Thanks for a job well done

I am presently deployed on operations in the Far East and the feeling of separation from church, family, and friends is very real. I was sent a copy of the New Era by a friend and I would like to offer my thanks for helping me keep in touch with the Church through your magazine.

When I’ve been out to sea for a month or more, the words and writings of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve help bolster, and strengthen my faith and determination to keep true to the teachings of the Church. I have been a member of the Church for only a few short months; but I am constantly thankful for the knowledge I have received.

I wish to say thanks for a job well done, and I hope that in the future you will continue to help men like me wherever our duty takes us.

YNSN John R. Macko APO San Francisco

The New Era not only has intrinsic religious value to the Latter-day Saints, but it is also an excellent magazine from a journalistic point of view. I think for the audience range that you cover and the interest gap you must bridge … you do a tremendous job. I think your design is especially good, and the visual effects are extremely well done.

Elder Carl Arrington Bolivia Mission

This is my third month of official membership in the Church, and I wish to express my deep appreciation to all those involved with the New Era.

Bill Callahan Hayward, California

Thank you very much! I think the New Era is the right kind of magazine for teenagers. I really enjoy it!

Lynnette Gotberg Draper, Utah

I enjoy it

I thoroughly enjoy each issue of the New Era and want to thank you for your efforts in producing such excellent and inspiring reading material for the youth of the Church.

Laurie Jacobsen

“Not All That’s Gold Glitters”

I wish to thank Debbie Carr for her short story, “Not All That’s Gold Glitters.” After reading this fine story, it made me realize what a blessing it is to come from a large family, and how important family unity is in a home.

Susan Heap St. Johns, Arizona

“The Serviceman—A Stepchild”

After reading “The Serviceman—A Stepchild,” by Brian Kelly, I think the program that was conducted at Idaho State University could also be used in wards and branches of the Church. A newcomer to a ward or branch needs to feel welcome. Members should try harder to make new families feel loved and wanted—especially if the new family isn’t too active. It’s important to feel accepted.

Kim Gramse Lovington, New Mexico

The New Era inspires

I want to congratulate you on the fine New Eras I receive each month. It seems that the very things that confront me in my life are presented in your magazine in a light that never fails to inspire.

Rachel Morgan Kansas City, Kansas

“Chiasmus, the Hebrews, and the Pearl of Great Price”

David O. Peterson’s enjoyable article, “Chiasmus, the Hebrews, and the Pearl of Great Price,” was of particular interest to me because of my study of both Hebrew and the Pearl of Great Price over the past forty years. May I offer one or two comments?

The first is in reference to the probable authorship of the verse he used from the Book of Moses, namely Moses 7:48. Mr. Peterson’s presentation proceeds from the statement that “Both Moses and Abraham, were Hebrews” (p. 41) to the assumption that Moses, the Hebrew, wrote the text from which Joseph Smith translated or produced Moses 7:48.

Joseph Smith’s own statements about the origin of the material now known as Moses chapter 7 do not bear Mr. Peterson out in his assumption of Mosaic and therefore Hebrew authorship. On the contrary, it would seem clear from Joseph Smith’s statements about the authorship of this text as found in his journal history under the date of December 1830 (DHC 1:132–39) that the author of the verse in question was the antediluvian prophet Enoch. The question is, then, was Enoch Hebrew, and did he write in Hebrew?

Note particularly that Joseph Smith makes no mention of Moses, or of Mosaic authorship, or of Moses as intermediary transmitter of this text. On the contrary, he specifically identifies what is now known as Moses chapter 7 as “Extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch” (DHC 1:133; see also The Evening and The Morning Star 1:44–47, August 1833, where it was first published) and even more specifically as “the words of Enoch” (DHC 1:139).

I am well aware of the footnote by B. H. Roberts (DHC 1:133) identifying this material with the “writings of Moses,” but the point is that Joseph Smith in his lifetime, so far as I am aware, made no such identification. This identification was, seemingly, the work of Orson Pratt in 1878 and James E. Talmage in 1902. (See Story of the Pearl of Great Price, pp. 188–210, for further details.) I know this seems like a technical point, but Mr. Peterson is dealing with technical matters of language and authorship in his article.

The topic of my second comment is Mr. Peterson’s statement that “the possibility of Joseph Smith actually writing these books himself and using chiasmus to make them appear authentic can be discounted when we remember that the Pearl of Great Price came forth in the mid-nineteenth century, while chiasmus was not even known until the twentieth.”

The facts are that Joseph Smith was quite conversant with the Hebrew language when he first published the text of the Book of Abraham in Nauvoo, Illinois, in March 1842. He had acquired formal language training in Hebrew under Rabbi Sexias in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1835 as is well known to students of Mormon history. He was not conversant with the Hebrew language when the Enoch text was published in 1833. It may be true that Lund, Welch, Peterson, and other scholars of the twentieth century had not “discovered chiasmus” when Joseph Smith published his Abrahamic text, but certainly the phenomenon must have existed in Hebrew Biblical literature, and Joseph Smith was familiar, firsthand, with Biblical Hebrew before the Book of Abraham was published.

One additional comment. I, for one, cannot help wondering as I read what such passages produced by Joseph Smith (Moses 6:4–6; Moses 6:46; Abr. 1:38, 31; Ether 1:1–5 and Morm. 9:32–34) seem to me to say about multiple cultures and languages involved in our Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, whether the chiastic style of writing referred to by Lund, Welch, Peterson, and others is so exclusively Hebrew as it sounds. I cannot help wonder, as did the great German scholar of the nineteenth century, Gustavus Seyffarth, whether the characteristics of the Hebrew language do not go back to Noah or even to Adam, and are not so exclusive as to either “prove or disprove” Joseph Smith as a prophet.

James R. Clark, Ed.D. Professor of Ancient Scripture Brigham Young University