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Lehi on the Witness Stand

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by dan, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    *** MOD POST ***

    Much of the material presented by Dan in this thread is taken from a book entitled Lehi in the Desert. This book was written by Hugh Nibley, who is undisputably the most knowledgable LDS scholar who has ever lived. However, Dan's comments have been interspersed at random throughout the thread, and it is often difficult for the reader to be able to distinguish between his words and Nibley's. Because this is such an important topic to the Latter-day Saint posters on this forum, and deserves to be discussed, I am not deleting it at this time. It is important, however, that credit be given to the individual whose years of research is being presented here. If anyone has any comments or questions as to which words are Dan's and which are Hugh Nibley's, please contact me by PM. If it becomes necessary to delete this thread entirely, I will do so -- but only as a last resort.

    Kathryn

    Most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have never been very much interested in "proving" the Book of Mormon; for us its divine provenance has always been an article of faith, and its historical aspects by far the least important thing about it. But the world insists that it is a gross and stupid forgery, a barefaced fraud perpetrated by an ignorant rustic who could hardly write his name. They have made the charge; let them prove it.

    All sorts of questions were levelled at the Book of Mormon. Let us first examine the opening setting and the accusations hurled at it.

    The Book of Mormon opens in Jerusalem roughly six hundred years before Christ. A wise patriarch by the name of Lehi leads his family away from home into the desert in search of the promised land. Those familiar with the text may recognize some of the concerns that follow. Picture Lehi on the witness stand as the prosecution begins its barrage:

    What is your name? Don't you know there is no such name in Jewish antiquity? Where did you live at the time? What do you mean the "Land of Jerusalem"? Don't you mean the city? Where did you get this great wealth your sons speak of? How did you happen to learn Egyptian-wasn't it a waste of time? Why didn't you learn Babylonian, a language much nearer to your own? I have quite a list of names from your records-your purported family and descendants: Do you expect the court to believe these are genuine? If this is a genuine list, why does it contain no Baal names? You say you had dreams: about what? A river? What kind of river? What is this weird "mist of darkness"? Don't you think a dream is a pretty slim pretext for leaving your home and country? In which direction did you flee? How could you build up a big caravan without being aprehended? How did you travel-on foot? How did you manage to survive with women and children in a terrible desert? How did you escape being killed off by raiders? What did you eat? Did you march continually? When you camped, what was the firs thing you did? What kind of altar? What sort of game did you hunt? Where? How? WHo did the hunting? Your son made a bow, you say; where in desolate Arabia could he find wood for that? What right had you to go around giving new names to places? Do you think any sane person would give a river and its valley different names? Whoever called the Red Sea a fountain? Don't you know there are no rivers in Arabia? Don't you think it rather silly to describe a valley as "firm and steadfast"? Aren't metal plates ratehr clumsy writing material to keep records on? Aren't Laban's fifty men a ridiculously small garrison for a city like Jerusalem? Are you trying to tell the court that you found a paradise on the southernmost rim of the most desolate land on earth?

    These were the charges aimed at the Book of Mormon when it was published. No one had answers to these questions at the time, but an exhaustive study shows that each question's answer serves only to establish the account as 100% accurate-far beyond the capacities of even the most knowledgeable scholars from Joseph Smith's day to answer correctly.

    Anyone feel any of these questions is especially important? Anyone think these concerns raise valid doubts? Anyone? Beuhler? Beuhler?

    Your thoughts.
     
  2. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Well, allow me to post some evidence that the Book of Mormon could not possibly have been written by Joseph Smith or anyone else on the planet during his lifetime. The Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of our faith. If it what it purports to be then Joseph Smith was a prophet and every other thing the church teaches is absolutely true. I leave it in your hands to decide if my evidence is sufficient to prove Joseph Smith could not have written it. If you decide he did write it (made it up) please explain how it was possible. I'll treat only the first forty pages of the Book of Mormon.

    One of the first arguments you'll find agaist the Book of Mormon is the names. They're ridiculous. There was no evidence that any of these names were legit. There is now. This is only the beginning, so be patient.

    The first is Lehi. No one ever heard of this name. Joseph Smith is a fraud. A shard from about 500 years before Christ is found a hundred years after Joseph Smith with the exact name Lehi on it. Where is it from? Oh, Jerusalem. Not extremely convincing, but let's look at others. Keep in mind the only texts available to Joseph Smith were from the Old Testament. Joseph knew nothing of Egyptian at the translation of the Book of Mormon. BM means Book of Mormon, OW means from the Old World (Egypt to be more specific. The Book of Mormon was written in reformed Egyptian)

    AHA (BM), son of Nephite commander
    AHA (OW), a name of the first Pharoah; it means warrior

    AMINADAB (BM), Nephite missioanry
    AMANATHABI (OW), Chief of a Canaanite city under Egyptian domination. The name is "reformed Egyptian"

    AMMON (BM), the commonest name of the Book of Mormon
    AMMON (OW), The commonest name in the Egyptian empire

    AMMONI-HAH (BM), Name of a country and city
    AMMUNI-RA (OW), Prince of Beyrut under Egyptian rule

    CAMENI-HAH (BM), A Nephite general
    KHAMUNI-RA (OW), Amarna personal name

    GIDDONAH (BM), A high priest who judged Korihor
    DJI-DO-NA (OW), the Egyptian name for Sidon

    GIDDIANHI (BM), Robber chief and general
    DJHOTI-ANKHI (OW), Egyptian proper name

    HEM (BM), Brother of the earlier Ammon
    HEM (OW), Means "servant," specifically of Ammon, as in the common title Hem tp n 'Imn, "chief servant of Ammon"

    HELAMAN (BM), great Nephite Prophet
    HER-AMON (OW), i nthe presence of Amon. Smitic "l" is always written "r" in Egyptian, which has no "l"
     
  3. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    HIMNI (BM), a son of King Mosiah
    HMN (OW), a name of the Egyptian hawk-god (vowels are implied in this name, you guess what they are)

    KORIHOR (BM), political agitator
    KHERIHOR (OW), great high priest of Ammon

    MANTI (BM), a Nephite soldier, a land, a city and a hill
    MANTI (OW), Semitic form of an Egyptian proper name (again, reformed Egyptian)

    NEPHI (BM), founder of the Nephite nation
    NEHI, NEHRI, NFY, NIHPI (OW), noblemen, captains and gods

    PAANCHI (BM), son of Pahoran
    PAANCHI (OW), son of Kherihor

    PAHORAN (BM), a great chief judge
    PAHERAN (OW), ambassador of Egypt in Palestine

    That's enough for names, but I have many more if you want. It will be noted that the names compared are rarely exactly alike. This, strangely enough, is strong confirmation of their common origin, since changes in time and distance are bound to alter names and languages. Were they exactly the same their resemblance would have to be mere coincidence. They have changed, and the manner in which they have changed testifies of the same common root. I won't go into it, but the derviations of these names found in the Book of Mormon (Aminidab, Aminadi, Amminihu, Amnor) correspond exactly with the required changes considering the regions influencing Lehi's original culture. Basically, these names cannot have come from anywhere on the earth, or any time, except the places Lehi lived and worked at the exact time in history the Book of Mormon says he lived, and Joseph Smith had no exposure to any of this. Try to argue that. "Nuh-uh!" isn't gonna cut it either. Moving on...
     
  4. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    As utterly impossible it would have been for "Joe" Smith to make up those names with such precision and accuracy, there's much, much more. Before I move on, though, an objection is brought up to the fact that there are no Baal names in the list, when Baal names where very Hebrew. The Old Testament is full of them. A city named Elephantine holds the key. At the beginning of the sixth century B.C. it seems these names fell out of favor. The Jews who escaped the Babylonians (of which Lehi is one) mostly fled to Egypt. They eventually landed in a city called Elephantine. Among records recently unearthed about the Jews who relocated there, not one compound of Baal is found among over four hundred lists of names. This is also in fullfilment of Hosea's prophecy that these names would not be used by the Israelites. None of this, of course, was known by anyone on earth while Joseph Smith was alive.

    Now, Lehi says he dwelt at the land of Jerusalem, when the facts point to his actually living outside the city. This also comes into play when people foam at the mouth and pull out Alma 7:10 where is says Christ will be born at the land of Jerusalem. Recently uncovered Amarna letters show that it was common practice to refer to cities surrounding bigger cities as being "at the land of" the bigger city. They speak of "a city of the land of Jerusalem, Bet-Ninib" as being captured. This city lies some distance from Jerusalem. This practice was a holdover from the times when the city and the land were a single political unit, comprising a city-state. Thus Socrates is an Athenian, and nothing else, even though he came from the village of Alopeke, at some distance from the city. Joseph Smith, of course, did not know this.

    So, Lehi up and tells his family they're leaving. Why? He had a dream. Pretty slim context for moving your entire family through the most dangerous stretch of real estate on earth (the Arabian desert). A little background - Lehi is a wealthy merchant, trading with Egypt and the Aegeans through Sidon and other outlets. Thus his first two sons names are Greek and his middle two are Egyptian (of course no one on earth knew this in Joseph Smith's day). So, it wasn't known in the western hemisphere at the time, but Bedouins and other nomadic peoples often based their moving habits on dreams and omens. This is how they packed up and left in such a big hurry without much trouble (and packing a caravan for a dozen people ain't easy). As a travelling merchant from Jerusalem Lehi would have been an expert at gittin' up an' goin'.

    Nephi dedicates a whole verse to the fact that his father dwelt in a tent. Why is that significant? It turns out that Bedouins are fiercely proud of their tents. To an Arab you were one of two kinds of people: a city dweller or a tent dweller. An ancient Arab poet boasts that his people are "the proud, the chivalrous people of the horse and camel, the dwellers-in-tents, and no miserable ox-drivers." One of the most common oaths of the Bedouins, according to Burckhardt is "by the life of this tent and its owner." The death of a man is declared official and his estate void when and only when his tent posts are torn up and broken. The erection of a new tent in the desert is "an important event celebrated with feast and sacrifice." "The Bedouin has a strong affection for his tent," says Canaan. "He will not exchange it with any stone house." Cultural oddities of which no one knew outside that very desert until the turn of the twentieth century, and yet Joseph Smith's account cannot be more accurate.
     
  5. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    The Book of Mormon says Lehi took with him an awful large supply of seed. To scamper through the desert? Why? Well, it turns out the Bedouins had a funny way of travelling. They would march for weeks, camping outside overnight, and then they would set up camp for anywhere from a month to a year. Apparently, they always carried seed with them to plant should they decide they wanted to tarry a while. Again, this is only recently understood of this people. They always carried seed. Fascinating. This also explains why it took Lehi eight years to travel across the Arabian peninsula. This timing is dead on what it should ave taken a normal nomadic family.

    Can we map out the course? The Book of Mormon says they travelled at a southeast direction. Well, that bounces down the western coast of arabia quite effectively. After a certain amount of time they change direction and travel eastward. A man dies and they bury him in a place called Nahom. Another name apparently pulled out of Joseph Smith's butt. No one ever heard of this name. Joseph Smith made mention of the nineteenth parallel as the turning point in the journey. How on earth does he know that?!? Well, in case you're wondering, a burial ground on the side of a hill on the nineteenth parallel in the Arabian desert was uncovered in 1978 bearing the name NHM (remember, no vowels, can you guess?) Mormon archeologists, right? No, although they showed up quick, fast and in a hurry. Another strange thing about the Book of Mormon is the mention of a coastline on the eastern shore named Bountiful, that was apparently covered in trees, lush vegetation and wildlife. Who on earth would buy that? No one thought this was possible until 1928 when a man named Bertram Thomas (not LDS) finds a little pocket of heaven in what are known as the Qara Mountains, right on the eastern shore of Arabia at a certain parallel that I don't even have to mention. It contains the very mountains, plants and wildlife that Nephi says they found. This is the only spot on the entire planet that conforms to what Nephi describes, and it falls exactly where he said it would. Joseph Smith must have been some kind of genuis, huh? Isn't that the asertion that sparked my post, that many genuises have created works of equal grandeur?

    Physically impossible. But I'm not done. One more thing. I could go on for days, but I'm tired and I have to work tomorrow.

    Nephi carries with him on this journey a bow made with steel. It breaks and his family is upset. Only in such a dangerous place as the Arabian desert would the loss of a bow be so disheartening as to render the whole party inconsolable. Now, hunting in this region is carried out today on foot, without dog or hawk; in classical times the hunter was equipped with a sling and a bow, exactly like Nephi. He informs us that the only suitable game is found at the top of the mountains. The oryx is apparently the only real game to be had in the desert, and they hide out in the mountains. Lucky guess Joseph Smith. Nephi had to fashion a new bow outof wood. The only bow-wood obtainable in all Arabia was the nab wood that grew only on Mount Jasum and Mount Azd, which are situated exactly where the Book of Mormon tells us Nephi broke his bow. OK, lucky guess again Joe. Funny that for years these were all arguments levelled at Joe Smith and the dirty Mormons. History vindicates the Book fo Mormon and none else.

    I'll leave it at that for now. Feel free to attack any part of this you wish. Whatever you may say, you cannot possibly deny the fact that no man on earth could have written these forty pages in the time and place that Joseph Smith did as an uneducated boy of twenty two. You have no explanation for that, and neither does anyone else on the planet.

    It is common practice among anti-Mormons to attack (rather than the doctrine or the scriptures) the character of members of the church and church policy, and apocryphal church history and all that crap; but only one thing matters - the Book of Mormon. If you cannot disprove that you cannot shake the faith of a good LDS person, for that is what ties them so strongly to Christ. If the Book of Mormon is true then all of you are fighting against the very powers of heaven. This is my eivdence for you (it is not what convinces me) and if you cannot debunk it I cannot in good conscience entertain any of your anti-mormon litany. Good luck.
     
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  6. MdmSzdWhtGuy

    MdmSzdWhtGuy Well-Known Member

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    Hear hear. I am not LDS, but have known several who were, and they were all fine people. Admirable to see you have such an intimate knowledge of your faith. While I don't share your faith, I certainly can respect your ferver for it.

    LDS are the only people I have personally encountered who are as excited about their religion as the Muslims are. And I have never heard of LDS people harming anyone who was non-LDS for their beliefs. Great post sir.

    B.
     
  7. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, sir. I admire your respect and your objectivity, and I'm glad to see my brethren have represented well their faith.
     
  8. MdmSzdWhtGuy

    MdmSzdWhtGuy Well-Known Member

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    Dan,

    You are most welcome, and your brethren in my experience have been outstanding ambassadors of your faith without the least bit of pushiness. As a matter of fact, I have several of them who have offered to pray for me after I die. I was not aware of faiths that thought you could still be saved even after death, and gladly accepted thier offers when they made them.

    After substantial time spent with LDS folks discussing spiritual matters, I can say with all honesty that I hope you guys are right. I personally cannot buy it, but for what its worth, you guys have a much more hopeful and uplifting religious outlook than any other group of which I have had contact with. Tho after some readings pointed out by Jayhawker, I am becoming a bit more interested in Unitarian Universalism.

    I am not a Christian, but I cannot ascribe to myself the title of Athiest or Agnostic either. That is why I have titled myself as a skeptic, tho a seeker might be more accurate. You and your kind have represented yourself well in my experience, and have shown the most desireable traits I think people could aspire to. Stable, happy families, genuine compassion for others and a positive outlook. These are traits I think that should universally admired, and traits I aspire to myself, tho I may travel a different path in seeking them.

    B.
     
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  9. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Hey, a seeker of truth is all God wants. No one can criticize another for earnestly seeking the light (and being very particular about what is worthy of research). I'm pleased to hear you recognize the good in what we try to do. Most refuse to delve into how much good we can do at all because of their prejudice, but it's good to see that isn't the norm. Thanks for speaking up.
     
  10. MdmSzdWhtGuy

    MdmSzdWhtGuy Well-Known Member

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    Well sir, I can hardly be accused of being the norm, but I understand your sentiment and it is appreciated. Sadly in my personal search for the truth, it does not bring me closer to most established religions, but rather farther away from them.

    Perhaps I will someday find my way.

    B.
     
  11. jonny

    jonny Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting stuff. Where'd you find it all?
     
  12. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    All over the place. But a lot of it comes from a bunch of Hugh Nibley research. A lot of it came from articles in Improvement Era.
     
  13. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    No one has an objection to this evidence. You all accept it as truth? You all accept the Book of Mormon as all it purports to be?
     
  14. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Still no objections? Does anyone still believe the Book of Mormon to be false?
     
  15. jonny

    jonny Well-Known Member

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    No objections here.
     
  16. Aqualung

    Aqualung Tasty

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    Nor here. :D And I doubt you'll be getting any from anyone else. It's tough to debate when all the evidence is against you.
     
  17. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    But they're so sure of themselves! They speak with such authority and conviction. They all seem to know so much more than me about my religion. Am I to believe they just can't argue with this evidence? That would mean they have to take me seriously! So, from now on when they spew forth their anti-Mormon crap I can remind them that they failed to measure up to the Book of Mormon challenge.

    J. Golden Kimball was on a train once and everyone around him started talking about the Mormons. Someone said, "I'm going south to get away from the Mormons." Another said, "The south is good, but I'm going east to get away from them." They kept going on until Mr. Kimball couldn't keep his mouth shut. He got up and said, "Why don't you all just go to Hell where you know there won't be any Mormons."

    Ha, ha, ha. Good ol' J. Golden Kimball.
     
  18. Aqualung

    Aqualung Tasty

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    :biglaugh: That is an awesome little story!
     
  19. Merlin

    Merlin Active Member

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    I am probably one of the few non-Mormons who owns a copy of the book of Mormon, and has actually read it. I have asked several times of visiting evangelists if they will tell me what it contains that is not already in the existing Bible

    I know there are lots of stories, but I'm talking about new fundamental truths. Clearly the Christian New Testament brought out new concepts and new ideas that were not there in the Jewish books that became our old Testament. but when I read the book of Mormon looking for new insights and for something that would take the religious world one step further forward, I found nothing new. Maybe you could tell us what there is that is worth our knowing?
     
  20. Merlin

    Merlin Active Member

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    You don't actually know that
     
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