Interest in Book of Mormon Warfare Spurs Research

Although it is a prominent Book of Mormon theme, Nephite warfare has yet be comprehensively examined. To promote such research, F.A.R.M.S. sponsored a working conference Aug. 21-22. Papers dealing with military technology, strategies, fortifications, rituals, and other issues were presented and critiqued. Other topics were identified. Two new papers on war and the Book of Mormon are now available; others will be forth-coming soon.

Bill Hamblin has completed a thorough study of “The Bow and Arrow in the Book of Mormon.” This paper covers the military use of bows and arrows particularly in the Near East and in Mesoamerica. The characteristics of Near Eastern steel bows are described in detail, along with the artistic and archaeological evidence of projectile weapons and possible arrow points in the New World. Evidence for bows in Mesoamerica is not yet clear, but Hamblin offers several interpretations which reconcile the archaeological data with the scriptural record.

In an age when a single nuclear clash could destroy 2 billion lives, a knowledge of the scriptural teachings on warfare has never been more vital. Edwin Brown Firmage’s study entitled “Violence and The Gospel: The Teachings of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies (Winter, 1985), explains a number of “religious teachings on force and war as they apply in the nuclear age.” Here, the University of Utah law draws upon Old Testament prophecy, Jesus’teachings, and Book of Merman doctrines to demonstrate the unequivocal scriptural decree that “only faith in God can insure well-being, while trust in human military might is idolatry and insures destruction.” Firmage compares the Exodus of the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon to show that both peoples viewed their military victories and losses as divine deliverances rather than as feats of strength or accomplishments of strategy. Plus, he reports on the scriptural instance of a society sworn to passive resistance, found only in the Nephite account. From his study of the “just war” paradigm in the Book of Mormon, he identifies criteria by which God justifies a war. Firmage concludes with thought-provoking parallels between the Nephite society and our present one.