Sunday, January 28, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part IV

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “It seems to me that Joseph Smith got the names he used in the Book of Mormon from the Bible” Catherine C.
    Response: Really? Joseph Smith introduced nearly 200 new names which are not found in the Bible and which have long been the source of anti-Mormon attacks on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, that is, until recently.
    As an example, the name Sam, is a perfectly good Hebrew name, equivalent to Shem, one of Noah's sons (not necessarily short for Samuel). On the other hand, for quite some time, though, the name Alma was derided as a gaffe in the Book of Mormon, since "everyone knows" it is a female name in Latin and Spanish, not a Jewish man's name. Then a discovery in Israel apparently showed that it was a real Jewish man's name from roughly the time of Lehi. While this discovery ought to give the critics food for thought, it was ignored or rapidly dismissed, and more recently attacked by some critics having a minute knowledge of Hebrew. For example, one critic e-mailed the following question: "Why do pro-LDS apologists cite names such as 'Alma' as evidence? In Hebrew, vowels are omitted so any 'new discovery' is just a coincidence.”
    Since Alma would be LM, the combination is endless; however, though critics tend to always dismiss any evidence as just coincidence, in this case, as with many others, there is little basis for the dismissal. The critic implies that all we have for the name Alma is two consonants that could just as easily be pronounced Elmo, Alum, Olemo, etc. But this is not the case, for the name in the ancient Jewish document is actually spelled with four letters, beginning with an aleph אלמה. The name appears in two forms that differ in the final letter, but "Alma" fits both.
For scholars of Hebrew, there is good evidence that the name should be "Alma," which is exactly how the non-LDS Israel scholar, Yigael Yadin (left), transliterated it. For details, see Paul Hoskisson, “What’s in a Name?”, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1998, pp72-73), which shows a color photograph (in the printed publication) of the document that has the name Alma twice. John Tvedtnes also discussed the name Alma in a well-received presentation to other non-LDS scholars, “Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon,” where he noted that in addition to being found as a male name in one of the Bar Kochba documents, it is also found as a medieval place name in Eretz, Israel and as a personal male name from Ebla (Also see John Tvedtnes, John Gee, and Matthew Roper, “Book of Mormon Names Attested in Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions”).
    Also Paul Hoskisson, following up on previous notes from Hugh Nibley (Hugh W. Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, 1989, pp281–82; See also the original notice of the discovery in Yigael Yadin, Bar Kokhba, Random House, New York, 1971, p176), showed that the name Alma appears on a Jewish document of the early second century A.D., also found in Israel (Paul Y. Hoskisson, “Alma as a Hebrew Name,” JBMS 7/1, 1998, p72–73. See also the discussion in David K. Geilman, “5/6Hev 44 Bar Kokhba,” in Ancient Scrolls from the Dead Sea, ed. M. Gerald Bradford, Provo, Utah, FARMS, 1997, p39).
    Comment #2: “I find it out of character for a missionary to be carrying a sword, and especially, as Ammon did, use it to cut off the arms of Lamanites harassing the king’s sheep. Can you imagine such a thing today?” Carlo S.
    Response: We find in Alma 17 the story of Ammon. Remember, he was a Nephite traveling in Lamanite country, and according to Mormon’s words: “Having taken leave of their father, Mosiah, in the first year of the judges; having refused the kingdom which their father was desirous to confer upon them, and also this was the minds of the people; Nevertheless they departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and took their swords, and their spears, and their bows, and their arrows, and their slings; and this they did that they might provide food for themselves while in the wilderness. And thus they departed into the wilderness with their numbers which they had selected, to go up to the land of Nephi, to preach the word of God unto the Lamanites” (Mosiah 17:6-8).
    Later, we find that every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm. Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few. And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks” (Mosiah 17:37-39).
The Apostle Peter in a famed painting by Peter Paul Rubens showing a prominent sword in hand

Let us not forget that even the Apostle Peter carried a sword among the Savior’s close followers. If you lived in that day, a weapon for protection and for obtaining your food would have been essential. In fact, the Lord himself instructed his disciples to obtain swords, saying: “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:37).
    Comments #3: “In a book called ‘In Search of Cumorah,’ I find that the author makes a good point about there being buildings all around the area of the Jaredite last battles—which means Cumorah should have artifacts of numerous buildings from around the end of the Jaredite period. Surely some of those would have been found, or parts of them, if they were built in stone” Andy S.
    Response: The author, David A. Palmer who, by the way, is a Mesoamericanist, is trying to make this point on p60 of his book, however, what he fails to point out is that at the point of his discussing these buildings (Ether 14:17) which Shiz destroys is not near Ramah—they are early in the battles that afterward went from where they took place around these cities to the east seashore (Ether 14:26), then to the valleys of Corohor and Shurr (Ether 14:28), then they separated while each side recovered from the battles (Ether 14:31). Another serious battle takes place at an undisclosed area, then they fled north to Ripliancum (15:8), and from there they fled southward to Ogath where Coriantumr pitched his tents near the hill Ramah (Ether 15:11). As you can see, they could have been near or many miles away from these buildings.
    We cannot suggest any connection here between the area of Ramah and anything else that might have survived. Following these events they spent four years gathering together every Jaredite in the land to their two armies (Ether 15:12-15). And where Shiz and Coriantumr battled, was at least one day’s flight from Ramah/Cumorah (15:28). We simply have no confirmation in these events that the battle at Ramah was anywhere near populated areas, buildings, etc., and any suggestion that it was is simply speculative and not supported by the scriptural record.
    Comment #5: “How can you expect me to believe the Book of Mormon when all the witnesses left the Church. Seems very suspicious to me! Janice W.
    Response: People leave the Church for various reasons, but in the case of the witnesses, none ever denied seeing the Plates who saw them or the work of the Book of Mormon who were involved in transcribing Joseph’s translation. Nor did all the witnesses leave the Church. Being a member in the early days of the Church was very difficult and fraught with pain, sacrifice, and heartache, not all of which came from external persecution. People frequently have personal problems with strong leaders like Joseph Smith, and those with natural human pride can be easily offended. The same happened with Christ, as you will recall: he said that many would be offended (Matt. 26:31), and John 6:61-66 reports that many of his disciples rejected him, apparently offended by some of his teachings. Now if an offended person still sticks to a story that adds credibility to someone he has rejected, isn't that pretty impressive? That's the case for Joseph Smith and the witnesses of the Book of Mormon. You can read their testimonies which they never changed.

1 comment:

  1. In response to Carlos S. who said: “I find it out of character for a missionary to be carrying a sword, and especially, as Ammon did, use it to cut off the arms of Lamanites harassing the king’s sheep. Can you imagine such a thing today?"

    Again..Presentism (uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts.) raises it's ugly head.