Other animals in the Book of Mormon

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Other animals in the Book of Mormon


Question: Why is the "Ass" (Donkey) mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

The only clue to the role of the "ass" in Nephite society is a reference those in bondage bearing of their burdens like "a dumb ass"

Brazilian Tapir (wikipedia.com)

The only clue to the role of the "ass" in Nephite society comes from Mosiah 12꞉5

and Mosiah 21꞉3

, in which those in bondage bear burdens like "a dumb ass."

Other mentions occur in 1 Nephi 18꞉25

, Mosiah 5꞉14

and Ether 9꞉19

, while Mosiah 13꞉24

is a quotation of the Ten Commandments.

"Ass" has been suggested as a loanshift for the tapir, which many have described in decidedly horse-like terms. [1][2]

In addition, some modern tapir enthusiasts indicate that tapirs are likely unsuitable for raising in herds (not being herd animals, they tend to fight), but [P]eople in the tapirs' native countries will keep individuals to fatten them up for food, though...some are pretty tame and others can be extremely dangerous...They're big, heavy and strong, have powerful jaws and teeth, and they can move very fast." [3]

A modern government report indicates that

The tapir is docile toward man and hence management of the animal is relatively easy. An indigenous person describes the tapir as follows: "The animal is very sociable. Taken as a pup, one can easily tame it; it knows how to behave near the house; it goes to eat in the mountain and then returns to sleep near the house." [4]

It would seem that at least a limited role for the tapir is not out of the question, either as a food source (tapirs make up between 7-10% of the diet in rural Amazonia)[5] or as a potential beast of burden on a small scale (given their strength). Charles Darwin even noted that tapirs were kept tame in the Americas, though they did not tend to breed in captivity. [6]


Question: Did the Jaredites bring swarms of bees across the ocean in their barges?

The Book of Mormon states that the Jaredites carried swarms of bees with them to the seashore in the Old World

The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Jaredites carried honey bees to the New World. It does state that they carried swarms of honeybees with them to their encampment on the sea shore, where they spent the next four years as they built barges. This is entirely feasible.

There is only one reference to honeybees in the Book of Ether (Ether 2꞉3-4

), and it talks of them being among the provisions that the people of Jared took with them as they traveled to the land of Moriancumer, where they spent the next four years. (Ether 2꞉13

)

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

4 And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.

5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should ago forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.

6 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.

The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Jaredites carried honey bees to the New World

So, the Jaredites definitely carried swarms of bees with them to the place of the "great sea which divideth the lands," where they "dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years." Does this mean that the Jaredites carried the swarms of honey bees to the New World with them? The Book of Mormon does not state this. This does not preclude the possibility that they did.

Michael Ash notes,

Among the supposed Book of Mormon anachronisms is the mention of “bees” (Ether 2꞉3

)...It should be noted firstly that the Book of Mormon's use of the term "bees" occurs in an Old World (Jaredite) setting, it is never used in connection with the New World, therefore the argument could simply end here. Did the Jaredites bring bees to the New World? We may never know. Some studies suggest, however, that bees were known in the ancient New World. Bruce Warren, for instance, notes that there “are many references in the Maya region to honey bees in ancient times, and these references occur in ritual contexts, i.e., are of native or pre-Spanish origin." Other New World scholars have observed that “not only was the domesticated bee in ancient America but that there were gods of bees and beekeepers . . . Honey was considered a real treat for the Indians. Equally important was black wax taken from the hives which was often traded for other commodities." [7]


Padilla et al.: "The maya codex Tro-Cortesianus shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs"

Padilla et al:

In America some stingless bees were kept by the native population. The maya codex Tro-Cortesianus shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs. Maya beekeepers worked in Yucatan and adjacent regions with the specie Mellipona beecheii, using horizontal logs with end enclosures of clay or stone. With the arrival of spanish colonizers the indians of Yucatan were obliged to pay tributes which consisted mainly of clothing (mostly blankets) and food, although they also allowed payment in wax and honey. [8]


Miller and Roper: "Bones of domesticated cattle...have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [9]

Bones of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus – see Figure 2) have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.[10] In one instance these bones were found with those of an extinct horse, Equus conversidens. It is especially interesting that along with these cow and horse remains, human artifacts were found in association with them! The indication is that domesticated cattle and the horse coexisted with humans in pre-Columbian time. [11]

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Miller and Roper: "there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [12]

Sheep were probably among the animals brought to America by the Jaredites, although they were not stated explicitly by name (Ether 6:4). They most likely are to be included in the term “flocks,” and are mentioned by name in Ether ( 9:18) several generations later. Sheep have been useful to man for many centuries and were probably man’s first domesticated animal [13] (along with the dog). They are useful for both food and clothing. In addition to Old World sheep, apparently brought to the New World by the Jaredites, there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis. Their current geographic range extends south only to northern Mexico. However, their past range was more extensive, as was their habitat before human settlements expanded. [14] They are an animal that can be tamed or at least semi-domesticated. According to Geist , “It is hard to imagine a wild animal more readily tamed than mountain sheep.” [15] Sorenson noted the apparent recovery of sheep wool from a pre-Columbian burial site near Puebla (southeast of Mexico City). [16] Petroglyphs from Mexico and the southwestern United States show many prehistoric depictions of sheep. It appears certain that the association of sheep and man occurred in America before this animal was brought over beginning in 1493 with Columbus’ second voyage.


Miller and Roper: "Evidence of goats associated with pre-Columbian man also comes from caves in Yucatan"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [17]

Goats are mentioned among the animals once had by the Jaredites (Ether 9:18). Later, after their arrival in the land of promise Lehi’s family encountered “the goat and the wild goat” as they traveled in the wilderness in the land southward (1 Nephi 18:25). Sometime after the death of his father Jacob, Enos wrote that the Nephites raised “flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats” (Enos 1:21). During Alma and Amulek’s miraculous escape from the prison in Ammonihah, their terrified persecutors are said to have fled “even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions” (Alma 14:29). There is no indication in the text that the Lehites brought goats with them to the land of promise; however, it is possible that they may have been included among those flocks and herds brought by the Jaredites in their journey over the sea (Ether 6:4). If so, it is possible that some of those encountered later by Lehi’s people were descendants of those had by the Jaredites. They would have been a useful animal to both the Jaredites and Nephites, just as they have been for man through the ages in the Old World. Evidence of goats associated with pre-Columbian man also comes from caves in Yucatan. [18] It was not made clear whether this was a wild or a domesticated type of goat.


Sorenson: Linen and silk textiles in ancient America

John L. Sorenson:[19]

Linen and silk are textiles mentioned in the Book of Mormon (Alma 4:6). Neither fabric as we now know them was found in Mesoamerica at the coming of the Spaniards. The problem might be no more than linguistic. The redoubtable Bernal Diaz, who served with Cortez in the initial wave of conquest, described native Mexican garments made of "henequen which is like linen." [20] The fiber of the maguey plant, from which henequen was manufactured, closely resembles the flax fiber used to make European linen. Several kinds of "silk," too, were reported by the conquerors. One kind was of thread spun from the fine hair on the bellies of rabbits. Padre Motolinia also reported the presence of a wild silkworm, although he thought the Indians did not make use of the cocoons. But other reports indicate that wild silk was spun and woven in certain areas of Mesoamerica. Another type came from the pod of the ceiba tree. [21] We may never discover actual remains of these fabrics, but at least the use of the words in the Book of Mormon now seems to offer no problem.


Armitage: "It is suggested by de Ávila Blomberg that wild silk was used in Oaxaca in pre-Columbian times"

The theory that "wild silk" was used anciently in Oaxaca, near the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica, "has been greatly debated."

Wild silk was produced by the Gloveria paidii, a moth, and the Eucheira socialis, a butterfly, found in the Oaxaca area (de Ávila Blomberg, 1997). It is suggested by de Ávila Blomberg that wild silk was used in Oaxaca in pre-Columbian times, a theory that has been greatly debated. However, in a 1777 document, an excavation of a pre-Columbian burial site is described as containing wild silk.[22]

Oaxaca.jpg


Question: Why would the Book of Mormon mention swine if they were living the Law of Moses?

"Swine" and "sow" are mentioned in the Nephite portion of the Book of Mormon with a tone of disgust (3 Nephi 7:8; 14:6). That's what we would expect among people who even nominally followed the constraints of the law of Moses on eating pork. But the non-Israelite Jaredites reveal no sensitivity about using "swine" as food (Ether 9:18). The peccary or wild pig was abundantly present throughout most of Mesoamerica, being valued both for its flesh and because it kills snakes in the wild.[23]


Miller and Roper: "two distinct species of peccary live in Mesoamerica....They were hunted and eaten as early as Olmec times"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [24]

Presently two distinct species of peccary live in Mesoamerica. These include the Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu) and the White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari), both of which can be found in the tropical regions near the Tuxtlas Mountains of the Yucatan. [25] The Jaredites as they presumably established settlements in Mesoamerica no doubt would have encountered them. They were hunted and eaten as early as Olmec times. Remains of these animals have been found associated with man for several thousands of years. There is a paleo-Indian carving of an extinct camel sacrum in the shape of a peccary. A Picture of this bone is shown by Evans. [26] The bone of this extinct camel came from deposits in central Mexico, and shows ancient interaction between this extinct animal and Pre-columbian natives. Remains of Pre-Columbian peccary have been found finds in Loltún Cave in the Yucatan [27] and in several other caves in the region associated with human artifacts. [28] There is no question that peccaries (“wild pigs”) and man shared this area since prehistoric times.

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Question: Is the mention of "cureloms" and "cumons" a Book of Mormon anachronism?

These names are untranslated Jaredite terms

These names are untranslated Jaredite terms. A variety of potential animals have been suggested, such as llamas, alpacas, mastodons, or other Pleistocene mammals.

Without more information, one cannot count this as a strike against the Book of Mormon

Interestingly, were he fabricating the Book of Mormon, this was an opportunity for Joseph Smith to let his imagination run wild, and yet no descriptions of these strange beasts (which he goes to the trouble to name, in the forgery model of Book of Mormon production) are provided.[29]


Question: Does the Book of Mormon accurately represent the behavior of serpents during a drought?

In the Book of Mormon, the Book of Ether contains an account of a drought accompanied by a sudden increase in 'poisonous serpents'

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #243: Why Did Snakes Infest Jaredite Lands During A Famine? (Video)

30 And it came to pass that there began to be a great dearth upon the land, and the inhabitants began to be destroyed exceedingly fast because of the dearth, for there was no rain upon the face of the earth.
31 And there came forth poisonous serpents also upon the face of the land, and did poison many people. And it came to pass that their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, towards the land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla.
32 And it came to pass that there were many of them which did perish by the way; nevertheless, there were some which fled into the land southward.
33 And it came to pass that the Lord did cause the serpents that they should pursue them no more, but that they should hedge up the way that the people could not pass, that whoso should attempt to pass might fall by the poisonous serpents.(Ether 9:30–33).

A subtle point, the behavior of snakes in drought, is plausibly reproduced in the Book of Mormon

Some claim that this is biologically implausible. However, a subtle point, the behavior of snakes in drought, is plausibly reproduced in the Book of Mormon.

All snakes are predators.

Snakes often feed upon mice, rats, and other rodents. Their prey, in turn, tends to feed on plant material, such as grain. In the event of a famine, rodents will seek out food elsewhere. Human farms or settlements will contain large amounts of stored grain in a small area, which will naturally attract rodents. Snakes will inevitably follow. (This has been noted in real-life Israel following the abandonment of many farms following the 1967 war. Rodents, and the serpents that preyed on them, migrated to the few remaining farms, greatly increasing the number of snake-human contacts.[30]

Some snakes also require drinking water (rather than obtaining all hydration through predation), and modern biologists have noted that during a drought (when snakes' usual watering places have tried up) they will tend to seek new sources, which are often in human-settled areas. Dan Tredinnick, press secretary to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, noted an increase in human-snake contacts during Pennsylvania's dry summer, and said:

The combination of heat and little rainfall is probably the cause...If people are seeing snakes and other reptiles that (lack of water) is very likely the reason...Just like us, they need water...Areas where they might traditionally slake their thirst may have dried up, he said, leaving the snakes no other choice but to go looking for new watering holes...They will go and seek other areas and the type of habitat they need....[31]

Furthermore, as prey animals became scarce due to drought, snakes would become more hungry and potentially more aggressive, which would also increase the number of human-snake encounters.

The disappearance of the snakes reported in Ether 10:33 may have been due solely to divine intervention, but an end of drought conditions would also result in snakes dispersing more widely as their prey was able to do so, thus decreasing the risk to the human population.


Question: Are lions anachronistic to the Book of Mormon?

Several options exist for this

Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that the lion is anachronistic to it. Lions are mentioned throughout the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 15:28, 29; 21: 6, 7; 30: 12, 13; Mosiah 20: 10; Alma 14: 29; 3 Nephi 20:16; 21:12; and Mormon 5:24. The passages from 2 Nephi are quoting Isaiah. The rest of the passages aren’t necessarily affirming the existence of a lion but are rather using lion as a simile for behavior that each writer is witnessing. Thus, we need a lion OR we simply need a lion-like animal. The Lion actually presented a similar challenge to the Bible until the late 20th and early 21st century. Michael Ash has written:

Similarly, despite the many references of lions in Israel as noted in the Bible and in a number of ancient and relatively modern texts (up to the sixteenth century A.D.), the absence of lion’s bones perplexed Bible scholars.Such texts mention lions over a thousand years after the Book of Mormon mentions the “horse” yet until just a few years ago, there had never been a single discovery of lion bones in the land of Israel.[32]

Thus we have the presence of Lions in ancient Israel and thus a base for which the Nephite culture established their oft-repeated comparison.

Now we could end our response here. It is possible that the Nephites simply retained the comparisons within the culture through orally transmitted myth. But it may perhaps be necessary to have either a lion or a lion-like animal (the latter more likely) to ground the 13 comparisons to the Lion.

John L. Sorenson as written:

If we look for a moment at the wild animals pictured in the Book of Mormon, a further plausible picture emerges. They “fought like lions for their prey” (Mosiah 20:10) could obviously refer to the jaguar, the most feared animal in tropical America. Other possible “lions” in that area include the cougar, ocelot, jaguarundi, and margay.[33]

The Spanish spoke of jaguars as lions upon their arrival in the New World in the 16th century [34].

Thus this doesn’t present an insurmountable hurdle for the Book of Mormon.


Question: Are moths anachronistic to the Book of Mormon?

Certain types of moths besides the commonly assumed gypsy moth are not anachronistic to the Book of Mormon

The Savior speaking to the Nephites at the temple repeats the famous line from the Sermon on the Mount about the moth and rust not corrupting treasures that are laid in heaven.

If he were to repeat this line and the Nephites understand it, it would be important to have a moth or a moth-like insect to refer to so that they analogy made sense to the Nephites. Some claim that the moth is anachronistic to Book of Mormon times. There is evidence to support multiple views, including a potential loan-shift. There are several species of moths besides the gypsy moth that could be potential candidates. Moths are and were used anciently in Mayan religion[35] Additionally, the bat was often used as a loanshift for the moth and butterfly. Thus, this doesn’t present any huge problems for the Book of Mormon.


Question: Are hens anachronistic to the Book of Mormon?

There is evidence for chickens and hens in Book of Mormon times. Though it remains tenuous.

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #200: Why Did Jesus Christ Compare Himself to a Hen? (Video)

The Savior speaking to the Nephites at the temple repeats the famous line from the Sermon on the Mount about a hen covering her chickens. Some have claimed that hens and chickens are anachronistic to Book of Mormon times. There is evidence to support mulitple views, including a potential loan-shift.

Book of Mormon Central has written:

Jane Allis-Pike explained, “For a metaphor to be meaningful, the reader must have a familiarity with the objects used for comparison.”[36]For people living in ancient America, chicken might have referred to an actual chicken,[37] or it could have been a loan-shift term for a fowl with similar features in the New World.[38] Turkeys, for example, were prevalent in ancient America,[39] took special care to protect their young,[40] and played a significant role in religious thought.[41] Whatever species of fowl was represented here by the words hen and chickens,[42] audiences generally are familiar with the natural behavior of hens and their young.[43]



Question: Did the Jaredites bring swarms of bees across the ocean in their barges?

The Book of Mormon states that the Jaredites carried swarms of bees with them to the seashore in the Old World

The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Jaredites carried honey bees to the New World. It does state that they carried swarms of honeybees with them to their encampment on the sea shore, where they spent the next four years as they built barges. This is entirely feasible.

There is only one reference to honeybees in the Book of Ether (Ether 2꞉3-4

), and it talks of them being among the provisions that the people of Jared took with them as they traveled to the land of Moriancumer, where they spent the next four years. (Ether 2꞉13

)

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

4 And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.

5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should ago forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.

6 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.

The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Jaredites carried honey bees to the New World

So, the Jaredites definitely carried swarms of bees with them to the place of the "great sea which divideth the lands," where they "dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years." Does this mean that the Jaredites carried the swarms of honey bees to the New World with them? The Book of Mormon does not state this. This does not preclude the possibility that they did.

Michael Ash notes,

Among the supposed Book of Mormon anachronisms is the mention of “bees” (Ether 2꞉3

)...It should be noted firstly that the Book of Mormon's use of the term "bees" occurs in an Old World (Jaredite) setting, it is never used in connection with the New World, therefore the argument could simply end here. Did the Jaredites bring bees to the New World? We may never know. Some studies suggest, however, that bees were known in the ancient New World. Bruce Warren, for instance, notes that there “are many references in the Maya region to honey bees in ancient times, and these references occur in ritual contexts, i.e., are of native or pre-Spanish origin." Other New World scholars have observed that “not only was the domesticated bee in ancient America but that there were gods of bees and beekeepers . . . Honey was considered a real treat for the Indians. Equally important was black wax taken from the hives which was often traded for other commodities." [44]


Padilla et al.: "The maya codex Tro-Cortesianus shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs"

Padilla et al:

In America some stingless bees were kept by the native population. The maya codex Tro-Cortesianus shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs. Maya beekeepers worked in Yucatan and adjacent regions with the specie Mellipona beecheii, using horizontal logs with end enclosures of clay or stone. With the arrival of spanish colonizers the indians of Yucatan were obliged to pay tributes which consisted mainly of clothing (mostly blankets) and food, although they also allowed payment in wax and honey. [45]


Question: Is it possible that Joseph Smith simply added the Book of Ether to the Book of Mormon as an "afterthought" in order to explain the variety of animals in the New World?

The story of the destroyed civilization to the north was an integral part of the Book of Mormon narrative from the beginning

It is claimed that the story of the Jaredites, as described in the Book of Ether, was added by Joseph Smith as an "afterthought" in order to account for the variety of animals present in the New World at the time of arrival of Lehi's group.

The story of the destroyed civilization to the north was an integral part of the Book of Mormon narrative, and can be seen to have been incorporated by Mormon into his abridgment from the beginning. It was Moroni who decided to transcribe and add a short abridgment of what was contained on the twenty-four plates in order to supplement the record that his father, Mormon, had already produced. The story of the Jaredites was clearly used in the Book of Mormon as an example for the Nephites of a people who were destroyed for their wickedness. The idea that Joseph Smith casually "dictated a terse history" during the "last weeks of writing" in order to tie up some loose ends involving animals is a gross oversimplification of the story of the Jaredites and its relation to the greater Book of Mormon narrative.

The critical claim

Critics suggest that the Book of Ether was simply an "afterthought" added by Joseph Smith to the Book of Mormon in order to explain the presence of a wide variety of animals in the New World at the time of the arrival of Lehi's party. The verses used by critics to support this assertion are Ether 2:1-3:

1 And it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind.

2 And they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air; and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters.

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind. (Ether 2꞉1-3

)

Critic Fawn Brodie postulated in her biography of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History, that "[t]his little detail regarding cargo, flung casually into the story, partly settled the question of how animals had come to America, a problem men had puzzled over for three centuries." [46]:71

The verses in Ether are sufficiently vague that it is really not possible to pin down exactly which animals the Jaredites brought with them to the New World

Hugh Nibley offered his opinion on Brodie's assertion:

Again, the barges of the Jaredites "contained everything which the settlers might need on the new continent," like any Chinese junk, Viking ship, or the Mayflower itself; in fact, ships have a way of carrying with them whatever the personnel will need. Brodie, however, knows that the whole thing is a dishonest adaptation of Noah's ark. [47]

The verses in Ether are sufficiently vague that it is really not possible to pin down exactly which animals the Jaredites brought with them to the New World. Brodie goes on to claim that "Joseph did not trouble to explain the presence of wild animals in America, and he was careless in his choice of domestic beasts. He had the Jaredites bring horses, swine, sheep, cattle, and asses..."[46]:72 Brodie is referring to the belief that the animals mentioned were not present in the pre-Columbian New World, which is addressed in a separate article: Book of Mormon anachronisms. The issue that we address here, however, is whether or not it is valid to claim that the story of the Jaredites was added simply to explain the presence of animals in the New World.

The Book of Mormon does not say that the Jaredites brought horses, swine, sheep, cattle and asses with them

In Ether 9:19 we find,

And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.Ether 9꞉19


Contrary to Brodie's claim, the Book of Mormon does not say that the Jaredites brought horses, swine, sheep, cattle and asses with them. Some of these domestic animals no doubt were brought with them, however the book only specifies that they brought "their flocks," without indentifying specifically what the "flocks" were comprised of. For example, it is not specified whether the Jaredites brought horses with them or whether the horses mentioned in Ether 9:19 were already present in the New World. More to the point, one would not reasonably expect the Jaredites to have brought elephants with them on their boats.

The Book of Ether is integrated with the complete Book of Mormon narrative

Brodie claims that at some point during the process of producing the Book of Mormon, that Joseph felt the need to add the story of the Jaredites in order to clean up some unanswered questions. The question is: Is this a reasonable assumption? This raises two questions:

  1. How intricately are elements from the Book of Ether woven into the rest of the Book of Mormon narrative?
  2. Does the order in which the books were translated have any bearing on this?

The first indication of the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon occurs in Mosiah 8꞉8-9

8 And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel.

9 And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.

The Jaredites are again alluded to in Alma 37꞉21


And now, I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates, that ye keep them, that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works, or the secret works of those people who have been destroyed, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, all their murders, and robbings, and their plunderings, and all their wickedness and abominations, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, and that ye preserve these interpreters.

If the books in the Book of Mormon were translated in a linear fashion, as indicated by witnesses, then the claim that the Book of Ether was added as an afterthought becomes difficult to explain. The Book of Ether wasn't something that could simply be appended to the end of the record to tie up some loose ends. Even if one takes the position that the translation continued onward from the book of Mosiah after the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript and then finished with the books of Nephi through the Words of Mormon, the first reference to the Jaredites still occurs in the early part of the translation timeline.

There are other indications of integration between the two narratives as well. For example, the name "Moroni" appears to be related to the name of the Jaredite city "Moron." The name "Moroni" appears many time in the Book of Mormon, beginning in the book of Alma. The name "Moron" only appears in the Book of Ether. It is, of course, possible to assume that Joseph simply created a Jaredite city name based upon the name of one of his earlier characters, but this then assumes, if one take's Brodie's perspective, that Joseph was trying to use the Book of Ether to "explain" an item in Alma that didn't really require an explanation. It is more reasonable to assume that traces of Jaredite influence survived to be integrated into Nephite culture. If one subscribes to the theory that the Nephites and Lamanites are related to the Maya and Olmec, this fits well with the known influence of Olmec culture on that of the Maya.


Notes

  1. "Horses in the Book of Mormon" (Provo: Utah, FARMS, 2000).off-site
  2. See, for example, the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 edition for horse.
  3. Sheryl Todd, "The Tapir Gallery, the Tapir Preservation Fund," Tapir Gallery archive (7 May 1997, 14:03:06 -6h00), (last accessed 22 October 2005) off-site
  4. Joseph Henry Vogel, "White paper: The Successful Use of Economic Instruments to Foster Sustainable Use of Biodiversity: Six Case Studies from Latin America and the Caribbean," Biopolicy Journal, Vol. 2, Paper 5 (PY97005), 1997.off-site
  5. OAS.org off-site (last accessed 22 October 2005).
  6. Charles Darwin, The Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication, Vol. 2, (1868), 86.off-site
  7. Mike Ash, mormonfortress.com
  8. Padilla, F., F. Puerta, J.M. Flores and M. Bustos, "Abejas, Apicultura y el Nuevo Mundo" (Bees, Apiculture and the New World)," Archivos de zootecnia, vol. 41, núm. 154 (extra), p. 565 (Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad de Córdoba. 14005 Córdoba. España.)
  9. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  10. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953), 1-42.
  11. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Oscar Polaco, “Caves and the Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology of Mexico.” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 273-291.
  12. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  13. C. Radulesco and P. Samson, Sur un centre de domestication du mouton dans le Mesolithique de grotte “La Adam, en Dobrogea,” Tierzüchlung und Züchtungsbiologic 76 (1962), 282-320.
  14. E. Raymond Hall and Keith R. Kelson, The Mammals of North America,” (New York, Ronald Press, 1959).1
  15. Valerius Geist, “Mountain Sheep: A Study in Behavior and Evolution,” (Chicago and London: University of Chicago press, 1971), 41.
  16. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1985), 296-97.
  17. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  18. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953),29.
  19. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 232. See also Sorenson, "Silk and Linen in the Book of Mormon," Ensign (April 1992): 62.
  20. A.P. Maudslay, trans. and ed. Bernal Diaz del Castillo: The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, 1517-1521 (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1956), 24. (Note: Sorenson p. 232 note 52 corresponds to endnote 52, p. 382).
  21. I.W. Johnson, "Basketry and Textiles," HMAI 10, part 1 (1971), 312. Matthew Wallrath in Excavations in the Tehuantepec Region, Mexico, American Philosophical Society Transactions, n.s. 57, part 2 (1967): 12, notes that wild silk was collected and spun in the isthmus area, and that the cloth had very high value. Clavigero also reported that fiber of the ceiba tree's pod was woven by Mexican Indians into fabric "as soft and delicate, and perhaps more so, than silk." C. Cullen, ed., The History of Mexico, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1817), 41. (Note: Sorenson p. 232 note 54 corresponds to endnote 53, p. 382)
  22. Careyn Patricia Armitage, "Silk production and its impact on families and communities in Oaxaca, Mexico," Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Iowa State University (2008) off-site References de Ávila Blomberg, A. (1997). Threads of diversity: Oaxacan textiles in context. In K. Klein (Ed.) The unbroken thread: Conserving the textile traditions of Oaxaca (pp.87-151). Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute.
  23. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 290.
  24. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  25. A. Starker Leopold, “Wildlife of Mexico: The Game Birds and Mammals,” (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1959), 493-500.
  26. S. T. Evans, “Ancient Mexico & Central America: Archaeology and Culture History,” (London, Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2004).
  27. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Ticul Alverez, “A preliminary report of the late Quaternary mammal fauna from Loltún Cave, Yucatán, México,” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 266.
  28. Robert T. Hatt, Faunal and Archaeological Researches in Yucatan Caves (1953), 1-42.
  29. For a discussion, see John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 298.
  30. See John A. Tvedtnes, "Drought and Serpents," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 6/1 (1997). [70–72] link
  31. See Eric Mayes, "Heat and drought bringing snakes out of their dens," The Daily Item (18 August 2005), accessed 9 September 2006. off-site See also Don Ayotte, "More snakes slithering into Lake Havasu City area," Havasu News-Herald (31 August 2006), accessed 9 September 2006. off-site
  32. Michael Ash, “Book of Mormon Anachronisms Part 1: Fauna, Animals” FairMormon, 2003. <https://www.fairmormon.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Anachronisms1.pdf> (accessed 28 August 2019) Ash cites John A. Tvedtnes (1994), Review of Books on the Book of Mormon v6:1 (Provo: FARMS), 29-30; Benjamin Urrutia, “Lack of Animal Remains at Bible and Book-of-Mormon Sites,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, No. 150, Aug. 1982, 3-4
  33. John L. Sorenson, “Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book” (Provo and Salt Lake: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and Deseret Book, 2013) 320.
  34. Fray Diego Durán, "The History of the Indies of New Spain" (Oklahoma City: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994) 207. See esp. footnote 6. A similar pattern is followed in Bernal Diaz, "The Conquest of Spain" (London: Penguin Books, 1964).
  35. Alfred Marston Tozzer, Ernst Wilhelm Förstemann, Paul Schellhas, Glover Morrill Allen, “Representation of Deities of the Maya Manuscripts, Commentary on the Maya Manuscript in the Royal Public Library of Dresden (Dresden Codex), (and) Animal Figures in the Maya Codices” (Charleston: Nabu Press, 2011) 378; Karen Bass Sweet, ed., “The Ch'ol Maya of Chiapas” (Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press, 2015) off-site
  36. Jane Allis-Pike, “‘How Oft Would I Have Gathered You as a Hen Gathereth Her Chickens’: The Power of the Hen Metaphor in 3 Nephi 10: 4–7,” Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, eds. Andrew C. Skinner and Gaye Strathearn (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2012), 59.
  37. Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007), 5:322: the “common assumption is that chickens were a post-conquest introduction into the Americas.” However, there is currently not a consensus concerning the timing and details of the chicken’s introduction to the Americas (see p. 322). See George F. Carter, “Pre-Columbian Chickens in America,” Man Across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts, eds. Carroll L. Riley, J. Charles Kelley, Campbell W. Pennington, and Robert L. Rands (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1971), 178–218; George F. Carter, “Before Columbus,” The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, eds. Paul R. Cheesman, S. Kent Brown, and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1988), 172–176; Alice A. Storey, et al., “Radiocarbon and DNA Evidence for a Pre-Columbian Introduction of Polynesian Chickens to Chile,” PNAS 104, no. 25 (2007): 10335–10339. For further references, see Allis-Pike, “How Oft Would I Have Gathered You,” 60 n. 6.
  38. Allis-Pike, “How Oft Would I Have Gathered You,” 60: “many ground-feeding birds—quail, chickens, pheasants, turkeys—gather their offspring under their wings, and since the Book of Mormon is a translated work, the words hen and chicken may simply be the English signifiers of a bird that did exist among the Lehites. Regardless of the actual bird the New World survivors knew, we can assume they would have been familiar with a bird that gathered its offspring under its wings.” For a more thorough explanation of loan-shifting and translation, see Book of Mormon Central, “Why Are Horses Mentioned in the Book of Mormon? (Enos 1:21),” KnoWhy 75 (April 11, 2016). For a specific example of “turkey” as a loan-shifted term for “chicken,” see Allen J. Christenson, Popol Vuh: Sacred Book of the Quiché Maya People: Translation and Commentary (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007), 87: “In modern Quiché usage, ak' refers to chickens, which were introduced by the Spaniards soon after the Conquest. The Precolumbian ak' was the domesticated turkey (Meleagris ocellata). Colonial period dictionaries often refer to the turkey as kitzih ak' (true ak') to distinguish it from the chicken introduced from Europe.”
  39. See Erin Kennedy Thorton, Kitty F. Emery, Devid W. Steadman, Camilla Speller, Ray Matheny, and Dongya Yang, “Earliest Mexican Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in the Maya Region: Implications for Pre-Hispanic Animal Trade and the Timing of Turkey Domestication,” PLoS ONE 7, no. 8 (2012): e42630; Benjamin S. Arbuckle and Sue Ann McCarty, “Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World: An Introduction,” Animals and Inequality in the Ancient World, eds. Benjamin S. Arbuckle and Sue Ann McCarty (Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2014), 33; Erin Kennedy Thorton, “Zooarchaeological and Isotopic Perspectives on Ancient Maya Economy and Exchange,” FAMSI, 2008, 4, online at famsi.org.
  40. See “Wild Turkey Parenting,” eMammal, September 6, 2013, online at emammal.wordpress.com; Karen Davis, “A Mother Turkey and Her Young: ‘Their Kind and Careful Parent,’” Poultry Press 17, no. 3 (2007): 2: “During the first few weeks of life, young turkeys sleep on the ground under their mother’s wings. After a month or so, they leave the ground and fly at night to a large low branch, where they ‘place themselves under the deeply curved wings of their kind and careful parent, dividing themselves for that purpose into two nearly equal parties.’”
  41. See Ana Luisa Izquierdo y de la Cueva and María Elena Vega Villalobos, “The Ocellated Turkey in Maya Thought,” PARI Journal 16, no. 4 (2016): 15–23.
  42. The English word hen, like the Greek word ornis in Matthew 23:37, can be used to mean many kinds of female birds, including female turkeys, quail, or pheasants. While the word chickens here could well point to the young chicks of regular chickens, the Greek word used in Matthew 23:37 for chickens is nossia, which can mean the young offspring of birds generally. In Psalms 84:3 it refers to the chicks of a sparrow, and in Leviticus 12:8; 14:22; and Luke 2:24 it is used in the expression “two young doves.”
  43. From linked KnoWhy. Citations retained for easy reference.
  44. Mike Ash, mormonfortress.com
  45. Padilla, F., F. Puerta, J.M. Flores and M. Bustos, "Abejas, Apicultura y el Nuevo Mundo" (Bees, Apiculture and the New World)," Archivos de zootecnia, vol. 41, núm. 154 (extra), p. 565 (Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad de Córdoba. 14005 Córdoba. España.)
  46. 46.0 46.1 Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (New York: Knopf, 1971)
  47. Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by David J. Whittaker, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991),3–52. ISBN 0875795161. GL direct link