Thursday, November 19, 2020

More Comments from Readers – Part X

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:

Comment #1: When I read the B of M, I always wonder what happened to the evidence of the life of the Jaredites. Lately I've been reading a lot about the burial mounds here in the Midwest. I am from Michigan so we see then every now and then. They've found many very large skeletons inside them. From 7' to 11' tall. I wonder if there is any relation there with the Jaredites” Todd P.

Response: We have written many times about the burial mounds in the Midwest. Burial mounds would have violated the Hebrew Law of Moses burial practices, and are not found anywhere in the Middle East, though they are found most other places in the world other than South America. They cannot be tied into Lehi’s posterity in any way. Whether or not the Jaredites would have done so we can only say that these mounds are not found anywhere through Mesopotamia, and likely not a Jaredite practice.

Comment #2: Jesus had trusted disciple who turned on him. Joseph had Williams who plotted his murder and in all probability was in the mob that did murder Joseph. He had plenty of reasons (his adultery, power, jealousy etc.) Just because a man is intelligent does not mean he is righteous. Williams was a Judas. I would not accept anything Judas wrote without confirmation. Same for Williams. Out of the mouths of two or three witnesses!” Jerry S.

Frederick G. Williams was Commander Perry’s ship navigator during the war of 1812. On Sept. 10, 1813, the British and American squadrons on Lake Erie engaged at Put-In Bay. In the end, Perry was able to capture all six British ships with the battle resulting in the U.S. keeping possession of Lake Erie to the end of the war


Response: It is amazing that critics and readers will comment about the character of Frederick G. Williams without knowing anything about the man, his history, or the facts of the events they claim happened. Above is one of those brief, but inflammatory comments we received following an article we wrote on Frederick G. Williams. As for the unfounded notion that Williams being a Judas, this evidently stems from an event where the Prophet sent Williams on an unannounced trip to Burlington, Iowa, 28 miles north of Nauvoo on the west shore of the Mississippi, where he was to examine a tract of land for a possible location of the Saints who were on the verge of being driven from Missouri. Thus, Williams was not in Missouri or Nauvoo, at the time the Saints were persecuted. His own family was among those driven out. And since Williams was not present in Nauvoo at the time Brigham Young held a court on those who had participated in anti-Mormon activities, as the other men had, including Williams, since he was not present at the hearing. Brigham Young, who was not a fan of Williams excommunicated all those believed to have turned against the Prophet, who at the time was in Liberty jail.

This was based in part that Williams was claimed to have apostatized at the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company in May 1837. In addition, Lucy Mack Smith reported that Williams, also a justice of the peace, refused the Prophet a search warrant to regain funds embezzled by Warren Parrish and, as a result, was dropped from the First Presidency and was replaced by Oliver Cowdery in his civil position. (See B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:409).

However, the Prophet’s account indicates that he obtained the desired warrant “too late” and does not mention any action taken against Williams (B.H. Roberts, 1:408–9). In fact, Oliver Cowdery served as justice of the peace at the same time as Williams; and instead of one replacing the other, both resigned at nearly the same time and were replaced at the same election. (Kirtland Township Trustees’ Minutes and Poll Book, 1817–1838, pp. 153, 155, 157.)

Joseph Smith and Frederick G. Williams were friends from the beginning and remained friends throughout their lives


Obviously Williams did not leave the Church then, but some residue of bad feeling may have remained, even though there was no other documentary evidence, besides the excommunication record, that he had participated in any anti-Mormon activities, as the other six men had. However, at the conference four months later in September, the membership was not unanimous in sustaining him to the First Presidency.

The next summer (July 1838) in Far West, the Lord gave a revelation published in History of the Church, 3:46n, informing W. W. Phelps and Frederick G. Williams that “in consequence of their transgressions their former standing has been taken away from them” and instructing them to do missionary work. Williams was dropped from the First Presidency at this point, but a letter written the same year affirms his loyalty and commitment to the Church, and the prophet had always remained on close terms with Williams.

There is another fallacious comment that the reason Williams did not go with the Saints to Salt Lake is because he had left the Church. However, Williams died in 1842, five years before Brigham Young led the Saints across the plains to Utah. On the other hand, Williams was reinstated by Joseph Smith upon his release from Liberty Jail and his return to Nauvoo.

This is hardly the actions and results of a “Judas.”

Comment #3: “Do we know why Joseph Smith gave the name of Nauvoo to the track of land then known as Commerce, Illinois, that would become the seat of the Church?”

The beautiful city of Nauvoo. Joseph stood on the top of the hill (where the temple stood later) and named it after its serene state, using a rare Hebrew word


Response: Many people have wondered about this, but Joseph Smith answered the point himself. As he stood on the bluffs above the site, he was impressed with the charm of that particular bend in the Mississippi—a beauty that many travelers of the west later pointed outand was moved to give his future city not only a beautiful but a unique name.

Joseph gave his city a name, changing the name of Commerce to "Nauvoo"—a Hebrew word meaning "beautiful place" or "city beautiful.” Many have wondered why Joseph Smith should have used the name Nauvoo (after a Hebrew root so unknown), in fact attacked by some linguists, is generally not surprising. He had much greater acquaintance with Hebrew than is generally recognized.

For example, he had made an “inspired revision” of the Old and New Testaments during the period 1831–33. Furthermore, he and others had studied Hebrew in Kirtland, Ohio, with Professor Joshua Seixas for two hours a day from January 26 through March 26, 1836. During that period they did much translating from the Old Testament.

The point is, Nauvoo is in fact a real Hebrew word. It appears in Isaiah 52:7 and Song of Solomon 1:10, and Psalms 93;5. It is the pilpel form (an extremely rare stem form of biblical Hebrew) of the verb na'ah נָאָה. In modern transliteration, it means “to be comely; to be at home (by implication) to be pleasant (or suitable), i.e. beautify, be beautiful, be comely.” It is best known for “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace."

Nauvoo, then, means “a beautiful and peaceful area.” In the figurative sense, na'ah means “green pasture, (where the flocks lie down and rest), a pleasant place.”

Comment #4: “I read where Oliver Cowdery knew a Minister Ethan Smith and read his “view of the Hebrews,” and then passed on knowledge of the book or a copy of the book itself to Joseph Smith who borrowed freely from it in producing the Book of Mormon. Do you know anything about this?” Fran W.
Response: Three early critics set the agenda for the first sustained criticisms of the book. Abner Cole, Alexander Campbell, and Eber D. Howe, each alleging that Joseph Smith used the Book of Mormon as part of an elaborate scheme to defraud the public. Cole (writing under the pseudonym Obadiah Dogberry) published excerpts of the Book of Mormon in his newspaper before the press had finished printing the book.

The Spaulding Letter to Joseph Smith


The Spaulding plagiarism theory gained so much visibility that missionaries such as Parley P. Pratt worked tirelessly to preach and publish rebuttals. Excommunicated Latter-day Saint Doctor Philastus Hurlbut collected the affidavits and forwarded them to Howe for publication after the testimonies failed to help Hurlbut win a lawsuit against Joseph Smith (“Joseph Smith and the 1834 D.P Hurlbut Case,” BYU Studies, vol. 44, no. 1, 2005, pp33–54).

When the actual Spaulding manuscript was discovered in the 1880s, readers saw little resemblance to the Book of Mormon. However, critics still insisted that Joseph Smith must have plagiarized the major ideas of the book.

In 1902, I. Woodbridge Riley argued that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery worked from Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews, a book tracing American Indian descent to the lost tribes of Israel. Still, after decades of debate, critics have failed to demonstrate any substantial correlation between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon. Though Cowdery lived for a time near Ethan Smith and the book preceded the Book of Mormon by seven years, no evidence confirms that Cowdery or Joseph Smith had any knowledge of the work (Larry E. Morris, “Oliver Cowdery’s Vermont Years and the Origins of Mormonism,” BYU Studies, vol. 39, no. 1, 2000, pp122–23, footnote 3).

1 comment:

  1. The Frederick G. Williams family seems to have a very faithful family tree that anyone could be thankful to be a part of.