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Most compelling evidence for/against the Book of Mormon?


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On 8/30/2016 at 10:03 AM, hope_for_things said:

I'd like to thank Robert F. Smith and Honorentheos for the very interesting discussion because it has caused me to think as I've seen similar discussions play out in the past.  Both of them are much smarter than I am, and I like to observe smart people debating the merits of each other's arguments.  

I'm reminds me of a story line in an episode of "Cosmos - A spacetime odyssey".  In the episode the narrator talks about how humans have evolved to make connections between multiple similar data points.  This skill of figuring out similarities and parallels and making sense of very complex information is an admirable talent.  Cosmos follows the story of Isaac Newton, and I found it interesting that even with Newton's genius and amazing mathematical discoveries, that he was also very interested in Alchemy and solving the mysteries of the bible as it relates to predicting the 2nd coming of Jesus.  So even a genius mind like Newton, who made such incredible discoveries, got side tracked into making elaborate connections in the bible, connections that in reality have no purpose and represent no formula to predict the coming of Jesus through numbers, symbols or any other mechanism.  Newton in essence found connections in the bible that weren't actually there.    

I see this same thing playing out in Mormon apologetics, and elsewhere in society.  Attempts to find ancient parallels in the BoM or in the BoA I find quite complex, detailed and sophisticated.  Scholars finding these parallels are obviously very smart and the detail and sophistication of their work is to be admired on many levels.  This is similar to the work that Newton was doing with his study of the bible.  Ultimately they are finding similarities in the data, and parallels that don't in reality exist.  I honestly think that you could take this same approach and apply it to literature written by J.R.R. Tolken or Shakespeare and find similar parallels to the ancient world. 

This is somewhat akin to the suggestion I sometimes hear that one can actually make something out of nothing, that one can find chiasms in the phone book, or that one can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  Can't be done, and those claiming to have done it have either misled themselves or are trying to mislead the rest of us.  In all such cases, one has merely to investigate the sources provided to see if they are authentic, or to have a professional do so.  Such chicanery doesn't last for long, and attempting to compare Tolkien is nonsense -- Tolkien never claimed to have created anything but fiction in his Hobbit.  Naturally his fiction (like that of the TV series "A Game of Thrones") is based on something from his experience and reading, but his work cannot actually predict the complex discoveries to be made decades later by historians and archeologists -- which would then systematically match his claims.  Moreover, you can find no examples of deliberate fiction for which that has happened.  For both Bible and Book of Mormon such discoveries have been made.  That is no real surprise for the Bible, since we know it is ancient.  But that is surprising to many who apriori consider the BofM to be pure fiction.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

As usual, you have misstated what I have done.  I took an already extant model created by non-Mormon biblical archeologists and applied it directly to the partial system described in Alma 11.  Such an overlay makes it abundantly clear that the Nephite leah is equivalent to 1 sheqel, and that the limnah is equivalent to 56 sheqels and equal to an Israelite mina.  You appear (as usual) afraid to do the math.  I admit that such scholarship does harm to the anti-Mormon project, but this is merely one among hundreds of such indications that there really was a Clan Lehi which brought certain aspects of Israelite culture to the New World -- aspects which survived in recognizable form within the Book of Mormon text, as one should expect in such cultural transfer or transmission.  Since it would have been impossible for Joseph Smith to have reconstructed that system (no one knew of it in his day), this is one piece of the preponderance of evidence which shows by secular means that the Book of Mormon is historically authentic.  Since you recognize that fact, you have deliberately set out to falsify and mock the scholarship -- something an honest man would never do.

Somehow I doubt that you know what you are doing when Bill Devers would acknowledge that a gerah is 1/20 of a shekel and a pim is 2/3 of a shekel and not blink. I wonder that he'd agree with your attempt to isolate shekels into 1/8 divisions while creating an artificial maneh that isn't found but instead forced because you want something to equal seven times eight.

It's not just that you are messing with the math. You're messing with the sources you rely on and omitting evidence that is critical to the original system but inconvenient to your own. I'm sorry, but your table trying to tie the Nephite system to the Hebrew and Egyptian ist kaputt. 

Edited by Honorentheos
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10 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

Somehow I doubt that you know what you are doing when Bill Devers would acknowledge that a gerah is 1/20 of a shekel and a pim is 2/3 of a shekel and not blink. I wonder that he'd agree with your attempt to isolate shekels into 1/8 divisions while creating an artificial maneh that isn't found but instead forced because you want something to equal seven times eight.

It's not just that you are messing with the math. You're messing with the sources you rely on and omitting evidence that is critical to the original system but inconvenient to your own. I'm sorry, but your table trying to tie the Nephite system to the Hebrew and Egyptian ist kaputt. 

I'm sorry, Honorentheos, but the Israelite-Egyptian table isn't mine.  It is the one created by Bill Dever, and available in several sources (which I cited, and you didn't bother to look up).  The gera and pim are not part of that particular system, and are included by you just to confuse the readers (either that or you are confused).  Indeed, the separate gera system was describe by Dever as follows:

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. . . we can now recognize gerah weights in denominations of 2 through 8, plus 10 . . . .  these weights were also marked with Egyptian hieratic symbols, but here they must be read at face value (i.e., not 5=4, 10=8, as on the shekel weights).  There was no confusion, since the obvious difference in size kept the two systems distinct.  --Dever in P. Achtemeier, ed., Harper's Bible Dictionary (SBL/HarperSanFrancisco, 1985), 1128.

As Dever further points out (and as I made clear in my FairMormon presentation)

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Among the shekel weights known thus far, we have denominations of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 24.  . . . these shekel weights are marked with the Egyptian hieratic symbols for 1, 2 --- and then for 5, 10, 20, and 30. . . . The Israelites also equated their weights to the Egyptian deben (equivalent to 8 shekels), and qedet (one-tenth of a deben).  Thus by this time (late eighth and early seventh centuries B.C.), an originally Mesopotamian sexagesimal system had been transformed . . , but with the addition of Egyptian decimal markings.

     Although this may be quite confusing to us, the overall shekel system "worked" because it was consistent.  It utilized the 8-shekel weight (with the hieratic symbol of the latter) as the basic module, so that below that you had what were essentially fraction weights (the 4-, 2-, and 1-shekel weights), and above it each next weight was larger by 8 shekels (the 16- and 24-shekel weights; none larger are known).   --Dever, loc cit.; cf. Tables B & C.

In other words, as distinct from the decimal gera system, the shekel system was counted in base-8.  Are you really so desparate, Honorentheos, that you will make any misstatement of fact in order to deep-six a valid observation?

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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On 8/27/2016 at 8:00 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

The 8-shekel base which Bill Dever discusses (which I compare to senine/senum) leads to a 56-shekel mina/maneh (7 x 8 = 56) which exactly matches the onti/limnah of the Nephites.  

Does it though? Raz Kletter, whom you cite in your paper, argues for a Judaean system of inscribed weights "built on multiples of 4 or 8" up to 40 shekels. After that comes the maneh (mina), which, according to Kletter, probably had a value of 50 shekels (the other possibility is 60 shekels) and weighed approximately 567 grams. He suggests that "the Judaean system could have continued in units of Maneh of 50 Shekels, adjusted to Egyptian dbn. The series of weights could be 2.5, 4?, 8, 16? Maneh, corresponding with 16, 25, 50, and 100 dbn" (Kletter, Economic Keystones: The Weight System of the Kingdom of Judah [JSOTSupp 276; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998], 106–107). This, obviously, is quite different from your proposed system where a mina = 56 shekels = 7 dbn = 637 grams. If Kletter is correct, the onti/limnah does not "exactly match" the Judaean system.

Edited by Nevo
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8 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

So pointing out the Israelite measurements used units not part of a base 8 system is "confusing the issue"?

Confusing/refuting tomato/tomahto

The gera system is decimal (with hieratic markings at face value), while the shekel system is base-8, with hieratic markings which are read in accord with base-8.  You deliberately confused the two.  You have so little respect for the readers here.

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8 hours ago, Nevo said:

Does it though? Raz Kletter, whom you cite in your paper, argues for a Judaean system of inscribed weights "built on multiples of 4 or 8" up to 40 shekels. After that comes the maneh (mina), which, according to Kletter, probably had a value of 50 shekels (the other possibility is 60 shekels) and weighed approximately 567 grams. He suggests that "the Judaean system could have continued in units of Maneh of 50 Shekels, adjusted to Egyptian dbn. The series of weights could be 2.5, 4?, 8, 16? Maneh, corresponding with 16, 25, 50, and 100 dbn" (Kletter, Economic Keystones: The Weight System of the Kingdom of Judah [JSOTSupp 276; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998], 106–107). This, obviously, is quite different from your proposed system where a mina = 56 shekels = 7 dbn = 637 grams. If Kletter is correct, the onti/limnah does not "exactly match" the Judaean system.

Good point, Nevo.  Kletter’s book is much more recent than Dever’s reconstruction, and he takes a much more detailed look a the evidence.
As Kletter observes on page 106, we lack the maneh (mina) and kikkar (talent) among the archeologically recovered inscribed weights.  “The heaviest Shekel weights . . . are 40 Shekels” (5 x 8=40).  So he falls back on the usual estimate of 50 or 60 shekels, though admitting that “it is possible that the multiples of 4 or 8 continued into heavier units.”  Thus, he calls our attention to a 1450 gm uninscribed limestone dome weight (as restored) from Malhata of the same period in the Negev.  Since the shekel was on average a weight of about 11.33 gm, the Malhata dome weight would be 128 shekels (8 x 16 = 128; 1450 ÷ 11.33 = 128), and placing the mina weight then at around 635 gm.  For some reason, Kletter prefers to think of it as 125 shekels or 2.5 mina (50 shekels), with the Judean mina at around 567 gm (page 107).  However, that does not comport with the reconstructed Malhata weight, and it is much likelier that our base-8 notation would leave it at 128 shekels, and that simple extrapolation from the base-8 module would give us a mina of 56 shekels (at 6.35 kg), which exactly matches the BofM onti/limnah – though likely of a very different specific weight, depending on which metal is being weighed.

It is true that Albright long ago found an 8-mina Canaanite weight of 4,565 gm (= 400 shekels of 11.41 gm) in the West Tower at Tell Beit Mirsim, and that implies a 50-shekel mina, but that is much earlier than the newly set Israelite-Egyptian weight standard Kletter is addressing.  That also applies to the 400-shekel basalt weight found at Taanach. (cf. Gen 23:16).

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The gera system is decimal (with hieratic markings at face value), while the shekel system is base-8, with hieratic markings which are read in accord with base-8.  You deliberately confused the two.  You have so little respect for the readers here.

My disregard is for the author. Let the reader make of it what they will. The gerah is a fractional unit used as part of the practical system in use. The Nephite system described in the Book of Mormon has no parallel and it goes untreated. There isn't much to say other than, again, the apologetic is not even defending the Book of Mormon. Rather, it's all in defense of a system you seem to believe exists to attempt to establish ties to the Old World in a text that specifically discounts one should expect to find it.

To the believer in the Book of Mormon's authenticity as an ancient document, they are no more harmed by rejecting your argument than I am. They're advised to do so and should have sufficient evidence to judge whether it's worth buying shares in your venture well before this point in the discussion.

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5 minutes ago, Honorentheos said:

My disregard is for the author. Let the reader make of it what they will. The gerah is a fractional unit used as part of the practical system in use. The Nephite system described in the Book of Mormon has no parallel and it goes untreated. There isn't much to say other than, again, the apologetic is not even defending the Book of Mormon. Rather, it's all in defense of a system you seem to believe exists to attempt to establish ties to the Old World in a text that specifically discounts one should expect to find it.

To the believer in the Book of Mormon's authenticity as an ancient document, they are no more harmed by rejecting your argument than I am. They're advised to do so and should have sufficient evidence to judge whether it's worth buying shares in your venture well before this point in the discussion.

Hogwash, Honorentheos.  Just more chicanery from you.  You might take a lesson from Nevo, who actually thinks before he pops off with any sort of comment.

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2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Hogwash, Honorentheos.  Just more chicanery from you.  You might take a lesson from Nevo, who actually thinks before he pops off with any sort of comment.

I certainly appreciate Nevo, always have, and his willingness to research a subject deeply.

I engaged your argument with the effort it deserved. Sorry, there is an economics question involved for me regarding time, and having sufficient information to have seen your argument for what it was - the invention of a 56 shekel maneh to suit your purposes - took time to read your article, the source, and note what you had done then compared it to what Devers and others say more broadly about evidence for recovering the Hebrew system of measurement which included units attested in the Bible and discovered in the archaeological record. Your reply to Nevo reiterated that yet again. Succubi arguments being what they are.

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11 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

I certainly appreciate Nevo, always have, and his willingness to research a subject deeply.

Then, go and do likewise, without sorry excuses.

11 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

I engaged your argument with the effort it deserved. Sorry, there is an economics question involved for me regarding time, and having sufficient information to have seen your argument for what it was - the invention of a 56 shekel maneh to suit your purposes - took time to read your article, the source, and note what you had done then compared it to what Devers and others say more broadly about evidence for recovering the Hebrew system of measurement which included units attested in the Bible and discovered in the archaeological record. Your reply to Nevo reiterated that yet again. Succubi arguments being what they are.

I have already noted that you made crucial errors in nearly all your comments, which told me that you do not read attentively.  What is more, your comments were deeply prejudicial -- based squarely on your deep commitment to apriorism, and lack of substance -- deliberately misstating what I and my sources said.

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13 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Then, go and do likewise, without sorry excuses.

I have already noted that you made crucial errors in nearly all your comments, which told me that you do not read attentively.  What is more, your comments were deeply prejudicial -- based squarely on your deep commitment to apriorism, and lack of substance -- deliberately misstating what I and my sources said.

Weights and measures aside, You certainly carry the day when it comes to personal attacks.

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On August 27, 2016 at 4:34 PM, Honorentheos said:

Hi Gervin,

I wouldn't worry too much about the Book of Mormon's claim that the units evolved. It's certainly true that units do evolve. What is problematic for our friends like Robert F. Smith, Glenn and cdowis is that the evolution of these things happen for reasons in a given context. What context, then, is exerting influence on the peoples claimed to live in Book of Mormon times and lands? One doesn't read Robert F. Smith's attempt at pulling in any ancient near eastern context and come out the back end with a better understanding of the Nephites, their system, and the context in which they lived over a millennia of time. This is in contrast to what one might find looking at real history where the evolution of weights, systems of trade, payment, and commodities are all responding to a greater context.

The arguments in this thread continue to reiterate one point - the modern purpose of the Book of Mormon is to bolster the claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet who had direct access to an ancient document. So the apologetics shoot at everything that looks ancient, then stuff and mount it on their wall without real thought as to how the real studies of archaeology, anthropology, etc., etc., go on oblivious to their particular sport. Read the actual archaeological exploration of the evolution of the shekel, for example. It doesn't occur in a cultural vacuum, and the physical evidence is critical to the development of the informed understanding. We don't have a cultural context for the Book of Mormon (unless my argument that it's the 19th c. US is accepted, which I think is demonstrated), nor do we have an ancient American silver weight equal to the sum weights of three smaller weights discovered in a dig site in the Americas. It's not meaningful for cdowis to demand evidence from mesoamerica to counter his argument in that context because it's his argument the Book of Mormon belongs there. It's not meaningful for Glenn to argue that certain positions seem to be goal shifting because they would negate the existence of Nephites because arguing for actual Nephites is his position to defend. Robert F. Smith argues against the Book of Mormon text itself because the text is meaningless unless it can be demonstrated as belonging in an ancient setting. Absent the ability to contextualize it in the ancient new world, he attempts to place it in the old.

Context certainly matters, and you're right to argue that pointing to evolution alone is meaningless to the argument. Without tying it into the context driving the evolution the claim it evolved is simply the author's way of saying the reader should not expect it to accurately align with anything they might know.

 

Thanks.  Context must include what we know about Mesoamerican economics and trade in the associated BoM times. How does a purported gold and silver-based economy function within, alongside (under, near, etc.) one that archaeologists show was based on obsidian?  And salt? And furniture? 

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28 minutes ago, Gervin said:

Thanks.  Context must include what we know about Mesoamerican economics and trade in the associated BoM times. How does a purported gold and silver-based economy function within, alongside (under, near, etc.) one that archaeologists show was based on obsidian?  And salt? And furniture? 

You are naively assuming that archaeologist know everything about the econimy for the entire mesoamerican area, specifically during the BOM time period.  In order to answer your question, please provide the exact documentation for your assertion, and be prepared to defend it.

HINT: Please be aware, before answering, virtually all of the written records (codices) were destroyed and so the knowledge of their society is very limited, and based on speculation.  Also be aware of the number of excavations of KNOWN sites during the pre-Classic period is rather limited.  

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51PGxOVSKnL._SX374_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgFor a worthwhile perspective at the limitations of some archaeological assertions/interpretations.

Edited by notHagoth7
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Also check this out.  They basically confirmed that, due to the lack of these written records, very little is known about the preClassic (BOM) period of mesoamerica.

A Forest of Kings, Linda Schele and David Freidel, Quill William Morrow, 1990

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13 hours ago, cdowis said:

You are naively assuming that archaeologist know everything about the econimy for the entire mesoamerican area, specifically during the BOM time period. 

I made no assumption  

13 hours ago, cdowis said:

knowledge of their society is very limited, and based on speculation. 

Much is known about the Mesoamerican material culture. What makes you think that gold and silver were important economic elements?

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1 hour ago, Gervin said:

Much is known about the Mesoamerican material culture. What makes you think that gold and silver were important economic elements?

Gervin, I don't think nothing ( to be crude).  I made no statement at all.  

Anyway, I am simply questioning your assertion.  Your use of the word "known" is interesting, rather than "speculating", so let's see what you got SPECIFICALLY in the preClassic period of Mayan culture.

You see, I know the difference between opinion/speculation/assertion and fact/ data.  So help me out.

Edited by cdowis
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On 9/2/2016 at 7:52 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

Then, go and do likewise, without sorry excuses.

I have already noted that you made crucial errors in nearly all your comments, which told me that you do not read attentively.  What is more, your comments were deeply prejudicial -- based squarely on your deep commitment to apriorism, and lack of substance -- deliberately misstating what I and my sources said.

Robert, the hard sell is the last gasp of the overextended salesman. You made things up, you ignore obvious claims from the Book of Mormon itself, you're so overextended it's amazing anyone would buy into what you claim.

Your argument is the same no matter if it's Nevo or I, and it's the same point over and over again - you think there is a reason to fabricate a unit and add it to the Hebrew model despite lack of evidence or support. You ignore actual weights attested to in the Bible and found in the archaeological record that do not fit your system. Your so called source, Bill Dever, does not balk at accepting the gerah or the pim as part of the Hebrew system because he's looking to demonstrate there was an ancient Kingdom of Israel so by aligning archaeological finds with the claims of the Bible fit his purposes. You ignore the Book of Mormon and what it has to say. You over complicate what is a clearly basic system. You keep saying things like I'm missing key points but there's nothing substantial you can point to which demonstrates this. You assert, it falls flat.

There's no 56 shekel maneh. There's no reason to ignore the Book of Mormon's claims that it doesn't represent a system similar to that used by the Hebrews. There's every reason to accept that even if there were Nephites their system was basic, with an odd cultural unit that is the sum of the smaller units which, if discovered in an actual real ancient culture, would probably open up new and interesting avenues for exploring their beliefs and the culture itself. There's every reason to believe if the Nephite system has a grounding in the actual history of the Americas we'd find the fingerprints of the surrounding culture in the descriptions. Archaeologists and anthropologists would be able to use the Book of Mormon to make predictions that proved true. That isn't the case.

It's a sour product you're selling, Robert. The believing member would be well advised to take the Book of Mormon at face value and walk away from what you would have them buy into. Just the way it is, amigo.

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2 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

Robert, the hard sell is the last gasp of the overextended salesman. You made things up, you ignore obvious claims from the Book of Mormon itself, you're so overextended it's amazing anyone would buy into what you claim.

Your argument is the same no matter if it's Nevo or I, and it's the same point over and over again - you think there is a reason to fabricate a unit and add it to the Hebrew model despite lack of evidence or support. You ignore actual weights attested to in the Bible and found in the archaeological record that do not fit your system. Your so called source, Bill Dever, does not balk at accepting the gerah or the pim as part of the Hebrew system because he's looking to demonstrate there was an ancient Kingdom of Israel so by aligning archaeological finds with the claims of the Bible fit his purposes. You ignore the Book of Mormon and what it has to say. You over complicate what is a clearly basic system. You keep saying things like I'm missing key points but there's nothing substantial you can point to which demonstrates this. You assert, it falls flat.

There's no 56 shekel maneh. There's no reason to ignore the Book of Mormon's claims that it doesn't represent a system similar to that used by the Hebrews. There's every reason to accept that even if there were Nephites their system was basic, with an odd cultural unit that is the sum of the smaller units which, if discovered in an actual real ancient culture, would probably open up new and interesting avenues for exploring their beliefs and the culture itself. There's every reason to believe if the Nephite system has a grounding in the actual history of the Americas we'd find the fingerprints of the surrounding culture in the descriptions. Archaeologists and anthropologists would be able to use the Book of Mormon to make predictions that proved true. That isn't the case.

It's a sour product you're selling, Robert. The believing member would be well advised to take the Book of Mormon at face value and walk away from what you would have them buy into. Just the way it is, amigo.

Again, unlike Nevo,your rant is lacking in substantive discussion or engagement with the actual sources.  You don't cite and you don't understand anything connected with archeology or history, but you are at least consistent in throwing out this or that version of schlock to prevent any real discussion -- which you so clearly fear.  The 128 shekel dome weight from Malhata is a good case in point.  As I noted in discussion with Nevo, it only makes sense in the context of a 56-shekel mina.

In addition, you shamelessly falsify what Dever said on the subject (and which I have quoted in detail, even if you hadn't bothered to read his work), as though any misstatement of fact is O.K. as long as a Mormon view is being sullied.  You seem to have no ethical or moral qualm at reveling in such hypocrisy.   And then you are going to advise believing Mormons?  Give me a break . . .

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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Again, unlike Nevo,your rant is lacking in substantive discussion or engagement with the actual sources.  You don't cite and you don't understand anything connected with archeology or history, but you are at least consistent in throwing out this or that version of schlock to prevent any real discussion -- which you so clearly fear.  The 128 shekel dome weight from Malhata is a good case in point.  As I noted in discussion with Nevo, it only makes sense in the context of a 56-shekel mina.

In addition, you shamelessly falsify what Dever said on the subject (and which I have quoted in detail, even if you hadn't bothered to read his work), as though any misstatement of fact is O.K. as long as a Mormon view is being sullied.  You seem to have no ethical or moral qualm at reveling in such hypocrisy.   And then you are going to advise believing Mormons?  Give me a break . . .

Look at your evidence. The weight described by Kletter is a) singular in its finding at one location, b) reconstructed and considered by Kletter to be problematic if taken to be 128 shekels, or 16 dbn, given as you yourself noted in your paper the Egyptian dbn is a decimal system so it is incredibly unlikely to Kletter that there would be a 16 dbn weight. Since the weight had to be reconstructed due to damage and the actual exact weight unknown, he concludes it's more likely to follow the traditional ratio and therefore equal 2.5 maneh, 15 dbn, or 125 shekels under the 50 shekel system. He also notes having considered the possibility that it was following the 60 shekel maneh, and would possibly be a two maneh weight but discounts this due to the total weight being quite low.

In other words, you have one of the experts in the field using the Egyptian decimal dbn to Judaean 8 shekel conversion specifically rule out the likelihood of a 16 dbn unit, and with it the ratio for your 56 shekel maneh that you prefer because of a belief about the Nephite system being like the Judaean system despite the Book of Mormon specifically saying it wasn't.

ETA: revised "possibility" to "likelihood" since it's more accurate. As Kletter notes, this one example is singular and it's not possible to draw firm conclusions from it one way or the other. His belief regarding it's measure as 2.5 maneh is based on the Egyptian/Hebrew decimal to 8-shekel conversion, though, and still proves problematic for extending the Devers table to include the Nephites and their odd sum-total units for silver and gold. Kletter does not know he's arguing against this when coming to his conclusions, either, which is interesting.

Edited by Honorentheos
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16 minutes ago, Honorentheos said:

Look at your evidence. The weight described by Kletter is a) singular in its finding at one location, b) reconstructed and considered by Kletter to be problematic if taken to be a 128 shekels, or 16 dbn, given as you yourself noted in your paper the Egyptian dbn is a decimal system so it is incredibly unlikely to Kletter that there would be a 16 dbn weight.

Kletter did not say that "it is incredibly unlikely," but rather was looking for a rationale to explain the weight of 1450 gm.  Thus, he posits it as a Judean weight, and freely admits that "the [reconstructed] Malhata weight equals approximately 128 Shekel" (106).  To an Egyptian merchant that would clearly be equivalent to 16 diban (= 160 qite), which would be the decimal value.  Is the reconstruction so problematic?  No.  There was a chip out of a regularly shaped limestone dome-weight, and it was easy to reconstruct it, even if the result is still uncertain -- and this is not enough evidence to be sure (107), and I agree with you there.  The bottom line is that Kletter thinks it "possible that the multiples of 4 or 8 continued into heavier units" (106), and 128 divided by 8 = 16.

16 minutes ago, Honorentheos said:

Since the weight had to be reconstructed due to damage and the actual exact weight unknown, he concludes it's more likely to follow the traditional ratio and therefore equal 2.5 maneh, 15 dbn, or 125 shekels under the 50 shekel system. He also notes having considered the possibility that it was following the 60 shekel maneh, and would possibly be a two maneh weight but discounts this due to the total weight being quite low.

In other words, you have one of the experts in the field using the Egyptian decimal dbn to Judaean 8 shekel conversion specifically rule out a possibility of a 16 dbn unit, or your 56 shekel maneh that you prefer because of a belief about the Nephite system being like the Judaean system despite the Book of Mormon specifically saying it wasn't.

Actually, my reasoning went in exactly the opposite direction:  I first saw Dever's reconstruction of the Israelite system, and realized that it was a virtual match for the Nephite one -- on which I had been working for some time.  Like all scholarly readers of Holy Writ, I was not bowled over by any isolated claims made in the text, but instead sought to understand the entire context.  Those, like you, whose concerns are primarily caustic and polemic, take statements out of context when it suits them.

I was more intrigued by M. Powell's expert observation that, in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian metrology, the unit "7" (as in 7 palms to a royal cubit) is "a device to avoid irrational fractions in calculations" (Powell in Freedman, ed., ABD, VI:898), meaning that it is more efficient -- as in 7 x 8 = 56 shekels/leahs.

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I believe Kletter is as incredulous of a 16 dbn weight and you should be of a 16 dollar bill because it fails to work with the decimal to base 8 conversion and would be an anomaly if it were accepted that the unmarked weight was a 128 shekel weight. He doesn't say it's 128 shekels, but that it would equal 128 shekels using the common weight for a shekel but that this makes no sense given it would require an inconsistent dbn conversion. Again, following the arguments in your own paper,. 160 qite is no more decimal than a dollar sixty cent piece is likely to appear anytime in an America currency. As the expert, he balks at the implications. It represents an example that is breaking the rules he is following if he accepts a dbn unit that is not divisible by 5. It's again worth repeating that it's unmarked, so the denomination is unknown and being speculated on.

Also, it's clear when he says multiples of 4, 8, or 16 above this weight, he means multiples of maneh. This is clear because he specifically equates them to 25, 50 and 100 dbn. This is consistent with something he says earlier where a 2.5 maneh weight is simply not useful for day-to-day use (it far exceeds the types of trades people would have been carrying on in normal, personal business) and would have been evidence for large, inter-regional trade taking place in Tel Malhata, so he speculates that there may have been even greater units in use under such conditions.

Edited by Honorentheos
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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I was more intrigued by M. Powell's expert observation that, in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian metrology, the unit "7" (as in 7 palms to a royal cubit) is "a device to avoid irrational fractions in calculations" (Powell in Freedman, ed., ABD, VI:898), meaning that it is more efficient -- as in 7 x 8 = 56 shekels/leahs.

7 palms times 4 digits equals 28 digits to a cubit (measurements of length), and that's your new evidence for a non-decimal 16 dbn unit? You're beyond reaching now.

ETA: Pun intended.

Edited by Honorentheos
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14 hours ago, Honorentheos said:

7 palms times 4 digits equals 28 digits to a cubit (measurements of length), and that's your new evidence for a non-decimal 16 dbn unit? You're beyond reaching now.

ETA: Pun intended.

Cute, Honorentheos. So cute.  :pirate:

However, I only mentioned the use of 7 as  "a device to avoid irrational fractions in calculations" (Powell), not as sole justification of a 56-shekel mina (7 x 8 shekels).  None of the parallels drawn stand by themselves.  That is the nature of a complex system.

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