Thursday, May 26, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part IV

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “You say there was no one else in the Land of Promise when Lehi arrived, yet in Nephi’s lifetime, he writes of wars with the Lamanites. Wars would require a lot of people, not just a handful in one family” Simon P.
Response: Many Mesoamerican theorists have rationalized Nephi’s mention of wars and contentions in the early years of the settlement as meaning there were other peoples in the land of promise who were also involved.  Otherwise, they contend, as you do, how were there enough people from the original Lehi Colony to manage to have a war.  Once again, we find the lack of understanding of Joseph Smith’s language misleading when modern readers of the Book of Mormon try to interpret his words by the understanding of words today.  After all, war to us in our time means a very formal battle of forces with typically large numbers of casualties, etc.  But in Joseph Smith’s time, according to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the word war is defined as meaning to contend, to strive violently, to be in opposition, to be in a state of opposition or contest; in fact, Webster says the root of the word means strive, struggle, urge, drive, or to turn or twist.  We might recognize that the war in heaven was more along these lines than anything physically violent, such as how we think of war today.  And the word contention, often used in conjunction with these early wars between the Nephites and Lamanites is listed in the 1828 dictionary as to struggle in opposition, to dispute earnestly, to strive in debate, to quarrel or dispute fiercely.  Thus, we can see that while the Nephites and Lamanites battled with each other over contentious issues, and they struggled in opposition, it does not necessarily mean it was a type of event that took large numbers to oppose one another
Comment #2: “I think Mark Twain was correct. Get rid of all “and it came to pass” statements and the Book of Mormon is just a pamphlet. What on earth does that phrase mean, anyway, and why is it used so often in your book?” Christopher M.
Response: The phrase, “it came to pass” occurs 1,297 times in the Book of Mormon, but also occurs 457 times in the KJV of the Old Testament, where it is an English translation of the single Hebrew word, hâyâh, which is more properly rendered, “now it happened,” and is considered a Hebrew idiom (or Hebraism) and is considered equivalent to “and then” or “and so.” The Hebrew Old Testament has 1,114 occurrences of the word hâyâh, with most of these either ignored or reduced to simply "and." When Joseph Smith edited the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon, he removed 46 occurrences of “it came to pass,” rendering them simply as “and.”  
    Why is this phrase so common in the Book of Mormon? The answer is simple: Because Joseph was translating a Hebrew text. If "it came to pass" were not prominent in the Book of Mormon, the Hebrew claims for its origin would be absurd. Hâyâh is an integral part of Hebrew expression. Thus, "it came to pass" must be found as a common expression in any document that claims to be a translation from Old Testament Hebrew to English, and is used as an elapsed time sequence, especially in abridgement style writing where the original is being condensed and parts skipped over. This basically shows that Hebrew was the language of choice of the Nephites, even though the phrase was rendered into reformed Egyptian on the plates.
Comment #3: “Why do you keep pushing the llama and alpaca so much—it’s getting rather redundant” Evelyn G.
    Response: Because they are the only two animals in the entire Western Hemisphere that matches the description of the cureloms and cumoms in the scriptural record. And since they are indigenous to Andean South America and help prove our location there for the Land of Promise and everyone in the theorist work of trying to find what these animals are but ignore the llama and alpaca, we keep promoting them. If anyone can come up with any other animals that are a better match, I’d like to see it.
    Comment #4: “You wrote in a recent article that all the Jaredites were wiped out and gave an explanation of the word “destroy” that Nibley does not think means what you say it does. It seems Nibley would be more correct—he speaks 10 languages or something like that” Martha M.
    Response: It was Noah Webster, author and creator of the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, who grew up in the same language-speaking region (New England) as did Joseph Smith and about the same time, who gave us the definition the word “destroy.” You might also want to know that Moroni didn’t mention this circumstance just once—but also another time as a casual remark when discussing the topography of the Land Northward when he wrote: “And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family” (Ether 9:3).
At the time Moroni writes this, the battle of Cumorah is long past, the Lamanites have rounded up those who escaped into the south countries, and though he thought he, too, would be killed and not a single Nephite left, he found he had time to abridge the Ether record and include it on the plates, which he did—and as he came to this point, he inserts the comment that Omer was escaping to the east past the hill the Nephites called Cumorah, where his father, Mormon, had hid up the records. It seems his use of the word “destroy” here is also an indication that his use elsewhere in the record is also correct.
    Comment #5 “I have an old map showing a lot of water in Ecuador labeled Los Rios. Is this the area you claim is the Land of Many Waters?
    Response: Basically. Los Rios (which means “The Rivers”) is a Province today, but before that it was an area labeled on maps simply as “The Rivers.” It might be of interest to know that anciently, on very old Spanish maps, it was labeled simply “Land of Many Waters” (Tierra de Muchas Aguas)—a friend of mine received an old map found by a missionary in Ecuador many years ago so labeled. We were very excited about it when first seeing it.
The district known as Los Rios, which has several rivers (Ecuador is full of rivers); however, this is not the Land of Many Waters, which is to the northeast, between Los Rios and Quito
    But to specifically answer your question, the rivers shown in the Los Rios area are the extension of the rivers described by Mormon (Mormon 6:4); however, the land described earlier, that Limhi’s expedition reached, “having traveled in a land among many waters” (Mosiah 8:8) refers to the area north of where you are looking, and is referred to more accurately by Mormon as the Land of Many Waters, Rivers and Fountains (Mormon 6:4), and would be the area referred to on modern maps as surrounding the Laguna Velasco Ibarra where there are scores of lakes, swamps, standing water, ponds, etc., as well as major and small rivers, and the fountains from which the water springs, including the major mountain snow melts in the area.

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