Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Comments from Readers – Part II

We continue to receive comments, questions and criticisms being sent in from readers of our blog. And since it is our policy to answer all such, here are a few more with our responses.   
   Comment #1: “When Alma baptized Helam, he went down into the water himself, an act he did not repeat with subsequent baptisms. It has been explained that he did this to baptize himself, but I didn’t know a person could baptize himself” Bruno F.
Response: We have no record of a person ever baptizing himself. Even the Lord was baptized by another. As for Alma’s act, President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that Alma did not baptize himself, but went under the water as token to the Lord of his humility and full repentance.
    Comment #2: “The Book of Mormon is still the baited hook by which Mormons lure thousands of new converts into their ranks every year. Prospective converts are urged to read it and then pray to ask God if it is true. Only upon reading it do they learn of its threats of eternal condemnation to all who reject it (2 Nephi 33:10-15)” Fergal B.
Response: The same might be said of the Bible, but let us look at the verse cited: “And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye -- for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day. And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come. And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day. For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.” 
    Other verses could also be cited along this line: 2 Nephi 33:10-15; 15:11-18; Mormon 8:16-17; 4:21-22. The point is, we are to believe in Christ and we have three sources from which that belief stems: 1)The words of the Jews; 2) The words spoken by Christ; and 3) The words of Nephi. While one may reject the words of Nephi, one is still under condemnation if they reject the words of the Lord and the Bible, and that is what is being said here by Nephi.
    Comment #3: “Another Joseph Smith gaff? After all, he said the book was written in "Reformed Egyptian," which he claimed to translate from the writings on gold pates he unearthed in Upstate New York. Non-Mormon scholars have never heard of such a language and wonder why Jews would use the language of their oppressors rather than Hebrew to record their sacred history.” Zach P.
Response: I believe you meant gaffe, (gaff is incorrectly used to describe a blunder—it means a spear or spearhead, hook, or ship’s spar; it can also mean a hoax or fraud, or even gimmick or trick (but not a blunder or mistake as you used it). You mention two points, so let me take them one at a time: 1) Never heard of such a language. Perhaps we should recognize that the word Reformed, in Reformed Egyptian, is a verb, or descriptive verb. That is, “reformed” describes an action taken with the Egyptian language—it was reformed (shortened, changed, altered, refigured) from the language everyone knew into a version perhaps only a few knew. Some people have a completely singular language they write in taking notes that only they can read; others know a written form unknown to most, such as short-hand used by secretaries in the past generation. It has been suggested that Lehi knew this language from his dealings with Egyptians in the monetary field having to do with his acquiring or managing his wealth—a brief language used for cryptic writing for record keeping. While this is speculation, it did take the Spirit to translate the writing through Joseph Smith. It would not be surprising that scholars of today not only did not know of it, would not even have heard of it.
    2) The language of their oppressors. Your scholars must be unaware of the connection pointed out in biblical literature, which shows Israel's sentiments towards Egypt ranging from the negative depiction of the Pharaoh in the Exodus narrative (Exodus 1-15), to testimony to the political partnership between Egypt and Israel, a partnership upon which the independence of the Israelite and later the Judahite states depended.
Once Israel established its monarchy on a par with the Egyptians and other smaller neighboring states, attitudes towards Egypt changed. As an example, the first Israelite monarchy, established by King David (left), was further maintained by his son, Solomon, through political marriages, including the marriage to a Pharaoh's daughter (1 Kings 3:1); In the years leading up to the destruction of the State of Judah in 586, the kings of Judah allied themselves with the Egyptians in order to resist the pressure of the Neo-Babylonian Empire ("Assyrians") under Nebuchadnezzar II (2 Kings 24-25), which proved a fatal tactical error, foreseen only by some of the prophets (Jeremiah 26:20-24; 37:3-16). The ensuing Babylonian captivity or exile is the decisive catastrophe in Israelite history, and was considered as more disastrous than the slavery in Egypt of old (Isaiah 52:4).
The southern Egyptian border city of Elephantine opposite Aswan (above) was the site of a Jewish place of worship (first an altar, then a temple), built perhaps as early as the late-7th century B.C. (Isaiah 19:19), to serve the needs of the members of a Jewish garrison of mercenaries as well as of Jewish traders settling there (rebuilt again under Persian rule after 525 B.C.) In addition, when prophets fled Israel fearing for their lives, they went down into Egypt, where they were welcomed by numerous Jewish settlements there.
    It should also be pointed out that Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch, Books of the Law), and as God’s chosen people, Israel became the custodians of the Old Testament, the recipients of the covenants of promise, and the channel of Messiah (Romans 3:2; 9:1-5). Since Moses led Israel out of Egypt 430 years to the day from when they first arrived, making the Exodus around 1446, and Genesis (the Book of Beginnings) was written between 1450 and 1410 B.C., we find that Moses as the author and one to whom Egyptian was his primary language, one could make an argument that he wrote his record in Egyptian.
    It might also be of interest to you to know that there are still dozens of ancient languages that have not been deciphered simply because man does not know how. One, in particular, which Mesoamericanists love to ignore, is the Rongorongo languge (kohau motu mo rongorongo: "lines incised for chanting out") of ancient Easter Island, which the elders when first encountered claimed came from the east (Peru). There are also said to have been more specific names for the texts based on their topic. For example, the kohau ta‘u ("lines of years") were annals, the kohau îka ("lines of fishes") were lists of persons killed in war (îka "fish" was homophonous with or used figuratively for "war casualty"), and the kohau ranga "lines of fugitives" were lists of war refugees.
    Man is arrogant when he thinks and claims to know all—or just because he does not know something claims it does not exist.

No comments:

Post a Comment