Feasts in the Book of Mormon
an LDS apologist wrote:
But the point is that the Book of Mormon does indeed reflect the ancient Old Testament festivals. We already know the New Testament quoted from the Old Testament in many numerous places, but that the Book of Mormon does indeed reflect the ancient Jewish festivals is the point. King Benjamin’s speech has been shown to completely be intact and include every single significant element in ancient year rites ceremonies, which are nowhere found in the Bible or any contemporary literature in Smith’s day. It is a cohesive and coherent and fully blown and developed ancient year rite that is in the Book of Mormon. This Welch also points out, but you have failed to acknowledge or refute such. The Book of Mormon fits the patterns found in the ancient Hebrew “She-hecheyanu” (Welch, pp. 8-10) The Book of Mormon reflects and includes parts of the ancient “Rosh-Shanah” (Welch, pp. 10-13) as well as “Yom Kippur (pp. 26-36) and “Sukkot” (pp. 37-53) demonstrating very clearly that the Book of Mormon fits comfortably in an ancient Hebrew setting. The Book of Mormon also reflects the ancient Hebrew “Yam Ha-Zikkaron” (Welch pp. 20f)
Curt van den Heuvel responds:
I would dispute the statement that the Book of Mormon reflects Old Testament festivals. Nor is it ‘very clear’ that the Book of Mormon fits comfortably into an ancient Hebrew setting. Both Welch and Tvednes have done a lot of work on the issue, and the results are certainly interesting. However, there is one point that they don’t address, and it is this: Why is there no *explicit* mention of any Jewish Festival or Feast in the Book of Mormon? Why is it that these incidents must be inferred? Why is it that only ‘traces’ can be found in the Book of Mormon?
To my mind, this supports the view that the Book of Mormon is a nineteenth century production. It could conceivably be argued that *traces* of these festivals remain, but, as I pointed out, there could just as easily be an alternative explanation. Without an explicit mention of these Feasts, Welch and Tvednes’ arguments are interesting, but ultimately unproveable.
I have done a little work on this issue. This is what I have found.
1) No explicit mention of any Jewish Feast or Festival. What we are looking for is something along the lines of II Chronicles 8:13
Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.
Using the two books of Chronicles as a guide, here are the counts of the times that some of the various feasts are explicitly mentioned:
Chronicles Book of MormonPassover 2 0Tabernacles 1 0Unleavened Bread 3 0Weeks 1 0
2) No explicit mention of any regular Jewish sacrifice or offering. (Sacrifices for thanks are recorded three times – I Nephi 2:7, 5:9 and 7:22, and one sacrifice is mentioned in connection with the Mosaic Law (Mosiah 2:3), but the actual name of the festival is not recorded, although Welch infers that it was the festival of the Scapegoat. The ‘heavenly voice’ recorded in III Nephi 9:19 indicated that the Nephites practiced the Mosaic law of sacrifice, but it could just as easily be a quotation from the Old Testament (Psalm 51:16, especially since Psalm 51:17 is quoted in III Nephi 9:20) inserted by Smith into the Book of Mormon). Again, here are the counts of some regular Jewish sacrifices in both books:
Chronicles Book of MormonNew Moon 3 0Evening & Morning 4 0Drink Offerings 1 0
3) The relationship between the priests and the temple is obscured. In the Old Testament, the priestly system and the temple could not be separated. Exodus 27:21:
In the tabernacle of the congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.
While the Book of Mormon records that the Nephites built a temple, and had a priestly class, the two are never associated with each other. The Old Testament records that the priests were to offer up sacrifices on behalf of the Children of Israel. Never once do we see this function performed by a Nephite priest.
In fact, the Nephite priestly class had far more in common with New Testament teachers of the Church, than they did with the Old Testament Levitical priesthood.
4) No mention of the temple items. The Jewish temple had several parts to it that were of importance, such as the court, the altar, and the holy place (also called the Holy of Holies). Furthermore, there were other items present in the temple, such as the Shewbread and incense.
None of these items are ever recorded in the Book of Mormon, even though Nephi claims that his temple was built after the manner of Solomon’s temple (II Nephi 5:16).
Chronicles Book of MormonTemple Court 6 0Temple Altar 20+ 1*Holy Place 6 0Shewbread 7 0Incense 8 0
(* Alma 15:17. The context, however, is unclear as to whether this altar existed in the temple.)
5) No mention at all of the Jewish dietary laws. The Pentateuch contains scores of laws governing what the Israelites could and could not eat. These restrictions were recorded in the Bible even in New Testament times (Acts 10:14). There is no mention of this practice in the Book of Mormon at all.
Given all of the above, it is difficult to understand why the Book of Mormon continually insists that the Nephites kept the Law of Moses. It seems strange that there is no actual, explicit mention of any of the particulars of the Law. Unless, of course, one asserts that the Book of Mormon is not an ancient history, but was rather made up by someone who had a good imagination, but very little understanding of ancient Jewish culture. Then it makes perfect sense.