Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, April 21

Critique 3 of John Tvedtnes Comment in Meridian Magazine–Amulonites

From the same article:

Tvedtnes writes:

Textual Errors

Some misunderstandings have arisen from errors in the text of the Book of Mormon. A good example is found in Alma 43:13-14:
“the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah. Now those descendants were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites; and thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with their brethren, even unto bloodshed.”
The wording of this passage, suggests that it was the “descendants of the priests of Noah” who “were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites.” In view of the fact that these priests had captured only 24 Lamanite women to take as wives (Mosiah 20:1-5), it is unlikely that they could have become nearly as numerous as the Nephites. I wondered if perhaps Alma 43:14 should read “dissenters” rather than “descendants.”

A check with the text of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon, from which the 1830 edition was typeset, showed agreement with the printed editions. But the original manuscript, from which the printer’s manuscript was copied, reads “de[se]nte[r]s,” thus demonstrating that the passage should note that it was the total number of dissenters who were nearly as numerous as the Nephites, not the “descendants” of the priests of Noah. The error was made during the copying of the printer’s manuscript, when the word in the original was misread. [13] ”

Tvedtnes is correct here, but for another reason: by this time, the seed of the priests of Noah–the Amulonites–had already had some problems, eh. This is in Alma 43, but earlier in Alma 25, we read that:
“4 And *among the Lamanites who were slain were almost all the seed of Amulon and his brethren, who were the priests of Noah, and they were slain by the hands of the Nephites*…
5 And *the remainder, having fled into the east wilderness, and having usurped the power and authority over the Lamanites*, caused that many of the Lamanites should perish by fire because of their belief—

7 And it came to pass that *those rulers who were the remnant of the children of Amulon caused that they should be put to death*, yea, all those that believed in these things.
8 Now this martyrdom caused that many of their brethren should be stirred up to anger; and there began to be contention in the wilderness; and *the Lamanites began to hunt the seed of Amulon and his brethren and began to slay them; and they fled into the east wilderness*.
9 And behold *they are hunted at this day by the Lamanites*. Thus the words of Abinadi were brought to pass, which he said concerning the seed of the priests who caused that he should suffer death by fire.

12 And he said unto the priests of Noah that their seed should cause many to be put to death, in the like manner as he was, and that they should be scattered abroad and slain, even as a sheep having no shepherd is driven and slain by wild beasts; and now behold, these words were verified, for *they were driven by the Lamanites, and they were hunted, and they were smitten*.”

Given also that no more mention is made of the Amulonites (other than Alma 43) and the fulfilling of Abinadi’s prophecy, I wonder if there even were any more Amulonites among the Lamanites after Alma 25; if there were, I imagine they didn’t number many. A more interesting comment from Tvedtnes would have been on why the mention of them in Alma 43, after Alma 25…

Critique 2 of John Tvedtnes Comment in Meridian Magazine–Glass in Book of Ether

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From the same article dated April 21, 2008, found at:

Heavenly Light
Some have criticized the Book of Mormon because “the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces? (Ether 2:23). Glass is said to have been accidentally discovered by Phoenician sailors ca. 800 B.C., and glass windows did not exist anciently. This kind of reasoning again reflects how readers often try to impose modern ideas onto ancient texts.
The term “window” is frequently found in the Bible, but it does not denote panes of glass. As its very name indicates, it was an opening in the wall through which the “wind” could pass. Even medieval castles had open windows without glass and sometimes without shutters. If the Ether passage is saying that the windows would be “dashed in pieces” because they were made of glass, it would be an anachronism. But I believe that the antecedent to “they” is “your vessels,” i.e., the vessels would be dashed in pieces of windows were cut into the sides.
Each hole made in the hull would weaken the structure, and since the Lord told the brother of Jared that “the mountain waves shall dash upon you” (Ether 2:24), they would need some rather substantial barges. To be sure, there were holes for air that were plugged up when water entered therein (Ether 2:20), but Noah, too, had a window in his ark that he opened only after the forty days of rain had ceased (Genesis 8:6). [12] ”

Though the antecedent problem might cast a solution on the problem right there, there’s this verse, in Ether 3:1:
“1 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as *TRANSPARENT GLASS*; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying:”

It seems they either had glass, or something similar that Ether/ Mormon/ JS (take your pick) used “transparent glass” to describe it.

Book of Mormon: Critique of John Tvedtnes Comment in Meridian Magazine–Stripling Warriors

Many of the explanations/ arguments are basic ones that have been around for quite a while and treated elsewhere. Either that, or ones that I never thought anyone would ever argue, but I guess he’s heard them. Ok, cool. There were a few new ones, though, and being the negative critic that I usually am, here’s one that I just had to write about… Here’s what John Tvedtnes writes:

Battle Wounds
Critics and Latter-day Saints alike have misread Alma 57:25 as meaning that, of Helaman’s 2,060 stripling warriors, all of them had “received many wounds,” but “there was not one soul of them who did perish.” Critics point out the impossibility that none of the more than two thousand wounded died, while believers point out that this was, after all, a miraculous event.
However, a careful reading of the verse shows that only 200 of the 2,060 had been wounded and fainted and that it was these 200 who had the “many wounds” but none of them perished. “And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds” (Alma 57:25).
A similar situation is described in Alma 49:23-24, where we read that no Nephites died in the battle, though fifty had been wounded and that many of [these wounds] were very severe.”

This reminds me of a pretty bright philosophy professor at BYU. The irony of his high priesthood group was this: they would all be arguing about something, it would be getting louder and louder, then one old man would stand up and wave his hands, “Brethren, brethren, brethren! We shouldn’t be arguing about this. This is wrong!” After it would get quiet, he would add, “Now, I’ll tell you the *real* answer…”

(As I show in some of my other critiques, some scholars are really good at twisting things to make the text out to what they want when it’s convenient.) No, that’s not what the text clearly shows. See, antecedents in the Book of Mormon are famous for being split between “good English” and “bad English”. In other words, sometimes they refer to the thing right before them, and sometimes they refer to something further back. In the Book of Mormon, you can’t use them as proof–which is where Tvedtnes’ entire argument lies here. I think Tvedtnes got a little confused here. I think I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here, but I think he got tripped up on that one part and lost the context; what he meant to say was, the record talks about those that had fainted were the ones with the wounds, not that the others of the 2,000 didn’t die. But it *is* right to say that none of the 2,000 stripling warriors were killed in battle. It *was* a miracle. That’s the whole story–none of them died. Not one of the stripling warriors died. Yet, Tvedtnes would have everyone believe otherwise. (Nope, not backing this up just because I fell in love with an interpretation and I don’t want my sacred cow messed with…)
Alma 56:46-48 makes no sense at all if you interpret it the way Tvedtnes does:
46 “For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and *he will not suffer that we should fall*; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.”
47 “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.”
48 “And *they* (all of the stripling warriors, not just the 200 that got wounded) rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: *We do not doubt our mothers knew it*.”

Neither does Alma 56:55-56, which talks about an earlier battle:
55 “And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, *I numbered those young men who had fought with me (the stripling warriors), fearing lest there were many of them slain*.”
56 “But behold, to my great joy, there had *not one soul of them fallen to the earth*; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.”

What Tvedtnes really says is that 200 stripling warriors getting wounded and not dying is cool… even if the other 1,860 did… Huh? That doesn’t quite make sense to me.
Oh, and Alma 58:39-40 *really* doesn’t make sense if his interpretation is the correct one:
39 “And those sons of the people of Ammon, of whom I have so highly spoken, are with me in the city of Manti; and *the Lord has supported them, yea, and kept them from falling by the sword, insomuch that even one soul has not been slain*.”
40 “But behold, *they have received many wounds*; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.”

To top it off, here’s another similar miracle:
“6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, *as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away*.”

Book of Mormon: Alma Matches His Sons’ Learning and Communication Styles

Ok, a little deep here, folks. Not in bad stuff, but in good stuff.

I’ve only given this a day of quick thought, so I’m going to go out on a limb here; but, it seems pretty firm.

Alma has three sons: Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton. They are different: one didn’t go on a mission, one went and served honorably, one went and didn’t serve honorably; they all have different situations and need different counsel. He speaks to them directly. He wants to make sure his message gets across to them, so he personalizes the message and communicates it according to their communication style.

You’ve heard of NLP (neuro-lingustic programming)? Or perhaps you’re a teacher, and you’ve heard of “AVK” learning styles? Auditory, visual, kinesthetic (feeling)?

Well, guess what, folks? Basically…

Helaman is a visual learner. Alma speaks of records, images, directions, stories. He also is a somewhat “low-key” person who learns by “repetition”; he needs to hear something a few times for it to mean something to him (count how many times “keep the commandments” is in his counsel…).

Shiblon is a kinesthetic learner, and a “high-intensity” person. He needs to hear it hard and fast, strong and powerful. Once is enough, though. Alma speaks of bodily feelings. (See how many you can pick out… ;) )

Corianton is an auditory learner. He is a “hesitator”. Alma speaks of things auditory: words, sounds, hearing, speaking, saying, etc. (Note how many times Alma says, “I say…” to Corianton and compare it to the others.)

No, it’s not blatant and perfect. But I guess we need to credit Alma or Joseph Smith with the different learning styles and communication styles. ;)

(There’s more. Look for the two motivation types–does Alma persuade his sons to move away from something, or to go towards something…?)

What learning and communication styles do the people you care most about use? Have you learned, as Alma, to tailor your messages for them?

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