Alma 7:10, Here we go again

Three FARMS scholars, Daniel Peterson, Matthew Roper, and William J. Hamblin (PRH for the remainder of this paper), co-authored a paper entitled “On Alma 7:10 and the Birthplace of Christ.” This paper addresses a common anti-Mormon criticism of the Book of Mormon, that Alma 7:10 incorrectly places Jesus birth in Jerusalem, and not in Bethlehem. That essay is of scholarly caliber, being well researched, well written, and they document their findings through generous footnotes. It can be accessed here: http://mi.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=37

Rocky Hulse of Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, at my invitation, reviewed PRH’s paper. Hulse’s review is very informal, not including any footnotes or demonstrating the scholarly tone that PRH does. Hulse’s review can be accessed here: http://mormonhomeevening.blogspot.com/2010/01/on-alma-710-and-birthplace-of-jesus_01.html

I have reviewed Hulse’s review of PRH. In keeping with Hulse’s original review, the words of PRH are in black, and Hulse’s words are in red. I have placed my words in blue. Also in keeping with Hulse’s review, I have kept my review informal, free of footnotes. But, though it wasn’t a primary goal of mine, I hope that I have kept a more scholarly tone than Hulse did. This review is very long, and the average reader probably will not find it worth reading. Nonetheless, for those interested, my review is found in its entirety here. I include here at the outset the final paragraph of my review:

PRH’s arguments are based on careful study of the text of the Book of Mormon, the text of the Bible, the text of other Ancient Near Eastern documents, and the text of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their arguments are grounded in sound logic and scholarly methods. Hulse’s rebuttal on the other hand specializes in quibbles over word choice and egregious logical fallacies, and is driven by a fundamental need to dismiss LDS evidences, no matter the intellectual cost. Hulse demonstrates an unfortunately typical characteristic of Evangelical anti-Mormons, a lack of academic rigor and an inability to grapple with the sophisticated arguments of LDS scholars. Because of this, Hulse relieves his cognitive dissonance through silly arguments that not only are easily overturned, but come nowhere near addressing the arguments of LDS scholars.

You can find my review in PDF form by clicking on the link below.

Response to Hulse, Alma 7-10

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12 comments on “Alma 7:10, Here we go again

  1. Michael Towns says:

    This old trope again? It’s almost as laughable as the criticism over “adieu”.

  2. James says:

    I couldn’t agree more Michael. I quite certain Rocky’s review of the FARMS essay wasn’t deserving of the time I put into it. But, I did it more for him than for anyone else.

  3. hi says:

    you guys are both gay

  4. James says:

    Dear “hi”,

    Thank you for your astute observation. I’m pleased that you were able to perceive through the tone of the words in my essay that I am indeed a happy person. I appreciate the contribution you have made to our discussion.

    Sincerely,
    James

  5. Nathan Yeung says:

    James,

    Bethlehem is only just 6 miles, or 9.6 kilometres, from the center of Jerusalem. So it’s like someone saying I’m from Seattle when they’re really from White Center, WA. Or someone saying I’m from the bay area. It’s just a reference point that every is familiar with which is near where they live.

    Nate

    • Arthur Adam Haglund says:

      This is often the claim. This claim is based upon the modern world’s view of suburban association. This view is also Western world in thought. Even today, one cannot travel to Israel and get any person to agree with the Mormon view that it was SO CLOSE THAT IT WOULD NORMALLY HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED THERE. This view did not exist and does not, today, exist, in the Holy Land.
      That being said, God, knowing which town is which, knowing their names and knowing how people understand what is said, either misled the BoM readers (presumably due to distance, so it mattered little?) or did not give this information.
      The Suburb theory never has been valid.
      In the Bible, at least two places, God is using his human agents with great descriptive accuracy to pinpoint the birth of Jesus
      Is not the Same God, contacting, supposedly, the same chosen people, going to be MUCH less accurate, because this group is 1/2 a world away?

      Anyway, I rally did not come onnto this thread to debate this

      What I DID come on this thread was to expose Larry (aka Rocky) Hulse and his wife Helen.
      http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/displayRevocation.do?dispatchMethod=searchRevocation&revocationId=418072&ein=753017949&exemptTypeCode=al&isDescending=false&totalResults=39&postDateTo&ein1&state=IA&postDateFrom&country=US&city&searchChoice=revoked&indexOfFirstRow=25&sortColumn=ein&resultsPerPage=25&names=Mormon+Missions+Midwest+Outreach&zipCode&deductibility=all

      They have had their 501c3 revoked for a tad over 2 yrs, but have told no one, even continuing to report themselves AS a 501c3, soliciting donations AS said tax exempt entity and defrauding those who gave, thinking they could deduct it from their taxes (how many innocent cases of tax fraud have they caused many innocent people to commit)

      I have let Deseret News know, so far, no story
      I have let FAIRLDS.ORG know, so far, no story.
      I have contacted the IRS, FBI and TX attorney General’s office exposing this two yrs + fraud and hope that there is a full legal investigation started somewhere
      Please spread the word.
      I am what you would Call ANTI- MORMON, but I am also honest and I do not say that my enemy’s enemy is my friend.
      i propvided the link to prove my words are true about their revocation. I suggest that as many LDS contact FAIRLDS and Deseret news on this as well!

  6. James says:

    Thanks for stopping by Nathan. You might like my other post about Alma 7:10, which is more like a summary of the issues.

    https://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/christ-born-in-jerusalem-or-bethlehem/

  7. Dan Knudsen says:

    One thing that I haven’t noticed anyone saying on this issue is that all the explanations as to why it was said that way don’t really make any difference. This is how the Nephites at that time referred to it, and it makes absolutely no difference how we refer to it–it was their culture at that time, which doesn’t have to agree with how we think and speak in our day and age. Different cultures have different ways of explaining things. The following scripture is related to this way of thinking: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8) Can’t that also apply to different cultures and times in history? Since when does everyone else have to explain things exactly the same way we do? Yes, we may have to think about it for a second or two to understand what it meant, but aren’t we able to think that long?

  8. Stormcrow says:

    Another interesting point to raise is that the Spirit of God really is the key to unlocking and understanding all truth. If Satan, in the presence of God, could rebel against his Father and then deceive*one third* of the host of Heaven into doing likewise, then it seems obvious to me that anyone can be deceived about anything if they choose not to rely on the Lord for understanding.

    I really do agree with the sentiment, “It is sometimes rather difficult to see the point of this hoary old anti-Mormon chestnut.”

  9. “This argument is closer to a “bait
    and switch” used car salesman pitch than an honest assessment of facts.”

    I think this statement demonstrates two things:

    1. Mr. Husle’s failure to actually understand the facts.
    2. I slight failure to clearly communicate on the part PRH (something I notice a lot in LDS apologetics).

    Let me see if I can help. You see, I think we need to remember to state exactly what all the evidence means in the absolute clearest of terms.

    What Mr. Husle is failing to understand is that it doesn’t matter if the text says “at Jerusalem” or “land of Jerusalem”. Since the text just says “at Jerusalem”, without directly specifying whether the the city or the land is intended ( (though I agree that the text of Alma 7:10 more than supports the interpretation of Jerusalem as the land and not as the city), it is relevant to understand that it does not necessarily mean the “city of Jerusalem”. By recognizing that “at Jerusalem” could be in reference the the land, and not the city, we can see that there is nothing incorrect about Alma’s statement, since Bethlehem would be the city, and Jerusalem the land (or state in our modern vernacular). It is not different then me telling you that I was born “at Colorado” although I was more specifically born in Colorado Springs, CO. The fact is, the Nephites did not need the know that specifically where Jesus was born, so Alma told them the state, Jerusalem, rather than the specific city. The verse does not need to say “land of Jerusalem” for it to be correct any more than I would need to say “the state of Colorado”

    That is what Husle fails to come to grips with. Perhaps PRH should have stated it more explicitly. None the less, this is anything but a “bait and switch”. The paper clearly is a fine scholarly effort made to provide better understanding of what is meant by “at Jerusalem” in Alma 7:10

  10. James says:

    This is in response to Arthur Adam Haglund above.

    Arthur, thanks for your information about the Hulse’s status. I’m not sure what to do with the information, and I’m not certain any kind of reporting by the Deseret News or FAIR is necessary. The Hulses are not exactly big leaguers in the world of LDS academic debates. A story about their tax status in the Deseret News would only bring them a bigger audience than they already have, which I’m certain Deseret News is not interested in.

    Regarding your observations about the proximity of Bethlehem to Jerusalem, you seem to have entirely missed the point. Of course someone in the Holy Land would be less likely to consider Bethlehem a part of the Jerusalem area than someone half a world away. That is exactly the point. Someone half a world away, who is less familiar with the geography of the region, is going to lump the surrounding environs (including Bethlehem) under the umbrella term “Jerusalem”. We do it all the time with other cities. I am from a suburb of Houston, but now that I live in another state when someone asks where I’m from I just say “Houston” because I know they won’t be familiar with the suburb I’m from.

  11. Jr says:

    Ancient documents show that people did use terms like “land of” and if there was a large city surrounded by small towns, “at” was used with the name of the larger city and so was “land of”. Why this is an issue is ridiculous.
    The critics have to nitpick and refuse legitimate scholarship because they are anti intellectual. Actually critics are anti anything they do not agree with or understand.

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