Thursday, June 27, 2013

Answering More Comments from the Website

Following are more of the comments that have been sent in to our website that we are answering here:
Comment: “How many wildernesses were there? I read somewhere that the South Wilderness is the wilderness on the south of the land of Moroni.  The East Wilderness is the wilderness on the east of the land of Moroni.  This verse indicates that the East Wilderness meets or almost meets the South Wilderness in proximity of the land of Moroni in order to encircle the land of Moroni. Is that correct?”
Response: No. This makes it sound like there were several different wildernesses. Mormon makes it clear in describing the Land Southward that there was a narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Nephi (to the south) and the Land of Zarahemla (to the north), and that this wilderness curved up “round about” (Alma 22:27), on the east along the seashore, and also on the west, along the seashore. The areas where this wilderness curved upward was the temporary location of Lamanites who lived in tents (Alma 22:28) and were driven out by Moroni and forced back into the Land of Nephi (Alma 50:9).
Once this was done, Moroni caused Nephites to move into these wildernesses and occupy the land along the seashore (Alma 50:9), thus eliminating a refuge area for the Lamanites (Alma 50:11). We know more about the cities then built in the east seashore, of which Moroni (Alma 50:13) and Nephihah (Alma 50:14) were two. Once the Nephites moved into this area along the east seashore, it was no longer a wilderness, and no longer called a wilderness, since it was then occupied. This left only the narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla—it was located to the south of the Land of Zarahemla, thus it was also called in this sense, the South Wilderness.
Comment #2: “Alma 24:5 has Alma and his brethren going to the land of Midian. This is the only occurrence of this Biblical name in a Book of Mormon New World setting. This verse tells us that Midian was near the land of Ishmael. Robert F. Smith’s 3-volume “Critical Text of the Book of Mormon” in the 1980s takes issue with the name "Midian," replacing it with the well-attested "Middoni" that was definitely close to Ishmael. Would this be accurate?”
Response: There are several places in the scriptural text that are mentioned only once. The plains of Agosh are mentioned only in Ether 14:15-16; Valley of Alma in Mosiah 24:21; hill Amnihu in Alma l2:15; village of Anti-Anti in (Alma 21:11); city of Boaz in Mormon 4:20; the hill Comnor in Ether 14:28; plains of Heshlon in Ether 13:28; wilderness of Hermounts in Alma 2:37; city of Gimgimno in 3 Nephi 9:8; city of Gadiomnah in 3 Nephi 9:8; land of Heth in Ether 8:2; Irreantum sea in 1 Nephi 17:5; city of Jacob in 3 Nephi 9:8; cityh of Jacobugath in 3 Nephi 9:9; city of Jashon in Mormon 2:17; city of Jordan in Mormon 5:3; city of Josh in 3 Npehi 9:10; land of Joshua in Mormon 2:6; city of Kishkumen in 3 Nephi 9:10; city of Laman in 3 Nephi 9:10; city of Lemuel in Alma 23:12; land of Minon in 2:24; city of Mocum in 3 Nephi 9:7; city of Nehor in Ether 7:9; place called Ogath in Ether 15:10; city of Omner in Alma 51:26; city Onihah in 3 Nephi 9:7; waters of Ripliancum in Ether 15:8; city of Shimnilom Alma 23:12; tower of Sherrizah in Moroni 9:7 (during the time of Mormon); land of Siron in Alma 39:3; and the city of Zeezrom in Alma 56:14.
Given all these singularly mentioned places (and perhaps more), why would one more cause someone to claim the name Midian was a mistake in the scriptural record? To me, the idea that someone has published three-volumes of changes they claim are required for the Book of Mormon because Mormon, Joseph Smith, or a scribe made a mistake is the height of arrogance.
Sometimes people lose sight of the fact that the various writings in the Book of Mormon were written by prophets, abridged by prophets, translated by a prophet under the direction of the Holy Spirit. For someone to come along and say one or more of these people made mistakes other than grammatical or spelling-wise is not only arrogant, but ignorant.
Comment: “What about the incidents where Mormon had trouble keeping everything straight in his mind all the time and engraved “the land,” then corrected himself and said, “or, the city..” as in alma 53:3 and Alma 56:14. And what about earlier when Mormon temporarily confused the lands of Bountiful and Moroni in Alma 50:32?”
Response: First of all, let’s take Alma 50:32—in this case, Mormon was not confusing two lands. Moroni had his camp in the area of Bountiful, and when he received word that Morianton was marching northward to pass through the narrow neck of land north of Bountiful and gain control over the Land Northward (Alma 50:29), a fact over which both the people in Bountiful and Moroni, as commander, was greatly concerned, “Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward” (Alma 50:33). Teancum did not catch up to Morianton until the rebels nearly reached the Land of Desolation, where a battle took place and Morianton was killed (Alma 50:35). There was no confusion on Mormon’s part, only in the mind of the person reading the scripture and making the absurd statement.
Secondly, in the other two cases, Mormon was not confused about what he was writing. We have to keep in mind that every city in the Land of Promise had land around it, and that land carried the same name as that of the city—but at the same time, each land was part of a greater land, specifically, the three main divisions of the Land Southward—the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Bountiful. Mormon expected that to be somewhat confusing to a future reader, and often stated that something was happening in an area, and used the term “land,” and sometimes expanded on that to center that activity within the city within the land. Since he would have been inserting an extra explanation, it sometimes did not read well with the rest of the sentence he was copying from the original. As Moroni said, “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Mormon 9:31). How many people are wiser than Mormon and Moroni I would not even try to suggest—I know I am not, and I seriously doubt that those who try to find fault with them are wiser, either.
We also need to keep in mind that Mormon is not writing from memory—he is abridging someone else’s writing, in this case, that of Alma; that is, Mormon was shortening, abbreviating, reducing or condensing. He was not ad-libbing! He had the actual information in front of him as he engraved his abridged record. It was not a matter of making a mistake, but a matter of trying to clarify for the future readers—us—the areas he was writing about.
Comment #3: “I understand that the punctuation in the Book of Mormon was added by other than Joseph Smith or his scribe. Some say that E.B. Grandin and his employees (primarily John Gilbert) added punctuation and set the type for the 1830 Palmyra edition, largely from the printer's manuscript, but partly from the original manuscript.”
Response: Although Joseph Smith was the translator of the Book of Mormon, the spelling in the first edition was Oliver Cowdery’s (scribe), and the punctuation was John H. Gilbert’s, a non-Mormon typesetter who worked for E.B. Grandin, who published that edition. Gilbert, after receiving permission from Hyrum Smith, took the manuscript home with him for “two or three nights” and punctuated it with a lead pencil. It is reported that his effort resulted in somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 additional punctuation marks. Because of several typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors, the next publication (1837) edition had over a thousand corrections made by Joseph Smith with the help of Oliver Cowdery, most were grammatical changes, with some minor clarifications. We should keep in mind that Joseph Smith had no formal schooling, though at this time he was learning the rudiments of Hebrew, and English grammar (History of the Church, 2:390, 474; 3:26).
This is why I have a copy of the original 1830 First Edition Book of Mormon that was reproduced from uncut sheets that has the original punctuation. It is sometimes extremely valuable to consult that when looking at meaning from commas, semi-colons, etc., and without the division into verses and with fewer chapters.

1 comment:

  1. Though I do not have an original BofM.. I have the next best thing. The earliest text edition of the BofM by Royal Skousen. I have gotten more from reading the BofM in that format than any other edition ever published.