03 July 2008

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 15)

This would usually go up on Friday, but I will be busy tomorrow, so you get it a day early. Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!!


Tower To Truth Question:

15. Why does the Book of Mormon state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) when history and the Bible state that he was born outside of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem?


FAIR Answer:

Bethlehem is in the direct area of Jerusalem, being only about seven miles apart. El Amarna letter #287 reports that "a town of the land of Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi [Bethlehem] by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah." The Book of Mormon gets the ancient usage exactly right: the town of Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem," especially from the perpsective of someone writing in the Americas.

To learn more: Book of Mormon anachronisms:Jerusalem vs Bethlehem


My Response:

Again, the sheer lack of supporting evidence and citation (apart from a blurb in one book) is telling. If they had evidence, you think they wouldn't put it out there. They don't, because they can't. So I will.

Over at the link "Book of Mormon anachronisms" they feature this quote from BYU professor Daniel C. Peterson:
To suggest that Joseph Smith knew the precise location of Jesus' baptism by John ("in Bethabara, beyond Jordan" (1 Ne. 10:9) but hadn't a clue about the famous town of Christ's birth is so improbable as to be ludicrous. Do the skeptics seriously mean to suggest that the Book of Mormon's Bible-drenched author (or authors) missed one of the most obvious facts about the most popular story in the Bible — something known to every child and Christmas caroler? Do they intend to say that a clever fraud who could write a book displaying so wide an array of subtly authentic Near Eastern and biblical cultural and literary traits as the Book of Mormon does was nonetheless so stupid as to claim, before a Bible-reading public, that Jesus was born in the city of Jerusalem?


The defense that most Mormons try to give when explaining away this mistake from the "Most correct book of any on earth" contains many holes, some of which are so big you could drive a bus (filled with all of Joseph Smith's wives) through them. Allow me to demonstrate their approach:

I grew up near Syracuse, NY. Syracuse is in Onandoga County. Around Syracuse are many suburbs (Jamesville, Dewitt, Minoa, Mattydale) and several villages (Liverpool, Baldwinsville). Now, say someone from Baldwinsville moved to Texas ("Someone from Baldwinsville moved to Texas." There, I said it for you. Haha.). If someone in Texas asked where they were from, they would answer "I am from Baldwinsville, NY." Then the person would ask, "Well, what is it near?" I would say, "It is near Syracuse." BUT, I would NOT say "It is IN Syracuse." Because Baldwinsville is not IN Syracuse. It is IN Onandoga County.

In the same vein, Bethlehem was not IN Jerusalem, because Jerusalem was NOT a "land." It was a city (albeit the largest city) in a particular land. That land was Judah. Thus, as the TRUE prophet Micah wrote (and Matthew echoed), "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting" (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6). If Jerusalem was the land that contained the town of Bethlehem, then it would read, "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Jerusalem..." But it doesn't. Because Jerusalem only contains Jerusalem.

Must be another one of those darned old "plain and precious truths".......

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