During Joseph Smith's lifetime, Alma was known as a feminine name only, however it's used as a masculine name in the Book of Mormon. After Joseph Smith's death, one of the Bar Kokhba documents discovered in the Judean desert used the name Alma as a masculine name. Joseph Smith couldn't possibly have known that decades after his death a document would be discovered proving that Alma was used as a masculine name in ancient Judea. Does the fact that the Book of Mormon uses Alma as a masculine name prove that it's true?
The masculine name Alma first appears in the Book of Mormon chronology about 170 BC, but doesn't appear in Judea until about 150 AD. According to the Book of Mormon, the ancestors of the Native Americans left Jerusalem around 600 BC and had no contact with the outside world until Columbus. Is it possible that the name Alma goes back to 600 BC even though there's no evidence that it was used as a masculine name until seven hundred years later?
It's possible. However it's also possible that Joseph Smith mistakenly thought that Alma was a masculine name even though it was known to be only a feminine name during his lifetime.
Another thing to consider is that the Book of Mormon is written in English while the Bar Kokhba letters are written in Hebrew. The two languages use completely different alphabets, so an exact translation is impossible. "Alma" may indeed be the best English language translation for the Hebrew name that appears in the Bar Kokhba letter, but it's not the only way it can be translated.
We also need to consider the possibility that Joseph Smith simply got lucky. There are 337 proper names in the Book of Mormon. 149 of these are found in the Bible, leaving 188 names unique to the Book of Mormon. Of these 188 names, only one of them, Alma, has turned out to be an ancient Hebrew name. The remaining 187 names, although some sound vaguely Hebrew, are not known to be ancient Hebrew names. Unless we uncover some more ancient documents verifying other names used in the Book of Mormon, the most likely scenario is that Joseph Smith simply made up a bunch of Biblical sounding names and happened to get one right.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
"And my father did strike the gravedigger's head with such might that the gravedigger's eyeballs did also pop out of their sockets, even like unto popcorn popping on an apricot tree." (1 Laban 4:8)
The Book of Zelph, a parody of the Book of Mormon, takes its name from a little known incident in Mormon history. In 1834, Joseph Smith raised a militia and marched to Missouri to "redeem Zion". Along the way, the militia uncovered some bones and an arrowhead in a mound. Joseph Smith declared that the bones belonged to Zelph, a white Lamanite general. (Incidentally, Zelph's arrowhead was last known to be in the possession of Brigham Young's daughter Zina Young Card.)
In the beginning of The Book of Mormon, God commands Nephi to kill Laban, for "it is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief." (1 Nephi 4:13) Hence, the Book of Zelph begins with Laban the Younger following Nephi and his family to the American continent seeking revenge against Nephi for murdering his father. He brings some Asian whores with him, thus explaining why Native Americans have Asian rather than Hebrew DNA, a fact modern Mormons have difficulty explaining.
The 13th chapter of 1 Nephi in The Book of Mormon contains specific prophecies about how the Book of Mormon ends, the coming of Jesus, Columbus, and the American war for independence. The Book of Zelph contains even more specific prophecies about Columbus, American independence, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Watergate, the Cold War, Desert Storm, the 2000 election controversy, 9/11, the Iraq War, and the gay marriage debate.
There is a character in the Book of Mormon named "the brother of Jared" (After the Book of Mormon was published, Joseph Smith said his real name was Mahonri Moriancumer). Likewise, there is a character in the Book of Zelph named Moriantum-Ala-Soditardswez who is called "the son of Abitch" for short. The Book of Mormon mentions animals called cureloms and cumoms, but it is unknown what type of animals they are supposed to be. The Book of Zelph makes fun of this by having people use cureloms and cumoms in chariot races and even has a character named Dances with Cureloms. In the Book of Mormon, Jacob 7:27 ends with the phrase, "Brethren, adieu." The Book Zelph takes this to the extreme ending numerous chapters in foreign languages. For example, 1 Laban 8:61 ends with "Wherefore, adios amigos."
The Book of Mormon often refers to white skin as "delightsome" and dark skin as "loathsome" and a curse. The Book of Zelph reverses this: "Wherefore, it was that Lemuel's dark skin, which was a curse from Nephi, doth makest him exceedingly good at satisfying the desires of women, which thing is a filthy abomination unto the Nephites, but which thing doth makest Lemuel, and us, exceedingly grateful unto Nephi for the curse." (2 Laban 7:22)
Those who believe the Book of Mormon is true like to point out that the Book of Mormon contains chiasmus just like the Bible. Thus, the Book of Zelph also contains chiasmus (Poems, Chapter 6). The Book of Poems also contains hidden acrostic messages which come up later in The Son of Abitch Code (a parody of the Davinci Code.)
My favorite part is when the Nephites try to get the Lamanites to join a pyramid scheme, poking fun at the fact that multi level marketing is rampant in Utah.
"And it came to pass that the wife of Arragornia did unveil her business plan, even did she teach it to me and mine daughters. And she spake her business plan, and it did involve us each teaching the plan to five other people, who would then teach the plan to five more people each, and so forth. And if we do follow the plan, yea, the wife of Arragornia doth promise us exceeding wealth, yea, even beyond our wildest dreams." (Whores 2:40-41)
The only people who will appreciate this book are former Mormons with a juvenile sense of humor. Faithful Mormons will be quite offended, while people who don't know that much about Mormonism won't get the jokes. The Book of Zelph is a good parody of the Book of Mormon which made me laugh out loud more than once.