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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book of Mormon Trivia: The Name Moroni and the Comoros Islands

Here's an interesting coincidence to ponder: The Book of Mormon name, Moroni, is also an Italian last name, and the name of the capital city of Comoro, a nation in the Comoros Islands. Whoa, hold on a second: Comoro?? Isn't that suspiciously close to the name Cumorah, the hill where the Nephite armies of Mormon and Moroni were defeated in the last great battle that wiped out the Nephite civilization? Moroni at Cumorah, and Moroni in the Comoros Islands. Hmmm, looks like Joseph Smith just lifted those names off the map, right? So goes an increasingly popular argument for the theory of Joseph Smith plagiarizing the Book of Mormon, or just making it up by drawing tidbits of information from all around him.

So did Joseph Smith just pull out a handy map from his vast frontier library, stick his finger into the middle of the Indian Ocean, and pluck out a couple of place names to insert into his fabled text? Or is the similarity in names just coincidence?

"The Comoros Islands and Moroni" at FAIRMormon.org examines these charges and finds them implausible. An examination of gazetteers from Joseph's era suggests that even if Joseph were looking for names from maps, he would not have found both. There is no evidence that Joseph had access to maps with the name Comora on it. But if he had access to major maps, he theoretically could have stumbled upon one source to find the name Comora, but Moroni does not show up there. This is not surprising since the tiny settlement of Moroni did not become a capital city until 1876, long after the Book of Mormon had been published. A century later, in 1958, its population was still on 6500. Not a big draw for 19th century maps, and not likely to fall into the hands of eager 19th-century plagiarists who had to open random books from their vast collections to come up with names, words, and phrases--a tedious process for a busy plagiarizer cranking out the large Book of Mormon text in about 65 days.

Coincidences happen. It's an interesting one, but too obscure and implausible to add anything to the debate over the origins of the Book of Mormon. Keep trying!

Related resource: LDSFAQ on Plagiarism in the Book of Mormon

34 comments:

Stan said...

I think we need to consider more than gazetteers as possible sources of information. A simple chance encounter with a traveler or someone who knew a traveler or an account written in a newspaper or travelogue. Information is such a squirrelly thing, it can come from anywhere and that source would appear to us as being very unlikely. Then again, it could have come from plates of gold translated by the gift and power of God. =:)

Nathan S. said...

I'd like to see a tally of of these "chance encounters" that could have porduced enough background for inclusion in the Book of Mormon. One from the Comoros Islands, one from a time machine for including information that DNA evidence now suggests, a nomadic transplant from the Middle East to tell him of obscure geography that could lead Joseph Smith to include details of travel through the wilderness before the ship was built, another time traveler to inform Joseph Smith of the ancient names of the people who had lived there, still other time travelers or unfunded archeologists to inform him of unknown ruins from which Joseph Smith could spin elaborate stories of military defenses and weaponry, genius linguists who no one has still ever heard of and of which no one yet believes could have existed to inform him of the Egyptian-based nature of the script that was being used by Native Americans at least as recently as the 1700's but which a French Catholic Priest had pretended to have invented for the purpose of preaching the gospel to them, and on and on.

It would truly be a wonder to consider all the happenstance run-ins with unheard of people, books, magazine articles, nightmeres, epileptic fits, and halucinations that some would imagine must have been the cause of him getting so many things right. And to think that Joseph Smith's The Book of Mormon is the only reasonable evidence that can be sited for the future development of time machines - unless there is a more reasonable explanation for the Book of Mormon (and I think there is)!

I'm of the mind to believe what is seen and I don't see time machines. I sometimes also believe in overwhelming proponderances of evidence.

Which would the long list of required, strange occurances for the Book of Mormon to be fiction support: time machines become real (i.e., the Book of Mormon is the one piece of evidence for time machines) or the Book of Mormon supports lots of evidence for God being involved in many events in religious history?

To future responders to this question: I am not calling my list a long list; there are many additional things belonging on a list. This list is just a beginning - a hint (a request) that a scholarly reader create a succinct one, preferably with links to preferably succinct, explanatory references.

Nice post Jeff!

Anonymous said...

So Moroni is Italian? No wonder Joseph had so much trouble with the mob. "You didn't think you was gonna keep them gold plates, did yas?"

John Jackson said...

Coincidence it may be, then.

But, can we write off the notion the names were brought from the Old World?

First, if the Book of Mormon people were not alone in the Americas, what of the other residents here? We do not know where they came from. We do not know if at some point they had interaction with Book of Mormon people, enough that the names could have been transferred.

Second, we do not know all that the Book of Mormon peoples brought with them, all the reoords. Were the Plates of Brass all that Lehi's party brought? Did the Jaradites come too anciently that they might have picked up the names on the journey after they left Jerusalem? Did the Mulekites necessarily go south, as it says "they journeyed in the wilderness"? Or, were there wilderness areas to the north they could have traveled through and could they have touched in Italy? The book of Omni does say the Mulekites brought no records with them, but if they did travel through Italy, they could have picked up the names and brought them in their memories.

Certainly, the places they traveled through would have been very impressionable to them, enough so that they well might have used names from there.

As for "Moroni" having the identical spelling, despite going from Italian to reformed Egyptian, and then into English, the spelling would have been given to Joseph Smith in the translation process. So, yes, the spelling could end up identical.

John Jackson said...

Is this a little off topic? I think to share it with you anyway. The possibility the Mulekites could have picked up the name "Moroni," and possibly "Comoros"/"Cumorah" reminded me of this. I noticed it in reading the Book of Mormon a week ago or so.

Quotes given in the infancy of a nation, such as "Give me liberty or give me death" or "Taxation without representation is tyranny" tend to be enduring.

So, what of "Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land" and "Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord"?

Search out the first time these phrases are used. It is 1 Nephi 2:20-21, where Nephi is in the wilderness and receiving a revelation from the Lord. it is at the very inception of the Nephite people.

That such a much-repeated quote follows the pattern of great quotes coming from the inception of a people is neat, to me, a fun thing to notice.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

As one of those rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-mormons of which you apologists love to refer, I'd like to weigh in on this issue. I am someone who does bring up the 'ole Comoros Islands issue on occasion. I find it very powerful and illustrative, but not for the reasons that you sited above.

My personal belief is that Joseph Smith saw the names in a book/gazetteer or someone mentioned them or something. They stuck in his head and came out at a later date, subconsciously. But, that is completely irrelevant. I agree with you that it is a very weak evidence against the Book of Mormon. There are plenty of easier ways to disprove the Book of Mormon without turning to Comoros. So that is not why I bring up these islands in religious discussions.

I bring up the issue of the islands because it demonstrates coincidence. Mormons tend to believe that coincidences only occur when giving weight to the coincidence would weaken the church's veracity. But, when giving weight to a coincidence will strengthen the church's position, it's full sail ahead. Consider the discovery of NHM in the Arabian desert. Why can that not be a coincidence in the same way that you believe Comoros to be a coincidence?

If you're willing to accept coincidences, then accept the possibility of coincidences in all cases. Don't just use it as a method for explaining away unpleasant evidence. Unfortunately, it is rare to find intellectual integrity on either side of the aisle: apologist or anti-mormon. Both sides prefer to pick and choose the evidence they want to accept and relegate the rest to the waste basket labeled "coincidence".

Anonymous said...

Most pre-Columbian peoples probably came via the Bering land bridge. Others may have arrived via trans-ocean journeys from Europe and/or Africa. I have no knowledge or even guesses about Comoros, but I think the study of pre-Columbian peoples and evidence of possible interaction with BofM peoples is an interesting field of study. We may or may not like what the evidence suggests, though.

John Jackson said...

Hebrewisms, Michael Paul, are part of what you refer to. You bring up a valid point, that we of the Church of Jesus Christ aren't prone to seeing circumstance in Hebrewisms and NHM and Tabasco, and so forth.
For me, reflecting on the possibility of things being coincidence is worthy. For me, praying about it is a way to help understand.
I read your post just as I was heading out to church, and, in the Gospel Essentials class, thought of two things I consider evidences, but that others would consider no more than coincidences.
One, Lehi's family and the Mulekites left Jerusalem at the very time of the dispersion of Israel. The revelations said the House of Israel would be scattered across the world, and being scattered so far as the Americas does qualify as part of that. Was Joseph Smith biblical scholar enough to include this just to "fulfill" prophecy? Or is it coincidence? Or is it evidence? As we continued the lesson, we discussed how the gathering of Israel in these days includes members of the church coming from various countries to the U.S., to Utah. It occurred to me most Christian denominations do not have such a heritage, an event that can be considered part of the gathering. Were Joseph Smith and Brigham Young shrewed enough to plot this into what took place? Or is it a coincidence? Or evidence?
Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, Michael Paul. May you have a good day.

rameumptom said...

Not only is it that both names do not show up on maps, but we find that the area was settled by two groups: Arabic speakers, and also sea people from the Pacific Isles. So it is possible that the names came from either group - possibly including descendants of the Nephites/Lamanites who crossed the oceans anciently.

Pops said...

As rameumpton points out, there is usually more to the story than is related by the community of detractors.

The first inhabitants of the Comoros islands were Austronesians who arrived between 100 BC and 600 BC, and well could have been descendants of Lehi. So, rather than being evidence of plagiarism on the part of Joseph Smith, it could just as easily be evidence of authenticity.

CF said...

Michael Paul Bailey:

You bring up a good point as I've seen the same thing happen on the LDS side as well. We see a match and we immediately draw conclusions for veracity of the BoM. However I have to say that recently, Mormon apologists have been doing a much better job of staying away from this pitfall. Or at the very least, they are now disclaiming that their "evidence" may be nothing more than coincidence.

You cite the recent discoveries in Saudi Arabia and Yemen (Valley of Lemuel, Nahom, and Bountiful) to back-up your example of Mormons downplaying what could be a coincidence for Book of Mormon evidence. You could be correct that this may certainly be a coincidence and nothing more, however, I have to say that the sheer number of coincidences in this example FAR outweighs the Cumorah/Comoros example and most other anti-BoM examples I've seen.

There are, "oh that could be a coincidence", and then there are, "holy crap!...that COULD maybe, possibly be a coincidence...". For Joseph Smith to get so many things to match up in the real world with the story of Nephi's journey to the sea you would have to concoct such a grand scenario of luck and happenstance that you might as well tell me that he was able to dig up a set of gold plates and translate them using the power of God. If I were not a Mormon myself, I think both stories would be equally unbelievable.

openminded said...

Nathan,
I remember not too long ago, someone suggested on this blog that a person could have sailed across the Atlantic with enough of the New Testament to influence the writings of the BoM, justifying the appearance of NT verses in the BoM.

I believe there's enough room for "chance encounters" in this in regards to Smith running into the name Comoro.

Not that I think it's believable. I just think the level of intellectual standards some arguments abide by are extremely loose, and the one made by the non-Mormon side about Comoros is loose.

I like a strong one like the one presented in the FAIR article.

MataDoor said...

Or .....
if indeed JS did indeed encounter some angelic being that threatened to kill him if he didn't comply after playing around with the occult and divination, maybe - just maybe, the name angel moroni is just a pseudonym for another ....

2 Corinthians 11:14
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Seeing as the earth is under the devil's current dominion and temporary limited control, wouldn't it be feasibly relatively simple for him to feed JS exactly this kind of information to lead away from Biblical truth and create suppositions and a search for strange 'possibilities', 'coincidences' and 'fabulously concocted explanations', just to avoid discussing plagiarism.

Nathan S said...

open-minded,
I'm not sure I saw the FAIR article. I wondered if I'd get a response to my comment. I guess my viewpoint was too subtle?

Chance encounters happen, as does being correct on accident, but for the Book of Mormon to be not historical, Joseph Smith would have had to have gotten fewer things right.

openminded said...

I think my viewpoint was too subtle on that one. It was more about weak arguments and how if some of them are acceptable, then other weak arguments like the Comoros one coming form the non-Mormon side are completely viable.

But to respond more directly to yours, Joseph Smith still gets things wrong. And the list, present and missing, of things he "got right" can still be countered by things that are physically impossible (gasping for air after being beheaded), historically viable based off very loose standards (the raft crossing the Atlantic with New Testament writings that account for their appearance in the BoM), anachronistic (chains, for one), plagiarism (at the very least, the NT verses in pre-NT times in the BoM), horses (if you don't buy into the anachronism slant, the book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" paints out how horses would've had a significantly greater impact on Mesoamerican society), and so on and metallurgy and so on.

Bottom line is, although he got some things right, he got more than a few things critically wrong.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

CF, Nathan S...

I respectfully disagree with the claim that Joseph Smith got so many things right that it goes beyond coincidence. As pointed out by open-minded, there is a huge amount of things that he gets completely, 100% dead wrong. And the list of things that he gets right is actually quite small, and most of it dependent upon small, isolated archeological finds. In other words, you don't find massive, pervasive evidences in MesoAmerican archeology, you find isolated things like Stela 5.

It is also significant to examine other stories and consider the numerous things that they get right, even when we know they are false. Many of the things that Joseph Smith got "right" about the Americas can also be found in Ethan Smith's works. And yet, we are OK with dismissing Ethan as fiction but extol Joseph's great seer abilities.

Obviously, you will disagree with me, but that's fine. We can disagree and still get along.

John Jackson said...

John Michael, you are cool, that we should be able to disagree and still get along. We look at it from different perspectives and one thinks there are too many coincidences to call them coincidences and the other does not.

I have often been amazed with how many "coincidences" their are in the Bible, coinciding with the Church. There are the doctrinal samenesses, such as baptism for the dead, and there are revelations that coincidentally fit what happened with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. Is there any other Church that has so many coincidences, things that fit it and it alone so well? The Church of Jesus Christ has Genesis 49, Isaiah 29, Ezekial 37, Revelations 14, to mention a few.

I think of the prophecies of Joseph Smith, fulfilled, such as the war between the southern and northern states commencing at South Carolina, Stephen Douglas seeking the White House, and so forth.

Those of us who are looking, can even see "coincidences" in the life of President Monson, his promising the saints in Germany they would have all the blessings of the gospel when the Iron Curtain was up, his looking into a Conference audience in 1975 and seeing a young girl, and abandoning his prepared talk to speak his words to her, then learning afterward she had been wondering if she should join the church and had come to Conference in hopes of having that question answered.

You have a good day, John Michael.

John Jackson said...

Aye, it's Michael Paul, not John Michael. Forgive me. I thought more as I was off and about, and thought of more coincidences, both for and against. Then, I thought of the value of just reading the Book of Mormon, to me, anyway. I thought of my current jaunt through the book, which so far has been the most enjoyable I have had. I thought of this morning, seeing an email from my brother asking about my Book of Mormon reading, and in excitement I putting aside what I was doing to email him back. For those want and will, there are some neat things awaiting within those pages.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

John Jackson,

Firstly, thank you for your kind words. There are a few problems with what you outline above. The first problem stems from selection bias. If you only consider those prophecies, scriptures, and events which coincide with the desired outcome, then of course you will end up with a pretty clearly positive view. But one must consider all of the data points, not just those which verify the desired result.

For example, you point out JS's prophecy about the Civil War, but fail to mention the second half of the prophecy which he gets dead wrong. You also fail to consider any of the myriad of prophecies which he got horribly wrong. If you only consider the prophecies which he got right, ex-post facto, then of course he looks like a prophet.

What makes this selection bias possible is simply probability. Imagine I handed you jar of 100 jelly beans: 99 blue, 1 red. I ask you to reach inside. It's pretty unlikely that you will pull out the red one. Now imagine that I have you do this 50 times. The odds shift. It now becomes much more likely for you to eventually pull out the red bean.

So, if you make enough prophecies (as JS did), you will eventually make contact with a few of them. And, if you make them general enough, you can often time score a point without much effort.

As for the scriptural coincidences, these should not be too surprising. Sydney Rigdon was a biblical scholar and was actively trying to return to an earlier form of Christianity (i.e. communism, ordinances, etc) long before Joseph. So should we be surprised that they found scriptures and modeled practices after those scriptures?

If you're going to be truly intellectually honest, you need to really consider all angles of these issues. And, in considering all angles, you should not be doing so for the simple purpose of disproving so-called anti-mormons.

John J. said...

Guess, my friend Michael Paul, we both have eyed up the coincidences and we just coincidentally don't coincide on how we feel about them, which is fine. Thanks for the exchanges, though. I have thought lots on the things considered coincidences, both those for and against the Church.

openminded said...

Coincidences are pretty universal, from what I've read. They're commonly associated with making a religious decision beforehand.

What always got me was how this is true for every religion.

It also reinforces the person's belief in their own religion; it used to really frustrate me to hear vast amounts of logical fallacies backed up by how one person experienced something positive after doing something for their faith.

I really think schools need to do a better job at teaching critical thinking.

Nathan S. said...

Openminded, Michael Paul, imagine strings strung between two sticks. One stick is labelled "error" and the other(coincidentally?) "correct." The beads on the "error" end of the strings and the beads on the "correct" end are put in their respective positions by perception. As new evidence arrives, a drift in one or the other direction is observed. If the drift continues, they will eventually all be at the same end. Which which end it be?

I see a migration towards the "correct" end of the string. If that threatens you, perhaps you feel motivated to disbelieve in Jesus Christ. It is he of whom the Book of Mormon testifies. And it is he whose doctrines of salvation centers on himself.

Imagine for a moment believing that the night before his crucifiction, Jesus Christ voluntarily survived more suffering than any mortal could survive. Imagine believing his motive was love. Imagine believing that Jesus loves you that much, that he created the world for you and suffered in it more than you could suffer, all for you. Imagine believing that he did it to prove his love so fully that if you gave it due consideration, you could believe that his motives are loving ones; his commands, loving commands; his sacrifices, proof that he would never ask you to do something that he was not willing to do something harder than, for you.

Imagine believing that Jesus is God, Creator, posessor of supreme intelligence, a knower and understander of knowledge and understanding far beyond your own; that he is posessed of a greater love for you than you have ever posess, either for yourself or for anyone else.

If that is too scary, too painful, or too annoying, continuing to place the Book of Mormon's beads in the "error" camp will be a great temptation or compulsion but if you were to withhold that judgment, eventually your fear, pain, and or annoyance, would give way to joy. It sometimes takes honest courage but over a period of minutes, days, months or years, you can do it. And it will be worth it.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

Nathan S,

I grow weary of the image that believers hold in their minds of non-believers. Why can't you accept that some of us have prayed and studied and inquired of God, yet come to a different conclusion?

The thought of believing in Christ does not frighten me nor pain me, not one bit. For years I struggled and fought to believe. I wasn't struggling through sin, I was struggling through doubt. The evidences of my eyes, the evidence that surrounded me on a daily basis testified to my mind and my heart that God did not and does not exist.

And yet for years I tried so very hard to believe. You were not there to witness the nights in desperate prayer. You were not there for the hours and hours of weeping for the loss of my faith. You were not there as I tried everything in my power to hold back the waves of doubt and disbelief as they threatened to engulf me.

No, it is not "too scary" for me to believe in Jesus. Quite the opposite, it used to terrify me to not believe. If the church were true, I would gladly follow it. Honestly, my life as a non-believer is not all that different from that of a believer. Parenthetically, I've even had people tell me that I follow the commandments better as a non-believing atheist than most Mormons do as believers.

In conclusion, please don't accuse me of being too afraid of believing. I've testified of Christ. I've walked in your shoes. But you've never walked in mine. Don't even begin to try to tell me what I am afraid of.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

An addendum to the previous comment. In case anyone is worried, I am doing much better now. While the loss of faith can be an extremely painful experience, life is wonderful on the other side.

John Jackson said...

"No, it is not 'too scary' for me to believe in Jesus." Ahh, my friend MPB, your comment comes on Halloween. Coincidence.

Anyway, I am touched by your comments. Know that. For while I look at everything and see a world with God, I know another person might look and not see God.

The biggest witness of Christianity, and of God, that I see, is the return of the Jews to the Israel. To me, it is undeniable. Was it 1948 that they were vast underdogs, facing not just one nation, but the strength of many, and yet they won their war of independence? That was almost in our lifetimes. I think of the scripture (Jeremiah 23:7-8) indicating the day would come that people would no longer look at the great miracle of Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea as a sure witness that God lives, but rather they would look at God's leading these nations back to Jerusalem as a sure witness God lives. A number of years ago, I remember reflecting on the return of the Jews, and their establishing a nation there against such odds and I was overwhelmed with how strong of an evidence it is, and I thought, God, this is cheating my faith, to have such strong evidence leaves no room for faith. To deny this would be like denying there is a sun after seeing the sun at noon day.

The Jews were scattered throughout the world, and persecuted, just as the Old Testament promised. The scattering and persecution continued even as the prophecies were before the eyes of the world in the Bible.

The odds on them gathering back to Israel, what would they be? And, faced with so much opposition, what would the odds be that they would succeed, even if they did try?

What would the odds be that two of the nations we most commonly associate with having queens and kings -- England and France -- would, as prophesied, become their nursing parents?

Michael Paul, there are coincidences, but this one goes beyond that. Every point and every word has been fulfilled. The Bible said Jerusalem would become a land sparse of people, and decayed, and it happened. It said they would return to make the deseret blossom, and it happened. It says they would face a hand stronger than them (the league of Arab nations), and it happened. Nor are those the only revelations matching what happened.

Coincidences can be coincidences, but such a wave of "coincidences" crushes the notion these were coincidences.

John Jackson said...

"No, it is not 'too scary' for me to believe in Jesus." Ahh, my friend MPB, your comment comes on Halloween. Coincidence.

Anyway, I am touched by your comments. Know that. For while I look at everything and see a world with God, I know another person might look and not see God.

The biggest witness of Christianity, and of God, that I see, is the return of the Jews to the Israel. To me, it is undeniable. Was it 1948 that they were vast underdogs, facing not just one nation, but the strength of many, and yet they won their war of independence? That was almost in our lifetimes. I think of the scripture (Jeremiah 23:7-8) indicating the day would come that people would no longer look at the great miracle of Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea as a sure witness that God lives, but rather they would look at God's leading these nations back to Jerusalem as a sure witness God lives. A number of years ago, I remember reflecting on the return of the Jews, and their establishing a nation there against such odds and I was overwhelmed with how strong of an evidence it is, and I thought, God, this is cheating my faith, to have such strong evidence leaves no room for faith. To deny this would be like denying there is a sun after seeing the sun at noon day.

The Jews were scattered throughout the world, and persecuted, just as the Old Testament promised. The scattering and persecution continued even as the prophecies were before the eyes of the world in the Bible.

The odds on them gathering back to Israel, what would they be? And, faced with so much opposition, what would the odds be that they would succeed, even if they did try?

What would the odds be that two of the nations we most commonly associate with having queens and kings -- England and France -- would, as prophesied, become their nursing parents?

Michael Paul, there are coincidences, but this one goes beyond that. Every point and every word has been fulfilled. The Bible said Jerusalem would become a land sparse of people, and decayed, and it happened. It said they would return to make the deseret blossom, and it happened. It says they would face a hand stronger than them (the league of Arab nations), and it happened. Nor are those the only revelations matching what happened.

Coincidences can be coincidences, but such a wave of "coincidences" crushes the notion these were coincidences.

John Jackson said...

"No, it is not 'too scary' for me to believe in Jesus." Ahh, my friend MPB, your comment comes on Halloween. Coincidence.

Anyway, I am touched by your comments. Know that. For while I look at everything and see a world with God, I know another person might look and not see God.

The biggest witness of Christianity, and of God, that I see, is the return of the Jews to the Israel. To me, it is undeniable. Was it 1948 that they were vast underdogs, facing not just one nation, but the strength of many, and yet they won their war of independence? That was almost in our lifetimes. I think of the scripture (Jeremiah 23:7-8) indicating the day would come that people would no longer look at the great miracle of Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea as a sure witness that God lives, but rather they would look at God's leading these nations back to Jerusalem as a sure witness God lives. A number of years ago, I remember reflecting on the return of the Jews, and their establishing a nation there against such odds and I was overwhelmed with how strong of an evidence it is, and I thought, God, this is cheating my faith, to have such strong evidence leaves no room for faith. To deny this would be like denying there is a sun after seeing the sun at noon day.

The Jews were scattered throughout the world, and persecuted, just as the Old Testament promised. The scattering and persecution continued even as the prophecies were before the eyes of the world in the Bible.

The odds on them gathering back to Israel, what would they be? And, faced with so much opposition, what would the odds be that they would succeed, even if they did try?

What would the odds be that two of the nations we most commonly associate with having queens and kings -- England and France -- would, as prophesied, become their nursing parents?

Michael Paul, there are coincidences, but this one goes beyond that. Every point and every word has been fulfilled. The Bible said Jerusalem would become a land sparse of people, and decayed, and it happened. It said they would return to make the deseret blossom, and it happened. It says they would face a hand stronger than them (the league of Arab nations), and it happened. Nor are those the only revelations matching what happened.

Coincidences can be coincidences, but such a wave of "coincidences" crushes the notion these were coincidences.

Michael Paul Bailey said...

I don't see the return of the Jews to Israel as a coincidence either. I see it has having been orchestrated by people who had a vested interest in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. You do realize that the people who drew the lines on the map for the state of Israel were Christians who had access to the biblical prophecies right? You do see how they would do what they could to make these prophecies come true, don't you?

I acknowledge that you have a different view of events than I. You see this as a fulfillment of prophecy. And that's fine. I personally see it as a self-fulfillment of prophecy. Regardless, neither of us see it has a coincidence. So it has little relevance to the conversation at hand.

By way of illustration, this reminds me of a conversation I had on my mission. We were teaching a woman when she claimed that her pastor was a prophet. We asked what prophecies he had revealed. She spoke of how he had prophesied that her first-born would be named "Juan". And sure enough, her first-born was named "Juan", named by her of course. She saw this as a great sign of her pastor's prophetic power. My companion saw it as a great sign of her ability to subconsciously follow orders.

openminded said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't those prophecies located in the OT? If so that's a plus for Judaism, not Christianity. Or in a broader sense, that's a plus for the Bible. Though really, with very many books with even more authors than books, that's a plus for whoever wrote that particular prophecy; or at least, if MPB's very plausible take on the matter isn't what happened, then it's a plus for that particular writer.

And MPB, I'm glad you're doing better after your loss.
My experience was much more incremental, I wouldn't say I've completely lost faith right now. But exploring Mormonism and then my own faith have definitely led me to be more critical of what people have said. For instance, remember the book in the bible that excused the delay of the coming of Christ by saying a day could be 1,000 years to God? After examining the arguments from both sides of the Mormonism debate, that entire book looked like the worst apologetic I'd ever seen. It was pretty shocking to me. I don't think scholars attribute that book to Paul (even though the author mentioned something about scripture? It's been a while since Ive read into this).

John Jackson said...

May both of you have good days, Michael Paul and openminded.

I, also, considered whether what is happening, and what has happened in Israel, could be self-fulfilled. This would mean the prophecies all went out, were written in the Old Testament, and would not have been fulfilled unless someone stepped forth and made them fulfilled.

The writers of those prophecies were very fortunate that someone did step in, then, lest their predictions were all wasted.

But more so than on that, I think on whether someone would have been able to step in and do it, even whether we, collectively as Christians and Jews could have made these arrangements.

The prophecy that Jerusalem would become desolate, could someone have arranged that? It was down to about 4,000 households at one time, I believe, and was a parched, undesireable land. Did they all move out just just to fulfill prophecy? Many of them who abandoned Jerusalem were not even believers. When the Jews came back, though, it was not as if they were just handed the land, just walked in and had it for their own. The Arab nations have moved in, and were much more powerful than Israel. In order to arrange the fulfillment of prophecy, you would have to overcome an advesary more powerful than yourself. Usually, overcoming a more powerful foe is not something one can arrange. In this case, though, you needed the more powerful foe to arise, for that, too, was part of the prophecy. Could you arrange to have a more powerful foe oppose you, and then arrange to defeat them?

Going back to the dispersion, could you arrange for your people to be dispersed through all the world, not just to one or two spots, but throughout the world? Then, when they gathered back, they came not just from one or two spots, but literally from all the various spots. That would take quite a fortunate thing, if it were being arranged, to convince all the different parts of the world to return. The temple was destroyed, just as prophecied (New Testament on that one, Luke 21:6). Could you arrange to have an enemy rise up and do that, for it was not the Jews themselves who destroyed it? You would also have to arrange for nations to be your nursing fathers and nursing mothers. Perhaps, they being Christian nations, they would quickly be willing, but still it is part of what had to happen in order for the prophecies to all be fulfilled.

Michael Paul, there are other prophecies. If you are of a studious mind, search the scriptures, write them down one after another, and consider what it would take for the fulfillment of each one to have been arranged. Do this if you will, if you want.

openminded: I am not placing what you are referring to about a book saying one day is as a thousand years, but it seems I ran across the passage that says that just this past week. Is it the scripture in Mark that rubs you wrong? Mark 9:1, saying, "There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till hey have seen the kingdom of God come with power"? I do not know how that is being fulfilled, whether it is the apostle John, alone, who is still around, or whether are were others. The Lord could have arranged for others, but the possibility of that happening does not mean that is how God is having it fulfilled. We do not know that. There is a similar prophecy in the Doctrine and Covenants, and perhaps it is that that bothers you. It is the same there. We do not know how it is being fulfilled. Did the Lord quicken a few souls and they are still living? We do not know. It does not bother me that the Lord gave either prophecy, for I know He will see it is fulfilled, even though He is not telling you and I how it will be done.

Clifford said...

Getting back to the OP ... The name Moroni is probably of Jaredite, not Nephite origin. Based on the Jaredite Moron. Which sounds chuckle-worthy until you realize transliterated words don't mean the same things in different languages. And Moron shows up in secular history as a very old place name in Spain, either Celtic or Phoenician ... as I have recently learned from a very obscure old book.

John Jackson said...

Thought of this thread this week, as in it we discussed coincidence so much, and I had a rather substantial coincidence occur . . . regarding nothing less than Moroni and the Comoros Islands.

While at Seagull Book Thursday, I ran into a lady who told me about the Phoenician Ship Expedition, which retraced a ship voyage by the Phoenicians around Africa that was to have taken place about 600 B.C.

In the reinactment in 2008-2010, the ship stopped at the Comoros islands, which is off the east coast of Africa, then the ship rounded the southern tip of Africa and headed north, winds pushing the ship enough off course that it was closer to America than to Africa. (I understand it came within a few hundred miles of America.)

Well, the next day I was considering this as I walked into a bank, thinking about Moroni and Comoros and the Phoenician Ship Expedition of 2008-2010.

And, sitting on a table was a Seabee magazine. And on the cover of the magazine was a map -- with Moroni and Comoros on it. (The Seabees had helped a school there, or built a school, and the magazine covered that.)

It is quite a coincidence I was thinking of Moroni and Comoros at the moment I randomly ran into mention of them in a magazine. Moroni and Comoros are so obscure, that the also-obscure Seabees magazine has to be one of the few publications to have ever mentioned them.

John Jackson said...

. . . The ship finished its trip around Africa Oct. 23, 2010, which would be while comments were being added to this thread.

Anonymous said...

for those who just want to talk and say alllll these "could it be" comments..really..? there are many possibilities folks..but they are all your way of creating contention and trying to debate..aand thats fine...but..i have traveled around the mayan ruins and seen from none mormons a true depiction of things that are written in the BOM. how could Joseph Smith know all these things..if the ruins werent even discovered then...lets talk about the facts that are on the table not the could it be, what if..things. that have no weight what so ever..i am a convert to the LDS church..and i converted because of the facts. that i myself went and looked for these things and see if it was true. Not only that i grew up in Central America so i can tell you of many encryptions on pyramids that you wont find in the baptist anti mormon books and courses. look at what happened when the catholic church took away knowledge to the common folk...it was corrupted and many dark things happened. How many bad things have happened from the LDS church..from the church leaders themseleves...im no talking about members...members are just normal sinners...and make mistakes...im talking about prophets and apostoles...pure love my friends..love for the people that even hate us. how so? if not only through what Christ has commanded us..love one another.