Thursday, December 11, 2014

Answers to Reader's Comments - Part I

These are more comments that we have received on this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “I have read several times that you claim there were wild goats—but a goat is a farm animal and is not wild. You apologists for Book of Mormon writing are all the same—making claims that are incorrect and nothing but lies” Chaquil R.
Left: The Wild Goat; Right: Yellow areas show the habitat of the Wild Goat along the Red Sea and in Arabia upwards into Israel
    Response: Wow! Perhaps a little knowledge might help in this. The wild goat (Capra aegagrusis) is an undomesticated goat (pasang bezoar goat). In fact, the Ibex (Capra ibex nubiana) of Arabia and Israel, which would have been well known to Nephi and evidently the animal they hunted while traveling in the wilderness (1 Nephi 16:14), is also referred to as a wild goat (Capra ibex). In the List of Animal Phyla, which groups major animals in classifications of phylum, the following is found: Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum Chordata; Class: Mammalia; Order: Cetartiodactyla; Family: Bovidae; Genus: Capra.
    Under Wild Goat: The ancestor of the modern domestic goat, the wild goat typically lives in rocky, mountainous areas. Both male and female wild goats have horns, although the horns of the male are much larger. The wild goat is also known as ‘bezoar’, a word for a swallowed ball of foreign material such as hair or fibre often found in the stomach of this species. Male wild goats are normally solitary while females and young live in small flocks of up to 15 individuals.
In the Endangered Species classification, the wild goat today is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2009) which is the first step below being endangered (EN). The ICUN Red List celebrated their 50th year on January 30, 2014. I hope this satisfies your mind and eases your temperament toward us “liars.”
    Comment #2: “Garth Norman, I believe, in a slide show presentation a while back regarding the Jaraedites, Nephites and Lamanites, claimed ‘the Jaredite culture lived from about 2500 to 300 B.C., and that the main place where corresponding cultures and population centers flourished during these times was in Mesoamerica, which cultures date from approximately 2500 B.C. to 1500 A.D.’ What is your take on this?” Diego D.
    Response: Norman began that show, held at the September 2005 BMAF Conference, by stating: “My approach to the Book of Mormon, as a professional archaeologist, for over four decades, has been researching the Book of Mormon and archaeology assuming the Book of Mormon as a history of ancient America.” He also stated that “There are a number of ways or approaches to the study of the Book of Mormon. I candidly don’t recommend archaeological study of the Book of Mormon until you have read it at least ten times, and you want to branch out and expand with various approaches. Joseph Fielding Smith and President Ezra Taft Benson, quoting Joseph Fielding Smith said, "We should not be content in our study of the Book of Mormon until we can bear witness that its history is true." For me, as an archaeologist, I have a conviction that it is true and that it encompasses history because it is a historical document.” I include this in my response because Norman is often so far off in his interpretation of the scriptural record that one must wonder as to how he arrives at such erroneous results from such a positive and proper framework as he states. In your comment above, Norman violates the Old Testament record as well as the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, and the 2nd lesson in the School of the Prophets created and presented by Joseph Smith when he talks about the Jaredite cuture began about 2500 B.C.
    In 2344 B.C. (156 years after Norman’s date for the Jaredites in the Land of Promise), the Flood came. At that time “Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood” (Genesis 7:6-7), and exited the ark 12 months and 3 days later (Genesis 7:12; 8:14), in 2343 B.C., they left the ark. Noah’s son, Ham, had a son named Cush, and his son was Nimrod, and the Tower was built in that third generation. How long it took Nimrod to build the tower is not known, but contemporary with his grandson would be Peleg (Noah-Arphaxad-Salah-Eber-Peleg), who was born 101 years after the Flood, and in whose “days was the earth divided” (Genesis 10:25).
Thus, the Earth would have been divided before Jared and his brother built their barges and were driven across the great deep from the Middle East to the Land of Promise, which means that the earliest we can claim this happening would be around 2200 B.C., or three hundred years after Norman states. And as we have written about in other posts, the Lehi Colony would have arrived in the Land of Promise after Ether’s time (meaning there was no overlap), for Ether recorded “And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord. Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land. And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come -- after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel“ (Ether 13:3-5—emphasis mine). Thus Lehi had not yet arrived during Ether’s time since he spoke in the future tense, using the same language of other future events recorded in Ether 2:7, 8; 9:28; 11:6; 12:22).
    Future to Ether would mean the Jaredites were annihilated prior to the landing of Lehi, or sometime before 587 B.C., which should suggest to Norman that if he is going to recommend the reading of the Book of Mormon ten times before branching out into archaeology of the period, that perhaps he needs to go back and re-read the Book of Mormon for a better understanding of the dates he quotes.
    Comment #3: “What do you think the scripture means that says: And thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” Roy O.
    Response: Like all scripture, I think it means exactly what it says. The Land Southward, containing the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, as well as the Land of Bountiful, etc., was surrounded by water on all sides except for a narrow neck, also called “a small neck,” which some interpret to mean an isthmus, that connected the Land Southward with the Land Northward. That neck of land was narrow enough for a man to walk across in about a day and a half—about 25 to 30 miles.
    Comment #4: “One Mormon author suggests that Lehi and his family may have re-supplied at Moroni during the voyage (W. Vincent Coon, "Choice Above All Other Lands," pg. 68). And that the name of the Comoros islands was the name Joseph Smith used for his Cumorah. The tradition that Lehi and his company voyaged across the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and finally the Pacific Ocean is "extreme" and non-authoritative according to Wayne N. May, in This Land: They Came from the East, Vol. 3, pp. 12-15; and P.C. Olive, "Lost Empires & Vanished Races of Prehistoric America," pg. 39. Any thoughts?” Mathis A.
Response: First of all, Moroni is the capital city of Grande Comore, an island in the Comoros archipelago located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa, between Mozambique and Madagascar. Moroni, in Comorian, means “in the heart of the fire.” It was founded in the 10th century by Arabic settlers as the capital of a sultanate connected commercially to Zanzibar and Tanzania. The Comoros islands were first settled about 550 B.C., with the older name being Komori, with the language of Shikomor, from the original name of the islands. Secondly, theses islands are only about 1700 miles from the Arabian coast, not far enough to consider re-fitting on a voyage of about 10,000 miles. In addition, The islands are in the middle of the channel between Madagascar and Africa, and off the course of a ship “being driven forth before the wind,” for the winds move north between these two land masses, not south. It is unlikely that Nephi’s ship would have been within a thousand miles or more of that area. Third, as for the course being “extreme,” it could only be stated by a novice in the area of winds and currents and weather-driven ships in 600 B.C. Fourth, this area is not very well traveled, and in the early 1800s, would not have been known widely. The chance that Joseph Smith would have even heard of Madagascar is remote, let alone a tiny island off the African coast of Mozambique, a name not even a mariner’s term, let alone known to farmers in New England.

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