Friday, October 31, 2014

wagon shop and copper plates

Deming's Naked Truths, 2nd issue, mention that Oliver Cowdery would have been capable of making copper plates at the old wagon shop in Palmyra. Cf. Fool's Gold Bible.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Anderson 2001 critical edition of Lucy Mack Smith memoirs

Oh cool, Lavina Fielding Anderson's critical edition of Lucy Mack Smith's memoirs from 2001 is online. That's nice.

The best paragraph so far is from the introduction, where Irene Bates cites Stephen A Marini's study on radicalism in New England.
They had also encouraged the breakdown of the old order of religious domination. “The grip of colonial religious culture was broken and a new American style of religious diversity came into being.” Such a setting became fertile ground for religious experimentation and the birth of indigenous religious sects, some of which “undertook to redefine social and economic order through the model of the extended family.” Without stable institutional structures, the family thus became the “crucible” for forming “primary identity, socialization, and cultural norms for rural life” (Marini, 7, 56, 31). Lucy was a product of this environment. [Emphasis RCK]
 The Marini book will need more investigation.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Biographical Notes on Stephen Mack

Here are some key socio-economic indicators for Stephen Mack from the writings about him.

Pratt's Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Memoirs from 1853

(Note: The 1853 edition at the Internet Archive can be found here; the clean copy of 1845 at the JSP here; the rough draft begun in 1844 at the JSP here.)

While living in Tunbridge, Vermont, as a teenager, he was recruited for and served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War from 1781 to 1784 (p.30). 

In Tunbridge, Stephen Mack owned a farm and a store. Mack operated a mercantile and tinning business in Chelsea, the county seat of Orange County (p.31).

Even back in 1796, when Joseph Smith Sr and Lucy Mack Smith married, Stephen Mack was already a successful business man. Together with his business partner John Mudget (p.45), they gave a
wedding present of $1,000 to Lucy to get her started.

The merchant, Stevens, of Royalton, Vermont, who swindled Joseph Sr out of his ginseng profits in 1803, had rented his ginseng factory's accommodations in Tunbridge from Stephen Mack (p.50).

Stephen Mack moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he  established trading relations with the Indians (p.31). [[RCK: the 1800 is wrong, it was 1807, and the author suspected that, providing the date under the restriction "if I recall correctly".]]

During the War of 1812, before the occupation of Detroit by the British Stephen Mack served as Captain under General Hull (pp.31f).

His business in Detroit was successful enough that he had a beautiful house, which was used to quarter British officers, and several stores, one of which held several thousand dollars of cash in its counting room (p.32). 

Stephen Mack, who was then an agent of the Pontiac company, was instrumental in founding Pontiac, Michigan, the second settlement in Oakland County (p.26), in 1818. 

Stephen Mack engaged in farming and building there, and operated a saw and a flour mill (p.31).

Stephen Mack financed the construction of the Pontiac-Detroit turnpike road (p.31).

By November of 1820, his mercantile business had expanded so that he operated several stores in Michigan and Ohio, one of which employed six clerks (p.31). 

Stephen Mack build a saw-mill in the city of Rochester [= i.e. Michigan Territory, RCK] (p.33).

Stephen Mack bequeathed "an estate of fifty-thousand dollars, clear of encumberance'', to his family (p.33) upon his demise [in 1826, RCK].

Durants' History of Oakland County

(The history can be found in the Internet Archive here.)

Before going to Michigan, Stephen Mack became a colonel in the Green Mountain regiments of Vermont (MH, p.i).

In 1824, Colonel Stephen Mack, together with the Hon. Roger Sprague, was the representative for Oakland County to the legislative council for the Territory of Michigan (p.21).

Stephen Mack build a saw-mill in the city of Rochester, Oakland County (p.29). 

Stephen Mack was the actual founder and the most prominent business man of Pontiac, Michigan, as part of the Pontiac Company, which had purchased the land (p.70); for the text of the incorporation, see (pp.68ff).

Mack, Conant & Sibley built the first dam in Pontiac, and there the first sawmill, during the winter of 1818-1819 (p.70). 

The first flouring mill was constructed in 1819-20 (p.70).

Colonel Mack built a distillery in 1823 and a woolen mill that did carding, spinning and weaving in 1824. (p.71)

Colonel Mack did not remove his family from Vermont to Detroit until 1822, and then brought them to Pontiac in 1823. (p.71)

Colonel Mack build a grist mill at Rochester in 1824. (p.71)
Joseph Smith [Jr, RCK], the Mormon prophet, was a cousin of the Macks, and visited Oakland County several times previous to his removal to Illinois. Almira Mack joined the Mormons at an early day and followed their fortunes to Utah, where she is still living [in 1877, RCK].” (p.71)
Indeed, Pontiac sent troops for the Zion Camp (19, to be exact), and Brother Fosdick as the local representative received letters from JS and the council. Almira Mack already joined the Church in April of 1830, coming down for a visit from Pontiac. Thereafter, shortly after her arrival in Kirtland, Lucy visited her widowed sister in law and family at Pontiac.

In the assessment of Durant, the legacy of Colonel Mack does not quite hold up to scrutiny.
After the colonel’s death his sons Almon and John M. were appointed administrators upon his estate, which was involved in the collapse of the Bank of Michigan. Colonel M[ack, RCK] was on the bond of James McClosky, the cashier of this institution, who defaulted to a large amount, and, being the one who had available means, his entire estate, with the exception of a moiety saved as dower for the widow, was absorbed in the settlement, and his heirs were virtually left penniless. (p.71)
A Google snippet from the Michigan Historical Society runs thus
McCloskey was cashier of the second bank to be chartered in this state, the Bank of Michigan, established in 1818; John R. Williams was president.
The case of the Bank of Michigan against Steven Mack went all the way to the supreme court of the territory, as did the case against the cashier James McCloskey, whom Mack had signed for. Some of the selected papers for Case #1136 against James McCloskey are included in the transactions. Because of the mess, Stephen's son Almon Mack petitioned to get out of being an executor of the estate, leaving just his brother John M. with the troubles. 

As Paper #9 in Case #1136 shows, James McCloskey was being prosecuted for a missing $20,000.--, which is albeit a hefty sum, only 2/5 of the sum claimed by Lucy Mack Smith for the legacy of her brother Colonel Stephen Mack. Confusingly, paper #14 of Suite #1136 is prosecuting for the amount of $12,000.--. It also alleges that James McCloskey did not keep proper books, or kept books inaccurately, or the wrong books.

The Michigan Old Pioneer and Historical Collection, Volume XXX, p.410-423, contains an article by Friend Palmer, entitled The Old Bank of Michigan.  Stephen Mack belonged to the corporaters of the Bank of Michigan (p.411), and its establishment was pursued because the territory was only trading in coin, coin fragments or in paper money from the East, almost worthless, causing the merchants much embarrassment and losses. Here the amount of money missing is reported as only $10,300 (p.414).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Biographical Sources for Steven Mack

Worked on Steven Mack, Lucy's older brother and probably the most successful of her immediate generation, today.

There are some websites that offer overviews and cobbled together biographies, e.g. one on family search or one on gensearch.

But the majority of these are dependant on the 1853 memoirs of Lucy Smith Mack, printed by Orson Pratt in England,  and two histories of Oakland County, Michigan, one by Durant from 1877, and one by Seeley from 1912 (in two volumes). This is esp. true for the gensearch article, which is an excerpt from Durant.

Since Major or Colonel Stephen Mack was busy in Detroit as well, esp. during the War of 1812, he might be found in a history of Detroit also.

If it is important to distinguish what Lucy knew when about her brother: there are important differences between the rough draft manuscript history dictated 1844-1845, and the manuscript history in its clean copy given to Lucy by her "stenographers" in 1845. Specifically, Horace Stanly's letter was added, which contains details and dates that are not in the draft and may thus indicate information that Lucy was not aware of.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Revisiting Thomas Kuhn

In the context of seeing that Kuhn had discussed the disciplinary matrix in the Postscript of 1969 to his The Structure of Scientific Revolution, I revisited that postscript and was struck by the degree to which Kuhn was Kantian in his outlook with his distinction of stimuli versus perception.

Imagine my non-surprise when in the Neusis interview, Kuhn admits that Kant was among the first four philosophers he learned about at Harvard.

some French uses of the notion of an intellectual matrix

In its French form, la matrice intellectuelle, the concept is used to reconstruct the world stance of an intellectual movement. (Care has to be taken when reading these French texts, esp feminist authors, as matrice on its own also can mean the uterus. Cf. Emilie Malefant below, where about 70% of the references are anatomical.)

The French historian Yvan Lamond, in his essay L’émergence de l’intellectuel vue des Amériques, (pp.114f), in the reader of Michel Trebitsch, Marie-Christine Granjon (ed), Pour une histoire comparée des intellectuels: textes, 1998, Lamond speaks both of the cultural matrix and the intellectual matrix of the time of the Dreyfus Affaire, which that affair highlighted and revealed (p.114), to the point of bringing about the intellectual as a cultural force (p.115). Lamond provides no other clues about this construct.

The French historian Etienne Fouilloux, in his book Une Eglise en quête de liberté : La pensée catholique française entre modernisme et Vatican II (1914-1962) [i.e. A Church in Search of Liberty: French Catholic Thought during Modernism and the 2nd Vatican, 1914-1962], Paris (1998), p.10, can write:
The modernist crisis constitutes the intellectual matrix of contemporary Catholicism precisely insofar as it is defined as a re-reading of the founding message in light of the scientific forms of knowledge of the last century. (p.10)
In her master thesis from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, Emilie Malenfant reconstructs the genealogy of the intellectual matrix of misogyny of the Third Reich, without ever defining what that might be or offering clues to the secondary literature. Malenfant wants to have an "ideological matrix" that is not restricted to the intellectual, but widened to encompass medicine, philosophy, sociology and politics (p.21). Clearly she assumes that the philosophical discourse contributes to the matrix construction (p.25), bringing also the cultural into the game when writing about the "intellectual and cultural matrix" (p.25), though without distinguishing it properly from either of the constituent matrices of the conjunction.

French Wikipedia does not define the term, but use it. For example, in its article on the French Militia, they write:
L'organisation est fondée sur 21 points qui donnent la matrice idéologique du mouvement : « contre le capitalisme international, pour le corporatisme français », « contre la condition prolétarienne, pour la justice sociale », « contre la lèpre juive, pour la pureté française », « contre la franc-maçonnerie païenne, pour la civilisation chrétienne ».
PS: The Argentinian Sephardic theologian Mario Javier Saban wrote a Spanish book that placed the matrix straight into the title: La Matriz Intelectual del Judaismo y La Genesis de Europa, 2005.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

some English uses of the notion of an intellectual matrix

In his 1969 postscript to the Structure of Scientific Revolution, Thomas Kuhn introduced the term disciplinary matrix (Kuhn 1970:180) as the locus of the change during the paradigm shift, and defined it as

the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques and so on shared by the members of a given community (Kuhn 1970:175)
In their book 2012 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research, the authors Gayle Letherby, John Scott and Malcolm Williams suggested to broaden disciplinary matrix to intellectual matrix, to shed the restriction to a specific discipline or specialization (p.24 Fn 4).

In a 2013 book entitled Biblical Narrative and Palestine's History, Thomas L. Thompson of the Copenhagen School of biblical criticism used the concept of "intellectual matrix" as the basis for Chapter 8, entitled The intellectual matrix of early biblical narrative: inclusive monotheism in Persian period Palestine (pp. 105-118). This chapter repeated an argument that Thompson had published in the essay collection The Triumph of Elohim: From Yahwisms to Judaisms edited by Diana Vikander Edelman from 1995. Here, Thompson uses the terms literary matrix and intellectual matrix (pp.112-113) interchangeably to denote the interpretation of the Exile as a mental event.

Concepts and literary works commonly thought to be exilic and post exilic have referents recognized as adhering to the defining ideology of Exile — whatever the exile’s actual historicity. In such literature, the exile is presented first of all as an event of the mind within the intellectual world of early Judaism and functions as a literary matrix for large portions of the Bible. This is true whatever events, if any, actually occurred that might be regarded as a “return”. What are commonly designated as exilic and post exilic texts, as well as some of the later compose collections of the Old Testament, whether the Septuagint || or the later Massoretic [sic!] collection called the Hebrew Bible, all flow from this intellectual matrix and must, therefore, be chronologically subsequent. (pp.112-113)
Perhaps more typical of the problem is the use that James F. Ward makes in his monograph Language, Form and Inquiry: Arthur F. Bentley's Philosophy of Social Science, 1984, where the 2nd chapter is entitled The Intellectual Matrix of Bentley's Social Science, without ever defining what might be meant with that. Ward writes that:
This chapter [i.e. the 2nd chapter, RCK] is concerned with the milieu in which Bentley’s early thinking was formed and the way in which he began his course of inquiry. The central question is how Bentley arrived at the problem that unifies his work: the search for the foundations of social science. The path to the philosophy of social science led Bentley through a series of intellectual encounters which expanded the horizons of his thinking and which reveal his growing intellectual independence. (p.15)
leaving it unclear whether the intellectual matrix is understood here as the residue of the Entwicklungsroman of Bentley' intellectual encounters, or the unifying problem of Bentley's research, or something else entirely.

We owe Ellen Meiksins Wood's Citizens to Lords: A Social History of Western Political Thought (2011) the reference to and explication of Quentin Skinner's 1978 book The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, which takes a hyper-contextualizing approach to political vocabulary.

His [i.e. Quentin Skinner, RCK] main strategy, here as elsewhere in his work, was to cast his net more widely than historians of political thought have customarily done, considering not just the leading theorists but, as he put it,  “the more general social and intellectual matrix out of which their works arose”. [= Skinner, ibid, p.x] (p.8)
In Skinner's use then, the social matrix and the intellectual matrix are almost akin to levels of discourse of different parts of society, rather than agglomerations of conceptual notions.  Meiksins Wood writes:

It turns out that the ‘social matrix’ has little to do with ‘society’, the economy, or even the polity. The social context is itself intellectual, or at least the ‘social’ is defined by, and only by, existing vocabularies. The ‘political life’ that sets the || agenda for theory is essentially a language game. In the end, to contextualize a text is to situate it among other texts, among a range of vocabularies, discourses and ideological paradigms at various levels of formality, from the classics of political thought down to ephemeral screeds or political speeches. (pp.8-9)
Rob Moore, in his book Basil Bernstein: The Thinker and the Field, 2013, uses "intellectual matrix" to mean a substratum of the disciplinary or social discourse of his time.
The exegesis of [Basil, RCK] Bernstein’s thinking must involve a consideration of when he thought what he did, both in terms of the intellectual matrix of the time, the nexus of personal relationships and broader social conditions and issues. It must be concerned with the time and the place of the ideas. (p.3)
Rob Moore then equates the term ‘meta-dialogue’, coined by Hasan (1999) [= Ruqaiya Hasan, Speaking with Reference to a Context,  In M. Ghadessy (Ed.), Text and Context in Functional Linguistics: Systemic Perspectives (pp. 219-328). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1999. RCK], as equivalent to “an intellectual matrix of ideas”, which is used to describe a 
... nexus of personal and institutional relationships — University College London (UCL), where Halliday and Douglas were based, is ‘around the corner’ from the University of London Institute of Education where Bernstein and Hasan worked. (p.15)
Jairo Moreno, in his discussion of the Argentinian Jazz musician Guillermo Klein, as part of his essay Past Identity: Guillermo Klein, Miguel Zenón, and the Future of Jazz, in: Pablo Vila (ed), Music and Youth Culture in Latin America, 2014, pp.81-105, contrasts the type of matrices which constrain Klein’s work with those that constrain, according to Lewis (2008) [= George E. Lewis, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, Chicago (University of Chicago Press), 2008. RCK], the work of African American musicians (p.88).

Moreno (p.88) quotes Lewis (2008:447) as saying that African American musicians are under an imperative to
situate their work in a complexly articulated African American intellectual, social, and sonic matrix” (Lewis 2008:447); cited (p.88)
In contrast, Moreno argues, Klein is under no such imperative; though his work is

articulated to a local-national social and intellectual matrix, and in turn to an international critical matrix that in a way preceded it and helped to shape it. What is more, these matrices rarely intersect. When they do, they disrupt as much as they enable one another. (p.88) 
Moreno interprets the notion of matrix as belonging to competing modernities.
… matrices operate independently from each other as embodiments of actually existing multiple modernities—modernities that are no longer local variants of a centrally dominant US or European modernity. (p.89) 
In 2014, S. Demazeux used the Kuhnian notion of the disciplinary matrix in an article in the International Journal of Epidemiology to analyze the consolidation of psychiatric epidemiology. Because Demazeux diagnosed a "weak coherence of its intellectual components" (Abstract), the almost-discipline is noted to have a "weak intellectual matrix" (ibid).

In his 2014 online faculty profile at Princeton, Thomas Conlan, Professor of East Asian Studies and History, uses the term the terms “social, political and intellectual matrix of fourteenth-century Japan” as the object of transformation targeted by the violence that he describes in his monograph State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth Century Japan (2003).

The online Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History in its article on Intellectual Life uses the matrix terminology at least twice. For the colonial period, it denotes the shape into which the oppression of slavery confined intellectual African thinking for the slaves brought to the colonies.
... an African-American tradition of sacred and secular folk thought in sermons, tales, aphorisms, proverbs, narrative poems, sacred and secular songs, verbal games, and other linguistic forms became the primary matrix for historicizing, interpreting, and speculating about the nature and meaning of society and the cosmos.
The alternative matrix of the Enlightenment was available to the African Americans through the free schools and societies, as the article eloquently notes.
But Free African societies and fraternal orders like the Prince Hall Masons also provided a counterconventional intellectual matrix—for mastering the secular and sacred freethought traditions of the Radical Enlightenment, in which the proselytizing mythographers of freemasonry and Renaissance hermeticism offered African-American free thinkers secret access to a "perennial philosophy" that hypothesized an unbroken continuity with, and a reverential attitude toward, the esoteric symbol systems and pagan wisdom literatures of ancient North Africa and the Orient.

The notion of matrix in anthropology

While neither "interpretative matrix" nor "conceptual matrix" seem to be common terms of anthropological research, the notion of "cultural matrix" seems to be associated with Clyde Kluckhohn.

Kluckhohn had used it already in 1942, in Myth and Rituals: A General Theory ..., where he wrote

The structure of new cultural forms (whether myths or rituals) will undoubtedly be conditioned by the pre-existent cultural matrix. (p.52)
A more telling use occurs in his 1949 book, Mirror for Man, which uses matrix in the sense of a complete cross-product of relationships between a set of concepts.
The full significance of any single element in the culture design will be seen only when that element is viewed in the total matrix of its relationship to other elements. (p.34) 
Most of these environmental influences act on each other. In the total environmental matrix now one factor, now another bears on the organism with special intensity. (p.83) 
The cultural dislocation of emigrant groups, the rapid and disorderly expansion of cities, and many other factors have all contributed to the disorientation of individuals from a cohesive social matrix. (p.250)
Geertz used Kluckhohn's Mirror for Man as a negative example, criticizing the book for its plurality of definitions of what culture is, in his 1973 article on thick descriptions. 
The conceptual morass into which the Tylorean kind of pot-au-feu theorizing about culture can lead, is evident in what is still one of the better general introductions to anthropology, Clyde Kluckhohn’s Mirror for Man. In some twenty-seven pages of his chapter on the concept, Kluckhohn managed to define culture in turn as: (1) “the total way of life of a people”; (2) “the social legacy the individual acquires from his group”; (3) “a way of thinking, feeling, and believing”; (4) “an abstraction from behavior”; (5) a theory on the part of the anthropologist about the way in which a group of people in fact behave; (6) a “storehouse of pooled learning”; (7) “a set of standardized orientations to re-current problems”; (8) “earned behavior”; (9) a mechanism for the normative regulation of behavior; (10) “a set of techniques for adjusting both to the external environment and to other men”; (11) “a precipitate of history”; and turning, perhaps in desperation, to similes, as a map, as a sieve, and as a matrix. In the face of this sort of theoretical diffusion, even a somewhat constricted and not entirely standard concept of culture, which is at least internally coherent and, more important, which has a definable argument to make is (as, to be fair, Kluckhohn himself keenly realized) an improvement. Eclecticism is self-defeating not because there is only one direction in which it is useful to move, but because there are so many: it is necessary to choose. 
[RCK: Critically, these twelve definitions are not Geertz', but Geertz' paraphrase of Kluckhohn, summarized for the purposes of criticism.]  Thus, to Geertz, the use of matrix is not a proper use, but an analogical use, akin to speaking of cultural maps or sieves.

Kluckhohn continued to uses this notion in later works as well. In his 1961 book, Anthropology and the Classics, he wrote of the "intellectual matrix" of evolution (p.11).

In his Culture and Behavior: Collected Essays (1962), Kluckhohn paraphrased the total matrix definition (it is not an identical quote) and spoke of the "matrix of that [i.e. a specific, RCK] culture" in the context of contrasting cultural from universal values.
The full significance of any single element in a cultural design will be seen only when that element is viewed in the total matrix of its relationship to other elements—and indeed to other designs. (p.61)

… some values are almost purely cultural [i.e. as opposed to universal values, RCK] and draw their significance only from the matrix of that culture. (p.297)
 We then take the preliminary view that Kluckhohn meant something like the pairwise product of constraints of concepts upon each other, and then applied that notion successively to culture, the social, the environmental and the intellectual.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lukian of Samosata on Historiography

Lukian wrote at least one essay that has to do with historiography.

In The Way to Write History, he pours his scorn on the side shows, stylistic imitations, inability to speak the military vocabulary, and pretentiousness of the historical writing of his day, being overly concerned with the present-day effect and not with the long range insights for humanity. The perfect historian is above all else a student of truth, and reports it in as stylistically straight-forward way as possible, without taking sides or condemning the actors, telling the important and shortening the unimportant, hopping to the place of the most interesting as needed, and giving the implausible as is, without commenting on it.

The Abomination of Solomon and David in BoM

As I showed previously under the discussion of concubinage in the BoM, the BoM speaks of the abomination of concubinage with specific focus on Solomon and David. 

It is therefore important to realize that this cannot have meant polygamy in the general sense--Abraham and Jacob practiced that as well, and are not scorned for doing so. Abraham had one wife, Sarah, and two concubines, Hagar and Keturah (Adam Clarke's commentary to 1 Kings 11:3).

Rather, it must be in reference to the fact that Solomon was "tricked" into worshipping other gods than JHWH by his association with some of the other foreign princesses that he was married to (for diplomatic reasons, as we would argue today). 

The key passage is 1 Kings 11, which tells how Solomon loses the kingdom. Historically speaking, this is a necessity; as the United Monarchy of David and Solomon is an invention of the Dtr Historians in the time of Josiah's cultic reform (cf. Israel Finkelstein, The Forgotten Kingdom, 2013), the monarchy cannot persist past the life of Solomon, otherwise the reality of the separated states of Judah and Israel cannot be connected to. 

Whether this approach belongs to the revision under Ezra and Nehemiah, or is part of the Dtrn Historian, is unclear, but instituting a sin that involves the marriage of Solomon to foreign women is a masterful stroke of theological authorship. A quick look at the parallel passages --- Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 17:17; Ezra 10:44; Nehemiah 13; various passages in Proverbs, most of them concerned with adultery --- shows the focus on worship in the Pentateuch and the focus on flat-out marriage in Ezra and Nehemiah. 

Of course the passage in 1 Kings dates the whole section to the 7th century, because the countries mentioned --- Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites --- include peoples that had not reached statehood until the 7th century (cf. Finkelstein 2013). In the case of the Hittites, the Separation Hypothesis suggests that these are similarly named hill tribes, not the big Anatolian kingdom of the 1600-1200 BC and its successor states.

The insertion had been done somewhat artless in the sense that 18th century commentators wondered why Solomon had only fallen under the theological spell of "Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians", and "Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites", "Chemosh, the abomination of Moab", "Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon", but not under the spell of the wife associated with his most crucial ally, the Egyptian princess. Some commentators went so far as to assume that she might have converted to Judaism; cf. Adam Clarke's rebuttal of that notion in commentary for 1 King 11:1.

Commentators had rejected the assumption that it was lust on the number of the women involved---700 princesses, 300 concubines---and on the age of Solomon; rather that he was collecting trophy wives the way that he was collecting horses and chariots, gold and silver.

The claim of desiring other women is an allusion to David and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12), and the mother of Solomon. But even here only the first child died; the second became as mentioned Solomon, the beloved of the LORD.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Concubines in the BoM

According to the online version of the Book of Mormon, there are eight passages in the book of Mormon, occurring in three books, that discuss concubines.

  1. Jacob 
    1. Chapter 1 (v15)
    2. Chapter 2 (v24, v27)
    3. Chapter 3 (v5)
  2. Mosiah 11 (v2, v4, and v14)
  3. Ether 10 (v5)
In Jacob 1:15, the context is the depravity of the Nephites after the death of their first ruler, Nephi I. Having or even desiring concubines in the way of David and his son Solomon is an example of their falling from grace, as they
began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat [sic!] in wicked practices
Jacob then (Chapter 2) speaks out about the evils caused by the lust for riches, which finds expression in the Nephites hunting after gold, silver, and other precious ores (v12), which makes them haughty in garment and bearing. But pride is not the only target of Jacob's remonstrations; the other is the chastity of women perverting practice of concubines (v27f), which is an abomination to the Lord, even back when David and Solomon were doing so (v23f). And in Jacob's words, the Lord is responding to the abject misery of the daughters of the Nephites, who are saddened by the practice of concubinage (vv.31-34). (The word tenderness, that Jacob uses here, occurs in the KJV only in Dtn 28, when describing the horrible cannibalisms of the besieged city; in the OT, tender is used for young animals and sons, or fresh vegetation, and the soft heart; the combination of "tender and delicate" applied to a female occurs only in Isa 47:1, when describing Babylon figuratively as the daughter of Chaldaeans. In the NT, mercy is tender, as is the fig tree in the Synoptics.)

Jacob uses the Lamanites (Chapter 3) as a positive example, because with all their filth and curses, they only know monogamy (v5), and thus put the Nephites to shame.

In Mosiah 11, it is the wicked King Noah, who takes over from his father Zeniff, who taxes his people heavily at 20%, especially the gold and the silver, and uses this money to build fabulous buildings, and to have concubines, just as his priests do, and to become a wine bibber and make his people into alcoholics.

In Ether 10, the situation is similar, where the wicked king Riplakish taxes his people, builds tall buildings, and has concubines (v5).

The evil of taxation occurs in the OT for King Jehoiakim (2 Kg 23:35), who raised taxes on gold and silver and give that to Pharaohnechoh (Pharaoh Necho II), who had killed Josiah at the battle of Megiddo and was requiring tribute (after the three-month intermezzo of King Jehoahaz). Jehoiakim did not do what was right before the Lord either.

Murray N. Rothbard on the Panic of 1819

The e-book The Panic of 1819 by Murray N. Rothbard is constructed from his 1962 publication of the similar title, which in turn is Rothbard's dissertation. It's topic is the economic (banking) Panic of 1819, for the understanding of which Rothbard's work was a milestone.

Bibliographic Record

Rothbard, Murray. 1962. The Panic of 1819: Reactions and Policies. Columbia University Press, New York. E-Book Version hosted at

Joseph Smith Jr the Kirtland Bully?

While in Kirtland, Joseph Smith Jr sued Doctor Philastus Hurlbut for publicly threatening to kill Joseph Smith Jr; cf. (Grua 2014, pp.141-154; Madsen 2014, p.228). However, at the same time, Joseph Smith Jr was arrayed before the court for assault and battery of his brother-in-law Calvin Stoddard (Madsen 2014, p.228) and for publicly threatening to kill Grandison Newell (Madsen 2014, p.229). What was going on?

The context of the trial with Calvin Stoddard is related in a summary of the evidence presented in the Painesville Telegraph, to which Joseph Smith Jr had written about the matter. Stoddard and Smith Jr got into a physical fight over some problem with a piece of property, and the witnesses made it out more like self-defense than assault and battery, as Stoddard had claimed. Of course, the witnesses were a brother of Joseph Smith Jr, William; his mother; and a disciple, Burgesse, that the Painesville Telegraph considered "faithful".

More serious is the matter of Grandison Newell, because it was basically the same claim that Joseph Smith Jr had just sustained against Doctor Philastus Hurlbut.

Bibliographic Record

  • JS, Letter, Kirtland, OH, to editor of the Painesville TelegraphPainesville, OH;Painesville Telegraph, 26 June 1835, p. 3.
  • Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey Walker, John W. Welch (ed), Sustaining the law: Joseph Smith's Legal Encounters, Provo, UT (2014).
    • David W. Grua, Winning against Hurlbut's Assault in 1834, pp.141-154.
    • Gordon A. Madsen, Tabulating the Impact of Litigation on the Kirtland Economy, pp.227-246.

Daniel W. Howe on the US 1815-1848

See reading cards up to p.31 for the details.

Unavoidable temporal limitations of Revelation

The idea that revelations can only find expression from human thinking in temporally qualified forms is most likely first considered in Spinoza's Theologico-Political Tractatus (English Part I, Part II; German PDF).

If memory serves right, for it is many years since I read that work, Spinoza argues that the laws of the Old Testament either applied to the governmental structure of the times of the Ancient Hebrews, or the present. But if the applied to the present, then the revelations would have made no sense to the then-existing people, so it must have been exclusively to the past that this applied. Again, this is a mere outline of the argument.

I wonder if there is a similar argument that could be made that is the foundation of the true meaning of a book religion, namely a theory of how the temporal individualities of the context of revelation are unavoidable in a book religion, and that there is an expectation of "error" and "misunderstanding" that derives from its historical context of authorship. It is possible that such an apologetic move might be more effective than a stance that claims revelatory status of the entirety of the text, and is then trivially refuted in its entirety by a single erroneous claim.

Spinoza might provide the ramp for driving up here, by pointing out that it is specific humans, contextualized in their religious and social settings, that are recipients of revelation. Specifically, it is at minimum a socio-linguistic setting in which the revelatory production is captured.

Merely historically speaking, the revelations of the Godhead are recorded in Ancient Hebrew in the case of Isaiah and St Paul; in Koine Greek in the case of the Gospel writers; in Magadha, a Northern Indian dialect, in the case of Siddharta Gautama; in Fus'ha Arabic in the case of Mohammed; and in King James-like English to Joseph Smith Jr. Since the record is all that we have, the question of in what language the revelation itself was communicated---Reformed Egyptian for the Book of Mormon, the language that Gabriel spoke to Mohammed---is in some sense irrelevant; we cannot return to that layer of the communication.

Because the revelation is revelation into a specific situation, it includes references to that specific situation. The understanding of that situation must be understandable to the recipients, so it has to be couched in the conceptual models that the recipients have of themselves in that situation. (For obvious reasons, given the linearity of the time arrow, previous times will not benefit from the revelation.)

Thus, take the plague of Cholera striking the Camp of Zion during the march on Missouri. The present time (2014) understanding of cholera is that it is an infection of the small intestine caused by a bacterium conveniently named Vibrio cholerae. There is no reason for hubris here, i.e. one should not assume that this will be the understanding henceforth until the end of the human race. The then existing interpretation was some form of Jehovian displeasure with the Mormons.

However, Spinoza would argue, future times do not share either the situation or the past understanding of the situation. [Fichte might interject at this point, and further research is needed here, that this is one of the reasons that all revelation can only be a re-iteration of natural religion, that is, the timeless aspect of revelations.]

Joseph Smith Jr would disagree and claim that the continuity of the Divine plan of salvation with its structure of covenants and their cycles of prophecy and fulfillment provide a shared situation with an ongoing valid understanding, the ordinances and prophecies and the laws of the Lord.

But there is a certain undermining to that continuity in the admission that continued revelations are necessary. Can you undercut the change in time by local revelations? Or is the necessity of local revelations in truth not an admission that the times are changing and that even the Lord cannot escape these changes?

The origin of this approach could be a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of Joseph Smith Jr, namely that revelation literature is precisely concerned with the absence of God's intervention. It is the fact that life sucks and God is doing nothing to fix it that requires revelation literature to bridge the day to day pain of waiting. The "original" Revelations of John of Patmos speak into the situation of the Christian persecutions to explain why the Son of Man has not returned yet, why God is holding back. Instead Joseph Smith Jr wants to get day-to-day instructions from God, whether it be on the organization of economic situations or on the details of temple construction. This is more the OT law giving interaction with God, from Sinai and the interactions with Moses, the setup of the perfect society, not the NT dealing with the delay of the parousia.

It is difficult to figure out if a literal inspiration approach to both the Hebrew and the Greek Bible gives one an adequate system for differentiating the various uses of revelation and prophecy. There is the giving of the laws in the OT; the social criticism of the OT prophets; and the apocalyptic descriptions of the coming judgement of the Lord; to name just these three.

Marvin S. Hill on Mormons handling Pluralism

This post captures impressions and reading notes from Marvin S. Hill's study Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism, Salt Lake City (Signature Books), 1989.
  • [p.xii] Hill notes that "The Latter-day Saints saw the maelstrom of competing faiths and social institutions as evidence of social upheaval and found confirmation in the rioting and violence that characterized Jacksonian America."
  • [p.xiii] Hill notes the limited sense in which the BoM through its heroes, the Nephites, espoused religious freedom as a general freedom: "Thus the Nephite concept of freedom fell far short of the religious freedom being advanced in the United States in 1830. Reminiscent in some ways of the beliefs of early Massachusetts Bay Puritans, Nephites wanted freedom mainly to preserve their own true religion but were reluctant to allow others the might to oppose it."
  • [p.xv] Hill works out how non-mainstream the Mormon orientation was: "Mormons with their ideal of a society in which the godly ruled over a unified, religious people stood in sharp contrast [to the Jeffersonian ideals of freedom of religion, RCK]. Ideally, the Mormon “kingdom” was an all-inclusive community with social, economic, religious, and political aspects."
(to be continued)

Parley Pratt on Mormonism unveiled and Zion´s watchman unmasked

In his pamphlet Mormonism unveiled : Zion's watchman unmasked from 1838, Parley Pratt attacks LaRoy Sunderland´s pamphlet (unfortunately incompletely available online) in no uncertain terms, calling him a liar and unfit for civilized society (pp.3-4).

The document is a good example of how the Biblical argumentation worked during that time, which was of course effective, because the other side claimed an inspired status for the OT and NT that they were trying to deny to the BoM.

In general, the pamphlet underscores how eminently reasonable Mormonism can seem to a person reading the scriptures in the way that Pratt does; as well as how well versed many of the early Mormon missionaries were in the Bible.

Pratt does trip up when claiming that the uninterested or distant are never witnesses
Who ever heard of God’s choosing a disinterested witness of his resurrection, or any other truth? (p.13)
since the centurion and his men under the cross (Mt 27:54) did not become believers, merely afraid, from witnessing the death on the Cross.

Furthermore, in his eagerness to find non-Biblical prophecies in the BoM, Pratt claims that the great destruction will validate the BoM within a decade.
This destruction includes an utter overthrow, and desolation of all our Cities, Forts, and Strong Holds—an entire annihilation of our race, except such as embrace the Covenant, and are numbered with Israel. (p.15) 
… and I will state as a prophesy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence [~ 1888, RCK]; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown within five or ten years from this date [~ 1843-1848, RCK], then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false. (p.15)
Well, there you have it ... (:P) ....

When discussion turns to the Book of Mormon, Pratt and Sunderland fret over Alma 7:10, which seems to talk about Jesus being born in Jerusalem, and Pratt interprets this as geographic inaccurate speak, a form of "thereabouts" (p.19).

Pratt underscores the important point that the Methodists (p.29) have to pay their preachers, while in the Mormon church, no one is paid for their religious services. Indeed, Pratt can brag:

I have preached the Gospel from Maine to Missouri, for near eight years, and all I ever received during my whole ministry, would not amount to the yearly salary of || one of the lazy, extravagant loungers, who under the name of Priests, are a nuisance to the whole country. (pp.29-30)
Then, in trying to establish that Mr La Roy Sunderland does not know his God, Pratt makes some surprising comments:
But we worship a God, who has both body and parts : who has eyes, mouth, and ears, and who speaks when he pleases — to whom he pleases, and sends them where he pleases. And he always did blaspheme other Gods, and hold them up to ridicule and contempt; and so did his followers : …. (p.31)
Now, Mr Sunderland, you … cannot believe the Bible one whit sooner than the “Book of Mormon”. And the “Book of Mormon” says, if we believe one we will believe the other. But he pleads an excuse for his unbelief, by saying, the passage referred to cannot be taken literally. (p32) 
Starting with (p.36), Pratt gives all of the arguments for the congruence of the Indians with the Lamanites that were then current, which gives an indication of the knowledge about the Indians that was coursing through popular culture at that time.

On (p.43) Pratt begins to enumerate the problems he has with Methodism, including the disembodiment of the Father in the face of all the scriptural passages that mention body parts and the creation of Adam in the likeness of God.

Pratt criticizes the Methodist ordinances (p.44), what German Lutherans would call Sakramente; Pratt takes them to have three kinds of water baptism, one of which is the Baptism of children(which is of course, as Alexander Campbell had already argued, not Biblical). They do not exercise the Spiritual charismata, e.g. healing through laying on of the hands; nor do they have the charismatic offices of Prophet or Apostles, and the gifts that go with them, such as revelations, miracles, etc.

Finally, Pratt repeats the point that the Mormon priests are not remunerated (p.44), chiding the Methodists for the elaborate amount of discussion that money takes up in their rules as a result of going a different route here.

Pratt thus shows that two can play at the game of finger pointing.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tidbits about Book Mormon from Uncle Dan (Part I)

The following is an extract of bits and pieces that Dan Broadhurst has pulled together in the quest of trying to figure out whether Joseph Smith Jr would have required the writings of Solomon Spalding to author the Book of Mormon.

Ancient Books

  • Broadhurst points out that the notion of the rings through the plates is mentioned in Jahn's Biblical Archaeology (2nd edition from 1827) in the discussion of books (Paragraph 89). 

M´Chesney and the Antidote to Mormonism

In the pamphlet Antidote to Mormonism, M´Chesney for 1838 gave the same sequence of arguments that we had earlier reconstructed from John Corrill´s reminiscences.
We will relate a circumstance, that will show their presumption, and the plans they introduce to throw into disrepute, and trample under foot the word of God. We attended one of their meetings, when, by appointment, they were to prove by the scriptures that the book of Mormon was of divine authority; or, if not, there must be such a book found. The speaker, after labouring with the 28th chapter Genesis, where Jacob blessed both the sons of Joseph [actually. Gen 48, RCK]; then proceeded to the 29th of Isaiah.—Here he strove to make his hearers believe that the prophet had this book in view. He next went to the 37th chapter of Ezekiel, where he made a great handle of the prophet’s “Sticks,” and, indeed he strove hard to cause the scriptures to speak to his advantage. Truly we were much disappointed with the weakness of his arguments. (p.21)
M´Chesney also mentions the pamphlet by Parley Pratt from 1838, Mormonism Unveiled, in which the anti-Mormon pamphlet of LaRoy Sunderland is refuted (which is unfortunately not available online in any significant portion).

M´Chesney claimed to have bills from the Kirtland [anti-]banking Society in his possession (p.22).

M´Chesney cites (p.50) a professor Roy of Oriental languages who claims Mormons comes from the Hebrew and means with "the rebels" (e.g. Numbers 20:10), but the Hebrew text has hamorim.

In the appendix, M´Chesney makes his dependence on Eber D. Howe and LaRoy Sunderland explicit, and closes with a riff against Martin Harris´ claim of doom regarding the US:

Martin Harris’ Prophecy.—“Within four years from September, 1832, there will not be one wicked person in the United States; the righteous will be gathered to Zion, [Missouri;] there will be no President of the United States after that time; every sectarian and religious denomination in the United States shall be broken down; every Christian shall be gathered unto the Mormonites; and the rest of the human race shall perish.” (p.59) 
See also the discussion in Max H Perkin´s master thesis at BYU from 1960 on the nature and causes of conflict, both internally and externally, in Ohio, esp. p.54.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Clues toward Joseph Smith's Socio-Economic Matrix

While reviewing my reading notes from Arrington et al, I was struck as to what Arrington pointed about about the communitarian aspect of the fight between Campbell and Rigdon (p.19). They had a debate at Austintown, after which Rigdon felt badly treated by Campbell because his economic attempts at restoring Christian primitivism were rejected (cf. Amos Sutton HAYDEN, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio, 1875, p.209).

Campbell and Rigdon differed on three points (Hammon, p.22-24) that basically distinguished the Baptist Church from the Mormon Church: the spiritual gifts of the apostolic age,  the authority to perform ordinances, and Christian communitarianism (Hammond has this from Van Wagoner).