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Book of Mormon Historicity


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15 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Before geography, best to start at the beginning. Jacob mentions that in 600 BC there were many Israelites in the isles of the sea. So my first hypothesis is: Israelites migrated to the isles of the sea in 600 BC. There's substantial evidence that this is true. We find several Israelite groups from Yemen, Oman, to Egypt, to Ethiopia, even further from Mozambique in the southwest and Malabar in the east.

That tells us that a migration of people at this time is unsurprising, which would be relatively obvious from the conditions of the Babylonian invasion. That tells us that we have a reasonable comparative beginning. That suggests that it is worth continuing. Of course, that leaves the problem of non-Middle Easter geography, and cultural connections, so we are still a long way off. I'm sure you have more.

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44 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

That tells us that a migration of people at this time is unsurprising, which would be relatively obvious from the conditions of the Babylonian invasion. That tells us that we have a reasonable comparative beginning. That suggests that it is worth continuing. Of course, that leaves the problem of non-Middle Easter geography, and cultural connections, so we are still a long way off. I'm sure you have more.

Assuming you saw the rest of content in the post you quote here, I'll proceed with the assumption that the historical Rechabites are similar enough to the Lehites. According to Nibley, the Lehites were Rechabites.

Next question, did Rechabites migrate from the Arabian Peninsula to the isles of the sea in 600 BC? According to Margaret Barker, they did. The Rechabites fled from Jerusalem after the time of Josiah. They "escaped to the desert, and crossed the great sea to a Paradise land of fruit trees, honey and abundant water...angels continued to inform them about events in their former world, and so they knew about the life of Jesus. Now Rechab is an interesting name; it can also mean a chariot, and so the angel sons of Rechab might have been the devotees of the chariot throne in the temple who fled from Jerusalem after Josiah’s purge, and settled somewhere across a great sea." (source) The hypothesis that a group resembling the Lehites, did in fact sail to a verdant island in the sea around 600 BC seems to have textual support at least. Their account can be found in the History of the Rechabites and the Narrative of Zosimus.

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23 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

It remains odd, though. . . after the various explanations that there is evidence, that you continue to suggest that there is not--without doing any of the work that would allow you to make an informed decision. "Evidence is not a reasonable request to support the claim" is not an accurate summation. The correct summary would be "one piece of evidence is not a reasonable request" and the reason is the nature of the evidence. 

I went back to re-read the thread to find this evidence that is explained as really being there.  I don't see anything that can be considered evidence for historicity.  I'm still confused why you tend to think that it's unreasonable to expect at least one item of evidence of historicity, when the claim is for historicity.  It should be the burden on the one claiming historicity to provide the starting point of an explanation, which would be one piece of evidence.  Saying something like "the textual statement that Nephi was selected as a king by the people who wanted one is an unusual textual feature." can't possible be something amounting to evidence and you seem to concede that in the very post you made this claim, "An so it continues. There isn't one. It is a large set of "coincidences" between place, time, text, and known events that makes the case strong. "

Granted.  I'm not convinced by the position that its unreasonable to expect someone to supply evidence for a claim.  That doesn't make sense to me, and I think it doesn't make sense to you.  It appears you are suggesting since you can string together a number of coincidences, then stringing those together means there is evidence.  I can be convinced you have a point.  I'm simply not convinced because you say so, though.    If Raja can string together a number of coincidences then I don't see that as evidence either.  If someone advocating for Italy, Japan, North America, or England wishes to string together some coincidences I don't see how that  as evidence either.   Of course it can sound impressive if at first you start with a number of assumptions.  But sounding impressive, or seeming to make a case strong, and actually being evidence are two different things.  

Edited by stemelbow
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10 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Assuming you saw the rest of content in the post you quote here, I'll proceed with the assumption that the historical Rechabites are similar enough to the Lehites. According to Nibley, the Lehites were Rechabites.

Next question, did Rechabites migrate from the Arabian Peninsula to the isles of the sea in 600 BC? According to Margaret Barker, they did. The Rechabites fled from Jerusalem after the time of Josiah. They "escaped to the desert, and crossed the great sea to a Paradise land of fruit trees, honey and abundant water...angels continued to inform them about events in their former world, and so they knew about the life of Jesus. Now Rechab is an interesting name; it can also mean a chariot, and so the angel sons of Rechab might have been the devotees of the chariot throne in the temple who fled from Jerusalem after Josiah’s purge, and settled somewhere across a great sea." (source) The hypothesis that a group resembling the Lehites, did in fact sail to a verdant island in the sea around 600 BC seems to have textual support at least. Their account can be found in the History of the Rechabites and the Narrative of Zosimus.

Understood. At this point we have a parallel account to the Book of Mormon, but nothing yet that links it to the Book of Mormon.

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

I'm not convinced by the position that its unreasonable to expect someone to supply evidence for a claim. 

I wouldn't be either. It also is not at all what I have suggested. Of course we should have evidence. We need to understand the nature of the available evidence, and be able to construct a case according to demonstrable processes that can be examined. My problem has always been with the "one piece of evidence" request because it fundamentally misunderstands archaeological evidence as it relates to a text.

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2 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

I wouldn't be either. It also is not at all what I have suggested. Of course we should have evidence. We need to understand the nature of the available evidence, and be able to construct a case according to demonstrable processes that can be examined. My problem has always been with the "one piece of evidence" request because it fundamentally misunderstands archaeological evidence as it relates to a text.

I'm happy to start with that again.  How does request for evidence "fundamentally misunderstands archaeological evidence as it relates to a text"?  

I think a large issue we have here is the BoM is claiming that it magically appeared claiming to have come from an ancient setting.  If we're trying to understand the archaeological setting for any given text, the assumption in place is the old text actually has an ancient origin.  It feels to me like if we try that with the BoM we are trying to verify historicity by assuming first historicity.  

Edited by stemelbow
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On 8/17/2020 at 4:49 PM, Kevin Christensen said:

Meadowchik commented: 

Moroni's promise states as number of conditions, which being met, lead to "he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."  (Moroni 10:4)

I spent a long time gathering scriptural descriptions of how the Holy Ghost manifests, and what emerged was a balance of thinking and feeling.  D&C 8:2 clearly states "I will tell you in your mind and heart."

I wrote up the references sometime back.

My essay has another section on several "other ways" that answers and confirmation may come. 

http://oneclimbs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/A-Model-of-Mormon-Spiritual-Experience.pdf

It's easy to claim that religion involves an over-reliance on "feelings", but I think the applying some scientific research to the questions establishes that this is not necessarily the case.  And there is a very real question about what happens to society when feelings are ignored (Nibley's essay on "The Unsolved Loyalty Problem" cites developments in the 4th Century, how the cruelty of the times can be traced to "the universal triumph of theory, that knows no half measures") and also when the history of scientific error is ignored, and people assume that the reason of the moment is an infallible guide to the future.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

Moroni 10:4

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

The conditions seem to be essentially faith and sincerity. The promised reward is a manifestation of the truth through the Holy Ghost. It does not describe anything specific other than that as the reward, therefore the mere emotional manifestations of the Spirit qualify as a fulfillment according to the promise. And indeed that is the way a testimony is frequently taught in the church.

I favour the more thorough types of understanding that you've listed and I think that generally when fuller understanding and knowledge is gained, good feelings follow. However, good feelings are definitely not always accompanied by greater learning or clarity. 

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On 8/17/2020 at 6:09 PM, bluebell said:

That's a good question, with no easy answer. 

Every person is so different, with their individual hurts, trama, experiences, joys, emotional baggage, background, way of thinking, perceptions, biases, etc., and all of that, for good and bad, impacts their ability to know different things (whether the subject is love or religion or anything else).  A good bias can convince a person that something isn't true when it is, or that something is true when it isn't, all on its own.  Add in everything else that filters the interpretation of our experiences, and it can get messy. 

I think that Alma 32 is probably the best explanation of the difference between believe and know, and what knowledge looks like.  It's not foolproof, because nothing is (because our biases and baggage affect even this), but it's a good place to start. 

 

Yes I prefer Alma 32 for sure. I would imagine it as the journey across a disk. One side was a journey of faith, the edge represented the attainment of knowledge, where one would then traverse again in faith. Over and over the disk can turn on an infinite journey of faith and knowledge.

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46 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I'm happy to start with that again.  How does request for evidence "fundamentally misunderstands archaeological evidence as it relates to a text"?  

I think a large issue we have here is the BoM is claiming that it magically appeared claiming to have come from an ancient setting.  If we're trying to understand the archaeological setting for any given text, the assumption in place is the old text actually has an ancient origin.  It feels to me like if we try that with the BoM we are trying to verify historicity by assuming first historicity.  

Please be more precise with your language.  Nowhere in the Book of Mormon is there a claim that it magically appeared, and Moroni didn't make that claim either when he told Joseph Smith about it.

Please start over.  Your imprecise language irritates my sensibilities.

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I heard recently that no where is there the length of wording on gold plates like there is for the BoM. It's usually a wealthy person that might have gold plates, but with very few words/plates and very small in size.

Or have we come to the determination that they were brass and not gold? Probably know this, just having a dumb attack.

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9 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Or have we come to the determination that they were brass and not gold? Probably know this, just having a dumb attack.

An alloy of gold and another metal is one possibility.  Tumbaga has been mentioned by various writers.

 

"Tumbaga is the name for a non-specific alloy of gold and copper given by Spanish Conquistadors to metals composed of these elements found in widespread use in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in North America and South America."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumbaga

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36 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Please be more precise with your language.  Nowhere in the Book of Mormon is there a claim that it magically appeared, and Moroni didn't make that claim either when he told Joseph Smith about it.

Please start over.  Your imprecise language irritates my sensibilities.

Dude! Stem, you'd better do it. Don't want to irritate Ahab's sensibilities :) 

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3 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Dude! Stem, you'd better do it. Don't want to irritate Ahab's sensibilities :) 

Thank you for your support.  Here.  Have a beer.  On me.

 

Ahab Lager Packaging | Oh Beautiful Beer

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4 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

And how does a person go about demonstrating their faith and sincerity in way that God finds persuasive enough to consider the conditions satisfied?   I should think that serious study and experimenting with the word would quality.  Mormon and Moroni did make a point of including Alma 32, among other things.  I think about how the search for the Higgs Boson did end with the initial theory and pure reason, but came after a trial of faith that included the construction of the CERN super collider, and years of work by many people.  

I notice the phrase "mere emotional manifestations" is not scriptural.  The recent emergence books and studies on the importance of emotional intelligence should provoke some questions about the word "mere".

https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/13-things-emotionally-intelligent-people-do.html

People whose brains loose the ability to access emotion have a difficult time with simple decisions, such as whether to choose a pen that writes in blue or black. People of high intelligence demonstrate ignorance when they ignore feelings, just as emotional people who take no thought can be heartless.

If Moroni's promise does not specify anything specific about how the the manifestation of truth (that is, knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they are to come), then my research project into how the Holy Ghost manifests truth in a wide variety of ways that deliberately engage both heart and mind, left and right brain, has crucial relevance.   I'm glad that you favor the types of understanding I listed.  I think heart and mind should and can work in harmony, which is why we have left and right brain specialization.  I think of Jesus calling for the "sacrifice of a broken heart, and a contrite spirit" which I think is a willingness to offer of our desires and preconceptions as a prerequisite to discovering what is real.  Joseph Campbell talks about how ancient temples typically had two guardian statues representing "Fear and Desire", essentially orthoxy and what we personally want.  If we start by saying "I won't change my thinking, and I won't give up anything I want," those are exactly the obstacles to learning what is real.  That is a refusal to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  The Buddha was tempted by Maya, the God of Illusions, with manifestations of Fear and Desire, thinking and feeling. 

And I can definitely think of many instances when the Holy Ghost has manifest in a variety of ways over the years.

Bringing things to my remembrance, for instance.  I remember pondering over a diagram of what Anthony Hutchson called "the Hebrew Cosmos" and thinking, "Where have I seen something like that before?"  And that question led to Hamlet's Mill, and what was there led to my first LDS essay.   While I was wandering through a Dallas Half-Price Books, I spotted a row of books with the title, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God by Margaret Barker.  I recognized the title because I had seen the book quoted in two different essays in the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon. 

When I started reading, I experienced enlightenment and expansion of my mind (as Alma 32 puts it), and further, I could echo Joseph Smith saying "Never did any passage of scripture come to more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.  I reflected upon it again and again."   I've had my mind expanded by "seeking of the best books words of wisdom" on countless occasions.  I've also experienced on occasion what Joseph Smith described as "pure intelligence flowing into you" and getting "sudden strokes of ideas" and paying attention and following up.  Looking back over my thousands of posts here, I can think of several that came that way, and I also have to reflect on my Patriarchal blessing talking about the gift of "discernment", discernment being very much akin to criticism, to separate, to distinguish.

One way to demonstrate a sincere heart and real intent is to "search diligently" to "experiment upon the word," to "study it out in your mind," to "seek out of the best books words of wisdom."   One person takes some seed, a portion of the word, plants, it, cultivates it, and watches what grows over time.  Another person takes the seed, complains that it looks nothing like a tree, and bashes it with a hammer while complaining, "I am hungry and want it now!"  Some people watch the growth and complain, "Hey, where did all the roots and branches and leaves come from?  They weren't what I started with.  Something must be wrong!"

I have read accounts of people who experienced overwhelming an all encompasing love.  Four different people have personally told me almost the same experience, with the same initial distresses, and literally climbing to high places to be alone, and praying with unmistakable sincerity that would accept whatever answer was given, as long it was an answer.  And there is nothing "mere" about being fully embraced by the pure love of Christ.  That experience has helped them deal with difficult experiences later, when reason is bankrupt and inadequate, and only time and experience can provide the answers reason seeks.  I think about the wonderful line of Glouster in King Lear, "I see it feelingly."

One of the things I got from the Myers-Briggs Type indicator is that people with a T preference tend to mistrust Feeling, but because it is inherently unreliable, but because they tend not to be as good at using it.  I've got the F preference myself (INFP) and was raised in a family with four INTJ/INTPs, an ISTP, and one ISFJ.   The T versus F preference is the only one with a gender difference, but it occurs not as exclusive but something like a 60 40 Male to Female difference.  The difference is enough that over generalization (Men are from Mars: Women are From Venus) leads to significant errors.  My sister is INTJ, culturally, an upstream swimmer, but far from the only one.  

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Interesting.  I am INTJ and maybe that is why I lean more toward needing more intellectual thoughts from God than only feelings from him which I then feel a need to try to interpret into what thoughts those feelings are trying to tell me.

Feeling good thoughts from God helps me to know that I am at least going in the right direction or frame of mind, though.  Like "Good, well done"  But what thoughts do those feelings stem from and what else am I to understand from those feelings?  

It's taken me about 60 years to come to my current level of understanding but I think because of the way I am that I am not as far along as others my age, but then again I think I am further along than some others are too.

Anyway, I do think how we are plays a big factor in how much and how quickly we are able to learn, but then again I think our Father in heaven is a Master Teacher and can help us to grow and develop to our full potential however we are.

 

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Just now, HappyJackWagon said:

:)  Thanks for the offer but I think I'll pass :) 

Would it help if I told you it is non-alcohol beer?  And has the best taste of beer that you can imagine?  Anyway, I'm fine if you don't want any of it.  More for me if others don't drink it.

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2 hours ago, Ahab said:

Please be more precise with your language.  Nowhere in the Book of Mormon is there a claim that it magically appeared, and Moroni didn't make that claim either when he told Joseph Smith about it.

Please start over.  Your imprecise language irritates my sensibilities.

What would you prefer?  I mean not to offend your sensibilities.  I'm not sure how else to put it.  It appeared not in the realm of archaeology, nor history.  It just popped on the basis that Joseph Smith was told about it by a ghost, or spirit person, if you will.  That's magic--supernatural stuff.  

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3 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

What would you prefer?  I mean not to offend your sensibilities.  I'm not sure how else to put it.  It appeared not in the realm of archaeology, nor history.  It just popped on the basis that Joseph Smith was told about it by a ghost, or spirit person, if you will.  That's magic--supernatural stuff.  

History is what actually happened in the past, so yes this history not some kind of magic.  People who lived in the past wrote/recorded what is now known as the Book of Mormon and one of those original writers, named Moroni, appeared as a messenger/angel to Joseph Smith to tell him where he had put those records before he died.  

There is nothing magical or supernatural about any of this stuff.  Magic is illusion while history is what actually happened.  And life and death are natural, too, as well as what happens when people eventually die.

So what would I prefer?  That you take this stuff more seriously, even if you want to throw in your own sense of humor for some additional flavor.

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4 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

And how does a person go about demonstrating their faith and sincerity in way that God finds persuasive enough to consider the conditions satisfied?   I should think that serious study and experimenting with the word would qualify.  Mormon and Moroni did make a point of including Alma 32, among other things.  I think about how the search for the Higgs Boson did not end with the initial theory and pure reason, but came after a trial of faith that included the construction of the CERN super collider, and years of work by many people.  

I notice the phrase "mere emotional manifestations" is not scriptural.  The recent emergence books and studies on the importance of emotional intelligence should provoke some questions about the word "mere".

https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/13-things-emotionally-intelligent-people-do.html

People whose brains loose the ability to access emotion have a difficult time with simple decisions, such as whether to choose a pen that writes in blue or black. People of high intelligence demonstrate ignorance when they ignore feelings, just as emotional people who take no thought can be heartless.

If Moroni's promise does not specify anything specific about how the the manifestation of truth (that is, knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they are to come), then my research project into how the Holy Ghost manifests truth in a wide variety of ways that deliberately engage both heart and mind, left and right brain, has crucial relevance.   I'm glad that you favor the types of understanding I listed.  I think heart and mind should and can work in harmony, which is why we have left and right brain specialization.  I think of Jesus calling for the "sacrifice of a broken heart, and a contrite spirit" which I think is a willingness to offer of our desires and preconceptions as a prerequisite to discovering what is real.  Joseph Campbell talks about how ancient temples typically had two guardian statues representing "Fear and Desire", essentially orthoxy and what we personally want.  If we start by saying "I won't change my thinking, and I won't give up anything I want," those are exactly the obstacles to learning what is real.  That is a refusal to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  The Buddha was tempted by Maya, the God of Illusions, with manifestations of Fear and Desire, thinking and feeling. 

And I can definitely think of many instances when the Holy Ghost has manifest in a variety of ways over the years.

Bringing things to my remembrance, for instance.  I remember pondering over a diagram of what Anthony Hutchson called "the Hebrew Cosmos" and thinking, "Where have I seen something like that before?"  And that question led to Hamlet's Mill, and what was there led to my first LDS essay.   While I was wandering through a Dallas Half-Price Books, I spotted a row of books with the title, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God by Margaret Barker.  I recognized the title because I had seen the book quoted in two different essays in the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon. 

When I started reading, I experienced enlightenment and expansion of my mind (as Alma 32 puts it), and further, I could echo Joseph Smith saying "Never did any passage of scripture come to more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.  I reflected upon it again and again."   I've had my mind expanded by "seeking of the best books words of wisdom" on countless occasions.  I've also experienced on occasion what Joseph Smith described as "pure intelligence flowing into you" and getting "sudden strokes of ideas" and paying attention and following up.  Looking back over my thousands of posts here, I can think of several that came that way, and I also have to reflect on my Patriarchal blessing talking about the gift of "discernment", discernment being very much akin to criticism, to separate, to distinguish.

One way to demonstrate a sincere heart and real intent is to "search diligently" to "experiment upon the word," to "study it out in your mind," to "seek out of the best books words of wisdom."   One person takes some seed, a portion of the word, plants, it, cultivates it, and watches what grows over time.  Another person takes the seed, complains that it looks nothing like a tree, and bashes it with a hammer while complaining, "I am hungry and want it now!"  Some people watch the growth and complain, "Hey, where did all the roots and branches and leaves come from?  They weren't what I started with.  Something must be wrong!"

I have read accounts of people who experienced overwhelming and all encompasing love.  Four different people have personally told me almost the same experience, with the same initial distresses, and literally climbing to high places to be alone, and praying with unmistakable sincerity that would accept whatever answer was given, as long it was an answer.  And there is nothing "mere" about being fully embraced by the pure love of Christ.  That experience has helped them deal with difficult experiences later, when reason is bankrupt and inadequate, and only time and experience can provide the answers reason seeks.  I think about the wonderful line of Glouster in King Lear, "I see it feelingly."

One of the things I got from the Myers-Briggs Type indicator is that people with a T preference tend to mistrust Feeling, not because it is inherently unreliable, but because they tend not to be as good at using it.  I've got the F preference myself (INFP) and was raised in a family with four INTJ/INTPs, an ISTP, and one ISFJ.   The T versus F preference is the only one with a gender difference, but it occurs not as exclusive but something like a 60 40 Male to Female difference.  The difference is enough that over generalization (Men are from Mars: Women are From Venus) leads to significant errors.  My sister is INTJ, culturally, an upstream swimmer, but far from the only one.  

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Thanks. By, "mere emotional," I'm talking about the supposed manifestation of the Holy Ghost as a feeling. Regardless of its validity in discerning truth, the church does teach this. It is not uncommon in the church to talk about a testimony that comes from a feeling as opposed to a more intellectual awareness, and that sort of response is taught as a legitimate manifestation of the Holy Ghost.

There's a chance that we've both been to the same Half-Price Books, by the way! ;)

 

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23 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Understood. At this point we have a parallel account to the Book of Mormon, but nothing yet that links it to the Book of Mormon.

I realize I'm being pedestrian here, but in talking with Jenkins I've learned that most non-Mormon scholars will not follow the assumptions we make when it comes to Mulekites and Lehites jumping on a boat and sailing to Mexico. There's a gap in data there. Non-Mormon scholars will however acknowledge that it isn't unlikely that other Israelite groups did hop boats around 600 BC. The evidence for this is debatable, but at least there's data. What I'm proposing is that we don't follow the path of "Lehites" to the isles of the sea, but rather we follow the path of Rechabites to the isles of the sea. There's textual support for this in the History of the Rechabites and the Narrative of Zosimus, two texts that at least three Mormon scholars (Welch, Thompson and Peterson) and two non-Mormon scholars (Owen and Barker) have identified as accounts of first temple Israelites migrating to the isles of the sea that run parallel to the Book of Mormon, dating to the same time period. Let's look at two other Barker comments regarding the Rechabites who "left Jerusalem for another place":

There is a work of uncertain date, the History of the Rechabites, extant in many ancient languages but probably originating in Hebrew. The present form of the text is Christian, but underlying it is a pre-Christian original which tells how the Rechabites left Jerusalem after the king who succeeded Josiah had tried to persuade them to abandon their way of life…They had been rescued from prison by angels and led to a paradise place, a holy land. They were called the Blessed Ones and no ordinary mortals were able to visit them…"

And:

The extraordinary similarity between a text that is sometimes called the History of the Rechabites and sometimes the Narrative of Zosimus—the extraordinary similarity between this story and the story of Lehi leaving Jerusalem—has already been studied by Mormon scholars. This ancient text, which survives in Greek, Syriac, and Ethioptic, tells the story of some people who left Jerusalem about 600 BCE and they went to live in a “blessed land.” 

The similarity between the core narrative of the Narative of Zosimus and the core narrative of the Book of Mormon is clear and, again, according to Hugh Nibley the Lehites were Rechabites. So instead of looking for unidentified Lehites, why don't we look for the historical Rechabites? Where is this "blessed land" across the sea inhabited by the Rechabites? Is it myth or is it history?

I've done a substantial amount of research on this question, and my conclusion is that the blessed land, as it was known to the Jewish and Christian authors of the Narrative of Zosimus, were the islands beyond India, and by the Middle Ages it is clearly the Malay Peninsula. Support for this conclusion is found in Vladimir Braginsky's Images of NusantaraBraginsky locates the Rechabites, who originated in Jerusalem, on the Malay Peninsula. 

If Rechabites and Lehites both passed within 50 miles of Kedah (also known as Rahman) on the Malay Peninsula in 600 BC, and the Rechabites stopped there, is it not curious that the Book of Mormon geography aligns with the Malay Peninsula and historical accounts of the Rechabites (also known as Rahmans) of the Malay Peninsula line up with the Book of Mormon narrative?

I'll go into this in my next comment. 

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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5 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

This is a place where the difference of location could create an important addition. Writing on metal plates was known in the Old World, but wasn't all that common. Possessing any metal that could be used for writing is an indication of some wealth. There are small examples of silver and brass and gold. The Old World portion of the Book of Mormon only speaks of brass plates (which could have been bronze, as the Bible uses brass for bronze).

The question is then the New World. The same concept of rarity and wealth is logical, hence we would expect that only the elite would have written on metal (and likely only the king's official record). That is, of course, what is described in the Book of Mormon. Even the second "small plates" were created by King Nephi, and apparently Jacob's lineage was never able to add to them.

Finally, we get to the question of gold. Why not use gold? For the Old World, gold was extremely precious and at the top, or near the top, of the exchange system. That would make it perhaps too valuable to use for a record, and certainly too valuable for an extensive record. What about the New World? Neither gold nor silver were near the top of the exchange system. Those positions were held by jade and obsidian. Since gold was not valued in and of itself (it was useful to make into things), there is less of an economic reason to use gold.

Finally, they were "golden," and there are important clues that it was a golden alloy which was not pure gold (though there are texts in the Book of Mormon which state that some plates were pure gold, but since the one describing them didn't create them, it isn't known how they determined that they were "pure"). If gold was functional and valuable for what it could be used for, then there was less an economic impediment to create a large number of plates for records--although it is still highly likely that it was something that occurred only with the King's official record.

Thanks Brant, I feel thankful for the time you took for little o'l me!!  

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6 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Neither gold nor silver were near the top of the exchange system. Those positions were held by jade and obsidian.

This is interesting to me because of the Nephite monetary system mentioned in Alma 11. Silver and gold weren't near the top of the exchange system, but I'm going to assume they still were considered a valuable trade item; they just didn't command the same value as they did in the Old World. Do you think the Nephites maintained a higher value on gold or silver than their neighbors, or was gold just a convenient medium which could be easily transferred into other goods as wanted, ie "a senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain." Are there other examples within Mesoamerica of gold being used as a trade standard?

 

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