Saturday, April 15, 2017

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

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, and Mesoamericanist, William J. Hamblin of BYU.
Based on the information in the previous article, this evidently has no impact on Hamblin, who adds: “Even a person who rejects the historicity of the Book of Mormon must agree that linguistic levels one and two are found in the Book of Mormon,” he then goes on to correctly add, “The one linguistic category we know was not used in the production of the Book of Mormon English text is twenty-first century scientific terminology, since this version of English did not exist in the 1820s.” Then, looking to add to his viewpoint, he concludes, “a fundamental fallacy of critics of the Book of Mormon is that they ignore this linguistic complexity, conflating [combining] twenty-first century English categories and concepts with those of these other linguistic layers.” 
    His point is that anyone wanting to make a serious argument against the Book of Mormon must argue from pre-twenty-first century linguistic categories, or they are opening themselves to ridicule which, in part, is correct where anyone is trying to bring a subject into the scriptural record that does not exist; however, incorrect when trying to use as an excuse for a misunderstanding of what is actually said—such as “steel” being “steel” and not something else, since the word for “steel” in Hebrew is peladah, פְּלָדוֹת, a word in the Old Testament translated as “torches” (Nahum 2:3) in 1611, but as “steel” in modern renditions of Bible translation.
Hamblin further states, again correctly, that “It is quite pointless to argue that because the Book of Mormon does not correlate with early twenty-first century linguistic categories, that is somehow evidence that the Book of Mormon is ahistorical,” that is, lacking in historical perspective.
    However, the problem is not in the use or lack of use of modern language, but in understanding the words that were used in light of their 1830s regional meaning. Joseph Smith lived, more or less, in the heart of colonial New England. At the same time, there lived Noah Webster about 90 miles to the south in Massachusetts, who, as a lexiconist, thought Americans should use the English language as it was spoken in America, specifically in New England, at the time, and not as it was spoken in England over 3200 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
    Feeling prompted by the Spirit according to Webster, he set about creating what was published in New England in 1828, as the American Dictionary of the English Language. In that dictionary was the language Joseph Smith knew and grew up using, since it was the language of Joseph’s region. It is a vital tool in understanding the words Joseph Smith used in his translation of the Plates. Coupled with an understanding of Hebrew and its various nuances and multiple meanings of words, a clear comprehension of the Book of Mormon is easily acquired.
The problem is that when Hamblin asks the unnecessary question, “An important question is what, precisely, is meant by “steel” in the Book of Mormon?” he casts doubt on the simple translation that refers to iron alloyed with carbon and hammered into hardened “steel” as we know it (no doubt not as pure a steel as we know today). But that is not Hamblin’s purpose. In introducing the question, he is then free to introduce his own views on the matter and what he thinks (or wants to present) is the meaning, as he adds, “Based on linguistic layer two (Jacobean English of the KJV Bible), “steel” translates “nechushah/nechosheth” which is copper or bronze (often “brass” in KJV). Certainly the Book of Mormon does not refer to twenty-first century “steel,” since the Bessemer steel process upon which modern steel-making is based was not invented until 1846.”
    While an accurate statement, i.e., the steel process introduced by Harry Bessemer involving the removal of impurities from the iron by oxidation with air being blown through the molten iron, did not nonetheless invent steel use—it only improved it. The problem is that it causes the unknowing reader to think that the Hebrews did not have steel, or that steel did not exist in the time of Nephi, and therefore he didn’t really mean steel when he used the term describing Laban’s sword.
    For some reason Hamblin ignores the Hebrew word above, peladah, evidently because he does not understand the meaning of the direct translation of the word, i.e., “torch.” However, the word “torch” refers to an unused root meaning “to divide,” that is, a “cleaver,” which was an iron armature of a chariot called a “torch.” Depending on time frame, the iron was steel, as in Nahum 2:4 “׳כָּאֵשׁ מִּלְדֹת וגו” meaning we now, like fire the steel (fittings) of the chariots” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Unabridged, 2002-2006, Biblesoft, Inc; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries, Lockman Foundation, 1981).
The armature (torch) on a 600 B.C. chariot, that was called a “flaming torch” at the time, meaning “the steel [fittings] of the chariot” that flashed in the sunlight as the wheels spun along, turning the armature at high speeds

    According to Professor Joseph S. Spoerl, metallurgy expert at Anselm College, in his article “A Brief History of Iron and Steel Production,” claims that: “The production of iron by humans began probably sometime after 2000 B.C. in south-west or south-central Asia, perhaps in the Caucasus region.  Thus began the Iron Age, when iron replaced bronze in implements and weapons.” Terrence Bell, in his article “Steel History From Iron Age to Electric Arc Furnaces,” agrees, giving a date of 4000 years ago (2000 B.C.), as the development of steel at the beginning of the Iron Age, states: “At very high temperatures, iron begins to absorb carbon, which lowers the melting point of the metal, resulting in cast iron (2.5 to 4.5% carbon). The development of blast furnaces, first used by the Chinese in the 6th century B.C. but more widely used in Europe during the Middle Ages, increased the production of cast iron.”
    Thus, in 1828, the word “steel” had a specific meaning in New England where Joseph Smith grew up. That meaning was: “Iron combined with a small portion of carbon; iron refined and hardened, used in making instruments, and particularly useful as the material of edged tools… Figuratively, weapons; particularly, offensive weapons, swords, spears and the like.”
    Yet, seemingly unknowing of this, Hamblin goes on to add, “By the time of Joseph Smith there was already serious linguistic disjunction between Hebrew, Jacobean English, and early nineteenth-century American English. In the KJV, the Hebrew nechosheth (and various cognates) translates into brass (or cognates) 144 times, fetters or chains 8 times (i.e to be “placed in copper” is a Hebrew idiom to be placed in fetters of nechosheth), steel 4 times, and copper once.”
    However, according to the widely accepted Strong’s Concordance of Bible Words: nechosheth (#5178), נְחֹ֫שֶׁת, means bronze (copper, bronze), and appears in the King James Version 140 times, with 130 occurrences meaning “bronze,”; twice meaning “bronze fetters,” once meaning “fetters of bronze,” and once meaning bronze chains,” for a total usage of the meaning “bronze” 134 occurrences. The other uses are: brass (2), chain (1), copper (1), fetters (1), Not once was it translated as steel, and trying to combine nechosheth as meaning copper and bronze, but also steel is both inaccurate and misleading. Of course, only Hamblin is claiming Joseph Smith used, or understood nechosheth, or that it was the word behind whatever appeared in Reformed Egyptian on the plates. That is, and evidently always will be, an unknown.The4 point is, it is not the only word to be used here in understanding ancient Hebrew.
Nahum in describing a restoration of the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel and is calling for Israel to man the fortress, watch the road, and summon all their strength; describing the mighty men and the terrible chariots that flash by in the light, their wheels (armatures) spinning (flashing) steel when he is prepared to march—then goes on in verse 4 to say that the chariots race madly in the streets, They rush wildly in the squares, their appearance is like torches, they dash to and fro like lightning flashes.…

    The point here is that the Hebrew word “peladah” used by Nahum who lived in the 7th Century B.C., before the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 B.C. (David W. Baker, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, InterVarsity Press, Westmont Illinois, 1988, p18), who was a prophet in Jerusalem during Lehi’s lifetime and obviously that of Nephi, used a word meaning “steel” in his writings about a common fact that would have been widely known.
(See the next post, “Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 A.D. – Part IX,“ 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)

No comments:

Post a Comment