Fun with Zelph

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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 article 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:

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.

The / represents later additions or corrections.

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

So

Source: About Central America

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