Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hamblin vs. Jenkins concludes

[NOTE: When I wrote this, it appeared Jenkins had given up. But instead, the discussion continued until Jenkins wrote a summary in which he declared victory, here]

Jenkins gave up in frustration. I don't blame him; it's the same problem anyone has when looking in Mesoamerica for evidence of the Book of Mormon. 

Here's what Jenkins wrote: [Note: Hamblin responded by accusing Jenkins of being unwilling to read LDS material, to which Jenkins responded again by characterizing Hamblin's post as "unbelievably rude behavior." Jenkins restated his request for one piece of evidence, and followed up by writing this: "Nor do I see how even the most excruciatingly detailed knowledge of the Book of Mormon itself would change that picture. I have indeed read the book, which is as I say an inestimable goldmine for early nineteenth century US history. But please guide me. Where in its pages do I find any hint that might contradict the statements above, or help us find the errant evidence? By your admission, Ancient Book of Mormon studies has been what you call a thriving and highly active discipline for some thirty years now, with many publications. Surely these people have combed the Book of Mormon backwards and forwards in search of every clue. So why can’t they, and you, give me Instance One to contradict what I say here? Are there chapters of the book that they have not yet found in their searches?" Hambin responded by taking personal offense, which is usually what happens with Mesoamerican proponents. Ultimately, Hamblin ends by explaining why there are no inscriptions: "The reality is, most ancient peoples, even most ancient peoples in the Near East, left no inscriptional evidence of their existence." This directly contradicts Sorenson's insistence that the Nephite/Lamanite culture had extensive writing. So maybe Hamblin is coming around to realizing why North America is the setting for the Book of Mormon?] 

Jenkins Rejoinder 8: Farewell

I received this from Prof. Jenkins.
===================
Dr. Hamblin,
If you are a chess player, you know the concept of stalemate. IThis is what we have here, and we should recognize the fact and move on. We both have lives, careers, research agendas, and families. And priorities.
We appear to be at fourteen or so posts by yourself and seven rejoinders by me, not to mention various comments. Good grief.
Here is a summary of the circle we are in. I have asked or some basic proofs that the Book of Mormon is an authentic historical source for the period it purports to describe. I have specifically asked a question that reads…oh, you know it by heart. You suggest that, before you are prepared to go in that direction, you wish to establish other ground rules that are unacceptable to me. Without receiving some kind of proof that the Book of Mormon has some kind of authentic core, I am clearly not going off to read my way through a whole apologist library.
You say “Prof. Jenkins needs to start answering questions, not just asking them. Football games aren’t fair if one team is always on the defensive.” I immediately plead that I am sports impaired, but my point is that you have not answered my questions. Not just the “one piece of evidence” thing, of which you are heartily sick, but others in the course of the exchanges. I am tired of hammering at this; you are tired of being hammered with it. Barring one of us having a sudden conversion experience, this situation is not going to change.
I intend to withdraw from these exchanges as of now – I won’t say debate, because we do not have sufficient common ground on which to debate. We are rather firing shots past each other.
I do not intend to post more on your site, unless something appears on it that directly concerns myself or my writings in a significant way. In that case, I assume you will act with your customary courtesy, and notify me so that I can respond. (I am not referring to brief passing comments of the “Jenkins is the Antichrist!” variety). Nor will I respond to comments posted at your site. 
In all sincerity, I will wish you well with your career and your research, and in your faith and your church. You also have the good fortune to live in one of my favorite corners of the world. 
All good wishes,

PHILIP JENKINS

Hamblin had summarized the debate so far here:

Hamblin 17: The Debate Thus Far

A parody of the debate thus far:
J: Show me evidence for the Book of Mormon!
H: I think we first need to discuss questions of presuppositions, methodology and epistemology in order to understand what would constitute evidence and how it can be interpreted properly.
J: No!  Show me evidence for the Book of Mormon!  Now!
H: Well, there’s lots of evidence and analysis presented in books and articles by LDS scholars.  Like Sorenson’s Mormon’s Codex.  Will you read them?
J: No!  All Mormon “scholars” are cranks and hacks!  I refuse to read anything they have to say!  Show me evidence for the Book of Mormon!  Now!
H: Well, I’m a Mormon scholars; if you won’t read books or articles from Mormon scholars why should I think you’d accept what I have to say?
J: You’re stalling!  There is no evidence for the Book of Mormon or you’d show it to me.
H: Well, I pointed to evidence in Sorenson’s Mormon’s Codex.
J:  That book is by a Mormon.  I want evidence, not pseudo-scientific crap!
H: Alright, you asked for examples of Nephite pottery; Before we can deal with that issue, we need to try to understand what pottery can and can’t tell us about the past.
J: No!  You’ve shown me no evidence!  I’ve won!
H: Sigh.
My comments (since Hamblin isn't taking comments on his blog):
I didn't see where Jenkins refused to read Sorenson's book, but it's over 800 pages. Most of it is organized by types of "Correspondences," which consists of adding and/or changing the text to fit Sorenson's preferred geography. As such, Mormon's Codex follows the methodology of the Zarahemla article in the Oct 1, 1842, Times and Seasons (although Sorenson doesn't accept Zarahemla in Quirigua). I'm not aware of a single site, artifact, engraving, etc. that Sorenson cites that is evidence of the Book of Mormon. If Hamblin is, he ought to point it out.
So ultimately, Hamblin's parody of the debate is really a parody of Hamblin's position. Both Hamblin and Jenkins know there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica; everyone knows that. 
The tragedy is that Mesoamerican proponents insist Mesoamerica is the only possible setting for the Book of Mormon.

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