Saturday, December 13, 2014

Answers to Reader's Comments - Part III

Here are more comments that we have received on this website blog: 
   Comment #1: “I read somewhere that Lehi gave away or sold his house, the land he had inherited, his silver and gold, and all his precious things. Do we know this for sure?” Margaret A.
Response: In looking up that statement, it appears to have been given by Susan Sessions Rugh (left), an Associate Dean of the BYU College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, October 13, 2009, in which her complete statement of this matter was: “From these verses we understand that the Lord commanded Lehi to take his family and journey into the wilderness, that Lehi was obedient, and that the whole family (his wife, Sariah, and their four sons—Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, and Sam) went together into the wilderness. We know very little about Lehi’s preparations, but we can make some assumptions. We can assume he sold or gave away his house, the land he had inherited, his silver and gold, and all “his precious things.” Lehi and Sariah left everything and took only tents and provisions—probably food, cooking utensils, tools, and maybe seeds. In fact, so total was Lehi’s commitment to leave it all behind that later the Lord commanded him to return for the plates of Laban. I don’t know how he got hold of the gold he’d given away to get those plates, but somehow he—or his sons—did.”
    There are a few points here that are so beyond belief that I cannot imagine anyone with even the most limited knowledge of this storyline in the scriptural record would not know, it is downright scary to think that an Associate Dean, with 17 years teaching experience at BYU, would so blatantly announce her ignorance of her own religion in front of a group of students in a devotional address.
    She even begins this train of thought by saying, “By now all you freshmen taking Religion 121 are well versed in the particulars of Lehi’s journey that open the Book of Mormon. If we read carefully from 1 Nephi 2…” It would seem she did not read the entire story for she seems not at all well versed in the particulars!
    First, the Lord told Lehi to leave his home and depart into the wilderness because the Jews did “seek to take away thy life” (1 Nephi 2:1). It was so important to not have anyone in Jerusalem know Lehi was leaving and where he was going, that Nephi, when encountering Zoram (Laban’s servant) grabbed him and made him promise to go with them into the wilderness because “we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us” (1 Nephi 4:36). This was very important since the Jews had a long history of following prophets who escaped Jerusalem to bring them back for trial or execution.
Nephi exacted a promise from Zoram that he would go into the wilderness with Lehi “he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth… And it came to pass that when Zoram had made an oath unto us, our fears did cease concerning him”
    In addition, when she says “maybe seeds,” she must not have read “we had gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind.” (1 Nephi 8:1), or “we did go down into the ship, with all our loading and our seeds, and whatsoever thing we had brought with us” (1 Nephi 18:6), or “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem.” (1 Nephi 18:24).
    In addition, when Lehi’s sons were not able to obtain the Brass Plates from Laban, and Laman and Lemuel wanted to give up and return to Lehi’s tent, Nephi said, “therefore let us go down to the land of our father's inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches” (1 Nephi 3:16). So the boys “went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things…and we went up again unto the house of Laban” (1 Nephi 3:22-23) to purchase the plates.
    Where anyone would get the idea that Lehi had sold everything, including his house and property, which would have brought untold attention to his departure, is beyond me. And if he had sold it all, including the gold and silver, there is simply no way the boys would have felt they could go down and get it, let alone be successful in obtaining it from whoever would have bought it all.
    What amazes me is that professors, and in this case an associate Dean, at BYU, seem to have no need to know and understand the scriptural record and are willing to get up and talk about things they obviously do not know. I would hope this was an isolated case, but having read the writings of so many scholars regarding the scriptural record, which I have commented on in these posts for the past four years, it would seem that far too many do not know the scriptural story line at all as this case shows, yet feel free to quote it (inaccurtely) and create models about it.
    Comment #2: I love the blog and your assiduous research. Since, you're the most vocal proponent of the South America model, in my estimation that makes you the de facto leader, and certainly the thought leader at the very least. Your works are the lone bright spot in a massive river of drivel” W.B.
    Response: Thank you for your kind words. Hopefully, we are making headway against the tide of inaccurate thinking about the location of the Land of Promise as Nephi and Mormon, et al, described it.
    Comment #3: Wait a second. Moroni 10:4 says to ask if these things are NOT true… That’s a negative. It tells the reader to ask if these things are NOT true. So if the answer you got is, “yes” then by the wording of the scripture doesn’t that mean that the answer you got is that the Church isn’t true? (Yes, these things are not true).”—This was posted in an anti-Mormon message board. Your Ben Spackman claims Moroni’s question is a ‘negative rhetorical question’, a Hebraism that shows up not only in the Book of Mormon but also in the Bible, and that this rhetorical device occurs in English, but it is stronger and more common in biblical Hebrew…In contrast to a “simple question, when the questioner is wholly uncertain as to the answer to be expected. Evidently he feels Moroni did not know what answer might result from such a test” Egile R.
    Response: I am always amazed at the depths of unreasonable criticism people will go to be heard. This is not a negative rhetorical question, it is an idiom, not unlike that of English when a person says: ”Isn’t that true?” when they expect no question as to the correctness of the statement. It can, and sometimes is, used as a challenge “Isn’t that true!” where the wrong answer can evoke strong reactions.
If it is a Hebraism, as Ben Spackman of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute claims, then it is completely misunderstood or misused here, since Moroni (left) is not unsure of the answer to his own question. He is using it much like the English “Go ahead, go look and see if I’m not right.” It could have been worded, if it was in English writing as, “Go ahead, try it, prove me wrong,” said by someone who knows he is right. This is really a non-issue, and your stating it shows your lack of knowledge and understanding of idiomatic expression, both English and Hebrew. The bottom line is, Moroni is setting up a challenge—he wants his future reader to verify what he has said, to pray about it, and see if the Lord responds through the Spirit as Moroni says he will. “Go ahead, try it, prove me wrong—if you can.”
    Comment #3: "Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica"\ quite fascinating. I have not yet read the others in the series, though I plan to. I also find the entries on you blog quite fascinating. I mean to read through it all, though have only been able to occasionally browse so far. I have done a quick binge reading of some of your more recent posts and noticed you often used the \"mute point\" phrase. I did a quick search with your blogs search tool, and it is used 8 times. The \"moot point\" phrase is used once. I think the proper usage is \"moot point\". I really am not generally a member of the grammar police. In this case I think I just wanted to remove potential targets for detractors that have nothing to do with your actual arguments.” Michael R.
    Response: Moot point is correct. Once again, I stand corrected. Thank you, and thank you for your kind words.


  1. As a continuation of my comment (#3), I have since read up through 2012 on your blog and was given "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica" for my birthday. I'm not sure what my expectations of it were, but it has definitely exceeded them. I have found the extensive information on early Mesopotamia (as far as I've gotten in the book so far) to be very interesting and informative reading.

  2. Thank you. I'm glad you are enjoying the book and articles.