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Defending the Faith: Sacrament prayers have ancient origin

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  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 1:29 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 2:49 p.m.

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

    Hmmmm...

  • Daleycall Mesa, AZ
    Feb. 14, 2013 3:29 p.m.

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

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Feb. 14, 2013 4:20 p.m.

    Daleycall:

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

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

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

  • Northern Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 14, 2013 5:36 p.m.

    Brahmabull,

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

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

  • Uncle Vic El Dorado Hills, CA
    Feb. 14, 2013 5:45 p.m.

    Brother Peterson, thank you for another great article.

  • MoJules Florissant, MO
    Feb. 14, 2013 6:18 p.m.

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

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 6:26 p.m.

    @Brahmabull

    Yes, they are wrong.

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

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

    That doesn't change the source.

    Important point:

    "reformed egyptian" is also a translation.

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

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

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

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

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 14, 2013 10:18 p.m.

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

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

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    Feb. 15, 2013 8:32 a.m.

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

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 15, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    So here's the thing about linguistic change:

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

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

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

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

  • KDTaylor Corvallis, OR
    Feb. 15, 2013 11:53 a.m.

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

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

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

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

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Feb. 15, 2013 12:12 p.m.

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

  • KDTaylor Corvallis, OR
    Feb. 15, 2013 12:14 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 15, 2013 12:43 p.m.

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

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

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

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Feb. 15, 2013 1:24 p.m.

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

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

    Ensuing questions:

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

    Why include known King James Version translation errors?

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

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

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 15, 2013 2:18 p.m.

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

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 15, 2013 2:53 p.m.

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

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

  • KDTaylor Corvallis, OR
    Feb. 15, 2013 4:25 p.m.

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

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

  • KDTaylor Corvallis, OR
    Feb. 15, 2013 4:29 p.m.

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

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

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

  • srh83 Hillsboro, OR
    Feb. 15, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    Excellent article! I loved reading about this and am grateful for the reminder of the power of those special prayers.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Feb. 15, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    Searching: You bring up some questions that I asked myself many years ago. then as I continued to read and ponder the Book of Mormon over the years I find that it really doesn't matter. The questions are only for those looking for someone to prove to them that it is true, not for them to prove for themselves that it is true. That is left up to the individual to do in the means that Moroni has stated. One must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. One must have reintent that once they KNOW it is true to change their lives to do what is required of them. Many seem to get part A about having a broken heart and a contrite spirit, but fail to really have the intent to do exactly what they are needing to do. Therefore, they fail to receive the answer. Some are expecting the same thing to happen to them as with Joseph Smith and others. However, the answer comes little by little, piece by piece until it covers their entire being. You must be willing to lay your questions to the side and listen to the Lord.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 15, 2013 6:16 p.m.

    RE: KDTaylor, Hebrew writings of the present, or even the last several hundred years. JS had problems with languages that we do have.
    Joseph Smith said,“Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God is singular number; and by adding the word heim ,it renders it Gods.” (HofC, 1844)?

    In Hebrew the form of the word Elohim, with the ending -im, which normally indicates a masculine plural, however with Elohim the construction is usually grammatically SINGULAR, (i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective) (H #430) Strong’s translates Elohim to God in the KJV.
    “In the beginning God(‘O Theos)” (Genesis 1:1 Greek Septuagint)

    In(D&C 110: 1-16) Elias and Elijah appear to JS, but in the Bible they are the same person. The KJV translators attempted to transliterate Elijah to Elias because there isn’t a Greek character for the English letter J.

    To avoid confusion, modern translations: NIV, NJKV, NASB and the Catholic Bible have Elijah instead of Elias in(Mt 11:14,; Luke 1:17).

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Feb. 15, 2013 6:44 p.m.

    I have a theory what Reformed Egyptian may be or evolved into. Hint: Its still used today in Egypt.

    That being said; Amen is a deriviative of Egyptian deity Amun-Ra.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Feb. 16, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    Bill, I've found through experience that the sooner a response cites Moroni's promise, the closer my post was to some troublesome detail. I won't argue with you other than to say that a null response to prayer is not a positive in the same way that if one carefully follows directions to cultivate a seed and it doesn't grow doesn't mean it is a good seed. I prayed sincerely and didn't get an answer; that's enough for me.

    KDTaylor, I think that having the plates would be very beneficial to the credibility of Joseph Smith's story. It is much more difficult to argue their existence if anyone, regardless of belief or conditions could view them. Their production would require much more than JS's imagination alone was capable of. And with the actual plates it might be possible to tie the language and culture to an ancient American corollary.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 16, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    How is it that there are written records made of clay that are over six thousand years old that have survived and are present for modern day examination, but the Book of Mormon people who supposedly existed less than two thousand years ago and wrote records on brass, silver or gold plates (that are much more durable than clay), yet there is absolutely no remaining record of their writings, or any evidence of their being. Could it be that it is just one big perpetuated pipe dream of no historical reality.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Feb. 16, 2013 5:15 p.m.

    Searching: I prayed and did exactly as Moroni states and got the answer. I just knew that the Lord answers all prayer and I expected an answer. What I received was not the answer I expected nor in the way I expected it. However, I did spend the night reading the Book of Mormon after my prayer. That is what it means. You don't just pray and do nothing. You have to really work for the answer. Read Moroni's promise carefully and you will find that you have to ponder it in your mind. So yes reintent and sincere prayer is more than just asking and leaving it for an answer.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Feb. 16, 2013 9:11 p.m.

    Bill, is a year of prayer and study enough? How about five? Twenty? More? You are assuming that I prayed once and left it. You're wrong. I've read the promise, explained it to others, even memorized it. I know what it says and what it means. I also know now why it works for some people and not for others, but I won't go into that. I planted the seed, watered it, fed it, and nothing happened. Alma tells me that that means it wasn't a good seed. I will accept that. It appears to me that Mormonism gives you a great amount value. I will accept that as well.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Feb. 17, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    I'm glad it was explained in the article that sacrament consists of bread and WINE per Jesus' commandments to his ancient central american disciples in 3rd Nephi of the Book of Mormon.

    The Church of Jesus Christ [WHQ: Monongahela, PA] has ALWAYS used bread and wine for sacrament since its beginnings (March 1852- July 1862).

    Bread and wine sanctified by prayer in Jesus' name is truly the bread of life and the power of the blood.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Feb. 18, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    Searching...

    Bill in Nebraska has a bad habit of assuming that if you do everything the Moroni promise states and don't get the same answer he did then you are doing something wrong. He has said it must be you, not the promise. If everybody relied on the spirit alone to get answers we would all be different, as I believe the spirit is only your mind speaking to you. Then over the years you add to the answer as if it was more signifigant than what it was. If somebody prays and gets a different answer they have the obligation to follow that no matter what it was. I too have found through prayer, and research over several years that the church is not what it claims to be. I would be a liar if I said I still believe. How can I then claim to believe? I can't. It doesn't make me or anybody else a pawn of satan as Bill in Nebraska would say. All it means is we have the integrity to admit we don't believe anymore, regardless of the consequences. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    Brahma bull,

    Yes, and Bill o Nebraska has the very arrogant habit of holding himself up as more worthy and righteous than those of us who did not get the same "answer" as he got - you can hear his subtext of all his condemning comments: "I got the RIGHT answer because I did it RIGHT and am worthy of the manifestation of the Spirit! Thank you Father for separating us from these unbelievers, and that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children, that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of these unworthy unbelievers, which doth bind them down to atheism. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen".

    I think Bill is a Zoramite.

  • EightOhOne St. George, UT
    Feb. 18, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    lol, well said vanka!!

  • SantiagoL San Diego, CA
    Feb. 20, 2013 11:08 p.m.

    In Luke 24 the resurrected Lord joins two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. While they spoke with him their eyes were "holden" so that they couldn't recognize him initially. Through the witness of the Holy Ghost they were able to feel the power of the Savior's words. "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (verse 32).

    The Book of Mormon is like that. Though we cannot see the plates, we have their words and we can feel the power of the Holy Ghost bearing witness that they are the words of Jesus Christ. Through the Spirit we can recognize the voice of the Lord as we read the Book of Mormon.