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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book of Mormon and Evidences of Hebraic Origins: No Ifs, Ands, or Buts (with Apologies)

Interesting Youtube video just touching upon the issue of Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon. For more details, see Evidences for the Book of Mormon.

Brief Video on Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon

Hey, here's a valuable bonus video on the very authentic ancient Mesoamerican nature of warfare in the Book of Mormon. There are volumes that could be said about this topic, but the nuggets discussed here are worth reflecting. How could someone in New York have figured this out and added such authentic twists?

Seasons of Warfare in the Book of Mormon and Teancum's Timing


John Mansfield said...

John McWhorter finished a description of the three consonant structure of words in Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic, with these words:

"That is what makes a Semitic language. This system with the three consonants is very rare in the world. There are only a few other languages in the world that act like this, and they are, oddly enough, just a few (depending on how you count few you could say one and a half) Native American languages of California. And there’s no relationship. If there’s perhaps some story about wandering Jews who wound up as hunter gatherer Indians in California, I’m not aware of it. But I think there’s no relationship, and so this kind of grammar only arose anywhere else on Earth once."

(Proto California Mormons?)

James 5:15 said...

Very interesting. Some hebraisms also appear in the testimonies of the three and eight witnesses. Examples include nouns followed by prepositional phrases instead of being preceded by adjectives ("words of soberness"). There's also the frequent use of the word "and" to begin sentences in the testimony of the three witnesses. The frequent use of 'and' was cited as a semiticism by Russel Nelson in a 1992 address. The Doctine and Covenants also contains some hebraisms. How do we explain the occurrence of hebraisms in these documents associated with or authored by Joseph Smith which do not purport to be translations of ancient Semitic texts?

The use of "and" rather than "then" is certainly interesting. However, it raises a few questions also. It's more proper to say that Hebrews used the same word "waw" to denote "and" and "then" than it is to say that Hebrews used an if--and construct. So mistranslating 'waw' as 'and' when it's supposed to mean 'then' is a strange mistake. It's the sort of thing you might expect from somebody sitting down with a Hebrew to English dictionary and selecting the wrong translation from a list of possible translations. Other possible meanings for the same word include 'for' and 'but'. Why don't we see the word 'and' substituted for 'for' and 'but' also?

Also, why wasn't the if--and conjunction used more consistently in the 1830 Book of Mormon? The 1830 Jacob 5:64 uses if--then. There are numerous other examples of normal if--then constructs in the 1830 edition. The same word 'waw' is translated as different conjunctions in the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon. Why didn't Joseph Smith replace them all with 'and'?

James 5:15 said...

And speaking of calendars in the Book of Mormon,

I always thought it interesting that the word "month" is used consistently throughout the Book of Mormon except when referring to Coriantumr's stay with the Mulekites. In that instance, time is measured by "moons." Why the difference? Well, apparently some sort of lunar calendar was used to mark Coriantumr's stay. So I presume that Book of Mormon months are used in a non lunar calendar, maybe solar. Egyptians used a solar calendar; Jews adopted a lunar calendar from the Babylonians. I don't know what pre exilic Jews would have used for a calendar. What do others think?

Robert Boylan said...

While many "Hebraisms" in the Book of Mormon (e.g., the construct state [which, like the KJV, is not always consistently "x of y" in the BOM]) can be explained plausibly through a naturalistic explanation (KJV influence), I like Bokovoy and Tvedtnes' chapter in *Testaments* that show a number of non-KJV Hebraisms and the like in the Book of Mormon (Tvedtnes has a chapter in *The Book of Mormon and the Ancient World* on this issue, I believe).

Anthony said...

If the Nephites followed the law of Moses, they would have kept a lunar calendar with intercalary months. Maybe not their only calendar, but they would have at least kept one. In order to keep Passover in the Spring, the first month would have to be in the Spring.

According to a 1991 FARMS review, the Mesoamerican harvest was in November at the end of the year and beginning of the next year. There may be some hot days in November, but New Year's Day would still be a lot cooler than the summer.

If the harvest was in the twelfth and first months, the explanation that most warfare occurred in the 11th and 2nd months because that's when farmers had the most time doesn't make much sense. The longest uninterrupted time available for fighting would include the winter following continuously with the 2nd month, which would be the time of year that food supply was highest. The 11th month would be the time of year when food supply would be near its lowest. Not a good time to equip an army and start a war, only to be interrupted by harvest. Alternatively, if the fighting took place regardless of harvest, then it doesn't make sense to attribute the monthly distribution to farmers' schedules.

Amalackiah probably wasn't expected to perform any harvest time rituals when he was bivouacked in enemy territory.

Bookslinger said...

I need to write a fan letter to Daniel Peterson. He's awesome.

Anthony said...

Yea, the theories presented in the video about the Book of Mormon calendar and the death of Amalackiah have some loose ends that need cleaning up. In 3 Nephi, the signs of the death of Jesus occur in the 1st month, which would put the 1st month in the Spring. That's consistent with keeping the Passover in the first month and in the Spring. That means that Amalackiah was killed in the Spring. (The signs of the birth of Jesus are more temporally vague, but they seem to occur around the "commencement" of the year in 3 Nephi 1.)

What goes unstated in the video but which is implicit to their argument is that the mesoamerican "secondary coronation" ceremony occurred in the Fall (see http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=3&num=1&id=54). So the text doesn't quite cohere with their theory.