New Books in Religion - Samuel Morris Brown, "Joseph Smith's Translation: The Words and Worlds of Early Mormonism" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, claimed to have translated ancient scriptures. He dictated an American Bible from metal plates reportedly buried by ancient Jews in a nearby hill, and produced an Egyptian "Book of Abraham" derived from funerary papyri he extracted from a collection of mummies he bought from a traveling showman. In addition, he rewrote sections of the King James Version as a "New Translation" of the Bible. Smith and his followers used the term translation to describe the genesi

  • Play Speed:
Content Keywords: connection attention influence Protestant Bible
00:00:01
Blurry wanted welcome to the new books Network. I'm your host Daniel stone and you are now listening to the series on Mormonism, and I have a very special guest and I'm very excited to talk to you. I am with dr. Samuel Morris Brown who wrote this great very thought-provoking book the most thought-provoking book. I read this year call Joseph Smith translation the words and World up early Mormonism pot published by Oxford University, press and Sam. Thanks so much for being on really appreciate it.

00:00:32
Thanks. I'm glad to be with you.

00:00:35
Yeah, thank you. So before we get started, can you just tell us a little about yourself like your background your education influences middle-aged now, which means that I tend to think a lot about parenting and mentoring and that's been a

00:00:56
fun place to end up in terms of my path for this.

00:01:01
middle-aged I was

00:01:03
I was a poor kid from the west end up in Boston for college is a one of those needy scholarship students whose lives are transformed in many complicated Ways by the meritocracy studied Linguistics in college, and then felt called to be a physician against my better judgment followed through on it and went to med school and just before I started the woman that became my family in Boston right stuck, and then we sort of felt the call of the West again, so I came back West to

00:01:49
Finalized and established as a physician scientist is a medical school Professor. You never quite know how to say that the name of what you do and you're a physician-scientist cuz people feel like being a doctor's the fanciest and best thing and they're certainly a for me a sacred component to doctoring but the reality is that most of my professional life is spent doing science doing research trying to figure out how to treat sepsis and I already asked for too frightening inflammatory syndrome life threatening infection in a serious lung injury.

00:02:28
Can take people in the prime of life for contig people in later phases of life. I work in that that's mostly what I do. But back when I was having this argument with God about whether I was going to be a doctor or not that one of those things I really thought I'd rather.

00:02:48
PhD in history of religion and I was really influenced at that point and I think for a lot of people of my generation with interest in history and religion, we were really

00:03:01
Influenced by mircea eliade Romanian Mystic, scholar Coby founder of the history of religion school at University Chicago. Just you know, he drove a lot of my early thinking and I'm aware of course people are no longer particularly drawn to study eliades. In fact is successor of Chicago Jay-Z Smith. Another influence on me. I was pretty insistent that a lie are there had misinterpreted much of the data, but but there was a sense in eliada of the connection between time of the president and I yawn time or it would Tempest as you would say

00:03:50
But I think for me as a Latter-Day Saint and I had been an Atheist up page 18, but then on the cusp of colleges, I was heading off to the big city of theist and an overtime of practicing Latter-day Saints.

00:04:04
But for me is a Latter-Day Saint that image of two times and of the capacity to connect across the two times, especially through relationships with sacred ancestors became really I think an important part of my initial thinking moved on and find increasingly in recent years that I learn the most from people who are open to wondering about the limits of our modernist assumptions in there. I think the philosopher

00:04:47
Slash armchair Theologian Charles Taylor a from Canada is probably an important influence on my thinking that that's my sort of long and I apologize.

00:05:05
That was the sort of intellectual backdrop for my deciding that I wanted for at least the last 15 years or so to think carefully about early Latter Day Saint experiencing. Joseph Smith, but also thinking about the other participants in what they what they thought of as the biggest church that derives from Joseph Smith The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Utah. Currently prefers to be called the restoration to thinking about this early restoration with a has been the focus of my work in Mormon history.

00:05:59
If that's responsive to your question silencer to wandered.

00:06:04
No, it's a it's a great answer. Thank you Sam. It definitely gives us a good background. So I really appreciate it. And so one thing that kind of really picked up when we were talking about and what your book really touches on at least that's kind of how when I saw when I read it was that connection when Joseph Smith you're talking about like the connection between X, I mean, that's a that's a theme that's within your book with a Joseph's mistranslations. So, how did you get this book idea? That's a great question and it was the second II Mormon history article. I published 10 or 15 years ago.

00:06:41
Was this attempt to decode the mystery of these bizarre polyglot of sides in Joseph Smith's political writing from the novel. In the 1840s and I don't know whether you wander through those sources yourself, but you'll be reading this kind of idiosyncratic political Treatise and then all of a sudden there will be this string of unrelated sentences that are in 15 or 30 different languages in the translated into English and I didn't arrive I minored in Russian in Russia for a long time. As part of it as part of some work and some Early College Explorations, Russian translator and interpreter right translated a book by a Russian Orthodox priests named Alexandra.

00:07:40
Interpreting you mostly in medical settings. So I might by the time I was out of medical school. I got a lot of experience living at the interfaces of languages and cultures that really curious about the sheer idle curiosity. I started to track things down and I realized

00:07:58
A few things one. Was that a polyglot of sides? And in fact, most of the documents they were in were written by w w Phelps. It was one of his assistants call The Scribe and they were largely correct. They were idiosyncratic, but they were largely correct and that crucially they were a part of an effort by Joseph Smith to master human languages. There was that it had been kind of present as a as a bit of almost have a hobby interest that was percolating along this interest they had in foreign languages in ancient languages within there was also is I was doing that first book on the on the relationship between

00:08:41
Restoration Theology and mortality in the prospect of death. I think it was my chapter 5 was on the Seer and thinking about what the Sears job was visible relationships to the dad and the recovery of their loss stories. It occurred to me that there was a lot going on with the notion of liberated from the burden of gets earthiness to penetrate through boundaries that made me think that I really ought Explorer at length that notion of sacred language that I'd found in that chapter 5 on Sierra hood and so actually before in heaven as it is on Earth that first book was out. I already started working on this.

00:09:33
This story about language in the way language was used in the way. It was used to break down barriers of time and space was it was used overcoming alienation. You know, how about a third of the book written and then we had a Health crisis in the family that really derail everything and in it in a secret way. I think Gerald A lot of the stuff that I was working on including in my in my day job and and caused this kind of resetting reprioritization and more careful thinking about big questions and it's a consequences book that I'd started like in 2011.

00:10:18
Relays through 2017-2018 was just quietly in the background as I focused on other things in the back focused on.

00:10:29
Family responsibilities and that you know, there's something about a Health crisis and I don't know whether you or someone you love has been through it. But there's a kind of moral Clarity that can come through Health crisis. If you're lucky that can cause you to be curious about asking partner questions and maybe you were asked previously as I was focusing on family and the job is still wanting to keep a little bit of humanism and Humanities and religion in my life alongside the the day job in science and the and the day-to-day tasks of being a devoted family, man.

00:11:12
Ice end up reading in Charles Taylor and in an array of philosophical and Theological Works airism coat check Eco theologist. Just astonishing book and I think it's called from The Embers to the stars in between the Embers in the star something like that about the notion of Eternity in the night sky and Stillness in the interface between technology and vastness and simultaneously, I'm beginning to become increasingly skeptical of the meritocracy that a birthday as a thinker in some respects and becoming more and more curious about what are the assumptions we make about the structure of Life both in and out of the academy and how much of it actually is necessary compelling and persuasive and how much

00:12:12
Is arbitrary and evanescent and ephemeral.

00:12:16
I took in that context this this project could previously had been gently inflected by eliades and thought that was recruiting JC Smith thinking about the nature of religion that was curious about the interfaces between Protestant history and Protestant history America's 19th century. I realized that brought her project needed to be open to the possibility that there was something to learn about the modern world from it. And that's when the structure of the book shifted so that it done has what I call the first section which is context which is thinking through what are the assumptions that we make about human language about time in about human identity over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries.

00:13:16
Bring accidental kind of way toward the world that we inhabit now in the late 20th and early 21st century questions that you talked about this harder questions about what do we mean when we talk about humans as machines? This is his third of a common refrain now, what what do we mean when we use Epicurean language about Randomness and artificiality? What do these stories that we call? Darwinian? They're actually older Darwin not even cleanly related to the science. The darwinists is tinkering with and and what do we do broadly with the sense we have in the modern world of alienation and isolation separation. And then can we use the early Latter Day Saints?

00:14:13
Not just yours is Smithfield artistic and Jill around them. Is that it? That's the founder. Can we use the early Latter Day Saints? I think our way back through some of these questions. So that's where that context came that came from the gestation of this project. They're gone really out of the back burner as I took us another important thing. There was that there is a. Where the Family Health crisis it called and I was able to buy always have working on her wedding history. And then I was able to bring in that first section context and slower than the specific text Joseph Smith described under the rubric translation and it really in retrospect made a lot of sense that puzzle what I was trying to answer me this book was what does it mean that there is a word translation that means the movement of experience stories of ideas from

00:15:11
One language group to another that when we're accustomed to this linguistic put in the same word translation in early restoration. Thought is also reference to transformation of human beings. That makes them

00:15:25
Capable of tolerating the divine presence. You know, the question is are these accidental homophones with no relation are they the same words are they semantic domains of a unitary concept? How do they all fit together in the philosophical context in a text was a kind of parallel to this broader complementarity of translation as the transformation of human beings and translation of the movement of ideas from one group to another

00:16:06
Ya know it's fascinating stuff Sam because the questions you're asking their mind bending but they're also soul-searching. It was it's really profound stuff and you had mentioned this thing in your introduction and you talked about it throughout the book court or especially towards the end. You talked about like targums and I just thought it was so interesting if you could explain that like what was the targum and and and how does that correlate with what you wrote?

00:16:33
Thanks, Daniel. I'm aware that it can feel a little bit to foofy to borrow these ancient terms at ancient scriptural terms. But I think in this case, it's actually worth the effort and the risk of seeming pretentious targum is in Aramaic word. And one thing that I think most of us don't understand. I didn't understand until I got delving into this area is that when we talked about the Hebrew Bible the Hebrew Bible, even for the Jews for most of its history was in the foreign language. Most of the Jews were speakers of Aramaic. Some of them might be speakers of Greek. For example, that was a common Imperial language would have been used.

00:17:21
It but as a consequence, you know, I always grew up thinking that you speak like it was there to the Bible was in their language, but the reality and typical Hebrew and Aramaic or not mutually intelligible languages. Do you have the situation even among Jews where they needed help translating Hebrew Bible Hebrews ancient Lee and even even to this day many important attachment to the sacred authority of the word that there certain words that are sacred and there's a status accorded that you were Bible That's not accorded other even liturgical text cities are speaking Jews were confronted with a problem. They had an ancient texts that they held sacred, but they didn't actually understand it very well cuz in a foreign language they needed a capacity to translate.

00:18:21
Make a violin alive and they are dating is bringing in the new life had to have some sort of text to Authority their own and that's where the targums come in the chart of startup oral, but eventually they do get written down and they get a kind of secondary canonical status and some sections of Judaism really illuminate. Some of the experience of Jews were having a good time for a lot of observers of Latter-day Saints the question what you do with these scriptural texts that are new with the Latter Day Saints.

00:19:09
There's a book of Mormon. There's the book of Abraham. The air is Joseph Smith translation of the Bible itself directly has a few different and their business attempts over the years to try to Define Latter-Day Saints scripture on an allergy to other ancient scriptures and some people will talk about midrasha kind of extensive exegesis others will talk about pseudepigrapha where I profit right to scripture in the name of a of another Prophet with greater Authority and those have been classic accounts of the Book of Mormon over the years. But but for for many people that's felt like it hasn't quite captured what's going on with those scriptures and increased her stendhal in Sweden in the Harvard Divinity School Professor years ago.

00:20:09
Ancient America and preaching All Over Again The Sermon on the Mount Cristo send all said that this felt like a targum to him this bringing to life in the interface between the spoken and the written word and ancient script filled sacs that becomes binding scripture in the present and it occurred to me that said it was absolutely correct and that the notion of Target was applicable not only to sermon on Joseph Smith scriptural Corpus this bringing back to life at the interface between the spoken and the written word of ancient scripture. That was otherwise locks inscrutable e in Antiquity, so I typed I hope that people will play along with the use of targon because I think that better captures the relationship between Joseph Smith

00:21:09
description of Corpus and the Bible texts themselves

00:21:14
Absolutely. Yeah, I really appreciate it when you had brought that up in the introduction because once you explain what a Target was, I could see your line of thinking and where you were going with it. It was really interesting. So thank you for explaining that so you have some questions about like the Book of Mormon in the book of Abraham before we jump into that. I think I want to ask you like a broader question of how did Joseph Smith balance you could you talk about modernity you talk about ancient history this connection between times and spaces and boundaries and how translation it correlates with all that. So, how did Joseph Smith balance this idea of modernity with ancient history? Because like you're talking about the Latter-Day Saint Church tries to connect to the past. But as you say things are never there is there really such thing as a primordial pass is there really such thing as like a pure but, you know primitive pass that people are going to or is our things just constantly evolving and how did Joseph Smith see all that with what it was?

00:22:14
his religious mission was

00:22:17
Yeah, I think it's a great question. It's interesting that you talked about this question of whether our primordial past could even exist or whether everything is always evolving in that that's a reminder of the extent to which these resurgent Epicurean oceans have become woven into the background of our scholarship and of our lives and it was fascinating to me as I came back to this project after some time away to think about the possibility that this study of Joseph Smith and the thinking of Smith and the other early Latter Day Saint might have something to say about

00:22:55
Maybe too easy assumptions that we have about the nature of reality that that in retrospect. So they derive from a nurse's wrote this history of medieval nominalism and its implications for Protestant modernity at which the great pivot is the pivot away from Aristotelian photonic Theology and toward nominalist, theology where he says there's not some pure anything. There's not a pure primordium there is not pure essence of goodness. There is not an independent reality of the categories classes and experiences. We might find and Joseph Smith is caught in this. Where many of the assumptions that I just mentioned that notion of nominalism the anti platten ISM this shifting epicureanism.

00:23:55
Notion of assertive baked into the physics of the cosmos the notion that metaphysics are about to be jettisoned and that we can find a pure physics. If only we will eliminate a metaphysics all of these things are happening and they're all a part of the modernist project and they're all a part of the world that doesn't ring and sometimes it comes in leornard treatises other times it comes in.

00:24:33
Free thought arguments debates and lyceum debates. Sometimes it comes in Liberal Protestant theology that you've got these all these ideas intersecting and there's a sense in which Joseph Smith sees a lot of stuff that he really likes. He likes the sensitive flexibility. He likes the sense that calvinist predestination is being abandoned with in America that he likes the notion that there is power that can interfere in human beings, but he doesn't like a lot of the other baggage, you know, my close friend like I kept wanting to use the word orthogonal that you know, an orthogonal plane is a plane that comes into the perpendicular it in the image of a plane meaning that if if we're accustomed to talking about that, you know that the ancient or the modern device

00:25:33
The secular their religious divide of the spiritual are the temporal to buy you could imagine those is laid out on an Axis or a spectrum moving from one side to the other and you could want to put Joseph Smith into a particular location on the Spectrum. What occurred to me was the Joseph Smith. So frequently was really on an orthogonal playing that the the debates in the binaries and their positions that were concerned other people didn't make any sense to him any sort of wanted to find his own way and it ends up being more synthesis depending on what kind of mood you're in route to be mutually contradictory. So you get a Smith little glimmers of platinum ISM, which if you're accustomed to Calvinism, which was the predominant

00:26:33
situating himself and his followers against it seems very strange to flicker tour platinum and then utterly reject human depravity and to see human beings as these divine order incipient Divine being filled with power and it was also very strange for him to be iconoclastic people Thomas Jefferson famous people that wanted to write the Protestant Bible into a totally scripture, but relatively few were interested in doing

00:27:15
Metaphysically robust and idiosyncratic Lee mystical passage back to the time when there was no time or back to the very beginnings of the world. And can you get the sense that Joseph Smith, forced to try to comment on a dichotomization said, yep both right? I'm going my own way.

00:27:46
And I think that if you know I started out in earlier drafts of the book was really trying to think through how to make Charles Taylor specific Notions about trade to the early Latter Day Saint experience. Would you really get down to the brass tacks was refusing to play books of modernism in of secularity versus religious City and I think that allows us to realize how artificial so many of these dichotomization and conflicts are and also to begin to understand a little bit more about what was the host calvinist

00:28:38
Metaphysically deep very Democratic to Servpro humanist Arenas. They were simultaneously trying to stall the sense of isolation and alienation that people had as they were entering into these modern changes. I hope that's a useful answer.

00:29:05
No, it's very interesting for sure. And it kind of touches on the next question. I want to ask so I did Smith connect Humanity with a Divine cuz you even and you had talked about that a little bit in your prior answer.

00:29:18
Yeah, it is and there's one thing that I stay. There are a few little nuggets, you know, you read these texts long enough in it in context and read enough of the context. Nice. You finally start to figure some out and there's this term Ahmad a h m a n that is used extensively in the early restoration, and it's a sacred name of God and thought to be a sacred name of God in the primordial language.

00:29:48
and I'm pretty sure I figured out the etymology to it and at the risk of being Coy, I'll say that the solution to the etymology just have to read the book to to find out but what matters for the answer to your question here is that is and is a metaphysical echo of human and it's the name of God and there is a scented witch that really speaks to Joseph Smith's notion that there is a plane surface level of human beings that has them as mere biological animals who are probably depraved and some important way to there's a kind of surface level of a human being but then fight token of this

00:30:41
ontology bestowing name Armand

00:30:45
They then are simultaneously participating in a metaphysics of human Divine connection. And you know the more carefully you read early Mormonism the more persuaded you are the Protestants were absolutely that this was a Harris. I mean you read that theology. They are not playing by the established is the notion that Incarnation happens once for all in Jesus is very clear that Smith is elaborating an incarnation of theology that has every human being simultaneously a human and a God and you know, it's it's not the same as in

00:31:45
Mesopotamian paganism or not? It's not the way you are not Mesopotamian polytheist, but they're never the less a kind of plurality of divinity. But once again speaks to this, this is the right that this comparison of Plato Aristotle that theology vs. The nominal is theology. There's the unity the one versus the plurality the many UC Smith said, yep got both of them right? There is an asset. There is a Divine Essence in which we all live and breathe and have our being there is a metaphysics in which we are grounded. And by the way, it turns out God is is perfectly plural and talks about morality of gods in precisely that sent to he's playing a multiple.

00:32:45
How to read an experience and that names matter and it turns out that human beings have both mortal and divine names and knowing them both brings them into a kind of incarnation of it is humans and gods that sounds very much like the traditional Christian Theology of Jesus as the Eastern Orthodox talk about the man got my senses that there's a kind of democratization of incarnation or democratization.

00:33:22
Christ lenus that is happening with Joseph Smith. That is something that the speaking again to the complexity trying to Matt Joseph Smith Hunter ancient vs. Modern skills consummately modern and it's the reality, but also hopelessly antique and it's metaphysics.

00:33:44
Yeah, what I really enjoyed about your book is because you are touching on I felt at least for me. I felt like you were touching an arguments that you know, terryl Givens and kind of talked about in his book people of paradox where he's you know, he talks about how Justice Smith was reaching farther back, you know, not just a Jesus not just to you know, Abraham not just a dumb but even before that and how that was really profound, but then you bring that line of thinking with the translation process and why what you would said words matter stories matter getting but you know, getting the narrative down and kind of connecting time to bring out these interesting ideas. It was all really fascinating stuff and I'm going to borrow some of the questions that you had even introduced your book cuz I just thought they're really good and I thought it would give people a good taste of what they can expect to kind of read in your book because especially, you know, the pivotal, you know tax that Joseph Smith translates, you know quote on quote translate and starts the movement is the book of

00:34:44
So what is the relationship between the Book of Mormon and Smith's, you know engagement of biblical tax?

00:34:52
A little cute, but I I'm hopeful that mean something more than I realized as I was working through these texts and looking at their interdependencies thinking from the perspective of the targum that Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon.

00:35:11
And the Book of Mormon translated the Bible.

00:35:16
It seems to me that that's very clearly what's happening the Book of Mormon years.

00:35:24
Bringing the Bible to life by innocence almost like the Phoenix should have burning the Protestant Bible to the ground destroying the possibility of a fixed Canon fixing all sorts of unclarities and strangeness has and linguistic in felicity's and solecisms eliminating all that bringing it to Clarity and then bringing it into the story that transforms America so that the Book of Mormon is destroying the Protestant Bible to recover the primordial Bible and understands the process the process.

00:36:09
Why we should go so it was a process of translation and when you understand it in those terms, I think the Book of Mormon than in Naga rates this long-term project of translating the Bible and the right word but translating it in this metaphysically Rich of bringing it into New Life in a new community in a way that is divinely-inspired and directed The co-creation with human collaborators with God. So I'm sympathetic and I think you and others know that I'm practicing Latter Day Saints 2.

00:36:59
Understand in a way that does not require particular Faith commitments out of it for me is a practicing Latter Day Saints. This this model makes a good deal of sense for the Book of Mormon and related scriptures to continue to be scripture. Even as I'm hopeful that for people outside the faith tradition looking on academically will also provide a kind of structure or shape that would allow you to think about how these different scriptures wood in a relate with each other in their intertextual relationships.

00:37:35
But it seems to me without preface that the Book of Mormon that establishes a mode of interacting with the Bible that's adorable across Joseph Smith other translation projects and I think there's a real you need of those translation project that we sometimes under underestimate because it is true The Book of Mormon reads very differently than the book of Abraham for example worthy and the portions of the new translation of the Bible that are Visionary that the early ones and round was called The Book of Moses for the Utah LDS church, you're different. I'm not saying they're identical but they are participating in the same project in very similar ways.

00:38:23
Yeah, and I never thought of the Book of Mormon hats at our guy might I mean, I don't even know what the target was for until I read your book and it was just a really fascinating stuff. So then you know, so so Joseph Smith has the Book of Mormon, you know, it comes from because he's got these Golden Plates and he's near Quantico translates them. But then you know, he gets you talk about the you know, the Egyptian funerary papyri that you know, Joseph Smith eventually, you know, quote translates and that becomes the book of Abraham. So what Smith doing when he handles this Egyptian, you know papyri and then he knows is starting to dictate these stories from name of hammer. Have I been similar to The Book of Mormon, but it's different to and it brings out a lot more of these more

00:39:04
You could argue just these deep thoughts and you know connections to the past that may be at least in my opinion The Book of Mormon really doesn't do

00:39:16
I think you're a correctly drawing attention to many of the subtle and important differences between the scriptural texts. I think they are fundamentally concerned with the same sets of problems. But I think you're right. They do come at it from a different perspective. So the backstory is that in 1835 Joseph Smith and colleagues purchase some funerary for pyari from some mummies that have been taken out of Thieves and Joseph Smith and several of his lieutenants interact with these papyri. This is it a Time Chipotle owns decoding of hieroglyphs and not really gained much traction is were not at this was not a common assumption about the world and can even

00:40:05
Shuffle Leon's cracking of the of the syllabary of the hieroglyphs have been widely known it was rejected because of long-standing traditions about the sacred power of the hieroglyph hieroglyph could be more than it appeared to be a shampoolio makes this pretty modernist argument that ways of encoding syllables of the ancient Egyptian spoken language. They're still these really important additions this far you the possibility that there are certain forms of words are certain symbols that are portals in some respects to two.

00:40:50
Something else and in the case of Joseph Smith these hieroglyphs appear and it seems pretty clear that this is what he sang Lee says I read him.

00:40:58
Daddy's hieroglyphs were in fact sacred portals to the abrahamic past and they were the infrastructure for what I call an Egyptian Bible that again at Argonne and now it's a targum that is concerned with the end of the Primeval history of the Bible. The Primeval history is Genesis chapters 1 through 11 in the patriarchal. Of the Hebrew Bible and there's a sense in which Joseph Smith's primary focus is a religious figure is a prophet or Sierra's he would have understood himself to be as concerned with decoding and recovering is primeval history and there's a kind of sense. I think pretty robust sense at to having a scripture that then complete.

00:41:58
Primeval history in the story of Abraham and there are these disputes that I don't that I think are probably off base on both sides that are fighting about whether what Joseph Smith was doing with the book of Abraham was a traditional scholarly linguistic translation, and I've noticed you've used scare quotes several times about translation and I think that the use of your quote-unquote or Scare quotes around translation are related to the relative lack of non-linguistic models of translation for people trying to explain what's going on. And I know I originally I had actually titled this the metaphysics of translations book out of my editor at Oxford Cynthia Reed is very smart and has been around a long time. So there's no way anybody is going to buy a book called.

00:42:59
But but what I'm trying to argue for is that reading translation as only linguistic.

00:43:09
Misunderstands what was going on in early Mormonism and I think that's true at a scholarly level and I think it's probably also relevant to the various communities of Faith are associated with Joseph Smith and the early restoration. So to put it to Simply the book of Abraham seems to me to be

00:43:35
an Egyptian Bible that is a targum of the tail end of the Primeval history tearing it into the career of Abraham that takes advantage of the fact that hieroglyphs and hieratic script were metaphysical conduits to something else when I think that model honestly,

00:44:04
Is accurate phenomenologically if you're describing what the participants. Was going on as they were participating in them, but I think is also able to be really open to robust robust. Not not modernist not with lots of hesitation and equivocations, but you wrote lost the ologies for practitioners particularly in recent years around this question of is this a traditional linguistic scholarly translation of an ancient text question is for and to the book itself and is 4 and 2 the movement and the Confluence of religious individuals that gave it birth.

00:45:03
Yeah, it's a very helpful way to look at the book of Abraham. I think you've brought up questions that very few that I don't think anybody at that. I know if it has to be an ass, so no, thank you so much for that really interesting stuff. So talking about all this then how does all this time does all these restoration scriptures relate to Smith's, you know building of temples in the temple liturgy that he and end up creating.

00:45:30
That was something that was really a bit of a surprise to me as I was working through it. I was trying to figure out

00:45:37
Yeah, they're so much in the Latter Day Saint Temple endowment that's concerned with.

00:45:43
Breaking through the bonds of time sacred language needed to fit somehow into the book, but I wasn't really sure how to make it work. But then cuz I'm working through these texts. I realize that the book of Abraham is a masonic influence on this Temple.

00:46:17
But there's a lot more going on than these translated Masonic components and a lot of it has to do with the bringing into life of these scriptures that Joseph Smith has been revealing a lot to me that earlier translations were repurposed yet again within that Temple endowments. There was a Unity between the scriptures and the endowment but then what struck me so hard

00:46:51
Was that human beings were themselves being translated in the process? And that's and here I'm very mindful of and and happy to comply with the prohibitions about being too explicit about the contents of the temple endowment outside the temple and I argue in the book of there's a special role that sacred silence plays but it's the prohibition does not exclude acknowledging that there is within the temple a revisiting of Eve and Adam and their plight as the primordial parents in the primordial Paradise.

00:47:38
it clicked for me as I was thinking it through and reading the text that this is a moment in which human beings become themselves scriptural the date enter scripture and they enter scripture for the purpose of being transformed in order to tolerate the presence of God and almost were also skeptical about neatly wrapped presents without realization that in the temple is 2 senses of translation came into a deep concordance really struck me as

00:48:19
True and he has a kind of indication certainly for me that that Insight that I've been chewing on through the book was in fact, correct it when Joseph Smith reveals War creates, whatever your perspective might happen to be this magnum opus. It's a magnum opus that unites the twins senses translation in a kind of consummation of the scriptural translations have been pursuing.

00:48:52
Brilliant again on talking with dr. Samuel Morris Brown or talking about is fascinating new book that just came out from Oxford University, press Joseph Smith translation the words and worlds of early Mormonism. And I know it's only touched on a few things that are in your book, but I just hope to give the listeners just a taste of just some of the really deep good questions that you're asking that Joseph Smith created it and one thing again that I kind of feel like your book reiterates, you know, there's this constant, you know story that's kind of purported about Joseph Smith and you hear it all the time that he was his country bumpkin that really didn't know how to do things. I mean in your book just shows that Joseph Smith really was a thief deep thinker he was a brilliant he hit really had some brilliant ideas that are that are helpful today to talk about even to this day. So I just found it very a very good book and I just want to ask also so what are you working on now? And what can we expect to learn from you in the future?

00:49:52
Thanks Daniel right now to be honest. I've been working 14 hours a day 6 days a week on covid-19. I'm scientist.

00:50:05
I work on terrible lung injury, which is how covid-19 kills most of the people that have killed. So the reality is what I'm working on right now is almost constant covid-19, but I assume any others around the world and I'm praying and are hoping this damn the pandemic will be over and when it is I will be able to return to

00:50:30
Religious writing I think academically right now.

00:50:36
I have a a brief intellectual biography of w w Phelps under contract with University of Illinois and their Mormon thinkers series that Bowman and Spencer are editing and devotionally I have a collection of essays that's done. That's due out next summer from Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book and then

00:51:03
I'm working. I'm trying to decide whether I'm really going to go through with this but I I kind of want to write it started working on it. But I've kind of want to write an intellectual history of food allergies.

00:51:23
and I don't seem a little strange not Mormon particularly, but I feel like all our fights about evil gluten and you know, whatever other ingredients might be in our food is playing out in this really

00:51:42
Intellectually emaciated field of conversation communication and I'm wondering whether I could in a sympathetic and kind and also rigorous way provide an intellectual history of food allergies cuz there's so much going on with them. Anyway, I'm aware that's eclectic but that's honestly what I know. It sounds that sounds really interesting. Thank you so much for your work on covid-19. I mean, it's all it's definitely above my paygrade. But you and Greg Prince. I feel like you both have a lot in common you both are you know, practicing Physicians and your scientists will the same point you both fantastic historians of religion in Mormonism. So, I mean, I just it just blows my mind that you're able to do both of those things. I mean,

00:52:31
Everything blows my mind completely. So thank you for doing that.

00:52:38
Yes, I said thank you so much Sam again. I just want to reiterate how great this book is. It called Joseph Smith translation the words and worlds of early Mormonism is Stephanie a book. You want to get if you study of American religious history, especially if you study Mormonism it is definitely one of those fundamental books that will be talked about for the next couple decades and hopefully even longer than that so Sam, thanks so much for being on the podcast. Really appreciate it. Thanks, Daniel. I appreciate your taking time to do with me.

00:53:07
Are they from?
Translate the current page