Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

King Benjamin's Speech and Parallels to Ancient Farewell Addresses

In my last post, I made reference to King Benjamin's speech, and just had to follow up with some more information. One excellent source providing possible evidence for ancient origins of the Book of Mormon is King Benjamin's Speech, edited by John W. Welch and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1998, 661 pages). The book is an impressive collection of essays with extensive references and documentation exploring the richness of King Benjamin's dramatic farewell address in the early chapters of Mosiah.

In King Benjamin's Speech, Chapter 4, "Benjamin's Sermon as Traditional Ancient Farewell Address," John W. Welch and Daryl R. Hague show that King Benjamin's farewell address may qualify as the best existing example of an ancient farewell speech rooted in early biblical tradition. Non-LDS scholar William S. Kurz has examined numerous ancient farewell speeches and identified 20 elements that appear commonly (no one speech has all 20). Sixteen of the elements are directly present in Benjamin's speech, and two others are implied. No other ancient farewell speech has a greater number of these elements. Further, Benjamin's speech is well focused on the most important elements typical of Old Testament traditions. For details, see William S. Kurz, "Luke 22:14-38 and Greco-Roman Biblical Farewell Traditions," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 104: 251-268 (1985); also see William S. Kurz, Farewell Addresses in the New Testament (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1990), both as cited by Welch and Ricks, p. 115).

According to Kurz, as summarized by Welch and Ricks (pp. 91-94), the 20 common elements from ancient farewell addresses are:
  1. The summons. The speaker calls people together to here his last instructions.
  2. The speaker's own mission or example. The speaker reviews his life and what he has done, and urges his listeners to follow his example.
  3. Innocence and discharge of duty.
  4. Impending death. The speaker states that death is near, but shows courage rather than fear, sometimes commending his soul to God.
  5. Exhortation. Listeners are urged to follow commandments they have been given by the speaker, to be courageous, etc.
  6. Warnings and injunctions. Consequences of sin are discussed to help the people.
  7. Blessings. In conjunction with the warnings, blessings are also offered (e.g., for obedience).
  8. Farewell gestures. Though more common in Greco-Roman literature, acts such as kneeling can be farewell gestures.
  9. Tasks for successors. Final orders given to the listeners, often conferring specific responsibilities.
  10. Theological review of history. Reviewing the past to show the works of God (e.g., the Creation, delivery from captivity, etc.).
  11. Revelation of the future.
  12. Promises. Biblical farewell speeches commonly include reference to eternal glory (e.g., Christ in Luke 22 and Mattathias in 1 Maccabees 2).
  13. Appointment or reference to a successor.
  14. Bewailing the loss. Friends and followers may mourn the speaker.
  15. Future degeneration. Warnings about the disobedience of future generations are made. The speaker is not responsible for this, however.
  16. Covenant renewal and sacrifices.
  17. Providing for those who will survive. Instructions are given to maintain guidance and comfort for people after the death of the aging leader.
  18. Consolation to the inner circle. The speaker comforts his closest associates.
  19. Didactic speech. Review of principles to teach listeners what to do.
  20. Ars moriendi or the approach to death. Dealing with the approach of the leader to death itself, this element is less common and is found only in a writing of Plato and perhaps implicitly in Josephus.
More of these elements are present in King Benjamin's speech than in any other Biblical farewell address, making it arguably the best example on record of an ancient farewell speech in the ancient Jewish style.

Welch and Hague also point out that Benjamin's speech is soundly aligned with the most important aspects of ancient biblical farewell speeches:
Kurz has singled out four of his twenty elements as fundamentally characteristic of addresses in the Old Testament and the Old Testament Apocrypha, as opposed to the Greco-Roman tradition: (1) the speaker's assertion of innocence and fulfillment of mission, (2) the designation of tasks for successors, (3) a theological review of history, and (4) the revelation of future events. All four of these characteristically Israelite elements appear prominently in Benjamin's speech. Furthermore, Benjamin emphasizes the covenant relationship between God and man, and his text ends with an express covenant renewal. No preoccupation with death occurs here, as it does in the Greco-Roman texts. Benjamin's speech is not only one of the most complete ancient farewell addresses known anywhere, but it also strongly manifests those elements that are most deeply rooted in early biblical tradition.
For Benjamin's assertion of innocence, see Mos. 2:15 (cf. Mos. 2:12-14 and 2:27-28). For tasks for successors, see Mos. 1:15-16, 2:31, and 6:3. A theological review of history is found in Benjamin's review of his administration (Mos. 2, such as verses 11, 20, 31, 34, 35) and his references to Moses and the Israelites (Mos. 3:13-15). Future events are prophesied in Mos. 3: 1,2,5-11, where the coming of Christ is foretold.

Other farewell speeches in the Book of Mormon were given by Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Mosiah, Mormon, and Moroni. Adding King Benjamin's makes seven total. Each of them have over half of the 20 elements identified by Kurz, though King Benjamin's speech is the most complete, more complete than any single biblical speech. I find that impressive.

As is shown in other chapters in Welch and Ricks, the speech also offers beautiful chiasms, follows patterns from ancient Jewish festivals, follows ancient patterns of assembly and atonement symbolism, etc. These elements add intellectual plausibility to the claim that the Book of Mormon is an ancient Semitic document, written by ancient prophets with Hebraic roots. None of this "proves" that the Book of Mormon is true, but does make it even more difficult to explain the Book of Mormon as Joseph Smith's fabrication.

50 comments:

Cory Brenner said...

Dear Jeff,

Please forgive that I am new to all this. I have hardly had time to read the scriptures that the Missionaries have assigned me, much less, well, everything else that I know I'll need to tackle as time permits.

I feel like I have been guided here to your blog because the Missionaires, while ardent and well intentioned do not have answers for all my questions. As you suggest, they just tell me to read and pray.

And I'm sure that every one who learns about this gospel asks these questions at first but I just have to know a few more things about the ancient origins.

The Missionaries have told me of enormous battles between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Millions of people. Millions of swords and shields all clashing and slashing and stabbing until all but one of the Nephites was destroyed.

I can't stop thinking about all those swords and shields. The battle that they have told me of would have been enormous. There would have had to be a support staff for such an army that must have been almost as big as the army itself just to make sure that everyone was fed and had water when needed. And aparently this was happening 300 or 400 AD, which in the grand scheme of things is not really too long ago. So my question is, what happened to all those millions of swords and shields?

Thanks,
Cory

Mormanity said...

Good question. Just one thought: the Civil War involved huge numbers of warriors. If you walk through the woods where these battles took place, almost yesterday, how many Civil War rifles, canons, and shells can you find? If it weren't for museums, would you be able to recognize that battles had been fought there?

It was long thought that Mesoamerica was a peaceful place anciently. Now we know there were many battles and wars fought, with weapons such as swords made of wooden clubs and obsidian, for example (the Spaniards called these swords). But many significant events are hard to verify or discover just relying on what we can find after many centuries, unless we know right where to look and what to look for.

One page that might provide some further help is http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_BMProblems.shtml.

Anonymous said...

Which is it now, Brother Cory? Are you pretending to be a new member or an investigator? Most of the pages from the RfM playbook have been done here. Please try to come up with something new, or that hasn't been tried recently.

Cory Brenner said...

You'll have to excuse me that I don't know what "RfM playbook" means. Whoever Anonymous is he sounds a little bit defensive and perhaps even antagonistical. I am an ardent searcher after the truth of this gospel and I apologize if I asked the wrong question but I would truly like to know the answer. Could someome please now tell me what RfM means?

And Jeff -- thanks for mentioning about the civil war artificacts -- the millions of them that have been collected are either all in museums are being sold today on Ebay. Of course we can't find them in the fields of battle (although just recently guns have been unearthed from those very battlefields).

You make an interesting point here:
"But many significant events are hard to verify or discover just relying on what we can find after many centuries" -- And yet archaeologists have been able to trace the migration routes of ancient peoples using little more than the waste products and soil composition found near firepits. Swords and shields described in the Book Of Mormon should be a piece of cake, no? And every depiction from Mormon sources of these artifacts points to the fact that they are metal.

I think the migration and war of over two million people might be even larger than a significant event.

But now I'm thinking of erasing what I have written because of the obvious attack on my motives that Anonymous left. I did not come here to be attacked or to make anyone feel defensive. Joining this church is a momentous decision that I have to face alone -- I have to live with my decision -- I've already been ridiculed by friends and relatives for even taking any of this seriously. I'll be darned if I am going to suffer abuse when I feel like I am earnestly asking a question that I don't feel has been answered to my satisfaction.

If you wish to hear from me no more just say so. If you choose not to discuss these issues with me please send me to a link where I might be accepted when asking this question.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about it Cory. That guy is just being a jerk.

I'd say any and all earnest questions are welcome here, or atleast I haven't read anything to demonstraight otherwise.

As for my $0.02 on your inquiry, these battles were most likely taking place in mesmoamerica (central america). Much of this is tropical, and in tropical areas there is a huge turnover of what's on the ground. Trees are decaying everywhere, and all this other stuff so that old stuff is always getting burried (I think). As such, after more than 1000 years, I find it reasonable to belive that the weapons and armour and all that stuff is under a lot of dirt or even decayed to some greater degree. A lot can change in the jungle after even just 100 years.

Further, somethings you just have to take on faith. Science can't answer all the questions, and the Book of Mormon even says this. There is a lot of fluff that can surround the issue, the end it's all about what you belive deep down.

A lot of little things used to get in the way for me too, but I took a step back and saw there was a lot more I liked about the Church than I didn't.

Regardless, best of luck to you on your quest for the truth.

Bookslinger said...

Cory is not what he's pretending to be. He's a little too manipulative to be either an investigator (as he's putting forth on this thread) or a new member as he stated on the previous thread about Kevin Christensen. If this were the Rush Limbaugh show, Cory would be a Seminar Caller.

Cory Brenner said...

I'm discouraged by the attitudes of two people posting on this blog and I will take my questions and also probably my faith elsewhere. I will continue praying to learn whether the Church of Latter Day Saints is the One True Church. One thing that I'm certain of here is that two of the people who have left comments regarding my questions seem to be afraid of people asking sincere questions.

I call that sad...

Keep up the good work Jeff. I may continue to read but when I get attacked with each time I open my mouth this isn't a safe place. Bye.

Mormanity said...

Corey's question does not seem like the kind one would naturally ask as an investigator or reader of the Book of Mormon. It is clearly influenced by critical sources, but that does not mean he is not sincere.

The more interesting question is what one might logically ask in 1830: Where are the great cities and civilizations in the Americas like those in the Book of Mormon? Where is the evidence of ancient temples, cities, fortifications, markets, roads, prisons, and political systems with kings, priests, lawyers, and judges? Where were ancient peoples with written records? Of course, we all know today that Mesoamerica broadly fits, but that was not well recognized in 1830, when the Book of Mormon seemed far more preposterous than it is today.

Mormanity said...

It is true that some critics like to pose as members of the Church, especially new members, or as sincere investigators. For some of them, the purpose is to undermine the faith of others by working up to what they feel are killer questions. So when someone comes along claiming to be a new member but showing suspicious behavior, well, I can understand the doubts that were raised here.

Corey's response seems to confirm some of those doubts - sorry, Corey, if you are for real - for he seems IMHO to use the discussion as a springboard to launch attacks on the Book of Mormon, not quite in the spirit of a sincere seeker who feels the Spirit of the Lord led him to this blog, as he stated in previous post. Further, I think someone who is a new member seeking to gain further insight into the Book of Mormon would be unlikely to make Corey's statement: "Swords and shields described in the Book Of Mormon should be a piece of cake, no? And every depiction from Mormon sources of these artifacts points to the fact that they are metal." That's pure RFM spin ("recovery from Mormonism" - anti-Mormons). Every LDS source on the Book of Mormon most certainly does not state that the swords and shields were metal, nor does the Book of Mormon - though some metal swords are mentioned. But the typical sword in the battles of the Book of Mormon is much more likely to be one the basic weapons that we know the ancient Mesoamericans did use: swords of wooden handles with obsidian blades. Yes, Corey, lots have been found, they are in museums, and they actually fit the description in the Book of Mormon reasonably well (e.g., the concern about swords being "stained with blood" in Alma 24 - something that easily happens with wood, not with metal). For example, see my previous post, Swords and the Book of Mormon, and The Atlatl and the Book of Mormon.

Cory Brenner said...

If you read the Iliad or The Odyssey you will see many references to swords stained with blood.

I'm sorry I came off to everyone as insincere. I'm simply a person who is grappling with difficult new concepts.

You seem to believe that the Ancient populations of the Mayans or The Aztecs are Nephites and The Lamanites in the Book Of Mormon? It seems like this is a place where Mormon Archaeology would dovatail perfectly with South American archeology? Does it?

Oh no... I asked a question... and somehow asking questions make people around this blog suspicious of you. Sadly, even you, Jeff. I'm sure you have a college education Jeff. You've got some critical thinking behind you. The heart of all critical thinking and inquiry is the open minded asking of questions.

That's all I'm doing.

And yet now that you've used to word preposterous, I'm somewhat crestfallen. I truly believed everyone in theis church actually believed all this. Clearly, if you believed, you would have lowered your own doubt level to a place that you would not be using words like preposterous.

Here's a question: Why does it feel to me like you ALL want to believe and want to sound like you believe and yet somewhere deep inside you harbour the notion that this all is in fact deeply preposterous.

Before I go through the temple I am going to ask the critical questions I need to so that I'm not just, as one ward member jokingly recommended that I do, "fake it till I make it."

But an even deeper question is: If you know this church is true, why do questions seem to frighted you and Detroit Philly Brown?

These were knee jerk condemnations.

The missionaries can knocking on my door and I came to you folks for thoughtful answer but have been attacked.

Well, in words you are all familiar with, shame on you.

Brian said...

Why did you join if you dont know that the church is true? The way I found out is long and complicated, but it boiled down to one thing. I humbled myself and tried obeying the comandments and began praying. You know what happened? I got my answer, and it didn't only come with a good feeling, it came as an immediate answer when I opened the scriptures randomly and began reading. My life also seemed easier, my relationship with my wife has improved greatly. I have had so many experiences that there is no way it is just by chance. Humble yourself if you truly do want to learn, and you will get your answer.

Brian said...

Another thing that might be good also is institute classes if there are any near you.

Bookslinger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel Peterson said...

Parenthetical remark: Why the casual slurs against people who live in Utah, "Indy"? Why the need for things like this: "Not all of us are innocent namby-pamby goody-two-shoes Utah-bred weenies. . . I was only in Utah for 8 weeks, and you have to put up with them almost full time."

I was born in California, grew up there, finished graduate school there, have lived in Switzerland, Israel, and Egypt, and have traveled and continue to travel just about everywhere else, but I'm now based in Utah, and I find Latter-day Saints here to be pretty much like Latter-day Saints in every place I've ever been. They shouldn't be tarred with broad brushes like that above.

Other comment: How did you figure out how to find "Cory Brenner's" blog? I'm quite curious to see it. Can you give a hint? Anti-Mormon duplicity fascinates me; I collect specimens of it, and this sounds as if it really may be one.

Cory Brenner said...

Wow... I have gone from being someone who felt safe in asking a question to being some sort of duplicitous anti-mormon crusader. Yikes... no wonder people never feel safe in this church asking even the most simple questions. What kind of thoughtful environment attacks even simple questions? Clearly, this whole deal has nothing to do with thought. Thank you all with that clarification.

"Other comment: How did you figure out how to find "Cory Brenner's" blog? I'm quite curious to see it. Can you give a hint? Anti-Mormon duplicity fascinates me; I collect specimens of it, and this sounds as if it really may be one."

I have a blog?? Now this is perfect. Has someone gone and created the Cory Brenner Blog or soemthing? I am so busy that I haven't even had time to create a proper blogger account -- and I have no interest in spouting words -- because as you have seen me admit: ALL I HAVE IS QUESTIONS -- no answers. Looks like Indy deleted the URL to my blog but it wouldn't surprise me if Indy has become so threatened by my questioning of the "facts" he accepts so "humbly" that he has created a blog in my name to defame me. Have any of you read Alice's Adventures In Wonderland... you guys top the Mad Hatter and the Gryphon for fun and surprise. In short, Daniel Petersen, when Indy gives you the blog URL, please do post because I'd love a look at my blog too. [Note for the slow: I have no blog. I'm not even a registered user.]

Just one more comment I would like to respond to:

Humble yourself if you truly do want to learn, and you will get your answer.

Is humble a synonym in this situation for closing your eyes for "faking it till you make it"

In my short time with this church I can not tell you guys how many times I have heard people say to me, "Oh, don't worry about "that" -- no one really takes that part very seriously." I have heard MANY people tell me exactly the SAME thing. These are ward members that I talk with after church. I can't find three people who believe exactly the same stuff about this religion. One tells me "this is the important thing" the other tell me "oh, that's not important, the important thing is this."

I like that this church gives us a lot of leeway to interpret things, but where is the core. What one thing is help immutable among all members?

Again, sorry to disapoint but I'm not a member of these RfMs or whever you all think is out to get you. I'm just a guy who showed up hoping to find some answers but what I found was fear, accusation and confusion.

Not a very welcoming fellowship.

I know, we're only human.

Thanks for the links Jeff. I read them. I was disapointed by one of the last comments on one that obviously held a great deal of hatred... so because I have read that I now know why you all are so touchy... but I'm no babtist here to damn you to hell or something... I simply still have questions and mindless belief with a "humble" attitude will not cut it for me. The book really does say steel. It does not say "easily degrading ore" -- in this way I will be a literalist with this text.

Bookslinger said...

Daniel, Sorry. Imprecise writing. I was trying to address Cory's perceptions as displayed on his blog, (and how he is addressing people here) not meaning to imply all or most Utah LDS fit that perception, just that _some_ do.

Bookslinger said...

(Sigh)

Cory = Andy = Chris

Daniel Peterson said...

Cory (or whatever your name may be):

I haven't attacked you. I haven't taken a position on whether you're a sincere questioner or a duplicitious sneak. The simple fact is that I encounter both, pretty much every week. I'm delighted to try to help the former, but I'm not very surprised when certain people turn out to be the latter.

If "Indy" is right, though, and you do have a blog such as he describes, I would be interested in seeing it. I have to admit, as an experienced reader of anti-Mormon materials, that some of the concerns you've expressed here do indeed seem, to me also, to have a "coached" quality to them.

If, however, you are a sincere seeker, then I truly do apologize for rough reception you've gotten here. However, you should know that the web is perhaps not the best environment for sincere spiritual seekers to get answers to their questions. It surely isn't a wholesome environment for the giving and receiving of spiritual counsel. It is far too cynical and contentious a place for that.

Brian said...

....no that's not what I meant at all...... Being humble has nothing to do with faking anything it has to do wiht trusting god... if you are patient you will get a clear answer.

As for the problems you have... I'm sure you did not formulate them your self, but rather read them from anti publications. I too have read some of them, but have found plasuabe answers for all of the problems.....that along with the the prayers that I have had answered in obvious ways tells me to not wory about those things.... I know that God knows and cares about us all he has sheon many times that he is watching over me.

Bookslinger said...

Cory, I'm sorry that you went through real hell in your life. But please stop trying to tear down the faith of others.

I read some of the November 2004 archive of your blog (begins with "my"), and I can't imagine myself surviving what you went through. My trials have been extremely puny in comparison to your's. I admire you for surviving all you did, and the fact you aren't in prison, or living in a crack house, or sucked on the muzzle of a gun because of it all.

If you want to use an alias here, that's fine, cuz Jeff lets people use aliases for privacy sake. But at least be the real you and stop the manipulation. It takes one to know one, and you can't BS a BS-er. I'm currently an ex-mormon. I was away from the church for 15 years due to the bitterness I harbored, and due to some personal problems of my own.

There are some really rotten Mormons. They affect people much more than the average Mormon, so it seems like there's more of them than there actually are. But so what? Whether they are "bad" people or well-intentioned people who do "bad" things, they will have to answer for their deeds. And God does not hold victims liable for the sins of the sinners. There have been "bad" people in the same body as the "true-believers" ever since Cain slew Abel. The gospel and the church are still true.

I went through some persecution as a child and as an adult, and combined with some personal problems, it was a real whammy. But nothing compared to your story. But I learned that the more I focus on controlling and fixing up my own life, the less the sins of others bother me.

I've seen Jeff politely respond to criticism from people who are openly anti-mormon. So you don't have to play the investigator/convert game. The contradictions in your first two comments gave you away.

"Andy" posted comments on my blog the same day you posted here, with a similar modus operandi. I noticed, went looking for the connection, and found it.

You're certainly entitled to your beliefs and opinions and the right to express them. Just please be honest.

I also understand that people who have suffered abuse and misfortune are reluctant to be completely open. I've been there and done that.

Severe abuse leads to lots of life-long suffering in the victims. I've recently learned that my mother was abused as a child, and that helped me finally understand why she married and stayed with my abusive father. I did not cry when my father died.

I re-read my comments towards or about you, and I don't think I've been antagonistic, but maybe a little snide and condescending. I have a tendency toward that that I need to work on.

But, if you'll excuse a little self-indulgence, you're the one who first called Jeff and I "very stupid" and called me a "moron" on your blog. You're entitled to your opinion, and you certainly have the right to express it on your own blog.

Brian said...

hey books, what happened to your blog? .... currently ex? I read your blog a while ago and I thought you were a member???

Bookslinger said...

I clicked the wrong button after clicking the wrong link, and the blog went bye-bye. My fault for running on auto-pilot.

Yup, haven't been re-baptized yet, but getting closer. I've mentioned it at least once here on Mormanity, but didn't feel the need to mention it on my blog. The blog is not about me, but Book of Mormon placements.

Good thing the Distribution Center doesn't require you to be a member before selling you books. :-) So it's then a matter of giving away my own property, a "Freedom of Speech" thing. The Bishop and the Stake Presidency don't seem to have a problem with it. So technically, I'm not a member-missionary, I'm an ex-member-missionary. Just a technicality, right? :-)

Lesson: Don't ever leave the church if you have one of those "burned-in" testimonies. The truth will gnaw at you from the inside out like a cancer, until you get your life in line with that truth.

I have sympathy for those who have been hurt by other church members, and I can understand why people get bitter towards the church and its leaders. In order to quench or explain away a testimony, people have to convince themselves that the church can't be true. But I found out there are answers to the challenges and offenses. It can be really hard to put up with offenses. It can be really hard to repent of one's sins. But I found it's even harder to face the ultimate consequence of unrepented sin. I got "Section 19-ed", specifically verse 20. I feel sort of like the sons of Mosiah. I got my butt kicked so badly, then experienced the extreme mercy of the Lord, that I don't want to see others live in darkness.

I have "burned in" testimonies of: 1) the existence of God, 2)the existence of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and his atonement, 3) Joseph Smith as a prophet, and 4) the Book of Mormon. I lost faith in about everything else, but I couldn't shake those four things, because they are in my very being, as described on page 38 of Gospel Principles manual.

Those four things were my anchor. Those, along with the butt-kicking, and some miracles, got me back.

Jeff and others have very good explanations of what is a sword (could be wood with obsidian blade), and what is or was steel which could be any alloyed metal as per the dictionary of Joseph's day, or as was commonly used in King James English.

Jeff, and FARMS and FAIR all have logical explanations or plausible lines of reasoning for all the antis' attacks. But, I don't care if God miraculous intervened or whether there are mundane explanations. A God who can create planets, raise the dead, part the sea, multiple loaves and fishes, rise from the dead himself, etc, can also alter DNA and make things disappear!

The Book of Mormon is TRUE! God told me, God made me know, God POURED that knowledge into me and BURNED it into every part of me with holy fire. And whether I'm a baptized member, or an unworthy ex-member, I have that testimony in me, and it demands to be let out.

Like Jeremiah said "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forebearing and I could not stay" chapter 20 verse 9, KJV. Or as the NIV says: "I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

I have felt inspired, and at some times compelled, in this project. Who or what is prompting me to give out books? The adversary? Can't be. The hundreds of "divine coincidences" and dozens of little miracles have convinced me that something is going on. Is giving out the Book of Mormon to immigrants a "good thing" or a "bad thing"? If it's a "good thing", Moroni said all good things come from Christ.

Distributing foreign language Books of Mormon may be part of the prophecy in Alma 37:4; "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon."

Verses 6 and 7 seem appropriate: "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. 7: And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."

Throughout the scriptures, and in this dispensation, certain non-members have been priviledged to help along the work, from Cyrus and Darius of the Persians and Medes, to General Doniphan of Missouri. I too feel honored to be a simple messenger-boy when offering people "a free church book in their native language."

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

nevermind ... wrong incident

Brian said...

Sorry jeff I didn't read the site that I just linked to... YOu should delete my comment.

BYU Gestapo said...

Cory,

It's too bad you've gotten the responses that you have. Frankly, nobody has yet given a good explanation to you IMO.

Spread throughout America are finds of what are called "Clovis Points," a particular design of stone spearhead that dates back past 10,000 ago. Those are found in abundance. It shouldn't be hard to find swords.

Also, to this day you can find lead balls on the field of Gettysburg, and that's just on the surface. My buddy brought me one back that he had found when he visited Pennsylvania some years ago.

Also, you should realize that your experience is not new. Somewhat like your situation, everyone thought they "had me pinned" when someone from a different blog (named Brenden McPherson)posted some comments of mine without crediting me. The posters here immediately jumped on it and accused me of misrepresentation.

You can read it for yourself on the "facing the Shotgun," topic.

I will say however, and I say this as one you should consider as an "exmo," your inquiry doesn't smack of a neophyte investigator.

At a minimum you've spent some time studying alternate takes on Mormonism.

It's no reason to go to all the fuss about you posting on the board. If it were me I'd answer your question and move on. But your question IMO has no good answer, at least not one thats going to be entertained in this forum.

Bookslinger said...

BYU,

I thought the steel sword thing has been addressed. There are several possibilities:

1. "Steel" could be any alloyed metal, not necessarily carbonized iron, as per the dictionary of JS's day, and common King James usage.

2. "Steel" could also mean any hardened metal.

3. "Steel" could be iron taken from meteoric deposits, and then carbonized in a crude blacksmith shop.

4. Since the great Jaredite battle took place some time prior to 600 BC, there were about 2100 years from that time until the arrival of the Europeans for the steel swords to either disintegrate from rust or be picked up and gleaned and recycled into whatever by subsequent civilizations. What does happen to "carbonized iron" over a period of 2100 years?

5. It's been shown that the Olmecs did indeed have carbonized iron implements.

6. The Cumorah of the Jaredite battle might not be the same Cumorah of Mormon/Moroni's battle. Those swords might be buried under the jungle floor somewhere in Central or South America, if they haven't disintegrated between 600 BC and today.

7. They could have been buried or swallowed up by earthquakes during the "great upheavals" preceeding the Lord's death.

8. And my "pet theory", is since our God can create planets, raise the dead, heal the sick, part the sea, multiply loaves and fishes, and rise up from the dead himself, he certainly has the ability to alter someone's DNA and cause objects to disintegrate into atoms or dissipate entirely.

As others have said, accepting the Book of Mormon is a matter of faith and testimony. Physical evidence giving absolute proof of it is not required. Assuming the existance of a God who uses both small means and grand miracles to achieve his purposes (among which is to "confound the wise"), literally anything is possible. And people who seek faith don't have to let the lack of physical proof negate their faith.

The whole cycle of anti/pro LDS argument seems like this:

1. A doubter/accuser says: "Explain this!"

2. Farms/Fair/et al do one of 5 things:
a) Show that the accusation is a half truth, or taken out of context.
b) Show that the accusation is an outright lie.
c) Agree that the accusation is true, but show how it's a good thing, not a bad thing.
d) Agree that the accusation is true, that it was a bad thing, that it shouldn't have happened. But it was the fault, sin, mistake, error of that individual; and that either further light and knowledge has been received (line upon line, precept upon precept), or that steps have been taken to prevent the bad thing from happening again.
e) Illustrate that other evidence, not in consideration by the accusers, demonstrates plausibility or brings resolution to the conflict; or that a different interpretion of the scriptures can satisfy the accusation.

The pattern just keeps getting repeated. The new accusations and new responses keep following the pattern of all the old accusations/responses that have been put to bed, such as ancient writing on metal plates, barley, horses, etc. Just as all the old accusations have been answered to my satisfaction, I have faith that the new ones will too.

I like Jeff's answers on his FAQ and Book of Mormon Evidence pages. He links to good stuff, a lot from non-LDS sources.

The fact that you and others don't accept FARMS/FAIR/Lindsay/et al's responses doesn't bother me.

The fact that FARMS/FAIR/Lindsay/et al haven't yet addressed every nit-picking accusation does bother me either. I'm content to say "Gee, I don't know" every once in a while.

I don't know why, but Egyptologists have found ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE that Hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. No record of a Jospeh. No record of a Moses being a son or adopted son of a Pharoah. The Egyptians were fastidious record keepers but there's no record of the Hebrews being there or their leaving. Should we go around denouncing Judaism and Christianity over it?

The miraculous experiences and testimonies upon which I base my faith don't require me to know how to respond to every challenge.

There are four things that I mention in a previous comment that I should say I don't have faith in because I know them. But it's a subjective knowledge, it's not something I can put on a plate and serve to others. But that's the nature of spiritual matters. We can't detect, measure, or record them with physical devices as they are spiritually discerned.

By the way, I would suggest not requesting name-removal unless you intend on publicly working or widely speaking against the church. Something does happen upon name-removal and one tends to sink faster, at least I did. And unlike in the past, one gets only one rebaptism now.

Mormanity said...

Thanks, BYU Gestapo, for your comments and analysis, and the helpful tone. I think there is a risk that we can mistake identities and judge incorrectly, and I'm sorry if someone really looking for answers has been offended by my comments and by the comments of others. We aren't trying to shout down questions, but sometimes we do have to distinguish between sincere and insincere queries - dealing with the latter can just be a futile exercise.

So if Corey is a real member confused over the great Nephite battle, let me make a couple minor comments. Some of Corey's description appears to be confusing the much earlier Jaredite civil war with the Nephite battle. Tens of thousands were killed in the Nephite battle, possibly in Veracruz State in Mexico, where the large hill named Vigia is a popular and plausible canidate for ancient Cumorah. If a battle did occur there with ancient clubs and wooden swords and other weapons, what should we find there now? Can we frame a reasonable hypothesis and test it? Based on benchmarking from other known battle sites of that era, and considering the possibilities of ancient looting of the dead (recycling weapons), etc., how many obsidian blades should we expect to find per acre? How many tooth or bone remnants?

I'm all for doing extensive testing of the Vigia hypothesis. But given the paucity of archaeological investigations in that region and Mesoamerica in general, it seems dangerous to leave the Church because the issue is unsettled. And it's also dangerous to leave because we can't find support for a mental image we might have of Roman-style armies clashing with stainless steel swords and leaving their imperishable metal weapons all over the ground as an obvious memorial to a great battle.

Make sure you're testing a reasonable hypothesis based on the actual text, not the paintings of Arnold Friberg that tend to color the imagination of many members of the Church. (But I love those paintings anyway! Wish I had arms like Nephi's.)

Corey, keep reading and studying.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "Spread throughout America are finds of what are called 'Clovis Points,' a particular design of stone spearhead that dates back past 10,000 ago."

It kind of makes you wonder why they're called "Clovis points," doesn't it? Named after a particular town in New Mexico? Maybe it's an advertising gimmick.

BYU Gestapo: "Those are found in abundance. It shouldn't be hard to find swords."

That depends. If you insist on these swords being exactly like the ones you've seen in the movies, none have been found. On the other hand, if they're like the swords that the professional swordsmen known as the Conquistadors encountered and described, made out of wood, with blades of obsidian, they were widely reported but tend not to survive in a very wet climate. It depends upon your expectations.

BYU Gestapo: "everyone thought they 'had me pinned' when someone from a different blog (named Brenden McPherson)posted some comments of mine without crediting me. The posters here immediately jumped on it and accused me of misrepresentation."

On perfectly reasonable grounds, it must be said. The inference was logically justifiable, though it turned out that one of its premises was false.

 

BYU Gestapo said...

It kind of makes you wonder why they're called "Clovis points," doesn't it? Named after a particular town in New Mexico? Maybe it's an advertising gimmick.

That could actually make sense because you also have "Folsom [New Mexico] points" and "Plano (Texas?) Points."

The Southwest regions must be competing for sure... :P

Of course Clovis points are found all over North America, not just in New Mexico. They have been found even as far south as Panama.

(***Note*** I use Plano liberally there in jest, there isn't an connection to Plano Texas, it's to describe Plain dwelling peoples mostly located in what's now Minnesota if I'm not mistaken.)

To me the "blades of Obsidian" hypothesis is inadequate because the BOM speaks of Laban's sword having a sheath at least, which was said to be the pattern at for swords at least in the beginning, as well as the scalping incident mentioned and that scalp being put on a "point."

I know those are arguments you've heard before Dr. Peterson, but I still align myself to the belief that what's being described is the more commonly envisioned design for a sword.

Besides, whether there are swords, scimitars, Clovis points on sticks... :P Cory's question is why don't we see any indication yet of a battle on the scale the BOM describes.

Also, I don't believe the text gives us any reason to believe that metal didn't make up a signifigant portion of the weapons used.

I'm sure we can all agree that they had a form of metallurgy technology back even to Nephi. I mean, the plates WERE golden right? Even if the metallic items used contributed to only 10% of the weaponry, it would be very signifigant.

I DO give you that since we don't know the exact location it's conceivable that a site like that could still be found.

But considering the extent of research done in Meso-America, if that is the location of the Book of Mormon, a battle of that size surely couldn't have been missed at this point.

Jeff, I know you argue the opposite. Perhaps LDS oriented studies are sparse, but anyone in the field would certainly be interested in a find like that, regardless of the interpretation of what it meant.

Also Jeff, I wanted to bring up a couple of things about what you said: " Tens of thousands were killed in the Nephite battle"

The point may be moot despite the exact number, as long as we agree the number was large, but like you said, we need to "Make sure you're testing a reasonable hypothesis based on the actual text."

Mormon describes himself and his ten thousand as well as other captains and their ten thousand. Gidgiddonah, Gidgiddonah, Gilgal and on to 21 total including Mormon's group. That's 210,000 just on the Nephite side. No number is mention for the Lamanites, but we can assume it was large, Mormon mentions that, "...every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers." Also the Lamanites won, so it's a safe assumption that they were larger than the Nephites.

Even the arrow that killed Zelph remained when Zion's camp found him. So whatever the weapons used, it's logical that we'd find something. (and yes...I have read the FARMS article on Zelph just to get that out of the way... :P)

BYU Gestapo said...

Whoops, I meant to write "Gidgiddonah, Lamah, Gilgal" in that last paragraph... it must be past my bedtime...lol

Bookslinger said...

BYU,
Aren't you still conflating the two big battles?

It was the final Jaredite battle, circa 600 BC, that supposedly had the "steel" swords. And the reasoning goes that since everyone but one was killed, then everyone else's swords should have remained in the field.

However, that left another 1000 years of Nephite-Lamanite history (600 BC until 400 AD) for the Jaredite battle remains to be scavenged, and another 1100 years (400 AD to 1500 AD) before white Europeans arrived on the scene.

I don't think the final Nephite versus Lamanite battle specifically mentioned steel swords. There's nothing in the Book of Mormon dictating that we accept that Mormon/Moroni's battle was conducted with steel swords.

Bookslinger said...

(continued)

And since the final Nephite-Lamanite battle did have a decisive winner, they could immediately scavenge the battlefield for all enemy weapons.

It's only been 142 years since the battle of Gettysburg. It's been 2600 years since the Jaredite battle, and 1600 since the final Nephite-Lamanite battle. Plenty of time for things to be scavenged, buried over time, or decomposed.

Daniel Peterson said...

Actually, there were 23 "ten thousands" on the Nephite side at the final battle.

So how many people really fought and died in those units?

I don't know. Nor do you.

Ideally, a quorum of deacons contains twelve deacons, a quorum of teachers contains twenty-four teachers, a quorum of priests contains forty-eight priests, and a quorum of elders contains ninety-six elders (Doctrine and Covenants 107:85-89). Yet I've never, to my knowledge, lived in or visited a ward that had such numbers.

A U.S. Army division, I'm told, can be as small as about 4,000 or as large as about 15,000. A Roman centurion commanded a "century" of soldiers, which means "one hundred." But, as I recall, a "century" was seldom actually at full strength or anywhere near full strength.

The "ten thousands" referred to by the Book of Mormon may have actually been ten thousand in strength or, if precedent holds, they could have been as small as fourth to a third of that. One can even easily imagine a commander wishing his enemy to believe that each claimed "ten thousand" was actually ten thousand when in fact it was much smaller, for the sake of "psychological warfare" (much the way various animals seek to make themselves look larger when confronted by a predator or a rival).

Which means that the final battle might have involved 230,000 troops -- surely all available men of even remotely military age, in a final battle to the death -- or it may have involved somewhere around 60,000.

Still a very large battle, but not as big as some might picture it.

It's possible, of course, that all the Nephite swords, or at least a substantial proportion of them, were metal. But I know of no reason to believe that. A report from very early history, about swords prepared by a person with demonstrated metallurgical skill for a small group of kinsmen, doesn't go very far toward demonstrating mass production of such swords several centuries later. And even in the case of the scalping of Zerahemnah (Alma 44:12-15), it isn't at all clear to me how the act of laying something upon the point of the weapon demonstrates that the weapon was made of metal or looked like a Hollywood sword. But even if we were to assume precisely that, the fact that the soldier who used the weapon was in such close proximity to a parlay between the supreme Nephite commander and the supreme Lamanite commander suggests that he was likely a person of elite status (possibly akin), so that his sword might have been atypical.

We simply aren't in a position to answer such questions. Shaky ground upon which to reject the Book of Mormon.

BYU Gestapo said...

I'm not confusing the two battles. I know the Jaredite battle description says things like, "thousands fell by the sword," and "And it came to pass that when they had all fallen by the sword," but that isn't what I was referring to.

I'm just speaking to the size of the NEPHITE/LAMANITE battle by the hill "Cumorah" (ie; Mormon 6)and that it's size alone would make it unreasonable for us to find no evidence.

A big caveat that I fully recognize is that no one would know exactly where to start looking.

But with a battle that large, and if you adhere to the Meso-American geography concept, I find it unreasonable that we haven't found even hints of an event like that.

Also remember that before Cumorah there are many other battles alluded to, "[the Nephites] began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun."

So it is also fair to say we wouldn't be confined to one hill, or a particular location. There should be evidence of war all throughout the territory were the Nephites resided.

As far as the "after battle party" I'm hard pressed to believe that "scavenging" is enough to remove all trace of what happened.

The Lamanites would have already had their own weapons to carry, so unless the Nephites had better weapons, they wouldn't have had much motive. Gold, money, jewels etc... of course would be targets.

But if you're a footman, are you going to lay on a superflous 10-20 lb weapon on your back? I sure wouldn't. Doesn't matter if it was obsidian or steel, both are going to be relatively heavy. Think of carrying around multiple flakes of thick glass on a club.


It's true, that over time others who came to the scene might have more interest, I totally agree with that. But with hundreds of thousands of people you're not going to get everything.

In addition, and this is a point I haven't really touched thus far, what about the bodies? Were they ALL burned? Buried? Who is going to touch bones, or decaying flesh?

I would submit, that it would be very difficult indeed to remove all trace of hundreds and thousands of bodies. Besides, what motivation would exist to do so in the first place?



One last note to Dr. Peterson, it's interesting that you brought Obsidian, it made me remember a technique I had read about; Obsidian Hydration dating. Its a specialized technique that relies on the absorption of water into the surface of the obsidian after its been flaked.

Not only does it accurately pinpoint time, but it also indicates conditions of climate such as humidity (obviously), as well as a geochemical analysis generally can show the source of the Obsidian.

Has anyone thought to pinpoint the locations were these macuahuitl were made and perhaps connect those areas with Nephite territory?

That's really not a loaded question at all, I think it'd be an interesting bit of research.

BYU Gestapo said...

Final note, and then off to bed for me... hehe.

The "point" of the sword is relevant because the macuahuitl , as they are depicted by the drawings the descriptions of the Spanish don't have points. Small thing, I totally concede, but all of us here have argued over smaller... :P

Cory Brenner said...

Unstable and untrue accusations about my intentions, character and fiction about my history aside... this part of the conversation was the most illuminating.

The silliest thing I read was of course: "[God might] alter someone's DNA and cause objects to disintegrate into atoms or dissipate entirely."

And he would do this because...??

Mormanity said...

One more thing: Corey challenged a minor point about swords in the Book of Mormon. The issue deals with the possible relationship between the reference to swords "stained" with blood in Alma 24 (when converted Lamanites bury their swords) and Mesoamerican swords with wooden shafts and obsidian blades, with wood being easily stained with blood, whereas metal swords aren't likely to stain. Corey stated that the Iliad and Odyssey have abundant references to blood-stained swords (of metal). It's a trivial issue, but when I went to an online search engine for the Iliad and searched for the term "stain", I found references to blood-stained dust, blood-stained bodies, and blood-stained bounty, but not blood-stained swords. Turning to the Odyssey, the word "stain" does not have any hits at all using the full-text search engine for it. I also looked at hits for "sword" and saw nothing that corresponded with blood-stained swords. Now the term "blood-stained swords" is a popular one and it certainly could have come from other sources. I'm just puzzled over the reference to Homer, though I suppose it has been a popular "source" to explain away the epic nature of the Book of Mormon.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "There should be evidence of war all throughout the territory were the Nephites resided."

Leaving aside the question of the Nephites, there should be evidence of war throughout the territory where the Olmecs, the Maya, the Toltecs, and the Aztecs resided. Nobody maintains that Mesoamerica was uninhabited before the Conquest -- there was a Conquest, after all, which suggests that somebody was conquered -- and, for decades now, nobody has seriously maintained that these societies were not warlike to an unusual degree. (Archaeologists once actually thought of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as a kind of agrarian Quaker commune; they were literally overlooking massive quantities of evidence to the contrary.)

I'm not a Mesoamericanist, but I'm unaware of any archaeological study of any battlefield in pre-Columbian America -- Nephite, Toltec, Maya, Aztec, Zapotec, or other -- nor even an identification of such a battlefield. Yet there is evidence (in artistic representations and in a relative few artifacts) of weapons, and considerable glyphic and circumstantial evidence for frequent extraordinarily violent and bloody wars. (See, for example, Linda Schele, Mary Ellen Miller, and Justin Miller, The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art.)

But, as I say, I'm not a specialist. Perhaps there is an entire subdiscipline of Mesoamerican military history and battlefield studies of which I'm unaware. Perhaps BYU Gestapo can direct me to the relevant literature.

cb said...

Heaven forfend that you would actually read the books. Looks like the extent of your scholarship is limited to what a key word searches... again, disapointing.

You want to do a keyword search on stains instead of reading the text? Can you imagine why I mentioned it? Thousands of people really believed every word of it. When Joseph Smith concocted the grand malarcky, he was equally influenced by the King James Bible and Homer...

I know why you may never read the Iliad or the Odyssey... it would mean that your faith in the BOM would be smashed because you would see the influence immediately. You can not miss it.

Daniel Peterson said...

So it seems that, after all, "cb" (aka "Cory Brenner") may well have been the fraud and poseur that some sensed he was from the beginning.

There's nothing wrong with doing a computer word search through the Iliad and the Odyssey, of course. Though such a search doesn't substitute for re-reading them, it's a heck of a lot quicker. And it doesn't mean that one hasn't read them, merely that one hasn't memorized them. I've read them, for example, several times, and substantial portions of them in Greek. But, off hand, I can't think of whether or not there are references in them (or in any translation of them) to stained swords. That wasn't a major focus of any of my readings, and I doubt that it would be a primary emphasis of any normal reader.

I wonder how recently cb/Cory/Andy/Chris has read the two epics, and how well he would do on an examination on their contents. I suspect, though I could be wrong, that he's simply regurgitating an argument that I've seen certain other anti-Mormons make on this matter. If cb/Cory/Andy/Chris will supply the specific book and line references, we can examine them.

How wearisomely familiar it all becomes.

There's one new thing, though: Is cb/Cory/Andy/Chris really suggesting that Joseph Smith was influenced by Homer?

Anonymous said...

Having just read "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" (both translated by Samuel Butler), I looked at my paper copies and did a keyword search online.

Butler's translations do not contain any swords that are bloodstained. In the Iliad: armor, yes, fearful serpent, yes, "shapely thighs and your legs down to your fair ancles" yes, spoils, lots. But no swords that are stained.

In the Odyssey there are no stained anythings, spoils, armor, or swords. Swords and blood, yes, but not swords stained with blood.

What editions are you looking in? I wonder if there is some sort of difference in translation?

Here are online versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey
http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext00/iliad10.txt

http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext99/dyssy10.txt

As an aside, I'm also re-reading the Book of Mormon. I see very little influence between the works of Homer as translated by Butler and the Book of Mormon, but I shall certainly keep a sharp look out for them in my future readings.

Of course, Butler did his translation after Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, perhaps Joseph was infulenced by a different translation? If so, I would be intrested in which one.

Anonymous said...

I find it quite interesting that Homer's work is being compared to the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon has the stance that it is a true record of actual people that actually lived on the earth. The Iliad is a fictional book written by Homer which he never claimed was a record of true events. It's a fictional book being compared to a non-fiction book. This is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Second, I was one who believed that you (Cory) were a true seeker of truth with real questions. I even felt bad for the type of responses you got from others in this blog. I thought you may have been influenced by anti-mormon literature which caused you to ask the questions to know the answers, but I didn't think you were really against the Church. In my opinion, your last post revealed your true beliefs and intentions when you said, "When Joseph Smith concocted the grand malarcky..." This is not the type of statement that would come from a sincere seeker of truth or one sincerely investigating the Church. It was a well-formed and calloused statement of belief. In this light, it sounds a bit like a wolf in sheep clothing.

For me, if I think that something is completely false like you do Joseph Smith, the BofM, and the Church, I just leave it alone and seek after what I know to be true. The LDS Church teaches us to have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and remain worthy of it, be married for eternity and treat our relationships in similar light, give to the poor, search after our ancestors, pay our way as missionaries to take truth to others, etc. None of these things are evil or have bad intentions. The scriptures teach that contention is of the devil. Even if you void the Book of Mormon and only believe in the Bible, this teaching is still found and valid. Since you believe this teaching of Christ, I question whose motives you are carrying out.

Last of all, I too have read the Iliad and the Book of Mormon and find no similarities between the two. Sure, there are people in both, some wars, etc., but if you say that the Book of Mormon was influenced by the Iliad, you've obviously never read the Book of Mormon or the Iliad. You’ve merely read an anti-mormon attack that sounded good and used it as your own ammunition. I fear that too many of us look to others for answers and completely neglect our own ability to receive divine answers from God. If we were to spend as much time reading the scriptures and praying with real intent to know the truth, we would be truly taught from above. The most repeated promise in the scriptures is to ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened. I think if the Lord tells us this over and over again, He really means it. Again, while others may help us learn, let us not neglect our own right to answers through the Spirit.

Mormanity said...

Corey, my man, chill out. I have read Homer. Many of us have. What's up with this "Heaven forfend that you would actually read the books. Looks like the extent of your scholarship is limited to what a key word searches... again, disapointing"?

As for the search, I was addressing a specific issue that demanded a search. You made the claim that there are many references to blood-stained swords in Homer's writings. I didn't recall such references - it's been a while since I read Homer, I'll admit - so to quickly ascertain the validity of your claim, I did a search of the full text. Not just "key words" from the Internet, but a full-text search of the actual words in the books. And guess what? You're wrong. Completely wrong, as far as I can tell. Can you provide any support from alternate translations to conjure up blood-stained swords in Homer as a source for Alma 24? I may be the one who is wrong due to a faulty search of something, so I await your evidence from Homer.

Frankly, it seems like searching for the alleged phrases or words to determine if they are actually in Homer is pretty sound scholarship. What am I missing? Your response to my simple inquiry seems rather ad hominem, but you're welcome to provide some documentation from Homer that I perhaps missed. Bring on the scholarship, my man!

Of course there are parallels between Homer and the Book of Mormon - ditto for the Bible, Joyce's Ulysses, Huckleberry Finn, Tale of Two Cities, the Bhagavad Gita, and several of Kafka's works (I used to be a Kafka addict, but am over that, fortunately - I think Joyce's absurd Finnegan's Wake helped me be a little more skeptical about the philosophical value of some great writers whom I still may enjoy). Great literature, whether fictional or historical, abounds in parallels and common themes. It's part of life, part of humanity. It doesn't mean that every writer has been plagiarizing other writers all along.

I've read all those works and many more without having to shelter my faith from the great literature of the world. Frankly, the strongest parallels I've seen between the Book of Mormon and any non-scriptural work is with Whitman's Leaves of Grass, as I've documented at length. But since Whitman's works came after 1830, it simply illustrates how easy it is for parallels to be found without pointing to derivation.

To claim that the Book of Mormon is somehow derived from Homer overlooks the nature of parallels in literature. It's not your original hypothesis - I forget who first threw that out to the anti-community, perhaps the Tanners? - but it suggests that its inventor may not have read the Book of Mormon, at least not carefully, certainly not seriously. I bet you have read Homer, but I still don't know where you got the blood-stained sword passages - they don't seem to be in Homer after all.

BYU Gestapo said...

Daniel Peterson said: But, as I say, I'm not a specialist. Perhaps there is an entire subdiscipline of Mesoamerican military history and battlefield studies of which I'm unaware. Perhaps BYU Gestapo can direct me to the relevant literature.

But as I say, nor am I. But I have tried to search the literature.

About the battlefield archeology, that there is no battlefield yet found to study is the whole point. The premise of my argument was that if the Nephites existed you would find the evidence. I do not believe they did, so your characterization indeed illustrates what I think is the truth of the matter.

There isn't much about mesoamerican warfare written compared to other subjects to be frank.

But from what I've read things operated more like competition between multiple city/states, not the putative, simpler, two sided version that prevailed before the final Nephite battle. This would make more sense if you were not finding singularly massive battlefield sites.

A book that has been recommended to me, but that I have yet to read is: "War and Society in Ancient MesoAmerica," by Ross Hassig. I've read somewhat superficially the ideas he presents, I know that he focuses a lot on the military strategies used, how transportation and logistics played a role in strategy, as well as the cultural motivations for sacrificing captives to name a few. He argues against religion being the primary motive for warfare for example.

I don't know of anyone who has a copy, and I'm not willing to drop $50.00 bucks yet...hehe.

So if anyone has read Hassig's work I'd love to hear your take on it and what light it might shed on what we know about MesoAmerican warfare thus far.

To Cory:

I have to agree with Jeff's argument that common themes run all across literature, regardless of culture. Indeed, at our core, we are all human and have very similar life experiences. The literature reflects that.

I do believe other literature such as "View of the Hebrews" did contribute thematic elements to the Book of Mormon, but those commonalities are more obvious and IMO more important than the sword issue.

What you should really be asking is, why couldn't Joseph describe what he saw better? He claimed to have intimate knowledge of Nephite life. He would tell his family stories of their cites and culture in great deal according to his mother. He would have seen the "swords" we're talking about.

Why didn't he introduce new vocabulary if the word sword was inadequate? He spoke of Cumoms and cureloms, why didn't he say, "macuahuitl" and tell his family it resembled a cudgle with stone flakes?

It's the inconsistency that get's me. Was the BOM translated by our all powerful God or not? If it was, we shouldn't have to make so many excuses for the weakness of the translation.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "About the battlefield archeology, that there is no battlefield yet found to study is the whole point. The premise of my argument was that if the Nephites existed you would find the evidence."

And my point, in turn, was that the Zapotecs, the Olmecs, the Maya, the Toltecs, and the Aztecs indisputably did exist, yet there is, to the best of my knowledge, no battlefield archaeology for them and no direct evidence of the major battles to which their chronicles refer.

BYU Gestapo: "I do not believe they did, so your characterization indeed illustrates what I think is the truth of the matter."

I agree. And the truth of the matter is this: Great civilizations have indisputably existed and have beyond question fought major battles, yet their battlefields remain unknown.

BYU Gestapo: "There isn't much about mesoamerican warfare written compared to other subjects to be frank.

Precisely as I said.

BYU Gestapo: "So if anyone has read Hassig's work I'd love to hear your take on it and what light it might shed on what we know about MesoAmerican warfare thus far."

It's a very good book. And, as it happens, (unless I'm mistaken) it's referenced fairly frequently in the FARMS volume Warfare in the Book of Mormon, edited by Stephen Ricks and a historian of premodern warfare by the name of William Hamblin.

Why didn't he introduce new vocabulary if the word sword was inadequate?

Who says that the word sword was "inadequate"? The Spanish conquistadores, professional swordsmen who actually fought against macuahuitl-wielding Indians, called the macuahuitl a sword.



 

Anonymous said...

Where did Joseph claim to have intimate knowledge of Nephite life? Apart from his mother's much later statement that he told a lot of stories about ancient Americans, I'm not aware of any reason to believe that he knew many details. And what's wrong with calling sharp sword-like weapons "swords"? The Spaniards did that.

BYU Gestapo said...

Lucy Mack Smith is well regarded by historians both of the faithful and non-faithful categories as being very consistent in her version of history.

She has been corroborated many times in what she has said, and among all the people involved in Mormon history, she is one of the most accurate.

I'll quote her exactly, she says, "[Joseph] would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them."

Joseph obviously displayed vivid knowlege of the culture and the life behind the Book of Mormon.

Also, if you think you can discredit Mother Smith, I submit that you'll have a hard time of it.

An article in the Ensign titled "Lucy Mack Smith: Woman of Great Faith" says the following: "Her History of Joseph Smith relates not only brief biographies of her parents, brothers, and sisters, as well as the Prophet and her own family, but it is also an exciting, witty, poignant, and spiritually thrilling literary gem, shining in the dusty archives of history."

When I took Church History Ronald Esplin at BYU he extolled Lucy Mack Smith for her reliable history. At the time at least, he was the chairman for the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History.

You don't get more "PRO" than that.

About the sword thing, why are you comfortable with an ambigious translation? You are all arguing that we are NOT talking about swords here, so why is okay for them to be called swords?

Honestly it matters little to the larger picture of Mormonism, but I don't see why it's okay to accept ambiguity as a defense against what people have to say about the BOM.

Daniel Peterson said...

BYU Gestapo: "About the sword thing, why are you comfortable with an ambigious translation? You are all arguing that we are NOT talking about swords here, so why is okay for them to be called swords?

I'm not arguing that we're not talking about swords here, and I'm not contending that the translation is "ambiguous."

The Spaniards called Aztec macuahuitls "swords." The Spanish conquistadores saw Aztec warriors sever horses' heads from their bodies with a single swipe of Aztec macahuitls -- or so their chronicles claim, and I have no reason to disbelieve them -- and saw their friends cut in half by them. It seems to me that the conquistadores, who hadn't merely seen swords in movies like The Princess Bride but actually used swords for a living and relied upon swords to preserve their lives and came from a country famous for its manufacture of swords (e.g., Toledo blades), speak with a certain degree of authority on the question of whether pre-Columbian Indians had "swords."

Osvaldo said...

Wow, the Book of Mormon is obviously copied from the Illyiad and the Odyssey?

I've read them and, uh, that never occurred to me. Psychological defense mechanism, I guess. A real strong defense mechanism in fact because, now that the connection has been pointed out, I still can't see it.

Wee-ooh. This is the stuff of which un-testimonies are made?