Tuesday, March 6, 2018

That Troublesome Island of Jacob – Part IV

Continuing with the scriptural mention of the island the Nephites settled according to Jacob’s Temple statement. While almost all Book of Mormon writers pay little attention to Jacob’s declaration and few, if any, give it any value, the important point is that if we are going to discuss the temporal destruction that took place in the Land of Promise at the time of the crucifixion and all that followed, then it is critical that we come to an understanding of this island home. 
    Continuing with the points of disagreement:
9) If Jacob were wrong, Nephi would have corrected him. But, as I stated in my earlier comments, Jacob's views no doubt came from Nephi in the first place. This objection just doesn't even make sense since they both could have been wrong.
    Response: Sometimes I think we fail to realize why the Lord provides scriptures for our enlightenment, understanding and knowledge. It should make sense in that, as stated above, four prophets verified or acknowledged this information: Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Joseph Smith.
By ancient Hebrew custom (Deuteronomy 19:15), two witnesses in a Beit Din (rabbinical court or “house of judgment”) were sufficient to verify the truth in halakhah (Talmudic law), and in a capital case, two witnesses verifying a capital crime were sufficient for the Sanhedrin to execute the perpetrator. Three witnesses sealed the verdict beyond reproach. Therefore, four ought to teach us something of its accuracy. After all, the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon is not merely somebody’s writing down his thoughts and ideas—but the word of God. Throughout its many pages the comment about the Lord restraining the writers is quite evident. To think the Lord would have allowed falsities within the record is beyond comprehension.
10) That Joseph Smith would have corrected any imperfections in what the writers of the BOM wrote. That is quite a deductive leap inasmuch as I know of not one single time when Joseph corrected anything, outside of editing grammar. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that Joseph didn't really "translate" much at all--at least in the way we think of the concept of translation. As Royal Skousen has pointed out, "transmitted" is a more appropriate term. In other words, he read off the words he was given.
    Response: For some reason many members have come to a false understanding that all Joseph Smith had to do was read off words that appeared through no effort of his own and the scribe wrote them down. If that was all there was to it, then the Lord’s comments to Oliver Cowdery in the Doctrine and Covenants makes no sense whatsoever. As you will recall, Oliver wanted to translate, so he was given the opportunity and failed at it. To this effort, the Lord told him: “verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit. Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground” (D&C 8:1-3).
    He then goes on to tell Oliver the most important part: “you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me. Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now” (D&C 9:7-10).
    As B. H. Roberts said of Joseph Smith translating: “Although Joseph Smith affirmed he used a Urim and Thummim, the instrument did not do everything and the Prophet nothing.” Roberts insisted that the translation process was neither so simple nor so easy a thing as has been supposed by both advocates and critics of the Prophet. On the contrary, “brain sweat was required, and preparation, and labor” (B. H. Roberts, “Bible Quotations in the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era 7, January 1904, pp191–96).
    Certainly Joseph Smith inserted his own understanding of the words the ancients wrote and translated his understanding, to which the Spirit verified (the wordage on the stone disappeared to be replaced with new wordage, or it remained until Joseph translated it correctly and it was written correctly). For all of Royal Skousen’s multiple talents, he is not the final word on any interpretation of the Book of Mormon—he merely gives us his viewpoint, as did Hugh Nibley, and sometimes those interpretations are just that—those of a man giving his own personal viewpoint.
    It might be a wise endeavor to go back in history and read all the writings of those involved in the translation (Skousen was not part of that) and see how they understood the process. It is a very enlightening education—for Joseph was not “given words” to write. He had to figure it out in his own mind, then ask if it was correct (D&C 9:8). You also might want to research the way Joseph translated from an article in the Ensign many years ago in which copies of all his copious notes, books, etc., were shown, giving us a clear understanding of how much work Joseph had to put forth in order to translate. The purpose of the Spirit was not to give him that information, but only to verify it was translated correctly.
11) Perhaps Mormon or Moroni would have corrected Jacob. Again, there isn't a single instance of either of them inserting themselves into the narrative of the small plates. Besides, if Jacob was "right," then why would anyone even comment upon it?
    Response: It is not a matter of need, but a matter of understanding. When one maintains it is correct, then the idea of someone correcting it is moot. But when someone claims it might be incorrect, then the idea of correction becomes an issue. Anyone who reads scripture has the right to decide for themselves how they will accept it or reject it. For me, I simply accept every word in the Book of Mormon scriptural record as absolutely and irrevocably accurate. In my mind, there is no question that Jacob was not only correct in all his statements, but that he knew what he was talking about and wrote it down accurately for our enlightenment and understanding. If proof is needed by someone, then we discuss the reason no other proof is necessary than the built in correctional process that would have been available.
       On the other hand, to think that Mormon did not insert information is inconsistent with the record. I agree that no instance of correction is given, but certainly Mormon added his own thoughts from time to time, the biggest of which is Alma 22:27-35. Moroni also added his thoughts from time to time in the translation of Ether, as in at least one case he states “Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things” (Ether 8:26) before returning to the translation (Ether 9:1), and also the end of chapter 12 before he returns to the record Ether 13:1. As for the small plates, the first section of 1 Nephi is Nephi’s copying of the book of Lehi, of which the original 116 pages were lost by Martin Harris, were translated. 
    Obviously, Nephi’s abridgement of Lehi’s record is not the same as the original; in addition, Mormon and Moroni had anything to do with the small plates. Those plates were found by Mormon (Words of Mormon 1:3) after he had finished his abridgement of the Large Plates—the Book of Lehi, first translated, then lost (1 Nephi 1:16, 17; 1 Nephi 9:1, 2; 19:1, 2), which Mormon “put with” the remainder of his record (WofM 1:6).
    The point of all of this is to show that the scriptural record tells us, by one who was there from the beginning, that the Land of Promise was an island. He doesn’t say a small island, or a “quaint” island, a seashore or land, or any other description—just an island. Therefore, there is nothing in the scriptural record, including distances, that can counter this simple fact: they were on an island and both Jacob and Nephi, two of those who sailed there, both were prophets, and both understood the workings of the Spirit. The problem is, being an island which is surrounded by water eliminates every other Land of Promise model other than the one we use in South America as the Land of Promise. And that runs contrary to all the theorists who want to maintain their own views, despite what the scriptural record says.


  1. The problem that proponents of other models have with the "isle of the sea" quotes is that they HAVE to discredited then for what they actually are saying. Ignoring them is best, but when it comes down to it the HAVE to be discredited. There can be no room for the notion that this quote was actually correct.

  2. That is why most theorists simply ignore the scriptural record quote and never mention it or give it any credence in their writing. The other option is to do what John L Sorenson does when he dislikes something in the scriptural record, and that is to go through a convoluted explanation, invoking old Hebraic mumbo-jumbo, which he often tries to make claim words mean something that they did not and do not--sometimes that can be debunked by going through the original etymology of the Hebrew, others it is too clouded to make a case against his very questionable claims that no rabbi scholar ever makes.
    The bottom line here is that, like missionary work, people are either ready to learn or they are not, they are either touched by the truth, or it is wasted on them. If it were easy, everyone would agree with us :) :)

  3. What I find interesting is that Jacob says in 2 Nephi 10:21 that the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isle(s) of the sea... must be more than THIS (the one we (Nephites) are living on).

    What other isle(s) were settled by the House of Israel. We might think that this is referring to Hawaii or other Polynesian isles. But there is one isle that is ignored that has/had a large population of Israelites. That is the great isle of England where most of the early saints came from. Ephraim was brought to the England and that is where many were gathered from. England along with South America are two great isles where the House of Israel was gathered.

    Not only did Jacob NOT make a mistake in saying that they were on an isle but this is buttressed by further evidence from the restoration.