Claim #8: The Coe interview

  • Rollo is upset that I only found five things to critique in the Coe podcast. He misunderstands my intent—I did not treat each factual error or problem, since that had already been done in far more detail by someone far more qualified, John Sorenson. Sorenson’s piece and my review were slated to appear in the same edition of the Mormon Studies Review, and so it hardly seemed necessary for me to replow the same ground. My focus is on the podcast’s rhetorical techniques. (I state this quite clearly—I announce that I will use it to consider “Dehlin’s style and approach,” and how podcasts’ strengths and weaknesses “can be exploited for rhetorical advantage.”) I maintain that the examples offered do this wonderfully.
  • Rollo also claims that “helmets” and “head-plates” are the same thing. He may think so, and Dehlin may think so, but the best treatment of the subject (which I cite) makes it clear that the distinction is important if one wishes to assess the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. Granted, if one’s goal is to simply ridicule the text or not engage it seriously, then it makes little difference. But, a serious approach requires specificity.
  • In a similar vein, Rollo appeals to Lucy Mack Smith’s account of the Urim and Thummim breastplate as evidence about metallic Nephite breastplates. Again, it is embarrassing to have to point this out, but Lucy is not the Book of Mormon text. But, even if we include Lucy’s data, Rollo has ignored that the Urim and Thummim is of Jaredite origin, not Nephite (D&C 17:1).[1] And, as I indicated, Jaredite metallic breastplates are mentioned in the Book of Mormon text. Even if the breastplate was of Nephite make, the status of a religious artifact of enormous significance tells us little about what armies of the same period used. Lucy’s data point adds nothing that we did not already know from the text itself. Again, a serious approach requires specificity and attention to detail.
  • Rollo also asks why I would criticize Coe and Dehlin from using the word “coin” since the chapter heading of Alma 11 does so. I would think this would be obvious. Coe and Dehlin spend their time ridiculing the idea that actual, literal coins existed in that timeframe. If they want to use “coin” as a shorthand for “some type of barter or exchange,” I would have no quarrel—and, nor would they with the Book of Mormon text. But, if they are going to use the heading to criticize the Book of Mormon for something it does not say, this represents either ignorance or a desire to deceive. Furthermore, Dehlin has access to many resources (which he has recommended to others) that makes the distinction crystal clear. That he ignores such material suggests that he is not trying very hard to give the Book of Mormon a fair hearing, and he is not providing “both sides” of the question to Coe.

[1] For an excellent review, see Valentin Arts, “A Third Jaredite Record: The Sealed Portion of the Gold Plates,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 11/1 (2002): 50–59.