Friday, June 15, 2012

Beware of the Experts—They Often Have an Axe to Grind Part IV

Continuing with Sorenson’s presentation to students at Brigham Young University at the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall, Sorenson’s statements follow his name, and our comments follow “Response."

Sorenson: “Original plates crafted by Nephi shortly after arrival in New World."

Response: The first mention of the plates upon which Nephi wrote is in 1 Nephi 6:1. We do not know when he wrote that, but it is inserted into the record prior to 592 B.C. It is likely that he is referring to the Small Plates, which he did not make until after reaching the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 19:1). At the time we writes this statement, he refers to “I, Nephi, do not give the genealogy of my fathers in this part of my record; neither at any time shall I give it after upon these plates which I am writing; for it is given in the record which has been kept by my father,” which should tell us two things. 1) Lehi was keeping his own record during their sojourn in the wilderness, and 2) Nephi kept another set of records on plates (1 Nephi 9:2; 19:2) which he called the Plates of Nephi (1 Nephi 9:2), which we now call the Large Plates of Nephi. He also duplicated to some degree this writing on the plates he made after reaching the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 9:3, 5; 19:1) that we now refer to as the Small Plates.

As for “shortly after arrival in the New World,” Nephi tells us when he made the Small Plates (2 Nephi 5:30) and follows up saying “we lived after the manner of happiness. And thirty years had passed away from the time we left Jerusalem” (2 Nephi 5:27-28). The next date is mentioned six verses later, it being ten years later, or “sufficeth me to say that forty years had passed away, and we had already had wars and contentions with our brethren” (2 Nephi 5:34). Between these two dates, Nephi records that he was told to make other plates, the Small Plates. Stated differently, between 569 B.C. and 559 B.C., Nephi made the plates. This means he made the plates between 20 and 30 years after reaching the Land of Promise, which hardly seems appropriate to say “shortly after arrival in the New World.” Fifteen to twenty years later, Nephi died (Jacob 1:12).

Sorenson: “Nephi drew account from papyrus accounts made by Lehi & Nephi” 

Response:  Nephi tells us he wrote on plates, not papyrus. There is no indication at any time, or any hint, inkling, or allusion of anything ever written on papyrus by Nephi. All we know of Lehi is that he kept a record (1 Nephi 19:2) which is the 116 pages that Joseph Smith first translated and then were lost by Martin Harris, so obviously, Lehi's record was on plates also. To say they both wrote on papyrus and then transferred their writing to the plates is without any support in the scriptural record.

Sorenson: “More plates of metal must have been added but the name “plates of Nephi” is “Unclear if physically separate plates or different sections on plates of Nephi” were kept.

Response: The Plates of Nephi were a single group of plates. Those who wrote on them, especially after Jacob, talked about the limited space on them. It seems quite clear they were just one set of plates that Nephi made 30 to 40 years after leaving Jerusalem (2 Nephi 5:30, 29-34), before that, he was writing on his “other” plates (2 Nephi 4:14-15; 5:4, 29). For Sorenson to write: “Unclear if physically separate plates” were used is completely disingenuous. Several recorders after Enos tell us they were not.

Sorenson: “Books would include some of the descendants until plates filled up and another book of plates added.

Response: The Small Plates of Nephi (Nephi thru Omni) were made by Nephi and the others wrote on them according to the space available. There were no other plates added to the Small Plates of Nephi (Nephi through Omni). Even as late as about 345 A.D., Mormon is still writing on the Plates of Nephi (Mormon 2:18), and as late as 385 A.D., Mormon tells us he "made this record out of the plates of Nephi (Mormon 6:6)--whether this means the original plates Nephi made in such abundance they lasted throughout the record, or other plates were added is never stated. In fact, in 401 A.D., Moroni tells us he would have added more if he "had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none" (Mormon 8:5). So in all, there is no mention anywhere in the scriptural record that more plates were made after Nephi tells us the Lord commanded him to make other plates (2 Nephi 5:30).

Sorenson: “Writers always had problems of getting their point conveyed.

Response: Not what Moroni said. He commented about imperfections, not problems getting their point conveyed. One reading of the Book of Mormon should suggest, even to the most novice reader, that the points made by the prophets who wrote the material is completely understandable, with their points clearly made. Sorenson’s purpose in bringing this up is completely disingenuous to the overall scriptural context of the Book of Mormon.

(See the next post, "Beware of the Experts--They Often Have an Axe to Grind Part V" for more of Sorenson's statements during the Second Biennial Willes Center Book of Mormon Lecture, Sept 8, 2011, in the BYU Hinckley Center Assembly Hall)

No comments:

Post a Comment