Friday, December 12, 2014

Answers to Reader's Comments - Part II

Here are more comments that we have received on this website blog: 
    Comment #1: If a sincere student of the Book of Mormon will conscientiously read and study the book itself and will plot out all the locations mentioned, he will find that all Book of Mormon lands lie within a five or six hundred mile radius, and that this area could not possibly extend from Chile to New York” Jessica.
    Response: Strange combination. I don’t know of anyone who suggests the Land of Promise extended from Chile to New York. Now, if we look at Chile, we see a landing place at the 30º South Latitude, but most of the Book of Mormon takes place after Nephi flees from his brothers, in the area between the City of Nephi and the Narrow Neck of Land, which falls into the area of Peru, from about the area of Lake Titicaca and Cuzco on the south to the Bay of Guayaquil on the north (a distance of about 900 miles), with the Land Northward being the area of Ecuador (about 200 miles more), the Land of Many Waters being to the west of Quito. 
    As for the 600 mile radius, there is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest such a specific distance—that can only be the result of using a predetermined model and its distances.
If the comment about New York refers to the location of the Hill Cumorah, there is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest that the Hill Cumorah of the Land Northward in the scriptural record was in New York state, nor do we know where Moroni buried the records he had in his possession. We know that Mormon hid up the records that had been entrusted to him in the hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6), but he also delivered sacred records to his son, Moroni (Mormon 9:24), and then he sealed them (Mormon 10:2). Toward the end of his record, Moroni states that “I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not.” (Mormon 8:4), and speaking of himself, he said, “I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth; and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless” (Mormon 8:14).
    But where Moroni hid them, we simply do not know. As for the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, the records Moroni had were buried there by the time Joseph was led to them on September 22, 1823. However, during the intervening 1402 years, we simply do not know where they were. They could have been buried in the ground in all that time, they could have been in the possession of Moroni all that time, they could have been withdrawn from the earth by the Lord in all that time. There simply is no way to know.
    That these were the plates that Mormon abridged and Moroni had there can be no question. That the hill in which Joseph found them was named the Hill Cumorah by the early Saints after Joseph found them (probably by Oliver Cowdery or W. W. Phelps), there can be no question. But that it was the same hill in which the last battle took place as recorded in Mormon 6:4, there is no way to know. To insist that it was, or to insist that it wasn’t, is merely speculation.
    Comment #2: The LDS Church now concedes that Smith used the King James Bible as one of his primary sources when it came to extended quotes from the Bible. The long passages quoted from Isaiah as well as from Malachi and other books of the Bible have forced them to this admission. This causes a problem, because the official position of the Church for many years was that the Urim and Thummim which accompanied the golden plates was the exclusive means of translation and that every word of the Book of Mormon was divinely translated” Stacy.
Response: I am unfamiliar with any such concession on the part of the LDS Church. If you will show me the quotes and reference citing and its context, I will be glad to respond to your comment. As for what I do know, Nephi had in his possession, as did other prophets of the Book of Mormon, the brass plates in which were recorded the Old Testament from Adam down through some of Jeremiah, which obviously included Isaiah. Nephi read Isaiah a lot, loved his work, and found his writing to be easy to understand. His quotes would have come form there. As for recording from the Spirit what promptings Nephi and others received, one needs to remember that the same God that inspired the Bible inspired the Book of Mormon.
    Comment #3: “I read somewhere that John L. Sorenson said regarding the question of naming animals in the Book of Mormon: “We are dealing with the names, horse, cattle, goat, and sheep, but that's in English. There are a variety of animals native to the Americas that could qualify as bearing those names." That sounds like he is saying that the names Joseph Smith used were not illustrative of the actual animals that the Nephites had. Do you agree with that?”
    Response: Of all the things Sorenson has written about the Land of Promise there is not much I agree with, since he takes such license with the scriptures that the original meaning often seems lost.

As an example, Sorenson also said that what is written as “horse” in the scriptural record was most likely a tapir (left). Some critics have made fun with this idea to such a degree that it has become a laughing stock among critics and non-members. This is why the pages of this blog are devoted to keeping the focus on the scriptural record and not some historian, scholar, or academician’s wild or unsubstantiated views, ideas or beliefs that generally do far more harm instead of enlightening one about the Book of Mormon.
Critics making fun of Sorenson’s ill-advised statement about Nephi meaning a tapir and not really a horse
More importantly, however, is the fact that there are two major flaws in Sorenson’s ill-founded statement: 1) Nephi, growing up in Jerusalem, knew what a horse was. In fact, in addition to there being records of horsemen and horses and chariots in monarchic Israel earlier than Lehi’s time (Deborah O’Daniel Cantrell, The Horsemen of Israel: Horses and Chariotry in Monarchic Israel Ninth-Eighth Centuries B.C.E.).
    In addition, Jeremiah, living at the same time as Lehi and Nephi, mentions the Horse Gate in Jerusalem’s city walls (Jeremiah 31:40). The city gates of Jerusalem, built in David’s time, carried various meanings over the years, with the Horse Gate, between the Sheep Gate and the Water Gate, mentioned three times in the Bible.
In Solomon’s time, the Horse Gate (left) was where “the wicked Queen, Athaliah, was taken from the Temple, past King Solomon’s Palace, and slain at the entrance of the Horse Gate”; in 606 B.C., with the prophet Jeremiah predicting that a New Covenant would be given “from the Tower of Hananeel to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east”; and Nehemiah places the Horse Gate on the Ophel Ridge. The Horse Gate was located next to the horse stables, and the reason for its naming.  Thus, Nephi, Sam, and Zoram would have known what a horse was, as well as Lehi and Sariah—all from Jerusalem and all present when Nephi talked about the finding of animals, including “the horse,” just after landing in the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:25)
2) Joseph Smith grew up on a farm (left). He also knew what a horse was, having spent his childhood and teen years growing up on farms in Sharon and Norwich, Vermont; Lebanon, New Hampshire; and Palmyra and Manchester, New York. In fact, Joseph was very familiar with horses, using them for transportation, either riding or carriage, most of his life. And certainly the Spirit knew what a horse was and what the Nephites meant when they wrote the word(s) Joseph translated as “horse” and “chariot.”
    To try and find an excuse for mis-used words as Sorenson and many Theorists do is of little or no value. It is far more productive and far more accurate to accept the writing as it was written and approved by the Spirit and not try to find some other meanings that an historian or scholar thinks might have been meant.


  1. They have recently found horse bones that were older than the conquistadors but not old enough to be from the "first generation of horses that went extinct 10,000 years ago." To me that's proof enough that there were actual horses here this entire time.

  2. Unknown: We have written about those horse hones and remains, as well as elephants, etc., several times over the years of this blog. Other than beliefs of anthropologists and others, there is no concrete evidence horses died out in the Western Hemisphere before they were wiped out by the Flood (2344 B.C.) and reintroduced by the Jaredites around 2100 B.C.