Monday, October 17, 2016

Question For Jeremy Runnells (CES Letter)

Hi Jeremy,

     A little over a year ago, I confronted you about a weakness in your Book of Mormon Geography section, and instead of rebutting my argument, you told me you would remove the Book of Mormon Geography section from your upcoming version of the CES Letter.

     I was impressed. I even thanked you for your integrity in admitting how weak the section is:

     I'm surprised you haven't removed it yet. I'm assuming that removing it would not be a difficult process. So let's talk about it.

     I can understand how you might want to wait and post lots of updates at once. However, your Geography section actually misleads the reader regarding the strength of the evidence. It does not admit to the reader how weak you know the evidence to be. Instead, you ask with apparent incredulity, "This is all just a coincidence?"

     Weak evidence is not itself misleading. What is misleading is writing a letter which you say is a list of your honest concerns, when in reality one or more of the items listed are things which you know to be weak but are choosing to prop up to make the reader think they are strong.

     I suspect if the tables were turned and I told you that I thought chiasmus or some other argument was "weak evidence," yet I touted it on my blog and asked incredulously how it could just be a coincidence, you would probably call that dishonest. But I don't think you are dishonest. I think that, like Prophets, you are only human. And as someone interested in apologetics, I give you the same benefit of the doubt that I would give them.

     Nevertheless, my heart goes out to people who have been influenced by your geography section, including these commenters:

     So, for the sake of anyone who might be misled by your argument, I'm calling you out. It's nothing personal. Please either remove the section, or defend the section. Are you willing to do one of those two things?

     If you choose to defend it, please explain why there are much better Book of Mormon geographic name matches in the Median area, which is where some of the Lost Tribes of Israel, who shared Lehi's language (and are thus a good exhilic analogy for the Nephites), were taken to (2 Kings 17:6).

Your Matches:

Median Matches:

     I actually could have included more names, but I didn't want to offer low hanging fruit. For instance, Angola = Angulesh; Cumeni = Kamani; Gid = Gidesk; Hermounts = Hirmand; Minon = Mehnan; Morianton = Marian, etc. My search results are by no means exhaustive. 

     The Median names are not even rare. Many are quite common throughout the area, which is especially interesting because when it comes to the Median language, Harvard University tells us that many forms "are found only in personal or geographical names ... and some are typically from the religious vocabulary" (note also how the names "could in principle also be influenced by Avestan," which some might see as linking the Lost Tribes taken to Media with the Biblical Wise Men from the East).  

     If we look at the word "Cumorah," for instance, which you highlight in your section, we find plenty of Median matches. As you know, the "C" in "Cumorah" is pronounced with a "K" sound.

Kamareh District (Markazi),

Kamareh (Markazi),

Komor (Mazandaran Province),

Kamaraj (Fars),

Kamareh-ye Hashem Beg (Lorestan),

Kamareh-ye Sofla (Kermanshah),

Kamareh (Kermanshah),

Kamareh-ye Gharbi (Kermanshah Province),

Kamareh-ye Olya (Kermanshah Province),

Kamareh (Kurdistan),

Kamareh (Lorestan),

Kamareh-ye Bala (Lorestan),

Kamareh-ye Heshmatabad (Lorestan),

Cheshmeh Kamareh (Lorestan),

Zir Kamareh (Lorestan),

Sar Kamareh (Lorestan),

Siah Kamareh Zali (Lorestan),

Sefid Kamareh (Kurdistan Province),

Kamareh-ye Bala (Lorestan),

Var Kamareh (Ilam Province)

     Moreover, a cursory analysis indicates that other regions of the world which have uncommon numbers of Book of Mormon name matches are also linked to groups which claim to have descended from the Ten Lost Tribes.

     Of course, some of the names are Jaredite names, but they were first rendered into the language of the Gold Plates before Joseph Smith rendered them into English. The Jaredite language was special, because it had not been confounded, so we don't know how well the original sounds were rendered on the Gold Plates. The names might not even have been rendered by sound, but by meaning. And the names passed through both King Mosiah and Moroni before arriving at Joseph Smith. So, when Joseph Smith translated the story of the Jaredites, it was written in Nephite language.

     I know you are a busy man, but I hope to hear back from you.




  1. Book of Mormon ethnonyms and toponyms are found throughout Asia, and in non-random contexts. For example, in the 1st millenium the Far East was known as Qumr. The first settlers in the region were related to the Kamboja of Iran, not far from Media. The country of Cambodia is named after this tribe.

    Around the 5th century AD, the Qumr people had settled in a place called Qumorriyah, but after a conflict some expanded outwards reaching as far as the Comoros Islands. The CES Letter suggests Joseph Smith stole the name Cumorah from a map of the Comoros. But I wonder how Joseph would have known that the Comoros was named after a group tracing its early origins to the Middle East and Iran.

    Another interesting fact is that the Greeks and Romans referred to the Qumr as the Camarini. It was believed that the Camarini were related to early accounts of the Rechabites, a semitic group that (according to some apocryphal accounts) departed from South Arabia around the same time as the Lehites.

    1. Very interesting information, thank you.