Insights: An Ancient Window
The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
1990, No. 4
The second volume of By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley has just been published by FARMS and Deseret Book. This completes a landmark 2-volume set of essays by fifty scholars. This volume contains many essays that will interest Latter-day Saint readers. Edited by Dr. John M. Lundquist and Dr. Stephen D. Ricks, the volume is divided into two parts. The section on the "Scriptures of the Latter-day Saints" contains ten articlesfully half the volumethat deal specifically with the Book of Mormon.
These essays are informative, challenging, and exploratory. They have been written by well-known Latter-day Saint writers, including:
The second section on "Modern Themes: Religion, Literature, and Society" contains essays on the social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges faced by the faithful in modern times. Authors include Genevieve de Hoyos, Arthur Henry King, C. Terry Warner, Thomas Rogers, George Tate, and Louis Midgley. In addition, the world renowned Jewish scholar, Jacob Neusner, has contributed a stimulating article entitled "Why No New Judaisms in the Twentieth Century?"
For Latter-day Saints interested in the Book of Mormon and other issues relating to the Church, this volume will prove an invaluable addition to their library. Copies of this book are available through FARMS online.
Interested BYU faculty and others continue to participate in an informal seminar on the Book of Mormon held on alternate Wednesdays in the conference room on the 9th floor of the Kimball Tower. For details, contact Noel Reynolds, 764 SWKT. Since January, seven papers have been presented, some of which have either already been published or will be published in the future.
Jan. 10. Louis Midgley presented a paper entitled "The Ways of Remembrance," comparing the meaning and role of memory and remembrance in the Old Testament with similar ideas found in abundance in the Book of Mormon (see the March 1990 FARMS Update).
Jan. 24. Donna Lee Bowen and Camille Williams presented their work for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Mormonism on the entry entitled "Book of Mormon Women." They examined the place of women in the Book of Mormon narrative.
Feb. 14. William J. Hamblin read a paper entitled "First Nephi as a Founders Story," in which he examined in detail a number of ancient parallels found in other stories about the beginning of new civilizations.
Feb. 28. Richard Dilworth Rust presented a paper entitled "Macroscopic Perspectives on the Book of Mormon," which examined literary approaches to the Book of Mormon. Rust, professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was in Provo to present the Third Annual FARMS lecture on the Book of Mormon.
March 14. Eugene E. England presented an essay previously published under the title "Why Nephi Killed Laban: Reflections on the Truth of the Book of Mormon," Dialogue 22 (Fall 1989): 32-51, an edited version of which was later published under the title "A Second Witness for the Logos: The Book of Mormon and Literary Criticism," in By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley.
March 28. Stephen D. Ricks presented a paper entitled "Historical Assumptions in Book of Mormon Studies" in which he examined false assumptions made by those who reject the Book of Mormon by attempting to find in it instances of language that might be found in the world in which Joseph Smith lived. A refined version of this paper was subsequently published in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 2 (1990): 128-42. Ricks showed that these critics have neglected to address the arguments of Nibley and others for holding that the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient text.
April 28. Donald W. Parry presented a paper entitled "Interpreting Scriptural Symbols: Methods and Considerations," in which he set forth the usage and application of seven principal figures of speech used frequently in the Book of Mormon. He provided numerous examples from the Bible to compare with instances found in the Book of Mormon.
The next seminar will be held on September 12. John Sorenson will summarize and illustrate the findings of Warren and Michaela Aston on possible locations for Book of Mormon sites in southern Arabia. Highlights of sessions to follow include John Sorenson on "160 Years of Book of Mormon Geography: A History of Ideas" and George Rhodes of Colorado State University on "Consecration in the Book of Mormon."
The writers of ancient scripture often contrasted one idea in one line or stanza with an opposite or antithetical idea in a parallel line or stanza. Recorded in Proverbs 13:9 is an example of antithetical parallelism:
The light of the righteous rejoiceth;
but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
Notice that the contrasted elements (righteous / wicked) are not simple contradictions but opposite aspects of the same idea.
The Book of Mormon contains many examples of antithetical parallelism. Alma, in his great discourse to the saints of Zarahemla, utilized this poetic form. His words are brief, yet conclusive.
Whatsoever is good
cometh from God,
and whatsoever is evil
cometh from the devil (Alma 5:40)
Note the antonymous terms. Two words epitomize the perfect contrast, "good" and "evil," and two Beings are also considered opposite extremes. Almas method of contrast establishes this opposition in the plainest of terms.
A second example of extended antithetical parallelism is found in Alma 9:28:
If they have been righteous
they shall reap the salvation of their souls,
according to the power and deliverance
of Jesus Christ;
and if they have been evil
they shall reap the damnation of their souls,
according to the power and captivation
of the devil
In the first strophe the words "righteous," "salvation," "deliverance," and "Jesus Christ" stand in direct contrast to the terms of the second strophe"evil," "damnation," "captivation," and "devil." Both strophes begin with an "if" statement, immediately followed by the results that come from righteousness or evil. The sides are clearly drawn between good and evil.
This kind of antithetical parallelism contains not only a contrast between two ideas but also a connection between them. The meaning of the contrasted items separates them clearly, but the parallelism joins them so that the reader must consider them together. One purpose of this poetic form is to allow or even force the reader to make a mental comparison, and often a choice, between two diametrically opposed but related ideas. Whether consciously or intuitively, the reader can see in antithetical parallelism a unique reciprocity, as well as a strong contrast between the two elements.
Another Book of Mormon verse illustrates the principle again, where Alma speaks to his son Helaman:
Yea, I say unto you my son,
that there could be nothing so exquisite
and so bitter as were my pains.
Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand,
there can be nothing so exquisite
and sweet as was my joy (Alma 36:21)
In this verse Alma hopes by his phrasing the issue in this bold way to push his son to mentally side with and feel an affinity with righteousness rather than evil. In such a teaching situation, antithetical parallelism has the ability to produce an emotional response in both the original audience and also the subsequent readers that leads them to follow the teachings given.
Comparisons between two terms has always been an accepted tool of rhetoricians employed to invoke the readers involvement. As Aristotle wrote, "This kind of style is pleasing, because contraries are easily understood and even more so when placed side by side, and also because antithesis resembles a syllogism; for refutation is a bringing together of contraries" (Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric 3.9.7-10; in J. H. Freese, trans., (London: W. Heinmann LTD, 1967).
Recognizing this antithetical parallel structure can help us see more clearly the issues that writers of the Book of Mormon wanted us to focus on. Appreciating the connections and contrasts between the ideas that they felt were most important may lead us to feel as they felt and act as they admonish us to act.
Based on research by Donald W. Parry
A popular article recently published in the Canadian magazine Equinox contains a nice summary of current issues in regard to voyages from the Old World to America before Columbus. The writer, John Barber, handles the technical matters well and includes points from hitherto unpublished interviews with important scholars on the topic. Balance is maintained between the opposing sides in the argument over such voyages; no claim is made that colonizers positively made their way between the continents, yet the reader comes away realizing that significant evidence exists to support the notion.
Until the publication (a few months from now) of Sorenson's and Raish's massive bibliography on transoceanic voyaging and contacts, this piece, entitled "Oriental Enigma," provides FARMS' readers with a reliable overview of interesting aspects of the problem. The article is handsomely illustrated, and the illustrations remain striking even in our photocopied reprint.
The reprint may be ordered at cost on the order form in this issue.
FARMS subscribers now can save on phone bills and contribute to the Foundation at the same time. By signing up through FARMS for your long distance telephone service at a volume users rate with U.S. Sprint, you can save on your long distance calls. And because we obtain this service through a business that wants to help FARMS, a portion of what they receive is donated to the Foundation, even though your bills will likely be lower. And you will get credit for the donation, which you may claim on your tax return. At the end of each year, you will receive a notice of the amount of your charitable donation.
So you save two wayson your bills and on your taxesand you help FARMS at the same time. The officers of the Foundation signed up a few months ago and have found the service excellent and the savings real. This service is available to both residences and businesses. If you wish, you may have more than one coded account on one line in order to restrict access or for accounting purposes (such as keeping business, personal, and church calls separate).
At the 1989 Book of Mormon Day, sponsored by the Foundation for Research on Ancient America in Independence, Missouri, John L. Sorenson was a featured speaker. Through the courtesy of the F.R.A.A., a video of his two half-hour presentations is now available to FARMS subscribers.
One part deals with whether Book of Mormon believers have scientific grounds for supporting the claim that shiploads of travelers reached America from the Near East. A four-page handout accompanies the tape, as it did at the presentation in Independence; it displays examples of art, symbolism, language, and so on that have been used to bolster the argument that ships crossed the oceans. The lecture summarizes the nature of the scientific dispute on the subject and points out strengths and weaknesses in the materials used as evidence, pro and con.
Sorensons second presentation tells about new studies being done by LDS scholars that are increasing our understanding of the Book of Mormon and supporting its standing as an ancient record. The one-hour video may be ordered on the order form in this issue.
We have received inquiries recently about whom to contact at FARMS for various purposes, so we thought it might help you if we outlined the responsibilities of each member of the board of directors. We welcome your inquiries and appreciate your interest and support.
Stephen Ricks, in addition to his general duties as President of the Foundation, is in charge of organizing working groups of scholars to study selected topics. He also handles relations with other publishers.
Jack Welch handles relationships with other organizations, including BYU, and oversees the Foundations finances, fundraising (with Brent Hall), and use of outside consultants.
John Sorenson is in charge of supporting research in process and relations with other scholars who help FARMS in many ways, such as reviewing potential publications.
Noel Reynolds takes care of public lectures and informal faculty study groups, like the biweekly brown bag seminar.
Mel Thornes responsibilities include publishing the Newsletter, managing the reviewing of books and papers submitted to the Foundation, editing materials that are to be published, and marketing.
Don Parry manages the office, including staff, equipment, and our inventory of publications, supervises services and benefits to subscribers, and takes the lead in certain research efforts.
There is, of course, much overlap in these responsibilities and members of the board consult and work with each other frequently in these and other less-well defined areas. If you are uncertain whom to contact, do not hesitate to call any one of us or the office staffwe'll help you if we can or direct you to another person if necessary. The participation of many interested and willing friends is one of the strengths of FARMS.