Saturday, November 30, 2013

An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing with the comments in a website article one of our readers sent in entitled: “Other Peoples in the Promised Land,” from the "Book of Mormon Resources" website, posted on Friday, April 6, 2012:     
    Comment: “2 Nep. 10:20-22 - Jacob says the Nephites “are upon an isle of the sea.”  (At least it appears to be an island to the Nephites, being surrounded by water.) There are multiple “isles of the sea . . . and they are inhabited also by our brethren.” (Again, not necessarily actual islands.) The Lord has led these other Israelites away from Jerusalem (or Israel/Palestine), possibly to other parts of the New World.”
    Response: Where the Lord has led people, we do not know. Isaiah writes about them and the isles of the sea. On the other hand, Joseph Smith used the term “isle,” and in 1829, the word “isle” only meant a tract of land embosomed in the sea. What we call an island today. The inserted term by the author that "Again, not necessarily actual islands" is not a scholarly approach to a scriptural statement. It is made, since the author's own view does not allow for an island.
However, Jacob said "island" and Joseph Smith translated his word to "isle," which in 1829, meant "island" to us today, since the word "island" in Webster's 1828 dictionary at that time was a non-word, i.e., saying: "island is an absurd compound of isle and land, that is, 'land-in-water land', or 'ieland-land'. There is no such legitimate word in English, and it is found only in books," and defines it as "a tract of land surrounded by water." This, of course, is the language Joseph Smith knew. And to make sure we understand his meaning, Jacob added, “great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21). Jacob is telling us there must be more islands that “this one”—the one they were on—however  he does not use the word “multiple.” After all, an island is an island, and though the vast majority of Theorists want to discount this fact since it does not match their Land of Promise models in the time of the Nephites, Joseph Smith knew what he meant and the Holy Spirit ratified that meaning. So let’s not keep trying to change what the Lord has given us. An isle is an isle, and in our day, it is island!
    Comment: “2 Nep. 29:7, 12-14 - Lord remembers the seed of Abraham and will give his word to them. (Wherever they may be.)” 
    Response: This scripture is part of an overall statement about the Lord knowing where his people are, where he has led them, and the multiple ways in which he is in contact with them: “Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?” (2 Nephi 29:6-7).
For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever” (2 Nephi 29:11-14). What this has to do with other indigenous people in the Land of Promise contemporary with the Nephites is not known, but since it is part of the article, then it seems curious for the fact that the others the Lord has led away from Israel are herein mentioned as the Lost Ten Tribes—does this author mean to tell us that the Lost Ten Tribes are in the Land of Promise with the Nephites?
    Comment: Jacob 1:14 - People friendly to Nephi are called Nephites; those who want to destroy the people of Nephi are called Lamanites, not necessarily blood descendants on either side.”
    Response: This one is quite disingenuous. First of all, there is no comment made, nor any implied, that this statement had anything to do with “not necessarily blood descendants on either side.” That is an added statement and implies something that is not found in the scriptural record. Secondly, when you show the rest of the scripture, it makes complete sense and has nothing to do with other people. Jacob said, “Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites. But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:13-14).
    Comment: Jacob 3:13 - Nephites had become numerous.  This is a general statement but there is a suggestion that more than direct descendants of the Lehite colony were involved.”
    Response: Another disingenuous statement. This verse, when read in its entirety, shows that Jacob was talking about the proceedings of the people began to be numerous—proceedings are not people, but their activities. Jacob said, “And a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates; but many of their proceedings are written upon the larger plates, and their wars, and their contentions, and the reigns of their kings.” (Jacob 3:13). There is no implication here that “there is a suggestion that more than direct descendants of the Lehite colony were involved.”
    Comment: “Jacob 7:1-6 - Sherem had never met Jacob even though the direct descendants of Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, and Joseph were very few in number, less than 80-100.”
Response: First of all, we don’t know how many people were involved in the community at the time Jacob writes about Sherem, but this is not about numbers. Secondly, the scriptural record does not say that Sherem and Jacob (left) did not know each other. All it says about Sherem is, “he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me” (Jacob 1:3). And Sherem, himself, said, “Brother Jacob, I have sough much opportunity that I might speak unto you” (Jacob 1:6). We are not talking about neighbors, but one is the prophet of God and the other “labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts” (Jacob 1:3). There is not much reason Jacob would want to give Sherem audience and legitimize his false teaching, however, it evidently became necessary for him to do so since Sherem was "leading people astray according to the power of the devil” (Jacob 1:4). The question seems to be, did they know of, or about, each other?
    Actually, they were not strangers as is implied by the author of the website. Jacob tells us that Sherem: 1) sought much opportunity to see him, 2) was preaching that there should be no Christ, 3) was going around flattering the people, 4) wanted to see Jacob to shake him from his faith, 5) that he was learned, 6) that he had a perfect knowledge of the language, and 7) knew the people very well. At the same time, Sherem knew that Jacob: 1) had faith in Christ, 2) knew he thought Christ would come, 3) went about preaching to the people, and 4) taught the gospel and doctrine of Christ. In addition, when Sherem “came among them,” it was not meant that he came from some outside place, but that he “came among the people preaching that there should be no Christ” (Jacob 1:1-2). A person can live quietly among a large number of people (80-100) and then one day “go among them” preaching. Obviously, the statement that “they had never met,” might be true but doubtful, and implies a stranger or the lack of contact among a small group of people (80-100). On the other hand, they obviously knew of each other and there is no reason to suggest they had never met. What the verses tell us is the when Sherem wanted to confront Jacob about religion, he had difficulty gaining an audience with the spiritual leader of the colony.
(See the next post, “An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part III,” for more information on the website article sent to us and whether or not the scriptural record tells us that there were other people in the Land of Promise)

Friday, November 29, 2013

An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part I

One of our readers sent in this website publication entitled: “Other Peoples in the Promised Land,” from the "Book of Mormon Resources website," posted on Friday, April 6, 2012. Like some others we have been sent, this is too long and too full of errors to simply answer in a short paragraph or two, consequently, we are posting the entire articler here with our responses per subject.    
    Comment: The Book of Mormon never states or even infers that the various groups of people mentioned in its pages were the only peoples living in the Americas during the time period of approximately 2500 BC to 300 BC during the Jaredite period; or from 590 BC to 421 AD during the Nephite/Lamanite period.” 
    Response: Conversely, the Book of Mormon never states or even infers that anyone other than the participants mentioned, i.e., Jaredites, Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites were ever in the Land of Promise during these periods.
However, that never stops some types of people from speculating.
As for never saying no one else was there, it must be strange to read Lehi’s promise given to him by the Lord when he said, “But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:5—note the term “also all those who should be led” in the future tense). And also, “there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (12 Nephi 1:6—note no one should be in the land except those “brought” by the Lord). We should keep in mind that the Land of Promise was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), and after the Flood, was devoid of life until the Jaredites arrived about 300 years later. With the residue of Noah’s family extending outward from Mesopotamia during those 300 years or so, it is unlikely that anyone came to this particular island some 15,000 miles away. So who would have been there?
   Comment: “On the contrary, there are numerous suggestions and indications that there were other groups of people with which the main Lehite colony, or its sub-parts, came in contact.  Following are the scriptural references of many passages that suggest or infer the existence of other groups of indigenous peoples.” 
Response: In looking over the following verses, keep in mind the tense used, for there is no question that others were to be led to this land in the future, and Nephi not only had a vision of such, but outlined it quite extensively in 1 Nephi 13.
    Comment: “2 Nep. 1:5-11 - Other peoples would be led to the Americas.  These could have preceded the Book of Mormon people.” 
    Response: Would be led is future tense. Lehi was prophesying to his children just before he died, and said, “Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” These are all future tense, and not one statement makes sense if there were already people who  had been brought to the Land of Promise other than those mentioned in the scriptural record before Lehi arrived.
    Comment: “2 Nep. 5:6-9 - All those who would go with Nephi: inferring that there were others besides his own family and those mentioned by name.” 
    Response: When Nephi is told to flee from his older brothers, he states: “it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.” All those who would go with him were those of the original Lehi colony who believed in the revelations of God as Nephi states. This may have included some of Ishmael’s grandchildren, perhaps Ishmael’s wife, if she were still living, and those of his household not mentioned by name earlier. In fact, we don’t even know if Nephi’s mother was still alive at the time, of if Lehi brought anyone from his household, such as servants. Actually, we don’t even know how long the colony lived in this area of first landing before Lehi died, nor do we know how large the colony was that left the land of Jerusalem. To claim an outside, indigenous group in the Land of Promise without even knowing who and how many might have been included in Lehi’s colony and unnamed seems a little ridiculous. To think there were other people in the area, who believed in God, and were not mentioned is beyond speculating, it is downright negative commentary upon the record keeping of Nephi and other prophets.
    Comment: “2 Nep. 5:15-16 - Within barely 30 years after leaving Jerusalem, the Nephites had built a large temple.  In that short period of time there probably weren’t more than 100 Nephites, many of whom would have been children or teenagers, so the inference is that there must have been many other able-bodied men enough to construct the temple in addition to their own homes.” 
Response: As has been written here many times, the original temple of Solomon was nowhere near as large as the one of Herod that we know about. Nor do we know how the original temple of Solomon was built or what it looked like, nor even where it was built. To try and make comparisons between Solomon’s temple, of which we know next to nothing, and Nephi’s temple is a waste of time. Nor should we think that Nephi’s temple was as large and as well appointed as what Solomon built. What we do know is that in order to practice the Law of Moses, a temple was needed, and Nephi made his temple sufficient for the time and circumstances. He told us “And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.” Much erroneous writing and scoffing has been given about Nephi’s temple that is undeserved. He built a temple “that could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple” but that what he did build “was exceedingly fine.” That it’s “manner of construction” was like Solomon’s temple merely tells us that it had the rooms and appointments necessary to worship the Law of Moses, as did Solomon's temple.
   Comment: “2 Nep. 5:34 - After only 30 years in the New World (essentially only 40 years since leaving Jerusalem) the Nephites had already had wars with the Lamanites (in only 2 generations); and there would have been only approximately 150 people on each side, hardly enough to be considered having a war unless thousands of indigenous peoples were also involved.” 
    Response: As stated above, we do not know the numbers of people that came in the Lehi colony. We know who Nephit told us, but like not mentioning his sisters until fleeing from his brothers in the Land of Promise, nor not telling us when or where they were born, or who Jacob and Joseph married, when and where his mother and Ishmael’s wife died, etc., etc., etc., it is not unusual for oriental writing to not include such matters.
In addition, wars and contentions do not necessarily mean how we would translate those words in our language today. In the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, including language of the New England area of Joseph Smith's day, a definition of "war" is also "Hostility: state of opposition or contest; act of opposition" as well as "Enmity: a disposition to contention" as well as "to invade or attack," and "to carry on a contest" as in Paul's admonition to Timothy: "that thou mightest war a good warfare"  (I Timothy 1:18). A war, therefore, could mean nothing more than a fight, a skirmish—with little or no contact or death; on the other hand, it could mean that actual sword fighting between the two groups could have taken place, which might have resulted in wounded people, even some death. War can be interpreted to mean struggle, strife, fight, armed conflict, etc., as well as warfare, battle, etc. On the other hand contention means heated disagreement, quarrel, dispute, argument, etc. Consider that these two words, used together, might suggest that the two groups (Nephite and Lamanites) had heated quarrels and arguments, that developed into fighting, and someone might have drawn a sword or shot and arrow and a battle took place. But it should be remembered that few men will fight to the death in such an arrangement. They tend to acquiesce and retreat to lick their wounds. On a small scale, you can have a war with a handful of people, if that battle involves the majority of people on two sides. This does not suggest either a large force or a small one and no particular size can be drawn from such events.
(See the next post, “An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part II,” for more information on the website article sent to us and whether or not the scriptural record tells us that there were other people in the Land of Promise)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

And a Very Happy Thanksgiving to One and All

While Thanksgiving Day is an American tradition here in the U.S., being thankful is universal. Certainly we can all be thankful at this time of year (and all others) for our bounty of which the Lord has blessed us, and of which we share in daily wherever we might reside.
    Thanksgiving is just a particular time of the year when our minds are drawn toward our blessings and all that we have been given by a kind and loving Father. Indeed, it is certainly with a thankful heart that we are grateful for all we have been given, and on this website in particular, for the Book of Mormon and the clear and precise writing of Mormon who left us a record of a people who lived and passed from view long before recorded history--yet, thoughtfully, the Lord had their record preserved, brought forward, and translated for our benefit to know more of His dealings with man.
    May you have an enjoyable day with family and friends, recounting all the blessings and great things that have taken place in your lives, and may the Lord continue to bless you in all your righteous dealings.

(Our posts will resume tomorrow)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The East Coast of the Land of Promise

The Mesoamerican model of the Land of Promise, showing their east seashore around the Yucatan from the Land of Nephi around and up to the Mexican coast 
    In the scriptural record, much activity takes place along the east coast and seashore of the Land of Promise. Mormon describes a lot of movement up and down that coast, especially in the time of Captain Moroni and his defense of the Nephite Nation. Moroni and his Nephite army drove the Lamanites out of the eastern wilderness, then caused that the people in the Land of Zarahemla occupy the east wilderness even to the seashore and possess the land (Alma 50:9). They then began to build cities, beginning with the city of Moroni in the south along the East Sea (Alma 50:13), and then the city of Nephihah and others.
    Later, between the city of Morianton and the city of Lehi, both of which bordered on the seashore (Alma 50:25), a contention arose, and the people of Morianton, fearing Moroni and his army, fled northward along the coast, heading toward the Land Northward (Alma 50:29). Moroni sent Teancum to cut off Morianton’s race to Bountiful and the narrow neck of land with its narrow pass that led into the Land Northward (Alma 50:34).
    It is interesting to look at the map of Mesoamerica (below) and consider that these cities were built along the eastern coast, when that coast in Mesoamerica runs along the elongated Yucatan Peninsula. Such an extended distance around the Yucatan from the bottom arrow, where the Land of Nephi would have been that stretched to their East Sea (Alma 22:32; 50:8). Thus, in this Mesoamerican model, their East Sea ran around the entire Yucatan Peninsula and upward along the coast to the top arrow.
Between the two white arrows is the Mesoamericanists’ eastern seashore. Its irregular shape because of the Yucatan is inconsistent with the descriptions found in the scriptural record. The yellow arrow shows their narrow neck area, thus movement from the Land of Nephi to the narrow neck along the east sea (bottom white arrow to yellow arrow) is a long distance, which hardly meets the scriptural record of swift movement between the two locations
    The fighting that took place along this eastern seashore when defector Amalickiah led the Lamanites down and attacked along eastern Nephite coast (Alma 51:22) was swift and bold, gaining one city after another while Moroni was engaged trying to put down rebellions among the king-men (Alma 51:21). At this time the Lamanites attacked and conquered cities along the coast all the way north to  (Al—this would not have been possible along the Yucatan coast.
    As the following year began, the entire east coast from Moroni on the south to Mulek on the north, was under Lamanite control. Amalickiah had just tried unsuccessfully to invade the land Bountiful beyond Mulek, and Teancum had just killed the Lamanite leader (Alma 52:1). At this time, “the Lamanites were determined to maintain those cities which they had taken, and those parts of the land which they had obtained possession of; and also seeing the enormity of their number, Teancum thought it was not expedient that he should attempt to attack them in their forts” (Alma 52:5), which were the cities along the eastern sea coast. On a straight line, as the scriptural record suggests the east coast to be, the distance in Mesoamerica would be 400 miles. However, around the Peninsula, you add about 900 miles, making that coast 1300 miles instead of 400.
    A 1300-mile line would be hard to maintain by the invading Lamanite force—that is the distance from Salt Lake City across five states to about Indianapolis, Indiana, which is a considerable distance to stretch out a defensive line of an occupying army holding some six or seven enemy cities under their control. However, on a basic straight line of 400 miles, that is the distance from SLC to Denver, Colorado, the task would be much more likely. Consequently, the east coast of Mesoamerica simply cannot fit into the Land of Promise described in the scriptural record.
    One could imagine that the cities of Ammonihah, Aaron, Nephihah, and Moroni were essentially in a straight line, although the distance from one city to another is never given nor implied. It could have been quite close, or it could have been quite some distance. We simply do not know. And after 71 B.C., the scriptural record does not mention the city of Aaron again. Was it too far inland to be captured by the Lamanites? Or was it not along the line of the coast they were traveling? It would appear that after the Lamanites had captured the city of Moroni along the east coast just inside the Land of Zarahemla, they bypassed Nephihah on their way to the city of Lehi. It should be kept in mind that the Lamanite attacks were swift and direct—lands not along the coastal corridor were bypassed, such as Nephihah, and possibly Aaron. Either knowing this or realizing this, the refugees from the city of Moroni made their way to safety within the walls of Nephihah (Alma 51:24).
    While we do no know how far these cities on the eastern seaboard were apart, again, the rapidity with which the Lamanite armies conquered the eastern seashore cities also suggests that the distance between the land of Lehi was not very far from the land of Moroni. Obviously, with the Lamanites traveling quickly all the way north to the city of Mulek (Alma 51:26) should tell us that this route would have been rather direct and the cities spaced from the area of the narrow strip of wilderness between the lands of Zarahemla and Nephi, all the way northward to the land of Bountiful would have been basically direct. The Mesoamerica problem lies in the fact that their eastern coastline is not direct between these two points or even close to being direct—but 900 miles of extra coastline out and around the Yucatan Peninsula---thus, Mesoamerica simply does not qualify for any type of match with the Land of Promise on the issue of the eastern coastline.
The distance from the city of Moroni, around the Peninsula of Yucatan, to the city of Mulek is about 1300 miles, far too long for the switness of the attack of the Lamanites on these eastern seaboard cities
    The problem when a Book of Mormon Land of Promise model does not fit the scriptural account, most theorists try to alter or change either the scripture itself, or its meaning, or to add ideas not included in the account. But the fact of the matter is, as always, that the scriptural record is a simple statement of fact and information, meant for the typical person to understand. It does not require academics or specially trained people to understand and explain it to the rest of us. Mesoamerica, from its simplest design, does not match the simple statements in Mormon’s description of the land.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More Comments from Readers – Part X

We seem to be receiving a lot more questions and comments lately and we will endeavor to answer them all; however, it might take a while because of our backlog of articles we are also posting.    
    Comment #1: “When you look at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, to one side goes north into Mexico and the U.S., and on the other side, it goes south into Central America and South America. Surely the Nephites would have known this, so where do you get east and west?” Malcolm J.
Response: According to General J.G. Barnard (left), U.S. Corps of Engineers, “The Isthmus of Tehuantepec” (results of a survey for a railroad to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans made by the Scientific Commission, NY, D. Appleton & Co., 1852…Tehuantepec Railroad Company of New Orleans), “The coast-lines on either side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec have a general direction nearly east and west.” These coastlines run, nearly east and west, for approximately 200 miles on both coastlines. So if you disagree, go argue it out with the Railroad who surveyed it. As for the Nephites, without aerial photography and satellite imagery, they would not have such an understanding. Even early explorers who were experience at making maps, did not have the area correct for centuries.
    Comment #2: “Were the Nephite prophets and leaders dictators as Sorenson claims? In his writing, he certainly makes it appear so” Melissa N.
    Response: To my recollection, Sorenson never uses the word dictator in labeling the Nephite leadership. However, he certainly stomps around the subject in his writing about the Nephites in the Land of Promise. He also never uses the word prophet, instead using "scribe," in discussing the writings of the scriptural record. He also claims they were very isolated in their thinking and writing, paying no attention and giving no comment to the many other people who he claims lived in the Land of Promise. However, these men were prophets of God, not scribes or writers, but those who carried out the Lord’s will in the matter of recording what they saw and understood, or were instructed or constrained to write.
    Comment #3: “In Mesoamerica, the earliest known ceremonial center which has been credited to the Olmecs is San Lorenzo, dating to 1350 B.C. This is certainly within the time frame of the Jaredites” Healey A.
    Response: Note that the word “earliest” is herein used. That is, the first center or complex that the Jaredites are claimed to have built (San Lorenzo) was begun some 700 years after their arrival in the Land of Promise. Within the first century, the Jaredites elected a king, Jared’s son, Orihah (Ether 6:27). By this time we are looking at twenty-four families who had many children, as little as 12 and 22 (Ether 6:20), and as many as 31 (Ether 7:2), with many Jaredites living to an “exceeding old age.” Therefore, it might be concluded by the end of the first century, there were several hundred people, and within the second generation, two major cities were developed (Ether 7:4). The idea that the first structure of San Lorenzo was built 700 years later is extremely questionable. Consequently, the Olmec on that basis alone would hardly have been the Jaredites.
    Comment #4: “I ran across this statement and wondered what you thought of it: “In the 1850s the following unsigned statement was circulated among Latter-day Saints: ‘The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south, southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North Latitude, then, nearly east to the Sea of Arabia then sailed in a southeast direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chili [Chile] thirty degrees south latitude.’ The original is in the handwriting of early church leader Frederick G. Williams, who held a definite opinion on the subject of Book of Mormon geography. The statement was partially rewritten by church authorities Richards and Little and published as a “Revelation to Joseph the Seer” - a statement which the original did not contain.  The Chilean landing site, promoted in the William’s document, matches Orson Pratt’s geography. Prominent LDS would later call into question the statement’s authority; but before this would happen, church leaders publicly attributed (without verification or proof) features of Orson Pratt’s geography to the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith. The ideas that Lehi landed on the coast of temperate Chile thousand of miles south of Panama’s narrow neck, and that tropical Colombia’s thousand mile long Magdalena River is the River Sidon, were presented by church scholars as mainstream, majority views in the LDS community” Judson T.
Lehi sailed across the Southern Ocean on the West Wind Drift and driven by the Prevailing Westerlies from Arabia, caught the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current and landed where the winds and currents die down at the 30º south latitude in Chile
    Response: The article you quote appears on the Wikipedia website under Proposed Book of Mormon geographical setting. Wikipedia has a lot of interesting stuff and is a good source of information most of the time; however, anyone can place an article on these sites and sometimes people put something on them that is not correct, well-founded, or supportable. Most of the geographical info for the Book of Mormon placed on Wikipedia is done so by Mesoamericanists, and often is strictly from their viewpoint. In this case, there are a couple of inaccurate statements: 1) The statement written on a paper by Williams also contained three other statements, all of which were revelations; consequently, some people at the time thought it, too, was a revelation; however, this was what was “called into question the statement’s authority,” that is, was it a revelation and the consensus was it was not; however, it is not important whether it was a revelation or not, what matters is that Williams wrote this down on the same paper he used for information from Joseph Smith, and likely this was yet another of the Presidency’s discussion (see a previous series of articles on this blog); 2) Orson Pratt was not in the Presidency at this time, but Williams was, and whatever Pratt’s beliefs were, they were not involved in this writing since it was obviously part of a Presidency meeting or discussion among the Presidency; 3) The writing and subsequent discussion attributed to Williams did not contain anything about the river Sidon, nor Colombia, nor even Ecuador or Peru. It only mentioned a landing site along the 30º South Latitude in Chile. Personally, though I have studied extensively, I have never heard that anyone was suggesting the Magdalena River as the River Sidon, nor that this was ever presented by Church scholars. I knew Art Kocherhans (one of the three mentioned in this Wikipedia article regarding South America), but do not recall him ever talking about the Magdelana River—his view, as far as I recall, had to do with the Urubamba River (Rio Urubamba) being the River Sidon.
    Comment #5: “You keep harping on the Jaredites never being in the Land Southward. Well, the Olmec settlements were along the Gulf coast of Mexico in the area of Veracruz, which is north of Sorenson’s narrow neck of land, so get off your high horse on this issue” Alton W.
    Response: According to the famous Mexican archaeologist Ignacio Bernal, in his The Olmec World, University California Press, 1969, “The climatic station of Villahermosa is typical of the Gulf coastal plain of eastern Mexico, the region Bernal has termed the "Olmec metropolitan area,” and Nigel Davies, the eminent British writer and archeologist maintains that the Olmec eventually were found all over Mesoamerica, saying “they were present in almost every region.”
Map showing the location of Villahermosa to the east of the narrow neck (Mesoamericanists’ Land Southward). In additional, several other Olmec locations were found to the east of their narrow neck of land where the Jaredites never ventured
    It is also now understood that while some believe the Olmecs originated in the Vera Cruz area and moved southward across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to have had any appreciable influence on the cultural evolution of the Soconusco region. However, such a postulated movement, especially at the time of the Cherla period, is totally unsupported by any archaeological evidence. On the other hand, there are numerous indicators that a vigorous movement in the opposite direction -- toward the north -- was going on at precisely this time, in which case the so-called Olmec influence must have been a native-born development emanating from Soconusco itself.
    Also east of the narrow neck was La Venta, which renowned archaeologist Matthew Stirling, along with the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution claimed was Olmec. And, in fact, to distinguish the earliest and original parent group of all Mesoamerican cultures, Jimenez Moreno, in 1942, proposed that this early and original Olmec culture should be called the La Venta people (La Venta Olmec).
Left: Matthew and Marion Stirling in Vera Cruz in 1939. Stirling was the Chief of the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology, and led the eight Smithsonian Institution-National Geographic Society Archaeological Expeditions from 1939 to 1946; Right: Stirling beside one of the giant Olmec carved heads

Monday, November 25, 2013

More Comments from Readers – Part IX

We seem to be receiving a lot more questions and comments lately and we will endeavor to answer them all; however, it might take a while because of our backlog of articles we are also posting.    
    Comment #1: “It seems your large numbers for the Jaredites are not justified when we realize that the numbers mentioned included men, women and children. You cannot add, then, women and children to the numbers as you have done” Keeler T.
Response: The numbers of Jaredites is given during the last battle. After years of fighting, “Now the loss of men, women and children on both sides was so great that Shiz commanded his people that they should not pursue the armies of Coriantumr; wherefore, they returned to their camp” (Ether 14:31). In this we see that there were huge losses in both armies. Later, we find that Coriantumr’s losses are described as: “He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children” (Ether 15:2).
    These numbers can be seen in one of two ways. Either Corianturmr’s army lost two million, or that both armies lost a combined two million. Either way, however, that number did not include women and children, for Ether states: “there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.” Consequently, if we add a wife for a man, that would be four million. If we add two children per couple, that would be eight million. Since the Jaredites had very large families, we could add 4 or 6 children to a family, making the totals 12 to 16 million. If those numbers were per army, that is Coriantumr lost two million, and Shiz lost a like number, then we are dealing with anywhere from 16 million to 64 million. You pick the number you like, but it cannot be less than about 6 to 8 million in round numbers (2 million men, 2 million women, 4 million children).
    Comment #2: “What makes you think the Jaredites and Nephites didn’t occupy the Land of Promise at the same time?” Cruser Todd.
    Response: “And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come” (Ether 13:5), which should point out that at the time of Ether (the last of the Jaredites other than Coriantumr), Lehi had not yet arrived in the Land of Promise. At what point he did arrive in connection with the Jaredites is not known, but it would have had to have been at least during Ether’s later life, or more likely after the last Jaredite battle. As an example, we do not know how long Ether lived after Coriantumr killed Shiz.
We don’t know how long Coriantumr lived before he wandered into the Mulekite camp (the people of Zarahemla). We only know he lived nine months after meeting up with the Mulekites. But somewhere between when Ether wrote that passage (which Moroni interpreted in his abridgement of Ether’s record) and Corantumr’s arrival among the Mulekites in Zarahemla, he killed Shiz. As has been mentioned in previous posts, it is likely that Coriantumr wandered about for a time after this last battle so he could see the terrible destruction brought about by his stubbornness and unwillingness to obey the Lord and repent of his sins. What fitting punishment it would have been for him to wander among all the bodies of his dead people, and especially of those of his wife and children. As for the years involved, my personal belief is that the Jaredites were annihilated sometime around 600 to 580 B.C., and that after Mulek and those who came with him to the Land of Promise landed and settled in the area of Zarahemla, that Coriantumr wandered into their encampment. Personally, I consider it to  have been several years between the final battle and the time he arrived in the Mulekite camp, since I think it fitting that the Lord would have allowed him that time to see and think about his decision not to be obedient. But as for the record, it seems clear that Lehi had not yet left Jerusalem, or at least arrived in the Land of Promise, when Ether recorded his statement.
    Comment #3: “I was talking to someone Sunday and they were telling me that while there is no evidence of cement buildings anywhere in eastern U.S. or Canada, archaeologists have determined that the vast majority of discovered archaeological sites dating to the time period of the Book of Mormon are located in Mesoamerica” J.T.
    Response: Obviously, this was stated by a Mesoamericanist—to them there is no South America. The funny thing is, many of the sites they claim are not dated during the first half of Nephite times, but are dated later, beginning in the last part of the last century B.C. and many beginning in the A.D. period; yet the sites in Andean Peru date to the early Nephite period.
    Comment #4: The area in and around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec constituted the embryo for both the calendar system and the written language of the Americas. This fact alone virtually eliminates any other geographical area from being considered as “lands of the Book of Mormon” Thatch G.
Left: Rongorongo; Center: Mayan; Right: Reformed Egyptian. These languages are not similar in any way, nor can it be said they grew out of one another
    Response: The written language of the Americas is an interesting term. Rongorongo was a written system of glyphs of Easter Island brought there, according to their elders, from the mainland of South America. On the other hand, neither Rongorongo nor the Mayan glyphs resemble in any way either Hebrew or any form of Egyptian—especially the reformed Egyptian whose sample we have from Joseph Smith. Therefore, a written language of the Mayan has no bearing on any Book of Mormon language and, consequently, of limited import. As for other areas, let’s consider just a couple from the scriptural record—the two unknown animals the curelom and the cumom (Ether 9:19), or the two unknown grains, the neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9), or the herbs that cured fever (Alma 46:40).
    Nothing in Mesoamerican can satisfy these two descriptions; however, one could say that the only two animals that meet the description in the Book of Mormon that would have been unknown to Joseph Smith, are found solely in Andean Peru; and the only two grains that could be considered equal to corn, wheat and barley, that would have been unknown to Joseph Smith, are found solely in Andean Peru; and the only place in the world before the 19th century A.D. that had a plant or herb that could cure fevers (malaria) is found in Andean Peru—thus, “these facts alone virtually eliminates any other geographical area from being considered as lands of the Book of Mormon.” We could go on, but while these and numerous other points could be used that are taken from the scriptural record itself—a calendar system is not taken from the record, and a written language would not exist during Lamanite times after 421 A.D. in the Land of Promise, thus it cannot be claimed that those two items must exist today.
    Comment #5: “Regarding Mesoamerica, Columbus was directed to ‘the promised land,’ yet he never visited North America” Vinny V.
    Response: True. But he also never visited Mesoamerica, i.e., southern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize, etc. It might be of interest to note that he did, however, visit South America.
    Comment #6: “When you say Central America, that includes Mesoamerica and everything south. However, given the funnel shape of Central America, it is unlikely that any proposed geographies to the south of Guatemala and El Salvador would qualify for the Book of Mormon lands” Briggs H.
    Response: Central America is not used in this blog as a substitute for Mesoamerica. In fact, North America includes all of Mexico, except the Yucatan Peninsula, and Central America includes everything else to the Panama-Colombia border, with South America south of there—though some claim Central America is everything beyond the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Mesoamerica is not truly a designation of the Western Hemisphere—it stands for Middle America. However, it is used to designate a specific area, part of North America and part of Central America, from about Mexico City to about the Guatemala border with Honduras. Some people give it a little more distance into Honduras. The term Mesoamerica in this blog is used to designate the area that FARMS and other people and groups use to claim was the Book of Mormon Land of Promise.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

More Comments from Readers – Part VIII

We seem to be receiving a lot more questions and comments lately and we will endeavor to answer them all; however, it might take a while because of our backlog of articles we are also posting.    
    Comment #1: “Why is it you do not think the Omec were the Jaredites? The dates seem correct, and all the other evidence leads to that conclusion” Danielle C.
    Response: We have given numerous reasons why the Olmec could not have been the Jaredites in previous posts; however, since you asked, you might be interested in knowing that a 2700-year-old site, the oldest known pyramid in Mesoamerica, discovered in May 2010, was found at Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico, which would have been in 700 B.C., certainly toward the end of the Jaredite period, yet it was further into the Mesoamerican model Land Southward than even La Venta. In fact, these three sites, La Venta, San Lorenzo, and Chiapa de Corzo, make up a triangle, stretching across their narrow neck, with two sites in their Land Southward and one in their Land Northward. In addition, the archaeologists involved in this discovery claim this site was built by the Zoque, who emerged from the Olmec.
Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico, where the oldest known pyramid in Mesoamerica has been found, is about 130 miles east (their model south) of their narrow neck of land, which is their Land Southward. In the scriptural record, the Jaredites were never in the land south of the narrow neck except to hunt (Ether 10:20-21)
    Comment #2: “Lynn V. Foster in Life in the Ancient Maya World, pages 238-39 states: “The Maya constructed cities with complexes that could cover many football fields and pyramidal ones that rose to heights of 231 feet, yet they built their cities with Stone Age technology. No steel beams supported pyramids or vaults, no metal tools were available to quarry stone or to carve it. Instead, wooden beams, stone, and lime cement were the structural building blocks; rope-and-water abrasion and stone and obsidian tools provided the basic technology of Maya cities. Limestone was burned under intense heat to make plaster, or stucco, and cement. To make a small pile of plaster 3 feet high, 20 trees had to be felled and burned. Plaster on exterior walls weather poorly, so little is recovered during excavation. There is enough evidence, however, to indicate that some buildings were colored red or cream by the addition of either iron oxide or organic materials to the plaster. Lime cement was used as mortar or fill at many sites, including Palenque and Uxmal.” This sounds like Book of Mormon terminology in Helaman to me” Keller F.
    Response: First of all, the scripture you quote has to do with those Nephites who went north, into the Land Northward, but Palenque is in the southern Yucatan, which would be the Mesoamerica Land Southward, about 150 miles from the narrow neck of land; and Uxmal is also in Yucatan, to the north, about 250 miles from Palenque, and about 400 miles from the Mesoamerican narrow neck of land. Consequently, these two sites cannot be used to verify the cement comment in Helaman 3:7, 9-11). Another area, by the way, where cement was used in Mesoamerica was in the Peten region in Guatemala, again in the Mesoamericanists’ Land Southward. On the other hand, there were concrete (crushed limestone with dirt and water) buildings in the area of Teotihuacan, Mexico, which is near Mexico City about 25 miles to the northeast. In all of this, you need to keep in mind that this was in the first century A.D., which places the time about 100 years after Helaman’s comment, but matches the time frame of the 5,400 Nephite men with their women and children who went to a "land which was northward" in about 55 B.C. to settle in Mesoamerica. Obviously, they would have taken with them their knowledge and ability in working with cement.
    Comment #3: “You quoted in a series of articles earlier on your blog about John Clark quoting Keith Christenson who ‘looks to geology (plate tectonics and vulcanism) to sort the puzzle of Book of Mormon geography. He proposes a narrow neck 150 to 225 miles wide that crossed eastern Guatemala in two places and that the Nephite’s day and a half journey was on horseback, proposing two distances across this narrow region—one line is a day and a half's journey long, and another is a day's journey. The shorter distance is comparable to the as-a-crow-flies distance across Tehuantepec, so Christensen cannot be faulted for proposing an unreasonable distance for his narrow neck.”
Response:  First of all, we have talked about plate tectonics in many previous posts as connected to the Andean area of South America, and Vulcanism, in geology, is a process where the phenomenon of eruption of molten rock (magma) is extruded on to the earth’s surface, which basically is the collective processes that result in the formation of volcanoes and volcanic activity, i.e, the eruption of pyroclastics and gases that erupt through a break in the surface called a vent.  It comes from volcan(o) and -ism, coined between 1865 and 1870. Obviously, plate tectonic movement can change the topography of a land considerably, including raising land masses just below the surface, or sinking others, and raising up mountains, “whose height is great.”
    Secondly, we have also written extensively about the narrow neck of land. Mormon’s example to show his future readers the width of the narrow neck is stated in simple and understandable terms. The idea that Mormon meant something other than what he said is an unacceptable change to the scriptural record. While Mesoamericanists do this all the time and find no fault with it whatsoever, it is totally unacceptable and not worthy of a scholarly approach to better understand the written word. If the scriptural record was nothing more than an ancient Mayan codice, then OK, perhaps that might be one way of interpret it—but the Book of Mormon is not a codice written by some scribe (though Sorenson insists on using such a word to describe the prophets who wrote the scriptural record), but written by a prophet, abridged by a prophet, translated by a prophet, and accepted by the holy spirit. Let’s not get caught in the web of trying to change the scriptural record, its meaning, or the thought process that went into bringing it to us. There was no horse involved, Mormon does not suggest anything that might lead us to that conclusion, and the only mention of horses in the Book of Mormon is in connection with chariots.
    Thirdly, the idea of two different measurements for the narrow neck is also unfounded. The only measurement of the narrow neck is the day and a half mentioned by Mormon (Alma 22:32). The distance of a day has to do with a separate area, and in the Land of Bountiful, no doubt close to the narrow neck, but not in the narrow neck. We learn this from Mormon’s description that took place at the end of a three-year preparation and battle. In 34 B.C., the Lamanites had obtained “possession of the land of Zarahemla; yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful.” And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful. And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:4-7). These passages say nothing of the Sea East, and is not the same as the narrow neck of land and its narrow pass which did lead “by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east”  (Alma 50:34). Thus, these are not the same measurements, one being “as the crow flies,” etc., but measurements of two different areas.
Left: An example of a narrow neck between two large land areas. Note that the narrow neck is obvious and would be obvious to anyone on the ground without aerial or satellite photography; Right: An example of a narrow pass. Note that it is, indeed, narrow. Mormon uses the word “narrow” to describe both areas
    Fourthly, there is no possibility that anyone can justify a 144-mile-wide narrow neck. The definition of narrow, after all, is narrow. And without a doubt, the idea that the narrow neck of land was 150-225 miles wide is beyond believability. First of all, you could not cross 150 miles in a day and a half, even on horseback, let alone 225 miles on horseback. The idea is ludicrous to even suggest!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

More Comments from Readers –Part VII

We seem to be receiving a lot more questions and comments lately and we will endeavor to answer them all; however, it might take a while because of our backlog of articles we are also posting.           
    Comment #1: “There is one verse in Alma that I believe is an editorial slip by Mormon (the 1979 edition eliminates the error). Alma 53:6 formerly read, "The city of Mulek which was one of the strongest holds of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi" (Book of Mormon Critical Text: A Tool for Scholarly Reference, [Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1984], 2:849). Yet Alma 50:11 and 51:24-27 confirm that the city was actually part of the land of Zarahemla, which lay north of the land of Nephi. This seems to be another obvious mistake in Joseph Smith’s translation or in Mormon’s writing” Bradley G.
   Response: First of all, there is no change in the 1979 publication of the Book of Mormon of Alma 53:6 according to the 1979 printing (© 1979 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Printed in Canada, 9/2008). Secondly, editions of the Book of Mormon were printed in 1830, 1837, 1840, 1841, 1879, 1920, and 1981. A recent conference mentioned there was a new edition this year (2013). There were also new publications in 1905, 1911, and 1979, but there were no changes or corrections involved. There were also two British editions, printed in 1849 and 1852. In addition, the RLDS produced an edition in 1908. Also, FARMS published a critical text of the Book of Mormon in 1984-1987 to show the precise histography of many textual variants (though it was not complete).
Left: 1830 Edition; Center: 1920 Edition; Right: 1981 Edition
   Third, Mormon’s comment about the city of Mulek being in the Land of Nephi was probably made since Mulek was along the east wilderness as part of the narrow strip of wilderness that separated the Land of Nephi (to the south) from the Land of Zarahemla (to the north), and was “one of the strongest holds of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi” (Alma 53:6). When he wrote this, it was not long after his explaining the proclamation sent by the Lamanite king to all his people, “in all his land,” and then stating where those people were and the separation of the Nephites and the Lamanites, and in so doing covered the size and scope of the Narrow Strip of Wilderness and how it wrapped around along the seashore, which was an area occupied by the Lamanites (Alma 22:27). Located in that east wilderness was the city of Mulek, which at the moment of his writing, was a major fortified city controlled by the Lamanites in an area (east wilderness) controlled by the Lamanites and, therefore, was considered in the Land of Nephi (“amongst all his people who were in all his land”). However, later Moroni drove these Lamanites out of the east wilderness and back into “their own lands, which were south of the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 50:7). At this time, Mormon then tells us that the Land of Nephi’s borders were set: “And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west” (Alma 50:8), no longer including the east wilderness. As one scholar wrote about this east wilderness: “While Lamanites lived there, the city of Mulek and neighboring areas constituted de facto extensions of the Lamanite-ruled "land of Nephi." As far as I am concerned, Mormon made no mistake, nor did Joseph Smith, it was simply a different time frame involved, in which the Lamanites controlled land as part of their own land that later they were driven out of and the land became Nephite land.
    Comment #2: “Why were converts to the Church in Alma’s time called anti-lehi-nephies? Seems a rather derogatory term. And was there someone named Anti-Lehi-Nephi?” Camille F.
    Response: The word “anti” is a Latin and Greek prefix meaning “against,” or “opposite of,” but is relatively a recent word in actual use. However, the Book of Mormon was written in Reformed Egyptian and would not have contained a Latin or Greek word. Consequently, “Anti” may be a reflex of the Egyptian “nty,” meaning “he of,” “the one of,” which, according to Hugh Nibley, most likely meant “the one of Nephi and Lehi.” This might have been the case in the converted Lamanite king naming his son, Anti-Lehi-Nephi, but the converted Lamanites where called that name after this son who became the king. That is, they were the people of Anti-Lehi-Nephi, the king (rather than be called Lamanites as they had been before their conversion). As for the name itself, it was given to the brother of Lamoni, both were sons of the Lamanite king. Anti-Lehi-Nephi became the king after his father over all of the Lamanite people.
    Comment #3: “I read where it is claimed the Uxpanapa-Chimalapa Wilderness in the Chiapas central depression is the Wilderness of Hermounts. Is this possible?” Claudio U.
Response: You must have been reading Joseph L. Allen’s works. Among other things, he came by this conclusion from “the process of determining whether the wilderness of Hermounts is associated with the Grijalva River or the Usumacinta River is rather simple when information from the Book of Mormon is combined with data from Mesoamerica.” Of course, when we compare some very limited information in the scriptural record with a known place of our choosing, we can make it match one way or another. Allen also wrote of this: At this point, we will assume that the conclusions of John L. Sorenson and others are correct in identifying the Grijalva as Sidon, the Chiapas central depression as the land of Zarahemla, and the site of Santa Rosa on the Grijalva as the city of Zarahemla.” 
    As can be seen, it is all rather pre-determined by these Mesoamericanists who pat each other on the back and give each other praise and awards. However, as has been stated here in numerous posts, Mesoamerican does not meet any of the criteria in the scriptural record about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. I would suggest you read all 38 verses of Alma, chapter 2 for yourself, and see if there are any determining factors that would allow you to place those meager descriptions and match them to any known area in the Western Hemisphere. Chances are, you could make a case for at least a dozen areas, if not more. The trouble is, Mesoamerican Theorists love to tell you where things were located when they have nothing to go on but their own opinions. The Book of Mormon certainly doesn’t tell us where that wilderness is or was located in any definitive terms.
    Comment #4: “In a group discussion I was told basically that we know that the Jaredites never occupied the land southward but rather reserved it as a massive hunting preserve. And we know from the Olmec historical record that the Jaredites/Olmecs at one time or another lived on the north side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, on both the west and the east. The Olmec record supports the Jaredite record’s statement that the Jaredites did not inhabit the territory east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the land southward but reserved it for a “hunting refuge.” I got really confused and when I questioned the directions, I was basically ignored” Valeria N.
Response: I don’t wonder you were confused. Obviously whoever was telling you this was a Mesoamericanist. While they know the lands on either side of their narrow neck of land (Isthmus of Tehuantepec) are to the east and to the west, they still line it up with the north and south direction of the scriptural record. The fact is, as the scriptural record tells us, the Jaredites were never south (Mesoamerican east) of the narrow neck; however, the Olmecs were. The Olmecs original homeland and major development area, called La Venta, is in the Mexican state of Tabasco, which is to the east of the Isthmus, which would make it to the south of the Mesoamericanists' Land of Promise narrow neck and, therefore, in the Land Southward, which the Jaredites never were. It is claimed that the Olmec was one of the earliest civilizations to develop in the Western Hemisphere—however, several areas of Andean Peru developed before that time.  The problem lies, in part, with the directions Mesoamericanist use since their land model runs east and west, not north and south like the scriptural record.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Comments Received from Readers – Part VI

Continuing with comments and questions received from readers of the blog.   
    Comment #1: “I know you don’t agree with Costa Rica as the Land of Promise, but I read where the land mass of Costa Rica/Panama could easily be considered an "isle" and is at least 80-90% surrounded by the Pacific and Caribbean. This is something that the average Nephite would have been visually aware of. By climbing one of the taller mountains in Costa Rica, one can see the oceans on both sides, and possibly Lake Nicaragua and the isthmus as well” Roland O.
    Response: You must have been reading James Warr’s materials, which we have thoroughly responded to and answered more than once. But since you have written, let me just show you a map of the area you mention and you tell me how anyone could think of it as an island.
No matter what mountain you stand on, while you can see one Sea you probably cannot see both (Caribbean and Pacific) in ther area of Warr's "narrow neck," but when you look in the other two directions and all you see is land as far as the eye can see. There is no possibility that this area could have been confused with an island based on standing on the highest mountains in the area.
Map shows the Isthmus of Rivas as Warr’s Narrow Neck of Land on the west of Lake Nicaragua, but the east side of the lake is wide open and completely accessible to the Land Northward from the south, contrary to the scriptural record
    As for the mountains, Cerro Chirripo is the tallest in Costa Rica and situated near the middle of the southern portion of the country. It stands 12,530 feet, and lies about 45 miles from the Caribbean Sea and about 30 miles from the Pacific, which means it might be possible to see both seas, however, it lies a little over 140 miles from Lake Nicaragua and about 190 miles from the beginning of the isthmus, which means there is no way it could see anything but land in both northward and southward directions. Much closer to all three is Mt. Arenal, a cone-shaped volcano which last erupted in 2010. It is 5,479 feet high, about 80 miles from the Caribbean, about 55 miles from the Pacific, 40 miles from Lake Nicaragua, and about 85 miles from the beginning of the isthmus, which means the horizon is about 80 miles away though you would not be able to detect any features at that distance. If someone could see all three of these bodies of water with the naked eye on any mountain anywhere in Costa Rica it would be extremely remarkable. 
    Even so, there would be no way to determine or even believe one was on an island since the distance to the nearest water in the opposite direction of the lake would be about 400 miles away. You would need an elevation of about 75,000 feet to see a horizon at that distance, and obviously, there would be no way to determine anything but a horizon line. Ask any pilot and he will tell you that flying 39,000 feet you can see a horizon line 235 miles away, but can distinguish nothing at that distance, neither land, sea, nor hills.
Top left: Horizon at ground level is about 3 miles away; Right: From a ridge 1000 feet high, the distant horizon is about 18 miles away. Bottom: On this far horizon as seen from a 2000 feet high ridge, the furthest mountain to the left is about 25 miles away, the furthest mountain in the right is under 35 miles—and these are elevations, which are easier to see at a distance. In none of these horizons can we distinguish anything but a general image, in the top right, nothing at all
    Comment #2: “As one of the reasons for people migrating into the Land Northward, John Sorenson claims that “More than curiosity must have impelled such numbers. What was it? We have seen earlier that the area in the land of Zarahemla that could boast good crop conditions was limited.” He also claims the 5,400 Nephites traveled into the Land Northward” Lana D.
Response: Sorenson needs to be read with one hand on the scriptures and the other on a dictionary of Joseph Smith’s time, since Sorenson often makes statements that are questionable, at best. In this case, the 5,400 were men who also had their women and children with them (Alma 63:4), which would number conservatively around 20,000 people. Also, they did not go into “the Land Northward,” but into “the land which was northward.” In English, those are two entirely different concepts with entirely different meanings, as we have written about on numerous occasions. In addition, we have no idea what the planting results were in the Land of Zarahemla. We know only that in the land where they first landed, they had great success where their harvest was exceedingly abundant (1 Nephi 18:24), and also in the area of the City of Nephi, after leaving his brothers who sought to kill him, they “did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance” (2 Nephi 5:11). 
    This same area could produce crops some 400 years later when Zeniff planted corn, wheat, barley, neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9), which produced such abundant crops they could pay a tribute of half their corn, barley, and grain of every kind” to the Lamanites (Mosiah 7:22). As for why the 5,400 men with their women and children migrated on Hagoth’s ships, it was at the conclusion of a very long war, which had decimated crops, cities and many families. Evidently, several people wanted to go live somewhere else where they would not be under constant Lamanite attacks. This is also seen about 8 or 9 years later when “there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land” because of “much contention and many dissensions” (Helaman 3:3). It might be noted that these two phrases: to the land which was northward, and into the land northward, were written by the same hand, Mormon, describing the same issue, migration, but stated in different locational terms.
    Comment #3: “You have complained about Mesoamerica for a long time not being the Land of Promise. One of your arguments is that there is no real east or west seas. Yet, there seems no question that if the narrow neck is indeed an isthmus between two seas, and not a landlocked corridor as some authors have claimed, then the bodies of water that flanked it are the east and west seas mentioned in the Book of Mormon” Angus M.
Response: First of all, the complaint is not about Mesoamerica, it is about people who develop models claimed to be based on the scriptural record that do not follow the scriptural record descriptions. Secondly, in regard to your further comments, people can say whatever they want, but geography is its own truth. One look at Mesoamerica (above) shows everyone that it runs east and west and that is simply not an arguable issue! Thus, above an east-west line is north and below it is south. Again, these are not arguable facts! Consequently, one look at a Mesoamerican map—anyone’s map of Middle America—and you have to admit that the Gulf of Mexico is to the north and the pacific Ocean to the south, which means they are not east and west seas, but north and south seas. Now, when you look at an overall map of the Western Hemisphere, there can be no doubt that the overall appearance of Central America (below Mesoamerica) is a northward-southward orientation. 
The problem lies in the fact that the Nephites did not possess such maps, nor did they have aerial or satellite photographs. Modern man continually forgets that what is known today from these sources, would not have been known or understood in antiquity. Vision from ground level is quite different than looking at a map taken from a great height. As a result, the Nephites could not possibly have known what lay further to the north than the area of the Land of Many Waters, which Mesoamericanists claim lies within Mesoamerica—which means it is to the west of their narrow neck of land. Nor could the Nephites have known what lay to the south of the area of their first landing, since, to our knowledge, they never went in that direction. Thus, the inarguable point is simply that the Nephites could not have known there was any northward land beyond the Land of Many Waters, nor could they have known there was any southward land beyond the area of First Landing. As such, the area of the Mesoamericanists’ Land of Promise is simply the area we know as Mesoamerica, or Middle America, and that runs east and west and there can be no further discussion on these directions. And if the Mesoamerican Theorists were honest about it and not driven by their pre-determined location and willing to accept the most ridiculous and flimsy of arguments in favor of an east-west orientation of the Land of Promise that Sorenson and others make to claim it is northward and southward, they would have to admit that their model in no way could be construed to agree with Mormon’s description found in Alma 22:27-34, and elsewhere in the scriptural record. Unfortunately, they are so committed to this location, they simply ignore all the scriptural references that do not agree with their model!