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Found! The Real Mount Sinai!

Christians and Jews have long searched for the real Mount Sinai.  But is it the location discovered by Helena, the mother of Constantine in the 4th century AD?  Most people think it is not.  George Potter, an LDS researcher has done a lot of research in the Middle East and thinks he may have stumbled upon the real Mount Sinai.

George:  If you open up your Bible maps from the English version of the King James, published by the LDS Church, go to the maps in the back.  You clearly see that Midian was not located in the Sinai Peninsula.  Jethro[1] lived in Arabia.  Even today on maps in Arabia you see the town of Ugabe, which is translated as Jethro in English.

Jethro lived in Arabia when Moses fled Egypt, he went to Jethro’s, and that was in Arabia.  He was tending his sheep on the back side of the wilderness, it says.  So, in other words, he was probably on the back side of the inter-side of the mountains that run through Midian.  That’s where he was herding Jethro’s sheep at the time, and that’s where we believe Mount Sinai is found.  For him to have been in Jethro’s town, Midian, which is still there, the ruins of Midian, to have been in the Sinai Peninsula, he would have been a very lost shepherd, believe me.

When you get over there to where Mount St. Catherine’s is, anyway there is no evidence whatsoever that place was ever Mount Sinai.  There is no fodder for sheep.  There are no artifacts that have been left there.  The only reason that was ever claimed to be Mount Sinai was that I guess Constantine’s mother went down there with some kind of a guru at the time and they said this must be Mount Sinai.  But there is no evidence archaeologically that was ever Mount Sinai.

We are travelling down this wadi and they said here is where we ended our fourth expedition looking for Mount Sinai.  We’re going beyond this.  We didn’t go more than a mile until we actually came to the artifacts that were described as being from this candidate for Mount Sinai.  The first one is a natural feature.  It is maybe kind of a circular type of little plateau.  The circumference is probably 200 feet.  On top of this feature, there is a sacrificial—it is not an altar, but it is a place where they would have sacrificed animals.  It is a heathen—it is the same kind of feature you would find at Petra: the Nabateans.  It’s a basin.  It is a little kind of canal where the blood would flow into the rocks.

So, that is on top of the little natural feature, but all around it are petroglyphs of calves, Egyptian-type calves.  So that has become known as the Golden Calf Altar there.  If you continue down the wadi, there is a mountain in the west and maybe 50-100 yards from that mountain, you will find eleven different piles of stones with holes in them that you would have put maybe a banner in, a flagpole or something.  They separate the main area of the wadi, the valley, where people would have camped.  Then you have these eleven different pole markers.  They stretch maybe a mile and a half down.  Those we believe are the border markers that Moses was told to separate the people from Mount Sinai so they didn’t accidentally wander on to the mountain.

GT:  Ok.

George: So, they are the border markers.  They are still there.  Then if you can get through the antiquity fence, you will find that there is what they call the Altar of Moses, which is kind of an L-shaped feature.  It is maybe 100 feet long.

We will also talk about its ties to the Book of Mormon.

George:  To give your followers a little bit of a background as to how we came across what is believed to be the Valley of Lemuel.  If you look at any church publication now about the Book of Mormon and Lehi’s trail, they are following the photographs of us, or they are making pictures of what we believe to be the Valley of Lemuel.

But how did we find that?  It takes us back to Mount Sinai.  When I got there, I found out there had been a group of four different LDS parties who pre-dated me, had gone looking for Mount Sinai.  You’ve got to understand that there is a mountain range that runs down the entire length of Arabia, the western side of Arabia.  There are tens of thousands of mountains there.  How do you find Mount Sinai when there are all these mountains?  It is like the Rocky Mountain range or the Sierra Nevada.  I mean which one is Mount Sinai?  It seems kind of crazy.

I was there.  I had a four-wheel drive and two of the members of the group who had gone out four times before looking for Mount Sinai and never found it, encouraged me to come with us, but bring your four-wheel drive and let’s go look for Mount Sinai.  I bluntly told them, “Look.  You guys are crazy.  The instructions you have are almost impossible to follow.  I’ll give you one day to find Mount Sinai in the area you think it is.”

If you would like updates on George’s work, subscribe to his free newsletter at https://www.nephiproject.com.  Check out our conversation…..

George Potter thinks he has found the real Mount Sinai!

[1] Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law.

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Critiquing the Gospel Topics Essays

Between 2013-2015, the LDS Church published a series of essays dealing with sensitive topics in the LDS Church.  They are known as the Gospel Topics Essays.  Dr. Newell Bringhurst and Dr. Matt Harris have produced an anthology that will be released later this summer critiquing these Gospel Topics Essays.  In our final conversation, Dr. Newell Bringhurst will tell us more about the work that he’s been putting together on these essays.

Newell:  We go through all 13 Gospel Topics Essays.  It’s composed of 13 chapters.  I probably should pull out my notes so I can remember the name of all the contributors.  We start with the Book of Mormon and look at the historicity of the Book of Mormon, critiquing that essay, critiquing the essay on DNA and the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and of course the different accounts.  We critique the essay that was written on the various accounts of the First Vision, the historicity and authenticity of the Book of Abraham which is another very controversial topic.

We look at peace and violence along the Mormon frontier.  John Turner who did the biography on Brigham Young did the essay on that for us.  He is kind of a marquis figure.  He really did an outstanding job in looking at the whole issue of violence and how it involved the saints.  Although I think one of the strongest essays in there is Gary Bergera who presented at [Sunstone.]  He presented on Joseph Smith and his involvement with polygamy.  Of course, he has a much different spin on whether Joseph had sex with those other women.  {chuckles}

We’ll talk about the other authors as well!  Check out our conversation, and don’t forget to hear our other episodes on polygamy, blacks, and women in religion!  (A transcript of the entire interview will be available soon!)

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Naturalistic Explanation for Word of Wisdom?

We’re continuing our conversation about revelation in the LDS Church.  One of Mormonism’s most important and well-known revelations deals with the Word of Wisdom, Mormonism’s health code.  Dr. Greg Prince talks about a naturalistic view of how that revelation was received.  I think it’s pretty surprising.

Greg:  You will hear people still who say the Word of Wisdom proves Joseph was a prophet because it was a hundred years ahead of its time.  It wasn’t even a day ahead of its time.  It reflected what everybody already knew.  This was the air that they breathed.

The Temperance Movement kicked in in 1826 because there was an epidemic of drunkenness in the United States.  The consumption of distilled liquor over a 30 year period had tripled on a per capita basis.  Drunkenness became a national security issue.  That’s why the American Temperance Society was formed in 1826.

When they said “hot drinks,” it mean drinks that were hot.  It wasn’t what was in them.

GT:  Including hot chocolate?

Greg:  People didn’t drink hot chocolate.  They only drank two hot drinks:  coffee and tea.  But it wasn’t the content, it was the temperature.  It moved you out of that zone of moderation, out of temperance.

If there had been iced drinks, probably the Word of Wisdom would have said no hot drinks and no iced drinks because the whole notion was temperance, moderation.

GT:  Some would say, is that really revelation then, or is that just the thinking of the day?

Greg:  Well you get into the circular argument on that.  Is something revelation because we call it revelation, or is the nature of the something what later qualifies it as being revelation?  If you’re looking for the splitting the ceiling and the voice of the Lord dropping through-type revelation, how many instances of that do we have within the LDS Church tradition?

Hear what he has to say about meat and grains!  We’ll also tell some stories about President McKay.

Greg:  President McKay looked up at him and said, “What’s on the cup doesn’t matter so long as what’s in the cup is a Coke.”

…I was chatting with one of the secretaries who had worked in President McKay’s office…She read that and she said, “That’s not correct.”

I said, “What do you mean it’s not correct?  You know the guy who gave me that story!”

Then she said, “Well let me tell you…”

It’s going to be a very fun conversation.  I hope you join us…..