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The Greek Psalter Incident – Another Tale of Translation: Mormonism LIVE: 127

The story of Joseph Smith and Henry Caswall (Caswell) and the Greek Psalter incident is a historical event that took place in 1842 in Nauvoo Ill.. During his visit to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the Mormon Church was headquartered at the time, Caswall met with Joseph Smith. Caswall showed The Prophet a ancient document which Caswall knew to be a “Greek Psalter” or book of Psalms in the Greek language. Caswall claimed that Smith insisted the Psalter was actually a Dictionary for Egyptian Hieroglyphics book was a translation of an ancient record that he had received through divine revelation. Caswall declared that it was nothing more than an ancient Greek Psalter. 

As RFM and Bill dig into this story they discover that that Mormonism fares worse than we first thought and the problems reach as high as Jacob’s Ladder.

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7 thoughts on “The Greek Psalter Incident – Another Tale of Translation: Mormonism LIVE: 127”

  1. Great show, RFM.

    I wonder if Joseph Smith’s identification of the Greek psalter as a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics may have been influenced by his exposure to a book called “The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo Nilous.” You can view this book online here:

    There were versions of this book in English in 1835 and 1840. The book is exactly what Joseph Smith claimed the Greek psalter to be: a dictionary of Egyptian hieroglyphics, with the definition and exposition written in Greek. There are a few elements of Horapollo’s Hieroglyphics that bear interesting resemblance to some ideas in the Book of Abraham. The most interesting to me is, that according to Horapollo, the Egyptians believed that the star Sirius presided over the other stars. In addition, Horapollo tells us that Sirius was called the “dog star” by the Greeks. Compare that with what the PGP says about Kolob (that it governs the other stars), and consider that Kolob could be the Hebrew word for “dog,” as argued by John Tvedtnes.

  2. Another amazing show with so much invaluable information. As one researches all of JS’s translation claims a definite pattern appears.

  3. RFM, I smell a magic trick (
    Years ago, when I served as an Area Seventy in Tennessee, a new stake was created, which required the reorganization of a stake presidency. I was assigned to be the junior companion to Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As you can imagine, I was thrilled!

    Elder Christofferson and I approached that weekend in a Spirit of prayer and fasting. We had no agenda other than to seek revelation about who the Lord would have serve as the new stake president.

    As is typical, we conducted a series of interviews on Saturday morning. Before we began the interviews, we had a companionship prayer. Then, we interviewed the stake presidency, the bishops and branch presidents, high councilors, and a few other men. These are very brief interviews, usually shorter than ten minutes. Each of the brethren we interviewed provided a brief biographical sheet with information that would help us be mindful of their individual circumstances.

    In these interviews, we asked each priesthood leader to share a little information about himself and then asked him for the names of three brethren he would recommend for consideration as the new stake president. We often asked the brethren to explain why they recommended those individuals. We asked follow-up questions. We took notes on what they said, but more importantly on the impressions we received. The interviews lasted approximately three hours and could best be described as spiritual work.

    When we completed the last interview and the door was shut, Elder Christofferson turned to me and said, “Well, Elder Meredith, what do you think?” As an Area Seventy, I always felt like that question was somewhat of a spiritual test. I asked Elder Christofferson, “How much of what I think do you want to know? Would you like five names, three names, or one name?” In his kind and gentle manner, Elder Christofferson said, “Let’s start with five names.”

    I pulled out the biographical sheets of the five men that I thought should be given the greatest consideration and laid them on the table. He asked me thought-provoking questions about my impressions. He eventually said, “I also think the stake president is one of those five men. Now, if you were to narrow it down to three, who would be the three?”

    I looked at the biographical sheets on the table, referred to some notes I had taken, gave it some thought, and pulled two of the sheets off the table. We talked about the three remaining men, each worthy and capable. He eventually asked, “If you were to put those three in order of your recommendation, what order would you have?”

    I looked at the table and said, “Actually, the order that they are already in.” He looked at the sheets on the table and then asked with a smile, “Is that left to right or right to left?” I said, “Left to right.” He agreed . . . and I felt I passed the spiritual test. However, the real spiritual test was to determine if our thoughts and feelings were aligned with the Lord’s will. Elder Christofferson invited us to kneel to seek confirmation through prayer. The words are always different in these prayers, but the intent is always the same: to ask the Lord “if it be right.”[ii]

    When we said “amen,” we both stayed on our knees and waited for a feeling of confirmation. In that case, as it usually does, it came as a peaceful feeling. Nothing grand or great, just small and simple . . . but clear. We knew who the Lord would have serve as the new stake president.

    1. It does resemble a magic trick, doesn’t it? I will tell you this kind of story used to impress me when I was younger and more eager for confirmation of my beliefs.

      Now I look at it and wonder why God can’t just tell them. Why all the gymnastics? Why so much procedure?

      What it looks like now is a convoluted process designed not to ascertain God’s will, but to occlude the fact that God is not involved.

  4. I think an often overlooked problem with Muhlsteins assertion about initial assumptions is that it’s a logical fallacy on its face. He asserts that some start with the assumption that it’s true and others start with the assumption that it’s false. But that statement, in and of itself, is an example of a “false dichotomy” -because is at least a third alternative category: those who start with no assumption, just the question: is it true? It’s a a rhetorical slight if hand by which he denigrates everybody who concludes it’s not true, no matter how sincere their search. I think THAT is what Sheila was sensing, based on her comment.

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