Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding Alan C. Miner’s book we have been asked to comment upon. In the previous post, we discussed some of Miner’s comments in the first couple of pages of his work. Following are more of Miner’s writing points and our response: 
   We can also see in Miner’s writing (p15) his ignoring what Moroni wrote of the Jaredites in favor of Hugh Nibley’s belief that the Jaredites were not annihilated but that only a part of them were.
 So many theorists’, especially those of Mesoamerica, claim that the wars among the Jaredites did not annihilate the total Jaredite population

Miner states: ”So when we read that the Jaredites "were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country" in the very first verse of Ether, we are to understand that the nation was smashed and dispersed, but not that the catastrophic final battle was necessarily the whole story. The first thing that occurs to king Limhi on relating the discovery of the twenty-four gold plates to Ammon was, "perhaps they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed, from whence this record came" (Mosiah 8:12), showing that to king Limhi at least it was perfectly possible for a remnant of a people to exist after that people had been "destroyed"  [Hugh Nibley, The World of the Jaredites, pp. 239-240].
    Unfortunately, Nibley, for all his intelligence and vast experience and accomplishments, has this attitude marked by many theorists of today, that the scriptural record does not tell us things that he (or they), alone, seems to understand and injects into the record that simply not only does not exist, but runs contrary to what is said by the original writers and the ancient translators.
    Two points here: First, the word “destroyed,” according to Nibley and repeated by Miner, “destroy is to wreck the structure not to annihilate the parts. Thus in 1 Nephi 17:31 we read of Israel in Moses' day that, "according to his word he did destroy them; and according to his word he did lead them," bringing them together after they had been "destroyed," (i.e., scattered, and in need of a leader). "As one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews," according to 2 Nephi 25:9, "even so they have been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities."  A complete slaughter of any one generation would of course be the end of their history altogether, but that is not what "destroyed" means.
    The problem with this argument is that in 2 Nephi 25:9, the discussion is not the total destruction of the House of Israel, but the destruction of parts of it—those that were evil, and that evil group were, indeed, totally destroyed or annihilated. However, the terminology and understanding is that this was a partial factor, i.e., part of Israel, not Israel in total. Thus, this scriptural reference and concept is not valid overall.
    Secondly, the word “destruction” needs to be understood in light of its use in the 1820s and 1830s when Joseph Smith used it as a translation from the original writing of
Mormon and Moroni. 
According to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, giving us an understanding of words and their meaning as used in the New England, northeastern United States, Noah Webster tell us that “‘destroyed” (participle passive) means: “Demolished; pulled down; ruined; annihilated; devoured; swept away; etc.” And that “annihilated” (participle passive) means “reduced to nothing; destroyed.” And that “nothing” (noun) is “no and thing” meaning “Not any thing; not any being or existence; a word that denies the existence of any thing; non-entity; opposed to something. Non-existence; a state of annihilation.”
    Thus, it cannot be said that “destroy” means “to wreck the structure not to annihilate the parts,” as Nibley states, but just the opposite as Joseph Smith used it in 1829 when translating the Book of Mormon. In fact, in Ether we find the statement about the Jaredites “For behold, the Lord saw that his people  began to work in darkness, yea, work secret murders and abominations; therefore the Lord said, if they did not repent they should be destroyed from off the face of the earth.  And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover . . . their secret works and their abomination; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; And now, my son, we see that they did not repent; therefore they have been destroyed, and thus far the word of God has been fulfilled; . . . (Alma 37:22-26).
    Once again, we find that destroy means to annihilate, to remove completely, to reduce to nothing.
The second point is about King Limhi (above), and his thinking there might have been survivors from the destruction of the people of the north country. As stated above, Miner says: “The first thing that occurs to king Limhi on relating the discovery of the twenty-four gold plates to Ammon was, "perhaps they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed, from whence this record came" Mosiah 8:12.”
    The statement in Mosiah that is referenced states regarding the plates of Ether: “…perhaps they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed, from whence these records came; or, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of this very people who have been destroyed; and I am desirous to know the cause of their destruction.”
    There are four parts of this statement: 1) information about a portion of the people that were destroyed (not necessarily information on the entire civilization); 2) from wench the records came, i.e., from who or what civilization; 3) give a knowledge of the entire civilization; and 4) what caused the death or the destruction of those people.
    There simply is no indication that King Limhi thought there were survivors of the people unless he wondered if that group was only a portion of a larger civilization and that, though not specifically stated, would be understandable since neither he nor anyone else knew anything about that people who had been destroyed. Obviously, Limhi’s 43-man expedition to find Zarahemla found no other evidence of a living people anywhere, but then Limhi would not have known anything about that north country nor would anyone else other than the expedition people and only that portion they covered.
    In an obvious example of where Miner believes the Land of Promise to have been and the Book of Mormon to have been written about, he states (p16): “The "north country" of Moroni and the "northern part" mentioned by Ixtlilxochitl are in all probability the Gulf of Mexico area that today is called the "faja de oro," or Golden Lane, because of the abundance of oil that has been discovered there.  This area is where archaeology bears testimony of the most ancient civilization of Mesoamerica.”
    This merely shows the reader Miner’s pre-conceived location and that all of his writing would be based on that “fact” to him.
    In another striking example of opinion, Miner states (p27): “The King James translation of the Holy Bible places this tower at about 2200 B.C. with Noah's flood at about 2300-2400 B.C.  However, the Holy Bible translation used by Christ's first apostles was the Greek Septuagint which has a much earlier chronology.  It would place the Great Flood between 3100 B.C. and 3200 B.C.  From Mesoamerican data, mentioned later, it would appear that the actual date was August 13, 3114 B.C. (Gregorian calendar system).  These dates are consistent with historical and archaeological data from Egypt, Ebla, India, and Mesopotamia.  These include flood levels at four Mesopotamian cities that date to about 3100 B.C.  In addition, the Septuagint dating is confirmed by Mesopotamian king lists, and the biblical connection to Nimrod.  Thus, a date of 3114 B.C. appears reasonable.”
However, as reasonable as Miner may want this to be (since it agrees with the Mesoamerica time frame and that of Ixtlilxochitl’s writings), it does not agree with the father to son birth dates of the Patriarchs as set down in the Old Testament, and also in the Pearl of Great Price. Those dates, which are quite clear, and according to Moses, were given to him by the Lord, and, as a side note, were the dates used by Joseph Smith in his second lesson in the School of the Prophets, leads to a date of 2344 B.C. for the beginning of the Flood and 2343 B.C. for the date at the end.
    It is always amazing to me how theorists love to use dates that fit their own interests rather than the ones stated so clearly in the Old Testament—not this translation or that translation, but the very one that is part of the Church’s standard works.
    As for Miner’s overall book, there is a lot of worthwhile information in his writing, and some valuable insights into some of the early occurrences of the Church leadership, and certainly a myriad of different author’s viewpoints. However, from our point of view, there are far too many areas of error involved as pointed out above in just a small portion of the book to keep from making it overly reliable.

1 comment:

  1. The thing hat these BYU profs miss is the fact that this land of promise (North and South America) has a curse. That curse is found in Ether 2:10-12. The people of this land will worship the God of this land which is Jesus Christ or be swept off. Being swept off means just that - it means completely as in the case of the Jaredites and Nephites.

    The members should know about this curse because it is written in their scriptures. what is more puzzling right now is why so many in both the leadership of the Church and members want to bring in to our area people who do nor worship Jesus Christ. They worship other Gods. This is quite dangerous and should be resisted by the leaders and members because the scriptures are clear on this subject.

    God has decreed that who comes here to this land and who they will worship when they get here. God will punish through annihilation those who violate His laws that He has decreed.