50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 15)

Tower To Truth Question:

15. Why does the Book of Mormon state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) when history and the Bible state that he was born outside of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem?

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FAIR Answer:

Bethlehem is in the direct area of Jerusalem, being only about seven miles apart. El Amarna letter #287 reports that “a town of the land of Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi [Bethlehem] by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah.” The Book of Mormon gets the ancient usage exactly right: the town of Bethlehem is in the “land of Jerusalem,” especially from the perpsective of someone writing in the Americas.

To learn more: Book of Mormon anachronisms:Jerusalem vs Bethlehem

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My Response:

Again, the sheer lack of supporting evidence and citation (apart from a blurb in one book) is telling. If they had evidence, you think they wouldn’t put it out there. They don’t, because they can’t. So I will.

Over at the link “Book of Mormon anachronisms” they feature this quote from BYU professor Daniel C. Peterson:

To suggest that Joseph Smith knew the precise location of Jesus’ baptism by John (“in Bethabara, beyond Jordan” (1 Ne. 10:9) but hadn’t a clue about the famous town of Christ’s birth is so improbable as to be ludicrous. Do the skeptics seriously mean to suggest that the Book of Mormon’s Bible-drenched author (or authors) missed one of the most obvious facts about the most popular story in the Bible — something known to every child and Christmas caroler? Do they intend to say that a clever fraud who could write a book displaying so wide an array of subtly authentic Near Eastern and biblical cultural and literary traits as the Book of Mormon does was nonetheless so stupid as to claim, before a Bible-reading public, that Jesus was born in the city of Jerusalem?

Ummmmmm…….yes…..

The defense that most Mormons try to give when explaining away this mistake from the “Most correct book of any on earth” contains many holes, some of which are so big you could drive a bus (filled with all of Joseph Smith’s wives) through them. Allow me to demonstrate their approach:

I grew up near Syracuse, NY. Syracuse is in Onandoga County. Around Syracuse are many suburbs (Jamesville, Dewitt, Minoa, Mattydale) and several villages (Liverpool, Baldwinsville). Now, say someone from Baldwinsville moved to Texas (“Someone from Baldwinsville moved to Texas.” There, I said it for you. Haha.). If someone in Texas asked where they were from, they would answer “I am from Baldwinsville, NY.” Then the person would ask, “Well, what is it near?” I would say, “It is near Syracuse.” BUT, I would NOT say “It is IN Syracuse.” Because Baldwinsville is not IN Syracuse. It is IN Onandoga County.

In the same vein, Bethlehem was not IN Jerusalem, because Jerusalem was NOT a “land.” It was a city (albeit the largest city) in a particular land. That land was Judah. Thus, as the TRUE prophet Micah wrote (and Matthew echoed), “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting” (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6). If Jerusalem was the land that contained the town of Bethlehem, then it would read, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Jerusalem…” But it doesn’t. Because Jerusalem only contains Jerusalem.

Must be another one of those darned old “plain and precious truths”…….

4 thoughts on “50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 15)

  1. David says:

    From Wikipedia
    “Bethlehem, located in the “hill country” of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath,[7] which means “fertile”: There is a possible reference to it as Beth-Lehem Ephratah.[8] It is also known as Beth-Lehem Judah,[9] and “the city of David”.[10]”

    And from 2 Kings 14:20 (NIV)
    “He was brought back by horse and was buried in Jerusalem with his fathers, in the City of David.”

    Honestly If the LDS church made thousands of changes to the Book of Mormon as is often stated,this one could have been easily changed if it was really a problem.

  2. David,

    Yes, Bethlehem has been referred to as “Bethlehem Ephrath” and “Bethlehem Judah” and “the City of David.” And……?

    Jeff Lindsay tried to make the same leap with the phrase “City of David” in 2nd Kings 14. However, does the writer of 2nd Kings say Amaziah was buried in

    (a) Bethlehem, or
    (b) The City of David?

    Answer: (b)

    (Hat Tip: Christian Courier)

    The “City of David” referred to in 2nd Kings 14:20 is NOT Bethlehem, but rather Jerusalem–the “stronghold” captured by David in 1st Chronicles 11.

    1st Chronicles 11:4-7–And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not come in here!” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion…And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief. Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David.

    If the LDS church made thousands of changes to the Book of Mormon as is often stated“–those changes have been documented.

    Institute for Religious Research

    Utah Lighthouse

    Even FAIR has admitted as much.

    …this one could have been easily changed if it was really a problem.

    See, that’s the thing. I think Joseph’s ego was so huge and out of control that he thought he could tinker with the truth and get away with it.

  3. Mike says:

    Bethlehem and Jerusalem are not the same, nor are they considered the same, nor have they ever been confused by those living in the area.

    I have been to both. Steep, hilly country seperates the two.

    If these are considered the same, then why does the same New Testament refer to Capernaum, and Bethsaida as seperate places, when they are actually closer together than Bethlehem and Jerusalem?

    Joseph was a charismatic con-man who duped a lot of people, but he was illiterate when it came to history and geography. The Book of Mormon has it wrong because it is a work of fiction.

  4. If these are considered the same, then why does the same New Testament refer to Capernaum, and Bethsaida as seperate places, when they are actually closer together than Bethlehem and Jerusalem?

    Excellent point! It’s much the same as Bethphage and Bethany (Mark 11:1) and Lystra, Derbe, and Iconium (Acts 16). Cities that bordered each other, but were considered separate and distinct. Thanks for the input!

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