Responding to the New Video on Nahom as Archaeological Evidence for the Book of Mormon

Many of my (few) readers have probably already seen the new video by Book of Mormon Central on Nahom as archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, starring my good friend (and co-author on a related paper) Stephen Smoot. If you haven’t, check it out:

As usual, comments sections wherever this video is shared have been flooded by Internet ex-Mormons insisting this not evidence for the Book of Mormon. I’ve actually had a few productive conversations with some reasonable people who don’t think Nahom is, by itself, compelling evidence—and I can understand that. But the insistence that Nahom is not evidence at all is just, frankly, absurd. So I’ll just go ahead and preempt about 90% of future responses to this post by responding to the most common arguments against Nahom/NHM now:

1. The Book of Mormon is false, therefore there can be no evidence, therefore this is not evidence. First, this is circular reasoning. It assumes the conclusion (Book of Mormon is false) which the evidence presented (in this case, Nahom/NHM) is intended to challenge, and then uses that assumed conclusion to dismiss the evidence. Not a valid argument. Second, something need not actually be true in order for evidence which supports it to exist. Lots of things which are not true can be and have been supported by evidence. So even if we grant the conclusion (which, for the record, I do not), that does not prove that NHM/Nahom is not evidence which supports the opposite conclusion (the Book of Mormon is true).

2. There is no evidence for X, Y, and Z in the Book of Mormon, so this is not evidence either. This is a red herring, or more simply a type of misdirection. Instead of dealing with the actual argument and data built around NHM/Nahom, this argument points to (perceived) deficiencies in evidence for other Book of Mormon claims (horses, metallurgy, New World cities, etc.) and then argues (or implies) that since there is no evidence for these things, this also does not count as evidence. Whether NHM/Nahom is evidence is an independent question from whether or not there is other evidence, and it is entirely possible to have evidence for somethings and not for others—evidence is not an all or nothing scenario. So lack of evidence for, say, horses, does not mean there is no evidence for, say, Nahom.

3. Nahom is not identical to NHM because vowels. When people actually begin engaging the actual correlation, this is usually the first argument. But it is literally impossible to get any closer with the inscriptional evidence, since most ancient Near Eastern writings do not use vowels. To demand stronger evidence than what the very best data itself could ever conceivably support is simply irrational and unfair. Furthermore, scholars have generally accepted correlations between biblical names and inscriptions with far less phonological similarity than Nahom and Nehem/Nihm.

4. Joseph Smith could have gotten a similar name (Nahum) from the Bible. Well, sure he could have. But nothing in the Bible would have suggested that he should use it as a place name at the end of a south-southeastward trail along the Red Sea; or that he should have a deceased character buried there; or have his group turn eastward there; or that he should have a “bountiful” coastal land eastward from there, and so on. This only explains a single dimension of this multidimensional evidence.

5. Joseph Smith saw a map with Nehem/Nehhm on it. When these maps were first discovered, they were dismissed as evidence for the Book of Mormon because they didn’t prove the place was there in 600 BC. Now that archaeology confirms NHM is older than 600 BC, these maps are suddenly supposed to explain how Joseph Smith knew that? Come on. To my knowledge, none of these maps have been placed closer than ~300 miles from Joseph Smith while translating the Book of Mormon. And they have hundreds of names. Why only Nahom? And why not actually spell it as it appears on the maps (Nehem/Nehhm)? Oh, and these maps still don’t explain all the details above. And finally, some of both Joseph’s supporters and critics appear to have used maps to debate the fine points of 1 Nephi in the 1830s and ’40s. Yet none of them got the details of 1 Nephi right, and none of them noticed Nehem or made a connection to Nahom. So why are we to think Joseph Smith did?

6. The archaeological evidence is for a tribal name, not a place name. The inscriptions say that the donor was a Nihmite, which is—per the British Museum catalogue entry for the inscription—a person from the Nihm region. Nehem is a tribal territory, and thus the name of both the tribe and the place. The conflation of the tribal and place name is also evident in the way the tribal name shows up in Arabian geographical treaties and lists from the Islamic era.

Several of these are already explained in the video, and yet people still respond with these objections. So odds are this preemptive effort is in vain, but alas, still I try. Anyway, enjoy the video and be sure share it!



    1. I am not really interested in getting into the particulars of Jenkins back-and-forth with Hamblin, but Jenkins's approach is basically argument #5 above. He claims Joseph Smith must have gotten the name from a map, and I've already explained what I think about that.

    2. Smart man, Neal. The Jenkins / Hamblin debate ran its course t a complete dead end. Both Jenkins and Hamblin made good points but I side with Hamblin despite my desiring he had taken a different approach.

      I like your responses. They provided fresh ideas to me about the Nahom debate which had previously been unknown to me.

  2. Something more about the Book of Mormon. The book cannot be historical as the story in the book of Ether is not historical. Most scholars except the fundamentalist consider it as myth. See

  3. The fact that there were some islands called the Comora Islands and it's chief port was Moroni off the coast of southern Africa is a bullseye for the evidence that Smith used what was available to him. Captain Kidd operated out of their and stories about his possible treasures were buried around New York were part of the folklore of the time of Smith's youth. Also the word Mormon means "frightening " in Greek and was used in reference to the puffin birds that flew off the eastern seaboard of New York.

    1. Hey, I can copy and paste links too. How fun!

    2. A slight variant on approach #2. Instead of dismissing it by pointing to lack of evidence somewhere else in the Book of Mormon, this is a dismissal by pointing to some perceived evidence for 19th century origins. It's still a red herring nonetheless.

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    1. Absent some rigorous documentation, I am not sure there are "thousands" of inscriptions in Yemen. But that is not the point. The issue is not the probably that the sequence of letters NHM would show up in inscriptions. It is the likelihood that NHM would show up as name of a place, and in the right general area, too.

      (Too my knowledge, of all the tribal territory names in Arabia, this is the only one that has been traced back 3000 years to Joseph Smith's day ... why don't you tell me what are the odds of that, eh?)

      As for your comments about Nephi's directions being vague, why don't you try this: pick a random US state that you don't know very well. If you know the name of more than one city in the state, pick a different one. Now make up a story about someone leaving from the one city you know and have them start moving in a particular direction. After an unspecified about of time, have them stop, name the place they stopped--just make up the name, don't look anything up. But you can't use a generic name (e.g., Centerville, or Farmington) that is known to be a common name for cities, towns, or counties in the US. It has to be a name that you would think is unique enough to be only one of its kind. After you've picked that name, carry on with your story.

      THEN, go look at a map, start with the well-known city you started in, and search the map moving in whatever direction you chose, and see if the made up town name shows up there before you cross the state boarders. Even search counties if you like. There's probably going to hundreds, if not thousands of potential names, so surely you've got good odds, right? Probably not. And frankly, if a person came to me and told me that is what they did and they totally guess the name of real town (and it wasn't one of those generic names), I would suspect they were lying, and I'd bet most other people would too. Generally speaking, correctly identifying obscure place names is taken as a sign that the person is familiar with the geographic region they are talking about. Yet for some reason, in the Book of Mormon, somehow its not. How very odd.

      Re: Bountiful, personally I favor Khor Kharfot, but both proposed candidates fall within the same general area, which is basically due east of Nahom/NHM. It is a comparatively small stretch (maybe a few dozen miles, tops) of highly lush, fertile territory, and the only region along the southern coast of Arabia wherein there are inlets that meet the description in the Book of Mormon. The fact that scholars quibble over which inlet in that relatively small area was the very spot Nephi built his boat is hardly consequential.

    2. As for the wordplay, you clearly are not keeping up with the literature on Book of Mormon names and linguistics. No, wordplay does *not* "rarely happen in the Book of Mormon." Matt Bowen--a scholar with training in both Egyptian and Hebrew, who did his PhD work in ANE wordplay--has proposed some pretty compelling wordplays for all kinds of names in the Book of Mormon, and several others have also suggested numerous wordplays. In 1 and 2 Nephi alone, there is evidence for wordplay on Nephi, Zoram, Laman, several puns in the tree of life visons of Nephi and Lehi, on Nahom, Jacob, and Joseph. And those are just the ones I am aware of off the top of my head. And none of these puns would be obvious to someone not familiar with the ancient languages the Book of Mormon claims to be translated from.

      And I do understand how coincidence works. I never said this couldn't be coincidence. If that is how you wish to explain it, go ahead. But the possibility of it being coincidence does not make this non-evidence. Coincidence is merely one way to interpret the evidence, but it doesn't make it not evidence. In fact, since a coincidence is literally a random chance accident that can't be explained, calling it that is actually an acknowledgement that you can't explain how this evidence exists, but nonetheless you still reject the explanation of the evidence as given (i.e., that it happened because Nephi is a real person who was there ca. 600 BC).

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    4. “Read”

      Cool! Thanks for sharing that database, I was not aware of it. Now, can you tell me: (1) how many of those inscriptions pre-date 600 BC, (2) how many of them mention any toponyms/tribal names at all, and (3) how many of those pre-600 BC toponyms or tribal territories can be documented in a location that would reasonably fit the Book of Mormon?

      As I said before, the question is not merely the sheer number of inscriptions (several of which actually mention the Nihmites in them). I mean, there 300,000 inscriptions from Mesopotamia (, but nobody brushes it off as coincidence that a small handful of Israelite king names show up in just the right context at the right time.

      “NHM is not a place name, it is a tribe.”

      See argument #6 in the OP.

      “Okay suppose we are in Montana state. We travel "nearly south-south east" to end up in Kansas state. Now we travel "nearly eastward" to go to a beach. What state did we end up in? Hard to know, let alone a city.”

      You realize that you didn’t actually try the experiment at all, right? The only names that show up here are well known state names that I am certain you not only knew, but already knew the geographic relationship of beforehand. You took no risk on making up a name and then seeing if you got lucky.
      “Except that 90 miles of desert seperates them.”

      False. They are not separated by 90 miles of “desert.” Khor Khofart and Khor Rori are essentially the east and west bookends of a generally fertile area, which if moved further east or west along the Arabian coast would not fit nearly as well with the Book of Mormon description.

      “Even if true, the Book of Mormon contains 337 proper names. ‘Mourn’ appears 41 times in the Book of Mormon. Please show me evidence of wordplay in 1 Nephi 16:34.”

      If you want evidence for wordplay, go read the literature on this. It’s more than just the mention of “mourn” nearby. The numbers you are giving, however, don’t help your case. There 337 proper names in the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon is fiction, then those names are randomly distributed, which means the odds of Nahom landing where it does in the text are about 1/337. If Nahom randomly showed up in a different place—say, where Jershon is instead—there would be no compelling case for wordplay. Nowhere else in the text produces a narrative context that plays on the Hebrew meaning for nhm as well as the narrative in 1 Nephi 16:34–39.

    5. “Yes, coincidence is a reasonable possibility because you can find thousands of inscriptions in Yemen.”

      Here’s the thing: literally every connection and theory built on archaeological evidence can be dismissed as coincidence. Just two nights ago I was with a small handful of friends discussing a new paper on Maya priesthood orders published in “Ancient Mesoamerica”—one of the most prestigious journals in the field of Mesoamerican studies. The authors of the paper are some of the most respected scholars in their field. Yet the whole paper was extremely speculative. For everything they said, “coincidence is reasonable possibility.” That is simply the omnipresent reality of ancient studies. Every connection could just be a coincidence. So such an argument is non-falsifiable—and non-falsifiable arguments are generally frowned upon in academia.

      “Coincidence” is a default argument that can literally be made to refute anything—and it is impossible to prove anything in ancient studies is NOT a coincidence. Grad students in ancient studies often go through an existential crisis when they come to this realization because it means literally everything they think they know about the ancient world could be complete bunk. How can they ever know they are finding real connections? They can’t.

      But scholars universally recognize that if they take that approach, we simply can’t make any progress at all in knowing the ancient past. So everyone does the best they can to make arguments as compelling as possible, and to refute others arguments with compelling alternatives. They generally avoid falling back on “coincidence” because they know that is a blanket accusation that could unravel their whole enterprise.

      Having done plenty of reading in ancient studies literature, I’ve seen far less compelling comparisons than Nahom/NHM get published in mainstream journals and academic presses, and even gain fairly wide acceptance in various fields. So you’ll forgive me if I really don’t care to engage with a non-falsifiable accusation of “coincidence” that could literally be leveled against anything ever published on archaeology or ancient studies in general.

    6. Neal, you're missing the point.

      You say, "(1) how many of those inscriptions pre-date 600 BC, (2) how many of them mention any toponyms/tribal names at all, and (3) how many of those pre-600 BC toponyms or tribal territories can be documented in a location that would reasonably fit the Book of Mormon?"

      Good questions. You should answer them, lol. Until YOU have answered those questions, along with many others, NHM cannot be honestly presented as "evidence" of anything. It's that whole pesky burden of proof thing, correlation does not equal causation, etc.

      You're basically expecting "critics," who aren't critics but people who don't find your arguments persuasive, to prove a negative, which is a fallacy. I don't have to come up with a complex model to demonstrate NHM is statistically insignificant, all I have to do is point out that you have failed to present a model (any model at all) demonstrating a significance.

      As it happens though, there are answers to many of those questions, and they don't work in your favor (see my post).

    7. Actually, some of this research has already been done, but you have to read the more in-depth treatments to get it. But the real point that is being missed that nobody asks for this kind of analysis before excepting all kinds of correlations and theories in archaeology and ancient studies, some of which are much weaker than the NHM/Nahom connection. Sorry, but I am just not going to waste my time trying to meet a burden of proof that is literally impossible, and never asked of anyone else in the field, ever.

      If that means people like you aren't going to be convinced, oh well.

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  5. the problem with NHM isn't about NHM, its about the many other things that aren't there (enter list of anachronisms). SO even if NHM is a hit, the list of hits vs misses makes the one hit a lucky hit, and a reach at that.

  6. I've responded here:

    1. I think that is about as reasonable a response as any. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Rappleye: "Jenkins's approach is basically argument #5 above. He claims Joseph Smith must have gotten the name from a map..."

    That is incorrect. Jenkins responded in 2015 when Hamblin made this same mistake.

    Jenkins: " I never said that Smith “decided to travel to consult a map instead of making names up.” Maybe he traveled, maybe he had one to hand, maybe someone loaned him one, maybe he read a newspaper. I don’t know. But as I made clear in my post, the burden of proof in this is clearly on the side of those wishing to make the ludicrous, extravagant, supernatural claims. I have offered a plausible and probable non-supernatural explanation of what happened. The counter-arguments you offer are trivial and irrelevant."

    1. This is not Jenkins denying that Joseph must have gotten it from a map. Instead, he is offering some off-hand speculations as to how Joseph could have seen such a map, and then disclaim any burden of proof. If that is what you or Jenkins want to believe, then fine. But if you want to convince me that the map hypothesis is a viable explanation, you or Jenkins or whoever else are going to have to better than half-baked speculations.

    2. I didn't say it was. YOU said: "He CLAIMS Joseph Smith must have gotten the name from a map..."

      I said you were wrong, because Jenkins said: "I NEVER SAID that Smith “decided to travel to consult a map..." Debate works best when you don't misrepresent other's words.

      There would be no reason for anyone to convince you of anything, because as Jenkins pointed out, "the burden of proof in this is clearly on the side of those wishing to make the ludicrous, extravagant, supernatural claims."

    3. Cynth g,

      Jenkins is denying the claim that Joseph "decided to travel" in order to consult a map. He is denying claiming Joseph had to travel, not that Joseph consulted a map. This is clear in the string of "maybes" Jenkins then offers up: he admits "maybe" Joseph traveled to consult a map, or may he had a map on hand, or maybe someone loaned such a map to him, or perhaps he read about one in a newspaper, etc.

      Jenkins is offering various speculations as to how Joseph Smith might have seen one of the maps that mention Nehem. So yes, Jenkins insists Joseph Smith must have seen one of the maps. When he says, "I have offered a plausible and probable non-supernatural explanation of what happened," he is talking about Joseph seeing one of those maps.

      So yes, debate works best when you don't misrepresent what other people have said. It also works best when you read with comprehension too.

    4. Comprehension and accurate representation both rely on an understanding of the process of making logical arguments. Jenkins explained that repeatedly to Hamblin in his debate, as it seemed to be a particular issue with Hamblin's apologist approach.

      You are oversimplifying Jenkin's statements, to the point of misrepresenting them when you say he "claims" anything. He doesn't need to "claim" anything in order to make a logical argument, he is simply presenting a far more plausible alternative, and again noting it is the responsibility of the one making extraordinary claims to provide extraordinary evidence.

      Jenkins: " So could Smith have had access to a map featuring a name like Nehhm/Nehem, which he then decided to Biblicize a bit by making in Nahom? Almost certainly, yes. I can’t prove the fact conclusively – but the bar for such proof is a million times lower than anyone wishing to prove the supernatural explanation. That’s Occam’s razor again, combined with the worthless, spurious and utterly ahistorical quality of the New World sections of the book."

    5. Burden of proof is far more complicated than Jenkins wants to make it, and I don't really care to have a debate about it. At the end of the day, burden of proof really only exists in the mind of individuals. Each person, consciously or sub-consciously, has defined a threshold in which evidence must reach before they are persuaded to believe things. That is why I said earlier that if Jenkins or anyone else wants to convince me that Joseph saw one of those maps, they'll have to do much better than Jenkins has done. He does not sufficiently convince me that Joseph could have used a map.

      Now you can insist that you or Jenkins don't need to convince me of anything, but if that is the case, then why the hell are we even having this conversation? Why come over here, and clearly try to convince me of things, if you don't feel any kind of burden to do so? I mean, if the burden of proof lies with me, why do anything more than shrug your shoulders and say, "Gee, he didn't convince me" and move on?

      Jenkins clearly opts for the map theory as the best explanation, but admits he can't prove it. He is clearly content with that and feels no burden to prove it. OK, so what? That does not mean I have to be content with it, or can not explain my reasons for not buying it.

    6. No, it really isn't complicated at all. Cynth brings up Occam's razor. Do you understand this principle? It's about simplicity. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the simplest explanation is the best one. There are literally infinite possibilities. Perhaps NHM appeared on those altars because the same little green aliens Warren Aston has been tracking beamed down to earth Stargate-style and put the stones there? It's totally possible. But this would be a very extraordinary claim.

      I'm kind of just repeating Cynth here, but when Jenkins brings up the map business he isn't suggesting there is credible evidence JS saw a map. I never didn't see that. I never followed that whole debate, mostly just reading the cited article now. To me it appears like Jenkins didn't know anything about the NHM debate at all. He spent but a few minutes glancing at it and just rolled his eyes, not caring to go any deeper than that. He was simply pointing out that there are any number of completely plausible explanations for NHM appearing in the BOM, none of which rely on supernatural explanations.

      Another important point. Jenkins also wasn't saying that the NHM evidence is compelling, therefore JS had to have seen a map. He probably was just being polite, giving the NHM apologists the benefit of the doubt that there is something there... without having looked under the hood himself. As stated I don't find NHM compelling to begin with, there is no correlation. But regardless, let's say it were significant, why is it hard to imagine JS did see a map? Seriously, I don't get it. I don't have any photos of JS having a bowel movement, but I can reasonably assume he probably did from time to time. Even if the man were a true prophet and all that, I would expect him to be darn curious and go find a map and other resources pertaining to the stories he's being exposed to throughout translation. If I started translating a book and it was about people from the middle east, the first thing I'd do is go find myself a good map. It would be truly bizarre to me if he didn't.

      The whole point of the NHM debate is that apologists are arguing it constitutes extraordinary evidence of extraordinary claims. We have a supernatural book which came about by supernatural means, and the absolute only way this book could have the word "nahom" in it is if it's historical. NHM finding is too much to be coincidental, therefore the only way it could appear in the book is if JS knew about Nehem or got really lucky. But none of that is true. There are much simpler explanations.

  8. I did my undergraduate studies in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I lived in Yemen. I visited several of the the so-called "NHM" sites while I was still an active/believing member, including sites near Marib like the Bar’an temple, Jidran and Ruwaiq mountains, among other ruins in the region and all over the country, as well as sites in Oman like Dhalkuut.

    I was excited to visit these places and see them for myself as they constituted what is literally the only piece of supposed evidence for Book of Mormon historicity. What I found was pretty underwhelming, nothing at all like what is described, and somewhat faith shattering. This video grossly misrepresents the NHM “evidence,” to the point of deception, leveraging sensationalism and sound effects to construct pseudoevidence.

    Short version, point by point, every single "correlation" in this video is misrepresented.

    Nehem is NOT a burial site, it's a vast mountain range. And the ruins referenced in the video are in a completely different location that is NOT in Nehem. Moreover the ruins themselves are not at a specific site, but scattered all over the place, thousands of such sites, all over the country. Going back to Nehem, it doesn't match with the text of the BOM, which describes them as following a path along the coast of the Red Sea. About 140 miles of impassable mountain range separates Nehem from the coast.

    To put this in context, this is what the area looks like:

    BOM doesn't say anything about turning east and passing through 140 miles of nasty mountains before getting to Nahom. It says they turned east AFTER getting to Nahom, suggesting it would be near the coast somewhere. I really can't emphasize enough how nasty the Nehem area is. Lehi slept in a tent? Good luck hauling tents over those mountains. Zero sense for a long list of reasons. Go over there and see Nehem for yourself, of all potential places for them to travel to, it is literally the worst! An impossible location.

    And then getting into the language, the H and M characters in Nehem the place DO NOT match with the NHM on the altars, nor do they match with the NHM in the hebrew word "nacham" that's being referenced as a potential "word play" with the word "mourn" in the text of the BOM. There are about 4 distinct arabic letters/sounds which get clumsily described as H in English, but in the original language these are distinct letters as different as A and Z. The word "nachom" in hebrew is completely different than "nahom." Just as different as "nazom".

    So you have some burial sites, literally thousands of them scattered all over the country, everywhere, found a tombstone at one location (not in Nehem) which bears the 3 characters NHM (which also don’t match the NHM characters used in the place name Nehem), and the Nehem location is completely at odds with the BOM text in terms of terrain and geography, but somehow all this is a correlation?

    1. And then there is the "nearly eastward" business. Pick a spot literally anywhere in the Yemen, and in many parts of Saudi Arabia for that matter, head "eastward" and you'll end up at some coastline. About 1600 miles of coastline to work with. There is nothing special about vaguely saying, go south along the coast, turn east at some unspecified location, and then arrive at some other unspecified location where you can build a boat. This isn't a correlation.

      The dating. The NHM altars are irrelevant for the aforementioned reasons, but nonetheless, the dating isn't credible. The altars were not dated through scientific means like radiation, etc. In context, the original dating was literally just a guesstimate based on the expertise of the german archaeologist. And that guy places the stones likely AFTER Nephi. And then the subsequent “researcher,” Aston, who pushed the dates back used even worse methodologies than the original guy. Aston isn’t a credible archaeologist, he writes conspiracy books on UFOs! Can't make this stuff up.

      Adding to all this are other things I could say. There are a lot of Jewish ruins in Yemen, symbols all over the place. It is my opinion that the area name Nehem comes from Nehemia the Jewish prophet / historical figure, who was a big deal 5th century BC. See the Book of Nehemia. If Nehem is a reference to Nehemia, which would make a lot of sense, that is after Nephi.

    2. Hi Andrew,

      I can't profess to have the same on the ground experience as you, but I've read a fair bit from Warren Aston, George Potter, and Kent Brown, who all have traveled that area extensively.

      First, the assertion is not that Nehem is a "burial site" but that one of the largest burial sites in southern Arabia is located nearby. If you read the works of Aston and others, it is clear that Nehem is a tribal region nestled in the mountains of Yemen.

      As for being near the coast of the Red Sea, long before the discovery of Nehem, Book of Mormon scholars have argued that Lehi's family traveled mostly on the east-side of the mountain ranges, moving away from the cost and cutting through the mountains while still in northern Arabia. As difficult as it may seem, these arguments are based on ancient travel routes, so we know people could and did travel through this kind of terrain. Based on what I've read from Potter and others, they could have done this while still generally traveling southeast on their journey, so no need to have a mention of an "eastward" turn before Nahom.

      As far as the linguistics go, the altars are not Arabic, so while your knowledge of Arabic maybe helpful, it also may not be as relevant as you want us to believe. Stephen D. Ricks, on the other hand, wrote dictionary on inscirptional Qatabanian, one of the ancient south Arabian languages. So you'll forgive me if I grant his assessment a little more credence. So far as I am aware, experts on southern Arabia accept that NHM in the south Arabian inscriptions is in fact connected to the Nehem of modern Yemen. Warren Aston published as much in the mainstream Journal of Arabian Studies. So if they aren't related, it would seem you know something experts in south Arabian don't. Maybe you should write up your rigorous linguistic analysis explaining this new revelation and get published in a the Journal of Arabian Studies or an equally reputable, mainstream academic venue.

      And if you have ever made a pun in you entire life, then I assume you understand that word plays do not need to be the same word, or need to sound exactly alike. So the fact that the Hebrew word is unrelated is about as relevant as that fact that my name is totally unrelated to "kneel"--and yet the puns never end.

      As for nearly eastward, I am afraid you are missing the point. Yes, you can turn east anywhere and eventually hit coastline--if you can survive the desert journey. But if you turned eastward in most places, you would die before reaching the coast. The research from Brown, Potter, and Aston, however, indicates that it is around the NHM area that eastward travel becomes possible without dying. Brown and Potter even provide evidence that trade routes turned eastward around this area, so again we have evidence that ancient people actually could travel east from that area, however difficult it may have been.

      And there is also the fact that not much of the 1600 miles of coastline could fit the description of Bountiful. Warren Aston searched 700+ miles of the southern Arabian coast and only felt one place could work, and it happened to be due east of Nehem.

      As for the dating of altars, we are following the generally accepted dating of them by Arabian scholars. You can't radiocarbon date stone. The revision of the dating is not from Aston, but the work of Kenneth A. Kitchen, whose comprehensive work on Arabian inscriptions revised the chronology of ancient Arabia. If these dates are not credible, it would seem once again you something that all the experts in the field are unaware of.

      Your bringing up Aston's UFO stuff is literally an ad hominem argument. He published his work on Nehem/Nihm in the Journal of Arabian Studies, and has presented on it at the Seminar for Arabian Studies hosted at Cambridge University. Those venues are about as credible as it gets for ancient Arabian studies, so I see little reason to give your ad hominem attack much merit.

    3. Neal, not trying to strong arm you here. Just putting my perspective out there. I will tell you why I find your arguments unpersuasive, but I'm not going to try and rattle you into accepting mine. For me, the NHM arguments became completely and totally hollow after I actually spent time in the Yemen.

      In a flat earth kind of way, what I'm suggesting is that if you simply go over there and see the place for yourself, the whole debate about roundness is moot. There is literally nothing to debate. Beginning to end, the NHM narrative is nonsense after you simply go over there and walk the ground. It doesn't make sense.

      Your response amounts to an appeal to authority, which makes sense, because that's the only context from which a debate about this can be had - within an academic kind of bubble among people who don't have any first-hand experience. Reasonable people can be confused and find flat earth arguments persuasive. A lot of brilliant men throughout history believed the earth was flat. They weren't stupid, just ignorant. Only after being confronted with a picture of that big blue sphere is the debate really over, but even then it still isn't over for everyone. Maybe the photo is fake!

      We can play Dungeons and Dragons until the end of time.

      You find folks like Aston credible, you want to take their word, ok, cool :) I'm not telling you to take my word for it, I'm suggesting maybe you shouldn't take their word for it. Go over there, decide for yourself. That's what I did, and it completely changed my attitude about the whole thing.

    4. FWIW, my pointing out Aston's involvement in UFO conspiracy activities wasn't meant in an ad-hominem way. On the other hand, you argue Aston is credible because he got published in a journal, which means literally nothing. That is an ad hominem argument in of itself! So, a little hypocritical.

      My point was that Aston IS the source of the updated dating, which makes his background germane. My point was to draw attention to the manner of the dating itself. Most laypeople watching this video "assume" that the dating was established in some kind of indisputable scientific kind of way. It's credible. We can treat it as factual. Exactly the opposite. If people understood how subjective the dating methodology was, they'd roll their eyes at the whole thing.

      I'm not saying Aston's arguments are wrong by virtue of his being a UFO conspiracy theorist. He could be right. But if you tell me I need a surgical operation and I ask why and you say because such and such doctor said so, I'd like to know who this doctor is and why I should trust his advice. I can't tell you how old those inscriptions are. I don't believe anybody can make that claim, frankly. Different "experts" have assigned different dates, and they don't agree with each other. So using my free agency I have to decide who I'm going to believe, if anybody. I'm being asked to place my trust in these people. Aston loses, I don't find him credible. He hasn't earned my trust.

      As I said though, the dating of those stones is a very small point. In contrast with other aspects of this, pretty irrelevant really.

    5. Getting back to the meat of the discussion. I'd love to hear more about this argument that the Nephites didn't travel along the coast. How is that reconciled with the text which specifically says they did?

      "And we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea."

      How does that description fit with travelling 140 or so miles inland on the complete opposite side of a mountain range?

      Either way I'm still not sure how this solves the problems I pointed out. Nehem still is in the mountains. BOM doesn't describe them moving across the mountains. Why would they enter Nehem at all? If they were traveling along the famous incense trail, that would have been east of Nehem, so they would have had to go west over the mountains to get to Nehem. And again, the burial sites referenced with the inscriptions aren't in Nehem.

      The video makes some very specific claims. I'm just going to quote the narrator directly.

      "...a team of German archaeologists found an ancient altar in southwestern Arabia with the name of a local tribal region inscribed on its side. That name, Nehem."

      This isn't true. Objectively false. An altar was found. And it has ancient writings believed to resemble the English sounds N H M. But this refers to a family/tribe, not a physical place. And it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name. In the video a whole bunch of liberties are being taken to correlate data for which no relationship has actually been established.

      "This altar, which dates back to about 800 BC"

      This is in dispute, a dubious claim. But video presents it as factual.

      "And its [the altar] location is exactly where you'd expect it to be..." (And at this point the map in background shows line going to Nahom.)

      No, it's not exactly where you'd expect it to be.

      For starters, the altar, which is what the narrator is specifically talking about, IS NOT IN NEHEM!!! The altar is at a burial site which is not in Nehem. The video is straight up lying. And as I've also pointed out, "where you'd expect it to be" is also in dispute re the text of BOM. BOM says they were at the coast, not 140 miles inland.

      "Additionally, Nehem was one of the largest burial areas in ancient Arabia, making it a natural location for Ishmael's burial"

      As stated, no it wasn't. Nehem had nothing to do with the burial sites referenced and was not itself a "burial area."

      What do burial sites have to do with the Book of Mormon anyway? Oh, because Ishmael is buried in Nahom? So you’re saying Nehem is a special location in Yemen where everybody gets buried? Everybody comes from afar to bury in this special site? So, duh, it’s a “natural location." Let’s put Ishmael here. How cool, we found a burial site, a specific graveyard, called Nahom, the only one for hundreds of miles around, and gee golly, the BOM says Ishmael was buried in Nahom. How cool is that? Correlation after correlation after correlation. Even if Joseph Smith had seen the name Nehem on a map somewhere, I mean, there is no way he could have known it also happened to be a special sacred burial site, the only one in southwest Arabia!

      Except, A&D$FG!!, Nehem is not a burial site. And therefore this “correlation” makes no sense whatsoever. If Ishmael was buried in the Nehem area of Yemen, it could have been anywhere. Under a pile of rocks on a random spot on one of the hundreds of mountains. Plus, the burial sites referenced, there are sites just like them all over the whole country. There is absolutely nothing “unique” about the Marib or Nehem regions in terms of burying people. This is completely false. You can't make the claim that this is a special "natural location" when an equivalently "natural location" exists literally everywhere!

    6. "In a flat earth kind of way, what I'm suggesting is that if you simply go over there and see the place for yourself, the whole debate about roundness is moot. There is literally nothing to debate. Beginning to end, the NHM narrative is nonsense after you simply go over there and walk the ground. It doesn't make sense."

      Go ahead and tell that to S. Kent Brown and Warren Aston with a straight face.

      "On the other hand, you argue Aston is credible because he got published in a journal, which means literally nothing. "

      So on the one hand, Latter-day Saint scholars, when they don't publish in non-Mormon journals, are dismissed as "apologists" who don't dare expose their theories to peer review. But when they do, then suddenly it means "literally nothing" and is it's just an ad hominem fallacy to make mention of it.

      We are now officially through the looking glass.

      "This isn't true. Objectively false. An altar was found. And it has ancient writings believed to resemble the English sounds N H M. But this refers to a family/tribe, not a physical place. And it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name. In the video a whole bunch of liberties are being taken to correlate data for which no relationship has actually been established."

      For the 8,000th time: the tribal name is derived from the region that tribe resided in.

      If I were to call myself Stephen the Provoite, what might we suppose about where the name comes from? Is that a tribal name or a geographical name?

      Frankly, it is hard for me to escape the conclusion that the only reason why you are claiming "it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name" is because you don't want it to match. Literally every single authority on this I have encountered, both Mormon and non-Mormon, conclude that the Nihm tribe and the Nehem/Nehhm region noted in later Islamic and post-Islamic sources are one and the same.

      "This is in dispute, a dubious claim. But video presents it as factual."

      The burden of proof (there is it) rests on you to dispute the dating of the inscriptions. Until you give me a good reason to believe otherwise, I'm going to stick with Vogt and subsequent scholars who safely date the inscriptions to the time indicated in the video.

      It's really funny, Andrew, how you came strutting in here with your opening salvo about your illustrious experience with Arabic and traveling in Yemen. Not to diminish your experience by any means, but when Neal pointed out a handful of authorities who contradict your bombastic rhetoric and sweeping claims, you suddenly accused him of appealing to authority.

      What kind of madness is this? Either experience and academic chops matter or they don't. You can't have it both ways.

      But you know what? In the end, I agree with you. This is matter of who to trust. Should I trust "Andrew," an Internet blog commenter whom I basically have to just take on his word has the experience he claims to have? Or should I trust the combined academic chops of several seasoned Near Eastern linguists and archaeologists, and other experts who have published in peer reviewed journals on this matter, and upon whom the research team at Book of Mormon Central drew when producing this video?

      Well, it's an easy answer for me. But to each their own I suppose.

    7. Stephen,

      Thanks for the response. Let's see how this goes.

      > Go ahead and tell that to S. Kent Brown and Warren Aston with a straight face.

      Happy to. Actually, I'd love to get more details. The way it comes across to me is some weekend warriors wandered into Yemen like tourists, took a shuttle to some ruin sites, following some terp around, and out puked all this b.s. It has Tim Mahoney and Ken Ham written all over it.

      > So on the one hand, Latter-day Saint scholars, when they don't publish in non-Mormon journals, are dismissed as "apologists" who don't dare expose their theories to peer review. But when they do, then suddenly it means "literally nothing" and is it's just an ad hominem fallacy to make mention of it.

      I think you may be confusing me with someone else, because who are you talking to? When did I say anything about LDS apologists needing to publish?

      Since you've brought this up though, I am not personally of the opinion that peer review is a holy grail. It can be a great thing when done right, but it can also work in the opposite direction. The devil is in those details, like who's doing the peer review for starters.

      Correct me if I'm wrong here, but all this NHM business is published only in LDS apologetic journals, no? Or pay to play kind of journals? The Journal of Arabian Studies that Neal cites, which Aston is published in, isn't that a pay to play journal? It's not reputable. And this is further demonstrated by Aston's citation index. Literally the only people who cite his publications are LDS apologists.

      > We are now officially through the looking glass.

      Ain't it great when your own crap gets flung back at you?

      > For the 8,000th time: the tribal name is derived from the region that tribe resided in.

      For the 8,001st time: I'm supposed to just take your word on that? The name's do not match. And, ahem, the burial site also isn't in Nehem!

      You do realize the NHM radicals go with a lot of words? Like flamingos. Perhaps the NHM reference is about a tribe that lived in a little fishing village that was the home to flamingos. You can find flamingos all over Yemen and Oman, and also further north in Saudi Arabia. They are on both the west coast with the red sea and the southern coast of the arabian peninsula.

      This brings up another point too. Why turn east at all? Why wouldn't Nephi be directed to Al Hudeidah? It would cut their journey in half. This is the historical shipbuilding capital of the arabian peninsula.

      And what about Sinai? I'm going to have to go back to the BOM and really read the directions they give. Why do we assume they went along the coast of Saudi Arabia instead of on the other side of the red sea in Egypt? Maybe Nahom is in Eritrea and Bountiful is in Somalia? Out of curiosity I just did a quick search and you won't believe it. There is an Eritrean singer named Nahom Yohannes! This can't be a coincidence.

    8. > If I were to call myself Stephen the Provoite, what might we suppose about where the name comes from?

      Well, we might suppose that you're related to Étienne Provost, perhaps you're from Quebec.

      > Is that a tribal name or a geographical name?

      Tribal, that's how arabic names work. Like Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud. House of Saud is quite large. A whole country named after them, and the people are spread all over the world. As it happens there is a city in Yemen named Sauda. If all you found was SAD on a tombstone it might get really confusing trying to trace that person to a location. But it would work in your favor as a "word play" pun.

      > Frankly, it is hard for me to escape the conclusion that the only reason why you are claiming "it's not known that this tribal name matches with the Nehem place name" is because you don't want it to match. Literally every single authority on this I have encountered, both Mormon and non-Mormon, conclude that the Nihm tribe and the Nehem/Nehhm region noted in later Islamic and post-Islamic sources are one and the same.

      Well you're really going out of your way to be disagreeable and distract from your inability to link the two, aren't you?

      The fact still is that the NHM on that stone doesn't match with the Nehem characters in arabic. Repeating myself, I'm still failing to understand the significance of this point though, because the burial location isn't in Nehem to begin with.

      Off hand I'm thinking of some people we could consult though. A company in Saudi Arabia called Naham Tech, owned by the Al-Naham family. I wonder if they have any relatives buried in Saudi Arabia? Could take this research in all kinds of new directions. And then there is the Al-Naham restaurant in Doha. You know, come to think of it, that's pretty interesting. Maybe we're looking at this all wrong. Nephites didn't follow the coast along the red sea, they followed the coast along the arabian sea, but to them it looked "red" in the fleeting light! And then they turned eastward into Qatar. Northern end of the peninsula you'll find some hidden gems with enough wood to build at least one or a couple ships.

      > The burden of proof (there is it) rests on you to dispute the dating of the inscriptions. Until you give me a good reason to believe otherwise, I'm going to stick with Vogt and subsequent scholars who safely date the inscriptions to the time indicated in the video.

      Oh now this is really getting fun.

      I'm happy to accept Vogt's dating, and this is what I've said, several times. You guys are the ones that threw him under the bus for Aston. My argument is, nope, I want Vogt back. The date you cite in the video comes from Aston, aka the Ufologist. And the reason you side with Aston is because Vogt dated the stones AFTER the time of Nephi.

      But you're glossing over several of my points. One, what does the date matter to begin with when the stone is not found in Nehem? Two, while I'm accepting Vogt's dating I'm also putting in context what he actually did. All he did was offer his OPINION, pulled out of his educated arse, that the stones probably dated to 6th century BC. He didn't shine some laser beams on the rock and Siri answered back, 551 BC! How a conclusion was arrived at is very important for readers to understand.

    9. > It's really funny, Andrew, how you came strutting in here with your opening salvo about your illustrious experience with Arabic and traveling in Yemen. Not to diminish your experience by any means, but when Neal pointed out a handful of authorities who contradict your bombastic rhetoric and sweeping claims, you suddenly accused him of appealing to authority.

      I didn't accuse anything. I pointed out what he did. He ignored effectively everything I said, motioned to some other dudes with "they're right because they said it." Funny is an understatement.

      >What kind of madness is this? Either experience and academic chops matter or they don't. You can't have it both ways.

      You've spun me around so many times I'm confused myself. Are you saying they do or don't matter? It kind of sounds like you're defending an appeal to authority...

      > But you know what? In the end, I agree with you. This is matter of who to trust. Should I trust "Andrew," an Internet blog commenter whom I basically have to just take on his word has the experience he claims to have? Or should I trust the combined academic chops of several seasoned Near Eastern linguists and archaeologists, and other experts who have published in peer reviewed journals on this matter, and upon whom the research team at Book of Mormon Central drew when producing this video?

      Well that's quite a display of self flagellation. So your not just defending it, that's the hill you're choosing to die on. Ok.

      Just to recap. You're making multilevel marketing videos that pimp a product you've never tried for yourself, and that you admit total ignorance about, which may not actually even exist, all based on the pay to play "peer reviewed" publications of a UFO conspiracy theorist and other acolytes of his.

  9. Neal has already responded to the major objections that have been raised against the Nihm/Nahom connection.

    The only thing I would like to add is that the responses seen so far by and large are textbook cases of cognitive dissonance. In this case, the dissonance arises because the firmly-held conviction among non- and ex-Mormons that the Book of Mormon is a modern forgery is being challenged by contrary evidence. So, instead of admitting this evidence is valid and moving on to discuss the relatively weight or significance of this evidence in light of other factors or evidence, many here are cognitively doubling down by hurriedly attempting to wave away the evidence altogether. It is an understandable human response given what we know about the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance, but it is nevertheless fascinating to see such a clear example of it on the side of ex-Mormons (who frequently assure me that they have outgrown such lowly mortal failings as human psychology).

    Neal and I actually talked about this phenomenon in our review of Dan Vogel's 5 objections to the Nihm/Nahom connection. It has been seen time and time again in biblical "minimalists" whose cognitive dissonance over evidence for the historicity of the Hebrew Bible drives them to created just as contrived, half-baked theories Phillip Jenkins and others here have created to dismiss the evidence for Nahom.

    I will say for the record with my academic training (for whatever it's worth) in Near Eastern and Egyptian archaeology as my witness: if instead of in 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon this description of Nahom had appeared in, say, another contemporary south Arabian inscription not purporting to be the result of a miraculous translation, I am absolutely convinced there would not be nearly as much obstinate refusal to acknowledge the evidence as we're seeing here.

    1. I'll bite. Please read my other comments. So, first question, have you actually been to Yemen yourself?

      You say:

      > I will say for the record with my academic training (for whatever it's worth) in Near Eastern and Egyptian archaeology as my witness: if instead of in 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon this description of Nahom had appeared in, say, another contemporary south Arabian inscription not purporting to be the result of a miraculous translation, I am absolutely convinced there would not be nearly as much obstinate refusal to acknowledge the evidence as we're seeing here.

      Having been to Yemen, spent quite a lot of time there actually, I strongly disagree with this. The text in the BOM does not match the geography/terrain at all. Only in very immature/superficial kind of ways.

      It vaguely describes travelling south along the coast of the red sea, then turn east, end up in some fertile enclave. There are several bountiful-like locations along the southern arabian coast. Not one, not two, like a dozen of them. And from just about anywhere in Yemen you can travel in a vague eastward direction and wind up at any one of those spots.

      When you actually go there and see what things look like, the description in the BOM is so vague it feels like it was just made up by someone who'd never been there while looking at a map. The details provided in the BOM don't fit. And then there are so many details you'd expect to find which are completely absent. If the author had added even just a few details that matched with specific landmarks then it would appear very authentic. There are huge mountain ranges out there, specific valleys and passes, tunnels, population centers, etc., and there is no mention of any of this stuff.

      In that sense I suppose you're right. If there was an ancient arabian book that gave incredibly vague directions like this people probably would believe it. But what is there to believe? It would be like finding the most useless directions to the store ever. Any soccer mom without even looking at a map could come up with that. It's not evidence of a supernatural book being historical.

      When it comes to Nahom in particular though, no, I wouldn't believe it. If you showed me an ancient diary about some explorers heading down the coast of the red sea and then stopping at a place called "nahom" I would conclude this had to be a different location from Nehem, because, it's in a completely different spot. It's not uncommon to find multiple places with the same name. It's also not uncommon for travelers to get a name wrong, or to be given an incorrect name by a local. Any number of explanations if I saw an ancient record of what were clearly wrong directions.

      If those same explorers were instead traveling the incense route and ended up in some place called Nahom, I'd be more inclined to believe they must mean Nehem, but I'd still be scratching my head and asking a lot of questions, because it's not along the incense trail... it's deep in the mountains to the west of the trail. So, if they did end up there, the story I'm reading omits a lot of details. And if I were just reading some random journal that wouldn't be a big deal. But when reading a supposedly-supernatural book and we're using these geographic clues to find hard physical evidence, I'm going to be a bit more picky. If you tell me you're travelling one way, but then suddenly end up somewhere else, how the heck did you get there? Details missing. And if details are missing, what other details are missing? If details are missing it becomes a free-for-all and we can't use any of these clues for evidence. So then all the arguments about the geography go right out the window. We don't care about the relative position of anything. Literally all it's about is the NHM name. Is that particular combination, NHM, by itself so unique that it can't be coincidence? Answer: NO. And you say this yourself in the video.

    2. You keep bringing up the fact that you've been to Yemen as some kind of trump card that automatically gives your arguments weight.

      News flash: people can know something about a place secondhand through the published works of others.

      Like, oh, I don't know, if somebody were to travel to Yemen and catalogue their experience in a publication or documentary film. You know, kind of like what S. Kent Brown, Warren Aston, and George Potter (to name a few) have done.

      So no, I haven't been to Yemen. Just like I haven't been to Mars. But that means very little when I can reach over on my bookshelf and read (or even watch) the experience of those who have, and from their experience get an idea of the land and its topography.

      So would you kindly cram it with the "I've been to Yemen so I'm therefore right" stuff? It's not impressing anyone.

    3. Oh, and P.S. both Neal and I have been to Mesoamerica. Ipso facto our observations about the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica are right. And don't you dare attempt to gainsay us unless you've personally experienced Mesoamerica like we have.

      Or, heck, forget us. Unless you've experienced it like Mark Wright and Kerry Hull and John Sorenson and John Clark have.


    4. Geez, Stephen, what are you compensating for over there? Don't worry, I'm just teasing. I can empathize, I understand what it's like to be raised in a culture that teaches you to believe you know everything. Just breathe, it will go easy. Take some time to collect yourself and try again.

      Oh, and P.S., I've never been to mesoamerica myself. While this has no impact on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, which is about objective facts, not feelings or beliefs, it would have an impact on me personally and my ability to understand certain points of data and arguments pertaining to the historicity.

  10. My response as someone who very unexpectedly came to believe that the BoM is non-historical: I once found the Nahom convergence powerful (along with many other parallels noted by John Sorenson, Mark Wright, etc). But at the time I hadn’t thoroughly and fully considered the evidence against historicity. When I did I found that it was on an entirely different level. It was the last thing I wanted or expected, but for me, once I studied the right issues I found that the weight of the evidence against historicity made all my treasured evidences for historicity suddenly become very insignificant.

    So my primary response is just to say that for me, the weight of evidence against historicity makes this Nahom convergence insignificant when looking at the whole picture. I do see how believers can find it supportive of their faith, but I would think they'd also be willing to acknowledge that this isn't something so powerful that it cannot be reasonably attributed to chance. Personally I think the Moroni/Comoros/Captain Kid convergences probably happened by chance, but it's a pretty powerful "convergence." Moroni and Comoros in the same area, with connections to Captain Kidd whose stories were popularly discussed in the Palmyra area? If you see this as coincidence then you have to acknowledge that these kinds of things happen, and that even if you find it supportive of your faith it is not the kind of knockout punch you're portraying it as. And again, in my view, looking at the big picture and the evidence from both sides, it's a blow that hardly registers.

    But if we want to talk about convergences:

    It's notable that it was widely believed in Joseph's time that the current “Indians” (believed to be savage and lazy) must have wiped out another group of natives (believed to be more intelligent and civilized–and many also suggested more “white”), because they couldn’t believe that the current Indians had built the impressive “Indian Mounds” being discovered. Notable that even though DNA evidence eventually proved otherwise it was the norm to believe that the “Indians” were Israelites, that their languages were descended from Hebrew, and that they had many remnants of Israelite customs among them. Notable that a book by Oliver Cowdery’s Pastor published in 1823 naturally brought all this together and proposed a historical scenario that to him and others seemed obvious. He suggests that after these Israelites arrived in America they must have split into two factions. One of these factions remembered their Israelite heritage and remained more civilized and industrious–leaving behind the impressive earth works and “fortifications” that were being found. The other group forgot their Israelite heritage and became “savage” and uncivilized, and because of jealousies they ultimately wiped out the more civilized group through long wars, leaving only the more savage Indians who remained. Why was he and everyone else so interested in identifying the natives as Israelites and convincing others of their Israelite heritage? Because they believed that a very literal gathering of Israel was supposed to take place in accordance with biblical prophecy, and the American settlers needed to be awakened to their duty to help the natives realize their true identity and become Christians. Anything seem familiar?

    Their is a mountain of evidence against historicity (not just an absence of evidence for historicity as the blog above says, but positive evidence against it), and yes, the power of any individual piece of evidence must be looked at in context of the whole picture. Personally, I just find the evidence against historicity to be so great that the Nahom thing just isn't very significant in the big scheme. Though I fully understand where you're coming from (I've been in those shoes), I think its funny that you think Nahom is the knockout blow you're portraying it as, to the point where you can't fathom someone not being convinced by it.

    1. See, that wasn't so hard.

      "Nahom is evidence but it's not convincing enough for me."

      That's fine. It's just so bewildering to me how many people are so dogmatically committed to a sort of Total War against the Book of Mormon that they refuse to acknowledge ANY sort of evidence on its behalf.

      "the weight of evidence"

      Certainly this is a worthy thing to discuss. For instance, I think each and every point you raise as evidence against the Book of Mormon is debatable. And we can go point by point and slog our way through the debate. But the overall point is this: how one determines where "the weight of evidence" falls is going to largely be a subjective task.

      And for the record: the video never says Nahom is "proof" for the Book of Mormon. It never says it singlehandedly confirms the book is true. It never claims Nahom is the final, key piece of evidence that clinches historicity.

      Rather, it claimed that Nahom is archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. It answers the question posed at the beginning of the clip: "Is there any archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon."

      The answer is yes, no matter how loud and desperately people insist otherwise.

      Maybe it's not sufficient evidence to inspired confidence in Book of Mormon historicity, but it is evidence nonetheless.

    2. Just calling it "evidence" doesn't tell us much of anything without additional qualifiers. Evidence just refers to the body of data that we can use to come to a conclusion. "Evidence" can be very powerful, or it can be very insignificant. In some cases that "evidence," upon further examination can be found to be essentially irrelevant. Often times one data point that initially seemed very powerful turns out to be a completely meaningless random outlier once more data has been gathered.

      My concern is that you're making a habit of drastically overstating and leaving people with a massively inflated view of the power of the "evidence" you're putting forward. You very emphatically claimed in the video that it is "nearly impossible" that the Nahom thing could be a coincidence. Do you honestly not find that hyperbolic?

      In another case you made a "know why" video proposing that things like cognate accusative, negative questions, construct state, compound prepositions, and adverbials are evidence of the BOM’s antiquity. You didn't mention that Gilbert Hunt managed to have all of these same "semitisms" in his own book simply by mimicking a biblical style of writing, making this "evidence" very insignificant if not completely irrelevant. I was then blocked from the page when I pointed this out--because that's how scared someone at BoM central was of allowing people to see things in context (I assume Zander).

      You make videos about Alma 36 chiasmus as if its a slam dunk. Maybe you should mention that some studies (Wunderli) did find that it could happen by chance even if others disagreed. Maybe mention that, if I understand him correctly, even Brant Gardner doesn't think the chiasmus was even on the "plate text." Maybe mention that Blake Ostler acknowledges that it isn't a legitimate evidence given the obvious anachronistic theology within it. Maybe acknowledge that chiasmus does show up even in the D&C despite its modern creation, or shows up by chance in other writings from modern prophets, or even in works from apostates like James Strang. You are leaving people with drastically inflated impressions of the power of the evidence, and that is deceptive and irresponsible.

      There is literally nothing even handed about your approach in these videos. I'm not expecting you to present direct evidence against historicity (though BH Roberts did), but you are clearly failing to give people an even handed view of the "evidences" you're presenting. This being the case I think its funny that you're talking about how people are dogmatically committed to a total war on the book of mormon with refusal to acknowledge any evidence on its behalf. I think the real issue is just that when most of those who leave hear the other side's evidence, they find that the evidence they felt supported their faith suddenly becomes very insignificant if not meaningless. They find that apologists like yourself led them into thinking evidence was much more powerful and significant than it was. They find that apologists writing that they'd read completely left out information and evidence that was hugely important to the issues.

      Today's traditional apologists largely refuse to acknowledge or validate (at least publicly) the real depth of the evidence against traditional views. We need more like BH Roberts who are willing to say things like "we have a great many problems with the Book of Mormon," and who would have had genuine respect and understanding for someone who concluded it wasn't historical. He was even willing to state that sections of D&C prophecy are not to be taken literally. The days open thought and expression like that were stamped out. Roberts would have been ashamed of these videos. Not because they present evidence in favor of faith--which he held to--but because they so obviously lead people to see the evidence as more powerful than it is.

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  12. The debate between Jenkins and Hamblin can be found here

  13. Hi Andrew,

    You said:

    “I’m suggesting is that if you simply go over there and see the place for yourself, the whole debate about roundness is moot. There is literally nothing to debate. Beginning to end, the NHM narrative is nonsense after you simply go over there and walk the ground. It doesn’t make sense.”

    And further:

    “I’m not telling you to take my word for it, I’m suggesting maybe you shouldn’t take their word for it. Go over there, decide for yourself. That’s what I did, and it completely changed my attitude about the whole thing.”

    I respect where you are coming from, and frankly envy the opportunity you’ve had. But as much as I’d love to take your advice and just go check-it out for myself, that is hardly feasible. For one thing, I lack the financial resources at this time (unless you’d like to help me out with that? ;), but there is also the matter of international politics. Yemen is not exactly the safest destination these days, and I personally would consider a trip there ill-advised for personal safety reasons.

    So for now, I really have little choice but to do my best to critically evaluate the claims made by others who have been there. Is this an appeal to authority? Sure. But your own comments are likewise little more than an appeal to your personal authority as someone whose been there and who knows Arabic. Since, at the end of the day, all people cannot experience all things or become subject matter experts in everything, we all have to rely on others to some degree and as you yourself have said, when it comes to this credibility must be evaluated. So let me just tell you what I see as I make those evaluations:

    On the one hand, I have an anonymous commenter on my blog who claims to have some semi-relevant undergraduate training, and some relevant on the ground experience, telling me that just being there collapses the whole argument, telling me that there is no linguistic connection between the modern Nehem and the ancient South Arabian Nehem, and telling me that the dating of the altars is suspect. Some of these claims are being made with little-to-no argumentation or analysis.

    On the other hand, I have people like Kent Brown, Stephen Ricks, Warren Aston, and George Potter, and several others, who have spent a combine total of decades in Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the like, doing on the ground research relative to Nahom and the rest of 1 Nephi. They’ve combined that with decades of library research on the subjects as well. Some of them are fully qualified experts on relevant matters—such as Ricks’s expertise on inscriptional south Arabian. Others, such as Aston, have presented and published on the subject matter in reputable non-LDS peer reviewed venues.

    They’ve provided me with pages and pages of detailed descriptions and analysis of the region and the topography, hundreds of photos, video footage, and satellite imagery. They’ve also provided me with extensive exegesis and discussion of the Book of Mormon text and explained why they interpret passages the way they do and so on.

    So I hope you can see why a person—irrespective of ideology—would consider them a more credible option to follow. They’ve given me a lot more to go off of, and I have spent years reading and occasionally factchecking their work, critically evaluating it to the best of my ability, and so forth. I don’t take everything they’ve said as gospel (Potter, in particular, makes some pretty sketchy arguments, in my estimation), but they’ve done the leg work to earn credibility on the subject in my view. You haven’t.

    Sorry if that bothers you or feels dismissive. Like you, though, I am not trying to persuade you one way or the other—just letting you know where I stand on the issue. Thanks for coming and sharing your perspective, though. I genuinely appreciate it.

    1. PS: for the record, you are incorrect when you say:

      “Correct me if I'm wrong here, but all this NHM business is published only in LDS apologetic journals, no? Or pay to play kind of journals? The Journal of Arabian Studies that Neal cites, which Aston is published in, isn't that a pay to play journal? It's not reputable. And this is further demonstrated by Aston's citation index. Literally the only people who cite his publications are LDS apologists.”

      You asked to be corrected, so consider this a correction. Alexander Sima, in “Queen of Sheba: Treasures from Ancient Yemen” published by the British Museum Press interprets the Nihm on the altars as referring to the Nihm region west of Marib, which is the same location as modern Nehem. Christian Robins’s work also indicates that NHM in first millemium BC sources refers to the same tribe as modern and Islamic sources, and that that tribe lived in the same general region then as it does now.

      Your assertions about the Journal of Arabian Studies is also incorrect. It is a traditional peer-review journal that is consider reputable. It participates in the Taylor and Francis group’s “open select” program, which you can read about here:

      In short, they follow standard peer-review procedures, and AFTER a submission is already accepted for publication, they give authors the option: Pay to have it available in open access, or don’t and have it behind a pay wall. But the research gets published either way. Aston chose to pay and make his paper publicly available, a fact which I am personally grateful for because it gives everyone the opportunity to read and evaluate his claims themselves.

    2. Neal,

      Why, then, is the Journal of Arabian Studies not listed in the DOAJ? Which lists reputable open access journals.

      Why doesn't my university library ([edited out], boasting a very highly ranked MES / NES program), which is one of the largest in the world, subscribe to the journal? Not only does it not subscribe to it, it's not even listed in their database at all. In my experience, if the university doesn't carry something, they'll at least list it and I can request special access.

      On top of this, ResearchGate doesn't list the journal, JournalGuide has a listing with an impact of zero and all details are unknown, and then google scholar gives a very low h-index.

      This isn't my field, but from quick searches the journal doesn't appear very reputable. Publications are all over map, with virtually no research impact. On the other hand, if the research is reputable, why not publish in a journal like Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy? From my searches this seems a reputable venue and one that is specifically oriented to the subject matter.

      *Edited to remove identifying info.

    3. Hi Andrew,

      "Why, then, is the Journal of Arabian Studies not listed in the DOAJ?"

      Well, I am guessing that the main reason is because it's NOT an open access journal, as I already explained. Inclusion in the DOAJ requires that a journal be a full-open access journal--ALL content must be freely available. So the Journal of Arabian Studies (JAS) does not qualify, since most of its content is NOT open access.

      (And I actually need to correct myself here--Aston's article there is NOT open access, as I thought it was. It is behind a pay wall, which means there is little reason to assume it did not legitimately pass peer-review.)

      As for why it is not in your university library, I haven't the slightest idea. But I am not sure that really proves anything, since there are tens of thousands of academic journals out there, and I don't know a single university library that has access to them all. When I was in school, I occasionally ran into this kind of problem, but it never led me to the conclusion that the journal was wanting access too was disreputable.

      But, for what it may be worth to you, just tinkering around on the websites of various university libraries for a few minutes, I found that UCLA, University or Toronto, and Cambridge (in addition to BYU, which I assumed you would dismiss) all provide access to the Journal of Arabian Studies. I'm sure there are many others.

      I think it is worth keeping in mind that the journal has only been around since 2011. It takes time to build-up subscriptions, awareness, and reputation. Like most journals JAS had very little content available at first launch, so it's not like everybody and their dog immediately started citing their publications. It takes time both for a journal to build up a stable of content on enough topics to start catching the interest of more and more researchers and for research that might sight something published since 2011 to get through the slow grind of the academic and peer-review process. Such is life.

      Still, perhaps I could have chosen my words better. When I said "considered reputable," what I was trying to say was that JAS is a legitimate, peer-review journal, and not some pay-to-publish scam as you were insinuating.

      As to why Aston didn't publish in Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy or some other journal, you'd have to ask him that. I don't see much point in playing some speculative game--there are all kinds of reasons an article may not be published in one journal or another, not all of them related to the quality of the research.

      It may be worth noting, however, that Aston's article is not strictly about archaeology or epigraphy. It is about tracing a tribe and its territory through time back to the first millennium BC and then up to the present. With that in mind, the Journal of Arabian Studies arguably makes for a better fit for it, since the stated focus of the JAS is on the Arabian Peninsula "from Antiquity to the present day."


    In this site Neal debates with Jenkins. An interesting letter comes from archaeologist Keith Eppich

    I can actually speak to this with a fairly unique perspective. I was raised Mormon and have read the "Book of Mormon" several times. I am also an archaeologist who works in Mesoamerica.
    The biggest thing that Rappleye gets wrong is that while there is no evidence to support the narrative of the Exodus, there is nothing that frankly contradicts that same narrative. Additionally, as you point out, no one actively questions the existence of any of these cultures, people, or places.
    The "Book of Mormon," on the other hand, is in direct conflict with the evidence from Pre-Columbian archaeology. Not only is there no evidence that supports the existence of any of the cultures, people, or places of the "Book of Mormon," but the data that does exist flatly refutes it as a historical document. The Book of Mormon mentions meta swords, and horses, and chariots. None of these things existed during the great civilizations of Mesoamerica. The DNA and skeletal evidence clearly points to East Asia as a point of origin, not Jerusalem. Wheat? Silk? None of these things existed in Pre-Columbian civilizations.
    Lastly, we know what was important to the Mesoamericans, corn, chocolate, jade, jaguars, astronomy, calendrics and their writing, none of this appears in the "Book of Mormon."
    Now, I usually steer clear of debates like this, because I think it feeds a very real antiu-Mormon prejudice that one finds in evangelical circles. I bear the Mormon church no animus, in fact, there is much to admire about it. If the "Book of Mormon" helps you live a rich, moral, and fulfilling life, more power to you.
    The problem comes when one tries to establish the historicity of the "Book of Mormon." Then the claims fall under the eye of a critical scholarship. And the account given in the "Book of Mormon" simply cannot hold up under such criticism.
    When apologetics still try to defend it as serious scholarship, it always becomes useful to remind them that the same arguments can be used to defend Graham Hancock. Indeed, Rappleye's exact same argument can be used in defense of ancient alien astronauts. If we can't pin down the narrative of the Exodus, how can be doubt that aliens visited ancient Egypt?

    Michael Coe said he came across LDS who studied Mesoamerican archaeology to support the Book of Mormon and yet just in the end became archaeologists who were Mormon. This guy seems to have done some research

  15. Let us get serious here now Since I have received an email from chief Nahom Warren Aston) proponent I would like to take the liberty to show Aston's thoughts about Andrews competence on the issue.

    Both these gentlemen have been to the area.

    Hi Noel, glad you are alive and well.

    I've had a brief look at the debate on Neal Rappleye's blog and on the BMC website video link. None of the counter claims are original - most were aired a few months ago on Jeff Lindsay's website. All I can say about the fellow you mention is that it demonstrates only that speaking Arabic as he claims and spending time in Yemen does not ensure one has any common-sense! Like the other negative comments, he completely misses the significance of the altar discoveries.

    His comments about the spelling are embarrassingly uninformed. And has he never heard of Google Earth? Anyone can click on the Nahom area and track eastwards at a low altitude! There is nothing but rolling plains - no mountain ridges contra his silly comment! - for hundreds of miles until you arrive at the Qamar ranges at the coast of Oman. Then Wadi Sayq leads you through the mountains to Kharfot. I've been there, on the ground, and published photos of the terrain years ago.

    In fact, as with the discovery of Khor Kharfot, the consistent weakness of the "rebuttals" is very telling. I leaves me wondering, again, why people recycle claims that they clearly haven't researched properly. Better to remain quiet and keep some credibility!


    Ok Andrew look forward to your response. Who lacks "credibility"

    1. Google Earth he says? Great idea!

      *Note, not meant in a braggadocios way, but for those who are trying to do a little googling of their own, the key is to do those searches in Arabic. If you search for these places, by name, in arabic, you'll get lots of hits on google. Search for the English transliterations and you'll find little to nothing. Just FYI.

      Ok, so I found this map put out by a news organization that shows the Nehem district in Yemen, along with notable place names pertaining to ongoing conflict. I’m doing this to show a reference. Don’t take my word for where Nehem is located, look and see where the people in Yemen say it’s located. And here it is.

      I then pulled that area up in Google Earth, seen below. I try to get the same angle, but obviously that’s hard to capture exactly. You get the idea. Hopefully it's obvious these are the same. My sat images are a bit newer.

      Nehem is in the middle of the mountains, as I said. It does not track “eastward at a low altitude.” It is jagged sharp up/down ridges. I also show location of other notable sites related to NHM. The stone with inscription at Baran site in Marib. The burial grounds in Ruwaiq mountains. Ruwaiq is 100+ miles from Nehem, crossing great distances of treacherous mountains. Note, Ruwaiq is the site that is along the infamous incense trial. This is the principle area spoken of in the BMC video that is the "largest burial grounds" in all of arabia. Look how far and different a location that is from Nehem.

      Warren wants people to think Nehem is in Marib or Ruwaiq, but it’s not. Different places.

      Warren then says, “There is nothing but rolling plains - no mountain ridges contra his silly comment! - for hundreds of miles until you arrive at the Qamar ranges at the coast of Oman.”

      Hahaha, say what? Warren has reduced the Hadramaut mountains to “nothing but rolling plains.” Look at the photos I added of Wadi Dawan… that’s what this area looks like. Get on google and search for images in the hadaramaut area. Get on Google Earth, click on the many pictures scattered all over Hadramaut areas. Look like plains to anybody? It’s mountains.

    2. A few additional comments. First, thanks for your post Noel. And also thanks to Warren for his email. I welcome discussion and clearing up any misunderstandings.

      I do find it a bit amusing that a UFO conspiracy theorist is lecturing about "common sense" though. And I don't say this to be rude. Maybe extraterrestrials are visiting the earth. I'm a fan of X-Files. I'm actually not opposed to the idea at all, but show me the evidence. I haven’t read any of Warren’s UFO books, but given that I haven’t seen any articles in major publications about confirmed extraterrestrial visitations, I must assume that it’s the garden variety Coast to Coast late night radio fodder.

      Point being, there is nothing "common" about any of this.

      If an LDS Arabic speaker with experience in Yemen finds the NHM arguments wholly unconvincing, what is "common sensical" about it? I lack common sense, seriously? One would think that of all people on the planet, I'm in a very tiny percentage of those who should be expected to understand the professed significance of these altars. Not only is that not the case, but I find the claims misleading, even dishonest.

      Didn’t even Joseph Smith say something to the effect that he wouldn’t believe himself? Nothing personal against Warren. I'm sure he'd be an interesting guy to have dinner with and there'd be much common ground and mutual interests. Clearly we both have similar personalities in many respects. Not very many people wander into a place like Yemen to begin with.

      All that being said, this discussion really needs to be brought back down to earth. I want to be clear here that my issue was mostly with the BMC video, and the highly sensational/dishonest manner in which it presents things. Russel Ash's comment is spot on. I would be interested to know whether Warren agrees with the video and finds it to be and honest and reasonable presentation of his work?

      The summary of the video states, “Is there any archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon? Many readers have posed this question, both out of genuine interest and also as a challenge to the book's authenticity. As explored in this video, the location Nahom in the Book of Mormon has been archaeologically confirmed.”

      Archaeologically confirmed?

      It’s a complete lie.

      I am not disputing the claim that a stone bearing the inscription NHM was found. I’m also not disputing the claim that people in 600BC could travel from Jerusalem to the coast of Oman, or anywhere else in the entire Arabian peninsula for that matter. What I’m disputing is the extraordinary claim that the findings are evidence of the Book of Mormon’s historicity. And in saying this, I’m also not making the claim that the Book of Mormon isn’t historical. The “truth” of the BOM does not hinge on these NHM arguments.

      The heart of the apologetic claim is that the text of the BOM describes a particular route from Jerusalem to “Bountiful” that is both statistically significant in terms of it’s unique pattern and also that this would have been unknowable to Joseph Smith. Therefore, evidence.

      This is not true. For a long list of reasons, which I have outlined.

      What I observe most about Warren's response is that he engages in a kind of venue change. What it boils down to is he wants people to believe that Nehem is in a completely different location from where it actually is. And then he grossly oversimplifies the geography to suit his argument. He wants you to think that the vague description of "nearly eastward" is a perfect description that fits the one and only route to the coastline, where the one and only fertile site in the whole peninsula is located. None of those things are true.

    3. I repeat, I am not making the claim that there isn’t “some” route from Nehem to Oman. Sure there is, lots of them. There are lots valleys that go all sorts of directions through those mountains. A group of people could have traveled to Oman. The issue has nothing to do with this. It’s about whether the description provided in the BOM is unique and matches to a point of significance. Clearly it does not.

      Personally I think the whole NHM business comes apart right at the beginning because how did they get to Nehem? The text makes it very clear that they were on the coast of the Red Sea. So they are on the wrong side of the mountains. Look at the maps I posted. That is a lot of mountain range to cross over from the coast and the BOM says nothing about it. If the BOM omits such details, then the few details it does provide become insignificant. Any amount of conjecture, aka fiction, can be introduced to make it fit. And if the argument is that they were on the east side of the mountains, you have the same problem! The book doesn’t say that. It a very plain and precious way, it says they are next to the coast. If they weren’t actually next to the coast, but 100+ miles inland, which is also a huge discrepancy for people in 600BC btw, then the other details are equally worthless.

      Even putting all that aside if we think it’s reasonable to say they traveled along the incense route, ok, well that’s 100 or so miles east of Nehem. So you’re saying they turned west, went into the mountains, buried Ishmael, then did a 180, back across the mountains, over the desert, etc. Yet again, doesn’t match with the text. And logically, why would they do that?

      What is the “common sense” significance of this that I’m missing?

    4. And then on top of this is all the other stuff. There are many angles to consider all this from. I’m just repeating myself here. BMC makes a big deal out of Nehem supposedly being a special burial grounds, for example. That claim is false. Just completely and totally false. There is nothing special about Nehem in terms of burying people.

      But even if it were true, purely for sake of discussion, I don’t understand the significance? Am I an idiot or something? What is the “common sense” I’m missing? Are the apologists saying that the Nephites made a special journey to Nehem just to bury Ishmael? So did he die weeks, even months, earlier and they made a special point of carrying his body to Nehem? Or was it just dumb luck coincidence that Ishmael happened to die as they were passing through? Say they had already passed Nehem, would they have then turned back to take Ishmael’s body there? This seems to be what they are implying. How is that common sense behavior?

      Put aside NHM and all the supposed physical evidence. Purely in terms of logic, I flatly do not understand the significance of this. In fact, claims to this effect diminish all the other arguments. It quickly starts devolving into a fairy tale. Ishmael, buried in the most notable burial grounds in all of the middle east, the very name of which means “to mourn.” Are you kidding? What Disney movie did you pull this out of? Things like this don’t happen in the real world. What is the statistical chance that real person from a real group of people taking years to travel from Jerusalem to Oman by foot would just happen to drop dead right next to the one and only burial grounds for many hundreds of miles in all directions, also named “to mourn?”

      But what's really amazing, is you're presenting this as hard physical evidence of the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and you do so with a straight face?

    5. On and on.

      Warren says, “His comments about the spelling are embarrassingly uninformed.”

      In what way are my comments about the spelling uninformed? What comments, specifically, is he referring to? Is he talking about argument that the word "borders" in 1N1614 is a reference to the Hejaz mountains? Or is he referring to my statement that the English character H represents many different sounds/characters in Arabic? Or my related statement that the place name Nehem is spelled with completely different characters from the hebrew word Nacham referenced in the BMC video as a “word play?”

      There are so many things going on here it’s hard to keep track. And this is how the video attempts to "get" people.

    6. From Warren Aston:

      Dear Andrew and Noel,

      I don’t believe it serves anyone’s interests (yours, mine, other readers of this blog) to respond to the aspects of Nahom that you bring up. Until you have mastered at least the primary material on Nahom, you will keep raising issues that have been comprehensively rebutted years ago.

      My advice to you is simple: if, for example, I wanted to challenge someone’s belief in mermaids, I would at least read what they had actually said about mermaids. Then I would examine the reasoning and evidence from others who believed in them. At the risk of appearing to be a fool by speaking of what I know not, I would do this before challenging their belief in those elusive and much-maligned creatures.

      But, despite your inexcusable claims about a peer-reviewed academic journal being overturned, you continue making baseless, un-researched, assertions. Your latest message mentioning the Hadhramaut mountains is a prime example; anyone with some familiarity with the subject would know that those mountains are irrelevant to the Nahom story. For one thing, they cannot be accurately described as “nearly eastward” of Nahom. Who has ever suggested otherwise? Precisely no-one!

      Over the years I have discussed the land route in some depth; easily accessible with a few clicks of a mouse. Parts 2 and 4 of my most recent book, Lehi and Sariah in Arabia, deal with this subject comprehensively. So, once you have read the basic material (and tracked eastwards from Nihm on Google Earth as I suggested) if you still object to something, please write. It would be nice to have something original to respond to, but please let it be an informed criticism.

      Sometimes in life we have to face realities different from what we imagined. That fact brings to mind Beckwith, Mosser and Owen, the evangelical scholars who attacked Nahom (The New Mormon Challenge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 498 and endnotes 107 and 108. Their intellectual honesty in conceding that the evidence for Nahom is “impressive only if one assumes a trip through Arabia rather than Sinai” was groundbreaking. Of course, Nephi’s account has always ruled out any possibility that the Lehite journey was anywhere other than across the Arabian Peninsula. And they published that in 2002, before the altar discoveries that established the antiquity of the name became known.

      I have only one agenda: Truth. Wherever it leads. No religion is higher than Truth. If anyone could show me that the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be, I’d be the first to embrace it. No-one is controlling me or pulling my strings.

      Over the years I have found only multiplying indications that the Book of Mormon is indeed an ancient record. Standing amidst lush vegetation, wild fruit and timber trees on the Arabian coast and tracing the letters NHM on a 700 BC altar, are just two of many real-world experiences that have been especially powerful.

      The fact that the attacks on Nahom have remained weak and incoherent speaks for itself.


    7. Just saw this latest response from Warren.

      As with the previous, it is completely lacking in specifics and logically backwards. Overall, it is a strange straw man kind of response. Mermaids? Warren seems to be under the impression that the burden is on me to prove something, when it's not. I am not trying to convince him that mermaids aren't real, it's the opposite, he is failing to convince me that they are real.

      I have not read his book, but I have read some of his other publications. The ones cited by BMC which are available online in PDF. As well as the ones by Kent Brown. I have read them, and no, they do not rebut my points at all. Not even close. In fact, they actually reinforce some of my points. If there is other material in his book that improves the NHM argument, I'm happy to read it. How about this? If he'll send me a copy of his book in PDF, I'll read it and respond in depth. And I repeat my request for Warren to provide a KMZ file that shows the route precisely.

      Neal, both you and Warren, probably unknowingly, seem to be channeling tired old philosophical arguments against inductive reasoning. The NHM arguments are like a form of the raven paradox, engaging in faulty intuition and presenting data of random things like red tricycles as evidence for the supposition that all crows are black.

      If you aren’t familiar I would encourage you to go read about the debates that happened between scientists Harold Jeffreys and Ronald Fisher, and philosopher Karl Popper, which resembles the motivations that inspired Thomas Bayes in the 18th century in response to similar arguments against induction by the philosopher David Hume.

      You might notice a pattern emerging. Your tired arguments fly in the face of literally all scientific knowledge, which has been obtained through inductive reasoning.

      Warren uses this example of mermaids. Arguments against induction are based on the idea that a theory is being tested against an infinite number of possibilities. I cannot prove that mermaids aren’t real, for instance, because they could be real - somewhere. I cannot demonstrate a high absolute probability against all alternatives for this theory about mermaids, and therefore cannot prove that induction derived from it is right. But that isn’t how probability works.

      The plausibility of a hypothesis must be tested relative to a defined set of alternatives. It is not the function of induction to be “right,” or to tell us what predictions must be “true,” but to tell us what predictions are the most strongly indicated by our hypothesis and the available data. And this also requires induction based on hypothesis that we do not believe or even know to be false. We cannot demonstrate evidence of a theory without knowing what predictions are made by alternative theories. Lip service must be paid to these alternative theories that we don’t believe in order to determine their predictions and weight them against the predictions of the theory we like. This is how science works. A theory is derived from the “strongest” indication of the present data. Over time that theory may be strengthened even further with continued observation and become a law, or the theory will be adjusted or tossed our entirely.

  16. Thanks Andrew. I hope Warren responds as I like to see the strength of his theory tested.

    1. Noel, ask Warren if he can provide a KMZ file that shows the exact route he argues the Nephites took from Jerusalem to "Bountiful." I'd also like to find a KMZ file that shows the famous incense trail. Has anyone made such a thing?

  17. Andrew when I read about your experiences in the Yemen area I was reminded of my reading of The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton by Fawn Brodie. I realise Mormons might considered anything she wrote was bunk but I find his account interesting of how he went to Mecca in disguise, master the language enough to translate some of the erotic books like Arabian Nights. His wife destroyed some of his work because of it's sexual nature. You never had to disguise yourself?

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    1. "Is Lamanai in Mesoamerica a Book of Mormon city? or is the similarity just a coincidence? Lamani is in the right place and dates to the right time."

      Actually, no. Lamanai is NOT in the right place, and it is NOT documented at the right time. Lamani is in Mesoamerica, yes, but based on my own assessment of Book of Mormon geography, it falls out of the purview of Book of Mormon geography. Even if I were to follow a geographic model that considers the Yucatec/Caribbean coast as part of Book of Mormon lands, Lamanai would be in Nephite territory, which would be the wrong place for a city called Laman. So no, not in the right place.

      As for dating to the right time, yes Lamani has ruins dated back to pre-classic times. But the name Lamani is documented no earlier that the seventh-century AD. The only mention of a city called Laman in the Book of Mormon is AD 30. So present evidence comes from too late a time.

      Lastly, the only thing we know about the city of Laman is that it was burned ca. AD 30. I am aware of no evidence that Lamanai was burned ca. first century AD.

      So no, its not evidence, but it is also not comparable to Nahom/NHM at all. The point made in the video and literally everywhere else is that this is more than just a similar name correspondence. If Lamanai was in, say, the Valley of Guatemala and had evidence of burning around the first century AD, then I'd find the potential correlation interesting, even if the name couldn't be traced back to the first century AD. If, on top of those things, the name was confirmed for the first century AD, then yes, I would consider evidence. But as it is, Lamanai is in the wrong place, the name can't be traced back to Book of Mormon times, and there is no evidence correlating with the Book of Mormon's (limited) description of the city of Laman.

      Nahom/NHM, on the other hand, is in a location that fits with the Book of Mormon narrative, the name has been documented to before Nephi's time or close to it, and it's features fit well with the Book of Mormon description. If NHM were along the Persian Gulf, or in northern Arabia, or close to Mecca, it would be in the wrong place and would not be evidence. So it's not just about being in Arabia and having the name NHM.

      And the existence of thousands of inscriptions does NOT increase the probability of a specific place or person existing. It does increase the probability of discovering or identifying mention of a specific place, if it exists. If you spent any time at all reading the literature written by biblical scholars and archaeologists on this subject, you would understand this and realize that they generally don't expect to be able to identify most people mentioned in biblical writings unless there are thousands of inscriptions to draw from. You are obsessed with probability, but don't really seem to understand how it applies to this situation very well.

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  19. Curiosity got the better of me so I've been having some fun searching through, which is a neat site BTW. And I also found another site,, which databases other ancient arabian inscriptions.

    *BTW, I find it quite telling that Neal would be unfamiliar with tools like these. I see that he and Stephen authored a paper in the Interpreter about all this. Has he never even done a simple google search on “pre-islamic inscriptions in arabia?”

    From what I can tell just based on quick searches, there are hundreds of instances of "NHM" found all over Arabia, in Yemen, in Saudi Arabia, in the northern parts of Yemen like Al Jawf, and also in the southern mountains like Al Bayda. As well as in the mountains to the southeast like Raymah and Dhamar. All over Saudi Arabia in the north, south, east, and west. This name is found literally everywhere, and in a whole bunch of different languages, Sabaic, Minaic, Hadramitic, etc. It’s a common name.

    But here’s where things get really interesting. There is zero recognition among experts that NHM was a toponym along the incense trail, much less a notable one. The place that the altars were found at in Marib did not go by any variation of the name NHM. In ancient times it went by the name MRB or AWM. And there is evidence of this going back to 1000BC. And to be clear when I say this I don’t mean that one temple site, I mean the whole large-radius geographical region went by that name. And this is very important because that is the region apologists say Ishmael would have been buried in, or more specifically, the point at which the Nephites turned east and started in a straight line for Oman. Look at all the maps apologists draw. They turn east in Marib. Also important, it was a well populated area in the time the Nephites would have traveled through.

    In ancient times Marib was a very notable location. It was the “great oasis of Marib.” Legends about this place where spoken of all over the middle east. It appears in writings everywhere. It is where the ancient spice trail turns east.

    1. Here is one description,

      “The kingdom of Saba is known to have existed in the region of Yemen. By 1000 BC caravan trains of camels journeyed from what is now Oman in south-east Arabia to the Mediterranean. As the camel drivers passed through the deserts of Yemen, experts believe that many of them would have called in at Marib.”

      “Dating from at least 1050 BC, and now barren and dry, Marib was then a lush oasis teeming with palm trees and exotic plants. Ideally placed, it was situated on the trade routes and with a unique dam of vast proportions. It was also one of only two main sources of frankincense (the other being East Africa), so Saba had a virtual monopoly. Marib's wealth accumulated to such an extent that the city became a byword for riches beyond belief throughout the Arab world.”

      “Its people, the Sabeans - a group whose name bears the same etymological root as Saba - lived in South Arabia between the tenth and sixth centuries BC. Their main temple - Mahram Bilqis, or temple of the moon god (situated about three miles from the capital city of Marib) - was so famous that it remained sacred even after the collapse of the Sabean civilisation in the sixth century [CE]* - caused by the rerouting of the spice trail. By the that point the dam, now in a poor state of repair, was finally breached. The irrigation system was lost, the people abandoned the site within a year or so, and the temple fell into disrepair and was eventually covered by sand. Saba was known by the Hebrews as Sheba, and it survives today (Saba = Sa'abia = Saudi Arabia).” *typo corrected, BCE to CE

      Did you catch that? Way back in these ancient times men had constructed a dam in Marib. And there was a large community that lived in this area. The dam is considered one of the engineering wonders of the ancient world. For context, it was twice as long as the Hoover Dam, almost half a mile long. This is the famous ancient city that became the home of the biblical Queen Sheba. You know how many people it would have taken to construct a dam like that?

    2. The Mahram Bilqis temple mentioned is less than a mile away from the Baran temple, which is a companion site, also called the Throne of Bilqis. There is a mound of evidence that if anybody had come through this area in 600BC, it would have been widely known as MRB, or even perhaps AWM, but not NHM! Experts are not aware of any ancient place called NHM at all. At the temple site where the NHM inscription is found, NHM is recognized as a tribal name, that part is true. But many other tribal names are also recognized from inscriptions found AT THE SAME SITES. Here is a list of tribal names found at the same temple sites.

      Bklm rbʿn ḏ-Rydt
      Ḫwln Gddm
      Ḫllyn (nisba)
      S¹bʾ Khln
      ʾs¹bʾn (nisba)

      In addition to this, NHM is one of the less notable names. Many of the other names appearing with much greater frequency. So if we’re to conjecture that a particular area “might” have been called NHM because of the location of these altars, we could just as easily, and more reasonably, conjecture that the same area might have been called by a completely different name that’s also found, and more frequently.

      Long story short, there is zero evidence whatsoever that connects the NHM altar inscriptions to any physical location/toponym. It’s a complete leap of faith, and one that requires ignoring other evidence to the contrary. The only correlation whatsoever is that “maybe” the NHM found in these Sabean ruins is connected with the Nehem toponym in Arabic, a different language and which appears about 1200 years later and 100 miles away in a physical location that would have been impossible for the Nephites to travel through. That’s a pretty big leap of faith. And then in addition to this we can find numerous instances of the NHM name appearing all throughout ancient Arabia. We can just as reasonably conjecture that any one of those places “might” have gone by the name NHM in ancient times as well.

    3. But the most damning thing of all is what’s missing. A lot of effort has been put into debating feasible travel paths that the Nephites could have taken. And that debate always ends up in Marib. Apologists make a huge deal about how the “only” place they could have turned east is in this region. Kent Brown has a whole paper about this, Nahom and the “Eastward” Turn. And this is pretty weak stuff to begin with because all they are doing is appropriating the scholarly work of others pertaining to the spice trail.

      Yes, the spice trail does a hard turn to the east. There are volumes and volumes written about this. And where does that eastward turn happen? Does it happen in a place that ancients referred to as Nahom? No, it happened in what was the huge freaking oasis of Marib. Or the lesser known name of Awam.

      If instead of “nahom” the BOM read “a place called Marib,” or “a place called Awam,” that would really be something. Because that would have been a really weird name for Joseph to choose at random, not biblical (like Nahum and Nehemia), that he wouldn’t have known about, and which strongly correlates with an area well known in ancient times where they would have stopped and turned if following the spice trail. It also would be pretty interesting if the BOM had included other details, like they turned at this place called Awam, which was a great oasis in the desert filled with exotic vegetation, etc., etc. There is a huge city with a ton of people and engineering marvels. Those would have been really weird and unknowable details in the 19th century since Marib had been a desert wasteland since about 575 CE when the dam in Marib collapsed. It’s pretty bizarre that the Nephites travelled down the famous spice trail and yet didn’t observe any of these things.

      And not just in the Marib area, but all along the southern route as well. Like the biblical kingdom of Dadan has been found in northwest Arabia in modern Saudi Arabia, described by experts as being one of “the six principal oases on the northern section of the trans-Arabian caravan route.” The same route that the Nehites supposedly traveled through. And also notably Dadan is in the Hijaz area, which apologists claim ties to the word “borders” in the BOM. That would have been pretty neat if the BOM mentioned this biblical kingdom that nobody knew about in the 19th century. And in context is pretty darn bizarre that the Nephites wouldn’t have mentioned strolling through this kingdom in the course of their journey, or any of the other six principle oases and related kingdoms along the spice route that they would have gone through.

      Any details that we find from people who have actually been to arabia, in both ancient and modern times, are strangely absent from the description in the BOM. NHM isn’t evidence of the book’s historicity, it’s exactly the opposite.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Just saw your comment.

      Answer: Anything is possible. Whether a given name does or doesn't share an ancestor is a different matter though. Biblical figure Nahum doesn't appear in the Quran.

  20. What happened to Andrew's latest post?

  21. Hi Andrew,

    You wrote: "From what I can tell just based on quick searches, there are hundreds of instances of "NHM" found all over Arabia, in Yemen, in Saudi Arabia, in the northern parts of Yemen like Al Jawf, and also in the southern mountains like Al Bayda. As well as in the mountains to the southeast like Raymah and Dhamar. All over Saudi Arabia in the north, south, east, and west. This name is found literally everywhere, and in a whole bunch of different languages, Sabaic, Minaic, Hadramitic, etc. It’s a common name."

    I'm struggling to verify this assertion using the websites that you provided. Can you give several specific examples (provided with the website's search process that you used to get them). I tried to find a way to access all nhm-related names in all regions, but I wasn't having success. I'm wondering if I am just using the search engine incorrectly.

    1. For instance, on the general CORPUS OF SOUTH ARABIAN INSCRIPTIONS web page there is a tool called "word lists" that basically lets the viewer search for any word that shows up in the various corpora in the South Arabian data base. I only found two instances of nhm in this data base, and neither was designated as a toponym.

      Here is the web page:

      I checked the Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia
      and the Corpus of Nabataean Inscriptions and they had no instances of nhm. How did you quickly find the "hundreds of instances [of nhm] all over Arabia" that you reported?

    2. Hi Ryan,

      You need to run character combination searches thinking about the sound combinations in arabic that might get conflated with an "NHM" transliteration in english. You can also just generally list certain things alphabetically and scroll through and tally results that way.

      I didn't spend much time on this. Initially I started tallying hits and it was getting big pretty fast so I just abandoned it at that point. I called it "hundreds" but didn't add it up to a specific number. It's certainly in that realm though. One search came back with 37 results if I remember right, from just one combination in a certain area.

      As an example of what I'm talking about see the footnotes in Warren's "A History of NaHoM" paper. It reads, "The tribal name (as nhmyn) is found in the National Museum of Yemen; see item YM 11748 under 'Minuscule Texts.'"

      Warren's papers repeatedly engage in this. Actually, it's sort of the central theme in all these NHM arguments. His paper in Journal of Arabian Studies for instance makes a big deal of connecting the "ha" in Arabic with the "Ha" in Hebrew, which is a different character/sound.

      This whole debate is one of connecting the character/sound in one language with another... making some kind of convoluted journey through Hebrew, Sabaic, Arabic, French, German, and English. You've got 18th century maps with transliterations in one language, 19th century Book of Mormon with "nahom" in english, ancient-preislamic Sabean ruins, and so on.

      And actually, we should add the Arabic Book of Mormon to this discussion as well. I already did earlier, but here's yet another aspect of this to consider.

      The toponym "Nehem" or "Nihm" in modern Yemen is نهم (nihm)

      The word "nahom" in the Arabic BOM is ناحوم (naaHuooma)

      These two words are worlds apart. Entirely different character for "h," like a "p" instead of a "t". And the introduction of additional characters (alif, waw) in addition to the unwritten vowels.

    3. In my opinion this is extremely relevant to the discussion. The church's own inspired translation of the BOM back to its original semitic roots is strongly at odds with these apologetic arguments.

      When I was in the MTC for 12 weeks learning Japanese I heard numerous stories from general authorities about the inspired translation process of the scriptures into other languages. These stories came from general authorities, apostles, actual language experts who had been involved in the translation themselves. More times than I can remember I was told that I would get special insights into the meaning of scriptures by studying them in a second language other than English. I was told that in some cases the meaning of certain verses carried over better in these other languages, or having two approaches to the verse would get me a kind of "second witness" and help me understand the true original (pre-English) meaning better.

      One story I was told was about the translation of the Book of Abraham into Japanese. And the person who told this story was a Japanese man who witnessed it first-hand. So he said. The way the story went is that the translators, which included this man, were confused about the word "estate" in Abraham 3. Very famous verse, I'm sure you're familiar with it. Well the translators weren't sure what word to use and they had been leaning towards the word "ie" for house. They went to the First Presidency with their problem. When they did so, again how the story was told to me by this man, they did not present the FP with a list of word options to choose from. They simply explained they didn't know what word to use. The FP, none of whom spoke Japanese of course, came back with an answer telling them specifically what word in Japanese to use, "kurai," which was a word the translators hadn't even considered as an option. And I was told this was common. This happened countless times in many languages. Translators would appeal to FP, and they'd come back with a specific word in a language they didn't know. Pretty sweet. This was a wild story for me, obviously, but the punch line of it all was the special meaning of this word "kurai." It doesn't mean "house" or anything like that, but it means "rank" like a position in a military structure. And boy did that put a whole new spin on the meaning of this verse, which was the point of the story being told to us, an example of how we can learn things from the scriptures in other languages.


    4. Going back to your comment.

      Let me be clear that I am not making the argument that all these different variations of "NHM" are plausibly connected to one another. If you've followed my comments you know that early on I said the opposite of this. This is one of the points I'm making, that the apologetic NHM arguments are linguistically fallacious. So in searching through the databases, I'm not going to look for just one specific variation, the one apologists want me to find, playing by their rules I'm going to search for any and all "NHM" variations.

      You also asked about an "NHM" toponym in the database. You may have misunderstood me there. I didn't spend much time, so perhaps there is one to find, but I did not find any NHM toponyms in the database. Not one. Which is something I specifically said in my previous comment. This is one of the central themes in the NHM argument, that the altar inscription proves the existence of an NHM toponym in ancient arabia. It does not. Experts disagree and do not recognize such a toponym in the area. And no offense to Warren, but he and his conjecture don't count as an expert reference. The only historical recognition of such a toponym appears in the 18th century or so in these various maps that get cited... vs 6th+ century BCE ruins several languages removed. That's a big gap.

      Not only does the apologetic argument make a huge leap by claiming the existence of a NHM toponym, but it claims that this toponym included the vast area of Marib. That Marib was actually called Nahom. LOL!

      FWIW, in the background I have started corresponding with some very notable non-LDS scholars at big-name universities about this. Experts in ancient Arabic, Hebrew, Sabaic, Yemeni dialect, ancient arabian history, and so forth. Thus far they completely agree with me, find these NHM arguments absurd and very unlikely in terms of probabilities.

      Also noteworthy, practically all of these people become immediately turned off and withdraw from the discussion once they learn that it has ties to Mormonism and a religious debate. ROFL! And for that reason I'm not going to directly quote anybody. Understandably they don't want their name showing up in google searches related to this stuff. I can't blame them at all.

      My reason for reaching out to these people is both a sanity check and also I'm exploring the feasibility of putting together a paper that rebuts some of this nonsense in a more official way. Don't hold me to that though. But I have gotten referred to some good reference material that I may grab at the library when time allows. At a minimum if anything interesting comes up I'll be sure to share.

    5. Andrew,

      I think if you could demonstrate that the there was another NHM tribe that existed in antiquity in Arabia and that of these NHM variations that you discovered (none of which you specified), at least one of them could arguably be considered as an ancient toponym, then maybe you would have a better argument. Also, it would be nice to see the list of variations that you consider to be legitimate alternatives. If you don't want to provide them, that is ok. But you made the claim, and I am curious to see what specific words you think are just as linguistically valid.

      You write, "Experts disagree and do not recognize such a toponym in the area." Is there an expert that has explicitly argued against NHM as an ancient toponym in this area? If so, it would be interesting to see a quote or two. Moreover, do you have a good reason why we should assume the Nihm tribal area wasn't a place name in antiquity, as it is today? Is Aston's method of tracing this tribe into antiquity and linking it to their current general location somehow methodologically unsound? And is there a good reason why the Nihm tribal grounds couldn't have extended farther in antiquity than they do today, as Aston carefully proposed.

      I think that your argument really relies on demonstrating that Aston's and others' assumptions are unfounded or poorly developed. Yet so far it seems like you aren't actually dealing with the rationale for their assumptions.

    6. Ryan, here is an example search. Just one "nhm" combination out of numerous, in just one region, and just one ancient language.

      Not to be rude, but why are you asking me to do your work for you?

      Holy Ghost points out that thousands of inscriptions can be found in Yemen.

      Neal, and quite embarrassingly, then says "Absent some rigorous documentation, I am not sure there are 'thousands' of inscriptions in Yemen."

      Holy Ghost then drops a link to one (of many) such databases documenting thousands of inscriptions in Yemen.

      To which Neal, again embarrassingly, replies, "Cool! Thanks for sharing that database, I was not aware of it."

      This database literally comes up within the first couple of hits on google for "pre-islamic inscriptions arabia." And now you're asking me to help you search through the databases?


      You said, "if ... at least one of them could arguably be considered as an ancient toponym, then maybe you would have a better argument."

      I am not following your logic. You, in the collective sense of you all, have not presented evidence of the ancient "Nahom" toponym anywhere on planet earth. Why would I need to provide an alternative toponym to disprove something you have failed to substantiate in the first place? Show me a single historical writing that refers to Marib as Nahom. For that matter, show me a single historical writing that refers to any actual physical place called Nahom.

      As to the rest of your comment I believe these are all points I have previously addressed. A few quick responses though.

      You say, "Is there an expert that has explicitly argued against NHM as an ancient toponym in this area?"

      First, define "this area." See previous comments.

      Next, to your question, yes. As I said that is a discussion which is still happening, so I'm not going to quote anybody. But the responses I've gotten thus far unanimously concur that the sufficient scholarly standard has not been met. And there is dispute over the etymology of the modern word.

      A reasonable counter-question is to ask if you can cite any experts that agree with these claims? Not ufologists or some other LDS/BYU pseudoacademic apologist. Can you show me a notable expert with a credible body of research under their belt, someone like Dionisius A. Agius, who will go on record to support one or any of the NHM claims? And it's important to break those claims down precisely as it's a jumbled mess right now.

      Show me such an expert who says, yes, there was an NHM toponym in ancient times. Yes, it extended into Marib. Yes, if some group of Israelites had traveled the ancient spice route, it is completely reasonable that they could have stopped in Marib and transliterated it as "Nahom" in English.

    7. It gets tiring having to repeat, but correlation does not equal causation, burden of proof, etc. Many people have commented on this thread explaining in a variety of ways how you guys are talking major league smack while playing tee ball. It's embarrassing. You have a small number of extremely low probability correlations and present them as being high probability, significant, and causal.

      Even if they are significant, you haven't done enough work to make the claim that they are. All you have is a hypothesis. Show me the math. Show me the data being fed into the model. What are your controls? Where is the alternative correlative analysis? Do you have the first clue what I'm talking about? I'm assuming not since you're asking me how to operate google on your behalf. I've raised a lot of points that challenge your arguments, not a one of which has been addressed. It's just deer and headlights.

      Neal says, “Sorry, but I am just not going to waste my time trying to meet a burden of proof that is literally impossible, and never asked of anyone else in the field, ever.”

      You mean like running a google search on pre-islamic inscriptions in Arabia? Talk about “literally impossible” standards. ROFL!!

      The way I’m reading this is that to you “proof” is any possibility greater than zero. I don’t dispute a possibility greater than zero for NHM. But, I’d say the same thing about UFOs and mermaids.

      There is a difference between “possible” and “probable.”

      I repeat. I am not disputing that altars bearing NHM inscription were found. I also am not saying that the NHM on the ancient altars "cannot" be linked to the NHM in modern Arabic. They could be linked. What I'm saying, is that you have failed to demonstrate such a link, that "could be" and "are" are two different things. And that is only the tip of the iceberg as far as your problems go. The vast majority of the NHM apologetic is based on 100% pure conjecture, aka fiction, which even Warren admits to in his paper.

      Warren concludes by saying, "While this remains a reconstructed and theoretical history, none of its components are disputed...a plausible story of a corner of early southern Arabia...the possible earlier link of the name to the large-scale construction of burial tombs in the Neolithic era remains conjectural."

      Well, certain components are in fact disputed. See my comments. But nevertheless, Warren presents very little in terms of actual facts and then proceeds to weave this intricate story that to him sounds plausible. Fiction laid on top of a very low-resolution body of evidence, no matter how cute and plausible it sounds, isn't evidence of anything except the depths of human imagination.

    8. Andrew,

      Today, as in antiquity, lands are often associated with the groups of people who inhabit them, and vice versa. For instance, Americans are from America, Germans are from Germany, Canadians are from Canada. In the ancient world, we see the same thing all over the place. Romans were from Rome, Egyptians were from Egypt, Greeks were from Greece, Persians were from Persia, and the 12 tribes of Israel (except for Levi) had lands associated with their tribal names. It is a very common phenomenon. Thus, while it can’t be demonstrated from the textual record, there is good reason to assume that the ancient NHM tribe may have been associated with tribal grounds of the same name, just as the Nihm tribe is today.

      The Book of Mormon mentions that an NHM location existed in association with Lehi’s party’s eastward turn and then it describes a long journey nearly eastward toward a coastal location with a set of unique features. Coincidentally, the only location in ancient Arabia that has a good chance of having had an NHM toponym in Lehi’s day (at least based on our current inscriptional data) happens to exist next to a prominent eastward turn in Southern Arabia that leads to an unusually verdant coastal inlet with these same features. I’m not sure why you can’t grasp this point. This unlikely connection between text and geography is what supplies a good reason to assume that the NHM tribal name was a toponym in antiquity, just as it is today. There didn’t have to be an NHM tribe in Lehi’s day that resided next to a prominent eastward turn leading to a unique coastal location that was likely uninhabited, but there is. Unless you have a good reason to assume that it couldn’t have been a toponym in Lehi’s day, then I think the argument stands.

      It should also be noted that there are a series of other geographical correlations that surround Nahom (some stronger than others) that need to be dealt with. See Neal’s open letter to Jeremy Runnells for an overview:

    9. Aston already knew and has written about other NHM inscriptions in Arabia. Unless you can come up with more NHM words that were likely associated with an ancient NHM toponym in Arabia (like the ancient Nihm tribe), then you really don’t have anything to add, no matter how many personal names and references to stone cutting you find. And even if you did find a few more potentially valid NHM toponyms, it wouldn’t change the fact that the Book of Mormon places the eastward turn at a location next to one of them.

      We don’t know exactly where Nephi’s party turned east, and we don’t know exactly how extensive the Nihm tribal grounds extended in antiquity. When I travel from my home town to the next nearest city, I make a long journey that is nearly due southeast. There are quite a few switch backs and minor direction changes of 5 to 15 miles, but over the entire course of the 160 mile journey it is pretty much a beeline to the next city, at least as the crow flies. Even more so, Lehi’s 700 mile eastward trek to the coast wouldn’t be notably disrupted by a few turns needed to get out of the Nihm tribal regions. Besides, if you place Ishmael’s burial place in the northern region of of the current Nihm tribal grounds, I don’t think there is anything substantive to argue about. The Dhofar region really is a long journey nearly eastward from this location. It seems your arguments only work if you are hyper-literal in your interpretations of Nephi’s travel directions. Yet, when reading his account, it seems fairly clear to me that Nephi wasn’t really giving a step by step travelogue. Rather, he supplies specific directions followed by many days of travel. It works as a general overview that easily accommodates relatively minor detours.

      The possibility that the ancient Nihm tribe was somehow related to the burial grounds northeast of Marib is more tenuous, but certainly not implausible. Yet even without the potential burial connection, the argument still does just fine. So far, I haven't really seen you get into the etymology and word play other than to say that you disagree with it because the letters and sounds in ancient Arabian languages don't directly correspond with their Hebrew counterparts. Yet LDS scholars already have discussed the discrepancies and similarities between these words.

      I guess I’m just not seeing how any of your arguments really offer anything new.

    10. Also, this post from Jeff Lindsay pretty much mirrors and adds to many of the points of our discussion. You may want to read the section entitled: "Can a Tribal Name Be a Place? Misunderstanding Dr. Christian Robin (My Error!)"

    11. Ryan,

      "You tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson

      Regurgitating the already debunked inane talking points doesn't advance this discussion in any way. Sure, a physical place "can" be given a tribal name. So what? I could also name the big toe on my right foot "bob." A noun “can” be applied to anything. That doesn't mean a specific group of people at a specific point in history “did” apply a specific name. Why are you having such a hard time understanding the very easy-to-comprehend distinction between possible and probable?

      The "possibility" of a name isn't confirmation of its historical existence. I hope there is an afterlife just so I can stand there and watch people like you argue with actual historical figures about their history. “No, no, Marib was named Nahom.” I mean this in a light-hearted way, but also to illustrate a point that you seem to be missing even though it’s painted in obnoxious neon colors right in front of your face.

      All you've demonstrated here is that everything I've said is right. You have no evidence. You can't cite any credible experts, no records, nothing. Just fiction, obfuscation.

      Where is the classification model that shows the spatial correlation between toponyms and surnames? What is the likelihood that a tribal name in arabia would have been appropriated as a toponym that would have been recognized by others? Even if you don’t have hard physical evidence of a toponym, an appropriate model might at least lend a wee bit of credibility to your argument if it showed that such a toponym was likely.

      But you don’t even have that.

      You do remember that whole CTR thing we were taught as primary kids, right? Something about letting the consequences follow. Lies do not become us. I'm happy that you believe the BOM to be true. Faith is great. But faith is about beliefs, not knowledge, so stop lying to people about the archaeological confirmation of Nahom!

    12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    13. Just to satiate my own curiosity I've taken the liberty of doing a little more research. Even with these weak responses I'd like the discussion to move forward, if possible.

      No matter how much you want NHM to be a toponym, it's not recognized as one. The CSAI database lists 1057 toponyms in southern arabia and “nhm” isn’t one of them. You say people from the land of America are called Americans, well you know what people from ancient arabia were called? Sabeans, السبئيون‎, or SBA. Previously I already cited a long list of tribal names from the same exact temple sites that the NHM altars came from. There is a recognized toponym for this area, MRB. It gets large numbers of database hits. Also, notably, in territory that extends far north of the temple sites in places like Al Jawf, which is north of the modern Nihm. You mention those burial mounds northeast of the temple sites, Ruwaiq, yeah, there is historical evidence that area went by MRB too. Hard physical evidence that if anybody had traveled through this area they wouldn’t have called it Nahom.

      Not looking good. But it gets better, or worse.

      So digging through the database I found a toponym that could be conflated as NHM in english. In previous comments I said I hadn’t come across one. Well I have now. Actually there is more than one. It’s NHYM. Which is actually quite similar to the nhmyn and nhmynhn that Warren cites as references in his paper. It’s even closer to what you’re looking for. There is a recognized place that went by this name, NHYM. And where is it located? Al Bayda. It’s in the south, far south, 150 miles below Sanaa, in the middle of the mountains. Just about the worst location for your apologetic narrative.

      And check this out, I also found that there was an ancient kingdom of Nashqum in the area. Yet another potential NHM! And in an even different location. NHM is starting to pop up in quite a lot of places.

      Going back to NHYM though, something else that’s interesting. So the Arabic BOM has ناحوم for Nahom. Well that’s NAHYM. Pretty darn close. And we could reasonably drop the alif as superfluous with the vowel, getting us to NHYM. So kind of a perfect match. You know what else ناحوم is? It’s the exact Arabic spelling for the biblical prophet Nahum.

      Might this be evidence to support what I said earlier that the modern Nihm toponym possibly derives from these biblical figures? Might it be evidence that this is where Joseph Smith got the name in the first place?

      Whether looking at it from a faithful or secular perspective, it’s pretty interesting that the Book of Mormon in Arabic, going back to its semitic roots, would use the exact same spelling for Nahom as this biblical prophet Nahum. What’s up with that?

      And interestingly, another thing I just found, in Ethiopia the biblical figure Nahum is spelled Nahom, with an “o” vowel. And wasn’t the BOM dictated? So it’s not really that hard to imagine Joseph saying the word “nahum” and the transcriber writing it down as “nahom.” In terms of probabilities, what is the most probable explanation?

    14. Andrew,

      You wrote, “Regurgitating the already debunked inane talking points doesn't advance this discussion in any way. Sure, a physical place "can" be given a tribal name. So what? I could also name the big toe on my right foot "bob." A noun “can” be applied to anything. That doesn't mean a specific group of people at a specific point in history “did” apply a specific name. Why are you having such a hard time understanding the very easy-to-comprehend distinction between possible and probable? The "possibility" of a name isn't confirmation of its historical existence.”

      Let me try to develop the logic a little more clearly:

      1. It is possible that an NHM toponym might show up anywhere in Arabia.

      2. It is often the case, however, that tribes have tribal grounds associated with their names, whether formally or informally. When a tribally affiliated group of people live in a place for long enough, it is simply natural that the place becomes associated with them.

      3. Thus if a text purports to contain an ancient travel account through the Arabian Peninsula and if it places an NHM toponym where an NHM tribe was anciently located, then it obviously has a far greater chance of being valid than in just any random place.

      4. The odds get even better if the text can accurately predict a series of unique or unlikely geographic features linked to this plausible location for a toponym—such as (1) a perennial stream a three day journey South of Aqaba flowing into the Red Sea which is (to my knowledge) the only known perennial stream in northwest Arabia, (2) a reduction in fertility as one travels southward along the incense trail, (3) the existence of wood suitable for making a bow in this general area of reduced fertility, (4) an eastward turn at a place with an NHM name somewhere southeast of the wood needed to make the bow (5) and then a long journey nearly eastward toward (6) a coastal area that meets 12 specific criteria that are highly unlikely to show up in the same location, and some of which are unlikely to have been guessed at all, to name several of the more prominent details. If the text accurately predicts these types of testable details in association with its prediction of the plausible toponym, then the plausibility of the toponym reasonably turns into a good probability.

      5. If you add in the potential for a Hebrew word play in association with the NHM toponym, then this increases the likelihood that the text is authentic (albeit on linguistic rather than archeological or geographical grounds). You can spend a bunch of time showing how the nhm inscriptions referring to the ancient Nihm tribe are different than the Hebrew nḥm used in the Bible, but that alone doesn’t really work. As far as I am aware, the word play works with both nhm and nḥm and using both Hebrew and Arabic connotations of these roots. And as Neal already mentioned, word plays often use slightly different sounding words, rather than exactly the same words. If you have some specific concern with Aston’s, Goff’s, and Rick’s treatments of this issue, then by all means tell us why it can’t work as a legitimate word play. And in this case we are not talking about the more tenuous etymology connecting the burial grounds with the ancient Nihm tribe. Rather it is about the way Nephi invokes multiple layers of nhm/nḥm-related themes and allusions in his narrative immediately surrounding his mention of Nahom.

      6. In other words, the reason a plausible toponym is being considered as archeological evidence is because the text that predicts its location gets a bunch of stuff (much of it difficult or unlikely to guess) correct in describing its relative position, and to top it off, uses a multi-layered Hebrew/Arabic-related word play while mentioning the location.

    15. You mentioned the potential connection to the Biblical Nahum. I think Neal already addressed that. You also mentioned that there are other tribal names found at the archeological site at Marib, and I assume there are quite a few more just in the general region surrounding Nahom, Marib, and the eastward turn. I honestly think that you bring up a good point here because it means that if Joseph Smith were just making up a name, it significantly increases the chances of him getting a hit somewhere in this general area.

      However, in order to be as valid as NHM, these tribal names would have to meet similar criteria. Do they approximately date from Lehi’s time period or are known by other means to have existed in his day? Are these inscriptions referring to tribes that are known to have existed anciently in this same vicinity? And have they ever been verified as a toponymn, whether in their own day or, like Nihm, in later periods?

      The NHM tribe can be reliably traced to their current location for nearly three thousand years. If it weren’t for the tribe’s existence as a toponym since pre-Islamic times, as well as the corroborating textual references linking it to the same place in the BC centuries, it would be considerably less valuable as a plausible toponym for NHM. For instance, if an inscription at Marib were to mention a dignitary’s tribal affiliation that is known to have come into existence in northern Arabia around 200 BC, then such an inscription couldn’t be used as evidence like NHM can be.

      I’m guessing that even if there are dozens of inscriptions mentioning tribal names in the general area surrounding Nehem and Marib, few of them would meet the criteria that the Nihm tribe has in its favor. However, I could certainly be wrong about this and would be interested to find out what the situation really is. Let’s just suppose that there are ten other tribal names in this region that are just as viable as NHM—meaning they show up in the area at the right time and are reasonably prominent enough to have been a toponym. That would definitely make NHM less unique, but it certainly wouldn’t make it likely that Joseph would have made up a word with consonants that match one of the ten names from this location. If he was just making it up, he could have placed Ishmael’s burial at a location with 1 consonant or 5 or more consonants, like Gidgiddonah. That leaves a LOT of possible words he could have used that would NOT show up in this area. I’m not great with stats, but I’m guessing that even with 10 viable toponyms that he could have guessed in this area, his chances of randomly getting the correct combination for one of them are still very low. Of course I just made up the number 10. It would be nice to know how many tribal names in this area could work as well as NHM as a viable ancient toponym.

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    17. You mentioned you found another potential NHM toponym south of the Nihm tribal area. As I said before, I think that is significant. However, I also said that even if a few more viable NHM toponyms show up in Arabia, that really doesn’t mean a whole lot. There is a lot of ground in Arabia and there is only ONE general area that I know of that fits the eastward turn toward Bountiful. So add up all the square miles in Arabia and then divide it into sections of 100 square miles, (100 square miles seems to be a very generous allowance of the geographical wiggle room that you might need for NHM to be legitimate). According to Wikipedia, Saudi Arabia has a land mass of approximately 830,000 square miles. If there were only one NHM toponym in Arabia, then the chances of randomly guessing its location within a 100 square miles is 1/8,300. Let’s add 5 more potentially viable NHM toponyms, and the chances of randomly guessing one of these 100 square mile regions is 1/1,600 (if my math is correct, which I’m not good at so you better double check instead of just taking my word for it). So it would take quite a few more NHM toponyms before his chances of guessing one of their locations correctly becomes very good.

      By all means, keep looking. You’re on a roll. If you end up finding more linguistically valid NHM toponyms or more tribal inscriptions in the Nihm/Marib area that are just as viable as the NHM correspondence, then we will have a better idea of how unique the Nihm tribe really is. With your knowledge of ancient Arabic, you could probably contribute something quite useful to the discussion.

      Honestly, I am fairly confident that quite a few current apologetic arguments are probably not nearly as strong as we think they are. I’m also confident that many of the critics’ arguments are not nearly as valid as they think they are. So many arguments are built upon merely plausible assumptions or limitations in available evidence or small sample sizes, that substantial degrees of uncertainty are always there. I’ve seen it go both ways a number of times, especially when one party or another tries to claim that something couldn’t have existed or wasn’t likely to have existed in a certain place or time, and then it shows up. Apologists have said certain types of texts weren’t available at a certain time and then they show up, for instance Nibley’s assumptions about English translations of an Enoch text. On the other hand, critics say certain features, like cement weren’t used by ancient Americans, and yet it was, and in approximately the right time period. And so on and so forth.

      I genuinely appreciate anyone’s perspective who adds to the discussion, even if their information or valid arguments considerably weakens a favored apologetic argument. You seem to be under some impression that we are intentionally lying to people. I think we are probably biased, just like pretty much everyone is to some degree, but I personally honestly believe Nahom constitutes fairly good archeological/geographical/linguistic evidence of the Book of Mormon.

      I also suspect that I probably know far more about Book of Mormon evidences/criticisms than you do, holistically speaking. That doesn’t mean I think you are an idiot for apparently not accepting the Book of Mormon's historical claims as I do, if indeed that is your position. Nor does it give me a moral license to talk down to you in a condescending or insulting way. I suspect you are probably a good person who is just frustrated at the church and doesn’t like to see what he thinks are people lying to the public.

      “Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.” – Dalai Lama

    18. One small correction, I said the landmass of the Arabian Peninsula was 830,000 square miles. It is actually 3,237,500 km2 (1,250,000 sq mi). I was looking at Saudi Arabia only. While not hugely significant, it certainly doesn't help Joseph Smith's odds .

    19. Ryan,

      I appreciate your desire to engage, but I don’t think we’re getting anywhere. You still haven’t advanced the discussion in any way. I must be honest that I’m finding it difficult to respond politely given how bad your arguments are. Sigh.

      In this response I’m not going to repeat myself and say anything about NHM specifically because all my arguments still stand. You are defeated.

      It doesn’t matter whether you as an individual find something significant. That’s, like, your opinion, man. Again, repeated several times now, faith and knowledge aren’t the same thing. You are lying to people, period. If you adjusted your video presentation to make this distinction clear I wouldn’t have a problem with it. As is though, you are no better than a slimy lawyer in a courtroom attempting to manipulate the jury by distracting with all sorts of irrelevant data.

      The logic you demonstrate with this geographical slicing argument is abysmal. I repeat what I said earlier, all you’re doing is arguing against inductive reasoning. Which is an idiotic flat earth kind of argument. If a model were to be developed that tests NHM, it would not operate by slicing up the geography in a manner such as you describe. You are describing a model that tests against an infinite spectrum of possibilities, which as I already explained, isn’t how probabilities work.

      There is a famous math problem used in undergraduate statistics classes designed to demonstrate the fallacy of the exact logic you’re engaging in. Typically referred to as the birthday paradox, many variations, but usually how it goes down is the professor will ask the students what is the percent chance of two people in the class having the same birthday. Using your logic, pretty low right? 365 days in year, so every person has a 1/365 chance. Then you start multiplying those together and it’s like a 99.8% chance someone else has a different birthday. But that’s not how it works. You have to take into consideration all the alternative apples-apples comparisons. And when you do that, in a room of 23 random people, there is a 50% chance of a matching birthday. 99.9% chance of a match in a room with just 70 people. Google around, there are countless sample problems like this to tease your brain.

      Considering NHM all sorts of questions could be asked. We could compare with known works of fiction. Index fictional books, break the words down into their consonants, and then do the same thing with toponym dictionaries, compare the two datasets and see how many matches you get. Another test, take every single name in the bible, break it down to the roots, and then see how many toponyms in arabia match up. And you could also calculate the difference between combinations of letters to weight matches that might be similar even though not exact. Like NHM vs. NHYM and so on.

      As stated, the NHM combination isn’t that unique. Certainly no more unique than plenty of other words. It’s not unreasonable to expect that if the BOM were fiction you’d get a hit like this. Actually, that could be another test. Take all the names in the bible and see how many of them you can get to fit with the geography in arabia in a similar way. This is how science works. For you to claim that NHM is significant, you first have to do that alternative analysis. If NHM is literally the only bible name that can be made to fit on the geography, then perhaps it is significant. I can go on and on like this setting up alternative comparisons that demonstrate the errors in your logic.

      And then there is all the other points I’ve made that you skip over entirely. Like my point that Nihm doesn’t fit with the geography. You keep associating Nihm with Marib, but they are two difference places. You keep saying things like “ the general region surrounding Nahom, Marib...“ Nahom isn’t a real place! Quit talking about Narnia like it existed. There is no toponym Nahom.

      On and on and on.

    20. New information! This discussion has turned into a jumbled mess, so I'm placing this here, but it's directed at nobody in particular.

      Forgive me as this is still early but I wanted to share some of my preliminary findings. It will take some time to fully sort all this out. Yesterday I happened to find myself at the university library on other business, so decided to crack open a few books and see if any further light might be shed on this Nahom business.

      First, I found an additional NHM toponym located in the mountains southwest of Sana’a. Not much to report about this just yet. It is a distinctly different place from both the modern Nihm and also the ancient NHYM I found in Al Bayda mentioned previously. This is not listed in any of the previously linked databases, I found from other sources. And the researchers transliterated it in English characters very closely to the “nahom” spelling. Pronunciation-wise, it’s a better fit.

      Next, I came across some huge clues as to the origin of the modern Nihm tribe. I may have figured it out actually, but more time should be spent collecting more data and connecting all the dots as much as possible. There seems to be a large body of evidence that strongly shows the name has nothing whatsoever to do with the sabean NHM altar inscriptions.

      The tribal name نهم (nihm) derives from حبشي بن قيس النهمي (habashi bin qais al-nahmi), who is a figure of note in the Shia branch of Islam. He is recorded has having been a companion of Hussein ibn Ali, and having fought and died alongside him at the battle of Karbala.

      Here is a video in his honor:

      Nihm in the Yemen descends from همدان (hamdan) through بكيل (bakil), which comes from سبأ (saba = sabea, etc). Now here is where things get really interesting. Around 10th century CE, persians immigrants established a huge silver mine, apparently one of the most prolific in the world at the time, in the heart of what is currently the Nihm district. The Nihm tribe formed around this. In the wake of the collapse of the Marib dam people started moving away from the population center of Marib into the mountains, and Saba broke up into competing tribes, advent of islam, etc. Nihm came after this.

      In addition to this, the NHM roots have the meaning hunger, ravenous appetite, insatiable, burning desire, greedy, etc. This goes along with the theme of people fleeing Marib for survival, warfare between clans, greed affiliated with silver mining, etc. It’s a ferocious kind of name that is exactly the sort of thing a tribe would pick, which would explain why of all figures in shia islam they would choose al-nahmi. Other tribes within Bakil have similarly ferocious kind of names.

      Related to all this, a fun correlation is that the historical figure, habashi bin qais al-nahmi, was ethiopian. Another Ethiopia correlation!

      Going back to one of my previous comments where I said that the most damning thing of all is what's missing. Multiply that times a thousand. I feel completely unworthy of being the bearer of this news, as I'm not a historian, but there is a huge volume of data out there describing the societies that existed in ancient times. Vast civilizations that rivaled anything happening in Egypt or Israel at the time. The records left by these civilizations are completely at odds with the BOM story, even to the point of hilarity. I've come across some really interesting stuff. I'm not sure how best to present all this history, as I said, I feel inadequate being the one to take on that task, but the data is there.

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    22. Andrew,

      You wrote, "It doesn’t matter whether you as an individual find something significant. That’s, like, your opinion, man."

      Well, you claimed myself and others who promote Nahom as evidence are lying. Lying is when someone is being intentionally deceptive. Hence the expression of my sincere belief in NHM as evidence. Obviously my true opinion does matter if the issue is whether or not I am being intentionally deceptive. I do find it interesting, though, how this expression of belief somehow got twisted into a vain attempt to bolster my argument through mere opinion, rather than simply to justify my sincerity in response to accusations of dishonesty.

      You wrote, "I appreciate your desire to engage, but I don’t think we’re getting anywhere. You still haven’t advanced the discussion in any way. I must be honest that I’m finding it difficult to respond politely given how bad your arguments are. Sigh."

      I think you are simply repeatedly ignoring the logic. I notice that no matter how many times I explain the apologetic rationale that provides the primary basis for the acceptance of NHM as evidence, you actually never deal with it in specific detail. Instead you engage in excessive posturing, condescending comments, and tangential lines of reasoning. Hence, the reason this is going nowhere.

      You write, "The logic you demonstrate with this geographical slicing argument is abysmal. I repeat what I said earlier, all you’re doing is arguing against inductive reasoning. Which is an idiotic flat earth kind of argument."

      Actually I am using inductive reasoning, not arguing against it. In its most basic definition, inductive reasoning is when you reach a general conclusion based on a series of specific and consistent examples of something. For instance, most distinct tribes throughout the world that have existed in a place for a good amount of time have tribal grounds that are in some way linked with their name. A valid deductive application of this inductive conclusion suggests that it is far more likely that an NHM toponym would exist where an NHM tribe existed than in any old random place. Yes, yes, I know--what an illogical, inane, embarrassing, hilarious, laughable, bad, abysmal, Disney-esque, pseudo-academic, line of reasoning that fits right in with the X-Files, UFOs and mermaids, and which virtually compels you to respond impolitely. I'm sure you are getting quite the work out with all of your ROLF and SYH.

      Once again, because you are not actually addressing the core logic, a text's ability to accurately predict a series of unlikely geographical, cultural, and linguistic features in conjunction with its placement of a plausible toponmy is good evidence to accept the toponym. Honestly, that is how history works. It is not some "slicing argument" as you characterized it, whatever that is supposed to mean. There are always missing pieces of information when dealing with history because the historical record is naturally fragmented, yet when surrounding pieces of the puzzle all align with something that is already quite plausible, then it turns into a good probability. As you said yourself, when you engage in history, you have to connect the dots. The more dots that align, the stronger a theory becomes. If those dots have mutually dependent relationships, then they are mutually strengthened when a bunch of them are validated together. I honestly find it hard to believe you don't accept this methodology. It is pretty much the basis of all historical reasoning.

      As pleasant, mutually civil, and truly enlightening as my correspondence with you has been, I also agree this is going nowhere. I sincerely wish you the best in your efforts to shed more light on Nahom.

    23. Ryan,

      Yes, you are lying.

      The statement, "the location Nahom in the Book of Mormon has been archaeologically confirmed" is objectively false. This is a lie. As are many other statements made in the video. As I've explained, point by point.

      Here is a quote from the church's gospel principles manual.

      "Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying... There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest."

      Your video lies.

      I'm sure we could easily find some apologetic videos that promote other (non-Mormon) religions, and you'd laugh at the videos and agree they are works of deception. Heck, I bet we could even find some anti-Mormon videos along those lines. Stuff that misleadingly characterizes LDS beliefs, presents things out of context, only includes a portion of the data, leverages a highly sensational form of presentation, etc.

      You say, "I think you are simply repeatedly ignoring the logic. I notice that no matter how many times I explain the apologetic rationale that provides the primary basis for the acceptance of NHM as evidence, you actually never deal with it in specific detail."

      I am literally the only one here that is dealing with specific details. I get into specifics like how the geography does not fit. How Nihm is located in the wrong spot. I ask for things like KMZ files. I pull up historical inscriptions and discover new NHMs in other locations that apparently nobody knew about. I demonstrate that Nihm is not a toponym. I show linguistic patterns related to the word "nahom" in Arabic, the word "borders," how the "h" consonants in the apologetic argument don't match between Arabic and Hebrew. I show that the text of the BOM describes a route that is at odds with Nihm. I talk about substantial details of ancient arabia that are missing from the text. Etc, etc.

      What details have you dealt with? That Americans are from America? You find a grave stone in San Antonio with the name Crockett on it, does that mean San Antonio used to go by the name Crockett on the american frontier? Your logic is every bit as ludicrous as this. This is how science works. Whatever logic is being used to form your evidence, you take that exact same logic, those exact same rules, and you apply them equally to alternative situations and see how things shake out.

      Oh, you mean it's possible, even extremely likely, which is to say probable, that a family name inscribed on a gravestone doesn't have anything to do with the toponym of the graveyard itself?

      We have a lot of surnames from arabia. Can you show me toponyms on the map for all those names? If not, why not? Why would NHM have been a toponym, but not some other bigger and more powerful tribe? These are details Ryan, none of which you've addressed. And by you I mean the collective "you all."

      This like a pharmaceutical company that has a new wonder drug. They make big claims. Maybe those claims are accurate, but the FDA isn't going to let them publicize those claims until they have been properly born out through testing. And this is why the NHM apologetic isn't published in a single credible journal. The only thing published in a non-LDS journal at all is Warren's paper, which itself appears in a dubious venue, but nonetheless this paper says nothing about the Book of Mormon or "Nahom" at all, he only talks about a possible NHM tribe being connected to the modern Nihm, and even he admits in the conclusion of his paper that it's all conjecture.

      Conjecture isn't "confirmation."

  22. Andrew,

    You wrote, " the hebrew word "nacham" that's being referenced as a potential "word play" with the word "mourn" in the text of the BOM"

    What about the Hebrew name "Naham"? Which means "comforter"? The name has no "ch".

    1. I'm not sure what you're asking me.

    2. Never mind, but I want to show you something very interesting. See below.

  23. A contributor to a message board discussion the issue of Nahom write this entry
    Tabsir: Insight on Islam and the Middle East. I thought this might be of interest if you have not read the entry on that other board

    His bio reads "Mohammed Maraqten published intensively on Semitic epigraphy and in particular on Old South Arabian inscriptions
    • We are scholars concerned about stereotypes, misinformation and propaganda spread in the media and academic forums on Islam and the Middle East.

    The entry is posted by dvarisco, but the important part is the update at the bottom, from Dr.Mohammed Maraqten:
    Post Date : Friday, Apr 18th, 2014 at 7:24 am
    Category : Archaeology and Antiquities and Bible and Holy Land and Yemen

    Mormons in Marib:

    Not being a resident of Utah, I sometimes forget that there are people who take The Book of Mormon (the original and not the Broadway play) seriously. There is a passage in 1 Nephi 16:34 that suggests the place of Ishmael’s burial: “And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.” So where might Nahom be? Well, why not Yemen? That is the argument in an article by Warren Aston, who traveled to Yemen and found an inscription on an alter at Marib that referred to Nihm, a tribe. Thus, The Book of Mormon is verified, as innumerable Mormon websites attest, including one on Wikipedia.

    There is indeed a Yemeni tribe called Nihm, part of the Bakil confederation. But why exactly would Ishmael end up getting buried in Yemen? There is certainly no indication in the Old Testament of Ishmael going to Yemen. Genesis 25:17 reads “And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.” I sort of doubt that the priestly authors mention of “his people” meant the Sabaens down in Yemen. And in Islam Ishmael stops at Mecca. So either the Torah is wrong, Islamic tradition is wrong or the 19th century Book of Mormon is wrong. And, of course, given that this legendary material, they may all be wrong. There are indeed skeptics of Nephi.

    The placename fallacy has a long history in pseudo-archaeology. One can rather easily manipulate major biblical placenames in Arabia. The Lebanese scholar Kamal Salibi played this game to the hilt in his imaginative The Bible Came from Arabia. Two individuals in Bahrain have continued the theme. It is difficult to dismiss the political motive (that Abraham and Moses were not herding their flocks and refugees respectively to ancient Israel) that no doubt underlies such attempts to rewrite history. Certainly there is no archaeological evidence for these bizarre claims. And just as certainly there is no end of lunatic archaeology in sight.

    UPDATE: Dr.Mohammed Maraqten, who has excavated at Marib, sends the following details about the altar:
    This altar is from Barʾān Temple (Arsch Bilqis), ca. 6 Century B.C. and still in situ.
    The complete filiations of the dedicator of this altar to Almaqah reads: Bʿṯtr / bn / s¹wdm / bn / nwʿm / nhmyn

    The partly damaged letters are / N / and / H / (like Arabic Hirra) and the complete word is NHMYN and has for sure NOTHING to do with Biblical NḤM with / Ḥ / and the Canaanite root NḤM. The root is NHM and not NḤM.

    Two possibilities to understand this word:

    – NHMYN (al-Nihmī) is Nisbe to the very famous and many time attested in the inscriptions, in the Islamic period and still in the same place northeast of Sanaa. Also the Nisbe NHMYN is attested may times.

    – NHMYN is a designation of a profession “Stonemason”, Munahhim or Muhandis, the verb NHM is well known in the inscriptions and the Arabic sources as a Yemeni term in the meaning of “to dress stones”.

    1. The Ishmael in the Book of Mormon is another man, many centuries after the Ishmael of Genesis. The Book of Mormon Ishmael traveled with a group into the Arabian Peninsula and died before the group reached a place far to the south called Nahom, where we was buried. Called by whom? It may have been a colony of Hebrew refugees, some of whom came to Yemen after the Assyrian invasion, perhaps drawing upon the name of the local Nihm tribe with a fitting related Hebrew name. (Jewish communities persisted in the Nihm area until 1948 and were noted for being silversmiths.)

      The relationship of the NHM name to stone masons is an interesting connection that has been discussed at length in Warren Aston's journal publication and in his outstanding book, Lehi and Sariah in Arabia. It may have been part of why the ancient NHM tribe was prominent in the past and may relate to the existence of 3 valuable carved stone altars bearing that name.

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  27. I've read through all of these comments, heaven help me. Andrew is an all-star in his own universe.

  28. Andrew said: "[T]he dating isn't credible. The altars were not dated through scientific means like radiation, etc. In context, the original dating was literally just a guesstimate based on the expertise of the german archaeologist. And that guy places the stones likely AFTER Nephi. And then the subsequent 'researcher,' Aston, who pushed the dates back used even worse methodologies than the original guy. Aston isn’t a credible archaeologist...."

    I think you are making this statement based on what you saw in Aston's peer-reviewed article in this passage:

    "As to the dating of the three altars, Christian Robin initially assigned a period of between the
    seventh and sixth centuries BC.[5] Such dating seems to fit the altar text, which refers to the ruler Yadaʿil, who may be the prolific builder Yadaʿil Dharih I (c.630 BC), the best known of the
    Sabaean kings, or perhaps a later ruler, Yadaʿil Bayyin I (c.580 BC).[6] Subsequently, however,
    Biʿathtar’s three altars were more firmly designated to an earlier period of the temple construction, to the period around the eighth to seventh centuries BC.[7]

    "Finally, as Nawʿum of the Nihm was the grandfather of Biʿathtar, the tribal name itself in this instance must certainly date back at least two generations –– perhaps fifty or more years –– and thus belong somewhere between the ninth and eighth centuries BC."

    The footnotes here are:
    5. Robin et al. (eds), Yemen au Pays de la Reine de Saba (1997), p. 144.
    6 Kitchen, Documentation for Ancient Arabia 2 (2000), p. 744.
    7 Nebes, “Zur Chronologieder Inschriften aus dem Barʾan-Tempel”, Archaologische Berichte aus dem Yemen 10 (2005), p. 115.

    Dr. Robin is French and is one of the most respected authorities on Yemen. Dr. Kitchen has pretty strong credentials. Dr. Norbert Nebes is an eminent epigraphist Norbert from (or previously from?) the University of Jena in Germany. If you have substantial evidence regarding the flaws in the assessments that any of these scholars made, I'd like to know more.

    Why is it that you require radiation measurements to establish the date of the altars? I assume you mean radiometric analysis based on measurement of radioisotopes? This is a solid method for dating the age of rocks, but as far as I know is not useful for dating an engraving. Radiocarbon dating could help date vegetable matter, if any were found and were from the time of the altars, but I'm not aware that such is the case. I'm not an archaeologist either, but I seem to recall that for engravings that have not been out aging in the environment for centuries, dating tends to be based more on the inscription itself and the style of the object and its surroundings. So I'd be cautious in dismissing the dates.

    Next, when you slam Warren Aston's addition to the dating issue by claiming he lacks credentials as an archaeologist, being a mere unwashed "researcher" without whatever academic imprimatur you require, it would seem that your standards may be unreasonably high and not fairly applied. The judgement he adds is this: since the inscription (here I am considering the English translation provided by Kenneth Kitchen) refers to a Nihmite who was the grandfather of the named donor of the altar, said Nihmite was probably already a Nihmite two generations before the donor was born, and thus it would seem that Nihmites existed well before the gracious donor of these altars was born. The inference that grandfathers in Yemen are likely to have been born a couple of generations before their grandchildren may not require elite archaeologist credentials to be reasonably made. In fact, I think I've heard that Aston may have personal experience with such matters as a grandfather, or at least someone who had a grandfather. Nevertheless, if you can demonstrate clear error in Aston's amateur inferences on generational chronology, I'd be willing to entertain your evidence, regardless of your academic pedigree.

  29. Andrew, the suggestion that silver mining began in the 10th century CE and drew people to the Nihm region may be incomplete. Significant precious metals mining in the Al Jawf region not far from current Nihm lands was underway long before 1000 AD. See Leanne Mallory, John D. Greenough, and Charles Fipke , "Iron Age Gold Mining: A Preliminary Report on Camps in the Al Maraziq Region, Yemen," Arabian archaeology and epigraphy, 11/2 (December 2003) :223-236; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0471.2000.aae110207.x and

    Portions of the text on p. 234 follow:

    "Based on the technological similarities with Egyptian gold mines, Yemen sites may range from Bronze to Iron Age. Preliminary thermoluminescence measurements on pottery from site 4 are consistent with the presumed antiquity of the site (32). The stone block bearing South Arabian script (Sabaean) suggests site 1 was occupied at some time between 800 BCE and 600 CE (33) although mining may have occurred earlier....

    "It appears that the Yemen mining camps are close to the frankincense trade route. It is not known if the trade route existed because of the gold or if the deposits were discovered as a result of through traffic. Legend (Sheba’s gifts to Solomon) suggests the gold trade was internationally important. Regardless of whether these stories are true, processing and geological (prospecting) similarities between Iron Age gold mines in Yemen and Egypt suggest ties and an exchange of technological knowledge between distant places in the Near and Middle East....

    "Geological similarities between the Yemeni gold camp and New Kingdom Egyptian mine sites indicate that prospecting knowledge was widespread over the Near and Middle East by 1000 BCE."

    Mining could well have been a significant economic activity in that region in before Lehi's day. The five ancient gold mines described in this article are near Jabal Sabrayn, northeast of the region in the easily accessible wadi in Nihm tribal lands that is viewed as a candidate for ancient Nahom. Those mines may have played a role in the economic life of Nahom, or maybe not. Certainly the loss of the Marib dam would have had a heavy impact, though, and that might have pushed the Nihmites further to the west, regardless of what changes came with silver mining in 1000 A.D. There are multiple factors that might have shifted the epicenter of the tribe, though in general tribal boundaries are said to be very stable and ancient.