Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 A.D. – Part V

Continuing from the previous post regarding the importance that the lack of metallurgy in Mesoamerica is when considering where the Land of Promise truly was located. Also continuing with the comments of John L. Sorenson, the so-called guru of Book of Mormon Land of Promise geography, that are meant to lessen and even question the meaning of the use of metal terminology in the scriptural record.
    In one of many attempts to downgrade the actual meaning of the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, we find one Mesoamericanist writing about the “actual” meaning of two different statements, one by Nephi and one by his grand-nephew, Jarom, when they give lists of things common to the people of their day:
• Nephi: “wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel”
• Jarom: “wood, …iron and copper, and brass and steel”
    Claiming that these two texts are what is called a “literary topos,” which is a term from Ancient Greek, meaning “common place.” (plural “literary topoi). In Latin locus (from locus communis), referred in the context of classical Greek rhetoric to a standardized method of constructing or treating an argument, which is  to loosely say, “a stylized literary description which repeats the same ideas, events, or items in a standardized way in the same order and form.”
    In fact, the use of literary topoi is a fairly common ancient literary device found extensively in the Book of Mormon (and, incidentally, an evidence for the antiquity of the text). However, scholars are often skeptical about the actuality behind a literary topos; it is often unclear if it is merely a literary device or is intended to describe specific unique circumstances.
    So, let’s take a look at what Nephi writes and why he is writing it. He had recently built a ship, the single, driving force in all of the Lehi party that wanted to build a ship. He receives instruction as to how to build it, very specific plans in fact, directly from the Lord—that is, it was 1) not built after the manner of men; 2) it was built specifically after the manner which the Lord showed him; 3) they worked timbers of curious workmanship; and 4) the Lord showed Nephi from time to time after what manner he would work the timbers. Therefore, we can justly determine that Nephi learned a great deal about building, working wood, smelting ore to make tools, building and working a bellows to heat the fire, and whatever other materials he was required to use to build and finish the ship the Lord showed him, step-by-step, how to build.
    It would also seem, that Nephi tells us this for the obvious reason that the Lord was the instrument of knowledge behind his doing something he had never done before, to show us, his future readers, what happens when we trust in the Lord. In addition, he is showing us how he could build a ship to withstand the tremendous pressures, pounding and test of sailing across a very wide ocean—the great deep—where the flimsy, coastal vessels in his day could never have ventured.
    Consequently, one would think that he would be very accurate in this.
    Next, Nephi, after escaping from his older brothers and the sons of Ishmael, who sought his death, is faced with building a city and a special temple (the Hebrews were very careful not to commit sin by constructing temples that were not approved by the Lord—the temple built after the exile ran into considerable difficulty and objection by those left behind in Jerusalem, but was eventually finished). 
The very important detail that went into the exactness of the construction so that the Jews could reinstitute the sacrificial rituals known as the korbanot (korban, qorban, corban, chubn), kosher animal sacrifice as described and commanded in the Torah, has filled numerous volumes of description, but the point is that it was an exact rendition of God’s temple requirements. In Nephi’s time, any temple built away from Jerusalem would have had to have permission from the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem—without that possibility, it would still have to be built along the lines of the accepted Temple requirements. For Nephi to have built a temple requiring such exactness out of perishable wood simply would not have happened, nor would he have skimped on any part of the construction that was within his power to accomplish. Such temples take years to build and would have to be built in exactness as much as humanly possible.
    Understanding that, then we can comprehend why Nephi takes a moment to explain that while he had the knowledge from the Lord how to build with numerous mediums and materials, he then taught these skills and knowledge to his people. Therefore, his list would not have been something copied from something else, or a litany of typical or suggestive items, but one of exactness.
That is, we should accept Nephi’s word here that what he taught his people to do was an exact list of materials and skills, i.e., “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15). This was not a literary statement, or topos, but an exact list of items involved that he wanted his future reader to understand so they would know that these skills were used on the building of the temple in the City of Nephi. Otherwise, how could he claim to have 1) built an acceptable temple to God for Hebrew people, and 2) not violated his trust in living the Law of Moses and obeying God’s laws.
    He even tells us that in building this temple, he “did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Nephi 5:16).
    In this case, he didn’t have all the same types of materials, such as Cedars of Lebanon, which were used extensively throughout Solomon’s Temple, mostly for ceiling beams to support upper floors, and for wood paneling of the stone walls (which were then overlaid with gold). He also didn’t have “so many of the precious things” Solomon had, such as the Ten Commandments in the Ark of the Covenant, nor perhaps the skilled craftsmen to sculpt the two Cherubim of olive wood, each 10-cubits high, with each wing five cubits wide that, combined, stretched from wall to wall. 
Even Solomon’s temple was not large, though it had three rooms: a porch, the main room of worship, and the Holy of Holies where the Ark was kept, with a storehouse that surrounded three sides of the Temple. 
    Somewhere along the line, it would behoove Mesoamerican theorists, in their haste to make everything, even scripture, bend to their personal views, to realize that Nephi was a devout servant of the Lord, as well as very knowledgeable of Hebrew and Jewish laws, rules and regulations, that he would have followed all of God’s instructions and protocols. His temple would have been as exact and precise as he could possibly have made it in order for the Lord to have accepted it and the rituals and ordinances that would have then been conducted there.
    A point is also made by this same theorist that “Significantly, there are no references to Nephite steel after 400 B.C.,” as though that is, again, significant since there is no reference to building after that time in exact detail. One can also say there is no mention of cement in the entire Book of Mormon except for the four instances in Helaman 3:7,9,11). Does that mean they never again used cement? It should be common sense that once knowing steel, a civilization, barring an overwhelming disaster, would not go back to using iron, brass or copper when they knew how to make steel—which is not a complicated metallurgical process.
    Another similar type statement made is: “Note, also, that although Jarom mentions a number of “weapons of war,” this list notably leaves off swords. Rather, it includes “arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin.” If iron/steel swords were extensively used by Book of Mormon armies, why are they notably absent from this list of weapons, the only weapon-list that specifically mentions steel?”
    It is rather humorous to ask such a question when Sorenson claims the Nephites used obsidian, a glass type of rock that supposedly they used as a blade inserted in a wooden “sword.” We are not suggesting that might not have been a weapon—but obsidian, glass or rock is not mentioned in connection with such a type of weapon. So on the one hand, though an item is not mentioned, the scholars claim it was used, and on the other hand, because an item is not mentioned (on one list but on numerous others), it must not have existed beyond that point.
(See the next post, “Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 A.D. – Part VI,“ to see how far theorists go to try and bend the facts presented in the scriptural record to maintain their erroneous beliefs, paradigms and models)

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