Anachronism in the Book of Mormon?
[Being in Two Places at the Same Time Eight Years Apart]

prepred by Don R. Hender

       (Jeremiah 592 B.C.)                                       ~ Nephi WAS NOT in two different places at the same time [Book of Mormon time] ~                                          (Nephi 584 B.C.)

    One of the most glaring anachronism in the Book of Mormon is when Nephi is in two places at about the same time eight years apart. Simply in truth this cannot be so. It is impossible. Yet there it is as presented in today's Book of Mormon. An error? A mistake? Yes. But just what kind of anachronistic error is it. That is what exactly causes it to exist in the pages of the Book of Mormon and is there any possible acceptable explanation which allows the truth of the Book of Mormon to still be in tact despite of it?

Remenber the title page of the Book of Mormon warns the reader NOT to be critical of the Word of God because of the mistakes of men and 'becoming subject to the judgment of Christ at the time of one's appearance at the Judgment-seat of Christ.'

Now this frequently attacked anachronism is criticized due to the ignorance of the 'quick and dirty' reader of the Book of Mormon who does not read completely with comprehension and understanding just what it is that he is reading. Thus I will explain just how the anachronism was created by the 'well intended mistake or error of men' and how it is easily understood and resolved to not be an error in the translation of the Book of Mormon and thus it does NOT prove the Book of Mormon to be 'false'.

In 1 Nephi 7, the sons of Lehi have returned to Jerusalem to seek to obtain the family and daughters of the family of Ishmael to become the wives of the bachelor sons of Lehi. In short, the family of Ismael agree to join with Lehi's party in the wilderness. But on the trek back from Jerusalem to the wilderness valley of Lemuel, there is a rebellion which involves Laman and Lemuel and the two sons of Ishmael determining that they do not want to leave Jerusalem after all. In the course of this 'argument' Nephi reminds his brothers and the sons of Ishmael that the current state of events in Jerusalem are not the best set of conditions in support of which the abridged record cites the fact that even at this very time the Jews have taken the prophet Jeremiah and placed him in prison (1 Nephi 7:14). A noteable Book of Mormon scholar in his own right, Apostle Orson Pratt, in crossreferencing the Book of Mormon record with that of the Bible seems to correctly crossreference this emprisonment of Jeremiah with that emprisonment recorded in the Bible in Jeremiah 37:15 (15-18), where it records that the Jewish ruling 'princes' or 'sarim council of seventy' had been wroth with Jeremiah and had placed him in the prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. As any Biblical scholar who is worth his salt will tell you, this was about the time of the eighth year of the reign of King Zedekiah about the time when the Babylonians had come to place Jerusalem under seige and the short interim in which they faced off with the Egyptians in the desert before again returning to their planned seige of Jerusalem. In Book of Mormon reported time this would have been about 592 B.C. Now remember according to 1 Nephi 7, Nephi is contending in the wilderness between Jerusalem and the valley of Lemuel over Laman's, Lemuel's and the sons of Ismael's desire to return to Jerusalem about 592 B.C. according to Apostle Orson Pratts Book of Mormon and Bible crossreference of 1 Nephi 7:14 with Jeremiah 37:15.

Now another notable Book of Mormon scholar, Elder George Reynolds of the Seventy, had undertaken the laboreous task of calculating a 'suggested' time line of the Book of Mormon. According to the Book of Mormon, Lehi's family first depart Jerusalem having been warned of the Lord of the Jewish leaders', the Sarim, effort to put Lehi to death for preaching that Jerusalem would be destroyed if the Jews would not repent. The Book of Mormon reports that Lehi's initial party departed Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of King Zedekiah which it states was 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. In Elder Reynolds compilation of a suggested time line he simply takes the scripture found in 1 Nephi 17:4 which states that Lehi's party, after 8 years of sojourning in the wilderness for a space of 8 years, arrives at the place they will call Bountiful and where Nephi will build a ship. Elder Reynolds makes the very simplified calculation of taking 8 years journey in the wilderness and subtracts it from Lehi's departure date from Jerusalem of about 600 B.C. Book of Mormon time*. And he arrives with a suggested date of 592 B.C. for when Lehi's party entered the place they called Bountiful where Nephi would build a ship.

Now simply stated Nephi cannot be in two places at the same time. Nephi cannot be between Jerusalem and the valley of Lemuel arguing with his brothers and the sons of Ishmael about returning to Jerusalem and using the fact of Jeremiah being imprisoned about the Book of Mormon date* of 592 B.C. and also be at the location of Bountiful building a ship at about 592 B.C. as well. That would be a case of an anachronism of time which would not be possible. That is being at two different places at the same time several years apart. But notice, it is not the Book of Mormon itself which has caused this anachronistic situation. It is the placement of Apostle Orson Pratts crossreference of 1 Nephi 7:14 with Jeremiah 37:15 and Elder George Reynold's calculation of a 'suggested' Book of Mormon time line schedule which has cause the anachronism to exist.

Now today's Book of Mormon still contains both, Apostle Orson Pratts cross reference and Elder George Reynolds suggested time line. And thus there is an error in the Book of Mormon caused by the fault and mistake of men. In this case men post the translation of the Book of Mormon and whose efforts are both still published in today's Book of Mormon yet unresolved. As somewhat of a Book of Mormon scholar myself, though not of the position of a general authority such as Apostle Orson Pratt or Elder George Reynolds of the Seventy, I do have what I think is the correct solution which would resolve this Book of Mormon 'error' of an anachronism of time.

My solution is to revise Elder George Reynold's suggested time line, at least that early portion involving Lehi's time spent in the valley of Lemuel and just when Lehi did journey for 8 years in the wilderness to the location called Bountiful where Nephi built the ship. Simply Elder Reynolds' quick accessment that the 8 years travel in the wilderness to Bountiful recorded in 1 Nephi 17:4 was not from the time Lehi left Jerusalem of 600 B.C., but it marked the time from when Lehi's party, now joined by Ishmaels family and after the marriages of the corresponding families' sons and daughters, that is, it is from the valley of Lemuel to the location of Bountiful that was the 8 years journey. This would mean that Lehi had lived with his family in the valley of Lamuel for about 8 years since his departing Jerusalem, about 600 B.C. to 592 B.C. Book of Mormon time. And then after being joined by the family of Ishmael and the marriage of their sons and daughters, Lehi's now combined and enlarged party departed the valley of Lemuel about 592 B.C. to about 584 B.C., thus traveling the reported 8 years journey in the wildernes to arrive at the place called Bountiful from the valley of Lemuel.

That adjustment in Elder Reynolds 'suggested' timeline would resolve the 'anachronistic error' with no fault noted to the Book of Mormon translation, but wholely assigned to the fault and mistakes of men. The sad fact is that any well intended student of the Book of Mormon could/would just this easily resolve the seeming anachronism. Only an ill spirited and mean intending Mormon hating critic would attempt to use such as this honest mistake of men to teardown another's religion and faith, especially being so poorly informed and poorly studied in the Book of Mormon text itself. And thus the real big loser here is that likely dishonest ill intentioned Mormon critic who just is set about the work of destroying others with lies and the hatred of his fellow man.

*Note: Whereas the Book of Mormon places the first year of the reign of Zedekiah to be about 600 B.C., there is about a 3 year difference with the 'calculated' time schedules of men who place that date about 597 B.C. Thus note is made that it is the Book of Mormon given dates which are used here in speaking of the supposed Book of Mormon Anachronism rather than the dates of men so assigned to the events of the Bible. A three year difference in the scheme of such calendar developments and adjustments and the accountings of error prone human men is not worth the effort to investigate this diffence further other than to merely note it as having been given.
Rev. 24 May 2014