Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, October 17

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 16: CONCLUSION by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 16: CONCLUSION

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 16: CONCLUSION

****I believe it has been shown that most evidence and “proofs” for “Others” that have been given up to this point, by all the authors covered, are actually much weaker than stronger. Unless someone can show strong evidence to the contrary in the Book of Mormon text with an interpretation that bears it out, I believe that this response justifies one in saying that the Book of Mormon still fails to mention others, though it does not prove that that possibility can’t exist, nor that it is excluded.

I agree completely with John L. Sorenson that “this is one more instance in which we see that much remains in that ancient record which we should try to elucidate by diligent analysis.” However, I hope that future articles on this topic by all will not “fail to observe what” ACTUALLY “is said about [others] in the Book of Mormon” instead of trying to prove from and in the Book of Mormon that what their science has already told them “is true”. I am saddened by the public lack of scholarship and honesty from those who work/ worked for the Church (literally and/ or figuratively), supposedly to bring new light to the scriptures. Too many times the interpretation is “A” and definitely not “B” when convenient, but then later “B” and definitely not “A” when convenient. This flip-flopping for convenience while trying to prove points makes for shaky argument. In addition, much of the language used in many places in the articles is outrageously overbearing (especially for research), illogical, and even (almost) blasphemous (like when saying what the Lord “should” do) when most of the time, at best, it is speculative. In too many instances in these articles, the answer or an other strong possibile answer to a point is found immediately in the preceding or following verse just quoted, or even in the same verse itself!

To use hypotheses, suppositions, possibilities, suggestions, beliefs, and even pure speculation, and yet write as if everything proposed in the line of argument is an absolute fact, and then drawing conclusions from these “facts” as if they followed completely necessarily and evidently, is so far out of line with writing an article on this subject with the information available in the Book of Mormon that I believe it is unapologetically unacceptable. This reeks of typical unethical and dishonest method of operation and sloppy work of anti-Mormon critics. Now we see it in FARMS–an official part of Brigham Young University, an official university of the Church; and in FAIR. Regrettable. What is more regrettable is that these articles are kept up on the internet and available for all to read; spread; and then, if possible, responses are muffled, updates are rare, corrections never occur, and I have yet to see any apology to anyone outside the group or even an acceptance of being wrong or merely too assuming. It makes me wonder if any form of peer-review or editing occurs with any of these articles.

It is unnecessary–completely–to our faith or credence to follow those methods (though some might want to). I do not claim to understand this agenda. If there is a proof, there is; if there isn’t, it isn’t. Possiblilities may exist, whether I am personally for it or not. (Though in the search for truth, I don’t understand how you can be for something or not.) What make this more frightening is that this is done on a topic that is doesn’t seem to be in response to any heavy anti-gospel, anti-Church propaganda. TRYING TO FORCE A PERSONAL FEELING OR FALSE AGENDA ON OTHERS, BY WRESTING THE SCRIPTURES TO FIT OUR PERSONAL INTERPRETATION AND BY HAVING DISHONEST DIALOGUE, IS A FORM OF PRIESTCRAFT OR LIKE NEHORISM.

Luckily, this is happening with a topic that doesn’t matter much for our salvation; otherwise, it would be extremely wise to heed a few exhortations from Alma: “…Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction” (Alma 13:20)… “And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing…” (Alma 41:1).

I invite FARMS and FAIR to open a discussion board on every article that they write and post, and every article/ book/ etc. that they criticize or make negative remarks about. Members of these two organizations continually claim that each organization is made up of individuals with unique thoughts and beliefs, and that there is disagreement among the members themselves; I think this would be a good opportunity for those with dissenting opinions to share also.

It seems quite unfair for a Church paid scholarly foundation to shoot others down and then hide behind a Church wall, allowing church members to read (and believe) only their scholarship, as if the LDS leaders supported it and stood behind it. That’s like shooting arrows from inside a church, while at the same time crying “Sanctuary!” How long will the people inside that they’re supposed to be protecting get the feeling that something is wrong? FARMS and FAIR, let your scholarship be openly proven, and it will no doubt be better for everyone.

I would very much like to hear anything else, from anyone, that is evidence for others in the land interacting with the Lehites.

The whole thrust of these arguments is seen clearly in this quote of Brant Gardner’s (from discussion board): “THE OTHER FACTOR IN THE PRESENCE OF “OTHERS” IN THE LAND IS SIMPLY KNOWN ARCHAEOLOGY. THERE IS NO PLACE IN THE NEW WORLD THAT LEHITES COULD REASONABLY LAND THAT WAS NOT INHABITED AND WHICH DID NOT ALREADY SUPOPRT VARIOUS POPULATIONS IN THE THOUSANDS. Coastal Guatemala had at least six communities in the coastal piedmont of a thousand or more, as I remember.

THE PROBLEM OF THE BOOK OF MORMON ISN’T THAT THERE WEREN’T OTHERS IN THE LAND. THERE WERE. THAT IS KNOWN. YOU MIGHT ASK WHY THEY WEREN’T MENTIONED, BUT TO SUGGEST THEY WERE NOT HERE IS TO DENY KNOWN DATA.”

It is one thing to know and LOOK FOR EVIDENCE and speculate and surmise; it is another to taint, twist, force, and manipulate so many things to fit your predetermined outcome, based on what you believe the science shows.

And that, folks, is the majority of what is done with these “evidences” for “Others” in the land.

Now, there are a few more points here about others I want to bring up:
Other points to consider about “Others”:
This author:
I think the best support for others in the land is found in Alma 50:29-32, especially verse 32: “Now behold, the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni, feared that **THEY** would hearken to the words of Morianton and UNITE with HIS PEOPLE, and THUS HE WOULD OBTAIN POSSESSION OF THOSE PARTS OF THE LAND, which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty.
It sounds like somebody’s up there, and this is before the migrations northward in Alma 63. Who is it? Who would Morianton and his people unite with?

Helaman 11:5, 6 says that there was a famine in the land, and that thousands perished. If there were others, and there was trade, this shouldn’t have been such a big problem–they could easily have gotten food, like Jacob’s family in the Old Testament who got food from Egypt during famine.
It is not to say that other peoples or races being there and there being intermingling, is impossible.

1 Nephi 7:1 And now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that IT WAS NOT MEET FOR HIM, LEHI, THAT HE SHOULD TAKE HIS FAMILY INTO THE WILDERNESS ALONE; but that HIS SONS SHOULD TAKE DAUGHTERS TO WIFE, THAT THEY MIGHT RAISE UP SEED UNTO THE LORD IN THE LAND OF PROMISE.
1 Nephi 7:2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that I, Nephi, and my brethren, should again return unto the land of Jerusalem, and BRING DOWN ISHMAEL AND HIS FAMILY into the wilderness.
Maybe it was necessary for Ishmael’s familiy to join them for the wilderness journey. But if there were plenty of Others already in the promised land, and so many followed Nephi when he split from his brothers because they believed as he did, then why did Lehi’s sons have to go back to Jerusalem to get wives who would raise up seed to the Lord in the promised land? (Only native MEN converted??) Because of the long journey to get there? Ok, so they are a little late in child-bearing and marrying… And?

The two major things that I can find that might suggest this view of outside groups is that:
1. the Nephite prophets do an awful lot of preaching and baptizing for a group that’s supposedly already members, and
2. the Lamanites seem to have a great supply of warriors, even after suffering great losses.
However, we must remember what happened at the time of king Benjamin:
“Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.”
“They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.”
“And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.”
“And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God.”
“And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous.”
“For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church” (Mosiah 26:1-6).
MANY of the rising generation of Nephites at that time were nonmembers, and through dissension, and sin (and therefore excommunication), they numbered more than the Nephites. These people and their posterity could explain a lot of where the baptisms came from.
Also, there could have been many due to rebaptizings of at faithful members, such as in early modern church history; passages that don’t seem to support that, such as in Helaman 3, could be from rebaptizings of Nephite dissenters, excommunicated members, etc.
The strongest point is the population numbers, especially with all the population setbacks–that is, the Nephites continually move over to the Lamanite side, which helps answer the Lamanite population problem; but what about the Nephite side?

****King Benjamin, speaking to Mosiah, says:
“My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation THROUGHOUT ALL THIS LAND AMONG ALL THIS PEOPLE, OR THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, AND THE PEOPLE OF MOSIAH WHO DWELL IN THE LAND (the people that his father Mosiah had led out of the land of Nephi), that thereby they may BE GATHERED TOGETHER; for ON THE MORROW I shall proclaim unto this my people out of mine own mouth that thou art a king and a ruler over this people, whom the Lord our God hath given us” (Mosiah 1:10).
This sounds like a small group of people–pass the message to everyone so they can be there the next day. However, in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, “morrow” means “The day next after the present”; “THE NEXT DAY SUBSEQUENT TO ANY DAY SPECIFIED”.
Thus, Mosiah 1:10 might possibly be read in a different way, like this:
“My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people, or the people of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who dwell in the land (the people that his father Mosiah had led out of the land of Nephi), that thereby they may BE GATHERED TOGETHER; for ON THE NEXT DAY SUBSEQUENT TO THEIR GATHERING I shall proclaim unto this my people out of mine own mouth that thou art a king and a ruler over this people, whom the Lord our God hath given us” (Mosiah 1:10).

King Benjamin says:
“And moreover, I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may BE DISTINGUISHED ABOVE ALL THE PEOPLE WHICH THE LORD GOD HATH BROUGHT OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM…” (Mosiah 1:11). Does this just mean a name to distinguish them from the Lamanites? That would seem like big trouble to say when he could have said “Lamanites”.
In keeping to the text of Moses, the Exodus, the Lehite exodus and the “promised land” (1 Nephi 17:32-38), it is probable that other peoples had been cleared out to prepare the way for the Lehites, though this is what happened with the Jaredites.

Other races/ groups could easily have been on the continents. The Lord says that 1 Nephi 17:38: “And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands…”, and in 2 Nephi 10:22: “…the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure.” Also, 1 Nephi 22:3-4: “…house of Israel…will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations…there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem… and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea…” (And this was long before Hagoth.) And, Lehi, in 2 Nephi 1:5-7: “But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted THIS LAND unto me, and to my children forever, and ALSO ALL THOSE WHO SHOULD BE LED OUT OF OTHER COUNTRIES BY THE HAND OF THE LORD. Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring.”
Lehi clearly says that others will be led by the Lord to the promised land; and not just from Jerusalem/ Israel, but from other countries. Though there might have been other groups there, there is no need to say that they always interacted. For instance, look att the Nephites and the Mulekites. They were nearby for perhaps 300 years, yet didn’t know it.
Could Coriantumr have told the Mulekites about the Jaredites, or left them records, or taught them some of the language, or perhaps even had children with a Mulekite woman, and named them, even though he only lived with the Mulekites for nine moons? Possibly. Of course, there is the problem of language–I assume that they spoke, surely wrote very different ones. Was there a Jaredite influence? Yes. Remember the stone (and maybe more) that the Mulekites gave King Mosiah (the First)? Did perhaps Coriantumr provide a key to the Mulekites for his language? Or, were the records of earlier times much better in the Brass Plates, and in the records of the Jaredites? Isn’t it possible that there might be a reason other than having to have lots of leftover Jaredites?

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 15: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE JAREDITES by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 15: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE JAREDITES

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 15: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE JAREDITES

John L. Sorenson:
“Others” among the Jaredites?
The major focus of this paper, as well as of the Book of Mormon, is the Nephites. A brief look at the Jaredite record is nevertheless worthwhile for what it seems to tell us about demographic processes comparable to those we have discovered in the Nephite record. Moroni’s summary of Ether’s sketch of Jaredite history is so concise that it is difficult to say much about their population history in relation to Jared’s original party, yet a few points stand out. It appears that for the earlier people, too, we must look to “other” groups to account plausibly for the indicated trends and numbers. Figuring the demographic growth of Jared’s party requires that we establish how many there were initially. Ether 6:16 indicates that the founding generation consisted of twenty-four males. The brother of Jared sired twenty-two sons and daughters, while Jared had twelve (see Ether 6:20). We can be confident that they had multiple wives.

****Maybe they didn’t have multiple wives, especially at the beginning. While it seems that plural marriage was alive and well, at least for some:
Ether 1:41: Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and THY FAMILIES; and also JARED THY BROTHER AND HIS FAMILY; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families. *However*, presently, this is considered a printer’s error: the original reads “family”, not “families”.
Yet, here we read:
Ether 14:2: Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and EVERY MAN kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and HIS OWN LIFE and of HIS WIVES and children.
Unless that too is a printer’s error, or unless every man were considered plural.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Estimating on the basis of these numbers, the original party reasonably could have numbered on the order of eighty adults. Not many decades later, when Jared’s grandsons, Corihor and Kib, were vigorous political leaders, we read of a “city” in a land, “Nehor,” not previously mentioned (see Ether 7:9). This is the earliest “city” in the entire Book of Mormon record, yet no city is ever mentioned in the land of Moron, the capital “where the king [in Jared’s line] dwelt” (Ether 7:5).

****John L. Sorenson answers his own question here with this quote of his from above: “the writers did not want to waste space on their plates telling of things they considered obvious or insignificant. For example, they nowhere tell us that the Nephites made and used pottery. Any ancient historian would be considered eccentric if he had written, “And some of our women also made pottery.” To anyone of his time it would seem absurd to say so because ‘everybody knows that.’ The obvious is rarely recorded in historical documents because it seems pointless to do so.”

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Even if half the descendants from those of the eight barges had inexplicably settled in Nehor, the highest number we can imagine for them at this early date would be, say, a hundred people in the “city” and its land. That number could not have made any “city.” Then one generation later, “the people [as a whole] had become exceeding numerous” (Ether 7:11). The scale of population suggested by these statements calls for “other” groups to have been incorporated under Jaredite rule. Continued extraordinary population dynamics followed. In the next generation war resulted in destruction of “all the people of the kingdom … save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer” (Ether 9:12). Yet two kings later we read of the building of “many mighty cities” (Ether 9:23).

****Let’s take a look at what the Book of Mormon says:
Ether 6:16 And THE FRIENDS OF JARED AND HIS BROTHER were in number about TWENTY AND TWO SOULS; and THEY ALSO BEGAT SONS AND DAUGHTERS BEFORE THEY CAME TO THE PROMISED LAND; and therefore THEY BEGAN TO BE MANY.
Ether 6:18 And it came to pass that they BEGAN TO SPREAD upon the face of the land, and to MULTIPLY and to till the earth; and they DID WAX STRONG in the land.
Ether 6:19 And the brother of Jared began to be old, and saw that he must soon go down to the grave; wherefore he said unto Jared: Let us GATHER TOGETHER OUR PEOPLE THAT WE MAY NUMBER THEM, that we may know of them what they will desire of us before we go down to our graves.
Ether 6:20 And accordingly THE PEOPLE WERE GATHERED TOGETHER. Now the number of THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE BROTHER OF JARED WERE TWENTY AND TWO SOULS; and the number of SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF JARED WERE TWELVE, he having four sons.
Ether 6:21 And it came to pass that THEY DID NUMBER THEIR PEOPLE; and after that they had numbered them, they did desire of them the things which they would that they should do before they went down to their graves.
Ether 6:22 And it came to pass that the people desired of them that THEY SHOULD ANOINT ONE OF THEIR SONS TO BE A KING OVER THEM. (A direct conflict between John L. Sorenson’s argument here and Brant Gardner’s “Nephi can’t be a king over a small group of people” hypothesis.)
Ether 7:2 And [Orihah] BEGAT SONS AND DAUGHTERS; yea, he begat THIRTY AND ONE, among whom were twenty and three sons.
Ether 7:3 And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that KIB REIGNED IN HIS STEAD; and KIB BEGAT CORIHOR.
Ether 7:4 And when CORIHOR WAS THIRTY AND TWO YEARS OLD he rebelled against his father, and went over and dwelt in the land of Nehor; and he begat sons and daughters, and they became exceedingly fair; wherefore Corihor drew away many people after him.
Ether 7:7 And it came to pass that KIB DWELT IN CAPTIVITY, AND HIS PEOPLE UNDER CORIHOR his son, until he became exceedingly old; nevertheless Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.

First, note that just when Jared and his brother were going to die, they gathered the people to number them. Remember Sorenson’s writing, “[A] hundred people in the “city” and its land”? If there are only 100 people, why would there be a need to gather them? Why a need to number them??
Well then, that must mean there were others, right? Well, let’s see what the Book of Mormon says… It seems that lifespans were longer, and the youngest son became king when his father the king died–which really stretches it out. Kings could easily have 60-80 years between them. We have the brother of Jared to Orihah (youngest son); Kib to Corihor (thirty-two); that’s possibly 60+60+60-32= 148 years!! Also, with people living longer, more people are alive at the same time, and propagating longer (especially if they have multiple wives). While women wouldn’t bear past a specific age, men would. When they’re having anywhere from 12-31 children each, and there were twenty four families to start out with (assuming twenty and two” means their male friends, not males and females counted separately), that’s a lot in that time. Here: 24 x 20= 480; 240 x 20= 4,800; 2,400 x20=48,000! That’s not counting what some might see as multiple wives, either.
Also, note in Ether 7:7 that these kings and armies did not try to destroy each other, as the Lamanites tried to do with the Nephites. The king and his people were captured and lived under the opposing king. The slate is not wiped half clean just because of a war!
However, much of this lies on assumptions about what a “city” means, and I have dealt with that earlier discussions on “Others”.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Before long, drought caused the death of the king Heth “and all his household” except Shez (Ether 10:1-2). Quickly they again built up “many cities … and the people began again to spread over all the face of the land” (Ether 10:4). Centuries later, two million “mighty men, and also their wives and their children” (Ether 15:2) were slain while further warring armies and civilian supporters yet remained. I find it not credible that these roller-coaster numbers could result strictly from the demographics of an original party of eighty adults. As with the peoples reported in the Nephites’ own record, a simpler and more compelling explanation is that groups not descended from the immigrant party were involved. If so, “the Jaredites” would have consisted of a combination of groups with cultures and languages beyond those descended from the settlers on the first barges. But the picture is left unclear because Ether, a direct descendant of Jared, gives us only his line’s history rather than an account of all the inhabitants of the land (consider, for example, Ether 10:30-31). Furthermore, we have access only to Moroni’s summary covering Ether’s necessarily short history of thousands of years. When all the considerations we have reviewed are weighed, I find it inescapable that there were substantial populations in the “promised land” throughout the period of the Nephite record, and probably in the Jaredite era also. The status and origin of these peoples is never made clear because the writers never set out to do any such thing; they had other purposes. Yet we cannot understand the demographic or cultural history of Lehi’s literal descendants without taking into account those other groups, too. Hereafter, readers will not be justified in saying that the record fails to mention “others” but only that we readers have hitherto failed to observe what is said and implied about such people in the Book of Mormon. This is one more instance in which we see that much remains in that ancient record which we should try to elucidate by diligent analysis.

****John L. Sorenson finds it “not credible”. Ok, but is it really? Is it impossible? No. Illogical? No.
All those records, and not one mention of “Others”… Either a pity, a temptation, a big frustration for Other proponents, or an exercise for some reason yet to be discovered. No doubt this has helped me to study the Book of Mormon better, might that be it?? ;)

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 14: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE LAMANITES by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 14: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE LAMANITES

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 14: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE LAMANITES

John L. Sorenson:
“Others” among the Lamanites
We have already seen that the initial Lamanite faction had an edge in numbers when the Nephites’ first split from them. We have also seen that the numbers of Nephites implied by statements and events in their early history was greater than natural births could have accounted for.

****Shown to be wrong.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Growth in population of the Lamanites is still harder to explain. Jarom 1:5-6 tells us that not long after 400 B.C. the Nephites had “waxed strong in the land,” yet the Lamanites “were exceeding more numerous than were … the Nephites.” Earlier, Enos 1:20 had characterized the Lamanites as wild, ferocious, blood-thirsty hunters, eating raw meat and wandering in the wilderness mostly unclothed. Jarom echoes that picture (see Jarom 1:6). I suggest that we should discount this dark portrait of the Lamanites on account of its clear measure of ethnic prejudice and its lack of first-hand observation on the part of the Nephite record keepers.

****What’s this–throw out from the Book of Mormon what doesn’t fit our thinking?
Was it true, or not? Why does this “dark portrait” definitely have to be the result of “ethnic prejudice” and “lack of first-hand observation”? It doesn’t, right? Perhaps the continual descriptions might clue us in that that’s really the way it was! It was obvious to the Nephites, as they had tried many times and ways to preach to the Lamanites, and ethnic prejudice hardly seems the case as we see these men pray for, plan for, and labor for the welfare of the Lamanites and their return to Christ.
I think the reason the author wants us to discount this view is that such a generalization makes it much harder to accept others/ outsiders.
Where is there a “lack of first-hand observation” shown in the Book of Mormon?
(I have written an article about “Lamanite Bias”, please use the search function and read if you desire to see how this argument is deflated.)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
But regardless of qualifications, we are left with the fact that the Lamanites, who are said to have been supported by a hunting economy, greatly outnumbered the Nephites, who were cultivators. This situation is so contrary to the record of human history that it cannot be accepted at face value. Typically, hunting peoples do not capture enough food energy in the form of game, plus non-cultivated plant foods they gather, to feed as large or as dense a population as farmers can. Almost invariably, settled agriculturalists successfully support a population a number of times greater. It would be incredible for Lamanites living only under the economic regime reported by Enos to have supported the superior population he credits to them.

****(I have already explained more about this back at the beginning, when talking about the promised land.) Of course, if you have millions of deer, bison, tapirs, sheep, whatever, running all over, and especially if you can capture and raise them, then it’s very possible. For example, at least by the time of Ammon, King Lamoni and other Lamanites raised flocks.
Remember also, there were larger numbers at the start, and there were Nephite dissenters and well, probably pretty few Lamanite dissenters who became Nephites. I’m of the opinion that I doubt that many of the Nephite dissenters lived in tents in the wilderness, shaved their heads, only wore a loincloth, and ate raw meat…

-=-=-=–
John L. Sorenson:
How can we explain their numbers? Only one explanation is plausible.

****Once more, the typical limited thinking so prevalent in this article manifests…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The early Lamanites had to have included, or to have dominated, other people who lived by cultivation. Their crops would have been essential to support the growth in overall “Lamanite” population. Such a situation is not uncommon in history; predatory hunter/warrior groups often enough have come to control passive agriculturalists off whose production they feed via taxation or tribute. Given the personal aggressiveness of Laman and Lemuel, it would be no surprise if they had immediately begun seizing power over localized populations of “other” farmers if they encountered any.

****If there were Others, I could accept the possibility of something like this!

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
After all, that is what the Lamanites later did to the Zeniffites, taking a “tax” of up to half their production (see Mosiah 7 and 9). But this scenario works only if a settled, non-Lehite population already existed in the land of promise when Lehi came. The text goes on to tell us that by the first century B.C. Lamanite expansion had spread “through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers’ first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). Note that a phrase in this supports the picture of a Lamanite warrior element coexisting with settled people: “the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents.”

****”…Lamanite warrior element coexisting with [Others]”?–or, this could mean “more idle part of the Lamanites vs. less idle part of the Lamanites, or even scattered small-group forest people vs. those living in villages/ towns”. I believe this is the more possible, yet again, the scriptures continually seem to limit the composition of both the Lamanites and the Nephites (already shown previously–search for “consist of”).
By the way, no need to picture little Boy Scout tents here–think large Middle East tents.
We also see here another possible source of sustenance: the sea. With seafood and kelp, that’s a lot of addition to the game in the wilderness.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Hence only part of the Lamanite population were hunters, while others were settled, presumably farming, people. The latter group would have been of relatively little concern to the Nephites and thus would not be further mentioned by them because it was the wild types who spearheaded the attacks on the Nephites.

****Yes, the farmers didn’t live in the wilderness, they lived in the cities; of course, that is where all farmers live…
However Sorenson’s belief might be, this is only an assumption. Who spearheaded the attacks– kings? Nephite dissenters? Rituals?
The first type is probably mentioned because they were the ones living nearest the Nephites, and the ones that the Nephites would have tried preaching to. How could the Nephites preach to the inner Lamanites, without getting past the outer Lamanites first?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Confirmation of the pattern of dominance of subject groups comes from the mention of cities and other evidences of a civilized way of life among the Lamanites. The brief Nephite record does not bother to tell how the transition from the early nomadic Lamanite pattern to settled life occurred, but the text assures us that change they did, at least some of them. By the time the sons of Mosiah reached the land of Nephi to preach, about 90 B.C., “the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem” (Alma 21:2). However, the Amalekites and Amulonites are pictured as exploiters of others, not as basic builders of advanced culture. They could not have flourished had there not been an infrastructure of agricultural producers to support them. Other cities, too, are mentioned among the Lamanites–Nephi, Lemuel, Shimnilom by name, plus others unnamed (see Alma 23:4, 11-12).26 The Nephites kept on reporting the daunting scale of Lamanite military manpower (see Alma 2:24, 28; 49:6; 51:11; Helaman 1:19). This implies a base population from which the Lamanites could keep drawing an almost inexhaustible supply of sword fodder. Such a large population is even more difficult to account for by natural increase of the original Laman-Lemuel faction than in the case of Nephi’s group, for the eventual Lamanite absolute numbers are disproportionately high.
—-
****It is certain that Amulonites and Amalekites and Lamanites could have built a city, even if they were portrayed that way all the time (are they?). Whoops, did I answer my question there? The Lamanites might have been the laborers?
Sure, agriculture and inter-Lamanite trade could have provided a lot.
“Sword fodder”–would that be the infamous swords composed of… sticks and stones? How hard would it be to find “sword fodder”?
Here John L. Sorenson could add that the Lamanites held to marriage between one man and one woman only (Jacob 3:5-6), which would help his theory.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
None of this demographic picture makes sense unless “others” had become part of the Lamanite economy and polity. Beyond warfare, other unexpected developments among the Lamanites also demand explanation. Comparative study of ancient societies tells us that their system of rulership, where a great king dominated subordinate kings whom he had commissioned, as reported in Alma 20-22, would be unlikely except among a fairly populous farming people. Also, a “palace” was used by the Lamanite great king (see Alma 22:2; perhaps the same structure Noah had earlier built as reported in Mosiah 11:9), but no such building is indicated for the Nephites.

****I should check the footnote on that “comparative study”.
Two points: remember that this “land of Nephi” (see here: Alma 22:1: “…Aaron and his brethren [were] led by the Spirit to the land of Nephi, even to the house of the king which was over all the land save it were the land of Ishmael; and he was the father of Lamoni.”
Alma 22:2: And it came to pass that he went in unto him into the king’s palace…”)
was the previous land of the Nephites, and the seat of the Nephite kings. It would not surprise me if the Lamanites took over and used the buildings the Nephites had constructed. Why would the Nephites write “we had a palace” that on the plates?
Also, “palace” need not be much; in other words, it could be loosely used.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The institution of kingship was obviously highly developed among the Lamanites. Moreover, the logistics of Lamanite military campaigns, which they carried on at a great distance from home territory (see, for example, Alma 50:11-32), calls for considerable technological and sociocultural sophistication as well as a large noncombatant population. It is true that dissenters from among the Nephites provided certain knowledge to the Lamanites (compare Alma 47:36), but local human and natural resources on a large scale and a fairly long tradition of locally adaptive technology would have been required in order to bring the ambitions of the dissenters to realization. As we saw in the case of the crops passed down from earlier times, it is quite unthinkable that all this cultural apparatus was simply invented by the reportedly backward Lamanites within the span of a few centuries. Some, perhaps most, of the required cultural background derived from pre-Lehite peoples.

****What “considerable technological and sociocultural sophistication technology” would they need to get from others to be necessary for war? (Dry the meat; carry it; make a few weapons, especially stones and arrows (Alma 49:2), and learn to use them–which Laman & Lemuel already knew how to do (1 Nephi 15:16); run to carry messages; a king to tell them go fight our enemies (or die) (Alma 47:1-3); etc. Now, where’s that technology?)
It seems to be “unthinkable” to those that already think it unthinkable, before thinking.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As we saw above, Lehi’s prophecy in 2 Nephi 2 called for “other nations” to be near at hand and influential upon the Lamanites after their rebellion against Nephi and the Lord became obvious.
The point is recalled here in connection with our discussion of the growth in Lamanite numbers. Despite the brevity of the text about Lamanite society there are specific statements and situations that alert us to the presence of “others” among them. Two key cases involve those identified as the Amulonites and the Amalekites. The Amulonites originated when the fugitive priests of Noah captured twenty-four Lamanite women as substitute wives (see Mosiah 20:4-5, 18, 23). From that small beginning, within fifty or sixty years their numbers rose to where they “were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites” (Alma 43:14). Since the Nephites commanded tens of thousands of soldiers at the time, the Amulonites would have had almost the same number.

****2 Nephi doesn’t call for that. Reference, please.
I don’t find “tens of thousands” in the Book of Mormon near this time for the Lamanites or Nephites. Help me, please.
The problem with Alma 43:14 appears to be a misreading.
Alma 43:13 And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus 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.
Alma 43:14 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.
It would be better to read like this:
“…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 (of all the dissenters) were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites; and thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with their brethren, even unto bloodshed.”
It’s not talking about just the descendants of the priests of Noah. This is clear from what you bring up shortly, about Alma 25–most of the descendants of the priests of Noah had already been slain, and the rest were in hiding, and enemies to the Lamanites.
Also, the last sentence says that “thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with THEIR BRETHREN…” “Others” hardly seem to constitute brethren.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Using a common figure of one soldier for each five of the total population, this would put their entire group at 100,000 or more. But by natural increase the twenty-four priests and their wives could not have produced even a hundredth of that total in the time indicated. Moreover they had had their own demographic difficulties, for we learn from Alma 25:4 that at one point in time “almost all the seed of Amulon and his brethren, who were the priests of Noah,” had been “slain by the hands of the Nephites.” So who were left to constitute this large people? The only possible explanation for their dramatic growth in numbers is that they gained control over and incorporated “other” people.
—-
****About war numbers:
Remember that in the wars with Amalickiah, for the Nephites, getting only thousands to the addition of one quarter of the land was a huge boost in numbers to their army.
In Alma 2:19, it says that “…the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter, insomuch that there were SLAIN OF THE AMLICITES TWELVE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY AND TWO SOULS; and there were SLAIN OF THE NEPHITES SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY AND TWO SOULS.”
It continues: “…having buried those who had been slain–now the number of the slain WERE NOT NUMBERED, because of the greatness of their number…(Alma 3:1)”.
So, in final, the number slain was more than the day previous. That’s a major war, and huge losses mostly on the part of the Amlicites, but for the Nephites and Lamanites, too. Still it’s not up in the high numbers.
With the Nephites always having wars, rebellions, and dissensions among themselves, their numbers would always be lessening; thus the population comparisons between them and the Lamanites need not always be ever-increasing numbers–like two steps forward in population growth, one step back.
After fighting and retreating, it says: Mormon 2:7: “And it came to pass that WE DID GATHER IN OUR PEOPLE AS FAST AS IT WERE POSSIBLE, THAT WE MIGHT GET THEM TOGETHER IN ONE BODY.
Mormon 2:8: But behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.
Mormon 2:9: And now, the Lamanites had a king, and his name was Aaron; and he came against us with an army of FORTY AND FOUR THOUSAND. And behold, I withstood him with FORTY AND TWO THOUSAND. And it came to pass that I beat him with my army that he fled before me. And behold, all this was done, and three hundred and thirty years had passed away.
Mormon 2:15: “…for I saw THOUSANDS OF THEM (not tens of thousands) hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away…
Mormon 2:25: And it came to pass that we did contend with an ARMY OF THIRTY THOUSAND AGAINST AN ARMY OF FIFTY THOUSAND. And it came to pass that we did stand before them with such firmness that they did flee from before us.
Yet, still, Mormon says that “And now all these things had been done, and there had been THOUSANDS SLAIN ON BOTH SIDES, both the Nephites and the Lamanites. (Mormon 4:9).
Again, armies here never exceeded 50,000, and the slain were counted by Mormon in the thousands.
After thousands slain on both sides, the final battle was with at least 230,000 Nephites, which Mormon says was “…yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen.” (Mormon 6:15)
But these later examples are different because they occur after 3 Nephi and 4 Nephi (Nephites and Lamanites joined, wicked destroyed, years and years of righteousness, a lack of numbering on the split, etc.).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
(These were not Lamanites per se, it appears from Alma 23:14 and 43:13.)

****No, they weren’t. But they weren’t others, either. We read in Alma 22:7:
“And Aaron answered him and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? And the king said: I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him… ”
Here we learn that dissenting Nephites who lived among the Lamanites could still maintain their separateness from the Lamanites, at least once had favors granted to them, and could possibly even have different rules.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
We see how this was done through a political pattern sketched in Alma 25:5. Amulonite survivors of their wars with the Nephites “having fled into the east wilderness … usurped the power and authority over the Lamanites [in Nephite terms]” dwelling in that area. They had already had a lesson in usurpation when they got control over Alma and his people in the land of Helam. “The king of the Lamanites had granted unto Amulon that he should be a king and a ruler over his [own Amulonite] people, who were in the land of Helam,” as well as over subject Alma and company (Mosiah 23:39). In the eyes of the rapacious priests and those who followed and modelled after them, political and economic exploitation of subject populations must have seemed a much superior way to “earn” a good living than the humdrum labor they had had to resort to in their original land, where they “had begun to till the ground” (Mosiah 23:31). We cannot say definitely what the origins of the subjects were who ended up under Amulonite control, but their startling numbers indicate that Lehi’s descendants alone cannot account for them.

**** Alma 25:5: “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–”
Alma 25:6: “For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness.”
Alma 25:7: “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.”
Alma 25:8: “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.”
Alma 25:9: “And behold they are HUNTED AT THIS DAY BY THE LAMANITES… ”
It says they were over the Lamanites, not “Others”.
Also, the descendants of Amulon and the priests don’t seem to have lasted long at all–it sounds to me like we’re talking months at the most–not a lot of time to have lots of children (unless you had a different concubine every night or so). Remember also, this happened a long time before Alma 43, including the part about the seed of Amulon being hunted and slain. That they were able to mend their relationship, and come back and join the Lamanites, is excluded by Alma 25:9.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
More mysterious are the Amalekites. They are first mentioned at Alma 21:1-8 where a tiny window on their culture and location in part of the land of Nephi is opened for us. The time was approximately 90 B.C., but they were already powerful, being mentioned on a par with the Amulonites. Nothing is said about when or under what circumstances they originated. Alma 21:8 has an Amalekite speaker contrast “thy [Aaron’s, and thus Mosiah’s] fathers” from “our [Amalekite] fathers.” This seems to set their ancestry apart from that of the core Nephites in Zarahemla, but neither were they from the Lamanite side, for Alma 43:13 calls them dissenters from the Nephites. The Amalekite questioner further implies that his forebears included men who spoke prophetically. Could they have been of Mulek’s group, or of the Jaredites, or of still another people? At least the presence of the Amalekites assures us that the Book of Mormon text as we now have it does not include all the information it might have about peoples in the land of Nephi lumped together by the Nephite writers as “Lamanites.”
—-
****I believe this is one of the stronger evidences of Others in the Book of Mormon. I’ll put up what I can right now, and if I ever think of anything else, then I’ll come back.
First, this verse implies that Amalekites were not Lamanites:
Alma 24:29 Now, among those who joined the people of the Lord, there were none who were Amalekites or Amulonites, or who were of the order of Nehor, but they were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel.
Actually, there is something said about where they originated, and John L. Sorenson mentioned it:
Alma 43:13: “And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus 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.”
The Amalekites were Nephite dissenters; just that how, when, why, etc. seems not to be discussed in the Book of Mormon; though there is presently the belief that the Amalekites are the Amlicites, due to dictation/ spelling errors in the translation, which would explain more.

About the “your fathers” and “our fathers”:
Here is the verse:
Alma 21:8 And the man said unto him: We do not believe that thou knowest any such thing. We do not believe in these foolish traditions. We do not believe that thou knowest of things to come, neither do WE believe that THY FATHERS AND ALSO THAT OUR FATHERS did know concerning the things which THEY SPAKE, OF THAT WHICH IS TO COME.
Are the fathers in “thy fathers” and “our fathers” necessarily separate? It sounds like it, but maybe not.
Mulekites? That seems the best and easiest explanation–except that they didn’t believe in God when Mosiah discovered them. Unless the Amalekites are talking about their fathers the Mulekites after they had been converted…
Jaredites? Possibly (hey, at least John L. Sorenson allows for some righteous ones to have survived!), though I doubt it.
It could mean different fathers, though that could mean that the Amalekites could have been from the original party, just not one of the main tribes; they could have been from Zoram or someone else who had come along. Note this type of language:
Alma 54:23 I am Ammoron, and A DESCENDANT OF ZORAM, whom YOUR FATHERS pressed and brought out of Jerusalem.
Alma 54:24 And behold NOW, I AM A BOLD LAMANITES; behold, this war hath been waged to avenge their wrongs, and to maintain and to obtain their rights to the government; and I close my epistle to Moroni.
Interestingly, there is similar speech as the Amalekites as from the Zoramites–also Nephite dissenters:
Alma 31:16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated US FROM OUR BRETHREN; and we do not believe in THE TRADITION OF OUR BRETHREN, which was handed down to them by the childishness of THEIR FATHERS; but we believe that THOU HAST ELECTED US TO BE THY HOLY CHILDREN; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
I wonder if maybe there is something more than literal speech going on here. The Zoramites refer to “our brethren”, yet infer that they have different fathers.
Could “your fathers” and “our fathers” be a non-literal meaning, like “brethren”? Quick answer: Possibly, but it stil doesn’t work well because both fathers, it seems, believed in similar traditions based on prophecy (thought this is not absolutely certain). More about this: This occurs in the Book of Mormon more than once. It seems that when people dissent, they adopt different fathers along with beliefs; and when they come in to the Nephites, they join their fathers. Here are a few examples:
This happens with the Npehites and Lamanites. Though they have the same father–Lehi–they make the “our fathers” “your fathers” distinction. This could be what the Amalekites are doing, too, especially as they have dissented from the Nephites and become Lamanites.
This example is of the children of the priests of Noah:
Mosiah 25:12 And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would NO LONGER BE CALLED BY THE NAMES OF THEIR FATHERS, therefore THEY TOOK UPON THEMSELVES THE NAME OF NEPHI, THAT THEY MIGHT BE CALLED THE CHILDREN OF NEPHI AND BE NUMBERED AMONG THOSE WHO WERE CALLED NEPHITES.
Alma preaches this to all the members of the church in Zarahemla, among which most likely were those who were not children of the original group of Alma that was delivered from the land of Helam:
(Alma 5:5 And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also.)
Alma 5:6 And now behold, I say unto you, MY BRETHREN, YOU THAT BELONG TO THIS CHURCH, have you sufficiently retained in rememberance the captivity of YOUR FATHERS? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
It’s like someone nowadays in the church speaking of “OUR pioneer forefathers”.

Still, once more, we see who the Lamanites consisted of–no mention of outside groups/ Others.
Also, we see nothing about who joined the Nephites to increase their numbers–in fact, “ALONE” implies there were none.
In fact, the Amalekites need not have anything that special about them–they could have ad a man named Amalek who led dissenters away from the Nephites, such as with Amlici, Zoram, or Amalickiah.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Alma 24:29 raises the possibility of still another group being present. It says that among those converted by the Nephite missionaries, “there were none who were [1] Amalekites or [2] Amulonites or [3] who were of the order of Nehor, but they [the converts] were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel.” This phrasing leaves unclear whether those “of the order of Nehor” were merely Amalekites or Amulonites who followed the Nehorite persuasion, or whether, as seems equally likely, the Nehorites constituted a group of their own. Nehor was, after all, a Jaredite personal name; that “order” may have been particularly oriented to Jaredite survivors.

****(I have posted another article or two about the order of Nehor on this website.) The order of Nehor was a religious group, not a lineal/ racial group.
We see this clearly enough in the verse right before the one quoted, in Alma 24:28: “Now the greatest number of those of the Lamanites who slew so many of their brethren were AMALEKITES AND AMULONITES, the GREATEST NUMBER OF WHOM WERE AFTER THE ORDER OF THE NEHORS.”
And in Alma 21:4: “And it came to pass that Aaron came to the city of Jerusalem, and first began to preach to the Amalekites. And he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after the order of the Nehors; for MANY OF THE AMALEKITES AND THE AMULONITES WERE AFTER THE ORDER OF THE NEHORS.”
It’s very believable that problems with the law/ freedom from law would cause Nephite dissenters of this order to flee to the Lamanites, unless it started there among them first.
Well, that is, if there were Jaredite survivors, which we have yet to see; and once more, the “wicked Jaredites survived” hypothesis…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The expression “Lamanitish servants,” applied to certain of King Lamoni’s servants (Alma 17:26), invites our consideration in this connection. Why not merely “Lamanite servants?” What is the significance of the -ish suffix? The English dictionary sense that is most applicable would be “somewhat, approximate.” How might those servants have been only “somewhat” Lamanite?
The enigma arises again in a statement in Alma 3:7 referring to “Ishmaelitish women.” We are told there that “the Lord God set a mark upon … Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.” Of course the wives of Nephi, Sam, and Zoram were all Ishmaelite women (see 1 Nephi 16:7). Does “Ishmaelitish women” mean something else here? If so, what, in terms of ethnicity and descent?

****Good questions. The answer could very well run along the lines of American, from the States, the USA, the US, (a Yankee,) etc. argument given much earlier–another way to say something that pretty much means the same, that’s all.
“Lamanitish servants” might signify main group Lamanites, subgroup Ishmaelites–of Ishmael by descent/ lineage, but included in the Lamanites.
The1913 Webster’s Dictionary says that “-ish” is “a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns and from adjectives. It denotes relation, resemblance, similarity…” That helps us–it is used to form an adjective (Ishmaelitish) from a noun (Ishmaelite). In the Wordsmyth Dictionary, the first definition for “-ish” is “belonging or pertaining to; of; from”; for example, “Turkish”; the second definition is “having the qualities of; typical of; similar to”; for example, “mannish”; the third is “given to; preoccupied with”; for example, “faddish”; the fourth is “somewhat; approximately”; for example, “a fortyish woman”. While the second, third, and fourth definitions cause muddiness, the first makes it very easy to explain.
Or perhaps, that they were not Nephite dissenters; in a sense, the Amulonites were, and Ammon was.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
In at least two other places in the text I see possible evidence of “others.” Mosiah 24:7 reports the Lamanites’ practicing “all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren.” Now, given this verse’s context, those plundered do not appear to have been Nephites.

****Correct. See right below…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Who is referred to? Possibly the statement means that the Lamanites considered it acceptable to plunder any community other than those involving immediate relatives or neighbors, but such a limited sense of “their own brethren” is without precedent in the text.

****Take a quick look at the example of Lamoni and the other Lamanites, and what it says, for the answer:
Alma 17:35 Therefore they (the Lamanites who stole Lamoni’s flocks) did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore THEY DELIGHTED IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THEIR BRETHREN; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Rather it seems to me that this expression tells us that certain portions of the Lamanites classified other segments of the population in their lands as being of different origin and thus subject to less protection. That is, Mosiah 24:7 could mean that Lamanites were plundering “Lamanites” not of that bloodline, and vice versa. Amulonites and Amalekites could have fallen into the target category as well as the Zeniffites, who certainly were “plundered” (see Mosiah 9:14). Yet it seems to me that plunderable “others,” of non-Lehite stock, may have been at odds with “the [real] Lamanites” and thus have come into conflict with them (compare Mormon 8:8).
—-
****Just speculation. To me, it seems to mean not all that.
Mormon 8:8: “And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.
Mormon 8:9: And now, behold, I say no more concerning them, for THERE ARE NONE SAVE IT BE THE LAMANITES AND ROBBERS THAT DO EXIST UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND.”
This happened at the end, when the Nephites were gone. To whom would all the spoils of war–the women, the buildings and houses, the gold and riches, etc., go? Also, it seems that towards the end the Lamanites increased in wickedness also. The Lamanites were fighting the Lamanites.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
That could explain Helaman 5:21, where there is mention of “an army of the Lamanites,” whose existence in their homeland is strange since no war against the Nephites was going on or threatened.

**** Helaman 5:20: And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did PROCEED FROM THENCE TO GO TO THE LAND OF NEPHI.
Helaman 5:21: And it came to pass that they were TAKEN BY AN ARMY OF THE LAMANITES and cast into prison; yea, even in that same prison in which Ammon and his brethren were cast by the servants of Limhi.

Helaman 5:49: And there were about THREE HUNDRED SOULS who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt.
Ok, let’s examine this… An army of probably less than 300 men (probably other people had gone to the prison to see to Lehi and Nephi’s execution), stationed at/ near the border of the two lands, next to a prison: does that sound strange?
Most nations, even in times of peace and no threatenings, still have standing armies.
Also, were the Lamanites following an earlier pattern found in Alma 18:2, we see that each minor Lamanite kingdom had their own army, and at this time, there were probably righteous Lamanites, and others who weren’t so–just the fact that they arrested Nephi and Lehi and then were going to kill them, lends credibility to this army not being righteous and peaceful.
What if there was also the threat of Nephite Gadianton robbers?
Also, at this time there were Nephite dissenters living in the lands. Though they were with the Lamanites, I doubt that the Lamanites completely trusted them.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
When we consider the obvious question of what language was used among the Lamanites, we learn nothing useful about “others.” No indication is given of the use of translators or of problems in communication resulting from language difference. When Lamanites and Nephites are described as talking or writing to each other, nothing is said or hinted about what tongue they used. Their dialects that had diverged separately from the Hebrew which Nephi and Laman shared back in Jerusalem, if still spoken centuries later, might have been similar enough to permit everyday communication (although conversations about conceptual topics like religion would fare worse).

****Maybe.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Note, however, that “the language of Nephi” which Mosiah 24:4 and 6 report as beginning to be taught by Nephite dissenters “among all the people of the Lamanites” was a writing system, not a tongue as such, which 6 makes clear.

**** Here’s the related text:
Mosiah 24:4: “And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus THE LANGUAGE OF NEPHI BEGAN TO BE TAUGHT AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES.
Mosiah 24:5: And THEY WERE A PEOPLE FRIENDLY ONE WITH ANOTHER; nevertheless they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi;
Mosiah 24:6 But THEY TAUGHT THEM THAT THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR RECORD, AND THAT THEY MIGHT WRITE ONE TO ANOTHER.
Mosiah 24:7 AND THUS THE LAMANITES BEGAN TO INCREASE IN RICHES, AND BEGAN TO TRADE ONE WITH ANOTHER and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world, yea, a very cunning people, DELIGHTING IN ALL MANNER OF WICKEDNESS AND PLUNDER, EXCEPT IT WERE AMONG THEIR OWN BRETHREN.
It might SEEM that that is the case because of Mosiah 24:4 and 24:6, but here’s another way of looking at it:
Mosiah 24:6 does not make it clear that it was just the writing system; it could have also been a language AND a writing system.
Also, it does not say that the Amulonites taught the Lamanites to write the Nephite language; just to “keep their record” and so they could write each other. Why would the Amulonites teach the Lamanites to write in Nephite language so the Lamanites could keep their own records and write to other Lamanites? That would be very odd…
So it seems the Amulonites taught a writing system for the Lamanite language (which might have been borrowed from the Nephite language)–which doesn’t seem to exist before that, and which Mosiah 24:7 seems to support. (It seems to be saying that they not only taught them the language, but also some other cultural things–something any EFL teacher can relate to.)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Whether speakers of “other” languages were present or involved we simply cannot say on the basis of the brief record. The dark skin attributed to the Lamanites has been interpreted by some readers of the Book of Mormon as indicating that Laman, Lemuel, and those of Ishmael’s family had mixed with “others” bearing darker pigmentation. The problem with that view is that the first mention of it is by Nephi himself (2 Nephi 5:21) shortly after the initial split in Lehi’s group. The abruptness of the appearance of this “mark” upon the Lamanites cannot be reconciled with genetic mixing with a resident population for that would have required at least a generation to become evident in skin coloring. Again, near the time of Christ those Lamanites “who had united with the Nephites” had the curse “taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites” (3 Nephi 2:15). The idea that those changes had a genetic basis is not sustainable. It is indeed possible that “others” who, we have seen, must have been nearby, were more heavily pigmented than the Nephites and they may have mixed with the Lamanites, but we cannot confirm this from statements in the record.

****Or they might have been more light-skinned, too, but since that doesn’t fit the hypothesis, shall we ignore it? ;)
Let’s see what else the Book of Mormon says:
“And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to THE MARK WHICH WAS SET UPON THEIR FATHERS, WHICH WAS A CURSE UPON THEM BECAUSE OF THEIR TRANSGRESSION AND THEIR REBELLION AGAINST THEIR BRETHREN, WHO CONSISTED OF NEPHI, JACOB, AND JOSEPH, AND SAM, who were just and holy men” (Alma 3:6).
“And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God SET A MARK UPON THEM, YEA, UPON LAMAN AND LEMUEL, AND ALSO THE SONS OF ISHMAEL, AND ISHMAELITISH WOMEN” (Alma 3:7).
“And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction” (Alma 3:8).
“And it came to pass that WHOSOEVER DID MINGLE HIS SEED WITH THAT OF THE LAMANITES DID BRING THE SAME CURSE UPON HIS SEED” (Alma 3:9).
I believe John L. Sorenson is correct here–genetics truly is not the cause here when defined as the mixing of races to produce a mark on the seed (though genetics might contribute in some way). The curse first came upon Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women. Then, this curse is strong enough that no matter who mixes with them, the curse carries over to all the children. While it happens that the children of mixed races can be born dark, it is not likely that all the children will be like this. That is why you sometimes see both dark and light children from the same parents. But this curse made ALL the offspring dark. So by that last sentence, I’m not sure what John L. Sorenson is trying to say here: first he says it’s not genetics, then it might be? Or that even if the others were dark, we wouldn’t be able to tell, because the Lamanites were already dark.

posted by grego at 3:14 PM
2 Comments:
Edward Ott said…
Let me thank you for your articles on the book of mormon i have found them very interesting.
grego said…
You’re welcome!

2009, October 15

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 13: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT NEPHITE RECORDS SHOULD NOT MENTION OTHERS EXPLICITLY by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 13: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT NEPHITE RECORDS SHOULD NOT MENTION OTHERS EXPLICITLY

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 13: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT NEPHITE RECORDS SHOULD NOT MENTION OTHERS EXPLICITLY

John L. Sorenson:
Why the Nephite Record Does Not Comment on “Others”
Why, given the points we have been examining, didn’t Nephite historians mention “other” people more explicitly in their record? Several reasons may be suggested. First, note that the record does clearly mention the people of Zarahemla and the descendants of others who arrived with Mulek and even tells us that they outnumbered the Nephites by descent (see Mosiah 25:1). Yet these writers remain uninterested in the “Mulekites” as a group, not even offering a name for them in their entirety. The entire body of information on them would hardly occupy a single page in our scripture.
—-
****The name is “people of Zarahemla”.
And yet, the people of Zarahemla are clearly mentioned.
Look at the quizzical looks from anyone who reads the “Ox argument”. “I’ll mention lots of animals, and even hint/ say they are domesticated, but I won’t mention that we met people here that were tending them!” How likely??

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
This lack of concern has to do with the fact that the focus of the record is the Nephites. To the Nephite record keepers, all others were insignificant except as they challenged Nephite rulership.

****Of course the focus of the record is the Nephites. To the Nephite record keepers, that might have been somewhat true. To the Book of Mormon writers, not. The Zeniffites and Alma’s group weren’t threats to Nephite rulership. Neither were the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Nor the repentant Zoramites. Etc.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Apparently the “Mulekites” never did so as a group unified by their origin.

****Right, they joined together instead of fighting–amazing thought, eh? This has been discussed at least once already.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Probably no such challenge occurred because they never saw themselves as a single group.

****No, it occurred because they joined, not fought (already discussed).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
A comparison might be made to the descendants of the early American colonizing ship, the Mayflower; there is minor prestige in being a descendant of someone on that ship, but there has never been a Mayflower movement in our country’s politics.

****Right, because most are Americans, not Mayflowerites apart and separate and contending with America.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Similarly, it appears that no powerful origin account or belief system united those on the ship that brought Mulek (as there was for Nephites and Lamanites). Instead they only constituted a residual category of interest to us in historical retrospect. When there was challenge to Nephite control, it is said to have come from “dissenters,” or “Amlicites,” or “king-men,” some or all of whom might have been of “Mulekite” descent, but that fact was evidently incidental. No doubt a majority of the “Mulekites” went right on peacefully accepting domination by Nephite overlords, as Mosiah 25:13 makes clear.
—-
****How does this fit in with all the previous talk about dissenters of Mulekite origin, with Jaredite names, etc.? It doesn’t. Much speculation here…
How’s this for a “powerful origin account or belief system”:
Omni 1:15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.
Omni 1:16 And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth.
Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.
Helaman 6:10 Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south.
Helaman 8:21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem? But behold, this is not all–
Not bad, huh? Much better than the powerful origin account of the Lamanites, built on lies, probably changing a few times at the beginning…

“Peacefully accepting domination by Nephite overlords, as Mosiah 25:13 makes clear”–where’s that? Mosiah the bad man king, the OVERLORD!! Yes, of course! What does Mosiah 25:13 say? Here:
Mosiah 25:13 And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi.
Now where is that part about “Nephite overlords”, “domination”, etc.?
What about anywhere else in the Book of Mormon? Can we find “Nephite overlords” or “domination” elsewhere? Let’s see…
Omni 1:12 …Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he BEING WARNED OF THE LORD THAT HE SHOULD FLEE out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord should also depart out of the land with him, into the wilderness–
Omni 1:13 And it came to pass that HE DID ACCORDING AS THE LORD HAD COMMANDED HIM. And they departed out of the land into the wilderness, as many as would HEARKEN UNTO THE VOICE OF THE LORD; and they were LED BY MANY PREACHINGS AND PROPHESYINGS. And they were ADMONISHED CONTINUALLY BY THE WORD OF GOD; and they were LED BY THE POWER OF HIS ARM, through the wilderness UNTIL THEY CAME DOWN INTO THE LAND WHICH IS CALLED THE LAND OF ZARAHEMLA.
Omni 1:14 And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla. Now, **THERE WAS GREAT REJOICING AMONG THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA; and also ZARAHEMLA DID REJOICE EXCEEDINGLY, BECAUSE THE LORD HAD SENT the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews.
Omni 1:19 And it came to pass that THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, AND OF MOSIAH, did UNITE TOGETHER; and MOSIAH WAS APPOINTED TO BE THEIR KING.
Any hint of “domination by Nephite overlords”? I don’t see any.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
What view of the Lamanites did the Nephites have that sheds light on the question of “others”? We may see a clarifying parallel to the Nephite-Lamanite relationship in how Mormons viewed “the Indians” in western America during the nineteenth century. Pioneer historical materials mention “Indians” about the same proportion of the time as the Nephite record mentions the “Mulekites,” that is, rarely. This was not because the natives were a mystery. On the contrary, Latter-day Saint pioneers had an explanation for “the Indians” which they considered adequate–they were generic “Lamanites.” With a few exceptions at a local level, no more detailed labelling or description was ever considered needed. Overall, “Indians”/”Lamanites” were of only occasional concern, as long as they did not make trouble. When they were a problem, the attention they received was, again, normally local. Periodic attempts to convert the Indians rarely had much practical effect, and this positive concern for them tended to be overwhelmed by the “practical” aim to put the natives in their (dominated) place. Wouldn’t the Nephites have dealt with their “Lamanites” about like the Latter-day Saints with theirs? (Notice the mixed message–hope for converting the benighted ones but tough military measures, too–familiar in early Utah history, found in Enos 1:14, 20, and 24.)
-=-=-=–
****What?!?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Thus Nephites in a particular area might have noted differences between one group or subtribe of “Lamanites” and another, while people who talked about the situation only from what they heard in the capital city would have generalized, with little interest in details.
—-
****Of course–though maybe not the “with little interest in details” part.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
For example, it is only in the detailed account of Ammon’s missionary travels that we learn that Lamoni and his people were not simply “Lamanites” in general but tribally distinct Ishmaelites inhabiting a region of their own (see Alma 17:19, 21).

****At least, we learn more about them.
Lamoni, though descended from Ishmael, also had a father who was king over all the Lamanites, so I’m assuming the big Lamanite king was Ishmaelite, too; Lamoni, the king’s son, was given a kingdom to rule over, under his father, which follows the established pattern of Lamanite rule at that time; nevertheless, Lamoni could have ruled over a place that was mostly Ishmaelites. (See Alma 18:9, 22:1)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
At the level of concern of the keepers of the overall Nephite account, nevertheless, one “Lamanite” must have seemed pretty much equivalent to any other “Lamanite,” as Jacob 1:14 assumes. The Nephites’ generic category of “Lamanite” could have lumped together a variety of groups differing in culture, ethnicity, language, and physical appearance without any useful purpose being served, in Nephite eyes, by distinguishing among them.

****Jacob assumes that? Of course he doesn’t. He does generalize, and give broad definitions that are simple yet effective for his purposes. Like with the Nephites.
Yet Jacob also CLEARLY DEFINES THE LAMANITES ACCORDING TO TRIBES, and there aren’t any “others” there.
The Lamanites ARE sometimes distinguished, when it helps clarify things for the record:
Alma 22:28 Now, THE MORE IDLE PART OF THE LAMANITES LIVED IN THE WILDERNESS, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers’ first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore.
Helaman 6:18 And now behold, those murderers and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton. And now it had come to pass that there were many, even among the Nephites, of Gadianton’s band. But behold, they were more numerous AMONG THE MORE WICKED PART OF THE LAMANITES. And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers.

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
(Of course the original records may have gone into more detail, but all we have is Mormon’s edited version of those, plus the small plates of Nephi.) A final reason why the scripture lacks more explicit mention of “others” may be that the writers did not want to waste space on their plates telling of things they considered obvious or insignificant. For example, they nowhere tell us that the Nephites made and used pottery. Any ancient historian would be considered eccentric if he had written, “And some of our women also made pottery.” To anyone of his time it would seem absurd to say so because “everybody knows that.” The obvious is rarely recorded in historical documents because it seems pointless to do so.

****Slight difference between pottery and other PEOPLE.
Anyway, let’s see how true this is: look at these sections of the Book of Mormon:
1 Nephi 18:24-25;
2 Nephi 5:15;
Jarom 1:8;
Mosiah 9:9;
Mosiah 10:4-5;
Mosiah 11;
Alma 1:29;
Alma 62:29;
Helaman 3:14;
Helaman 6:11-13;
3 Nephi 3:22;
Ether 2:1-3;
Ether 10:23-27.
Is John L. Sorenson’s point here true?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
“The people of Zarahemla,” “the Lamanites,” “the Amalekites,” and the like get mentioned in the Book of Mormon, not because of who they were but because of particular things they did in relation to the Nephites. They were historically significant actors in some ways at certain moments from a Nephite point of view. But neither Mormon nor any other Nephite writer would waste time and precious space on the plates by adding pointlessly, “Incidentally, there were some other bunches of people hanging around too.”

****Ok, so let’s assume that no space in the Book of Mormon is wasted, How much space would it have taken to leave out one line and write (or perhaps even in the margin somewhere): “There were Others in the land with us”??
If there were Others, there must be other reasons.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 12: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR JAREDITE “OTHERS” by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 12: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR JAREDITE “OTHERS”

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 12: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR JAREDITE “OTHERS”

John L. Sorenson:
The Lingering Jaredites
There is conclusive evidence in the Book of Mormon text that Jaredite language affected the people of Zarahemla, the Nephites, and the Lamanites. Robert F. Smith has pointed out that the term “sheum,” applied by a Nephite historian to a crop for which there was no Nephite (or English) equivalent (see Mosiah 9:9), “is a precise match for Akkadian (i.e. Babylonian) , which means ‘barley’ (Old Assyrian, ‘wheat’), the most popular ancient Mesopotamian cereal name.” Its phonetic form appropriately fits the time period when the Jaredites departed from the Old World. This plant was being grown among the Zeniffites in the land of Nephi. We have already seen that the “corn” emphasized among the Zeniffites had to have passed down from pre-Lehite people. Still another crop, “neas,” bears an untranslated plant name and is mentioned with corn and sheum, so it must also be of non-Nephite origin.
—-
*** These names occur in Mosiah 9:9, a time that follows the discovery and translation of Jaredite records. Thus, there is another perfectly fine explanation.
Why “must [it] also be of non-Nephite origin” for that reason? Is the assumption that everything Nephite was translatable, so if it wasn’t translated, it had to be Jaredite? Is that a necessarily true assumption?
(Does that mean that the untranslated animals mentioned with the Jaredites were there in the land, before the Jaredites arrived?)
It’s possible the Nephites brought them over. (Maybe they even discovered something to eat in the eight years in the wilderness…?) Maybe the plants were native to the Book of Mormon lands, and the Nephites gave them names. It’s possible the plants grew wild and were discovered and used by the Nephites. Etc. Possible? Yes. Likely? Not really.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The two names and three crops may be presumed to be of Jaredite origin and likely came down to the Nephites and Lamanites via the people of Zarahemla if not some more exotic intermediary population. There is also evidence from personal names that [show that] influence from the Jaredites reached the Nephites. Nibley identifies some of these and notes, “Five out of the six whose names [in the Nephite record] are definitely Jaredite [Morianton, Coriantumr, Korihor, Nehor, Noah, and Shiblon] betray strong anti-Nephite leanings.

**** After a quick search, these names are used by both Jaredites and Nephites (list from Book of Mormon; may be incomplete):
-Shiblon (Ether 1:11; Alma 11:15, Alma 31:7)
-Morianton (Ether 1:22; Alma 50:25, 30)
-Shiblom (Ether 13:30; Mormon 6:14)
-Gilgal (Ether 13:30; Mormon 6:14)
-Nehor (Ether 7:4, 9; Alma 1:15)
-Noah (Ether 7:14; King Noah in Mosiah)
-Coriantumr (Ether 8:4, etc. Here, though, Coriantumr was known to the Mulekites, and no mention of this name occurs among the Nephites before that time.)
In addition: Bible names mentioned in Ether: Seth, Aaron, Levi, Noah. However, since Bible names would have been known to the Nephites through the Brass Plates, they don’t seem to count in this discussion, so I doubt Noah was a Jaredite source name.
Do ANY of the Jaredite names appear in the Book of Mormon BEFORE the discovery of the Jaredite records? No–not one!
Are there people today in the church named Alma, Ammon, Nephi, Moroni, Jordan, etc.? Yes, even though these names are completely out of connection with the society these members live in, and are hardly related. Are there any people named Jonah, even though this character is negative in the Bible? Are there any people named Jezebel, or Judas? Does the name necessarily fit each time? If your parent names you Magus, does that mean that you personally believe in and follow Simon or the gnostics?
The comment by Nibley means the people with these names were mostly very wicked men, in which case, it seems much more likely that they would take the “Jaredite name” upon themselves as a new name or nickname or such to denote their wickedness/ anti-Nephite leanings (look at gang member names or Chinese name changes for better fortune), not that they were given that name at birth and then cultivated to become a wicked person to fulfill their name.
Which brings us to another problem–it would seem that one must assume that all the remaining Jaredites (if there were) were all wicked–now how in the world did THAT happen? If the Lord were to have spared any Jaredites at all, surely they would have been righteous ones, right?
(See also the arguments about Jaredites earlier in this paper.)
Is it possible they came down from the Mulekites? Sure. Any Babylonians/ Assyrians (Akkadian speakers/ “sheum”) among the Phoenicians? Maybe? Any need to get them from the Jaredites? No. The Book of Mormon says the Nephites brought seeds; does it say the Jaredites brought over seeds? No.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Their anti-Nephite bias may well reflect a viewpoint held by some among the people of Zarahemla or other groups of related origin that one of them, not any descendant of Nephi, ought by rights to be king.

****It might. Or perhaps of someone else.
It just seems a little strange to me that, while the introduction is given to the situation, and many negative things result from it, this split is never mentioned as the cause or reason, not even in the face of the king-men situation; and goodness knows, we could use that in these latter days, if that’s who Mormon was writing for. Yet in the Book of Mormon, many of the other times there are problems, especially those discussed in detail, reasons are given for the problem. Still, there might be something there…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Nibley also emphasizes that terms in the Nephite system of money and grain measures described in Alma 11 “bear Jaredite names,” obvious examples being “shiblon” and “shiblum.” Can we tell how these foreign words came into use among the Nephites? One possibility is that Coriantumr learned enough of the language of the “Mulekites” in the nine final months of his life which he spent among them to pass on a number of words. Another possibility is that the terms came from Mosiah’s translation of Ether’s plates (see Mosiah 28:11-13, 17). But Alma 11:4 makes clear that the names of weights and measures were in use among the Nephites long before Mosiah had read Ether’s record.

****Yeah, right. Nine months, older, lost everything, and on the top of his mind is teaching this people measurements and grains… Ok, maybe. And yes, even though nine months is a drop in the ocean, language would not be needed to learn the names of those measurements and grains.
Sorenson comes to some very… interesting… conclusions based on the text. Let’s take a look at what Alma 11:4 really says: “Now these are the names of the different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value. And THE NAMES ARE GIVEN BY THE NEPHITES, for they did not reckon after the manner of the Jews who were at Jerusalem; neither did they measure after the manner of the Jews; but THEY ALTERED THEIR RECKONING AND THEIR MEASURE, according to the minds and the circumstances of the people, in every generation, UNTIL THE REIGN OF THE JUDGES, THEY HAVING BEEN ESTABLISHED BY KING MOSIAH.” It was King Mosiah–who had the Jaredite plates and their translations–who established them. Now, were the names and the reckoning and the measure changed too? Continuing reading, it says, “Now the reckoning is thus–a senine of gold, a seon of gold, a shum of gold, and a limnah of gold” (Alma 11:5)…”A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain” (Alma 11:7).
Then, “Now this is the value of the lesser numbers of their reckoning–” (Alma 11:14)
“A shiblon is half of a senum; therefore, a shiblon for half a measure of barley” (Alma 11:15). It seems that the name of the reckoning is included.
Well, if the reckoning changes, then when in his reign did he do this? It sounds like he set it up for the new ruling of the judges (“until the reign of the judges”)–which means long after the records of the Jaredites were translated. King Mosiah could have seen the wisdom of and used the Jaredite system, including the names–that he had read about in the records–to establish the Nephite system, and found it easier to call them by their original names.
ONCE MORE, FIRST the Jaredite records, THEN the Jaredite names/ things.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
And the crop plants themselves, and especially the methods of cultivating them, must have come through real people, not through the pages of any book. Moreover we would not expect that a decrepit Jaredite king whose mind was on the history of his ancestors would have known about or bothered with such mundane matters as seeds and the names of weight units.

****Where does “decrepit Jaredite king whose mind was on the history of his ancestors” come from? After thinking about the phrase for a while, I imagine that John L. Sorenson is assuming that Coriantumr couldn’t have told the Mulekites about seeds and weight units in those nine months, and therefore someone else had to have done it. Well, that sounds somewhat ridiculous–that’s saying a king doesn’t understand the basic things of his own people; how likely would that be for them? Perhaps Sorenson is thinking about European king sons of king fathers? Being a king, one SHOULD know all these matters. Remember, the Jaredites didn’t have one long, peaceful, unbroken line of kings–thus the support of the common man was necessary for a king (or rebel), and how would one relate to the common man if nothing about the common man was known and understood? Especially if the rebel kings grew up in a large family in bondage…
And if Coriantumr of Ether 12 is the same one as in Ether 8:4, then we see that he probably spent the first part of his life in captivity, with his father, who was in captivity. What did these men do in captivity? Just sit around? I imagine hardly that. Train to be kings? Heck no. So in captivity, they might have learned about and done a lot more mundane things than one might imagine, including manual labor–such as farming, etc.
Also, there are the records.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The people who passed on workaday items like those would have been commoners. And if they had time and opportunity to pass on agricultural and commercial complexes, surely they would have communicated other cultural features as well, probably including cultic (“idolatrous”) items. The idea that part of the Jaredite population lived beyond the battle at the hill Ramah to influence their successors, the people of Zarahemla and Lehi’s descendants, is by no means new. Generations ago both B. H. Roberts and J. M. Sjodahl, for example, supposed that significant Jaredite remnants survived.

****Once more, somehow the Jaredite surviving remnants are wicked… : (
“Surely”–why must that be?
“Calling on the ancients” is, unfortunately, not a logical argument–it just means that someone else thought about this idea–or possibly had the wrong idea–first.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
So far four lines of evidence of Jaredite influence on their successors have been mentioned–the Coriantumr encounter, Jaredite personal names among the later peoples, three crops plus the names of two of them, and the names of certain Nephite weights and measures. A fifth type of evidence is the nature and form of secret societies. The Nephite secret combination pattern is obviously very similar to what had been present among the Jaredites. Was there a historical connection? It is true that Alma instructed his son Helaman not to make known to their people any contents of Ether’s record that might give them operating procedures for duplicating the secret groups (see Alma 37:27-29). A later writer says that it was the devil who “put into the heart” of Gadianton certain information of that sort (see Helaman 6:26). Yet an efficient alternative explanation of how the later secret groups came to look so much like those of the Jaredites is direct transmission of the tradition through survivors of the Jaredites to the people of Zarahemla and thus to Gadianton. This process probably would have been unknown to Alma or other elite Nephite writers, who must have had little to do directly with the mass of “Mulekite” folk. Support for the idea comes from a statement by Giddianhi, one-time “governor” of the Gadianton organization. Their ways, he claimed, “are of ancient date and they have been handed down unto us” (3 Nephi 3:9).

****Let’s examine this. This does happen often with gangs, for example. However, it is hard to imagine, and not necessarily so, that every secret society is connected to every other one through direct relations.
Once more, John L. Sorenson assumes that the surviving Jaredites were wicked people–not just wicked, but the most wicked people. How likely is that, in light of 3 Nephi 8-10 and Ether 13-15? God destroyed the righteous, and saved the wicked! There was no promise extended to them like to the Lamanites; but they were told they would be destroyed; were they?
We could, of course, actually believe that “the later writer says that it was the devil who “put into the heart” of Gadianton certain information of that sort”… nah, let’s pretend that’s not true so we can have some more support for our remaining Jaredites hypothesis!
Isn’t it more likely that the Brass Plates contained records about Cain and his society, as in the books of Genesis and Enoch? In fact, didn’t the Jaredites themselves get this secret society from the records brought with them (Ether 8:9)?
Heck, CAIN could be the connection to them all, and could have handed them down to them himself, with the explanation of who he was and where they had come from. I like that much better than, and think it more likely, than the “surviving Jaredites” hypothesis.
Or, this could be one of their traditions/ myths/ legends regarding their society, similar to the Masons nowadays, for example–you know, the more ancient and mysterious, the better they must be. Besides, it’s best for marketing a product to either be an “ancient Chinese secret” or the newest, most advanced thing there is. It’s either “Since 1894” or “Under New Management”.
Moroni says that secret combinations are all over, and pretty much the same. And the serious ones seem to be. Surely, no doubt, it must be, John L. Sorenson believes that surviving Gadianton robbers have traveled all over the world since 400 AD promoting their society for this to be the case…?

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
Where the Jaredites lived gives us another clue that more of them than Coriantumr alone must have interacted with the later people of Zarahemla or Nephites. It is commonplace for students of the geography of Book of Mormon events to suppose that the Jaredites dwelt only in the land northward. True, at one point in time centuries before their destruction, during a period of expansion, the Jaredite King Lib constructed “a great city by the narrow neck of land” (Ether 10:20). At that time it was said that “they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game” (21), but it is unlikely such a pattern of exclusive reserve could continue. The fact is that it makes no sense to build a “great city” adjacent to pure wilderness. Rather, we can safely suppose that, in addition to whatever limited area was kept as a royal game preserve, routine settlers existed southward from the new city and that they provided a support population for it. At the least there would have been peoples further toward the south with whom the city would trade whether or not they were counted as Lib’s subjects.

****What? I clearly miss the logical thinking here. “More of them than Coriantumr alone MUST HAVE interacted…” Why is that?
Why does it “[make] no sense”? Why can one “safely suppose”? Why would “routine settlers” have to have existed “southward from the new city” and “[provide] a support poulation for it”? The amount of imagination and speculation here makes my head spin…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As population grew over the nearly thousand years of Jaredite history after Lib’s day, more local settlements in parts of the land southward could have developed due to normal population growth and spread. Not all of those peoples would have shown up at the final slaughter at Ramah. Likely some of the survivors in the land southward became mixed with descendants of Mulek’s group, thus accounting for part of their “exceedingly numerous” force and, of course, the presence of corn, sheum, and neas.

****Why wouldn’t they have shown up? Any evidence for this?
“Likely”? How likely? Any strong evidence for this? Nope. I mean, no doubt the old king couldn’t have done it, but the remnant not only could, but did do it; huh?
Let’s see what the text says:
Ether 14:1 And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which, if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land…
Ether 14:17 Now the name of the brother of Lib was called Shiz. And it came to pass that Shiz pursued after Coriantumr, and he did overthrow many cities, and he did slay both women and children, and he did burn the cities.
Ether 14:18 And there went a fear of Shiz throughout all the land; yea, a cry went forth throughout the land–Who can stand before the army of Shiz? Behold, he sweepeth the earth before him!
Ether 14:19 And it came to pass that the people began to flock together in armies, throughout all the face of the land.
Ether 14:20 And they were divided; and a part of them fled to the army of Shiz, and a part of them fled to the army of Coriantumr…
Ether 15:12 And it came to pass that THEY DID GATHER TOGETHER ALL THE PEOPLE UPON ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, WHO HAD NOT BEEN SLAIN, SAVE IT WAS ETHER.
Ether 15:13 And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz were gathered together to the army of Shiz.
Ether 15:14 Wherefore, they were FOR THE SPACE OF FOUR YEARS GATHERING TOGETHER THE PEOPLE, THAT THEY MIGHT GET ALL WHO WERE UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND, that they might receive ALL THE STRENGTH WHICH IT WAS POSSIBLE THAT THEY COULD RECEIVE.
Ether 15:15 And it came to pass that when they were ALL GATHERED TOGETHER, EVERY ONE to the army which he would, WITH THEIR WIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN–both MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN BEING ARMED WITH WEAPONS OF WAR…
Hmmm… I’m not sure, but it seems to me, there is no Jaredite remnant!

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
But aside from the likely presence of Jaredite descendants incorporated into Zarahemla’s group, entirely separate peoples could also have resided within interaction range. Archaeological, art, and linguistic materials make clear that ethnic variety is an old phenomenon everywhere in tropical America where the Book of Mormon groups might have been located (mainline archaeologists who have not examined the literature on this topic continue generally to ignore that variety). Even Joseph Smith recognized such a possibility. He once “quoted with approval from the pulpit reports of certain Toltec legends which would make it appear that those people had come [to Mexico] originally from the Near East in the time of Moses.” And why not, Nibley continued? “There is not a word in the Book of Mormon to prevent the coming to this hemisphere of any number of people from any part of the world at any time, provided only that they come with the direction of the Lord; and even this requirement must not be too strictly interpreted,” considering the condition of the “Mulekites” after their arrival. A particularly interesting case of such external evidence involves a scene on a monument located at an archaeological site that I consider to be the prime candidate for the city of Mulek. As explained elsewhere, the site of La Venta in southern Mexico qualifies remarkably well as the city of Mulek. It was one of the great centers of Olmec civilization, whose distribution and dates remind us of Jaredite society. Stela 3 at La Venta is a basalt slab fourteen feet high and weighing fifty tons.21 It is thought to date to about 600 B.C., or a little later, at or just after the late Olmec (Jaredite?) inhabitants abandoned the site. Carved on the stone is a scene in which a person of obvious high social status, whose facial features look like those shown in some earlier Olmec art, confronts a prominent man who appears to a number of (non-Mormon) art historians like a Jew. This scene has been interpreted by archaeologists as a formal encounter between leaders of different ethnic groups. For instance, the late expert on Mesoamerican art, Tatiana Proskouriakoff, considered that Stela 3 shows “two racially distinct groups of people” and that “the group of the [Jewish-looking] bearded stranger ultimately gained ascendency.” She concluded, thus, that “the culture of La Venta [thereafter] contained a strong foreign component.” Latter-day Saints may wonder whether Mulek or some other person in his party might even be represented on Stela 3, considering the date and the location at a site very suitable to have been the “city of Mulek.” At the least we see that ethnic and cultural variety existed in Mesoamerica where and when we would expect evidence of Mulek’s group to show up.

****It’s a possible idea, as far as I can tell.
I’m missing “the city of Mulek” in my Book of Mormon…?
Let’s take a look at the text:
Ether 11:20: “And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would EXECUTE JUDGMENT AGAINST THEM TO THEIR UTTER DESTRUCTION;
Ether 11:21: And that the Lord God would SEND OR BRING FORTH ANOTHER PEOPLE TO POSSESS THE LAND, BY HIS POWER, AFTER THE MANNER BY WHICH HE BROUGHT THEIR FATHERS.”
The Lehites. Nevertheless…

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 11: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR “OTHERS” BASED ON NEPHITE AND MULEKITE LANGUAGE by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 11: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR “OTHERS” BASED ON NEPHITE AND MULEKITE LANGUAGE

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 11: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR “OTHERS” BASED ON NEPHITE AND MULEKITE LANGUAGE

John L. Sorenson:
Evidence from Language
What Mosiah’s record tells us about the language used by the people of Zarahemla deserves attention in this connection. “Their language had become corrupted” (Omni 1:17), the Nephite account says. Certain historical linguists have done a great deal of work on rates of change of languages, written and unwritten, and in both civilized and simpler societies. What they have learned is that “basic vocabulary” changes at a more or less constant rate among all groups. Even though this general finding needs qualification when applied to specific cases, we can be sure that in the course of the three or four centuries of separation of the people of Zarahemla from Mosiah’s group, because they once spoke the same tongue in Jerusalem, their separate versions of Hebrew would have remained intelligible to each other. But the text at Omni 1:18 says that they could not communicate until Mosiah “caused that they should be taught in his language.” There are only two linguistically sound explanations why this difference should be: (1) the “Mulekite” group might have spoken more than one language and Zarahemla’s people had adopted something other than Hebrew; since we do not know the composition of the boat’s crew nor of the elite passengers, we cannot know what to think about this possibility; (2) but more likely, one or both peoples had adopted a different, non-Hebrew language learned from some “other” people after arrival.

Brant Gardner:
Another of John L. Sorenson’s indications of the presence of “others” relies on an understanding of language change; most readers of the Book of Mormon would be unaware of these issues. Our Sunday School lessons certainly point out that the Mulekites had lost their language, but what those lessons do not explain is that this would have been rather unlikely. Languages do change, but they are not “lost” without the outside influence of another language that becomes more dominant and replaces the lost language. John L. Sorenson does not miss this bit of information but indicates that the study of historical linguistics has revealed a basic rate of change for the same language that develops in two independent locations in which the two populations are unable to communicate (see p. 83). The rate of change from the time of the departure from the Old World for either the Mulekites or Nephites to the time of the arrival of Mosiah and his people in Zarahemla is insufficient to create mutually unintelligible languages, as is clearly the case in the Book of Mormon. Once again, we have a feature of the Book of Mormon that could not represent society accurately unless we understand that “others” were present and interacted with the Book of Mormon populations.

****”but more likely…”
Upon what solid reasoning is that choice “more likely”?
“We can be sure…” Well, I can be sure of one thing: John L. Sorenson is probably misleading the reader, again.
Once again, something that might be “unlikely”, is shown as “impossible”.
Where in the Book of Mormon does it say that “the Mulekites had lost their language”?
“Once again…” in addition to where else? Let’s see if that statement is true, about accurately respresenting society…
Let’s see what it says in Omni 1:17:
“And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and THEIR LANGUAGE HAD BECOME CORRUPTED; and THEY HAD BROUGHT NO RECORDS WITH THEM; and they denied the being of their Creator; and MOSIAH, NOR THE PEOPLE OF MOSIAH, COULD UNDERSTAND THEM.”
First, note that it does not say that they could not “communicate”–it says that the language had been corrupted, and that they could not be understood by the Nephites.
Let’s step back a second and think… We are unaware of the languages that might have come with Mulek/ been in Mulek’s group. John L. Sorenson touches on this, then drops it. Why? Because it is actually a strong explanation for what happened. Languages mix, and… voila! Especially if the people lived in small villages or groups, or if families were to speak different languages in the homes, this would have easily set up a corruption/ pidgin language system. This has been shown to happen in just one generation (a study done in Hawaii; see “A Language for All Our Children”). The record shows roughly about 330 years, maybe even up to around 470 years.
Or, they could have divided into family or language groups, and then had the “many wars and serious contentions” between the groups/ among themselves; who won, what language might have come out on top, what mixing might have occurred?
The people of Zarahemla (“Mulekites”) had no records with them. A big advantage of having records, a writing system, is to maintain a language, especially if oral tradition talent lacks (memorization and recitation of very long poems, etc.).

Here is what the Book of Mormon says about records:
1 Nephi 4:14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
1 Nephi 4:15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
1 Nephi 4:16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.
Well, Lehi could have just written the important ones down, right? It seems not…
Here’s another part:
Mosiah 1:2 And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord.
Mosiah 1:3 And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: MY SONS, I WOULD THAT YE SHOULD REMEMBER THAT WERE IT NOT FOR THESES PLATES, which contain these records and these commandments, WE MUST HAVE SUFFERED IN IGNORANCE, even at this present time, NOT KNOWING THE MYSTERIES OF GOD.
Mosiah 1:4 For IT WERE NOT POSSIBLE THAT OUR FATHER, LEHI, COULD HAVE REMEMBERED ALL THESE THINGS, TO HAVE TAUGHT THEM TO HIS CHIDLREN, EXCEPT IT WERE FOR THE HELPF OF THESE PLATES; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore HE COULD READ THESE ENGRAVINGS, AND TEACH THEM TO HIS CHILDREN, that thereby THEY COULD TEACH THEM TO THEIR CHILDREN, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.
Mosiah 1:5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even OUR FATHERS WOULD HAVE DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.
And another part;
Mosiah 24:4 And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus THE LANGUAGE OF NEPHI BEGAN TO BE TAUGHT AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES.

Mosiah 24:6 But they TAUGHT THEM THAT THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR RECORD, AND THAT THEY MIGHT WRITE ONE TO ANOTHER.
Mosiah 24:7 AND THUS THE LAMANITES BEGAN TO INCREASE IN RICHES, and began to trade one with another and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world…
It’s true that this all talks about the records and a knowledge of God; but, is that all?

It is very likely that the language of a small group, of probably mixed first (and possibly other) language, without writing, will become corrupted over 400 years. While the Nephites could not understand them, the Mulekites seem to have learned very quickly, which leads me to think that the language was not so badly corrupted. It’s possible that there was a situation where the Mulekite language understood the Nephite language better than vice-versa (I believe some related languages have a much easier time understanding another, than vice-versa: Bulgarian/ Russian, French/ Spanish, etc.). Especially if it was the pronunciation that had been corrupted, the language could be learned very quickly. (Hey, I couldn’t understand my mission president for a while just because of the way he pronounced two common words!) If the pronunciation of some basic syllables were the main change or corruption, that could well account for why the Nephites couldn’t understand them, yet the Mulekites could quickly learn the language.
It seems that the Nephite language doesn’t change much, over all that time. If Nephi’s group were so small, and there were many “Others” in the land that they mingled with, especially from the very beginning, how is it that Nephite language didn’t change, as the verses imply?
The language of the Lamanites changes, but they didn’t have any written records, and writing was lost (if ever had?) at least by the time of Amulon and the priests of Noah:
Mosiah 24:4 And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus THE LANGUAGE OF NEPHI BEGAN TO BE TAUGHT AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES…
Mosiah 24:6 But they TAUGHT THEM THAT THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR RECORD, AND THAT THEY MIGHT WRITE ONE TO ANOTHER.
Mosiah 24:7 AND THUS THE LAMANITES BEGAN TO INCREASE IN RICHES…
Can anyone think of anything else, or any other reason or possible explanation? How much do unwritten languages change, compared to written ones, when there is no oral tradition or history or anything to memorize, and there were no learned ones to keep the standard? What happens to language when only two people raise a large family?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The people of Zarahemla are more likely to have made a change than the Nephites, yet both could have done so.

****Is there any logical reason behind why that would be?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The text does not clarify the point. Considering that the “Mulekites” were present in the land in time to encounter Coriantumr, perhaps some unmentioned Jaredite survivor groups were also discovered and were involved in linguistic change among the newcomers.

****And perhaps not…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
If Mulek arrived via a single ship with only a tiny party, they would have been a minority in the midst of those with whom they associated and so became subject to losing their original speech to the larger host group even if they came to rule over the locals.

****At times it’s argued like this, and other times the Nephite ruling elite are separated from the commoners; which is it; just whatever is convenient for the argument? “Even if they came to rule” would actually help the purity of the language a lot more–their children wouldn’t likely be running around with other children.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Although the scripture does not tell us much about the languages used among the peoples it reports, the topic is significant if we attempt to make connection with languages known from modern scholarly sources. In whatever region in America we place Book of Mormon lands, we find that numerous tongues were being spoken when Columbus arrived. Probably on the order of 200 existed in Mesoamerica alone. As modern languages have been analyzed, comparisons made, and histories reconstructed, it has become clear that the ancient linguistic scene was also complex. The differences between those languages and their family groupings are so great that no plausible linguistic history can be formulated which relies on Book of Mormon-reported voyagers as a sole original source tongue. The mere presence of Hebrew speech in Mesoamerica has yet to be established to the satisfaction of linguistic scholars, although there is significant preliminary indication.

****Were the Nephites and Lamanites isolated, then their languages would have had no bearing or relationship to any of the languages spoken there–at all.
Why would Mulek’s tiny group have so drastically changed its language because of “Others”, yet Lehi’s tiny group, and after the split, with Nephi’s and Laman’s even tinier groups, wouldn’t?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As with the dicultural or archaeological record, that from linguistics cannot accommodate the picture that the Book of Mormon gives us of its peoples without supposing that “others” were on the scene when Lehi’s group came ashore.

****This has been discussed above.
Or they were “on the scene” after, or in the lands around them but not having any connection with Lehi’s group, or if the land were separated from Mesoamerica, or… Where’s the direct and necessary connection between the Book of Mormon peoples and these peoples? Or does John L. Sorenson just assumes from the archeological record that is just had to be that way?

%d bloggers like this: