Mormon Quotes

Loanshifting

Dallin H. Oaks
All of the scores of media stories on [the Salamander letter] apparently assume that the author of that letter used the word 'salamander' in the modern sense of a 'tailed amphibian.' One wonders why so many writers neglected to reveal to their readers that there is another meaning of 'salamander,' which may even have been the primary meaning in this context in the 1820s.... That meaning... is 'a mythical being thought to be able to live in fire... A being that is able to live in fire is a good approximation of the description Joseph Smith gave of the Angel Moroni:... the use of the words white salamander and old spirit seem understandable. In view of all this, and as a matter of intellectual evaluation, why all the excitement in the media, and why the apparent hand‑wringing among those who profess friendship or membership in the Church?
Dallin H. Oaks, Oaks on the "Salamander Letter," which was later discovered to be a forgery
Daniel C. Peterson
Horses in the Book of Mormon would be another. You have relatively few mentions of horses, but there are some, and we don't know exactly how they were used; they don't seem to be all that common. Were they horses as we understood them, [or] does the term describe some other animal? Languages don't always and cultures don't always classify things the way we would expect. We have what we call common‑sense ways of doing it. They're not common sense; they're just ours. But again, we don't have a strong case there. We're just problem solving there.
Daniel C. Peterson, PBS, The Mormons
Michael R. Ash
But if Nephite chariots were not wheeled (and it's possible that they were), why are chariots mentioned in conjunction with Nephite "horses"? First, Nephite chariots (wheeled or not) may have been pulled by deer or tapirs (which may have been included in the Nephite term "horse"). Several ancient Eastern and Near Eastern pieces of art and petroglyphs depict chariots drawn by deer. Early Hindus had chariots pulled by deer. We find deer‑pulling chariots in Asian art. The Greek goddess Artemis supposedly rode a chariot pulled by deer.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Could the Nephites have used the term "horse" for deer or some other animal? It is not impossible considering the above examples. Figurines, for example, of the pack bearing South American alpacas — which is related to the camel — have been unearthed as far north as Costa Rica. An early pre‑Spanish incense burner discovered in Guatemala shows a man riding on the back of a deer. A stone monument dating to 700 A.D. shows a woman riding a deer. Another similar figurine was found in central Mexico, and until recently, many people in Siberia rode on the backs of deer. In such cases the deer served as "horses."
Michael R. Ash, Animals in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
In conclusion on this first issue, if real Israelites had lived anciently in the Americas and had left records in Hebrew about their lives, the tapir would easily—perhaps likely—have been included into the word "horse." If 6th century B.C. Egyptians, or people who wrote with an Egyptian script, had lived in the Americas and had left records, they easily could have included the deer, tapir, and perhaps other animals into their expanded definition of "horse." Both peoples would also likely have referred to Mayan palanquins or travois‑type devices as "chariots."
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Israelites often distinguished animals based on the type of foot and what the animal ate. This generally played a role in determining if an animal was "clean" or "unclean." If we use the Law of Moses as a guide, tapirs and horses are very closely related—and in a significant way. While there is no clear consensus as to what dietary rules were known and/or applied in the land of Israel just prior to Lehi's departure, it is possible that the Nephites were obligated to live—or were at least familiar—with some of the dietary restrictions and may therefore have included tapirs in the horse family. And while they may have categorized the tapir in the same family as the horse, it is possible that they might not have had dietary restrictions on eating animals is this family.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
In my opinion, a more likely candidate for the Nephite loan‑shift "horse" would have been the Central American tapir. Tapirs are one of only a few odd‑toed ungulates—a family that includes the horse, zebra, donkey, onager, and the rhinoceros. These large grazing animals have common traits, including an odd number of toes on each hoof, a large middle toe, and a relatively simple stomach (as compared to other grazing animals like cows who regurgitate their cud for digestion).
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
John L. Sorenson has suggested the latter possibility and has pointed to archaeological specimens showing humans riding on the backs of animal figures, some of which are evidently deer. Also Mayan languages used the term deer for Spanish horses and deer‑rider for horsemen. Indians of Zinacantan, Chiapas, believe that the mythical "Earth Owner," who is supposed to be rich and live inside a mountain, rides on deer. In addition, the Aztec account of the Spanish Conquest used terms like the‑deer‑which‑carried‑men‑upon‑their‑backs, called horses
Michael R. Ash, Reexploring the Book of Mormon, 1992, p. 98
Michael R. Ash
Typically a battle beast statue accompanied the king atop the palanquin. The most common battle beast was the jaguar—which was a symbol of war—but other creatures, monsters, or gods were also associated with the battle beast and war palanquins. Among the ancient Zapotec gods, for instance, was Xolotl—the "lightning beast." Perhaps coincidently, his image was often associated with the setting sun being devoured by the earth (reminiscent of what we find in religious wheel symbolism). He is also associated with war. While most scholars believe that he is symbolized by a dog (and it is typically the dog that we find on the religious wheeled figures), the eminent non‑LDS scholar, Eduard Seler, believes that Xolotl is more closely associated with the tapir.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Non‑LDS archaeologist, Michael Coe, in his book Breaking the Maya Code, claims that in the Mayan Yucatec language the term "tzimin" would classify either a "horse" or a "tapir." Tzimin originally meant "tapir" but was expanded to include the "horse" when the Yucatec speaking natives discovered a need to label the horse. Once again we could ask how the Book of Mormon can be rejected for suggesting the Nephites had done the exact thing we find in the history of Yucatec‑speaking Mayans.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The wheel, then, may have been known to the early Americans, but disappeared from use due to changes in religious beliefs. But, some may ask, how could all traces of the wheel and chariots disappear? Such disappearances are not as unusual as it sounds. According to the Bible, the Philistines in Saul's time had 30,000 chariots (1 Samuel 13:5), yet not a single fragment of a chariot has ever been uncovered in the Holy Land. In the humid Mesoamerican climate, would we really expect the survival of two‑thousand year‑old wooden wheels (the last mention of Nephite chariots dates to about 20 AD)?
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
As already noted, some of the Aztecs called the Spanish horse "deer." Likewise, in the Quiche languages of highland Guatemala we have expressions like keh, which means both deer and horse, and the cognitive keheh, which means mount or ride. Early Native Americans had no problem expanding their definition of "deer" to include horses, so why couldn't the Nephites expand their definition of "horse" to include deer if the American genus of deer—in some ways—acted like horses? An early pre‑Spanish incense burner discovered in Guatemala shows a man riding on the back of a deer, and a stone monument dating to 700 A.D. shows a woman riding a deer. Until recently many people in Siberia rode on the backs of deer. In such cases the deer served as "horses."
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
So while the jaguar is the most common battle‑beast associated with Mayan war palanquins, we see that the warlike god Xolotl is associated with the jaguar, the tapir, the dog (which we find in religious symbolism on wheels), and the devouring of the sun (which is also associated with wheels). The interconnectivity with the battle beasts and palanquins suggest possible (albeit tentative) connections between the Book of Mormon's statements of preparing horses and chariots.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Perhaps deer or tapirs pulled wheelless chariots. We know, for instance, that the American Indian travois (a kind of sled) was pulled, not only by horses, but also by dogs. Maybe King Lamoni used a deer or tapir‑drawn travois to cart his supplies while traveling. The mass Nephite movement to Zarahemla certainly suggests that chariots were used to carry supplies rather than soldiers.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The English word "chariot" comes from Latin carrus, car, and is etymologically related to the verb to carry. The primary definition for chariot seems to be a device to carry some sort of load. We should not automatically assume that the Nephites understood chariots as wheeled war machines. Because no Book of Mormon verse says or suggests that chariots are mounted, dismounted, or that they carried people or were ridden (although this could be inferred from a twenty‑first century view), we cannot say for certain what a Book of Mormon "chariot" means. Native American kings, for example, were often carried into war or to ceremonial events on litters or palanquins. These were sedans carried on the shoulders of other men and certainly fits the Hebrew definition of a "chariot." The Book of Mormon, it must also be noted, never mentions horses "pulling" chariots.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The term "cattle" is used three times in the Book of Mormon (Ether 9:17‑19; Enos 1:21; 3 Nephi 3:22), while the term "cow" is used twice (Ether 9:18; 1 Nephi 18:25). The Jaredite record is unclear as to whether "cattle" and "cows" are the same animals, or if "cows" are a subcategory of "cattle." When the Miami Indians, who were familiar with cows, first encountered the unfamiliar buffalo they simply called them "wild cows." Likewise the explorer DeSoto called the buffalo "vaca" which is Spanish for "cow." The Delaware Indians named the cow, "deer," and a group of Miami Indians labeled sheep, which they were unfamiliar with, "looks‑like‑a‑cow."
Michael R. Ash, Animals in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
While the Lehites would have had a Hebrew word for deer, the question is whether the Nephites had a written reformed Egyptian word for deer. Reformed Egyptian was likely a combination of Hebrew language written in modified‑Egyptian characters. The number of reformed Egyptian characters may have been rather small as evidenced by the limited vocabulary we find in the Book of Mormon. It is possible, like the Book of Mormon terms "river" and "sea," that other reformed Egyptian characters were expanded to describe multiple items. Dr. William Hamblin explains that "deer" were likely extinct in Egypt long before Lehi's day and that there may not have been an Egyptian word for deer at the time of Nephi. But even if an Egyptian word for "deer" was known to the Lehites, this does not mean that such a word was available in the limited vocabulary of reformed Egyptian. In the absence of a reformed Egyptian word for deer Nephi would have chosen some other word that represented a characteristic of deer or a way they interacted with people. The terms for "horse," which had already been expanded in Hebrew to refer to "horseman" (or riders) as well as leaping animals (or even cranes), could easily be expanded to include New World "deer." As noted in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ancient Near Eastern cultures, such as the Hebrews and Arabs, had "looseness of nomenclature" when it came to categorizing animals. The Nephites would have had no problem expanding the definition of "horse" to include New World animals that may have behaved in a similar fashion or were used in a similar way.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Another possibility is that King Lamoni's horses were symbolic battle beasts. Mayan kings brought battle beasts along while traveling on palanquins. In Maya battle imagery, for instance, the king rides into battle on a litter or cloth covered framework between two parallel bars. As Mesoamerican ethnohistory specialist Brant Gardner has written, "the capture of the king's litter is tantamount to the capture of the gods of that king." The animal alter‑ego of a god accompanied the king and conceptually represented the king and litter. "Thus," writers Gardner, "there were three important elements of this complex which went into battle: king, litter, and battle beast. There is also evidence that the litter complex was used in other ceremonial occasions other than war."
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
While some species of tapir are rather small and look like pigs, the Mesoamerican variety—Baird's Tapir—can grow to be nearly six and a half feet in length and can weigh more than six hundred pounds. 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." Tapirs were frequently eaten and, because of their strength, they may have been used as beasts of burden on a small scale. Charles Darwin wrote that tapirs were kept tame in the Americas, though they did not tend to breed in captivity. This fact might explain the relatively infrequent mention of "horses" in the Book of Mormon.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
After defeating the Gadianton Robbers the Nephites returned to their homes—every man with his "flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle" (3 Ne. 6:1). It seems that Book of Mormon horses may have been considered to be something like cattle. As noted above, tapirs were frequently eaten in ancient America.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Of the animals listed in the New World portions of the Book of Mormon, thirteen are physical creatures, whereas the remaining animals are figurative and may have been borrowed from Joseph's vernacular to express common ideas. Two of the thirteen physical creatures are cumoms and cureloms from Jaredite times (for which we have no Nephite or modern translation). Of the eleven remaining physical creatures we find cow, ox, ass, horse, goat, wild goat, dog, sheep, swine, serpents, and elephant.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
According to the Spanish chronicler Sahagun this animal‑god, Xolotl, is described as having a "large snout, large teeth, hoofs like an ox, a thick hide, and reddish hair"—a pretty good description of a tapir. Dr. Seler explains that along with the dog, Xolotl's role of lightning beast is shared by two other creatures in the codices: the tapir, and the jaguar. These animals appear with the hieroglyphs jaguar and kan, meaning corn or yellow. The root xolo, yellow in Zapotec, occurs in both the words for dog and tapir, and according to Seler, it is repeated in Aztec in the name of the god Xolotl.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Normally, our first inclination would be to agree that the term "chariot" suggests wheels. But upon further investigation we must conclude that this interpretation is not mandatory. Turning to the Bible we find that the term "chariot" does not always reflect what we would envision. There are five Hebrew words which translate as "chariot" in the KJV Bible. Some of these Hebrew words have other definitions such as a team, mill‑stone, riders, troop of riders, pair of horseman, men riding, camel‑riders, place to ride, riding seat, seat of a litter, saddle, portable couch, and human‑born sedan chair. The Talmud even uses a version to mean "nuptial bed" and one word used for chariot has an uncertain definition of "amour" or "weapons" and comes from an unused root meaning to be strong or sharp. The Arabic cognate of one of the Hebrew terms for chariot refers not to any kind of wheeled vehicle, but can refer to a ship or a boat. In most instances, the word refers to a device that can move a person or object, but not necessarily a wheeled device.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The Welsh cognate to the English chariot, signifies, among other things, a "dray"—which Webster's defines as "any of several wheelless land vehicles used for haulage," and for which it gives as a synonym nothing less than travois; dray is obviously cognate with the verb to drag—or a "sledge" (which term is, itself, related to words like sleigh and sled—which also plainly denote wheelless vehicles).
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
But didn't the Nephites know real "deer" from their Old World experiences? Possibly. While "deer" are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon—not even in the Old World setting where the Lehites frequently hunted during their travels through the Arabian Peninsula—it seems reasonable to assume that the Lehites were familiar with Old World deer before coming to the New World. Why, then, would the Nephites use the term "horse" for "deer"? Why didn't they simply use the Hebrew word for "deer"? As previously noted, the Hebrew words for "deer" included several non‑deer animals such as "ram," "ibex," and "mountain goat." The Lehites may also have associated the Hebrew term "deer" with "gazelle" or "hartebeest." The Hebrew‑speaking Lehites wouldn't have limited the label "deer" to exclusively one animal, nor would they have limited the Hebrew words for "horse" exclusively to horses.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
"Ox" or "oxen" is mentioned six times in the Book of Mormon (Ether 9:18; 1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 17:25; 2 Nephi 21:7; 2 Nephi 30:13; Mosiah 13:24). Some critics charge that this is an anachronism because, they claim, an "ox" is a castrated bull — something that would be impossible to find in the wild (see 1 Nephi 18:25). Ox, however, also refers to members of the subfamily Bovinae, in the Bovidae family, which includes Asiatic buffaloes, African buffaloes, cattle, and bison. A glance at a good encyclopedia will reveal the listing of other "wild ox" such as the yak, banteng, and the wild North African ox. Some LDS scholars have suggested that the Book of Mormon "ox" may refer to the tapir, camelidae, or perhaps bison.
Michael R. Ash, Animals in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
It's also possible that Nephite "horses"—at least when associated with chariots—were among the provisions that King Lamoni needed during his travels (we know that horses were part of the provisions which the Nephites reserved for themselves when fighting the Gadianton Robbers [3 Nephi 4:4]). Perhaps "preparing" the horses and chariots would be like "preparing the chicken and backpack." To modern ears this doesn't suggest that the chicken will carry the backpack but rather than a chicken meal will be prepared to go in the backpack. If Book of Mormon horses were eaten, they may have been one of the provisions loaded on a "chariot" and carried or dragged by men.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Jeff Lindsay
Could "aluph" also describe a tapir?
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Besides turkeys, other indigenous species of birds in the Americas could be termed "chickens." In fact, in North America, we already use the term chicken for one native bird, the prairie chicken.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
If Mormon wrote a word for "swine" to describe something that we might call a peccary or tapir today, then I believe the translation would give us the word "swine", especially if Joseph had no word in his vocabulary for peccary or tapir.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
The tapir in Mesoamerica is sometimes called a "cow." In fact, the national animal of Belize, Baird's tapir, is known in Belize as the "mountain cow." It is not a cow, of course, and is actually more closely related to the horse. Interestingly, Wikipedia reports that in Lacandon Maya, Baird's tapir is called cash‑i‑tzimin, meaning "jungle horse."
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
At the moment, I think that the single mention of elephants among a very early group of New World people could be accounted for plausibly by surviving mammoths or mastodons, which later became fully extinct.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Contrary to allegations in some anti‑LDS books, the Book of Mormon does not say that the Nephites ate swine (which would have been a violation of the law of Moses), though the earlier Jaredites did (Ether 9:18) ‑ but the Jaredites were not under the law of Moses. Does "swine" necessarily refer to the type of animal we think of today? Perhaps not. Roper (p. 207) notes that "peccaries were well known in Mesoamerica and look very much like domesticated pigs and could easily fit the Book of Mormon designation of swine."
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Was Ammon risking his life to vigorously defend King Lamoni's turkey flocks? Food for thought.Was Ammon risking his life to vigorously defend King Lamoni's turkey flocks? Food for thought.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
But what did Nephi mean by the term "ox"? As mentioned earlier on this page, Hebrew "teo" typically means "wild ox" but has also been applied to a type of gazelle.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
It may be naive to assume that the word "horse" necessarily refers to the species of we know today. The Hebrew word for horse , "sus", has a root meaning of "to leap" and can refer to other animals as well ‑ including the swallow (J. L. Sorenson, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 345). Since deer also leap, it is not impossible that the early Nephites might have described them with a word related to "sus" or even the word "sus" itself. (Sorenson notes also that "ss" in Egyptian means horse, while "shs" is antelope). Could the "horse" of the Book of Mormon be Mesoamerican deer?
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
The term chicken also could easily apply to the native turkeys that Mesoamericans used. Although a turkey is not a chicken, it is not surprising that people encountering turkeys for the first time might use the term "chicken" to describe them. When the Arabs encountered the turkey, they called it an "Indian rooster." In fact, the English word "turkey" is derived from the sixteenth‑century term "turkey‑cock," meaning essentially "turkish rooster." The term originally referred to a fowl from Ottoman Turkish territory in North Africa, but now describes birds native to the Americas.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
But we must not overlook the bison as a candidate for ox, though I don't know if they were in Mesoamerica when Nephi arrived.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
It is important to note that there were many species of animals used by Mesoamericans. Semitic peoples naming these animals might have used words familiar to them to describe the new creatures, much as English speaking peoples used the term "turkey" to describe the famous native American gobbler. For example, Michael D. Coe notes that there were "several breeds of dogs current among the Maya, each with its own name. . . . Both wild and domestic turkeys were known. . . .The larger mammals, such as deer and peccary, were hunted with bow‑and‑arrow in drives (though in Classic times the atlatl‑and‑dart must have been the principal weapon), aided by packs of dogs. Birds like the wild turkey, partridge, wild pigeon, quail, and wild duck were taken with pellets shot from blowguns. A variety of snare and deadfalls are shown in the Madrid Codex, especially a trap for armadillo."
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
The possibility that turkeys were an important part of any references to "flocks" in the Book of Mormon is strengthened by recent discoveries of Mayan remains showing that domesticated turkeys were present much earlier than previously realized.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Elephants are mentioned only once (Ether 9:19) as having been "had" by the ancient Jaredites. This occurrence is at an early point in the history of the Jaredites, probably well before 2500 B.C. based on the chronology proposed by Sorenson in An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Is this an obvious blunder? Mastodons and mammoths, a form of elephants, lived across North America and part of South America. It is widely believed that they went extinct before Jaredite times.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
After reading about the discovery of fossilized bison along with the mammoths recently found in Mexico (Associated Press, Oct. 30, 1996), perhaps one could speculate that bison were treated and named as cattle. If buffalo or bison had been in Joseph Smith's vocabulary in 1829, perhaps a more specific term might have been used in the translation, but "cattle" (perhaps as a generic term) may have been the most accurate translation for whatever word was used in the Nephite language.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
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