Criticisms: Alma/Helaman

Criticisms: Alma/Helaman

Alma 1:29; 4:6 etc. Silk and Linen in the New World?

The Book of Mormon claims that people in the New World had “silk and fine-twined linen” (Alma 1:29; 4:6; Ether 9:17; 10:24; see also Mosiah 10:5; Helaman 6:13). Linen is made from flax, which does not grow in the Americas, and silk comes from silkworms, which have a very specific diet (mulberry leaves), which requires a climate such as that of China, where they are raised.

Conversion Alma Younger and Sons of Helaman Mormon There are actually five varieties of wild silkworm in the New World, one of which ranges from northern South America into the southwestern part of the United States. Silk from a wild Mexican silkworm was used to spin fiber that the Spanish Conquistadors called seda, their word for “silk.” (Read More)

Alma 7:10. Jesus Born in Jerusalem or Bethlehem?

Why does Alma 7:10 say that Jesus will be born at Jerusalem when Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1-7 speak of Christ being born in Bethlehem?

Ancient Texts demonstrate that Bethlehem was located in the “land of Jerusalem,” which is where Alma 7:10 says the Savior would be born. (Read More)

Alma 10:2. Handwriting on the Wall

The story of the prophet Aminadi interpreting the writing made by the finger of God on the wall of the temple (Alma 10:2) was taken by
Joseph Smith from the biblical story of Daniel in Daniel 5:5.

Since Joseph Smith was acquainted with the Bible, surely he must have known that the stories were very similar. He undoubtedly knew that the story of Daniel’s interpretation of the handwriting occurred after the destruction of Jerusalem and that Lehi, who left Jerusalem before its destruction, could not possibly have had a copy of the book of Daniel. So why would he perpetrate so obvious a “fraud”? Or is God able to write on more than one wall at different times? After all, we are told in Exodus 31:18 that the tables of the law had been written by the finger of God! Shouldn’t we assume that what worked for the Lord once might work again? (Read More)

Alma 11:5-20. Coins

The mention of coins in Alma 11:5-20 is anachronistic, since the first coins were not minted until a century after Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem.

While some commentators, including modern editors of the Book of Mormon, have assumed that the passage in Alma 11 refers to coins, the text itself does not say that these monetary units were coins. (Read More)

Alma 13:21-26. Alma Didn’t Know When Christ Would Come

Why did Alma not know when Christ was coming (Alma 13:21-26) even though he possessed plates and Lehi and Nephi had written precisely when he would arrive, i.e., 600 years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem (1 Nephi 10:4; 19:8; 2 Nephi 25:19)?

We do not know if Alma had read the small plates on which the 600-year prophecy was written, and we do not know if the large plates mentioned that prophecy. Mormon, who had access to all the Nephite records, only discovered the small plates part-way through his preparation of the Book of Mormon and decided to add them to his own (Words of Mormon 1:3-4).

Alma 18:9-12 etc. Chariots

According to Alma 18:9-12; 20:6 and 3 Nephi 3:22, Book of Mormon peoples used chariots, but there is no evidence of actual wheeled vehicle usage in ancient America.

These are the only passages that mention “chariots.” There is no evidence that they were widely used among Book of Mormon peoples. Indeed, the chariots mentioned in Alma 18:9-12 and Alma 20:6 were owned by a Lamanite king and were probably unique to royalty at the time. Wheeled toys have been found, along with paved roads, suggesting some sort of conveyance. At least one Aztec codex shows a ruler being pulled on a type of sled, with no wheels, which may be what was intended in the Book of Mormon. (Read More)

Alma 34 and Work for the Dead

Alma 34:31-34 indicates that one must repent during this mortal life and that after death “there can be no labor performed.” This contradicts the Latter-day Saint view that salvation can be provided for the dead by means of proxy ordinances.

Amulek’s words were addressed to the Zoramites, who had dissented from the Nephite religion and had already “received so many witnesses” (Alma 34:30). Unlike those who die without having heard the gospel (see D&C 138:32-34), the Zoramites had heard and accepted the gospel but then had rejected it. Amulek was calling upon them to repent and return to the fold lest they die in their sins, thereby placing their souls in eternal jeopardy (see Mosiah 2:33; D&C 76:31-38). He warns them that, if they do not repent, they will be subject to the “same spirit” (Alma 34:34) that controls them in this life, which he identifies as “the devil” (Alma 34:35). The same idea is found in Mosiah 2:36-39. (Read More)

Alma 44:12-15 Zerahemnah Scalped

The Book of Mormon records that a Lamanite named Zerahemnah lived after having his scalp cut off by the sword of a Nephite warrior (Alma 44:12-15).

Scalping did not necessarily result in death, and there are several examples of 19th-century Americans who survived the ordeal. (Read More)

Alma 45:18. Alma’s Disappearance

The story of Alma’s disappearance (Alma 45:18) was borrowed from that of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-6).

The Book of Mormon already draws the parallel with Moses in the next verse (Alma 45:19). But the account in the Book of Mormon is much closer to that given in Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 4.8.48) and other ancient texts than to the Bible version, in that they have Moses being translated. (Read More)

Alma 46:40. Fevers and Climate

The Book of Mormon falsely claims that fevers result from climate and “some seasons of the year” (Alma 46:40). Fevers are actually the result of infectious diseases.

The passage actually reads, “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land-but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40).

A more careful reading of the text indicates that fevers “were very frequent in the land” “at some seasons of the year” and that “the causes of diseases,” rather than the diseases themselves, were due to “the nature of the climate.” This suggests that the microbial, viral, and parasitic causes of diseases, were able to survive in the climate in which the Nephites lived. This would undoubtedly be because these organisms and, in some cases, the insects that carried them (e.g., mosquitoes) thrived in that climate, especially during certain seasons. That is a normal state of affairs in nature.

Alma 57:25-26. Wounded Stripling Warriors

Though all 2,060 of Helaman’s stripling warriors received many wounds in battle, none of them died. It is not reasonable to believe that none died of their wounds.

It would be even more unreasonable to believe that all 2,060 were wounded in the same battle. The passage actually says that 200 of Helaman’s 2,060 stripling warriors were seriously wounded, but none of them died, which seemed, rightly, miraculous to the rest of his army, 1,000 of whom were slain. (Read More)

Helaman 7:10 etc. Highways

The mention of “highways” in the Book of Mormon is anachronistic (Helaman 7:10; 14:24; 3 Nephi 6:8; 8:13). The first roads in America were constructed after colonization of the New World by Europeans.

Though the term “highway” has come to denote in our time well-paved roads for automobile and truck traffic, its use predates the modern era. Indeed, the term used 25 times in the King James version (KJV) of the Bible, which was translated nearly four centuries before the invention of the automobile. Unlike our modern use of the word, in these scriptures it can refer to trails or paths used for foot or animal traffic, though they may refer to improved roads. Some of the highways mentioned in 3 Nephi were destroyed and broken up at the time of Christ’s death (3 Nephi 8:13), so they may not have been recognized by European colonists.¬†Extensive networks of excellent roadways are well known throughout Central and South America, some of which date well into Book of Mormon times. (Read More)