Friday, July 7, 2017

Fun with Zelph

Our friends at Book of Mormon Central (America) BOMC(A) put out an awesome no-wise today. Check it out:

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/who-was-zelph

Whenever you read a no-wise at this site, you have to remember the goal of their corporate owner BMAF:

Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex,

BMAF and BOMC(A) are harmless clubs for Mesomaniacs; i.e., these are organizations dedicated to the two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories of Book of Mormon geography. They claim Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York. They're not interested in anything that contradicts their theories.

Once you understand that, there's no reason to be upset, annoyed, disappointed, etc., by anything they publish.

And, we won't be surprised to see a display of full citation cartel methodology. Look at footnotes 21 and 24 for example. The "Heartland as Hinterland" article doesn't even mention Letter VII, for example. The Roper article on John Bernhisel is full of holes but BOMC(A) won't publish a criticism of it. For that, you have to go to my blog, here. http://interpreterpeerreviews.blogspot.com/2015/10/ropers-bernhisel-argument-trifecta-of.html

For more, just search for Bernhisel on my blogs.
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The Zelph story is a problem for BMAF and BOMC(A) because if Zelph was a warrior under a Nephite prophet, died in Illinois, and was known from the hill Cumorah or east sea to the Rocky mountains, that's a major problem for the two-Cumorahs and limited geography Mesoamerican theory.

Of course, the Mesomania strategy is to sow as much confusion about this account as possible, exactly as they do in this no-wise. Their thinking goes, we can't tell what Joseph actually said because too many people wrote about it.

There are two major articles on Zelph in the literature, one by Cannon and one by Godfrey. Cannon generally supports the credibility of the Zelph incident, while Godfrey seeks to undermine it. So guess which article BOMC(A) chose to put in their database? No surprise, they put the Gofrey article there and omitted the Cannon article.

Now, look at an example of how Godfrey seeks to sow confusion:

"Woodruff writes that the prophet "Onandagus" was known "from the hill Cumorah on [sic] East sea to the Rocky mountains." This is the earliest source for this geographical data. (In Reuben McBride's account it is Zelph who was widely known.)"

You can see from the quotation from Woodruff's journal below that the syntax could be understood to refer to either Zelph or Onandagus, but Godfrey is trying to persuade readers that we shouldn't trust Woodruff, so he tells readers, falsely, that the only interpretation is one that contradicts McBride's.

You find this kind of rhetoric throughout the no-wise. Look at this claim:

"However, when this account [the account in History of the Church] is compared against the manuscript history of the Church and the earlier sources on Zelph, the explicit connections to Book of Mormon places and events become tenuous."

It turns out that Wilford Woodruff directly connected Zelph (or Onandagus) to two Book of Mormon locations: Cumorah and the East Sea. This is as opposite to "tenuous" as it is possible in the English language.

Normally, we accept Woodruff's journal as accurate and reliable. His journal is the sole source for the famous (but inaccurate) quotation, found in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and attributed to Joseph Smith, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

Actually, Woodruff wrote that as a summary of an entire day's worth of teaching and did not put it in quotation marks. But Woodruff has such credibility that scholars have retained this mistaken attribution anyway.

Woodruff's journal is the source of many of the Mesomania arguments, such as the "North and South America" meme that I've addressed recently.

So long as the Mesomaniacs think Woodruff supports their theories, they quote him approvingly. But if he contradicts them, they'll go all out to say he didn't know what he was talking about, the same way they do with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

I don't have time to write more, but I want people to see what Woodruff wrote in his journal in May 1834. The / represents later additions or corrections.
______________________

Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.10


Brother Joseph often addressed us  in the name of the Lord while on our journey and often while addressing [p.10] the camp he was clothed upon with much of the spirit of God. His precepts were very instructive and interesting.

While on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man.

[Interlinearly after "We visited one of those Mounds":] considerd to be 300 feet above the level of the Illinois river. Three persons dug into the mound & found a body. Elder Milton Holmes took the arrow out of the back bones that killed Zelph & brought it with some of the bones in to the camp. I visited the same mound with Jesse J Smith. Who the other persons were that dug in to the mound & found the body I am undecided.

Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person. He said he was a white Lamanite. The curs was taken from him or at least in part. He was killed in battle with an arrow. The arrow was found among his ribs. One of his thigh bones was broken. This was done by a stone flung from a sling in battle years before his death. His name was Zelph. Some of his bones were brought into the Camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my waggon and I carried it to Missouri. Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God. He was a warrior under the great prophet /Onandagus/ that was known from the hill Camorah /or east sea/ to the Rocky mountains. The above knowledge Joseph receieved in a vision.
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You can see that Woodruff could have been referring to either Zelph or Onandagus as the one who was known from Cumorah to the Rocky mountains.

Woodruff specified "or east sea" but this has been changed to read "Eastern sea" in edited versions. "East sea" is a Book of Mormon term, of course.

Note also that Woodruff spelled it Camorah. In Letter VII, Oliver and Joseph taught that Mormon and his people "were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (It is printed Camorah, which is an error.)"

You can see that misspelling here: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/535

Like the rest of Joseph's contemporaries, Woodruff accepted what Joseph and Oliver taught about the Hill Cumorah being in New York. They all read Letter VII because it had been reprinted so many times. None of the men present when Joseph received the revelation about Zelph were confused about the location of the Hill Cumorah.

Plus, modern archaeological digs at the Zelph mound confirm both the dating Joseph gave and the extent of trade (from the Rocky mountains to New York.)
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It's also interesting to consider Matthias Cowley's edited version:

"During our travels we visited many mounds thrown up by the ancient inhabitants, the Nephites and Lamanites. This morning, June 3rd, we went on to a high mound near the river. From the summit we could overlook the tops of the trees as far as we could see. The scenery was truly beautiful. On the summit of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars, they having been erected, one above the other, according to the ancient order of things. Human bones were seen upon the ground. Brother Joseph requested us to dig into the mound ; we did so ; and in about one foot we came to the skeleton of a man, almost entire, with an arrow sticking in his backbone. Elder Milton Holmes picked it out, and brought it into the Camp, with one of the leg bones, which had been broken. I brought the thigh bone to Missouri. I desired to bury it in the Temple Block in Jackson County; but not having this privilege, I buried it in Clay County, Missouri, near the house owned by Col. Arthur and occupied by Lyman Wight." The arrowhead referred to is now in the possession of President Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah. "Brother Joseph," continues Wilford, "feeling anxious to learn something of this man, asked the Lord, and received an open vision. The man's name was Zelph. He was a white Lamanite, the curse having been removed because of his righteousness. He was a great warrior, and fought for the Nephites under the direction of the Prophet Onandagus. The latter had charge of the Nephite armies from the Eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. Although the Book of Mormon does not mention Onandagus, he was a great warrior, leader, general, and prophet. Zelph had his thigh bone broken by a stone thrown from a sling, but was killed by the arrow found sticking in his backbone. There was a great slaughter at that time. The bodies were heaped upon the earth, and buried in the mound, which is nearly three hundred feet in height." 

History of the Life and Labors of Wilford Woodruff. AS RECORDED IN HIS DAILY JOURNALS PREPARED FOR PUBLICATION BY MATTHIAS COWLEY THE DESERET NEWS Salt Lake City, Utah 1909 page 41

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Google and Book of Mormon Central

The EU fined Google $2.7 billion for unfairly promoting its own shopping comparison services over those of its rivals.

Too bad they don't look at Book of Mormon Central (BOMC).

If you click on one of the articles in BOMC's "archive" you will also get a "More like this" sidebar with suggestions for more reading. No matter what resource you select, you will be directed to articles that support the main objective of BOMC, as expressed by its owner, BMAF:

"Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."

IOW, the goal of BOMC is to convince members of the Church that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the location of Cumorah in New York.

It's not an easy task, this effort to undermine the credibility and reliability of Joseph and Oliver (and David Whitmer). Most LDS accept these men as reliable, credible, rational people who simply reported the facts about their experiences. But not BOMC.

To make the Mesoamerican setting work, BOMC and the rest of the citation cartel must frame these men as ignorant and confused so that they, the BOMC scholars, can come to the rescue with their more sophisticated education and explain that Joseph and Oliver and David (and Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph Fielding Smith, Marion G. Romney, Mark E. Peterson, etc.) were ignorant speculators who misled the Church.

BOMC is trying to convince members of the Church that every prophet and apostle of the latter-days, starting with Joseph Smith, who has discussed Cumorah in General Conference or other official avenues, has been an ignorant speculator who misled the Church.

This is why their "archive" contains only material that promotes the Mesoamerican theory.

You can search BOMC all you want and you will find no material about the New York Cumorah, apart from a single source, which is my first edition of the short Letter VII book. You can still see it here: https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/letter-vii-oliver-cowdery%E2%80%99s-message-world-about-hill-cumorah

I give BOMC credit for uploading that reference in the first place, and for not removing it. Yet.

However, I have ceased working with BOMC because they put up attack articles without even acknowledging that I've responded, let alone putting up my actual responses.

They continue to suppress ideas and facts that contradict their main goal of establishing the Mesoamerican setting.

IMO, they are doing tremendous harm to the Church and to the effort to sweep the Earth with the Book of Mormon.

And if the EU cared, they would no doubt fine BOMC for the same reason they fined Google.
__________________

Here's a fun example.

Look at this BYU Studies article on Zelph.

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/zelph-story

It contains the old canard that Joseph Smith changed his mind over time regarding Book of Mormon geography, based on the false assumption that Joseph read the Stephens books and commented about them in the Times and Seasons. The "More like this" sidebar refers readers to this classic:

https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/what-significance-zelph-study-book-mormon-geography

The author here claims that the Zelph incident cannot "provide conclusive evidence for anything" because so many people recorded their subjective experiences. If we had only Wilford Woodruff's account (as is the case for many important events in Church history), we would take it as the entire truth about the event. (That's how we ended up with the false quotation in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon.)

But because others recorded the Zelph incident, giving greater context, we're now supposed to think that Joseph's revelation about Zelph is meaningless.

To make sure you get the message, BOMC guides readers to even more ridiculous articles in the "More like this" sidebar:

More like this

The Zelph Story
John Bernhisel’s Gift to a Prophet: Incidents of Travel in Central America and the Book of Mormon
KnoWhy #130- Why Did Mormon Give So Many Details About Geography? (Alma 22:32)
The Treason of the Geographers: Mythical “Mesoamerican” Conspiracy and the Book of Mormon
Review of Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon and An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon

I've addressed these articles in detail, but BOMC won't tell you that.

Plus, they omit from their "Archive" what I consider the best article about Zelph ever published by BYU-affiliated organizations:

http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/341folder/zelph%20revisited%20cannon.html

Needless to say, BOMC will never publish anything on Zelph that supports a theory that contradicts their Mesomania. They want members of the Church (and investigators) to believe Joseph Smith was an ignorant speculator who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah and therefore expected scholars (i.e., BOMC) to determine where the Book of Mormon took place.
__________________

When you realize what BOMC is doing, how shamelessly they are promoting their Mesomania dogma, it's actually pretty funny.

Except it's also tragic for those who want to know the truth.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Break at Cumorah

Thousands of American college kids go to Cozumel and Cancun on spring break. Here's some great info for those interested: http://www.destinationclubbing.com/thematics/springbreak-cancun.aspx

"Spring Break Cancun has become one of the top clubbing destinations in 2017 in the world! Spring Break Cancun is a must, but it does have a price. For example, one of the most famous hotels is Grand Oasis Cancun : with the largest swimming pool in South America , private acces to the beaches of Cancun, and the fun is at its climax: the pools and hotel beach turn into a big dance floor all day long, inviting artists and renowned DJs."

Here's what's awesome: these kids don't know they are visiting "Book of Mormon Lands!"

(Actually, that would come as a surprise to Mormon, Moroni, Nephi, Mosiah, Alma and the rest, but they're not around to object.)

If you'd like to relax in "Book of Mormon Lands," here's your guide to a great time:

http://bountifultravel.com/book-of-mormon-tours/

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cumorah and Windmills

It's difficult to believe, I know, but people are actually on an expedition to find the "real" Cumorah in southern Mexico.

I like and respect the people on this escapade, but seriously...

This has the makings for another classic in literature. Don Quixote, the sequel.



Check it out:

https://www.facebook.com/BookofMormonCentralenEspanol/

Warren Aston (Brisbane, Australia) The Best Scout sud today, Kirk Magleby (American Fork, Utah, USA), Executive Director of book of Mormon Central, Javier Tovar (Atotonilco de Tula, Mexico) renowned archaeologist sud and Douglas Christensen (Twin Falls, EU) Director of book of Mormon Archaeology news, are currently working on, in the state of veracruz, Mexico for the purpose of: (1.) to follow up the issue of book of Mormon central done in October 2016 That investigated seven potential sites for the hill ramah / Cumorah. (2.) consolidate the criteria for the hill ramah / Cumorah. (3.) to develop a model for future expeditions to other sites of interest. (4.) determine the probability that the hill lookout or the cerro san martín pajapan is the hill ramah / Cumorah. #Bruce #SUD #LDS #JESUS CHRIST #LIBRODEMORMÓN



Progress report for Thursday pm, February 23, 2017 for Book of Mormon Central/BMAF expedition: We have gathered evidence, mostly comparing the landscape with the text, that the Hill Ramah/Cumorah is most likely in the Tuxtla mountain range in the state of Veracruz. We are satisfied that it is one of two dominant hills which satisfy the requirements of the Jaredite march "by the Hill Cumorah, then across to Ablom by the sea." Yesterday we met with a town "elder" designated as a historian. His info was fascinating and confirming of much of the required parameters in the text. We also took an exploratory boat ride in the bays of the Gulf of Mexico east of these hills. Tomorrow we finish our week by traversing as much territory as possible around both hills

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The first principle

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard P. Feynman

https://bookofmormoncentral.org/content/bmaf-2017

In case you don't want to click on the link, check out the topics of this conference of the Mesoamerican activists club.*


* Taylor's topic looks great. The rest...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"that narrative takes place largely in Mesoamerica"

Typical comment from the New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/search-great-american-bible

In the case of the Book of Mormon, only in 1986 did a prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, order that Mormons study the book closely. “The drama of authorship, of the book’s discovery and its translation,” Steinberg writes, “was for many years the story, the thing that bewitched readers, the thing that made people’s blood boil.” The fact of its existence—an original American scripture—mattered more to its early audience than the narrative it contained. As it happens, that narrative takes place largely in Mesoamerica, and for some current-day Mormons, Mayan ruins have become a place of pilgrimage. Many centuries before Columbus, the Book of Mormon tells us, ocean-faring Hebrews set sail from Jerusalem and landed in Mesoamerica. In “The Lost Book of Mormon,” Steinberg tags along with a tour group to Guatemala and southern Mexico—or, as the Book calls them, the Lands of Nephi and Zarahemla.

A visit to the National Museum of Guatemala offers a fascinating glimpse of Mormon exegesis at work in the field. In one gallery, on a Mayan altar adorned with symbols, a tour guide points out a glyph that could be interpreted as meaning “and it came to pass.” To the pilgrims, this is hugely significant, because “and it came to pass” is the most famous recurring phrase in the Book of Mormon, with a thousand three hundred and eighty-one appearances. Few paragraphs begin without it. To Mormon detractors, Steinberg notes, it’s a telling verbal tic that strongly suggests “a weak ventriloquism of biblical idiom.” For believers, the incessant repetition of the phrase is “like a charming quirk of one’s beloved.” And, more than that, it’s a sign—it must be, given that it appears in scripture. To readers of faith, Steinberg writes, “everything, every mystery, every slightly odd detail, would eventually reveal something.”

Citation cartel spin on Zelph

Today BookofMormonCentral.org sent out an email to all its contact people about Zelph. They sent this link to the Godfrey article: https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/node/122 which they recently uploaded to their archive.

Godfrey is skeptical of the Zelph account as you can see from the highlighted portion of the abstract:

When the twenty men who formed the vanguard of Zion's Camp left Kirtland, Ohio, on 1 May 1834, they could not know that one of their most lasting and intriguing contributions to Latter-day Saint history would take place, not on a Missouri battlefield but rather on top of a large mound in Illinois. There, on 3 June 1834, members of Zion's Camp located a few bones, including a broken femur and an arrowhead, approximately a foot below the earth's surface, and these remains became the catalyst for revelation to Joseph Smith regarding the skeleton's identity. Joseph called the land "the plains of the Nephites." They believed that the mounds had belonged to "that once beloved people," and they interpreted the mere fact that skulls and bones were readily found as evidence of the divine authenticity of the book.

Godfrey repeats the citation cartel's insistence that Joseph Smith wrote the 1841 Bernhisel letter, of which there is zero evidence. Joseph didn't sign it, he never mentioned it, and all the historical evidence points to Wilford Woodruff as the author. But the citation cartel will never tell you that.

Godfrey also repeats the citation cartel's insistence that Joseph Smith wrote, edited, or approved of the anonymous Times and Seasons articles that claimed the Book of Mormon took place in Central America.

The Godfrey article articulates the basic position of the citation cartel that Joseph Smith didn't know anything about the Book of Mormon, that he speculated, that he misled the Church about Cumorah, and that he changed his mind over time. "Evidently Joseph Smith’s views on this matter were open to further knowledge. Thus in 1834, when Zelph was found, Joseph believed that the portion of America over which they had just traveled was “the plains of the Nephites” and that their bones were “proof’of the Book of Mormon’s authenticity. By 1842 he evidently believed that the events in most of Nephite history took place in Central America."

Godfrey's skepticism fits the narrative of the citation cartel, so of course Book of Mormon Central would add this article to their archive while excluding other views.

And, of course, FairMormon does the same thing here:

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Geography/Statements/Nineteenth_century/Joseph_Smith%27s_lifetime_1829-1840/Joseph_Smith/Zelph

________________

If you want a perspective alternative to that of the citation cartel, you can read this article by Donald Q. Cannon, which of course Book of Mormon Central does not add to their archive because it doesn't fit their narrative: http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/341folder/zelph%20revisited%20cannon.html

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What can I say more?

You've probably noticed we haven't posted much on this blog for a while. The few posts we've made make the point: BookofMormonCentral, which purports to be a repository for all research and evidence about the Book of Mormon, is really BookofMormonCentralAmerica.

It's not even in disguise.

They outright refuse to show any alternatives to their Central America theory of Book of Mormon geography.

BookofMormonCentral is a sham, basically.

I've done everything I know of to try to work with them and encourage them to at least let people know there are alternatives to their Central American theories, but without success. They are intransigent.

They are teaching the world--including the youth of the Church--the following:

1. There are two Cumorahs: Mormon's Cumorah in southern Mexico (Mormon 6:6), and what they consider to be the "fake Cumorah" in New York, which was mistakenly named by unknown early Church members and is now known to the citation cartel as Moroni's Cumorah. The idea that the hill in New York is the Cumorah 6:6 is a false tradition. You can see this on display in the North Visitors Center on Temple Square today.

2. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York for a century. It was only RLDS scholars, whose work was adopted by LDS scholars, who taught the truth about Cumorah being in Southern Mexico.

3. Although he was Church Historian and a 20-year member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Joseph Fielding Smith was speaking as a man and also misled the Church when he denounced the two-Cumorahs theory. He continued to mislead the Church when he repeated his warning about the two-Cumorahs theory when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve.

4. Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve who, in General Conference addresses, identified the New York hill as the site of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites were also misleading the Church.

5. Joseph Smith merely speculated about Book of Mormon geography. He changed his mind later in life and relied on scholars to figure out where the events took place. In D&C 128 he was referring to an unknown hill in Mexico.

6. D&C 28, 30, and 32 reflect a quaint folk belief among early Church members that the Indians were Lamanites. The real Lamanites are in Central America.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

All of this leads to my title, taken from Jacob 6.

8. Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets...

12 O be wise; what can I say more?