Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, December 18

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 4 by grego

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 4
by grego

But what about the Lamanite buildings?
One of the strongest arguments supporters of Mormon’s Lamanite bias rely on the references to some Lamanites having cities and other structures, thereby proving they weren’t lazy, unsophisticated, only dwelt in tents, etc. In addition, perhaps this is a sore point for some apologists because as Book of Mormon geography is matched up with Central American geography, there are plenty of buildings that were built in the time period that the Lamanites possessed that land. If that were the case, it seems there might be a predicament.

However, there are some major problems with this argument. The descriptions of the Lamanites obviously do not include every Lamanite. These were the Lamanites that the Nephites were in contact with. Makes sense, right? In fact, remember that in one description the Nephite writer distinguishes between Lamanites. Most problematic with this argument, though: the Lamanites inherited many pre-built buildings from the Nephites!

They did this, for example, when the Nephites were led away from the land of their inheritance the first time. From the time of Nephi to the time of Mosiah, the Nephites were building buildings. That’s 270-420 years or so, and from the text I gather it’s very close to the 420 mark. That’s a lot of time to build buildings.

These following scriptures show that the Nephites built buildings, that the Lamanites took over the buildings, and that the Nephites even built more buildings in some Lamanite land after the body had left for a first takeover:
2 Nephi 5:15 “And I did teach my people to build buildings…”

Jarom 1:8 And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in *buildings*, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war–yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war.

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 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 1:27 And now I would speak somewhat concerning a certain number who went up into the wilderness to *return to the land of Nephi*; for there was a large number who were *desirous to possess the land of their inheritance*.

Words Of Mormon 1:13 And it came to pass also that the armies of *the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi*, to battle against his people…

Mosiah 7:21 And ye all are witnesses this day, that Zeniff, who was made king over this people, he being over-zealous to *inherit the land of his fathers, therefore being deceived by the cunning and craftiness of king Laman*…
Mosiah 9:1 I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a *knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance*…
Mosiah 9:6 And *I went in unto the king, and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom*.
Mosiah 9:8 And **we* began to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city*, yea, even the *walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom*.

Mosiah 11:8 And it came to pass that *king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings*; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper;
Mosiah 11:9 And *he also built him a spacious palace*, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things.
Mosiah 11:10 And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of *the temple*, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass.
Mosiah 11:12 And it came to pass that *he built a tower near the temple*…
Mosiah 11:13 And it came to pass that *he caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom*; and he caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom…

Mosiah 23:5 And [Alma and his people, who left king Noah] pitched their tents, and began to till the ground, and *began to build buildings*; yea, *they were industrious, and did labor exceedingly*.
Mosiah 23:20 And it came to pass that they did multiply and prosper exceedingly in the land of Helam; and *they built a city, which they called the city of Helam*.
Mosiah 23:29 And it came to pass the the Lord did soften the hearts of the Lamanites. And Alma and his brethren went forth and delivered themselves up into their hands; and *the Lamanites took possession of the land of Helam*.

Alma 54:12 And behold, if ye do not this, I will come against you with my armies; yea, even I will arm my women and my children, and I will come against you, and *I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance*…
Alma 54:13 Behold, I am in my anger, and also my people; ye have sought to murder us, and we have only sought to defend ourselves. But behold, if ye seek to destroy us more we will seek to destroy you; yea, and *we will seek our land, the land of our first inheritance*.

These scriptures show that Lamanites AND former Nephites built together, seemingly under the former Nephites’ supervision:
Alma 21:2 Now the Lamanites *and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city*, which was called Jerusalem.

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. And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe.

These scriptures remind us that this (supervision and construction by former Nephites) might have been the pattern from the very beginning for any actual Lamanite buildings:
Alma 47:35 And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, *and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time*.

Words Of Mormon 1:16 And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes; and after there having been much contention and *many dissensions away unto the Lamanites*, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people–

Note that there is *never* a reference in the Book of Mormon to the Lamanites building or having built anything by themselves. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t; it just means that there is internal consistency in my argument for factual descriptions by Mormon and the other writers, not for a negative Lamanite bias.

Have any references possibly been misunderstood? Here are some:
When king Lamoni went down, people ran into the king’s “house”. And it seems it was pretty easy for anyone to see, which means I doubt it was “three doors down the hall to the right in an enclosed room”. Though it might have, I have a hard time seeing that happening in a big palace/ castle like we’re used to thinking of…:
Alma 19:18 And they began to assemble themselves together unto *the house of the king*. And *there came a multitude, and to their astonishment they beheld the king, and the queen, and their servants prostrate upon the earth*, and they all lay there as though they were dead; and they also saw Ammon, and behold, he was a Nephite.

And here, notice the big king’s house/ palace:
Alma 22:1 Now, as Ammon was thus teaching the people of Lamoni continually, we will return to the account of Aaron and his brethren; for after he departed from the land of Middoni he was 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*, with his brethren, and bowed himself before the king, and said unto him: Behold, O king, we are the brethren of Ammon, whom thou hast delivered out of prison.

So: please, please, please, the next time you hear anyone, including a highly-esteemed LDS Church member apologist claim that Mormon has an nonfactual bias or “personal thing” going on that strongly influences the Book of Mormon, remember it’s very possible and likely to reject those claims and comments as complete, unfounded rubbish.

-=-=-=

(see http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php?showtopic=15247&hl=Lamanite+bias, for example).


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2008, December 13

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 1 by grego

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 1
by grego

Some Mormon/ LDS apologists, including Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy, claim that Mormon had a clear nonfactual bias against the Lamanites, or that Mormon used untrue or stereotypical caricatures of them.

I have found that this is not only necessary to discuss in defense of truth and Mormon, but for a few other reasons, too. This is the chink in the armor that becomes gaping holes.

First, it can be THE excuse for “exposing” Mormon’s weakness and fallibility as a writer/ historian, in an excuse to expand the possibilities of other interpretations than those allowed by the text–to “open it up”, so to say, to make more leeway in wriggling and supporting a personal (and rarely scripturally-supported) point of view. This is also very convenient when one desires to match up the Book of Mormon with what is known of Central American history, when it should be matching up history and anthropology to the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, when one plays this game of forcing the Book of Mormon to fit what is currently known, it’s a game based on a slippery slope of science…

Another big reason is that, since we “know” that Mormon had a bias, we understand he also had a bias about Captain Moroni, that Mormon gets way too carried away when writing about him and wars, etc. I imagine, maybe this is because some in the LDS Church are afraid to accept the clear teachings about freedom and such.

There is a third reason I’ve found this argument particularly disdainful: I’ve heard it as an excuse to reject all the “fringe” (what one wants to call fringe) teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (even though they were covered hundreds of talks and decades of time). Here’s how the argument goes: See, Ezra Taft Benson got carried away in his writings and teachings about government, freedom, the Book of Mormon and secret combinations, etc., which is not really spiritual stuff, because of a personal fetish–just following the precedent of Mormon getting carried away in his writings and teachings about war and Captain Moroni, which is not really spiritual stuff, because of a personal fetish; and we know he did that, because of how he treated the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon with a negative, personal bias. (Note, folks, the similarity between the topics and manners in which Ezra Taft Benson and Captain Moroni spoke…)

Yet somehow, in all the Book of Mormon, I personally can’t find this so-called Lamanite bias *anywhere*. So I asked for references in the text, and in fact, I’ve asked Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy and others for instances of clear/ concrete cases unsupported in any logical, normal way examples in the text, and… they never showed it/ were able to show it. It seems that the imagination is strong when convenient, and dull when not wanted…

And, claims of Mormon’s Lamanite bias or use of strong exaggeration in his writing in the Book of Mormon based on what I have been shown are clearly unsupported by the text. (Brant Gardner claimed to have dug deep into the story of Ammon and the king’s flock, and said that Mormon was completely wrong on a point or two; but were one to continue digging even deeper, it would be seen that Brant Gardner’s claim is wrong, as his digging was also incomplete and not completely correct.)

The main point of this Lamanite bias claim is this:
Mormon portrays the Lamanites in a very negative light–such as being wicked, savage, living in tents, eating raw meat and drinking blood, etc. Then, it’s often said that this is done in contrast to the way the Nephites are portrayed–shown as righteous, high-classed, highly developed people. This, in the face of other parts of the text that show developed Lamanite society, cities with buildings, governments, etc.–in contrast to the Lamanite stereotype; obviously showing Mormon was biased.

Let’s see if *any* of this is true. (I will not treat “Nephites=good, Lamanites=bad” topic deeply here.)


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