Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Feeble Argument and Untenable Stance – Part IV

Continuing from the last post on more of Jonathan Neville’s untenable argument about how Joseph Smith was nearly overpowered with the thoughts of wealth and treasure as he walked the two to three miles from his father’s home to the hill Cumorah to recover the plates of which Moroni told him. 
   Continuing now with Letter VII from Oliver Cowdery to W.W. Phelps in which Oliver adds, “Surely, thought he, every man will seize with eagerness, this knowledge, and this incalculable income will be mine. Enough to raise the expectations of any one of like inexperience, placed in similar circumstances. But the important point in this matter is, that man does not see as the Lord, neither are his purposes like his. The small things of this life are but dust in comparison with salvation and eternal life.”
So, according to Oliver Cowdery, without any indication from Joseph Smith that can be verified, we find a portrait of the young Joseph thinking only of the great wealth he is going to obtain when he uncovers the gold plates and whatever else there might be waiting for him. It is hardly the image Joseph paints of himself in his account of these events, and one is left to wonder if Oliver’s rhetoric here is not more founded on what he thinks his own feelings would have been and not the prophet Joseph’s.
    Jonathan: “It is sufficient to say that such were his reflections during his walk of from two to three miles, the distance from his father's house to the place pointed out. And to use his own words it seemed as though two invisible powers were influencing, or striving to influence his mind—
    Response: The words so highlighted were done so by me to point out that Oliver Cowdery, recognizing the need to insert Joseph’s own words and not his own, makes it clear that Joseph thought the following—it was not something Oliver was writing (or making up or paraphrasing into his own words). This is an important point when Jonathan claims Joseph and Oliver worked on this letter together!
[Now returning to Oliver’s writing regarding these two forces working on Joseph’s mind with his concluding thought contrasting his former and present circumstances in life with those to come] 
    “That precious instruction recorded on the sacred page—pray always—which was expressly impressed upon him, was at length entirely forgotten, and as I previously remarked, a fixed determination to obtain and aggrandize himself, occupied his mind when he arrived at the place where the record was found.”
 Response: It seems highly doubtful, if Joseph was involved in this writing with Cowdery as Olivery claims, it would have been written differently. This structure is more like Cowdery is writing this alone of someone who is not present to indicated his own feelings, thoughts, etc
    Jonathan:  Now, breaking from what went on in Joseph’s mind, Oliver stops to give an explanation of the location of the hill Cumorah, saying, “You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N. Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester…about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is, because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country. To a person acquainted with this road, a description would be unnecessary, as it is the largest and rises the highest of any on that route.”
    Response: This hill rises to 110 feet in height from the ground to the top of the rolling drumlin hill. 110’ is the highest hill in that area, meaning the Great Lakes Theorists’ Land of Promise. Having recently driven and walked throughout this area, including the hill Cumorah itself, and all the countryside around, I think Oliver was right. It is a very flat country and would hard for me, with a mind to the military, to justify Mormon’s comment that “and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4). Whatever Mormon had in mind, it is not apparent from the topography, terrain, and low rolling drumlin hill as one walks the entire area of only about five square miles that anywhere within reason could offer an advantage—even to a desperate commander. By the way, though the Great Lakes are near, specifically Lake Ontario (11 miles), and the Finger Lakes (11 miles to lake  Canandaigua; 19 miles to lake Seneca), the land around the hill Cumorah, as seen from the top of the hill, preclude a view of any water, lake, stream, or river (there are two tiny ponds at the south end of the hill)--and in Mormon's time, there was no Erie Canal running through Palmyra, which might give rise to the question of the area matching Mormon's destricption that the hill was in a land of "many waters, rivers, and fountains" (Mormon 6:4), meaning one would have to travel some distance on foot to reach one of these water sources.
1904 view of the North end of Cumorah, which rises more sharply than any of the rest, which is a gradual incline. This was not called Cumorah at the time of Joseph, but “Mormon Hill” after his announcement of the the angel Moroni and the Gold Plates

    Jonathan: [Continuing with Letter VII] “The north end rises quite sudden until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may say an elevation higher than at the south a short distance, say half or three fourths of a mile. As you pass toward Canandaigua it lessens gradually until the surface assumes its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying that this is the highest hill for some distance round, and I am certain that its appearance, as it rises so suddenly from a plain on the north, must attract the notice of the traveler as he passes by.
    “At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.”
    Now, Oliver, who has been speaking off the cuff from his awareness of the area, nothing of which would be found in the scriptural record to this point, makes the clear statement that this is the area of the hill Cumorah where Mormon and the Nephites were destroyed:

“By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon, you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (It is printed Camorah, which is an error.)”
    Response: Now here begins the rub on Letter VII. What Oliver Cowdery writes now is mere conjecture, for nothing in the short verses about that last battle follows his rather poetic account of the battle except for two short verses from Mormon when the ancient prophet wrote: “And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them. And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers” (Mormon 6:7-8).
    Jonathan [continuing with Letter VII] “In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites—once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt.”
The Hill Cumorah, north end as viewed from the West Valley looking east. Note the entirely flat land of the valley and the limited height of the hill 

    Response: As one can readily see, Oliver’s statement are merely his view and his own terminology:
1. “This Valley” is not mentioned in the scriptural record—we do not know if there was a valley associated with the hill Cumorah. This is Oliver’s insertion of his opinion.
2. “This Valley” is not referenced in the scriptural record as being in New York—this again is Oliver’s opinion of placement.
3. “…fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people”—while this is true, it is not mentioned in the scriptural record, it is Oliver’s summarizing insertion.
4. “…but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren”—again, while we can assume this, it is not a statement factual to the scriptural record but an event stated in Oliver’s own words.
5a. “From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt”—the term “this hill” is Oliver’s insertion, there is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest it was that particular hill in New York—it is Oliver’s assumption.
5b. “…the mangled remains” is Oliver’s colorful language, it is not in the scriptural record, nor anything like it. What Mormon writes after taking six verses (Mormon 6:10-15) to tell us the leader of each command of 10,000 warriors: “And my soul was rent with anguish because of the slain of my people, and I cried” (Mormon 6:16)—obviously, Oliver is not above inserting his own language, his own thoughts, and his own descriptions of an event that is so lightly covered by Mormon. 5d. “…, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt”—we simply do not know this. We can assume it, and in some, this may be true, but Mormon writes that they watched the approach of the Lamanites with fear and trembling of the wicked—hardly what one would call hope.
The mangled remains of at least some 350,000 dead, according to Cowdery, would have filled this valley to the right of the hill in the photo; however, no bones of that magnitude, armor, swords, etc., have ever been found there. Also note how flat the land is to the north as well 

    The point is in all this, Oliver is writing down his own view of things, his own language, and his own thoughts—none of which can be verified except in the most general terms, and few consistent with the actual language of the scriptural record. 
(See the next post,” A Feeble Argument and Untenable Stance – Part V,” for more on Jonathan Neville’s feeble argument and untenable stance of the Hill Cumorah being in New York as stated so frequently on Book of Mormon Wars website.

No comments:

Post a Comment