Hamblin 34: From Smoot

Hamblin 34: From Smoot July 22, 2015

My friend Stephen Smoot sent me the following, which I believe is germane to the discussion of Book of Mormon historicity.

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A note on the limits of archaeology from a post-modernist Mormon apologist … no, wait, that’s a conservative Roman Catholic priest.

Archaeology does not, and cannot, claim to know all about the places it excavates, or the people who lived there. The nature of the finds–––scattered, broken, and accidentally preserved by the fortunes of time and weather, or the oversight of ancient and modern plunderers–––requires scholars to interpret them as pieces in a large jigsaw puzzle, of which most of the missing pieces are lost for good. Through careful detective work, by suggesting models and testing them against the evidence, much can be suggested about the shape of ancient life. Writings in particular allow us to look in on the thoughts of the peoples whose charred and buried cities have been found. But in no case do we have the full story. Evidence from one ancient site often seems to contradict information gleaned from another. The task of dating objects of stone or clay, even written tablets, is tricky and as much an art as a science. 

Lawrence Boadt, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, rev. 2nd ed. (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2012), 49.

But when Bill Hamblin says this about the nature of archaeology and history, he’s dismissed by Phillip Jenkins and other critics of the Book of Mormon as some clumsy idiot whose methodology is too ludicrous for words.

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