Thursday, May 10, 2018

Knowing How to Learn the Truth – Part VI

Continued from the previous post regarding how theorists misstate the obvious, often because they do not understand the original intent of the writer and the manner in which they wrote in antiquity.
    We mentioned the Hebrew “vav” in the last post, which means “and.” It is a critical conjunction word that is found continually in the Book of Mormon, and shows its distinct usage in the Hebrew writing of the scriptural record.
The word “and” joins two thoughts or parts of the same idea in both Hebrew and English

In Joseph Smith’s day the word “and” was used “as a conjunction, connective or conjoining word, signifying that a word or part of a sentence is to be added to what precedes.” Today, the word “and” has a similar meaning and is used as a function word to indicate connection or addition especially of items within the same class or type —used to join sentence elements of the same grammatical rank or function. In this case, within the same event, i.e., landing in the promised land and pitching their tents.
    Therefore, in the original manuscript as in the beginning of current verses, the word “and” precedes each separate thought, idea, or thing. Thus, these events are run-on events, or continuing the thought of what happened and what was found on the land of promise where Lehi landed.
    Take as an example, 1 Nephi 18:25, when Nephi tells us what was found on the Land of Promise near where they landed.
    “And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.” In this one verse, of only 79 words, the word “and” is repeated 10 times, or about once every 8 words.
    In English today, this would be rendered:
    “As we journeyed in the wilderness around the settlement, we found in the land of promise, beasts of every kind in the forests including the cow, ox, ass, horse, goat, wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. We also found all manner of ore, including gold, silver, and copper.” Not only is the statement reduced to 57 words (22 words less), but the word “and” is used only twice.
    It is not that one way is better than another, they are simply different. Today’s writers and educated people look upon the writing of the Book of Mormon with disdain because of the stlyle and grammar of the writing; however, it is accurate to the Hebrew method of writing in the time frame it claims to be.
    When we read the Book of Mormon we need to keep this in mind, and also that the original authors of the Bible and Book of Mormon did not intend that their writings be divided up into chapters or verses. They intended that the books be read straight through from the beginning. While a number of the books of Scripture can be read through in one sitting, they usually are not. We have been taught to read so many verses per night, so many chapters in a time frame. While that type of reading exposes us to the material, it does not teach us anything about the style and method of writing that was employed and, therefore, often we misunderstand the meaning and intent of the writing.
    The best way to discover what the author was trying to say is to read events to their conclusion. Or better yet, get a copy of Wilford C. Wood, Joseph Smith Begins His Work, “the Book of Mormon 1830 Edition reproduced from uncut sheets, Publishers Press, Salt Lake City, 1958, and read the work as it was originally published, keeping in mind that the original work on the plates did not have even the few chapters as this reproduced copy does.
    Consider this lengthy statement by Nephi describing what happened after he was released during the storm at sea.
    “And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:21-22).
These were separate steps in a singular event, i.e., being untied the getting the ship back on track after the storm and headed toward the promised land
As can be seen, these events followed one another in meaning and intent. There is no injection of a time frame, but the events follow one another simply and directly. The same is found in the following statement:
    And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land. And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance. And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:23-25).
    However, when dividing up the ancient writing into verses, it gives an opportunity for a reader to see some of these events separately; however, that was not the intent of the writer as can be seen from these two examples above.
    It also encourages people to read only small parts at a time. This is not always helpful either, since it encourages the reader to pick out something they want without bothering to read more to see what the overall intent of the writer was. We see this in reading 1 Nephi 18:23-25, where some theorists want to isolated these terms into both lengthy separations of time, as well as into totally separate events.
   However, they were not intended that way, the Hebrew writing did not follow that pattern with the language Nephi used, and only our lack of knowledge of this allows us to insert our own thinking into it. The trouble with chapters and verses, though such alignment has its advantages in working with the scriptural record, it causes undue difficulty when theorists try to find some way to justify their beliefs, opinions and models that are not clearly in alignment with the scriptural record.
   Since the original writing of Mormon and others did not only have chapters and verses, it did not have commas, semi-colons and periods for punctuation, the reader is left with the burden of understanding. Of course, these were often added, some by the non-LDS printer, and others by Oliver Cowdery, but that does not mean the were as originally intended.
    The addition of chapter and verse divisions have given the impression that the overall meaning should be read and studied in bits and pieces—thus giving credence to theorists who want to use passages for their own purposes, or to prove or support their particular point of view or model. This is also not what the original authors intended. The entire context should always be considered, and that means the chapter and verse divisions should be ignored when one attempts to properly interpret the entire message of a particular part of the scriptural record.
    While the addition of chapter and verse divisions can be helpful, they are not authoritative in any sense of the term. In fact, they can cause a number of problems. It is surprising how often theorists try to make something out of the way the scriptural record reads without understanding this simple fact, and without knowing much about the actual method of writing employed by the ancient Hebrews/Jews in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Rod Meldrum incorporating a separation of thought between 1 Nephi 18:23 and 1 Nephi 18:25. Yet the word “journey” does not just mean a lengthy trip; it means “to travel from place to place; to travel by land for any distance”

In addition, and as stated earlier, a lack of understanding in what is meant by “a land of inheritance” and “land of first inheritance,” can lead to some misunderstanding, such as that of Rod Meldrum who places Lehi’s landing site 390 miles away from where he claims was the “Land of First Inheritance.”
    In such statements, like that of Meldrum, we need to keep in mind that the Land of Promise was given to Lehi and his posterity as an inheritance, or a “land of inheritance,” and the land where Lehi landed, was “the land of first inheritance,” which the Lord covenanted with Lehi to give him a “land of inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:5), those who came out of Jerusalem, if they keep the commandments, “none shall take away thy land of inheritance” (1 Nephi 1:9), and also the Lord “consecrated this land unto thee for thine inheritance” (2 Nephi 3:2).
    Alma describes that land of first inheritance when he stated: “and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers’ first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” means Lehi landed along the west seashore of the Land of Promise, which became the Land of First Inheritance.
    First of all, this shows us, contrary to Rod Meldrum’s self-serving claim, there is a requirement for a west coast landing along the West Sea. However, this does not meet Meldrum’s model and narrative so he simply tells us that “nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it state that they sailed east in their ship or that they landed on the west coast of the promised land.” Yet, we see that there is and Mormon tells us that.
    Now, common sense tells us that in order to land on the west coast or in the Sea West of the Land of Promise, one must sail eastward to approach the land from the west and land on the west seashore. A quick look at the map of North America, verifies that no landing on the West coast could have been effected by sailing up the Atlantic Ocean, which borders only on the south and east coast of America.
(See the next post, “Knowing How to Learn the Truth – Part VI,” for more on the original text of the Book of Mormon and how it affects our understanding of the scriptural record)

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