Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beware of the Experts—They Often Have an Axe to Grind Part VI

Continuing with Sorenson’s presentation to students at Brigham Young University at the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall, Sorenson’s statements follow his name, and our comments follow “Response."

Sorenson: “Minor slips of hand could result in misreadings."

Response:  This might be true if Sorenson or other professors (LDS or not) were to try and read Mormon’s writings; however, it was a prophet of God, guided by the spirit, using Divine interpretative means, that did the interpretation—it would be irresponsible for the Spirit to say that an incorrect translation, or incorrect meaning was acceptable as Joseph Smith translated the plates.

Sorenson: “They had difficulty obtaining information far from capital."

Response:  An interesting thought. The capital, being the city of Zarahemla, is not the focal point of most of the information in the Book of Mormon. We know of Zeniff, Noah, Limhi; we know of battles and wars fought along the seashores, including in the Land of Bountiful; we know of the destruction and the Lord’s visit far from Zarahemla, etc., etc., etc.

Sorenson: “The record depended on rumors from merchants, etc."
Response:  Nowhere, it seems, is there any indication of any “rumors” being delivered in the narrative, or even any information given that would have come from merchants, etc. We know the story of Alma and his wanderings because of his first hand reports. We know of the wanderings of Ammon because of first hand reports. We know of Captain Moroni’s battles, Teancum’s victories, and of the dissident Coriantumr’s murders and taking over the Lamanite armies, etc., all from first hand reports. We know of Christ’s advent in the Land of Bountiful from first hand reports. Exactly what “rumors” is Sorenson referring to?
Captain Moroni and Helaman
Sorenson:  “Captain Moroni only got information from other parts of the war when Helaman sent him letters."

Response:  This is obviously the way wars are fought. Those on the front lines report to higher authority in the background who are overseeing the entire battle front, not just one portion of it. However, the point made her by Sorenson is ridiculous. Helaman reported what he saw and what he did regarding the battles in which he fought with his Stripling Warriors. Moroni then reported these battles to the head of government. This is not seen as a problem today, nor should be conclude that it was in Book of Mormon days, even though communication was slower.

Sorenson: “Records and events often recorded from memory."

Response:  This is such an outlandish statement that it hardly deserves comment other than for those who buy into Sorenson’s ridiculous ideas. When Nephi sat down to record on what we call the Small Plates of Nephi, he had his father’s full record before him and also he had his own record up to that point before him (2 Nephi 4:14). He also wrote things from the Plates of Brass onto his plates (2 Nephi 4:15), and the events he participated in and how he felt (2 Nephi 15). It might  be argued that Jarom to Abinadom were written from memory later in life, but all the other records we have were written in the first person, or by reports from first person accounts.

Sorenson: “There were the Plates of Zeniff."

Response:  While there is no mention of a Zeniff record, Zeniff plates, Plates of Zeniff, Record of Zeniff, when Limhi reached Zarahemla, he had with him their records, plus the records of the Jaredites (Mosiah 22:14). We can assume Zeniff started a record, but have no way of knowing this. It seems obvious Noah would not have created a record of his doings. So all we know is that Limhi had a record of his people.

Sorenson: “Ether's history of the Jaredites.

Response:  We often make this mistake of referring to the Jaredite record as Ether’s history of the Jaredites. In fact, that history was undoubtedly begun by the Brother of Jared, who was shown the history of the world (Ether 3:22), and he also wrote some things that were not to be revealed (Ether 3:22-24). In addition, we know the Jaredites had a record of the Creation, and from the time of Adam (Ether 1:3-4). The record begins from the Tower down until they were destroyed (Ether 1:5). Now Moroni says, “He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor” (Ether 1:6), but Moroni also told us of the great ability witrh words that the Brother of Jared had. From this it would appear that the record of the Jaredites had been a compilation of numerous writers of the Jaredites from the time of the Tower down to Ether. Of course, it is also possible that Ether had condensed the entire history from the Creation down to his time from other writings, or, the 24 gold plates continued on ongoing record, such as the Plates of Nephi, written by different authors during that period. In this case, Moroni abridged those histories as his father, Mormon, did of the Nephite records. We call it the Book of Ether, since he was the last to write in the Jaredite record, but more accurately should propably be referred to as the History & Destruction of the Jaredites.

(See the next post, “Beware of the Experts—They Often Have an Axe to Grind PartVI” for more of Sorenson’s statements during the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall)


  1. Del, I must insist that we most certainly can know if Zeniff kept a record! Mosiah 9:1 begins with "I, Zeniff....!"

    Sorenson comes up with some real whoppers, but this is one whopper you definitely get to chalk up to yourself. :)

  2. Two points to add. First, i think we can safely assume the Jaredites spoke the adamic language, or language of Adam. Second, i believe Moroni transcribed the Book of Ether from the translation king Mosiah provided, and i think you had mentioned that before. This would have made the editing of the jaredite history easier and more effecient.