Were The Plates Made From Gold?
If the plates were in fact made from gold, it is safe to say that it was a very scarce commodity. As mentioned in a previous post, there is no evidence of gold being used in Mesoamerica until at least 600 A.D., 200 years after the plates were buried. So, despite Nephi's exaggerations that gold and other metals were found in "great abundance"(2 Nephi 5:15), gold must have been pretty hard to come by.
Moroni said the plates were Gold
According to Joseph, the angel Moroni told him the plates were made out of gold.
When first I looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me. He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Moroni. . . . He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the sources from whence they sprang (History of the Church, vol. 1, by Joseph Smith, Deseret Book, 1976, pp. 11-12).Even if the plates were not made of actual gold, they were gold in appearance and retained enough value that the angel Moroni was worried Joseph would be tempted to make himself rich. The plates were heavy and they were made from a precious metal. If the prophet Mormon knew Moroni might have to carry metal plates 3,000 miles from Mesoamerica to upstate, NY on foot, he might want to keep the load as light as possible. Not only that, but I am sure etching characters was a very time-consuming activity. Therefore, every square inch on each golden plate was valuable real estate, so I am sure that everything written on them was very important and was only included after a rigorous selection process. Mormon wouldn't include a single verse in his abridgement unless it was worth taking up the time and space to write it, and it had some kind of profound purpose behind it.
How Do You Reconcile This Verse?
If every little bit of space on the plates were so carefully selected when making an abridgement from the large plates of Nephi, why would Mormon see it fit to include 4 Nephi 1:6?
4 Nephi 1:6
"And thus did the thirty and eighth year pass away, and also the thirty and ninth, and forty and first, and the forty and second, yea, even until forty and nine years had passed away, and also the fifty and first, and the fifty and second; yea, and even until fifty and nine years had passed away."
When this verse was pointed out to me, I laughed out loud. Of course this verse is referring to the years following the mass conversions when there was peace in all the land. No wars, no conflicts, no contentions, just everyone living in harmony and peace as Christians of a single unified church. These years are supposed to exemplify the perfect model of how God intends us to live our lives on this earth; The absolute pinnacle of what we can reach as a church here on earth.
Why Was This Time of Peace Glossed Over?
You would think that we could learn about how they were able to keep peace for so long and read about all the good things that they did for one another and how they helped their fellow man. How they fed the poor, clothed the naked and made sure everyone was taken care of. You would think we could learn from their example and apply their teachings to our lives on how to live in righteousness. However, since there are no conflicts, no wars and no contentions during this time period, it doesn't make good reading.
The entire 200 year period of peace and harmony is merely a hiccup, summarized in one chapter. However, in his abridgement, Mormon thought it was more important to dedicate countless chapters on battle strategies, or the story of how Nephi ended up decapitating a passed-out drunkard, stealing his brass collection, kidnapping his servant and skipping town, as long as the end justifies the mean.
A More likely Reason
I think it is more likely that 4 Nephi 1:6 was included because it was simply one of the many "filler" verses Joseph Smith used in writing the Book of Mormon. Perhaps he needed to think about what he was going to say next or just needed to keep thickening the book up.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Were The Plates Made From Gold?