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Advances in technology are helping archaeologists unravel the mysteries surrounding many archaeological sites around the world. In a recent example, scientists are using new geophysical techniques, which are non-invasive or destructive, to answer many of the questions surrounding Pakal II’s crypt , the great Mayan ruler of Palenque.
K'inich Janaab' Pakal, also known as Pakal II, was ruler of the Maya polity of Palenque in the Late Classic period of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology. During a long reign of some 68 years Pakal expanded Palenque's power in the western part of the Maya states and initiated a building program at his capital that produced some of Maya civilization's finest art and architecture.
The secret opening to his tomb was discovered by Mexican archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier in 1948 and it took another four years to clear the rubble from the stairway leading down to Pakal’s tomb. His skeletal remains were still lying in his coffin, wearing a jade mask and bead necklaces, surrounded by sculptures and stucco reliefs depicting the ruler's transition to divinity and figures from Maya mythology.
The latest analysis of the tomb using georadar for surface penetration and electrical resistance tomography has revealed that the tomb of Pakal does not rest over original rock but may be over a structure built with huge sandstones filled with rock fragments. This suggests that the funerary chamber was not the starting point of the Mayan construction.
Archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz has expressed that the technology is vital for understanding more about the mysterious tomb. “It’s true that there is a theory revolving around an access to the tomb of Pakal II by the frontal part of the building”, he said, “but this will not stop being mere speculation until a more formal archaeological work is done in the exterior, and supported in technology based on geophysical prospection”.
Pakal II’s tomb has been the subject of intense controversy, firstly relating to the fact that although he died at the age of 80, the skeletal remains are more similar to that of a 40 year old, and secondly, the intricate carving and inscription found on top of his tomb has led to speculation that he may not have been human at all.
The lid is engraved with Mayan symbols, including the king descending into the underworld and symbols of his rebirth, of planets, constellations and many more. It became the focus of attention of ancient astronaut enthusiasts after its appearance in Erich von Daniken’s 1968 bestseller ‘Chariots of the Gods’. Daniken pointed out that if the lid is flipped horizontally, Pakal appears seated in what appears to be a spacecraft, complete with fuselage, controls, a breathing apparatus and at the very rear is the vehicle’s exhaust.
While this theory has not been confirmed, it is hoped that new technology will help us to learn more about Pakal and the circumstances around his burial.
The SOMERSET Book Awards recognize emerging talent and outstanding works in the genre of Literary, Contemporary, and Satire Fiction. The Somerset Book Awards is a genre division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards (The CIBAs).
Chanticleer International Book Awards is looking for the best books featuring contemporary stories, literary themes, adventure, satire, humor, magic realism or women and family themes. These books have advanced to the next judging rounds. The best will advance. Which titles will be declared as winners of the prestigious Somerset Book Awards?
At the Authors Conference in Bellingham, WA, on April 18, 2020 the winners of all divisions of Chanticleer Book Reviews will be announced. It’s very exciting for my latest book to reach the semi-finalist stage! There are 16 semi-finalists in each division. I’ve long thought the names given for these divisions are humorous and entertaining, such as Chaucer Awards for Early HIstorical Fiction, Chatelaine Awards for Romance, Ozma Awards for Fantasy, Cygnus Awards for Science Fiction, Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction, Litle Peeps Award for Early Readers, and more.
Within a division such as Contemporary & Literary Fiction, authors need to choose among subcategories. After pondering this choice I selected two subcategories: Women’s Fiction and Magical Realism. The first is obvious, since the protagonist is a talented and strong girl who develops into a powerful, wise queen with a mandate to preserve her people’s heritage. The second was selected because the Mayan culture has deep themes of mysticism and inter-dimensional realities. Rulers, priestesses, shamans, and healers had frequent interactions with spirit beings such as goddesses and gods, elementals, and ancestors. To the Mayas, this was part of their normal world, so this kind of magic was very real to them.
San Bartolo Mural Interactions with Gods Maize God is Central Figure (photo by author)
Gold Hoard Discovered Near Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Posted on September 9, 2013 by No Author -
A pril, 2013. It was a dramatic and unexpected discovery.
Only days into the dig season, excavators were digging into a Byzantine-era structure and discovered a large gold earring. As they dug, they encounteed a second gold earring, then a number of gold coins, scattered across the area. Eventually, a beautifully preserved large gold menorah medallion buried in a depression in the floor emerged, along with a cache of jewelry beneath it. They uncovered traces of fabric on the items. Further analysis indicated that they at one time had been packaged in two separate cloth purses.
Under the direction of archaeologist Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the team had only just begun their dig season when, just 50 meters south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, they found the hoard buried inside a Byzantine structure dating back to the sixth century C.E. The hoard appeared to be divided into two parts, or bundles. One contained the menorah medallion with an attached gold chain and other jewelry and appeared to have been undisturbed since its initial burial in the floor. The other, consisting of 36 gold coins, two gold earrings, a broken gold-plated silver pendant and a pure silver ingot, was found scattered across the floor, showing clear signs that, whoever possessed them 1,400 years ago, didn’t have time to bury them.
According to Mazar, the menorah medallion and the other jewelry items found near it were likely part of a Torah scroll. If so, given the dating of the finds, it would mean that these were the earliest known Torah scroll ornaments ever discovered.
So what is the story behind this hoard?
Historical accounts document that the Persians had controlled Jerusalem before the time the hoard had been buried. But with the rising Christian empire, the Persians, as part of their effort to appease the rising Christian power, began expelling the Jews (who otherwise were previously allowed to return to Jerusalem under Persian authority) from the city. Mazar suggests that the assemblage of items might have represented payment from a group of prominent Jews to help finance the building of a synagogue in Jerusalem, consistent with historical practice. The fact that many of the items were left scattered across the ancient floor suggested a sudden abandonment under urgent conditions, perhaps relating to the expulsion by the Persians.
The discovery was made as part of the ongoing excavations in the Ophel area just south of the Temple Mount. The most recent excavations there, now in their 2nd phase, have turned up inscribed fragments featuring what has been described as an ancient Canaanite script, possibly the earliest alphabetical inscription ever found in Jerusalem, finds dated to the Second Temple, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods, and what Mazar and others suggest may be the remains of structures attributed to builders during the period of King Solomon in the 10th century BCE. Past remains have included a section of a massive wall of large, well-dressed stones 70 meters long and 6 meters high. Also uncovered with the wall was a structure interpreted as an inner gatehouse, a royal structure adjacent to the gatehouse, and a section of a corner tower 8 meters long and 6 meters high, built of carved stones.
A detailed account of the discovery can be read in the September 9, 2013 article published in The Trumpet .
Cover Photo, Top Left: Photo of the Menorah Medallion with chain. Photo courtesy Eilat Mazar
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Hebraic Discovery, Bat Creek Tennesee
The Bat Creek Stone was professionally excavated in 1889 from an undisturbed burial mound in Eastern Tennessee by the Smithsonian's Mound Survey project. The director of the project, Cyrus Thomas, initially declared that the curious inscription on the stone were "beyond question letters of the Cherokee alphabet." (Thomas 1894: 391:4)
In the 1960s, Henriette Mertz and Corey Ayoob both noticed that the inscription, when inverted from Thomas's orientation to that of the above photograph, instead appeared to be ancient Semitic. The late Semitic languages scholar Cyrus Gordon (1971) confirmed that it is Semitic, and specifically Paleo-Hebrew of approximately the first or second century A.D. According to him, the five letters to the left of the comma-shaped word divider read, from right to left, LYHWD, or "for Judea." He noted that the broken letter on the far left is consistent with mem, in which case this word would instead read LYHWD[M], or "for the Judeans."
Hebrew scholar and archaeologist Robert Stieglitz (1976) confirmed Gordon's reading of the longer word, and identifed the second letter of the shorter word as a qoph. Mertz (1964) herself had first proposed that the first letter is a (reversed) resh. The main line would then read RQ , LYHWD[M], i.e. "Only for Judea," or "Only for the Judeans" if the broken letter is included.
In Paleo-Hebrew, words are required to be separated by a dot or short diagonal stroke serving as a word divider, rather than by a space as in English or modern Hebrew. The short diagonal word divider used on the Bat Creek inscription is less common than the dot, but appears both in the Siloam inscription and the Qumran Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus scroll.
In 1988, wood fragments found with the inscription were Carbon-14 dated to somewhere between 32 A.D. and 769 A.D.(McCulloch 1988). This range is consistent with Gordon's dating of the letters.
In McCulloch (1988) I note that although a few of the letters could be taken for Cherokee in either orientation, and although several of the letters are not perfect as Paleo-Hebrew, the inscription matches Hebrew much better than Cherokee. As English, for example, the main line could be forced to read "4SENL , YP" (sic) in the Mertz/Gordon orientation, or "dh ' 7NESb" in Thomas's orientation. The match to Cherokee is no better than to English, and no one has ever proposed a Cherokee reading of the inscription.
The lone letter below the main line is problematic, but could conceivably be either an aleph or a waw, in which case it might be a numeral indicating Year 1 or 6, respectively, of some era. The two vertical strokes above the main line are test scratches made by an unknown party while the stone was at the Smithsonian, sometime between 1894 and 1971.
Help for RLDS/Refiners Fire Ministeries Bending of Truth
A Response to Paul Trask, Part Way To Utah
By B. Mildred Smith
In general, Trask follows the pattern of all such critics. He depends heavily on secondary and tertiary sources for information and uses extensive propaganda techniques. The propaganda techniques included are sometimes those he initiates and often the nature of the sources on which he depends. These sources include the works of the Tanners in Utah and of Fawn Brodie, the author of No Man Knows My History. Carol Hodges Hansen, author of RLDS Christian?, read each of Trask’s chapters and offered “untiring encouragement”, according to his acknowledgements. He has used some of the same erroneous materials she used in her book, but has avoided making some of the glaring errors that she made. (*Approximately thirty pages of response to Carol Hodges Hansen’s book, RLDS Christian? are available on request to B. Mildred Smith, 315 Zion’s Ridge, Lamoni, Iowa 50140. The same material is now also on this web site.)
Trask begins his dissertation with a fairly accurate story of the beginnings of the Restoration movement and of the differences between the Utah “Mormons”, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He does make a rather insignificant error in his introduction when he says, “the only difference between the names of the “Mormon” and the RLDS churches is the addition of the word, Reorganized.” Then on page 7 he makes the inexcusable error of designating Joseph Smith as the one who introduced “radical new doctrines such a polygamy, baptism for the dead and eternal progression.” This error he perpetuates throughout his work.
Trask assumes the introduction of polygamy and baptism for the dead by Joseph Smith without documentation. He uses for his source for “eternal progression” (Adam-God Doctrine), Times and Seasons 5:613-614. This is a report of the King Follett sermon published after Joseph’s death from the statement of several men who supposedly reported it from longhand notes and memory. The report has been discredited by Russell Ralston in his book, Fundamental Differences, pp. 111-112, and by Aleah Koury in his Truth and the Evidences, pp. 27-29. In both books one finds documentation of the testimony of James Whitehead, Joseph Smith’s private secretary from 1842 until his death, declaring that there was no mention of such a doctrine in the sermon. Whitehead’s testimony was given under oath at the trial in which it was determined that the RLDS church was the rightful successor to the original church as organized in 1830. In both books (Ralston, Ibid. p. 112) one will find the caveat written in the Utah church history concerning the report as published saying such reports “are very likely to contain inaccuracies and convey wrong impressions.”
Trask’s insistence that Joseph introduced polygamy in Nauvoo might be understandable if the “Mormon” view was the only one available to him but in so doing he ignores:
(1) the actions of Joseph and Hyrum in publishing against the doctrine (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 423, Feb. 1,1844, Reprinted in RLDS Church History Vol. 2, p.731 and in Ralston, Fundamental Differences, pp. 192-193)
(2) the action which removed from the church those who were teaching it (Church History, Vol. 2, p. 584 and pp. 781-782. Also Ralston, Ibid. pp. 192-193)
(3) the published statements of the Women’s Relief Society and of the Elders of Nauvoo denying that it was being taught or practiced with church approval ( Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, pp. 939-940, October 1, 1842 quoted in RLDS Church History, Vol. 2, pp. 597-598 and, with further information, in Ralston, Fundamental Differences , pp. 190-191)
(4) the statement on marriage, written because the church had “been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy” printed as Section 101 of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (now section 111 of the RLDS edition and contained in the Utah edition until after their section 132 requiring polygamy was adopted)
(5) the basic law of the church that provided for one wife only (Section 13 of the 1835 edition, 42 of the present RLDS edition)
(6) the nefarious way in which the Utah Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, commanding polygamy as a divine institution and directly contradictory to the previous instruction, was first introduced to the Utah membership in August, 1852, more than eight years after Joseph’s death but attributed to him to gain its acceptance (Ralston, Ibid. p. 179)
(7) the very strong condemnation of the practice of polygamy found in the Book of Mormon (Jacob 2:33-39 RLDS 1908 Edition). In addition, Trask had access to the research of Richard and Pamela Price on the subject if he had chosen to investigate it. He was content to reference only the very prejudiced and untruthful conclusion of Fawn Brodie in her infamous book, No Man Knows My History.
That Joseph did speculate on baptism for the dead is documented by two letters and one document that some considered a revelation. These were placed in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants after Joseph was dead. It is interesting to note that in the document considered by some to be a revelation, there is no command to teach or practice the principle, but there are definite limitations on when and where it might be practiced. Neither was there indication of any benefit that might accrue to those who were involved. A more complete discussion of the subject is available in Russell Ralston Fundamental Differences, pp. 209 , -265.
Joseph Smith’s involvement with the Masonic Lodge is a matter of history. Whether it had any relationship to the quotation that Trask used from Fawn Brodie is a matter of conjecture. It is my personal view that he made some very serious mistakes in this area as is indicated by his putting the completion of the Masonic Temple ahead of work on the Lord’s Temple, which was never completed.
The contention on page 8 that Joseph left a leadership vacuum is supported only by Trask’s lack of understanding of the basic law of the church. The fact that Brigham Young violated that law does not justify placing the blame on Joseph or the law. For a full discussion of this subject, documented by 101 references, see Ralston, Fundamental Differences, pp. 14-75.
Trask, Page 9 - says Brigham Young was voted in as president of the church. Brigham was voted in as the president of Brigham Young’s new church by his apostles only and was never the true successor to Joseph Smith, Jr. His assumption of leadership did not follow or even approximate the pattern set down in the law of the original church. See Ralston, Fundamental Differences , especially pages 30-32.
The discussion of the events leading up to the introduction of women into the Priesthood, the pronouncement of Wallace B. Smith that placed McMurray in the Presidency of the RLDS church, and other current events (pp. 12-14) is very perceptive. We have considered copying it for distribution among persons who cannot understand why we are in a Restoration congregation. It is when Trask begins to discuss the beginnings of the Restoration that he resorts to propaganda methods, secondary and tertiary references, false testimony and innuendo as the basis of his erroneous conclusions. His assertion, page 17, that the leadership of the churches have suppressed objective historical evidence and thus kept their membership in ignorance of the facts may have been true of the Utah Mormons, but does not fit the Reorganization, in spite of some current literature that erroneously indicates that it is factual.
Norma Hiles in The Gentle Monarch (Israel A. Smith) which has been acclaimed by the Temple School and history department of the church, declares that during the early 1950s no one was allowed to see documents held in the Historian’s office that were not favorable to the prevailing understanding of the early history of the church. Delbert D. Smith was at Iowa State College, Ames, 1949-1951, doing his research for his thesis using the Nauvoo period as his focus. He received a letter from Sam Burgess, Historian of the church during the very period she indicates, inviting him to come to the church history department and research all that they had, including those items that were “anti”.
Trask calls the familiar story of Joseph’s early experiences and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon “myth” but has the story essentially correct. On page 19 he calls the difference in naming the angel in Joseph’s history “Nephi” and in the Doctrine and Covenants “Moroni” a contradiction. I see it as a simple misstatement in the history, with all of the evidence pointing to Moroni as the correct name for the messenger.
Page 21- Trask validates Fawn Brodie as the author of the best work ever written on Joseph. He does so without taking into consideration that the documentation she used was largely from secondary and tertiary sources, many of them written by avowed enemies of Joseph and his work. Many testimonies she used were of persons who had adopted the aberrant lifestyle of the Mormon faith and now tried to recite events that occurred nearly a century before involving those who were now dead and could no longer testify for themselves.
Brodie says that no mention of those early events can be found in any family writings of that time period. That is absolutely not true . It seems very strange that Fawn Brodie and Paul Trask can find all the negative suppositions of the past but cannot find such an obvious piece of evidence as the letter Lucy Mack Smith wrote to her brother, Solomon Mack and his wife, January 6, 1831. That letter is published in the Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, published by Ben E. Rich, Vol. 1, pages 543-545, according to Inez Smith Davis. The quotation from the letter and its history are found on page 58 of Inez Smith Davis, Story of The Church , Seventh Edition, Herald Publishing House, Independence, Mo.,1964.
Brodie also tries to establish that there is no record of others in the area knowing anything about the events surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon before the plates were actually found. Lucy Mack explains in her book, Joseph Smith and His Progenitors , on page 91 of the volume republished in Lamoni, Iowa in 1912, that the family followed Joseph’s instruction to speak of the particulars only among themselves for the sake of safety. It is a matter of record, however, that it was during this time that Josiah Stoal (Stowel) heard something that caused him to come to Palmyra to hire Joseph to help him try to find a silver mine. Also Emma’s father heard tales that caused him to try to keep Emma from marrying Joseph (RLDS History p.17) . Enemies have tried to show that these tales came from occult practices of the Smiths, but the evidence is that the tales were perverted reports of the actual experiences of Joseph with an angel who had told him of buried plates to which he would eventually have access. Joseph records that he told a trusted Methodist minister of his vision who denied that there was anything as visions and revelation in these days and called it all of the Devil. It was from that telling that persecution began. ( RLDS Church History , Vol. 1, p.10)
After the plates were received, there is ample evidence that the fact was well known before the book was published. Francis W. Kirkham in his New Witness for Christ in America, documents newspaper reports of 1829 that give distorted descriptions of the plates and the instruments used for translating them. One was printed in the “Rochester New York Daily Advertiser and Telegraph”, August,1929, the month that the manuscript of the Book of Mormon went to press. See Delbert D. Smith, How The Plates of the Book of Mormon Were Translated, Paragon Publications, Mt. Ayr, IA. 50854, 1996, pp. 14-15.
Mrs. Brodie’s conclusions quoted at the base of page 21 uses the typical language of a propagandist who has no proof of her conclusions. She says apparently t he events Joseph records did not fix themselves in the minds of his family members. (This flies in the face of the extensive reports of Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, and of Joseph’s brothers and sisters whose writings were readily available to Brodie and to Trask but they chose not to consider them.) Brodie says Joseph’s vision was probably an elaboration of a dream or it may have been sheer invention. These terms, “apparently”, “probably”, “may have been” are all terms cherished by the propagandist who has no proof of his or her theories which he/she determines to promote even though they have no foundation.
Trask’s criticism of the reports of the First Vision is adequately refuted by Bob Bobbitt’s examination of the subject and by Byrna Zerr’s In Behalf of Joseph. Consult them. It is interesting to note that Trask offers a sample of what he says is Joseph’s own writing in 1832, showing the bad spellings, awkward punctuations, strike overs, above the line insertions, etc. If this is really the extent of Joseph’s literary competence in 1832, three years after the Book of Mormon was completed, how does he explain his contention that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon from his own knowledge?
Page 24 - Trask says Joseph’s claim to have seen the Father and the Son at the same time is at variance with orthodox theology and is a distorted concept of God. Who was the one John saw take the book out of the hand of God who was sitting on the throne in Revelation 5:7? Surely if John could see both God and Jesus in one setting, there is no reason God could not show them both to Joseph in the same manner.
Page 24 - Trask says Joseph and his family were steeped in the occult but then offers no evidence of his charge except to reference persons whose material is steeped in propaganda devices without factual evidence. For example, where did Pastor Walters find the unprinted portion of Lucy Mack’s book? No indication is given. And what did Lucy mean if she really wrote it? A tongue-in-cheek statement in response to unjust accusations would fit the situation perfectly! Walters’ footnote gives a clue to his lack of proof by his use of the propaganda device, “the Smiths may have beenencouraged” in occult lore. The statement has as much validity in fact as a statement of mine would have if I said Paul Trask may have been an infidel, except that the Smiths are dead and cannot defend themselves while Trask is alive and could.
I have volumes of responses to charges of occultism that I garnered from the work of Carol Hodges Hansen and from materials sent to me by Apostle David Brock. In all of them, there was not one iota of evidence to support the contention of rampant occultism in Joseph or his family. (The responses to Hansen’s materials are at this web site and those provided Apostle Brock are available from Mildred Smith). One interesting fact is that Hyrum Smith was one of the trustees of the school district that hired Oliver Cowdery to teach (See Lucy’s book, p.151). This would not have been possible had the family been involved in the occult as Trask, the Tanners and Brodie assert!
Page 25 - The book attributed to Lucy Mack Smith was published less than two years before her death at the age of 79. Whether all her memories of dates and sequence of events are accurate cannot be verified. If, however, Joseph really did give the family details of the life of the Nephites before he received the plates, it must be remembered that he was instructed by Moroni one full night in 1823, again the next day and once a year every year thereafter until he received the plates in 1827. We do not know what Moroni told him, but he had ample time to reveal many details of life among the Book of Mormon peoples in those conversations. That the conversations Mrs. Smith notes occurred in 1823-24 is an assumption not justified by the facts in her book.
Trask’s ignorance of the Book of Mormon is displayed in his statement (p. 26) that Joseph could concoct the Book of Mormon story without help from the brass plates. Joseph did translate the Book of Mormon without help from brass plates. He never claimed to have possessed or read or translated or received information about the Book of Mormon peoples from brass plates! The plates from which he translated had the “appearance of gold”! The brass plates were carried from Jerusalem. They contained the scriptures and the genealogy of the people but there is no indication Book of Mormon authors recorded anything on them.
William Stafford’s account of Joseph sacrificing a sheep makes for a titillating story, but if it is true, invalidates all the other stories of the Smith family practicing the occult for profit. Stafford is reported as saying, that he believes, this is the only time the Smith family ever made money digging a profitable business. The suggestion that Smith called for human sacrifice is clearly fictitious. Such a demand would have brought immediate action on the part of authorities which action did not occur.
The Chase story (p. 27) comes from E. D. Howe’s, Mormonism Unvailed, which has long been shown to be full of contradictions, false and vindictive information, much of it provided by D. P. Hurlbut who had been evicted from the church. After confessing to “unchristian like conduct with the female sex”, declaring repentance and being forgiven, he went about bragging that he had fooled Joseph’s God, or the spirit by which he was activated! This led to his being expelled ( Times and Seasons, Vol. 6, pp. 784-785 and RLDS History Vol. 1, pp. 294-296), but most of all shows, by his own admission, that D. P. Hurlbut was a liar and a fraud. No serious Historian would accept stories from Mormonism Unvailed as credible history. Trask gives no evidence that Joseph retained Chase’s stone, or that there ever was such a stone.
Trask further distorts the facts by saying that Joseph dug for the silver mine for Stoal for several months, and then was arrested on a warrant from Stoal’s nephew. Both Lucy and Joseph say it was about a month before the silver mine project was given up, but Joseph continued to be employed by Stoal, and was so employed as late as January 1827, the date of his marriage to Emma Hale, in whose home he was a boarder while employed by Stoal. (Ibid. p.17). The purported arrest and conviction Trask reports occurred in March of 1826. It is very strange that Mr. Stoal continued to employ one arrested, jailed, brought to trial and convicted of a crime perpetrated against him for almost a year after that conviction. It is also strange that when Mr. Stoal was really called to testify against Joseph in 1830, he submitted no evidence to convict him (RLDS History, Vol. 1, pp. 94-103). If there was such a trial in 1826, it is only right that Joseph would truthfully admit to having been “employed in looking for mines”, for that was the avowed reason for Stoal employing him in the first place. As for the rest of the “confessions” they have all the marks of being fraudulent! It is clear that Mr. Stoal did not consider Joseph’s actions criminal or his employment would have been terminated immediately!
Page 28 - Trask says historical evidence indicates that Joseph actually used a peep-stone to find the plates. In evidence, he places an interview Martin Harris was supposed to have given Tiffany Monthly in 1859. If Martin Harris gave that purported interview, and it was reported correctly, he contradicted his testimony given to Joseph Smith in 1829 (RLDS History, Vol. 1 p. 19) and repeated in September 15, 1853 when he was interviewed by D.B. Dille whose letter was published in the Millennial Star, reprinted in the Myth of the Manuscript Found and again in the RLDS History, Vol. 1 pp. 51-53. In both accounts Martin Harris, while recounting the facts of the occasion on which he took a transcript of characters of the plates to professor Anthon of New York, says that when Anthon asked how the young man knew the plates were there, Martin said an angel of God had shown them to him. The Tiffany account further states that Joseph and his family had told Martin that the stone from Mason Chase’s well had been used to find the plates. That is a fabricationthe evidence of which I challenge anyone to produce!
Trask then gives an entry from Hosea Stout’s diary which, if authentic, is only hearsay. Trask says Stout said of the stone, “It is said to be . .” If he had seen such a stone, he would have said, “It is . .” The account of Joseph’s arrests and trials of 1830 is correctly referenced in RLDS History, Vol. 1, pp. 94-103. That is why it seems strange that Trask gave such incorrect information about them. Trask is mistaken in the number of trials and the number of witnesses called against Joseph. It was not one but two trials and not 12 witnesses but many more, so many that neither Joseph nor Mr. Reed, one of the non-members who defended him, even tried to list them all. The charge was not of having claimed to have found the plates by use of a peep-stone, but of “being a disorderly person of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon,” etc., etc. During the trial he was accused of being a “money digger”. They called Josiah Stoal, two of Mr. Stoal’s Daughters, Jonathan Thompson, Newel Knight, and numerous others to witness against Joseph but could find no evidence on which to convict him. Joseph was exonerated of all charges, and it is worth one’s time to read the reports of the court procedures as found in the RLDS History cited above, especially the report of Mr. Reed found in RLDS Church History, Vol. 1, pp. 101-103.
Note that this is the exact reference given by Trask who then so grossly misrepresents the information given there. This is one of the most frequently used techniques of the propagandist. They site a correct source of information then distort what it says to suit their purposes feeling confident their readers will trust them enough that they will not consult the reference.
It was a young Presbyterian named Benton who swore out the first warrant against Joseph. Whether Dr. Benton whom Trask quotes is the same Benton or even a relative is not indicated. Where Dr. Benton gets his statement that “during the trial it was shown that the Book of Mormon was brought to light by the same magic powers by which he pretended to tell fortunes, discover hidden treasures, etc.” is not reflected in the judgement of the court and can only refer to the fact that there was the power of God involved in the book’s coming forth that Benton and others who tried unsuccessfully to convict Joseph could not understand.
Pages 29-33 - The effort to prove that the Book of Mormon was not translated from metal plates by the use of the Urim and Thummim depends heavily on Jim Lancaster’s Saints’ Herald article of 1962 which is dependent on secondary, tertiary and uncreditable witnesses and deplorable scholarship. It is largely answered in Delbert D. Smith, How The Book of Mormon Was Translated previously noted.
For an example, the quote at the bottom of page 30 says “a woman” wrote to Emma. Two questions arise: (1). What woman? Anonymous letters are not considered valid evidence. (2). Was Emma’s supposed response genuine or another forgery?
There is at least one forged letter reported. The December 9,1845 New York Sun printed a letter over what was supposed to be Emma’s signature in which she is supposed to have renounced faith in Joseph and doubted his claims. Emma promptly wrote the paper flatly denouncing the letter as a forgery. Her letter to the Sun was printed in Times and Seasons, January 15,1846, p.1096 and reprinted in RLDS Church History, Vol. 4, p. 267. The letter to which Trask refers, which Lancaster used as evidence, does not even carry a name. It could well be such a forgery.
If, on the other hand, the letter Emma is supposed to have written to “a woman” is authentic, then Emma was mistaken. Although she handled the plates while they were covered with a cloth and assisted by writing as her husband translated, she was not permitted to see the instruments of translation. The evidence is in the testimony of the primary witnesses who actually saw and handled the instruments used in the translation process.
The fact that Trask says the Urim and Thummim were never returned to Joseph shows that Trask is ignorant of, or chooses to ignore the truth as James Lancaster did. Joseph described specifically how and when the Urim and Thummim were returned to him by a heavenly messenger after which he received Section 2 of the Doctrine and Covenants (See Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 785 referenced in RLDS Church History, Vol. 1, p. 24). The instruments were again taken and returned, and section 3 was received in which he is told that the gift has been restored to him again and he is to finish the translation, “as you have begun.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 786 referenced in Church History, Vol. 1, p. 25). He had begun using the Urim and Thummim.
In April 1829 Oliver Cowdery came to be Joseph’s scribe, and the work of translating was resumed. Joseph says (Times and Seasons Vol. 3, p. 832) that during this time he inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim and received revelation. Joseph specifically states in Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, pp. 853, 885, 897 that while translating the plates, he also used the Urim and Thummim to receive revelations recorded as Sections 7,12,13,14,15. Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, who were the ones involved in the translation process, both declared the instruments were used throughout the translation process. Joseph states unequivocally that when the translation of the plates was completed, the plates, the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate were returned to the angel (Times and Seasons Vol. 3, p. 772).
The fact that Trask uses the Chicago Inter-Ocean report as the basis for David Whitmer’s testimony shows that he is either ignorant of or chooses to ignore David Whitmer’s protest against the Saints’ Herald reprinting that account. David said the reporter had misunderstood and misquoted his statements and therefore he did not want the report given as his. (Saints’ Herald, Number 33, pp. 764-765). David’s real testimony is recorded in Saints’ Herald, Number 26, p. 128 in an interview with Apostle T. W. Smith, verified in Saints’ Herald, Number 27, p. 13, to which he did not object. In it he declared that he saw Joseph translate by aid of the Urim and Thummim.
When Apostle T. W. Smith’s interview was published in the Saints’ Herald, Number 26, p. 128, J. L. Traughber, Jr. challenged Apostle Smith’s report. He said Whitmer had said Smith translated by means of “one dark colored, opaque stone” (Saints’ Herald, Number 26, p. 341). Lancaster reported Traughber’s statement as evidence without even referring to Apostle Smith’s report to the contrary. In addition he tried to validate Traughber’s statement by saying Traughber was a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
When those of us investigating Lancaster’s article saw Traughber’s statement in the form of a letter to the editors, we knew there must have been something to which he was responding. We found the Apostle’s report in a previous Herald. Then we realized that the Apostle would not let such an effort to refute his report stand without clarification, so we looked ahead. There we found Apostle Smith’s response in Saints’ Herald, Number 27, pp.13 and 67. The Apostle repeated his assertion that David Whitmer had described the interpreters to him, and to a reporter of the Chicago Times who was present at the interview, as “shaped like a pair of spectacles only much larger.”
It is strange scholarship for an author such as Lancaster to lift a negative response from a publication as evidence without even alerting his readers to the genesis of the negative report. It is amazing scholarship that the author would try to validate the negative report by saying its author was a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ when the positive report to which the challenger was responding was not only a member of that church but an Apostle in the same! Perhaps Trask cannot be faulted for trusting such deplorable scholarship, but that does not validate it.
Page 32 - Contradictions in Martin Harris’ testimony have already been addressed. Oliver’s statement that the plates were not in sight only confirms Joseph’s testimony that he was not to show them to any one until the book was completed and the Lord instructed him to whom they were to be shown. It does not even hint that Joseph was not using them. When Joseph described the title page as, “. a literal translation , taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates . “ (RLDS History, Vol. 1, p. 74) he verified the fact that he had translated from the plates.
Page 33 - The “strong evidence” that Trask says shows that the eleven men who gave their testimonies that they did see the plates were in fact “persuaded by Joseph to sign those statements” is not shown by Trask because it does not exist! Those men were not liars! They confirmed their statements to the day they died, even those who were no longer associated with Joseph and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The accusation is slanderous and should never have been made by anyone or used as evidence by the author of this work. Bearing false witness is breaking one of God’s commandments!
In the reference to William Smith, William was testifying to the facts that prevailed before the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed, the facts of which have always been the testimony of all of the family. That fact is obvious to anyone who loves the truth by William’s last statement that the family did not care to have Joseph break the commandment and suffer as he did before. In this, William was referring to the loss of the plates and Urim and Thummim when Joseph allowed Martin Harris to take the 116 pages of translated material. After the translation was completed and those shown the plates whom the Lord had commanded, Joseph returned the plates and Urim and Thummim to the angel (See documentation above). He had no more control of them and hence no more commandment not to show them because he did not have them to show!
If Martin Harris said that he saw the plates with his spiritual eyes, that statement would be easy to understand when one reads the testimony of the three witnesses. It was an angel who showed them to David, Oliver and Martin and the voice of God who spoke to them. Any normal person would view such an experience as a spiritual experience. But it was an experience so real and valid that all three men continued to bear witness to it as long as they lived, even when alienated from the church that Joseph organized. If Joseph had “persuaded” them to give that testimony, they would certainly have revealed him and it as a fake instead of affirming it to their graves.
Martin’s statement concerning the 8 witnesses, if he really made such a statement, could only be hearsayat the best since he was not one of the eight. Here Trask is pitting the supposed negative statement of one hearsay witness against the positive witness of 8 men who maintained that witness to their deaths. On one hand Trask has one supposed witness who says he heard another hearsay witness say that the 8 witnesses did not see the plates and were persuaded by Joseph to lie. On the other hand we have the positive statement of 8 men who said they did see, examine, handle, heft the plates, who described what they saw, felt and knew, and maintained their testimony until death. The hearsay testimony pales in the face of the positive witness as would be held in any reasonable court.
Page 35 - False premises lead to false conclusions! This summary is such a fallacious document!
(1). Joseph’s six or seven accounts of his first vision do not conflict. Different portions are emphasized under different circumstances and with different audiences, but the substance is always the same. And it was not 18 years after it was experienced in 1820 that he began to share it! As noted above, sharing it with a trusted Methodist minister soon after the event was the cause of persecution that followed him from that early date.
For accurate documented information on the First Vision, see Byrna S. Zerr, In Behalf Of Joseph, An Affirmation, Copyright 1992, pp.16-35. Available from Price Publishing, Independence, Mo. or the Library of Congress.
(2). There is no valid history that shows Joseph Smith or his family “practicing occultists”. No court record of 1826 has been produced by Trask, Hansen or any other that proves Joseph was “convicted of glass- looking by using a “peep-stone” buried in a hat”. The facts are that Joseph did not even have the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated or the instruments by which they were translated until 1827, the year following the purported conviction.
(3). Martin Harris declared to his dying day that Joseph was shown the plates by an angel. Mark Hofmann, the convicted Mormon killer, forged documents with Harris’ name that said otherwise, but those documents have been proved forged. (See Salamander, The Mormon Murders, or The Gathering of the Saints, all popular books detailing the case against Hofmann). No evidence has been produced that any primary witness ever said Joseph found the plates by using a peep-stone.
(4). There is no testimony of any person who scribed for the Book of Mormon who says he did not use the plates. There are only statements of other people who were not involved who said they were not used.
(5). Joseph’s brother William was not permitted to see the plates and only testified that Joseph was to show them to no one except those to whom he was directed by the Lord to show them.
The Stephen Burnett letter is a secondary source concerning Martin Harris’ testimony and a tertiary source concerning all others. They can not stand against Martin’s own statements even as late as 1870. (See Zerr Ibid. p. 66.) and the testimonies of all 10 of the other witnesses.
Trask’s dissertation on Zion contains some strictly Mormon doctrine never accepted by the RLDS, and leans on the Book of Commandments as the true source of Joseph’s teachings.
The Book of Commandments is a partial printing of hand written copies of the early commandments, interrupted by mob action in Missouri. It stops in the middle of a sentence, the last of the section being printed at the time. Oliver Cowdery and W.W. Phelps, who were responsible for the printing, later testified that they had no idea how so many errors crept into the publication. Afterward they were instrumental, with Joseph, in the printing of the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants from the original revelations and testified to the correctness of that publication. (See the Preface to the 1835 Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the booklet on the Book of Commandments entitled A Recurring Issue and authored by Joseph Smith III, Israel A. Smith and Delbert D. Smith available from the Board of Media Development of the Restoration Elders Conference, Independence, Missouri).
Trask’s statement of the present situation on pages 40-41 is quite perceptive.
Page 43 - Trask says the Latter Day Saints build Zion for God. It is true that some peoplehave that idea, but it is not validated in the scriptures. The Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants all say men build the Kingdom. God builds Zion with Kingdom quality people! (See the scriptures or Delbert D. and Ronald K. Smith, The Kingdom Way).
Page 44 - It is understandable that one who has not experienced the Patriarchal Blessing or who does not accept the antiquity of the Gospel might feel as Trask does about the office of Patriarch and the practice of Patriarchal Blessings. For those of us who have experienced it, the testimonies of the validity of that ministry are voluminous!
Page 45 - I have one question. If there are no Priests after Christ, why are so many Christians looking forward to being Priests and Kings (Rev. 1:6 5:10 20:6 K.J.)? Hebrews 7 gives an understanding of how the Priesthood was changed from that of the Mosaic law, but not taken away.
Page 46 - Trask proposes the dubious idea that the Gospel should go only to the Jews until after the Son of Man comes again to the earth. Jesus said He was sent to the House of Israel, not just to the Jews. The scriptures are clear that there were 12 tribes in the House of Israel of which the Jews are only one! And when Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples, he told them to go and teach all nations! (Matthew 28:19). Read of the experience of Peter as recorded in Acts 10 and 11 in which Peter was commanded by spiritual means to go to the Gentile, Cornelius, and teach him and his household. There were no Jews to take precedence, and when Peter was accused of violating Jesus’ instruction in so doing, he retold his testimony and further testified to the Lord’s Spirit falling upon the Gentiles who were baptized. So powerful was his testimony that “they (Jewish members of Christ’s church) held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Also Matthew 19:30, Matthew 20:16, Mark 10:31, and Luke 13:30 all record that Jesus prophesied that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. The Jews were taught the Gospel first but as a nation rejected it. They will be the last to accept it fully.
Page 47- The concept of a Latter Day Israel is not a distortion of Biblical theology. On the contrary, it is fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. That in the last times Israel will again be gathered is so much a part of the Bible’s prophetic ministry that it is not even necessary to cite quotations to support the assertion.
Chapter 4 - RLDS Scriptures
Trask begins by citing Paul’s statement that from infancy Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures which were able to make him wise for salvation through faith on Jesus Christ. What scriptures did Timothy’s mother and grandmother have to share with Timothy? There was no New Testament, nor even Old Testament, compiled as we have it. How could the stories of Christ, his ministry, his death and resurrection be scripture until after He died? Paul was writing to Timothy, now a young man, very soon after Christ died, referring to the time of Timothy’s infancy which had to be at least a little while before that event. Scholars say the Gospels had not yet been written. Many of Paul’s letters had not been written. John’s Revelation was yet to happen. So what scriptures did Eunice and Lois have to share? They could have had some of the writings from the Hebrew Bible, perhaps the Septuagint, but what else? Certainly Timothy’s scripture was very different from ours! If he had all that was ever to be needed, why should we accept the New Testament as scripture?
Trask says Jesus believed in the Bible. What Bible did He have in which to believe and from which to quote? There was no Bible that looked like ours in Jesus’ day. They had the Torah , the prophets and the writings all on scrolls. Some of these Hebrew scriptures had been translated into Greek to form the Septuagint. But there was no New Testament, for many of the events recorded in it had not yet occurred! If the scholars are to be believed, the four Gospels were not even written down until long after Christ died. The Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s letters could not have been in existence because Paul was still persecuting the Saints, and Pentecost was yet to happen. Trask’s interpretation is so wrong! Jesus did not promise there would be no changes in the Bible! The Bible did not exist! Jesus spoke only of the provisions of the law as being fulfilled, not of the rest of the writings as being perfect!
So when Paul wrote to Timothy, what did he really say about the scriptures? The King James Bible says that he said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Trask says Paul said, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Now if the Bible is so accurate and reliable that “not the slightest letter nor the least stroke of a pen” will disappear before everything is accomplished, as Trask indicates from his second paragraph on that page, how can he suddenly change it and its meaning? The two quotations above do not say the same thing. (1) “God-breathed”is substituted for “inspiration of God”. “Is God-breathed” implies that man was not involved in the production of scripture. “Given by inspiration of God” means the author’s mind was stimulated to a high degree (Strong’s Concordance says “divinely breathed in”) by God. (2) Doctrine is a teaching, tenet or dogma. Trask’s rendition is that the scriptures are “for teaching”, in other words, a tool, which is far different in meaning. (3) Reproof as Paul used it, according to Strong’s Concordance, is evidence, conviction. Rebuke, on the other hand, is to criticize sharply, reprimand. (4) Instruction is education, something learned. Training is to coach in or accustom to some mode of behavior or performance, as one would train a dog to do tricks. (Definitions for the above terms not ascribed to Strong’s Concordance are from the American Heritage Dictionary.)
Now, which version of the Timothy scripture is “accurate and reliable” with a guarantee from God that “not the slightest letter nor the least stroke of a pen” shall disappear from it until everything is accomplished? If it is the former, how dare anyone vary from it not only in words but in meaning? If it is the latter, surely millions of people have been deluded by misinformation at least since 1611!
Page 52-53 - Neither Joseph Smith nor the RLDS church discard the Bible or put the Book of Mormon above it. The two scriptures support each other in every way, and until recently, the contents of the RLDS Doctrine and Covenants has been judged by that which is written in the Bible or it has not been accepted by the church as inspired by God.
Chapter 5 - The Book of Mormon
Trask is wrong when he says that hidden knowledge that was once in the Bible was to be restored in the Book of Mormon for which Joseph Smith’s followers were to be the exclusive beneficiaries. The Book of Mormon was never claimed to be an instrument of restoration of former Biblical scriptures. Any clarification of concepts or correction of details was to be for all nations and all peoples of the earth! To compare the Book of Mormon with the early Gnostic heresies is to display deplorable ignorance of the book’s contents or of the Gnostic heresies.(See explanation of Gnosis and Gnostic in the answer to Trask’s page 78 in this work).
Page 57 - The Jaredites did escape the confusion of tongues, which is what they requested of the Lord, and were guided to a promised land, choice above all other lands, not “scattered the farthest” as Trask sarcastically affirms.
The sarcasm with which Trask treats the building of the Jaredite barges just indicates his lack of understanding of that ingenuous design that is used to this day in fishing boats of the South Pacific. The hole in the bottom is rimmed up to a little above the usual level of the ocean water and provides a port through which the people can fish, keep their catch fresh until they return to land, and discard waste. The motion of the ocean waves makes the port into a huge bellows that expels stale air and brings in fresh air through the hole in the top when it is open. When the top hole is closed during a storm, it keeps out the storm. When the seas are rough but no rain is falling, or when the boat is stationary before launching into the deep, the bottom hole may be closed to keep out excess sea water while the open hole in the top still provides necessary ventilation. it wasn’t stupid at all! And the fact that the Lord allowed the brother of Jared to think through many of the problems attendant to building the boat and providing light for it, merely shows how much the Lord wants us to use our own agency in consultation with Him in solving the problems of the world in which we live.
The contention that the Jaredites loaded onto the eight barges all of their flocks, herds, fowl, fish, birds and a food supply for them all is again a statement showing lack of knowledge of the scripture. Ether 3:4 says they prepared for “whatsoever beast, or animal or fowl they should carry with them” when they prepared to cross the ocean. It was when they left their home and went to the Valley of Nimrod and moved about from place to place before reaching the place of embarkation that they took all of their flocks, the bees, etc. with them. See Ether 1:22-24.
Page 58-59 - Trask distorts the record again. The Book of Mormon does not say every wicked person was completely destroyed at the time of Christ’s death. The people who were destroyed were those who had known the prophecies of the Lord’s coming to save them, had known of the Lord’s coming at the time of His birth and had not only rejected that knowledge but had deliberately chosen to live wickedlyin defiance of their knowledge of the coming Savior. Many who were less wicked than they (but still had the possibility of repenting) were saved.
The situation has many parallels in the history of the Hebrew nation. When Moses came down from the mountain and found his people worshiping the golden calf, Exodus 32 (King James) says that the Lord would have consumed them all but Moses begged Him not to do it, so only about 3,000 men were slain by the Levites at Moses’ command. How many rebellious ones who followed Korah (Numbers 16) were swallowed up in the earth when they failed to repent? And what happened to the 250 men who had offered incense but not unto the Lord? How many priests of Baal did Elijah kill? And what about the flood? The scriptures are replete with instances in which the Lord removes from the earth those who have had their chance to follow Him but have refused and pose a danger to others whose spiritual well being they would put in jeopardy.
Page 59 - Trask repeats a monumental errorthat is very difficult to explain. How anyone who was a member of the RLDS Priesthood as long as Trask claims he was does not know the difference between the plates on which the Book of Mormon was written and the brass plates which Lehi’s people brought with them is hard to comprehend and impossible to explain except as evidence of ignorance! Not Moroni nor any of his predecessors of the Book of Mormon authors wrote on brass plates. The records they made and which were delivered to Joseph Smith were made of ore with the appearance of gold! The brass plates, carried with the family of Lehi from Jerusalem, contained the records of the holy scriptures and the genealogy of their forefathers, even from the beginning (Alma 17:32). They learned from them but they never wrote on them, and Joseph Smith never claimed to have them for any reason!
Trask further compounds his error by saying that the compiler of the brass plates was a prophet named Moroni. The brass plates were engraved centuries before Moroni was even born, and no Book of Mormon author added to their engravings. Moroni was not even the compiler of the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated! It was Mormon who abridged most of the record that constitutes the Book of Mormon on plates with the appearance of Gold. Moroni had the records only after his father gave them to him to preserve. In the “Book of Mormon”, chapter 4, page 704 of the 1908 edition of the Book of Mormon, verse 1, Moroni says that he is to finish the record of his father, Mormon. He tells of the last of his people, gives an abbreviated account of the Jaredites whose record he found among the other sacred records of his people, and finishes with some discussions of doctrine before he hides the plates in a hill that was first called Hill Cumorah by Oliver Cowdery - not by Moroni. The hill called Cumorah by Mormon, in which the large library of the Nephite people is deposited, is somewhere in Mesoamerica (Book of Mormon, 3:7-8).
That the language in which Mormon and Moroni wrote or that the language of the brass plates was some form of Egyptian should not be especially difficult to understand. Moses, who was the author of at least a part of the early scriptures that were on the brass plates was raised and educated an Egyptian. Joseph, ancestor of Lehi’s family, was a ruler of Egypt. Lehi was a merchant taught in the language of Egypt. All had Hebrew thought and Egyptian learning. Since the Egyptian language took less space than the Hebrew, that it was the choice for engravings on metal plates is very understandable. That it had been changed (reformed) over a period of a thousand years to suit the needs of the engravers is also no great mystery.
That the Hebrews would not countenance the writing of the name of their God in any language but Hebrew is a strange statement for Trask to make in view of the facts. By the first century A.D., even books of our Old Testament were translated into Greek and Aramaic, “the languages of international commerce and culture” (Reader’s Digest, A,B,C’s of the Bible, 1991). The Greek translation of the early Hebrew scriptures, the Septuagint, became the standard scripture for Christians along with the portions of the New Testament that were also written in Greek. The difference is that in the day of Lehi, the language of “international commerce and culture” was Egyptian, not Greek, but God’s name is in both!
Page 60 - Just last Saturday I was in a group in which a linguist working with the Mayan and Egyptian languages demonstrated the similarities between the characters Joseph Smith drew for Martin Harris and one form (demotic) of the Egyptian language. Trask is just not current in his knowledge of the languages, and so makes an unrighteous judgement of Joseph’s motives.
Page 61-62 - It is understandable that Professor Anthon would want to distance himself from anything so unpopular as the Book of Mormon came to be. It had been 5 or 6 years since Harris visited him when he wrote the letter cited, and a busy professor might well have forgotten the particulars, especially if they would be an embarrassment to him. His letter does verify that a man did bring him a paper on which characters of some sort were drawn. It is not so strange that one supposed to know languages would make a guess at what languages he was seeing when he knew no one would know any more about it than he, especially if the changes in the language made the characters unfamiliar.
Page 62 - Trask’s explanation of Isaiah 29 is interesting, but it leaves out any mention of the book that is to be offered a little while before Lebanon becomes a fruitful field and is esteemed as a forest, and a number of other details that are pertinent to really understanding the prophecy. Lebanon has become a fruitful field. It is too late for the prophecy to be fulfilled as Trask suggests.
It is true that the Isaiah scripture has been interpreted to say that the book would have a “familiar spirit”, which Trask promptly and rightly condemns if that was what the scripture said. In every place in the Bible in which the term is used, with the exception of Isaiah 29, the context is that a person has sought or is seeking a “familiar spirit” for the purpose of divining the future or to receive advice or counsel. Such usage is forbidden. Careful reading of the Isaiah scripture, however, shows that the writer simply used a simile (“A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as.” American Heritage Dictionary). The scripture actually says that the voice of the people of the city where David dwelt will speak out of the ground “as of” (in a manner similar to) “one that hath a familiar spirit”. The Lord is telling the prophet that the voice of the people of Ariel (Jerusalem), whose story will be in the book, will sound familiar to those who read it, and will come out of the ground in a manner that they have often considered ghostly. The Hebrew word translated “familiar” means safe, happy, friendly. In Hebrew idiom it means to be at peace or to be well.
It is interesting that on pages 59-60, Trask declares that Christ saves, not destroys sinners. Now on page 63 he interprets Isaiah’s prophecy to mean that God will save Israel and punish her wicked enemies, who are the ones who need saving. His explanation, however, does not take into consideration that the prophet is still talking about a book, the words of which shall be delivered to a learned man who cannot read it because it is sealed and to an unlearned man who says he is unlearned.Then the Lord moves marvelously to make the the book available even to those who are deaf and blind just a little while before Lebanon becomes a fruitful field, esteemed as a forest. The history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is the only event that fulfills the prophecy. Read the record from the first few chapters of the RLDS Church History, Volume 1.
Page 64 - Ezekiel 37 is undoubtedly a prophecy of what will happen to Israel in the future, but it is also a metaphor for the testimony of the several parts of Israel that will be used by the Lord in making the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel one nation.
It is common knowledge that the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel were not united while they did exist. Now they are long since gone, and the nine and a half tribes of Israel are known as the lost tribes because Judah no longer has knowledge of them or their whereabouts. In promising to reunite all Israel, the Lord has the prophet Ezekiel explain that there will be one record for those of Judah and those children of Israel his companions that are known and another record for Joseph and those of the lost tribes who are his companions. One of these records will be in the hand of Judah. It is the record of the Jews, the Bible. The other record will tell of Joseph’s people, who are among the lost tribes. It will be in the hand of Ephraim, the son of Joseph to whom Israel, Joseph’s father, insisted on giving the greater blessing even though Manasseh was the firstborn. (Genesis 48).
The Book of Mormon tells of a portion of the tribe of Manasseh who were led by the Lord to the new land to live. When the book was brought into being by the Lord, however, He placed it in the hands of one who is of the tribe of Ephraim. Scholars, I understand, believe that the tribe of Ephraim is numbered among the English and northern European peoples. Joseph Smith is one of those who believed his lineage was of Ephraim.
These records, the Lord promises, will be used by God to bring all of Israel together in a time to come. A stated purpose of the Book of Mormon is to bear such witness of the Lord Jesus Christ that even the Jews will be convinced of His Messiahship. The stick of Joseph is to be in the hands of Ephraim, and we have no indication of which I am aware that Ezekiel was a descendant of Ephraim.
Contrary to Trask’s summary, I know of no persons more aware of the restoration of Israel and more excited about the events occurring currently than those of the Restoration who understand the Book of Mormon and through it understand Bible prophecies more correctly.
Chapter 6 - The Book of Mormon, Part Two.
Trask correctly shows that Spaulding’s Manuscript Found was not plagiarized in writing the Book of Mormon. He does not, however, make it clear that Sidney Rigdon could not have provided the manuscript for the Book of Mormon to Joseph since Sidney did not know Joseph until after the Book of Mormon was published. In fact, it was that book that was instrumental in his conversion to the Restoration (Church History Vol. 1, pp. 139-140).
Then Trask makes Joseph Smith the most highly educated, most intelligent, most clever genius the world has ever known by ascribing to him knowledge of all the literature of his day pertaining to the subject of the origin of the native Americans with the ability to put it together in one intricately woven story, without errors or contradictions, in some 777 printed pages (1908 edition), detailing information that was not yet discovered, creating names of people and places just now (1990-2002) being discovered, writing in Hebrew Poetic forms that had not even been discovered in the Bible until a century or so later, using terms not known to have been used by the natives of Mesoamerica until they were discovered on glyphs and translated in and since 1960, writing in 15 distinct writing styles without using the language of one author in the purported work of another, and doing it all is less than 80 days! Inadvertently, Paul Trask has given Joseph a compliment that Joseph would never accept. He would give the glory to God, his heavenly Father and God’s only Begotten Son!
It only takes a glance at Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews to know that Joseph did not copy it. It is interesting, though, that if Joseph had knowledge of the Ethan Smith book, he did not make the mistake of saying that the plates to which he was led were buried with a skeleton of an Indian as one copying the legend Ethan Smith reported would have done. Neither did he make the mistake of ever calling the people to which the Book of Mormon referred “Indians” in the text. Ethan Smith called them Indians. Joseph called them Israelites, Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites, Mulekites but never Indians.
Joseph did not err in adopting Ethan Smith’s nomenclature or interpretation of many other facets of the legends and ideas that he reported. He did not, for example, endorse the idea that the people of whom the Book of Mormon spoke came to America by way of the Bering Strait, nor did he adopt the nomenclature of a “bearded white God”. In fact, the only reference to a beard in the Book of Mormon is a quotation from Isaiah found in II Nephi 9:33 and has nothing to do with Christ or any other person of whom the book speaks. The bearded white God of which the people of the Restoration speak comes from the carvings and paintings found in Mesoamerica long after 1830.
The idea that Oliver Cowdery was Joseph’s cousin is not verified in any way. Oliver, Joseph and Joseph’s mother all indicate that Oliver and Joseph did not know each other until Oliver went to investigate and stayed to write for Joseph. Oliver’s brother Lyman was even one called upon by Lucy Harris to help her try to convict Joseph of fraud according to Lucy Smith’s account (Chapter 28 of Joseph Smith and His Progenitors).
The fact that Ethan Smith made much of the stick of Ephraim and the stick of Joseph symbolizing the reuniting of the house of Israel is not surprising. Trask’s own interpretation of the Ezekiel scripture concurs. Did Trask get his idea from Ethan Smith?
What is reported to be B. H. Robert’s summary is couched in typical propaganda terms - “. it is more than likely”, “ a great probability”, “most likely”, “within the lines of possibility”, “could have been produced this way”, “can there be any doubt?”, “could be urged”. “would make it possible”, all of which show that whoever wrote them had no credible evidence on which to base his speculations. The answer to the question asked at the bottom of page 69 and the top of page 70 is, “YES, there is every reason to doubt it”! This kind of speculation has no place in serious study of events surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon!
Page 70 - Trask says that Josiah Priest’s book was “checked out repeatedly” but does not list Joseph Smith or any of his family among those who checked it out. Again, the Book of Mormon never even mentions Indians. The Book of Mormon narrow neck of land divides two bodies of land. Priest’s book has it dividing two vast oceans.
Page 70 - Again Trask makes Joseph a very clever man by stating that he was careful to cite Priest’s 1833 book instead of the earlier Ethan Smith or Priest works when speaking of an Indian legend in 1842. Then he makes the unsubstantiated presumption that that reference shows that Joseph was acquainted with both men’s work 13 years earlier, before the Book of Mormon was written. Propaganda tricks again, but not serious history!
Page 71 - Trask’s comment on the renewed interest in the Apocrypha interests me in view of his earlier contention that the Bible of Joseph’s day was inerrant. Not one jot or tittle was to be changed before all was accomplished. If there were no errors in it, why was the Apocrypha removed and how can it have only literary and historical value now? The speculation that Joseph may have borrowed from the Apocrypha is again unsubstantiated speculation - pure propaganda! For one, I have been in the church for 76 years and have never before heard anyone try to determine where Joseph got the word Nephi. The fact that it is in the Apocrypha merely proves that it was a legitimate Hebrew term, not that it was copied. Why Trask makes such a deal of it is incomprehensible to me. Lehi, Sam, Jacob, Joseph, Ishmael, Laban and numerous other Book of Mormon names are in the Bible. In 1961, an ancient deed bearing the signature of Alma ben Yehuda was found in the Cave of the Letters during an archaeological dig in the Holy Land and is now on exhibit at Brigham Young University in the Museum of Art in Provo, Utah (see Angela Crowell’s “Jerusalem Report” to Qumran Quest supporters, May 26, 1997), and we have rejoiced to learn that even that name is authentic Hebrew! On the other hand, for every name used in both the Apocrypha and the Book of Mormon, there are many more that are found solely in the Book of Mormon or solely in the Apocrypha. Some found only in the Book of Mormon are just now being discovered in Mesoamerica. An ancient city in Belize is named Lamani, very similar to Laman. Recently I was in the ruins of a city in the Yucatan that has two names on its ancient glyphs, one of which is Mulek. The city of Mulek is spoken of twelve times in Alma 24 and once in Helaman 2. And there are more to which reference is made later in this response.
Trask uses his propaganda technique again saying, “It is possible that Joseph got his idea from 2 Maccabees”. Again the fact that Maccabees speaks of brass plates and treasuries only serves to validate the authenticity of those items in Hebrew life. Trask has no justification for his conclusion that “It seems clear that the King James Apocrypha provided yet another source of ideas for Joseph Smith’s fertile imagination.” The statement merely demonstrates his very obvious bias and his adeptness at using propaganda techniques.
The same is true of his discussion of the influence of Anti-Masonry sentiment on the text of the Book of Mormon and on the account of Enoch in the scriptures. The tragedy of Joseph’s involvement with Masonry does have validity in events that occurred in Nauvoo, but the effort to equate the experience of Joseph with the Masonic “Legend of Enoch” falls far short of credibility. For Joseph there was no lost name of God, no flood that made it necessary for him to preserve the name, no pillars inside the hill, no builders had to find the plates. (The plates were shown to Joseph by the one who buried them there.) No three evil men tried to force Joseph to reveal the place from which the plates came and finally killed him. No persons associated with Joseph pursued those who killed him, killed them or were rewarded by Joseph’s friends. No repository of the plates and their accompaniments was ever designed or considered. In an effort to make the story fit, Trask resorts to the propaganda term “it seems”, and the slanderous statement that Joseph had a polygamous wife in Far West in 1838. If the fact that Joseph died at the hands of a mob crying, “Oh Lord, My God . ” is evidence that he was copying the legend, he certainly carried the act too far!
In summary, Trask goes too far. What two books did Joseph confess knowledge of in later years? The fact that Joseph quoted Josiah Priest’s, American Antiquities in 1842 does not in any way indicate that he was aware of or acquainted with either Ethan Smith’s work or the earlier work of Priest in 1829. Even trying to validate the work of an unnamed scholar, Trask uses that “scholars” terms, “seemed transformed”, “appears to be”, indicating that the “scholar” had no evidence to support his speculations.
Trask’s final statement of the way in which Joseph translated the Book of Mormon plates is not truthful, as shown earlier by Delbert D. Smith’s, How The Book of Mormon Was Translated, Byrna Zerr’s, In Behalf of Joseph, RLDS Church History, Times and Seasons, Lucy Mack Smith’s, Joseph Smith and His Progenitors, etc. This was no New Age channeling process. It was far more like the present form of translation by computer. There is recorded on a small silicon chip the information that makes it possible to translate German or French or any of a number of other languages into English or vice versa. In the computer, electrical impulses provide the energy for the translation. In Joseph’s case, the Spirit of God provided that energy. To say that it could not be is to say that we can do things that are impossible for God. That is putting ourselves in the place of God and declaring ourselves greater than He. That is the Spirit of the Anti-Christ!
Page 78 - If one uses the actual definition of gnosis - the knowledge of spiritual things- perhaps it might be applied to Joseph Smith. If, however, one is applying it to the Gnostics of the early Christian era, nothing could be farther from the truth. That sect claimed that matter was evil and denied that Christ had a natural corporeal existence. None of Joseph Smith’s writings or those that he translated have any of those characteristics. In fact, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants carry the strongest evidence that Jesus lived, died, rose from the dead and lives today that is available anywhere. And the Word of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants Section 86), Sections 49, 59, 85, 119, 90 and numerous other references are irrefutable evidence that Joseph did not reflect the belief that matter is evil! Either Trask does not understand Gnosticism or he does not know either the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants at all! If he was ever a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint, he surely did not understand it’s teachings or his mind has become so darkened that he does not remember that which he once espoused! Trask’s pronouncement of demonic forces channeling through Joseph Smith, producing a book promoting a massive heresy is, at best, an unrighteous judgement.
The Book of Mormon, Part 3
The Book of Mormon does contain quotations from Isaiah because the people had Isaiah’s prophecies on the brass plates. The brass plates were not readily available to the people, so the religious leaders taught from them frequently. Trask demonstrates his convoluted misconception of the languages involved in his effort to make this an impossibility. Most importantly, Trask contradicts himself in declaring the King James translation of the Bible just the product of scholars using different manuscripts. Earlier he said “all scriptures are God-breathed”, etc. and therefore perfect! Does he not consider the King James Bible Scripture?
The fact that Trask says references in the Book of Mormon are identical to those in the King James Bible is also incorrect. Where there is a similarity, there are many significant differences. Where Jesus is quoted, it is just good common sense to expect that He would use language similar to that used in Palestine since He knew that He was speaking to His own “other sheep”. It is apparent that Trask has not made a significant study of the material he disparages. I recommend that he does!
Page 80 - Trask does accurately define an anachronism but to say there are no such in the Bible is strange. Isaiah, for example, called Cyrus by name some two centuries before his birth (Isa. 44:28) and named him the one who should cause Jerusalem to be rebuilt long before Jerusalem was destroyed. The Jewish historian, Josephus says that it was when Cyrus was shown that prophecy that he decided to do as God, through His prophet, had said he would. Surely calling Jesus by name in Old Testament times would not have been more difficult for God!
In 2 Nephi chapter 11 Nephi explains some of the prophecies of Isaiah and those of his father and others concerning the coming of the Messiah. He says plainly that it is according to the words of the prophets and “the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” God knew by what English name the Messiah would be known at the time the Book of Mormon was brought forth in English. He made certain there would be no mistaking who the Messiah was by causing the prophets to foretell it by giving them a name in their language that would be translated into English, Jesus Christ. For Trask to say that those who left Jerusalem around 600 BC could not have known of the angel’s message is very strange. God surely has the ability to send angels to whomever He chooses wherever He chooses.
The story of the birth of Jesus cannot even be fully told without the Book of Mormon record!
Where in the King James Bible is there a prophecy of a new star to arise at Jesus’ birth? There is none.
Why does Luke not mention a new star shining over the stable at Christ’s birth? Because there was none seen there! Matthew is the only Gospel writer who mentions a star associated with Christ’s birth, and that only after the Wise Men tell Herod about seeing one in the East.
Why did the Wise Men go to Jerusalem instead of to Bethlehem? If they were studying the Hebrew prophesies of the birth of a King of the Jews they would have gone directly to Bethelem. Micah had said He would be born in Bethlehem, and Herod had no trouble finding the prophecy from the Chief Priests and the scribes.
The Book of Mormon has the answer. The Book of Mormon people did not have Micah’s prophesies. Their prophets had said, “he shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers” (Alma 5:19). The Wise Men had no knowledge of the specific city in the land of Jerusalem, so went to Jerusalem to ask.
If the Wise Men were just kings of the Orient or Zoroastrian Priests or Magi or astrologers, as some modern texts say, why would they want to worship a Jewish king? That was the only purpose the Wise Men gave for seeking Him. The Wise Men were believers in the Messiah of whose birth they knew by the fulfillment of the prophecy of a new star that would arise at the time of His birth (Helaman 5:59 and 3 Nephi 1:24).
Beautiful stories like The Other Wise Man have filled in a huge gap in this foundational story with fiction and formed a tradition that has blinded even good Christians to the missing parts of the story of Christ’s birth. The Book of Mormon fills in the gaps!
Surely Joseph Smith cannot be credited with figuring this one out!
Trask’s criticism of the practice of the Book of Mormon peoples keeping the law of Moses even while they believed in Christ and looked forward to His coming is very strange in view of the fact that Jesus’ parents did the same and so, also, did Jesus. He was circumcised, presented at the temple with sacrifices, observed the Passover, etc., etc. Jesus and His Apostles were even preparing to observe the Passover the night before His crucifixion! That is exactly the pattern of the Book of Mormon people. As soon as Christ gave His life in sacrifice and came among them as a resurrected being, the Law of Moses was no longer observed. There is no scripture more plain than the Book of Mormon on this point that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses and established the New Covenant.
How Trask can say that the words gospel and baptism are out of place before Christ’s sacrifice is another strange one. What was John the Baptist doing using those terms and practices before Jesus had even declared His Messiahship? And how could Jesus be baptized with a “Christian baptism” while even He carried the marks of the Mosaic Law in His body and was still observing Jewish feasts (John 7:8-14) including the Passover (Matthew 26:17-18)? Obviously, it is not Joseph Smith who “has no understanding of the Gospel of Christ.” That Joseph had “not even fundamental understanding of Biblical theology”, as Trask affirms, is very good since fundamental Biblical theology of the nature Trask affirms is not at all scriptural!
Trask’s criticism of the use of Greek words, alpha and omega, in the Book of Mormon again shows his misunderstanding of the nature of the book. It is a translation, and a translation from any language to another uses the words that presently convey the thought of the author. These Greek words were used because they were commonly used and understood in 1829. Adieu, borrowed from the French but well established in the English language by 1828, was similarly used, simply because it was the word commonly in use and understood in 1829 that most closely expressed the meaning of the Jewish word Barak. (See Angela Crowell, “Adieu: The Right Word After All”, Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Volume 2, p. 40.)
Whether Jonas and Timothy were names known to Lehi’s family or to Mulek and his companions before they left Jerusalem, we do not yet know. We do know that Greek influence had reached Egypt by the mid 4th century before Christ because Alexander the Great founded Alexandria, Egypt about 322 B. C. Greek was the most widely spoken language in the Mediterranean after the fourth century B. C., and the Jewish population in Alexandria was so numerous that the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek beginning in the third century before Christ, forming the Septuagint. Greece and Palestine were neighbors. Even Andrew and Philip, two of the Apostles whom Jesus chose, have Greek names.
Trask’s objection to the quotation from Malachi being similar to those found in the Book of Mormon fails to take into account that the Holy Spirit was the source of both scriptures and He has every reason to use similar or identical language if He chooses! There is not the slightest indication that the people brought Malachi’s prophecy with them. 2 Nephi 11:73, for example, is directed to the Nephite people speaking even of the number of generations involved in the fulfillment of that prophecy. Christ, too, has every reason to say to the people on this continent what has already been said on another. If it had not been important for the House of Israel to know, I believe Trask will agree, the prophecy would never have been given in the first place and those to whom Christ spoke were and are of the House of Israel. Again the principle of translation applies whatever the actual words that Christ used.
With respect to Book of Mormon archeology and anthropology, there are always those among us who fit the adage, “None are so blind as those who will not see!” Trask gives no credible statement from any Book of Mormon student or researcher who ever claimed that the Smithsonian and the National Geographic Society are using the Book of Mormon as a tool to discover Mesoamerican ruins. Rumor is not evidence, and neither is ignorance! The fact that the two institutions have not used the Book of Mormon in locating historic ruins, however, does not in any way deny that there are ruins found that coordinate with ruins described in the Book of Mormon.
The Smithsonian Institution statement is not dated by Trask and is written by one who was before or not aware of the Smithsonian’s own research data which give an entirely different view of the facts. (See Diane E. Wirth, A Challenge to the Critics, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, Utah, 1986, p. 22-36.) Actually, the Smithsonian statement was written in 1982 and the National Geographic one in 1979, neither of which could possibly include the massive amount of information that has been discovered since those dates, which Trask chooses to ignore.
I have read Ferguson’s material that Tanners circulate and find that it is just another piece of “evidence” that the Tanners promote filled with much more evidence of propaganda than of truth. They say Thomas Stuart Ferguson wrote a letter saying that he was going to “spoof” the Mormon church concerning the Book of Mormon, yet the supposed letter did not come to light until after Ferguson was dead and if Ferguson actually wrote the letter the Tanners circulate, addressees violated his confidence in allowing the Tanners to have and publish it. I am sorry that I no longer have the material available, but if one can find it, they will note that Mr. Ferguson’s family deny that such a letter or such an attitude ever existed. In fact, one of his sons helped to complete his father’s unfinished work, that of revising and republishing his book, as a tribute to him and to his “abiding testimony of the Book of Mormon. ” His brother helped finance the endeavor. Certainly Mr. Ferguson’s family believe that Thomas Stuart Ferguson believed in what he was doing. The Tanners effort to refute that idea is filled with propagandaterms and techniques that place a shadow over their work.
When the Tanners and others, including Trask, try to equate the archaeological findings of the Biblical lands with those of the Americas, they fail to take into consideration that for nearly two thousand years critics of the Bible denied that there were archaeological evidences of the existence of many places and characters spoken of, especially in the Old Testament. Only recently have such archaeological evidences been found, and this in spite of the fact that many of the towns still exist, many records are extant and many peoples have a continuous history. I recently saw a TV documentary showing even these findings being hotly disputed by professional archaeologists who question their validity.
The search for Book of Mormon evidences by the BYU Department of Archaeology has been in progress about a half century, if its first sponsored field trip was in 1948 as this paper states. Give them some time! The Book of Mormon tells of 2 nations destroyed. There were none left to keep their records available to those who do not believe Mormon’s record. Those persons who did survive lost almost all of their records at the hands of the invading Spaniard so there is far less to which American Archaeologists may turn for guides. The critics also fail to consider that God may have a time table for when He wishes the definitive evidences to appear.
As to the archaeological findings that do support the Book of Mormon, they are increasing from time to time. When Delbert Smith was last in Central America, he saw a line of fortifications that were identical with those described by Mormon, placed in the same relation to each other that Mormon described. I stood in the ruins of one such fortified city January 2002. As already mentioned in this paper, there is an ancient town named Lamani in Belize. The name is very similar to that of a chief character of the Book of Mormon named Laman. I have recently visited an ancient city named Mulek in the Yucatan. Both Lamani and Mulek are names reminiscent of Book of Mormon times. The book, Maya Divine Kings of the Rain Forest, published in 2001 and edited by the famed epigrapher, Nickoli Grubs, has a picture of a court scene on page 157. The caption identifies the king as King K’inich Laman Ek’.
The “golden” artifacts of central and south America are made of the ores described in the Book of Mormon as used for that purpose. One of the most often recurring glyphs in Mesoamerican ruins has been translated by the renowned epigrapher, David Stuart, “It came to pass”, that often recurring phrase of the Book of Mormon that has been so maligned. The report of the translation may be found in Science 1986, Vol. 7, Number 2, p. 48 in Virginia Morell’s article, “The Lost Language of Coba”. We have seen and examined many stele and statues near Oaxaca and know for a surety that they show persons of distinct Jewish, Egyptian, Negroid, Chinese, and other anthropological physical characteristics and of national dress. (For further information on the archaeological findings that are supporting the Book of Mormon, contact the Pre-Columbian Studies Institute, P.O. Box 477, Independence, M0 64051 or Book of Mormon Foundation, 210 West White Oak, Independence, Mo. 64050.)
Additional items that have been called anachronisms have been answered by Roy Weldon and others. See Roy Weldon, Restoration Witnesses, a compilation of articles published in the Saints’ Herald, available from the Book of Mormon Foundation or the School of the Saints, Independence, MO. or see Roy E. Weldon and F. Edward Butterworth, Book of Mormon Deeps, Volumes 1,2, and 3.
Chapter 8 - The Doctrine and Covenants
Trask starts out with an error. He gives misinformation concerning the relationship of the Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenants. For correct information see A Recurring Issue, the Authenticity of the Book of Commandments, Three Treatises By Joseph Smith III, Israel A. Smith and Delbert D. Smith, Conference of Restoration Elders, Independence, MO 64050, 1996). Those who were responsible for the printing of those revelations that did get printed in the Book of Commandments said there were numerous errors in the transcriptions and printing. When the revelations were printed in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, after having been compared with the originals, these same men said they believed they were now printed correctly.
Trask then says there were 3 additional revelations placed in the 1844 edition. When publication of the Book of Commandments ended, there were 26 additional revelations to be printed that were printed in the 1835 edition and remain in the present Doctrine and Covenants as sections 15, 22, 31, 36, 51, and those from 65 through 85.
Two of the documents that were added in the 1844 edition after Joseph Smith’s death, and printed by John Taylor who was later a president of the Mormon church, were letters Joseph had written, not inspired revelations. Only one was even purported to be a revelation.
Page 88- Trask persists in his erroneous declaration that Joseph used a peep stone by which to produce the Book of Mormon.
Pages 88-89 - Trask continues his misinformation concerning the Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenants. For correct information, see the preceding reference, “Recurring Issue”. Trask says there were 64 complete revelations in the Book of Commandments. What he does not say is that there is a sixty-fifth chapter in the book which is not complete and those who were responsible for the printing say there were many errors in that which was printed. All one has to do is to read Section 64 of the present RLDS Doctrine and Covenants and compare it with the final chapter of the Book of Commandments, chapter 65, to know that the Book of Commandments ends within a sentence. The book and the sentence were never completed in that work!
During the printing of the Book of Commandments, the printing press was destroyed and the printed portions of the revelations scattered by a mob. Books were printed in sections of 16 or 32 pages, each called a Mo. At the time of the mob action, 160 pages (5 Mo) had been printed. The last printed word was Ephraim, but the sentence was not finished. The scattered portions retrieved were gathered into what has been labeled The Book of Commandments, but it carried only a small portion of the revelations that had been given to that date and were to have been printed.
In saying that Joseph Smith verified both the completeness and accuracy of the book, Trask is again giving false information. The letter to which he refers was not written by Joseph Smith. It was written by Sidney Rigdon, and it does notsay either that the book was completed or that it was correct! It only addresses the errors in two chapters (Chapters 40 and 44) of the work and says nothing about the other 63 chapters!
To substantiate his statement that Joseph verified both the completeness and accuracy of the Book of Commandments, Trask gives the correct reference in the RLDS History. How, then, can he give such false information? He uses a most insidious propaganda device to which reference has already been made. A reliable reference is given which in no way conveys the information the author says it does. The author, however, expects that the reader will trust him/her so completely that the reader will never consult the reference. In this way all sorts of misinformation is foisted off onto unsuspecting readers by unscrupulous and prejudiced authors. (In my field of nutrition we call them quacks!)
Page 90 - Trask still insists, without justification and with no evidence, that Joseph Smith and his father were “practitioners of various occult devices”. His conclusions about the changes in the Doctrine and Covenants are likewise foundationless - the imaginings of only prejudiced minds!
Rod as used in the Bible is not necessarily evil. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible says one word from which it is translated is sometimes translated as a branch (as extending) figuratively a tribe or when translated as a rod, it is an instrument that may be used for chastising (figuratively correction), ruling (a scepter), throwing (a lance), or walking (a staff), figuratively a support of life, e.g. bread.
Another word translated rod as in the 23rd Psalm , “Thy rodand thy staff they comfort me” is defined as a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.). This definition is also that of the rod of God to which Job refers, or Proverbs 29:15, “the rod and reproof give wisdom”. Is the rod that “comforts” us or that “gives us wisdom” evil?
Hebrews 9:4 speaks of Aaron’s rod that was kept in the Holiest part of the tabernacle. In this instance, rod was translated from a word meaning “A stick or wand (as a cudgel, a cane or a baton of royalty) rod, scepter, staff.” This rod was also from the same word as the rod of Rev. 12:5 with which the man child who was caught up into heaven was to “rule all nations with a rod of iron”. This “rod of iron” is, of course, a metaphor for the word of God.
Hosea 4:11-12 says nothing about an evil divining rod of which Trask makes so much. It merely says that the people are committing whoredoms which Strong’s defines as adultery or idolatry. In this case, the prophet is directed to clarify it by saying the people consult their wooden idols and expect an answer by those sticks of wood. The New International Version makes the meaning especially clear. It is the rejection of knowledge (Hosea 4:6) that has led the people to worship idols even to sacrificing to those wooden creations, and their “whoredoms and wine and new wine take away the heart” (Hosea 4:11). Trask has no justification for applying his perverted definition to the scriptural use of a rod!
Page 89-90 - Trask gives Raveill’s reference to a lengthy letter from David Whitmer to the Saints’ Herald dated Dec. 9, 1886 and published February 9, 1887 (Saints’ Herald, Vol. 34, Number 6, Pages 89-93) in which David said that Oliver Cowdery told him that Rigdon was the one responsible for the differences in the revelations as printed in the Book of Commandments and the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. On the face of it, this was hearsay testimony given some 52 years after the event. This is another example of tertiary testimony that directly contradicts primary testimony of the time of the event and so cannot be given credence as truth.
Oliver Cowdery’s own published statements of the time (1835), along with the published statements of others involved in the printing of the Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenants, declare there were errors in the first printings in Independence that were corrected when the original revelations were examined back in Kirtland. When printed in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, these men certified their belief that they were now correct. (See the Preface to the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and pages 6-8 of the Delbert D. Smith portion of A Recurring Issue, The Authenticity of the Book of Commandments, Three Treatises, by Joseph Smith III, Israel A. Smith and Delbert D. Smith.)
Trask quotes David Whitmer as saying Joseph heeded Rigdon who expounded the scriptures to him and showed him High Priests and other offices that should be added to Elders, Priests, and Teachers. Whitmer contended that since these three offices were the only ones mentioned in the Book of Mormon, these were all there should be. One needs only to consult a concordance to the Book of Mormon to see how many times “High Priests” or “High Priesthood” is ascribed to the functioning of the church in that era. The High Priesthood is not missing from the Book of Mormon!
David’s objection to the introduction of High Priests has been argued for so many years that there is little use to discuss it here. It is, however, interesting to compare that objection to Whitmer’s personal history. He was ordained a High Priest in the early church and served as President of the High Council of Zion. (RLDS Church History, Vol. 2, p.5 ). After his expulsion from the original church (RLDS Church History Vol. 2, p. 150), he was again ordained a High Priest and designated President of the church organized by William McLellin in 1847. In McLellin’s church, he was called a prophet, seer and revelator as well as President and John Whitmer was ordained a High Priest to be David’s counselor in the First Presidency. David later denounced the principles he had claimed were revealed to him in McLellin’s church. See the following:
1. William McLellin’s account of “Things in Kirtland” printed in their “Ensign of Liberty”, reprinted in the RLDS Church History, Vol. 3, pp. 79-83
2. McLellin’s report to the conference held in Far West, Mo., September 8 and 9 of 1847, published in the “Ensign of Liberty”, August, 1849 and reprinted in the RLDS Church History, Vol. 3, pp. 83-90. (See also the historians comment that follows McLellin’s report)
3. Hiram Page’s letter from Richmond in answer to an inquiry addressed to David Whitmer there.
David Whitmer is said to have denied even that there should be Apostles in the church, pointing out that the twelve Jesus chose in the Americas were only called Disciples. In spite of this denial, there were and are Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ, (Temple Lot) which he espoused after leaving McLellin’s church.
Pages 92-93 - Trask makes an incidental error in stating that, what he calls the “triumvirate concept” is used in virtually every aspect of the organization, including the Seventy. There is a quorum of seven Presidents of Seventy that presides over the seven quorums of Seventy.
Other subjects addressed in these pages represent charges the Temple Lot church has made through the years that have been answered repeatedly.
Trask is correct that the institutional RLDS (now COC) has built its temple on a spot other than the one dedicated for that purpose. That does not mean, however, there will not be a temple built on the dedicated spot.
Page 97 - The Word of Wisdom is not a “dietary code”. It is a revealment of principles of health that are much more far reaching than food, are universal, and are constantly being verified by scientific data. (See Mildred Nelson Smith, The Word of Wisdom, Principle With Promise, Herald Publishing House, 1977 or the 1997 version, Paragon Publishing, Mt. Ayr, Iowa, available from Mildred Smith, Lamoni, Iowa, or Herald House, School of the Saints, or Price Publishing all of Independence, Missouri)
Page 98 - What Trask characterizes as Joseph’s new version of the afterlife is not new at all. It is just a clarification of Paul’s statement to the Corinthians concerning the glories of the sun, moon and stars (1 Cor. 15:40-42), concerning one caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2-5) paradise (Luke 23:44) 1 Peter 3:18-22 that tells why Christ went to preach in the prison to souls, some of whom died in the flood Rev. 20:13-15 which says that hell will give up her dead and finally itself be destroyed, and other scriptures that traditional Bible “scholars” have ignored in determining their erroneous view of heaven and hell.
Pages 99-101 - With respect to Malachi, it has already been shown that D&C 110 is a letter in which Joseph discussed his own ideas, not a revelation. D&C 95 is an independent revelation and not a copy of Malachi. It was the angel, not Joseph, who gave the reference a little different from the scripture as written. Joseph reported the statement as the angel gave it but retained it as it was in the Bible.
Chapter 9 - Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version of the Bible
Trask misses a point on the date of publication of portions of the Inspired Version of the Bible. Genesis 7, which is also RLDS Doctrine and Covenants 36, was included in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, much earlier than 1851.
Because he has no evidence on which to base his conclusions, Trask again resorts to propaganda techniques at the bottom of page 103 and “speculates” on Sidney Rigdon’s participation in the “translation”. The Inspired Version is not a translation, as is sometimes erroneously stated, but is just what it says it is, an inspired revision of the King James text.
Page 105 - Trask resorts to his erroneous statement concerning the production of the Book of Mormon. His statement that first hand witnesses gave such information has already been shown to be false.
Page 106- Trask’s contention that the name of Jesus Christ could not have been revealed to Adam is an indication of the limitation he puts on God. God is not limited to any era of time, and he knows all there is to know even about us all.
Trask is correct in explaining that the Inspired Version is not a translation as already noted. The parts of the Inspired Version that appear to be insertions are revelations of portions that were changed or removed from the old text.
That Jesus Christ was involved in the creation as the Son of God is not an anachronism! To whom was God speaking when he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” (Genesis 1:26)? Was Paul lying when he told the Ephesians that “. God created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9), or when he told the Colossians (1:16-17), “For by him were all things created . : And he is before all things, and by him all things consist”?
I am puzzled by the assertion that the introduction of the gospel and belief on God’s “Only Begotten Son” in the beginning of time is a theological anachronism. What doctrine did God teach the people He created if He is unchangeable and Jesus was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?” To what was the Psalmist referring when he wrote Psalm 2:7 which reads, “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son this day have I begotten thee.”? Did God leave those people born during the two millennium or so before Moses without a religious faith on which to depend? Were they left without knowledge of a Savior?
Page 107-108 -The idea that Joseph wrote the account of Enoch as a description of his own life has no basis in fact. That Joseph “defined himself as a revived Enoch in the last days” is a figment of Trask’s imagination! That Enoch lived, walked with God (Genesis 5:22-24) and “was translatedthat he should not see death” (Hebrews 11:5) is clearly recorded in the King James Bible. That the writer of Hebrews had a record that told more of the story than is found in the King James Genesis is apparent because that Genesis account merely says that God took Enoch, which could easily have been by death. But the Hebrews account says pointedly that he did not die but was translated. Where did the writer of Hebrews get his information? It was either from inspiration from God or from some record that had been left out of the Genesis account by accident or design. God merely restoredthe fuller account through Joseph Smith in the Inspired Version.
Genesis 7:9-10 - With respect to the people of Cainan, Trask skews his facts to suit his purpose again! The Inspired Version says the landwas cursed, not the people. Enoch went to preach as the Lord directed him, and there is no indication in the Inspired Version as to why he was not sent to Cainan.
Trask disparages the idea that Zion will return to the earth in the last days, but the King James Bible says the Lord will return to the earth bringing “them . which sleep in Jesus” with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:14 - 17) and will dwell on the earth a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6). Whether one calls it “Zion” is of little consequence. God’s people will return to the earth with God’s Son to live there “with those who remain” for a thousand years.
The substantive part of Isaiah 29 is the same in the King James Bible and the Inspired Version as previously noted. In case the reader is not familiar with the scripture, let it be noted that the names Trask has put in parenthesis are not in the Inspired Version.
Page 111 - The warning in Revelation is very like the warning in Deuteronomy 4:2 which says, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandment of the Lord . .” Neither warning in any way limits God adding to or correcting the record men have made of His word.
Page 112 - Trask presents his own hypothesis concerning the male child that was taken into heaven. I have never heard nor read in any Restoration literature that the early Christian church members are equated with that symbolic male child by members of the RLDS church! Neither does the Restoration literature claim that the Christian church was removed from the earth “soon after Jesus’ death”. In fact, it does not say Christ’s church was ever removed from the earth. Rather it says that church remained in the wilderness and was called out of the wilderness, just as the scripture said it would be, in the latter days. Certainly the ideas Trask presents are not in any of the scriptures or writings of Joseph Smith or any of his successors! That there would be a falling away (apostasy) before Christ’s return is clearly prophesied in many scriptures, Matthew 11:12 and 2 Thessalonians 2 among them.
Chapter 10 - The Pearl of Great Price is not a scripture of the RLDS church. Parts included in the RLDS scriptures are discussed in other portions of this response.
Chapter 11 - The RLDS Priesthood System
Trask’s continuing insistence on Joseph Smith’s occult orientation is getting tiresome in view of the fact that he has no evidence that it is true! Now he even stoops to using New Age language to disparage Joseph’s work. His review of the history of the restoration of the Priesthood is fairly accurate. He does make an error in designating specific offices in an order of Priesthood as “higher” than others. For example, the offices of Apostle or Bishop are not higher than that of a High Priest (p. 123). They are just specific ministries within that group.
On page 126 the antiquity of the gospel is denied by Trask. He supports the traditional view of the Christian faith that ignores the fact that Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8). With the traditional view, all the ministry of all the millenniums before Christ is without Christ. That is not reasonable since Jesus Christ was the one through whom God created all things, was alive and well through all those millenniums, and worked with His Father to bring salvation to as many as would respond. If it were not so, how could He expect every knee to bow and every tongue to confess Him? (Philippians 2:10-11, King James. Similar language in K.J., Isaiah 45:23 & Romans 14:11)? Why would he go to preach to the spirits in prison, some of whom were disobedient in the days of Noah while the ark was preparing? (1 Peter 3:19-20 K.J)?
Chapter 12 - Ministry in the Early Christian Church.
Page 130 - Again Trask forgets that there were people and ministry for centuries before the Mosaic Law was instituted. The Mosaic Law was instituted simply because the truth had been forgotten and the people now needed what Paul called, a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25).
Of course the gifts of God are to be held and used by each member of the church, or of the world, for that matter, as God provides them. And Restoration members are among those who believe that principle should extend to all of the gifts, both physical and spiritual. This proliferation of gifts, however, does not negate the establishment of Priesthood and organization in the church. I Cor.12: 27-31 says God setApostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues in the body of Christ, not that they just happened, created as needs arose. Ephesians 4:11-14, speaking of Christ, says He gave some, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers “for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: tillwe all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of Christ . that we . may grow up into Him in all things which is the head, even Christ.” To date we have not achieved a unity of the faith nor the measure of the stature of Christ, which leads me to believe we still need these ministers. The fact that these and others were not all mentioned at one time or in one place does not mean that Christ had no intention of their being in His church for His purposes. Of course, the function came first and the form later, but that does not mean that it was not God and His Christ who determined the form!
Page 132 - Although Trask confirms the universal nature of some of the Priesthood, he has to resort to assumptions to support his historical conjectures- “It seems the concept of Elders. ”, “It may be predominantly Gentile congregations . ” The Apostle Paul did not have to guess. He said, God and His Christ set the gifts and ministers in His church.
Page 135 - Trask is correct in saying that Paul urged the people to desire the best gifts. While the gift of prophecy was frequently experienced, as Trask says, there is no evidence that it was the gift they sought above all else! That all of the gifts are still needed and should be experienced frequently in the Body of Christ is a given with Restoration believers and it has been the history of the church that they have been “Spirit appointed ministries proceeding from a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit”.
Page 137 - Trask tries to prove that all Apostles have to be eye-witnesses of Christ’s ministry. According to that reasoning, Paul could not be an Apostle, unless you count his Spiritual encounter with the Christ as an eye witness. And what about Barnabas? He was from Cyprus and was converted by Paul’s preaching (Acts 4:36, 11:22-25, 13:1-2, Galatians 2:1). When was he physically an eye-witness of Christ’s ministry? And if Paul could be an Apostle because of his spiritual experience with the Christ, why not others? It is the testimony of many Apostles of the Restoration that they have had spiritual encounters with Jesus Christ that have verified their calling to that office, and they have been gifted by Christ to be special messengers of His new covenant.
Trask again forgets that Timothy had only the Old Testament to make him wise at the time Paul made the quoted statement. The testimony of those Apostles with whom Jesus Christ traveled had not yet been compiled into scripture form. These testimonies were necessary for further assurance of the truthfulness of the prophecies with which Timothy was familiar, the delineation of the specifics of Christ’s continuing ministry and His expectations of His people.
Christ is still ministering. We have not all come to a unity of the faith nor have we become perfect people able to measure up to the stature of Christ (Eph. 4:13). The continuing ministry and testimony of those who are eye witnesses of the Savior is still essential, and it is available not only in scripture but in the lives of some chosen persons. Many of the Apostles called by God and ordained to Apostleship in the Restoration bear such a testimony. Even my husband, Delbert D. Smith, saw His Lord and received instruction of Him concerning his ministry as a Seventy in Christ’s church. (See Mildred Nelson Smith, The Master’s Touch I and II.)
Chapter 13 - The Melchizedek Priesthood - A Biblical Analysis
Again Trask’s footnote on page 139 prompts me to ask what Bible is so completely God-breathed that not a jot or a tittle can be removed from it. If the King James uses the phrase, “after the order of Melchizedek”, what justification is there for the other versions removing it if it is there God-breathed? Trask also persists in using the pronoun “in” instead of the King James “after” in the phrase which is used numerous times in the scripture. “In the order of Melchizedek” is not the same as “After the order of Melchizedek”.
Pages 139-144 - Of course the author of Hebrews was building a case for Jesus Christ being the Great High Priest of the Jews who would be both Priest and King. But it must here be noted that Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a person who was a Priest and King. That means that Melchizedek was a Priest long before there was a Mosaic law. It must also be noted that Trask declares the “type of Priesthood held by Melchizedek was to actually prefigure that of the coming Messiah”. From where did this Priesthood type of which the Messiah was to be a Priest forever (Hebrews 7:17 & 21) come? It came from God (Gen. 14:18-20). Of course, men who hold this Priesthood must be “selected from among men” and “called of God” as was Aaron. Those true to the Restoration have always required it!
Trask’s conclusions are not justified. Ignoring the Genesis scripture by saying it is the one exception does not make it go away! The existence of a man who was of a Priesthood order of which Christ Himself is a part, who offered Abram (Abraham) bread and wine and to whom Abram (Abraham) paid tithes is clearly manifested in the scriptures. Melchizedek was not just a figure of speech or one concocted to influence the Jews. He was a member of the Priesthood whom God had called, of whom the Jews had knowledge and for whom they had respect.
Joseph Smith is falsely accused of blasphemy by Trask. Joseph did not attempt to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood. It was Godwho restored His Priesthood, even that which had been from at least the days of Melchizedek, in order to offer the ministry that would eventually bring us all to a unity of the faith and to the measure of the stature of Christ!
Chapter 14 - The Aaronic Priesthood - A Biblical Analysis
Again Trask unjustly accuses Joseph of showing contempt for the sacrifice and work of Jesus Christ. The responsibilities of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Restoration was not that of offering sacrifices and conducting temple duties as those of the Mosaic Law. Their duties are those of the preparation of a people to receive the Lord Jesus Christ on His return to reign forever, just as John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord at His coming in the meridian of time.
Chapter 15 - The Heresies of Joseph Smith’s Priesthood
Trask’s unjust accusations, from his insistence, without evidence, of Joseph’s occult activities to his accusations of blasphemy and contempt for the sacrifice of our Lord, continue unabated. They are extremely contradictory. First he makes Joseph one of the most well read, intelligent, clever persons in the world, capable of gathering information from every author of his day, including the Bible with the Apocrypha intact, and creating a monumental work called the Book of Mormon from it. Now he calls him an ignorant, spiritually immature person with no ability to distinguish right from wrong!
In this chapter Trask vents his intense hatred for Joseph and his work in an irrational manner. If the concept of a great or high priest originated with Israel on Mt. Sinai, and Aaron was the first high priest, as Trask says on page 151, then why do the scriptures record the life and ministry of Melchizedek who lived even before Israel (Jacob) was born? Trask acknowledges Melchizedek was a high priest by insisting that Hebrews 4:10 which reads, “Called of God, an high priest after the order of Melchizedek” really means in the manner of Melchizedek, which means as Melchizedek was. Trask is confused when he declares that the existence of Priesthood from Adam invalidates the concept of Melchizedek being a high priest when in fact, it validates it! And how the concept invalidates the Book of Mormon is incomprehensible and irrational!
To say that Doctrine and Covenants 83:6c teaches that priesthood can be obtained by ones own initiative is like me telling someone they can make as good bread as I make by using wheat alone. Being faithful is only one qualification of a person called to the Priesthood. The rest of the qualifications are discussed in other parts of this and other scriptures, just as the rest of the ingredients in my bread have all been spoken of in the rest of the recipe.
Trask again confuses the nations of Israel and Judah. It is true that for the house of Judah and their associates, priests had to be of the lineage of Aaron. However, for the other tribes of Israel there was no such requirement. Elijah and Elisha were not Jews. They were Tishbites from Gillead, East of Jordan. They were of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, yet they were the powerful servants of God. The record of the Kings tells of other prophets and elders of that nation who also preserved the true religion even against their wicked rulers who tried to institute other forms of worship. Lehi’s people were of the tribe of Manasseh, not of Judah. Their Priests would not have had to be in the lineage of Aaron.
Page 152 - Trask cites Mosiah 7:14 as additional proof that there were many high priests at one time in the Book of Mormon record. Like much of his other material, the reference is taken out of context. What he neglects to say is that this reference describes the temple built by the wicked and idolatrous King Noah. That the other references are legitimate does not, however “betray the Book of Mormon as a fraud”. As previously noted, these were not Jews and their system of Priesthood did not have to follow that of the Jewish line which was leading up to the verification of Jesus as the Messiah for that people.
Heresy #4 - For Trask to contend that Melchizedek was without father or mother, without beginning of days or end of life and remains a priest forever is interesting. The man must still be alive somewhere and still ministering as a high priest. I wonder where! And how was he born without parents? That the reference is to the Priesthood that Melchizedek received from God, as the Inspired Version says, is the correct rendition of the scripture.
Actually, the writer of Hebrews was telling the people to whom he was writing that there was another Priesthood that was greater than that to which they were accustomed, for Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and the less is always blessed of the better (Heb. 7:6-7). To be a part of this greater Priesthood did not require lineage. The writer was contrasting the Priesthood of Christ that, like Melchizedek’s which had prevailed while Levi was “yet in the loins of his father” (Heb. 7:10), did not require lineage.
Trask does not understand section 83 and so divorces 83:2 c-g from the rest of the section. Again the two lines of Priesthood are being delineated. Moses and His sons were one line and “The Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed throughout all their generations . ” (D&C 83:3a).
Heresy #5 -Again Trask ignores the Genesis reference to Melchizedek and accuses Joseph of appropriating the title to himself and others. It was not Joseph, but Godwho conferred the title in Melchizedek’s day as in this day.
Heresy #6 - There is no attempt to return to the Levitical Priesthood and their performance of sacrifices for the people in any of Joseph Smith’s works!
Chapter 16 - True Christian Priesthood
Earlier Trask contended that there were no legitimate Priests after Christ. Now he has all Christians going to be Priests. In the sense that all have free access to God, this is true. And the fact that it is spiritual sacrifices that are required of all people is also true. He says that in this present life we are Christ’s servants. Christ said those who do as he commands are friends, not servants, (John 15:14-15), but since friends do serve each other, we will not quarrel with his statement.
Page 155 - I do not know where he gets the idea of dominion theology nor why he brings it into this discussion. Certainly it does not come from any Restoration scripture.
Chapter 17 - Understanding the RLDS Dilemma
Trask’s statement that the beliefs of RLDS people have led them to be moral people, good neighbors, workmates and fellow citizens who carry out their lives with above average zeal leads me to quote Jesus Christ - “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). His accusation that our zeal is misdirected and not based on truth, however, is based on his own misperception of the Restoration faith and lack of understanding of truth. To imply that we have rejected the Messiah is so far from the truth that it is difficult to understand how he can make the accusation with a straight face! There is no group in all this world bearing a more vibrant testimony that Jesus Christ actually came in the flesh (1 John, 4:2), was crucified, rose from the dead and is alive and working personally in the world today.
Trask’s misunderstanding or lack of knowledge leads him to teach that the personal ministry of Jesus was limited to the Jews without regard even to Christ’s “other sheep” of the House of Israel whom He said He must bring, “and they shall hear my voice and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” (John 10:16). Neither does he consider the fact that Jesus Christ was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world as Christ revealed through John in the book of Revelation. Faulty premises lead to wrong conclusions, and this has been the journey Trask has taken from the beginning of his work.
Page 160 - By making his sarcastic reference to “Joseph Smith’s highest heaven”, celestial glory, Trask is, perhaps ignorantly, rejecting the testimony of the Apostle Paul who writes of being in the “highest heaven”, of the resurrection of bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial and of the glories of the sun, moon, and stars (1 Cor. 15:40-42).
Trask’s evaluation of the “ties that bind” shows regrettable ignorance of the Restoration and its people. The history of the Restoration movement is filled with the testimonies of persons who have given up their families and friends to become a part of Christ’s restored church. Among our immediate acquaintances, we can introduce him to many, some of whose stories are in The Master’s Touch I and II. To say that it is ignorance and fear that keeps us together is to bear false witness through the dissemination of gross misinformation. I repeat. Bearing false witness is forbidden by the ten commandments, which have never been rescinded!
Page 162-163 - I do not have access to the quotations that Trask attributes to Joseph Smith through Fawn Brodie or the Tanners. Other materials he has borrowed from them have proved unreliable and even slanderous. There is no reason to believe these would be any different!
Page 163 - How Trask can say that “Joseph’s” Priesthood were to be “beyond reproach, just as he was” when so many of the early revelations are reprimands to both Joseph and other Priesthood,is beyond my comprehension. Either he has never read, or cannot comprehend the Doctrine and Covenants or he deliberately misleads his readers. And for him to accuse the RLDS of considering any weak in the faith who consider an opposing viewpoint shows a deplorable lack of knowledge about the work of the Seventy, the debates of the early days of the church, the explorations of other faiths conducted by many in church school curriculum, the life of the church’s people who freely “fraternize with the enemy by considering an opposing viewpoint”, except that we do not consider them enemies!
Pages 163-164 - Trask returns to his unjust insistence on Joseph’s obsession with the occult, and now applies it to the “burning of the bosom” instruction of one revelation as though it is the entire method by which truth is evaluated. In so doing Trask disregards the instruction of even this verse to study it out in your mind and then ask Godwhether what you have thought is true. Even more importantly, he disregards Section 85 in which all are instructed to study out of the best books to obtain knowledge, to seek learning by study and also by faith, since all cannot be instructed in all things (and the curriculum is extensive), teach one another the things of the kingdom. He ignores the definition of truth and the extensive treatise on truth in section 90. He ignores the many statements of scientific fact found in the Doctrine and Covenants in such sections as 85, 86, 90, long before science discovered the principles they proclaim. He shows himself either ignorant of the revelations that came through Joseph Smith or a vindictive prevaricator of the truth that he does know. His assertion that Joseph Smith taught that the human heart is where truth is to be evaluated is not documented because it is not a teaching of Joseph Smith but a figment of Trask’s imagination.
Trask even distorts the promise of the Lord to bear witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon, which truth is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. There is no limitation on how the Lord will give the reader a testimony of the truthful testimony of Jesus that it bears. My Father received his testimony by being instantly taught to read the book by the Spirit at age 16 and through it being able to read everything that he chose to read. Sherman Phipps received his testimony as a service man in World War II, also by being taught to read instantly by the Spirit and by the ministry of an angel who visited him as he read. (Both of the foregoing testimonies are found in detail in Mildred Nelson Smith, The Master’s Touch II). We could multiply the testimonies of miraculous confirmation of the promise in the Book of Mormon of a testimony of the Christ and His continuing presence among the children of men to those who ask in faith. There is no mention of a burning of the bosom in that promise or in the many testimonies that are continually given of the truthfulness of the promise. Neither is there a threat for those who do not believe the book, even in the scripture cited. The only warning is for those who reject the word of Godto which the book bears witness.
Like the Saints at Berea (Acts 17:11), the Latter Day Saints are instructed to examine the scriptures to see whether that which is being taught them is true. The statement most often quoted on the subject in the church as I have known it comes from Jesus Christ, “Whoso treasureth up my words shall not be deceived.” (Matthew 24:39 IV). And it is by the words of Christ and His servants that we who try to be faithful to our Lord judge all things, Trask to the contrary!
Page 165 - Trask continues his display of ignorance of the way RLDS receive testimony of spiritual truth. He does not have to believe to make the Three Nephites and John the Beloved real and active ministers in the world today. John the Beloved actually preached a sermon for my husband at Creston, Iowa years ago. (See The Master’s Touch, Herald House 1973, pp. 192-195.) And there are many testimonies of ministries of both John and the Three Nephites in Latter Day Saint literature. There are even testimonies of their presence and actions in American and Israeli history, but, as the Book of Mormon indicates, those who receive their ministry without knowledge of or belief in their presence will not recognize them (3 Nephi 13:39-41).
Page 166 - Aren’t healings one of the spiritual gifts of which Paul did not want the Saints of his day to be ignorant (1 Cor. 12 )? And dreams and visions, are they not manifestations of the Spirit of God prophesied by Joel and attested to by Peter as being evidence of the action of the Spirit of God in the last days (Acts 2:16-17)? Why does Trask question them in Christ’s church today? Are they out of place in his Christianity? If so, why did Christ send his ministers out with power to heal the sick and cast out devils. Has He since rescinded his instruction? And has prophecy suddenly disappeared from the community of Saints? Paul instructed the Saints of his day to “covet to prophecy”, as well as to speak in tongues (1 Cor. 14). Has that instruction been rescinded? Trask said not one jot or tittle could be changed in the God-breathed Bible - nothing added or taken away!
When one has experienced tongues as real languages given by persons who did not know the language but interpreted at times by persons who did know the language and containing prophecies that have come to pass as many times as I have when one has been the recipient of a “Thus saith the Spirit” that answers questions asked only of God as I have when one has seen lives cleansed and saved by such ministry as many times as I have when one has seen instant headings of serious diseases and near fatal accidents as I have when one has experienced the testimony of dreams and visions that have brought tremendous ministry to those who experienced them and to others for whom that ministry was intended as many times as I have, it brings deep sadness and profound pity for one who disparages the ministries because of ignorance or deliberate rejection.
In his summary, Trask is obsessed with his own misinformation concerning the way Joseph Smith encouraged his followers to evaluate scripture and so rejects the truth of the instructions that are written in the scriptures God gave through Joseph.
The last paragraph of page 166 contains truth to which every faithful Saint with whom I have been associated would readily agree! We do not believe every spirit, but testeven the spirit by which Trask performs his work of deceit and falsehood under the guise of trying to save the Saints! When we “Prove all things hold fast that which is good.”, we find that we must reject his work as that of an angry man who either does not understand the truth or deliberately rejects it.
Chapter 18 - Helping RLDS to Victory
Trask declares that he has proved much more than he has, as can be seen by the foregoing refutation of a great portion of his assertions. It is not the people who are faithful to the Restoration who are deceived but Trask himself. It is Trask who has “proliferated misinformation” that would lead faithful followers of the Savior from light into darkness! Christ said that it is truththat makes one free (John 8:32), and repeatedly we have shown that Trask has not been truthful!
Trask’s “historical information” has been shown to be based on unreliablesecondary and tertiary sources substantiated by reprehensible propaganda techniques. His “Biblical analysis “ has been shown to be extremely selective and faulty. His suggested technique for saving RLDS is a good way to sell books, and may be successful with those who are ignorant of their history and scriptures, as it is apparent Trask must be. His characterization of Joseph Smith as a false prophet and the Book of Mormon as the heart of his rottenness will one day cause him grief when he meets his Lord and learns the truth.
“A mature and growing relationship with Jesus Christ” is the privilege of every person who believes and loves God’s truth. That truth is found in the whole Bible, not in Trask’s selected excerpts from it. We all need “intercessory prayer and undistorted truth”, including Trask!
Addendum: As I reread this response I note I have left out a response that I should have included on page 23 concerning the use of the word Nephi in the Apocrypha. 2 Maccabees 1 is a letter from the Jews in Jerusalem to those in Egypt. They describe a miraculous happening in which water that had covered the temple fire, hidden by the Priests when the people were taken to Babylon, was sprinkled over the wood and the sacrifice when the people returned. A great fire was miraculously kindled on the altar. When the sacrifice was consumed, Neemias had the rest of the water poured on the stones and again a fire was kindled. Verse 36 reads, “And Neemias called this thing Naphthar, which is as much as to say, A cleansing but many men call it Nephi.” If Joseph had been copying it, he would have had Lehi and the people of Ancient America “nephiing” their children (cleansing them miraculously) instead of naming them Nephi!
Incidentally, there is no story in the Book of Mormon that parallels this story. It is more closely related to the experience of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. Whether the 32 parallels the Tanners claim to have found that Joseph “very likely” (there is that propaganda phrase again) “used while developing his Book of Mormon” are of any consequence can easily be determined by comparing the portions of the Apocrypha they indicate with the Book of Mormon. It is not wise to take the Tanner’s word for it.
It is my prayer that all those who read this response will be blessed by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, in the reading. If I have made errors, I apologize and assure you that such errors are not intended.