makes use of David Friedrich Strauss' biography of Reimarus, Hermann Samuel Reimarus und seine Schutzschrift für die vernünftigen Verehrer Gottes, Leipzig (Brockhaus) 1862, for some pithy quotes of Reimarus' that argue that nonsense cannot be made into sense by adding God to the equation.

  • Of concern is the worldly interpretation of the Jews and the disciples for the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus preached, leading Reimarus to suspect that Jesus knew their interpretation and did not dissuade them, and thus supported it (p.10-12), wanting to make a grand entrance into Jerusalem at Passover (p.18).
  • Reimarus also worries that John the Baptist and Jesus, being cousins, were playing into each others hands purposefully in the Baptism scene to amplify their respective importance, including faking a batcol, a voice from Heaven (p.13-18).  
  • Reimarus sees preparation for the grand Passover Entrance into Jerusalem in the secrecy of the miracles (p.19). With the preaching of John Jesus openly covets the position of Messiah (p.20) and calls himself that to the Samarian woman, the Synhedrion and Pilate (p.20). 
  • When Jesus is ready, he borrows ass with foal and marches into Jerusalem, to fulfill the prophecy (p.21). In this scenario, his cleansing of the temple (p.22) and the attacks on the High Priests and Scribes (p.23) become moves in Jesus' assumption of power. 
  • The fact that no big or famous person joined his movement, that miracles were not performed uniformly, all over Israel, and not upon the challenge of the High Priests and Scribes, leads Reimarus to believe that the miracles were not much to begin with (p.25). 
  • When the influential people realized that he was yet another pretender to the Messiah title and no support materialized (p.26), Jesus was apprehended (with Judas' support) and executed before the Passover slaughtering of the lambs, frustrated in his attempt to setup the worldly Kingdom of Heaven (p.27).
  • Reimarus notes that the transformation of the worldy Messiah into the heavenly obtainer of forgiveness for mankind hinges critically on the resurrection (p.30). Reimarus reconstruct the winding speeches [in Acts, Reimarus works uniformly with the entirety of the NT, RCK] of Stephanus (p.33f) and Paul (p.33-39). Reimarus points out the paucity of the Ps 2 scriptural proof that Paul's Acts marshals (p.39), that they do not overcome the straightfoward explanation that Ps 2 is talking about David rather than Jesus, and that the justification is circular and a petitio principii to boot.
  • Reimarus has a similar problem with the prophetic interpretations of Mathews (p.45), which do not seem to match the OT that we have now or bend the words badly. Reimarus notes esp. (p.46) that Jonas spending three days and three nights inside the whale's belly squares up badly with Jesus being dead for one day and two nights (p.46) [though Reimarus seems to be unaware of how the Jewish calendar counts days]. In short, the evidence for Jesus' resurrection is to contradictory to carry such a heavy load of proof (p.47).
  • Reimarus (p.48) now turns to the problem of the doctrine of the return of Jesus. Reimarus notes that the two-fold coming of the Messiah, once in poverty, once in glory, is accepted as valid by Tryphon in Justin Martyr's Dialogue, and also mentioned in the Talmud and other Rabbinic literature (p.48). Reimarus blames the allegorical interpretations of contradictory passages for the plurality of Messiahs expected (p.49). The Jews also expected the resurrection of all dead [emphasis RCK] after the coming of the Messiah in glory (p.50). 
  • As would be expected, the delay of the parousia becomes topical now (p.51). Thus the promise that the Jews would witness the return before the "present generation" had passed away (p.52) in Mathews. And similarly that some would not taste death before the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven (p.54) [Mark 9:1, = Lk 9:27, = Mt 16:28]. But Jesus failed to return (p.54) and there is no alternate interpretation, e.g. sense extension to all Jews or similar (p.55) to make the prediction true. Furthermore, the assumption is pervasive, found in the epistles---Reimarus mentions Paul's 1 Thess (p.60) or to the Corinthians (p.61) [1 Cor 15:52]. But Paul had to deal with the parousia delay in 2 Thess (p.62) and Peter in 2 Peter (pp.63f), and Reimarus thinks the arguments in 2 Peter are better than in 2 Thess [which of course stems from the even longer delay of the parousia, RCK]. 
  • And Reimarus is proud of himself (pp.67f) for tackling the real issues of Christianity, the resurrection and the return, and not dwaddling with side issues.

Section 3: Miracles and Prophecies

  • Reimarus is opposed to the notion that miracles can either make faith certain or detract from it (p.69); they cannot confirm, because they are improbably events that require their own confirmation and make no semantic contribution to the argument (p.70).
  • Miracle writers are unconcerned about the side-parts of the details; Pharao's cattle is killed thrice over (p.71); the Israelites take all cattle of Pharao with them yet are hungry in the desert, requiring another miracle (p.71); the bottom of the Red Sea must have been impassable with corals and mud and sand to the Israelites with all their elderly, sick, furniture and animals (p.71). There is also no logic to the possibilities of that writer: "He blows and shouts down the strongest walls, although he cannot shout away the aggravating iron chariots any more than he can bid them stop." (p.71) Even the contemporaries did not believe them (p.72). 
  • Though the miracles of the NT are less outrageous, concerning healing and the like, they are equally ensnared in contradictions (p.72), as Jesus could never work miracles upon demand by higher authority or where they did not believe in him (p.73). The authoring of the texts happened long after the witnesses were dead (p.73). But all religions exhibit miracles, so they do not form a differentia specifica of Christianity (p.74). As affirmations of faith, miracles are useless: one cannot deduce the trinity from the healing of a blind man (p.75); one cannot heal contradictions (p.76): "Contradiction is a devil and father of lies, who refuses to be driven out either by fasting and prayer, or by miracles." (p.76)
  • The prophecies suffer from an equivalent problem (p.76). Clear prophecies, such as those in the NT describing the reign of the Messiah, never came to pass (p.77); all others require allegorical and non-standard interpretations to apply (e.g. Jonah). Indeed, as the life of Jesus showed, Reimarus argues, the applications of prophecies are always post-facto (p.80). 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Imperfect Books

The fundamental crux of the matter for a divinely inspired work, no matter along which dimension the analysis proceeds, has always been that any mistake makes the Divine look human. Thus, any grammatical, narrative, historical, scientific or aesthetic insufficiency undermines the very claim the work is trying to make.

The argument for the divine authorship of the Book of Mormon is constructed as an analogous argument, albeit with claim to superiority: The BoM is divinely inspired in the same way that the Hebrew Bible and the Greek NT are, but with the added twist that the translation of that book is also divinely inspired, and thus a more correct translation than say the KJV would be for the Christian Bible.

In the context of the literary criticism of the BoM since the 19th century---Lamb's The Golden Bible, B. Roberts Studies on the BoM, and Wunderli's Imperfect Book, to name just a few---this analogous argument is rejected on the basis that the literary, narrative, scientific and aesthetic qualities of the BoM are nowhere near where they need to be to support that argument of analogy.

In the same vein, some of the apologetic support of the BoM since the 19th century---Pratt's work on prophecy and fulfillment, Nibley cross-cultural studies and Welch's work on Chiasmus structures---has tried to counter that criticism, mostly along the lines that there is literary quality to the BoM in agreement with the literary quality of the ancient sources that the BoM purports to have as siblings, temporally and contextually.

The key way in which the analogy argument goes awry, however---and only Wunderli hints in that general direction when discussing Deutero-Isaiah and similar, without drawing the necessary consequences ---is that the source in this analogy is problematic as well. The Christian Bible can neither be conceptualized as divinely authored in the way that the BoM attempts to mirror, nor has it been held continuously as an especially impressive literary achievement.

Since these two observations have separate histories and implications, it behoves one well to consider them separately. Yet, it is important to understand though that these concerns were together problematic for apologists of the Bible, i.e. for Christian apologetics the lack of consistency in some parts of the Bible was no less embarrassing than the lack of literary quality.

As far as the literary style of the New Testament and the early Patristic literature was concerned, there had been a literary movement, called Atticism, which had established a renaissance of the Attic orators of the 5th century. In terms of these literary movements, most of the New Testament was decidedly Koine in language and style:
Mit der griechischen Kunstsprache, die seinerzeit als attische Prosasprache in der Literatur und Rhetorik erneuert wurde, hat die Sprache des NT wenig zu tun. (Koester, Einleitung, p.110)
The language of the NT has little in common with the Greek artistic language,  which had recently had a renaissance as the Attic language of prose in literature and rhetoric.
There are some hints of attic education in the NT: The author of Hebrews had some schooling (p.110); the author of 2 Peter attempts to write in the high style (p.110f). Luke is capable of the elevated koine style, cleans up his sources with respect to foreign terminology, looks to literary exemplars and employs even the optative mood, a form not part of the Koine, when useful (p.111). The pastoral letters, including the non-canonical 1 Clement, exhibit many literary expressions of style. By the middle of the 2nd century, when the attic influence is beginning to be felt in the literary Koine style, Justin Martyr and Athenagoras employ it without difficulties. Around 200, the Diognet Letter, a Christian apologetic writing, exhibits a high degree of literary style; and with Clement of Alexandria, the mastery of the Attic style is so high that he can subvert the rules at will (p.111).

With Luke and Hebrews accounted for, the remaining writings of the New Testament are mostly solid Koine in style. Paul seems to have had some education in the cynic-stoic tradition:
Dieses Können verdankt Paulus einer gewissen rhetorischen Bildung und einer Ausbildung im Diskussionsstil der kynisch-stoischen Diatribe und im Predigtstil der hellenistischen Synagoge. (p.112)
Paul possesses this [literary, RCK] ability because of some rhetorical education, and schooling in the style of the discussion of the cycnic-stoic diatribe, and in the style of sermon of the hellenistic synagogue. 
The least sophisticated texts of the NT and the patriarchic period are Mark, Revelations, the Pastor of Hermas, and the Diadache (p.112). Helmut Köster notes:
Im Markusevangelium sind die Kennzeichen der Vulgär-Koine in der Tat so kraß, daß die Kirche damit nicht vor einer mittleren bürgerlichen Bildung bestehen konnte, .... (p.112)
In the Gospel of Mark, the signs of vulgar Koine are so bad that the Church could not have survived vis-a-vis a mid-level civil service education, .... [RCK: Note that Köster's notion of "bürgerlich" cannot mean bourgeois, which is a concept that did not exist in Antiquity.]
Thus not only Luke, but Matthew as well were called upon to turn some of the constructions into Greek anyone educated would have recognized (p.113). John's limited repertoire of literary devices is part of the shared Koine, e.g. similar to Epictetus, and is applied consistently and repetitively.

Another problematic aspect of the NT texts, as viewed from the high Koine or Atticism, are constructions that show the proximity to the Semitic languages. Koester distinguishes between Hebraisms, Aramaisms, Biblizisms, and the bi-lingual heritage of some of the authors (p.114-115); of course the import of non-Greek vocabulary or turns of phrase would have been problematic in the Attic style.

As far as the criticism of the Bible is concerned, already in the 2nd century AD learned and literary people exposed inconsistencies---some perceived, some de facto---in the plurality of narratives in the New and the Old Testament. Famously, Justin Martyr's Discourse with the Jew Tryphon challenges the virgin birth.

And the Apocriticus of Macarius, believed to be written against Porphyr of Tyre, not only reports that the opponents challenged the divergences in the Passion narrative (Book II, Chapter XII), but in Book III, Question III challenges the notion that Moses had prophesied the coming of the Messiah (adversos John 5, 46f), based on the insight that Ezra had redacted the Old Testament:
Again the following saying appears to be full of stupidity : "If ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote concerning me." He said it, but all the same nothing which Moses wrote has been preserved. For all his writings are said to have been burnt along with the temple. All that bears the name of Moses was written 1180 years afterwards, by Ezra and those of his time. And even if one were to concede that the writing is that of Moses, it cannot be shown that Christ was anywhere called God, or God the Word, or Creator. And pray who has spoken of Christ as crucified?
Macarius' opponents also point out the delay in the return of the "latter times" (Book IV, Chapter II) in Paul's apocalypse in 1 Thess and in St Mathews expectation in Mt 24,14 that the Gospel preached everywhere would bring the end of the world (Book IV, Chapter III).

Porphyr raised the hackles of Jerome in his commentary on Daniel with the assertion that it was a Hellenistic book which had no prophecies except the then-existing history of Hellenistic Asia (Jerome had himself argued that Daniel had non-Hebrew interpolations).
Porphyry wrote his twelfth book against the prophecy of Daniel, (A) denying that it was composed by the person to whom it is ascribed in its title, but rather by some individual living in Judaea at the time of the Antiochus who was surnamed Epiphanes. He furthermore alleged that "Daniel" did not foretell the future so much as he related the past, and lastly that whatever he spoke of up till the time of Antiochus contained authentic history, whereas anything he may have conjectured beyond that point was false, inasmuch as he would not have foreknown the future.
But among other things we should recognize that Porphyry makes this objection to us concerning the Book of Daniel, that it is clearly a forgery not to be considered as belonging to the Hebrew Scriptures but an invention composed in Greek. This he deduces from the fact that in the story of Susanna, where Daniel is speaking to the elders, we find the expressions, "To split from the mastic tree" (apo tou skhinou skhisai) and to saw from the evergreen oak (kai apo tou prinou prisai), (D) a wordplay appropriate to Greek rather than to Hebrew. 
(Jerome, Prologue)
Porphyr also annoyed St. Augustine (see Letter to Deogratia, Question VI) by pointing out that the story of Jonas and the Whale provides no clear clues on where the allegory starts or ends.

Thus, a study of the apologetic literature of the 2nd-4th century clearly shows that many of the then working Neo-Platonic philosophers and Pagans recognized problems in the Biblical Text that the Church Fathers not only felt compelled to respond to in their writings, but that express concerns modern scholarship shares.

Though the competition for the ear of the emperors did not fully end by the 5th century, even after Constantin and Theodosius, as the History of Zosimus indicates, with the collapse of the Western Empire and the reduction of the Eastern Empire after the onslaught of the Persians and Islam, the time for these kinds of discussions seems to have been over, basically. By the 8th century, when the re-Christianization of the West takes place, the internal ecclesiastical concerns have taken precedence over discussions of the literary style or the internal consistency of the Holy Writings.

I can only assume that it was the religious wars of the 17th century, both in England and on the Continent, that made it interesting to bring about a detailed analysis of the Biblical book as to wrest it from the control of any political party. Thus, Thomas Hobbes, Baruch d'Espinosa and Richard Simon questioned the Old Testament's inspirational status, and Reimarus the status of the New Testament. However, these processes moved slowly, and were often checked by the political difficulties of taking the positions these authors took. For example, Holbach's Ecce Homo, sometimes considered to be the first historical Jesus book, was not available in New York, in the translation of George Houston, until 1827. Thus, this may have been more of a European phenomenon than one might realize. Even in 1879, when Rev Volsey published the translation of Lessing's Fragmente eines Wolfenbüttelschen Ungenannten in New York, he noted:
The name of Reimarus is scarcely known in this country beyond a very select circle of English students, while his writings, so far as I know, have never been popularly known, nor frequently quoted by English commentators. The reason for this will perhaps become apparent to any one who will take the trouble, or give himself the pleasure, of reading this book. Reimarus is too thorough, too uncompromising, too faithful to his task, to suit the present attitude of mind and heart towards the central figure of the orthodox religion. (p.iii)
The Fragment-War had only played out in the 1780s, but then the Americans were busy with their War of Independence from the British Empire.

That the Pentateuch was a confused mess, often in the most important parts, such as the giving of the Law, seems to have occurred to the young Goethe already in the late 1770s, when he tried to get a dissertation on the Mosaic tables of law accepted in Strasbourg (cf. Levinson's essay). Goethe recycled those arguments as a young man in his anonymous publication "Zwo wichtige bisher unerörterte biblische Fragen: zum erstenmal gründlich beantwortet, von einem Landgeistlichen in Schwaben" (see the discussion in Thomas Tillmann's book).

David Friedrich Strauss' 1835 on the historic Jesus, Das Leben Jesu, was not yet that critical of the style; it was his later works, possible the Alter und Neuer Glauben, which complained about the village feeling that the Gospel inspired.

When John Kselmann reviewed John Welch's essay collection Chiasmus in Antiquity, Hildesmheim, 1981, his excitement for a literary-aesthetic approach to the OT, NT and BoM should not be misunderstood as a rejection of source criticism:

While not ignoring or rejecting the continued importance of the historical-critical method, more and more scholars are turning their attention to the literary qualities of the Old and New Testament.
With the rejection of "the style" after the World Wars, literary qualities are now identified in a descriptive fashion rather than in a normative way. The strongest statement remaining is that not all books of the BoM or the Bible have an equal number of identifiable cases (normalized by length).

It is thus ironic that the Bible and the BoM share something that is not in focus, namely that they are both largely written by members of backwater communities of their respective eras, and will not compare well with either the narrative, scientific or literary achievements of the larger world at those times or thereafter. The Bible may be the less "imperfect book" (to take Wunderli's title) of the two, but it is far from a perfect book itself. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Calvin on Participation

Based on Nathan Barci's paper on Participation in Saint Thomas Aquinatus and Calvin, it appears that the following section of Calvin's Institutiones and of his replique Bondage and Liberation of Will, which focuses on salvation, are necessary to understand his participatory theology.

  • Calvin's Interpretation of the Imago Dei in Institutiones 2.1.1 shows his idea of [soteriological] participation
  • See Institutiones 2.12.1 and 2.12.6 for Calvin's argument against Osiander and his rejection of the ontological union of the Divine and the Human in the incarnation as anything but accidental
  • The spiritual union between the Spirit and the Believer is found in Institutiones 3.11, 9 and Institutiones 3.1
  • Calvin's definition of Faith in Institutiones 3.2.7, which is itself grounded in the dynamic between God-knowledge and self-knowledge that opens the Institutiones 1.1.1
  • the acceptance of the gift of Faith is the reciprocating action or response to the gift and cashes out as repentance, which requires the indwelling work of the Spirit and the participation in the person of Christ; cf. Institutiones 3.2.24
  • To explicate the way that Christ and the believer interact, Calvin is dependent on the vine-branch metaphor (Joh 15) in Institutiones 4.1.2-4
At one point Barci argues:
This assent, and the works which follow from faith, can properly be said to be ours: though they do not derive from us and cannot arise apart from the indwelling Spirit uniting us to Christ, they are proper to the heart of flesh, oriented in love to the Father, which is itself proper to created humanity. (p.13)
While I appreciate Barci's exposition of these topics, I disagree with his conclusion that a return to Neoplatonic considerations of the type Aquinas had assumed would be any help to Reformation theology, not even at the price of ecumenical progress.

Histories of Ontario County

There are two histories of Ontario County, New York, in the Internet archive.

The history compiled by Lewis Cass Aldrich and edited by George S. Conover, entitled History of Ontario County, New York, with Illustrations and Sketches of some of the prominent Men and Families, Syracuse (D. Mason & Co) 1893, consists of two parts with separate pagination, where Part I covers the history, and Part II the biographies.

The history by Charles F. Miliken entitled A History of Ontario County, New York, and Its People, New York (Lewis Historical Publishing Company), 1911, has two volumes:

  • Volume 1 (of which the first 100 pages or so are relevant to the settlement, Mormonism and the rise of Rochester)
  • Volume 2 (alternate scan 2, scan 3) which are mostly biographical

Apples in 1903

Mhmmm, a survey of Apple Orchards in Wayne County, NY, with the field work done in 1903. I think I will pass.

Peirsons and Roes of Wayne County

This is probably not going to be very helpful, but the Peirsons family had a little handbook made of their nine generations in the US of A, of which generation six was the one that settled in Wayne County around 1807. There is a nice testament in the 5th generation, and there is a small bit over overlap when the Smiths were in Palmyra, but not much. There is also the fact that the 6th generation Peirson was a carpenter and got a three-to-one trade on his work days for farm days, allowing him to quickly clean up his property (p.43).

Similar sentiments of ancestry inspired Alfred S. Roe to undertake his Sketches of Rose Neighborhood from 1893, which focuses on all sorts of places in Wayne County, but leaves Palmyra out of the title. There are some mentions of Palmyra in the text, though, and several people indicated who later became Mormons. A bit meager, but nevertheless.

More geographical river and traveling Information

Here is a bunch of Gazetteers that were developed for the rivers in the US of A. Where not mentioned differently, all scans are on the Internet Archive.

  • Samuel Cumings, The Western Navigator
  • Samuel Cumings, The Western Pilot
    ("containing charts of the Ohio River, and of the Mississippi, from the mouth of the Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico ; accompanied with directions for navigating the same, and a gazetteer, or description of the towns on their banks, tributary streams, &c. ; also, a variety of matter interesting to travelers, and all concerned in the navigation of those rivers" as the title of the 1834 edition promises).
  • George Conclin, Conclin's New River Guide
Conclin's River Guide has an amusing summary of the state of the City of Nauvoo, with some interesting problems and omissions:
NAUVOO, opposite, in Hancock county, 111., is the site of the celebrated Mormon city, which was laid out about 1840, by Joseph Smith and his followers. It is situated on a handsome plain, on an elevated bank, extending for some distance from the river. The city was laid out on a very extensive plan, and intended to be the great city, to which all should look, as the Jews do toward Jerusalem. A great many houses were erected, some of them on a very magnificent scale, and the city was fast being filled with the adherents of that sect, from all parts of the country. A temple was also in course of erection, which, for vastness of dimensions and splendor of design,was intended to be without a rival in the Union. But, difficulties having arisen among the members of the community, and between them and the citizens of the surrounding country, Joseph Smith, the Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion, and High Priest, and Hiram, his brother, were arrested, and thrown into prison, in Carthage, the county-seat, where they were, on the 27th of June, 1844, murdered, by an armed mob, in disguise, who overpowered the guard, stationed at the jail. New troubles subsequently arising, the Mormons were expelled from the state. Many of them returned to their former homes, in the states, reduced in circumstances, and enfeebled by toil and sickness but a large body banded together, and started toward Oregon [sic!], with the intention of there raising up a city, which should fill the place of that one, which had proved so disastrous to them. Nauvoo has since declined rapidly. A religious denomination were about making a contract for the purchase of the Temple, for a college, but it was destroyed in October, 1848, by an incendiary, who fired it in the cupola, and it is now a heap of ruins. (pp.73-74)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon

John W. Welch is the premier expert on Chiastic structures in the Book of Mormon. Most likely, he was the first to note Chiastic structures in the Book of Mormon in the late 1960s while studying in Regensburg, Germany; he gives a summary of this experience in the front part of his 2007 FARMS review essay aptly entitled: The Discovery of Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon: 40 years later. The first time he had written about this problem was in an article in 1969, Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon.

The main idea that the 2007 article makes clear is that Welch considers Chiasmus to be a sufficient condition for an antique Jewish writing. This is important in terms of the logical claims that one can make. However, to me the 2007 article suggests that Welch effectively took this upon the authority of Gaertner during their discussions in Regensburg.

After becoming an academic researcher, Welch started to write about Chiasmus repeatedly, for all of antiquity, and in monographic form, so to speak. This website lists and links to most of the articles published in the context of FARMS, but gives only the names of the books. In the process he published an important bibliography of Chiasmus.

Why this mattered to Mormonism comes across not only in the 40 years later article, but is clearly exposed in an essay entitled What Does Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon prove? (1997) where Welch shows Alma 36 as a particularly successful example of Chiastic structure. Here, Welch argues:
If the absence of chiasmus would be inconsistent with its claim of Israelite origins, then the presence of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is, at least to an equal extent, evidence corroborating that claim.
But this only follows if one already buys into the sufficient condition argument. Most people would rather see it as a necessary condition, which is the weaker interpretation of the first part of the if-clause. Mainly this quote highlights again that to Welch following Gaertner, this was a sufficient criterion.

At the end of the article, Welch cites Thomas F. O'Dea, The Mormons (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 26, as saying that
[The Book of Mormon] has not been universally considered as one of those books that must be read in order to have an opinion on it.
[RCK: Partly this is the books fault, whose repetitive structure and convoluted prose make for an uninspiring and dull read. Who would want to read this book after having read the first few pages?]

Welch tried to drill down on the history of Chiastic knowledge in 1829 in a paper in 2003, which he updated in 2007. However, both of these suffer from issues:
  • The Philadelphia publishing company of Littell ran an ad in the Wayne County Sentinel on April 6th, 1825, on page 3, for subscriptions of Horne's Introduction at $12, $16 at publication price. The ad clearly mentions Hebrew Poetry as well as the previous three editions. 
  • Princeton University had an earlier edition of Horne in their library than the one mentioned in your article, as we now know from the internet archive, albeit the one from 1828, which is of course very very late for influencing Joseph Smith Jr in any way. 
  • Finally, Welch did not discuss Philip Sarchi's 1824 work on Hebrew Poetry in the 2003 paper as a source of Chiastic information, but mentioned him in the context of Horne's bibliography in that paper. 

External Criticism

For counter-arguments to the chiastic theory, see Sandra Tanner's argument and the longer enumeration of problems by Jared and Sandra Tanner here, especially the discussion of Chiastic structures in the Doctrines and Covenants and in the Pearl of Great Price. (Of course, in his 1997 article, Welch explicitly finds the D&C and PoGP examples unconvincing ... without giving much detail on them.)

Also the observation that some of the Chiastic structures in the Book of Mormon are actually due to rewording from the Scriptures, where the original text---often by St Paul---exhibits Chiastic structure, is interesting.

Finally, the Tanners mentioned a book on Hebrew poetry from the 18th century that did not discuss Chiasmus, but the substance of the matter. Thus the hunt for specific Chiastic books may be a red herring.

For more focused criticism of Welch's operation, the paper by Earl M. Wunderli in Dialogue: 38/4 [Winter 2005] pp.97-110 argues that the impressive Chiastic structure of Alma 36 is achieved through a loose application of the rules. The rebuttal by father-son team Boyd and Farrell Edwards (alas without the counter-reply by Wunderli) was published here. The John Kselman review "Ancient Chiasmus Studied" of the book Chiasmus in Antiquity that Welch had edited is truncated on the Dialogue website, having two pages where it should have four.

Quick Wayne Sentinel jots

Looking for a specific advertisement, I had to binary search the Wayne Sentinel editions, and so I noticed a couple of things.

  • On this page from around May 25th 1824 (terminus post quem), there is mention of immigrants traveling on the Erie Canal, the sale of cheap French millstones, and a little farm next to the Canal with various fruit trees.
  • On this page from around March 29th, 1825 (terminus post quem), the house of Dr Gain Robinson was for let; there were rates for the tolls on the Erie Canal; the reception of General Lafayette was discussed in South Carolina and Georgia; cash was offered for farm produce; and storage and forwarding was offered.
  • On this page from around July 16th, 1825 (terminus post quem), there is description of the packet boats between Albany and Rochester, promising horse exchanges every 12 miles, and the synchronicity of the boats with the stage coach in a second add by the coach. The date also lists the incorporation of the Wayne County Bank by the legislature in col #5.
  • This page from April 6th, 1825, has the Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of Holy Scripture by Thomas Hartwell Horne, published with Littell, from Philadelphia, on it (alas on page #3), not the front page. Also, the book is by subscription and runs a whopping $12 dollars. The 1828 edition of that book is from the Princeton library and is the oldest one on the Internet archive.
  • The FultonHistory archive has a lacuna for April 13th into June of 1825.

The Problem of Analogical Back-Off

Since historical information almost never contains the nugget of information that you need to make your point, one finds oneself making analogous arguments that proxy for the missing evidence.
  • I cannot show that Joseph Smith Jr believed X, but I can show that the Book of Mormon says X, and I can show that Smith Jr is considered its author or translator (depending on denominational affiliation). 
  • I cannot show that the pioneers of the Upstate New York city of Palmyra did Y, but I can show that the pioneers in the proximate city of Rochester did Y, and that's only K miles away in an ecological homogeneous setting. 
  • I have no survey that shows me how the citizens of Palmyra felt about the approaching Erie Canal in 1817, but I have a newspaper editorial that suggests to me that this was something that was being discussed. 
  • I cannot show for 1830 that the citizens of Palmyra felt outclassed by the booming manufacturing center of Rochester, but I can show it for 1857. 
In all these cases, we are doing a type of "flood fill" search across a continuous space to interpolate the missing data point. However, what if the space in question is not contiguous but qualitatively fragmented? How does one deal with parameter spaces that are mathematically contiguous but not qualitatively? For example, in the village case, where we have a mathematically contiguous dimension like space, 20 miles is OK, but say that in 40 miles distance, a new type of ecological habitat starts and there the analogy might no longer automatically hold. Or similarly, for much of the US of A, going from 1864 to 1863 is fine, but going to 1859 is tricky, because then you fall out of the Civil War era, and things are really very different along some dimensions.

I took the liberty of asking Professor Ken D. Forbus, Head of the Cognitive Systems division at NWU, who has published widely and for a long time on qualitative reasoning, and he recommended the following literature to me.
In the accompanying email, Ken also observed the following:
The QR version of this is differences in qualitative state, which are typically demarked [sic!] by changes in limit points that then indicate different model fragments are active, or for spatial phenomena, that a place boundary has been crossed. How those limit points (which are just 1D boundaries) and place boundaries are defined is very domain and even task specific (in the case of qualitative spatial reasoning).  
Ken also noted that Paritosh and Klenk's work was relevant in showing that one "should use differences in qualitative state to guide estimates".

Bruce Kinney on Political Mormonism

In 1912, the editorial committee of the Council of Women for Missions issued a twelve-volume Interdenominational Home Mission Study Course, which covered topics such as the American flag and the cities, the Spanish and the Indian "neighbors", immigration, and also Mormonism.

For Mormonism, the editorial committee turned to the former superintendent of the Baptist Mission to Utah, Bruce Kinney, D.D. Kinney produced a 200-page booklet for them:
Bruce Kinney, Mormonism: The Islam of America, New York - Chicago - Toronto - London - Edinburgh (Fleming H. Revell), 1912.
The somewhat astonishing title effectively made two claims, according to the Editorial Council, namely that the preference for polygamy and the conception of Heaven made the Mormons more like Islam than Christianity (p.5); furthermore, that this issue was just not of passing curiosity, but "a national problem" (p.5), that affects all sectors of political life:
The Mormon problem is not primarily a religious one, nor should it be so considered. The hierarchy which embodies this system has extended its influence into so many lines of our national concerns, that Mormonism has ceased to be of merely theological or religious significance. It must be studied in its relationship to government and commerce; to social conditions; to its influence on state policies and even on the utterances of the press, before it can be rightly understood as a factor in our present-day nationality. (p.6)
Note that Marvin S. Hill in Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism, Signature Books (Salt Lake City), 1989, p.xvi, Fn 13, accidentally attributes the passage to Kinney, not the Editorial Council. Hill is trying to quote p.6-9, but that page range straddles two authorships. Pages 6-7 are by the Editorial Council, page 8 is blank, and only 9 is by Kinney. I remain indebted to Hill's work for drawing my attention to this booklet in the first place.

The quote from Kinney that Hill was aiming for with his straddling page range was:
They [i.e. the Mormon Hierarchy] are promising their followers nothing less than that they will in time control things politically in the United States. (p.9)
I am a little puzzled why he omitted the no less hard hitting previous two lines:
More than that [i.e. the failure to missionize the Mormons to Baptism, RCK], there is no other body of people from whom we have so much to fear in proportion to their numbers. No one else is trying to set up an imperium in imperio or to control either the state or national government. (p.9)
The booklet seems to have been a great success as a re-issue was required in short time, apparently. In order to stabilize the page numbers of the enlarged edition as much as possible, those in charge came up with the idea of replacing the foreword of the Editorial Council, which contains the passage that Hill had quoted, by a blank page plus a two page "Preface to Enlarged Edition" (p.7f), written by Kinney, where he noted that the entire 70,000 issue first print had sold (p.7). Kinney used the opportunity to update the booklet with a an additional 20 page section entitled "Recent Developments", which the publishers inserted between the end of the last chapter and the appendices. This pushes the page number of the appendices in the enlarged edition up by 20, e.g. the Bibliography (Appendix A) starts on p.203 rather than p.183, as it had in the initial edition. The biggest problem is that the enlarged edition has the same copyright date of 1912; either that page was not re-set or the enlargement did occur within the same calendar year. Thus the bibliographical information is insufficient to distinguish the editions; a look at the table of contents is required.

The book itself is a complex matter. The history of the Mormon Church is inaccurate in the details and clearly polemical. Sidney Rigdon and Spalding are key contributors to the Book of Mormon, and the famous copyright page canard is ponied out again. However, the style of the BoM is rightfully chastised, and the contradictions between translation and interpretation, seer stone and Urim and Thummim on the one hand, and the plurality of grammatical and spelling errors in the BoM on the other hand, are expounded.

As far as the Mormon trek to the West is concerned, there is in general more appreciation for the fears of the Missourians or the worries of the people of Illinois than for the rights of the Mormons, given the existing and granted laws and charters.

The book becomes a bit more interesting when the discussion moves into the then-current state of Utah, where the Mormon myths are rejected, esp the notion that the Mormons are especially good as agriculturalists (the beet example).

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Peliminary Notes toward a Piscian Fauna of Upstate New York

The Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Gorham-Phelps purchase has quite a bit to say on some fish as well. These were the types of fish noted initially
  • The pickerel 
  • The pike 
  • The trout 
  • The salmon 
These need to be tied back to page references now.

Preliminary Notes toward an Avian Fauna of Upstate New York

The Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Gorham-Phelps purchase has quite a bit to say on some types of birds as well. The main types of birds mentioned so far seem to be:
  • The carrion birds 
  • The duck 
  • The goose 
  • The hawk 
  • The owls 
  • The pigeon 
  • The quail 
  • The raven 
This list needs to be fleshed out and populated of course.

Notes toward Childhood in the Gorham-Phelps Purchase

This is just an enumeration of quotes and references that give particular insights about what a childhood---according to the Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Gorham-Phelps---looked like in Upstate New York in the 1800s. More work is needed here.
  • Children helped to dress fruit, pearing pumpkins for drying and helping to make apple sauce (p.191). 
  • Looking after the cows was boys work, and could be dangerous: "It was not uncommon for boys to see bears when after the cows, ...." (p.191)
  • Girls stayed home with their moms, but their tasks might include scaring the bears away from the hogs (p.192). 
  • Children would go barefoot in the summer and with wraps (p.193) or moccasins (usually from deer hide) through-out the winter (p.192), esp to school (p.192), and esp in the winter [the agricultural off-season], often walking three miles (p.193); though the farmers apparently never sent all children thence. 
  • We learn that children could get lost in the woods given this open habitat: "I think it was in the summer of 1802, that a little daughter of one of our neighbors, Sewal Boyd, three years old, was lost in the woods. A lively sympathy was created in the neighborhood, the woods were scoured, the out- let waded, and the flood wood removed ; on the third day, she was found in the woods alive, having some berries in her hand, which the instincts of hunger had caused her to pick. The musquetoes had preyed upon her until they had caused running sores upon her face and arms, and the little wanderer had passed through a terrific thunder storm." (p.203)
  • Sometimes the neighbors were so far away that no one could perform the funeral rites for a dead parent (p.265).

Toward an Ecology of Upstate New York

This post discusses the the ecological impact of the pioneers---according to the Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Gorham-Phelps---in Upstate New York in the 1800s. More work is needed here.

  • The settlers would eliminate whole packs of wolves to keep their sheep flocks safe, as when Asahel Sprague killed ten in one expedition and thus pacified Bloomfield. (p.191).
  • The pioneers for Farmington Township, later Manchester, brought apple, plum and peach pits with them (p.221). They also brought wheat, and whoever lacked wheat would exchange labor for seed with his neighbors (p.221); e.g. Nathan Aldrich got 13 days of Welcome Herendeen's labor for 2.5 bushels of seed wheat (ibid).
  • Farmington and Bloomfield apple products---cider, apple sauce, etc.---were very popular (p.221) and people came from remote neighborhoods to purchase some; and enterprising tavern owners would load up their sleighs and take them to the environs.
  • Already the indians had established fruit orchards (p.247).
  • The settlers would mix up the fish stock from the lakes to get the fish they wanted. "Speckled trout were plenty in the Genesee river, and in all the tributary streams. There was no pickerel, or pike, above the Genesee Falls, until 1810, when William Wadsworth, and some others, caught pickerel in Lake Ontario, and other Lake fish, and put them into Conesus Lake ; and pickerel abound there now; have been taken weighing 20 lbs. As the pickerel came down from the Lake into the Genesee river, the trout disappeared." (p.375)
  • Even to the settlers, such as the pioneers of Avon, it was obvious how they were changing the environment. "The crow, the grey squirrel, the quail, came in with civilization. New species of birds have been coming in almost yearly. The opossum is a new comer." (p.381)
  • The inhabitants of Monroe county would preemptively kill off the rattle snakes, either when they left their wintering dens in the Spring (p.412), or when they were just heading into hibernation (p.425), since they were at those times the most sluggish. Enos Stone even felt they had a film over their eyes in the fall before hibernation (p.425).

Toward a Mammalian Fauna of Upstate New York

Another source of fauna information is the Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Gorham-Phelps purchase, were anecdotes and vignettes of encounters with wolves and mountain lions (called panther) abound. More work is needed here.
  • The bear was an ambiguous animal to encounter. They were attracted by the hogs of the earlier settlers (p.191; p.203; p.409) and sometimes the children would meet them when retrieving the cows (p.191), or the grown-ups when splitting rails (p.192). The beasts were tough enough that an angled axe blow to the head might only wound the animal (p.192), though a hand-spike could break their back (p.192). Farmers had to chase them out of their fields as well (p.192); in general it seemed possible to shoo them off. People lived isolated enough that wolves and bears were considered their "nearest neighbors" (p.209). Bears were also attracted to other fatty foods, such as the cheeses of Mrs Dean, who had established the first cheese press in Genesee county (p.225 Note). Feral hogs however were able to battle bears successfully (p.265 Note). Elisha Sennder crossed Irondequoit Bay in his canoe when a bear climbed into the canoe to catch a lift (p.412). Near Monroe, the hunter John Parks failed to kill when shooting a bear, and was mauled badly when defending his life with his knife; having to crawl lacerated several miles to the house of William Henscher (p.412). Their furs were traded at Brighton, by Judge Tyron in his Indian store, with the Indians and trappers (p.429). 
  • The hog was a domesticated animal that had been introduced to the area by the white settlers and let "of necessity" roam in the forest to feed itself (p.191). Hogs also attracted bears (p.191f; p.203). Sometimes the roaming hogs escaped and became feral (p.191; p.265 Note) and turned into a fearsome adversary of dogs and Indians (p.191), even capable of holding its own against the bear and the wolves (p.265 Note; p.426), almost becoming the "lord of the forest" (p.412), and requiring hunting by the humans with dogs (p.426; p.425). Edward Holbrook in North American Herpetology, (1838, v.2, p.84) [= 1842, v.3, p.13] had pointed out that they were the greatest enemy of the rattle snakes as well. They were plentiful around Sodus Bay (p.396). 
  • The panther was an indication of wild nature (see Ode, to the settlers, especially in its terrifying "scream" (p.86) or "yell[ed]" ( The grace of its deadly movements was used figuratively in similes for the (equally as wild perceived) Indians (p.81). When the village of Avon was settled, several panthers were killed in the area (p.375). At Dumplin Hill, near Monroe, an Indian managed to kill a panther that had just gorged itself on a hunted deer (p.409). At Irondequoit near Monroe, John Parks and his mulatto Dunbar ran found a panther in a tree by accident, when coon hunting, used fires to keep it in the tree all night, and shot it by daylight (p.412). Dr Joel Brace, the early physician of Victor, was riding home along the old Indian Trail with his horse, coming from Norton's Mill. Dr Brace encountered a panther at a location then known as Miller's corners, but was able to confuse it into leaving him alone when opening and shaking his umbrella. (p.532).
  • The wolf ...  James Sperry recounts for Bloomfield that the farmers would lose their sheep to the wolves (p.191; p.409) if they did not build tight and tall sheep pens (p.191). When combining the bounties offered by the state, the county and the town, each wolf "scalp" was worth $20. However, when Asahel Sprague killed ten in one expedition, that basically settled the problem for Bloomfield. (p.191) "John Stimpson, a trapper, caught on Capt. Treat's farm, 9 wolves in one night, for which he received a bounty of $90 ; a large sum of money in those primitive times." People lived isolated enough that wolves and bears were considered their "nearest neighbors" (p.209). When Nathan Pierce of Farmington Township, then Manchester, came home from the grist mill after 1795, a wolf pack followed him to the door of his block house (p.209). When Brice Aldrich of Farmington Township was taking fresh meat to Canandaigua, a wolf challenged him for possession (p.209). Feral hogs however were able to battle wolves successfully (p.265 Note). They were plentiful around Sodus Bay (p.396). Wolves pursued Capt. Treat one night for miles ...." (p.532)
Not all mammals are scary in the same way as these life-threatening animals, of course. And some of the mammals were mostly interesting for their fur production.
  • The beaver
  • The black squirrel  
  • The chipmunk was often the food of the rattlesnakes (p.412).
  • The deer was a basic food of the early pioneers (p.409) and their leather provided the shoes for the winter time (p.192).
  • The elk 
  • The fox 
  • The moose 
  • The minks 
  • The muskrat 
  • The opossum 
  • The otter 
  • The [ra]coon was a pest for the corn harvest around Monroe (p.409), but hunting them paid off due to their fine pelts.
  • The squirrel 
  • The skunk meat was valued (p.425).
  • The wildcat 
  • The wood chuck 

Some Industries of Upstate New York

This post uses the Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Phelps-Gorham Purchase to give an account of how early industries in the Purchase; it is a cross-reading, and not an exhaustive list yet.
  • Asheries: In Monroe county, "at Irondequoit Landing, ... [there was, RCK] ... an Ashery, the first established in all this region. It worked up the ashes and black salts of the new settlers for a great distance around it ; shipping at the early period, in 1803, 108 barrels of pearl ash to Montreal. Ashes being a shilling per bushel, enabled the settlers, generally destitute of money, to get some store trade." (p.427) This was probably the ashery that belonged to Judge Tyron (p.429).
  • Canal Construction: Culver built the combined locks at Lockport (p.427).
  • Distillery: In Brighton, the distillery was part of Judge Tyron's store (p.429). 
  • Flouring Mill: Can be used distinctly from grist mill (p.397).
  • General Stores: (See also Indian Trade Stores)
  • Grist Mills: Since one needed boards before one needed to replace hand mills, grist mills were usually built after saw mills [e.g. see Allegany, (p.449)]. The first in Allegany was opened in 1803 by Judge Church (p.449). The mill irons had to be transported, sometimes by boat, and accidents were possible, as the loss of Andrews going over the Genesee falls shows (the boat and the irons were retrieved, however) (p.406 Dagger-Note). Judge Church had them brought in from Albany and paid $6.00 per cwt [= centum weight]for the transport (p.449). Some pioneers like Francis Brown brought the mill wrights and irons with them (p.593).
  • Indian Trade Stores: Culver accepted furs from the Indians, as well as whiskey and cider brandy, and butter and cheese and honey; (p.427), bringing in apples and white fish from Detroit. Culver sold salt for $3.00 the bushel. Judge John Tyron built a store house at Brighton (p.429) and traded goods brought by sledge and by boat from Schenectady (at $3.00 per 112 lbs) for furs with the trappers. With the moving of the shipping business to the mouth of the Genesee river, the store declined and was demolished in 1818 (p.430).
  • Iron Forges: Old iron could be found either where ships went down (p.27) or when old fields were plowed to reveal French axes (p.377; p.472f). William Nixon Lomis built the first near present-day Rochester (p.398). Since iron tools were needed to build frame houses and mills, one could bootstrap the process with an anvil and bellows, as the example of Mr Mann shows (p.525 Note).
  • Mail: Oliver Culver carried mail with skates on ice in the winter of 1805, from Cleveland to Huron (p.429), in four hours.
  • Salt Making: In 1792, Col. Danforth carried his five pail bucket to the Salt Springs to boil up some salt (p.124). In 1806, Norton & Richards of Canandaigua bought the English saltwork tracks and used deep wells to get to the brine (p.525). August Elliot built the first iron forge in Penfield (p.537).
  • Saw Mills: Initially the irons had to be imported by the owners (p.347), e.g. with ox teams from Connecticut. Culver built the first saw mill on Allen's Creek in 1806 (p.429). The first in Allegany was opened in 1802 by Judge Church (p.449).
  • Sheet Metals: Ebenezer Watts started the first copper, tin and sheet iron business in 1817 (p.611).
  • Shipyard: Culver built a lake Schooner, drawn with 24 yokes of oxen (p.427) as well as packet boats for the Erie canal (p.428). 
  • Shoe-Making: Stephen Lusk started the first tanning and shoe making store in Brighton  (p.429).
  • Taverns: Asa Dayton opened the first tavern in Brighton near Irondequoit (p.429). 
  • Tanning: Stephen Lusk started the first tanning and shoe making store in Brighton  (p.429).
There were also "inofficial" industries in Upstate New York, such as 
  • Banditry: General Schuyler and his house were attacked, but due to the defense mounted, only the plate was ransacked and the silver taken on the way out (pp.490-491).

Indian Interactions in Upstate New York (Part 1)

This post uses the Turner History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Gorham-Phelps to give an account of how the interactions between the whites and the Indians worked in the Gorham-Phelps purchase.

  • Around Farmington Township, later Manchester, the whites would take the venison hunted by the Indians to Canandaigua for them and sell it. The venison hams were dried and sold to the East (p.209).
  • Already the indians had established fruit orchards (p.247) and the whites liked to carry these over.
  • When the pioneers in Wayne County ran out of corn, they would purchase some from the Indians, such as the Onondaga (p.266). 
  • Indians were hired by the British commanders in Fort Niagara (p.374) to hunt down and kill the deserters that would abscond into the new settlements, such as Avon.
  • Around Allen Flats, Monroe, the Indians sided with the British in Canada and behaved with insolence until Fort Niagara surrendered (p.409).
  • Mary Jemison had been captured by the Indians, but preferred to stay with them, telling her story to Peter Shaeffer of Monroe (p.410) when she spent the night at his place with her Indian hunting party.
  • Allen of Allen's mill in Monroe County collaborated with the Indians, throwing parties with them, where they served wild hogs and whiskey, and having both a white wife and a squaw (p.425). 
  • The first settlers of Conneaut relied on the native squaws to assist the only woman in the party, Mrs Stiles, in gaving birth to a son that winter (p.426 Note). 
(to be continued)

Studying William Darby (Part I)

This post looks at William Darby's work for contributions to our understanding of Upstate New York during the time when Palmyra was settled up to the "Reign of Rochester".
  • The emigrant's guide to the western and southwestern states and territories (1818)
    • Mentions neither Palmyra nor Rochester
    • Description of the Climate of New York in Chapter VI, where the state of Ohio is described, starting (pp.218ff)
    • Describes the then-county of Ontario and the Genesee region (pp.268-270), pointing out the fertility of the soil and the production of salt and gypsum (p.270)
    • Gives distance tables  for travel from New York and Pittsburgh via St Louis to New Orleans (pp.270ff)
    • Gives post lines and distances for the journey from Albany to Buffalo via Canandaigua (pp.279f)
    • Gives a small population table from 1810 for Ontario County (p.310f)
  • A Tour from the City of New York to Detroit (1819) 
    • Mentions neither Palmyra nor Rochester
    • Gives details of Stay in Canandaigua (pp.129-153; pp.212-214; p.224)
    • A description of the route for the Erie Canal in Addendum No 11 (pp.XXVII ff) and some general remarks on the landscape between Albany and Buffalo.
  • Darby's Edition of Brooks' Universal Gazetteer (1823)
    • The description of the goods ready for shipping at the village of Herkimer (p.713 col 2) enumerates typical goods and estimates their value at $250,000 [sic!]. 
    • Using a packet boat to drive up the Erie Canal just before it extended to Rochester (it stopped at Heartwell's Basin in Pittsford, 8 miles south of Rochester). Darby makes it clear that travel is interrupted to sleep on land overnight (p.714 col 1), even though his 40 ton boat had "elegant accommodations";  Darby staid in Palmyra.
    • Darby also notes the danger of the Cayuga swamps, were 2000 (!) men were employed to push through, many of them contracting sickness and some of them dying (p.714 col 1).
    • At the end of Note 1 (p.716 col 1), the transport statistics and tolls for the canal are given, and the amounts and the value is stupendous.
    • In Note 2, (p.716 col 2), Darby walks down the list of the locks and their drops, touching upon Palmyra.
    • In Note 3, (p.718 col 2-p.719 col 1) Darby predicts the future prosperity of Rochester, as it "is unquestionably destined to become one of the greatest inland manufacturing and commercial sites in the United States" (p.719 col 1). The canal description indicates that it passes "the flourishing villages of Palmyra and Lyons in Ontario county" (p.719 col 1).
    • Darby lists Palmyra as belonging to Ontario County of New York, and gives the 1820 population with 3724.
    • Darby describes Canandaigua as one of the most "thriving villages" in the interior of the US (p.153 col 2), as the seat of justice for Ontario County. Only gives population levels for the township, not the village proper.
  • Darby's Universal Gazetteer, 2nd edition (1827) 
    • Has the same Erie Canal discussion in New York section, pp.548 col 1-549 col 2.
    • Mentions Palmyra on p.595 col 1, but only gives population for 1820.
    • Mentions Rochester on p.679 col 2, but gives no population, mentions flourishing status.
    • Canandaigua mentioned on p.123 col 2, but gives only overall population for the township.
  • Geographical, Historical and Statistical Repository (1828)
    • Concerned with Pennsylvania, this prototype for a new publication project mentions the Erie Canal only, but not Palmyra or Canandaigua.
  • View of the United States: Volumes 1 & 2 (1828) 
    • The discussion of New York commences on p.566 (which implies volume 2 for the two-volume editions).
    • Lyons is considered the main city of Wayne County (though no population is provided for the county) on p.572.
    • Rochester is the main town of Monroe County (which equally lacks a population) (p.571), but Rochester is singled out for its rapid population rise that puts it third behind New York City and Albany only for city size in NY. 
  • New Gazetteer of the United States of America (1833) 
    • Palmyra is discussed on p.392, col 2, where it is described as having "an academy, factories, several churches" and "considerable trade".
    • Palmyra township is discussed in the same location, p.392 col 2, with having a good soil and being next to Mud creek, which provides for mill sites, but is not considered navigable; the access to the Erie Canal is emphasized. 
    • Rochester (p.476 col 2) is the most populous and important village in the state; the confluence of the head of the navigable waters of the Genesee River from Lake Ontario and of the local railroad (!). Darby specifically mentions the rapid rise of the population, how in 1812 it was a dump. The flour mills and the capital invested in these is described, and a detailed table of goods and their values provided. In addition to 100 stores the village boasts 1 daily and 5 weekly newspapers.
    • Canandaigua (p.84 col 1-2) receives another rave review, for possessing "a bank" on its straight broad street, one mile long, as well as for its flourishing female seminary. 
In our next installment, we will look at how these assessments change under the view of the final works that Darby published during his long career.
(to be continued)


The following works were ignored.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Nelson on Rural Sociology

Lowry Nelson, the man who gave us the Mormon Village, in the 1950s published a book of sociology that describes the rural situation
Lowry Nelson, Rural Sociology and Rural Social Organization, New York (American Book Company), 1955.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The irrepressible William Darby

We had already discussed William Darby in the context of the Erie Canal, Fawn Brodie's reconstruction of Palmyra, and the enumeration of Gazettes relevant to Palmyra. But Darby was a prodigious author on matters geographical, and it bears enumerating some of his other works that might further our research.

A Lake Erie Canal vignette (Part I)

Just read a nice little anecdote in Archer Butler Hulbert's Historic Highways of America (Vol. 14) The Great American Canals (Volume II, The Erie Canal), pp.44- that ties together some of the ways in which transportation, infrastructure and visionary advancement fit together.

The hero of the anecdote was Gouverneur Morris (Founding Father, representative of the Constitutional Convention for Pennsylvania, Author of the Constitution and signer, etc). He had discussed the idea of mingling the waters of the Great Lakes with the Hudson's in 1777 with then-quartermaster and future Governor of New York Morgan Lewis, as General Schuyler's army was withdrawing from Burgoyne's regiments (pp.43f).

In October of 1795, Gouverneur Morris saw the Caledonia Canal in Scotland and felt inspired, as he recorded in his journal (which Hulbert quotes from Sparky's Life of Gouverneur Morris, p.498f).
... when I see this [i.e. the Caledonia Canal], my mind opens to a view of wealth for the interior of America, which hitherto I had rather conjectured than seen. (p.45)
In the fall of 1803, Gouverneur Morris bumped into General Surveyor Simeon De Witt at in Schenectady, and they ended up spending the evening at the same inn and talking into the night about all sorts of things, including the canal. The event is documented in a letter of De Witt's to William Darby, dated February 25th, 1822 (pp.45f) (which Hulbert quotes from Laws of the State of New York relative to the Canals, Albany (1825), pp.39ff).

I like this scene, the two guys stuck in travel at the same inn, and using the time to exchange ground-breaking ideas with each other about the development of the country, which Morris pursued as improvement with determination

It was from De Witt that James Geddes, who would end up performing the initial survey of the lay of the land for the canal, found out about this meeting in 1804. This event is documented in a letter to William Darby also, dated February 22nd, 1822 (pp.46f), again taken from Laws of the State of New York relative to the Canals, Albany (1825), pp.42ff.

Nothing much happened until December 1806, when President Thomas Jefferson in his state of the Union type address for the Legislative Session of 1807 told Congress to spend any developing surplus on infrastructure improvements and put some canals on the map.
Their patriotism would certainly prefer its continuance, and application to the great purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other objects of public improvement, as it may be thought proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of Federal powers. By these operations, new channels of communication will be opened between the States; the lines of separation will disappear, their interests will be identified, and their union cemented by new and indissoluble ties. (469)
Congress then requested an update on the state of roads and canals from the Secretary of the Treasury in March of 1807, but that report did not reach completion until March 1808.

But the news of the president's speech was enough to get one Jesse Hawley, Esq, a business man, who was then residing in Pennsylvania, to write an essay on an overland connection between Lake Erie and the Hudson under the pseudonym of Hercules (M.Hawley, The Erie Canal, its origin, its success, its necessity, Buffalo Historical Society 1868, p.7; Hulbert, p.47). The first essay appeared in the Commonwealth in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 14th, 1807; the essay was reprinted in the Genesee Messenger, in Canandaigua, starting in October 1807, followed by fourteen more essays.

(to be continued)