Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why I Believe: Evidence Fifty-Three: “Zingers” in the Book of Mormon, Part 8: "The Name Paanchi.”

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was a Prophet

Evidence Fifty-Three:
     “Zingers” in the Book of Mormon, Part 8: 
“The Name Paanchi.”© 

In previous blogs I have mentioned what I call “zingers” in the Book of Mormon–little things that on closer inspection often turn out to be very important as evidence for the truthfulness of the book and of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. Today’s “zinger” is a very small thing indeed–the name of one of the personalities in the Book of Mormon–Paanchi to be precise. (See Hel. 1:3.) According to Hugh Nibley, it is an Egyptian name and its presence in the Book of Mormon is quite remarkable. As a bonus, Nibley also remarks about the ancient order of battle that is also reflected in the Book of Mormon. Here is his statement.
Another characteristic of the Book of Mormon is the ritual nature of war. In Alma 44:5, we have what can be called a “rule of battle for the sons of light.” War is highly ritualized in the Book of Mormon. It is one thing that used to excite derision from Book of Mormon critics.  What could be more silly, they used to ask, than a general who would give away his plan of battle to the enemy, or allow him to choose the time and the terrain? Yet this is very particular and strictly in order. In a study by Gardiner, he himself refers to “Piankhi’s Instructions to His Army.” That is a peculiar name, a pure Egyptian name, and one odd enough that no one could have possibly invented it in the Book of Mormon. Piankhi was a general before the time of Lehi, was very famous, became king of Egypt, and the name became quite popular afterwards. Piankhi-meri-amen means “Amen is my life.” But of course the name occurs in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 1:3). It was this name, I strongly suspect, that first put Professor Albright on the track of the Book of Mormon. He recognized that it couldn’t possibly have been faked or forged. What could be more silly? Here’s Piankhi, and there are the instructions, “Piankhi commands his generals to give the enemy choice of time and place for fight.” This is the way it was usually done, arranging battles ahead of time, just as the Book of Mormon people use to.(1)
Of course these flecks of evidence do not prove the Book of Mormon is true.  Nothing does.  But they are morsels suggesting the book comes from ancient times, that it’s background is the ancient Near East, just as Joseph Smith said.
Thank God for Joseph Smith!  

Let’s think together again, soon.


1. Hugh Nibley, “Rediscovery of the Apocrypha and the Book of Mormon,” in Temple and Cosmos, Beyond This Ignorant Present, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 12, (Salt Lake City and Provo,UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), p. 255.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Stirling W. Sill on Improving Reading Skills©

Introduction: Sterling W. Sill has been one of the more influential people in my religious and intellectual life. I have read most of his books and greatly benefited from all of them. A hallmark of his writings was his emphasis on practicality–especially the practicality of applying gospel principles in one’s life.The proper application of gospel principles is one definition of wisdom. From this perspective Elder Sill was a man of considerable wisdom.  

One thing he exemplified in his personal life and about which he often commented was the importance of reading. Below are seven suggestions from Elder Sill about improving our reading skill.  I hope they will benefit you.


It is thought that one of the most important skills we can acquire is to learn to read effectively. The following suggestions may help us to help ourselves.
1.  We should remember that mere reading does not compare in its value with a good reading habit. A good reading habit can place us among the educated and successful ones of our day in a very short time and, at the same time, make the process pleasant as well as profitable.

2.  We should plow deep enough in our reading that ideas uncovered become our permanent property. Sometimes we allow ideas to skate so lightly above the surface of our brains that they do not remain long in our possession. We should develop a reading ability so that we know what the author said and meant, what we think about it, and what we are going to do about it.
3.  By reading effectively we can actually learn to get out of a book more than there is in it.  To be able to do this is a valuable skill. In some ways, reading a book is like any other process of invention or discovery. We add to it as we think about it and use it, and we ought to take notes as we read.
4.  We ought to learn to correctly pronounce the words we read and use. We ought to know what they mean. We ought to think about applications of those words and how we can use the ideas they present.
5.  Some people are “eye-minded”: sight is the most important entrance to the mind. Other people are “ear-minded.” A soldier gets his orders through his ears and, consequently, the orders increase in importance in his understanding. Some people develop a still greater ability to understand by utilizing the double focus of eyes and ears. They read aloud to themselves so that the impulse comes not only by sight but also by sound.
When we learn to read, we ought to develop the ability to read to ourselves convincingly and entertainingly and with as much harmony and music as possible. We don’t like to listen to a boring, dull, unenthusiastic reader or speaker who makes the most exciting ideas unpleasant. But we can put ourselves to sleep, intellectually, quicker than anyone else can. When we are bored with our own performance, the needle of our brain does not record very much.
6.  In more ways than one, we ought to learn to follow the Ethiopian eunuch in developing a great interest in and sincere love for righteousness. One passage of scripture says that Cain loved Satan more than God. We are in trouble when we love cheap, profane, and vulgar ideas more than we love high-mindedness and intellectual power.
7.  One of the most beautiful reading aids is memorization. We like best those personal friends we have known and loved for a long time. And our love usually increases as we get to know these friends better.
We enjoy singing best the beautiful music that is most familiar to us. We love magnificent pictures that become a part of us. As we learn to love people, so also can we form an affinity for important ideas, memorable experiences, and great biographies in literature. Those ideas that are stamped more permanently into our hearts by memorization are the ideas that can most readily and advantageously change our lives.


Let’s think together again, soon.

Source:  Sterling W. Sill, Great Literature and the Good Life, (Bountiful, UT.: Horizon Publishers & Distributors Inc., 1985), pp. 98-99.