Questions from James F. Couch about BOM issues.

James F. Couch

James F. Couch, "Book of Mormon Questions," circa 1921, MS 106, Box 16, Folder 3, B. H. Roberts papers, 1825-1976, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah

James F. Couch
James F. Couch
W. E. Riter

1. The "Mormon" tradition states that the American indians were the descendants of the Lamanites. The time allowed from the first landing of Lehi and his followers in America to the present is about 2700 years. Philologic studies have divided the indians languages into five distinct linguistic stocks which show very little relationship. It does not appear that this diversity in the nature and grammatical constructions of indian tongues could obtain if the indians were the descendants of a people who possessed as highly developed a language as the ancient Hebrew, but indicates that the divi[s]ion of the indians into separate stocks occurred long before their language was developed beyond the most primitive kind of articulations. Again the time allowed from the landing of Lehi is much too short to account for the observed diversity.

2. The Book of Mormon states that when the followers of Lehi reached North America they found, among other animals, the horse here. Historical and paeleontological data shows that the horse was not in America at that time, nor did it arrive for 20 centuries afterward.

3. Nephi is stated to have had a bow of steel which he broke shortly after he had left Jerusalem, some 600 years B.C. There is no record that I know of which allows the Jews the knowledge of steel at such a period.

4. Reference is frequently made in the Book of Mormon to "swords and <s>cimiters." The use of the word scimeter does not occur in other literature before the rise of the Mohammedan power and apparently that peculiar weapon was not developed until long after the Christian era. It does not, therefore appear likely that the Nephites or Lamanites possessed either the weapon or the term.

5. Reference is also made to the possession by the Nephites of an abundance of silk. As silk was not known in America at that time the question arises, where did they obtain the silk?

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