Saturday, October 13, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part IX

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first twenty-seven comments were answered in the previous eight posts, the twenty-eight and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #28 “I have read much of what you have written and, while it is very interesting and obviously quite intelligent, it seems to neglect the fact, involving your two Cumorahs, tht Moroni makes it clear that he buried the plates in the vicinity of the Nephites’ destruction, not thousands of miles away in some remote region.”
Response: I believe that the assumption that Moroni hid the plates at the time of the final battle is based upon Mormon 8:3-4 , in which Moroni states “Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not.” However, one needs to read further to realize that Moroni had the plates some thirty-five years later, long after that final battle. It should also be made clear that Moroni does not say when or where he “hid up the records,” only that he was going to do so. To assume he buried them near the hill Cumorah where the final battle was fought is unrealistic. He tells us that the Lamanites hunted his people (Nephites) down and killed them, so one cannot assume he remained in the area where the final battle took place for over thirty-five years. By the time he wrote his final message in 421 A.D., 36 years after burying his father, one might assume he was far from the area where the Lamanites were located. Wherever he was, he abridged the Jaredite record (Moroni 1:1), and that he was very mobile, “I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life” (Moroni 1:3). Where he was when he bid us “farewell,” is not known, but we can rightly assume it was some distance from Cumorah where the final battle occurred.
Comment #29 How did Joseph Smith carry home the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, and how did the witnesses lift them so easily since they would have weight about 230 lbs.? (Gold, with a density of 19.3 weighs 1204.7 lbs. per cubic foot. The plates were 7" x 8" by about 6")
Response: First of all, while the plates have always been described as gold, Joseph never said they were made of gold, nor do the witnesses who saw them, only that they appeared golden in color, and being composed of thin metallic pages engraved on both sides and bound with three D-shaped rings. And the witnesses described hefting the plates to have weighted between 30 and 60 pounds, depending upon the person. Sixty pounds is a lot to carry, but can certainly be done.
Comment #30 “Luke says that when Christ died, the darkness covered the land for three hours, yet you say it covered the land for three days.”
Response: Luke was writing about the land of Jerusalem, where darkness covered the land for three hours (Luke 23:44), but the Book of Mormon describes three hours of earthquakes, etc., and three days of darkness (3 Nephi 8:19, 23). We are talking about events on two different continents thousands of miles apart.
Comment #31 Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth (History of the Church, 4:461).  If that’s true, why has it been subjected to thousands of corrections and alterations since it was first published?”
Response: Joseph’s comment was not about the accuracy of the spelling or grammar, or that it was mistake-free in its English content. His comment was about the doctrines set forth by God illustrating the Godhead and other sacred and religious matters—it not only was different from other religious works of his day, but an accurate statement of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” The Book contains the fullness of the gospel, and that was the purpose of the comment, and the declaration of its correctness—critics, who misunderstand the purpose of the Book of Mormon enjoy making comments they think are clarifying but simply show their ignorance. Now, as for the errors, we need to keep in mind that as Joseph translated the plates by the power of God, he dictated the words to a scribe. The scribes occasionally made spelling and grammatical mistakes as they wrote down his words. For example, in 1 Nephi 7:20 the words “were sorrowful” were transcribed as “ware sarraful.” The scribes weren’t uneducated, but spelling hadn’t been standardized at the time. In addition, the original handwritten manuscript of the translation was then copied to make a new handwritten manuscript for the printer. At this stage, some spelling and grammatical errors were corrected, and punctuation was added. But some new errors also crept in as words were miscopied. The printer did his best to accurately set the type. However, he occasionally introduced still other errors. For example, in Alma 57:25 he misread the word “joy” and instead typeset “foes.” Joseph looked carefully at the first three editions of the Book of Mormon, and he continued to help make refinements and adjustments. But some errors were not found until later editions. In 1981 a printer’s error in Alma 16:5 was finally corrected, changing “whether” to “whither”—making it conform to the original manuscript as the Prophet had translated it from the golden plates. Other changes included new chapter and verse breaks and footnotes with cross-references. However, the original context of religious matters, doctrines, etc., are as originally stated. This is a bone of contention among critics of the Book of Mormon, but when you recognize the time, era, knowledge, abilities, printing methods, etc., it is not at all unusual such mistakes were involved. Having written several books, each professionally proof-read, as well as some 800 blog posts, there is simply no way to avoid mistakes from time to time, even with Spell check and computer grammar programs of today.
Comment #32 If the Book of Mormon contains the “fulness of the everlasting gospel”, why doesn’t it say anything about so many important teachings such as eternal progression, celestial marriage, the Word of Wisdom, the plurality of Gods, the pre-existence of man, our mother in heaven, baptism for the dead, etc?”
Response: This is a little out of reach for the subject of this blog, but simply answered, the fullness of the gospel is about the New and Everlasting Covenant, eternal sealing (marriage) and progression toward exaltation, or the path to the Celestial Kingdom. The word fullness does not relate in this sense to being complete in the concept that every single thing God knows is contained therein—such a document would be impossible to put into print simply due to the size of its content.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part X,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

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