Hamblin 18: Why no Inscriptions?

Hamblin 18: Why no Inscriptions? June 27, 2015

In his #12, Jenkins asks:

Um, exactly. So if the great Book of Mormon civilization is there, why is it not producing hundreds and thousands more inscriptions, in Hebrew, Reformed Egyptian, etc? It sort of suggests that civilization isn’t there, right?

Again, alas, methodological naiveté.  First, to say: “why isn’t there more evidence?” is a silly question.  First, the evidence is what it is.  It is not what you think it should be, nor what you wish it might be.   Second, ancient Israel left almost no inscriptions; why should you assume the Nephites were fanatic inscription-writers.  It’s not prominent in the BOM.   Third, sparsity of inscriptions in the norm in ancient times, not the exception.  The Near East is unique in all the world for its vast number of surviving ancient inscriptions.  Fourth, is the question of writing material and preservation.  The earliest Preclassic inscriptions in Mesoamerica seem to have been 1-painted rather than inscribed, or 2- carved in wood.  Neither of these survive well in Mesoamerican ecology.  All Classic inscriptions were originally painted, but nearly all the paint is lost.  Thus, there could have been–and probably were–hundreds of texts painted on rocks or wood, but they are almost all lost.  (e.g. see the San Bartolo site).

Jenkins is making an unsubstantiated assumption.  “If there were Nephites, they would have left lots of inscriptions.”  The reality is, most ancient peoples, even most ancient peoples in the Near East, left no inscriptional evidence of their existence.

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