Thursday, April 13, 2017

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

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. 
According to William Hamblin, BYU professor and former board member of FARMS, in an article entitled “Steel in the Book of Mormon,” on the Ancient America Foundation (AAF) site, states: “There are two major fallacies in discussions on this topic. First is the problem of the hermeneutics of hyper-skepticism (which means the disposition not to accept claims without proof—to be skeptical that a claim is true unless and until one has been provided reason to believe it). Applying the same hermeneutical standard to other ancient texts creates some obvious absurdities. Second is the semantic fallacy, which consists of arguing about the meaning of words rather than the reality the words are trying to depict.”
    He goes on to tell us that a single ancient reality can be defined in a number of different ways, with people often describing their perceptions of reality differently than we do, and that these fallacies are omnipresent among many anti-Mormons.
    He then goes on to describe the uses of the word “steel” in the scriptural record (which is mentioned five times). Then tells us: “The minimalist and tightest reading of this evidence is that Nephi had a steel weapon from the Near East. He attempted to imitate this weapon—whether in function, form, or material is unclear. His descendants apparently abandoned this technology by no later than 400 B.C. Based on a careful reading of the text of the Book of Mormon, there are no grounds for claiming-as anti-Mormons repeatedly do—that the Book of Mormon describes a massive steel industry with thousands of soldiers carrying steel swords in the New World.”
An artist’s view of Laban’s sword. It is doubtful the cross guards were so large, or the pommel was so big—these traits did not appear until the medieval period; but the blade would have been wide, as shown; thin blades rapier) were not known until around 1500, and the length shown would have been correct, since short swords were not known until Roman times

    First of all, Hamblin bases his first conclusion—that we are uncertain in what way Nephi replicated Laban’s steel sword, when Nephi wrote: “And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people” (2 Nephi 5:14)—the conclusion he draws is that “He attempted to imitate this weapon-whether in function, form, or material is unclear.”
    Now, there is so suggestion that Nephi attempted to do something and did not achieve the results he set out to achieve, i.e., the replicating of Laban’s sword. So what is it about Laban’s sword that Nephi was trying to replicate? Surely, he knew what a sword looked like before ever laying eyes on Laban’s weapon. Nephi tells us what interested him in the sword: “And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel” (1 Nephi 4:9, emphasis added).
    So Nephi saw three things about Laban’s sword that interested him:
1. Hilt of fine gold;
2. Workmanship exceedingly fine;
3. Blade of precious steel.
    Nothing more is said of the sword itself until Nephi later, after escaping from his older brothers and settling in the area they called the Land of Nephi, writes: “I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it, did make many swords” (2 Nephi 5:14).
    So from that we know:
1. Nephi made swords after the manner of Laban’s weapon;
2. He made many swords.
While we cannot determine how many is “many,” we can at least suggest he made a sufficient number that those who came with him and settled in this new land they called Nephi, that could wield a sword in their defense, was provided a sword. Whether that number is five, ten, twenty or thirty depends on how large the group of Lehi’s party arrived in the Land of Promise two or three years earlier, and whether or not Ishmael’s household (and that of Lehi’s) contained more than just family members, i.e., servants, workers, slaves, etc. Since that number cannot be determined from the scriptural record, we can only assume the number.
    The more important part of Nephi’s statement pertaining to the earlier question, is what was meant by “after the manner.”
    That phrase means “the way in which a thing is done,” “the same way,” “according to,” “in this way,” In Hebrew, it carries another meaning: “Exactly,” or “same.”
    Thus, we can accurately suggest that the meaning of Nephi’s statement was that he made many swords “exactly like Laban’s sword, made it in the same way Laban’s sword was made, and according to its dimensions, shape, heft, weight and balance—or as close as he could do so. The point is, that anyone who wields a sword can tell immediately how it feels in terms of being able to use it easily, quickly, and with force. Therefore, the weight and size of the weapon would be foremost in mind, along with the hardness of the metal so it could be used to strike objects and not be adversely affected. 
Another factor, and critically important is the balance of the sword. While this depends on the sword to some degree, typically the balance point is a few inches above the hilt or guard
the correct balance point of a sword does depend on the sword, but is generally a few inches above the hilt/cross guard. At this point the length of the blade should be equal weight with the handle and guard so the swordsman effectively has a pivot point on the sword just above the hand, which allows for even, fluid movements in both attack and defense. If the weight is too far forward one would be quite slow in bringing the point back up in defense, or be uncontrolled in a counter attack—too much weight in the hilt, and the forte (upper half of the blade) become weak and one would find it hard to push their opponent’s blade around. Whether or not Nephi knew this is unknown, but once hefting a well-made sword, the balance becomes obvious.
    It should also be kept in mind that when making something for fun or for show, the interest is not the same as making something that your life will depend on. Nephi would have put a great deal of perfection into his efforts, since their very lives and existence would probably depend upon those efforts. This is born out when he said, “lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people” (2 Nephi 5:14). After all, you don’t cut corners when your own life and that of your family rests upon your efforts.
Therefore, we can, with certainty assume that Nephi made swords that were, in every utilitarian manner, as identical to Laban’s sword as he could possibly make them. For Hamblin to say, “He attempted to imitate this weapon—whether in function, form, or material is unclear” has little meaning, and certainly should not cast any doubt on both Nephi’s effort and his success. His life depended on what he made and how he made it. Therefore, it seems certain he made the swords to have the same function, the same form, the same material, balance and weight.
(See the next post, “Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 A.D. – Part VII,“ 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)


  1. We know why Hamblin and others make these academic-sounding nonsensical claims: they have to because of their MA bias. They would say they're just trying to interpret the narrative in its historical context, but that's just a fancy way of saying they're forcing geography on the text rather than the text on the geography.

  2. Absolutely. Well put. As Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:7 "Always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth" (particularly when it conflicts with their Mesoamerica model)

  3. I will say, though, it's frustrating that we can find a mythical city like Troy, but not a single verifiable Book of Mormon city. Or we can find a small viking settlement on the northeast coast of Canada that was only there for a short time 1000 years ago, but we can't find BOM cities and populations that supposedly existed for nearly 1000 years.

    Sure, there are indications, parallels, and mysterious ruins everywhere. Sure, there are a gazillion matches between aspects of ancient south american cultures and Book of Mormon stuff, etc, but there's still not a single thing that we can't point at and say, "There --> that's Zarahemla."

    And yes, even biblical archeology is difficult even when we know way more about the geography and history. But you know what, we can find and reconstruct Carthage that was absolutely razed from the earth over 2,000 years ago. We can find Troy that used to be nothing more than myth.

    There's no cache of metal swords and breastplates. No DNA. No ancient hebrew style temples. No monuments to Jesus. (Maybe) no horses.

    Yes, there's a preponderance of parallels and similarities, but no exact matches to anything. Anywhere. At. All.

    1. I'm not so sure we've found Troy unless they found a sign on the gate that says 'entering Troy'. Not too many years ago archaeologist didn't know where the city of Herculaneum was located. They knew it was near Pompeii. Then they actually found a sign that said Herculaneum. So we know for certain that the city had been found.

      The point is all the evidence will point to a particular place but you can never be absolutely certain. All the evidence points to the ruins of Pachamaca in Peru as the city of Zarahemla, but without a sign that says you are now entering Zarahemla you will never be certain. All the evidence for the Nephite lands points to South America. The evidence is so overwhelming for South America that for me the issue is settled.

  4. 2 separate 1,000+ year civilizations don't just vanish without a trace. Even if they're wiped out completely, they leave a trace. Heck, even the Jaredites left a trace that the Nephites found. How is it that we can't seem to (knowingly) find a single scintilla of a trace to anything Nephite or Jaredite?

    *open ended questions*

    1. The Book of Mormon itself is a primary evidence of the Nephite nation existing. The BoM account shows that the Lamanites destroyed everything connected to the Nephites. Thus it will take time to find strong archaeological evidences of the Nephites. Looking in the wrong place does not help.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. erichard, thanks for engaging in discussion. It was obvious and a given that I was speaking of evidence external to the BOM. But we all thank you for your overly-pedantic, non-relevant response.

  6. WonderBoy. What sort of evidence are you looking for? The names of the pre-Incan cultures and cities in South America are all names that were given to them by cultures that came later or by archaeologists at an even later time. These names would likely have no relationship to the site's original name, as the later populations did not know the original name.

    As to your statement that 1000-year old cultures would not disappear without a trace; you are quite correct. And there are many many traces in western South America that strongly match BoM descriptions. Though the artifacts of the 1000-year old cultures were not left abandoned to allow archaeologists pristine sites to investigate.

    The Jaredite sites were likely claimed and used (ie contaminated) by the Nephites as they settled the land northward and there was an additional 1000 years after the fall of the Nephite civilization that were apparently filled with conflicts and wars, during which strongholds and fortifications would have been used and destroyed by the warring factions among the descendants of the Lamanites.

    1. Could be anything. Something that unambiguously and positively is identifiable as something from the BOM.

      Lots of people on here, like Ira, claim to be convinced beyond doubt that the BOM happened in South America. OK, go find me something. Same with MesoAms, and Heartlanders. They're all convinced. OK. Find me something.

    2. I'm not a BOM skeptic. I believe it whole-heartedly. I'm just saying that for 2 1,000 civilizations to not leave anything behind that we can identify unambiguously and positively as Jaredite or Nephite is crazy.

    3. Wonderboy, I think the evidence left to us is profound, but what would convince you? How about the fact that the winds and currents flow to 30-degrees south lat where FG Williams said they landed. Nothing said about that for the Meso/Heartlanders. How about no metallurgy in North and Meso America - Again nothing like that in Meso/Hearland. Mountains of exceedingly great height that are young (none in Meso/Hearland. Ruins with high defensive walls and expert workmanship - again not found in Meso/Heartland at the right time period. Just getting warmed up Wonder, how about the climate same as Jerusalem at 30-deg south lat so that the crops can grow along with metals of gold/copper/silver found there where they landed. Cummons/Curloms = tony Lama and alpacas. I haven't seen any of this in the Meso/Hearland. Then too I'm a creationist/geologist and North America was covered in ice at the time of the Jaredites and therefore that for me is absolute proof it's not in North America regardless of anything else.

      So what more do you need? I wish BYU profs and others would believe because archaeology digs in South America would be very productive and revealing. It isn't being done because these people are looking in the wrong place.

      The reason they are looking in the wrong place is because the do not believe that God can raise a continent out of the ocean 2,000 years ago. It isn't that the BOM lands haven't been found - its because of profound unbelief in the power of God. Ira

  7. Wind and currents are not evidence that something happened, Ira. They are mechanisms that can support/not support a given geographical theory.

    This can be seen from the following example:

    "Wind patterns and ocean currents prove that Book of Mormon history is correct."

    See the problem?

    Another example:

    "The existence of llamas and alpacas prove that BOM history is correct."

    Um, no, they don't.

    You're confusing evidence for historicity, with factors that support particular geographic theories and hypotheses.

    If you want to support the historicity if the BOM using llamas and alpacas, you must first demonstrate that llamas and alpacas used to be called cureloms and cumoms anciently.

    1. Llamas and alpacas exist
    3. The BOM mentions cureloms and cumoms

    Therefore BOM historicity is supported.

    Pt. 2 is the piece you're missing. And what that would be is positive and unmistakable evidence that llamas and alpacas were referred to as cureloms and cumoms anciently.

    You're going right from 1 to 3, but you're skipping pt. 2.

    1. I'm not sure how much you have read of the site or Del's books. I have seen your name on the site for quite some time, so I assume some familiarity.

      While the individual articles do tend to focus on single topics and the articles themselves do tend to be written in a THIS-thus-THAT format, the initial articles and the books themselves lay a different logical framework.

      Del has a lengthy list of items he has gleaned from the BoM. These items are traits that describe the Promised Land.
      His initial argument is that these traits will allow you to rule out a candidate for the location of the Promised Land if you cannot account for these traits.

      So rather than his list being able to prove that a location is the Promised Land, it is actually a list that can be used to gauge the relative merits of a theory's location.

  8. Furthermore, I'm not looking for evidence to convince me. As I clearly stated, I wholeheartedly believe in the BOM.

    Do you even read, sometimes, IRA?

  9. Wonder, we all here believe the Bom. That isn't the issue. We are in search of their lands. You asked for evidence and Del and others has provided ample. There is one more definitive evidence that is above all most convincing. That is the great wall of Peru that is called the line of fortification in Hel 4:7. The wall still exists and runs 40 miles along the Santa river in Peru. You wanted evidence - there it is. Now convince the archs to go and investigate further if you want.