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*The Anachronism Gap? (Part 6 of 6)

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!

What does Brian think about anochronisms in the Book of Mormon?

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Brian!

576: Wordprint Studies

575: What Skills Were Needed to Write Book of Mormon?

574: Automatic Writing/Bill Davis’s “Visions of Seer Stone”

573: Looking at Spaulding & Collaborator Theories

572: Reviewing Polygamy Criticisms

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Wordprint Studies (Part 5 of 6)

Wordprint or stylometry studies try to identify the author of a text. Studies have tried to prove ancient as well as modern authorship. What does Brian Hales think of these studies? Is there a gap in Book of Mormon authorship?

GT:  Well, I know there’s been a lot of wordprint studies trying to identify [a specific author.] There was the Stanford study that said, “Oh, see, Solomon Spalding was the real author.”  Whereas, then BYU guys used the same methodology, but they included a “none of the above,” and, I think, pretty much blew the Stanford guys out of the water on that. But it seems to me, and I don’t know how you feel about word print studies. There are a lot of BYU guys that say, “Well, there’s 30 authors. We can show there’s 30 different authors of the Book of Mormon.” Then, you have the Stanford guys who are like, “No, it’s Solomon Spalding.” Do you have any point of view on word print studies?

Brian:  Well, they call them stylometrics, and I only include four, mostly because as I’m reading those four authors, I can even detect some differences that a person making up the text would have to take into account. There are two studies that, as you said, are saying it was written by Joseph or by Spalding or by Rigdon. Then, there are studies by Church members that show different authors, and it couldn’t be Joseph. I don’t put a lot of stock into it. But again, I can tell a difference of how Nephi is writing in his books versus how Mormon is compiling in his sections.

GT: I will just say if this was something that was a valid science, I think the FBI would have done that for Mark Hofmann.

Brian:  (Chuckling) well, and maybe you know, but I heard. Who was it? Mark Hofmann had paid somebody $5,000 to try to break down the sentence structure of the Book of Mormon, and he’d made hundreds and hundreds of three by five cards that were catalogued. Who was that?

GT:  That was Brent Ashworth.

Brian:  Brent, and so you can see that just to try to imitate 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, the amount of work Mark Hofmann was going to go to, the best forger of this era. So, I think he’s showing us this wouldn’t have been easy to do in the first place, let alone try to imitate it in the second place, as Hofmann was maybe planning to do, because he could do Martin Harris’ handwriting. But, creating those actual sentences is a whole ‘nother ballgame, rather than just writing.

Check out our conversation….

Is it possible to figure out the author of a text via wordprint studies?

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Brian!

575: What Skills Were Needed to Write Book of Mormon?

574: Automatic Writing/Bill Davis’s “Visions of Seer Stone”

573: Looking at Spaulding & Collaborator Theories

572: Reviewing Polygamy Criticisms

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What Skills Were Needed to Write Book of Mormon? (Part 4 of 6)

What skills were needed to write the Book of Mormon? Brian’s going to dig into Joseph Smith’s background. Did Joseph have the education and oral skills to write the Book of Mormon?

GT:  One of the one of the things [Colby Townsend] mentioned was illiterate in Joseph Smith’s day didn’t have the same connotation that it has in our day.  In our day, somebody who’s illiterate cannot read, cannot write. They’re illiterate. They have no reading or writing skills. Whereas, in Joseph Smith’s day, that’s not what illiterate meant.  It meant more of, he was uncultured. He hadn’t read Shakespeare. He hadn’t read other things. But he had read the Bible and he clearly knew the Bible extremely well, and he could write. So, illiterate in Joseph Smith’s day doesn’t have the same connotation as it does in our day. Is that your understanding as well?

Brian:  I think I read that same post or same paper.

GT:  It was an interview with Colby.

Brian:  Oh, or I listened to your interview.  That’s what it was, so very good. I don’t think we need to get hung up on one word, illiterate. I imagine everything that Colby researches is accurate, but people weren’t just saying he’s illiterate. They’re saying he’s ignorant, that he was poorly educated, not were very well educated. If you look at what’s out there, you said Joseph knew the Bible very well. We have two eyewitnesses who said he didn’t. Now those eyewitnesses are just cast aside by the naturalists because they don’t like what they’re saying. But they were there. It’s Emma and David Whitmer who are telling us Joseph didn’t know the Bible that well. So, these claims—there’s contradictory evidence, except we really don’t have anybody saying he was very much knowledgeable of the Bible. It’s an assumption based upon the Book of Mormon, by the naturalists. You can’t go to the historical record and find somebody who said in 1829, Joseph was an expert on the Bible. There are no quotes that say that, so we have to be careful there.

Brian:  But, there’s several who said Joseph didn’t go to school when he could have.  He could write. We know that he wrote one letter. He dictated some revelations before the Book of Mormon was finished. But, as far as having any real experience with this, you cannot document it from the historical record. If we look at his oratory skills, then, one of the most popular quotations is that in 1823, Lucy Mack Smith remembered Joseph would have stories for the family. He occasionally would tell them about the ancient inhabitants of America. He would talk about the animals that they rode and their clothing, which unfortunately, those details aren’t in the Book of Mormon. She was remembering inaccurately, if he is in fact, talking about the Book of Mormon and what was going to be in it. But the problem is, nobody else remembers Joseph telling these stories. He wasn’t getting a Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric and working as a professional storyteller. He’s telling his family some stories that, in his context, and in Lucy’s context, came from the angel Moroni. So, to say that because he’s doing this, therefore, he could dictate the Book of Mormon six years later, is really not justified. It’s a leap of logic that deserves attention by anybody who wants to go there. And nobody really does. They just say he was telling stories in 1823, therefore, he could dictate the Book of Mormon. Again, [that’s] something that deserves attention.

Do you think Joseph had the skills to write the Book of Mormon without God’s help?  Check out our conversation….

Did Joseph Smith have the skills to write the Book of Mormon without God’s help?

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Brian.

575: What Skills Were Needed to Write Book of Mormon?

574: Automatic Writing/Bill Davis’s “Visions of Seer Stone”

573: Looking at Spaulding & Collaborator Theories

572: Reviewing Polygamy Criticisms