Sunday, May 13, 2018

An Error by Mormon?

In following the thought on language, and r4eferring to the article by Brant A. Gardner (a Mesoamericanist at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute [FARMS]) in his quoting of an article by John L. Sorenson, we find:
    “The Significance of the Chronological Discrepancy between Alma 53:22 and Alma 56:9,” FARMS Paper SOR-90b (Provo, UT, 1990), which is a talk Sorenson gave at the second biennial Book of Mormon lecture sponsored by the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Research on 8 September 2011 in the Assembly Hall of the Gordon B. Hinckley Center on the BYU campus. He entitled his lecture “Mormon’s Sources,” in which he “demonstrated his careful attention to detail and his ability to synthesize large amounts of data into a coherent theory. In this case, he presented his explanation of the various sources that Mormon used to compose his abridgment of the Nephite record. As with all good theories, this one explains some Book of Mormon anomalies.”
Those anomalies include what Sorenson claimed were errors by Mormon when he engraved on the plates. What errors? Did Mormon make errors in his abridging the record?
    First of all, it is always interesting to see what people think is “close attention to detail,” and “synthesize large amounts of data into a coherent theory.” Now synthesize means “to combine a large number of things into a coherent whole,” and it would seem from the following point Sorenson makes in this article that he has neither paid close attention to detail, nor correctly combined information into a coherent idea.
    As an example, on p11 of his 15-page article “Mormon’s Sources,” Sorenson wrote: “A minor kind of mistake is of the sort that every historian and writer encounters at times. Whether they come from a poor memory or errors caused by errant hands (the equivalent of modern “typos”), no writer can avoid a certain number of “slips of the stylus.” They may be among the “faults” alluded to by Moroni on the title page of the Book of Mormon that are “the mistakes of men.”
    In Mormon’s case, according to Sorenson, they include the report of the capture of the city of Nephihah (Alma 51:26), and a mistake where the same event is said in one passage to have taken place in the twenty-fifth year of the judges (Alma 51:26), and also in in the twenty-eighth year (Alma 53:22–23). Such flaws show the human side of the historian’s task, although they need not cause us any serious problem in reading the account”
Amaleckiah, at the head of a large Lamanite army, captures both the cities of Mormoni and Lehi; dotted white lines show the Nephites from these two cities fled to Nephihah and prepared for battle with the Lamanites

After Amalickiah had taken the city of Moroni (Alma 51:22-23), he also took the city of lehi (Alma 51:24), the Nephites of both of these cities fled to the city of Nephi to prepare to do battle with the Lamanites. At this point. Sorenson claims Mormon reported an erroneous “capture of the city of Nephihah” in Alma 51:26. However, Mormon did not write that. He wrote “And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.”
    First of all, we need to understand that in ancient Hebrew and Egyptian, they did not write the way we write today, i.e., they did not have punctuation, such as periods, commas, semi-colons, etc., nor did they have sentences and paragraphs.
    What Mormon wrote in (Alma 51:26) was:
1. And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities
2. The city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore
Mormon is outlining the cities along the east seashore that had not yet been attacked by Amaleckiah

That is, when coupling the first statement with the two statements before that, which Sorenson doesn’t bother to mention, we see that Mormon did not include Nephihah in a list of captured cities, for that verse, Alma 51:24, states:
    “And those who fled out of the city of Moroni came to the city of Nephihah; and also the people of the city of Lehi gathered themselves together, and made preparations and were ready to receive the Lamanites to battle.” That is, those who fled out of the captured cities of Moroni and Lehi fled to Nephihah where they gathered and prepared to battle the Lamanites.”
    Alma 51:25 states: “But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it.”
    So, in putting all this together, we should see it as:
1. Amalickiah captured the cities of Moroni and Lehi;
2. Those Nephites who fled from the cities of Moroni and Lehi fled to the city of Nephihah;
3. Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle;
4. Amalickiah kept the Lamanites down by the seashore, leaving men in every city he had already captured to maintain and defend it;
5. From which point the Lamanites went on, taking possession of many cities.
Amalekiah and his Lamanite army captured other cities along the east seashore, but had not as yet attacked Nephihah 

What cities were down by the seashore?
    “The city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.”
    However, he did not capture the city of Nephihah, because “Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle.”
    Thus, there is no erroneous report by Mormon that Amalickiah captured the city of Nephihah at this time, but actually avoided attacking it all together in the 25th year of the reign of the judges.
    Now Sorenson claims, to prove his point, to contrast Alma 51:26 with Alma 59:5. So, in Alma 59:1, we find that it is the 30th year of the reign of the judges, Moroni, having read Helaman’s report received on the 2nd day of the first month of the thirtieth year (Alma 56:1), sent a letter to Pahoran, the Chief Judge in Zarahemla, to send reinforcements to Helaman in order to defend the city of Nephihah, which was still in Nephite hands, and filled with the refugees from the cities of Moroni, Lehi and Morianton (Alma 59:5).
Two separate but overlapping events were taking place and being recorded in Alma 59; one was Moroni in Zarahemla quelling the uprising of the King-Men, and the other was Helaman fighting Amalekiah along the eastern seaboard

Now, the Lamanites as stated above, had already captured the cities of Moroni and Lehi, and Morianton—but not Nephihah—and who had been reinforced by those from Manti and the land roundabout (Alma 59:6) that had been under the command of Ammoron (Amalickiah’s brother Alma 52:3), attacked the city of Nephihah (Alma 59:5-7).
Sorenson, trying to tell us that Mormon made a mistake by having the Lamanites attack the city of Nephihah in Alma 59 is mistaken in thinking Nephihah had already been defeated when, in fact, it had not, as shown by these overall events.
To recap, in Alma 50 through 59 two different events are described. From Alma 50:17 (21st year) thru Alma 56:1 (30th year) the story line follows events at Zarahemla and of Moroni in the west and south, commencing in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges and follows those efforts up to the thirtieth year, then in that thirtieth year, (Alma 56:1) Moroni receives a letter or report (epistle) from Helaman who is in the east and north in which Helaman recounts his activities in battling the Lamanites and trying to keep them in check and his experiences with the arrival of the Stripling Warriors from the twenty and fifth year through the thirtieth year. Or, stated differently, he recounts what he was doing from Alma 56:2 through Alma 58:41, during the same period of time that Moroni is being discussed in another part of the land. Or those same years are covered twice with two different events. There was no mistake by Mormon, just two storylines covering the same time period. Thus, the events are not out of chronological order, but being stated twice from two different perspectives.
    Then, after these events, Helaman writes his military leader, Chief Captain Moroni, and reports his efforts over those years. Moroni receives and immediately reads the report on the 2nd day of the first month of the 30th year, and immediately orders the Chief Judge Pahoran to send reinforcement troops to to Helaman to defend Nephihah. However, as is learned in Alma 61, Pahoran had been overthrown and his government taken over by king-men who banished Pahoran to the land of Gideon, resulting in the city of Nephihah being captured by Ammoron (Alma 59:8,11).
    Thus, there is no conflict, chronological errors, or mistakes by Mormon in writing these events. The error is with Sorenson, not Mormon, which is usually the case when theorists start claiming there are errors in the Book of Mormon.

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