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Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Missing epigraphic evidence in the New World

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  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    May 20, 2011 5:56 p.m.

    Today I read an interesting article dealing with pre-Columbian migrations to America. I found it quite applicable to the BofM.

    It is in Current Anthropology Volume 38, Number 3, June 1997 and is titled: Robbing Native American Cultures, by Gabriel Haslip-Viera, Bernard Ortiz de Montellano, and Warren Barbour.

    Here are some quotes from it.

    "They have also accepted a theory and a methodological approach that grossly distorts the historical record at the expense of Native Americans...in effect, trampled on the self-respect or self-esteem of Native Americans by minimizing their role as actors in their own history, denigrating their cultures, and usurping their contributions to the development of world civilizations."

    "There is hardly a claim...that can be supported by the evidence found in the archaeological, botanical, linguistic, or historical record."

    "He employs a number of tactics commonly used by pseudoscientists, including an almost exclusive use of outdated secondary sources and a reliance on the pseudoscientific writing of others."

    The apologists are trying to mix the BofM people in with a large population of others. At what point do we realize and admit that this is offensive, racist and without scientific support?

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    May 19, 2011 4:19 p.m.

    JM,

    Sorry, I meant to say Joshua Skains of Sandy.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    May 19, 2011 1:36 p.m.

    JM (Josh Kains),

    Do you really think anyone who questions these articles is being dishonest? I think you are losing any credibility you might have left if that is really your position.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2011 9:28 p.m.

    There are far, far, more impressive evidences for the BOM than that which Sami said. And, the scholars at fairlds are respectable and do a lot of research - meaning, there is every reason to believe what they wrote about Sami.

    By the way, the BOA is not the slam dunk critics think it is. I love the book, and think it is some of the best evidence for the prophet Joseph Smith out there. Nibley's "One Eternal Round" recently released is excellent. So is "Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham" on the BOA content and numerous other sources. But, it is way too complex to get into it here.

    @Weber State Graduate
    "By the way, Egyptologists point out that the material in Joseph Smith's manuscript has absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to any correct understanding of the ancient Egyptian language."

    There was a presentation on it at the FAIR conference last year. While I am not too knowledgeable on this myself, it appears it wasn't used for understanding Egyptian.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    May 18, 2011 6:02 p.m.

    There is no objective, direct, non-controversial evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon. NHM and the witnesses are the strongest imo but come with their own set of reasonable criticisms.

    I respect Mike for being transparent about the reality of evidences. Many of his apologetic brethren of the past were not as intellectually honest.

    I continue to appreciate the fantastic posts both pro and con.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 18, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    "We do not have the papyri that Joseph Smith used to translate the [BoA] text."

    Bill, you are just simply wrong. Why do you make such erroneous statements?

    The church owns an "Egyptian Book of Alphabet and Grammar" manuscript that has the handwriting of William W. Phelps, Warren Parrish (scribes to Joseph Smith) along with four pages written by Smith himself. Two pages from this manuscript unmistakably shows symbols from the small sensen portion of the existing papyri with BOA verses next to each one of the symbols.

    The fact that every symbol from this existing piece of papyri is written on the manuscript in precisely the same order with accompanying verses of the BoA is pretty compelling evidence that it was used in the translation of the BoA.

    By the way, Egyptologists point out that the material in Joseph Smith's manuscript has absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to any correct understanding of the ancient Egyptian language.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 18, 2011 1:16 p.m.

    Bill - unfortunately president Hinckley is no longer with us, so as you yourself pointed out, a deceased prophets words are no longer valid. Remember, this is the arguement you used before. So if we listen to anything Hinckely says, we have to listen to all of the former prophets. It is all or nothing.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 18, 2011 12:12 p.m.

    To Mormoncowboy: My complaint with JAX was that in the meeting I attended Elder Nelson never stated the individual. I have seen the same thing you've already stated plus the site you went to. Secondly, the Book of Mormon has been translated if I'm correct into both Egyptian and Arabic, thus it would be wise to know who did the translation.

    As to answer Brahmabull: President Hinkley in his teachings stated that "The Doctrine of polgamy was hard for some to follow." In the very next sentence he states, "The practice of polgamy has been terminated in the Church for a hundred years." So I hold to the practice. It appears that doctrine and practice can be interchangable in some circumstances so I will give you that.

    Now pertaining to the Book of Abraham: We do not have the papyri that Joseph Smith used to translate the text. We do have some others that survived a fire.
    However, the cosmological view of ancient Egyptians follows very much in line with what Joseph Smith translated. In fact, now scholarship suggest both inside and outside LDS circles that Joseph Smith actually got it right.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 18, 2011 11:35 a.m.

    @ Double rainbow: I'm glad I make you smile. Still, I don't believe there are problems with the Book of Mormon. (Problems arise with the imposition of modern cultural assumptions on the ancient record.)

    You ask why "church leaders dont' come back with an explanation from God for all of the problems with the Book of Mormon, BOA, church history?"

    You forget that God is not a vending machine. He decides what He wants and doesn't want to reveal. And again, I tend to think that the "problems" you speak of belong to you and not the things you list.

    You suggest that, because people are leaving the Church over these problems, there is some sort of crisis that the Church must address. I think you'll find that the rate of apostacy from the Church is not extraordiary, and there is no great crisis the Church needs to address. Crises of faith happen on an individual basis, and are best ministered to at that level.

    @ Weber State Grad: The Book of Abraham is a red herring because it isn't the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith claimed inspiration and revelation, not professional expertise in Egyptian.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 18, 2011 10:13 a.m.

    I agree with Full-on double rainbow and Weber State Graduate, but I can say no more because of the powers that be!

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 18, 2011 6:38 a.m.

    Jeff...how is bringing up Joseph Smith's gross mistranslation of Egyptian "epigraphic evidence" a red herring? On the contrary, it absolutely fits well within the context of this discussion, as articulated in the article by Mr.Ash himself:

    "Epigraphic evidence consists of a written record...Egyptians, for example, wrote on materials that survived to modern times."

    If Joseph Smith indeed incorrectly mistranslated the Egyptian papyri with its associated facsimiles, as maintained by both Egyptian and LDS scholars alike, how then is this not relevant to the conversation about the authenticity of the BoM? Assuming Joseph Smith translated the BoM from an epigraphic record, the BoA debacle certainly cast serious doubt about his credibility as a translator.

    In my opinion, connecting the dots is a rather simple exercise, especially if intellectual honesty remains a primary requisite among those who are interested in facts.

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    May 17, 2011 9:20 p.m.

    It would take many years of intense study to learn how metals would oxidize under various climate conditions even if you had similar metal objects made of similar metals so all we can do is make educated guesses. As to the Egyptian characters and the book of Abraham, I once watched two world experts argue over an inscriptions taken from the wall of a tomb. They agreed on about 50% and were far apart on the rest. As one of my Geology professors once said, "You will never find a fossil with all the intact parts of the live specimen. Your imagination and best guesses will have to fill in the rest." So it is in Archeology. To base ones faith on best guesses that can change with any new evidence is to build upon the sand.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    May 17, 2011 8:26 p.m.

    Jeff, your comments never cease to bring a smile to my face. Basically your position on the Book of Abraham is: "The BOA is awesome. I love it. I don't care if there are problems with it."

    I think Joggle brings up a good point about the church needing apologists at all. Why don't church leaders come back with an explanation from God for all of the problems with the Book of Mormon, BOA, church history? People are leaving the church over these problems. Why not address them directly? Is it because bringing up historical problems would hurt more than help because many church members aren't even aware of any problems at all? Is it because church leaders don't have a satisfiable response beyond have faith? For a church that preaches continuing revelation the many faith destroying problems could sure benefit from an apologist such as God.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    May 17, 2011 7:40 p.m.

    @otonashii1

    I just read the talk in the July 93 Ensign, "A Treasured Statement". You said you could see nothing about Helaman 3:14, and Sami and how the many "ands" are textual proof for the BoM. But it is right there! I just got done reading it at LDS.org. Why have you said it is not? Jax gave an accurate source.

    Now I'll make a claim attributed to RMN. In that very same article "A Treasured Statement", Elder Nelson mentions how David Whitmer described Joseph Smith translating the gold plates with a hat and seer stone. Yes, it is right in that same article by Elder Nelson. Before I am called a liar, folks should read that Ensign article.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 17, 2011 7:37 p.m.

    It is useless to try to get Bill to admit that he is wrong. He still thinks that polygamy was never official mormon "doctrine" back in the 1800's when it was practiced. So you will be waiting a while if you think he will actually say that somebody else is right. Even when you quote prophets of old he says it is just opinion.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 17, 2011 5:36 p.m.

    Bill:

    This is an absolutely useless argument. Look, if Elder Nelson wanted to do more than just spin a yarn, he could simply request that this experiment of Hanna be duplicated.

    I was able to locate the email from Hanna's son and it could very easily be legit. Rather than disputing that, reply to the email. I have sent my own query in, we shall see if I am responded to.

    Lastly, you may want to consider John A. Tvedtnes's critical review of Brent Yorgasons "Little Known Evidences of The Book of Mormon". Among other things, he argues that Hanna, who is a personal acquaintance of Tvedtnes, does not know any semitic languages other than Arabic. Particularly he states that Hanna did not speak ancient Egyptian or Coptic. You should also note that Tvedtnes is a Pro-Mormon scholar, with his own page under Mormon Scholars Testify. He also lists a number of criticisms against Hanna's enumerated points that are frankly self-evident. For example, Hanna claims that the term "stiffnecked" would have been an unusual phrase for Joseph Smith, but that it is consistent with Egyptian - but fails to acknowledge the phrases existence in the NT.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 17, 2011 5:25 p.m.

    RE: tmaxr | 11:58 p.m

    2 Nephi 12:7 is scirpture of a BOM prophet teaching from Isaiah, it does NOT refer to the land of the nephites, it refers to the wickedness of the isrealites in the old world.

    -
    -
    RE: joggle

    Your OPINIONS of the Book of Abraham and of Joseph Smith are not evidence, and your OPINION are all based on assumption LOTS of assumptions,

    such as assuming what papyri was transalted,
    assumtions based on a facsimlie included in a book,
    assuming the opinions of some person are absolute truth,

    also heresay, and and on the opinions of self-proclaimed experts,

    It's funny how the ANTIs and doubters are so quick to believe the words of apostates and others but find it so difficult to believe the words of believers,

    it seems to be all based on what they want to believe, and not what is actually the truth.

    if someones opinion or thought does not agree with thier desired view they reject it,

    and I am stil haven't seen any statement from Joseph Smith regarding the Book of Abraham.

    Wherther from translation or revelation or both,

    it is what it claims to be.

  • otonashii1 Round Rock, TX
    May 17, 2011 5:13 p.m.

    @ Bill. I can not find on google any talk by RMN that talks about Helaman 3:14, and Sami and how the many "ands" are textual proof for the BoM. I see a talk in July 1993 Ensign A Tresured Testament, by RMN, but it makes no such claims as you attribute to RMN. I do see references by Shields (pro-mormon) calling the supposed talk you refer to as a HOAX. Shields specifically states that RMN did NOT write the supposed letter about Sami, BoM translation and his coversion. I can not stand with your statement, unless you can come up with one specicially from RMN himself. Which I believe you can't.

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    May 17, 2011 5:05 p.m.

    Sounds like Jax has you pinned on this one, Bill. When even the LDS apologists side with the "critics," you really have to sit up and take notice.

    I'm seeing Mormons use the argument that since the Bible has unverified history and it is accepted, then why not accept the BoM? But this argument completely misses the point. The biblical books are authentic ancient literature. We can trace their pedigree back for millennia through manuscript evidence. Everyone agrees, liberal and conservative, the the biblical books have their origin in antiquity (e.g., not in the 19th century). Outside of the conservative stalwarts in the LDS Church, no one accepts the BoM as an authentic document of antiquity (and even these conservatives are becoming fewer these days, it seems).

    The whole BoM origin scenario where the golden plates are unavailable for analysis reeks of deception. There is no lineage of manuscript evidence that we can trace for the BoM.

    My contention is this: quit trying to ride the Bible's coattails, which is well established as a collection of works from antiquity. Genuine Christianity has no secret rituals or documents-- all are available for the world to see.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 17, 2011 4:29 p.m.

    To Jax: First off I was not wrong as the meeting I was at and the first time I had heard the story, he did not mention the individual. Secondly, you will find some who are stating that the story by the son is a hoax in and of itself. The story that Sami has denied the Chuch and the Book of Mormon has never come but via an email supposedly from the son. Though some have stated that there is some probability that it is true, still it is rated as a HOAX. Therefore, I stand with my first statement unless you can come up with one specifically from Sami himself which I believe you can't.

  • nick humphrey kent, WA
    May 17, 2011 3:40 p.m.

    Hence, from archaeological data alone we would know almost nothing about the religion and kingdom of ancient Judah.

    actually dr. israel finkelstein's archeological research (see the documentary "bible unearthed") leads to the conclusion that the story of abraham is made up:
    00:28:43 -- it now appears to be well accepted there was no migration in the direction of canaan at the time that the bible situates abrahams voyage

    "Indeed, based on archaeological data alone we would assume the Jews were polytheists exactly like their neighbors."

    there's evidence that judaism, in its early, pre-mosaic history, was actually polytheistic.

    "does the existence of an ancient kingdom depend on whether or not twenty-first century archaeologists have discovered written records of that kingdom?"

    did the "home of the gods" on mount olympus really exist because we have written records stating it did?

    "Of all known ancient New World inscriptions, very few survived from Book of Mormon times, and most come from cities that are not considered by Latter-day Saint scholars to have been Nephite."

    shouldnt that be a clue that there actually never were any nephite cities?

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    May 17, 2011 2:13 p.m.

    Bill, I only provided you with what Mormonism's own apologists have stated about the translator story. If you don't want to believe the Mormon apologists, then you don't have to, I often find their explanations lacking as well. But you are wrong that Elder Nelson didn't state who the friend was or where he lived. I refer you to the July, '93 Ensign "A Treasured Testament." It states:

    "Sister Nelson and I have a close friend and former neighbor, Sami Hanna, who was born in Egypt. He is a scholar with special expertise in Semitic languages. As a linguistic exercise, he translated the Book of Mormon from English into Arabic. The exercise converted him to the divinity of the Book of Mormon."

    I hope even you can accept this as clear evidence that your last post is in error. Sometimes it's okay to just admit you are wrong.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 17, 2011 12:11 p.m.

    To Jax: Just to let you know Elder Nelson didn't state who the friend was or where he lived. Only that he was a friend. Now you can assume that he meant Sami Hanna but until he comes right out and says so I will stand with him. The other thing is that as was stated it was perfectly translated back into Arabic/Egyptian. I see no problem with what Elder Nelson stated nor does it discredit his teaching.

    The only person it discredits is Sami Hanna alone, no one else. Supposedly, he made many bold statements pertaining to the Book of Mormon and all of the things he stated as being true have been proven to be true of the Book of Mormon by others. Also, if you read carefully you will find that his son Mark stated that Sami left the Church. No where has Sami ever stated himself that he left the Church. In the end it will be Sami who will be judged of his comments not Elder Nelson. Sami could very well be judged as Judas was judged.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 17, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    @ Joggle: It seems to me that people who criticize the Church--especially those who have left it--often defend their disbelief with the following: "I used to believe in Mormonism until one day..." (cue ominous music) "... I learned..." (insert almost anything here). In many cases (including all of those you cite), the problem is not in the Church, but in the way someone's expectations are altered. The problem may be phrased this way: "I used to be a practitioner of the culture associated with Mormonism in the Rocky Mountains; then one day I discovered that some of my cultural assumptions were incorrect, so I determined that Mormonism was incorrect."

    By the way, you may look up Joseph Smith's actual quote, and you'll find that "most perfect" is not what he said (and even if he had, it would have been comparative, not absolute, as you seem to want it to be).

    If you also re-read the Book of Mormon, you might find that it contains the most fundamental of Mormon doctrines: the reality of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of all--all other doctrines being merely appendages to this.

  • Why So Serious Magna, UT
    May 17, 2011 11:51 a.m.

    What about the elephants in meso-america, have there been any bones found over here. If they didnt exist in the Americas then why are there Elephant figures on some ancient Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza, Circa 500 AD. Well things just dont add up someone back then must have seen and elephant to put them on their structures.
    Oh I know, I know there were Mammoths in north America, but according to science they disappeared in the Pleistocene about 4,500 years ago so I dont think the people of Chihen Itza were around to see them.
    So things just dont add up, somebody must have seen or known of elephants and taught others about them. They either lived over here or someone witnessed them elsewhere and put them in stone.

    I believe that people interpret and see things the way they want to see it, I believe in the BoM therefore I see everything as proof. But if you dont believe you will find fault and no proof. Thats just the way it is and always will be.

  • Joggle Clearfield, UT
    May 17, 2011 10:53 a.m.

    When a person opens their mind to studying the truth about Mormonism they can learn many startling things. A person can learn the "most perfect book ever written" has had thousands of changes since it was first written in 1830. A person can learn that this same perfect book contains almost no Mormon doctrine: It contains nothing about eternal progression, or men becoming gods, nothing about baptism for the dead, three degrees of glory, the word of wisdom, polygamy or many other essential doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Smith's reputation as a translator was damaged severely when it was demonstrated that his so-called translation of certain Egyptian papyri was no translation at all! The actual document that Joseph Smith supposedly translated turned up in a New York museum in the 1960's, with his handwritten notes still legible on it. When Egyptologists really translated the document it turned out that what Smith thought was The Book of Abraham, was actually an Egyptian funeral text.

    A true church would not need apologists. The evidence would be clear. The evidence for the Mormon Church is not clear. Therefore, the church is not true.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 17, 2011 10:51 a.m.

    There seems to be an effort to attack the Book of Abraham in this series of posts. Is this because all the critics have given up attacking the Book of Mormon?

    Personally, I think the Book of Mormon is unassailable. I have a testimony of the Book of Abraham, too, but I never pursued as powerful a testimony of that book as of the Book of Mormon. I love the doctrines of premortality taught in the Book of Abraham, and I appreciate its clarification of some of the process of creation. It's a beautiful book, and I am profoundly grateful for it.

    How it was translated, and what part, if any, the papyri played in its translation is unimportant to me.

    Bringing it up in this context is a bit of a red herring, isn't it?

    The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, and it holds up the Book of Abraham, as well as the rest of our faith. And it does it with or without the approbation of archeologists.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    May 17, 2011 10:06 a.m.

    What Joseph Smith said about the Book of Abraham:

    Joseph Smith claimed to identify for many witnesses the signature of Abraham on the papyrus. See Edward H. Ashment, "'Some Ancient Records That Have Fallen into Our Hands'" (forthcoming on Mormon Scripture Studies: An E-Journal of Critical Thought), s.v. "Interim" and "Nauvoo Period."

    Furthermore, the canonized LDS scriptures state: "The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus."

    This is only the tip of the iceberg. Even Mormon scholars are distancing themselves from a literal translation of the Book of Abraham to more of an inspired revelatory "translation." Some Mormon scholars have tried to minimize the importance of the Book of Abraham stating that it isn't important to our salvation, that it is not central to the restored gospel of Christ.

    In my opinion the evidence against the Book of Abraham is so overwhelming at this point that apologists have nowhere to go but to minimize it's importance and reject Joseph Smith's own words about it's origin.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 17, 2011 9:44 a.m.

    procuradorfiscal:

    You misunderstand Peer Review. To participate in the Peer Review process, one must first be a "Peer". That is, one must be a similarly credentialed scholar in the field of inquiry belonging to work that is under critical review. At best, so far as I am aware, Michael Ash is no such scholar. His closest peer in this regard is Rodney Meldrum, a former meat salesman turned Book of Mormon enthusiast. Ash and Meldrum could best be described as Buffet-Style Interlocutors for Book of Mormon Propaganda.

    Essentially what Ash does is scour through various scholarly journals and other literature, looking for evidence that supports a literal history thesis for the BoM. He is generally not qualified to make a comprehensive ininquiry in the various overalpping fields, so he picks and choose those pieces that satisfy his desired narrative, at the expense of objectivity. He commonly critique's matters such as genetic studies on American Indians, by citing the relevant pro-Mormon scholars, while attempting to dumbdown the science for lay readers. However, his contribution is limited to simply restating the original authors main points, as Ash is rarely of any competence to invest personal rigor into critical analysis.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 17, 2011 9:37 a.m.

    KC Mormon believes "When speaking of the Book of Abraham it helps to look at what Joseph Smith really said..."

    An excellent point...perhaps we should indeed examine "what Joseph Smith really said" about the three facsimiles from the Book of Abraham canonized in LDS scripture.

    According to Joseph Smith's explanation, the facsimiles portray Abraham in one instance fastened upon an altar, in another as depicting celestial objects and God revealing the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood, and in the last instance Abraham in the court of Pharaoh "reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy".

    However, Egyptian scholars who have examined the facsimiles are unanimous in their scathing verdict: "Joseph Smith's interpretation is a farrago of nonsense from beginning to end." They certainly DO NOT represent what Joseph Smith "really said".

    Even many LDS scholars now agree they are drawn from common Egyptian funerary documents and are associated with Egyptian mythology.

    What makes this relevant to this discussion is that what Joseph Smith "really said" is far from the facts. Unfortunately, such misrepresentation creates all kinds of doubt among reasonable people regarding "what Joseph Smith really said" about other things, including the BoM.

  • tmaxr Santa Rosa, Ca
    May 17, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    "John W. Welch, professor of law at BYU, referred to the find in Mayapan or horse remains which were considered by the zoologist studying them to be pre-Columbian. Examination of Welchs citation reveals that he misinterpreted the evidence, which does not date to pre Columbian times (and hence potentially to the BoM period) but rather to prehistoric Pleistocene times... Thousands of bones and teeth were examined at Mayapan, which is a Late Post Classic site established in the thirteenth century AD, but these four horse teeth were the only ones fossilized. The reporting scholar did not suggest that the Mayan people hade ever seen a pre-Columbian horse, but that in Pleistocene times horses lived in Yucatan, and that the tooth fragments reported here could have been transported in fossil condition by the Maya as curiosities. Thus, Welchs assertion about pre-Columbian horses must be corrected to refer to ancient Pleistocene horses, since these fossilized horse teeth at Mayapan date to thousands of years before the Jaredites."

  • tmaxr Santa Rosa, Ca
    May 16, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    "So it took until 1990 to find horse remains for a people that lived by the horse."

    Romans and Western Europeans mention Hun's horses. But the lack of bones means they lied?

    "horse bones were found in the Yucatan in 4 spots these included partially mineralized horse teeth."

    Teeth ARE a mineral, calcium phosphate. What was the radiocarbon age of the teeth you mention?

    "in 1977 horse bones were found again in an area that was clearly pre-Colombian."

    Anachronistic intrusions are common. Rivers, graves, quakes, cave-ins, landslides, subduction faults, gophers & prairie dogs move bones from old layers to newer. But if grandpa falls in a cave and dies next to a coelocanth fossil, that does not make him 400 million years old. Again, you fail to mention a Carbon 14 date for the bones.

    "it is possible that Nephi and his people used the Hebrew word for horse for an American animal. Joseph simply translated it as used."

    He called tapirs "horses"?

    2 Ne. 12:7 "their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots."

    Ancient America was crawling with disappearing horses and tapirs pulling chariots? Be serious.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 16, 2011 9:42 p.m.

    One must wonder how he translated the plates at all using only a peep stone in a hat. Then the other question is why did Joseph even need the plates for translation, the 3 witnesses verify that they were rarely even present during translation. And why did Moroni have to guide Joseph to the plates, then took them up to heaven with him leaving no evidence. Why not just bring them to him in the first place instead of leading him to them? These are questions that will always be there.

    JM - you say that the anti mormons (as you call them) always lie to deceive. Well how can they be held to an honest standard when the leaders of the LDS church have been caught telling half-truths and editing the church's history to make it look more faith promoting? How can you call an anti a liar yet ignore the same thing from our own leaders? If a prophet can't be expected to be 100% honest, how can you expect anybody else to be?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 16, 2011 9:03 p.m.

    @ Joe Blow: You ask, "How many of you hold open the possibility that it is a total fiction piece?"

    Personally, I was raised in an anti-Mormon household, and the Book of Mormon was assumed to be fiction in my home. I approached the book from that perspective. It took years of study, reading, thought, and prayer for me to conclude that the book was, in fact true, and could not have been a 19th Century artifact, as some have suggested.

    I freely admit that it was a spiritual experience that converted me, not material evidence in the Book of Mormon, but I would like to point out that, for me, the spiritual evidence did not come until mid-way through the Book of Mosiah.

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    May 16, 2011 9:00 p.m.

    To Bill: The man you are talking about is Sami Hanna. Like most faith promoting stories, the whole truth isn't quite as helpful to believers as is the partial truth. This is from the fairlds website:

    "Elder Nelson has alluded to Sami [Hanna] a few times in talks, as he has to others of his extensive network of friends who can read Hebrew. But he has never given a talk specifically on Sami. The internet article that circulates under his name was not written by Elder Nelson.

    According to Sami's son, Mark, Sami left the Church some time ago and is now some sort of a fundamentalist Christian. He now repudiates his former comments on the Book of Mormon.

    Such a repudiation is not, however, terribly significant. Sami's material on the Book of Mormon was never a part of mainstream LDS scholarship on the subject. It was linguistically naive in a number of important respects."

    You can see in this very story how apologists often attempt to distance themselves from previously embraced concepts when history becomes inconvenient. The question must be asked, what other things have you mistakenly put your faith in?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 16, 2011 8:51 p.m.

    Epigraphic,1st-3rd century of Nomina Sacra used in dating Greek MS. In common with both the other surviving early papyri of John's Gospel; P45 (apparently), P75, and most New Testament uncials, Papyrus 66 does not include the pericope of the adulteress (7:53-8:11)[2]; demonstrating the absence of this passage in all the surviving early witnesses of the Gospel of John. Modern translations footnote the missing verses. Do Mormon scholars ,or prophets? Also these 2nd century papyri refutes the JST.
    Bill in Nebraska, Did this scholar read Greek? (After the Biblical scholars should) IF he did he would realize the JS inspired version was at best a refuted by The Apostles Bible (Greek Septuagint) 250 BC, as well as lower criticism of Greek N.T.

  • weightless skittles Hewitt, Texas
    May 16, 2011 8:08 p.m.

    Archeology is a field of study not an exact science. It is important to recognize that our understanding of ancient societies is evolving as new research and finds are being uncovered. It was not until the last few decades that anyone knew about metals being used to record history and important documents in the area of Israel beginning around 700BC. Even today Isreali archeologist are still looking for any remnants of Solomon's temple. At this time, Jewish scholars have yet been able to acurately find any item at the temple site. Does this mean that the temple never existed? It means that we do not have evidence, not that it did not exist. So too, evidence may not be discovered that substantially dates to Nephite history but it does not mean that the events in the Book of Mormon did not occur. The book itself states very clearly that to know if the book is true requires other research, i.e. read the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and then go to the Lord in prayer and asked with a sincere desire to know truth. Truth is real and gives power to the one who has it.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 16, 2011 8:03 p.m.

    If you are looking for "nephi" or "zarahemla" on a ruin you would be looking for the wrong thing.

    The BOM is a translation of "reformed egyptian" so you would be looking for symbols that could be describes as type of reformed egyptian,

    however, who knows how archeologists would translate symbols found on evidence,

    moreover, they did not build in stone, there is no scriptural evidence they the BOM people ever built in stone,

    but there is scriptural evidence they built with wood, and later to some extent, in something translated as "cement", the lamanites lived in tents!

    And there is no scriptural evidence there were ever many horses, horse is only mentioned in connection with a king.

    The BOM people seemed to almost exclusively get around by walking,

    no wonder it is so hard to find those horses!

    Without unique circumstances to preserve evidence, or the needed conditions to create fossils, it is very hard to find evidnce millenia old,

    or find sysmbols or icons and translate them properly and correctly into modern english,

    and what would the lamanites call the place and names of thier enemy?

    And how did thier language change over time?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 16, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    To the critics: Have any of you met an individual who has tried to translate the Book of Mormon in Arabic or say Egyptian? If not then maybe you will accept the following though for those who believe will and those who don't won't.

    Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quroum of the Twelve Apostles presided over a Missionary Conference of the Independence Missouri Mission taught the following. Using Helaman 3:14 which by the way has 18 "ands" in it. Though very poor English as it is by all means as a run on sentence which one would expect out of an illeterate individual was translated by one who is a scholar of Arabic/Egyptian. This scholar translated this said verse from English to said language. In doing so the scholar converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints strickly on this verse of the Book of Mormon alone because the backword translatation or transliteration did so perfectly. The scholar stated that with out the ANDs the verse would have been next to impossible to translate to Arabic/Egyptian. The ANDs were necessary. He further stated that no man could have done so otherwise.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    May 16, 2011 6:49 p.m.

    about procuradorfiscal's words.

    Apologetics, psuedoscience, whatever. The apologist's methods are quite well known to social psychologists. Good info that compares well to this BofM scientific pursuit is found in:

    Distinguishing Science from Pseudoscience by Barry L. Beyerstein

    "Pseudosciences are fields that try to appropriate the prestige of genuine sciences, and copy their outward trappings and protocols, but fall far short of accepted standards of practice and verification in the legitimate fields they seek to emulate. Pseudosciences do not value debate and criticism and rarely show intellectual ferment or genuine progress. Their explanations are usually contradicted by well-established scientific knowledge and their own findings rarely, if ever, withstand scrutiny by competent critics."

    Another good read is:

    How to Sell a Pseudoscience by Anthony R. Pratkanis

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    May 16, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    "Peer reviews often suggest a more elegant theory, challenge a study's data or assumptions, or detail flaws in conclusions and reasoning."

    Peer reviewers have nothing to review. It is difficult to prove a negative.

    The strongest evidence that Mr Ash has presented in these articles is that the BOM story cannot be disproved. As of yet, there is no scientific or physical evidence for those per reviewers to challenge.

    I agree with the notion that the BOM story could be true. Unlikely but possible.

    How many of you hold open the possibility that it is a total fiction piece?

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 16, 2011 6:39 p.m.

    tmaxr
    So it took until 1990 to find horse remains for a people that lived by the horse. Interestingly some finds were made before that for horses in the Americas dating to Book Of Mormon times. One was made by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1957 when horse bones were found in the Yucatan in 4 spots these included partially mineralized horse teeth. Than again in 1977 horse bones were found again in an area that was clearly pre-Colombian. The lowest layer dated to 1800 BC and horse bones were found in higher layers along with pottery that dated to 900-400 BC and possibly later. This caused a problem because they found something in Mexico that could not exist. So to try to explain this away the said they must have been brought up from a much lower level by "tunneling rodents". Even they however say that this is hard to accept.
    As for Joseph coming up with the name horse that is not what I said. What I said is that it is possible that Nephi and his people used the Hebrew word for horse for an American animal. Joseph simply translated it as used.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2011 5:55 p.m.

    Re: "If what you say is right . . . [h]ow are they any different than propagandists or un-accountable advertisers[?]"

    In exactly the same way reviewers of scientific publications benefit science.

    Peer reviews often suggest a more elegant theory, challenge a study's data or assumptions, or detail flaws in conclusions and reasoning.

    As does Mr. Ash.

    Reviewers are not required to submit new papers, new data, or new conclusions, they merely hold those of others up to the light of outside scholarship, illuminating the holes.

    As does Mr. Ash.

    Seems like a pretty valuable contribution, to me.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 16, 2011 4:12 p.m.

    RE: Procuradorfiscal. "His defense makes no attempt to prove truth or historicity. Only that neither has been disproved".

    If what you say is right, and an apologist doesn't need to present facts or the truth of the matter, then what good are they. Are they just a bunch of hot air. How are they any different than propagandists or un-accountable advertisers.

  • tmaxr Santa Rosa, Ca
    May 16, 2011 3:32 p.m.

    "Hun Princess Graveyards Secret

    A Hunnu princesss graveyard discovered in summer of 1990 in Mankhan locality of Khovd province has become the sensation in the world of archeology.

    Ever since 1924 when the graveyard of the Hunnu ruler Modun Shayu filled with riches was discovered, this become only the second time when the remains of Hun noble was found.

    We were really lucky. The graveyard was not plundered. Though the wooden cover of the graveyard was demolished the coffin chamber was well preserved, says the Khovd archeological expedition head, Prof. D. Navaan.

    Five horse skulls were put on the northern side to the burial, with one horse head turned towards the coffin. The number 5 was revered by Huns because of their special reverence for Cygnus Constellation. One separate horse head probably belonged to the princess beloved horse."

    If Huns used horses as we use pigs, there'd be "nothing left but the squeal." Graverobbers stole the rest.

    If Joseph called mystery animals "horses," what were they? Camels? Llamas? Both were pack animals, but went extinct in North America far too early. Suggesting Conquistadores dug up and destroyed stone artifacts, wheels and iron is bizarre.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 16, 2011 3:24 p.m.

    Re: "It almost sounds like what Mr. Ash is telling us is; that because there is no archeologic [sic] evidence of the Book of Mormon people, that proves that they are real and historical."

    That, of course, is not at all what he's telling us.

    Mr. Ash is a very accomplished apologist. Apologists, unlike scientists, are not required to prove a particular point. Rather, apologists are persons "who offer a defence by argument [dictionary definition]."

    Mr. Ash readily admits his defense is directed, not to some archaeological journal, but to those afflicted with "Shaken Faith Syndrome."

    His defense clearly and competently rebuts numerous straw men touted by Mormon antagonists, who, using artifice and subterfuge, contrive to convince us that we are chumps for adhering to our faith. His defense makes no attempt to prove truth or historicity. Only that neither has been disproved.

    Mr. Ash carefully and candidly makes a case that honest observers ARE compelled to agree with -- belief in the Book of Mormon is a matter of faith.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 16, 2011 2:48 p.m.

    HarryL:

    It is quite ironic that you invoke Galileo to warn against drawing conclusions to soon.

    In similar apologist fashion, I suppose that even once heliocentricity became the accepted orbital model of our solar system, those contending for traditional relgious arguments that Earth was the center of all creation, could have argued that perhaps the sun and Earth changed positions. Furthermore, to play a safety they could also argue that any trace of this observation is "unfortunately" outside of the grasp of observation. And that God planned it this way so that we would need faith.

    Those kinds of arguments could be made...but what could they prove? Even once and if, Ash and his friends are able to rid the Mormon narrative of all it's absurdities and contradictions, they are still left without evidence. Extra-ordinary arguments with life-altering implications should not be given the benefit of the doubt simply because advocates re-render the narrative to be mildly plausible with contemporary understandings, but rather because there is substantial evidence. Ash's arguments however are designed so as to situationally discredit all empirical methodologies, thereby redirecting sincere inquirers into a conveniently designed spiritual snipe hunt of sorts.

  • HarryL Sacramento, CA
    May 16, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    The fact that some thing does not exist does not imply that it doesn't exist, but merely that there may not be something to instantiate its existence. When you look at the sky on a clear night there is all kinds of stuff out there that is constantly being discovered. Regardless of the discoveries, they don't take away the fact that we still have a moon, sun, planets that not only are observable to us but to Galileo, the Greeks, and persons before them.

    Prior to the telescope, there was little knowledge of the existence of many planets, orbits, and so on. In addition, we now we know certain elements exist that no one ever thought of, math to calculate them, and newer technologies to make viable experiments.

    Thus, we have to be careful about determining what does not exist, such that sometime down the road we don't make ourselves out to look like fools.

    It is perfectly conceivable to me, that in the areas south of North America, when the Europeans came in the 1500s, they not only destroyed written texts but also physical structures and symbols which were not compatible with their beliefs.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 16, 2011 1:22 p.m.

    tmaxr
    Let me ask you something, where are the horse bones from the Hun's? Archaeologists all agree that the horse was extremely important to the Hun's yet they have not found any horse bones related to the Hun's. Also it is very possible that Joseph simply translated the word that the Nephites used for an animal they called a horse by the same name they used. Calling an animal by a name that it is not is actually very common when a people enter a new area. After all just look at the American Bison still called to day a buffalo by a great many people yet it in fact is not a buffalo at all. Another example of this is the American Pronghorn again it is called by a great many an antelope yet it in fact is not. Even the early Spaniards called many American animals by names that came from their old world even though they were not really the same kind of animal.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    May 16, 2011 12:41 p.m.

    Tmaxr hi, regardless of assumptions, weve oft discussed: American Iron, horse bones, wheels, Manassehs DNA (later appearing in Asia), Israelite and Polynesian morphology, etc, are all found.

    AAzzz, after the manner of Solomons temple doesnt imply size or shape, probably function. LDS temples are after the manner of Solomons in my opinion, and Mayan are an altered form. Ive posted many examples of this. They are far too many to be by chance, and I still haven't posted most of them. Still, those who honestly and diligently seek, find. Nothing else changes anyone.

    Forgot to mention that critics still claim that Isabel was another JS blunder, they assert Isabel came from Queen Elisabeth. Apparently ; ) theyre unaware that one meaning of ancient Isabel/Jezebel is harlot of Baal, she helped bring Sidon baal worship to Israel with its bloodletting, human sacrifices, and ritual prostitution.

    Ranchhand- funny ; ), or interesting. Are you using a dishonest claim that others lie to justify intentionally lying to lead others from known good? Even if you could provide quotes from Mikes article and 80s missionary discussions showing intentional lies to lead people from good, and you cant, still, other lies dont make yours ok.

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    May 16, 2011 12:10 p.m.

    JM,
    I do not cosider myself a critic of the LDS faith. I do consider myself a critic of some of the logic that Mike has used in these articles. As of late, each article seems to spend some effort saying that there is no reason to expect historical evidence of the Book of Mormon.

    In 2 Nephi 5:16, Nephi talks about building a temple like unto Solomon's. I am not sure we will find one anywhere, and I feel secure in my testimony without one. I was merely pointing out that there are some kind of archelogical evidence that would indicate the presence of the Nephites that could be included in these articles.

    I would love to see evidence of a building like this, just as I think it would be great to find any other evidence.

  • tmaxr Santa Rosa, Ca
    May 16, 2011 11:57 a.m.

    Where are the horse bones, wagons and wheels and ironworks mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Iron would last thousands of years in the desert kingdoms, so don't tell me it all rusted away. Bones fossilize and last millions of years. So where is it?

    Where are the DNA markers pointing to Middle Eastern tribes in the New World? The x2 haplogroup is 20,000 years too old to be part of the story.

    True, the absence of evidence is not proof it never existed. But faith doesn't require proof. If religions around the world had proof, they wouldn't have to work so hard to convert people. They wouldn't need to grab children away from their parents (as our Bureau of Indian Affairs did) to teach them to ignore the evidence of their own senses in favor of some ancient book. They could just point to the evidence of their living god and laugh at anyone too blind or crazy to see it.

    Their frantic efforts to convert/exterminate atheists are most telling. Fundamentalist Muslims execute apostates. Scientologists shun and harass those who quit the church. Coming to your senses in a madhouse is dangerous.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 16, 2011 11:48 a.m.

    JM | 10:05 a.m. May 16, 2011
    Lehi, UT
    "Im not saying all critics "stink," but those who intentionally lie to lead people from known good and promote hatred are stinky in the best way".

    ---

    One could include the author of this article in that statement. He's trying to deceive people by leading them to conclude that lack of evidence for the existence of BOM peoples, is evidence that they *might* have existed.

    One could also include the missionaries in that statement. There are verifiable untruths in the missionary discussions (I still have my copy from back in the early 80's). So, intentionally lying to people to get them to convert from their own truths to your's falls into the stinky category, imo.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    May 16, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    One interesting thing about the metal records is that they were kept and preserved for special purposes only. Clearly most BoM records were not written on metal. And since Lamanites sought to destroy anything supportive of Nephite Christianity (Mesoamerican specialists explain that many cities were intentionally destroyed, so thoroughly that they dont know who lived there), any metal plates not hidden and kept would be destroyed.

    Aaazz, I didnt recall reading the measurements in the BoM. But certainly ancient American temples are found after the manner of the temple of Solomon.

    The similarities between Indigenous Peoples, Nephites, Lamanites, and Israelites, are so many that critical "chance" is ruled out, it's mathematically impossible.
    There are too many detailed, mountainous relationships.

    Critics should be able to explain these without dishonesty, but they fail, thus they resort to fabricating, distracting, and repeating known false claims (eg plagiarism, anachronisms, 19Centrury, BofAbraham (its proven miraculously translated, whatever the source, and we all know it wasnt the Breathing endowment text, which, as KC points out, doesnt fit the OC/JS description of the source for the BoA (rubrics, well preserved etc). The Kirtland papers were written after, and explained as not a translation.)

    BYE : )

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    May 16, 2011 10:42 a.m.

    I agree with Weber State Grad. We already have all of the epigraphic evidence we need to make a decision on the veracity of Joseph Smith's claims. The Book of Abraham shows conclusively that all of this is a hoax. If only Smith knew that one day people would discover how to read Egyptian . . .

    As far as the Book of Mormon, I think the best way of determining its veracity is just to read the book itself. The more I read from it, the more I'm convinced that its origin is of the 19th century. There is virtually no chapter in the whole book without anachronism (this is easy to determine, because of the dates that are conveniently printed at the bottom of each page). The allusions to and plagiarisms from the KJV of Smith's day compound the problem many times over. Anyone even acquainted with translation work will recognize the impossibilities involved. Finally, throw in the fact that the Book of Mormon deals with theological controversies that were prominent in the 19th century, and you have a very strong case for the book's inauthenticity.

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    May 16, 2011 10:41 a.m.

    Epigraphic evidence HAS been found of the "place that was called Nahom" in modern-day Yemen.

    I think we all know how convincing that has been to the skeptics.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 16, 2011 10:31 a.m.

    Weber State Graduate
    When speaking of the Book of Abraham it helps to look at what Joseph Smith really said about the scrolls he had. First he listed four different books, The Book of Abraham, The Book of Joseph, The Book of Breathing and the Book of the Dead. While everyone focuses on the Book of Abraham they ignore the last two. How did Joseph get those last two right knowing nothing of Egyptian? Next Joseph did not actually say that the scroll that contained the Book of Abraham was written by Abraham himself but purportedly written by Abraham. In Other Words the actual scroll was a copy of a copy of a copy likely translated into another language. Third as mentioned in the article often times items are borrowed from one culture to another with a different meaning. This can be shown with the depictions anciently by Jews, Christians and Egyptians of the last judgment. All three have a a depiction of a persons heart being weighed against a feather. The depiction is very similar yet to all three it has a different meaning. An Egyptian Jew very easily could have simply used imagery he was familiar with.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    May 16, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    @LDS (real and posed). Critics sometimes arent as foolish as seem. Jumping to conclusions is required exercise but they know their claims are false eg: they know Mike isnt saying all the known epigraphic evidence is from non-BoM peoples; lw they probably knew theres abundant evidence for upheavals in Mesoamerica (abundant 1st Century ash, Smithsonian estimates of simultaneous volcanic eruptions etc); and previously, when they claimed hundreds of translated inscriptions from BoM times proving the BoM false, they probably knew that wasnt true also. They do this weekly. They also know that of few known possible ancient names several are similiar to BoM: Kix (pronounced "Kish" and same timeframe); Lamani (Laman, of unknown meaning, "loosely" translated as "submerged" and the crocodile symbol ain);Itzabel (and other Baal names), etc. And these are just a few of the on topic subjects. Off topic they really get going ; ).

    But IC, Im not saying all critics "stink," but those who intentionally lie to lead people from known good and promote hatred are stinky in the best way ; ).

  • Jax Bountiful, UT
    May 16, 2011 9:17 a.m.

    "Does the existence of an ancient kingdom depend on whether or not twenty-first century archaeologists have discovered written records of that kingdom?"

    Of course not. Obviously, the lack of evidence doesn't prove definitively that an ancient kingdom did not exist, it just makes it less likely as we discover more and more evidence pointing to something other than a Nephite civilization. We also cannot say definitively that aliens did not colonize meso-America or that there were not cities there inhabited by large communities of sasquatch.

    However, in the mean time, I think it's fair for critical thinking people to assume that Aliens or bigfoot or Nephite civilizations did not exist in meso-America absent evidence of their existence. We should start with the most likely scenarios and the less likley ones should be viewed with extreme skepticism until we find convincing evidence otherwise. If a modern day man claims to have found and translated through supernatural means a record of ancient existence, and if the claimed record is hidden from public inspection, and if the man has a history of making false claims of supernatural ability, then we should be very skeptical of suchclaims.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 16, 2011 8:30 a.m.

    In the introduction to the Book of Mormon is a small addendum to assist the reader, titled "A Brief Explanation About The Book of Mormon". Here the reader is given a short explanation about the various plates mentioned in the BoM. We learn that Nephi kept two sets of metal records, referred to as the Large and Small plates of Nephi. One set was dedicated to the spiritual details of Nephite life, whereas the other plates were more of a secular record. Then we have the plates of Limhi (admittedly, I've always been sort of confused about the whole Zeniff, Mulekite thing), which eventually included 24 gold plates about Jaredite history. These 24 plates become the Book of Ether in the BoM. Lastly, we have the Brass Plates - which were actually forged and written in the Middle East, and was just a hard copy (pun intended) of the Old Testament (more or less) containing at least the torah, and writings of Isaiah.

    Given the above, it would seem that each of the various BoM peoples set an early precedent for writing on metal. Yet Ash would have us believe that Nephite history was lost because of perishable records??

  • aaazzz Murray, UT
    May 16, 2011 8:06 a.m.

    I don't really buy the argument about the swastika being used by both the nazis and the people of Tibet with regards to this subject matter. We know the culture the Nephites came from, as well as there iconography (This being Jerusalem, during the reign of Zedekiah). Given that data, we should have reasonally be able to see some similarities between the Nephites and the Isrealites.

    Also, Nephi had a temple built according the the dimension and arcitecture use in King Solomon's temple. Any building found in the new world that is the same footprint as King Solomon's temple would indicate the presence of the Nephites in the new world.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    May 16, 2011 7:55 a.m.

    It almost sounds like what Mr. Ash is telling us is; that because there is no archeologic evidence of the Book of Mormon people, that proves that they are real and historical. This non-scientific approach of Mr. Ash can be applied to insinuate most any work of fiction as real and historical.

  • Walt Nicholes Orem, UT
    May 16, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    Haplotype X2 - That should be 'nuff said.

    Unfortunately it looks like some commentators are not keeping up with the current scholarship. There is evidence of a whole new geography for the Book of Mormon - one that more closely agrees with the statements of Joseph Smith about the Lamanites.

    We who say we are willing to accept truth from any source are remarkably resistant to truths and evidences that contradict our established notions. If an early LDS scholar made a particular statement we are prone to examine all new findings in light of that statement, even if when made it was declared to be a "judgement" and not any kind of revelation.

    Hence we are not willing to listen to new possibilities about the locations of the Nephites, or the three days and three nights in the tomb.

    Too bad for us. The knowledge is out there, but because it does not carry the imprimatur of a prophet it is utterly ignored.

  • Old Scarecrow Brigham City, UT
    May 16, 2011 7:49 a.m.

    Joe, your last two observations jump to predictable conclusions just as much as many LDS assume the ancient cities found in Meso-America are Nephite in origin. The point of the article is that little "written" evidence exists of any civilizations in the New World, which disproves or proves nothing. We'll all keep watching for new evidence that may never come. I don't think that the LDS were given any promises that such evidence will ever exist, it's ultimately always a matter of faith. That works for me. There were people and civilizations in the Americas throughout the Book of Mormon time frame. We know little about any of them. Perhaps we will eventually learn more, but it probably won't change people's minds. The existence of Romans, various sects of Jews, and other societies in the Palestine area is well documented, but billions doubt the Resurrection story. Yet some believe.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 16, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    "Epigraphic evidence consists of a written record...Egyptians, for example, wrote on materials that survived to modern times."

    Agreed...there may indeed be "sparse" epigraphic information about the BoM because the plates are ostensibly unavailable for review. But there is certainly available evidence that can be used to evaluate Joseph Smith's ability to have translated BoM epigraphic records.

    For example, Egyptian scholars have determined that the "epigraphic evidence" used in the creation of the Book of Abraham conclusively demonstrates that it's nothing more than a common Egyptian funerary text dating back to about the first century BC, far from Abraham's time.

    It stands to reason that such glaring evidence against Joseph's ability to translate "epigraphic evidence" certainly brings into question his credibility with respect to any alleged BoM claims.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    May 16, 2011 6:44 a.m.

    "Of all known ancient New World inscriptions, very few survived from Book of Mormon times, and most come from cities that are not considered by Latter-day Saint scholars to have been Nephite."

    So, if I understand the premise of the article....

    1) The cities that have been found contained very few inscriptions.

    2) most lds scholars agree that the cities that have been found were not related to LDS history.

    Brings us back to square one.

    And I may sound like a broken record, but

    Why have the great cities and civilizations that WERE Nephite, not been found?

    Every article seems to focus on why there is no archeological evidence. And somehow this lack of evidence is made out to support the BOM claims.

    I commend Mr Ash for pointed out that "LDS scholars" do not believe those civilizations that have been found, were related to LDS historicity.

    Hopefully we can at least put that notion to rest.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    May 16, 2011 5:55 a.m.

    It is fun to wonder what might be found. But consider what is happening here. Instead of the known ancient American writing being from the BofM people, it is understood that these were from "other" people. So the hope has become "what hasn't been found yet?" It might be a good reality check to understand a little better what is known about those "others". Here are three useful writings that can be found online:

    Archaeology and religion: a comparison of the Zapotec and Maya, 1978

    Ancient Zapotec ritual and religion: an application of the direct historical approach, 1994

    The Archaeological Evidence for Social Evolution, 2008