Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Problematic Passages

The 1981 LDS edition of the Book of Mormon in English contains 268,158 words if you count only content from the plates and ignore modern accretions such as chapter summaries. The word count comes from Microsoft Word. See the article "Some Questions and a Rule," Rule of Book of Mormon Interpretation, point #4 for a link to download the word document. Most of these words are easy enough to understand that Aymara saints around Lake Titicaca and Kekchi saints around Lake Izabal draw profound personal meaning from the Nephite text. Some of these words, though, have proven difficult for serious students to interpret. This article lists some phrases bearing on the New World setting of the Book of Mormon whose ambiguous interpretation has created division among readers.

Mosiah 11:12-13 the tower "near the temple" and the tower "on the hill north of the land Shilom" have been interpreted as:
  • the same tower
  • two different towers
Alma 22:27 "running from the east towards the west" has been interpreted as:
  • the river Sidon was running from the east towards the west
  • the narrow strip of wilderness was running from the east towards the west
Alma 22:32 "only the distance of a day and a half''s journey for a Nephite" has been interpreted as:
  • the distance an elite Nephite athlete could cover in 1.5 days' travel
  • 1.5 days' distance according to the Nephite standard unit of measure which we have derived to be about 15 air or straight-line kilometers per day (See the article "Land Southward Travel Times")
Alma 22:32 "from the east to the west sea" has been interpreted as:
  • from the east sea to the west sea
  • from an unspecified point in the east to the west sea
Alma 22:33 "even from the east unto the west sea" has been interpreted as:
  • from the east sea to the west sea
  • from an unspecified point in the east to the west sea
Alma 46:17 "all the land both on the north and on the south" has been interpreted as:
  • all the land northward and the land southward
  • all the continental land of Zarahemla including land Bountiful (see the article "Zarahemla") that divided into northern and southern tiers
Alma 50:32 "the people who were in the land Bountiful or rather Moroni" has been interpreted as:
  • the people who were in the land Bountiful or rather Captain Moroni
  • the people who were in the land Bountiful or rather the land of Moroni
Alma 50:34 "by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea on the west and on the east" has been interpreted as:
  • by the west sea and by the east sea
  • by the west sea which at this point had both a western and an eastern component such as a coastal saltwater lagoon behind a sandbar
Alma 62:24-38 has been interpreted as:
  • occurring within a single 24 hour period which implies all the cities mentioned were very close to each other
  • occurring within a time period of weeks or months as part of Mormon's annual summary for the 31st year of the reign of the judges which begins in verse 12
Helaman 4:7 "from the west sea even unto the east" has been interpreted as:
  • from the west sea to the east sea
  • from the west sea to some unspecified point in the east
Helaman 4:7 "it being a day's journey for a Nephite" has been interpreted as:
  • the distance an elite Nephite athlete could cover in 1 day's travel
  • 1 day's distance according to the Nephite standard unit of measure which we have derived to be about 15 air or straight-line kilometers per day (See the article "Land Southward Travel Times") 
Ether 9:3 "eastward and came to a place which was called Ablom by the seashore" has been interpreted such that:
  • Ablom by the seashore was on the east sea
  • Ablom by the seashore was on an unnamed sea east of the land northward
Ether 14:26 "eastward even to the borders by the seashore" has been interpreted to mean:
  • the east sea
  • an unnamed sea east of the land northward