May 25, 2009

View of the Hebrews

Apparently a book about Native Americans was a key inspiration for the Book of Mormon. Here's the story:

View of the HebrewsView of the Hebrews is an 1823 book written by Ethan Smith (December 19, 1762–August 29, 1849) which argues that Native Americans were descended from the Hebrews. Numerous commentators on Mormon doctrine, from LDS Church general authority B. H. Roberts to biographer Fawn M. Brodie, have discussed the possibility that View of the Hebrews may have provided source material for the Book of Mormon, which Mormons believe was translated from ancient golden plates by Joseph Smith, Jr.

Thesis of View of the Hebrews

The first edition of Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews was published in 1823, and a second expanded edition appeared in 1825. Ethan Smith's theory, relatively common among both theologians and laymen of his day, was that Native Americans were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who had disappeared after being taken captive by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE. Terryl Givens calls the work "an inelegant blend of history, excerpts, exhortation, and theorizing."

Smith's speculation took flight from a verse in the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 13:41, which says that the Ten Tribes traveled to a far country, "where never mankind dwelt"—which Smith interpreted to mean America. During Smith's day speculation about the Ten Lost Tribes was heightened both by a renewed interest in biblical prophecy and by the belief that the aboriginal peoples who had been swept aside by Europeans settlers could not have created the sophisticated burial mounds found in North America.
A few excerpts from View of the Hebrews:

Is "View of the Hebrews" a source for the Book of Mormon?Mr. Adair expresses the same opinion; and the Indians have their tradition, that in the nation from which they originally came, all were one colour. According to all accounts given of the Indians, there are certain things which all agree. This appears in the journals of Mr. Giddings, of his exploring tour. The most distant and barbarous Indians agree in a variety of things with all other tribes. They have their Great Spirit; their high priests; their sacrificing, when going to or returning from war; their religious dance; and their sacred little enclosure, containing their most sacred things, though it be but a sack, instead of an ark.--Messrs. Lack and Escarbotus both assert that they have often heard the Indians of South America sing "Hallelujah."  (page 88)

Their language appears clearly to be Hebrew. In this, Doctor Edwards, Mr. Adair, and others were agreed. Doctor Edwards, after having a good acquaintance with their language, gave his reasons for believing it to have been originally Hebrew. Both, he remarks, are found without prepositions, and are formed with prefixes and suffixes; a thing probably known to no other language. And he shows that not only the words, but the construction of phrases, in both, have been the same.  (page 89)

The native Americans have acknowledged one and only one God; and they have generally views concerning the one Great Spirit, of which no account can be given, but that they derived them from ancient revelation in Israel."  (page 98)
A table of contents from the full text of View of the Hebrews:Commencements of arguments in faviour of the natives of America being the descendants of Israel, 85

1. These natives all appear to have one origin, 85

2. Their language appears to have been Hebrew, 89

Table of words, 90

3. The Indians have had their ark of the covenant, 95

4. They have had circumcision, 97

5. They generally have acknowledged one and only one God, 98

6. Testimony of William Penn, 107

7. Their superior tribe, 108

8. Several prophetic traits of character, 109

9. Their being in tribes with heads of tribes, 111

10. Their having an imitation of the cities of refuge, 112
For more on the subject, see Lamanites = "Filthy People" and Mormon Leaders Made a Mistake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oy vay, what a schmendrick!

Indians are only from the 50th parallel down?

Both, he remarks, are found without prepositions, and are formed with prefixes and suffixes; a thing probably known to no other language. Of course, the difference between an affix and an adposition is only a matter of a spacebar. Plus, Latin uses prepositions as prefixes in verbs, hence our words (to just use "cut" as an example) incise, precise, excise, decide, and circumcise. The irony being that prefix and preposition are good examples of this.

Of course, the belief that there's one "Indian language" is sufficient evidence they're batshit insane. It's not Lakota, I know that.

And the guttural pronunciation of the natives was such as to make even the Hebrew word, that still might be retained, appear a different word; especially to those who were looking for no Hebrew language among them. And I suppose Hebrew doesn't have velars and uvulars as well. Then explain *coughing up phlegm in a way that sounds pseudo-Hebrew*

The claim that Indians practiced circumcision is particularly hilarious in light of the fact that Indians in the Amazon view the exposed glans penis as obscene; in fact, it's the only part of the male body they view as obscene. A quick look at eHRAF further reveals its complete absence from the Americas. *looks down at genitals* Nope, no circumcision.