Jaredite update

Before I post more on the Jaredites, I want to finish my review of LDS scholarship on them. This largely means Nibley and Sorenson, since few other scholars have tackled them at length.

Re-reading The World of the Jaredites and There Were Jaredites, both of which were published over 50 years ago, I’m struck as usual about how far ahead of the curve Nibley was, particulalry in emphasizing how complex the Book of Mormon narrative is, how the Book of Mormon does not describe the ancestors of all native Americans, how different the culture and history in Ether is from the Lehite narrative, and how Ether contains element after element found in the ancient world. And Nibley even then is clearly trying to pry us away from classic, conservative Christian interpretation of such things as the great tower, warning us not to confuse cause and effect (e.g., languages may have diverged due to forced migrations, not the other way around) or over-interpret phrases such as “the whole earth” (kol ha-aretz, which can also mean “the whole land”).

Likewise, anyone inclined to mock the Jaredite ships needs to spend some time with the chapter “The Babylonian Background” in There Were Jaredites and explain just why there are so many correlations between the description of the Jaredite ships in Ether and the description of boats from various Babylonian flood stories (including, yes, shining stones and crescent-shaped, tightly-sealed boats that have waves covering them).

And, of course, by emphasizing the Asiatic origins and likely route (across Asia to the Pacific and thence to the Americas), Nibley preempted arguments citing Asiatic blood types (and later Asiatic DNA haplogroups) among native Americans.

Anyway, I hope to have a few more posts on the Jaredites later this week. Back to my reading.  ..bruce..

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