Some notes on the Gadianton Robbers

 

I've been there.
A scene in the ancient Maya city of Yaxchilan, located beside the Usumacinta River in what is today the Mexican state of Chiapas       (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Some notes from John W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book and Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1992):

 

Neither modern speakers of English nor the King James translation of the Bible make much distinction between thieves and robbers.  Anciently, though, and particularly in Hebrew law, the distinction was a strong one:  Thieves were locals who robbed from their neighbors.  They were dealt with civilly, usually by a court drawn from their townsmen.  Robbers, by contrast, were outsiders.  They were handled militarily, and could be summarily executed.  The Book of Mormon conforms to precisely that ancient Hebrew distinction.  (248-249)

 

The execution of the captured Gadianton robber chief Zemnarihah (3 Nephi 4:28) fits its claimed ancient background in several striking ways.  First, ancient Jewish law required that the felling of a tree that had been used for an execution, just as the tree was felled from which Zemnarihah was hanged.  Second, trees used for executions were chopped down and buried so that they would not be sad memorials or reminders of the execution’s victim –and the Nephites explicitly remembered Zemnarihah and his tree in that very way.  Third, hanging was, in fact, a genuinely ancient Hebrew form of execution.  Fourth, executions were often carried out — as Zemharihah’s was — in a way or place peculiarly appropriate to the offense being punished.  Fifth and last, there seems, in Zemnarihah’s case, to be an echo of the ancient Hebrew practice of “heralding” a notorious execution.  (250-252)

 

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Three articles from the indefatigable Jeff Lindsay, the first of them related to a matter about which I blogged yesterday:

 

Science: “How a Mormon Lawyer Transformed Mesoamerican Archaeology—and Ended Up Losing His Faith”

 

“Remembering Thomas S. Monson: The Painful Obituary from the New York Times

 

“A Surprise in Alma 7:11”

 

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From the remarkable Robert Boylan:

 

“Early Latter-day Saints on ‘Mormonism’ being ‘Christian'”

 

Another piece, offering some additional references, on that same “Mormon lawyer” and on his loss of faith over the archaeology of the Book of Mormon:

 

“Jeff Lindsay on Science’s article on Thomas Stuart Ferguson”

 

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The second installment of the new weekly Interpreter Radio Show will be broadcast tonight from 7 PM to 8 PM on K-Talk (1640 AM), and will also be available on your computer via the K-Talk website.

 

 

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