Friday, February 7, 2014

More Comments Answered Part IX

Continuing with more comments from the readers of our website, and and our responses:
    Comment #1: “I read this somewhere and believe it to be true. ‘Does having physical evidence make something 'more true' if it is already true? Does physical evidence actually strengthen conviction? What is stronger, what you can hold in your hand or that which your soul knows by the witness of the Spirit of God to your very inner being? Which is more real, the burning testimony of truth from God or the physical evidence of something? The senses can always be deceived. Can such deception exist in the testimony of the Holy Ghost to your heart and soul? Those who are skeptical as to such things may never learn of their existence. For it is by faith that such things are accomplished and when one refuses to exercise their own faith then they must needs be lost to the spiritual things of God and His Kingdom. Perhaps it is better that the geography of the Book of Mormon never be found or revealed. Because if left unknown, it would always be placed upon the basis of the exercise of faith to come to know of its truthfulness and not on overwhelming physical evidence. And is that not where it should be, based on the spiritual and not the physical? And even with all the 'physical evidence' of the world, men who are of such disposition will continue to argue the pros and cons of the matter based upon their own dissection and analysis of the matter. So 'knowing' the geography does not solve the question of the truth of the Book of Mormon for men would still chose to interpret such known geography according to their own minds on the matter.’ If this is true, then why pursue this geographical information you do?” Benton S.
As an example, when a Theorist goes from (left) a vertical land of promise (north to south) as a model of the scriptural record, then attempts to show that this vertical model can fit a horizontal landmass (east to west), they are straying far from the truth as in Joe V. Andersen’s, “The Geography of the Jaredites,” on the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF) website
    Response: I think your statement is absolutely true. As for me, I pursue geography of the Book of Mormon for three reasons: 1) I have always been fascinated by geography, 2) Knowing where Book of Mormon events happened have always made the scriptural record come more alive for me, and 3) I feel it important to point out that when people, even well meaning people, stray from the actual scriptural record in their pursuit of truth, and publish their beliefs that mislead one away from the actual scriptural record, people do not reach truth, and do a lot of damage to others along the way.
    I feel the Book of Mormon should be taken at face value and not try to make it mean something else—I feel a moral obligation to Mormon and the other great men who had a hand in writing it to maintain their original meaning and not cast shadows upon the scriptural record with inaccurate and erroneous information, examples and meaning.
    Knowing where the Book of Mormon Lands were located has nothing to do with one’s belief and acceptance of the scriptural record. One is spiritual, as you wrote, and the other is inquisitive.
Road to Jericho: Left: One of the rare straight courses of the ancient Roman road still visible; Right: The road winds down through hills and wadis with numerous blind outcroppings
    As an example, knowing that Jericho is much lower than Jerusalem in elevation makes the Lord’s statement easier to envision: “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead“ (Luke 10:30—emphasis mine). In addition, knowing more about that barren and desolate winding road as it quickly descends some 3500 feet to Jericho, with its rocky outcroppings, tells us more about the condition of the traveler during this seventeen mile, six-and-a-half hour journey, the numerous hiding places of thieves, and how easily it would have been to attack an unwary traveler—and how seldom might help come along.
Another example of inaccuracy and straying from the scriptural record, from Daniel M. Wright's on "Book of Mormon Geography 2200 B.C. to 420 A.D." Like all attempts at Mesoamerican modeling, we have an east to west map, the Land of Nephi not running from sea to sea, an eastern sea in the north, and a western sea in the south, etc. none of which agrees with the scriptural record
    Comment #2: “I read on a Book of Mormon website that said: “The phrasing “interior of America,” attributed unquestionably to Joseph Smith, shows that he believed in the definition of America as contained in Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary. That is, “interior” in this instance clearly refers to the territory of Mesoamerica rather than to any territory in the continental United States.” Doesn’t that answer the problem of where the LOP is located?”
    Response: First of all, that is not Noah Webster’s definition, and nowhere in his work or explanations does he say that. Webster’s 1828 definition of interior is the “inland part of a country.” His definition of America is: “One of the great continents, first discovered by Sebastian Cabot, June 11, 1498, and by Columbus, or Christoval Colon, Aug. 1, the same year. It extends from the eightieth degree of North, to the fifty-fourth degree of South Latitude; and from the thirty-fifth to the one hundred and fifty-sixth degree of Longitude West from Greenwich, being about nine thousand miles in length. Its breadth at Darien is narrowed to about forty-five miles, but at the northern extremity is nearly four thousand miles. From Darien to the North, the continent is called North America, and to the South, it is called South America.”
    As you can see, he does not use that concept to describe or define “interior of America.”
Second, your quote was written by Ted Dee Stoddard for the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF) website in 2009. It is an interesting article, however, it is plagued with Stoddard’s views of Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise, which he inserts without concern. As an example, he states: “the events following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, leaders of the nineteenth-century Church seemed to forget about Joseph’s statements that established Mesoamerica as a geographical setting for the Book of Mormon,” is simply not true in its meaning. Joseph did not establish Mesoamerica as the geographical setting. He was impressed with the ruins and stated that they were Nephite and drew some conclusions from such, but made no such prophetic or official statement.
    Another is: ”They [church leaders] made their feelings known through a primary voice of the Church at the time, the Times and Seasons, many issues of which were “edited, published and printed” by Joseph Smith. Therefore, we can today read those issues of the Times and Seasons with reasonable confidence in their “voice of authority” in speaking about the lands and peoples of the Book of Mormon.” Very few articles had Joseph Smith’s signature or name on them. He was the editor and said that he would be the editor of the paper, but that does not tell us he was overseeing every article, or that articles within the Times & Seasons carried his stamp of approval. It is an assumption, without proof, that some people make of those early issues. Many articles have been written on this, and it is even debated if Joseph was in Nauvoo during the time of many of these articles. Even Stoddard hedges his bet by saying “reasonable confidence” on the subject.
    Comment #3: “I’ve heard so many things about “it came to pass” in the BOM, what exactly does it mean?”
    Response: It is not a change of thought, as some have suggested, deserving a break in the record, such as a paragraph (verse). It is simply a completion of that earlier thought--meaning “to take place,” or in the past tense, “it took place.” Today it is considered an archaic term, but anciently it was used to connect two consistent thoughts or statements. While most people feel it is used way too often (1330 times in 1982 English edition), and from a strict reading view, its repetition can be annoying, it does, however, serve a purpose when we realize that Mormon is abridging the record. Thus, it also serves the purpose of allowing Mormon to jump ahead in an event without having to include the parts of that event he does not want to include in his abridgement.
A secondary value is that it shows the record was originally written with ancient Hebrew roots since it follows the Hebrew expression (wayehi) which is used 1204 times in the Hebrew Bible, though it is only translated into “it came to pass” 727 times in the King James Version of the Bible, showing that Joseph Smith translated the phrase (from Reformed Egyptian) more faithfully than did the translators of the Bible. Therefore, we should be able to see a connection between the Hebrew and the Egyptian in this phrase and we do, since all Egyptian historicals begin in a similar repetitious style, and with the identical standard words, i.e., “I opened my mouth.” Dramatic texts constantly use the phrase khpr-n, meaning “It happened that,” which is the same as “It came to pass.” Hugh Nibley claimed that these phrases in Egyptian were a “grammatical necessity and could not be omitted.” While awkward and monotonous in English, it shows accurately a text written in Egyptian by a Hebrew.
    Comment #4: Neal A. Maxwell has said: “Now here seems to be a great key to the Book of Mormon Geography for those who would grasp it. Lehi traveled in the Old World wilderness eight years before reaching the ‘first’ Bountiful spoken of by Brother Maxwell. Lehi sailed across the expanse of the great ocean they called Irreantum, known by us today as the Pacific Ocean, then he arrived at the ‘second’ Bountiful of which Brother Maxwell speaks. From Bountiful to Bountiful he traveled. That this is the same Bountiful of the Land of Zarahemla is apparent from the words of the Book of Mormon itself, and from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” Wesley A.
    Response: First: Neal A. Maxwell in his talk at conference was using a play on words “from Bountiful to Bountiful” in order to make the point about Laman and Lemuel throwing away their chance to lead and be accountable before God in both the Old World and the New World. It had nothing to do with geography. Second: Lehi did not land in Bountiful, Mormon makes that clear (Alma 22:28). Joseph Smith was referring to a book written by Stephens “Incidents of Travel in Central America” and that Lehi must have landed south of the ruins found there. It was simply his reflective view in light of the awesome ruins never seen before in the Americas in his time. Again, one might wonder at his reaction to the older, and even more extensive and magnificent ruins found in Andean Peru. Whatever the view, it was not an official statement and the Church has never made any official or declarative statement about any location.

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