Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Scriptures Project Update Newsletter

In an effort to help increase transparency, the scripture group has decided to start publishing a newsletter to try and keep everyone informed of what we've done, what we are doing, and what we have yet to do with the Restoration Edition scriptures project. The newsletter will be updated periodically, ideally weekly, and can be found in one of the tabs on scriptures.info. I've also included a link below.

SCRIPTURE PROJECT UPDATES NEWSLETTER

We've meant to get this first issue finished and published for a few weeks, but our time has been so strapped with actually working on the project, working at jobs, raising families, etc., that it hasn't been high enough on the overwhelming mountain of priorities until now. We're sorry if that's been hard for anyone, but the absolute taxing on our time and abilities has made it incredibly difficult for us to stay on top of anything. We're human, we're weak, we're sorry.

We hope to have major updates as well to the Q&A and the Submissions List on scriptures.info by the end of the week. Hopefully this newsletter and the Q&A updates will do a lot to answer things which have been riling up concerns, fears, and imaginations.

If you have further questions and concerns, please submit them to restorationscriptures2017@gmail.com. We do try to make sure we answer every email we are sent, but it may take a little time. And if any of our responses are insufficient to help you, please work with us poor humans in resolving the matter. Written text is a limiting medium, we are trying to help people as much as possible, but limitations in communication can make it hard for us to know if we've sufficiently helped clarify and resolve things for people.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Scripture, Prophecy and Covenant

In the last week or so, since the announcement of the scriptures project, there has been a wide spectrum of reactions. Many are grateful, many are searching into them and going to the Lord. Many are receiving revelations from the Lord, concerning the veracity of this project as part of His work.

But there are some things which are not well understood, which are bringing up a lot of questions. (As well as false accusations, false assumptions, false stories, and false and misrepresented doctrines, functioning to sow doubt and lead some away in pride and foolishness. They may go in peace.)

For those who would like to honestly understand the need for this project, how it fits into the picture of a covenant, and the need for a covenant to be accepted by a group of people in our day, Denver has written up a paper to try and address these things and help lay a foundation for understanding to be built upon.  If you are interested, download it HERE.

Hopefully reading this paper will help increase your understanding of what is underway. But above all, take it to the Lord. Read what we've shared, ponder what we've done and are doing, then ask with a sincere heart and real intent, meaning you honestly want to know what He thinks and will act in accordance with His will as He reveals it to you, no matter how uncomfortable or different from your expectations it might look. There is a glorious, strange act underway.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Holy Scriptures, Restoration Edition [Preview]



The printed PREVIEW version of the Restoration Edition scripture project we've been working on is now available for purchase on Amazon, and also available for free download in various electronic formats at SCRIPTURES.INFO.

As some people prefer to read from a hard copy rather than from an electronic screen, this printing avenue provides that capability, though costing some money, while the electronic versions remain free. To purchase print copies through Amazon, visit the respective pages using the links below:


VOLUME 1: THE OLD TESTAMENT

VOLUME 2: THE NEW TESTAMENT AND BOOK OF MORMON

VOLUME 3: DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS & PEARLS OF GREAT PRICE


PREVIEW VERSION

All the content is present in these books, they are not just snippets. What makes this the "preview" version is a combination of two things: first, that there is still some work to be done with things like formatting and proof-reading. And second, that there will be a period of time, between now and the finalization of this set of scriptures, wherein the body of believers will have a voice in what is or is not to be included in the final version. Once the input of the body has been gathered, sifted, and agreed upon, we will finalize the text and finish up formatting and proof-reading.

At that point, a final version of the text will be presented to the body for a collective vote of acceptance, and we can then proceed with preparing a better quality print version like you would hope for.

We will also update the versions sold through Amazon, so those who might have difficulties obtaining a higher quality version, or simply desire the versions through Amazon, will remain able to purchase them that way.

The copies being sold through Amazon are being sold about as cheaply as Amazon will allow, and ALL gains/royalties/profits are going to be directed to the temple fund.

Finally, below is the content of the project announcement, delivered at the Doctrine of Christ conference in St. George on March 18, 2017. I've created links throughout which take you to specific areas of scriptures.info, that you might begin familiarizing yourselves with what is available there.





RESTORATION SCRIPTURES ANNOUNCEMENT

March 18, 2017


   Although what is to be announced may be viewed by most people as a modest achievement, I think history will eventually reflect this as one of the greatest steps forward after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.

   What I’m about to announce will generate a considerable number of questions. To reasonably manage them, we’ve set up an email address where you can send your questions & suggestions. That address is:

RESTORATIONSCRIPTURES2017@GMAIL.COM. 

  Your questions will be reviewed this evening, and then tomorrow, a number of the major questions will be answered in front of this body. Any that aren’t answered immediately will be replied to after the conference ends.

   One of the first ways a dispensation becomes corrupted is by compromising the scriptures used by believers in that dispensation. Therefore when a new dispensation begins, one of the first orders of business for believers is to adopt a new set of scriptures which restore, insofar as it is possible, a correct version of the material they regard as scripture.
   Just like the saints of the New Testament adopted a new body of teachings, the Book of Mormon people preserved and added to sacred writings. And while Joseph Smith lived, there were both corrections to old scripture and new scripture was added. Likewise for us, there is a need to remove errors, correct texts, and add to the body of scripture to guide us. This assembly - that is, this worldwide body of believers - must also decide what we accept as scripture. It is our right and sacred responsibility to address this need.

   To that end, a new edition of the scriptures is proposed. They are divided into three volumes that have been produced through a unified effort by two independent bodies of volunteers, separately driven to approach the scriptures anew.
   Initially the members of these two groups felt individually inspired to revisit the scriptures in an effort to prune away some of the uninspired alterations of man so that they might have a more correct version of scripture for their study. Over time, these individuals were led to one another, combining and harmonizing their efforts. What began as two wholly separate groups, each forming at the same time, both unknown to one another, resulted in separate projects that were completed at the same time, and what was learned from their independent efforts identified issues that needed to be addressed.
   On the last day of 2016, less than 2 weeks after discovering each other, these two groups held a meeting, facilitated by Denver Snuffer, and determined to unify their efforts, each bringing to the table differing components for a greater outcome than either project possessed alone. On the first day of the new year, the two became one as work began, preparing what would become this Restoration Edition of the scriptures.

   Moving forward, the united team has worked closely with each other, with the Lord, and with His servant, to produce a more accurate record that is true to the Lord’s intent and to the Restoration. We are on His errand, not our own.

   In September 1832, the Saints were condemned by the Lord and commanded to “repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.” (D&C 27)
   We often see this as the Lord rebuking the Saints for failing to do according to that which He had written, yet assume that the Saints had been correctly saying what He had written. But the Saints did not say, and have failed to accurately preserve, what the revelations God provided to them said, because their texts became corrupted. This means that the first step towards emerging from condemnation is to try and do exactly what is being accomplished through this scriptural work now underway. While the full purpose of this project was initially unknown, it has begun a best effort to “repent and remember the new covenant.” If done right, we will at least accomplish the first step: recovering what the Lord provided so we can "say" what He has revealed. Then the challenges increase as we are called upon "to do according to that" which God has revealed.

   A future conference must then be held with the intent of approving the final content of the Restoration Edition and sustaining that edition as canon for this assembly.

   The following is a summary of what is contained in this Restoration Edition of the scriptures:


ALL THE SCRIPTURAL WORKS SHARE THE FOLLOWING CHANGES:
  • Verse numbers have been eliminated and the text has been formatted into paragraphs. This provides greater context for individual passages and removes the isolation of a statement that is caused by restricting it to a verse. The only exception to individual numbering is in Proverbs where each proverb has been numbered.
  • The chapters have been regrouped based on contextual themes rather than staying as they have existed historically. Our team recognized that since chapters were originally organized by man and not by God, we were free to reorganize them. Some paragraphs in some of the books have been combined or divided as well, based on their context. However, in the Book of Mormon, chapters were designated by Joseph Smith himself and those have been preserved.
  • Very minor standardization and spelling correction has taken place. Care was taken to respect the text.
  • Punctuation can clarify, but it can also restrict. Therefore punctuation has been significantly reduced in all of the volumes in order to free up the text for greater possible interpretation. 

INDIVIDUAL VOLUMES

VOLUME 1: THE OLD TESTAMENT
  • Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible (the JST) is the base text.
  • The Song of Solomon had been removed since Joseph indicated that it is not an inspired text.
  • Proverbs now includes Proverbs of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Proverbs of Denver Snuffer, Jr. 

VOLUME 2: THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE BOOK OF MORMON
  • In a letter to the “brethren in Zion” on 21 April, 1833, Joseph Smith stated, “...it is not the will of the Lord to print any of the new translation in the Star, but when it is published it will all go to the world together in a volume by itself, and the New Testament and The Book of Mormon will be printed together.”
  • Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible is the base text for the New Testament.
  • The 1840 edition of The Book of Mormon is used as the base text and was already formatted into paragraphs. This version was chosen because it contains corrections given by Joseph Smith to what was originally published in 1830 and 1837.

VOLUME 3: THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS & PEARLS OF GREAT PRICE
  • The new D&C returns the Lectures on Faith to its original place, along with those sections and revelations identified as coming through Joseph Smith. These have been painstakingly compared to the manuscripts found in the Joseph Smith Papers Project:
    • The order of the sections has been restored to thematic groupings rather than simply being presented chronologically. These groupings are: Restoration, Organization and Worship, and Revelations to Individuals.
    • Several LDS sections have been removed for the following reasons:
      • Sections 2 & 13 are extracts from JS-History and are therefore redundant.
      • Section 20 was written by Oliver Cowdery and constitutes church articles and covenants used to begin to structure the early church organization. They no longer apply.
      • Section 101 on Marriage, from the original 1835 Kirtland Edition, is not being reintroduced because it is not a product of either Joseph or Hyrum. However, pertinent points are included in another area.
      • Section 110 is completely unverifiable as a true revelation/vision. The three individuals with some information about the section, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and Warren Cowdery, left no statement or explanation about Section 110. Further, in listing those who visited with them in their respective testimonies, neither Joseph Smith nor Oliver Cowdery mention Elijah as having come. Finally throughout the Nauvoo time frame, including a month before his death, Joseph Smith spoke of Elijah’s return as a future and not a past event.
      • Section 129 was a struggle. Initially it was revised by taking the shorthand notes from Joseph Smith’s journal and fleshing them out with bridge words and phrases to make them into comprehensible sentences. However, once attempted, that effort was abandoned and the section was completely removed for the following reasons:
        • The shorthand is just sketchy enough that some of the bridge wording is clearly debatable.
        • The instruction we have through the Book of Mormon is sufficient on its own to allow us to discern evil spirits.
        • This section, if relied upon alone, is apparently not sufficient to defend against lying spirits.
      • Section 134 is a declaration on laws & government written by either Oliver Cowdery or Sidney Rigdon, not Joseph Smith.
      • Section 135 is simply the announcement of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum.
      • Section 136 is from Brigham Young.
      • Section 138, Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the dead, is restricted by copyright and cannot be used.
      • Official Declarations 1 & 2 are declarations made by a different church.
    • Several LDS sections have been revised for the following reasons:
      • Section 107 was an amalgamation of content, with only one portion traceable to a revelation before the 1835 publication of the D&C. That portion has been preserved. The 1835 published version bears hallmarks of revisions by the hand of man. Therefore only a portion has been extracted, and then added to by revelation, to explain the establishment of dispensations and reflect the direction of this current dispensation. It is placed as the last section in the new D&C.
      • Sections 121, 122 and123 came from a letter written from Liberty Jail and are presented within the context of the entire letter written by Joseph Smith.
      • Section 132 [Now Section 54] on celestial marriage is now represented as it is posted by Denver Snuffer on his blog, containing the redactions suggested there to make the document internally consistent and reflect the earliest descriptions of the original.
    • More than 40 new sections have been added for the following reasons:
      • Nearly all of these new sections are verified revelations given through Joseph Smith that simply were never sustained as scripture.
      • Restoration Edition Section 98 [EDIT: Section 97] is President Hyrum Smith’s epistle to the church.
    • The new D&C also includes an insert in the Appendix called A PROPHET’S PREROGATIVE, an example of an extremely valuable method of comparative study that can significantly help your understanding. The example used is Isaiah 29, and includes an introductory explanation.
  • The Pearl of Great Price - has had its name changed to Pearls of Great Price, reflecting and implying further expansion, and the following portions have been removed, revised or added for the following reasons:
    • (A Proposed Set of) Governing Principles is a rewritten statement of principles and practices - similar to LDS Section 20 - that reflects this assembly’s efforts to preserve the Restoration. This statement is not yet completed. It requires additional inspired input from the body of believers.
    • The Articles of Faith have been replaced by The Wentworth Letter that they were copied from, in order to provide context to those articles.
    • Joseph Smith - History has been slightly expanded to the same extent as it was originally published in the Times and Seasons.
    • The Book of Moses and Joseph Smith - Matthew have been removed because they already exist in the New Translation of the Bible and are redundant.
    • The Book of Abraham remains as is.
    • The Revelation of the Testimony of St. John - as given through Denver Snuffer, Jr. - has been added. It will not replace the existing Testimony of St. John found in the New Testament, but will stand as its own book.
    • Continuing Revelation - is a section which consists of visions and revelations given through Denver Snuffer, Jr. to be made public. This portion of the Pearls of Great Price is expected to be the place where new revelation will be added as it is received, which, you will see, has already happened.
    • A Glossary of Fundamental Terms is at the end of the final volume. Currently it’s blank, except for a single sample definition. We encourage all of you to consider emailing us terms for the glossary using the following criteria:
      • The definition must be scriptural, not your opinion.
      • The terms need to be those that are critical to seeing things correctly. LDS and Christian culture have so skewed many religious terms as to render them not just wrong, but spiritually dangerous in that they point people in the wrong direction. This will not become a “bible dictionary,” but is an attempt to explain words as the Lord has intended, not “Gospel speak” or Mormonese.

   Given that this body must declare to the Lord what records they intend to hold sacred, a Preview copy of these volumes of the Restoration Edition are available as of right now for download, in PDF, ebook and other requested formats, from scriptures.info, an online library that has been established for materials pertinent to the Restoration. There are a number of interesting tools and features that have been developed for this site, but now is not the time to go into them. However, I will say that scriptures.info is specifically built with tools to aid in comparative study. So take a tour of that important site on your own. Those of you who may have content pertinent to the scriptures that you wish to contribute, those of you who are looking for research material or tools, and those of you who are just curious, be sure to visit the ABOUT page on that site for direction.

   A hard copy of each volume is already available for purchase on Amazon.com and Amazon Europe. Search "Restoration Scriptures Preview" or the title of each work and you should find Vol. 1, 2 and 3. This copy is NOT formatted completely - it still has minor flaws in it. In fact, if you are happy to use the electronic copies that are available, you may want to wait until the scriptures have been sustained and scrubbed before buying a copy, as they may change. A final version will be produced that incorporates any changes sustained by this assembly and has been scrubbed of formatting errors.
   Additionally, since Amazon won’t allow us to sell the copies at cost, the minimal royalties from the copies sold will be donated to the temple fund.

   A quick side note: The reason the Creative Commons copyright for these scriptures is in my [Chris's] name is only because I am acting as the public face of this project. There are dozens of people that have contributed to it besides me.

   A Research version of these scriptures is partially completed and available for download on scriptures.info as well. Unlike the printed scriptures, this Research version will remain in electronic form - at least for now - and will differ in the following ways from the print copies:
  • Though retaining the new chapter groupings, all of the books have LDS chapter and verse numbers inserted to allow for easier research and for comparison with other versions of scripture.
  • The JST and D&C include both strikethroughs and additions visible in their original manuscripts.
  • The Book of Mormon footnotes all significant changes from the editions that were published during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. Any editions after his death were not approved by him and therefore have been ignored.
  • Items removed from the printed copy can be preserved in this copy for research purposes, including, for example, LDS Section 129.
  • Items of historical or educational significance deemed helpful may be added to this version. Recognize that the Research version is intended to expand details of the sustained scriptures, not supplant them. 
   We do have plans for a fancier set of scriptures being produced with bible stock paper, leather or faux leather covers, and so forth. That process is already underway, but anyone familiar with the process is invited to email us and lend a hand. I’m not sure of a time frame other than we’d like to have those available by the end of the year. But we won’t print any until after the sustaining conference.
   For those who honestly can’t afford around $40 to purchase a set of these scriptures and can’t use electronic copies for now, if you have a local fellowship you meet with, ask them if they can provide you with a set. If they can’t meet your need, please use the email address given to request a set. We have several free sets available for the truly needy that are here at the conference. If there are those in need who could not attend, but would like a copy, please place a request at that same email address and a copy can be sent to you or your local fellowship.

   THE NEXT CONFERENCE, which has been mentioned during this announcement, will be held in Boise, ID, Labor Day weekend, September 2-3, with the intent of approving the final content for the Restoration Edition of the scriptures and sustaining that edition as canon for this assembly. Today is the “open to public view” step of the process. Our team simply got the ball rolling. You will now have approximately 6 months to digest, critique and react to what the Lord has offered.

   Please carefully consider what is being offered to us. Zion is the Lord's work. So getting it will not depend on the goodness or desires of men and women, but on their submission to the Lord, who intends to accomplish it. WE can't force it, cause it, bring it, or hope it into existence. What we can do is submit to the Lord in a way that encourages Him to continue to use us for His purposes. There is no need for an immediate, knee-jerk reaction to this announcement. You will have time to consider all of it before making a decision.

   No sustaining or debate of the scriptures will take place during this conference. But your input is necessary and required. An email address has been provided specifically for that purpose. Please use RESTORATIONSCRIPTURES2017@GMAIL.COM to send in questions you have about what has been announced and provided. There likely won’t be enough time tomorrow to answer all the questions that get sent in, but any that aren’t addressed during tomorrow’s Q&A session will be replied to. But there’s no rush. If you have an immediate, burning question, please send it in quickly so that we have time this evening to prepare responses for tomorrow. Also, this same email address will be used over the next 6 months for additional questions and ongoing feedback in preparation for a sustaining conference. So if you don’t have a question or suggestion until June, you can still submit it and it will be addressed. But please refrain from pointing out formatting issues unless it is alarming. We will be combing through the books again to find them all.

   If there’s a particular issue in these scriptures that is critical, in your opinion, email your concern and your reasoning to support your argument. It will be posted for others to view and consider. If you think that there is something else that belongs in this edition, feel free to email that suggestion as well. For example you might feel inspired about a principle that needs to be added to the Governing Principles statement. However, realize that what this edition now contains has been under the Lord’s direction for the past year and a half and He has provided, at times, direct input. And there is a rigorous set of questions in the GUIDELINES on scriptures.info to assist you in determining whether you should submit new material.


The PRELIMINARY SUBMISSION & CRITIQUE PROCESS works like this:
  1. Questions, suggestions, criticism and requests get submitted to restorationscriptures2017@gmail.com.
  2. From the end of the St. George conference until the 4th of July, a SUBMISSIONS list will be maintained on www.scriptures.info.
    1. The items on the list will come from emails submitted.
    2. That document will list the specific items that have been pointed out as concerns to be removed, modified or added to the Restoration Edition. The points made by the submitter will also be given. Please be aware that your reasoning will be significantly refined if you submit a long explanation, so keep things brief. And make sure that what you submit is scriptural, not simply personal opinion.
    3. If you have very strong feelings about any of the items on the list, email us and let us know. If you’re fine with what has been proposed today or if you don’t care one way or the other about the items on the list, don’t email us. Only those who are strongly opposed to an existing item or strongly in favor of adding or amending an item should email us during those first few months.
    4. The SUBMISSIONS document will be updated as needed.
  3. As of the 4th of July, a final SUBMISSIONS list will be posted which also includes the total number of emails for/against an item. We will then wipe the slate clean.
    1. From then on, no new items will be added to the list.
    2. People who are strongly advocating or opposing can again email their vote about the item(s).
  4. That new voting period runs from the 4th of July to the end of August.
    1. A final tally will then be taken.
    2. If there is no significant number of emails in opposition of an existing item or advocating a missing item or amendment, that item will be dropped.
    3. And if you email us 6 times, it still only counts as one vote for any item. 
Benefits of this process are:
  1. We are using simple, easy to reach technology. Anyone can go online to do this - even if they have to go to a library or a friend to do so. And this can be done from anywhere in the world.
  2. By providing the reason why an item is listed, opposing voices get the chance to be heard and perhaps to persuade.
  3. Doing 2 rounds of voting gives everyone the chance to be persuaded over time and therefore find confidence of their final decision.
  4. Everyone gets an opportunity to be involved if they feel so inclined. 

2 CRITICAL POINTS:
  1. Remember that what is important is the message, not the messenger, so focus on the content of this gift, not how it’s delivered.
  2. The most important lesson for our group was expressed in the course of our emailing back and forth. Someone said this: I would rather submit to the decision of the group than insist that my view be followed. For me harmony between brethren is more important than getting what I think best to be followed. I believe harmony can lead to much greater things than can merely enforcement of even a correct view. I know how difficult it is to have a correct view, because of how often I have been corrected by the Lord. Sometimes I am humiliated by my foolishness when the Lord reproves me. Humiliation can lead to humility, but my experience is that the humiliation is accompanied by shame, whereas humility can proceed with a clear conscience. My experience with others leads me to conclude that if we can have one heart first, eventually we can likewise come to have one mind. But if we insist on having one mind at the outset, we may never obtain one heart together.
   So I make a request to all of you - from all of us: Kaai sent the team an email 3 weeks ago, just after we had submitted the final volume to our formatter. We had begun to consider this next step. So he wrote: One of the ways to hopefully mitigate the sheer volume of emails will be to encourage fellowships to meet together and come up with a consolidated list of questions/suggestions/ concerns/etc... If there are individuals not associated with a fellowship, then they'll follow the standard process [on their own]. If they make it a matter of prayer and forethought, first as individuals, then families, then fellowships, and submit in that manner, we may be able to keep the volume manageable. It will allow fellowships to meet together for a directed purpose and importune the Lord for revelation. It will draw them closer together in the bonds of love as indicated in the General Principles preamble and make them accountable to each other for the questions raised. I think it also reinforces the manner in which the Lord would want us to approach any challenge or issue presented.

   Please consider these points as you consider what you choose to advocate in the scriptures.

   Given the experiences many have had with organized religion, it’s only natural for some people to have an aversion to "official" scriptures. But these volumes are not set in stone; rather, they are presented to you in the appropriate manner, and with sufficient time for the group's collective review, critique, support, and, possible sustaining. The Lord deals with His people by covenant; accepting these scriptures as comprising the history, teachings, doctrine, and covenants of our faith represents another step in our collective journey towards having our hearts bound together. And this should remain a labor of love and devotion to God. Those involved in this work do not present these volumes with any other expectation than that we are to be called to answer to every principle advanced, and we hope and pray that this continued effort to preserve and honor the word of the Lord will be accepted by Him, and by you.

In closing, I’d like to read a journal entry from one of our team members from Feb 18th:

I checked the scripture email and saw that volume 2 had been formatted and is now ready to print. Upon opening the file and viewing the document I was filled with joy and with the Spirit and was given a prophecy by the spirit saying,

“These scriptures will go to all the world and teach every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, to bring in the children of Israel from the four corners of the earth.”

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Testimony of St. John

"And John saw and bore record of the fulness of my glory, and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed."D&C 93:6

The time has come. Get the PDF download HERE.

A new scripture project has grown out of that which I have already shared here. It is directed by the hand of Lord. It is currently being prepared and includes, among other things, the revealed Testimony of St. John, which I have read, and it is true.

EDIT: I need to note something. I have learned that the fulness of John's record is something more than can be merely read. What is written here is his record crafted to illustrate the path he walked, following the Savior in His path, by which he obtained a fulness, and by which we may obtain the same.

Monday, December 19, 2016

EET Triple Combination and Separate Volumes

There has been a volunteer effort underway for many months now to create a new edition of the scriptures, based on the earliest extant sources made available to us. This project is now reaching the last stretch, with finalized versions created and formatted for print editions of a combined volume containing the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price; a new Triple Combination, in LDS terms.

With the phase of creating a printers manuscript now being complete, there are two subsequent news items for me to share at present.

PRINTED VERSIONS


First, there is already work underway to contract a printer to create printed volumes. The format being discussed with printers is a single Triple Combination volume, bound on traditional onionskin/Bible paper, 6" X 9" with wide outer and bottom margins, and a font sized between the traditional small and large print scripture fonts. All printers thus far are requiring a minimum order of 1000 volumes for a quote, so discussions and efforts are being engaged to handle funding, ordering, etc. so that the volumes can at least be created. As more news develops on how these volumes will be printed and distributed, I will share what I learn here. Requests for help may be extended.

There is a lot of effort being placed into minimizing/eliminating financial gain from this work. The printed editions will be sold as cheaply as possible, with current estimates coming in around $20 a volume.

ELECTRONIC VERSIONS


Secondly, now that the electronic manuscripts have been created they are being made freely available. You can download the full Triple or any single volume from the linked pages in the sidebar of this blog. Here are also some direct links to those download pages:


EET Triple Combination

Book of Mormon, Earliest Extant Transcripts version

Doctrine and Covenants, Earliest Extant Transcripts version

Pearl of Great Price, Earliest Extant Transcripts version


As of yet there are still a few electronic versions not yet finished for the Book of Mormon and complete Triple, but they are underway.

All these electronic documents are entirely free, and as unrestricted as possible. That means if you don't want or care to wait for the bound onionskin version and are happy to go with a cheap print-on-demand version or some other print service, go for it. The PDF and DOCX versions are professionally formatted for book printers, most if not all should accept them.

If you want to send electronic copies to people, or make them available for download on your own blogs, websites, etc., feel free to do so. Share these around however you see fit.

If you don't like that the misspellings from the Doctrine and Covenants have been preserved, feel free to clean up the spelling in your copy for your own print or electronic versions.


THIS SCRIPTURE PROJECT


Concerning the purpose of this project, it is driven by a desire to get back to the roots of these volumes of scripture, to return as close to the sources as realistically possible, thereby reducing contextual (and other) commentary written into the revelations by later hands, which may not have been guided by the Lord.

Here are some of the things you can expect to find:


THE BOOK OF MORMON EET

  • A massive reduction of punctuation, leaving it between the reader and the Lord to determine where and how certain separations, distinctions, etc. are to be understood.

  • Footnotes marking all known additions, redactions, and alterations made to the Book of Mormon during the lifetime of Joseph Smith Jr, as well as the versions of the Book of Mormon in which those things are found.

  • The text is presented in textual format similar to the 1840 version of the Book of Mormon—the last edition published during Joseph's lifetime—but with modern chaptering and versing noted in red to aid in study.


D&C EET and PEARL OF GREAT PRICE EET

  • Most transcribing errors and alterations found within the source documents are reflected within these EET versions. This means that misspellings, capitalization, grammatical errors, etc., are generally left intact. Alterations made to the source transcripts, such as additions or redactions, are also represented. The rules we have used in preparing this publication are as follows:
    • Legible redactions are transcribed in a strikethrough font, so they may be read while being recognized as a redaction.

    • Additions inserted into the original documents with carets are placed within <arrow brackets> to notify the reader that this text is not part of the inline transcript, but was added as an alteration.
  • Sections are ordered according to modern numbering, but presented in their original paragraph form with modern verse numbers noted in red.

  • In addition to those sections of the Doctrine and Covenants with which most readers are familiar, we have included the Lectures on Faith and the original Section 101, both of which have been removed from current editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. These items were prepared as part of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, published in 1835, and voted unanimously into that canon of scripture by the church. There was no vote held or obtained to authorize their removal.

  • A supplement has been added, containing two letters. The first was the epistle written to the church from which Sections 121, 122, and 123 were taken. Including the entire letter gives the reader the opportunity to study those sections in context. The second letter was the epistle written to the church by Hyrum Smith as Assistant President of the Church, Prophet to the Church and Church Patriarch. Because Hyrum held authority equal to any other presiding Church leader, Joseph's complaint about the Saints' lack of regard for Hyrum will not be disregarded.

Two final notes: Not all alterations made to the early text of these revelations had Joseph Smith’s awareness or approval. There is no way to determine when many were made, or by whom. Therefore it rests with the reader to discover which should/not apply. And any text from the modern versions of scripture that is not found in these versions did not exist during Joseph Smith’s lifetime, as far as has been determined.

This is a volunteer effort, reflecting no official organization, institution, or body. Time, effort, and resources have been donated freely by those involved, without compensation. May your scripture study benefit from these efforts.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ripening

"When a nation on this land chooses to uphold a wicked man to head their government, they are ripe for destruction." (See Mosiah 29: 27; Alma 10: 19, Helaman 5: 2.)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Zionomics: Conclusion

THE LADDER


As I consider the currently known economic models related to the gospel, I think I might rank them as follows:
  1. Zion.
  2. The United Firm (which was also expected to live the law of consecration).
  3. The law of consecration.
  4. Have more - give more; have less - give less; have none - receive (e.g. Mosiah 18:27). (Without further details about their functioning, it’s unclear whether this referred to the same law as the one we refer to as “consecration,” or a similar but differing law.)
  5. Tithing as found in D&C 119.
  6. Tithing as altered and marginally practiced in the LDS church. (Though this model isn’t in harmony with scripture, it is included because it is where we are, and we claim it as gospel truth.)
Numbers 2-5 all have types and portions of the highest law in them, pointing upward toward Zion. Number 6 is the sole exception, likely due to being a fabrication of man rather than God. It seems we’ve got some ground to cover before we can claim the title of “Zion.” Not to say we will be required to hit each and every intermediate step, but there remains a large gap between sitting at "6" and rising to be "1."


SUMMARY


To summarize this long-winded series, I agree wholly with Moses 7:18 when considering Zion:
And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.
Zion’s people will be of one heart and one mind—specifically, the Lord’s mind. Or in other words, the Holy Spirit (Lectures on Faith 5:2).

They will dwell in righteousness, keeping all the economic commandments the Lord sees fit to impose upon them, whether in scripture or through covenants, that Zion might be holy (Moses 7:62).

No poor will be among them, because they will be equal in their temporal things (D&C 70:14).

Equality in their temporal things will ultimately come about through their holding all things common. (4 Nephi 1:3) Other preparatory steps will pave the way, such as learning to be free with our substance (Jacob 2:17).

All in Zion will esteem their fellow man as themselves, and show it (D&C 38:24-25).

Covetousness, compulsion and control of substance will be gone. Those in Zion will fully recognize that it is all the Lord’s, and at best, we become joint-heirs with Him (D&C 104:14-18, 55-57; Romans 8:16-17).

Zion’s people will be industrious, laboring for the benefit of everyone, in an economy where money simply has no place. (2 Nephi 26:31)

The people of Zion, being one, will have no compulsion one over the other (D&C 121:34-46), to enforce or keep the economic laws. The Lord will handle breaking of laws and covenants (Acts 5:1-10). The people will choose to participate in the economy of Zion by voluntarily covenant, of their own free will.

And the Millennial success of this model will be due to its status as a byproduct of hearts and minds being united in love for one another and the Lord. The initial establishment of the economy may function as a final refinement of the people, but it will be that successful refinement, making their hearts pure (D&C 97:21), which will maintain the economy through the Millennial reign of Christ, as a natural manifestation of how they are within.

Zion will be God's work, established by His hand, through His invitation. Until it is established, we have plenty of preparatory laws to work on, to refine our hearts and bring our minds in sync with His. As we do this, hopefully we can learn to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead on the straight and narrow path, and be numbered among those blessed to participate in the fulfillment of one of the greatest prophecies in Creation: the final appearance of ZION.

Zionomics, part 7: Without Compulsory Means

AUTHORI-TAH


"Authority" is a word that has suffered some redefining, to the detriment of both church and state. It is readily viewed as "power over something or someone else," and includes privileges such as the right to compel and control others. This has become the accepted understanding of the word, and therefore all our churches and states function accordingly. Those who have such "authority" are viewed not as oppressors, but as "benefactors" (Luke 22:25). The Lord evidently finds this understanding offensive, and would have His people act otherwise (Luke 22:26-27).

I think a better understanding of the word "authority" in scripture would be "power to correctly serve." For example, to have authority from the Lord, one must receive from the Lord a commandment, so they might "serve" Him by executing it. They must have a correct understanding of that commandment, or they may take some course of action which actually doesn't align with the commandment. Having the commandment, and the proper understanding of how to accomplish it, they are empowered to act as an authorized servant, so long as they respect the parameters they've been given. When they act accordingly, the Lord takes responsibility for the performance, as the "author" who "authorized" the servant to perform it.

If an "authorized" servant performs their duties incorrectly, those performances are considered unauthorized, being out of harmony with the bounds of their authorization. Then the servant, rather than the Lord, is accountable for what they've done, potentially even surrendering the "authority" of the one they claim (D&C 121:34-37).

If the Gentile version of authority will not be welcome in Zion, then the economy of Zion will not function through compulsion, enforced by some police force. The people will not be living the law merely out of fear of some external consequences. Instead, their hearts having been refined and found worthy, they will have accepted the covenantal law as a matter of personal conviction, stemming from their inner desire to care for and serve man and God. They will be self-governing in a fashion, as Joseph Smith sought to inspire among his people.

This is not to say that there will be no punishment or consequence for the breaking of laws. When a people are under an actual covenant with the Lord, the Lord certainly brings about punishment unto the unrepentant. Consider the story below, in which Ananias and his wife had covenanted to live with the people under the law of "all things common" (established in Acts 4:31-37):
"BUT a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband." - Acts 5:1-10
Zion will have laws, and laws are nothing without consequences (2 Nephi 12:3; 2 Nephi 9:25-27). But this does not mean men will have and exercise power over one another, or create institutions to engage in such behavior. Instead, we would be living under the Lord as our Governor and Judge, who will be free to bring punishments to bear where repentance is absent.



UNTANGLING COMMON PROPERTY


In my view, some of the greatest fears of ultimately shifting away from private property to common property are derived from observations of the failed efforts in this world. Not just failed, but corrupted.

For example, both Socialism and Communism, two of the dirtiest words you can say to many Americans, were built upon foundations of fear and compulsion. Government was given tyrannical power, which they wielded (and still wield) like a hammer and sickle against their own people. In these brutal forms of government, they teach a theoretical embracing of some form of common property, while practicing something else entirely.

In practice, the government effectively owns all the property, and is "gracious" enough to allow the rest of the people some small portion for their use, so long as the people don't offend the government. The people have never really owned the property. If you offend the government or are perceived as a threat to their power, then fear, pain and death are used to try and get you back under their thumb. The more friendly you are with the government, the greater portion they might allow you to hold, in their behalf.

What Socialist and Communist regimes have done is pollute the idea of "common property" by association; association with brutal force, lying, corruption, oppression, murder, and every other vice found in man's societies. The regimes have spoken of the people being one, while they have always been definitively two or more: governmentand the rest. That is not "one," and therefore it is not Zion.

As this is pretty much the only way most people have seen a government attempt "all things common" or something like it, the idea becomes enmeshed with fear, oppression and death, and nobody wants to participate in such a society.


But seeing as no versions of these societies has ever actually practiced "all things common," in spite of lip-service to the contrary, what if that concept can be extracted from entanglement with those societies? What if those corrupt societies were designed as they were precisely to make a mockery of that principle, to convince us by association with evil that "common property" must be bad? What if they represent Satan's best efforts to mock the model of Zion, saddling it with all his worst compulsion and fear, to convince us not to consider "all things common" divorced from fear and compulsion?

What if "common property" isn't actually the problem, but the lack of refinement and preparation of the hearts and minds of those who attempt it? What if in such corrupt societies, neither the governing nor the governed were sufficiently righteous and prepared to adopt such a weighty idea? As evidenced further by the fact that the Lord never invited them to enter into that model?

What if a people were prepared sufficiently in their hearts and minds before attempting such an endeavor, could it be possible to live such a law? Just because we haven't had the opportunity to directly observe such a model in this world, doesn't mean it is impossible for it to come forth. Our scriptures point to it having happened in the past, and happening again in the future, among a prepared people. But it will be unlike any of the models we currently see.
"The government of the Almighty has always been very dissimilar to the governments of men, whether we refer to His religious government, or to the government of nations. The government of God has always tended to promote peace, unity, harmony, strength, and happiness; while that of man has been productive of confusion, disorder, weakness, and misery." - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 248
We cannot expect that the government or economy of Zion will be anything like the governments and economies of men.

Zionomics, part 6: Covetousness

Covetousness is worthy of noting directly, as it is a sin which directly conflicts with the economy of Zion. It has been a factor in the downfall of many efforts to ascend toward Zion. It has power to thwart Zion's return if we don't put it in check. But to put it in check requires we have a clear understanding of exactly what it is.

The word is generally understood as being synonymous with “desire,” but with a bit of a "bad" connotation, essentially desiring things that you shouldn’t. While there is truth to that, I don't think it is the whole truth, and I think the devil is in the details. If you look into the etymology, there are at least two other facets present that I would point out. One is emotional entanglement, and the other is territorialism.


EMOTIONAL ENTANGLEMENT


“Covetousness” is always defined with strong emotional attributes. It is a “passionate” desire, it includes “eagerness,” we “long” for something. These terms indicate an emotional investment in the securing of the thing that is desired. We would have a strong, positive emotional response to gaining it, and similarly a negative emotional response to not having it.

When we attach our emotions to the securing of something, we enslave ourselves to it. We do not subject ourselves to the Lord’s will, being content with what He sees fit to appoint to us in the present moment (Job 1:21). Instead, our happiness becomes dependent upon what we hold. 

It is possible to have desires without becoming emotionally entangled with them. We can desire a thing and ask it of God, and be content to wait until He sees fit to bestow it, appreciating what He has given us in the interim. This isn’t to say such a state is easy, especially in a consumerist world, but it is possible.


TERRITORIALISM


The second part of covetousness I want to point out is territorialism. It is the desire to “possess” the thing that is desired. It is not enough to have partial claim upon it, to be able to use it for your benefit. It is the desire to have it all to yourself, with the right to withhold it from others.

A man who covets his neighbor’s wife, property, etc. isn’t seeking to merely have access to these things, to "enjoy" the benefits of these things while sharing them with his neighbor. He desires to take them from his neighbor, for his neighbor to lose all claim upon them. He desires to make these things subject to himself, and none else. He wants them for his territory, to be protected and guarded from all other unpermitted access.

This is what the early Mormon saints were embroiled in when the Lord condemned them for their covetousness (D&C 98:19-20; 101:6).  This is how covetousness broke the covenants of the United Firm (D&C 104:4, 52). He had given the church the law of consecration, requiring they surrender private property up to become common property of the whole church, but the church members simply weren’t interested in doing that. The idea was offensive to them and they wouldn’t engage in it. So workarounds were created, scriptures were altered, and the people were condemned and finally given a lesser law of tithing (D&C 119), which permitted them to hold onto some of their property exclusively and privately, while only surrendering a small portion to become the common property of the church. (This law of tithing has been replaced by another, manufactured by man.)

One reason that “covetousness” cannot be understood merely as a desire for something is found in D&C 19:26:
And again: I command you, that thou shalt not covet thine own property…”
A person cannot desire to lay hold on that which they already hold. However, a person can become emotionally entangled with the property they hold, desiring to retain it as their territory, to be withheld by right from others who may need it more. A person can be afraid to lose exclusive claims on property. I think these are far more fitting understandings of what the Lord means when speaking against “covetousness.”


SEEMING EXCEPTIONS?


Now, there are two verses in all of scripture which appear to use the word “covet” as a positive thing, both from 1 Corinthians:
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” - 1 Corinthians 12:31
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.” - 1 Corinthians 14:39
However, if you look into the translations from which these verses are derived, something interesting emerges. In both verses, the word “covet” is translated from a Greek word that simply means “desire” or “have warm feelings for.” This particular Greek word has no inherent connotation, it can be used positively or negatively, depending on context.

But when Paul writes about coveting in his other epistle to the Romans—where he warns them not to covet, treating it as a sin—Paul uses a different Greek word.  He saw fit to distinguish between the desire for gifts of God on the one hand, and covetous desires on the other. But the KJV translators chose to eliminate Paul’s distinction between the two, applying “covet” for both Greek words. 

Numerous newer translations of the Bible have seen fit to correct this, translating the 1 Corinthians words to “desire” rather than “covet,” separating the desire for spiritual gifts from the sin of covetousness. I think this is wisdom on their part.

Zionomics, part 5: Equal = Equitable?

nevertheless in your temporal things you shall be equal in all things & this not grudgeingly otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the spirit shall be withheld” - D&C 70:14
This scripture, and others like it, have been thorns in the side of many, for declaring that the Lord’s people are to be “equal” in their substance. This is apparently unbearable and/or incomprehensible, and so the rationalization machine begins its work to explain away this statement.

Beyond those simply unable to emotionally handle such ideas (due to covetousness), there are those who see the Lord’s injunction to be “equal” as an apparent impossibility when juxtaposed with the difference in numbers between people and resources. It seems paradoxical. Paradoxes must be addressed, and many can be handled by either finding an unexpected or hidden harmony, or recognizing errors which can be corrected to establish harmony.

In this case, many seem to believe the “fix” to the paradox is to determine that, when the Lord says “equal,” what He really means is “equitable.”

The first problem is that this argument relies upon correcting God’s word choice. He screwed up, repeatedly saying “equal” when He should have said “equitable” (both words existed at the times of the revelations/translations). The Almighty God screwed up, but we can “fix” that, by redefining the word “equal.” Perhaps later we can alter the text itself, if necessary. (This kind of thinking hasn’t ever bitten anybody in the ass before, right?)

Sure, the definitions of “equal” and “equitable” are similar, but that doesn’t create grounds for altering what God says. They are different words with different meanings. I don’t think the similarity between the two words should be used as a salve for a tweaked conscience, offended by the decision to alter God’s words to our flawed liking in the first place.

The next problem is that in an “equitable” model, it is inescapable that when property cannot be equally divided, someone must go without, and who goes without will be decided upon a basis of something like “fairness.”

For example, take a small marina with 20 boats, and a community of 30 people (or families, depending on how you want to view the divisions). To be “equitable,” circumstances would be examined to see who of the 30 most needs a boat. The 20 most in need get the 20 boats to call their own, while the remaining 10 simply go without. Sure, they can ask permission to use a boat belonging to one of the 20 owners, but they are reliant upon their whims for a boat to use, and definitively do not have the same privileges as those who own the boats. Therefore, slice it any way you like, stratification has occurred and the people are absolutely not “one,” as the Lord requires, but two—boat owners, and the boatless. And if they are not one, the Lord denies they are His (D&C 38:27).

It seems the reason for attempting this rationalization is deep-seated preference for a “private property” model economy, built on the fear of going without, and the insistence that this model never be abandoned. It is only the concept of “private property” which creates the insurmountable problem of incongruent quantities. So these two forces—God’s words and the concept of private property—are brought into conflict, and it is evidently the Lord’s word that people would prefer to see defeated.

However, if a people eventually moves away from a privatized economy, and enters into the covenant of having all things common, “equal” is suddenly the proper word.

In the marina of 20 boats, the community of 30 finds that they all have claim on 20 boats. This guy, that guy, that lady, all have claim on 20 boats. Meaning they are in fact exactly equal, as there is literally no difference in the 20 boats one has claim upon, and the 20 boats another has claim upon. Then anyone in the community who needs to use a boat has 20 in the marina to go down and choose from. If some are in use, they still have others to choose from. If all are in use, they merely need to wait, and one or many boats will return and be made fully available in due time. The people are all “one.”

As far as I can tell, “equal” is the word that best fits in with the greater economic designs of the Lord that I find in scripture. I think He meant what He said, and said what He meant. “Equitable” perhaps functions as a stepping stone in preparatory economic laws, but it would ultimately be swallowed up by the word “equal.”