Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Cape, Once Again

It is amazing how often historians and scholars insist on getting it wrong when dealing with taking a route around Africa and heading up the Atlantic coast for a sailing ship in 600 BC. The history of the Portuguese, the first to round that cape of South Africa in the late 15th century, and open up a route from Portugal to India, is much longer and far more difficult and dangerous than we read in history books or were taught by teachers and professors, or see in brief articles on the internet.

The overland trail for the Arabs to bring spices to the European markets

In order to understand this sea route, we need to understand the history and value of the trade network involved. First of all, the Portuguese were after spices from their trade network, but the spices were very expensive and were inconvenient, time-consuming and dangerous to obtain for they had to travel overland from Europe to India and back. At the time, Portugal and other European nations already had long-established trade ties to the Arabs of Asia, but the arduous overland route had been closed in the 1450s due to the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of the remnants of the Byzantine Empire.

Portugal’s King João II, known as King John II, and his predecessors had obtained navigational intelligence, including a 1460 map from Venice that showed the Indian Ocean on the other side of Africa. As a result, King John II, painstakingly worked out a maritime route around Africa and intended for Stephen da Gama, of a noble family, to head the armada.

However, by the time the plan was implemented, both King John and Stephen da Gama had died. King John’s successor, King Manuel, chose Stephen da Gama’s son, Vasco da Gama, as the leader of the expedition. They were to explore the coast of Africa to see if India was navigable via around the cape, and through the Indian Ocean.

Bartolomeu Dias was appointed by King John in October 1486, a Portuguese mariner and explorer, he was probably in his mid to late thirties. He was appointed to head an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa, and helped in the construction of the Sao Gabriel and its sister ship, the Sao Rafael that were used by Vasco da Gama who later sailed past the Cape of Good Hope and continued on toward India.

Prior to this time, many Portuguese mariners had tried to reach the Cape and failed, either from turning back, believing the plan was impossible because of encountering difficult waters, or because of shipwreck and never returning.

This area around the African Cape, called the “Graveyard of Ships,” is the final resting place of 3,000 sailing ships that were sunk attempting to round the tip of Africa, as well as more modern shipwrecks that have been victims of the extensive, terrible storms, violent, turbulent waters and notoriously treacherous gale force winds. The coast around the Cape is rugged and rocky though spectacularly beautiful—although the mariners wrecked there probably did not see that beauty.

Calm waters one moment, turbulence and storms the next

The waters at times may look calm, but don’t be fooled; this is one of the world’s most dangerous coastal stretches for ships—as indicated by the broken relics that litter the shoreline or lie beneath the waves. Dating back to early Portuguese sailing, numerous wrecks from storms and rough waters have contributed to the thousands of sunken ships lying on the bottom. Thus the “Graveyard of ships” is an apt name for the the Cape of Good Hope for this coastal line is marred by so many sunken ships and the many that went to the bottom of the sea.

In August 1487, Bartholemeu Dias’ trio of ships departed from the port of Lisbon, Portugal. Dias followed the route of 15th-century Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão, who was one of the most notable navigators of the Age of Discovery and sailed along the West Coast of Africa and reached Cape Cross 1110 miles north of the African cape.. Sailing along the west coast, he discovered and explored the Congo River inland, as well as the coasts of present-day Angola and Namibia.

Yellow line: Dias’ Course; Yellow Dotted Line: Dias’ Planned Course; White Dotted Line: Storm Dias encountered that blew him off course (Red Lie) to the south where he hit the Southern Ocean and was blown East before turning north back toward his planned course

The first sighting of the Cape by Dias occurred in 1488, when he became the first mariner to reach the cape he called the Cape of Storms, believing it to be the tip of Africa. Though he was the first Portuguese to reach that cape, he could press no further toward India because of the fierce storms that drove his fleet far to the south. It was here that he made his way to open waters away from the coast and sailed there for several days. Having lost sight of land, he unknowingly picked up the Southern Ocean and was blown eastward for several days, fearful of his ships being dashed on the notoriously rocky shoreline.

It was a risky decision, but it worked. He finally turned northward and the crew spotted landfall on February 3, 1488, about 300 miles east of present-day Cape of Good Hope—it was a bay they called São Bras (present-day Mossel Bay) and the much warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. While in the Southern Ocean, he had passed Africa’s southern tip without knowing it.

Dias continued sailing on and reached the farthest point of his journey when they landed at Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, 425 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope. They erected a large stone cross and claimed the land for Portugal, and Dias, though determined to make his way to India, was pressed by his tired crew who were running low on supplies and refused to go farther, to turn around and head for home. Dias had no choice but to head back for Portugal.

On the journey back, Dias observed the southernmost point of Africa, later called Cabo das Agulhas, or Cape of Needles. It was on this return, that he was met once again with tempestuous storms and strong Atlantic-Antarctic currents that made ship travel so perilous. He encountered turbulent waters and his ship was almost wrecked on the waters that he named the area “Cape of Storms” (Cabo das Tormentas).

Southern most point of South Africa as Cape Agulhas

However, this point reached by Dias, was not the southernmost tip of Africa—in fact, it’s Cape Agulhas, which is 96 miles southeast of the Cape of Good Hope. In any event, it was a few years later, in 1497, that Vasco da Gama sailed out of Lisbon and into the history books as the first European ever to travel by sea to India.

The Cape of Storms was later renamed, by King John II of Portugal, the Cape of Good Hope because of the great optimism engendered by the opening of a sea route to India and the East. A major maritime victory for Portugal, Dias’ breakthrough and da Gama’s success opened the door to increased trade with India and other Asian powers. It also prompted Genoan explorer Christopher Columbus, then living in Portugal, to seek a new royal patron for a mission to establish his own sea route to the Far East.

Following this voyage, king Manuel I ordered Dias to serve as a shipbuilding consultant for the expedition of Vasco da Gama, sailing with da Gama’s expedition. His ships reached their goal of India in May 1498, nearly a decade after Dias’ historic trip around the tip of Africa. Afterward, Manuel sent out a massive fleet to India under Pedro Álvares Cabral, and Dias captained four of the ships. They reached Brazil in March 1500, then headed across the Atlantic toward South Africa and, further ahead, the Indian subcontinent. At the feared Cabo das Tormentas, severe storms struck the fleet of 13 ships. Four of the ships were wrecked, including Dias’vessel, with Dias and all the crew lost at sea on May 29, 1500, off the Cape of Good Hope.

There can be no question that the experience of ancient mariners around the southern tip of Africa, sailing in either direction, has been fraught with extreme dangers, turbulent winds, and tempestuous storms. The 3,000 ships that have been wrecked and sunk rounding this Cape of Good Hope is legend, and before steam powered ships, one so dangerous early mariners were reluctant to sail those waters.

A diagram of the severe turbulent waters around the Cape of Africa which causes raging currents that coupled with tempest storms has caused thousands of shipwrecks here

In fact, the waters near the Cape, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, can be treacherous for ships. The warm Agulhas current from the east runs into the cold Benguela current from the northwest, creating dangerous waves that have caused many shipwrecks. This makes the Cape of Agulhas on the coast of South Africa, just east of the Cape of Good Hope, along which the Agulhas Current flows, the most dangerous waters in the world to sail, and form a natural boundary.

Thus the division of waters here is not an arbitrary borderline between ocean currents, but one that represents the natural flow of these waters, where the cold water Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean meets the warm-water Agulhas current of the Indian Ocean and turns back on itself in what is called retroflection, against a counter-current in a recirculation region along with Agulhas Rings, and flows back into the Indian Ocean, causing extremely turbulent waters.

It would seem strange that the Lord would send Lehi into that cauldron of waters with not a single bit of experience in his crew at sailing whatsoever, when other, less dangerous routes were available. In fact, it would be most foolish thing in the world for a non-mariner to have attempted in a wooden ship with fixed sails “driven forth before the wind.” No amount of instruction can compensate for experience in the face of immediate threat and extreme danger as would be encountered along this route.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

More Comments from Readers – Part X

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
Comment #1: “Two things about the Nephites in North America based on the walls built by the
Nephites. First of all, there is no reason why timber palisades cannot "tremble" or have some depth with a platform at the top for standing. The Book of Mormon indicates both stone and timber fortifications. Consider Alma 48:1, Alma 50:2 and 53:1. Secondly, Moroni had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies.
Thirdly, Moroni built walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land. Second, he also built walls of timber. As he stated: “upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high.” Jay M.
Walls of stone built by Moroni around cities and all the land round about


Response: First, let’s dispel the idea of platforms behind the walls for defenders to stand upon. The only reason such platforms were built was during the gunpowder period where riflemen stood on the platforms protected by the walls and shot at the enemy. In the age of swords and slings, having a platform behind the wall would be completely useless and obviously, would not serve any purpose.

Second, let’s take a look at the actual scriptural references:) “The earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison did shake as if they were about to tumble to the earth” (Helaman 5:27), and also, “And the walls of the prison trembled again, as if it were about to tumble to the earth” (Helaman 5:31). Also, “And it came to pass that the earth shook again, and the walls trembled” (Helaman 5:32). Finally, “and the walls did tremble again, and the earth shook as if it were about to divide asunder” (Helaman 5:33). And when a fire broke out in the prison, “it did not take hold upon the walls of the prison” (Helaman 5:44);

Stone, of course, does not burn but wood does. In addition, stone walls tremble and tumble to the earth, but wood just falls.

A breastwork of timbers built upon the piled high dirt which had been thrown up, and the depth of the ditch which had been dug round about


2) We find that Moroni states that these forts were “places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies.” Note that he states “banks of earth to enclose his armies,” not to enclose cities. On the other hand, Moroni states that “and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands” means the Nephites built stone walls around their cities and all around the land.

In addition, the Nephites built a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and built a wall of timbers on top of piled high dirt. As Mormon states: “Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful.

Irrigation channels not heaps of earth for defensive walls as North American theorists claim. If the latter, they would have to be much deeper and the banks much higher to match the scriptural record


They cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height” (Alma 53:3-4, emphasis added).

It might be of interest to know that the word “breastwork” is defined as “a low temporary defense or parapet. Note the word “low,” not high. Noah Webster defined the word as meaning in 1928 as “breast high” or “built to the breast.”

Now the definition of timber is given by Noah Webster in his 1828 dictionary as “The body or stem of a tree.” Also, “We apply the word to standing trees which are suitable for“ building.

3) Stone tumbles to the ground, massive stone walls would shake and tremble as a result of the movement of the earth before tumbling to the ground. In Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary we find the meaning of tremble: To cause to move with quick vibrations; to move rapidly one way and the other; to agitate; as, the wind shakes a tree; A trembling or shivering; agitation—all of this sounds like a wood wall, not a wood palisade wall; however, to fall; to come down suddenly and violently; as, to tumble from a scaffold. The stone of Sisyphus is said to have tumbled to the bottom, as soon as it was carried up the hill, all sounds like a stone wall.

Timber walls were typically cut to points at the top to discourage an enemy from climbing over.  However, the scriptural references quoted show that Mormon was referring to a stone wall made of cut stone blocks that would withstand the attacks of extremely large forces fighting with swords and stones. A wood timber fence is rarely high enough to keep an enemy from climbing over it. Such timber walls were evident during the expansion in the 1800s of the Western U.S. Most of those walls were scaled by attacking Indians when they were guarded by rifles and pistols.

Lastly, Mormon tells us that Samuel the Lamanite after being rejected, he was leaving the area when the Lord told him to return. Since he was not welcome in the city, and the people ”would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart” (Helaman 13:4).

The type of all built anciently with timbers as described in the scriptural record


One look tells anyone that nobody could stand on these timber walls. They just do not match the scriptural record. On the other hand, a wall of stone would be much easier to stand upon for a length of time like Samuel the Lamanite spent on the wall preaching to the Nephites.

When Samuel the Lamanite stood upon the wall, it would have had to have been solid enough to carry his weight and balance, and tall enough to keep the inhabitants from reaching up to him


Comment #2: The Phoenicians, the Iberians, and the Semitic people were the players. The Iberians first who used and hunted the mammoths as the Indians have said who were a white race. The Iberians came in after the Phoenicians civil war to Idaho and where the Semitic People known as the Nephites joined them. Their fist location was Florida, and when the family separated, they moved to Tennessee, and a Egyptian style temple was found. It was during the time in Tennessee when a pacific trade route was formed bring over the Mongol Lap Landers, who didn't bring Reindeer with them, and instead turned the land into the plains and used buffalo instead. They were pushed to the north among the white Lap Landers, and all these people moved here because of wars. The Romans had a big part in all that, and also the Indians say they came over on a ship. The Nephites were chase up into New York and they rebuilt there, but kept getting attacked until they were wiped out by all of the Indians. The Lap landers couldn't take land where they were pushed to from the white populations there, but they did here. The Indians admit they did that, they knew where they lived.

Response:: First of all, the Phoenicians were never involved in a “civil war.” When Hannibal (a Carthaginian, who were Phoenicians), set out to invade Italy from Carthage (what is today Tunis in Tunisia), and crossed over the Mediterranean into Iberia (today’s Spain), either with his elephants, or had Carthaginian elephants already in Spain, he reached the Rhône River in France. After marching about 750 miles in four months from Cartagena (Spanish port), Hannibal’s army was in need of rest and supplies. There he encountered two princes who were warring with each other (a civil war). The prince Brancus of Allobroges, oldest of the two brothers, when vindicated by Hannibal in arbitration of the conflicting claims, provided Hannibal’s army a fresh outfit of arms, clothes and boots, and were led over the Alps by Brances’ adherents.

Secondly, there is no record of any Iberians involved in the Americas. Iberian, by the way, is a term given to the ancient inhabitants along the east and south coasts whom the Greeks and Romans called Iberians (known today as Spain and Portugal). In 800 to 600 BC, when the Celts migrated southward, they entered the Iberian Peninsula, but did not displace those in the east and south. Thus Galicia and a coastal slice on the east and south, remained Iberians while the Celts became the Spanish and Portuguese. Today, no separation is identified. However, at the time of Columbus and afterward, there were no “Iberians” in Spain, but Spanish and Portuguese. Writing alphabets from Phoenicia and later Greek completely displaced all Iberian writing, and by around 300 or 200 BC, the term Iberian was no longer used.

In reality, since Castillian law forbade anyone not Castillian and Catholic to settle in the New World, those who came became Castillian and Catholic. Thus, those from other lands changed their name to a Spanish name—as an example, George von Speyer became Jorge de la Espira, and Portuguese Aleixo Garcia became Alejo García in the Castilian army, and non-Catholic adventurers converted to catholicism in order to be part of the settlement of the New World.

The idea that Iberians or any Europeans ended up in Idaho, involved with Lap Landers, etc., is far too wild an idea to deserve a response. If you want to make such claims, give specific information, its source, and where it can be found.

Monday, August 10, 2020

More Comments from Readers – Part IX

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
Comment #1: “Mormon uses the term ‘resort’ and defines it as a small fort. What is the different between the regular Nephi fortresses, such as Kuelap, and a resort?” Carline K.
Response: Mormon’s exact wordage is, “and erecting small forts, or places of resort” (Alma 48:8). Obviously, then, there is a difference between a fortress—forts for security (Alma 49:13), “fortifications” (Alma 48:9)—and a resort. In the military, one learns there is little value in a small fort in terms of defense; they usually serve as a temporary place for refitting and resupply, a secret hideaway where a short respite could be obtained, and a last-ditch defensive position, albeit short-lived.
Resorts = Small, lookout forts meant to spot the enemy and overlook passes and paths, trails, or roads where enemy troops move 

Most small forts, on the other hand, are used for out-of-the-way hidden lookout posts where initial warnings could be given of an advancing army or enemy force approaching. In a land like Andean Peru, such lookout areas, lightly fortified and used simply to overlook distant canyons, gorges, rivers, valleys, etc., resorts or small lookout forts would be ideally located
Comment #2: “Why don’t your angels have wings?” Wilma G.
Response: First of all, the wings associated with angels in the Biblical passages, such as found in Revelations, was a Hebrew idiom referring to “power,” although you will find some who think it meant “truth.” In Psalms 17:8; 57:1; 63:7, it refers to God’s wings. i.e., “in the shadow of your wings”; and in Psalms 91:1,4, it is explained as “the shadow of the Almighty” and “under his wings you may seek refuge.” In all of this the “power” of God is being manifest to “cast shadows of protection,” and provide refuge, or security, etc. Thus, the wings given to angels by early painters demonstrated their power in acting or representing God (as an example, how else would you draw or paint an angel unless you showed them with wings—but it is strictly an artistic use).
   Thus, ancient artist and painters needed a sure-fire way to depict the difference.
   They were never meant to be physical parts of bodies (HC 3:392), especially since angels are often human messengers, as an example, a person who is a divine messenger is called an angel, thus Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, and Elias all ministered as angels (D&C 132:16-18), after departing this Earth.
An angel is a man made perfect or a translated man

Angels are also messengers of the Lord and are spoken of in the espistle to the Hebrews as “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14), of which there are two types: 1) those who are spirits who either have not yet obtained a body of flesh and bone (unembodied) or who have once had a mortal body and have died and are awaiting the Resurrection (disembodied); and 2) those who have bodies of flesh and bone who have been either resurrected from the dead (reembodied), or else translated, as were Enoch, Elijah, etc. (D&C 129). In the Church, the term archangel, as used in the Bible (1 Thessolonians 4:16; Jude 1:9), is in reference to Michael, designates an angel with great power, or a chief angel, holding a position of priesthood authority in the heavenly hierarchy, and the only one precisely so designated.
Comment #3 “In a Sunday School class the “Three Act Play” paradigm was used to explain that being members of the church and Americans we obviously were more valiant in the pre-mortal life. However, Abraham 3 says that, “God saw these souls that they were good,” but it doesn’t say what made them good. As Mormons, we like to think they were good because they worked hard and made good choices, but the scripture doesn’t say that. In Genesis God says everything created is good, so is the moon good because it was super obedient, or because God made it that way? I’m a middle class white male American, which grants me a lot of privileges, and it is harder to have compassion and easier to have contempt for people who don’t have those privileges when I think I earned my blessings in this life by being more righteous in the pre-mortal period. I think if we get away from this paradigm we’ll be more compassionate to others” Danny O.
Response: It seems likely that something was involved in our placement in this world, for those who did not keep their first estate and chose to follow Satan did not earn the right to enjoy this second estate of earth-life. As for good, the meaning of the scripture is that God did not create anything that was evil, but only good. All people were first created in a positive or good state, as is the case with all living things. At the same time, we know that our performance and actions have something to do with our advancement conditions from estate to estate. Having said all that, there is certainly agreement that we should not, at any time, feel superior or better than anyone else. Everyone has their good points and bad points (the latter being the result of our choices and behavior), and without the grace of God, we can do nothing and achieve nothing. We should also have compassion for those who have less than we do, for they need more encouragement and more assistance, not scorn nor discouragement.
Comment #4. “I suggest you look to the OED archaic English rather than to an 1828 Dictionary for Book of Mormon word definitions. Royal Skousen (author of The Book of Mormon, The Earliest Text) has pretty clearly established that the Book of Mormon is written in Early Modern English, similar to the KJV Bible, and definitely not Joseph Smith 1820's English.” Kevin K.
The American Dictionary of the English Language preceded the OED by 55 years, and concentrates on the language taught and spoken in New England in the early 1800s

Response: We have spent several articles earlier regarding Sousen’s approach to making adjustments and changes to the spiritual record of the Book of Mormon. For some reason, Sousen feels he knows more than the original writers, Mormon’s abridgement, Joseph Smith’s translation, and the Spirit who assisted in that translation, with his constant changes, most of which we have found to be inaccurate or nonclonclusive.
    As for the dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, was not published until 1884, 55 years after Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon. As soon as the OED in the original ten volumes of the New English Dictionary, Craigie and Onions, the two editors still involved with the project, began updating it. In 1933, a single-volume Supplement to the Dictionary was published. Also at this time the original Dictionary was reprinted in twelve volumes and the work was formally given its current title, the Oxford English Dictionary
    In 1984, as the Editor of the Dictionary Robert Burchfield’s work on the Supplement came within sight of the completion, Oxford University Press debated how to bring this monumental dictionary into the modern age. It soon became clear that the traditional methods of compiling entries would have to be updated. Naturally, the English dictionary had an English slant on the interpretation of words, many of which were quite different from those of the American usage. Thus, one can only wonder how many words were “updated” in the late 1880s in their original version that might have altered the usage and meaning of words from Joseph Smith‘s time; England prided itself on being “pure English,” and ridiculed the Americans for their usage of the language.
Difference in some words between the OED and Webster dictionaries

British English is different in the usage of such things as collective nouns, auxiliary verbs, past tense verbs, modality, spelling, and meaning. The OED defiantly has a British slant on its words, and in many cases, actually have different meanings—as an example: pants like “Levis/trousers mean underpants in England; divided highway means dual carriageway; bird means female; braces mean suspenders; pitcher means jug; stove mean hob;  trolley means shopping cart; chips mean French fries; coach means a bus; dummy means a baby’s pacifier; period means full stop; flashlight means torch; biscuit means cookie; lift means an elevator; buck (money) means quid; fourth grade means third year junior; 7th grade means Second form; 11th grade means Lower Sixth; fanny pack means bum bag; holiday season means vacation; and hamper means a picnic basket. This list is not complete as many words have different meanings in England than they do in America.
    Obviously, when recommending the OED one misunderstands that this dictionary was not in use during Joseph Smith’s time, compiled by British subjects, and definitely has a British slant to its words. On the other hand, Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary was developed in New England, where Joseph Smith grew up and lived; it was developed by an American who spent many years compiling American meanings of the English language as it was used in New England; and was developed the year before Joseph Smith began translation of the Book of Mormon. It is alo known that Joseph had a copy of this dictionary as he recommended it be the dictionary for the School of the Prophets.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

More Comments from Readers – Part VIII

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
Comment #1: “What kind of writing would have been done by the Nephites and Lamanites that left on the ships that Hagoth built and headed North?” Mr. Nirom
Writing for the Nephites was always in Hebrew except for those taught reformed Egyptian, and that was used strictly on the sacred record keeping

Response: This is strictly a speculative answer since there is no information regarding this at all. However, the answer is in two parts: 1) If someone on those ships was one of the Nephite record keepers who had been taught Reformed Egyptian, then it is likely whatever record they created would have been in that language. 2) It is doubtful, though, that one of the very few who knew Reformed Egyptian would have been among those going north. If this is the case, then their language would have been Hebrew only. Having said that, it would seem their overall language would have been Hebrew in any event (as it had been altered by them over nearly 600 years), meaning what they spoke and wrote in their daily lives, as it was with those in the Land of Promise.
Comment #2: “Verses 17 and 18 (1 Nephi 17) would seem to be proof against Nephi having such knowledge. The murmurs and complaints of his brethren were based on his not having that knowledge and not believing that he had been instructed in such by the Lord” Michael R.
Response: Absolutely. In fact, it is part of the earlier article posted on “It’s a Matter of Attitude, Part II. If Nephi, like so many theorists want to claim, was skilled in building and the crafts, why would his brothers think it odd that Nephi thought he could build a ship?
    The issue was not that Nephi could build things or work wood, or know construction—but that he could be a ship that could traverse the major ocean that faced them on the shores of Irreantum (Sea of Arabia).
Comment #3: “What do you think of the new resource at http://bookofmormoncentral.org?” Adam.
Response: A brief summary inspection and reading shows a very strong connection with FairMormon, which is a new name for FARMS, etc., and states in their blog: "Most of the articles are from FARMS, the Maxwell Institute, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, BYU Studies, and BYU Religious Education" which is a very strong association with the Mesoamerican theory and belief system. Only time will tell if they follow that path or actually develop something new that is more closely aligned to the scriptural record.
Comment #2: “Just exactly who are the gentiles, and does that term include members of the LDS Church?” Donald W.
Hebrews talking to the gentiles

Response: Since we deal in the Book of Mormon here, let us answer that from Nephi’s writings. To him, when he uses “gentiles” he is referring to all non-Jews, i.e., any person who was not a citizen of the Kingdom of Judah with its capital at Jerusalem. That makes Columbus and others who discovered and colonized America were gentiles to Nephi, including us, i.e., members of the Church, Joseph Smith, and basically all Church leaders. For Nephi, the term ‘gentile” was a cultural designation, not a racial one. (1 Nephi 13:4; 15:13). This is also confirmed in latter-day revelation, where we are called “sons of Jacob” but are “identified with the Gentiles” (D&C 109:58, 60). Nephi foresaw that the gentiles would take the gospel to all of the house of Israel including the Lamanites and the Jews.
Comment #3: ”You indicate that Ziff may be Bizmuth. But Bizmuth is listed in the 1828 Webster dictionary. (You actually have to look under bismuth where it also shows the z as an alternate spelling. Bismuth: a metal of a yellowish or reddish white color, and a lamellar texture. It is somewhat harder than lead, and scarcely, if at all, malleable, being so brittle as to break easily under the hammer, and it is reducible to powder. Its internal face or fracture exhibits large shining plates, variously disposed. It melts at 476 degrees F. and may be fused in the flame of a candle. It is often found in a native state, crystallized in rhombs or octahedrons, or in the form of dendrites, or thin lamens investing the ores of other metals, particularly cobalt. Wouldn't this rule Bizmuth out as Ziff? Of the other metals you list on your blog tungsten is not in the 1828 dictionary as you mention. Also vanadium is not listed (Wikipedia indicates it was not named until 1830). Would either of those be better possibilities?” Dave K.
Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, the Russian-borne chemist and inventor and the formulator and  father of the periodic table

Response: Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, the Russian chemist and inventor from Tobolsk in Siberia, who formulated the Periodic Law, created his own version of the periodic table of elements, and used it to correct the properties of some already discovered elements and also to predict the properties of eight elements yet to be discovered. When he published the first periodic table of the chemical elements in 1869 based on properties, which appeared with some regularity as he laid out the elements from lightest to heaviest (based upon the count of nucleons in the nucleus of one isotope, not an actual weight of an average sample with a natural collection of isotopes). When Mendeleev proposed his periodic table, he noted gaps in the table, and predicted that as-yet-unknown elements existed with properties appropriate to fill those gaps. This became evident when Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segré discovered technetium in 1937, well after Mendeleev’s lifetime, who had predicted an atomic mass of 100 for ekamanganese in 1871, while Germanium was isolated in 1886, and provided the best confirmation of the theory up to that time, due to its contrasting more clearly with its neighboring elements than the two previously confirmed predictions of Mendeleev do with theirs.
    While Bismuth was discovered in 1546, the name did not become used until the 1660s and is still of uncertain etymology, a name from obsolete German and obviously would not have been known to the Nephites by such a name. Miners gave it the name of tectum argenti (“silver being made,” i.e., silver still being formed within the Earth (William Nicholson (1818); Mary Elvira (1937); and Carmen Giunta referred to it as stannum glaciate (glacial tin or ice-tin), and was also called Spanish White in the Glossary of Archaic Chemical Terms. But it was not until 1753 that bismuth was shown to be distinctly different and separate from lead and tin. The Inca used this metal, along with the usual copper and tin, in a special bronze alloy for knives (Robert B Gordon, John W Rutledge, “Bismuth Bronze from Machu Picchu, Peru,” Science 223, 1984, pp585-586).
    The point is, what name would you have chosen to introduce this metal? Well known today, in 1829, it was not a household word, and it is doubtful that Joseph Smith, a farmer, ever would have heard of it. Virtually unseen in nature, much of its modern use is based on the fact that it expands upon freezing, not a household activity in 1829.
    For Joseph Smith to have used bismuth in 1829, it would sounded like someone using Yttrium, a “rare earth element,” today. Ziff seems as good a word as any to have used.
    One of the factors that caused our leaning toward bismuth for ziff, is that it was in common use as a decoration in Peru prior to the Inca and used down through Inca times, just as it is described in Mosiah.
Comment #5: “Lehi referred to himself as a visionary man, yet he doesn’t talk much about visions as he does about dreams. What’s the difference?” Marlene O.
Lehi, like many others, received instructions and commands in a dream (1 Nephi 2:2)

Response: The answer to this, evidently, depends upon who you ask. Your question of whether they were dreams or visions or one of the same, at least in Lehi’s case in the Book of Mormon, seems to be answered that they were one of the same. Lehi calls himself “a visionary man and that he saw in a vision…” (1 Nephi 5:4), Nephi also wrote of his father that “for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams” (1 Nephi 1:16). The warning the Lord issued to Lehi came in a dream (1 Nephi 2:1), but Nephi also referred to Lehi’s dreams as a vision (1 Nephi 8:2, 36).
    The real question might be why does the Lord use dreams to contact people—why not just contact them in a vision while they are wide awake? The answer might be in the fact that when people are awake they can be so busy in other things, or in the work or efforts of the day, that the spirit simply cannot get through to them—at least, perhaps, not in the way needed. When I was a young bishop, my mind was busily engaged all day long in both work on my business career, and in running a large Ward. It wasn’t until nighttime that I cleared my mind from my daily efforts and in the twilight of sleep found a communion beyond the mortal world as many busy people do.
    The angel Moroni appeared to the young Joseph Smith at night when he was attempting sleep. In the fervent efforts of preaching to the people of Jerusalem, running a farm, and whatever business Lehi was engaged in, that he was too occupied for the Spirit to gain his attention—it seems that at least on one occasion, when Lehi came home exhausted from one of these endeavors, he threw himself on his bed and at that moment the Spirit carried him away in a vision (1 Nephi 1:7-8). It is one of the problems teenagers and young adults have when they fill their every waking moment with music, texting and other constant activity that is not conducive to the Spirit’s presence.
    Elder James E. Faust (second counselor in the First Presidency)  in his First Presidency Message of June 2006, “Voice of the Spirit” said that “there are so many kinds of voices in the world that compete with the voice of the Spirit,” and the prophet Nephi described four of these voices as: 1. Getting gain; 2. Lacking power over the flesh; 3. Gaining popularity in the eyes of the world; and 4. Seeking the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world (1 Nephi 22:23).