Book of Mormon Nuggets

Supplementing Jeff Lindsay's Book of Mormon Evidences page.

Nugget #2:
Of Arrows and Sticks

The Book of Mormon is filled with many small, subtle details that suggest its authenticity. The passing treatment of arrows is one example. During the journey out of Jerusalem toward Bountiful, three times Nephi writes that he had broken his bow, but never says that any of his arrows were damaged. Yet in 1 Nephi 16:23, Nephi says that he "did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow." Why would he need to make a new arrow if his old ones were still intact? Those familiar with archery understand that arrows must be suited for a particular bow in terms of length, weight, and stiffness. The difference between a powerful steel bow and Nephi's later wooden bow would certainly require different arrows. Was this part of Joseph Smith's knowledge bank as a farm boy in the 1820s? Here's a quote from "Nephi's Bows and Arrows," Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John Welch (Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 1992), pp. 41-43:
One doubts that such information was known to Joseph Smith or to many, if any, of his contemporaries. Archery, as a means of self-defense or as a serious method of hunting or warfare, went out of vogue among Europeans many years before the time of Joseph Smith. On the other hand, archery as a sport did not emerge until the latter half of the nineteenth century.

David Fox [an experienced archer] concludes: "Nephi's statement that he made an arrow out of a straight stick is an additional subtle but significant example of internal consistency within the Book of Mormon. Anyone unfamiliar with the field of archery would have almost certainly omitted such a statement." Another bull's-eye for the Book of Mormon.

The length of the arrows may have been an even greater problem that their weight and stiffness for making them function properly with a new bow, according to William Hamblin in "The Bow and Arrow in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, ed. by Stephen Ricks and William Hamblin (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and F.A.R.M.S., 1990), pp. 365-399. This book also provides evidence of ancient steel bows from the Near East in Lehi's day, along with evidence that such bows could break, could lose their elasticity ("springs"), and reviews the evidence for the use of the bow and arrow in ancient Mesoamerica. There is little difficulty in reconciling the Book of Mormon's discussion of bows and arrows with military technology in both the Old World and New World.

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Created: Jan. 4, 2001
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