Interpreter Peer Reviewed

Interpreter Peer Reviewed

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Interpreter and the Baker Street Journal

Welcome to those who are coming here for the first time, thanks to the latest Interpreter article.

I started this blog several months ago because of my interest in Book of Mormon geography, but I haven't posted much lately because so many people--including subscribers--told me they stopped reading the Interpreter because they found the articles increasingly dogmatic and unbelievable. Although sometimes there is some good non-Mesoamerican material in it, the Interpreter is basically a continuation of the worst of FARMS, as I've pointed out previously here.

The Interpreter is a vehicle for the citation cartel to convey an illusion of credibility; i.e., so long as you reinforce the Groupthink, you can publish your article in the Interpreter, then cite the Interpreter when you're really just citing yourself (or your like-minded collaborators) in an article on FairMormon or any of the other outlets for the cartel.

If you have the time, it's a lot of fun to read, once you realize the Interpreter is kind of like a Star Trek fan club. Or the Baker Street Journal.

Back in 1934, Christopher Morley created an organization of Sherlock Holmes fans titled the Baker Street Irregulars to debate  the Holmes canon among themselves. They generated enough material by 1946 that they started a magazine titled The Baker Street Journal. It's circulation never exceeded 2,000, which led Morley to paraphrase Winston Churchill with this:

"Never has so much been written by so many for so few."

Of course, the problem is that the few are the citation cartel; i.e., the LDS intellectuals who use the Interpreter to confirm their Groupthink in an Orwellian way. IMO, the worst aspect of the whole enterprise is the way it is indoctrinating bright LDS students at BYU into thinking this is the way to become a scholar.

Life is short, and in my opinion, unless you're fascinated by the intellectual history and development of LDS scholarship at BYU/CES or you're obsessed with confirming your bias for the Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, reading the Interpreter is a waste of time. Consequently, I only do peer reviews now when enough people ask me to do so.  

If the day ever comes that the Interpreter changes to become an academic journal, you'll know it because of the diversity of views it publishes and a change toward academic rigor. But don't hold your breath.

Not that it matters, anyway. The Mesoamerican fan club won't be around much longer, anyway, now that people can see the theory originated from a historical mistake and is perpetuated only by Orwellian tactics that won't survive the Internet.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chiasm in the Interpreter

I've been asked to comment on the Interpreter's article on the chiasm I proposed for Alma 22:27. I'm doing an interlinear commentary that will be out next week.

At the outset, I reiterate my overall approach to the question of Book of Mormon geography. It is impossible to develop a coherent "abstract geography" because the text is too vague. That's why there are dozens or hundreds of proposed geography theories.

But I don't think that's a defect in the text; ancient texts are inherently vague because people didn't have measurement technology that we're accustomed to now. Try to construct an abstract map of the Bible without using any of the sites we know today and you'll see what I mean. Even after centuries of research, we don't know where Mount Sinai is. When I studied Greek, we read Xenophon's Adabasis as a text. Good luck constructing a consensus abstract map from that. So in a real sense, the inherent vagueness of the Book of Mormon is another evidence of its authenticity as an ancient text.

And yet, we do have maps of the Bible and of Xenophon's march through Persia. Why? Because we know--by extrinsic evidence--where certain cities are located. With those known locations, we can sort out most of the rest (but not all, as Sinai demonstrates).

To understand Book of Mormon geography, I started with a hypothesis that we have two "pins in the map" from the D&C: Cumorah in New York (D&C 128) and Zarahemla in Iowa (D&C 125). I recognized that both of them are controversial, but these are, after all, canonized statements.

To text my hypothesis, I tackled the text to see if the geography passages fit those pins in the map. I didn't know what the outcome would be, but after doing the work, I reached the conclusion that the text does actually fit those two pins. The fit is far better than I thought would be possible, based on my decades of following the ongoing chaos of the Mesoamerican theories.

With this understanding of the text, everything is reconciled: the text, what Joseph and Oliver said, Church history events, and the archaeology, anthropology, geology, and geography.

It was a big difference from how I'd understood these issues for decades.

To accept the Mesoamerican theory, like all Mormons who accept that theory, I had to reject two of the three witnesses. I had to assume Joseph Smith wrote anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons, changed his mind, speculated--and after all that, was factually wrong. I had to believe the text was mistranslated because Joseph didn't understand Mayan culture. I had to believe the experts at BYU and CES were right about all of this because... well, because they were the experts. In believing all of this, I had to accept the citation cartel's logical fallacies, misrepresented citations, and ad hominem attacks against anyone who challenged them.

I have to say, I was happy to reject the Mesoamerican theory.

So I wrote Moroni's America.

I'm glad to see the Interpreter publish a review. I'll incorporate the feedback into the second edition, along with all the other feedback I'm getting.

I think it would be even better if the Interpreter would publish my articles, or at least my response and/or rebuttals, but the editors have told me they won't publish my material because they disagree with it, and they censure my comments when I try to post them to their web page, so the only outlet I have is these blogs.

One of the first things I looked for in the latest Interpreter article was a reference to Oliver Cowdery and Letter VII. There is none. Consequently, the entire premise for Moroni's America is ignored in this review.

Surely that's not merely an oversight.

But again, I appreciate the review and I hope this can lead to additional productive discussions with everyone interested in the topic.