Many critics point out that there are anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. Native Americans didn’t use steel, there were not horses, elephants, etc, so why are they mentioned in the Book of Mormon?
Brian: For me, I think anachronisms are the weakest criticism of the Book of Mormon for several reasons. First off, we haven’t done all of the excavations, yet. Some of these items, maybe not all of them, but some of them could still be discovered. They have LIDAR studies of Northern Guatemala and the Yucatan of Mexico. These LIDAR studies show that there are people that lived there, seven to 11 million [people] in a 40,000 square mile radius area, and 3% to 5% of those have been excavated. So, there’s, there’s lots of things that still could be discovered in the anachronisms. Another reason I think anachronisms are weak is that if you’ve ever translated from one language to another, some of the literal qualities of an item may be lost, or new literal qualities may be gained. You know, silk, did they have silkworms there? Probably not. Did they have shiny material? Maybe so. So, some of these things can be explained away.
Brian: Now, you mentioned horses, a great example. Because what we find in the Book of Mormon, horses, I think are mentioned 11 times, and they are mentioned with chariots. There’s no mention of wheels. But what’s interesting is in Joseph’s day, a horse was ridden. A horse would pull a wagon with wheels. It was used in cavalry, you know, to ride in battle. Well, we don’t find any of those things in the Book of Mormon. You don’t ride on horses, so far as it says in the Book of Mormon, they are only associated with royalty and with a chariot of some sort. We don’t know exactly. People make assumptions of wheels. They think Ben Hur, and all of this. We don’t know what the word chariot signifies.
GT: I mean, if they came from the old world, wouldn’t you expect Ben Hur to be in America with chariots? Because the Egyptians pulled chariots with horses, right? I mean, wouldn’t you expect the same sort of thing in America?
Brian: Well, chariots are mentioned so seldom, that I don’t know that we should assume they have wheels. If they had wheels, don’t we think we would probably have more mention of the use of the wheel in the Book of Mormon? We don’t. We’re making an assumption there. I understand, but this could be just translation on the word chariot. The chariot is only mentioned, I think, four times. We’d have to go back and look. So, again, this particular anachronism, to me is not a real problem, because the horses in the Book of Mormon are not doing what horses did in Joseph Smith’s day.
We’ll also talk about the concepts of tight vs loose translation. In tight translation, God provided every word of the Book of Mormon, but in loose translation, Joseph used some of his intellect to translate the Book of Mormon. Does Brian prefer tight or loose translation? Check out our conversation, but remember it’s only available for newsletter subscribers. If you’re not on our list, subscribe at https://gospeltangents.com/newsletter and I’ll send you a secret link to this episode!