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Radio Free Mormon: 190: The Adam Clarke Connection

Now that new research has established the dependency of Joseph Smith’s Bible translation on the Adam Clarke Bible Commentary, RFM launches into a spate of new and additional ideas and inferences that can be drawn from this conclusion.  RFM shows how the Adam Clarke Bible Commentary may not only have influenced the JST, but also the Book of Mormon and even the Book of Abraham!  That’s the sign post up ahead!  Your next stop, The Adam Clarke Connection!


19 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 190: The Adam Clarke Connection”

  1. Really fascinating stuff! People are now going to be comparing everything Joseph ever said/wrote to Adam Clark’s works. Great sleuthing!

    1. Yes! I was just wondering if there could be any connections between Adam Clarke’s commentary in Genesis and the temple. 🙂

  2. Wow! The bombshell at the end! The Anthon episode finally makes sense.

    Until now I just thought Joseph was relying on psychology: that Harris was gullible, and was so deeply invested, that whatever Anthon said, Harris would find a way to use it as proof. However, that was still a risk. And Smith badly needed Harris’s money.

    So it looks like Smith just copied some genuine word translations from Adam Clarke. Harris would be no wiser, Anthon would confirm they are genuine, and Harris would then lend Smith the needed money (never to see it again).

    Well done on finding those characters in Adam Clarke! My old copy of Clarke was digital (remember Gospel Infobase?), so of course I never made that connection. This is why I listen.

    1. PS to clarify, I agree that Joseph’s own made up characters were nonsense, as Anthon said. But it sounds like there were two parts to the test: genuine translations from Clarke, so Harris would be sufficiently impressed to fork out the cash, plus in addition to that, Joe’s scribbles.

      If I was Joe, I could not resist adding my own characters to see what Anthon said. To try my luck: nothing to lose, and everything to gain. This is rather like modern cases of people getting deliberately pretentious nonsense accepted in highbrow literary journals. Just to see if they can. (Spoiler: they can.) Joe was a chancer, and the field of Egyptian translation was wide open, so it was worth a shot.

      1. Great work RFM!!!

        If I may add a small suggestion. Some apologists have come up with a rather ludacris idea that the cause of the somewhat archaic english in the BOM stems from a “translation council” in heaven, assisting Joseph Smith with the BOM translation, rather than the influence of the language in the KJB.

        Do you know what language style Clarke’s commentaries are written in?

  3. What logic is there with the ongoing hypothesis among the various “LDS scholars” as to what Joseph may have,seems to, or possibly could have thought the word “translation” meant. Why all the ambiguity and uncertainty? It smacks of the Dunning/Kruger effect. Have these people all applied the magic lemon juice to their faces with mistaken belief that no one will recognize the dishonesty they are involved in? These are these mostly BYU educated and well paid by tithing Mormon scholars and apologists. Are they really this transparently incompetent? Do they not think anyone will see them for what they really are? It seems they represent the lower third of their class when it comes to casual historical observations and linguistics. They are just pathetic, to borrow Robert Ritner’s scholarly observation, when it comes to successful obfuscation when philosophizing about what “translation” meant in the context of Joseph Smith and his various “Translations”. Specifically what did Smith personally claim translation meant when producing the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, and Book of Moses? Joseph Smith made it clear in his own words precisely how he and his Flying Monkeys/Apostles understood the use of the word “translation”.
    Smith hired Joshua Seixas to teach the leading Monkeys/Mormon leaders the Hebrew language so they could translate old Hebrew texts into English. Joseph then wrote about this experience and the fact that they were foremost as students of Seixas. touting their ability to “translate” in the most literal sense, the Hebrew language into 1830’s English. Why the ridiculous discussion as to how Smith might possibly have thought there was some other mystical, esoteric meaning to the word “translation” ? Smith made it clear what he was really doing, learning Hebrew in order to translate Hebrew into English.
    Smith got outed almost immediately, by learned men of his era, for the nonsense he produced from the mummy papyrus. It is a fact that Joseph Smith Jr. personally, with no coercion, with his own pen, in his own journal, and printed in his own newspaper purposefully stated as an unequivocal fact that the papyrus Smith claimed to “translate” was the factual historical account, written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics that Smith claimed he could both easily read and translate, was the account of Abraham in Egypt, and written by Abraham’s own hand on the papyrus Smith had purchased from Michael Chandler.
    Now Joseph Smith being outed once again. He tests out as either an incompetent Dunning Kruger type pretend translator, or a bumbling self proclaimed prophet who mistook every English word God said to him during the “translation” process, or maybe Smith just made it up as he casually plagiarized and borrowed story outlines with names like Lehi, Nephi, Lamanites from books available to him at his local library or printing office.
    LDS apologists affirm by solemn oaths made in LDS temples, to always be honest, and yet they seek to redefine the word “translate”, even though Smith’s own testimony regarding translation conflicts with the apologists definitdion. The apologists claim Smith actually believed in his heart that he was translating, when he could not get even one word right, let alone a complete sentence, as he attempted to translate Egyptian Demotic into English. True to the Dunning Kruger research Smith believed he was right, and smarter than the learned men that dismissed his translation as nonsense, and offered objective proof he was factually wrong.
    So Joseph Smith gets outed again on his translations as new facts come to light recently via the internet regarding his production as “Author and Proprietor”, again in his own words, of the somewhat fabulous, entertaining and truly fictional yet faith promoting for some stories in the Book of Mormon.
    Faith promoting literature exists along a wide spectrum, from C.S. Lewis, Thomas Aquinas, John Milton, and many apocryphal authors and many nearly unknown pseudepigraphical biblical era writers.
    Where does that leave our man of many secret wives, Joseph Smith Jr? A fabulously imaginative and well read, yet grammar and punctuation challenged, sexually unsatisfiable man with a desire to be somebody special by writing a book with material borrowed from contemporary authors and biblical scholars far more learned than Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith lived in our time he might well be another David Koresh or Jeffery Epstein, ( Lucinda Harris got hims a few girls), Maybe another Bernard Madoff, Michael Milken or heaven forbid, another William Jefferson Clinton, who famously stated ” I did not have sex with that woman”, when what Bill may have meant, from an LDS apologetic viewpoint was that Monica Lewinsky was not a “woman”, but still just a girl and therein LIES the difference.
    LDS apologists apply this pretzel logic type semantics to the question of “Translation” regarding Joseph Smith, as well as his polygamy and polyandry. This absurd apologist logic is what allowed a sitting president, getting fellatio under his desk while he converses with Hillary on the hotline, to be able to deny objective facts in favor of a rationalized and absurd re translation of what it means to have “sex” or what constitutes a “woman” in the English language.

    M.R. Snevets

  4. I have now heard two references to Joseph Smith wanting to join the Methodists, as late as 1828. Mentioned in this podcast and also touched on in the Haley Lemmon interviews. This seems new info, Could you provide some references, I would like to explore this. Great episode.

  5. Hey there Joe, Richard Bushman writes about it in his Rough Stone Rolling. It is also mentioned in Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith. Online the Tanners have a compilation of sources on this issue.
    Keep in mind that these sources only show that Joseph desired to join the Methodists. The apologists at Fairmormon however have artfully condescended to answer the questions that everyone ‘should have asked’: Did Joseph actually join the Methodists? Technically, No. And through omission and careful use of ellipses when quoting primary sources they are able to hide any contrary evidence that he wanted to.

  6. After thinking about your Adam Clark podcast and listening to it several times, I wanted to add more complications to whatever language they spoke and wrote in. Maybe you already thought about this but I wanted to point it out.

    Omni 1:

    17 And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.

    18 But it came to pass that Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language. And it came to pass that after they were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates.

    19 And it came to pass that the people of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah, did unite together; and Mosiah was appointed to be their king.

    So what is the language of Mosiah? Wasn’t the entire purpose of the plates, as seen here, to prevent language from becoming corrupted? Also to have genealogy, and the law of Moses. How would the Nephites know the Mulekites denied their creator or know their history if they couldn’t understand them until after they taught them the Mosiah language. Wouldn’t the recorded kept be written in the same as the brass plates, or at least something consistent to prevent the corruption of language, and religion?

  7. Although the Fairmormon apologists might wish we had asked if Smith actually joined the Methodists, the answer to their wishful thinking doesn’t really matter. What really matters is why we see tenets of 18th century Methodism in Mormonism if Smith was really restoring the original Christianity of the first century.

    John Wesley’s “12 Rules For Helpers” states in the 2nd rule:

    “2. Be serious. Let your motto be, ‘Holiness to the Lord’. Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.”

    “Holiness to the Lord” is a slogan in the Holiness movement whose roots come from Methodism. Many of Mormonism’s first converts were Methodists like Brigham Young. That we find this slogan displayed in Mormon temples, and the counsel against “lightmindedness, loud laughter, and evil speaking…” in the temple endowment is really nothing more but Wesley’s Methodism with a some tweaks.

    Smith doesn’t have to be a Methodist to borrow Wesley’s ideas, anymore than he had to be a Swedenborgian to borrow Swedenborg’s “celestial kingdom”.

  8. Adam Clark Connection to the Book of Mormon

    Adam Clark writes about cherubim in his commentary on Genesis 3: 24, “Hebrew plurals in the masculine end in general in im: to add an s to this when we introduce such words into English, is very improper; therefore the word should be written cherubim, not cherubims.”
    Throughout the bible, cherubim is written as cherubims, with the s.
    Here is one example in the Bible. But there are multiple examples in the Bible that uses cherubims when denoting the plural form of cherub.
    Genesis 3: 24
    So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
    There are two examples in the Book of Mormon, and one example in the Pearl of Great Price.
    Alma 12: 21
    What does the scripture mean, which saith that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden, lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever? And thus we see that there was no possible chance that they should live forever.
    Alma 42: 2-3
    2-Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee. For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken—yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life
    3-Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil; and lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever, the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit
    Moses 4: 31
    So I drove out the man, and I placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.

  9. This was such an interesting episode. Thank you RFM for all of your hard work and insight.
    For me, the question that is always of the utmost interest to me is, who knew what? Obviously J Smith knew exactly what he was doing since he was the one pulling off the charade, but who else knew, and who was just an innocent, believing, sincere dupe like myself? And that goes for the entire run of the church’s history. Who in the higher ups knows the truth, and who is a sincere pawn?
    I am always wondering about this and looking for pieces of evidence that points to sincerity. In this story, I think we can say that Martin Harris believed fully or he would not have taken those samples to a real outside language expert. I think that at least shows he thought he had a genuine article and that he thought J was a true prophet. Otherwise he would have been worried about making a complete fool of himself in front of this expert. J. Smith knew exactly what he was sending Martin Harris off with, and he knew by the commentary he was stealing from, that it would pass muster and give him more legitimacy and credibility. But I suppose, even Martin Harris could have been in on the lie just the same and still gone to New York to get the writings authenticated.
    I have a desire to know how many people in the church willfully lied to me, or if mostly, the leaders are all in the dark just like I was?

    Great point about the “Reformed Egyptian” and Mormon/Moroni (I can never remember which) being able to read the records anyway! What!? Hahahaha! How did I miss that one?!

  10. One apologetic that I thought of that I havent heard: Adam Clark simply was the scholar who got it right. Joseph using revelation and Adam Clark using scholarship have converged on the correct rendering of Bible passages. So the similarity between Adam Clark and JST/BoM does not indicate that Joseph Smith plagiarized Adam Clark, it just indicates that both Joseph Smith and Adam Clark have worked their way back to the original text. Much as the two top students in the class might give the same answers on a math test, without the need to copy off each other.

    1. The difference being that Adam Clarke took the test at least 10 years before the Prophet (who happened to have the scholar’s answers in his possession when he, the prophetic one, took the test).

  11. Could Joseph Smith also have borrowed from Adam Clark the very idea that the Bible had been corrupted over time and that a restoration of the original meaning was needed? Some of your quotes from Adam Clark sounded eerily similar to how Mormons view the Bible.

    In John Dehlins interview with Dan Vogel, John asks “why a book? Why of all things did Joseph smith decide to write a book?” I wonder if the answer to that question could lie in Joseph Smiths interaction with Adam Clark and combining that with his treasure seeking gifts.

  12. There is evidence that a specific version of the King James Version (KJV, the 1769 version maybe?) was used for the Book of Mormon (BoM) because there are errors unique to that version that appear in the BoM. Are those same errors present in the Adam Clarke Commentary (ACC)?

    If so, then this seems to strengthen the argument that the ACC was used for the BoM. If not, then… what is the simplest explanation?

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