Alan C. Miner

According to Matthew Roper, many critics of the Book of Mormon have cited the mention of "steel" in 1 Nephi 4:9 as evidence against the Book of Mormon's historicity. "Steel," it is argued "was not known to man in those days." Today, however, it is increasingly apparent that the practice of "steeling" iron through deliberate carburization was well-known to the Near Eastern world from which the Lehi colony emerged. . . . Chronologically speaking, steel is never mentioned after Jarom's day (Jarom 1:8). And iron, although known to some of the Zeniffites in the land of Nephi, is never mentioned after Noah's day (Mosiah 11:3,8). This tends to support the idea that some metallurgical technologies possessed by Nephi and others may have been lost over time. Other interpretations are also possible. For instance, the phrase "after the manner of" is ambiguous and could simply mean that subsequent Nephite blades were made after the general pattern of Laban's sword--a straight double-edged blade. Webster's 1828 An American Dictionary of the English Language offers a variety of definitions for "manner," including: "1. Form; method; way of performing or executing. . . . 3. Sort; kind. . . . 4. Certain degree or measure. It is in a manner done already. . . . This use may also be sometimes defined by sort or fashion; as we say, a thing is done after a sort or fashion, that is, not well, fully or perfectly." [Matthew Roper, "Unanswered Mormon Scholars," in FARMS Review of Books, 9/1 1997, pp. 149-150]

Jarom 1:8 Making all manner of tools of every kind ([Illustration]): (a) Ancient tools and their modern equivalents are shown paired. (b) Either a stone-tipped stick or a pole with its wooden end hardened by fire serve for digging. (c) One type of drill was rotated by the back-and-forth motion of a bowstring. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 52]

Jarom 1:8 Weapons of war . . . the dart ([Illustration]): An artist's sketch of a hunter about to throw an atlatl dart illustrates how that instrument functioned. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 131]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary