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Opposition, 6.4 – 2 Nephi 2:11 in Spanish Translation

Posted by joespencer on October 29, 2012

My last post dealt with Italian renderings of 2 Nephi 2:11. With that, we’ve finished working through the three major early translations—all originally produced in 1852. Interestingly, though the Spanish translation of the Book of Mormon appeared relatively early as well, it didn’t appear at all until 1886. This ought to be a bit shocking. Missionaries were canvassing Western Europe in the 1850s, but Spain seems to have been left out. And even though Parley Pratt inaugurated a mission to South America in the 1850s as well, no serious efforts were made to produce a full translation of the Book of Mormon into the language of the people the early Saints regarded as the actual heirs of the Book of Mormon peoples.

Be all that as it may, there have been several Spanish translations—many, in fact. Among them, though, there are only four distinct versions of 2 Nephi 2:11—the first rendering in 1886, a distinct one from 1952, a new one from 1980, and then the most recent one, from the 1990s. I’ll be looking at them all, and in the same way I’ve been doing this all along. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 6.3 – 2 Nephi 2:11 in Italian Translation

Posted by joespencer on October 22, 2012

My last post, on the German translations of 2 Nephi 2:11, ended up a bit long. Dealing with the Italian translations of the passage should be a bit easier (though, let me be frank: I’m far less familiar with Italian than with any of the other languages we’re dealing with here!). At least, though, there aren’t so many variations to work through!

I’ll follow my now-wonted pattern. My aim, as before, will be to mark the possibilities of interpretation forced by the history of translation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 6.2 – 2 Nephi 2:11 in German Translation

Posted by joespencer on October 16, 2012

In my last post, I addressed the history of the French translation of 2 Nephi 2:11. That history was complicated, and it provided a good many things to reflect on. As it turns out, the history of the German text is far more complicated. Where there have been only four French translations, two of them being almost identical, there have been six German translations, and they differ among themselves much more radically than the various French versions. We’ve got a lot to cover in this post, consequently.

But let’s get started. There have been, as I say, six German translations of the Book of Mormon. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 6.1 – 2 Nephi 2:11 in French Translation

Posted by joespencer on October 10, 2012

As I announced in my last post, this is the first of four sub-posts on the translation of 2 Nephi 2:11 into languages other than English. Here I’ll be taking up the French rendering.

Four distinct translations of the Book of Mormon into French have appeared over the course of the Church’s history. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 6.0 – 2 Nephi 2:11 in Translation

Posted by joespencer on October 6, 2012

With my last post, I finished up my review of the literature on 2 Nephi 2:11. But I haven’t yet finished recounting the history of interpretation of this passage. Where else might one look? In a word, to translations.

We often say—and rightly!—that the Book of Mormon is quite different from the Bible when it comes to translations. The Bible has come down to its English readers not only through a complex process of original production, subsequent editing and redaction, and community-driven reshaping, and only through centuries of hand-written reproduction of manuscript copies of bits and pieces of the text, but also through a complicated history of translation into Western (and, of course, other) languages, with our own beloved King James Version being as much a product of the Latin Vulgate and the English Bishop’s Bible as of any original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek texts. And that’s not even to mention the political, historical, aesthetic, theological, and other influences that determined the shape the translation took—as anyone who can read the “originals” can tell you.

The Book of Mormon, however, as we say, leaped over all of that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 5 – Recent Philosophical Engagement with 2 Nephi 2:11

Posted by joespencer on October 5, 2012

In my last post, I looked at the relatively few but unmistakably important philosophical analyses of 2 Nephi 2:11 available between the beginning of the twentieth century and the 1960s. The pattern, I showed there, was one of serious philosophical work but without a rigorous investigation of the text itself. In this post I’ll deal with more recent philosophical engagement with the text, engagement which is unmistakably predicated on much closer analysis of what Lehi actually has to say in 2 Nephi 2:11. As I mentioned in my last post, this turn of sorts would seem to have been motivated largely by President Benson’s call back to the Book of Mormon in the first half of the 1980s. At any rate, serious work on 2 Nephi 2:11 seems to have begun in 1989.

There’s a lot of material to cover here, and I won’t be able to do justice to much of it. I will, of course, try my best, but it’s difficult to take the measure of the moment we’re still passing through. And in the end, I really need to be able to take the measure of the moment, since my aim in this series is to begin to work beyond—well beyond, if possible—what’s been done. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 4 – Early Philosophical Engagement with 2 Nephi 2:11

Posted by joespencer on September 27, 2012

In my previous post, I had a few things to say about the usual, everyday interpretation of 2 Nephi 2:11—largely drawn from the passage’s use in official or authoritative settings and in the semi-devotional, semi-scholarly literature generally produced by BYU’s religion department. Now, I’d like to turn directly to the scholarly literature, and in particular to the philosophical literature. As before, I’ll be limiting myself to literature produced since the beginning of the twentieth century, though this time I have a better excuse: there more or less wasn’t a scholarly literature on anything in the Book of Mormon before the end of the nineteenth century. In this post I’ll be dealing with the literature up through the 1960s. In the next, I’ll turn to the more recent literature.

My chief aim in this post and its sequel is not to use the scholarly, philosophical literature to fix the meaning of 2 Nephi 2:11. Almost the opposite, in fact. My aim is to destabilize the meaning of 2 Nephi 2:11, to reveal by the manifold approaches to the passage that we should feel quite free to explore possibilities in interpretation. Along the way, of course, we’ll have provided ourselves with an array of interpretive possibilities on which to draw. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 3 – The Traditional Interpretation of 2 Nephi 2:11

Posted by joespencer on September 26, 2012

(First, in parentheses, a brief apology. I’ve been away at a conference—at which, incidentally, several papers on 2 Nephi 2:11 were presented!—that left me with little time to work on these posts. I’m back in business now, though, so here we go again.)

In my last post, I attempted to situate 2 Nephi 2:11 within its larger settings. My intention in this post is to say something about the traditional interpretation of 2 Nephi 2:11. I’m limiting myself to material produced since the beginning of the twentieth century, chiefly because I haven’t the time to do the kind of historical work required to excavate nineteenth-century approaches to a single verse of scripture. (And it’s best, anyway, to see how this text has been used in our own era of Mormonism, an era that began in 1890 and took a sort of final shape only by 1920 or 1930.) I’ll be looking, more or less, at only two sorts of sources: (1) sources that employ 2 Nephi 2:11 in an institutionally authoritative situation—say, General Conference; (2) sources that, although lacking institutional authority, borrow their interpretation of the passage from authoritative sources.

But let me be clear—very clear, if possible—on one major point here. It’s absolutely necessary to distinguish between authoritative sources and authoritative interpretations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 2 – Contextualizing 2 Nephi 2:11

Posted by joespencer on September 14, 2012

2 Nephi 2 is notoriously difficult. Whether it’s a matter of determining exactly where the introduction ends and the sermon itself begins, of determining exactly what Lehi means when he speaks of “the law,” of sorting out the idea of “answering the ends of the law” (or “the ends of the atonement”), of deciding what the (un)grammatical status of verse 10, of sorting out exactly what Lehi means when he talks about opposition, of reflecting on the difference between acting and being acted upon, of deciding what scriptural tradition lies behind Lehi’s words about a fallen angel, of determining the meaning of Lehi’s claim that Adam and Eve would have had no children without the Fall, or of drawing the appropriate conclusions from what is said about freedom, this chapter is incredibly difficult. For the purposes of this series of posts, I don’t need to decide on most of these questions—thank heaven!—but it is nonetheless necessary to determine the position of 2 Nephi 2:11 (the text of which I fixed in my last post) within the larger chapter or perhaps within the first several chapters of Second Nephi. It’s that task that I’m tackling in this post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposition, 1 – Fixing the Text of 2 Nephi 2:11

Posted by joespencer on September 13, 2012

In this first post on 2 Nephi 2:11, I aim only to fix the text I’ll be working with in this series. That should open the way to the other kinds of work I’d like to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Scripture topics | 7 Comments »

 
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