Thursday, April 28, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part III

Continuing from the last two posts on the difference between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation method and accuracy of the Book of Mormon), including the type of normal translation and its problems one would expect that are erroneously applied by theorists to the Book of Mormon.
    Also continuing with, if we find such loan-shifting in verifiable New World sources when the Native Americans and the Spaniards encountered unfamiliar animals, why do some critics think it is impossible that the Nephites would have acted any differently when they encountered unfamiliar items or animals, or had to identify different items with a limited written vocabulary?
(Interjectory note: It is not that the animals are familiar (to us), they were not familiar to those using the loan-shifting of words. The Maya had never seen a horse or goat before (obviously, why the Book of Mormon lands were not in Mesoamerica), and tapirs were not familiar to the Spanish invaders, nor was the hippopotamus  known to the Greeks who called it a “river horse.” So what animals were not known to the indigenous Peruvians that they called by other names? Since the article is centered in Mesoamerica, we do not have an answer to that)
    Perhaps the reformed Egyptian word for “horse” was expanded to include other animals that were in some way horse-like. The most likely animals to have been included in the expanded definition of the Book of Mormon “horse” are the deer and the tapir.
The tapir, horse, and two species of deer. What makes these theorists think that the Nephites didn’t know what a deer and horse was. And since tapirs were indigenous to Central and South America, why they wouldn’t have known about the tapir. The point is these theorists arguments often fall short when they try to change the wordage of the scriptural record
As already noted, some of the Aztecs called the Spanish horse “deer.” Likewise, in the Quiche languages of highland Guatemala we have expressions like keh, which means both deer and horse, and the cognitive keheh, which means mount or ride. Early Native Americans had no problem expanding their definition of “deer” to include horses, so why couldn’t the Nephites expand their definition of “horse” to include deer if the American genus of deer–in some ways–acted like horses?
Drawing of 600 B.C. etchings in Israel and Syria showing (left), gazelle, (center) deer, (right) goat from Keel’s book
(Interjectory note: From Israel to Syria in the 600 B.C. period, according to Othmar Keel (The Song of Songs: A Continental Commentary, Fortress, 1994, pp92-93), the deer, gazelle, horse, and goat are all shown on coins and scaraboid. Now if these were known in Israel at the time of Lehi, then the Nephites would have known their names and they would have appeared on the plates in whatever form they could write in reformed Egyptian. To say the Egyptian was so limited that normal animals names known in Jerusalem were not writable is ridiculous—the Nephites could write cureloms and cumoms—why would those names be writable in reformed Egyptian and not animals known to both the Jews and Egyptians?)
    An early pre-Spanish incense burner discovered in Guatemala shows a man riding on the back of a deer, and a stone monument dating to 700 A.D. shows a woman riding a deer. Until recently many people in Siberia rode on the backs of deer. In such cases the deer served as “horses.”
(Interjectory note: While theorists try very hard to “stack the deck” in favor of their translation problems, the point is that the Maya had never seen a horse before; however, the Nephites knew what horses were, had them in conjunction with their chariots as previous discussed, and would not have used words to make one sound like the other—again, we need to be reminded that while the Maya were merely communicating among themselves, the Nephite recorders of the scriptural record knew they were writing to a future people and it seems highly unlikely they would have done so in such a sloppy manner. Nor, at this point is the idea that Reformed Egyptian was a narrow language that did not leave room for words that they already knew as has been suggested. It might also be pointed out that horses and chariots go together. Under no circumstances do deer and chariots go together)
    But didn’t the Nephites know real “deer” from their Old World experiences? Possibly. While “deer” are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon–not even in the Old World setting where the Lehites frequently hunted during their travels through the Arabian Peninsula–it seems reasonable to assume that the Lehites were familiar with Old World deer before coming to the New World.
(Interjectory note: See comment above and image of deer and gazelle in Israel 600 B.C.)
    Why, then, would the Nephites use the term “horse” for “deer”? Why didn’t they simply use the Hebrew word for “deer”? As previously noted, the Hebrew words for “deer” included several non-deer animals such as “ram,” “ibex,” and “mountain goat.”
LtoR: Deer; Gazelle; Hartebeest
    The Lehites may also have associated the Hebrew term “deer” with “gazelle” or “hartebeest.” The Hebrew-speaking Lehites wouldn’t have limited the label “deer” to exclusively one animal, nor would they have limited the Hebrew words for “horse” exclusively to horses.
(Interjectory note: The Hebrew “ayyal” means deer [Strong lists it as: “Ayal” meaning stag, hart (male deer), and “Ayala” means doe, gazelle, hind, all of the deer family], and is used as such in “the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck” (Deuteronomy 14:5) “of it, as of the gazelle and the deer”; “may eat of the gazelle and the deer” (Deuteronomy 12:15); “as a gazelle or a deer is eaten” (Deuteronomy 12:22)’ “as a gazelle or a deer”(Deuteronomy 15:22); “As the deer pants” (Psalm 42:1); “will leap like a deer, and the tongue (Isaiah 35:6); “have become like deer that have found (Lamentations 1:6). In all of the above, plus 1 Kings 4:23; Songs 2:9, 17; 8:14; the King James Version translate the word to “hart,” which is a “white red deer stag” or deer.)
    While the Lehites would have had a Hebrew word for deer, the question is whether the Nephites had a written reformed Egyptian word for deer. Reformed Egyptian was likely a combination of Hebrew language written in modified-Egyptian characters.
(Interjectory note: The above is nothing more than an assumption without any type of proof. We do not know what reformed Egyptian was, how it was structured, used, read or written).
    The number of reformed Egyptian characters may have been rather small as evidenced by the limited vocabulary we find in the Book of Mormon. It is possible, like the Book of Mormon terms “river” and “sea,” that other reformed Egyptian characters were expanded to describe multiple items. Dr. William Hamblin explains that “deer” were likely extinct in Egypt long before Lehi’s day and that there may not have been an Egyptian word for deer at the time of Nephi. But even if an Egyptian word for “deer” was known to the Lehites, this does not mean that such a word was available in the limited vocabulary of reformed Egyptian. In the absence of a reformed Egyptian word for deer Nephi would have chosen some other word that represented a characteristic of deer or a way they interacted with people.  
(Interjectory note: While these scholars attempt to make a case for a limited vocabulary for reformed Egyptian, we have no reason to assume this. The fact that a limited vocabulary of the Book of Mormon is used could simply be what Nephi described the writing to be: “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3). It should also be noted that academicians, professors, scholars, etc., do not speak in plainness nor simplicity).
    The terms for “horse,” which had already been expanded in Hebrew to refer to “horseman” (or riders) as well as leaping animals (or even cranes), could easily be expanded to include New World “deer.” As noted in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ancient Near Eastern cultures, such as the Hebrews and Arabs, had “looseness of nomenclature” when it came to categorizing animals. The Nephites would have had no problem expanding the definition of “horse” to include New World animals that may have behaved in a similar fashion or were used in a similar way.
There is no similarity between a horse and a deer
(Interjectory note: When one is around deer (which are wild) and horses (which are domesticated after “broken”), drawing a conclusion that they behave in the same or similar fashion simply is not a comment any horseman, farmer, cowboy, or rodeo rider would ever make. There is simply nothing similar in these two species other than they both have four legs).
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part IV,” for a better understanding between normal translation and that accomplished by Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon—the difference, though seemingly lost on the theorists make all the difference in the world in understanding the translation and accuracy of the Book of Mormon)

1 comment:

  1. Del, What does the fossil record show in South America for the existence of deer and horses? I know it would not be conclusive of course because it was only in the last 20 or 30 years that fossil lion bones were found in Israel. Before that scholars did not believe the bible where it said that lions lived anciently in Israel. Since biblical times they have become extinct in that part of the world. Ira