Friday, June 3, 2016

Were There Volcanoes Involved in the Destruction of 3 Nephi? – Part I

There seems to be a strong disagreement going on between some Mesoamerican and Great Lakes theorists, with the one claiming that the descriptions mentioned in 3 Nephi depict volcanic actions, and the other group claiming they did not and the word volcano is never mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
Since the descriptions in 3 Nephi are so specific, and Joseph Smith never experienced a volcano or earthquake to our knowledge, and the word volcano did not exist in the Middle East before Lehi left, nor was it a word in ancient Hebrew, it seems of interest to take a look at this argument, since it has a lot to do with how people tend to see the scriptural record and how people can lean toward different views regarding the location of the Land of Promise.
    First of all, as indicated, in Hebrew, there is no such ancient word for “volcano,” though today the word הַר גַעַשׁ, serephah, which comes from “cremation,” and means “a burning” is used by Strong’s Concordance as a word for “volcano.” Also: הַר גַעַשׁ and הַר פְּרָצִים are used for volcano, with שריפה meaning “fire.” However, this word, serephah, is used 13 times in the Old Testament does not relate to a volcano, but to things meaning “burned.”
    In Genesis, it is used to mean thoroughly burned brick; In Leviticus it had to do with unauthorized fire being lit in the sacrificial censer and the Lord caused a great flame to consume the errant priests; again about the censer fires in Numbers; also in Numbers about a fire burning the sacrificial heifer; in Deuteronomy being about the Lord threatening to rain down fire and brimstone because of idolatry; they made a great fire in the tomb Asa made for himself in Chronicles; both Temples were burned up with fire in Isaiah; the fall and ruin of Babylon in Jeremiah; an earthquake is described in Amos causing widespread destruction, convulsions of nature, and either their houses were burned or their bodies consumed by fire from heaven, refers to a ‘firebrand from God.”
    Thus, with one possible exception in Amos, the use of serephah is not used in conjunction with volcanoes in the Bible. So what word or words would have been used to describe such an experience?
    There was not one, so rather than a word, the idea would have been conveyed by what went on and what happened, rather than an all inclusive word like “volcanoes erupting.”
Secondly, one of the problems with language is trying to find a word that conveys the meaning sought. “Baseball” is not a word that existed prior to 1700, when Anglican bishop Thomas Wilson expressed his disapproval of ”Morris-dancing, cudgel-playing, baseball and cricket” on Sundays.
    So if you were tasked to write about the future ten years ago, how would you describe: Kindle, locavorism, hashtag, e-book, millennials, New Media, IOS Development, Android Developer, Zumba Instructor, Big Data Architect, the Cloud, User Experience Director; or what about twenty years ago how would you describe: iPhone, blog, LOL, selfie, app, bromance, homeland security, flash drive, terabyte, cyberstalking, paywall, Pay Pal, muggles, staycation, upcycle, binge-watch; or 50 years ago, what would you have called a cellphone, MRI, emoticon, Star Trek; networking, gigabyte, Baby Boomer, Google, Apple, web site, software, compact disc, video, spyware, microwave, emoticon, blog, cat scan, bar codes, sat dish? Or what about 100 years ago: Teflon, paperback, kilabyte, fast-food, email, nanotechnology, hoodie, supersize, podcast, Tupperware, lip gloss, online, polyester?
    Vocabulary is always an interesting study, since its existence to whatever degree it is, limits how one can word their meanings. Take the prophet Joel being limited to not having words for helicopter (used chariots 2:5), sting ray missiles (fire that leaps 2:5), door-to-door battles (run to and fro in the city 2:9); 2:10 talks about an earthquake that will accompany the return of the 10 tribes—even then earthquakes and volcanic mists were difficult to describe); all faces shall gather blackness (the people will be in mourning 2:6); there will be so many that they will not have to “break their ranks” (invincible in fighting power 2:8), and the “blood and fire and pillars of smoke” (from the bombs 2:30) shall turn the world dark before the Lord appears.
Drones that can fly indefinitely and charged by Lasers are now being developed by the U.S. Department of Defense
    And in Revelations, when John wrote about seeing swarms of locusts that came out from the smoke caused when the bottomless pit is opened to release the devil—could he have seen these swarms  of locusts whose shape was like unto horses prepared unto battle to be unmanned drones that are now being prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense in their Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap to fight in “swarms” that can choose their own targets?
Top Left: Tiny MAV (Micro Air Vehicle) inspired by the insect world, can fly in swarms and perform tasks with limited air control support. DOD plans to have unlimited self-controlled MAVs in the air within twenty-five years. They already have operational “bioreactive taggants” capability; Others: Tiny insect inspired spy drones
    With all the fighting going on around Israel with Gog having an army of 200,000,000, America (called Zion 2:23), for whatever reason will not be involved in the fighting and will benefit from rains and her fields will be full of wheat (2:24). Like the Church being spared from the Civil War that Joseph Smith clearly saw, their movement to Salt Lake City, seen at the time of being force and driven out of their homes was actually a godsend. Evidently so will this country’s lack of involvement be in the final battles in Israel.
As for a volcano, how would you describe a volcano to someone who had never seen one before, never experience one, and had no idea about mountains, lava, volcanic ash, etc.? A volcano, of course, is a rupture in the crust of the Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. Earth's volcanoes occur because its crust is broken into 17 major, rigid tectonic plates that float on a hotter, softer layer in its mantle. Therefore, volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates are diverging or converging, such as along the mid-Atlantic ridge where plates are pulling apart, or the Pacific Ring of Fire, which has volcanoes caused by convergent tectonic plates coming together. Volcanism away from plate boundaries has also been explained as mantle plumes called “hotspots,” such as in Hawaii. Volcanoes are usually not created where two tectonic plates slide past one another.
    Throughout history, ash produced by the explosive eruption of stratovolcanoes has posed the greatest volcanic hazard to civilizations. Not only do stratovolcanoes have greater pressure build up from the underlying lava flow than shield volcanoes, but their fissure vents and monogenetic volcanic fields (volcanic cones) have more powerful eruptions, as they are many times under extension. They are also steeper than shield volcanoes, with slopes of 30–35° compared to slopes of generally 5–10°, and their loose tephra are material for dangerous lahars (mudflow or debris flow, such as what flows down from the volcano, typically along a river valley). Large pieces of tephra are called volcanic, which can measure more than 4 feet across and weigh several tons.
    Volcanic ash, which is probably the most noticeable and recognized part of volcanic eruption other than magma flow, which consists of fragments of pulverized rock, minerals and volcanic glass, created during volcanic eruptions and measuring less than 2 mm (0.079 inches) in diameter, is formed during explosive volcanic eruptions when dissolved gases in magma expand and escape violently into the atmosphere. The force of the escaping gas shatters the magma and propels it into the atmosphere where it solidifies into fragments of volcanic rock and glass. Ash is also produced when magma comes into contact with water during phreatomagmatic eruptions, causing the water to explosively flash to steam leading to shattering of magma. Once in the air, ash is transported by wind up to thousands of miles away. In 2008, an eruption in Chaitén volcano in Chile, sending an ash cloud across the continent  at Patagonia from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans.
    Due to its wide dispersal, powdery ash can have a number of impacts on society, including human and animal health, disruption to aviation, and critical infrastructure of the electrical power supply system, telecommunications, water and waste-water networks, buildings and structures. In fact, the concentrations of different volcanic gases can vary considerably from one volcano to the next. Water vapor is typically the most abundant volcanic gas, followed by carbon and sulfur dioxide. 
    Other principal volcanic gases include hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen fluoride, and a large number of trace gases such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, halocarbons, organic compounds, and volatile metal chlorides.
(See the next post, ”Were There Volcanoes Involved in the Destruction of 3 Nephi? – Part II,” as we continue with the descriptions about the three days of darkness in 3 Nephi at the time of the crucifixion, and the disagreement over volcano eruptions between Mesoamericanists and the Great Lakes/Eastern U.S./Heartland theorists)

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