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Continuing our discussion with preeminent Joseph Smith historian Dan Vogel, we dive deep into explaining the authorship of the Book of Mormon including these topics:
Links mentioned during our interview:
Part 1 – We focus on Book of Mormon Geography, the Nahom apologetic defense, and instances of chiasmus in The Book of Mormon:
Part 2 – We discuss the movement of the modern Mormon church in 2019 to refer to The Book of Mormon as a “revelation” instead of a “translation”:
John referenced a church statement on Cumorah this February 2019. I am unaware of this statement, does someone have more information?
Great series. Thank you Dan for your research in this area. It is well researched and thought through. One question: Dan has stated that Joseph Smith is a narcissist. Other than at the end where he was clearly becoming unraveled and declaring he was or should not only be President but King of the World, are there any other evidences which point to JS having a narcissistic personality disorder? John Dehlin could perhaps weigh in as well given his knowledge and training in the field of psychology.
Thanks for your question. I’m careful not to try and diagnose Joseph Smith with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’m happy to discover in him traits that are consistent with NPD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) cautions: “Many highly successful individuals display personality traits that might be considered narcissistic. Only when those traits are inflexible, maladaptive, and persisting, and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress do they constitute narcissistic personality disorder.” I would argue that the narcissistic traits (like grandiosity) are there in the beginning of JS’s career. It’s in the Book of Mormon. In the interview, I mentioned that JS’s plan of founding a New Jerusalem government with himself at the head that would take over the world is a grandiose project that failed miserably. If you want to know more about JS and NPD, you might want to read Robert Anderson’s book Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999).
I am loving these interviews on the truth claims, John and Dan! Sorry to be so informal. 😊.
Fair warning: very long post ahead, mostly for the cathartic effect on myself.
I’ve been far down the rabbit hole the past two years, and these step by step historical talks help tremendously. Many days I feel like I need to be reminded of the actual events in order to deal with the consequences of 40 years of being told the wrong things.
Thank you for the breakdown of the myth of Joseph Smith as a hayseed yokel incapable of constructing this whole thing. 3 hours of dictating a day is not something most people could do, and that’s why most people don’t found religions so powerful that 200 years later millions of people devote their entire lives to the cause. Didn’t he speak off the cuff for hours when he delivered the King Follet discourse? That was vastly more complex than anything in the Book of Mormon.
As much as I abhor section 132, it is another example of him speaking at great length about a topic that was going to take an enormous amount of persuading.
Joseph was a once in a lifetime (century?) genius. When insane talent is combined with otherworldly charisma, amazing things can happen.
I apologize for the epic length of this post, but I’m in a situation where I have literally no one to talk to about this experience.
One more thing that I’ll throw into the maw of the internet. My parents were true students of the gospel and church history. Incredibly educated and serious in their study. Sadly, They have both been dead for years. However, Just the information in the gospel topics essays would have floored them. In this very narrow arena, I’m grateful that they are not here to experience this.
As a teenager, I pushed my mom hard on the blacks and the priesthood/temple ban. We finally arrived at her bedrock position that her only way to reconcile it was her absolute trust in the church leaders. I thought of that long gone conversation when I read the church essay on that subject and almost broke into tears for her, and me. Tragic.
Sincere gratitude to both of you for your even handed handling of this.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your kind comments.
Thank you both for another GREAT podcast. I have described myself to others as Dan’s biggest fan since I began reading his books in the late ’90s. I am so glad that more people are discovering his magnificent body of work because of Mormon Stories!
About HAROLD BLOOM (mentioned at time code 15:30)–he is NOT a non-believing Mormon. He is an agnostic Jew who also happens to be one of the world’s foremost Shakespearian scholars an experts on the Western Literary Canon–as well a prolific writer of higher religious criticism. He devoted a fourth of his landmark 1992 book, “The American Religion” to Joseph Smith–and he has written about Joseph in several of his later works on various aspects of religion. I highly recommend Bloom’s book to anyone interested in Joseph and early Mormonism. In my opinion, Bloom is one of the few people anywhere, at any time, who actually understands Joseph. (He is also convinced that the LDS Church and its members have no real understanding or appreciation of Joseph and his ideas; that the LDS version of Joseph bears little resemblance to the man himself, and that the LDS Church has no idea what to do with him. I agree.)
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