Лекция: М.А.Шишкин 1 страница

O.k., I'm a Nibley fan. I lived in his ward for a while and even had the terror/honor of team-teaching the Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Class with him for several months when he was getting overly busy (Provo 9th Ward). He's overwhelming and brilliant! Anybody who knows 15 languages or so is o.k. by me. (See my comments, «What Do Scholars Think of Hugh Nibley?», on my lengthy page about the Book of Abraham.)

Geography of the Arabian Peninsula

(This is based on the book «In the Footsteps of Lehi» by Warren P. Aston and Michael K. Aston, Deseret Book Comp., Salt Lake City, UT, 1994. See also Chapter 13 of Reexploring the Book of Mormon, as cited above.)

The Book of Mormon begins in a well-known location, Jerusalem, in 600 B.C. The book of First Nephi, the first book in the volume, describes the actions of Lehi and his family in leaving Jerusalem before its destruction, following the counsel of the Lord, and wandering through the wilderness for several years before embarking on a transoceanic voyage to somewhere in or near Central America. Several hints are found in the text that provide information about the journey through the Arabian Peninsula — information which proves to provide powerful evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Following the exodus of Lehi and his group from Jerusalem, they passed near the Red Sea, traveled «south-southeast» (1 Nephi 16:13), roughly parallel to the Red Sea or near its borders (1 Nephi 2:5, 1 Nephi 16:14), until they reached Nahom (1 Nephi 16:34), where Ishmael was buried. (Ishmael was the father of a family that fled Jerusalem with Lehi's family, whose daughters became wives to Lehi's sons.) There was considerable mourning at Nahom. After a while, they traveled eastward (1 Nephi 17:1) until they reached a place they called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5) on the coast of the Arabian peninsula, described as rich, green garden spot with trees, abundant fruit, water, honey, and a mountain. At this wonderful site they stayed at least long enough to construct a ship from the abundant timber. Metal obtained from ore was also used to make tools.

The description of Lehi's journey through the desert has been attacked in anti-Mormon literature. Finding a garden spot on the coast of the Arabian peninsula was laughable and was laughed at in the 1800s, because nobody knew of a place that could come anywhere close to being a candidate for Lehi's Bountiful. Indeed, recent anti-Mormon books continue to mock the possibility of a place like Bountiful existing. «The Arabian desert does not have luscious garden spots: Joseph Smith blew it. Case closed.» Today we are in a much better position to assess Lehi's journey. It comes as no surprise to me that the journey described in the Book of Mormon now has substantial support behind it.

First, an analysis of the ways of the desert Arabs shows remarkable consistency with the actions taken by Lehi's group and with the language and metaphors used by Lehi as he spoke to his family while traveling in the desert (well covered in Hugh Nibley's Lehi in the Desert). His general path along the Red Sea also follows what are now known to correspond with the ancient frankincense trails in Arabia, which were major trade routes.

But thanks to the explorations of the Astons in Yemen and Oman, we now know much more. As they show in their book, the many details of Lehi's journey in the Book of Mormon can be given solid plausibility based on modern discoveries. For example, there is indeed an ancient site called Nehem that is south-southeast of Jerusalem which was on the frankincense trail and has an ancient tradition of being a place for burial and mourning. Ancient tombs are still abundant in that area. The name Nehem/Nahom (nhm) is a rare place name — with the only known site in the Arabian peninsula being at a place consistent with the Book of Mormon account. Along with detailed documentation and references, the Astons' book includes a photograph of the 1976 Royal Geographical Society map — apparently from the University of Sana'a in Yemen — showing Nehem as a significant burial site in the right place to agree with the Book of Mormon description of Nahom. The existence of this site was not known to LDS scholars until a few years ago and certainly could not have been known to Joseph Smith. (By the way, the Semitic name Nahom can refer to mourning and consolation, and may also refer to groaning and complaining, giving it special significance in Nephi's account. See 1 Nephi 16:35.)

As one travels south-southeast of Jerusalem along the major trunk of the ancient Arabian trade route, the route branches east toward the southeastern coast at only point: in the Jawf valley just a few miles from Nehem. From thence the eastern branch of the trade route goes toward the ancient port of Qana — modern Bir Ali — on the Hadhramaut coast, where most of the incense was shipped. This eastern branch was the major route — the pathways to the south were less used.

Now if Nehem is the Book of Mormon site Nahom, then is there a Bountiful to the east of it on the coast? Amazingly, as one travels nearly due east of Nehem, one can come to a most unusual seashore site which appears to meets every criterion for the site Bountiful in the Book of Mormon. Reaching this site after turning east from Nehem/Nahom requires continued nearly due eastward travel, soon departing from the traditional trade route which later veers toward the south. The journey becomes quite difficult, as the Book of Mormon describes, but not impossible or implausible. The place is Wadi Sayq in modern Oman (16 degrees 44 minutes north of the equator). While there are several sites along the southeastern Arabian coast that have been proposed recently as Bountiful by various authors, the Astons show that only one location meets all or even most of the criteria given in the Book of Mormon, and that is Wadi Sayq, nearly due east of Nehem (16 degrees north of the equator).

What are the Book of Mormon criteria for the place Bountiful? The Astons list the following, along with several others:

· It must be «nearly eastward» of Nahom (1 Nephi 17:1). Nephi could determine direction with accuracy (as shown by his plausible statement that they traveled south-southeast of Jerusalem).

· The journey from Nahom must have provided reasonable access from the interior to the coast (not a trivial requirement given the difficult obstacles posed by mountains along much of the coast).

· Bountiful was on the coast, offering a place suitable for camping on the shore (1 Nephi 17:5,6) and for launching a ship (1 Nephi 18:8).

· It was very fertile, with much fruit and honey, possibly game (1 Nephi 17:5,6; 1 Nephi 18:6).

· Enough timber existed to build a durable ship (1 Nephi 18:1,2,6).

· Freshwater was available year-round to enable a prolonged stay.

· There was a nearby mountain that Nephi described as «the mount» (1 Nephi 17:7; 18:3).

· Cliffs were available from which Nephi's brothers could threaten to cast him into the sea (1 Nephi 17:48)

· Ore and flint were available (1 Nephi 17:9-11,16).

· The winds and ocean currents there could permit travel out into the ocean.

The site at Wadi Sayq meets all these criteria, with the tentative exception of ore, for it had not been searched for at the time the Astons published their findings in 1994. However, a 1995 FARMS-sponsored geological expedition has tentatively confirmed that ore does exist at Wadi Sayq which may have been suitable for use as described in the Book of Mormon — stay tuned. Wadi Sayq offers the largest body of coastal fresh water on the Arabian peninsula, with a beautiful freshwater lagoon, visible on the color photo on the dust jacket of the book «In Lehi's Footsteps.» The site is unique among other proposed candidates for Bountiful in having natural fertility that produces abundant dates, honey, and several species of trees, such as the sycamore fig and tamarind, suitable for ship building. There is a significant «mount» with steep cliffs overlooking the seashore. The coastal area is ideal for an encampment on the seashore, and it is accessible from the interior desert. Wadi Sayq is a fertile valley 16 miles long leading from the coast to the desert. The coastal mouth, Khor Kharfot is the most fertile location on the Arabian peninsula. Although the Astons examine its qualifications in meticulous detail, one glance at the color photo of this place brings the Book of Mormon Bountiful to life. Trees, greenery, water, mountains, cliffs, etc. A perfectly plausible candidate for Bountiful exists — in stark contrast to the oft-repeated claims of critics of the Book of Mormon.

Here is a brief quote from the Astons' book, page 29:

«By describing in such precise detail a fertile Arabian coastal location, as well as the route to get there from Jerusalem (complete with directions and even a place-name en route), Joseph Smith put his prophetic credibility very much on the line. Could this young, untraveled farmer in rural New York somehow have known about a fertile site on the coast of Arabia? Could a map or some writing other than the Nephite record have been a source for him? The answer is a clear no. Long after the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon, maps of Arabia continued to show the eastern coastline and interior as unknown, unexplored territory. In fact, until the advent of satellite mapping in recent decades, even quite modern maps have misplaced toponyms and ignored or distorted major features of the terrain.»

The Arabian peninsula evidence for Book of Mormon authenticity is fascinating, though many will still dismiss it. If I asked you to write about a journey across Tasmania or through Bhutan or some other place about which you knew little, could you possibly describe a journey and its course in a way that would gain credibility with time? Is there any chance that you could even describe a reasonable general direction to travel? Could you pick a route that would later comply with routes used by others in the area? Could you name a site and over a century later have others find a map with a similar name at that place? Could you describe an unusual place that seems entirely out of line with what little you and others knew about the area, only to have others later discover an excellent candidate for that location in a place entirely consistent with the course you describe? To me, this is one of literally hundreds of «mundane» confirmations of the Book of Mormon as an authentic ancient document.

The only logical explanation for the account of Lehi's journey is that it was written by people who traveled through the Arabian peninsula, and that means Joseph Smith did not write it. We are talking about a real ancient document that speaks to us from the dust (Isaiah 29) and confirms that Jesus is the Christ.

I highly recommend the Astons' book, which can be ordered directly from FARMS in Provo, Utah. The $16 price is well worth just the stunning front cover color photo of green Wadi Sayq, showing trees, the mountain, and the freshwater lagoon. But the detailed treatment, the extensive documentation, the careful consideration of numerous issues, including ocean currents for the ocean voyage eastward, for example, and the personal description of the Astons' adventures make this an outstanding resource and a truly enjoyable book to read.

I have asked many critics of the Book of Mormon to explain how Joseph Smith could have fabricated something so «laughable» yet so amazingly accurate as the place Bountiful and the burial place Nahom. No one so far has attempted a serious explanation. Recently, though, the Tanners have attempted to undermine the Astons' work by suggesting that Mormon scholars are contradicting themselves (Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Answering Mormon Scholars, Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1996, reviewed by Matthew Roper in «Unanswered Mormon Scholars,» FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1997, pp.87-145; for more information on the amazingly weak response of the «best» anti-Mormons to the Arabian Peninsula evidence of authenticity, see Scott Pierson's page on the Tanners' response). Citing the earlier and now outdated work of the Hiltons, who proposed an alternative site for Nahom before the exciting discoveries of Nehem and Wadi Sayq, the Tanners make much of the Hiltons having proposed a different place than the site Nehem. Since the two sites are 350 miles away, we are supposed to shake our heads and dismiss both due to the apparent contradiction (p. 181). Such arguments are utterly irrelevant, for the earlier tentative work of the Hiltons has been entirely superseded by more recent discoveries.

Amazingly, the Tanners go on to suggest that the ancient burial site Nehem or Nehhm, as one source misspells it, is an utterly unacceptable candidate for Nahom, since «only three of the five letters in Nehhm agree with the spelling Nahom. The second letter in Nehhm is e rather than a, and the fourth letter is h instead of o. The variant spellings of Nehem, Nehm, Nihm, Nahm, and Naham do not really help to solve the problem» (p. 183). But surely the Tanners know the deceitfulness of their argument. Surely they have encountered enough basic Biblical (and LDS) commentary to know that it is the consonants and not the vowels that carry the meaning in Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Arabic. If nothing else, surely the Tanners have read that Jehovah in Hebrew is really YHWH, at which point typical commentaries explain the fluidity of vowels and the primacy of consonants in written Hebrew. The crucial fact is that the root of Nehhm/Nehem/Nahom is NHM, and that this word can be spelled in a variety of ways and may even be pronounced in a variety of ways, yet still has the same root meaning (mourning, murmuring, sorrow, etc.). To argue about differences in vowels, in the face of remarkable evidence of congruence of Nahom and Nehem (= NHM, an extremely rare place name), seems rather silly.

The Tanners try to explain away the correctness of the routes described in the Book of Mormon by suggesting that some books in the 1830s did speak of a fertile region in southern Arabia. That argument can't even come close to explaining the direct hit on Nahom, which is not mentioned in any known sources available in 1830. The sources the Tanners refer to, the works of Jedidiah Morse, speak of Arabia Felix, a fruitful place, on the eastern shore of the Red Sea, in the southwestern part of the Arabian peninsula. Morse indicates that the rest of the Arabian peninsula was barren. Even if Joseph Smith had access to his works (anti-Mormon critics are retroactively creating an ever growing library for the farm boy Joseph!), that would do nothing to explain how Joseph Smith could successfully locate Bountiful on the southeastern shore of the Arabian peninsula, far away from the Red Sea. Nahom, near the southwestern part of the peninsula, was far from a Bountiful-like place, but was a place of sorrow and mourning and severe hunger (1 Nephi 16:39).

If the Book of Mormon is to be explained away, it won't do to simply deal with the weakest evidences for authenticity and the incompletely answered questions. The strongest evidences must also be considered. I consider the «direct hits» in the Arabian Peninsula to be among the strongest intellectual evidences for authenticity, though many more continue to emerge. Theories that make the Book of Mormon to be a mere product of nineteenth century knowledge are immediately undermined by consideration of the Arabian Peninsula evidences (along with chiasmus, Hebraisms, metal plates and scriptorio, warfare in the Book of Mormon, and many other issues).

Writing on Metal Plates

Absolutely laughable in 1830, now not only well established as an ancient practice, but as a particularly significant ancient practice in the Middle East in the era of 600 B.C. — especially for religious documents. Most significant, perhaps, is the ancient practice of «scriptorio» — putting the title page at the END of the book, something which is a hallmark of ancient writings on plates from the Middle East, and which is also strong evidence of authenticity for the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith could not have known of «scriptorio» when he translated the gold plates and noted that the title page was at the end, on the last page. For details on this important external evidence, see my page on «Metal Plates and the Book of Mormon», taken from a FARMS Update (in compliance with their «fair use» policy). Also see my LDSFAQ page on Metals in the Book of Mormon.

Genes Linking Eurasians and Native Americans?

For years critics have derided the Book of Mormon concept of transoceanic voyages from the Old World to the New World. However, evidence for ancient transoceanic contact exists and the Bering Strait theory appears to be unable to explain the origins of all ancient Americans. I discuss transoceanic contact and the Bering Strait in my page on the Smithsonian Institution's 1996 Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon.

Genetic data are just becoming available to allow us to examine the relationships of Native Americans to other peoples in the world. The picture is far more complex than was previously thought. Interestingly, recent scientific research points to a possible link between Eurasians, including some Israelis, and Native Americans. See Virginia Morell, «Genes May Link Ancient Eurasians, Native Americans» in Science, vol. 280, April 24, 1998, p. 520. This work must be viewed with caution pending further evidence. In fact, one LDS scientist sent me e-mail saying that a more recent study about to be published fails to find evidence for non-Asian origins. But in spite of oour ability or inability to detect traces of ancient genes in present populations, remains of have been found of ancient Americans that resemble Caucasians. More work is needed!

For your information, here are a few small excerpts from the April '98 Science publication:

Anthropologists have long assumed that the first Americans, who crossed into North America by way of the Bering Strait, were originally of Asian stock. But recently they have been puzzled by surprising features on a handful of ancient American skeletons, including the controversial one known as Kennewick Man — features that resemble those of Europeans rather than Asians (Science, 10 April, p. 190). Now a new genetic study may link Native Americans and people of Europe and the Middle East, offering tantalizing support to a controversial theory that a band of people who originally lived in Europe or Asia Minor were among the continent's first settlers.

The new data, from a genetic marker appropriately called Lineage X, suggest a «definite — if ancient — link between Eurasians and Native Americans,» says Theodore Schurr, a molecular anthropologist from Emory University in Atlanta, who presented the findings earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Salt Lake City....

The team, led by Emory researchers Michael Brown and Douglas Wallace, and including Antonio Torroni from the University of Rome and Hans-Jurgen Bandelt from the University of Hamburg in Germany, was searching for the source population of a puzzling marker known as X. This marker is found at low frequencies throughout modern Native Americans and has also turned up in the remains of ancient Americans. Identified as a unique suite of genetic variations, X is found on the DNA in the cellular organelle called the mitochondrion, which is inherited only from the mother.

Researchers had already identified four common genetic variants, called hapologroups A, B, C, and D, in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of living Native Americans (Science, 4 October 1996, p. 31). These haplogroups turned up in various Asian populations, lending genetic support for the leading theory that Native Americans descended primarily from these peoples. But researchers also found a handful of other less common variants, one of which was later identified as X.

Haplogroup X was different. It was spotted by Torroni in a small number of European populations. So the Emory group set out to explore the marker's source. They analyzed blood samples from Native American, European, and Asian populations and reviewed published studies. «We fully expected to find it in Asia,» like the other four Native American markers, says Brown.

To their surprise, however, haplogroup X was only confirmed in the genes of a smattering of living people in Europe and Asia Minor, including Italians, Finns, and certain Israelis. The team's review of published mtDNA sequences suggests that it may also be in Turks, Bulgarians, and Spaniards. But Brown's search has yet to find haplogroup X in any Asian population. «It's not in Tibet, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, or Northeast Asia,» Schurr told the meeting. «The only time you pick it up is when you move west into Eurasia.»

The article goes on to quote Dr. Brown about the possibility of an ancient migration. He said that there are several theories offered for how this genetic marker was distributed. One likely explanation is that a small band of Caucasians migrated from Europe right across Asia and into North America, leaving no genetic traces in Asia. Of course, I would add that an ancient oceanic voyage also ought to be considered.

Now this doesn't prove the Book of Mormon is true. The haplogroup X which links «certain Israelis» and Europeans with Native Americans may have no relation to the Nephites, the Jaredites, or the Mulekites. But this new study does much to eliminate a common allegation of Book of Mormon critics. They claim that there are no scientific reasons and particularly no genetic evidence to accept the possibility of ancient migrations from the Middle East to the Americas. Based on the latest findings in science, they are wrong.

Please look at my page on the Smithsonian Statement for a discussion of evidence for Transoceanic Contact with the Ancient Americas.

Writing in Reformed Egyptian?

One of the most common attacks against the Book of Mormon focuses on the use of «Reformed Egyptian» as the writing system for the golden plates (Mormon 9:32-34). It is alleged that the no self-respecting Israelite would ever use Egyptian to write sacred scripture, and it is alleged that no such language as «Reformed Egyptian» has ever existed. These arguments are typified in the anti-Mormon book, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mormonism by «Dr.» John Ankerberg and «Dr. Dr.» John Weldon (neither one of which appears to have a legitimate Ph.D.):

«Mormonism has never explained how godly Jews [sic] of A.D. 400 allegedly knew Egyptian, nor why they would have written their sacred records entirely in the language of their pagan, idolatrous enemies» (p. 284). «How likely is it that the allegedly Jewish [sic] Nephites would have used the Egyptian language to write their sacred scriptures? Their strong antipathy to the Egyptians and their culture makes this difficult to accept. When modern Jews copy their scripture, they use Hebrew. They do not use Egyptian or Arabic, the language of their historic enemies» (pp. 294-95). "[N]o such language [as reformed Egyptian] exists and Egyptologists declare this unequivocally" (p. 294).

Apart from the obvious error of thinking the Nephites to be Jewish (they originated from the tribe of Joseph, not Judah), Ankerberg and Weldon are wrong on several counts — grossly wrong, as shown by Daniel C. Peterson in a noteworthy book review in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5, 1993, pp. 43-45. Several modified or «reformed» Egyptian scripts are well known, including forms called Demotic and Hieratic. «Reformed Egyptian» is clearly an appropriate generic term for those writing systems. However, the «Reformed Egyptian» used by the Nephites is described as a language system unique to them (Mormon 9:32-34), having evolved with their culture over a 1,000-year period. It was apparently used for sacred writings, and should have been almost wholly lost with the destruction of Nephite civilization. How can we expect Egyptologists, with typically no training in Central American matters, to know whether such a language ever existed there? Daniel Paterson gives further analysis (Peterson, pp. 44-45):

[W]ho says that the Nephites wrote in Egyptian? That is certainly one possibility, but several scholars (e.g., Sidney Sperry, John Sorenson, and John Tvedtnes) suggest, rather, that the language of the Nephites was Hebrew, written in Egyptian characters. The practice of representing one language in a script commonly associated with another language is very common. Yiddish, for instance, which is basically a form of German, is routinely written in Hebrew characters. Swahili can be written in either Roman or Arabic scripts. Judeo-Arabic, as written for instance by Moses Maimonides, was medieval Hebrew written with Arabic letters. In fact, almost any textbook of colloquial Arabic or Chinese or Japanese aimed at Western learners will use the Latin alphabet to represent those languages. Language and script are essentially independent. Turkish, which used to be written in a modified Arabic script, has been written in Latin letters in the Republic of Turkey since the 1920s. However, in the areas of the old Soviet Union, it is now usually written in Cyrillic (Russian) characters. Likewise, perhaps the major difference between Hindi and Urdu may be the mere fact that the former uses a Devanagari writing system, while the latter uses a modified Arabo-Persian script. So this phenomenon of changing the script with which one writes a language is by no means unusual.

But we need not speak only in theoretical terms. We have, in fact, an ancient illustration that comes remarkably close to the Book of Mormon itself. Papyrus Amherst 63, a text from the second century B.C., seems to offer something very much like «reformed Egyptian.»It is a papyrus scroll that contains Aramaic texts written in a demotic Egyptian script. (Aramaic is a language closely related to Hebrew. Part of the Old Testament book of Daniel is written in Aramaic, and it was the spoken language of Jesus and his apostles. Incidentally, however, a Christian form of the language, Syriac, came to use an alphabet related to Arabic — again illustrating the independence of script and tongue.) Interestingly, one of the items found on Papyrus Amherst 63 is a version of Psalm 20:2-6. Ankerberg and Weldon wonder why «godly Jews [sic]... would have written their sacred records entirely in the language of their pagan, idolatrous enemies.» Perhaps they should ask them some day, for godly Jews most certainly did (see «Language and Script in the Book of Mormon,» Insights: An Ancient Window, March 1992, p. 2).

By the way, Peterson gives a footnote on Ankerberg's claim about Jews exclusively using Hebrew:

The statement «When modern Jews copy their scripture, they use Hebrew. They do not use Egyptian or Arabic, the language of their historic enemies» is quite an astonishing display of ignorance. Since the Egyptian language has been dead for centuries, it is hardly remarkable that modern Jews do not read the Bible in Egyptian. On the other hand, «the first and most important rendering [of the Old Testament] from Hebrew [into Arabic] was made by Sa'adya the Ga'on, a learned Jew who was head of the rabbinic school at Sura in Babylon (died 942)» (George A. Buttrick, ed., The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible [hereafter IDB], 4 vols. and supplement [Nashville: Abingdon, 1962-1976], 4:758b). Thus, Jews have indeed translated the Bible into «Arabic, the language of their historic enemies.» They also have translated it into the language of their «historic enemies» the Greeks (IDB 4:750b on the Septuagint) and Aramaeans (IDB 1:185-93; 4:749-50, on the Aramaic Targums).

More information and relevant examples are given in the article, Jewish and Other Semitic Texts Written in Egyptian Characters" by John A. Tvedtnes and Stephen D. Ricks, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1996, and also the FARMS article Reformed Egyptian by William Hamblin.

Mulek, Son of King Zedekiah?

Chapter 40 of Reexploring the Book of Mormon presents the evidence — from non-LDS sources — that tentatively confirms something that has long been attacked in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon indicates that Mulek was a surviving son of King Zedekiah (after the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem destroyed the royal household). Mulek somehow (boat from the Phoenicians?) made it to the American continent, where his people and others encountered there formed a group called the «Mulekites» which were later absorbed by the Nephites. The survival of a son at first glance contradicts the Biblical account and has long been attacked. But a careful reading does not eliminate the possibility of a surviving child, and now new evidence has been found suggesting that there was a survivor with a name similar to Mulek (MalkiYahu, which could be shortened to a form such as Mulek.)

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