Sunday, June 3, 2018

Answering a Heartland Theorist’s Erroneous Claims – Part V

Continuing with more of this reader’s comments and our responses regarding his disagreement with our article on the events surrounding what Joseph Smith did and did not testify about. The reader’s comments are in italics following (•), and our response is in regular type:
•“testifying that the Book of Mormon lands are exactly where the prophet Joseph Smith said they were”
Response: Again, Joseph Smith never said where the Book of Mormon lands were specifically located, other than in the Americas. He was given a vision of who Zelph was and a little information about him, and thought that the Nephite/Lamanite civilization was in the plains over which Zion’s Camp traveled—then he saw evidence of ancient civilization of tremendous capabilities shown in their ruins in Central America, and thought that verified the early existence of the Nephites.
Frederick Catherwood’s drawings of Ruins he and John Lloyd Stephens found in Central America
If Joseph really knew where the Nephites specifically were, he never said, nor did he imply an exact spot or location, and theorists and members with their own ideas and beliefs do a great disservice to the Church and an injustice to the prophet Joseph by claiming he said things he simply did not!
•“in the lower Great Lakes region, U.S.A.,”
Response: Again, you err in such statements. If you think Joseph did, then provide a clear and obvious statement and its source so it can be verified to prove your point.
•“where Nephi testified was the same land where he lived would be the land of liberty, the land where the gospel would be restored.”
The land where Joseph lived, in the 1830s era, was called “America,” (few people referred to it as the United States other than politicians and people in Washington and Philadelphia). And in Joseph Smith’s time, as mentioned earlier, America in that period referred to North and South America and this great land of the Western Hemisphere which prophets and church leaders have from the beginning referred to as the Land of Promise and Zion. (see our many posts in our blog quoting these comments []). In addition, also as stated above, the “continent” that Moroni referred to in his explanation to Joseph Smith that the record contained the history of the people of “this continent” referred to what was known as the “continent of America,” or both North and South America, as any historian will tell you, and every school textbook before the 20th century noted.
•“Non-LDS archaeologists have found 15 stones with ancient, paleo-Hebrew characters engraved on them, in Hopewell mounds and sites.”
Response: Finding evidence of Lehi’s descendants in North America under what has been written above about the Land of Promise being the entire Western Hemisphere (though Lehi’s promised land was isolated to a much smaller area, like the land of promise of the 12 tribes in Israel is a much smaller area than the overall land mass around it), and evidence of Hebrew existence has been found from Chile to the Great Lakes, including mummies in Andean South America that circumcised their males, strictly a Hebrew/Jewish ritual; as well as Nephite/Hebrew style altars uncovered in Mesoamerica, and also that archaeologists have known for a century that 29 gold plates with carved writing have been found in Mesoamerica (though not commonly known outside their discipline ((Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube, “Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens,” Thames & Hudson, London, 2000, p229)—all leads to an understanding that Lehi’s posterity spread throughout the land of the Americas.
•“Because of the style of writing, Dr. Cyrus Thomas declared the inscription to be a form of Paleo-Hebrew thought to be in use during the first or second century”
Response: As indicated above, there is no argument here about Nephites and Lamanites being anywhere in North and South America between Hagoth’s ships taking Nephites and Lamanites northward, and 1500 A.D. when the Europeans arrived in the New World. Between Lehi’s landing in 600 B.C., and Hagoth’s immigrants in 55 B.C., there should be no one else in the Land of Promise (Lehi’s island and later the immediate extended land). There is a thought about the quote above, however. If what has been found in North America (Hopewell mounds) is truly Paleo-Hebrew writing, then a few thoughts need to be understood:
Algonquin is either a distinct Algonquian language closely related to the Ojibwe language or a particularly divergent Ojibwe dialect. It is spoken, alongside French and to some extent English, by the Algonquin First Nations of Quebec and Ontario; the map shows where it was initially spoken in North America 
1. The Paleo-Hebrew language is a variant of the Phoenician alphabet, both contain 22 letters, all consonants, and described as an abjad. In fact, according to Solomon Asher Birnbaum, a Yiddish linguist and Hebrew palaeographer, the Phoenician is nearly identical to the Paleo-Hebrew script. So are these artifacts from the Mounds Hebrew or Phoenician?
2. The artifacts dating were considered to be from 100 A.D. to 800 A.D., and have been verified by carbon dating (C-14) of wood fragments found in the inscription that yielded a date of between 32 A.D. and 769 A.D. This means the artifact could well be in the last half of that date spread, which means that it could have been later than the existence of the Nephites who were wiped out in 385 A.D.
3. In dating the artifacts to 32A.D. and later and to a script that was phased out in Jerusalem around the time of Nephi, it seems strange that in 32 A.D., that same script would be found in use in America. As an example, Moroni said some 350 years later that their Hebrew had been altered by them (Mormon 9:33) over the 1000 year period (570 years before the artifact, which would have been plenty of time for much of this change to have taken place). So when Dr. Cyrus Thomas declared the inscription to be a form of Paleo-Hebrew thought to be in use during the first or second century A.D., the question arises on how that could be assoiated with the Nephites?
4. The black Decalogue stone found depicts a man in full length robes, a sash and Jewish temple ceremonial hat along with the name of Moses above the image. The inscribed writing has been determined to be an ancient script now called “Block Hebrew,” or “Monumental Hebrew” because of its being found in Jerusalem near the 4th century, A.D. (Biblical Archaeology Review Nov./Dec. 1986, p. 33). This raises the question as to how it could be connected to the Nephites when Lehi, Nephi, Sam and Zoram left Jerusalem in 600 B.C., some 900 years before the Block or Monumental Hebrew was developed?
•“Non-LDS linguists have confirmed the Algonquin language is a Hebraic language.”
Response: The Algonquian (Algonkian) language is the largest native language group in North America and is nothing more than a family of related languages, but spoken by different tribes, such as the Algonquian, including the Delaware, the Narragansetts, the Pequot, and the Wampanoag. This language originated in the southern Quebec and eastern Ontario region, and the Ottawa River Valley of Canada. The language extended eventually clear to Hudson Bay to the north and North Carolina to the south, including the Great Plains, and west of the Mississippi River.
    The Algonquian language is considered a divergent dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is part of the Algolnquian language family. The Ojibwe Language, which has been called by many names including Anishinaabemowin, Ojibwe, Ojibway, Ojibwa, Southwestern Chippewa, and Chippewa. It is a Central Algonquian language spoken by the Anishinaabe people throughout much of Canada from Ontario to Manitoba and US border states from Michigan to Montana.
Algonquian linguists are the first to tell you that there is no connection between the Algonquian Language and Hebrew or European languages. In the chart above, note how German and Dutch are related (and English); how Hebrew, Arabic and Maltese are related, and how Ojibwe, Algonquin and Cree are related. But Ojibwe, Algonquin and Cree are not related to Hebrew, Arabic or Maltese in any way, nor are German, Dutch or English

The Algonquin language is an Algonquian language of the Algic family of languages and is descended from Proto-Algonquian, which also includes Mississauga and Odawa and originally the Potawantomi language. Closely related “sister” languages are the Nitsitapi, Cheyenne, Cree, Fox, Menominee and Shawnee. The Algonquian language has four short vowels and four long vowels, which is very different than Hebrew, particularly in the time of the Nephites. It also has six diphthongs, ancient Hebrew has two.
    Linguist Merritt Ruhlen in The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue, (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1994) writes: “The initial division in the family left the Proto-Algonquians in place to become the Blackfoot, while the other group spread eastward, initially differentiating into the Algonquian languages found in the Great Plains. These languages then spread farther eastward, with the occupation of the East Coast representing the final movement in the dispersal.”
    According to Laura Redish, Director of “Native Languates of the Americas,” states: “Algonquian is neither related in any way to Hebrew or Egyptian…I have seen many websites claiming to "prove" that Amerindian languages are descended from Semitic or Germanic languages. 90% of these websites are deliberately lying, making up nonexistant "Algonquian" words that resemble words from Semitic languages. A quick glance at a dictionary of the Amerindian language in question will reveal these websites for what they are. The other 10% are using linguistically unsound methods--searching two languages for any two vocabulary words that begin with the same letter, essentially, and presenting them as evidence.” Nor are they related to MicMac, Cree, or Mayan hieroglyphics, which are all non-alphabetic writing systems, but otherwise having nothing in common at all.
(Image –
The point is, those who really know that language do not consider it connected to Hebrew in any way, and even a cursory look at any word combination comparison shows that it is not.
(See the next post, “Answering a Heartland Theorist’s Erroneous Claims – Part VI,” on more of this reader’s comments and our responses)

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