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The Gold Plates


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12 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

This doesn't mean that verisimilitude isn't important in this particular situation with the Book of Mormon. There is a lot of value here - especially to those who are believers - because it means that the text is possible (not impossible). My only complaint is that by arguing that Joseph Smith could never have produced such a text, we use the notion of impossibility to try and move the evidence of verisimilitude into evidence of historicity. Critics attempt to do the same thing by trying to make the text verisimilar to a different context. And then they also try to equate that verisimilitude to a different set of conclusions about the authenticity of the text.

This paragraph helps me understand where you are coming from immensely. I’m sure you said as much before, but now I get it. 

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On 10/21/2022 at 8:55 PM, Nevo said:

My two cents on Nahom.

The Book of Mormon indicates that Lehi's party traveled to the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:5–8) and then proceeded in "nearly a south-southeast direction" down the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula, "keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness which was in the borders near the Red Sea" (1 Nephi 16:13–14, 33) until they arrived at "the place which was called Nahom" (1 Nephi 16:34). After that, they traveled "nearly eastward" (1 Nephi 17:1).

What Joseph Smith seems not have realized is that there is a huge mountain range dividing the Red Sea coast from inland Arabia. As S. Kent Brown notes

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A range of mountains, called Al-Sarat, runs almost the entire length of the west coast of Arabia and separates the coastal lowlands from the uplands of the interior. The peaks in the north rise to heights of five thousand feet while those in the south reach much higher. A limited number of passes and valleys offer access from one side of the range to the other.

I'm not sure what your point here is.  In the above article he goes on to note that the narrative seems to indicate that they did, at this point, 'cross the mountains before reaching 'the place which was called Nahom.'"  Moreover, in this 2016 article Brown also notes that "that the well-established incense route that Lehi’s party evidently followed ran on the east side of the Al-Sarāt mountains, not the western or coastal side," that "{a}t least five passes are known from one side of the mountain range to the other," and that "{o}ther, lesser-known tracks certainly also existed."

On 10/21/2022 at 8:55 PM, Nevo said:

The Nihm tribal area that apologists want to associate with Nahom is nowhere near the Red Sea coast, unfortunately.

It seems like the narrative doesn't require Nahom to be "near the Red Sea coast."  From Evidence Central:

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“Borders by the Red Sea”

When they initially departed from Shazer, they were traveling “in the borders near the Red Sea” (1 Nephi 16:14). This is the last mention of the Red Sea in Nephi’s account, suggesting that soon after this point their direction of travel somewhat distanced them from the seacoast. These details are subtly consistent with the geography of the Hijaz mountains, south-southeast of Wadi Agharr.

The “borders” Nephi traveled through probably refer to the coastal hills and mountainous zone found near the Red Sea coast.6 The ancient route from Wadi Agharr to al-Hajir started near the coast, but gradually moved further inland through the Hijaz mountains as one traveled south.7 Thus, this route would have led Lehi’s party through the “borders of the Red Sea” but would also have steered them inland while maintaining a generally south-southeast course, just as Nephi’s account implies.

The distance from (the proposed site of) Shazer to (the proposed site of) Nahom is substantial, spanning near the entire west coast of the Arabian peninsula:

download

Could you explain why you think Nahom should be "near the Red Sea coast?"

On 10/21/2022 at 8:55 PM, Nevo said:

It's in the mountains northeast of Sana'a, Yemen, which itself is 7,500 ft (2,300 m) above sea level.

2022-10-21_19-11-11.jpg.b628808a4bbbb4a675575ba2d27280a1.jpg

So, Ishmael was buried in the mountains northeast of Sana'a?

Not sure what your point is here, either.  In Brown's 2012 BYU Studies article (which includes the above photo), he notes that the NHM altars discovered in 1988 "near Marib, in modern-day Yemen," which is 120 miles or so east of Sana'a, and that the NHM "tribal territory today is extensive, centered in the mountains northeast of Sana'a, Yemen's capital, but may have been even larger anciently."

On 10/21/2022 at 8:55 PM, Nevo said:

Well, no, Warren Aston thinks the Bronze Age cemetery at Ruwaik could be the spot. It's 62 miles (100 km) northeast of Marib, which is a 2-hour drive east of Sana'a.

And Marib is, in turn, 120 miles east of Sana'a, and yet the Bronze Age cemetery referenced by Aston references the NHM tribe which, as Brown noted, has today an "extensive" territory "centered in the mountains northeast of Sana'a," which territory "may have been even larger anciently."

Could the NHM tribal territory have extended to the cemetery?  Well, the altars are there.

On 10/21/2022 at 8:55 PM, Nevo said:

But it's not at all clear that the cemetery was still in use in the 6th-century BCE (see Olivia Munoz, "Protohistoric Cairns and Tower Tombs in South-Eastern Arabia," in Megaliths of the World, vol. 2, ed. Luc Laporte et al. [Oxford: Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, 2022], 905–920).

 2022-10-21_19-33-12.jpg.bc0cad5b186e0be23737c1b381db1467.jpg

Seems like there may be room for principled disagreement here.  From the 2014 Rappleye/Smoot Interpreter article:

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“There is no evidence dating the Arabian nhm before A.D. 600, let alone 600 B.C.”

Here Vogel is simply wrong. The non-Mormon archaeologist Burkhard Vogt of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institute, who is [Page 172]likely totally unaware of the significance of the nhm altars for the historicity of the Book of Mormon, wrote in 1997 that the altars are an “archaic type dating from the 7th to 6th centuries before Christ.”37 Vogel was either unaware of this source or unable to read the French when he asserted in 2004 that there is no evidence for “dating the Arabian nhm before A.D. 600.” We can perhaps forgive Vogel for overlooking Vogt, who published his findings with a foreign press and in a foreign language, but we cannot easily pardon him for overlooking the English sources published before his book, including one that he cites himself (!),38 that also discuss the nhm altars as pre-dating 600 bce.39

But the situation has only become worse for Vogel since his 2004 assertion, as Aston has recently documented additional inscriptional evidence placing the nhm toponym before 600 bce.40 Although more work on the dating of this inscriptional [Page 173]evidence needs to be done, there is no real controversy over the dating of the nhm altars, which easily predate Lehi. Only minimalists like Vogel object to the dating—albeit on ideological, not scholarly, grounds.

I would certainly like to see an analysis of Munoz's assessment compared to Vogt's.

On 10/21/2022 at 8:55 PM, Nevo said:

And, besides, there were ancient burial sites all over Arabia.

2022-10-21_19-53-11.jpg.f26bed29f3595317d1439efb62bbc2e6.jpg 

Yes, there evidently was a Nihm tribe in the Yemen highlands in the 6th century BCE. The name in South Arabian refers to "dressed masonry" or "dressing of stone by chipping." No relation to Hebrew naḥûm.

Jeff Lindsay addresses this at some length here (from 2016) :

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  1. Several of the complaints in Part 2 will be addressed in the review of evidences in Section 2 below. I’ll just mention a few issues here:

  2. The South Arabian NHM name with its softer H would not be recognized as NHM in Hebrew with its harder H. “[T]he tribal name Nihm is spelled with a voiceless laryngeal middle H rather than a pharyngeal Ḥ and stems from the root NHM, which in ancient South Arabian refers to ‘pecked masonry’ or ‘stone dressing.’ This spelling means that Nihm would have sounded utterly different to a native Hebrew speaker from Hebrew NM and it is unlikely that the first would have evoked the other. The weakening and coalescence of the gutturals did not occur in Hebrew until much later.”

    Response: Yes, there are several H sounds in ancient Semitic languages. In Hebrew, the letter  (ה) is a voiceless [Page 191]glottal fricative written as [h],79 a sound that can be heard at Wikipedia.80 It is related to the South Arabian that is the H of the NHM inscriptions from altars near Marib, Yemen, showing the significance of the NHM tribe near Lehi’s day. On the other hand, heth (ח) “originally represented a voiceless fricative, either pharyngeal /ħ/, or velar /x/.”81 These two H sounds can also be heard at Wikipedia.82 To my ear, these sounds all have an “H-ness” to them. I don’t think it would be impossible for Nephi to have also heard a relationship.

    In fact, Hebrew has two NHM roots, one with the relatively hard heth and one with the softer . Since English has only one H to transliterate these letters, it is unclear which root Nephi used, though most writers assume it is the first. The first root is nacham (Strong’s H5162, נָחַם) which is typically translated as “comfort” but can also mean “to be sorry” or to “suffer grief.”83 Gesenius indicates that it is “like the Arabic” cognate naima.84 This root for Nahom would make an apparent word play with the verse immediately following Nahom, where the daughters of Ishmael “mourn exceedingly” (1 Nephi 16:35) and are obviously in need of comfort. In proposing a word play here, Stephen D. Ricks (and others) have discussed the issue of differing H sounds and noted that while the local Nehem may have had an etymology different than the Arabic naama, “to sigh or moan,” nevertheless, a mourning-related Hebrew Nahom with its hard H still could have been understood by Nephi to be related. This is not an essential point, but still noteworthy. Ricks concludes that “Nahom is thus a striking fit as a Book of Mormon proper name based on archaeological, geographical, historical, and, to a lesser extent, on linguistic or etymological considerations.”85

    The second root to consider is naham, (Strong’s H5098, נָהַם), with the soft H, which can be translated as “roar” or “mourn,” and can be applied to the “voices of people groaning.”86 There is overlapping meaning between these two words, both of which may be onomatopoeic in origin.87 To assume that hearing one NHM root could not evoke the other, when it has related meaning and a related sound, seems unreasonable.[Page 192]RT objects to this root, for a Hebrew word meaning “groan” would “hardly be intelligible” as a place name. He might have a point if Nephi were coining a Hebrew name based on NHM with a soft H, but Nephi is merely reporting the local name, which may have been from an early Arabic language. If Nahom were heard with a soft H, understanding it to be related to “groan” is entirely appropriate. If Nephi heard it with a more guttural H and made a connection to Hebrew NHM with a hard H, the associated meanings related to “mourning” and “comfort” would be appropriate. The two roots are related and a word play with either might be possible.

    Regarding the second root, Aston in a peer-reviewed paper observes that its Hebrew meanings of “roar,” “complain” and “be hungry” relate to the Arabic meanings “to growl, groan, roar, suffer from hunger, to complain” and states that “this association with hunger may be connected to the fasting that was often part of mourning for the dead in ancient Yemen and still in many cultures today.”88 This enhances the potential scope of the word play in 1 Nephi 16.

    The word play issue has most recently been addressed by Neal Rappleye and Stephen Smoot, who also discuss an example a bilingual wordplay in the book of Genesis on the name Ham involving two different H phonemes.89 This strengthens the case that Hebrew speakers would have recognized a relationship and been able to make a word play with words differing in the H sound. There’s no problem here.

  3. RT complains that nacham, a Hebrew word for “comfort” is inappropriate in the alleged wordplay, since the daughters are still grieving and have not yet come to terms with Ishmael’s death. While no response should be necessary, I will briefly mention this in Section 2.
  4. RT complains that the meaning of Nehem is linked to stonework, not mourning, making it a poor fit for a word play.

    Response: One of Warren Aston’s important contributions related to Nahom, apart from identifying the NHM [Page 193]inscription on the second and third such altars near Marib, is found in his peer-reviewed paper on the etymology of the Nihm tribal name.90 In discussing the tribal lands, centered about 40 kilometers northeast of Sana’a, he explores possible meanings of the name and its origins.” The root NHM (with the soft H) “appears in every known occurrence of the name in epigraphic South Arabian text, whether Sabaean, Hadramitic or Minean in origin. Here, it usually refers to ‘dressed masonry’ or the ‘dressing of stone by chipping.’”91 Aston proposes that ancient stoneworkers gave the tribe its NHM name, and that their stonework and masonry skills were probably employed in creating the numerous stone burial sites in the region, including their own tribal lands but possibly also the large necropolis outside of their current lands.92
    ...

    If Nihm stonework was at Marib, it could have been at the necropolis. In fact, as Aston proposed in a paper in the Journal of Arabian Studies, the masonry or stonework-related meaning of NHM in South Arabian may well reflect the Nihm tribe’s ancient occupation as craftsmen who made the stone graves in the region, including those on their tribal lands, and other stone items.130 If so, the relationships between both mourning and stonework associated with NHM roots in the Near East would be nicely joined in the Nihm tribe’s origins (and be remarkably applicable to Nephi’s account).

Thoughts?

On 10/21/2022 at 8:55 PM, Nevo said:

But what about one of the proposed sites for Bountiful (Wadi Sayq/Khor Kharfot) being west of the Nihm mountains?

A popular geography book from Joseph Smith's day noted that the southeast of Arabia was known as "Arabia Felix" because it is "blessed with an excellent soil, and in general is very fertile," producing among other things "oranges, lemons, pomegranates, figs, and other fruits; honey and wax in plenty" (Jedediah Morse, Geography Made Easy, being an Abridgement of American Universal Geography [Boston: 1806], 387–388; compare 1 Nephi 17:5–6).

Now, I don't know that Joseph Smith ever read these words. But it's not out of the question. "Morse's Geography" was advertised in the Wayne Sentinel in 1822 and 1823: https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets/83a61a2d-8221-4ee5-b763-218457b3647e/0/2

I concur with your assessment.  "{I}t's not out of the question."

Neither, though, is the assessment of NHM.

Thanks,

-Smac

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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm not sure what your point here is.  In the above article he goes on to note that the narrative seems to indicate that they did, at this point, 'cross the mountains before reaching 'the place which was called Nahom.'"  Moreover, in this 2016 article Brown also notes that "that the well-established incense route that Lehi’s party evidently followed ran on the east side of the Al-Sarāt mountains, not the western or coastal side," that "{a}t least five passes are known from one side of the mountain range to the other," and that "{o}ther, lesser-known tracks certainly also existed."

It seems like the narrative doesn't require Nahom to be "near the Red Sea coast."  From Evidence Central:

The distance from (the proposed site of) Shazer to (the proposed site of) Nahom is substantial, spanning near the entire west coast of the Arabian peninsula:

download

Could you explain why you think Nahom should be "near the Red Sea coast?"

Not sure what your point is here, either.  In Brown's 2012 BYU Studies article (which includes the above photo), he notes that the NHM altars discovered in 1988 "near Marib, in modern-day Yemen," which is 120 miles or so east of Sana'a, and that the NHM "tribal territory today is extensive, centered in the mountains northeast of Sana'a, Yemen's capital, but may have been even larger anciently."

And Marib is, in turn, 120 miles east of Sana'a, and yet the Bronze Age cemetery referenced by Aston references the NHM tribe which, as Brown noted, has today an "extensive" territory "centered in the mountains northeast of Sana'a," which territory "may have been even larger anciently."

Could the NHM tribal territory have extended to the cemetery?  Well, the altars are there.

Seems like there may be room for principled disagreement here.  From the 2014 Rappleye/Smoot Interpreter article:

I would certainly like to see an analysis of Munoz's assessment compared to Vogt's.

Jeff Lindsay addresses this at some length here (from 2016) :

Thoughts?

I concur with your assessment.  "{I}t's not out of the question."

Neither, though, is the assessment of NHM.

Thanks,

-Smac

So, we’ve moved from ”strong” evidence to “not out of the question”? OK. 

Philip Jenkins has been ridiculed for a cursory blog post, but it’s worth pointing out why he wrote it: he challenged Mormon apologists to find a single credible, verifiable piece of New World evidence that supports the Book of Mormon. In response, no such evidence was put forward. Instead, the response was “But what about Nahom?” His blog post shows that, in John Hamer’s words, “Although some apologists have described the odds of this Nahom/Nihm/”NHM” correlation as “astronomical,” it hardly even rises to the level of notable coincidence.”

Furthermore, to be more than a coincidence, apologists would have to quantify the odds of such a find:

“How unusual or commonplace was NHM as a name element in inscriptions? In modern terms, was it equivalent to “Steve” or to “Benedict Cumberbatch”?

“So were there five such NHM inscriptions in the region in this period? A thousand? Ten thousand? And that question is answerable, because we have so many databases of inscriptions and local texts, which are open to scholars. We would need figures that are precise, and not impressionistic. You might conceivably find, in fact, that between 1000 BC and 500 AD, NHM inscriptions occur every five miles in the Arabian peninsular, not to mention being scattered over Iraq and Syria, so that finding one in this particular place is random chance. Or else, the one that has attracted so much attention really is the only one in the whole region. I have no idea. But until someone actually goes out and does some quantitative analysis on this, you can say precisely nothing about how probable or not such a supposed correlation is.”

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

 

Quote

 

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Now, I don't know that Joseph Smith ever read these words. But it's not out of the question.

I concur with your assessment.  "{I}t's not out of the question."

Neither, though, is the assessment of NHM.

 

 

So, we’ve moved from ”strong” evidence to “not out of the question”? OK. 

No, we have not so moved.  That I agree that NHM is "not out of the question" does not preclude me finding it to be more than that.

1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

Philip Jenkins has been ridiculed for a cursory blog post,

I have not ridiculed him.

1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

but it’s worth pointing out why he wrote it: he challenged Mormon apologists to find a single credible, verifiable piece of New World evidence that supports the Book of Mormon. In response, no such evidence was put forward.

Here is a list of links from Jenkins to the various portions of his debate with Hamblin.

As for why this has happened (or, more precisely, why it has not happened), I think there are a number of reasons.

First, Meosamerican studies is, comparatively speaking, a rarified discipline.  From Hamblin:

Quote

There are about a dozen professional LDS Mesoamericanists who accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon.  A first glance that may not sound like very many, but we must remember that there are only a few hundred professional Mesoamericanists in the world—the annual Maya Studies meeting in Texas has an attendance of about 250—compared to 10,000 for the Society of Biblical Literature.  Mormons are represented in the discipline at or above their percentage in the population at large.  Furthermore, each of these scholars have far more knowledge of Mesoamerican studies than Jenkins.  

I maintain that these LDS Mesoamericanists are authentic scholars, not cranks as Jenkins implies.  As evidence for my argument I note the following:

1- They all have received Ph.D degrees from accredited non-Mormon universities in Mesoamerican studies.

2- Most teach Mesoamerican studies at accredited universities—some at BYU, but others at secular schools. 

3- They regularly attend and present papers at the professional meetings in the field.

4- Some lead—not just participate in—major archaeological digs in Mesoamerica.

5- They publish peer reviewed articles in the standard academic journals, edit books and journals, and publish university press books in their field.

These are all objective criteria by which we can determine that LDS Mesoamericanists are accepted and well respected in the discipline.  (This does not mean, of course, that their views on the historicity of the Book of Mormon are accepted.)  While the Book of Mormon may not be accepted as authentic history by non-Mormon Mesoamericanists, Book-of-Mormon-believing scholars are routinely accepted as authentic scholars by non-Mormon Mesoamericanists.  Because these LDS Mesoamericanists are accepted as authentic scholars in their field, their views on historicity of the Book of Mormon at least merit some degree of attention, if not respect.  They cannot simply be dismissed out of hand as if they were authentic scholars one moment, and driveling cranks the next.

Jenkins acknowledges this, but doesn’t recognize its implications. If secular Mesoamericanists accept LDS Mesoamericanists as professional, scholarly colleagues, what reason does Jenkins have to reject their arguments out of hand?  They may be wrong in their belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, but they certainly understand the issues and evidence relating to both the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican studies.  It seems clear that Jenkins is engaging in rhetorical posturing in order to marginalize LDS scholars, and thereby relieve himself of any obligation to actually read what they have to say, and respond to their actual arguments.  If is not published by secular journals, it can be safely ignored.  

Second, Jenkins' emphatic insistence on New World "evidence" seems a bit unusual.  Again from Hamblin:

Quote

Evangelical biblical scholars are often treated by secular biblical scholars precisely the way Jenkins treats Mormon scholars—they aren’t authentic scholars because of some particular religious beliefs.  Every so often we hear about secular scholars attempting to marginalize Evangelical participation at the Society of Biblical Literature because of their religious beliefs about the Bible.  The fundamental argument is that Evangelicals are not “true scholars” because they believe in X about the Bible—what precisely X might be can vary.  I suspect Jenkins would reject this argument when used to marginalize his Evangelical colleagues at Baylor.  Yet he proposes precisely the same argument in his attempt to marginalize LDS scholarship on the Book of Mormon. 

Third, the emphasis on Mesoamerican scholarship/evidence is also interesting to the extent that very few scholars in that field are situated to speak intelligently on the Book of Mormon.  From Hamblin:

Quote

I readily agree with Jenkins that non-Mormon Mesoamericanists do not accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon.  However, this fact needs to be unpacked to correctly understand its implications.  I maintain that he vast majority of Mesoamericanists have never read the Book of Mormon.  (I’ve talked to several colleagues who say they know of three non-Mormon Mesoamericanists who have read the Book of Mormon.)  Furthermore, the vast majority that have read it have not read it with any degree of open-minded scholarly seriousness.  Finally, even those few who have read it seriously are generally unfamiliar with the scholarly literature in the field.  The reality is that until secular Mesoamericanists are willing to seriously study (not just superficially read) the Book of Mormon, and respectfully engage LDS scholarship on the Book of Mormon, their opinions are uninformed.  It is a prejudice rather than a critical judgment. 

That Jenkins comes out of the gate quoting Michael Coe's assessment from 1972 is, I think, pretty telling.  By the time Jenkins was writing 2015), Coe had appeared on Dehlin's podcast (in 2011), and Sorenson (in 2011 or 2012) had published a lengthy "Open Letter to Michael Coe" which I think demonstrated Hamblin's point.  Although Coe was, by all accounts, a first-rate Mesoamericanist, he knew very little about the Book of Mormon.  I can't help but wonder if Jenkins intentionally overlooked the 2011 interview with Coe, as it would have invited responses from Hamblin pointing to Sorenson's open letter.

Fourth, Jenkins apparently took an a priori approach to scholarship on the Book of Mormon as an ancient text.  Hamblin posits that such scholarship (which he characterizes as "ancient Book of Mormon studies," which Jenkins thereafter shortened to "ABMS") exists, and Jenkins denies that such scholarship exists.  See here:

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I note again the Prof. Jenkins is not in a position to declare that “no scholars outside that area (eg Mesoamericanists) need to know anything about [ABMS], because it is not a genuine discipline.” I find this wildly puzzling. He knows he doesn’t have to take ABMS seriously because other people, who know essentially nothing about the Book of Mormon don’t take it seriously. This is a fairly blatant case of scholarship by assertion and the fallacy of argument from authority.  It is also a case of poisoning the well of discourse.  I simply can’t take this type of assertion seriously. Study the Book of Mormon and ABMS scholarship seriously, or don’t talk about the question of Book of Mormon historicity at all. Those are the only two legitimate scholarly options.  There is a substantive difference between an opinion and an informed opinion.
...

Finally, let me note the following:

1-  There are dozens, if not several hundred of qualified scholars publishing on ABMS.  

2- The bibliography in the field amounts to hundreds, and perhaps several thousand items.  

3-  Several professional journals are dedicated to ABMS.  

4-  Several conferences are held each each year on ABMS.

5- Numerous books on the topic are published each year.

6-  BYU supports the Maxwell Institute, which until three years ago was dedicated primarily to ABMS.  (How and why that changed is controversial: some claim it represents an ideological shift in BYU and the Church, but I’m confidant it was all about money, research positions, power, glory, PR, land, diverting donations to pet projects, etc.)

Certainly more professional academic research work is done each year on the Book of Mormon, than, say, Old Persian studies.  By any objective standard, this is a thriving and independent academic discipline.  It is certainly controversial and idiosyncratic, and out of the mainstream.  But to claim that there is no AMBS discipline at all because Jenkins doesn’t believe in the historicity of the BOM is preposterous.    

Hamblin has long been on record as to the importance of laying ground rules for examining the Book of Mormon as an ancient text, something Jenkins appeared to reject out-of-handSee here:

Quote

During years of debating the historicity of the Book of Mormon, I’ve found that the real problems have to do with assumptions, presupposition, methodologies, and epistemological questions.  Until we can achieve common ground on those issues, debating the specific implications of a particular inscription is pointless.  So far, professor Jenkins and I have not arrived at that common ground; far from it.  It has been difficult to convince him even that ancient Book of Mormon studies is field of study, and that the evidence should be examined with an open mind.  He stubbornly refuses to take seriously either ancient Book of Mormon studies as a field, or the scholars who engage in it.  If we can’t arrive at at least a working agreement on that, how can we hope to have a fruitful discussion of the evidentiary significance of Preclassic Mesoamerican pottery?

The "What does a Nephite pottery shard look like?" question seems, I think, pretty important.

2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Instead, the response was “But what about Nahom?” His blog post shows that, in John Hamer’s words, “Although some apologists have described the odds of this Nahom/Nihm/”NHM” correlation as “astronomical,” it hardly even rises to the level of notable coincidence.”

Meh.  This sort of conclusory stuff doesn't hold much water with me.

2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Furthermore, to be more than a coincidence, apologists would have to quantify the odds of such a find:

Not sure about that.  

2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

“How unusual or commonplace was NHM as a name element in inscriptions? In modern terms, was it equivalent to “Steve” or to “Benedict Cumberbatch”?

That's a fair question.

2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

“So were there five such NHM inscriptions in the region in this period? A thousand? Ten thousand? And that question is answerable, because we have so many databases of inscriptions and local texts, which are open to scholars.

If the question is answerable, I would like to see it answered.

2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

We would need figures that are precise, and not impressionistic.

This seems like an example of the Precision Bias.

2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

You might conceivably find, in fact, that between 1000 BC and 500 AD, NHM inscriptions occur every five miles in the Arabian peninsular, not to mention being scattered over Iraq and Syria, so that finding one in this particular place is random chance.

Again, it's not just the name.

2 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Or else, the one that has attracted so much attention really is the only one in the whole region. I have no idea. But until someone actually goes out and does some quantitative analysis on this, you can say precisely nothing about how probable or not such a supposed correlation is.”

I think we can say quite a bit about the plausibility and probative value of NHM.

Thanks,

-Smac

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14 minutes ago, smac97 said:

No, we have not so moved.  That I agree that NHM is "not out of the question" does not preclude me finding it to be more than that.

I have not ridiculed him.

Here is a list of links from Jenkins to the various portions of his debate with Hamblin.

As for why this has happened (or, more precisely, why it has not happened), I think there are a number of reasons.

First, Meosamerican studies is, comparatively speaking, a rarified discipline.  From Hamblin:

Second, Jenkins' emphatic insistence on New World "evidence" seems a bit unusual.  Again from Hamblin:

Third, the emphasis on Mesoamerican scholarship/evidence is also interesting to the extent that very few scholars in that field are situated to speak intelligently on the Book of Mormon.  From Hamblin:

That Jenkins comes out of the gate quoting Michael Coe's assessment from 1972 is, I think, pretty telling.  By the time Jenkins was writing 2015), Coe had appeared on Dehlin's podcast (in 2011), and Sorenson (in 2011 or 2012) had published a lengthy "Open Letter to Michael Coe" which I think demonstrated Hamblin's point.  Although Coe was, by all accounts, a first-rate Mesoamericanist, he knew very little about the Book of Mormon.  I can't help but wonder if Jenkins intentionally overlooked the 2011 interview with Coe, as it would have invited responses from Hamblin pointing to Sorenson's open letter.

Fourth, Jenkins apparently took an a priori approach to scholarship on the Book of Mormon as an ancient text.  Hamblin posits that such scholarship (which he characterizes as "ancient Book of Mormon studies," which Jenkins thereafter shortened to "ABMS") exists, and Jenkins denies that such scholarship exists.  See here:

Hamblin has long been on record as to the importance of laying ground rules for examining the Book of Mormon as an ancient text, something Jenkins appeared to reject out-of-handSee here:

The "What does a Nephite pottery shard look like?" question seems, I think, pretty important.

Meh.  This sort of conclusory stuff doesn't hold much water with me.

Not sure about that.  

That's a fair question.

If the question is answerable, I would like to see it answered.

This seems like an example of the Precision Bias.

Again, it's not just the name.

I think we can say quite a bit about the plausibility and probative value of NHM.

Thanks,

-Smac

Has something changed since Michael Coe’s assessment in 1972 or his statement in 2006?

“To make Book of Mormon archaeology at all kind of believable, my friend John Sorenson has gone this route: He has compared, in a general way, the civilizations of Mexico and Mesoamerica with the civilizations of the western part of the Old World, and he has made a study of how diffusion happens, really very good diffusion studies. He's tried to build a reasonable picture that these two civilizations weren't all that different from each other. Well, this is true of all civilizations, actually; there's nothing new under the sun. 

“So he has built up what he hopes is a convincing background in which you can put Book of Mormon archaeology, and he's a very serious, bright guy. But I'm sorry to say that I don't really buy more than a part of this. I don't really think you can argue, no matter how bright you are, that what's said in the Book of Mormon applies to the peoples that we study in Mexico and Central America. That's one way of doing it -- to build up a kind of convincing background, a kind of stage set to this -- but there's no actors. That's the problem. ...”

From where I’m standing, nothing’s changed. Hamblin couldn’t provide any New World evidence to Jenkins, hence the appeal to Nahom. 

In answer to your question about pottery, the Book of Mormon posits high-heat technology for smelting steel used by both the Jaredites and Nephites. Everywhere there is such technology in the world, high heat is also used for pottery. Of course, New World pottery is uniformly produced with low heat. Unless two cultures who used high heat for millennia forgot how to use it, this argues pretty conclusively against a Jaredite or Nephite civilization with this technology. 

As for you not being impressed by the possibility of mere coincidence, the onus is on you to show that coincidence is less likely than the Book of Mormon account. I’m not seeing you make that case. 

 

Edited by jkwilliams
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8 hours ago, smac97 said:

Could you explain why you think Nahom should be "near the Red Sea coast?"

The text says that after leaving Shazer, they continued south-southeast "keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which was in the borders near the Red Sea" (16:14). Verse 16 says they continued in "the more fertile parts of the wilderness." After the broken bow incident, they continue "traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning" (v. 33). Then Ishmael dies and is buried in Nahom (v. 34).

This is a problem, as Kent Brown recognized: "At some point the party had to cross the mountains before reaching 'the place which was called Nahom,' where the group turned 'nearly eastward' (1 Nephi 16:34; 17:1). Otherwise, the mountains would have formed a major barrier to their eastward trek." Indeed.

Because the text doesn't actually state that Lehi's party turned east, crossed a mountain range, and thereafter followed a "well-established incense route" down to Nahom, apologists have their work cut out for them. So, they look for "hints" and "subtle" details that "suggest" that Lehi's party might have done so. The text is sufficiently vague that you can read a lot into its silences, and apologists do just that. I just don't find their ad hoc arguments compelling.
 

8 hours ago, smac97 said:

Not sure what your point is here, either.  In Brown's 2012 BYU Studies article (which includes the above photo), he notes that the NHM altars discovered in 1988 "near Marib, in modern-day Yemen," which is 120 miles or so east of Sana'a, and that the NHM "tribal territory today is extensive, centered in the mountains northeast of Sana'a, Yemen's capital, but may have been even larger anciently."

My point is that the Nihm tribal area is up in the mountains. It's not a likely location for a camel caravan to pass through or set up camp. Brown knows this, which is why he speculates that the tribal territory anciently may have extended to non-mountainous areas. But there is no evidence that it did. 

Warren Aston writes: "The uncommon fact that three altars bear the name of a single donor underscores Biʿathtar’s status and wealth and suggests something of the prominence of his tribe. As the Maʾrib area does not lie within the present boundaries of the Nihm tribe, the altar’s location raises the possibility that the tribe’s influence once extended as far as Maʾrib. Of course, it remains possible that the Barʾan temple was simply the closest or most convenient for Biʿathtar to make his offering" (Aston, "The Origins of the Nihm Tribe of Yemen," 138–139). 

Three altars donated by a grandson of "Nawʿum the Nihmite" don't necessarily tell us anything about the prominence or influence of the Nihm tribe in the area. Hundreds of inscriptions have been found at the Barran temple and the adjacent Awwam temple. These three altars, from the same person, contain the only reference to the Nihm tribe.
 

8 hours ago, smac97 said:

Could the NHM tribal territory have extended to the cemetery?  Well, the altars are there.

No, the altars are at the Barran temple site south of Marib. The cemetery is at Ruwaik, 62 miles (100 km) northeast of Marib. Could the Nihm tribal territory have extended to the cemetery? Sure, if we're just imagining possibilities. But, again, there's no evidence that it did.
 

8 hours ago, smac97 said:

I would certainly like to see an analysis of Munoz's assessment compared to Vogt's.

There is no contradiction. As noted, the Barran temple site and the cemetery site are not the same place.
 

8 hours ago, smac97 said:

Jeff Lindsay addresses this at some length here (from 2016)

Thoughts?

I agree with Lindsay that the South Arabian word behind the Nihm tribal name relates to stonework and was vocalized differently than the Hebrew nacham. Lindsay doesn't think "it would be impossible for Nephi to have . . . heard a relationship" between the two words. Okay.

Lindsay writes: "Aston proposes that ancient stoneworkers gave the tribe its NHM name, and that their stonework and masonry skills were probably employed in creating the numerous stone burial sites in the region, including their own tribal lands but possibly also the large necropolis outside of their current lands. . . . If Nihm stonework was at Marib, it could have been at the necropolis."

I think Aston's proposal that Nihmites were ancient stoneworkers is plausible (look at where they lived!), but I disagree with the speculation that members of the Nihm tribe "were probably employed in creating the numerous stone burial sites in the region," including at the large necropolis at Ruwaik. There's no evidence for that. In fact, the Munoz article I cited earlier indicates that the tower tombs and cairns at Ruwaik have been carbon dated to the 3rd and early 2nd millennium BCE, far too early for the Nihm tribe to be involved. 
 

8 hours ago, smac97 said:

I concur with your assessment.  "{I}t's not out of the question."

Neither, though, is the assessment of NHM.

Sure, Nahom=NHM isn't out of the question. But neither is it a bull's-eye. At a minimum, it requires moving Lehi's party across a mountain range (about which the Book of Mormon is silent) and requires moving NHM out of the mountains to an area 100+ miles to the east.

Edited by Nevo
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8 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Further, you would have to agree on a search area that is close to due west from Bountiful.

To keep it simple, I would suggest that things like this are dependent on textual interpretations. I am not at all convinced that the text (no matter what an individual may think of it) demands specific interpretations or readings. This is part of what makes Bayesian analysis so difficult to use in ways like this - there isn't some objective standard by which we can even present the argument.

In the video that was linked, perhaps my favorite line is this: "it's [NHM] location is exactly where you'd expect it to be." Given what the text actually says, this is nonsense. This is an example of finding something that you like and then mapping the text onto that model. This gets back to an idea in the book that was linked. I am going to quote just a little bit of it:

Quote

Here’s another old story illustrating the same idea. You’re walking along a country lane and you come across a barn. On the side of the barn there are many painted targets, and right in the bull’s-eye of each target is an arrow. “Wow!” you think. “This guy must be a really good archer.” You carry on walking past the barn. Then, turning around to look at the other side of the barn, you see that it, too, has many arrows sticking in it. And busy painting bull’s-eyes and targets around each of them is a man. Again the point is that if we select the data after the fact, we can make probabilities look very different from the way they looked before. The chance of getting each arrow in the bull’s-eye by the conventional method of shooting them at the target is much smaller than the chance of getting them in the bull’s-eyes if you shoot first and paint later!
....
The role of the law of selection here is just like its role in the targets-on-the-barn example. If you paint the target after shooting the arrows, it’s easy to have the arrows in the bull’s-eyes. And if you look back in time at stock market prices, it’s easy to identify when they were about to shoot up—much easier than trying to predict future dates at which they will shoot up. (The great physicist Niels Bohr made a pertinent comment about this: “Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future.”) By looking back at what actually happened, instead of looking forward and trying to see what will happen, we can change our probability of being right from uncertain to certain. This practice has been called postdiction, paralleling the word “prediction.”

I have read the Book of Mormon dozens of times. The text simply does not give us enough information to predict where Nahom is, let alone, to do so in an exact location or with any degree of precision. I suspect that if we took 100 people and gave them relatively blank maps of the Arabian peninsula, and asked them to use the text of the Book of Mormon to draw a path for the journey that Lehi took across it, we would have 100 different routes. And this tells me that this idea that NHM is exactly where the Book of Mormon predicts it would be is in fact something backwards. Based on our identification of NHM as Nahom, we can read the Book of Mormon in such a way that the route goes right through that particular place. As I have been arguing, the fact that we can create such a route means that there is a possibility that the text can align with a reasonable route through the desert, but there is no reason to believe (against the certainty of the video link) that this route is in fact the route that Lehi took.

Edited by Benjamin McGuire
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9 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

This paragraph helps me understand where you are coming from immensely. I’m sure you said as much before, but now I get it. 

I agree.  It cut through my brain fog nicely.  Ben should save that to use as an introduction any other time this type of conversation comes up.  It put all the pieces together in a way that it will stick for me (well, hopefully, no absolute guarantee these days unfortunately, especially given it now sounds familiar to me which may be a sign of how good an explanation it is—a great explanation can make something so obvious it seems I have known it all along in my experience—or that I was paying attention with a more awake brain when he made similar arguments in the past).  If I get enough ambition, I may go back and reread the thread to try and cement it.  :) 

Edited by Calm
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13 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Like I keep saying, Ryan, you are just avoiding having to present the chain of reasoning. Let's ignore Nahom. Let's instead focus on your claim that the word length of the Book of Mormon (just under 270,000 words) is evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as a translation of an ancient text. Since we both agree that this claim of yours is based on a fact (which we both believe constitutes evidence), the entire discussion of what evidence is, isn't necessary for this particular discussion.

I'm really not that interested in hashing it out. I think I have a pretty good grasp of your criteria and method of evaluation at this point. Which is what I was really interested in testing, from my perspective. Let's just say I found it wanting and that we will probably never reach agreement on these matters. 

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5 hours ago, Nevo said:

The text says that after leaving Shazer, they continued south-southeast "keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which was in the borders near the Red Sea" (16:14). Verse 16 says they continued in "the more fertile parts of the wilderness." After the broken bow incident, they continue "traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning" (v. 33). Then Ishmael dies and is buried in Nahom (v. 34).

This is a problem, as Kent Brown recognized: "At some point the party had to cross the mountains before reaching 'the place which was called Nahom,' where the group turned 'nearly eastward' (1 Nephi 16:34; 17:1). Otherwise, the mountains would have formed a major barrier to their eastward trek." Indeed.

Because the text doesn't actually state that Lehi's party turned east, crossed a mountain range, and thereafter followed a "well-established incense route" down to Nahom, apologists have their work cut out for them. So, they look for "hints" and "subtle" details that "suggest" that Lehi's party might have done so. The text is sufficiently vague that you can read a lot into its silences, and apologists do just that. I just don't find their ad hoc arguments compelling.

I think, for me, it is about what details have probative value. The text is very specific in some regards and vague in others (3 days to Valley of Lemuel which has water continually flowing into the Red Sea, 4 days to Shazer, long journey south east to a place called Nahom, east from there to a place with fruit, honey, ore, mountain, cliffs, etc). When it comes to the specifics, the details are often plausible in light of what is known about the region anciently, sometimes surprisingly so. When the details are vague, it doesn't really provide evidence either way. So I'm not sure why "apologists have their work cut out for them." There is plenty of corroborating data and the vague sections of the text are not inconsistent with that corroborating data. 

I think when placed in the whole context of everything you might know and believe about the Book of Mormon, I can understand why you might not find it compelling. I myself don't really find it "compelling." In other words, if this was all the Book of Mormon had going for it, I wouldn't feel compelled to believe it. I think I would find the data impressive in its own way, despite its limitations. I think that Nahom really is a good correlation, but there is no way of statistically knowing how good (at least not with precision). Even if the odds are only 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 for Joseph to have guessed such a plausible succession of details or derived some of them from known maps or texts, or perhaps some combination of these factors, it still helps the overall case. I personally think that these guestimates aren't strong enough (in the BofM's favor), but I don't see the unlikelihood as being astronomical. There are too many unknowns still for that type of claim. 

5 hours ago, Nevo said:

No, the altars are at the Barran temple site south of Marib. The cemetery is at Ruwaik, 62 miles (100 km) northeast of Marib. Could the Nihm tribal territory have extended to the cemetery? Sure, if we're just imagining possibilities. But, again, there's no evidence that it did.

The location of Ruwaik isn't the only possibility: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/an-ishmael-buried-near-nahom/

5 hours ago, Nevo said:

I agree with Lindsay that the South Arabian word behind the Nihm tribal name relates to stonework and was vocalized differently than the Hebrew nacham. Lindsay doesn't think "it would be impossible for Nephi to have . . . heard a relationship" between the two words. Okay.

I actually think that the argument for intentional wordplay is stronger than most people realize. See here:

https://evidencecentral.org/recency/evidence/wordplay-on-nahom

What this proposal lacks in direct correspondence (meaning it must be assumed that the sound of foreign word brought the association to mind, for which there is proposed precedent in the Bible, pp. 177-178) it makes up for in the multifaceted convergence of relevant themes. Again, we are all playing a guessing game for which we can't provide specific data. But my best guess is that you won't find another name in the Book of Mormon that has anything close to this convergence of relevant themes in immediate proximity. You only find it in association with NHM. Here is the chart from the appendix in the EC article:

Semitic Root

Meanings

Language

Connection to Nahom in 1 Nephi 16

nhm

“to mourn”

Hebrew

“And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father” (v. 35)

 

(compare with Ezekiel 24:23 and Proverbs 5:11)

“to growl, to groan, to growl with hunger”

Hebrew

“they did murmur against my father … saying: … we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue” (v. 35)

 

“And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me” (v. 36)

“to complain, to groan, to suffer from hunger”

Arabic

“they did murmur against my father … saying: … we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue” (v. 35)

 

“And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me” (v. 36)

nḥm

 

“to be sorry, to comfort, to console”

 

in association with:

 

  • mourning
  • coming to terms with death
  • plotting vengeance (often through murder)
  • repentance (especially of killing)
  • relief through forgiveness of sin

Hebrew

“And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father” (v. 35)

 

Our father is dead; yea, … and we have suffered much affliction” (v. 35)

 

“And Laman said unto Lemuel and also unto the sons of Ishmael: Behold, let us slay our father, and also our brother Nephi” (v. 37)

 

“and after they were chastened by the voice of the Lord they did turn away their anger, and did repent of their sins” (v. 39)

 

(compare with Genesis 27:42)

nwḥ

“to mourn, to mourn publicly”

 

(In the Hebrew Bible, nwḥ is often associated with the similar-sounding nḥm.)

Old South Arabian

“And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father” (v. 35)

 

Edited by Ryan Dahle
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6 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I'm really not that interested in hashing it out. I think I have a pretty good grasp of your criteria and method of evaluation at this point. Which is what I was really interested in testing, from my perspective. Let's just say I found it wanting and that we will probably never reach agreement on these matters. 

This isn't about my claims Ryan, but yours. It seems obvious to me that you have no interest in actually defending yours. It isn't about me, its not about my method of evaluation. It's about how you can make the claims you do and support them. And if you don't want to hash it out, I think that this in itself is a really telling statement.

But, whatever.

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11 hours ago, Calm said:

I agree.  It cut through my brain fog nicely.  Ben should save that to use as an introduction any other time this type of conversation comes up.  It put all the pieces together in a way that it will stick for me (well, hopefully, no absolute guarantee these days unfortunately, especially given it now sounds familiar to me which may be a sign of how good an explanation it is—a great explanation can make something so obvious it seems I have known it all along in my experience—or that I was paying attention with a more awake brain when he made similar arguments in the past).  If I get enough ambition, I may go back and reread the thread to try and cement it.  :) 

A good analogy for me is fiction that takes place in a known place. For example, James Fenimore Cooper's The Prairie takes place, unsurprisingly, in the western prairies of North America that were then the scene of American expansion. Cooper had never been to the prairies, but his descriptions were vivid enough that for years they shaped American perceptions of that part of the continent. It's easy enough to draw parallels to what Cooper got right and what he got wrong about the prairies, but in general, there's enough verisimilitude (I like Ben's word) to say the story is possible or even plausible. The problem, of course, is extrapolating from that conclusion that characters such as Natty Bumppo, Ishmael Bush, or Hard-Heart were real people who actually existed. To my mind, this is exactly the kind of extrapolation that happens in Mormon apologetics, looking for verisimilitude (and therefore plausibility) and then leaping to the conclusion that Lehi, Nephi, et al. really did exist.

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8 hours ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I actually think that the argument for intentional wordplay is stronger than most people realize. See here:

The way that you generally distinguish between wordplay as an intentional creation in the text, and wordplay that is coincidental is through the recognition of the rhetorical function that the wordplay achieves.

There are several issues here. One that is important is that you are presenting a word-play in Hebrew. The text is in English, and the text claims to be a translation of a reformed Egyptian. So we have this question of the relevance of this comparison of Hebrew words to whatever is translated. But, let's go with this for now.

The term NHM is not used in the Old Testament to refer to the cries of grief for a loved one. Never. The five times the word is used, it refers to making a crying sound that doesn't include any sense of grief for a loved one - it may reflect a cry of regret over actions made:

Quote

Proverbs 5:11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed,

Proverbs 28:15 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.

Isaiah 5:29 Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it.

Isaiah 5:30 And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.

Ezekiel 24:23 And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another.

Only in this last verse can we even make a connection to grief for the dead, and only by arguing that NHM is parallel to SPD (which is a term used to describe grieving for the dead).  But then, we have a separate issue here in that Ezekiel cannot be on the Brass Plates (Ezekiel writes from Babylon, which post-dates Lehi's departure). The term NHM doesn't mean to mourn, it means to cry out - either as the cry from a lion or the wail of a sufferer. The two term used in the Old Testament to express the idea of grieving a deceased loved one are ABL (to be despondent, to grieve) and SPD (to beat on ones breast).

It is quite possible that the instance of 'mourn' in 1 Nephi 16:35 could be a translation of NHM, but the focus isn't on grieving for a father but in crying out. What is clear though is that the word "murmur" is highly unlikely to be a translation of NHM. One of the things that is clearly going on in 1 Nephi is the idea that the narrative of the departure from Jerusalem is based on the Exodus of Israel from Egypt under Moses (several of us have published on this topic). In particular, this account parallels several events during the Exodus, that, not coincidentally, use the term murmur. Exodus 16 and 17 are full of these references. And for this comparison, a couple of the best examples are Exodus 16:2 and Exodus 17:3

Quote

16:2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

17:3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

There is another important reference in Numbers 14:2-3. This one is also of interest because of the way that Nephi specifically uses Numbers 12 in his defense of identifying Lehi as a prophet like Moses.

Quote

14:2-3 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

You can see that the connection is not just about the murmuring against Moses and Aaron, but also the idea that the murmuring was about dying in the wilderness and a desire to return back to where they came from. Now, for comparison, here is 1 Nephi 16:35-36 (emphasis added):

Quote

And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father, and because of their afflictions in the wilderness; and they did murmur against my father, because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, saying: Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger. And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me; and they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem.

None of these passages in the Old Testament use NHM for the idea of murmuring. They all use LUN. Any proposed connection between murmuring and NHM isn't going to survive any kind of reasonable rhetorical analysis.

Next we get to the issue of nhm and nḥm. Interestingly enough, h and ḥ are different letters of the alphabet. They do look a bit alike in later Hebrew scripts (kind of like P and R in English). But this creates two distinct issues. The Hebrew block letters don't show up until the 5th century CE (after Lehi has left). The paleo-Hebrew letters are much less similar. Further, this is supposed to survive a translation into a reformed Egyptian prior to its translation into English. So, this idea that these are similar enough words to make for wordplay is a problem. And then we get to the rhetoric of the text - where nḥm simply doesn't work: nhm yes, nḥm no.

So is the word-play possible? Sure - but it wouldn't be connected through this idea of grieving for a loved one. It would have to be the idea that the NHM they were visiting was a place of complaint, or of noise. And this is before we get to the issue that all of this hinges on an alleged distinction between the Lehite group normally naming a place themselves, and having no explicit description of their naming Nahom. It's possible that this is significant. It is also quite reasonable to see this as an accidental writing choice on the part of Nephi (it could also be deliberate but without the intention to create a deliberate distinction). A single example with no additional context doesn't make for a very solid argument.

I think that the arguments about wordplay here would be better if they didn't run head first into the problem of the rhetoric of the text and the use of these passages in the larger argument about the nature of the Nephite Exodus and the claims of Lehi and Nephi to a prophetic calling like that of Moses. In isolation, the argument is good - it is much harder to place this argument into the complexity that the text displays.
 

To emphasize - I think that the EC article is simply wrong. And the idea that there is a multifaceted convergence doesn't actually help if the individual arguments are themselves flawed. I also note that my own view on the value of this particular evidence has changed considerably over time as my own rhetorical analysis of the text has developed.

Edited by Benjamin McGuire
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3 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

This isn't about my claims Ryan, but yours. It seems obvious to me that you have no interest in actually defending yours. It isn't about me, its not about my method of evaluation. It's about how you can make the claims you do and support them. And if you don't want to hash it out, I think that this in itself is a really telling statement.

But, whatever.

I've concluded by now that your evaluation of evidence is fundamentally flawed on multiple levels. You have presented inconsistent criteria and flip-flopped multiple times already in your discussion of very basic examples and principles of evidence. So, yes, I'm not really interested in engaging with you about specific claims in relation to the Book of Mormon's authenticity. We have very different views of evidence, and you don't seem willing to continue the discussion at the general level. Which is telling. 

Furthermore, to me, this discussion is about whatever I think it is about. That is how dialogue works. We all engage in it for our own reasons. 

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16 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

To keep it simple, I would suggest that things like this are dependent on textual interpretations. I am not at all convinced that the text (no matter what an individual may think of it) demands specific interpretations or readings. This is part of what makes Bayesian analysis so difficult to use in ways like this - there isn't some objective standard by which we can even present the argument.

In the video that was linked, perhaps my favorite line is this: "it's [NHM] location is exactly where you'd expect it to be." Given what the text actually says, this is nonsense. This is an example of finding something that you like and then mapping the text onto that model. This gets back to an idea in the book that was linked. I am going to quote just a little bit of it:

So we are in agreement here, which is the point I tried to make when I pointed out the search area in the 100:1 analysis was too small.  (which I apparantly failed to make clearly)

The actual area that could fit a SE path followed by an eastern turn is quite large. I don’t think this is an impediment in practice though.  It just means that someone would have to put in a lot of extra work in surveying the Saudi peninsula to come up with numbers that actually work. Perhaps you are right though? Would everyone agree - I guess not.

 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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50 minutes ago, Ryan Dahle said:

I've concluded by now that your evaluation of evidence is fundamentally flawed on multiple levels. You have presented inconsistent criteria and flip-flopped multiple times already in your discussion of very basic examples and principles of evidence. So, yes, I'm not really interested in engaging with you about specific claims in relation to the Book of Mormon's authenticity. We have very different views of evidence, and you don't seem willing to continue the discussion at the general level. Which is telling. 

Furthermore, to me, this discussion is about whatever I think it is about. That is how dialogue works. We all engage in it for our own reasons. 

Seems to me his last post engaged your evidence on your terms (likelihood of wordplay, etc.). I was kind of hoping you'd respond.

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28 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Seems to me his last post engaged your evidence on your terms (likelihood of wordplay, etc.). I was kind of hoping you'd respond.

Oh, we might be talking about the same data, but he as already shown that he is unwilling to discuss, or really make much effort to understand, "evidence" on my terms. What we mean by "evidence" and what criteria we use to evaluate that so-called evidence are clearly very different. 

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20 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Has something changed since Michael Coe’s assessment in 1972 or his statement in 2006?

Since 1972?  Very much so.  I assume your reference to "his statement in 2006" is to his interview with PBS, is that correct?  

Meanwhile, did Coe's familiarity with the actual content of the Book of Mormon improve between 1972 and 2011 (to which Sorenson was responding)?  It seems not by much.  Sorenson responds to points raised by Coe by pointing to developments which have happened since 1972.  For example, Coe said this in his 2011 interview:

Quote

“These things don’t disappear forever. They leave traces. . . . If you had iron or steel, you would expect to find these things, even if they were all rusted. . . . You’d find chemical remains.” [Part 1, 24:27]

Sorenson responds:

Quote

It is interesting to see your loyalty to the ideals of archaeology, but surely you know that the realities are quite different. The first place where the two collide is in sampling. Probably no more than two hundred ancient Mesoamerican sites have been seriously excavated, and those excavations have rarely dug into more than a small portion of the inhabited area of those sites. It would be surprising if as much as one ten-thousandth of the information potentially obtainable by studying the material remains has so far been disclosed. Sure, much of the rest would no doubt yield data mainly duplicative of what is already known, but some would not. And a large proportion of what has already been excavated has not been studied by contemporary methods or is not accessible for study.

So ancient remains of metals may “leave traces.” But can anybody name even a single site where “chemical remains” have been widely sought by modern methods? I doubt it.

An example of the sampling problem is evident at the site of Utatlan (in Guatemala, dated AD 1300–1500). Fox, Wallace, and Brown reported finding by chance a location “just outside” the site proper where two hundred molds for the manufacture of copper at an industrial level came to light.2 The facility would have been far larger than what was needed for the city’s requirements. What is the chance that such an isolated facility outside the central ceremonial centers where excavation usually goes on would ever be discovered at other places?
...
2. John W. Fox, Dwight T. Wallace, and Kenneth L. Brown, “The Emergence of the Quiche Elite: The Putun-Palenque Connection,” in Mesoamerican Elites: An Archaeological Assessment, ed. Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992), 185. 

The footnoted source is from 1992.

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Then there is the problem of accessing the information that does exist. I have spent considerable time searching site reports for mentions of metal objects that have been found that apparently date before the “metal curtain” of about AD 900 in Mesoamerica in the area but are conventionally ignored in discussions of the history of metallurgy.3 There have proved to be several hundred such specimens dating from 400 BC to AD 900, 153 of which were excavated by professional archaeologists.4 (Why bother to seek “chemical traces” of metal when actual specimens are totally ignored?) This incidence of metal objects would be even more surprising were it not for the fact that terms have been reconstructed in five major Mesoamerican language families that mean “metal” or “(metal) bell,” all the words thought to refer to times prior to 1000 BC.5

Obviously, excavational archaeology still has a long way to go in reconstructing a complete history of Mesoamerican metallurgy, including both terrestrial and meteoric iron among [Page 94]more than a dozen known metals and alloys. Eminent metallurgical expert Dudley Easby commented regarding this history, “The relative [apparent] absence of metals in the early Americas constitutes one of the most infuriatingly enigmatic subjects in the history of technology.”6
...
3. See, for example, “Preclassic Metal?,” American Antiquity 20 (1954): 64; “Indications of Early Metal in Mesoamerica,” University Archaeological Society Bulletin 5 (Provo, UT, 1954): 1–15; and “A Reconsideration of Early Metal in Mesoamerica,” Katunob 9 (March 1976): 1–18.
4. See John L. Sorenson, 
Metals and Metallurgy Relating to the Book of Mormon Text (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1992).
5. Byron Cummings, “Cuicuilco and the Archaic of Mexico,” University of Arizona, Bulletin IV, no. 8, 
Social Science Bulletin 4 (Tucson, 1933): 38–39; Robert F. Heizer and James A. Bennyhoff, “Archaeological Investigation of Cuicuilco, Valley of Mexico, 1957,” Science 127/3292 (31 January 1958): 232–33; R. E. Longacre and Rene Millon, “Proto-Mixtecan and Proto-Amuzgo-Mixtecan Vocabularies: A Preliminary Cultural Analysis,” Anthropological Linguistics 3 (1961): 22; Terrence Kaufman, “El Proto-Tzeltal-Tzotzil: Fonologia Comparada y Diccionario Reconstruido,” Cuadernos 5 (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Centro de Estudios Mayas, 1972): 118; Marcelo Alejandre, Cartilla Huasteca con su Gramatica, Diccionario y Varias Reglas para Aprender el Idioma (Mexico: Secretaria de Fomento, 1899), 84, 88; Hyacinthe de Charency, “Les Norns des Metaux chez Differents Peuples de la Nouvelle Espagne,” Compte-Rendu, Congres International des Americanistes, Paris, 1890 (Paris, 1892), 539–41; and “A Linguistic Look at the Olmecs,” American Antiquity 41 (1976): 80–89. See discussion in John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1985), 278–88.
6. Dudley T. Easby Jr., “Early Metallurgy in the New World,” 
Scientific American 214 (April 1966): 72–83.  

FAIR has had articles on its website for quite a while addressing this topic.  See, e.g., here:

Quote

The 'conventional wisdom' that metal was not used in the New World prior to A.D. 900 cannot now be sustained

The 'conventional wisdom' that metal was not used in the New World prior to A.D. 900 cannot now be sustained. Copper sheathing on an altar in the Valley of Mexico dates to the first century B.C. [3] Furthermore, in 1998, a discovery in Peru pushed the earliest date of hammered metal back to as early as 1400 B.C.:

"Much to the surprise of archaeologists, one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas already knew how to hammer metals by 1000 B.C., centuries earlier than had been thought.

"Based on the dating of carbon atoms attached to the foils, they appear to have been created between 1410 and 1090 B.C., roughly the period when Moses led the Jews from Egypt and the era of such pharaohs as Amenhotep III, Tutankhamen and Ramses. 'It shows once again how little we know about the past and how there are surprises under every rock,' comments Jeffrey Quilter, director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, a Harvard University research institute in Washington, D.C."[4]

Sorenson also adduces evidence for metals and metalwork through linguistic evidence. Many Mesoamerican languages have words for metals at very early dates; it would be very strange to have a word for something that one did not have or know existed! Some examples:[5]

Language Date of term for metal
  • Proto-Tzeltal-Tzotzil
  • A.D. 500
  • Proto-Mixtecan
  • 1000 B.C.
  • Proto-Mixe-Zoquean
  • 1500 B.C.
  • Huastecan
  • 1500 B.C. (conservatively; it is perhaps even earlier to a limit of about 2200 B.C.)

Metallurgy is known in Peru from 1900 B.C., and in Ecuador via trade by 1000 B.C.

As one non-LDS author wrote:

Current information clearly indicates that by 1000 B.C. the most advanced metallurgy was being practiced in the Cauca Valley of Colombia.[6]

Metallurgy is known in Peru from 1900 B.C., and in Ecuador via trade by 1000 B.C. Since Mesoamerica is known to have had trade relations with parts of the continent that produced metals, and because metal artifacts dating prior to A.D. 900 have been found in Mesoamerica, it seems reasonable to assume that at least some Mesoamericans knew something about metallurgy.

Similarly, Hamblin has addressed "steel" in the Book of Mormon here:

Quote

Putting all this together, we find the following:

  • The steel sword is a Near Eastern weapon. It is imitated by Nephi in the first generation-although we are not sure if this imitation is of function, form or material-or all three.
  • Steel swords are never again mentioned in the Book of Mormon after this first generation.
  • Steel is mentioned once more, in 400 B.C., in a literary topos list, which is notable also for its failure to mention swords, steel or otherwise.

The minimalist and tightest reading of this evidence is that Nephi had a steel weapon from the Near East. He attempted to imitate this weapon-whether in function, form, or material is unclear. His descendants apparently abandoned this technology by no later than 400 B.C. Based on a careful reading of the text of the Book of Mormon, there are no grounds for claiming-as anti-Mormons repeatedly do-that the Book of Mormon describes a massive steel industry with thousands of soldiers carrying steel swords in the New World.

He also addresses, at some length, linguistic issues pertaining to "steel."

There is also this 1999 article by John Welch and Greg Welch: Metals in the Book of Mormon

The abstract:

Quote

Many Book of Mormon texts mention various metals. This chart lists the types of metal that the Nephites, Lamanites, and/or Jaredites knew from their scriptures or found in the Americas. These references are grouped according to the use of the metal in each case. Brass (especially in connection with the plates of brass) is mentioned most often in religious contexts, while gold and silver (often mentioned together) were used largely in commerce or for ornamentation.

Jeff Lindsay's extensive FAQ has likewise been online for quite a while (with updates showing from 2012-2018) : Metals and Weapons in the Book of Mormon: Mormon Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Michael Ash's 2010 article also addresses this topic: Book of Mormon “Anachronisms” Part 4: Metals and Metallurgy

Greg Smith has written an extensive review of Dehlin's interview with Coe: Mormon Stories, the Book of Mormon and Dr. Michael Coe

Some excerpts:

Quote

The power of podcasts and Dehlin’s style and approach are well illustrated by his interview with renowned Mesoamericanist Michael Coe.74 This example illustrates how the power of the podcastand its perilscan be exploited for rhetorical advantage. It also demonstrates Dehlin’s degree of objectivity and attitude toward those who disagree with him.

The podcast is an excellent example of how Dehlin appears ill-prepared and ill-informed.75 I think there are steel swords mentioned in the Book of Mormon, or shields or helmets or whatever,” says Dehlin.76 There are, in fact, no metal shields mentioned anywhere. Breastplates are mentioned and those who discovered the last battle of the Jaredites are said to have found breastplates “of brass and of copper,” which seem to be something of an anomaly to the Nephites since they are brought back as evidence of an unusual tale (Mosiah 8:910). The construction or material of Nephite breastplates is never specified. The word helmet is never used in the Book of Mormon. What is mentioned is “head-plates,” which is quite a different matter, but the material of which they are made is never described.77

...

It would be fascinating and useful to see Coe actually engage seriously with the evidence marshaled by Sorenson or Peterson, but that can never happen if neither Coe nor Dehlin can tell us accurately what that evidence is. They don’t appear to have read the Book of Mormon closely. Coe states frankly that he did most of his research on this topic in 1973 for Dialogue; he seems to assume that the relevant Mesoamerican and Mormon studies have not advanced the discussion at all.87
...

A second technique is to engage Coe on matters about which he is not an expert. For example, Dehlin mentions DNA and the Book of Mormon, chiasmus,88 and the question of whether Mesoamerican languages show any links to the Old World.89 Coe is quick to agree that these fields of study likewise provide arguments against the Book of Mormon’s authenticity, but he is not professionally equipped to comment on them and he gives no sign of having informed himself about them. (Coe did not know what chiasmus is. Dehlin used Google to find a definition, and the confident declaration that chiasmus doesn’t help the Book of Mormon quickly followed.90)
...

A third technique resurrects arguments that most LDS scholars and apologists have dismissed because they do not constitute reliable evidence for the Book of Mormon, even though some used to find them persuasive. This includes a supposed elephant glyph that is actually a macaw,96 Quetzalcoatl as a veiled reference to Christ,97 and Izapa Stela 5.98 Some of these may have been current issues when Coe was doing his research in 1973, but they are not necessarily major topics of interest today. The fact that LDS scholars debate such matters on their merits does not, however, fit the narrative being offered by Mormon Stories, in which Mormons (like “Marxists,” in Coe’s characterization) cling to whatever evidence will support their beliefs.99

It seems like Coe did some research in 1972-73, but that's about it.

The rest of Sorenson's Open Letter to Coe is, for me, quite illuminating.  According to Coe, the Jaredites “didn’t really survive terribly long” and “go back, what, something like four, five hundred BC.”  The Book of Mormon, he claims (or agrees with Dehlin) mentions "helmets" and "coins."  He also claims there was no such thing as "silk" as mentioned in the Book of Mormon, nor pigs.

AFAICS, the only people who have taken the effort to master the two separate categories of disciplines of A) Mesoamerican archeology / anthropology / history and B) the actual text of the Book of Mormon are the Latter-day Saints.  Nobody else, including Coe, has bothered.  

Again from Hamblin:

Quote

There are about a dozen professional LDS Mesoamericanists who accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon.  A first glance that may not sound like very many, but we must remember that there are only a few hundred professional Mesoamericanists in the world—the annual Maya Studies meeting in Texas has an attendance of about 250—compared to 10,000 for the Society of Biblical Literature.  Mormons are represented in the discipline at or above their percentage in the population at large.  Furthermore, each of these scholars have far more knowledge of Mesoamerican studies than Jenkins.  

I maintain that these LDS Mesoamericanists are authentic scholars, not cranks as Jenkins implies.  As evidence for my argument I note the following:

1- They all have received Ph.D degrees from accredited non-Mormon universities in Mesoamerican studies.

2- Most teach Mesoamerican studies at accredited universities—some at BYU, but others at secular schools. 

3- They regularly attend and present papers at the professional meetings in the field.

4- Some lead—not just participate in—major archaeological digs in Mesoamerica.

5- They publish peer reviewed articles in the standard academic journals, edit books and journals, and publish university press books in their field.

These are all objective criteria by which we can determine that LDS Mesoamericanists are accepted and well respected in the discipline.  (This does not mean, of course, that their views on the historicity of the Book of Mormon are accepted.)  While the Book of Mormon may not be accepted as authentic history by non-Mormon Mesoamericanists, Book-of-Mormon-believing scholars are routinely accepted as authentic scholars by non-Mormon Mesoamericanists.  Because these LDS Mesoamericanists are accepted as authentic scholars in their field, their views on historicity of the Book of Mormon at least merit some degree of attention, if not respect.  They cannot simply be dismissed out of hand as if they were authentic scholars one moment, and driveling cranks the next.

Jenkins acknowledges this, but doesn’t recognize its implications. If secular Mesoamericanists accept LDS Mesoamericanists as professional, scholarly colleagues, what reason does Jenkins have to reject their arguments out of hand? 

I think that's a pretty good question.

20 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

From where I’m standing, nothing’s changed. Hamblin couldn’t provide any New World evidence to Jenkins, hence the appeal to Nahom. 

Ah, well.  I think lots of things have changed since 1972.  YMMV.

20 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

In answer to your question about pottery, the Book of Mormon posits high-heat technology for smelting steel used by both the Jaredites and Nephites. Everywhere there is such technology in the world, high heat is also used for pottery. Of course, New World pottery is uniformly produced with low heat.

Hamblin addresses this (from above) : "Steel swords are never again mentioned in the Book of Mormon after this first generation."

So did Clark Goble back in 2018 (responding to you when you raised this same point then) : 

Quote
Quote

I don’t think you understand my point. Where high-heat technology (usually associated with metallurgy) is introduced, the local pottery changes as well. What we see in Mesoanerican pottery is low-heat techniques, usually putting the wet pots in a pit and lighting a wood fire on top. There’s no evidence that high heat was ever introduced. 

Right and my reply was that whatever the Nephites were doing by Jarom it's gone. So it may not have persisted long enough to affect other things. 

You appear to have conceded the point partially in your response:

Quote

But the Jaredites were melting ore into steel for a very long time. No high heat pottery there, either. 

I don't think all the archeological / anthropological chapters are written yet.  From Saints Unscripted:

Quote

You’ve also got to realize that “Less than 1 percent of Mesoamerica has been professionally surveyed.” In 2015, archaeologist William Saturno agreed with that statistic, saying “Of all of the Maya sites that we know to exist we have excavated less than 1 percent of them… The sites themselves that we’ve done excavations at we’ve excavated less than 10 percent of 1 percent …we’re still just scratching the surface.”

On top of that, those estimates were made before all of this great lidar laser tech came out, which has revealed just how blind we’ve been to vast ruins hidden beneath the Mesoamerican jungle canopy. So when you ask yourself why archaeologists haven’t positively identified Book of Mormon “stuff,” remember the words of George Stuart, who was the director of the Center for Maya Research. “Truth is, we don’t know squat.”

It’s also important to remember what kinds of sites, within that 1%, are being explored. “Classic period sites have traditionally been the focus of excavations, while Preclassic/Formative sites have largely been ignored by archaeologists and looters alike since the artifacts tend to be less valuable or exciting.” So not only are sites just not being excavated yet but the ones that are excavated generally only overlap with the last 100-150 years of Nephite history. 

And the cherry on top is the fact that by the end of the Book of Mormon, the Nephite civilization had been utterly destroyed by their rivals, the Lamanites. And the Lamanites were left in a constant cycle of civil war. Given the circumstances, I’m not even sure how much would be left to find that would positively identify a site as Nephite or Lamanite.

If all or most of the data were in, I think you would have a point.

20 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

Unless two cultures who used high heat for millennia forgot how to use it, this argues pretty conclusively against a Jaredite or Nephite civilization with this technology. 

I just don't see how we can "conclusively" say anything about this topic given the above.

20 hours ago, jkwilliams said:

As for you not being impressed by the possibility of mere coincidence, the onus is on you to show that coincidence is less likely than the Book of Mormon account. I’m not seeing you make that case. 

Reasonable minds can disagree about such things.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
Link to comment
14 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Since 1972?  Very much so.  I assume your reference to "his statement in 2006" is to his interview with PBS, is that correct?  

Meanwhile, did Coe's familiarity improve between 1972 and 2011 (to which Sorenson was responding)?  It seems not by much.  Sorenson responds to points raised by Coe by pointing to developments which have happened since 1972.  For example, Coe said this in his 2011 interview:

Sorenson responds:

The footnoted source is from 1992.

FAIR has had articles on its website for quite a while addressing this topic.  See, e.g., here:

Similarly, Hamblin has addressed "steel" in the Book of Mormon here:

He also addresses, at some length, linguistic issues pertaining to "steel."

There is also this 1999 article by John Welch and Greg Welch: Metals in the Book of Mormon

The abstract:

Jeff Lindsay's extensive FAQ has likewise been online for quite a while (with updates showing from 2012-2018) : Metals and Weapons in the Book of Mormon: Mormon Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Michael Ash's 2010 article also addresses this topic: Book of Mormon “Anachronisms” Part 4: Metals and Metallurgy

Greg Smith has written an extensive review of Dehlin's interview with Coe: Mormon Stories, the Book of Mormon and Dr. Michael Coe

Some excerpts:

It seems like Coe did some research in 1972-73, but that's about it.

Ah, well.  I think lots of things have changed since 1972.  YMMV.

Hamblin addresses this (from above) : "Steel swords are never again mentioned in the Book of Mormon after this first generation."

So did Clark Goble back in 2018 (responding to you when you raised this same point then) : 

You appear to have conceded the point partially in your response:

I don't think all the archeological / anthropological chapters are written yet.  From Saints Unscripted:

If all or most of the data were in, I think you would have a point.

I just don't see how we can "conclusively" say anything about this topic given the above.

Reasonable minds can disagree about such things.  

Thanks,

-Smac

In Helaman, we read that the Nephites were refining ore, which is hundreds of years after Jarom. I’m trying to figure out how that would be done without high heat. Maybe Ash et al. discuss that. Last I checked, they were talking about polished ore mirrors. Seems a stretch. 

And yes, what material evidence for the BofM has surfaced in the last 50 years (or ever)? Sure, one can always hope for undiscovered cities and such, but for now Jenkins’s challenge remains unmet.

BTW, I corresponded with Dr. Jenkins for quite a while (he and his wife read my book). He’s a good man, IMO. The whole Hamblin thing started because of an offhand remark Dr. Jenkins made on his blog. I felt bad for Bill Hamblin, as he really didn’t do well in their exchange. 

Edited by jkwilliams
Link to comment
6 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

In Helaman, we read that the Nephites were refining ore, which is hundreds of years after Jarom.

I assume you are referring here to Helaman 6:9, 11, which references "exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north," and that "there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it; and thus they did become rich."

6 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I’m trying to figure out how that would be done without high heat.

Placer mining does not require high heat.

As for "high heat," it is my understanding that smelting told requires a temperature significantly lower than for the smelting of iron ("Iron melts at 1800°C (3270°F) and gold melts at 1062°C (1943°F)").

Your line of reasoning extends back to this statement: "{T}he Book of Mormon posits high-heat technology for smelting steel used by both the Jaredites and Nephites. Everywhere there is such technology in the world, high heat is also used for pottery. Of course, New World pottery is uniformly produced with low heat."  I'm not sure what you mean by "low heat," as there seem to be plenty of attestations to ancient kiln-fired pottery/ceramics in Mesoamerica (see, e.g., here and here).  I also found this 2003 article ("A CLASSIC-PERIOD BARRIO PRODUCING FINE POLYCHROME CERAMICS AT TIKAL, GUATEMALA: Notes on ancient Maya firing technology"), which notes the existence of at least one type of kiln, an "updraft system," which produced what I think you are referring to as "high heat" temperatures (that is, hot enough to smelt gold) :

Quote

Discussions of the origins of ceramic technology, whether in Mesoamerica (Clark and Gosser 1995) or anywhere else in the world, treat most firing as an extremely simple process. High-quality painted wares characterize the Maya Classic period and suggest the use of a complex firing technology such as that achieved using a true kiln. True kilns provide better control over the firing process, but as Philip Arnold (1999:112) points out, they are time-consuming to erect and maintain. Some modern potters Arnold has worked with prefer to use a neighbor's kiln. But this still requires that a kiln be built. Arnold also notes that an open firing has advantages even though it produces fewer vessels. All of the vessels produced in Arnold's study area were quite simple, and none resemble the hard-fired decorated wares of the Classic Maya.

A few definitions relating to pottery technology will help readers understand ceramic production in general. The term “kiln” can be applied to any oven, furnace, or heated enclosure used to process ceramics by firing (Pool 1997:149, 2000). The term “kiln” has been variably applied in the Maya literature, often including simple, open firing locations where pots are placed within a pile of fuel placed directly on the ground surface. Usually, the term “kiln” refers to a construction that has a firebox separated from a chamber or oven with a heat-resistant lining, commonly with a perforated “floor separating the two chambers” (Carter 2000:124). Since the term “kiln” often is applied to any firing system, I will use the term “true kiln” to describe those firing systems employing a separate firebox, no matter how crude. The term “sagger” refers to a crudely made, simply fired box or container made of fire clay, often of cylindrical shape, into which delicate ceramic pieces are placed to be fired. Saggers provide additional protection and separation for pots placed within the firing chamber of a kiln. Saggers are most commonly associated with true kilns, but a possible alternative method of use will be discussed later.

A pit kiln is simply a pit into which fuel is laid and pottery to be fired is placed on top or within the combustibles. A similar effect is achieved by simply piling brush and wood on the ground and placing pots among these firing materials, but a pit offers both insulation as well as some regulation of draft (also, see later). A trench kiln is simply a trench that is dug out of the ground, often into a slope, oriented along the direction of the prevailing winds. Pottery to be fired is placed downwind, and brush or other materials are placed windward in the trench. No formal separation is made of the pottery and the firing materials (see Purcell 1992). In theory, a pit or trench kiln could be divided into a firebox and separate oven that would act as a true kiln. The most simple updraft kiln directly resolves the dynamics of heat flow, whereas a trench kiln would depend on a sloping floor or prevailing winds to control the temperature of the pottery. Sandra López Varela and her colleagues (1999:230–233) also report the discovery in conjunction with these “kilns” of a number of possible tools for working pottery, themselves being made of ceramics, possibly reused sherds. Rice has suggested to me that she would expect ancient Maya kilns to have been located “below” ground. Stark's (1985) important paper on ceramic production, cited earlier, provides a basis for this line of research.

Olivier Gosselain's (1992) important observations on pottery-making processes are critical to this study. Gosselain studied the temperatures associated with five types of firing. These are (1) open firing (on the ground); (2) open firing with sherds covering the mass (see Stark [1985:174] regarding Tlacotalpan and other places where sherds are used as “kiln” furniture); (3) pit firing; (4) pit firing with sherds covering the mass; and (5) updraft “kiln” firing in which a rudimentary updraft system is created by piling pots above the fuel but not employing a separate firebox and oven. The first four all generate temperatures in the 600–950°C range. Number one is associated with the widest range of temperatures, while the number four has the tightest control. Only the updraft system, although it employs no separate oven chamber, can reach nearly 1100°C. Of equal importance to these critical data are Gosselain's notes on the use of these data. His goal was to cast doubt on the value of temperature tests, but his evidence shows that the most simple updraft system can generate temperatures higher than any of the other techniques. Regarding firing temperatures, Gosselain (1992:243) states that:

[a] brief review of the archaeometric analyses containing this kind of information shows how poorly they have been exploited: in most cases, the identified temperatures are not included in any archaeological reasoning.

Simple testing of sherds from our sites could tell us a great deal about the possible types of firing systems that were used. Our failure to conduct such tests reflects Gosselain's (1992) note that we need to integrate scientific findings into archaeological interpretations.

This is notably Classic-period stuff. 

This 2019 article, "THE FORMATIVE TO CLASSIC PERIOD TRANSITION AT IZAPA: UPDATES FROM THE IZAPA HOUSEHOLD ARCHAEOLOGY PROJECT" makes an interesting comment (emphasis added) :

Quote

The motivation for the adoption of fine-white-paste pottery has also been of interest to researchers. Rice (Reference Rice1977) suggests that the production of white wares in the Valley of Guatemala was associated with increasingly specialized ceramic production techniques developed by potters over the course of the Formative period. As white wares became more specialized, their low frequencies, deposition in specialized contexts like burials, and association with interregional trade, Rice argues, suggests that they were considered status-reaffirming objects. Pool and Britt (Reference Pool and Mudd Britt2000), working across the Isthmus, have also argued that fine-paste ceramics represented a prestige technology associated with increased ceramic specialization. They suggest that the creation of fine-paste ceramics in southern Veracruz may have been associated with the invention of updraft kiln technology during the Terminal Formative period. This technology was, at first, restricted to the elite of the Terminal Formative period. By the Early Classic period it spread to other segments of society (Pool and Britt Reference Pool and Mudd Britt2000).
...

Rice, Prudence M. 1977 Whiteware Pottery Production in the Valley of Guatemala: Specialization and Resource Utilization. Journal of Field Archaeology 4:221233.Google ScholarOpenURL query
...
Pool, Christopher A., and Mudd Britt, Georgia 2000 A Ceramic Perspective on the Formative to Classic Transition in Southern Veracruz, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 11:139161.CrossRefGoogle ScholarOpenURL query

As I understand it, the "Terminal Formative" period was 500 BC - AD 200, so the timeframe seems to work.  The location ("southern Veracruz") likewise seems to work.  Not sure if the sort of "updraft kiln" technology referenced here meets the temperature criterion, though.

This 2008 article, "A Burning Question: Maya Lime Technology And The Maya Forest," has some interesting comments (emphases added) :

Quote

There are other intriguing, unfortunately vague, references that may also point to burning methods other than heap burning. A description of various ‘‘heathen’’ rituals carried out by the Aztecs depicts a ceremony for burning lime and appears to describe a freestanding box kiln (Ruiz de Alarcon 1984). There is also linguistic evidence for alternatives to open-air burning, such as the Yucatecan use of the Spanish ‘‘trinchera,’’ or trench, for lime-burning (Schreiner 2002). Pit or trench kilns can be two to three times more fuel-efficient than heap burning (MOFA 1998). Although we cannot determine the method used, the clay bricks used in the construction of Comalcalco were fired and the evidence suggests high-temperature (nearly 1100u F) firing (George Andrews, personal communication 1999), thus it is possible to propose more sophisticated methods of lime production in ancient times.3

Comalcalco was founded circa 550 CE, many hundreds of years after the period referenced in Helaman 6.

Quote

Pyrotechnology knowledge spans more than simply lime production. A number of Mesoamerican pottery wares have been thought to be kiln-fired (Bryant and Brady 1986; Krotser 1987). The archaeological remains of possible pottery kilns have been identified as early as the 1940’s but the search has taken on new life in recent years. Kilns from Honduras to Central Mexico, ranging from Middle Preclassic to Postclassic, have now been identified in such numbers as to no longer be in the realm of theoretical (Becker 2003). These include pit kilns, trench kilns and even updraft kilns (Balkansky et al. 1997; Becker 2003; Castanzo 2004; Diehl et al. 1997; Flannery and Marcus 1983; Pool 1997; Schortman et al. 2001; Stark and Garraty 2004; Stone and Turnbull 1941; Urban et al. 1997; Winter and Payne 1976).  If the Maya utilized advanced kiln technologies for firing pottery a crossover usage in lime production is logical.  In fact, lime-burning technology (at least in the Old World) is seen as a precursor to ceramic kiln technology (Frierman 1971; Gourdin and Kingery 1975).

Possible kiln sites with evidence of lime production have also been identified archaeologically. A circular Late Classic kiln has been identified at Copan with traces of lime and a Middle Preclassic feature resembling an updraft kiln was identified at Chalcatzingo (Abrams and Freter 1996; Grove 1984). A number of pit kiln-like features associated with burnt limestone have also been found in Belize (Ettlinger 1983; Lo´pez Varela et al. 2001; Mathews 2002). Similar features have been identified in Veracruz, Mexico (Diehl et al. 1997).

I wonder what temperatures the updraft kilns referenced above provided.

And here:

Quote

A continuing problem with the identification and excavation of kiln structures is their ephemeral nature (Balkansky et al. 1997; Deal 1998; Krotser 1987). Pike’s (1980) Mixtec ethnography describes opportunistic updraft kilns that would leave next to no archaeological signature, not unlike the reuse of limestone quarries for lime production by the Tikal Project. Pursuing potteryfiring facilities archaeologically can be made more logically with predictive models and the identification of wasters and ceramic debris (Stark 1985), though in the Maya area wasters are often not recorded (Ford and Lucero 2001). Not so with lime burning. In one case, even with historical records pinpointing manufacturing sites, archaeologists found little on the surface to indicate kiln facilities (Harrington 2000). Another example is that, despite our vast knowledge of their architecture and construction, no lime kilns have ever been excavated in the vast Byzantine territories (Ousterhout 1999). Kilns are likely to be located near limestone quarries and may be destroyed in later quarrying operations or unrecognizable without painstaking excavation.

If kilns used for lime production can be characterized as being "ephemeral" and "opportunistic" and "leav{ing} next to no archaeological signature," I wonder if similar things can be said about other types of Mesoamerican kilns.

I haven't done any in-depth review of any of the foregoing.  Seems like there is plenty to chew on.

6 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Maybe Ash et al. discuss that. Last I checked, they were talking about polished ore mirrors. Seems a stretch. 

Could you provide a cite?

Thanks,

-Smac

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51 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I assume you are referring here to Helaman 6:9, 11, which references "exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north," and that "there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it; and thus they did become rich."

Placer mining does not require high heat.

As for "high heat," it is my understanding that smelting told requires a temperature significantly lower than for the smelting of iron ("Iron melts at 1800°C (3270°F) and gold melts at 1062°C (1943°F)").

Your line of reasoning extends back to this statement: "{T}he Book of Mormon posits high-heat technology for smelting steel used by both the Jaredites and Nephites. Everywhere there is such technology in the world, high heat is also used for pottery. Of course, New World pottery is uniformly produced with low heat."  I'm not sure what you mean by "low heat," as there seem to be plenty of attestations to ancient kiln-fired pottery/ceramics in Mesoamerica (see, e.g., here and here).  I also found this 2003 article ("A CLASSIC-PERIOD BARRIO PRODUCING FINE POLYCHROME CERAMICS AT TIKAL, GUATEMALA: Notes on ancient Maya firing technology"), which notes the existence of at least one type of kiln, an "updraft system," which produced what I think you are referring to as "high heat" temperatures (that is, hot enough to smelt gold) :

This is notably Classic-period stuff. 

This 2019 article, "THE FORMATIVE TO CLASSIC PERIOD TRANSITION AT IZAPA: UPDATES FROM THE IZAPA HOUSEHOLD ARCHAEOLOGY PROJECT" makes an interesting comment (emphasis added) :

As I understand it, the "Terminal Formative" period was 500 BC - AD 200, so the timeframe seems to work.  The location ("southern Veracruz") likewise seems to work.  Not sure if the sort of "updraft kiln" technology referenced here meets the temperature criterion, though.

This 2008 article, "A Burning Question: Maya Lime Technology And The Maya Forest," has some interesting comments (emphases added) :

Comalcalco was founded circa 550 CE, many hundreds of years after the period referenced in Helaman 6.

I wonder what temperatures the updraft kilns referenced above provided.

And here:

If kilns used for lime production can be characterized as being "ephemeral" and "opportunistic" and "leav{ing} next to no archaeological signature," I wonder if similar things can be said about other types of Mesoamerican kilns.

I haven't done any in-depth review of any of the foregoing.  Seems like there is plenty to chew on.

Could you provide a cite?

Thanks,

-Smac

Sigh. This again is why I don't dig into the weeds. Kiln-fired doesn't mean "high heat." High-heat (using bellows, etc.) creates different types of pottery than low-heat techniques, even if they are "kiln-fired." Yes, smelting gold is at a lower heat. That said, you have the Nephites and Jaredites making weapons by refining ore. Soft metals like gold make very poor weapons, and again, one would expect civilizations that used low-heat technologies would smelt only "soft" metals like gold and would produce pottery indicative of low heat. That's exactly what we see among Mesoamericans.

But again, this is just another way to avoid the bigger issue: is there anything in the material culture of pre-Columbian America that supports the existence of a proto-Judeo-Christian civilization (actually two, counting the Jaredites) over a period of a couple of millennia at least? That was the gist of Jenkins's challenge, again made only because he made an offhand remark about the nature of Mormon apologetics. I'll just quote again my professor from BYU: "There is no archaeological evidence for the existence of Nephites, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying." That hasn't changed, IMO.

Bringing up my friend Clark makes me saddened again for his loss. He was a great man and always fair and measured in his approach to apologetics. I wish he were here to resume our conversation, but as I remember, he acknowledged to me many times that you can't just wave off anachronisms like steel and horses, though obviously he didn't think they were fatal. Of course, I'd rather remember him for our shared love of gourmet chocolate and our long conversations about life and family. I really miss him. 

ETA: Here's one place where they mention the polished mirrors:

https://evidencecentral.org/recency/evidence/olmec-iron

I find this piece exceedingly dishonest, frankly.

Quote

 

Ether 10:23 describes Jaredite metal working ca. 1100 BC. No blast furnaces or smelting operations are mentioned in the text. It appears that, at this time, the Jaredites simply dug naturally-occurring high-grade ores right “out of the earth” and worked the ores as lumps of material to fashion useful objects. One of the metallic ores they dug up and worked was iron.

High grade meteoric iron (iron from fallen meteors) is rare, but other high-grade iron ores such as hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite are more abundant and are mined commercially today. It is widely-known among archaeologists that the Olmec fashioned polished concave iron mirrors out of naturally-occurring hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite.

 

Of course, they neglect to tell readers that Ether 7 describes how they made 'useful objects' from ore.

Quote

9 Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.

So, we ignore obvious smelting in favor of polished ore. Highly disingenuous.

Edited by jkwilliams
Link to comment
3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Sigh. This again is why I don't dig into the weeds. Kiln-fired doesn't mean "high heat."

Apparently it can mean that.  

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

High-heat (using bellows, etc.) creates different types of pottery than low-heat techniques, even if they are "kiln-fired."

If an "updraft system" / "updraft kiln" can reach the high temperatures described for pottery/ceramics (around 1100 degrees), why is it implausible to suggest that similar techniques could have been used to to reach smelting temperatures for gold (also around 1100 degrees)?

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Yes, smelting gold is at a lower heat. That said, you have the Nephites and Jaredites making weapons by refining ore.

Well, we were discussing much later periods (Helaman 6), which speaks of "precious ore" which they refined to "become rich," and which is described a few verses earlier as "gold" and "silver."

As for the Nephites "making weapons by refining ore," I again refer you to Hamblin here:

Quote

Putting all this together, we find the following:

  • The steel sword is a Near Eastern weapon. It is imitated by Nephi in the first generation-although we are not sure if this imitation is of function, form or material-or all three.
  • Steel swords are never again mentioned in the Book of Mormon after this first generation.
  • Steel is mentioned once more, in 400 B.C., in a literary topos list, which is notable also for its failure to mention swords, steel or otherwise.

The minimalist and tightest reading of this evidence is that Nephi had a steel weapon from the Near East. He attempted to imitate this weapon-whether in function, form, or material is unclear. His descendants apparently abandoned this technology by no later than 400 B.C. Based on a careful reading of the text of the Book of Mormon, there are no grounds for claiming-as anti-Mormons repeatedly do-that the Book of Mormon describes a massive steel industry with thousands of soldiers carrying steel swords in the New World.

As for the Jaredites, we have Ether 7:9 - "Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib."

And Ether 10:23 - "And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore, they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work."

And Mosiah 8:10-11 - "And behold, also, they have brought breastplates, which are large, and they are of brass and of copper, and are perfectly sound.  And again, they have brought swords, the hilts thereof have perished, and the blades thereof were cankered with rust."

Plenty of digital ink has been spilled on this stuff previously:

Jeff Lindsay: Metals and Weapons in the Book of Mormon: Mormon Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Jeff Lindsay: Metals, Weapons, and the Book of Mormon

Jerry Grover: The Swords of Shule

William Hamblin and Brent Merrill: Swords in the Book of Mormon 

FAIR Q&A: Are all swords mentioned in the Book of Mormon made of metal?

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Soft metals like gold make very poor weapons,

I was not suggesting that.  I was, instead, suggesting that there may have been some areas of Mesoamerica that had technology sufficient to create temperatures to smelt gold.

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

and again, one would expect civilizations that used low-heat technologies would smelt only "soft" metals like gold and would produce pottery indicative of low heat. That's exactly what we see among Mesoamericans.

I don't understand.  Are you saying there were no "high heat" pottery/ceramics in preclassic Mesoamerica?  The 2019 article I quoted above seems to indicate that there were such things.

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

But again, this is just another way to avoid the bigger issue:

Well, no.  You raised some points, and I responded to them.

I agree that there are "bigger issue{s}," but discussing the smaller ones is not necessarily an avoidance of them.

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

is there anything in the material culture of pre-Columbian America that supports the existence of a proto-Judeo-Christian civilization (actually two, counting the Jaredites) over a period of a couple of millennia at least?

Speaking of "bigger issue{s}."

Hamblin has addressed, at length, the need to establish proper methodologies for such inquiries.  I don't think the critics are engaging him on that point.

Also, I will again note this observation by John Clark:

Quote

Book of Mormon cities have been found, they are well known, and their artifacts grace the finest museums. They are merely masked by archaeological labels such as "Maya," "Olmec," and so on. The problem, then, is not that Book of Mormon artifacts have not been found, only that they have not been recognized for what they are. Again, if we stumbled onto Zarahemla, how would we know? The difficulty is not with evidence but with epistemology.

Again, I sure would like to know what a Nephite pottery shard looks like.

This is, in my view, one of the "bigger issue{s}" that critics are avoiding.

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Bringing up my friend Clark makes me saddened again for his loss. He was a great man and always fair and measured in his approach to apologetics. I wish he were here to resume our conversation, but as I remember, he acknowledged to me many times that you can't just wave off anachronisms like steel and horses, though obviously he didn't think they were fatal.

I don't think I am waving such things off.

3 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Of course, I'd rather remember him for our shared love of gourmet chocolate and our long conversations about life and family. I really miss him. 

I did not know him that well, except via our interactions here.  On the day of his funeral I had a family trip planned.  However, we ran into enough delays with packing the car that I was able to attend the viewing, meet his wife, and express my condolences.  A small gesture, but I wanted her to know the impact he had "online."

Thanks,

-Smac

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For my part I look at the Shule story as a translation of an abridgement of a translation of a legend. The whole Shule narrative smacks of legend, sword-in-the-stone-esque stuff. Causing the metal itself to turn to liquid and become a sword seems like the kind of thing a mythical god-emperor would do...or would be propagandized as having done by his dynasty of which Ether was heir. And this is presuming that the verbiage retained its precision through two translations and an abridgement (which was mythicizing according to Grant Hardy's intriguing analysis), which is the textual history of this part of Ether according to Mormon. So I don't interpret Ether 7 as requiring a high view of Jaredite material culture. 

I think the case of metals in Mesoamerica is absolutely fascinating but the truth will probably turn out to be abnormal no matter what. We don't have high-heat pottery technology in evidence there, so that is a point against the presence of high-heat technology in Mesoamerica. We do know that the inhabitants of modern-day Peru were alloying copper by 1900 BC so that's at least 1984.32 degrees Fahrenheit, not enough to do iron but enough for most metals useful in the ancient world. I'll assume that their pottery demonstrated high vitrification but I can't confirm that based on the searches I've had time to do. The thing that makes it weird is that historically metallurgical techniques spread along trade routes. This technology definitely did so in Ecuador and Columbia, which means inter-polity trade since those weren't part of a centralized empire yet. We know that Mesoamerica was part of this trade network as well, but it took 3000 years for metallurgy to make it to them...that's weird. Either the norms of interdisciplinary technological diffusion or the norms of mercantile technological diffusion are being violated. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Apparently it can mean that.  

If an "updraft system" / "updraft kiln" can reach the high temperatures described for pottery/ceramics (around 1100 degrees), why is it implausible to suggest that similar techniques could have been used to to reach smelting temperatures for gold (also around 1100 degrees)?

Well, we were discussing much later periods (Helaman 6), which speaks of "precious ore" which they refined to "become rich," and which is described a few verses earlier as "gold" and "silver."

As for the Nephites "making weapons by refining ore," I again refer you to Hamblin here:

As for the Jaredites, we have Ether 7:9 - "Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib."

And Ether 10:23 - "And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore, they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work."

And Mosiah 8:10-11 - "And behold, also, they have brought breastplates, which are large, and they are of brass and of copper, and are perfectly sound.  And again, they have brought swords, the hilts thereof have perished, and the blades thereof were cankered with rust."

Plenty of digital ink has been spilled on this stuff previously:

Jeff Lindsay: Metals and Weapons in the Book of Mormon: Mormon Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Jeff Lindsay: Metals, Weapons, and the Book of Mormon

Jerry Grover: The Swords of Shule

William Hamblin and Brent Merrill: Swords in the Book of Mormon 

FAIR Q&A: Are all swords mentioned in the Book of Mormon made of metal?

I was not suggesting that.  I was, instead, suggesting that there may have been some areas of Mesoamerica that had technology sufficient to create temperatures to smelt gold.

I don't understand.  Are you saying there were no "high heat" pottery/ceramics in preclassic Mesoamerica?  The 2019 article I quoted above seems to indicate that there were such things.

Well, no.  You raised some points, and I responded to them.

I agree that there are "bigger issue{s}," but discussing the smaller ones is not necessarily an avoidance of them.

Speaking of "bigger issue{s}."

Hamblin has addressed, at length, the need to establish proper methodologies for such inquiries.  I don't think the critics are engaging him on that point.

Also, I will again note this observation by John Clark:

Again, I sure would like to know what a Nephite pottery shard looks like.

This is, in my view, one of the "bigger issue{s}" that critics are avoiding.

I don't think I am waving such things off.

I did not know him that well, except via our interactions here.  On the day of his funeral I had a family trip planned.  However, we ran into enough delays with packing the car that I was able to attend the viewing, meet his wife, and express my condolences.  A small gesture, but I wanted her to know the impact he had "online."

Thanks,

-Smac

Just a couple of comments: there is evidence of a small Viking outpost at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. It was occupied for perhaps 20 years off and on, but the Icelandic folks who used it left unmistakable evidence. But we’re saying that a Hebrew group from 600 AD established a civilization in which Judaism and later Christianity and Hebrew/Egyptian language and culture dominate for 1000 years and yet left no trace. In fact, there’s no telling what traces of such a civilization would look like and would be indistinguishable from Mayan/Olmec civilization. 

Similarly, any steel would have been rusted away by now, so we shouldn’t expect metallurgical evidence. Yet at the same time we find polished iron ore that miraculously has survived. 

Does anyone else find this extremely odd?

Edited by jkwilliams
Link to comment
31 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Just a couple of comments: there is evidence of a small Viking outpost at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. It was occupied for perhaps 20 years off and on, but the Icelandic folks who used it left unmistakable evidence.

Yes.  Nice to have a specific location.  And no widespread destruction-by-conquest-and-disease. 

31 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

But we’re saying that a Hebrew group from 600 AD established a civilization in which Judaism and later Christianity and Hebrew/Egyptian language and culture dominate for 1000 years and yet left no trace.

Nobody is claiming they "left not trace."

I will again note this observation by John Clark:

Quote

Book of Mormon cities have been found, they are well known, and their artifacts grace the finest museums. They are merely masked by archaeological labels such as "Maya," "Olmec," and so on. The problem, then, is not that Book of Mormon artifacts have not been found, only that they have not been recognized for what they are. Again, if we stumbled onto Zarahemla, how would we know? The difficulty is not with evidence but with epistemology.

I don't think the critics are engaging Clark on this point.

And again, Hamblin has long been on record as to the importance of laying ground rules for examining the Book of Mormon as an ancient text, something Jenkins appeared to reject out-of-hand See here:

Quote

During years of debating the historicity of the Book of Mormon, I’ve found that the real problems have to do with assumptions, presupposition, methodologies, and epistemological questions.  Until we can achieve common ground on those issues, debating the specific implications of a particular inscription is pointless.  So far, professor Jenkins and I have not arrived at that common ground; far from it.  It has been difficult to convince him even that ancient Book of Mormon studies is field of study, and that the evidence should be examined with an open mind.  He stubbornly refuses to take seriously either ancient Book of Mormon studies as a field, or the scholars who engage in it.  If we can’t arrive at at least a working agreement on that, how can we hope to have a fruitful discussion of the evidentiary significance of Preclassic Mesoamerican pottery?

Hamblin has addressed, at length, the need to establish proper methodologies for such inquiries.  I don't think the critics are engaging him on that point.

31 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

In fact, there’s no telling what traces of such a civilization would look like and would be indistinguishable from Mayan/Olmec civilization. 

Are you speaking seriously or ironically/sarcastically here?

31 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Similarly, any steel would have been rusted away by now, so we shouldn’t expect metallurgical evidence. Yet at the same time we find polished iron ore that miraculously has survived. 

Who has made this argument?

31 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Does anyone else find this extremely odd?

Expectations about the evidence, rather than discussion of the evidence.  That's the answer to your question, I think.

Thanks,

-Smac

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