Monday, January 29, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part V

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:    
    Comment #1: “What do you think of Richard Hauck’s four seas? To my knowledge he is the only one besides you who even considers there to be four seas” Grandy W.
The implausibility of Hauck’s identifications of the sea south and the sea west as two adjacent parts of the Pacific Ocean that have nothing separating them is obvious

Response: It was John E. Clark, an avid Mesoamericanist who said, “Any geography that tries to accommodate a north and south sea, I think, is doomed to fail,” probably because, as a Mesoamericanist, he can find only two seas, or possibly three, if one includes the Caribbean, as Hauck does, in his Mesoamerican model.
    Yet, Mormon writes: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8), showing us that there are, indeed, four seas, or at least there were four seas at the time the Nephites occupied the Land of Promise. Obviously, the “Land Northward” (mentioned 31 times) and the “Land Southward” (mentioned 15 times) are the major land masses or areas in which the main people groups of the Book of Mormon lived. Evidently, they were surrounded by seas—a literal fact according to Jacob (2 Nephi 10:20).
    Since Mesoamerica has only two main seas, the Pacific and the Atlantic, with the Caribbean possibly being considered a third sea area to their land model, they do not have a fourth (or south) sea. Thus, one had to be created where no separate sea existed, and Hauck labeled it in as the northern section of the Pacific Ocean. However, what Hauck and so many people seem to misunderstand is the purpose of naming land or sea areas anciently by directional names.
    As an example, if you were in the middle of Montana, where, having driven through there in the past, is almost void of people, places, or settlements, especially in the northeast of the State, say around the headwaters of the Missouri River at Haxby or Fort Pierce. In that huge void of land circled by Dryer Place, Zortman, Malta, Saco, Glasgow and Fort Pierce, there is an area about 4,000 square miles of emptiness, and if you include the area to the south of the Missouri River, you can add another 2,500 square miles, or about 6,500 square miles overall. Now consider yourself in the middle of that area on a hot, summer day, without water, asking someone to tell you where water holes could be found.
Now they tell you that there is a West Waterhole and a South Waterhole. Would you, in the most wild imagination of your mind place those two directional places in the manner that Hauck has placed these two directional Seas?
    People, without other landmarks, did not think the way Hauck claims the Nephites would have had to in order to place Seas in the directions that he did. And certainly the ancient Hebrews did not do so. As a result, I would say Hauck’s idea is ridiculous. But even if he reversed the two seas (West and South), which would at least make more sense, it would still be giving two names to one sea without any reason for separation would be without merit.
    I suppose it would be possible to name one “North Sea West” and “South Sea West,” but again, that is not the way the ancients used directional naming, especially not the Hebrews who would never have considered combining two directions in one name, since directions had specific meanings to the Hebrews, the “west” being where God was going (God is in the East and comes from there heading to the West), and “south” is where man dwells and departs (man comes from the South).
    It might be of interest, though only to the extent of early opinion of the Book of Mormon that Orson Pratt considered there to be seas all around the Land of Promise. It was Orson Pratt who added verse numbers (for the first time) and footnotes from 1879 to 1907 (Royal Skousen, ed., The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT., 2009, p740).
    In that edition, footnotes to Helaman 3:8 identified the lands southward and northward as South and North America, and the four seas as the Antarctic (called “the Atlantic, south of Cape Horn”), Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward [g, South America] to the land northward [h, North America], and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south [Atlantic, south of Cape Horn] to the sea north [Arctic, north of North America], from the sea west [Pacific] to the sea east [Atlantic]” (The Book of Mormon, translated by Joseph Smith, Jun., Division into Chapters and Verses, with references by Orson Pratt, Sen., William Budge, Liverpool, 187; Salt Lake City: Bureau of Information, 1907, p434).
    Again, that was Orson Pratt, not the Hebrew way of thinking. But it does show that early on there was seen four seas surrounding the Land of Promise, which is pretty much the only explanation for Haleman 3:8.
    Comment #2: “Do you know what happened to the stone box that Joseph retrieved the Golden Plates from? Did anyone ever see it other than Joseph? This is something I've been curious about for some time and there appears to be a lot of dis-information on the web about it, from Martin Harris seeing it 3 times, Oliver Cowdrey seeing & describing it in detail, to the stones "sliding down the mountain" and then being carried off. This last one I find very unlikely. Anyway, if you could address these questions in upcoming blogs I would greatly appreciate it!” Bryce L.
     Response: Joseph Smith said of the box: “Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them” (The Sacred Record, The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1999, pp8–9). 
    The box was not really a box, but side and bottom stones fitted together with a cement-type substance that held the stones together and made the box water-tight. Being large enough to hold the plates, Urim and Thummim and a breastplate, it would seem the stone box alone would have weighed a considerable amount, and though I do not know, it seems likely it remained where Joseph first found it—that is, hidden from the world until the Lord wants it discovered. In fact, there are no reliable first-hand accounts of what happened to the stone box after Joseph removed the contents.
    One account from a book published in 1893, writing about a series of interviews a Mormon writer named Edward Stevenson, who was acquainted with Joseph Smith, relates what he was told by an 'old man' living near the Hill Cumorah: “stated that he had seen some good-sized flat stones that had rolled down and lay near the bottom of the hill. This had occurred after the contents of the box had been removed and these stones were doubtless the ones that formerly composed the box. I felt a strong desire to see these ancient relics and told him I would be much pleased to have him inform me where they were to be found. He stated that they had long since been taken away” (Reminiscences of Joseph the Prophet, And the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon by Elder Edward Stevenson, 1893 Salt Lake City, Utah).
    Oliver Cowdery did not claim to have seen the box, only received a detail account of it from Joseph Smith, having joined the Church in 1829, two years after Joseph removed the plates, and one year before he actually visited the hill Cumorah for the first time.
    Martin Harris claimed to have seen a stone box while treasure hunting on the hill Cumorah, but not the stone box that had held the plates. Porter Rockwell claims to have found a chest three feet square in the Cumorah hill, but not the stone box Joseph described.
    David Whitmer claims to have seen the box, which he called a “casket” three times “at the Hill Cumorah and seen the casket that contained the tablets and seerstone. Eventually the casket has been washed down to the foot of the hill, but it was to be seen when he last visited the historic place” (Salt Lake Herald, 12 August 1875; reprinting from Chicago Times, 7 August 1875; cited in Ebbie L V Richardson, “David Whitmer: A Witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1952, pp156-158; Also in Lyndon Cook (editor), David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness, Grandin Books, Orem UT, 1991, p7).
    On the other hand, Joseph Smith never stated that he showed the stone box to anyone. Other than this, there isn’t much to comment upon.

1 comment:

  1. reference comment 1. Man departs into the North. North is the abode of the departed.