Friday, November 2, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXVIII

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first one hundred and twelve comments were answered in the previous 27 posts, the one hundred and thirteenth and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #113 “The word "synagogue,"  found in Alma 16:13, last century B.C., is not factual. Scholars claim that synagogue was not in use before the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian captivity.  The oldest known synagogue is located in Delos, Greece, which has been dated to 150 BC. Why in the Book of Mormon?” Gervas.
Response: First of all, a synagogue in Joseph Smith's day meant "a congregation or assembly of Jews, met for the purpose of worship or the performance of religious rites" or "the house appropriated to the religious worship of the Jews." A current dictionary defines the word the same. Consequently, whatever word was used by the ancient writer(s) of the scriptural record, Joseph Smith translated it into its English equivalent of his day--a word we clearly understand today. As he did in all cases where he knew an English equivalent, Joseph Smith used these words to describe ancient writing. If you were reading in an ancient Persian script of the first century B.C. that you were translating the word “Puranas,” how would you write it in English? The word meant “Holy writing,” and you would probably use the term “scripture,” though that term was not applied to the puranas until more than a thousand years later. Does that make your translation fraudulent? Certainly the people (English speaking) for whom you are translating will completely understand the term and your meaning.
Comment #114 Joseph Smith stated in a letter to the editor of Times and Seasons, "There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of the Lord, translated the Book of Mormon." Nevertheless, the Book of Mormon contains some names which appear to be Greek, some of which are Hellenizations of Hebrew names (e.g. Antipas, Archeantus, Esrom, Ezias, Jonas, Judea, Lachoneus and Zenos). Other Greek names are non-biblical and their presence in the book is puzzling to both believers and skeptics, since neither Smith nor the Nephites spoke Greek.” Kaitlyn.
Response: It is not puzzling to me, nor do I think it is puzzling to anyone with half a brain. I don’t speak Greek, but know the name Jason; I don’t speak Latin, but know the name Felix; I don’t speak French, but know the name Andre; nor Celtic, but know the name Angus; nor German, but know the name Arnold; nor Italian, but know Carlo; nor Turkish, but know Omar; nor Russian, but know Ivan, etc., etc., etc. Besides, what Joseph Smith was saying in the article was that what he translated on the plates was not written in Greek or Latin, but in the Reformed Egyptian which he translated “through the grace of the Lord.” He never said there were no Greek, Latin, or any other type of name on the plates—he never addressed the subject.
Comment #115 “Engineering capabilities of the Palestinian Jews before 600 B.C. were well established in building, agriculture and irrigation, yet nothing of the kind has been found in the Americas.” Lamarr.
Response: Oh, contraire! Engineering in the Americas before the arrival of Christopher Columbus was advanced in agriculture, hydrology, irrigation systems, transportation, mechanical engineering, civil engineering and astronomy. In addition, Native Americans made extensive use of fire to change the landscape and to create open areas for farming and hunting. Examples of pre-Columbian engineering from different indigenous civilizations can be found across North and especially in South America.
Left: Just one example, the 12-sided stone carved fitting in this ancient rock wall in Peru. Even today, engineers find it hard to explain how this could have been done by an ancient people; how this and (Right) numerous other ancient Peruvian walls could have been built to fit so exactly without mortar, etc. 
Comment #116 “You keep claiming that there are sites in South America during Book of Mormon times that show great achievements, but never name them.” Jacinda.
Response: How about the Chavin in Peru, claimed to have been by some from around 600 B.C. to first or second century A.D. According to Silverman and Isbell, the chief example of their architecture is the Chavín de Huántar temple, which shows complex innovation to adapt to the highland environments of Peru. To avoid the temple being flooded and destroyed during the rainy season, the Chavín people created a successful drainage system of several canals built under the temple that acted as drainage. The Chavín also showed advanced acoustic understanding, and during the rainy season, water rushed through the canals and created a roaring sound, causing the temple to appear roaring like a jaguar—a sacred animal. The temple was built of white granite and black limestone, neither of which is found near the Chavín site. This meant that leaders organized many workers to bring the special materials from far away rather than use local rock deposits. The Chavin civilization also demonstrated advanced skills and knowledge in metallurgy, soldering, and temperature control, as well as using early techniques to develop refined gold work. According to Lothrop, the melting of metal had been discovered at this point and was used as a solder. The people domesticated camelids, called llamas, and used them for pack animals, fiber, and meat—especially ch'arki, or llama jerky, which was commonly traded by camelid herders and was, according to Miller and Burger, the main economic source of the Chavin people. The Chavin also successfully cultivated several crops, including potatoes, quinoa, and maize, and, according to Burger and Van Der Merwe, they developed an irrigation system to assist the growth of these crops. (Also see "Chavin de Huantar and its Sphere of Influence," in Handbook of South American Archeology). There are scores of different sites built like those of the Chavin throughout the Andean area, especially in Peru.
Front view of the castle in the archeological site of Chavin de Huantar. The iconography on the walls of the stone galleries is highly complex. The limited access, both physically and symbolically, of the stone-walled galleries supports the existence of a religious elite who planned and constructed the ceremonial center
Comment #117 “I read this and wondered what you thought of it, ‘Since the early twentieth century, many scholars and other serious students of the Book of Mormon have come to favor the limited geography model, with Mesoamerica (extending from southern Mexico to Guatemala) as the Book of Mormon homeland and New York’s Hill Cumorah as the repository of Mormon’s record but not the scene of the final Nephite-Lamanite battles. Notwithstanding its various permutations regarding real-world correlations, this interpretation, with antecedents apparent in the 1840s, seems to best match the complex requirements of the scriptural text itself while remaining tenable after years of rigorous examination in light of the archaeological and cultural record of ancient Mesoamerica.” Fisheye.
Response: I believe this appeared on the Neal A. Mawell Institute website, which is basically an arm of FARMS, which is fully committed to, and has always promoted, Mesoamerica. The site also claims: “Certain anecdotal statements attributed to Joseph Smith regarding Lehi’s landing in Chile and the identity of a deceased “white Lamanite” warrior (whose skeletal remains were found by members of Zion’s Camp in western Illinois) are problematic and not especially helpful in efforts to reconstruct an authoritative geography for the Book of Mormon,” which is not helpful, of course, to the Mesoamerican theme. However, it is problematic, that is, difficult, challenging, awkward and tricky for Mesoamericanists to discount. For a complete answer, read the book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists, which you can pick up on this website or, for a counter argument based upon scripture for every Mesoamerican Book of Mormon Land of Promise claim.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXVIII,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

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