Monday, July 7, 2014

Comments from Readers – Part VIII

We continue to have comments, questions and criticisms being sent in from readers of our blog. Here are a few more with our responses. 
   Comment #1: There was no duplication of place names in the Book of Mormon unless there was information in the record that confirmed two different places had the same name.  This means that the same place name could not appear in two different locations, thus there could not have been two hill cumorahs!” Flint F.
Response: The Book of Mormon shows us there was an area called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17;5) in Arabia along the coast of Irreantum, both names were given by Lehi. There is also a land of Bountiful and a city of Bountiful (Alma 22:19) in the scriptural record in the Land of Promise. On the other hand there is a city of Jerusalem (Alma 21:4) and land of Jerusalem (Alma 24:1), though we also know there was a land and city of Jerusalem in Israel, in fact it is also mentioned in the Book of Mormon (Alma 22:9); however, the land of Ishmael (Alma 17:18) is also the name of the Land of Ishmael (Arabian Peninsula) in the Old World; the place called Moriancumer (Ether 2:13) is also the name of the coastal region of Mesopotamia; however, the point, no doubt, of this comment in the article is to say that there is only one land or hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon, which is true—on the other hand, the hill Cumorah in upstate New York is not mentioned directly in the scriptural record, is a name that early members of the Church gave the drumlin hill, and cannot be included in a duality of names in this comment, neither does it exclude a second name that occurred outside the writings of the scriptural record.
    Comment #2: “I have read various reports, some from journals of Prophets of the Church, that give information about the Lamanite named Zelph during Zion’s Camp. When comparing these, they do not agree and leave one with a confusing view. Do you have an opinion?” Ellis F.
    Response: I can well imagine your confusion. As any policeman today will tell you, if you have nine eye-witnesses of an event, you will have nine different accounts of the it. Perhaps the best way to answer your question is simply to repeat the information the Church has presented. The Church historian Willard Richards, who joined the Church in 1836 and was not part of Zion’s Camp or an eye-witness to the events surrounding the discovery of Zelp, was given the assignment to produce a church history from a large number of documents in 1842. He spent a little over three months between December 1842 and March 1843 combining the sources given him. He drafted the story as though he were Joseph Smith, which appears in Book A-1 of the Manuscript History of the Church, June 3, 1834, LDS Church archives, which at one point states, “Zelph was a white Lamanite, a man of God who was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus who was known from the (hill Cumorah is crossed out in the manuscript) eastern Sea, to the Rocky Mountains. He was killed in battle, by the arrow found among his ribs, during a (last crossed out) great struggle with the Lamanites" (and Nephites crossed out). At the time this was done, Joseph Smith was still alive, as were the writers of the journals Richards obviously used. So were many members of Zion’s Camp that he may have interviewed. 
The area called Zelph’s Mound, about 300 feet up from the river. On June 2, 1834 Joseph Smith and about 150 men camped here as they were on their way to Missouri with "Zions Camp." While there, Joseph had a vision of a short history of a Lamanite warrior that was killed in this spot in one of the final battles of the Lamanites in this area. His name was Zelph and in an earlier battle he had his thigh bone broken and then in this last battle he had become so righteous that the "curse" was lifted from him and he had become a white Lamanite. The Lord "allowed" him to die in this battle so he could "return home.” Joseph told the men where to dig and when they dug about two feet deep they uncovered a skeleton with arrowhead in his spine and a thigh bone that was broken but healed with an osseous callous
    After the prophet Joseph Smith’s death, the History of Joseph Smith was serially published in the Times and Season, and when the story of Zelph appeared in the January 1, 1846 issue, most of the words that were crossed out in the Willard Richards manuscript were reinserted into the story and the name of the prophet was listed as Omandagus. In addition, Wilford Woodruff’s unamended journal was still included in the narrative along with the phrase, “during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites,” which had been crossed out by Richards during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.
    However, Richards’ account reappeared in the 1904 first edition of the seven-volume History of the Church, edited by B.H. Roberts, though after Joseph Fielding Smith became Church historian in 1948, explicit references to the hill Cumorah and the Nephites were reintroduced—a phrasing that has continued to the present in each subsequent printing.
    Comment #3: Among the most significant cultural anachronisms in the Book of Mormon is the depiction of Nephite civilization as having iron and other metal industries; we read of metal swords and breastplates, gold and silver coinage, and even machinery (2 Nephi 5:15; Jarom 1:8; Mosiah 11:3,8; Ether 7:9;10:23). However, there is no evidence that any New World civilization attained any such industry during Book of Mormon times (600 B. C. - 421 A. D.)” Jedd V.
Metellurgy in Peru dating to as early as 900 to 500 B.C. among the Chavin
    Response: Granted that there is no evidence of metallurgy in Mesoamerica before 900 A.D., though some argue for an earlier date of 600 A.D. However, you might want to read the numerous reports and articles that have been written about ancient Andean South America, where metallurgy dates back into the B.C. times, and is considered to have been excellently done by experienced metallurgists. Or just read the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica, and other posts in the blog.
    Comment #4: According to your Book of Mormon, at least 230,000 men died in battle at the Hill Cumorah. Also, this battle was about 1/10 the size of the battle which took place at the same location approximately 1,000 years earlier when, according to Ether 15:2 "nearly two millions" of the Jaredites had their last great battle. However, there is literally not a trace of archaeological evidence to support the claim that so many men died in battle at the tiny hill now owned by the LDS Church in the State of New York called Cumorah” Flint R.
    Response: First of all, you are absolutely right. There is no evidence that any battle was fought around the drumlin hill in upstate New York known today as the Hill Cumroah. The reason for this is because that hill Cumorah is not the one mentioned in the scriptural record—it was given that name, among others, by early members of the Church, because it was where the plates were found that were buried there at an earlier time.
    However, any unbiased evaluation of the hill would show even the most cursory investigator that the hill does not meet the numerous requirements shown in the scriptural record of the Hill Cumorah in the Land of Cumorah, of the Book of Mormon. I do need to disagree with you on one point in your comment. While some 230,000 Nephites died at the last battle with the Lamanites, certainly there would have been numerous Lamanites who died there also—the count would at least be over 300,000. But the point of disagreement is about the two million Jaredites. Four years before that last battle, two million Jaredites had been killed in the running war of many years; however, the final battle that took place contained an equally large number, but we do not know how many, nor can it be said that those Jaredites who fought there were the two million mentioned earlier.
    Comment #5: “Dr. John L. Sorenson proposed that the Nephites were really referring to either a species of deer or tapir, but since they did not have names for these animals, they called them horses. This seems a weak response, but even if it were true it doesn't account for the many other animals and crops for which there is absolutely no archeological evidence” A.J.
Left: Tapir; Right: Horse. It is difficult to imagine how anyone could mistake these two animals
    Response: Indeed it is a weak argument. In fact, Sorenson makes numerous weak arguments in trying to defend his Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon. However, as has been reported here in these posts, horse bones and remains have been found in Andean South America dating to before the Spanish arrival, and after the so-called extinction of the horse in the Americas. There is also evidence of elephants, of barley grains, etc. Perhaps you should look into more modern evidences rather than repeating old understandings.

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