Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Comments from Readers – Part V

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 “When you consider what Hugh Nibley has to say about the subject of the destruction of the Nephites, perhaps they were not all destroyed after all. Nibley said, "What does the Book of Mormon mean by "destroyed"? The word is to be taken, as are so many other key words in the book, in its primary and original sense: "to unbuild; to separate violently into its constituent parts; to break up the structure." To destroy is to wreck the structure, not to annihilate the parts. Thus in 1 Nephi 17:31 we read of Israel in Moses' day that, "According to his word he did destroy them; and according to his word he did lead them," bringing them together after they had been "destroyed," i.e., scattered, and needed a leader. "As one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews," according to 2 Nephi 25:9, "even so they have been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities." A complete slaughter of any one generation would of course be the end of their history altogether, but that is not what "destroyed" means. Of the Jews at Jerusalem Nephi says (1 Nephi 17:43), "I know that the day must shortly come that they must be destroyed, save only a few" Samson C.
Response: There is no question Nibley (left) was a wordsmith and could make just about any point he chose, no matter whether it was actually right or not. The word destroy as meant in the Old Testament is of Jewish origin. However, in the Book of Mormon, we have words that were not even written by Jews other than Nephi (he being the only writer that actually lived in the Jerusalem area—Sam never wrote that we have any record, nor did Zoram, nor Laman, Lemuel or the Sons of Ishmael.)
    What we have is the writing of Nephi that knew Hebrew, but also knew Egyptian, of which he wrote his record. That record was translated through the Urim and Thumim, or the Spirit, by Joseph Smith, an American with little knowledge of Hebrew at the time. The process of how Joseph translated has been dutifully recorded here and elsewhere, the primary point being what he translated was verified as accurate by the Spirit or it was rejected and had to be re-translated.
    Joseph, of course, translated in his own language (English) as known to him (in 1829 New England), and we have a dictionary written by a New England wordsmith, Noah Webster, in 1828, putting down the English language as it was spoken in Joseph Smith’s time in the area Joseph Smith grew up and lived.
    Thus, we turn to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language to see that the word “destroy” meant in Joseph Smith’s day: “To demolish, to destroy a house or temple or fortification,” “to ruin, to annihilate a thing by demolishing it,” “ To bring to naught, to annihilated,” “To lay waste, to make desolate,” “To kill, to slay; to extirpate(root out and destroy completely), as applied to men,” “To cause to cease, to put an end to,” “In general, to put an end to, to annihilate a thing or the form in which it exists.”
    Mormon, at the end of his life, having seen the slaughter of his people, wrote: “And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried” (Mormon 6:16). His son, Moroni, at the end of the Nephite nation, in sadness wrote: “The Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more” (Mormon 8:7), and even more specifically, “and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone” (Mormon 8:3).
    Meaning no disrespect for all of Hugh Nibley’s knowledge and achievements, it would seem that he would have done more good for the members of the Church, for the Book of Mormon, had he not constantly tried to show that the prophets of the scriptural record meant something other than what they wrote.
Comment #3: “Does the lack of anything disprove its existence? Of course not. Take Thomas, for example. When our resurrected Lord appeared to the remainder of the twelve after His resurrection, Thomas was not there. When the disciples told Thomas of the event, Thomas said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Eight days later, when they were all together, and after Thomas not only saw but handled the resurrected Christ, Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29.) Again, does the lack of visual evidence prove the nonexistence of anything? If that belief is true, then there is no God for in John we read, “No man hath seen God at any time;...” (John 1:18.)
    Response: The lack of something may well disprove, in that area, or in that region, or in that place, that something does not exist in that area, region or place. I know gold, silver and copper exists, but there is no gold, silver or copper on my property in St. George Utah. There is no Russian submarine in Navajo Lake in Utah; there are no salt water sharks in Lake Edison in northern California, and the list goes on. There is no evidence found after decades of trying to find some, any signs of metallurgy in Mesoamerican pre-dating 600 B.C.
    Comment #4: “It sounds rather silly for the Jaredites to be cooped up in their barges for 344 days and be singing day and night. Seems like it would get old pretty quick” Reginald W.
    Response: In D&C 136:28, the Lord Instructed the People to Sing and Dance. Obviously, the Lord knew that the members of the Church would be weary and discouraged as they journeyed, and therefore he gave to them a remedy by which their despondency and discouragement could be overcome. They were to ‘praise the Lord with singing, and music, with dancing,’ with prayer and thanksgiving.
Early pioneers, both LDS and non-members, celebrated a long day’s trek with singing and dancing in the evening
    This advice was followed during Zion’s Camp, and after the camp was made for the night, frequently someone with a violin furnished music for dancing and for singing the favorite hymns and melodies familiar to the group, and thus their spirits were revived. This also took place during the pioneers movement west, both LDS groups, and non-member groups—the idea of singing and dancing after a long, hard day on the trail uplifted the spirits of those involved. I can only imagine this helped the Jaredites in the same manner.
    One of the problems of such celebration is in keeping the tone, purpose and intent one of righteous merriment and praise as seen in the case of Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael and their wives, who, after setting sail from Bountiful, “they began to dance and sing and to speak with much rudeness, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.” I am not sure what the word “rudeness” meant to Nephi, but I think we can look around us today and see that much in our entertainment world, TV, movies, songs, etc., is gross, crude and rude—probably not what the Lord meant by his direction to the early Saints, “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving” (D&C 136:28).

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