Monday, April 11, 2016

More Comments From Readers – Part I

Here are some additional comments and questions from readers of this blog:
    Comment #1: “I read in the Index of the Book of Mormon under Ammaron: Nephite record keeper A.D 306—brother of Amos, keeps records; 1: tells Mormon how and when to hide the plates, deposits records near city of Jashon. However, I cannot find anywhere that he tells Mormon when and where to hide the plates” Helen H.
    Response: That is because he does not tell Mormon that. This is one of the reasons we have from time to time suggested using a careful and discerning eye when reading what man has added to the Book of Mormon. In all due respect to those who have so labored to help the reader better understand the writing in the scriptural record, many times errors  have crept in, or one gets a completely different view of what was originally written. As an example, while the adding of verses and chapters to the Book of Mormon are helpful in study, particular remembering and finding, they often mislead the reader by separating thoughts that originally were meant to be combined—like separating a run-on sentence.
Ammaron, the last of those who wrote on the sacred plates before Mormon (he wrote only three verses), told Mormon, when the latter was a mere lad of ten years of age, where he had hidden the plates and what Mormon was to do “when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people.” (Mormon 1:3). He also told Mormon “ye shall take the plates of Nephi unto yourself, and the remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are; and ye shall engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed concerning this people” (Mormon 1:4).
    Obviously, the holy ghost told Ammaron where and when to hide the plates (4 Nephi 1:48), but Ammaron did not tell Mormon what to do with them, at least that we have recorded. On the other hand, after Mormon had retrieved the plates Ammaron told him about (Mormon 2:17), upon which he made a full account of the Nephites from the time he had “been sufficient to behold the ways of men” (Mormon 2:18), which Mormon evidently carried with him until they arrived at Cumorah years later, in which before that final battle, Mormon hid up all the records which had been entrusted to him by the hand of the Lord, except for the few he gave to his son Moroni (Mormon 6:6).
Other than that was where they were, Mormon does not say why he chose that hill in which to hide the records, or other than it being the last battle of the Nephites, why that time, and it is highly unlikely (though possible) Ammaron had apprised him to do so there 65 years earlier.
Thus, Ammaron’s name is referred to eight times in seven verses (4 Nephi 1:47-49; Mormon 1:2,5; 2:17; 4:23), none of which in telling Mormon what to do with the records once he recorded on them.
    Comment #2: “In your description of the priests of Noah and their kidnapping the Lamanite daughters, you seem to have combined two events 18 years apart as though they occurred close together. That is, the fleeing of the priests happened when Noah was killed, or in the first year of Limhi’s reign, and the capture of the Lamanite women was 18 years later in the last year of his reign, just after Ammon arrived to rescue them” Kerry B.
    Response: I have heard that opinion before, however, the scriptural record tells us something entirely different. While Limhi began his reign at the time Noah was captured and killed, which was at the same time the priests of Noah departed from the land, they had about two years of peace after that (Mosiah 19:29).
The very next sentence is about the daughters of the Lamanites in the wilderness of Shemlon (Mosiah 20:19). The events of the girl’s kidnapping is recounted, the Lamanites accept that the Nephites didn’t do it and peace is again restored (Mosiah 21:1). The Lamanites are stirred up again, a battle breaks out and the Lamanites kill many Nephites (Mosiah 21:8). They humbled themselves, prayed, the Lord blessed them and they “raised grain more abundantly, and flocks and herds” (Mosiah 21:16); the Nephites kept guards watching the land round about for those priests who had stolen the Lamanite daughters (Mosiah 21:20), and during this time “there was no more disturbance between the Lamanties and the people of Limhi even until the time that Ammon and his brethren came into the land” (Mosiah 21:22). Obviously, Mormon in his abridgement left out a lot of those 18 years between Limhi becoming king and Ammon arriving, but the incident of the daughters of the Lamanites occurred as stated in Limhi’s 3rd year as king.
    Comment #3: “There are only two regions in the New World showing the high degree of ancient civilization required by the text of the Book of Mormon. One of these locations is in South America as you write about, the other is centered in Mesoamerica, which you discredit. Yet the one in Mesoamerica is the only one known to have had a sophisticated form of writing. How do you explain that?” Ronald C.
    Response: We’ve covered this many times before, but it is an area that people seem to misunderstand. So let me briefly give you two basic responses, one scriptural and the other common sense:
1. Scriptural: When both Mormon and Moroni had completed their part of the records they were abridging, they hid the record because “having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord” (Mormon 6:6). 
2. Common Sense: The scriptural record of Nephi through Moroni was written in Reformed Egyptian (1 Nephi 1:2; Mormon 9:32). The writing found in Mesoamerica has no semblance to either Egyptian or Hebrew and makes no difference that they wrote. The Nephites who wrote had all that they left behind destroyed.
    In addition, almost all of the building done in Mesoamerica was stone and their engraving survived; most of the building in Andean Peru was out of mud brick which did not survive well enough for any engraving to be seen—only what they did in stone, like Sacsahuaman, Tiwanaku, Ollantaytambo, etc., can be seen, and much of that which has engraven, if any is writing, it has not been identified, just as the writing in Mesoamerica was never identified as writing (hieroglyphs) until more than 100 years later, and only recently interpreted because of the Rosetta Stone. It should also be noted that those who went to Easter Island from Peru took writing with them (Rongorongo), there has been writing found around Titicaca of cuniform (writing of Mesopotamia from which the Nephites came).
Left: Rongorongo (Peru), Right: Mayan Glyphs (Mesoamerica)


  1. Writing in Mesoamerica was interpreted because of the Rosetta Stone?

  2. Excuse my error—I was working on two things at once at the time, and one was Egyptian, which was eventually deciphered due to the Rosetta Stone. As for the Mayan—the decipherment of the Maya writing system, the incorrectly called hieroglyphs, but actually a logogram complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs, somewhat similar in in a way to modern Japanese writing. Mayan was called "hieroglyphics" or hieroglyphs by early European explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries who did not understand it but found its general appearance reminiscent of Egyptian hieroglyphs, though Egyptian hieroglyphs do not in any way relate to or are related to the Mayan.
    Decipherment was a long and laborious process. Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz, and eccentric, often called erratic genius, who was born in the Ottoman Empire in 1783 near Constantinople is credited as being the first to insist that studying modern Mayan languages could lead to deciphering the ancient script. The polymath, among his many other achievements and notable accomplishments, was the first insist that studying modern Maya languages could lead to deciphering the ancient script. Although his belief that the Mayan was an alphabet, he became the first to decode the Maya numbers and portions of the texts related to astronomy and the Maya calendar, explaining that its bar-and-dot symbols represented fives and ones, respectively (i.e., strokes meaning 5 and associated dots meaning the numbers 1 thru 4 of the set of 5, such as 6 thru 9, 11 thru 14, etc.)
    Although some specifics of his decipherment claims were later shown to be incorrect, the central argument of his work, that Maya hieroglyphs were phonetic (or more specifically, syllabic—meaning symbols that make up the syllables or more frequently, moras [syllable weight which determine stress or timing], which make up words), was later supported by the work of Yuri Knorozov, who played a major role in deciphering Maya writing. This also included the symbols unique to explanation, ie., somewhat like ancient Spanish where Ð (a D with the arm of an E). Ð (a D with the arm of an E) was substituted for “de” meaning “of” or the use of the ampersand (&) which is a conflation of the Latin “et”—such as the use of the words “fish fin” (fin of a fish) was drawn either as a fish with a fin, or a fish with prominent fins, which then represented the syllable “ka” for the Mayan word “kah” meaning fish fin.

  3. (continuing)
    Knorozov published a paper in1952, "Ancient Writing of Central America" arguing that the so-called "de Landa alphabet" contained in Bishop Diego de Landa’s manuscript Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán was made of syllabic, rather than an alphabetic symbols.
    In the 1960s, progress revealed the dynastic records of Maya rulers. Since the early 1980s it has been demonstrated that most of the previously unknown symbols form a syllabary, and progress in reading the Maya writing has advanced rapidly since. In fact, just last year it was reported that the Mayan symbols on an ancient tomb (the sarcophagus lid of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, the king buried within the tomb who ruled the kingdom of Palenque, located in southern Mexico just west of the Yucatan Peninsula), was found to have been decorated by classic Maya iconography—and these hitherto undecipherable hieroglyphs have led to long-running controversies in the past. The markings on the tomb were unreadable up until recently, but thanks to the efforts of Guillermo Bernal and his team of researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the secret has finally been unraveled when he found that a particular pictogram, one that resembled the molar of a jaguar, was linked to a similar one found elsewhere that means “edge,” as in the sharpened edge of a weapon such as a spear. When placed in context with the rest of the hieroglyphs within the tomb, the translation became clear: “House of the Nine Sharpened Spears,” which is a direct reference to the nine warriors depicted in Maya iconography on the sides of the tomb.
    Obviously, as can be seen, deciphering the Maya logographic syllables was not accomplished like the Egyptian through the Rosetta Stone, but through a slow process over many years and is still and ongoing effort with many involved in the constant study of the Mayan syllabogram and entire syllabary.

  4. Thank you! I was quite confused by that.