Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Bird Island* Hugh Nibley "Bird Island" is a transcription of a talk given many years ago which has become one of the most popular of the Nibley samizdat. It will come as news to all Latter-day Saints that after many years of deep scholarly research, the Hill Cumorah has finally been located: at the north end of Bird Island in Utah Lake. Those familiar with the area may wonder why such a flat place should be called a hill. Ah! You forget, this was the hill Ramah before the great destruction: "And then the whole face of the land was changed" (3 Ne. 8:12), "and the high places became low." Moreover, as a scholar, whose name you all would recognize points out, since it would have to be a big hill many records were buried in there. He believed Popocataptl was big enough, but if everything was changed, a big hill would have to become a small island. More important, the very name of the island proves its identity. The name Bird Island is indeed a modern name, as we have learned after exhaustive investigation, and probably refers to the presence on the island of birds or of creatures sufficiently like birds to suggest to the ingenuous observer's mind the actual presence on the island (and this assumes also the presence of an island—another control) of bird-like objects. But though this is the modern name of the island, to be sure, there is no good reason for doubting that birds were on the island for a long time, perhaps even before the island received its name. The Egyptian word for bird is apid. If we drop the vowel, which is expendable, and change the consonants only slightly—such as to be hardly perceptible to the Egyptian ear—we get the Hebrew word zippur,_zippor, which by a remarkable coincidence means "bird." The feminine form is of course Zip-porah, but the Hebrews wrote from right to left, as we learn in our third-year Hebrew class. Read Zipporah from right to left and what do you get? Haroppist. The "o" can be conveniently dropped since Hebrew doesn't write the vowels. This then is an unmistakable allusion to the psalms of 'This essay first appeared in Vol. 10, No. 4 (Autumn 1977): 120-123.