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Does Limited Geography Conflict With The Bom?


maupayman

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Close. I personally think the mixing with locals started immediately. A few little hamlets with a few families is not necessarily a "nation."

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

Ok Kevin, here is where I don't see this working; let's say that the Lehites actually continued to keep the commandments, as was the requirement for them to be able to "possess this land unto themselves." Should this group have stayed in the small little promised land, eventually it seems innevitable that they would encounter the natives as their colony grew and expanded. So essentially, if their are native peoples close, the promise seems useless from the start, because they will surely share the land with the natives eventually.When Nephi and "others" seperate themselves from the Lamanites they almost immediately build a temple. Had they indeed encountered natives, how would they communicate with them and be able to quickly start a joint project to build an Israelite style temple?

The idea of the promised land being a small area that the natives did not know about, again seems to flatly conflict with references from within the Book of Mormon. I did a quick perusal of verses related to promised land and land of inheritance, using the index in the book of mormon, and the references seem clear and consistent to me implying a hemispheric idea. Here are a couple of these references:

1) Jacob 2:12 - This is after Nephi has died, Jacob is teaching the Nephites. This is after the promise in 2 Nephi 1:9 was, by your account, removed and they no longer had the promise to "possess the land unto themselves", referring to the promised land.

"And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you, that many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully."

The fact that Jacob is still referring to the area they live, "this land", as the land of promise certainly implies that the promised land was not just the small area where they landed, before they supposedly mixed with the natives.

2) Ether 2: 9-12. Chris Smith posted these verses on the Cinepro thread, which is similar to this thread.

here: http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php...32758&st=20

9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.

11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of Godâ??that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.

12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

As Chris put it: "That the "land of promise" here and in the promise to the Nephites is not limited to the Tehuantepec seems to be confirmed by the address to Joseph Smith's Gentile audience in the USA."

Moroni is saying that the Gentiles for which this book is intended, being modern day North Americans I assume, now possess the land that was referred to as the land of promise by the Jaredites and Nephites. This clearly means North America and not a small area in Southern Mexico.

3) 3 Nephi 20:14 - Christ teaching the people.

"And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance."

Christ seems to think that they are still in the land of inheritance, which he prepared for them and their seed.

4) 2 Nephi 10:19 - Jacob teaching about the promises made to his people:

"Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among they seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all othere lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God."

These promises again certainly imply that the land of inheritance, or promise, given to Lehi and his descendants was larger than the isolated landing area you and Brant are suggesting. Jacob also seems to still think that he and his seed are living in the land of promise.

These verses are consistent with the original teachings of the church of a hemispheric model. There is no indication to what you, Brant, and others are suggesting, with this small promised land which they lost in a matter of years.

And the I think that the notion of a promised land, as well as a cursed land, can travel with a covenant people. It's not tied to one location, nor one set of regional or geographic boundaries.

Well even if the promised land moved with them as they moved, this still does not explain why the promise in 2 Nephi 2:9 was not fulfilled. The verse says "that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring our of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves."

Even if the notion of a promised land moved with them in 2 Nephi 5, this promise was then broke when they joined with the natives, as you seem to be saying occured, and is necessary to occur in order for certain events to be reasonable.

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You are quite right. I stand corrected. The promise in verse 9 is clearly directed at the Nephites and Mulekites. But take another look at verse 5:

5 But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.

This seems to clearly state that "this land" would be shared with other people brought from other countries and that this land would be a promised land to them also. In light of that, I don't see how one could insist that verse 9 must mean that the Nephites should be completely isolated. I think we can only interpret it to mean that they would be isolated from Old World nations, not those who were brought to the land by the hand of God.

I anticipated someone bringing up this verse. I agree with your assessment that this land would be a shared with other nations, but the question is when? This reference could just as easily be referring to the future as to the past. So, is there mention of other nations inhabiting the land before the Jaredites and Nephites in the Book of Mormon? I have seen nothing that clearly states as much. Is there reference to other groups inhabiting the land at all? Yes, the Mulekites are an example, but it gives their history clearly and they would not be considered other nations and certainly not the asian migrant natives to the area. Now, most importantly, is there reference in the BoM to other nations coming to inhabit this land in the future? Yes. Nephi prophesies about Columbus, presumably, and the subsequent colonization of the land explicitly in the BoM. Given the audience for which the BoM was intended, the remnants of the Lamanites and the Gentiles inhabiting the promised land, it would be odd for God to say that only people I bring out from Jerusalem will ever be allowed to inhabit this land. Thus, it seems to me that this verse is refering to the coming of "other nations" in the future that will overun the descendants of Lehi, or European colonizers; not to other nations in the past tense.

I think this is consistent with D&C 10:49-51 as well, where it is talking about the plates and record of the Nephite prohets:

"their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made know also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land".......

If Nephite prophets were aware of "other nations" already inhabiting the land, why would they wonder if it were possible that other nations should possess this land? It seems to me that these references imply future colonization by other nations. In fact, apparently the Nephite prophets clearly were unaware of other nations.

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I anticipated someone bringing up this verse. I agree with your assessment that this land would be a shared with other nations, but the question is when? This reference could just as easily be referring to the future as to the past. So, is there mention of other nations inhabiting the land before the Jaredites and Nephites in the Book of Mormon? I have seen nothing that clearly states as much.

It seems a bit like you're saying "no other groups are mentioned, except for the ones that are mentioned." You exclude the Jaredites from consideration as an "other" group, but--why? Is it because they had no direct contact with the Nephites (and only the very slightest contact with the Mulekites)? If so, then why couldn't there have been others who had no direct contact with the Nephites, but had contact with the Mulekites? The Mulekites rapidly fell away from the gospel, so according to the prophecy, they should have been overrun by another group. So the prophecy not only doesn't exclude the idea that the Mulekites had mingled extensively with native populations, it actually predicts that something like that would happen.

Is there reference to other groups inhabiting the land at all? Yes, the Mulekites are an example, but it gives their history clearly and they would not be considered other nations and certainly not the asian migrant natives to the area.

But I've addressed this--twice now, in fact. I've argued against the idea that "the others can't exist because they aren't mentioned," and now you're saying "the prophecy can't be referring to others because they aren't mentioned." Well, that argument only works if the history really is as clear as you suggest.

What you call a clear history of the Mulekites is actually a two-sentence synopsis (probably derived from Zarahemla's oral geneology) of everything that happened to them over a period of almost 400 years. It seems awfully precarious to me to rely on the idea that anything of importance that happened during that time should have been mentioned in the two-sentence writeup. Of course important things happened. Lots of important things happened. But because we don't have a record of it, we don't know about it. But what very little we've been given tells us that there were others here (Jaredites, Mulekites). So I don't buy into the line of thinking that says that the history given in the Book of Mormon is so all-encompassing that those two groups must have been the only ones. The history given in the Book of Mormon, at this time period, is actually very, very sparse.

Now, most importantly, is there reference in the BoM to other nations coming to inhabit this land in the future? Yes. Nephi prophesies about Columbus, presumably, and the subsequent colonization of the land explicitly in the BoM. Given the audience for which the BoM was intended, the remnants of the Lamanites and the Gentiles inhabiting the promised land, it would be odd for God to say that only people I bring out from Jerusalem will ever be allowed to inhabit this land. Thus, it seems to me that this verse is refering to the coming of "other nations" in the future that will overun the descendants of Lehi, or European colonizers; not to other nations in the past tense.

I think this is consistent with D&C 10:49-51 as well, where it is talking about the plates and record of the Nephite prohets:

"their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made know also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land".......

If Nephite prophets were aware of "other nations" already inhabiting the land, why would they wonder if it were possible that other nations should possess this land? It seems to me that these references imply future colonization by other nations. In fact, apparently the Nephite prophets clearly were unaware of other nations.

Because I think "other nations" refers to Old World nations, not to other groups of people in the Americas. Other groups of people in the Americas were considered Nephites (if they were friendly) or Lamanites (if they were not).

I think you're over parsing the promise given to Lehi a bit. I think the promise is that the Americas would be kept isolated from other nations until some future time (kept from all other nations), and that those who were brought here by God would be able to possess the land in peace (possess this land unto themselves), so long as they were righteous. I don't believe that it is meant to imply (and certainly not to insist) that only one group can ever be present on the continent at any time or that they can not have any contact with any others. That interpretation seems to be attaching a number of assumptions to the prophecy that I don't share.

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Hey all, sorry I have had exams this week and did not have much time to consider your responses.

It seems a bit like you're saying "no other groups are mentioned, except for the ones that are mentioned." You exclude the Jaredites from consideration as an "other" group, but--why? Is it because they had no direct contact with the Nephites (and only the very slightest contact with the Mulekites)? If so, then why couldn't there have been others who had no direct contact with the Nephites, but had contact with the Mulekites? The Mulekites rapidly fell away from the gospel, so according to the prophecy, they should have been overrun by another group. So the prophecy not only doesn't exclude the idea that the Mulekites had mingled extensively with native populations, it actually predicts that something like that would happen.

I think you misunderstood my point, I will try to clarify it here; what I am saying is that God and the Nephite prophets did not seem to consider the Jaredites and Mulekites etc. to be "other countries", as you quoted in 2 Nephi 2:5. If they did consider the Jaredites to be people from "other countries", why would they then say that this land had been kept "as yet from other nations" in verse 8? Verse nine shows that the Lord God shall bring people out of Jerusalem, so they don't seem to consider Jaredites and Mulekites as "other countries." I imagine dark skinned natives would be deemed to be from other countries though. D&C 10:49-51 also shows that the Nephite prophets were not aware of any people from other nations that possesed the land. So, what I am saying is that the Book of Mormon mentions the Jaredites and Mulekites, yet they still do not seem to be aware of anyone from other nations inhabiting the land. This is odd, if you adhere to what Brant and Kevin et al. are suggesting that they quickly mixed with dark skinned natives from Asia. Did this help in clearing up what I am trying to say? It is tough to communicate effectively on these boards.

But I've addressed this--twice now, in fact. I've argued against the idea that "the others can't exist because they aren't mentioned," and now you're saying "the prophecy can't be referring to others because they aren't mentioned." Well, that argument only works if the history really is as clear as you suggest.

I didn't say that others can't exist, 2 Nephi 1:8 says that the promised land has been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations, verse 9 says that if they keep the commandments they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. Perhaps I am not understanding what your position is, what is the promised land? Brant and Kevin said it was a small area where they landed which was not inhabited by the natives; the verses I cited seem to indicate otherwise. All throughout the Book of Mormon, they refer to their land as the promised land and the land of their inheritance. This seems to mean that the promised land was a large area as noted in the verses i posted.

What you call a clear history of the Mulekites is actually a two-sentence synopsis (probably derived from Zarahemla's oral geneology) of everything that happened to them over a period of almost 400 years. It seems awfully precarious to me to rely on the idea that anything of importance that happened during that time should have been mentioned in the two-sentence writeup. Of course important things happened. Lots of important things happened. But because we don't have a record of it, we don't know about it. But what very little we've been given tells us that there were others here (Jaredites, Mulekites). So I don't buy into the line of thinking that says that the history given in the Book of Mormon is so all-encompassing that those two groups must have been the only ones. The history given in the Book of Mormon, at this time period, is actually very, very sparse.

Good point, I simply meant that their origins are made known.

Because I think "other nations" refers to Old World nations, not to other groups of people in the Americas. Other groups of people in the Americas were considered Nephites (if they were friendly) or Lamanites (if they were not).

I think this is problematic in view of verse 8, the promised land has been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations, yet you seem to think they were already there and that they quickly mixed.

I think you're over parsing the promise given to Lehi a bit. I think the promise is that the Americas would be kept isolated from other nations until some future time (kept from all other nations), and that those who were brought here by God would be able to possess the land in peace (possess this land unto themselves), so long as they were righteous. I don't believe that it is meant to imply (and certainly not to insist) that only one group can ever be present on the continent at any time or that they can not have any contact with any others. That interpretation seems to be attaching a number of assumptions to the prophecy that I don't share.

We seem to be talking past eachother here, I will try to outline what I think the Book of Mormon says. Let me know where I err or loose you. Remember I am strictly looking at the BoM, not considering information about the natives etc.

1) They arrive in the promised land (we don't really know how many were in the party)

2) The promised land has been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations, clearly Jaredites are not considered other nations in this context as they were already there.

3) They are promised that as long as those the Lord brings out of Jerusalem keep the commandments, they will be kept from all other nations and possess the land for themselves

4) They split into two groups

5) They continue to view themselves as living in the promised land, even after moving for many days from their original landing place

6) They make mention of the Mulekites

7) No mention is made to other groups of people, dark skinned natives from Asia would be considered to be from other nations

:P Nephite prophets seem to think that people of other nations were yet to inhabit America, as seen in D&C 10:49-51

By the way, I notice that nobody has put forth any verses which indicate the presence of the natives yet.

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A lot of weight seems to be hanging on the thread that an ambiguous word like "land" has an unambigous meaning. A lot seems to be hanging on what a "nation" is. A lot seems to be hanging on what Nephi and Moroni should mention explicitly. Saying "It's not how I would have done it if I were writing it" is an admission that one is contextualizing not according to ancient practice, but personal 21st Century prediliction. A risky business. Particularly since Nephi warns about the difficulty in reading Jewish writings without being schooled after the manner of the things of the Jews.

I think it is helpful to contextualize a text realistically. And the plain fact is that people were living all through the Americas. I think Larry Poulson's identification of the Grijalva as the only river in the Western Hemisphere that matches the Sidon anchors the text to a reasonable reading context. So to read the text with the assumption that no one else was there immediately provides a bogus context. It both goes against the grain of real context, and presumes the very thing you purport to be investigating.

Lehi's promise that his children would possess the land unmolested was conditional on their keeping the commandments (2 Nephi 1:9). The next verses say that "when . . . they shall dwindle in unbelief" (not "long afterwards," but "when"), the Lord "will bring other nations . . . and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten. Yea, as one generation passeth to another, there shall be bloodsheds" (2 Nephi 1:10-12).

Second Nephi 5:2-5 reports that soon after the death of Lehiâ??the passing of a generationâ??Nephi's brothers plotted against his own life. Nephi and those he called "his people" fled the land. Despite the report that those who initially left "were those who believed" in God (2 Nephi 5:6), such passages as 2 Nephi 32:7 and 2 Nephi 33:1-3 suggest strongly that Nephi's people had problems of their own. For example, Jacob reports on the necessity for "diligent" labor among them on the part of the prophets (Jacob 1:7) even before Jacob 2:15 describes the beginning of extreme tendencies. Prior to the departure of Nephi's people, the Lamanites had already acted in a role as "a scourge to [Nephi's people], to stir them up in remembrance of me" (2 Nephi 5:25). Although neither Nephi nor Jacob provides details, Jacob 1:10 describes Nephi as having "wielded the sword of Laban" in defense of his people. Thus we have no record of the conditions for blessing being fully kept, and significant information suggesting that the covenant curse was in effect almost from the time of the death of Lehi. That is, immediately after the death of Lehi (the passing of that generation), we see the loss of lands and scattering (2 Nephi 5:5), and smiting and bloodsheds (2 Nephi 5:25, 34, Jacob 1:10). What about the "other nations"? Alerted by the work of Sorenson and others, we have only to look with eyes that see.

(That is from my "Paradigms Crossed" in RBBM 7:2. 1995.)

The Jaredites were there, though the Nephite prophets did not know it. The Mulekites were there. I've suggested that Sherem is best explained as a Mulekite trader.

Just in 2 Nephi 5: Who are the "this people" over whose rule the conflict breaks out? (verse 3) Who were the "all those who would go with me" besides Nephi's family, Sam, his family, Jacob and Joseph, and Nephi's sisters? (verse 6) Why not allow a more expansive reading to "me and my children and those who were called my people" in verse 14. There are soon enough people to build a temple, and desire Nephi be a King, and protector.

Then in 2 Nephi 6, Jacob speaks to the people, saying that "there are many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which may be likened unto you." And he starts in saying these are the words: Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up a standard to the people; they shall bring thy sons and daughters in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers and their queesn thy nursing mothers;"

Later he explains the relevance of this passage about the mixing of Israel with Gentiles, saying, "the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for he hath spoken it, and who can dispute? But behold, this land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon this land. (2 Nephi 10:9-10). In verse 16: "He that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free.."

While Israel is to be afflicted by some Gentiles; "nevertheless, I will soften the hearts of the Gentiles they they shall be like a father unto them; wherefore the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel."

And 2 Nephi 10:19 "I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed..."

Both Brant (The Cultural History of the Early Nephites) and Matt Roper (Nephi's Neighbors) have observed the relevance of the discourse is the immediacy of the likening. Nephi's people were mixing with others, almost from the start, if not from the very start. And for Jacob, a first generation immigrant, Nephite and Lamanite become polity designations rather than lineage designations (Jacob 1:14).

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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A lot of weight seems to be hanging on the thread that an ambiguous word like "land" has an unambigous meaning. A lot seems to be hanging on what a "nation" is. A lot seems to be hanging on what Nephi and Moroni should mention explicitly. Saying "It's not how I would have done it if I were writing it" is an admission that one is contextualizing not according to ancient practice, but personal 21st Century prediliction. A risky business. Particularly since Nephi warns about the difficulty in reading Jewish writings without being schooled after the manner of the things of the Jews.

So you honestly think that it is not strange at all that Nephi and others never mention the hordes of native americans you claim they met, learned to communicate with, converted, used to help build cities, temples, fought wars etc. etc.? Add in the probablilities of Nephi and Laman becoming rulers over the different groups and this becomes more fantastic as we go. I mean, the Book of Mormon mentions so many things that are of little importance, take the chapter dedicated to explaining their system of weights for example, yet make no mention of the natives? I don't buy it Kevin, and the text seems to conflict with their presence in the promised land, which they clearly thought was larger than you are suggesting. The reason this has been bugging me is that LDS apologists talk about their presence as if there was no question about it. They will make vague statements like "the Book of Mormon shows the natives presence" like there it is not even an issue. When you ask them to demonstrate this, they seem to become even more vague. I watched the "Journey of Faith" DVD and it was said like ten times, yet they never once showed an example.

I think it is helpful to contextualize a text realistically. And the plain fact is that people were living all through the Americas.

Right, its just too bad the BoM says the exact opposite.

I think Larry Poulson's identification of the Grijalva as the only river in the Western Hemisphere that matches the Sidon anchors the text to a reasonable reading context. So to read the text with the assumption that no one else was there immediately provides a bogus context. It both goes against the grain of real context, and presumes the very thing you purport to be investigating.

I didn't say it Kevin, Lehi said it apparently.

(That is from my "Paradigms Crossed" in RBBM 7:2. 1995.)

What percentage of your posts refer to your "Paradigms Crossed" article Kevin? :P

The Jaredites were there, though the Nephite prophets did not know it. The Mulekites were there. I've suggested that Sherem is best explained as a Mulekite trader.

The promblem with your point here Kevin, is that Lehi is prophecying about this; it is not just because he is unaware of their presence. Apparently the spirit, or God, are also unaware of their presence. That, or else they do not consider Jaredites and Mulekites to be "other nations".

Just in 2 Nephi 5: Who are the "this people" over whose rule the conflict breaks out? (verse 3) Who were the "all those who would go with me" besides Nephi's family, Sam, his family, Jacob and Joseph, and Nephi's sisters? (verse 6) Why not allow a more expansive reading to "me and my children and those who were called my people" in verse 14. There are soon enough people to build a temple, and desire Nephi be a King, and protector.

Because they say their are no people living in the promised land. Not me Kevin.

Both Brant (The Cultural History of the Early Nephites) and Matt Roper (Nephi's Neighbors) have observed the relevance of the discourse is the immediacy of the likening. Nephi's people were mixing with others, almost from the start, if not from the very start. And for Jacob, a first generation immigrant, Nephite and Lamanite become polity designations rather than lineage designations (Jacob 1:14).

These are anything but clear about what you suggest they mean. I admit that what you are saying must be right, in light of archaeological, genetic, and other types of evidence. Its just too bad that the Book of Mormon, Modern prophecy, and every teaching on the matter since the church was formed say quite the opposite. But then again, you don't seem to put much weight in prophecy.

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So you honestly think that it is not strange at all that Nephi and others never mention the hordes of native americans you claim they met, learned to communicate with, converted, used to help build cities, temples, fought wars etc. etc.?

If you had read my post carefully, you should have seen that in my reading, Nephi and others do mention others. But as he's not writing Robinson Crusoe, but working in another genre of writing, a genre which does not emphasize things the way you might like.

Add in the probablilities of Nephi and Laman becoming rulers over the different groups and this becomes more fantastic as we go.

Not really. This kind of thing is typically Mesoamerican. Sorenson and Gardner have written on this.

I mean, the Book of Mormon mentions so many things that are of little importance, take the chapter dedicated to explaining their system of weights for example, yet make no mention of the natives?

I've read some interesting studies by Gordon Thomasson and John Welch that point out the importance of the explanation of the system of weights. And I do see mention of natives. My reading may not bind and persuade you, but, truth be told, your readings don't bind or persuade me.

I don't buy it Kevin, and the text seems to conflict with their presence in the promised land, which they clearly thought was larger than you are suggesting.

The way I see it, the size and location of a promised land can change as need be to suit the presence and state of a covenant people. And I think the best way to read a text is to consider the actual on-site, in context perspectives of those who wrote it. People who did not have easy access to satellite photos or Mercator Projection maps, or detailed globes, with geographic boundaries denoted by black lines. People who used the terms in generally consistent ways. People who knew the differences in meaning that can happen between apocalyptic writings and conventional writings.

<SNIP>

Right, its just too bad the BoM says the exact opposite.

I didn't say it Kevin, Lehi said it apparently.

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Hey all, sorry I have had exams this week and did not have much time to consider your responses.

I think you misunderstood my point, I will try to clarify it here; what I am saying is that God and the Nephite prophets did not seem to consider the Jaredites and Mulekites etc. to be "other countries", as you quoted in 2 Nephi 2:5. If they did consider the Jaredites to be people from "other countries", why would they then say that this land had been kept "as yet from other nations" in verse 8? Verse nine shows that the Lord God shall bring people out of Jerusalem, so they don't seem to consider Jaredites and Mulekites as "other countries." I imagine dark skinned natives would be deemed to be from other countries though.

My confusion is that I do think I understand your point, but I don't see how it doesn't completely confirm what I just said. The Jaredites were not from Jerusalem. They were not Israelites. They were not in any way associated with Lehi, Israel, or Jerusalem. They were as "other" as you can get. And yet, as you say, they don't seem to count as "other nations" in Lehi's prophecy. The only explanation I can offer for that is what I've been saying all along: "other nations" refers to Old World nations and not to groups brought to the promised land by God.

I'm confused because you keep offering the Jaredites as an example, but they seem to be a perfect counterexample to what you're claiming. In what way wouldn't the Jaredites be exactly the "dark skinned natives" that you're referring to? And yet, clearly, they can't be considered the "other nations" referred to in the prophecy (that the promised land would be hidden from). If they can be excluded from this prophecy for no other reason than because they were led here by God, then why shouldn't we exclude all such people?

I didn't say that others can't exist, 2 Nephi 1:8 says that the promised land has been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations, verse 9 says that if they keep the commandments they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. Perhaps I am not understanding what your position is, what is the promised land? Brant and Kevin said it was a small area where they landed which was not inhabited by the natives; the verses I cited seem to indicate otherwise. All throughout the Book of Mormon, they refer to their land as the promised land and the land of their inheritance. This seems to mean that the promised land was a large area as noted in the verses i posted.

For the purposes of my argument, I'm not sure that it matters whether we consider the promised land to be very small and local or continental. I'm simply saying that when Lehi says the promised land has been kept from other nations, that it need not refer to those groups of friendly natives who were brought here by God (and in the case of the Jaredites, it clearly does not refer to them, which would seem to confirm that).

Good point, I simply meant that their origins are made known.

But those origins actually have religious significance since they confirm prophecy. Other groups whose origins are not religiously significant would have no reason to be mentioned until they actually played part in the narrative.

I think this is problematic in view of verse 8, the promised land has been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations, yet you seem to think they were already there and that they quickly mixed.

I think others could already have been here because the Book of Mormon says that others were already here (the Jaredites). I simply don't think it's a stretch to say that if the Jaredites could have been here then so could other groups. Verse 8 clearly doesn't prevent this from being the case because it didn't prevent the presence of the Jaredites.

We seem to be talking past eachother here, I will try to outline what I think the Book of Mormon says. Let me know where I err or loose you. Remember I am strictly looking at the BoM, not considering information about the natives etc.

1 ) They arrive in the promised land (we don't really know how many were in the party)

2 ) The promised land has been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations, clearly Jaredites are not considered other nations in this context as they were already there.

3 ) They are promised that as long as those the Lord brings out of Jerusalem keep the commandments, they will be kept from all other nations and possess the land for themselves

4 ) They split into two groups

5 ) They continue to view themselves as living in the promised land, even after moving for many days from their original landing place

6 ) They make mention of the Mulekites

7 ) No mention is made to other groups of people, dark skinned natives from Asia would be considered to be from other nations

8 ) Nephite prophets seem to think that people of other nations were yet to inhabit America, as seen in D&C 10:49-51

Once again, it's number 2 that baffles me. If the Jaredites are excluded because "they were already there" then everyone who is already there should also be excluded. Verse 8 ceases to be a problem.

By the way, I notice that nobody has put forth any verses which indicate the presence of the natives yet.

Really? Brant has pointed out that these natives are referred to constantly (on a city-by-city basis). I've pointed out that the Jaredites are, exactly, such a group of natives. And yet, no one has responded? What exactly are you looking for?

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I think I can take for granted that no one can provide a verifiable mind reading regarding Lehi's exact view of the exact boundaries of "the land" or "this land."

But he knew other people could be led there. He knew of "many nations" who had the potential to "overrun the land" (see verse 8 ). He knew the promise of protection was conditional. He knew that breaking the conditions would lead to other nations would come to take posession of the lands, and cause all sorts of smitting and scattering. He knew that the cursings could come "as one generation passeth to another." (Verse 12.)

So the way I read the text, Lehi knows there are other people around.

Look at it this way. It is a poor promise if there is no threat from any other nations anywhere. It is rather like the joke about putting garlic on your lawn keeps the elephants away. The proof that it works is that I have never had elephants on my lawn.

The Lord is less than impressive when he promises protection from something that doesn't look like it could happen.

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Of course, there is no convincing the motivated disbeliever. People like cinepro (and many others) are determined to force their disbelief on the rest of us. I just can't understand why cinepro, and his cohorts, don't have the courage to conform their lives to what would appear to be the dictates of their disbelief. How can you continue attending LDS church meetings from week to week while harboring such a hardened conviction of its fraudulence? Why should we not equate your lack of intellectual integrity in this respect with your inability to objectively consider the evidence that would contradict your fundamentalistic exegetical assertions?

Where did the issue of "disbelief" come into the picture?

Are you saying that those who don't think the Book of Mormon takes place in a land alongside non-Lehite, Jaredite, or Mulekite "others" are required to totally the historicity of the book?! That's a pretty scary corner you've painted yourself into, and that would explain the stretches some people are willing to go through to fit "others" into the story.

Obviously, my doubts regarding the book limit this conversation to a thought exercise only on my part. "Others" or not, I still really doubt there were any Lehites to worry about in the first place. But for me, the issue isn't one of belief or disbelief, as I fully acknowledge believers on both sides.

As for your other inquiry, I can't speak for my cohorts, but I don't hold a hardened conviction of the Church's "fraudulence". I'm just like every other LDS; I hear some things in Church I agree with, and I hear some things I disagree with. I participate in discussions to support the things I agree with, and I politely keep my mouth shut if I disagree (if there is a point of fact or doctrine that is being patently misrepresented, I may raise my hand and offer a more traditional view, just for informational purposes). I share humorous or heartfelt comments if the spirit prompts me, but I never profess belief in something I don't believe to be true.

The day may come where I give myself a 10% raise and stop attending Church, but it probably won't be this Sunday, since I've been asked to teach a class.

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Where did the issue of "disbelief" come into the picture?

Are you saying that those who don't think the Book of Mormon takes place in a land alongside non-Lehite, Jaredite, or Mulekite "others" are required to totally the historicity of the book?! That's a pretty scary corner you've painted yourself into, and that would explain the stretches some people are willing to go through to fit "others" into the story.

Obviously, my doubts regarding the book limit this conversation to a thought exercise only on my part. "Others" or not, I still really doubt there were any Lehites to worry about in the first place. But for me, the issue isn't one of belief or disbelief, as I fully acknowledge believers on both sides.

As for your other inquiry, I can't speak for my cohorts, but I don't hold a hardened conviction of the Church's "fraudulence". I'm just like every other LDS; I hear some things in Church I agree with, and I hear some things I disagree with. I participate in discussions to support the things I agree with, and I politely keep my mouth shut if I disagree (if there is a point of fact or doctrine that is being patently misrepresented, I may raise my hand and offer a more traditional view, just for informational purposes). I share humorous or heartfelt comments if the spirit prompts me, but I never profess belief in something I don't believe to be true.

The day may come where I give myself a 10% raise and stop attending Church, but it probably won't be this Sunday, since I've been asked to teach a class.

Good luck in your new calling.

Larry P

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If you had read my post carefully, you should have seen that in my reading, Nephi and others do mention others. But as he's not writing Robinson Crusoe, but working in another genre of writing, a genre which does not emphasize things the way you might like.

As has already been noted on this thread, they are not ever explicitely mentioned Kevin, that was my point. It seems to have required new reading based on current understanding of Mesoamerica for anybody to notice their presence. The "others" sometimes mentioned could refer to a number of other things, thus they are never explicitely mentioned. That is unless you can note where they are explicitely mentioned Kevin? My guess is that you will avoid this, as has everyone else.

I've read some interesting studies by Gordon Thomasson and John Welch that point out the importance of the explanation of the system of weights. And I do see mention of natives.

I think you know what I mean Kevin, the BoM explicitely mentions numerous things, of far less importance than the natives they converted to their beliefs, yet never explicitely mentions the natives.

The way I see it, the size and location of a promised land can change as need be to suit the presence and state of a covenant people. And I think the best way to read a text is to consider the actual on-site, in context perspectives of those who wrote it. People who did not have easy access to satellite photos or Mercator Projection maps, or detailed globes, with geographic boundaries denoted by black lines. People who used the terms in generally consistent ways. People who knew the differences in meaning that can happen between apocalyptic writings and conventional writings.

Then perhaps you can demonstrate where your idea for a moving, shape shifting, promised land comes from, taken from their writings?

Again. Not the way I read it.

In the text I am looking at Lehi refers to a land covenanted to Lehi and his children "and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord." 2 Nephi 1:5.

Again what use is the promise to Lehi that they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves if the natives are living just over the mountains, as Brant has suggested? The only way I can see this making sense, is if they did not consider the dark skinned natives to be from other nations.

But he knew other people could be led there. He knew of "many nations" who had the potential to "overrun the land" (see verse 8 ). He knew the promise of protection was conditional. He knew that breaking the conditions would lead to other nations would come to take posession of the lands, and cause all sorts of smitting and scattering. He knew that the cursings could come "as one generation passeth to another." (Verse 12.)

Right, but were they aware of their presence during the Nephite period? As i have noted from the D&C, they seem to have not been aware of other nations being present during their time.

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The "others" sometimes mentioned could refer to a number of other things, thus they are never explicitely mentioned.

That is, of course, the problem in dealing with any ancient text. It is possible to read it in several ways. The question is what reading squares with the text? That requires that we abandon modern preconceptions and read the text itself. Even better, if we understand something about the way ancient peoples constructed their worldview, it helps us visualize the text as the authors would see it rather than a modern writer.

The question to be asked of the issue of "others" is whether or not it is logical or expected that they not be explicitly mentioned. The answer to that is yes, for the following reasons:

1) The text where they "should" have been mentioned in the current Book of Mormon was written 30 years after the fact and is designed for a particular purpose, demonstrably ethnogenesis. In Israelite (and Middle Eastern) canons, that purpose would actually cause all "others" to be redefined to a single "enemy."

2) The text where they "should" have been mentioned that is not in our current Book of Mormon was Nephi's original text. We have never had that. We had Mormon's abridgement. 1,000 years later and after that length of time using Lamanite as the "other" category, we would not expect it to be in Mormon's abridgement.

3) Other native populations have described themselves as the centers of the universe with themselves and "all others." This includes ancient Israel and just about everyone else. Collective labels for "others" are very common.

4) When the text references other nations/kingdoms, it does so by city name or king name. That is typical of city-state organization. Thus the designation such as the Old Testament Persians would be most parallel to the people of Lamoni - because of the difference in political organization.

Then perhaps you can demonstrate where your idea for a moving, shape shifting, promised land comes from, taken from their writings?

It clearly comes from their writings. In fact, no other opinion of what a "promised land" could be when taken directly from the Book of Mormon text. The problem is that modern opinion of a "promised land" is colored by the concept of the Israelite promised land that was a very specific location to which they returned (or desired to). The Book of Mormon has no indication of that, and could not, since they considered themselves Israelites and there would be no second "promised land" of that type.

Again what use is the promise to Lehi that they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves if the natives are living just over the mountains, as Brant has suggested?

Precisely. If there is no one else around, the promise makes no sense. In particular, the textual application of the promise begins early and is invoked often. The Nephites saw that promise coming into play frequently. If no one else is around, who could invoke it? Under the empty land theory, Lamanites couldn't be "other nations," yet they are the very people the Nephites see as forcing the promise's effect on the Nephites. The text contradicts your assumption of what the text ought to mean.

The only way I can see this making sense, is if they did not consider the dark skinned natives to be from other nations.

I don't see any indication in the text that there were dark-skinned or light-skinned others. There does not seem to be any pigmentation differentiation. There is a moral/social/religious designation that is expressed as a skin color, but that is a very different construct from pigmentation.

Right, but were they aware of their presence during the Nephite period? As i have noted from the D&C, they seem to have not been aware of other nations being present during their time.

As I have noted, using the Doctrine and Covenants to read the Book of Mormon imposes a later reading on the former. The language in the Doctrine and Covenants came from an interpretation of the Book of Mormon text and is not definitive for the text.

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That is, of course, the problem in dealing with any ancient text. It is possible to read it in several ways. The question is what reading squares with the text? That requires that we abandon modern preconceptions and read the text itself. Even better, if we understand something about the way ancient peoples constructed their worldview, it helps us visualize the text as the authors would see it rather than a modern writer.

Brant, I think I get your point, but I don't think it is a good one; It seems just as likely to me that you are the one bringing in a modern preconception that the natives must be there, because you know they were. Why did LDS read the Book of Mormon for over a hundred years without noticing the presence of the natives? Because the text does not mention them, you see them there because you want them to be there and you know they must be there for the BoM to be true.

The question to be asked of the issue of "others" is whether or not it is logical or expected that they not be explicitly mentioned. The answer to that is yes, for the following reasons:

1) The text where they "should" have been mentioned in the current Book of Mormon was written 30 years after the fact and is designed for a particular purpose, demonstrably ethnogenesis. In Israelite (and Middle Eastern) canons, that purpose would actually cause all "others" to be redefined to a single "enemy."

Well, it has already been noted that they mention other groups they encountered explicitely, so why not mention the natives in the same manner?

2) The text where they "should" have been mentioned that is not in our current Book of Mormon was Nephi's original text. We have never had that. We had Mormon's abridgement. 1,000 years later and after that length of time using Lamanite as the "other" category, we would not expect it to be in Mormon's abridgement.

So, are you suggesting that Nephi's original record would have mentioned them explicitely? Mormon just chose to omit that portion? I would think their encounter with the natives and subsequent conversion process would be the most remarkable part of the entire BoM, aside from Christ visiting.

4) When the text references other nations/kingdoms, it does so by city name or king name. That is typical of city-state organization. Thus the designation such as the Old Testament Persians would be most parallel to the people of Lamoni - because of the difference in political organization.

Where does it refer to the Lamanites as being other nations?

It clearly comes from their writings. In fact, no other opinion of what a "promised land" could be when taken directly from the Book of Mormon text. The problem is that modern opinion of a "promised land" is colored by the concept of the Israelite promised land that was a very specific location to which they returned (or desired to). The Book of Mormon has no indication of that, and could not, since they considered themselves Israelites and there would be no second "promised land" of that type.

So please demonstrate where you get this idea, from the BoM.

Precisely. If there is no one else around, the promise makes no sense. In particular, the textual application of the promise begins early and is invoked often. The Nephites saw that promise coming into play frequently. If no one else is around, who could invoke it? Under the empty land theory, Lamanites couldn't be "other nations," yet they are the very people the Nephites see as forcing the promise's effect on the Nephites. The text contradicts your assumption of what the text ought to mean.

Please demonstrate this also Brant, where do the Nephites see the Lamanites forcing the promise's effect (from 2 Nephi 1:9) on the Nephites.

As I have noted, using the Doctrine and Covenants to read the Book of Mormon imposes a later reading on the former. The language in the Doctrine and Covenants came from an interpretation of the Book of Mormon text and is not definitive for the text.

And as I noted, and you seemed to ignore, it seems odd to me that you trust Joseph's stone in a hat process to give us a precise historical account, in the perspective of the original authors, and yet not trust his D&C revelations regarding the same subject matter???????????????????????????? Where is the disconnect here Brant? This seems to be a big problem with current LDS apologetics and LGT, you want people to believe in his revelation that brought forth the BoM, yet discount all subsequent revelations regarding the matter and the location of Nephite lands.

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mpauyman:

Why did LDS read the Book of Mormon for over a hundred years without noticing the presence of the natives? Because the text does not mention them, you see them there because you want them to be there and you know they must be there for the BoM to be true.

What evidence could you produce to support the assertion that "LDS read the Book of Mormon for over a hundred years without noticing ..."?

My study of the history of the church reveals that "reading the Book of Mormon" was simply not something that the average member of the church ever did for at least the first 100 years of church history, if not much longer. They don't quote from it, they don't teach from it, they don't talk about it from scholarly points of view.

The Book of Mormon, for the early converts to the church, was a much more a symbol of something than it was anything else. It represented the fact that God had spoken anew. But there is little, if any, evidence that anyone really looked at the text in a serious fashion until the last fifty years or so. In those cases where individuals did undertake a serious study of the book (Matt Roper conducts a survey of them here: Nephi's Neighbors), they tend to reach conclusions similar to those reached today by serious students of the Book of Mormon.

Your statement then, is based entirely upon a mistaken premise. And, as an argument against Brant's well-considered points, it carries little weight.

The simple fact is that the text not only does not exclude the notion of there being "others" -- it can be shown in many instances to support the idea. Nevertheless, critics of the Book of Mormon have shown themselves to be inordinately obdurate when it comes to acknowledging these things. To them, there is only one way the Book of Mormon can be read, and by damn, they will insist that the rest of us read it only that way!

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mauypayman, crusading to overlook clear solutions and to preserve an appearance of insurmoutable difficulties asks:

Why did LDS read the Book of Mormon for over a hundred years without noticing the presence of the natives?

The early readers never bothered to consider the question. The first serious attempt to compose a serious interal geography did not appear until the Washburns published on in 1938. Until Lamb pointed out the problems that some internal travel accounts caused a hemispheric geography, most LDS readers ignored the implications. They read into the text, rather than read it carefully for that kind information. Nibley admitted in 1978 that he had completely overlooked the limited scale of things. It used to be common for LDS readers to claim that there is nothing about the temple in the Book of Mormon. Yet now we see physical temple and detailed themes everywhere. Generations of readers overlooked all sorts of things. We need to learn how to recognize what we are looking at. Jack Welch "discovered" chiasmus in the Book of Mormon in 1967. He did so because he learned how to recognize existing patterns in what he had been reading all along. I'd read Alma's conversion stories for years before I recognized it as Near Death Experience account. Before Nibley, no LDS reader saw Benjamin's discourse as a Coronation ceremony. Before Tvedtnes, no one saw it as a feast of the Tabernacles. Before Sorenson, no one saw the Book of Mormon as an "E" source. Before Daniel Peterson, no one saw the Asherah in Nephi's vision. And on it goes, including the recent perceptions of many references to others.

Thomas Kuhn observes that "something like a paradigm is prerequisite to perception itself. What a man sees depends both on what he looks at and upon what is his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see. (Structure of Scientific Revolutions, page 113).

Dan Vogel wrote a useful book which contains discussion of the kinds of preconcieved theories about indigenous peoples. It's called "Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon." What is important is that the questions being asked and answered in a variety of ways were all based on explaining Indian Origins as a collective, and they saw and presented the Book of Mormon within the framework provided by such questions.

Every now and then, some one decides to bring a new framework to their reading of the Book of Mormon, and those who do, sometimes return with important perceptions. Such new perceptions can be resisted.

I watched a fascinating documentary a few years ago about Monty Roberts, "The Real Horse Whisperer." While watching over horses during their summer pasture, he noticed somethings in how horses communicated that NO ONE had EVER seen before, including every horse culture from the beginning of human history. He applied his observations practically by demonstrating how he could peacefully, gently use the language to teach even wild horses, in the wild, to carry a rider. No rough "breaking" the horse. When he showed his dad, a horse wrangler all his life, what he, the son, could do, his Dad said, "What kind of a son have I raised!" and beat him with a chain to the extent that he had to be hospitalized. How dare anyone see or do anything that had not been seen or done before? How dare anyone surpass me! How dare anyone make my way of living and seeing look bad!

It's clear too, that such use of a chain is not a good argument. Nor is simply citing how many years or how many people have overlooked something. As Jesus says in 3 Nephi 17, we are weak, and cannot understand all his words. We need to ponder, and prepare our minds, and pray for understanding. And as Nephi says, we can't simply assume we understand the things of the Jews without first being taught after manner of the things of the Jews. And as Brant aptly says, the things of Mesoamericans.

Some people just can't get past the way things have always been done, and seen. Some can't learn to see beyond their own preconceptions. Some won't see what they don't want to see. Some people who can't see the Magic Eye 3D images think it's just a conspiracy, that there really isn't anything to see.

For those of us who actually do see, there is no going back.

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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By damn you can read the Book of Mormon anyway you want to, Will.

So can Brant. But it is notable in all of Brants post he does not address the type of traditional, hemispheric, BoM-exclusive remarks that were made by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith hadn't a clue that other humans came to this hemisphere and established the bulk of it's natives long before BoM supposedly migrated. This is the same Joseph, of course, who learned from angelic Book of Mormon beings, who read and "translated" the portion of Nephi's original text that "should" have spoken of others (as Brant acknowledges). The Book of Mormon came before the D&C so logic dictates that the Joseph's singular collection of knowledge influenced the writing of the D&C, yet Brant tosses it aside like rubbish, substituting his gleanings and inferences instead. If Brant were to address Joseph Smith, I expect Brant would have us believe that Joseph was not so specially informed about the Book of Mormon setting, but instead prejudiced, maybe even to the point that JS molded the BoM text to make it harder to find clues about "others".

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By damn you can read the Book of Mormon anyway you want to, Will.

So can Brant. But it is notable in all of Brants post he does not address the type of traditional, hemispheric, BoM-exclusive remarks that were made by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith hadn't a clue that other humans came to this hemisphere and established the bulk of it's natives long before BoM supposedly migrated. This is the same Joseph, of course, who learned from angelic Book of Mormon beings, who read and "translated" the portion of Nephi's original text that "should" have spoken of others (as Brant acknowledges). The Book of Mormon came before the D&C so logic dictates that the Joseph's singular collection of knowledge influenced the writing of the D&C, yet Brant tosses it aside like rubbish, substituting his gleanings and inferences instead. If Brant were to address Joseph Smith, I expect Brant would have us believe that Joseph was not so specially informed about the Book of Mormon setting, but instead prejudiced, maybe even to the point that JS molded the BoM text to make it harder to find clues about "others".

Welcome back!

As for your comment above, I suspect Brant would agree with me that Joseph Smith didn't have as clear a picture of the historical setting of the Book of Mormon as do its students in the 21st century.

Why should he have? Even if we allow that angelic ministrants, resurrected Nephites, instructed him, why would that necessarily result in him having an accurate "big" picture of the setting of the BoM? Why would Nephites, in the 19th century, have been any more cognizant of the origins of the "Lamanites" than they were in the 4th century? And, even if they were, why would they have considered that knowledge important in the context of what they were imparting to Joseph Smith?

The bottom line is that there is almost no bottom to the incorrect assumptions you attempt to layer on the question.

But then we've been here before, haven't we?

At any rate, welcome back. It's just not the same when you're gone.

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Kevin,

Thanks for confirming my remarks with your own.

As for your analogy about horse training, it is quite apt. As a horse trainer myself, and one who employs the methods used by Monty Roberts (who, incidentally, is not the pioneer of these methods -- that designation belongs to men like Tom Dorrance and others), I can tell you that it is frustrating to watch some people continue to "beat a dead horse" (as it were) despite the fact that the results of the beating remain the same. That people ever succeeded in training horses using these barbaric methods is, to me, a marvel. But I wouldn't have wanted to own and/or ride such a horse. Such horses are always looking for an opportunity to exact revenge. Horses never forget until they've gotten even.

As for critics of the Book of Mormon attempting to hold our feet to the fires of what they claim are the only valid assumptions about the book -- well, they can ride their horses and I'll ride mine. We'll see who gets to the top of the hill first . . .

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But it is notable in all of Brants post he does not address the type of traditional, hemispheric, BoM-exclusive remarks that were made by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith hadn't a clue that other humans came to this hemisphere and established the bulk of it's natives long before BoM supposedly migrated. This is the same Joseph, of course, who learned from angelic Book of Mormon beings, who read and "translated" the portion of Nephi's original text that "should" have spoken of others (as Brant acknowledges).

This is another fascinating issue. There is a presumption that Joseph ought to understand the Book of Mormon better than anyone. I concede that would be true--if--he were the author. An author certainly knows what he intends (though interpretation can get away from him as well).

In the case of what we know about the Book of Mormon, however, the question really is how much Joseph knew about the text. He certainly had some kind of familiarity with it as the one who dictated it. If the author, then his word is inviolable. If the translator, the it is subject to question.

If it is subject to question, there there are still a couple of important issues. The first is whether or not his prophetic status conferred upon him the inviolable knowledge. There is no indication that any prophet was blessed with that kind of understanding, so imputing it to Joseph would seem to go beyond the available data from any prophet considered as such by the Old or New Testaments.

Did his visions of Book of Mormon life confer such knowledge? It is hard to see how. He specifically says that they were visions, and there is no way that I know of to see a city and know where it was located, or to know much more that what can be seen.

The final issue is the nature of translation. One might suppose that because the translation claims to have been supernaturally performed that therefore it was also completely knowing. There is no evidence to support that hypothesis and quite a bit I have seen that contradicts it.

I don't know of anything that suggests or requires that Joseph know enough about the text that his understanding of geography should be held to be authoritative. In fact, it is pretty clear that he was quite willing to adapt his understanding to new evidence (such as the Stephens and Catherwood book). Even in that, I don't see anything prophetic, simply interested in the new evidence.

There is better internal evidence that Joseph didn't understand the text than there is for the supposition that he should have known the text. Therefore, his opinions (while they must be considered) need not be seen as determinative.

The Book of Mormon came before the D&C so logic dictates that the Joseph's singular collection of knowledge influenced the writing of the D&C, yet Brant tosses it aside like rubbish, substituting his gleanings and inferences instead.

Hardly. I assume that the D&C obeys the same principles as the translation of the text and manifests the same predispositions for ideas and language as we see in the Book of Mormon. The history of that text also indicates that Joseph did not see it an unalterable, God-breathed, text. He made several changes as he saw need to modify for clarification.

If Brant were to address Joseph Smith, I expect Brant would have us believe that Joseph was not so specially informed about the Book of Mormon setting,

True.

but instead prejudiced, maybe even to the point that JS molded the BoM text to make it harder to find clues about "others".

Not true. I certainly don't think Joseph had any intent of making the text harder to understand. That would have contradicted just about everything he did in relation to scripture. That he didn't know the history behind scripture I believe is easily demonstrated. That is equally true for the Bible as the Book of Mormon.

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Brant:

The final issue is the nature of translation. One might suppose that because the translation claims to have been supernaturally performed that therefore it was also completely knowing. There is no evidence to support that hypothesis and quite a bit I have seen that contradicts it.

I keep touching upon this very thing, and no one seems to be listening.

We make what I believe is a false assumption when we conclude that "by the gift and power of God" means: "God did it." I simply don't believe that is how it happened. We want to make the Urim and Thummim/seerstone into a Star Trek-esque "universal translator" that automatically renders into 19th century English a perfect translation of whatever is written in "Reformed Egyptian" on the plates. Well, suppose all the Urim and Thummim/seerstone really does is serve as a sort of communication device? And it still requires someone (or a group for that matter) to provide the words of the translation? And who better to do so than those who had written the thing in the first place? To me, such a process is much more consistent with what I understand about the economy of God's dealings with men. When faced with the requirement for a translation, I see the CEO of heaven delegating the job to those underlings most qualified to perform the task. That's why I, somewhat jokingly, have previously suggested the possibility of Mormon, Alma, and others taking training in KJV English by coming down, incognito, to attend Shakespeare plays at the Globe. Or maybe the Three Nephites? They've been around the whole time, right? They might have been big fans of Willy.

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By damn you can read the Book of Mormon anyway you want to, Will.

So can Brant. But it is notable in all of Brants post he does not address the type of traditional, hemispheric, BoM-exclusive remarks that were made by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith hadn't a clue that other humans came to this hemisphere and established the bulk of it's natives long before BoM supposedly migrated. This is the same Joseph, of course, who learned from angelic Book of Mormon beings, who read and "translated" the portion of Nephi's original text that "should" have spoken of others (as Brant acknowledges). The Book of Mormon came before the D&C so logic dictates that the Joseph's singular collection of knowledge influenced the writing of the D&C, yet Brant tosses it aside like rubbish, substituting his gleanings and inferences instead. If Brant were to address Joseph Smith, I expect Brant would have us believe that Joseph was not so specially informed about the Book of Mormon setting, but instead prejudiced, maybe even to the point that JS molded the BoM text to make it harder to find clues about "others".

Had Joseph Smith written the Book of Mormon I would expect his take on the geography to be definitive and correct. Even Joseph, however, seems to have changed his views over time, and become excited when ruins were found (nowhere near New York). Since I believe it was a translation, I don't see a big problem.

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Had Joseph Smith written the Book of Mormon I would expect his take on the geography to be definitive and correct.

I don't know what you mean by that. Certainly you don't mean that if he had made the whole thing up he would have gotten American ethnohistory right, instead of fancifully wrong as he did. "Fancifully wrong" is most consistent with Joseph making the whole thing up, isn't it? Instead, you guys have to do tons of extra work and imagining to make "fancifully wrong" square with Joseph being a prophet, and I'm amused to see how at the base of it you must argue that Joseph suffered from ADD because he couldn't see all the obvious clues you've "found".

Even Joseph, however, seems to have changed his views over time, and become excited when ruins were found (nowhere near New York). Since I believe it was a translation, I don't see a big problem.

He didn't change any views. Yes, he became excited because his hemispheric, BoM-exclusive ethnohistory could easily accomodate central american ruins and anything else he might have heard of. Now, if he'd been thinking about a BoM-limited, open ethnohistory of the Americas (like modern apologists), then he would have said "Yeah, Central America must have to do with the "others" who had already built civilizations here when Lehi came, as spoken of in the plates of Lehi." But he didn't say that. Instead he said, "Cool, that's part of the Book of Mormon too." So he never changed his views, LOAP.

Since you believe in "translation" (in quotes), which means anything you need it to mean today and something else tomorrow, there will never be a big problem for you.

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