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Nephi's Neighbors


StuddleyG

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In the current edition of the Book of Mormon, the Introduction no longer states that Lamanites are the primary ancestors of the Native Americans. It has been changed to say that the Lamanites are "among the ancestors of the American Indians."

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/introduction

This is proof that the church isn't completely blind to modern scientific knowledge.

But I've always wondered why other people on the continent aren't mentioned in the Book of Mormon. There are some hints that apologists have pointed out, but I've always figured other people would be given more notice in Nephite records. I've come to the opinion that the Nephites were a small isolated that didn't have much contact with anybody else. And that the the Lamanites in the south had all the conact with the already existing poplulations. This would explain why the Lamanites were always larger in numbers even though they usually had the higher death tolls in the wars. Any other thoughts on the subject?

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In the current edition of the Book of Mormon, the Introduction no longer states that Lamanites are the primary ancestors of the Native Americans. It has been changed to say that the Lamanites are "among the ancestors of the American Indians."

CFR, Duddley- when and where did the Book of Mormon ever say that the Lamanites were the "primary" ancestors of the Native Americans? Methinks you aren't as familia with the Book of Mormon as you pretend.

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/introduction

This is proof that the church isn't completely blind to modern scientific knowledge.

There has never been a serious contention that the Church WAS beling to modern scientific knowledge. That's simply a bigoted stereotype created and endorsed by those who don't want to engage what the Church actually teaches.

But I've always wondered why other people on the continent aren't mentioned in the Book of Mormon. There are some hints that apologists have pointed out, but I've always figured other people would be given more notice in Nephite records.

Why would they be? Are you that ignorant of what the Book of Mormon actually is? The Book of Mormon is a religious text, not a secular history. It isn't a general political history, a geopolitical analysis text, or a travelogue. It is a record of the Nephite dealings with Heavenly Father and Jesus. The Lamanites are incidental- relevant only as how they influence the covenant relationship of the Nephites.

I've come to the opinion that the Nephites were a small isolated that didn't have much contact with anybody else.
Which contradicts the explicit text.
And that the the Lamanites in the south had all the contact with the already existing poplulations. This would explain why the Lamanites were always larger in numbers even though they usually had the higher death tolls in the wars. Any other thoughts on the subject?

The actual usage of the term "Lamanite" actually closely parallels th Hebrw use of the term "Gentile"- it was an "us" and "them" construct. Everyone who was not "Nephite" was automagically "Lamanite".

It was, therefore, less a matter of "who had all the contact" than about the "us" and "them" nature of the narrative.

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I'd say it is more likely that Mormon compiled the plates that had lessons we need today, and in the process of deciding that, the details of other peoples (who may not have had a tradition or charge to keep records, after all that getting the records was one thing that set Lehi's family apart and prompt God to make an exception to His do not kill commandment), aren't included.

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Hi, StuddleyG.

I think there may be some value in turning the question around. The BoM language about Lamanite cursings and skin markings, land-covenant theology, obedience, etc., all seem to be markers of priestly literature that emphasizes distinguishing between the pure and the un-pure. And if this is the case, should we expect the priestly authors in the BoM to mention anyone who isn't connected directly to their covenant movement or apostatized from it? Would they intentionally avoid mentioning others who are not (or have never been) part of their covenant? As we look at other examples of priestly literature, we see some similar things going on:

Qumran priestly literature intentionally ignores outsiders, using special code words such as "kittim" to discuss the ruling priestly class at the Jerusalem temple and non-Israelites, such as the Romans. There is a series of studies focusing on how Qumran sectarians referred to others either obliquely or not at all. It is a very priestly type of way to look at the world.

Priestly and Deuteronomistic literature intentionally ignores those left behind during the Babylonian exile, portraying them as virtually non-existent (see 2 Kings 25), when in point of fact they were the vast majority. The priestly authors represent them as not following the true religion during the time the others are in exile and portray them as mixing bloodlines and religious traditions after those in exile return. Yet there are doubts about the accuracy of this portrayal.

Many scholars posit a rival priesthood to the Aaronid line, such as a Mushite/Kenite house, yet there really isn't any explicit reference to this other than some tension in stories like the sons of Korah, or what looks like an attempt to make Zadok an Aaronite when he possibly wasn't, etc. The Enochic corpus represents part of the tradition that was ignored by later priestly editors of the Hebrew Bible, and authors like Gabrielle Boccharinni document non-traditional priestly movements including sapiental and enochic traditions. So why do many of the priestly editors (attempt to) completely ignore the other traditions?

Ancient priestly authors saw the world and others in it through a certain lens. If the BoM is a priestly document, we would expect them to share some of these same paradigms. Ignoring others that are not related to covenant origins and referring to them only obliquely (and only then through the use of certain generic terms) may be just the thing we should expect them to do. Incidentally, there is a whole series of LDS studies about how they may be referred to obliquely.

Regards

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CFR, Duddley- when and where did the Book of Mormon ever say that the Lamanites were the "primary" ancestors of the Native Americans? Methinks you aren't as familia with the Book of Mormon as you pretend.

I think the word he was looking for was "principle" but his point remains the same.

The actual usage of the term "Lamanite" actually closely parallels th Hebrw use of the term "Gentile"- it was an "us" and "them" construct. Everyone who was not "Nephite" was automagically "Lamanite".

It was, therefore, less a matter of "who had all the contact" than about the "us" and "them" nature of the narrative.

I don't think there is good evidence for that. The biblical usage of the term gentile is separate from the nationalistic designations. In fact, the nationalistic designation such as "Philistine" or "Egyptian" show up far more often than the conceptual usage of "gentile". In the book of Mormon, if one assumes the model you propose, Lamanite is never used distinctively from nationalistic or geopolitical terms. I just don't see evidence of your case.

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It's "principal."

But that was the intro, and not the text. As such, it is an interpretation of the text.

The text speaks for itself quite nicely.

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It's "principal."

But that was the intro, and not the text. As such, it is an interpretation of the text.

The text speaks for itself quite nicely.

I see. So, the "interpretation of the text" changed? What might have caused the "interpretation" to change? Revelation, inspiration, prophetic insight? Something else?

Why bother changing the intro at all?

If the text speaks for itself, why did it once say "principal", then later "among"?

Were the millions of LDS reading the text wrong for over 100 + years?

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If the text speaks for itself, why did it once say "principal", then later "among"?

The text of the Book of Mormon has never included the word "principal" in any of its editions from 1830 to the present day.

And sometimes I wonder if those brain cells you've killed over the years have finally reached a critical masslessness.

Or is your obtuseness purely a deliberate ploy in this instance?

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I see. So, the "interpretation of the text" changed? What might have caused the "interpretation" to change? Revelation, inspiration, prophetic insight? Something else?

How about the sheer, unrelenting, tendentious, pedantic, and deliberate misrepresentation of what the intro said and what it meant?

Why bother changing the intro at all?
To prevent enemies of the Church and sons of perdition from exploiting the narrow patch of ambiguity inherent in the wording.
If the text speaks for itself, why did it once say "principal", then later "among"?

Were the millions of LDS reading the text wrong for over 100 + years?

No- but the enemies of the Church have demonstrated an astounding unscrupulousness in their arguments- so perfect clarity (where it obtainable) is preferable to leaving people such as yourself an "out".

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Were the millions of LDS reading the text wrong for over 100 + years?

Why did you apostasize, were millions of LDS wrong for 180 years?

Do you see what a double-edged sword your 'billions of Chinamen' argument is?

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Were the millions of LDS reading the text wrong for over 100 + years?

Silly child, the text of the BoM is one thing.

The introduction to the BoM is another thing.

The "text" that we're talking about, and which speaks for itself, is the text of the BoM, and not its introduction.

Silly child, the argument you're making is incoherent, since it muddles two things which are quite distinct: they are, once again, so there can be no misunderstanding, the actual text of the BoM and the introduction thereto, which is not part of the text of the BoM.

Silly child.

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... And that the the Lamanites in the south had all the contact with the already existing poplulations. This would explain why the Lamanites were always larger in numbers even though they usually had the higher death tolls in the wars. Any other thoughts on the subject?

Hi Studdley,

I have also felt that there is evidence that the Lamanites married into preexisting people in the area. My MADB thread on this does not seem to be still there, but below is my argument if you are interested.

Richard

The Nephites eventually came to the land of Zarahemla from their earlier home in the land of Nephi-- and united with the Mulekites. They collectively are called Nephites after that.

However Mosiah 25 says there were more Mulekites than Nephites. It also notes that there were twice as many Lamanites as Nephites and Mulekites together.

QUOTE

2 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.

3 And there were not so many of the people of Nephi AND of the people of Zarahemla as there were of the Lamanites; yea, they were not half so numerous. --Mosiah 25

So a question arises: why were there so many Lamanites?

Around 550 BC, at the time of separation after Lehi died:

QUOTE

Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words. 2 Nephi 5:6

Nephi, Zoram and Sam were married and had families. It does not sound like Jacob and Joseph, nor his sisters were married. Possibly, some of these sisters of Nephi left their husbands who were sons of Ishmael because of the rift. We can be sure that Jacob and Joseph did eventually marry. So among the Nephites there were at least 5 families bringing children-- probably more. Furthermore we know that this group practiced some plural marriage for a time.

Those who did not go with Nephi were Laman, Lemuel and the Sons of Ishmael. 2 Nephi 4 shows that Laman and Lemuel were married and had familes. And possibly some or all of the Sons of Ishmael. So among the Lamanites there could have been 5 or more families bringing children.

However, it does not sound like there were twice as many Lamanite families at the start. So why in Mosiah 25 --around 430 years later in 120 BC-- are the Lamanites not only twice as numerous as the original Nephites, but of these Nephites AND the even more numerous Mulekites?

If the Mulekites were twice as numerous as the Nephites, then the Lamanites were six times as numerous as the original Nephites. Yet at the time of the division there does not seem to be any reason to suspect this would happen. For a lot of reasons, one would think the Nephites would have been more prolific.

So one possibility, even though the Book of Mormon does not mention it, is that the Lamanites mixed with another heathen race (or races) in the land.

And like those who joined with the Nephites became also known as Nephites, so likewise those who joined with the Lamanites were all called Lamanites.

This could also be the source of this curse that came upon the Lamanites, rather than God changing their DNA:

QUOTE

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done. -- 2 Nephi 5

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It's "principal."

But that was the intro, and not the text. As such, it is an interpretation of the text.

The text speaks for itself quite nicely.

And I'd vote for deleting the Intro and all the chapter headings.

I think it was the common understanding that the American natives were the Lamanites. Or at least mostly. Then, with recent investigations, the thinking might be changing. The Intro isn't revelation/scripture, never was said to be... just the best wisdom of the wise.

You have to reason, extrapolate, and maybe just wait until we get there on a lot of questions. The text seems to say that the Jaredites were all killed, but then along come guys like Sherem and Korihor, who came into Nephite society from outside somewhere, and their names sound kind of Jareditey (Ether 1:32+, 7:3-13). But you have to reason, extrapolate etc., to be sure that these were Jaredite survivors - or to be sure they weren't. I kind of take the middle road, "don't know" (but not "don't care"). But some seem to be sure.

Wood

(I really should just keep my nose in my coding)

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Nice try.

But, in the immortal words of the great Klingon warrior Gowron, "Not today." :P

"Comfortable chair."

Bernard

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How many ethnic groups are mentioned in the New Testiment? I only recall mention of Greeks, Romans, Samaritans and Jews. Why was there no mention of Scythians, Illyrians, Phonecians, Gauls, Cis-Alpine Gauls, Etruscans, Hittites, Thracians, Arabs, Celts, Celt-Iberians, Nubians, Libyans, Suevi or any of the Gothic tribes.

... and the phrygians, don't forget the phrygians.

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How many ethnic groups are mentioned in the New Testiment? I only recall mention of Greeks, Romans, Samaritans and Jews. Why was there no mention of Scythians, Illyrians, Phonecians, Gauls, Cis-Alpine Gauls, Etruscans, Hittites, Thracians, Arabs, Celts, Celt-Iberians, Nubians, Libyans, Suevi or any of the Gothic tribes.

... and the phrygians, don't forget the phrygians.

Didn't Ming blast the Phrygians?

Or was that the Hawkmen?

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Silly child, the text of the BoM is one thing.

The introduction to the BoM is another thing.

The "text" that we're talking about, and which speaks for itself, is the text of the BoM, and not its introduction.

Silly child, the argument you're making is incoherent, since it muddles two things which are quite distinct: they are, once again, so there can be no misunderstanding, the actual text of the BoM and the introduction thereto, which is not part of the text of the BoM.

Silly child.

Yes, but as you claim, it was the interpretation of the text that rendered the summation of "principal ancestors" to be included in the introduction in the first place...or how else did such a crazy unfounded notion arise to be included in the intro at all? Just dumb luck?

Then, The intro page is changed after 140+ years and after millions of members reading the same text year after year. Then when the intro page is changed, you crow about "The text speaks for itself quite nicely", as if something in the text missed for 140 years somehow has come to light? What in the text "speaks" for itself that was missed by millions before 1981, Or for that matter, after 1981?

Perplexing, that "principal ancestors" was included at all, since it was never part of the text? Wouldn't you agree?

It is good that science is now telling us what the Book of Mormon is and what it is not. Science seems to be even more efficient than revelation in defining certain Mormon beliefs.

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Yes, but as you claim, it was the interpretation of the text that rendered the summation of "principal ancestors" to be included in the introduction in the first place...or how else did such a crazy unfounded notion arise to be included in the intro at all?

Are you saying that what I stated as fact is a mere claim needing support from some other source?

Are you seriously disputing that the introduction is interpretive and not part of the BoM's text?

Please to clarify.

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I'm trying to understand the difference between an ~interpretation~ of a text and the text itself.

#1 -- let's operate under the assumption that the BOM is about real people who really existed.

Nephi interprets his world and spiritual manifestations and writes it down.

Jacob interprets his world and spiritual manifestations and writes it down.

Alma interprets interprets his world and spiritual manifestations and writes it down.

A whole bunch-o-Nephis interpret their world and spiritual manifestations and write it down.

...and on and on through the ages.

Mormon for whatever reason decides that an abridgment would be a good idea. Was it because lugging a bunch of other plates made of ore around was too cumbersome and thought it would be swell to make his own? Was it because there was so much redundancy with the original text that "and it came to pass" seemed like an improvement? I guess nobody can know until we dig up the rest of the Nephite records. Okay, so we have Mormon's interpretation of everyone else's interpretation of their world. And they may or may not have been inspired by God regarding their interpretation of events (....`and if there be mistakes.....`).

And then we have Joseph Smith, staring inside his white tophat at a rock. At this point the thinking drifts a few different directions:

a. David Whitmer's description in which the English words appeared, Joseph would say the word, the scribe would write it down, the rock would show "written" and move onto the next word. (I may have interpreted this incorrectly and I'll look for someone's interpretation of this event later on to verify my interpretation)

b. God telepathically through Revelation placed ideas in Joseph's mind, and for the most part he did fine but sometimes he would write things like "horse" instead of "mighty domesticated ride-able tapir", and then other times he would write down "curelom", "cumom", "neas", etc. Meaning sometimes he interpreted the interpreters right and sometimes he interpreted them wrong.

And years go by and changes need to be made to the text of the Book of Mormon (an interpretation of a bunch of books made by other people). "White and delightsome" was fine & dandy in the pre-civil-rights era, but times change. We're not sure if that was interpreted wrong from day one back in Nephi's day, or if Mormon messed it up, or if Joseph did.....somewhere along the line someone interpreted the interpretation of "white and delightsome" as corrupt or incorrect or out of place and corrected it with the interpretation of "pure and delightsome". I hope they got it right though because I need a firm foundation that I can build my life on without feeling like some mudslide will come along and tear it all down (again).

So go back a few years. Seems Apostle, Prophet, Seer, Revelator James Talmage was commissioned by the LDS Church to make all the chapter headings & footnotes. We assume that he operated under the direction of the Spirit, but just like anyone in the chain, they're depending on their interpretation of the Sprit, and doing all this AFAIK without the benefit of a rock or a white tophat (in fact I don't even think Mormon had a white tophat to help him with his abridgment but I think he did have a U&T). So anyway, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve certainly accepted the work and the membership certainly accepted the work. I would find it hard to believe that they didn't attempt to operate under the direction of the Spirit, and even if they did there's still no guarantee that they interpreted the Spirit correctly. God knows that the Book of Mormon is the keystone to our religion, and it's extremely important that these chosen vessels get it right, especially since they're in contact with God Himself through a real Prophet on the Earth today. I think God would be pretty frustrated with a Restoration that keeps finding ways to sabotage itself, but that's just me interpreting my world.

And the introduction was written by Apostle, Prophet, Seer, Revelator Bruce McConkie and under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve (I realize this is the same man who wrote Mormon Doctrine, 1st edition NOT under sanction of his superiors, and possibly not under direction of the Spirit (unless he was...)). Anyway, Elder McConkie interpreted the Book of Mormon's description of the Lamanites as the "principal ancestors" of the American Indians/Native Americans, but that may have been influenced by Prophets, Apostles, Seers, Revelators of yesteryear incorrectly interpreting a hemispheric model based on their own interpretation of someone else's interpretation of something interpreted hundreds of years ago from an abridgment of other interpretations of what happened...

Frankly, I'm a bit put off with the tactic of maligning someone's "interpretation" of an event as if that makes the event open season for anyone else's own shiny new interpretation of the event. I thought the most important thing in the Church was listening to the teachings & promptings of the Spirit and that the Prophet, called by God Himself, would never lead us astray. You'd think that God would have a better quality control standard for something so important what with the Book of Mormon trying to live up to its reputation as "the most correct book on Earth". It is rather interesting that outside forces do seem to affect Church policy & teachings. But what do I know? I'm just interpreting things the best I can and watching out for those lying in wait to deceive.

Note: it appears that there's only a split hair's difference between an interpretation of a text and a text itself.

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