Friday, April 29, 2016

An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part IV

Continuing from the last three 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.
     According to the article: While we know that, in at least a few instances, deer were ridden, we do not have the same information concerning tapirs, other than accounts of children riding tapirs. The problem, once again, is of recontextualization. The Book of Mormon never says that Nephite “horses” were ridden. Book of Mormon horses are never used to hasten a journey and they are never used in a combat narrative.
(Interjectory note: “Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.” (Alma 18:10). And again,And Ammon said unto him: No one hath told me, save it be God; and he said unto me -- Go and deliver thy brethren, for they are in prison in the land of Middoni. Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots. And he said unto Ammon: Come, I will go with thee down to the land of Middoni, and there I will plead with the king that he will cast thy brethren out of prison. And it came to pass that as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying thither, they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land” (Alma 20:5-8). 
    It would seem from the foregoing that in this case, horses were used by Lamoni and Ammon to hasten their journey to Middoni)
    Continuing with the article: This is most curious and requires an explanation for those critics who claim that Joseph Smith created a fictional Book of Mormon. According to what was known during Joseph’s day, the Indians (and all Westerners) rode horses. Nineteenth-century horses were also used to plow fields, but there is no mention of this in the Book of Mormon. If Joseph had created a fictional story, why doesn’t the Book of Mormon reflect horses in ways that were familiar to nineteenth-century Americans?
(Interjectory note: Romans, Greeks, and those of that era seldom rode horses. Field commanders did, simply because it made them more mobile to move among their troops, issue orders, and get a better picture of the order of battle--plus, it made them visible to their troops and showed they were among them on the battle field. On the other hand, Romans and Greeks had chariots and these were used both in battle, as a mounted cavalry was centuries later, and for transportation. No Roman General walked into Rome after a period of time in the field or being away from Rome—they rode chariots in great triumph.
Continuing: Mesoamerica was a maize-based agriculture. Real “horses” in such an agricultural society would not have been very helpful in food production and may actually have been an economic drain.
    Maize based agriculture produces four times as much food as did the wheat and oat agriculture of Europe. Large cities could be easily supported on a much smaller agricultural land base, where human porters were far more efficient than a horse would be. Instead, we read in the Book of Mormon that the “people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses” (Enos 1:21). Later we read that while the Nephites fought with the Gadianton robbers, they reserved provisions for themselves. What kinds of provisions?…horses and cattle, and flocks of every kind, that they might subsist for the space of seven years, in the which time they did hope to destroy the robbers from off the face of the land…. (3 Ne. 4:4).
(Interjectory note: In few advanced societies is horsemeat preferential over cattle, sheep and goats for meat. In fact, horses are usually reserved for the last to be butchered since they have other, valuable purposes)
    Continuing: After defeating the Gadianton Robbers the Nephites returned to their homes–every man with his “flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle” (3 Ne. 6:1). It seems that Book of Mormon horses may have been considered to be something like cattle. As noted above, tapirs were frequently eaten in ancient America. In the ancient Near East early horses were too small to ride and so they were sometimes used to pull things such as chariots. By about 1000 B.C., the Egyptians had bred horses large enough for soldiers to ride bareback. With this adaptation, the war chariot began to die out.
(Interjectory note: Alexander the Great [356-323 B.C.] in the battle of Gaugamela, according to the Greek historian Arrian in the second century A.D., was one of the largest and greatest chariot battles undertaken. Darius had plowed and level the battle field with the intention of using his famed scythed war chariots [3-foot long blades affixed on each side to the wheel hubs that spun around cutting into the enemy as the vehicle moved forward]; however, Alexander outsmarted him by marching sideways to the line with the Persians following until they were nearly out of the plowed field. When the Persians finally charged Alexander’s position with their chariots, the Greeks threw lances at the horses, killing them—or they stood apart and let the chariots ride on through with the rear guard overpowering them. These famed war chariots were famous in the Greco-Persian Wars (457-458 B.C.) and on into Alexander’s time a century later)
Scythed chariot wheels [red arrow] mounted on large and light Persian war chariots designed to plow through infantry lines.  General Xenophon saw them in use during the battle of Cunaxa north of Babylon in 401 B.C. in the revolt by Cyrus 700 years after the writer of this quoted article claims they were no longer in use
     Continuing: Large horses are ridden; small horses were used to pull things. Ancient New World horses would have been small horses. A few Book of Mormon verses seem to indicate that New World “horses” may also have been used to pull chariots. In Alma, for instance, we read that Ammon was “preparing” King Lamoni’s “horses and chariots” to conduct him to the land of Nephi (Alma 18:9-12). Later, when Ammon wanted to free his brethren from a neighboring city’s prison, King Lamoni volunteered to go with Ammon and asked that his servants “make ready his horses and chariots” (Alma 20:6). Finally, when the Nephites went to war with the Gadianton robbers they took “horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance” and gathered to Zarahemla to defend themselves.
(Interjectory note: For the sake of accuracy, they gathered “the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23). And there were not just a few, “and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies” (3 Nephi 3:22)
    Continuing: The initial “plain” reading of these verses seems to suggest that horse-drawn chariots transported the Nephites to various destinations. It should be noted, however, that chariots are mentioned in only a few verses, and in all but one instance, they belonged to a single king–Lamoni. In the other instance it seems that chariots are used to convey Nephites or their property in their trek to Zarahemla, more in the manner of carts than war chariots.
(Interjectory note: How they used these horses and chariots is not the point. The issue at hand is that the Nephites had horses that pulled chariots. It seems likely that when the Nephites were fleeing from the Lamanites shortly before Cumorah and those who could not keep up were overrun and killed by the Lamanites, that the Nephites would have employed what ever manner of fast movement available to them, suggesting that those who could not keep up were on foot and overtaken and killed as they tried to escape the lamanites)
    Continuing: Book of Mormon chariots, like horses, are never mentioned in a combat narrative.
(Interjectory note: Mormon’s book of his own life and the many battles covering nearly 70 years, is full of the Nephites fleeing the Lamanite hordes, yet no details are given. Just because it is not mentioned, when chariots were known to both the Lamanites and Nephites, does not mean that chariots were not in use. In Mormon’s abridgement, of which he said he could not write even one thousandth of what was available to him, it would not be unusual that he neglected to indicated chariots were employed during the Nephite wars with the Lamanites since they both had such vehicles pulled by horses and their use would seem to be common sense)
(See the next post, “An Interesting Thing About Translation – Part V,” 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)

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