Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Sacrament prayers have ancient origin’

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Published: Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 5:05 a.m. MST

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sharrona
layton, UT

@Sacrament prayers have ancient origin.
A.D. 400( Mormon 9:29) “See that you ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the *sacrament…”.

*sacrament (12th century.)" a Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion,=*mystery.

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this*mystery among the Gentiles; “which is Christ in you”, the hope of glory(Col 1:27)

RE: Doctrine and Covenants 20:77 and 20:79 for the text of the prayers to be offered.

It is customary to read the two prayers over the emblems lest the officer, forgetting the words or changing them, break the spirit of the meeting . For convenience we quote them here from Doctrine and Covenants 17:22,23?

The Scientist
Provo, UT

So ancient that they manifest 19th Century American linguistic characteristics...

Hmmmm...

Daleycall
Mesa, AZ

@Scientist
It's a TRANSLATION, not the exact reformed Egyption as originally written.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

Daleycall:

Reformed egyptian?? And what exactly does reformed egyption writing look like? There is no such thing as reformed Egyptian, never has been

From wikipedia, with cited sources
"John A. Wilson, professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago, wrote, "From time to time there are allegations that picture writing has been found in America… In no case has a professional Egyptologist been able to recognize these characters as Egyptian hieroglyphs. From our standpoint there is no such language as 'reformed Egyptian'. No Egyptian writing has been found in this [Western] hemisphere to my knowledge."

Do you mean to tell me that all of the experts are wrong? That somehow there is such a language but they still have not one shred of evidence of it? Come on.

Northern Lights
Louisville, KY

Brahmabull,

It stands to reason that any language will evole over 1000 years of use, whether it be commonly used or used by a few. Egyptian heiroglyphs evolved over thousands of years of use in the Middle East. Even Old English from just 500 years ago is quite different from Modern English.

I would be more skeptical of any language that did not evolve over a 1000 years of use.

Uncle Vic
El Dorado Hills, CA

Brother Peterson, thank you for another great article.

MoJules
Florissant, MO

I love that picture, I have it as my desktop picture on my laptop. As for the Sacrament prayer, all I can say, I am grateful that I can renew my covenants each week and that I have the blessing to be able to take the sacrament. No debates here :)

the truth
Holladay, UT

@Brahmabull

Yes, they are wrong.

A copy of BOM writings were shown to a professor and he confirmed they WERE egyptian.

He then took back his analysis when he was told the source,

That doesn't change the source.

Important point:

"reformed egyptian" is also a translation.

"reformed egyptian" must look like a modified version over a millenia from the original egyptian that Lehi knew and wrote in. Which could very well have been significantly changed over that time.

There was no known formal school and text books, when they first arrived, to preserve their language, other than the brass plates which the lamanites did not have access to, and only those in close proximity may have had access to, most probably only the prophet and few others assign to record keeping.

A side note, The nephites and the mulikites did not know each other's language, and those two groups arrived in the americas at about the same time and from the same place,

language can change quickly, so who knows how "reformed" their language had become.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

@the truth
"A copy of BOM writings were shown to a professor"

Wait there were copies written in the "reformed egyptian" style other than the plates? If so then where'd those go off to?

Central Texan
Buda, TX

It is evident from the BOM text that there were different "languages" or writing systems employed by the BOM inscribers than what would have been in common use. They had perhaps developed their own system, based on a style they knew (or had been passed down) but which was compact and easier to inscribe. If so, there would not likely be any examples of this writing style laying around for professors of Egyptology to find.

Mukkake
Salt Lake City, UT

So here's the thing about linguistic change:

1. Spoken language can change quite a bit, but using the comparative method we can reconstruct "pro-languages". Linguists have used the comparative method on many existing Native American languages and have found no trace of Semitic, East African, or Middle Eastern language relations. This is despite the fact that the comparative method is able to compare and reconstruct from largely unwritten languages a proto-language like Proto-Uralic, a language from about 5000 or so years ago.

2. Written language is surprisingly regular once developed. Even Chinese characters from 3000 years ago are extremely similar to their modern traditional* forms. Even our own alphabet, which originates with the Phoenicians before passing through the Greeks and Romans, is largely similar after all these millenia. The great thing about written language is that it lasts a lot longer than spoken language, before recording devices, that is.

Once again people make the mistake of thinking written and spoken language are the same.

*(Traditional chracters and simplified characters have a technical meaning here, so it isn't absurd to say "Modern Traditional" Chinese characters versus Modern Simplified or Ancient Chinese Characters)

KDTaylor
Corvallis, OR

Except in cases of inherent logical contradiction (as with assertions such "he is a married bachelor" or "this is a square circle") it is impossible to prove a universal negative.

Thus, the comically sophomoric charge that "is no such thing as reformed Egyptian, never has been" is so much empty bluster.

The Book of Mormon, including but not limited to the sacrament prayer texts contained in it, displays just the sort of linguistic characteristics we should expect for an ancient text with the background claimed for it that has been translated into English.

For a very brief introduction to the issues involved, see the short article "Book of Mormon Language" by Brian D. Stubbs.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

Yeah sure... You can't prove a negative, but you could prove a positive if the plates were here right? Oh wait an angel took them with him so they can't be studied. Right... Talk about sophomoric.

KDTaylor
Corvallis, OR

[I've decided to slightly expand upon my penultimate comment.]

First of all, written languages change noticeably over time. The history of the English language alone supplies ample evidence of this. Those who doubt it can read the original English poetry of Chaucer and compare it to the English poetry of this century written by, for instance, Richard Wakefield.

Secondly, except in cases of inherent logical contradiction (as with assertions such "he is a married bachelor" or "this is a square circle") it is impossible to prove a universal negative.

Thus, the comically sophomoric charge that "there is no such thing as reformed Egyptian, never has been" is so much empty bluster.

The Book of Mormon, including but not limited to the sacrament prayer texts contained in it, displays just the sort of linguistic characteristics we should expect for an ancient text with the background claimed for it that has been translated into English.

For a very brief introduction to the issues involved, see the short article "Book of Mormon Language" by Brian D. Stubbs.

Mukkake
Salt Lake City, UT

KDTaylor:
[First of all, written languages change noticeably over time. The history of the English language alone supplies ample evidence of this. Those who doubt it can read the original English poetry of Chaucer and compare it to the English poetry of this century written by, for instance, Richard Wakefield.]

Its still mostly the same characters, though, which was my point. Spelling is another matter, and not relevant to logographic systems. However, even spelling gets regularized at some point, and English spelling has changed very little over the few several centuries. Chaucer was at the beginning of regularization written English, as it had been abandoned for several centuries in favor of French and Latin.

For logographic systems like Chinese, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, and Mayan, there may be some pronunciation points in some of the characters, but for the most part you can still recognize the characters across the centuries. However, the supposed "Egyptian" hieroglyphs found in America are not recognizable as "Egyptian", other than just being pictographic/logographic.

Searching . . .
Orem, UT

In order to accept Mr. Peterson's assertion that the sacrament prayers are of ancient origin, he needs to establish that the BoM is of ancient origin. In my opinion, he hasn't yet done that.

Royal Skousen claims "This evidence...indicates that the Lord exercised what I refer to as "tight control" over the word-by-word translation of the Book of Mormon. In particular, the evidence suggests that Joseph Smith saw specific words written out in English and read them off to the scribe, and that the accuracy of the resulting text depended on the carefulness of Joseph and his scribe." If Skousen is correct, then the BoM is almost exactly as God wanted it.

Ensuing questions:

Why translate into an old form of English that was (and still is) more difficult for contemporary and modern speakers to understand?

Why include known King James Version translation errors?

Why include "[l]ong strings of subordinate clauses and verbal expressions" (Stubbs, Maxwell Institure) that are difficult for English readers to process?

Why make the BoM more difficult to understand if it is to lead to the salvation of all humanity?

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

At the Passover feast, Jesus gave bread and wine to his disciples telling them to eat and drink what he said was his body and blood. There’s nothing like that in the Passover Seder or traditions. But It’s in the gospels thus making Jesus the one who gave Christianity its earliest defining ritual before there even was a Christianity. That’s of greater interest to me than whether or not there ever was a reformed Egyptian language.

atl134
Salt Lake City, UT

@the truth
"A copy of BOM writings were shown to a professor and he confirmed they WERE egyptian."

Did they show the professor one of the plates or did they have a copy of some of it written the way it was written on the plates? If it's the latter then what happened with that copy after the plates were taken away by Moroni?

KDTaylor
Corvallis, OR

If the plates once had by Joseph Smith, and seen by no less than 11 others, were still in our possession, it would prove one thing and one only: That there were plates. It would certainly be no convincing witness to those claiming to "know" that Joseph Smith is a fraud. Mark well the words of Dr. Hugh Nibley in this regard:

"Critics of the Book of Mormon often remark sarcastically that it is a great pity that the golden plates have disappeared, since they would very conveniently prove Joseph Smith's story. They would do nothing of the sort. The presence of the plates would only prove that there were plates, no more: it would not prove that Nephites wrote them, or that an angel brought them, or that they had been translated by the gift and power of God; and we can be sure that scholars would quarrel about the writing on them for generations without coming to any agreement, exactly as they did about the writings of Homer and parts of the Bible."

KDTaylor
Corvallis, OR

As to the alphabetic characters of languages, it is now known that original Hebrew writings used characters starkly different characters than Hebrew writings of the present, or even the last several hundred years.

As a small part of this evolutionary process, for instance, one article by Chaim Clorfene on the subject observes that:

"Around the year 800 B.C.E., Paleo-Hebrew letters became reworked in Babylon and the surrounding region and evolved as the native Aramaic script. Around 275 years later (circa 525 B.C.E.) the Jews in Babylon, notably Ezra the Scribe, refined the native Aramaic letters and developed Ashuri, the script recognized today as Hebrew."

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