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Wade Miller: Horses…


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On 10/20/2022 at 12:17 AM, Benjamin McGuire said:

Even if the Nephites used the written term translated in the Book of Mormon as "horse" for something other than a "horse", the term continues to mean "horse" in other contexts in the Book of Mormon - particularly when it quotes Old Testament passages that use the term to mean "horse".

I encountered this exact phenomenon regularly throughout my PhD research. It's a standard feature in much contact literature.

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6 minutes ago, Rivers said:

Honest question.  Of all the Book of Mormon anachronisms, why is there so much disproportionate attention given to horses?

Honestly no idea. 

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I think it is an issue that has a widely accepted/established as fact and very well known premise, that there were no horses in the Americas before Columbus (one doesn’t even need to be aware that it is believed horses had gone extinct before Book of Mormon times to know it is an anachronism…or even what the word anachronism means).  Arguing about silk or barley requires less common knowledge.  Arguing about migrations of people and whether it is feasible a group from the Middle East traveled to the Americas in the distant past also needs more than 5th grade level knowledge.  But no horses…everyone knows, right?

I can’t remember if I first learned it reading horse stories (Marguerite Henry often included bloodline history of her horses, how the horse came to be where it was,  iirc…it has been over 50 years since I read those books, so I may be confused about which author, could have been Walter Farley…or both for that matter) or if I learned it learning about Columbus or Cortez, etc.  I remember being taught in elementary school the natives thought the Spanish were gods when they saw them sitting on horses since they didn’t know what horses were.  I hope it is not taught this way now, but my guess is horses brought back to the Americas post Columbus is taught in American schools pretty early.  Maybe I will ask my sister, who teaches 5th grade, if kids likely know this by the time they graduate from elementary grades.

 

Edited by Calm
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FWIW, here's Simon Southerton's take on Miller et al.

 
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The major problem I have with the paper is that the radiocarbon dates were NOT from collagen (protein) purified from the horse bones (the gold standard). The dates were from charcoal or wood next to the bones. If you are not able to isolate collagen, you are at the mercy of the soil environment which can contaminate the bones AND the adjacent charcoal or wood with much younger carbon.
 
A major source of younger contaminating carbon in soils is rainwater, which contains dissolved carbon dioxide. This very dilute carbonic acid percolates down the soil profile. Evaporation at the soil surface eventually causes the carbonic acid to precipitate out as calcium carbonate, a solid material found in many soils and caves.
 
From my reading of the paper it is clear that the soils where Miller et al. located the horse bones were rich in carbonates. These are direct quotes from the paper.
 
“𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘨𝘦𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘊𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘦́𝘴 & 𝘍𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴-𝘋𝘪́𝘢𝘻 (2012) 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘩 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 7 𝘮. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘤 𝘭𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘳𝘴 (𝘍𝘪𝘨. 3) 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘥𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘥𝘢𝘭 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘸 𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘞𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘢 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘧𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘭 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘷𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘫𝘰𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘷𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘶𝘧𝘢 (𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘤𝘪𝘶𝘮 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘦), 𝘵𝘩𝘶𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘭𝘺 5 𝘮 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘤 𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘴, 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘩𝘪𝘨𝘩 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦.”
 
Using currently available methods it would be almost impossible to date these Mexican horse bones accurately. The bones, and the charcoal and wood adjacent to the bones, would almost certainly be contaminated with much younger carbonates.
 
The authors are aware of the problem of drawing conclusions from the charcoal and wood dates. They make this surprising admission in the paper, which almost sounds like a response to a reviewer.
 
“𝘞𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘢𝘭 𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘥𝘫𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘢 𝘴𝘬𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘥𝘰𝘦𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘯. 𝘏𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳, 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘰𝘯 𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘢𝘭 𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘌𝘲𝘶𝘶𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴.”
 
However, if the soil is contaminated with carbonates, it doesn’t matter how close you get to the bones. Even the bones are contaminated! Everything is contaminated with carbonates and the dates would be meaningless. I suspect all experienced scientists would be very cautious about the radiocarbon dates reported in the paper, apart from the dates obtained from collagen extracted from post-Columbus horses.
 
Another reason the dates of the charcoal and wood are less reliable is that some soils may have been disturbed in the past by a flood or earthquake. This can result in older bones being deposited in a new location alongside much younger organic material like charcoal and wood.
 
For these reasons, scientists will be very cautious about accepting indirect dates from surrounding organic matter. The best evidence is radiocarbon dates from collagen protein purified from bones. This data is lacking in the paper.
 
Scientists working on Kennewick Man also encountered carbonates, and yet again, Mormons have got the science wrong. This is discussed in detail in a recent paper I co-authored with Thomas Murphy and Angelo Baca. https://www.academia.edu/.../Science_and_Fiction...
 
Kennewick Man was a paleolithic hunter who's almost fully intact skeleton was recovered from the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick Washington. Because scientists were able to isolate high quality collagen from several of Kennewick Man’s bones, they were able to determine that he was, without a doubt, around 9,000 years old. However, some of Kennewick Man’s bones were contaminated by carbonates.
 
In order to learn when the carbonates formed they measured radiocarbon dates for several of Kennewick Man's bones. Not surprisingly, the dates were much younger, roughly 2,500 years ago. To this day some Mormon apologists still claim the carbonate dates on Kennewick Man reflect his true age, even after the scientists corrected their false claims.
 
It's worth noting that the horse species Miller et al. were studying are not the same species as the horses the Spanish brought. They are New World species. This means that Indigenous people would have needed to domesticate them. There is no evidence of pre-Columbian use of horses among indigenous populations anywhere in the Americas.

 

 
Edited by jkwilliams
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The biggest criticism of this study is that they did not or were unable to extract any collagen (protein) purified from the horse bones, which is the gold standard needed in carbon dating. (see Simon Southerton) They instead had to rely on organic matter (charcoal) and humin fraction within close proximity to the bones.  The problem with using this alternative method in determining the age of the bones, it that it doesn't actually give us the bones age but the age of the organic material near the bones. This non-bone sample material is highly susceptible to contamination from rain water, which brings the studies conclusions into question.  Sorry, but this study does not provide the necessary evidence to conclude that horses were present during the Book of Mormon timelines.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/radiocarbon/article/radiocarbon-dating-of-total-soil-organic-matter-and-humin-fraction-and-its-comparison-with-14c-ages-of-fossil-charcoal/66ABB9B56C4659E0E19EFEBB900F002D

Edited by Craig Speechly
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2 hours ago, Craig Speechly said:

The biggest criticism of this study is that they did not or were unable to extract any collagen (protein) purified from the horse bones, which is the gold standard needed in carbon dating. (see Simon Southerton) They instead had to rely on organic matter (charcoal) and humin fraction within close proximity to the bones.  The problem with using this alternative method in determining the age of the bones, it that it doesn't actually give us the bones age but the age of the organic material near the bones. This non-bone sample material is highly susceptible to contamination from rain water, which brings the studies conclusions into question.  Sorry, but this study does not provide the necessary evidence to conclude that horses were present during the Book of Mormon timelines.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/radiocarbon/article/radiocarbon-dating-of-total-soil-organic-matter-and-humin-fraction-and-its-comparison-with-14c-ages-of-fossil-charcoal/66ABB9B56C4659E0E19EFEBB900F002D

At the expense of an unforgiveable pun...hold your horses. 

Just looking at the abstract of the article you posted, I noticed the following, emphasis mine: 

Quote

The main objective is to compare the obtained 14C dating of total SOM with humin, the oldest fraction of SOM. In order to validate the humin ages these data are compared with the age of charcoal collected at similar depths. The 14C ages obtained on charcoal were, in most of the cases, in agreement with the humin fraction considering the experimental errors, or 20% older in average. The dates obtained from total SOM showed significantly younger ages than the humin fraction indicating contamination by younger carbon. These results show the humin fraction is considered a reliable material for 14C dating in soils. However, the humin fraction ages could be assumed as the minimum ages for carbon in soils.

If I interpret this correctly, this article says that readings taken from soil organic matter (SOM) are easily contaminated by younger carbon, but not charcoal. Charcoal, in contrast, seems to be held up as fairly accurate for radiocarbon dating in soils, even trending towards older dates. Well, looking at Table 1 from the Miller paper, I note that half of the samples, including those dated to Book of Mormon times, were charcoal. 

Southerton (who is a geneticist, NOT a geologist as opposed to Miller and the authors of @Craig Speechly's paper) may be right about charcoal being an unreliable sample material, but the authors of @Craig Speechly's paper don't seem to think so. I'll also note that Southerton interprets the presence of "carbonates" in the soil to indicate that the soil is contaminated. That's not what that means, it just means that the soil...has carbon-based materials in it. I'll also note that Miller et. al. do not, in fact admit that their carbon-dating procedures are inaccurate; they say "it doesn't give a precise age," which is just the state of play with carbon dating. 

Also I'll note that the presence of horse bones does not mandate that those horses were domesticated, so Southerton appears to be approaching this piece...a bit hastily ;) .

Edited by OGHoosier
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2 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

At the expense of an unforgiveable pun...hold your horses. 

Just looking at the abstract of the article you posted, I noticed the following, emphasis mine: 

If I interpret this correctly, this article says that readings taken from soil organic matter (SOM) are easily contaminated by younger carbon, but not charcoal. Charcoal, in contrast, seems to be held up as fairly accurate for radiocarbon dating in soils, even trending towards older dates. Well, looking at Table 1 from the Miller paper, I note that half of the samples, including those dated to Book of Mormon times, were charcoal. 

Southerton (who is a geneticist, NOT a geologist as opposed to Miller and the authors of @Craig Speechly's paper) may be right about charcoal being an unreliable sample material, but the authors of @Craig Speechly's paper don't seem to think so. I'll also note that Southerton interprets the presence of "carbonates" in the soil to indicate that the soil is contaminated. That's not what that means, it just means that the soil...has carbon-based materials in it. I'll also note that Miller et. al. do not, in fact admit that their carbon-dating procedures are inaccurate; they say "it doesn't give a precise age," which is just the state of play with carbon dating. 

Also I'll note that the presence of horse bones does not mandate that those horses were domesticated, so Southerton appears to be approaching this piece...a bit hastily ;) .

If I understand this, the 20% average difference puts the bones back into the late Pleistocene, which was already the consensus.

Either way, you still have the lack of domesticated animals other than turkeys and ducks. 

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4 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

If I understand this, the 20% average difference puts the bones back into the late Pleistocene, which was already the consensus.

It's a little vague, I don't understand what exactly 20% refers to. I'm assuming it means that the charcoal is off by about 20% of the total number of Years Before Present according to the humin fraction. Even so, I will note that the article @Craig Speechly posted says that "14C ages obtained on charcoal were, in most of the cases, in agreement with the humin fraction...or 20% older in average." In other words, the charcoal dates tend towards appearing older than the humin fraction. Miller et. al. don't touch on the humin fraction in their paper so that isn't super relevant; my main takeaway from the paper is that charcoal is resistant to young-carbon contamination (far more than SOM) and the authors consider charcoal dating to be a reliable baseline. 

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On 10/18/2022 at 1:11 PM, pogi said:

I wouldn't be celebrating yet with this discovery.  The Book of Mormon lists 2 kinds of horses - the horse and the *** (which is a member of the Equidae, or horse, family).  As far as I am aware horses are native to the Americas but the donkey is not.  It is native to Africa.  We also need to find evidence that the horse was domesticated, ridden, bridled, and pulled chariots.   It also lists cows and cattle, which are not native to the Americas.   One thing I never really noticed before is that they found "goats, and wild goats" mentioned in a couple different locations.  Does this insinuate that they found domestic goats when they arrived?  

Sigh.

I've seen the highlighted claim several times from different sources. (See Father Frances here: https://www.Banned site/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=156416) The problem is that no where in the Book of Mormon does it say chariots were pulled, and horses bridled or ridden. There were no mentions of a harness or wheels. The non Isaiah verses about the horse in the Book of Mormon mentioned them several times in the wild, being prepared (Alma 18:10), they were "made ready" (Alma 20:6), simply "taken" in 3rd Nephi 3:22 and in 3rd Nephi 4:4 and 6:1 they seemed to be food. (Except for the chariots everything else in 3 Nephi 3:22 also suggests horses were a provision, not beast of burden). The horses were mentioned in association with chariots a few times, but they were never described as being pulled by horses. If we are going to try and and find archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon, we should first know what we are looking for.

The first step is reading the text carefully and checking your assumptions while you do so. We don't know exactly what things like made ready, useful to man, or prepared means, but we fill in the gaps with our cultural assumptions (plus a healthy dose of lazy reading) to assume that horse and chariot listed in the same or associated clause has to mean Ben Hur, and not a ceremonial war animal accompanying a palanquin (for example). So our assumptions force a meaning on the text means that it doesn't actually say. 

I don't have an opinion on this evidence presented by Miller. It seems fairly weak, but the author also added a ton of conditionals and included many of those weaknesses in his argument, so those that are trumpeting this as some sort of apologetic fail or slam dunk also seem to be reading things into the text that aren't there. But this is election season, so we should already be used to overblown partisan claims that massively read into the text. But I am annoyed that people can misread the text so casually.

Edited by morgan.deane
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12 hours ago, morgan.deane said:

Sigh.

I've seen the highlighted claim several times from different sources. (See Father Frances here: https://www.Banned site/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=156416) The problem is that no where in the Book of Mormon does it say chariots were pulled, and horses bridled or ridden. There were no mentions of a harness or wheels. 

 

Can someone please explain what a chariot is, if it is not a type of wheeled cart? 

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5 minutes ago, Snodgrassian said:

Can someone please explain what a chariot is, if it is not a type of wheeled cart? 

Brant Gardner makes a valiant effort, but I'll leave it to others to figure out how convincing this is:

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Gardner:_"a_correct_approach_to_a_Mesoamerican_battle_required_all_three_elements:_king,_litter,_and_battle_beast"

Quote

 

Wrote Mesoamerican expert Brant Gardner, who believes the Book of Mormon was situated in Mesoamerica:

Regardless of the reason for the presence of "horse" and "chariot" in the text, we must still deal with the question of what the original text might have meant the animal and conveyance that Joseph translated as "horse" and "chariot" to be. From this point on, all is speculation—but speculation consistent with the Mesoamerican world.

The wording describing horses and chariots is at least suggestive that the king would be transported in connection with the horse and chariot: "they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth." "Conduct him" does not necessarily mean that Lamoni was conducted in the horse/chariot. Indeed, verse 9 mentions horses and chariots, but only the king is "conducted." It is possible that we are dealing with several ritual objects rather than a conveyance. Verse 12, however, does suggest that conveyances are available for the king and his servants; but if would be highly unusual for servants to ride in a culture where everyone walks. Riding would confer upon them the same social status as the king—not to be thought of unless chariots were so common that they were in universal use. And nothing in the text suggests that they were.

If we are dealing with a conveyance, there is a Mesoamerican possibility. A king might be conveyed in a litter, but the litters were carried by men, not pulled by animals. However, an interesting connection between the litter and an animal occurs on what has been termed a battle litter. Freidel, Schele, and Parker note:

Lintel 2 of Temple 1 shows Hasaw-Ka'an-K'awil wearing the balloon headdress of Tlaloc-Venus warfare adopted at the time of the Waxaktun conquest, and holding the bunched javelins and shield, the original metaphors for war imported from Teothuacan. He sits in majesty on the litter that carried him into battle, while above him hulks Waxkluha=un-Ubah-Kan, the great War serpent.... Graffiti drawings scratched on the walls of Tikal palaces, depicting the conjuring of supernatural beings from the Otherworld, prove that these scenes were more than imaginary events seen only by the kings. Several of these elaborate doodles show the great litters of the king with his protector beings hovering over him while he is participating in ritual. These images are not the propaganda of rulers, created in an effort to persuade the people of the reality of the supernatural events they were witnessing. They are the poorly drawn images of witnesses, perhaps minor members of lordly families, who scratched the wonders that they saw during moments of ritual into the walls of the places where they lived their lives.

Thus, Maya art represents the king riding on a litter. In battle, capturing the litter was tantamount to capturing that king's gods. However, the graffiti litters at least open the possibility that these were simply formal litters and not limited to battle context. These litters were accompanied by a "battle beast," or an animal alter ego, embodied in the regalia of the king and litter. Thus, a correct approach to a Mesoamerican battle required all three elements: king, litter, and battle beast.

If Joseph Smith, while translating, came upon an unfamiliar idea but which seemed to describe a kingly conveyance associated with an animal, would it not have seemed logical to him to describe it as a horses and chariot for the king? I see the plausible underlying conveyance as an elaborate royal litter, accompanied in peacetime by the spiritual animal associated with the king. This animal was a type of alter-ego for the king, and was called the way [pronounced like the letter "Y"]....[1]

Gardner's case may be strengthened by the mention of chariots being brought to the lengthy siege in 3 Nephi—suggesting again a possible ritual use associated with warfare.

The most frequent loan-shift applied to the horses by the native americans who first received the Spaniards was "dog". This was the case 45% of the time. Images of these conveyances associated with what appear to be dogs have been documented before. [2]

 

 

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12 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Brant Gardner makes a valiant effort, but I'll leave it to others to figure out how convincing this is:

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Gardner:_"a_correct_approach_to_a_Mesoamerican_battle_required_all_three_elements:_king,_litter,_and_battle_beast"

 

I mean, he's got me, but I may be unusually open to loose translations.

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Just now, Snodgrassian said:

Thanks for sharing @jkwilliams. Even after reading all of those words from Gardner, how did Joseph not mean what he wrote? if we are willing to accept that degree of conveyance/shifting, how do I know a bow was actually a bow? Are the gold plates actual tan colored pieces of a substance Joseph didn't recognize? 

Imagine doing the same thing with 2 Samuel 15:1: "And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him." Nothing about bridles or conveyance there, either. 

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16 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Imagine doing the same thing with 2 Samuel 15:1: "And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him." Nothing about bridles or conveyance there, either.

Or what about 1 Kings 18:44 - "And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not." A single Hebrew word is translated "Prepare thy chariot" and it simply means to 'tie together' (the . Brant's explanation that you provided makes assumptions about the translation process ("If Joseph Smith, while translating, came upon an unfamiliar idea ...").

I think that there are a lot of issues here. I don't think that there are really compelling explanations, but I am also not convinced that these kinds of anachronisms are really all that significant. I think that it is reasonable to attribute these issues to the translation process (whatever it may have been). Rather than all of the detailed discussion, I think its better to simply say that this could be attributed to translation which may well prevent us from developing a realistic understanding of the original text. Along side this, I think that the text does have a degree of ambiguity. 1 Kings 22 provides a lot of discussion about chariots and their use in warfare. None of this occurs in the Book of Mormon. So, I don't find it unreasonable for different groups (with different assumptions) to understand this differently. Brant recognizes space for translation issues as a cause of this anachronism. I think that this sort of thing is most difficult for the believer group that views the Book of Mormon as having a high degree of inerrancy, and coming to us through a translation process that makes Joseph Smith a simple reader of the text and not an active participant in the translation process.

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21 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Or what about 1 Kings 18:44 - "And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not." A single Hebrew word is translated "Prepare thy chariot" and it simply means to 'tie together' (the . Brant's explanation that you provided makes assumptions about the translation process ("If Joseph Smith, while translating, came upon an unfamiliar idea ...").

I think that there are a lot of issues here. I don't think that there are really compelling explanations, but I am also not convinced that these kinds of anachronisms are really all that significant. I think that it is reasonable to attribute these issues to the translation process (whatever it may have been). Rather than all of the detailed discussion, I think its better to simply say that this could be attributed to translation which may well prevent us from developing a realistic understanding of the original text. Along side this, I think that the text does have a degree of ambiguity. 1 Kings 22 provides a lot of discussion about chariots and their use in warfare. None of this occurs in the Book of Mormon. So, I don't find it unreasonable for different groups (with different assumptions) to understand this differently. Brant recognizes space for translation issues as a cause of this anachronism. I think that this sort of thing is most difficult for the believer group that views the Book of Mormon as having a high degree of inerrancy, and coming to us through a translation process that makes Joseph Smith a simple reader of the text and not an active participant in the translation process.

I have no problem with this explanation. It doesn’t work for me, but I can see why it does for others. It’s interesting that some theories about translation (claimed Hebraisms, for example), require a very tight translation, while issues such as horses and chariots rely on loose translation. I know this because I remember being ridiculed many years ago by critics for suggesting this same flexibility in translation. 

Anyway, it all comes down to whether the Book of Mormon is a good fit with Mesoamerica. I don’t think it is, but obviously many other people who are smarter and know more than I do think it is. 

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On 10/22/2022 at 6:58 PM, Calm said:

I think it is an issue that has a widely accepted/established as fact and very well known premise, that there were no horses in the Americas before Columbus (one doesn’t even need to be aware that it is believed horses had gone extinct before Book of Mormon times to know it is an anachronism…or even what the word anachronism means).  Arguing about silk or barley requires less common knowledge.  Arguing about migrations of people and whether it is feasible a group from the Middle East traveled to the Americas in the distant past also needs more than 5th grade level knowledge.  But no horses…everyone knows, right?

I can’t remember if I first learned it reading horse stories (Marguerite Henry often included bloodline history of her horses, how the horse came to be where it was,  iirc…it has been over 50 years since I read those books, so I may be confused about which author, could have been Walter Farley…or both for that matter) or if I learned it learning about Columbus or Cortez, etc.  I remember being taught in elementary school the natives thought the Spanish were gods when they saw them sitting on horses since they didn’t know what horses were.  I hope it is not taught this way now, but my guess is horses brought back to the Americas post Columbus is taught in American schools pretty early.  Maybe I will ask my sister, who teaches 5th grade, if kids likely know this by the time they graduate from elementary grades.

 

Here's hoping apologists aren't mentioning tapirs anymore!

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10 hours ago, Snodgrassian said:

Thanks for sharing @jkwilliams. Even after reading all of those words from Gardner, how did Joseph not mean what he wrote? if we are willing to accept that degree of conveyance/shifting, how do I know a bow was actually a bow? Are the gold plates actual tan colored pieces of a substance Joseph didn't recognize? 

Saying stuff like "how did Joseph not mean what he wrote" shows that you are assigning meaning to the text and are so unwilling to recognize what you did that you argue any other reading is "not saying what he meant." I think Joseph meant what he translated, I just don't think you have a good understanding of the text. If I can summarize your argument: "We all know what chariot means so any differing explanation of [the traditional definition of] chariot must be denying Smith's meaning."

I already discussed how assumptions and too casual reading can lead to a misunderstanding of horses, and by association chariots. Ben had a good illustration of how chariot can mean something besides what is commonly assumed. The same word for Hebrew word for "chariot" turns out to be a saddle upon further study, and another verse where chariot is translated covering for a litter or palanquin. The associated word for chariot meant saddle as well.  All the uses of the term vary greatly from the commonly assumed definition. Or as you would say, what the Biblical author meant when they wrote merkaba, or chariot. But the term was far more flexible, (particularly with translations), which we only find out after doing some study beyond our the plain meaning of a supposedly straight forward term. https://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/C/chariot.html

I've had this conversation literally dozens of times over the years, and already described the pertinent scriptures in this thread, so I'll bow out. If you want to understand more you might try Ben Spackman's talk from the recent FAIR conference about plain reading, and a good video from Dan Ellsworth about assumptions as well as the link above. Good luck. 

 

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14 hours ago, morgan.deane said:

Saying stuff like "how did Joseph not mean what he wrote" shows that you are assigning meaning to the text and are so unwilling to recognize what you did that you argue any other reading is "not saying what he meant." I think Joseph meant what he translated, I just don't think you have a good understanding of the text. If I can summarize your argument: "We all know what chariot means so any differing explanation of [the traditional definition of] chariot must be denying Smith's meaning."

I already discussed how assumptions and too casual reading can lead to a misunderstanding of horses, and by association chariots. Ben had a good illustration of how chariot can mean something besides what is commonly assumed. The same word for Hebrew word for "chariot" turns out to be a saddle upon further study, and another verse where chariot is translated covering for a litter or palanquin. The associated word for chariot meant saddle as well.  All the uses of the term vary greatly from the commonly assumed definition. Or as you would say, what the Biblical author meant when they wrote merkaba, or chariot. But the term was far more flexible, (particularly with translations), which we only find out after doing some study beyond our the plain meaning of a supposedly straight forward term. https://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/C/chariot.html

I've had this conversation literally dozens of times over the years, and already described the pertinent scriptures in this thread, so I'll bow out. If you want to understand more you might try Ben Spackman's talk from the recent FAIR conference about plain reading, and a good video from Dan Ellsworth about assumptions as well as the link above. Good luck. 

 

I must be a lazy learner... but I am tired of these ever moving goals posts. Is it a tight translation or a loose translation? Was the it written in Hebrew? If I am a translator, which I was for a long time, and I use the word "chariot" (in 1820's), that word has meaning. We already know that the Bible has many mistranslations, but the Book of Mormon should not suffer from the same poor chose in words that Bible translations have. 

"I think Joseph meant what he translated, I just don't think you have a good understanding of the text." Ouch. Very common practice is to blame the member/student for not understanding the meaning of doctrine/scripture. We have ample resources in our scriptures that often "fix" words that are confusing in our times, yet we have a Book of Mormon that we refuse to update the text to increase understanding. 

If I recall correctly, horses and chariots are referenced together, every time chariot is mentioned. Why must we distance ourselves from a more traditional interpretation of chariot? 

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17 hours ago, morgan.deane said:

I already discussed how assumptions and too casual reading can lead to a misunderstanding of horses, and by association chariots. 

It really bothers me that a misunderstanding of the word "horses" is blamed on the reader for being too assumptious and casual in their reading.  If "horses" is supposed to mean something other than "horses", than that is a translation issue, and any misunderstanding should not be blamed on the reader who has been taught their entire life that the Book of Mormon is "plain" and "simple" to understand and the "most correct of any other book".  It's "correctness" has been attributed by the church to "the Lord's hand operative in its translation".   The church has claimed that there is "irrefutable evidence to show both the correctness of the translation and the Lord's hand in it".   So, forgive us for expecting something more simple and plain to understand.  I mean this whole argument that the horse, or cow/cattle, etc really isn't a horse/cow/cattle but that it is some other animal that we don't have a good English word for really seems to fall flat on its face when you consider the use of "curelom" and "cumom".  If the translation practice was to replace names of unknown animals with names of common modern animals, then why wasn't that pattern consistent throughout the translation process?  Why wasn't that done also with "curelom" and "cumom"?  For being the "most correct", it sure seems to be inconsistent in its translation methods.  Requiring loose translations here and tight translations there... Replacing ancient animal names with more familiar animal names here, but using the ancient name there...

Blaming those who understandably read "horse" to mean "horse" is really a cheap shot and shows to me the weakness and lack of confidence of the argument when such tactics are employed.   If your explanation is true, than if anyone is to be blamed for the misunderstanding, then it is Joseph Smith...or perhaps God, for MISLEADING people.  Or perhaps Mr. Ed might have a little blame for the misunderstanding too - "a horse is a horse, a horse, of course..."  Curse you Mr. Ed!  A horse is not always a horse - you are just making too many assumptions and are too casual in your reading!

On 10/25/2022 at 7:22 PM, morgan.deane said:

There were no mentions of a harness or wheels.

Curious this.   If I am to accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon, then I have to accept that the Nephites came from a land and culture that knew what horses were and they knew what chariots were.  After all, there is proof of this in the Book of Mormon where in 2 Nephi 12 "horse" and "chariot" actually DO mean "horse" and "chariot' because he is reading from the brass plates and the words of Isaiah.  So, horse and chariot actually do mean horse and chariot in the Book of Mormon...but only sometimes.  Sorry, this is getting all too convoluted for me.   My point being that because they knew what an actual "chariot" was, then they also knew about the technology of the wheel.  They knew what a wheel was and how to use one, so why is there no evidence of this most basic and useful technology in the Americas?  Why did the people revert to more ancient technologies in some ways by not making use of the wheel in building and transportation, but show evidence of advanced technologies in other ways?  If there truly were horses in the Americas (as some would have me believe) why wouldn't they harness them and domesticate them, like they did in the land they came from?  Makes no sense.  But perhaps I am just being too assumptions and casual.    

It is also a little too much to expect me to disregard the context of "horses and chariots" in the Book of Mormon, how they are only mentioned when preparing for long-distance travel (and not just to battle).  So, if these were not domesticated beasts of burden, why were they prepared only for travel in conjunction with the chariot?  Why was chariot never mentioned without the horse?  Brant Gardner makes a valiant effort, by trying to link these things with ceremonial ritual for war, but horses and chariots were used for more than war in the Book of Mormon.  Seems strange to prepare horses and bring horses for ceremonial purposes when they were just making a simple trip to another city.  But that is just an observation from my "casual" reading. 

Edited by pogi
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