Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, April 21

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*.”

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