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prisonchaplain

Adamic Language

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I was chatting with our LDS volunteer yesterday, and mentioned Adamic language (he knows I am Pentecostal). After the discussion I went to the encyclopedia at byu.edu, and it said that Joseph Smith, and a few others, did speak in tongues, and that the believed it was the Adamic language. Most recently, President Benson indicated he believed (perhaps as a personal opinion) that the Adamic language would be restored during the Millennial Kingdom, and that this language represented a pure culture that has been lost. Of course, none of this is doctrine, and the church does not put much emphasis on it. However, as an outsider, what I gain from the topic is that LDS do tend to be much more open to the promptings and workings of the Holy Spirit, even than some of my Evangelical brethren. This post probably won't garner much debate, but perhaps some observations and insights . .  .

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The so-called Adamic language has been called a "pure tongue" and is generally construed to be a divine or perfect language. What constitutes a "perfect language" was a topic of considerable debate in the nineteenth century, resulting in the creation of various artificial languages. Esperanto is almost certainly the most successful of these linguistic efforts from the 1800s; I would suggest that Brigham Young's Deseret Alphabet sprang from the same impulse.

At that time, many people held the opinion that a "pure" or "perfect" language would be one in which there would be no ambiguity. There would be only one way to say something, and more importantly, it would be impossible to say two different things in the same way. The prevailing idea was that this absolute avoidance of any possible ambiguity would surely allow pure and perfect communication, mind to mind. The difficulty (it was thought) lay in the structure of the language itself. If only we had better linguistic tools, surely we would have better communication.

Developments in linguistics and especially metalinguistics in the past 150 years has pretty much debunked that idea. I don't think anyone really knowledgeable in the area believes any such thing now. (Like all good Scotsmen... :) ) Gõdel's* famous "Incompleteness Theorems" prove or at least strongly suggest that no such unambiguous language is even possible. Languages inherently have ambiguity, which is a darn good thing for us. Otherwise, we would need to have a perfect knowledge of everything before we could say anything about anything.

*(In the 1930s Kurt Gõdel proved mathematically that every formal axiomatic system capable of modeling even basic arithmetic must always contain true statements that cannot be derived from the fundamental axioms that define the system. In fact, such a system cannot even prove its own consistency. This was a mind-blowing result, which literally :) stood the mathematical academic world on its head.)

So what was and is the "Adamic tongue"? If you're not a believing Latter-day Saint, I suppose you'd say it's a flight of fancy invented by Joseph Smith. For those of us who are faithful Latter-day Saints, the question is very real but not easily answered, except in a question-begging literal way of, "It's the language Adam spoke." If I had to make a guess, I would probably suggest it was the ancestor of modern Semitic languages, mainly because several linguistic elements mentioned in the book of Abraham (e.g Kolob, Kokaubeam, gnolaum) look suspiciously like Hebraisms, or at least as if they share roots with Hebrew or Phonecian or other Semitic languages.

The purity of communication is possible, but not through means of some special language. The Spirit allows such communication. With the Spirit, it is possible to have complete, unambiguous communication between individuals, including between God and his children. Without the Spirit, no such communication is possible on any but the most restricted topics, even with some special language.

Edited by Vort

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45 minutes ago, Vort said:

At that time, many people held the opinion that a "pure" or "perfect" language would be one in which there would be no ambiguity. There would be only one way to say something, and more importantly, it would be impossible to say two different things in the same way. 

Sounds awful (quoth the lawyer).

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4 minutes ago, Emmanuel Goldstein said:

I have always felt like we already know this language and it is behind some kind of mental firewall put into humans, by God, at the Tower of Babel.

We need a name for this “firewall”... 

say... veil???

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1 Corinthians 13 (aka the Love Chapter) speaks to a time when prophesy, tongues, etc. shall cease--because that which is perfect is come. We are also told that when Jesus returns we shall see as He does. @Vort suggests it is the Holy Spirit who will make pure communication possible. I concur. It could be that the Spirit will use Adam's language. We probably cannot not with certainty until the times comes.

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16 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

I was chatting with our LDS volunteer yesterday, and mentioned Adamic language (he knows I am Pentecostal). After the discussion I went to the encyclopedia at byu.edu, and it said that Joseph Smith, and a few others, did speak in tongues, and that the believed it was the Adamic language. Most recently, President Benson indicated he believed (perhaps as a personal opinion) that the Adamic language would be restored during the Millennial Kingdom, and that this language represented a pure culture that has been lost. Of course, none of this is doctrine, and the church does not put much emphasis on it. However, as an outsider, what I gain from the topic is that LDS do tend to be much more open to the promptings and workings of the Holy Spirit, even than some of my Evangelical brethren. This post probably won't garner much debate, but perhaps some observations and insights . .  .

I take language to entail all forms of communication, verbal, written, symbolic, etc. and not just literary but all areas of knowledge. The pure language of Adam would include how one conducts himself in all his affairs (physical, spiritual, temporal and eternal) the presence of the Lord or in his "daily walk and conversation", whether the Lord is physically present or not.

Earlier members of the Church (and perhaps some today) say things in the pure language of Adam as a gift of the Spirit. It had a specific purpose (I'll suggest building unity of testimony in the early days), which purpose may have changed a bit as cultural norms have changed with the advancement of secular knowledge; the establishment of covenants, laws and articles of the Church; patriarchal blessings; the many cultures across the globe that are found in the Church, and other factors which accomplish the same thing. Each gift of the Spirit has a specific purpose and some gifts may be more common than others as demands require, in families, Church units, political and cultural conditions, and the dispensation in general.

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

I take language to entail all forms of communication, verbal, written, symbolic, etc. and not just literary but all areas of knowledge. The pure language of Adam would include how one conducts himself in all his affairs (physical, spiritual, temporal and eternal) the presence of the Lord or in his "daily walk and conversation", whether the Lord is physically present or not.

Earlier members of the Church (and perhaps some today) say things in the pure language of Adam as a gift of the Spirit. It had a specific purpose (I'll suggest building unity of testimony in the early days), which purpose may have changed a bit as cultural norms have changed with the advancement of secular knowledge; the establishment of covenants, laws and articles of the Church; patriarchal blessings; the many cultures across the globe that are found in the Church, and other factors which accomplish the same thing. Each gift of the Spirit has a specific purpose and some gifts may be more common than others as demands require, in families, Church units, political and cultural conditions, and the dispensation in general.

Adam, his children, and the Jaredites as a whole spoke the Adamic language.  Obviously the language itself does not guarantee righteousness.  Satan and his angels likely use the same language too.  

I bet it sounds beautiful as sung by a heavenly a host though.

 

Language and Power - https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/book-mormon-fourth-nephi-through-moroni-zion-destruction/23-jared-and-his-brother

Quote

Their request concerning the language was granted. According to Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, “they carried with them the speech of their fathers, the Adamic language, which was powerful even in its written form, so that the things Mahonri [Moriancumer] wrote ‘were mighty even unto the overpowering of man to read them.’ That was the kind of language Adam had and this was the language with which Enoch was able to accomplish his mighty work” (The Way to Perfection 60). There is likely more to the account of the retaining of the original or Adamic language than what initially meets the eye. The book of Moses described the language of Adam as “pure and undefiled” (Moses 6:5–6). It is intimately connected with the “Priesthood, which was in the beginning, [and] shall be in the end of the world also” (v. 7; see also Zeph. 3:9). As noted earlier, Moroni described the brother of Jared’s words in the Adamic language as “mighty even . . . unto the overpowering of man” (Ether 12:24). An example of the relationship between language and power is contained in the book of Moses which describes Enoch’s faith as causing him to be feared among men because “so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him” (Moses 7:13; emphasis added).

 

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Language is interesting.  It is my personal belief that mathematics is as close to a perfect divine language as any that humans have encountered.  No rational person will argue the results or conclusions of mathematics spoken or written within the syntax that governs it.  In addition (literal pun intended) mathematics has proven to be a valuable tool for discovery of truths and predicting the future.  For example - using mathematical models and constructs one can predict the stability of structures before they are built.  I find it very interesting that @Vort referenced mathematical models as a means of cataloging language ambiguity. 

@prisonchaplain started this thread - I think in relationship to the idea of individuals close to G-d speaking in tongues - specifically what is sometimes referenced as the "tongues of angels".   I have wondered why such is called the tongue of angels rather than the tongue of G-d.  It has been touched on but perhaps not emphasized enough - that is the concept that regardless of what language is spoken if one "listens" with the power of The Holy Ghost - there is no misunderstanding or ambiguity.  I would like to say I have mastered this particular construct - but that is not true.  Though I have experienced such at certain times - I am helpless in generating anything close on my own wishes. 

Something else about "worship" and communicating divine spiritual thing that has been missed thus far is the language of music.  Some of my most precious and spiritual insights and expressions have come through the "language" of music.  One of my personal unexpressional spiritual experiences came through the medium and language of music.  I wish to say more particular to this notion but realize that something is missing as I attempt to put forth words in this post.

Now I will inadequately reference a language most difficult for me - for lack of any other expression - I will call it the language of love.  Often mistaken for the language of affection.  My wife is much better at this language of love than I am.  So much so that if it was not for her - I am not sure I would have much faith or belief in it.  It is among other things the language of comfort to those that are suffering.  Scripture tells us that spiritual gifts are metered out such that no one possesses all and that part of divine worship comes from accepting the spiritual gifts of others as much as exercising the gifts one is given.  Perhaps someone more "gifted" than I am can speak better to this language of love.

For the final concept of language I wish to convey in this post is what I will call the language of lies.  The belief in the G-d of truth in the Old and New Testament leads to the belief of a L-rd of lies we call or reference as Lucifer or Satan.  Because Lucifer was an individual of high status in the kingdom of G-d in heaven - he obviously spoke the language of G-d and angles but somehow twisted all sacred things into lies.  I am not sure how to adequately express this notion of language of lies but it is the dark power to present that which in all seemingly possible ways appears to be true but in the end is nothing but dark lies and deception.  I am convinced that the only single means of identifying when the language of lies is being spoken is through the power of the Holy Ghost.

If someone reads this post - the one thing I wish to convey is that the Holy Ghost is the single most important element is speaking and hearing anything in any language for truth and that without the Holy Ghost the only possibility is a lie.

 

The Traveler

 

Edited by Traveler

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@CV75 Your comments are interesting, in that there are those in the Evangelical world who make similar observations, and suggest that "the demonstrative gifts," (especially speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues, but also prophesy) were important, but are no longer needed. They say that with advancements in understanding, especially with the completion of the biblical canon, that these "show gifts" are no longer necessary.

Adamic language in the LDS context is quite different, and what you suggest fits right in with this conversation. Coming from the outside, and being Pentecostal, I cannot help but quietly cheer for President Benson's belief that the language will be restored in the millennium.

Edited by prisonchaplain

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8 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

@CV75 Your comments are interesting, in that there are those in the Evangelical world who make similar observations, and suggest that "the demonstrative gifts," (especially speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues, but also prophesy) were important, but are no longer needed. They say that with advancements in understanding, especially with the completion of the biblical canon, that these "show gifts" are no longer necessary.

Adamic language in the LDS context is quite different, and what you suggest fits right in with this conversation. Coming from the outside, and being Pentecostal, I cannot help but quietly cheer for President Benson's belief that the language will be restored in the millennium.

I am wondering if you may be missing that the spiritual gift of the "interpretation of tongues" as a gift that can be realized and expressed even when one is speaking in what we call the first language of the one listening through the gift of the interpretation of tongues.

 

The Traveler

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50 minutes ago, Traveler said:

I am wondering if you may be missing that the spiritual gift of the "interpretation of tongues" as a gift that can be realized and expressed even when one is speaking in what we call the first language of the one listening through the gift of the interpretation of tongues.

 

The Traveler

I have seen such, though we label it differently, calling such personal revelations a "word of knowledge" or "word of wisdom." In Pentecostal circles tongues and interpretation are generally a congregate experience.

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Adam, his children, and the Jaredites as a whole spoke the Adamic language.  Obviously the language itself does not guarantee righteousness.  Satan and his angels likely use the same language too.  

I bet it sounds beautiful as sung by a heavenly a host though.

Language and Power - https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/book-mormon-fourth-nephi-through-moroni-zion-destruction/23-jared-and-his-brother

Yes, it was a literal spoken and literal language, and also all the other nuanced and priesthood aspects, including non-verbal language (e.g. that used in the temple through symbols, Moses using his rod, Nephi as he put forth his hand, etc.). As quoted, "There is likely more to the account of the retaining of the original or Adamic language than what initially meets the eye." The doctrine of the priesthood distills upon our souls. The priesthood is the power of God in one sense, the holy order after the Son [Word] of God in a another sense, the power of the Word of God in another sense. The language of Adam is a very multi-tiered language. I'm thinking only the righteous could speak it (the Jaredites' preservation after the Tower depended on the righteousness of those who spoke it and prayed for their preservation), and some imitated it as did Pharaoh (Abraham 1:26). Perhaps it was the "lever' pulled in the earliest part of the dispensation of the fulness of times to get things rolling. "A little leaven leaventh the whole lump." with more to come as promised.

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1 hour ago, prisonchaplain said:

@CV75 Your comments are interesting, in that there are those in the Evangelical world who make similar observations, and suggest that "the demonstrative gifts," (especially speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues, but also prophesy) were important, but are no longer needed. They say that with advancements in understanding, especially with the completion of the biblical canon, that these "show gifts" are no longer necessary.

Adamic language in the LDS context is quite different, and what you suggest fits right in with this conversation. Coming from the outside, and being Pentecostal, I cannot help but quietly cheer for President Benson's belief that the language will be restored in the millennium.

Sorry to leave the impression it was no longer needed (see my reply above Posted just now  ). I simply did not expand as much as I did here. It will certainly be used when again needed, and we have prophecies that it will be used again in due time.

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10 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Sorry to leave the impression it was no longer needed (see my reply above Posted just now  ). I simply did not expand as much as I did here. It will certainly be used when again needed, and we have prophecies that it will be used again in due time.

The parallels were interesting, but I knew you were not going as far as those others I mentioned (sometimes called 'cessationists' for believing some gifts of the Spirit have already ceased). Thank you for the clarification and added insights. 

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1 hour ago, prisonchaplain said:

The parallels were interesting, but I knew you were not going as far as those others I mentioned (sometimes called 'cessationists' for believing some gifts of the Spirit have already ceased). Thank you for the clarification and added insights. 

The gifts of the Spirit are eternal, as much so as God himself is eternal. Certain token practices (e.g. blood sacrifice, circumcision) might be done away with, but spiritual gifts never will be. I daresay those of us who are faithful unto obtaining eternal life will find such gifts absolutely necessary in the course of our existence.

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5 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

The parallels were interesting, but I knew you were not going as far as those others I mentioned (sometimes called 'cessationists' for believing some gifts of the Spirit have already ceased). Thank you for the clarification and added insights. 

Yes, there certainly are parallels. Personally (I do not think there is a consensus among members of the Church), I believe that faithful people of any religion can be blessed with one or more of the spiritual gifts (also referred to as gifts of the Spirit, but due to Article of Faith 7, seem to be separate from those that accompany the gift of the Holy Ghost). The Gift of the Holy Ghost, which we believe is given by priesthood authority by the laying on of hands to those who are baptized (Article of Faith 4), can reveal these gifts to people who may not have otherwise realized they had them.

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12 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Yes, there certainly are parallels. Personally (I do not think there is a consensus among members of the Church), I believe that faithful people of any religion can be blessed with one or more of the spiritual gifts (also referred to as gifts of the Spirit, but due to Article of Faith 7, seem to be separate from those that accompany the gift of the Holy Ghost). The Gift of the Holy Ghost, which we believe is given by priesthood authority by the laying on of hands to those who are baptized (Article of Faith 4), can reveal these gifts to people who may not have otherwise realized they had them.

I do admire a faith that can be humble and open, yet understanding of its exclusive truth-claims and confident in its expression. Some, even within the church, may fear that cultural influences will weigh heavily upon leadership. I suspect that many of these are misinterpreting the humility and openness of the church for weakness, and that they miss the undergirding certainties within the doctrine. 

Edited by prisonchaplain

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I don't know if this will add anything to this discussion. Searching out other things, I came across this from FairMormon: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Can_Latter-day_Saints_have_a_non-literal_view_of_the_creation_story%2C_or_have_a_somewhat_more_mythic_view_of_the_first_five_books_of_Moses_given_the_Church's_teaching_of_a_historical_Adam%3F?fbclid=IwAR3_l8bDWFBcNWX9Yb7sGVS_OHgilTUs6hmGhRaeDykGESjNzUJQeuiki7g

That includes a section (almost at the end) that discusses the Adamic language. It's mostly about how it might fit into different theories of creation. Perhaps for additional interest, note 4 on that page links to a page at the JSPP where some alleged samples of the Adamic language are given: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/sample-of-pure-language-between-circa-4-and-circa-20-march-1832/1

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On 9/9/2019 at 2:07 PM, Vort said:

If I had to make a guess, I would probably suggest it was the ancestor of modern Semitic languages,

Strangely, the supposed Adamic words Joseph Smith has given us sound a lot like English (other than perhaps the words in the pre-1990 temple ceremony).

In the Dramatised Church History, there is an Andemic prayer uttered by Brigham Young in the narrative, complete with words.   Unfortunately, I don't know if this is meant as part of the dramatization or based on real words or events.    Anything I have tried to find on the incident draws a blank.  If anyone knows or can find anything concerning the incident, I'd be interested to hear about it. 

Edited by Scott

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