Skip to comments.The "Familiar Spirit" in 2 Nephi 26:16 [LDS - OPEN]
Posted on 10/15/2010 6:01:30 AM PDT by Colofornian
There are two ways to read a text, through exegesis and through eisegesis. The first means, approximately, "reading out of the text," while the second means, approximately, "reading into the text." Both are legitimate ways of approaching a text. Anyone who reads the scriptures will at times engage in both exegesis and eisegesis, whether knowingly or unwittingly. Therefore, the more conscientiously and consciously we engage in rigorous and careful exegesis and eisegesis, the better the chance that our reading of the scriptures will truly enlighten the mind and provide substance for the soul. I will illustrate both approaches using the term familiar spirit found in 2 Nephi 26:16, Isaiah 29:4, and 1 Samuel 28.
First, an example of the eisegetical approach. The word familiar has various meanings in English and only the context can help decide which meaning is the intended one. Thus, one way to understand 2 Nephi 26:16 might come when the common understanding of familiar is applied. That is, familiar can suggest "to be acquainted with," or as the Oxford English Dictionary reads, "known from constant association." This is the meaning that some Church members have given to familiar in this verse. It is certainly true that the Book of Mormon will have a spirit about it that will be familiar to those who know the Bible; they will recognize the same spirit in both books. This connotation of familiar is certainly appropriate to describe the effect the Book of Mormon has on all those who are honest in heart.
Now, an example of an exegetical approach. Familiar also has another meaning that is at play in Isaiah 29:4 and 2 Nephi 26:16, and because of this other sense a different understanding of these verses becomes possible. The Hebrew behind the "familiar spirit" in Isaiah 29:4 (King James Version) is ʾob.1 This Hebrew word denotes, approximately, "the spirit of a deceased person." This sense is most apparent in 1 Samuel 28 when Saul first asks about and then visits a medium, the infamous "Witch of En-Dor." But she is never called a witch in the King James Bible; rather, she is simply called "a woman that hath a familiar spirit" (1 Samuel 28:7), or more literally from the Hebrew, "a female master of familiar spirit."2 Because the biblical context of those who deal with "familiar spirits" is usually that of a séance, which is uniformly condemned in the Old Testament, people have assumed that the "familiar spirit" is evil or demonic, when actually, it is the medium who brings up the "familiar spirit" who is condemned, and not the "familiar spirit" per se.
That the "familiar spirit" is not always evil is apparent in 1 Samuel 28 where the spirit called up from the dead is the prophet Samuel (real or imagined). If Saul had thought that all "familiar spirits" were evil, he would not have ventured to have Samuel called up.
Therefore, when the Bible says in Isaiah 29:4 that the inhabitants of Jerusalem who will be destroyed will speak "out of the ground . . . as of one that hath a familiar spirit," the meaning is that destroyed Judah will speak from the dead, that is, from the records they left behind, the Old Testament, and without the aid of a medium. This has nothing to do with necromancy and divination, but everything to do with the dead speaking to the living through the records the dead leave behind. This is made even clearer in 2 Nephi 26:16 where Isaiah is paraphrased and applied to the Nephites who will, like the inhabitants of Jerusalem, be destroyed. They also shall speak "out of the ground . . . as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him [Joseph Smith] power, that he [the translator of the Nephite records] may whisper concerning [the destroyed Nephites], even as it were out of the ground" where they are buried, and where the plates had been buried.
As can be seen, the reader has the choice of interpreting 2 Nephi 26:16 eisegetically, reading into these passages the meaning "a spirit which seems familiar," or exegetically, reading out of these passages "a message from those who have passed on before us." Both ways of approaching 2 Nephi 26:16 are correct and legitimate methods that can lead to enlightenment and understanding. ◆
by Paul Y. Hoskisson
Director, Willes Center and FARMS
1. Hebrew: בוא.
2. Hebrew: תשא תלעב בוא.
I'm telling you. When a writer doesn't even quote the verse word-for-word that he's writing an article about, you know obfuscation is at heart. That's what this FARMS (Lds apologetics) writer does; and it's posted on a BYU site.
Here's the verse, 2 Nephi 26:16, from the Book of Mormon: 16 For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
Who are those who are destroyed? (The dead) They are speaking out of the ground amidst the dust. Cemetery style.
Only when Joseph Smith "translated" one phrase in this verse, their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit, I wonder if he knew that phrase "familiar spirit" is linked every time in the Old Testament (15 times) to mediums and divination and raising ghosts (1 Samuel 28) and witchcraft?
This Mormon apologist in this article tries to shift the meaning, using his own paraphrase. Here's part of his paraphrase he attempts in this article: "out of the ground . . . as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him [Joseph Smith] power, that he [the translator of the Nephite records] may whisper concerning [the destroyed Nephites], even as it were out of the ground"
And he claims "translators" can opt for publishing "the intended meaning". But this guy isn't approaching something written in a foreign language!!! Joseph Smith already claimed to translate it perfectly? (Why do we need a FARMS apologist trying to "translate" Joseph Smith's plain English???)
(Nice the Mormon god "meant to say" try...Nice this Nephi character "meant to say" try...Nice Joseph Smith "meant to say" try)
I have Lds "apostle" LeGrande Richards' book, A Marvelous Work and Wonder (Deseret, 1976). Mormons have highlighted this book for the past 34 years! On pp.67-68, Richards says: "Now, obviously the only way a dead people could speak 'out of the ground' or 'low out of the dust' would be by the written word, and this the people did through the Book of Mormon. Truly it has a familiar spirit..."
Richards admits these "dead people" who save us "has a familiar spirit..."... Based on context, some Biblical commentators recognize a "familiar spirit" as a demon. So that's why this Mormon apologist has to deal with this one verse with a whole article; to try to shift the meaning elsewhere.
According to Marvin Cowan's book, Mormon Claims Answered (p. 30): Mormons also claim that Is. 29:1-4 predicts the coming forth of the B. of M. Apostle LeGrand Richards says of v. 4, "Obviously, the only way a dead people could speak 'out of the ground' or 'low out of the dust' would be by the written word, and this people did through the Book of Mormon. Truly it has a familiar spirit for it contains the words of the prophet of God of Israel" (M.W. &W., p. 69). There are 15 Old Testament references to "familiar spirits," and every one of them refer to mediums in witchcraft, including Is. 29:4 (Lev. 20:6; Duet. 18:10-12). If the LDS believe the B. of M. has a "familiar spirit," they are identifying it with witchcraft! But, this text is really talking about the destruction of Ariel or Jerusalem, not about the B. of M.
In fact, KUTV out of Utah (Sept. 16, 2005), said in an article entitled Joseph Smith's Arrest Record Surfaces In New York:
The documents include arrest warrants, court transcripts and legal bills from four separate charges filed against Smith. Storms said the cases involved Smith's involvement in glass looking, or treasure seeking, and being a disorderly person. One of the documents includes a bill from then-South Bainbridge Justice Albert Neely to the county for services rendered. Included in the bill is a $2.68 charge for fees in examining the case of ``Joseph Smith, the glass looker.'' Joseph Smith's Arrest Record Surfaces in New York
Smith was convicted of "glass looking" in 1826, and these charges referenced were from the years 1826-1830.
Now why is this relevant to "familiar spirits"?
(a) Smith, a ground money digger, was certainly an expert in describing his observations about the "ground" and "dust."
(b) But more importantly, as I mentioned, Smith's reputation was covered in the regional newspapers.
Less than three years after Smith published the Book of Mormon, The Rochester Liberal Advocate ran the following article in their Jan. 12, 1833 edition. It was entitled, "Fortune Telling" and it references "familiar spirits" linked with Mormonism:
Jan. 12, 1833 Rochester newspaper article from the Liberal Advocate: It must be quite amusing to a laughing philosopher, to observe with what pomposity and arrogance, we boast of the "march of intellect," in this Paradise of the West, and hear young " springs of nobility," with faces as smoothe [sic] as vellum parchment, and something of the same color, gravely inform their companions in folly and ignorance, how long it has been " since they have finished their studies."
The mere learning to read, write and enumerate figures; which is pretty much all we acquire at school, simply fits us for a more laborious course of investigation, and mental improvement and our studies can never be said to be completed, so long as there is any thing to learn, which will never cease to be the case, so long as weak human nature is subject to its present infirmaties,[sic] and our lives are limited, to the short period of three score and ten.
It is humiliating to think that we are approximating, those ages of darkness and ignorance, when the priest, prophet and witch held the minds and bodies of mankind, in the most abject slavery; -- when the imaginations of the ignorant, were peopled with supernatural beings, & while the angels of light & darkness, waged bloody and exterminating war with each other, for the purpose of gaining supremacy.
In proof of our assertions, we shall mention the ridiculous farce of the mormonites; -- an imposition that had its origin in "money digging," fortune telling, and an acquaintance with, and a belief in "[familiar] spirits," & without detailing many other equally ridiculous and absurd impostures that have had their origin in times of excitement among us, we shall briefly remark, that in addition to the many villainous schemes pursued in our own pious and enlightened village, for the purpose of gulling the simple, and filching money from the pockets of the ignorant and credulous; -- two or more regular Juggling shops are established, where fools are made to tell their own fortunes, at the moderate price of two shillings each. Would not more of our well dressed females, who wear white feathers, [and] are continually dancing attendance upon some of our magistrates, in charge of a Constable, save themselves a great deal of trouble, and live more respectable, by setting up the profitable trade of fortune telling.
Was it eisegesis which led to Isaiah 14:12 evolving into the whole mythos of Lucifer?
Note (by Rich Troll): The 2nd definition of familiar in Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) is given as a noun: "A demon or evil spirit supposed to attend at a call. But in a general way we say, a familiar spirit." (emphasis in original) This term was associated with necromancy and had mostly negative connotations. It is significant to observe Abner Cole reinforces his connection of familiar spirits with Mormonism, with the first example being in "The Book Of Pukei," as found in the June 12th 1830 edition of The Reflector. Juggling, in this outmoded form, meant to manipulate or practice deceit in order to achieve a desired end. For more information on both familiar spirits and juggling, see D. Michael Quinn's Early Mormonism & The Magic World View. Less than two decades later, Rochester popularized spiritual communication when the Fox sisters opened a parlor in which paying guests could question the deceased. In doing this, the Fox sisters ushered in the age of Spiritualism.
“There are two ways to read a text, through exegesis and through eisegesis. The first means, approximately, “reading out of the text,” while the second means, approximately, “reading into the text.” Both are legitimate ways of approaching a text.”
But aren’t there actually three ways to read a text - exegesis, eisegesis, and throwing some ummi/tummi see-er stones in a hat and burying one’s face therein in order to translate some soon-to-evaporate golden plates?
The only familiar spirit I am familiar with is Balvenie 12yr old Scotch.
2 Nephi 26:16 is at odds with it self, conjuring up an evil spirit whose existence would be wholly at odds with God.
Oil and water as it were.
Familiar spirits are always evil spirits...
If you peruse the Free Republic religion forums you will notice a pattern. Theres an anti-Mormon group of people here that spends a great deal of their time attacking the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They post regurgitated propaganda on an almost daily basis.
They have a misguided obsession. You can witness many different tactics employed that you might find quite interesting. The straw man argument is a big favorite and is frequently preceded by cherry-picking quotes or other material. After the quotation the attacker will misrepresent what has been said or what was meant and then attack their own interpretation. Youll likely see perfect examples of just this shortly after I post.
Sometimes they cruise the headlines of the day seeking any story that might be twisted into making the Church look bad. Anything will do, just watch the progression of posts following it and see what I mean.
After reading their posts, I invite you to seek the truth about whatever issue they seem to be revealing or exposing. I promise that if you do so with honest intent, the ahah moments you will have will be many and frequent. You will start to recognize the tactics employed to cleverly twist and attack and will likely chuckle the more you see. In actuality, theres nothing new here. Its all been addressed many times before.
Heres a few links to get your started from a different viewpoint. I have found that the vast majority of the issues brought up can be found and addressed at http://www.fairlds.org/ but heres more:
(PD, I'm you're Huckleberry, since you are obviously tied up though I would help out...)
Familiar spirits are always evil spirits...
Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:31
A man also or woman that has a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be on them. Leviticus 20:27
And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he worked much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 2 Kings 21:6
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; 1 Chronicles 10:13
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the middle thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. Isaiah 19:3
Indeed. And even Joseph Smith had to have know the demonic association of "familiar spirits" given the 1828 28 definition of "familiar spirit" per Noah Webster (see post #5 for that definition. And yet, Smith still used it in this 1830 book!
(Perhaps it should be: Smith especially used the term, knowing its meaning.)
What do I mean? Well, perhaps this was more of God's insistence that a bit of "Truth in Advertising" clause needed some insertion somewhere in this counterfeit document called "The Book of Mormon."
So long as there are those trying to keep those spirits clean around you..... ; )
"Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and Darkned his Eyes than he would take a sentance and it would apper in Brite Roman Letters. Then he would tell the writer and he would write it. Then that would go away the next sentance would Come and so on. But if it was not Spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite, so we see it was marvelous. Thus was the hol [whole] translated."---Joseph Knight's journal.
"In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."
(History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols.(Independence, Missouri: Herald House,1951),"Last Testimony of Sister Emma [Smith Bidamon]," 3:356.
"I, as well as all of my father's family, Smith's wife, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, were present during the translation. . . . He [Joseph Smith] did not use the plates in translation."
---(David Whitmer,as published in the "Kansas City Journal," June 5, 1881,and reprinted in the RLDS "Journal of History", vol. 8, (1910), pp. 299-300.
In an 1885 interview, Zenas H. Gurley, then the editor of the RLDS Saints Herald, asked Whitmer if Joseph had used his "Peep stone" to do the translation. Whitmer replied:
"... he used a stone called a "Seers stone," the "Interpreters" having been taken away from him because of transgression. The "Interpreters" were taken from Joseph after he allowed Martin Harris to carry away the 116 pages of Ms [manuscript] of the Book of Mormon as a punishment, but he was allowed to go on and translate by use of a "Seers stone" which he had, and which he placed in a hat into which he buried his face, stating to me and others that the original character appeared upon parchment and under it the translation in English."
"Martin Harris related an incident that occurred during the time that he wrote that portion of the translation of the Book of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone, Martin explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin and when finished he would say 'Written,' and if correctly written that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used."
(Edward Stevenson, "One of the Three Witnesses,"reprinted from Deseret News, 30 Nov. 1881in Millennial Star, 44 (6 Feb. 1882): 86-87.)
In 1879, Michael Morse, Emma Smith's brother-in-law, stated:"When Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon [I] had occasion more than once to go into his immediate presence, and saw him engaged at his work of translation. The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating word after word, while the scribes Emma, John Whitmer, O. Cowdery, or some other wrote it down."
(W.W. Blair interview with Michael Morse,Saints Herald, vol. 26, no. 12June 15, 1879, pp. 190-91.)
Joseph Smith's brother William also testified to the "face in the hat" version:"The manner in which this was done was by looking into the Urim and Thummim, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates lying near by covered up), and reading off the translation, which appeared in the stone by the power of God"("A New Witness for Christ in America,"Francis W. Kirkham, 2:417.)
"The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret was the same manner as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, while the book of plates were at the same time hid in the woods."---Isaac Hale (Emma Smith's father's) affidavit, 1834.
I totally agree with Paragon Defender's thesis, that, "I invite you to seek the truth about whatever 'issue' they seem to be 'revealing' or 'exposing'. I promise that if you do so with honest intent, the 'ahah' moments you will have will be many and frequent."
It is always a good thing to think for yourself - to broaden your exposure to all sources of information.
God's instructs to live a life of faith include being intellectually and rationally satisfied. He is able to provide answers to every question, and He encourages us never to be afraid. Don't be afraid to seek answers to all your questions.
How's that old saying go, 'Oh what a terrible web he weave, when first he practice to deceive?' And Smith used that same incorrect translation/imaginary person to develop a whole Mormonism mythos around Lucifer, as if the word/being was from the Torah Smith copied into his BofM novel.
So, Smith wasn't just a great peepstone 'profit', sexual predator of married women, he was also a conman extraordinaire!
mormon approach to reading the Bible: eisegesis - reading into it all the perverse doctrines of mormonism.
On FR and elsewhere, their approach is the See & Say method. See a word, proclaim it means the same thing as the mormon word.
No context, no original languages, etc. Just See & Say.
They do this at the same time as casting doubt on the accuracy of the translation of the Bible.
Their condemnation is just.
***In proof of our assertions, we shall mention the ridiculous farce of the mormonites; — an imposition that had its origin in “money digging,” fortune telling, and an acquaintance with, and a belief in “[familiar] spirits,”***
There must have been something in the water of western NY at that time. Not long after the death of JS, the FOX sisters began to have “table rapping” and started the “spiritsism” movement in America. It was found later that the rapping came from them poping their toes.
There are two ways to read a text, through exegesis and through eisegesis. The first means, approximately, “reading out of the text,” while the second means, approximately, “reading into the text.” Both are legitimate ways of approaching a text.
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Ummm...epic fail. No bible scholar ever considers eisegesis to be legitimate. Rather, most Biblical Scholarship is geared to AVOIDING eisegesis, because reading INTO a text usually involves presentism and leads to unbiblical doctrines and teachings.
David Noel Freedman is rolling over in his grave.
The LDS are INFAMOUS for ‘reading into a text’ rather than reading out of it, thus taking things out of context and inventing doctrines that are not biblical.
Sorry, Maxwell, you ARE the weakest link....goodbye.
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