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Topics surrounding church historian Hugh Nibley, one of the first Mormon Apologists.
| From KPHO.COM:
SALT LAKE CITY Prominent Mormon historian Hugh Nibley died today. He was 94.
Cause of death wasn't immediately announced.
Continue Reading Story...
Nibley wrote more than 150 items, many of which are available in collected work at Brigham Young University and published by
FARMS, the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.
B-Y-U professor Daniel Peterson said his work was marked by "brilliance, unbelievable erudition."
And local KSL (Salt Lake City) Link: http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?sid=152650andnid=5
| From Hugh Nubley Defense:
SALT LAKE CITY (February 22, 2005) - In response to the allegations in our sister Martha Beck's book "Leaving the Saints," we -
all seven of Martha's siblings - release the following statement:
Continue Reading Story...
Knowing our sister and the circumstances of our home, we agree that Martha Beck's portrayal of our family in "Leaving the Saints"
is false. We are saddened by the book's countless errors, falsehoods, contradictions, and gross distortions. She misrepresents
our family history, the basic facts of our lives, our family culture, the works of our father Hugh Nibley, and the basic
principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She also omits critical facts including her own previous writings,
her and her husband's search for their sexual identities, and the tortuous process -- including self-hypnosis -- by which she
achieved her "recovered memories."
| Hugh Nibley was born in 1910.
His grandfather was Charles Nibley, who made a fortune deforesting the Pacific Northwest.
And his father was El Nibley,who held on to the family fortune till about 1940, but lost it through a series of high-risk financial schemes.
In one of those schemes El even used and lost a study grant awarded to Hugh Nibley, which left Hugh with a life-long disdain for business and its practises.
For the rest of his life El tried to re-produce the family fortune, often through getting members in the Los Angeles area suckered into risky ventures by trading on the Nibley name. Suffice it to say, he left a lot of sadder but wiser people behind.
That Hugh Nibley was a brilliant man, of that there is no doubt. However, it must also be remembered that Hugh had excellent retention skills,which often make a person appear to be much brighter than they really are.
He served a two year mission to Germany at age 17,and spent time in Military Intelligence during WWII.
He seems to have had a bit of a problem in interpersonal relations, proposing marriage twice, to a German lady ( Herta Pauly) and an Armenian woman (Anahid Iskian).
Neither of these ladies was Mormon. Herta Pauly, a philosophy professor, never married and died in the early 1990s in Hawaii.
When Hugh hired on at BYU he was a 35 year old bachelor, which raised some eyebrows, and Elder Widstoe and Administration pressed him to find a wife. Hugh told Widstoe to "work it out with the Lord", while he on his part "promised to marry the first woman he met at BYU".
He subsequently married Phyllis Hawkes, sixteen years his junior, on 18 Sept 1946 and they produced eight living children.
Hugh Nibley seems to have had a somewhat ambivalent relationship with the Mormon faith until he had a Near Death experience.
His NDE happened in Dec 1936 during an operation at Loma Linda. It is clear from his subsequent writings that he took this to mean that Mormonism is true when, at best, a near-death experience only indicates that there is an afterlife. (Many non-Mormons have the very same experiences).
Having sat as a TBM in his Honors class some twenty-odd years ago at BYU, I see Hugh Nibley as a truly tragic figure in Mormonism.
He had the brains and the means to hire on at any University of his choice, but instead, he decided to spin his wheels defending Mormonism . A tragedy indeed.
| From Deseret News:
The man many consider to be the pre-eminent in-house scriptural scholar for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died
Thursday after a long life spent researching and defending the faith's canon.
Continue Reading Story...
Hugh Nibley, 94, was an expert in ancient scripture and language and was revered by Mormons.
Hugh Winder Nibley died Feb. 24, 2005, at his home in Provo of causes incident to age. He was 94.
Students of scripture unique to the LDS Church - including the Book of Mormon and the faith's Book of Abraham - have been
influenced by Nibley even if they don't know him by name, according to fellow scholars at Brigham Young University, where he
taught for several decades.
His extensive writings - including several full-length books, scholarly papers and doctrinal treatises incorporating the use of
ancient languages in interpreting scripture - are to be published by the Foundation for Ancient Research in Mormon Studies
(FARMS) at BYU and number 15 volumes.
"Hugh Nibley convinced the membership of the church and the world that the restoration (of the LDS Church) and the scriptures
given to (church founder) Joseph Smith could be comfortably defended using the best scholarship of our times," said Noel
Reynolds, director of FARMS.
| From Deseret News:
Family members and friends remembered Hugh Winder Nibley Wednesday not only as a world-class scholar of the scriptures and
defender of the LDS faith, but as a loving father, a humble humanitarian and a staunch environmentalist.
Click Here For Original Thread...
Hundreds gathered in the Provo Tabernacle and scores of additional admirers were in the DeJong Concert Hall at Brigham Young
University to pay their final respects to the man many consider the most brilliant scriptural scholar ever to come out of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
| Red Flag: "Intellectual Honesty Is A Fundamental Value Of The Nibley Family" |
Saturday, Mar 5, 2005, at 09:30 AM
Original Author(s): Nibley Watcher
Topic: HUGH NIBLEY -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| In the official 'NIBLEY FAMILY RESPONSE TO MARTHA BECK'S "LEAVING THE SAINTS"' found at http://www.hughnibleydefense.com/ (and also cross-posted elsewhere, on the FARMS site at http://www.farmsresearch.com/publications/nibleyfamilystatement.php), the other Nibley siblings have written:
". . .intellectual honesty is a fundamental value of the Nibley family. . ."
Yet they go on elsewhere in their statement to make the following statements:
"Martha's most egregious accusation - that our father molested her over several years and the family covered up the crime - is not true. While salacious accusations sell books, the reader should know that in this case it simply did not happen."
That's an interesting, and a very bold claim to make, but not necessarily intellectually honest.
It would have been more honest for them to have said something like, "Our father has consistently denied these claims, and we believe him," or, "We are completely unaware of any evidence to support those claims," or "We can neither confirm nor deny that these allegations have merit."
But to state categorically that it never took place?
If they had witnessed abuse, they could be in a position to state that it had taken place. But certainly not witnessing it does not mean that it didn't.
Unless those seven siblings were constantly in the presence of their father and their sister, Martha, for every moment of their overlapping lives in question, they cannot speak with certainty regarding whether or not any instance of abuse occurred.
The statement from the family might be many things--but "intellectually honest," it isn't.
| From AZCentral:
SALT LAKE CITY - The siblings of an author who penned a tell-all book about alleged sexual abuse in their prominent, religious
home are denying the claims about their late father, but Martha Nibley Beck adamantly stands by her recovered memories of the
alleged abuse by Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley.
Click Here For Original Link Or Thread.
Beck's brother, Alex Nibley, and sister, Christina Mincek, told The Associated Press neither they nor their five other siblings
or mother have found credible evidence that the molestation occurred.
"We know the character of our father, we've talked to him about this in great detail, we've talked to Martha about this in great
detail," Alex Nibley said. "After all these years, there are eight of us who stand firm that the molestation never happened."
The family last month issued a statement denouncing the book "Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith," but
said as their more famous sister - she's a columnist for O: The Oprah Magazine and wrote the best-selling book "Expecting Adam" -
made the rounds of national television shows to promote her book, they felt their side wasn't being accurately portrayed.
| Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.9, Ch.15
"But all along there was compromise with principle; actually Charles W. Nibley was one of the most liberal industrialists of his time. But he had to compromise. Thus to finish the Hotel Utah, it was necessary to borrow $2,000,000, so President Smith sent Brother Nibley to Barney Baruch in New York to raise the money. He succeeded, and President Smith was delighted; but he was also alarmed when he heard the terms: it would all have to be paid back in two years. "Charley, what have you done? How in the world will we ever pay it back in that time?" Not to worry, they would have the whole thing paid off in two years. How? "I'm going to build the largest and finest bar in the West in the basement of the Hotel, and will see that we will pay off every penny of that debt." President Smith went through the ceiling; which was it to be, the Word of Wisdom or fiscal soundness? The dollar won."
"Attempts to compromise on the law of God put one, as Brigham Young said, in an intolerable situation, a state of perpetual tension; one becomes defensive and self-justifying, and to clear his conscience all the way one assumes an aggressive posture. The result is that the Latter-day Saints are perhaps the most rigidly opposed to the principles of sharing of any people in the world."
(. . .)
"It is money we love and respect. This week it was announced that judges must have higher pay if lawyers are to respect them, the corollary being that no one respects anyone who has less money than he has. Not that they need it--these old duffers who are tapering off spend all their days in closets, so why do they need more than $125,000 a year? Oh, to make them more respected by the lawyers. You can't respect a man who is making less than you, can you? That is the sentiment expressed by the late great lawman John Mitchell. The Latter-day Saints reverenced Howard Hughes and resented any criticism of the sickly and unbalanced billionaire; his money sanctified him. On a single day in the newspaper in 1972 the president declared drugs the nation's number-one problem; along with this is a statement that alcohol is the most dangerous of all drugs, and on the same page United Airlines is announced as the world's largest purveyor of alcohol by the drink, with W. Marriott in second place."
| This is a talk by Hugh Nibley from 1962, summarizing the 10 things to do when writing an anti-Mormon history. Of course, they're all negative, and interestingly, Nibley uses the techniques himself within his own talk... But there's no accounting for hipocrisy.
It was an interesting listen, having read Martha Beck's book and also being "anti-Mormon". I haven't read any of the books he attacks, nor really any books that critique Mormon history, but I have read enough internet sites to know Nibley's full of crap.
Nevertheless he gets plenty of belly laughs from his crowd.
Most especially interesting are a few comments I took as "sexism in disguise", some mild racism (something about how easy it is to sell whiskey to an Indian), and completely discrediting Ann Elza Young's (The 19th Wife) stories of abuse and subsequently running away and being afraid for her life. My gut wrenched as I recalled Martha Beck's stories of him (and many other Mormons) denying her claims. It seems (whether Beck's accounts are true or not) that he had a little experience with ignoring and blaming abused women prior to Beck's accusations.
Imagine the dissonance! He'd had so much practice of making monsters out of these people, and then one turns out to be his own daughter!
I'm reminded of a scripture my mom often quoted, and one I learned is very true: "Judge not that ye be not judged."
| Hugh Nibley Speaks Out Against Proper Dress And Grooming |
Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006, at 07:09 AM
Original Author(s): Infymus
Topic: HUGH NIBLEY -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| From the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley:
"Why are we so often decoyed? Nibley replies, "We know what Zion is, we know what Babylon is, we know that the two can never mix, and we know that Latter-day Saints, against the admonition of their leaders, have always tried to mix them. How is that done? By the use of rhetoric--"The art of making true things seem false and false things seem true by the use of words." The trick is to appear rich as the result of being good--to cultivate the virtue of respectability. The "worst sinners, according to Jesus, are|.|.|.|the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism."
Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.9, Foreword, p.xv-xvi
Of course, we know that Hugh was speaking as a man and his words are not doctrine.
You may now go back to obeying. Obey. Obey. Obey.
| I'm embarrassed to admit that I have read a number of Nibley books and attended several lectures. I'm less embarrassed to admit that I've read approximately 100 Star Trek novels. (And GOD I'm embarrassed at having written that in a public forum.)
My earliest memory of Hugh Nibley was when my father brought home one of Nibley's lectures on cassette. He popped it in and he, Mom and the home teachers sat and listened to it without comment for almost half an hour before turning it off and reverently proclaiming him a genius before going back to talking about guns. Mom had walked out of the room to do something in the kitchen about 5-10 minutes into it. I had no idea what Nibley was talking about, but I figured it was because I was only 12-13 and not educated enough to have a basic understanding. I never really got over that feeling.
My freshman roommate at BYU told me a lot of strange-but-true Nibley stories, but I only remember a few. One was that Nibley started in one corner of his college library and read every book in it until he reached the other side. Another was that Nibley said his idea of heaven was to be locked for eternity inside a huge library with a bunch of 3x5 cards. My roommate also claimed that the Ramses II exhibit came to BYU first because of Hugh Nibley's prominence as an Egyptologist. Come to think of it - why was the Ramses II exhibit at BYU first?
My mission president read a lot of Nibley when the FARMS volumes were coming out. His talks were littered with references to obscure ancient scripture that didn't seem to have any bearing on his points, but they sounded exotic.
After my mission, I began buying FARMS Nibley books and articles. I recycled them all years ago and my memory is fading, but I remember Nibley expressing some pretty far out ideas that he had gleaned from ancient scripture. Nibley said that our Earth has the brightest and best and the most evil people in the Universe. We're the only world wicked enough to murder our Lord, who is actually the Savior of the entire Universe under Elohim. Elohim, btw, was the Only Begotten Son of his heavenly father as well. Due to our extreme wickedness, we're quarantined from all the other races in the Universe so that we don't give them any ideas. All the peoples of other worlds travel around and meet each other, trading and exchanging culture and having a great time. I don't recall anything about Xenu.
No two sources were too far apart or unrelated to make a single point in Nibley's world. He would sample writing from very different religions, cultures and time periods and combine them as if they belonged together. He was frustrating to read, because he would progress like he was about to make a big conclusion, and then get diverted to something else, and then another topic, and on and on into who knows what. The chapters of his books go on forever. So do his paragraphs. Clarity was not a trait that Mr. Nibley will be remembered for.
In 1990, FARMS sponsored a 12 part lecture series by Hugh Nibley called One Eternal Round. It was Hugh Nibley talking about Egyptology and the Book of Abraham for 12 lectures. They made a big deal out of it. I attended. I remember Nibley talking about how the pronounciation of "Ra" has changed over the years. He talked about various Egyptologists and how little we know and how ideas have changed and morphed, and we still don't know that much. The crowds were hushed and strained to hear his voice. They grew smaller as the lectures progressed. In one lecture, Nibley admitted that Facsimile #2 in the Book of Abraham was copied poorly from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, because the original was damaged. It took me some time to process that. Essentially he was saying that part of our scriptures was a forgery.
After one of the lectures, I approached Nibley to get his autograph in my copy of Old Testament and Related Studies. Nibley took my book and asked what I wanted him to write. I had no idea. I stood there looking at Nibley in stunned silence with Nibley impatiently looking back at me. This went on for some time. Then Nibley opened it and wrote "All appropriate sentiments, Hugh Nibley" and handed it back to me. I felt like an idiot.
Tapes and transcripts of the One Eternal Round lecture series were released with related articles, but eventually FARMS dropped the whole thing down the memory hole, and I can understand why. I was surprised at how well they were able to erase all traces of that lecture series. Once I discovered that the tapes and transcripts were gone from their catalog, I was only able to find one reference on the Internet using Google.
I was unable to add Nibley's Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price classes at BYU. However, later on I bought the transcripts, which were in several volumes. It was when I was reading one of these volumes on the toilet that I realized that Hugh Nibley was insane. It was a feeling that was building in the back of my mind as I read page after page of material that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There was a note from the transcriber at one point saying that they didn't know what he was talking about either, but this is what it sounds like. Then Nibley was talking about a mighty hunter named Nimrod and the Tower of Babel and how inside the tower was placed all the treasures of the ancient world. I sat back and said out loud, "That's the craziest goddamn thing I've ever heard." Everything of Nibley's I read after that seemed to make me squint and say "WTF?" and the magic was over.
I threw all of my Nibley books and tapes in a large recycling bin along with 100+ hardback Mormon books after I left the Church, and I'm grateful for the load off.
| Hugh Nibley's Failed Attempt To Rescue Joseph Smith From His Unimpressed Neighbors |
Thursday, Aug 6, 2009, at 08:08 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: HUGH NIBLEY -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Rodger I. Anderson, in his book, "Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Re-Examined" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1990), tackles the significant number of legal affidavits (over 80) that were sworn out against the character and conduct of Joseph Smith's by his neighbors, associates and fellow citizens of New York state.
THE DAMNING NATURE OF THE AFFIDAVITS AGAINST JOSEPH SMITH
Anderson (who provides exact copies of the affidavits as well as other statements and interview) describes the affidavits' contents, which were originally published by Eber D. Howe in his book, "Mormonism Unvailed" (Painseville, Ohio: Eber D. Howe, printer and publisher, 1834):
"In affidavit after affidavit the young Smith was depicted as a liar and self-confessed fraud, a cunning and callous knave who delighted in nothing so much as preying upon the credulity of his neighbors.
“A money digger by profession, Smith spent his nights and his days lounging about the local grocery story entertaining his fellow tipplers with tales of midnight enchantments and bleeding ghosts, the affidavits maintained. . . .
“In a statement dated 4 December 1833 and signed by 51 residents of Palmyra, New York, Smith was described as being ‘entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.’”
Moreover, Smith, as noted by Anderson, was portrayed by his affidavit-signing critics as being "animated by no loftier purpose than the love of money"--"a money digger who told marvelous tales of enchanted treasure and infernal spirits."
(Anderson, pp. 2-3, 8)
REACTION BY SMITH TO THE AFFIDAVITS: DENOUNCING THEM AS THE WORK OF THE DEVIL
Anderson describes Smith's desperate response to the release of the troublesome affidavits:
"Once published in 1834 [after being collected by Dr. Philastus Hurlbut, 'a one-time Mormon who was excommunicated in 1833 for, among other things, saying "that he deceived Joseph Smith's God, or the spirit by which he was actuated"'], Hurlbut's affidavits became especially dangerous to the newly founded church and its leader.
“To defuse the potentially explosive documents, Smith read them aloud at public meetings, denouncing them as the work of Satan. More importantly, Hurlbut's affidavits stimulated Smith to publish the first official history of the new church, 'Early Scenes and Incidents in the Church,' authored by Smith's closest associate at the time, Oliver Cowdery."
(Anderson, pp. 2-3)
FAILURE OF EARLY SMITH APOLOGISTS TO EFFECTIVELY DENY THE AFFIDAVITS
Anderson reports on an "ambitious" attempt by William and E.L. Kelley to refute the affidavits--claiming in their own published report that they "could find virtually no one who knew anything firsthand against the Smiths and a number who remembered the family as being quite respectable."
In this effort, the Kelleys produced less than impressive results.
The credibility of the Kelley claims were strongly disputed by even some of those to whom the Kelleys spoke during their dubious effort to build a chase for Smith.
Anderson, for instance, reports that "[a]t least three of those interviewed were so incensed with the published [Kelley] report that they produced affidavits of their own charging the Kelleys with misrepresentation.”
The complaints included Palmyra resident John H. Gilbert, who according to Gilbert’s affidavit on file in the clerk’s office of Ontario County, New Jersey, responded by appearing before a judge to state that he was “designedly” and “grossly misrepresented in almost every particular . . . .” Along with the affidavits of others, Gilbert’s complaint was subsequently published in local area newspapers.
(Anderson, pp. 5-6, 8)
TAKING ON THE AFFIDAVIT ATTACKERS
Anderson notes that Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley, in his 1961 book, “The Myth Makers” (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, p. 6)–together with fellow Mormon defender Richard L. Anderson, in his 1970 article, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reappraised” (“Brigham Young University Studies,” 10, pp. 283-314)--have attempted “to discredit the Smith family neighbors.”
Nibley contends that the affidavit signers “told the best stories they could think of, without particularly caring whether they were true or not” (brushing them off as “trumped-up evidence”).
Richard L. Anderson claims that the Kelley report was supposedly more objective and based on positive testimony from people who claimed to have known the Smiths personally.
Roger I. Anderson remains unpersuaded by such apologetic efforts.
Roger I. Anderson exhibits particular disdain for the tactics of Nibley, whom he regards essentially as an unprofessional hit man for Smith. His list of academic crimes against Nibley are substantive.
--First, Anderson says Nibley’s book suffers from the “unqualified scope of its generalization” in concluding that because he claims to have found “some writers who were lass than careful with the truth, . . . all such writers must have been similarly careless, a conclusion that is simply not justified.”
--Second, Anderson says that Nibley’s book is characterized by its “use of arguments which are non sequiturs.”
--Third, Anderson notes that Nibley is ‘mistaken when he charges that those who testified to Smith’s character were themselves disreputable,” rebutting Nibley by pointing out that “[w]itnessing a deed is not the same as committing it, and hearing a man boast of some act does not necessitate participation in it.” Anderson further points out that “[e]ven if it could be demonstrated that Smith’s accusers were in fact involved in the same practices they related, it would not mean their testimony was for that reason suspect. Defending the accused by pointing to the imperfections of their accusers is fallacious and only serves to deflect attention from the original issue.”
--Fourth, Anderson point out what he calls “[a]nother significant defect of Nibley’s analysis”–namely, “its frequent high-handedness in dealing with testimony unfavorable to Smith. Rather than consider whether similar testimony from more than one person might indicate that what they report is true, Nibley often dismisses the topic with flippant and unsupported assertions.”
--Fifth, Anderson criticizes Nibley’s repeated charge that Smith is supposedly the victim of exaggerated hearsay by noting that Nibley makes that unconvincing charge through the use of selective quotations and historically uninformed assumptions.
--Sixth, Anderson notes that Nibley’s “Myth Makers” is “marred by numerous factual errors, exacerbated by “a tendency to suppress information potentially harmful to traditional interpretations of the Mormon past.” Anderson goes so far as to say that “Nibley’s suppression of vital information . . . seems intentional.”
--Seventh, Anderson debunks Nibley’s apologetics by arguing that it is burdened by “a lack of scholarly standards in evaluating sources.” In criticizing Nibley on this score, he notes that “[f]irsthand accounts are impeached because they are not consistent with anti-Mormon fulminations of a century later, and contemporary accounts of episodes in Joseph Smith’s life are discredited almost wholly on the basis of later secondary reports.” Anderson criticizes Nibley for his “indiscriminate use of sources [which] enables him not only to oppose witnesses with non-witnesses but also to introduce sources whose only merit is that they make others appear unreliable by comparison.”
--Eight, Anderson chides Nibley for his “failure to consider Mormon sources when they concur with non-Mormon accounts,” further observing that “’The Myth Makers’ tends to disregard context” driven by Nibley’s “earnestness to impugn the whole corpus of non-Mormon literature.”
--Finally, Anderson sums up his critical assessment of Nibley’s multi-leveled demonstration of unprofessionalism by writing that “Nibley’s method of analysis is arbitrary” and “only proves what no one ever thought of denying, namely that not all historical documents are of the same evidential quality.”
“. . . Nibley’s argument fails on every significant point. Illogic, unsupported speculation, specious charges, misrepresentation, factual errors, indiscriminate and arbitrary use of sources, disregard of context, and a lock of scholarly standards characterize the book advertised by its publisher as a ‘masterful expose . . .[of] the makers of myths who told their untruths about Joseph Smith.’
“If Joseph Smith’s neighbors are to be discredited, it must be on the basis of better evidence than that advanced by Nibley.”
THE FUNDAMENTAL RELIABILITY OF THE AFFIDAVITS
Despite efforts by Nibley and other Mormon defenders to deny historical reality on the reliability of the affidavits in question, Anderson says:
“I believe that the testimonials collected by Hurlbut, [Arthur Buel] Deming, and others are in fact largely immune to the attacks launched by Nibley, Anderson, and others. . . . [T]here can be no doubt that these reports [from Hurlbut’s collected affidavits], in early twentieth-century German historian Eduard Meyer’s words, ‘give us the general opinion of his [Smith’s] neighbors in their true, essential form’” (quoted in Heinze F. Rahde and Eugene Seaich, trans., “The Origins and History of the Mormons . . . "[Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah, n.d., p. 4])
“ . . . [I]t is clear that a broader picture of Joseph Smith emerges from these early affidavits and interviews than is otherwise available from [Smith’s] family and followers.”
(Anderson, pp. 6-12, 14, 16-18, 20-22)
WIDER SCHOLARY ASSEESSMENT THAT THE AFFIDAVITS ARE AUTHENTIC AND BELIEVABLE
Predictably, Mormon apologists have relied on their traditional limited circle of Mormon defenders in unconvincing attempts to repudiate the affidavits.
Anderson writes that because of “the questionable reliability of the Kelley report and the lack of credible testimony discounting the affidavits collected by Hurlbut and others, most scholars outside of Mormonism have tended to accept the non-Mormon side of the issue. The number of witnesses, the unanimity of their testimony, the failure to impeach even a single witness, and the occasional candid reminiscence by Martin Harris, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith,. Lucy Mack Smith, William Smith, Joseph Knight, or other early Mormons have contributed to the conclusion that Hurlbut and his followers were probably reliable reporters.
Citing the work of J. H. Kennedy, “Early Days of Mormonism . . . “ (New York, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1888, pp. 17-18), Anderson observes that “[e]ven those who suspected that the witnesses against Smith may have been motivated by more than a simple desire to inform have not questioned the depictions of Smith as a basically self-seeking charlatan.”
(Anderson, pp. 6, 9)
IN THE END, THE AFFIDAVITS HOLD UP
Anderson crystallizes his assessment of the affidavits reliability as follows:
--“First, I can find no evidence that the primary source affidavits and other documents collected by Philastus Hurlbut, Eber D. Howe, and Arthur B Deming are other than what they purport to be. The men and women whose names they bear wither wrote them or authorized them to be written. Ghost-writing my have colored some of the testimony, but there is no evidence that the vast majority of testators did not write or dictate their own statements or share the attitudes attributed to them.
--“Second, every contemporary attempt [in Smith’s era to impugn these accounts failed. Book of Mormon witness Martin Harris’s effort to prove Isaac Hale’s letter a forgery was contradicted by Hale himself. The attempts by Lucy Mack Smith and William Smith to exonerate the Smith family of certain charges were undone by the more candid admissions of friends or other family members. And RLDS apostle William Kelley’s report, designed to discredit Joseph Smith’s debunkers was itself discredited by many of those contacted by Kelley.
“The fact that these efforts resulted in impeaching not a single witness who testified against Smith, though many of these same witnesses were still alive and willing to repeat their testimony, supports the conclusion that the statements collected by Hurlbut and Deming can be relied on as accurate reflections of their signers’ views.
--“Third, with the possible exception of Peter Ingersoll, there is no evidence that the witnesses contacted by Hurlbut in 1833-34 and Deming in 1888 perjured themselves by knowingly swearing to a lie. In fact, existing evidence goes far to substantiate the recorded stories. The harmony of the accounts, the fact that they were collected by different people at different times and place, and the sometimes impressive confirmations supplied by independent witnesses or documents never intended for public consumption discredit the argument that the work of Hurlbut and Deming contains nothing but ‘trumped-up evidence.’
--“Fourth, there is no evidence that the majority of witnesses indulged in malicious defamation by repeating groundless rumors. Many based their descriptions on close association with the Joseph Smith, Sr., family. They did not always distinguish hearsay from observation, fact from inference, but they generally state whether or not the source of the information is firsthand, and several witnesses provided enough information to demonstrate that much what was previously thought to be popular rumor about the Smiths was not wholly groundless.
“Having survived the determined criticism of Mormon scholars Hugh Nibley and Richard L. Anderson, the Hurlbut-Deming affidavits must be granted permanent status as primary documents relating to Joseph Smith’s early life and the origins of Mormonism.”
THE AFFIDAVIT-SIGNERS’ FINAL ASSESSMENT OF JOSPEH SMITH
“In general terms, the Hurlbut, Howe, Deming and Kelley testimonials paint a portrait of a young frontiersman and his family, struggling to eke out a minimal existence in western New York, facing the discouraging realities of life on the margins of society.
“Intelligent and quick-witted, if not always a hard worker, Joseph Smith, Jr., had been brought up by parents who believed in angels, evil spirits, and ghosts; in buried treasures that slipped into the earth if the proper rituals were not performed to exhume them; in diving rods and seer stones, in dreams and visions, and that despite their indigent status, theirs was a family chosen by God for a worthy purpose. . . .
“Whether hunting for buried treasure or the ancient record of a lost civilization, neither Joseph nor his family saw any conflict between the secular pressures of earning a living, even by so esoteric a means as money digging, and a religious quest for spiritual fulfillment. If they could accomplish one goal by pursing the other, so much the better.”
“Nondescript and of little consequence until he started attracting others to his peculiar blend of biblical Christianity, frontier folk belief, popular culture, and personal experience, Joseph Smith was an enigma to his incredulous New York neighbors.
“For them, he would always remain a superstitious adolescent dreamer and his success as a prophet a riddle for which there was no answer.”
(Anderson, pp. 113-116)
| Hugh Nibley On Conman Joseph Smith's Verified Arrest/conviction Record |
Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013, at 07:08 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: HUGH NIBLEY -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Hugh Nibley on Conman Joseph Smith's Verified Arrest/Conviction Record ...
. . . per "glass-looking" charges:
For the record (and for Mormon apologists lurking here), go-to Mormon Church excuse-maker Hugh Nibley had serious warnings about the serious nature of con charges against Smith, should they be proven true (and they have, in fact, been proven true).
What is particularly damning about certain press revelations is that they further validate the devastating nature of the crimes that Smith committed--as, in fact, admitted by Mormonism's historically pre-eminent apologist and water carrier, Hugh Nibley.
In 1961, Nibley authored a book entitled "The Mythmakers," in which he ventured to boldly debunk assertions that Joseph Smith had committed, or had been arrested for, the crime of "glass-looking." Nibley (in words he probably later wished he could retract) went so far as to declare that if, in fact, Smith was actually proven guilty of such nefarious activity, it would constitute the most damning blow that could be imagined to Smith's claim of divine prophetship.
Derick S. Hartshorn, in his work, "Bearing the Testimony of Truth," reviews the history of apologetic denials uttered by Mormonism's stoutest defenders--and then compares those desperate defenses to the actual evidence found--evidence that cuts Smith off at the knees.
Under the sub-section, "Guilty! Next Case!," Hartshorn exposes the serious nature of the charges against Smith and how they have plunged a dagger into the heart of Smith's claims to divine guidance:
"It was charged that Joseph Smith was accused and found guilt of parting a local farmer from his money in a less than honest scheme, commonly known as 'money-digging' or 'glass-looking.' It was reported to have been an activity that brought him rebuke from his soon-to-be father-in-law, Isaac Hale. It is also historically recorded that he was removed from membership in a local Methodist church because of the activity and trial results.
"Joseph Smith skims over the specific event leading to the trial in the Pearl of Great Price, explaining that he was only a day worker for the man so engaged and not personally involved.
"Mormon writers have continually challenged its doubters to find the records (seemingly lost) and prove Joseph Smith a liar or stop the attacks. Mormon writer Hugh Nibley, the most prolific defender of the Mormon faith, used almost 20 pages in his book, 'The Mythmakers,' in an attempt to discredit this 'alleged' court trial. On p. 142 we find:
"'. . . If this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith' and would be 'THE MOST DEVASTATING BLOW TO SMITH EVER DELIVERED.' [emphasis added]
"Of course, when that was first published back in 1961, Dr. Nibley undoubtedly felt that after 130 years no such record would turn up in 1971. Once again, the actual evidence, which the Mormon Church had denied ever existed came to light in 1971. You can read about how it was discovered as well as the relevance of other historical documents of that time that Joseph used a 'seer' stone to find money, etc. in the 54-page brochure 'Joseph Smith's Bainbridge, N.Y., Court Trials.'
"One might wonder why this should be cause for concern among investigators of Mormonism. The fact is the up to then, the Mormon Leaders had denied that there WAS such a trial. Indeed, they claim that the story of Joseph's arrest was a 'fabrication of unknown authorship and never in a court record at all.'
"The charge that Joseph was known to hunt treasure with 'peep' or 'seer' stones, etc., was serious enough that Mormon scholar Francis W. Kirkham stated that if the court record could be found, it would show that the Mormon Church was false:
"'Careful study of all facts regarding this alleged confession of Joseph Smith in a court of law that he had used a seer stone to find hidden treasure for purposes of fraud, must come to the conclusion that no such record was ever made, and therefore, is not in existence . . .
"'If any evidence had been in existence that Joseph Smith had used a seer stone for fraud and deception, and especially had he made this confession in a court of law as early as 1826, or four years before the Book of Mormon was printed, and this confession was in a court record, it would have been impossible for him to have organized the restored Church.'
"Later, in the same book, Mr. Kirkham states:
"'. . . [I]f a court record could be identified, and if it contained a confession by Joseph Smith which revealed him to be a poor, ignorant, deluded, and superstitious person unable himself to write a book of any consequence, and whose Church could not endure because it attracted only similar persons of low mentality if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him. . . . How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been superstitious fraud which the pages from a book declared he confessed to be? . . . '
"Well, in spite of 140 years of silence, the records did surface. Rev. Wesley Walters discovered the documents in the basement of the Chenango County, New York, jailhouse at Norwich, N.Y. in 1971. The records, affidavits, and other data show conclusively that Joseph Smith was arrested, went to trial, was found guilty as an imposter in the Stowell matter of "glass-looking." It is not a matter of debate, opinion or religious preference. It is a proven historical fact.
"Initially Mormons denied that Joseph ever participated in 'money-digging' activities, saying that would invalidate his claim as a prophet. Now that indisputable evidence confirms that Joseph was a convicted 'money- digger' Mormons have taken a 'so what' attitude. At least one says, now that the evidence proves that Joseph was a 'money-digger' that it really doesn't matter. (What could a BYU professor say?) Mormon scholar Marvin Hill says:
"'There may be little doubt now, as I have indicated elsewhere, that Joseph Smith was brought to trial in 1826 on a charge, not exactly clear, associated with money digging.' [Fawn] Brodie's thesis that the prophet grew from necromancer to prophet assumes that the two were mutually exclusive, that if Smith were a money-digger he could not have been religiously sincere.
'This does not necessarily follow. Many believers active in their churches, were money-diggers in New England and western New York in this period. Few contemporaries regard these money-diggers as irreligious, only implying so if their religious views seemed too radical . . . For the historian interested in Joseph Smith the man, it does not seem incongruous for him to have hunted for treasure with a seer stone and then to use with full faith to receive revelations from the Lord.'
"Marvin Hill's appraisal of the treasure-seeking activities make it appear that contemporaries of Joseph Smith treated this enterprise with a casual air. One such contemporary that was closer to Joseph than most, could hardly disguise his disdain. This was Isaac Hale, father of the girl that Joseph would later elope with. In an affidavit signed by Hale and published in the Susquehanna Register, May 1, 1834, Joseph's father-in-law said:
"'I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money diggers"; and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by what means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure.
"'Smith and his father, with several other money-diggers boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards. Young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused . . . [H]e was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve. . . . Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called "glass-looking," and that he expected to work hard for a living . . .
"'Soon after this, I was informed that they had brought a wonderful book of plates down with them . . . The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods.'"
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