Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Vandal Wars, Evil Gangs, and the Fall of Chang'an: Three Untold Stories in the Book of Mormon

[The following is the introduction to a paper I've completed and I'm now editing. I hope you enjoy the preview.]

          There are many military history topics that recall events in the Book of Mormon. The comparisons are intriguing and initially seem superficial, and they rarely argue for any dependence between the text, but teasing out additional insights through the use of judicious comparisons can bring clarity and power to the scriptures.  The following three stories are examples of comparisons started by a basic hook, which, upon closer examination reveal important insights in the text of the Book of Mormon. In the first example, Moroni employed tactics that Belisarius faced during the Vandal War.  Each editor of the history, Mormon and Procopius placed their respective generals, Moroni and Belisarius, in a narrative that highlighted their worthiness. But Belisarius invading the Vandals led to another discussion of offensive war, and suggests we reconsider our understanding of the dissensions listed in the war chapters.  The akuto in medieval Japan reinforces the idea that Nephite power shifted and was contested by rival forces in the book of Helaman. It looks at the myriad ways that akuto and robbers are seen in society, from the traditional idea of a mere bandit, to a more complicated power struggle between competing centers, economic collusion, and guerrilla warfare.  Finally, the quick fall of the capital in Helaman one, compared to the fall of Chang’an in medieval China, suggested that Nephite society was not as powerful as they seemed after winning the great war at the end of Alma. So what begin as three stories actually turn into three untold stories embedded in the text that can be teased out through intriguing comparisons from a wide variety of sources.

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