Thursday, May 7, 2015

More Comments from Readers – Part II

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “From all that I have read and understand, there was never any barley grown in the New World prior to the arrival of the Europeans. How then can we justify its being mentioned in Mosiah?” Jacki B.
More than a thousand years ago the Kohokam people first inhabited the deserts of Arizona. They flourished for more than 70 generations in the lower Salt River Valley, where Phoenix now stands, with irrigation canals that watered as much as 40,000 acres of cropland
    Response: Recent archaeological evidence suggests that pre-Columbian Americans cultivated barley over a long period of time. A 1983 article in Science 83 describes archaeological work at the Hohokam site of La Ciudad, near downtown Phoenix, Arizona (the Hohokam culture flourished in the North American Southwest from about 300 B.C. to A.D. 1450). The writer states, "Perhaps the most startling evidence of Hohokam agricultural sophistication came last year when salvage archeologists found preserved grains of what looks like domesticated barley, the first ever found in the New World." Shortly thereafter, additional samples turned up at other archaeological sites in Oklahoma and Illinois. Of the discoveries made in Illinois, one recent study states that a "previously unidentified seed type has now been identified as little barley (Hordeum pusillum), and there are strong indications that this grain must be added to the list of starchy-seeded plants that were cultivated in the region 2000 years ago."
    Given enough time and enough research, and in the Lord's due time, all of the Book of Mormon will be verified.
    Comment #2: “There are several references to bees or honey in the Book of Mormon, but all occur in the Old World. Lehi's group found honey in the Old World, a passage quoted from Isaiah mentions bees, and the Jaredite group carried bees with them as they traveled in the Old World. We are not told that the Jaredites brought bees into the New World. Bees are missing in the list of items placed on the ships in Ether 6:4. But no wonder: I'd be uncomfortable being locked in a closed vessel with hives of bees. With no indication of bees being brought to the New World, we have nothing to explain. We simply don't have to explain or apologize for things that the Book of Mormon does not say” Pamela D.
Response: First of all, honey bees do not attack or sting people—the stingless bees, sometimes called stingless honey bees make up about 500 species of honey bees, and during certain conditions are basically dormant, which has been covered in this blog many times. The Central and South America bees are stingless bees. Secondly, According to Alexander von Humboldt, the Spanish conqueror Cortes found honey being sold by Native Americans in their market places when he came to the New World. Here is the passage from Alexander von Humboldt, Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, translated by John Black, London, 1811, vols. 1 of 3 (accessed in the Special Collection Department at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa): Cortez . . . told Emperor Charles V of the commodities sold in the great market of Tlaletolco--"There is sold," says he, "honey of bees and wax, honey from the stalks of maize, and honey from a shrub called maguey by the people. The natives make sugar of these plants, and this sugar they also sell." Since pre-Hispanic times the Mayan and Nahua ethnic groups of Central America bred stingless bees for their honey and wax. This type of beekeeping, which is called "meliponiculture", was a well-developed enterprise at the time of the Spanish conquest. Bee stands with hundreds of colonies of Melipona beecheii supplied honey and wax for exportation to Europe. To this day, peasant farmers continue to keep stingless bees in forest areas. Melipona beecheii is still the preferred species for husbandry, while some eight more species are being kept in the home gardens. The honey, wax and pollen of almost all the other stingless bee species are collected in the forest.
    Comment#3: “I think the apologetics view that "horse" could mean deer or any other similar lifeform. Because if you look into the Bible, whenever they used a word like horse or deer it actually was talking about a horse or a deer. We cannot just assume one animal really was meant to represent another animal. That is not a scientific approach" Foster W.
    Response: I agree, and you have never heard such excuses in this blog. Horse means horse. And we have also shown in this blog that horses in the Western Hemisphere existed prior to the arrival of the Spanish as both older and recent discoveries have shown, though completely ignored by the mainstream archaeologists.
The important point is that while today we know that there were ancient horses in the Americas, but this discovery based on fossils came after Joseph Smith's day. When he was alive, it was believed that this continent never had horses until the Spanish brought them. For example, in describing the zoology of South America, John Bigland and Jedidiah Morse wrote the following in A Geographical and Historical View of the World, vol. 5 (Boston: Thomas Wait and Company, 1811), p. 457:
    It is well known that neither horses nor horned cattle existed in any part of the new continent previous to its discovery by the Spaniards; and the surprising herds with which the country is now overspread, have multiplied from a few that were carried over and turned loose by the first settlers.”
    If Joseph were drawing upon his own knowledge and the scholarship of others, it would have been foolhardy to mention horses in the Americas anciently. Now that we know horses were here anciently, their mention in the Book of Mormon is far less problematic today than it was in 1830, though it is still a problem requiring further investigation.
    Comment #4: “Nephi wrote: “I Will Be Your Light in the Wilderness; and I Will Prepare the Way before You” (1 Nephi 17:13). This sounds too much like Moses writing in Exodus: Exodus 6:7-8 -- "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light" for it to be original to Joseph Smith. Seems like he copied the idea from the Bible” Chance B.
    Response: And you find that a problem? Hmmm. The same God that spoke to Moses about how he was going to take care of them in their travels is the same God that spoke to Nephi in explaining how he would guide them. Sounds like a pattern of God’s behavior with man—and more of a creditable witness of the accuracy of the Book of Mormon to me.
    Comment #5: “You say that the word curious in “curious man” in regard to Hagoth does not mean he was an explorer, that is, a man curious about the world and went in his ships, etc. How exactly do you come by that idea?” Kalli V.
Response: Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, which uses the language of New England during Joseph Smith’s time, states that “curious” in the term “timbers of curious workmanship” (1 Nephi 18:1) as well as “ball of curious workmanship” (1 Nephi 16:10), regarding the Liahona, means “made with care, nicely diligent, wrought with care and art, elegant, finished, curious arts.” The term “curious” as it applies to the shipbuilding Hagoth, in “an exceedingly curious man” (Alma 63:5), means: “artful, exact, diligent, rare, careful, accurate.”
    In addition, "curious workmanship" was an idiom used to denote objects of unusual design and superior craftsmanship. Such objects were curious in that it would be difficult for one untrained to understand how they were made or "worked." Where did Nephi receive his instruction on how to build this curious ship? According to Dr. Sami Hanna, an Egyptian who was especially schooled in the Arabic language, the word "curious" in 1 Nephi 18:1 refers to the workmanship of the timbers does not mean "strange" as many have presumed, but actually designates an instrument of "skilled" or "elegant" workmanship. [Brenton G. Yorgason, Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon, p. 36] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 16:10]
    In addition, according to Terrence Szink, it appears Nephi purposefully wrote his account in a way that would reflect the Exodus. While on the mountain, Nephi received detailed instruction concerning the ship he was to build, just as Moses received orders regarding the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:1,8-9). In both cases a pattern was shown to the prophet, after which he was to build the structure. In both cases the purpose is mentioned. In both cases the workmanship was described as "curious" (1 Nephi 18:1). (Terrence L. Szink, "Nephi and the Exodus," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, pp. 46-47; see also Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, 1981, pp. 46)

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