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We have no agreed-upon list of what books/texts constitute 'the Bible' for the purposes of this site, despite numerous attempts to create such lists. Today we had a question about Revelation where the OP was reading beliefs expressed in a religious text written in the 20th century back into the first century CE text.

Mormons consider themselves to be Christians, and Christianity.SE has made it clear that for the purposes of SE, any group that claims to be Christian should be considered as such. We claim to welcome Christian perspectives, which would thus include Mormons. Yet we exclude their texts.

Now don't get me wrong, I really don't want to see Mormon texts as on topic here. However, why not?

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    I treated the Urantia Book question as any "commentary" on the Bible giving an interpretation of a text. Commentaries are often used to support discussion, so unless you invalidate using those, you cannot really omit a 20th century one, even though it claims to also be revelation. However, you can treat it like any other commentary on Scripture - demonstrate its faithfulness or not to that Scripture, and if not, invalidate it as correct commentary.
    – ScottS
    Apr 15 '14 at 19:55
  • @ScottS good point, Scott.
    – Dan
    Apr 15 '14 at 19:58
  • @ScottS How do you classify "superstitious nonsense" as commentary? Where would you 'draw the line' at someone's obtuse attempt to define Scripture, and someone's peyote induced hallucinations about spiritual matters?
    – Tau
    Apr 23 '14 at 1:36
  • @user2479: For me, the line is drawn rather broadly. Though I had never heard of the Urantia Book prior to that question, it apparently has a larger following than I would have guessed at first. So (1) size of influence makes it commentary. Related to that, is (2) a rationality to it (even if "superstitious" based; after all, many would charge Christianity or Judaism as "superstitious"). So if it has some form of rationality to it and is influential enough to merit the time to reply, it is commentary. I then attempt to answer it with Scripture, like I would... (cont.)
    – ScottS
    Apr 23 '14 at 2:11
  • (cont.)... anything else I personally deem as "nonsense," such as: "macro evolutionary nonsense," "documentary hypothesis nonsense," "atheistic nonsense," and many more (even as others deem some of my views nonsense, I'm sure). Of course, all these "nonsenses" have some "sense" to them, else they would not have gained some size of influence upon otherwise rational people.
    – ScottS
    Apr 23 '14 at 2:17
  • @ScottS You have much more patience than I. My perception is if the OP wants an interpretation and takes seriously the Scriptures and their relation to the commentaries used, then I can continue with my analysis; if all they are looking for is an 'Amen' to their drug induced 'vision', I am inclined to think I'm casting pearls before swine.
    – Tau
    Apr 23 '14 at 3:55
  • @ScottS (cont.) My concern is when do we 'collectively' run out of patience for people who are chasing their illusions. I have no problem with answering textual questions, I do have problems chasing rabbit trails for people who only want to catch rabbits.
    – Tau
    Apr 23 '14 at 4:01
  • @user2479: We are to be patient, because it is wise (Eccl 7:8), commanded (Eph 4:2; Col 3:12-13), and reflecting God (Ps 86:15; Jonah 1:2; 2 Pet 3:9). Further, it is not just the OP (who probably is a lost cause) that I am targeting, but other true "questioners" who may come after. That's one thing about sites on SE, its not just the OP that is the "target." So while the OP may want "rabbits," perhaps another wants an "answer." Yes, we need to be wise not to spend hours arguing with one who will not listen, so there is a point that patience should run out.
    – ScottS
    Apr 23 '14 at 13:32
  • Possible duplicate: meta.hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4/…
    – ShemSeger
    Nov 30 '15 at 21:34
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Because Mormons themselves Do Not Consider it the Bible

This site is about "Biblical" hermeneutics, and while I realize that there is some differences of opinion about what books are to be included in the Bible (or was once discussed about such inclusion), one thing seems clear from Mormons themselves--the Bible and the book of Mormon are separate revelations.

In answer to the question: "How is the Book of Mormon different from the Bible?" on http://www.mormon.org/faq/purpose-of-book-of-mormon (emphasis added):

The Book of Mormon is another [from the Bible] witness that Jesus Christ really lived. ... Joseph [Smith] translated the book into English by the inspiration of God. The book is called The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. ... The book contains the teachings of Jesus Christ, testifying of His Atonement and His love. It supports and verifies the Bible.

So the Mormon's recognized "The Bible" as a revelation, and "The Book of Mormon" as a revelation, but the latter is not part of the former.

Another example from: http://www.mormon.org/faq/purpose-of-bible

To the Christian world the most well-known collection of scriptures is the Holy Bible. In addition to the Bible, Latter-day Saints accept the following books as scripture:

  • The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a record of God’s dealings with the inhabitants of ancient America (2000 BC – 400 AD).
  • The Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the Church of Jesus Christ in the last days (1830 AD – 1978 AD).
  • The Pearl of Great Price, a selection of revelations, translations, and writings of Joseph Smith.

This demonstrates that the Bible is understood as fairly well recognized "collection" of writings, which is different from the "in addition to the Bible" collection of writings that are sacred to the LDS church. Here we have a list of three specific books that would be off topic directly for interpreting, as they are not part of the Bible, but may be allowed in a commentary fashion to support interpretation (as any other commentary would be allowed).


"Sacred" Text as Interpretation but Not Necessarily Text Being Interpreted

Sacred Text Inclusion

Those following Judaism recognize what I and other Christians refer to as the OT as the Bible, but do not recognized the NT as the canon of the Bible. However, they do recognize that Christians recognize the NT as such, and so the NT is on topic for asking about an interpretation of the text.

Christians recognize a relatively small subset of books as the Bible from both OT and NT, though that subset varies. Other Christians recognize that different traditions have a different Bible, and so those books are on topic for asking about an interpretation of those texts.

Mormons, as noted above, don't even classify their sacred books as the Bible. So they are off topic for asking about an interpretation of those texts.

Sacred Text as Commentary

Commentaries are not authoritative like Scripture, but they still can have argumentative weight. However, that weight is dependent upon its faithfulness to what the text of Scripture does say. So...

A Christian interpretation of an OT text can use a NT text for support (like commentary). One following Judaism can attempt to discredit that under their hermeneutics.

A Mormon interpretation of an OT or NT text can use a Mormon text for support (as commentary). One following Judaism or another branch of Christianity can attempt to discredit that under their hermeneutics.

Essentially any text can be used as commentary support (and commentary is all we are offering on this site), but all commentary may need to be further backed up by the Biblical text itself, or face possible defeat by the testimony of the Biblical text itself from another viewpoint (obviously the best defeaters use those texts recognized by all parties involved in the discussion).

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    I agree w/both you and Jack, but I like your answer better as it gets to the heart of what the Book of Mormon is. We(LDS & others) can discuss the Bible, because we can each 'agree' that it's the Bible. If those proporting their 'book' is NOT the Bible, what more convincing proof do we need?
    – Tau
    Apr 16 '14 at 6:26
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We have no agreed-upon list of what books/texts constitute 'the Bible'

This really is an inaccurate statement. The top two answers on the question you link to:

  • warn that we should not attempt to define topicality too rigidly
  • broadly define which books are on topic

This is a good combination: evidenced by the fact that there has been no controversy on the main site about topicality of books. It's summed up in the site title: "Biblical Hermeneutics": most folk seem to understand that means the Hebrew Bible or what Christian's call the "New Testament".

Yes there are edge cases, like 1 Enoch, but in those cases we should heed Robert's warning:

I wouldn't to get too pedantic about a literal definition of what is actually — according to the Oxford-American-Heritage-Merriam-Webster dictionary — part of THE anointed Bible. That is not the way to go.

The Book(s) of Mormon are off topic. It doesn't make any difference here whether a group "consider themselves to be Christians" or not, because our topicality has never been defined in terms of religion: The texts are our topic, not Judaism and not Christianity, and they are defined perfectly: not too tightly, and not too loosely.

Christianity.SE has made it clear that for the purposes of SE, any group that claims to be Christian should be considered as such

This is complete nonsense, how can C.SE make anything clear for the purposes of SE? C.SE set their rules not ours, and certainly not the rules for the whole network. It's also irrelevant because it doesn't matter who is called Christian and who isn't on BH.SE anyway.

I really don't want to see Mormon texts as on topic here. However, why not?

We are a community and we decide most things here on meta, and I don't think we need a reason beyond: "we decided on meta". A highly voted answer on the question you linked to excludes the Mormon texts by +12/-3 and that is the only reason we need.

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If you want to get super technical, the site is called, "Biblical Hermeneutics," not, "Bible Hermeneutics."

The word, "Biblical" has many synonyms, which do not exclusively mean the Bible:

  • Scriptural
  • Doctrinal
  • Theological

The very Definition of, "Biblical" includes;

  1. Of, relating to, or contained in the Bible;

    1.1 Resembling the language or style of the Bible;

According the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Book of Mormon and other Standard Works are all companion scriptures to the Bible, they are meant to be read beside the bible as they all relate to the bible and each other, therefore, they are all biblical. They evn bind them all together in one book.

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It would be redundant to have a separate site for Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Apocrypha, or other Biblical books, because they are all studied in conjunction with the bible.

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    The primary issue (as stated by Jack above) is that our community has voted not to include these as primary texts at this time. The texts were composed in the 19th century CE, make claims about Mesoamerica and Native Americans not supported by any archaeological, historical, or even DNA evidence, and we simply haven't had much interest from folks interested in studying these texts.
    – Dan
    Dec 1 '15 at 13:46
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    @ShemSegar The reason WHY is not the antithesis of "why not". For the purposes of the question, the Book of Mormon "may" be used as secondary or tertiary references-but not "primary" in any sort of stretch of the imagination. We have a consensus of agreement in what constitutes primary sources. BTW, Dan ♦ has a very indepth review of primary and secondary sources meta.hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/687/2479, perhaps this will help in explaining further his comments.
    – Tau
    Dec 5 '15 at 5:17

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