Brant A. Gardner discusses purportedly anachronistic animals in the Book of Mormon; argues that it is the result of Joseph Smith mislabeling unknown animals during the translation process.

Brant A. Gardner

Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2007), 1:324-26

Greg Kofford Books
Brant A. Gardner
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A more important place to look for answers is the English text of the Book of Mormon. It is the result of a translation, not the language that was on the plates. The reality of our text is that it is a layer of information that lies on top of the original layer of text expressed in whatever “Egyptian” or “reformed Egyptian” might be. The very fact that it is a translation rather than the original opens important arena in which anachronisms might exist in the translation without indicating problems with the original text. That is, the anachronism may exist in the translation, but not in the original.

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The Book of Mormon provides two possible occasions for such a mislabeling. The first is when the Lehites must describe the animals they find in the New World. In this case, Joseph Smith would be accurately translating a label applied by the Nephites. Sorenson favors this solution. The other possibility is that Joseph Smith is mislabeling unknown animals during the translation process according to his cultural expectations, regardless of the technical meaning of the terms on the plates. I favor this second approach.

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