Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part VI

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first thirteen comments were answered in the previous five posts, the fourteenth and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #14 “You wrote about Nephite cimiters, but cimiters were an Old-World weapon of war, though none have been found to exist in the New World. John L. Sorenson cites a Mesoamerican 'maccuahuitl' for a Cimiter (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pg. 262). However, the Maccuahuitl was a hardwood club with obsidian blades. A Cimiter is a heavy, two-handed steel blade. What's wrong with this picture?
Response: Three things are wrong with this picture: 1) Using John L. Sorenson as an authority on the cimeter (scimitar) in the Book of Mormon; 2) Claiming that cimeters were a heavy, two-handed steel blade; and 3) The Maccuahuitl was not a war club—it was a weapon designed primarily as a slashing, rather than a crushing, weapon—the Spanish eyewitnesses not only described it as a sword but frequently distinguished it from clubs. As for the sword, it was called by many the “Queen of the weapons” and can be classified and arranged into many groups and subgroups. The curved sword is as old as the straight sword and both can be traced to their origins in Egypt. As an example, the khopesh is a type of sword that was used by ancient Egyptians, and were curved, usually up to two feet long. Khopesh is the Egyptian name of the Canaanite "sickle-sword" where, in Assyria, it was known as sappara. Its origins can be traced back to the third millennium B.C., and in the area from which the Jaredites and Nephites came.
This curved sword bears the cuneiform inscription "Palace of Adad-nirari, king of the Universe, son of Arik-den-ili, king of Assyria, son of Enlil-nirari, king of Assyria," indicating that it was the property of the Middle Assyrian king Adad-nirari I, who reigned from 1307–1275 B.C.
The word cimeter (scimitar) would have been Joseph Smith’s insertion or translation of a curved sword—cimeter being an unknown word to the Nephites, but certainly known in Joseph Smith’s day. So forgetting the term, curved swords have been involved in warfare for thousands of years. In fact, my military dress sword, called a saber, was actually slightly curved, as is the Marine Mameluke, and could be called cimeters, though some curved swords have a more drastic angle to them—especially those of ancient Arabia. However the term cimeter (scimitar) merely means “curved sword.” The Mongols used curved swords as early as the first century B.C., and some claim were traced back to the Iron Age production in China as early as 1200 B.C., and certainly were in use by the third century B.C. in Mesopotamia.
Left: Ancient Egyptian with the curved kopesch sword; Right: Modern Arab saif or curved sword, often referred to as a scimitar, also the Greek xiphos, Wanderworts of the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean. While different cultures used different terms, the curved sword has been in existence almost from the beginning of swords--it is merely a backsword or sabre with a curved blade. Note the modern Arab sword has only a slight curve to it
Curved swords have been used in warfare, among many peoples, and were part of the army of Alexander the Great. There is no way of knowing at what historical stage a curved sword was first invented, but since its use has been tied to Egypt, Asia and Mesopotamia of antiquity, all in the area of Noah’s immediate descendants, and certainly coming down to the Arabs in the time of Lehi, as well as found in Egypt of that day, the knowledge of curved swords would have been known to the Nephites. What they might have called it is unknown, but Joseph translated the Nephite term as cimeter since that was the name by which he knew a curved sword (as distinguished from a straight sword). After the demise of the Nephites, there was no one left capable of smelting iron and making swords in the Land of Promise. In time (1000 years), any metal swords the Lamanites might have taken from the battlefields, would have been broken and discarded. Why anyone would think such metal products as swords, curved or straight, would have been found in the area of the Lamanites a thousand or more years after the disappearance of the Nephites is beyond understanding—we have never found any artifacts used by Adam or the early patriarchs, nor have we found the huge boat Noah built, or know of its existence except through scripture. I can’t even find things I misplaced last week. Why is it that critics always think not finding something is proof something did not exist.

 Comment #15 Since the Nephites landed in the Americas when there were already millions of inhabitants in the land with large cities and infrastructure. Why are these people not mentioned? You seem to indicate that the continent was empty at the time. One wonders if 'knowledge' of the land had been kept from the natives who had already been there for thirty thousand years?” Alex.
Response: Part of the answer will be found in the response to comment #13 in the previous post. For the rest of the answer, specifically the thirty thousand years, may I direct you to the book Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths. When you have read that, you may want to ask your question again, but at least we will have a common ground on which to discuss this.
Comment #16 “You repeat what the Book of Mormon states regarding a very literal account of such things as Noah's Ark (Either 6:7), Adam & Eve, or the Garden of Eden (Alma 42:2)? Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel story of the languages forming or many of the other things mentioned in the Bible aren't literal (and they aren't by any stretch of the imagination)--neither are the portions of Book of Mormon history relying on these items as literal. Similarly, why did Joseph Smith state that Adam and the Garden of Eden were literally located in Missouri?
Response: Questions like this are always hard to answer since the person asking the question and myself are separated by a huge gulf in differing ideologies. How does a Christian debate religious philosophy with an atheist? Difficult to do. As for me, the events in scripture are literal. You may think they are fairy tales, but I do not. What B.H. Roberts or James E. Talmadge believed is out of my realm of knowledge since both men died three years before I was born. What I do know is that what the Lord has said is fact, and those who disagree with such matters, disagree with the Lord, not with me, Talmadge or Roberts.
Comment #17 “I am not a follower of your blog, nor do I believe in what you write. As an example, why does the Book of Mormon mention Bellows (1 Nephi 17:11), Brass (2 Nephi 5:15), Breast Plates & Copper (Mosiah 8:10), Gold and Silver currency (Alma 11), Silver (Jarom 1:8), and Steel Swords (Ether 7:9)? No evidence indicates that these items existed, in their Book of Mormon forms, during Book of Mormon times. Tom Ferguson: "Metallurgy [as spoken of in the Book of Mormon] does not appear in the region until about the 9th century A.D." Constance.
Response: Well, at least you read some of it. Thank you. As for your comment, first of all, if you were to travel through Europe, the Middle East, and other areas where artifacts have abundantly shown what previous civilizations were like, then take a trip through the Andean plains of South America, you might understand the grounds for an answer to your question “No evidence indicates that these items existed” regarding Book of Mormon lands. Of course, you have to travel through the correct Book of Mormon lands, and not ones some people promote. The Andean area, as an example, is barely inhabited because of the variance in elevation, lower population numbers, and lesser opportunities for development. Some archaeologists have said that less than 10% of the Andean area has been settled, and even less than that investigated. Finding artifacts is not all that easy, especially when ancient sites have been pillaged by locals who use items for building newer locations. As an example, most of the huge stones used to build Tiwanaku in ages past were broken up and used for road base by the railroad there. There is much to be uncovered about earlier civilizations throughout northern Chile, western Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and southern Colombia. Secondly, Tom Ferguson was convinced the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica—which evidence clearly shows it did not! That aside, much of the evidence you write about not finding in Mesoamerica has been found, or the technology remains have been found, in the Andean area of South America dating into late B.C. times. When you look in the wrong place for evidence, you are bound not to find any. Read the book Lehi Nevere Saw Mesoamerica. If you do that, then let’s discuss this issue.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part VII,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

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