Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, August 27

grego: Critique of “Chains in the Book of Mormon” by Chris Smith

grego: Critique of “Chains in the Book of Mormon” by Chris Smith

Chris Smith, an LDS critic, wrote this ( http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2008/01/chains-in-book-of-mormon.html ) :

“Saturday, January 26, 2008
Chains in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon makes a number of references to “chains”. In one case, 2 Nephi 13:19, decorative chains are intended. The other sixteen occurrences use chains as a metaphor for the power of death, hell, or the devil. In some cases the chains merely bind, but in others they take on a life of their own, grasping, snaring, and encircling their victims. Chains appear to have been an evocative motif for the author(s) of the Book of Mormon.”

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grego: Well, ok, I agree with the important part: the authors and the translator of the Book of Mormon are amazingly consistent in using “chains” in figurative form, and using “cords” when talking about normal-day use. (I will give the Book of Mormon references to “chain”/ “chains”, “rope”, “cord”/ “cords”, and “bind”/ “bound” at the end of the post.)

Note that the reference to “decorative chains” that Chris Smith calls attention to is from Isaiah. All the other examples are from: 1. Lehi and Nephi, who were from Jerusalem. 2. Alma, prophet and scriptorian. 3. Ammon (one reference), another one very familiar with the scriptures (Alma 17:2: “Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.”). Note that all of these references (other than the Isaiah one) are figurative.

This actually follows well the lack of evidence–at least so far–that Chris Smith provides about the lack of chains in Mesoamerica at that time period.

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Chris Smith: “Chains do not appear to have been available to the Olmec or Maya during the Book of Mormon timeframe. As LDS apologist Brant Gardner pointed out to me, “chains” could theoretically just be Joseph Smith’s translation of a Book of Mormon word for “ropes”. Or the Book of Mormon authors might merely have been mechanically repeating a biblical phrase they had learned from the “brass plates”. But these explanations are unsatisfactory. There is no reason Joseph Smith should have preferred the word “chain” for the perfectly good English word for “ropes”, and in fact Joseph Smith, Sr. told Fayette Lapham in an 1830 interview that his son had discovered a gold “chain” among the Nephite artifacts he discovered in the Hill Cumorah (EMD 1:462). It also seems implausible that several generations of Book of Mormon authors could (or would) have so effectively utilized images that had no analogue in their culture.”

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grego writes: I agree with While “rope” is used in the Book of only once (in Isaiah), “cord”/ “cords” is used many times. I also don’t see “chains” as a translated word for “rope”.

HOWEVER, I see no need for the logical fallacy that follows, the double bind that: either a) “chains” means “rope”, or b) the authors were “mechanically repeating a biblical phrase they had learned from the ‘brass plates'”; reasoned such because there’s no evidence of chains in Mesoamerica, so it had to be one or the other; and neither a) nor b) is likely, therefore the Book of Mormon is false. **And Chris Smith’s entire argument lies there.**

No!! Why would the references to “chains” in the Book of Mormon have to be used by authors who “might merely have been mechanically repeating a biblical phrase they had learned from the ‘brass plates'”, as Chris Smith assumes? No need. A refresher about Lehi and Nephi, the “founders” of Book of Mormon society: they lived at Jersualem, and most likely worked metal. Perhaps, just perhaps, they were familiar with “chains”–even metal ones. Perhaps they even had them with them (though *I* surely wouldn’t lug around metal chains for eight years in the desert without good reason). Perhaps even Jacob had seen them in vision, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the Jews. Perhaps pictures were drawn, or a famous carving with chains existed. But let’s think here…

Are there any modern references to extinct or unused or rare objects? There are many–especially with motifs!

There are many references to “breastplates” in Christian literature, and I imagine most everyone who hears the word in America, educated or not, understands what it means. But the last time I can imagine one being used was at least 200 years ago, maybe 400 years ago. Chariots? I’ve never seen one or heard of them being used–almost 2,000 years ago? That’s much more than the 500-600 years of Book of Mormon times. Pyramids? Haven’t been built for thousands of years, yet most people know what they are. Can you think of any others?

At a time when technology is not as fast-paced as now, and items not so numerous, I don’t imagine it hard for a knowledge of non-existent item to be known and even referred to.

As long as the people knew what “chains” basically meant, that’s good enough. There is no need to build a pyramid in order that others understand what one is.

Or, even better, a few existing ones that everyone is familiar with are good enough.

(Now if we could only find out where to dig in that remaining 99% to see how common chains were…)

I would like to particularly call Chris Smith’s attention to a part of the Book of Mormon likely overlooked: Alma 12-14. In this episode, Alma and Amulek prophesy of chains:
Alma 12:6
And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might *encircle you about with his chains*, that he might *chain you down* to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity.
Alma 12:11
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the *chains of hell*.
Alma 12:17
Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be *chained down to an everlasting destruction*, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.
Alma 13:30
And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be *bound down by the chains of hell*, that ye may not suffer the second death.

The chief judge and other leaders, as punishment, do to Alma and Amulek and their believers what Alma and Amulek had prophesied would happen to the unrepentant Ammonihahites. Note, however, the following:
Alma 14:14
Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were *bound*; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?
Alma 14:22
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were *bound with strong cords*, and confined in prison.
Alma 14:23
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were *bound with cords*.
Alma 14:26
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the *cords with which they were bound*; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

The people of Ammonihah likely did not use “brimstone” to make the lake of fire, but just fire. Why? I guess brimstone wasn’t readily available. And, the people of Ammonihah do *not* bind Alma and Amulek with “chains”–as Alma and Amulek had prophesied–but with “cords”. Why? I imagine they didn’t have any available! Not even the chief judge, in an entire city…

I think that is, once more, amazingly consistent with the figurative references to “chains” in the Book of Mormon and realistic uses of cords.

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Chris Smith can find no support for chains during the Book of Mormon time period, and finishes with this:
“Book of Mormon apologists, in short, have a long way to go in order to establish the credibility of “chain” imagery in the Book of Mormon.”

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grego: I think not. Critics should see that, once more, what seems to have been a big problem for the Book of Mormon, turns out to be a big plus.

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References:

References to “chain”/ “chains” in the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 1:13
O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

2 Nephi 1:23
Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

2 Nephi 9:45
O, my beloved brethren, turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation.

2 Nephi 13:19
The chains and the bracelets, and the mufflers;

2 Nephi 28:19
For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

2 Nephi 28:22
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none–and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

Alma 5:7
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

Alma 5:9
And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.

Alma 5:10
And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?

Alma 12:6
And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity.

Alma 12:11
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

Alma 12:17
Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.

Alma 13:30
And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

Alma 26:14
Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

Alma 36:18
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

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Reference to “rope” in the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 15:18
Wo unto them that draw iniquity with *cords of vanity*, and sin as it were with a cart *rope*;

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References to “cord”, “cords” in the Book of Mormon:

1 Nephi 7:16
And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me. And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts.

1 Nephi 18:11
And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked.

2 Nephi 26:22
And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.

Alma 14:4
But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land.

Alma 14:22
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison.

Alma 14:23
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords.

Alma 14:26
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

Alma 20:29
And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings.

Alma 20:30
And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon.

Alma 26:29
And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

Alma 62:21
And it came to pass that they were on the east, by the entrance; and they were all asleep. And now Moroni returned to his army, and caused that they should prepare in haste strong cords and ladders, to be let down from the top of the wall into the inner part of the wall.

Alma 62:23
And it came to pass that they were all let down into the city by night, by the means of their strong cords and their ladders; thus when the morning came they were all within the walls of the city.

Alma 62:36
And it came to pass that Teancum in his anger did go forth into the camp of the Lamanites, and did let himself down over the walls of the city. And he went forth with a cord, from place to place, insomuch that he did find the king; and he did cast a javelin at him, which did pierce him near the heart. But behold, the king did awaken his servants before he died, insomuch that they did pursue Teancum, and slew him.

3 Nephi 22:2
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes;

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References to “bind”, “bound” in the Book of Mormon:

1 Nephi 7:16
And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me. And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts.

1 Nephi 7:17
But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.

1 Nephi 18:11
And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked.

1 Nephi 18:12
And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.

1 Nephi 21:18
Lift up thine eyes round about and behold; all these gather themselves together, and they shall come to thee. And as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on even as a bride.

2 Nephi 1:13
O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

2 Nephi 1:23
Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

2 Nephi 9:45
O, my beloved brethren, turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation.

2 Nephi 18:16
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Mosiah 7:7
And behold, they met the king of the people who were in the land of Nephi, and in the land of Shilom; and they were surrounded by the king’s guard, and were taken, and were bound, and were committed to prison.

Mosiah 7:16
And now, king Limhi commanded his guards that they should no more bind Ammon nor his brethren, but caused that they should go to the hill which was north of Shilom, and bring their brethren into the city, that thereby they might eat, and drink, and rest themselves from the labors of their journey; for they had suffered many things; they had suffered hunger, thirst, and fatigue.

Mosiah 12:9
And it came to pass that they were angry with him; and they took him and carried him bound before the king, and said unto the king: Behold, we have brought a man before thee who has prophesied evil concerning thy people, and saith that God will destroy them.

Mosiah 17:5
And it came to pass that the king caused that his guards should surround Abinadi and take him; and they bound him and cast him into prison.

Mosiah 17:13
And it came to pass that they took him and bound him, and scourged his skin with faggots, yea, even unto death.

Mosiah 20:13
And they took him and bound up his wounds, and brought him before Limhi, and said: Behold, here is the king of the Lamanites; he having received a wound has fallen among their dead, and they have left him; and behold, we have brought him before you; and now let us slay him.

Mosiah 21:23
And the king having been without the gates of the city with his guard, discovered Ammon and his brethren; and supposing them to be priests of Noah therefore he caused that they should be taken, and bound, and cast into prison. And had they been the priests of Noah he would have caused that they should be put to death.

Mosiah 23:12
And now I say unto you, ye have been oppressed by king Noah, and have been in bondage to him and his priests, and have been brought into iniquity by them; therefore ye were bound with the bands of iniquity.

Mosiah 23:13
And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

Alma 7:12
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Alma 7:15
Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

Alma 8:31
And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them.

Alma 13:30
And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

Alma 14:14
Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?

Alma 14:22
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison.

Alma 14:23
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords.

Alma 14:26
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

Alma 17:20
And as Ammon entered the land of Ishmael, the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure.

Alma 20:29
And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings.

Alma 20:30
And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon.

Alma 23:2
Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their synagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their sanctuaries.

Alma 26:29
And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

Alma 30:13
O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.

Alma 30:20
But behold they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him, and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.

Alma 30:21
And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land. And he came over into the land of Gideon, and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and bound and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land

Alma 30:23
Now the high priest’s name was Giddonah. And Korihor said unto him: Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

Alma 30:29
Now when the high priest and the chief judge saw the hardness of his heart, yea, when they saw that he would revile even against God, they would not make any reply to his words; but they caused that he should be bound; and they delivered him up into the hands of the officers, and sent him to the land of Zarahemla, that he might be brought before Alma, and the chief judge who was governor over all the land.

Alma 31:17
But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.

Alma 52:39
But behold, there were many that would not; and those who would not deliver up their swords were taken and bound, and their weapons of war were taken from them, and they were compelled to march with their brethren forth into the land Bountiful.

Helaman 9:9
And it came to pass that they laid hold on them, and bound them and cast them into prison. And there was a proclamation sent abroad that the judge was slain, and that the murderers had been taken and were cast into prison.

Helaman 9:19
Nevertheless, they caused that Nephi should be taken and bound and brought before the multitude, and they began to question him in divers ways that they might cross him, that they might accuse him to death–

Helaman 16:6
But the more part of them did not believe in the words of Samuel; therefore when they saw that they could not hit him with their stones and their arrows, they cried unto their captains, saying: Take this fellow and bind him, for behold he hath a devil; and because of the power of the devil which is in him we cannot hit him with our stones and our arrows; therefore take him and bind him, and away with him.

4 Comments »

  1. You appear to be saying, in short, the following two things:

    1) The Book of Mormon uses “cords” in both a metaphorical and realistic sense, whereas it uses “chains” in only a metaphorical sense. When you lay a metaphorical chain perpendicularly across a real cord, what you get is a “big plus”.
    2) Since we have movies, video games, museums, and history books with lots of pictures to tell us what breastplates and chariots were, the Nephites obviously had the same to inform them about “chains”.

    My response to number 1 is that a metaphorical chain laying across a real cord is actually a minus sign, because the chain isn’t really there. (That’s assuming, of course, that the chain was the vertical component. If it was the horizontal one, then I guess it would be a “1”, or maybe a lowercase “l” or uppercase “I”. But none of those things would make much sense, now would they?) My answer to the second one is that the ancient Nephites may have had movies with chains in them, but did they have Charlton Heston? No, I didn’t think so.

    All jesting aside, the point of my post was primarily to refute some very dubious archaeological evidence that has been presented by apologists-who-shall-remain-unnamed in favor of the existence of Mesoamerican chains. That’s why I didn’t dwell at any great length on Book of Mormon exegesis. But I do think it unlikely that “chains” could have been such a dramatically evocative image for people who had never seen them before except maybe on some hypothetical, now-lost stela. As for “cords” being the exclusive binding method in non-metaphorical Book of Mormon passages, I attribute that to their appearing only under circumstances in which chains would be unavailable or impracticable. The Lamanites were supposed to be a primitive people, not a metalworking one. Moroni’s cords, as the narrative makes clear, were prepared in haste (and for a purpose for which chains would have been ill-suited, anyway). I don’t see the Book of Mormon’s use of “cords” in realistic situations as being a plus for its claim to historicity. Rather, it stems from the needs of the narrative. I suppose it requires that JS was smart enough to keep his story more or less straight. But that’s nothing we didn’t already know.

    Best,

    -Chris

    Comment by Christopher Smith — 2008, August 28 @ 3:09 am

  2. “All jesting aside, the point of my post was primarily to refute some very dubious archaeological evidence that has been presented by apologists-who-shall-remain-unnamed in favor of the existence of Mesoamerican chains. That’s why I didn’t dwell at any great length on Book of Mormon exegesis.”

    grego: I kind of figured that much… But your beginning and ending comments lent to more than just “[refuting] some very dubious archaeological evidence…in favor of the existence of Mesoamerican chains”, and I disagreed with them.

    If what was presented as evidence for chains is where it’s at now, I agree with you, there’s not much evidence for chains, if any. But I see this as a support for the Book of Mormon, not something that presents a problem.

    Of course, with about 99% of the archaeological sites not having been excavated yet, the question remains–will they all be the same, or will more “a-ha’s” and “we’ll have to change our way of thinking” discoveries
    come up? I believe discoveries of lots of chains there would actually help Dr. Peterson’s argument (though I’m not sure what it really is) and hurt my argument, though I guess you believe the discovery would help my argument.

    -=-=-=

    Chris Smith: But I do think it unlikely that “chains” could have been such a dramatically evocative image for people who had never seen them before except maybe on some hypothetical, now-lost stela.

    grego: I think that chains wouldn’t even have to exist anymore. Knowing what they were–“metal cords”–would be enough. Even so, a main stela in the middle of Zarahemla next to the theater with a 600 year running play “Chains of the Devil” would be plenty good for a reference.

    -=-=-=

    Chris Smith wrote: As for “cords” being the exclusive binding method in non-metaphorical Book of Mormon passages, I attribute that to their appearing only under circumstances in which chains would be unavailable or impracticable. The Lamanites were supposed to be a primitive people, not a metalworking one. Moroni’s cords, as the narrative makes clear, were prepared in haste (and for a purpose for which chains would have been ill-suited, anyway). I don’t see the Book of Mormon’s use of “cords” in realistic situations as being a plus for its claim to historicity. Rather, it stems from the needs of the narrative. I suppose it requires that JS (grego edit: “Joseph Smith”, in case anyone might not know) was smart enough to keep his story more or less straight. But that’s nothing we didn’t already know.

    grego: Interestingly, most of the verses use “bound” without saying what the people were bound with.

    For the use of cords, some of the passages make sense, yes–I don’t see Moroni or Teancum SF (Special Forces) running around in silence in the dead of night with a heavy, clanky chain instead of a rope–makes sense to use a cord, I agree.

    But for the references to prisoners in prison?

    And especially the example of Ammonihah? I think it’s too strong to wave off, and it backs up the Book of Mormon use of figurative chains and quotidian cords.

    Note also that all “chain” references are by Nephites to Nephites, not by or to Lamanites.

    Yes, all that would require Joseph Smith to be smart and deep and have-a-wonderful-memory enough to keep it all right.

    Comment by grego — 2008, August 28 @ 4:15 am

  3. Hi Grego, Just so you’re aware, I deleted the post in question. I’m trying to purge my life of such things.

    Peace,

    -Chris

    Comment by Christopher Smith — 2010, October 31 @ 12:03 am

  4. Chris, I just noticed and ok’d your comment, I’ll have to take a look at this again. (From memory, other than just one part in your post, I didn’t see much negative about this in the first place, really.) :)

    Comment by grego — 2010, November 8 @ 1:44 pm


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