Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sorenson’s Fallacy of Basing Nephrite Directions – Part II

As stated in the last post, Writers and Theorists with a predetermined answer in mind have a tendency to give only the information that supports their point of view when citing other work, or even the scriptural record. This is especially true of John L. Sorenson as he tries so hard to convince us that the Nephites had their own directional system.  
Hebrew child learning directions by facing “east”
    Sorenson’s theory of Mesoamerica being the Land of Promise, as covered in the previous post, is based entirely on his belief that the Nephites did not use our compass directions, but had their own compass orientation, what has become known as “Nephite North.” To better understand his meaning, Sorenson writes (p38): 
    “The Israelites of Palestine, in their most common mental framework, derived directions as though standing with backs to the sea, facing the desert. Yam (“sea”) then meant “west,” for the Mediterranean lay in that direction. Then yamin {“right hand”) meant “south,” while semol (“left hand”) denoted “north.”
    However, as has been pointed out, Sorenson’s interpretation is both erroneous (the way he implies it) and very simplistic.
American child learning directions by facing “north”
    It is quite like my learning my cardinal directions when a child in school as mentioned in the previous post—I stood facing north, therefore, east was to my right and west was to my left and south was behind me. As I recall, I did this for a little time before needing only to think of facing north and placing the other cardinal points. After that, the idea of the four cardinal points was automatic, I didn't have to think of hands, facing, or behind me.
    The way one learns can be traced to root words or simplistic understanding, but it is not the way one thinks when they learn beyond the simplistic. All of this, including the previous post and the following is meant to show how fallacious Sorenson's idea is and that the ancient Jews, like us, use the same compass—as did the Nephites.
    In fact, so oriented to the East is Israel, that when they marched to war or set out to march for any reason, it was always the tribes who camped in the east that led the way, followed by the southern tribes, then the western, then the northern. This represented to them how God, depicted as being present in the east, should lead the way; man, centered in the south (away from God) was to follow. This “south” idea is seen in the Jewish Targum (a spoken paraphrase delivered by a Rabbi) of Joshua 15:19 says "The earth is the south,” again referring to man being away from God.
    From Fausset’s Bible Dictionary: “qedem, literally, "before"; for in describing the points of the compass the person faced the East, or sunrise—where God dwelt—which was thus before or in front of him; the South was on his right, and so is called in Hebrew "the right hand"; the North was on his left, and so is called in Hebrew Tzafon, meaning “north” or "the left hand” (Tzafona means “toward the North.”)
    In fact, according to Fausset, the word “West” (behind) was of such little importance to the Hebrews (nothing that way but Sea, and they were not seamen or mariners), that their word Mizrach separated the east from the west (or the vertical [our horizontal] direction) and was used mainly to indicate the main or important direction.
    The word “west” itself came from two Hebrew words: 1) yawm, meaning “to roar,” referring, of course, to the sounds of the Great Sea (Mediterranean Sea); and 2) ma’arav, from the root arav, meaning “setting of the sun.” As a point of interest (perhaps to some), the meaning of the root `rb (`rv) as "setting (down),” which, in modern Hebrew has been lost, but ma`arav is “where the sun goes” “at the” `erev, “evening.”
Left: ma’arav meaning the “setting of the sun” in Hebrew; Right: mizrach Hebrew for “rising of the sun”
    However, with an understanding of linguistics and comparable Arabic (second language) knowledge, you can trace the Hebrew ma`arav back to (ghrb) `rv, the "going away, or setting of the sun." More general, ‘rb means “west” or “evening,” which is taken as “setting down,” but more accurately as “the sun is going west” or “the sun is going to its evening destination,” meaning metaphorically “the sun is setting down.”
    Now, in a more correct picturesque (and religious) understanding of Hebrew, the word for west literally means “shading” or “shadows.” That is, west was both the end of their land and the end of their day. Stated differently, the west was the end of the world. The Lord said, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:5-6, emphasis mine). The Psalmist assured Israel, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:11-12, emphasis mine).
    While qedem can be said to mean “behind,” “back,” “sea,” or “seaward,” the better understanding of the word and its root shows a different understanding of the Hebrew direction.
Left: The Greeks were the West; the Saracens (Muslims) were the East
    In addition, directions often were applied to words in the Middle East to describe people, as well as places. As an example, the Assyrians called people to their west “westerners” (from grb), while the Greek use of the term Saracen (those to the east) meant in Arabic “Easterners.”
    Nomad, people of the desert, etc., were originally called Arabs or Arabic before the term became accepted as the name of a country and people. The Hebrew word arav, which originally meant “desert” has become to mean Arab or Arabian.
    Thus, we can see that Sorenson’s simplistic understanding of the word origins does not at all give credence to his using his “back to the sea” to justify the altering of cardinal compass points, or give the Nephites a different compass than ours. In fact, the strong relationship that the Jews had with the directions and their religious significance of understanding that "east" was where the sun rose, shows that the Jews always oriented themselves to the east and understood its direction very well. In fact, the compass points Nephi give us were: “south-southeast” (1 Nephi 16:13), and “nearly eastward” (1 Nephi 17:1), both directions involving the east, and both used correctly to our compass.
    But Sorenson has an ulterior motive in mind in trying to cloud the issue of Nephite understanding of their directional system. He writes (p39): “Suppose, for a moment, that you were with Lehi’s party as it arrived on the Pacific coast of Central America By western civilization’s general present-day terminology, the shore would be oriented approximately northwest-southeast. When you said yamah, intending “westward,” the term would mean literally “seaward,” although the water would actually be behind your back” to our southwest.
    However, here is where Sorenson errs. The Jew’s mindset was not toward the “west” or toward “the sea,” but toward the “east” where God dwelt, with the word qedem meaning “where the sun rises.” And in Mesoamerica, like just about everywhere, especially those latitudes between 45º north and 45º south, which includes Jerusalem, Mesoamerica, Andean Peru, Coquimbo, Chile, the Great Lakes, the Heartland and Baja California—all the areas claimed to be the Land of Promise—the sun rises in the east and everyone within those latitudes knows it! For those who have spent much time in all those latitudes, it is easy to see that Sorenson’s attempt to cloud the issue with Nephite misunderstanding of “east” is totally fallacious and without a shred of value in this discussion.
The sun rises much the same in the latitudes that have been submitted as the Land of Promise by various Theorists
    How sad it is that such a misunderstanding and misstatement of ancient Hebrew word origins and their root derivations have caused so much misleading and fallacious information to be printed and accepted by so many people who will never read the above and understand the error of their theories and Land of Promise models. It is no wonder there are so many critics of the Book of Mormon when they continually have such deceptive material before them to criticize.
    It is now and always has been the purpose of this blog and the (now nearly 1500) posts to try and keep before us the actual words and descriptions of Mormon who walked the Land of Promise from one end to the other and probably knew it better than any other mortal, including its directions and distances, so that the reader of the scriptural record could feel confident in what they are reading is the correct and unabridged writings of the ancient prophets.
    Mormon knew what direction north was, as we do, and used it correctly. Joseph Smith translated it correctly, and the Spirit verified its correctness so that we could understand, in our language, the meaning of what is written in the Boo of Mormon. After all, as Nephite said, “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3).
    It seems time that Mesoamericanists realize the error of their model, that it does not meet the directions and understanding Mormon gave us, that there is nothing confusing about Alma 22:32, and that they can no longer claim a Land of Promise that is 90º off kilter with Mormon’s descriptions.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sorenson’s Fallacy of Basing Nephrite Directions – Part I

Writers and Theorists with a predetermined answer in mind have a tendency to give only the information that supports their point of view when citing other work, or even the scriptural record. This is a tactic Sorenson uses repeatedly, especially in the subject of Nephite directions. 
    First, let’s see what is at stake here. Sorenson has based his entire theory of Mesoamerica on one simple understanding—the directions Sorenson claims the Nephites used, which was a compass system that about 90º off from the standard compass directions we all know and the rest of the world uses.
Sorenson's map of the Land of Promise (his Mesoamerica). Note the directions: Yellow Arrow: North; Orange Arrow: South; White Arrow: East; Green Arrow: West. When you compare Sorenson's skewed directions with those used by Nephi and Mormon in the scriptural record, you find Sorenson's map is 90º off from the directions used in the Book of Mormon
    Second, if Sorenson’s position on this “Nephite compass” is correct, then his east-west model of Mesoamerica is plausible. However, if he is wrong about there being a “Nephite compass” different than our compass, then his entire idea and theory is wrong and cannot be salvaged, which of course would damage his entire reputation and career standing as the “guru of Mesoamerican  thought.”
    Third, Sorenson’s Theory of a “Nephite compass” is based on his understanding of certain ancient Hebrew directional words, specifically East, south, West, and North, and how they came about (root) and their underlying meaning.
    Fourth, Sorenson’s premise is based on the belief that the Hebrew word qedem, which is “east,” means “front” and “before,” to suggest that along with the definition of the word yam, which is “west,” means “back” and “seaward.” Therefore, Sorenson says that the ancient Hebrew placed his back to the sea and then knew what direction “east” would be. Thus, in a new land—Mesoamerica—Nephi put his back to the sea and knew the direction of east, which is about 90º off kilter of true east. Thus, his Sea East in Mesoamerica, the Gulf of Mexico, is due north.
The red arrow shows the location of Sorenson's Lehi landing. So if Nephi put his back to the sea there, he would think that northeast was east and be off 45º
    Now, having said all that and recognizing that Sorenson took several pages to more or less come to that conclusion, let us take a look at the reality of Hebrew directional words and their actual meaning, since Sorenson’s conclusion is not only misleading, but in some cases, totally inaccurate—even though it has been repeated so many times by so many academicians and writers (especially those at BYU, FARMS, etc.) that one might think it is correct.
    The basic problem stems from the understanding of “east.” Two Hebrew words are related to the direction of “east,” and they are Misrah/Mizrach and Qedem/Kedem. First of all, Mizrah literally means “from the place where the sun rises, and is from the root zarach, meaning “rise,” which has evolved to today meaning “shine.” 
The underlying meaning of this word in Hebrew thought is that “East is where God dwells,” and comes to us in the New Testament as “Jesus is the Light of the World” (Revelations 22:16). In the last days Jesus will come out of the east “as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27), meaning the East is where Christ is.
    In Hebrew thought, then, they did not go east because they came from the presence of God. Eastward in Eden was where the Garden was located (that is, near God), Ezekiel proclaimed “I saw the glory of the Lord coming from the East” (Ezekiel 43:2). In fact, if a strong wind came from the north, west or south it was considered an act of nature, but a “dreaded East Wind” (blowing from the east) was punishment from God—his wrath in motion.
    Hosea (left) preached to the people that “Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness” (Hosea 23:15). 
And in Exodus, “Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts (Exodus 10:13), and again, “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided” (Exodus 14:21).
    In addition, the East wind was used many times in scripture to show that God’s punishment was really his love whereby He used the “East wind” to drive men to Him, not away from Him. An example of this is found in “I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labors of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord” (Haggai 2:17), which is symbolized by sending man East when he is punished rather than sending him west or north.
    In Hebrew thought and among the Jews in particular, the East represents the presence or person of God. The West, the things that come from God. The South is the location of man or the things that are from a source other than God.
    As for words, while Mizrah means the location of “east,” that is, “where the sun rises.” Qedem (Kedem), then, means the direction of “east,” that is, “toward where the sun rises.” In other words, the Hebrew words depict “east” as a single source, either in the direction it lies, or the direction one takes to get there. And both are associated with the rising of the Sun.
    • “The Dead Sea is in the east” (Mizrah)
    • “Go east to reach the Dead Sea” (Qedem)
Qedem, then, means ”east,” while qadmôn means “eastern,” q’dim means “east wind” and “east,” qadmoaî means “former,” “ancient,” “eastern,” q’dûm means “antiquity,” q’dam means “meet,” “confront,” “go before,” qodem means “east,” qadmâ means “antiquity, “former estate,” “before.”
    In this case, Mizrah shares the same root as the Herbew words for “welcome,” “ancient,” and “front.” Thus, Qedem has either a geographical meaning, “east,” or a temporal notion, “ancient,” “time,” or “aforetime.”
    As a result, the opposite direction from east, of course, is west, yam, and has the meaning of “west,” “westward,” “sea,” “seaward,” and “back” or “behind.”
    To round this out, teman means “right,” “south,” and smol means “left,” “north.”
This is much like when I was a kid and learning my cardinal directions for the first time. The teacher had us stand in the classroom and face to the north, then she told us that “east was on the right hand,” “west was on the left hand,” and “south was behind us.” Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word “teymen” (from the root word yaman) which is used for “right or south” literally means “to the right.” So standing and facing east, “south is to the right.” This is no different than my teacher saying, as we faced north, “east is on the right hand, and west is on the left hand.”
    The problem with Sorenson lies in the fact that he thinks the Hebrews and Jews oriented themselves by placing their back to the sea (Great Sea/Mediterranean Sea) in order to determine east, which is totally untrue. The Hebrews and Jews always knew which direction was “east,” since that was where God was and they were well oriented to things of God. In fact, the Hebrew understanding of directions was that “man’s point of reference should be always facing east—toward God.”
    After all, while much of the western world uses north as their major orientation such as in maps, which are always oriented to the north (top of any map is north); however, to the Hebrews and Jews, and the eastern world, including China, Japan, etc., they use east as their major orientation. The Bible, directions, maps, etc., are all oriented to the east.
(See the next post, “Sorenson’s Fallacy of Basing Nephrite Directions – Part II,” showing why Sorenson’s “Nephite North” directional system is both inaccurate and deceptive the way it is presented in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

More on Sorenson--The Duplicitous Sales Job-Part II

We are continuing with John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which is so extensively hyped by Mesoamericanists and Land of Promise Theorists, especially because of Sorenson’s reputation as the one-time Dean of Anthropology at BYU, and current status as Professor Emeritus, and referred to as the “Guru of Book of Mormon Archaeology,” that it needs a reality check every so often to remind us of its inaccuracies. 
One of the things you are taught in sales is if your product or idea lacks certain points or questions are raised that you cannot answer, divert the attention of the buyer to the positive points of your product or idea. And one of the ways to do this is to confuse the issue, cloud it with statistics or other difficult data, then move the person along toward where you want the discussion to go. When done by an expert, it is a very subtle transition for the buyer, and most of the time he is not even aware it has been done.
    Take, for instance Sorenson’s approach to the biggest problem he faces in his Theory—that of the directions of his Land of Promise, which are skewed some 90º off the line Mormon describes. In his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Sorenson spends 35 pages outlining four maps and showing how the scriptural record is oriented northward and southward. In between these maps, Sorenson weaves a tale of distances, quoting about every source possible to show that distances among ancients was confusing and difficult to measure, with the final vertical map shown on page 24.
Sorenson uses four vertical maps like the one on the left to show how the vertical map matches the writing and descriptions in the scriptural record. Then, suddenly, he flips the vertical map over on its side and points north to the left and claims this matches what he had previously shown and what Mormon describes
    Following this map, he spends 12 pages writing about other problems before he actually introduces his Mesoamerican map on page 36, which contrary to his other maps, is both horizontal and oriented east and west. Yet, it is craftily placed so that the map, when first turning the page, looks vertical (you have to turn the book width-wise in order for the map to be situated accurately and read).
    It is a masterful use of trickery to move the reader’s mind along a comfortable and familiar path and then without warning insert a brand new, unfamiliar path without any prior warning, and done so subtly, it seems at first, to go right along with what has been read. And while the mind is reeling with this change in direction, after being led for 35 pages into thinking Sorenson agrees with Mormon’s descriptions, Sorenson starts on his five page explanation of the direction change by making an ancient understanding among Jews seem to fit right in with the thinking of the Nephites who, except for Nephi, Sam and Zoram were never in Jerusalem among the Jews, or could possibly have known about the placement of seas in the use of compass directions.
    This deception once again is based on confusing the person with information that is both unimportant and, where possible, even misleading. Sorenson is very good at taking his reader along a meaningless, meandering path, and then using that unimportant information as the basis for a later important point. In this way, the reader is lulled into thinking he understands and may even agree with the unimportant prattle and when the hammer falls on an important point, simply accept it as he had the earlier meandering.
    This is quite obvious in his dealing with an issue that is not only unimportant, but answered clearly in the scriptural record that Sorenson ignores, when he writes (p21-22), “Besides, the immediately adjacent west coastal strip was counted part of the land of Nephi, although to the north strip was conceived as "on the west of the land of" Zarahemla.  Nothing definitely to the east of Nephi is discussed.  The entire area east from the land of Nephi is left undefined, except that it was part of the whole and southward "nearly surrounded by water.”
The scriptural record clearly states that the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi stretched from the Sea East to the Sea West, as did the narrow strip of wilderness
    The point here is why even bring this up? There is no unknown land to the east of the land of Nephi suggested anywhere in the scriptural record. In fact, Mormon makes it quite clear that the Land of Nephi extended to the east coast:  "And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west" (Alma 50:8). Despite the need to have an unknown land to the east so the Yucatan peninsula can be inserted into the land of promise, the scriptures leave no room for such an interpretation.  In fact, the land of Nephi ran from the east sea to the west sea, and this is the land controlled by the king who was sending out a proclamation about Aaron and his brethren (Alma 22:27), and the Land of Nephi extended to the West Sea, from the area of their First Landing (First Inheritance) to the north (Alma 22:28).
    Sorenson also states (p210): “The width of the land of Nephi, the highland portion of the land southward, is never clarified.” 
    After all, like all Mesoamericanists, he has to find a way to justify the Yucatan Peninsula that juts out in the east of his Land of Nephi but there is no suggestion of such an elongated coastline in the scriptural record.
    Yet, though his rationale and comments are wrong and inconsistent with the scriptural record, he concludes, as he typically does, with a result based on his erroneous thinking when he says (p22), “This long excursion through the dimensions of the Book of Mormon scene has allowed us to nail down vital requirements. We can now be certain that the Book of Mormon story took place in a limited portion of the western hemisphere shaped roughly like an hourglass.”
    It is arrogant indeed, and certainly not scholarly, to ignore the scriptural record which tells you there is an answer, then state there is no answer, and that his statement then allows a final understanding of these distances. After all, the Land of Nephi spread from the sea east to the sea west, was separated from the Land of Zarahemla to the north by a narrow neck of land, which also ran from sea to sea (Alma 22:27).
    It is also interesting how Sorenson takes a very well known fact, the Sidon river is the only river mentioned in the entire scriptural record by name, and the only river mentioned at all except for rivers being to the far north in the “land of many waters, fountains and rivers” (Helaman 3:4; Mormon 6:4), and makes it sound like it is only one of many when he writes (p23): “A dominant feature is the major river the Sidon, which flowed down out of the mountains that separated the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla.” The Major river makes it sound like there are others, and if there were, they are not mentioned in the scriptural record, thus the statement at best is misleading, and at worst reminds one of trying to sell his model, Mesoamerica, where two major rivers, the Grijalva and the Usumacinta, are continually debated among Mesoamericanists as to which is the Sidon River. Again, it is not difficult to see Sorenson’s mindset, a mindset that completely eliminates any and all other possibilities beyond what he thinks.
    In addition, take Sorenson’s comment (p248) “The subject of directions discussed in the first chapter is especially relevant now. At points in the account like Alma 50:13-15 reference to the map in terms of our modern meaning of the terms “north” and “south” could lead to confusion.” 
    The only confusion about directions stems from trying to fit Mormon’s descriptions and directions onto a Mesoamerica map which is skewed about  90º off kilter with the compass.
    Sorenson also adds (p248) “One added note; this account was written by Mormon, long after the events took place” and goes on to talk about Mormon’s viewpoint. However, one might suggest that though Mormon wrote about this event 300 years or so later, Mormon walked that land, fought over it, planned strategies in it, knew and understood the layout, directions, topography, and no doubt, everything there was to know about it from the many books and writings he had in his possession written by the Nephites which he tells us were “many.” Sorenson, on the other hand, writing 2000 years later, never having seen or been in the land of the Nephites at the time they lived, nor even knowing for certain he was in such a land ever, tells us Mormon’s view was skewed but his own is not.
Another interesting point is Sorenson’s claim the Nephites used Jewish understanding of Hebrew words. However, toward the end of his life, when Nephi writes about wanting to preach to his people about “the words of Isaiah," he prefaces it with this caveat for the reader: “For I, Nephi, have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness, and their doings were doings of abominations” (2 Nephi 25:2). Now, we don’t know what Nephi did or did not teach his people about the Jews, but we do know that before Mosiah created a monetary standard for wages, the Nephites used their own different systems “according to the minds and the circumstances of the people, in every generation” (Alma 11:4), a period of about 400 years, but we do know the Nephites did not reckon their finances after the manner of the Jews who were at Jerusalem (Alma 11:3).
    Consequently, we do not know if the Nephites even knew about the original Jewish custom of how north, south, east and west came about—a point that Sorenson uses as the entire basis for his differing directional compass he claims the Nephites used the same skewed orientation.
(See the next post, “Sorenson’s Fallacy of Basing Nephite Directions,” for an understanding of how this single claim of Sorenson shows his Mesoamerican model to be completely invalid)

Friday, August 29, 2014

More on Sorenson--The Duplicitous Sales Job-Part I

We are continuing with John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which is so extensively hyped by Mesoamericanists and Land of Promise Theorists, especially because of Sorenson’s reputation as the one-time Dean of Anthropology at BYU, and current status as Professor Emeritus, and referred to as the “Guru of Book of Mormon        Archaeology,” that it needs a reality check every so often to remind everyone of the enormous amount of errors made relative to the scriptural record.  
The previous thirty posts have been about the numerous errors and misrepresentations of the scriptural record by Sorenson’s allegations and sometimes outright fabrications in an effort to sell a location (theory) for Lehi’s Land of Promise that is far from factual, and in no way meets the numerous criteria found in Mormon’s descriptions.
    In these past posts, not only did we cover 23 scriptural passages (July 10 to August 6) that any sane individual would say needed to be matched by any Land of Promise claim, and that all 23 did match what exists in Andean Peru/Chile, but not in Mesoamerica (or elsewhere). Over the past three years we have written on these pages numerous times examples of how the scriptural record points out things found only in Andean Peru and nowhere else. We have shown how Mormon’s descriptions do not match anything in Mesoamerica, how the Isthmus of Tehuantepec could not be the narrow neck of land, how the directions the Nephites stated time and again were changed by Sorenson to comply with his Mesoamerican model—and the list goes on and on.
From December 26 of last year to January 7 of this year, we posted a list of 27 scriptures out of the Book of Mormon that do not match in any way Mesoamerica, but do match in every way Andean Peru. In our book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica, we listed 65 scriptural or matching evidences found in Andean Peru and not found in Mesoamerica, and in our book Inaccuracies of Mesoasmerican and Other Theorists, we covered John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, showing the inaccuracy of 194 points over 500 pages that simply do not match the scriptural record, and often are contrary to it, or making up issues that are not found in the record, or deleting and ignoring points that are of which he disagrees.
    One can only consider this work by Sorenson, since he starts out ignoring Nephi’s accurate knowledge of compass directions, and Mormon’s continual use of these directions, by claiming the Jews used different compass directions than the rest of the world so he can insert an east-west map (Mesoamerica) instead of Mormon’s north-south map.
    Yet, at the same time, have the impudence to write: “We will want to be cautious, especially about any biases we might bring to the subject from modern conditions.” He then turns around and writes: “when we analyze Book of Mormon statements about geography and events, the ‘land of first inheritance’ can lie only on the west (Pacific) coast of Central America.” How is one unbiased when he translates scripture based on his own previously determined model? If Mesoamerica is not the Land of Promise, then obviously, all Sorenson’s extensive work is wasted and achieves nothing at all—therefore expect him to continually defend that determination even when the scriptural record tells him otherwise.
    Take for an example, his subtle insertion of the word “isthmus” into his work (p6) without it coming from the scriptural record or an interpretation in Joseph Smith’s time, or any pretense to defend his choice.
The Isthmus of Darien is a small isthmus between two continents and is extremely narrow compared to the width of the two adjoining land masses, the North and South American continents
    In 1828, “isthmus” was defined as “A neck or narrow slip of land by which two continents are connected, or by which a peninsula is united to the mainland.” Webster added in 1828: “But the word is applied to land of considerable extent, between seas; as the isthmus of Darien, which connects North and South America.” However, there is no reason to claim that Mormon’s description in Alma 22 is that of an isthmus (connecting two continents), or that the Land of Promise was a peninsula (Jacob said, and Nephi recorded, that they were on an island [2 Nephi 10:20], and Helaman wrote they had seas in four cardinal directions--north, south, east and west (Helaman 3:8), and Mormon described the Land Southward, i.e., the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi as being surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land connecting to the Land Northward (Alma 22:32).
    However, to understand Sorenson’s thinking, we have to keep in mind that he has already determined that the Land of Promise is Mesoamerica, consequently, he feels completely free to describe Mesoamerica (with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec) that has only two seas and he can claim connects two continents (though Webster chose to use a much more prominent example, that of Panama).
    Sorenson also wrote “The most obvious requirement configuration concerns the basic outline of Book of Mormon lands,” then goes on to tell us that Mormon’s directions are all wrong, and actually, off by almost 90º because they do not match his Mesoamerica.
    He also tells us “that the land southward was nearly surrounded by water, but no clear statements are made about the relation of the land northward to adjacent seas.” 
    However, again Jacob called it an island (2 Nephi 10:20), and Helaman said the Land of Promise was filled from sea to sea in every direction, when he described the Nephite expansion in 46 B.C. as “they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Haleman 3:8, emphasis mine).
    Actually, much of the Jaredite history takes place along the east seashore, from Omer and all his household, who departed out of the land which was near where the Jaredites landed on the western coast and settled an area they called Moron (Alma 22:30-31), which is where the kingdom was established and the king dwelt (Ether 7:5), which was near the narrow neck of land in the land the Nephites called Desolation (Ether 7:6), and which was referred to as the land of their first inheirtance (Ether 7:16). When the Lord warned Omer to leave Moron, he departed out of the land, and “came over to the hill Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, to a place called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent” (Ether 9:3) to the final battles of Coriantumr and Lib (Ether 14:12-13), and his battle with Shiz where he pursued him “eastward, even to the borders by the seashore” (Ether 14:26) after fighting in the northern land at the waters of Ripliancum, which, interpreted means “large, or to exceed all” (Ether 15:8), which sounds like a very large sea in the north.
    The point here is when Sorenson claims there are no clear statements made about the relation of the land northward to the adjacent seas, he is trying to make his case for Mesoamerica to show that it is not an island, but a peninsula or an isthmus, when it is an island. Even the Land Northward seems to be surrounded by water from Moroni’s descriptions.
    So what kind of product are we being sold here? How about a Land of Promise that is totally out of shape to the many directions Mormon gives us, without a really narrow neck of land between the two main land masses, and one where there is no sea that divides the land, which Ether tells us there is one, and that it is the location of the narrow neck of land where they built a great city (Ether 10:20).
Sorenson also wrote: “As my knowledge of archaeology, history and languages deepened,” which caused him not to turn to the scriptural record to find the answers, but to the sectarian history of “key Spanish records (of) Bishop Diego de Landa's account of Yucatan and Father Bernardino de Sahagun's superb books about central Mexico.” To Sorenson, man’s records were evidently more important than God’s—or at least on the same level.
Sorenson also wrote: “Jakeman, Nibley and Sperry led me to understand that the Book of Mormon was not only a religious resource but also a challenging intellectual and historical puzzle.”

    Now nowhere in the numerous writings of the prophets or general authorities is the suggestion made that the Book of Mormon is an intellectual puzzle. Not even Neal A. Maxwell, with his outstanding intellect, ever suggested such a thing. Nor can we say that the Book of Mormon is an historical puzzle for it is not a history text, nor a geography text, nor an academic text. It is what Joseph Smith called it, “the most perfect book on earth, the keystone of our religion.”
    The word “keystone” means “the fastening stone” something that “binds the work.” That is, the book binds (ties together) the work of the Church, the gospel, the doctrines of salvation. It is not, and never was, a book to be understood intellectually, but spiritually. Nor is it a puzzle, for the Lord said that he speaks to man in man’s own language for man’s understanding. Thus, the Book of Mormon is not a “religious resource,” but the foundation of our religion.
    The problem is, when you believe you are solving a puzzle, you look “beyond the mark” and try to solve problems that do not exist. The scriptural record was meant to be read by the average layman, with an average intellect, and with an average understanding. To make it more is to inaccurately portray the very purpose of the work.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part X

We are continuing with John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which is so extensively hyped by Mesoamericanists and Land of Promise Theorists, especially because of Sorenson’s reputation as the one-time Dean of Anthropology at BYU, and current status as Professor Emeritus, and referred to as the “Guru of Book of Mormon Archaeology,” that it needs a reality check every so often. 
    As stated earlier in these posts, Sorenson loves to create a people, climate, or situation that is not supported by the scriptural record in order to make his point. On p140, he states: “What can we tell about living conditions in the land of first inheritance? The coastal plain where the landing of Lehi would have occurred was uncomfortably hot and humid. That climate favored rapid crop growth, but the weather would be unpleasant for colonizers. The Nephites soon fled up to the land of Nephi, where the elevation permitted living In greater comfort. As Nephi tells the story, the Lamanites down in the hot lowlands were nomadic hunters, bloodthirsty, near naked, and lazy (2 Nephi 5:24; Enos 1:20).” He also adds, “As for getting a living, the tangle of forest and swamp along the coast itself may have been too hard for the Lamanite newcomers to farm effectively, since they wouldn’t immediately get the knack of cultivation in that locale.”
    There are several inaccurate or fanciful statements made here which need to be dealt with.     
    First, there is no mention in the scriptural record of the climate where Lehi landed, other than the seeds they brought from Jerusalem grew exceedingly and provided an abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24). The seeds came form Jerusalem, where a Mediterranean Climate prevails—consequently, for seeds in 600 B.C. from Jerusalem to grow exceedingly they would have requited a very similar climate, which Mesoamerica does not have. Wheat, barley and other European seeds would not have grown in the lowland hot and humid tropical climate of Guatemala where Sorenson places Lehi’s landing.
Left: Books show how to grow food gardens in tropical climates; Center: Chilies and peppers; Right: Eggplant. All do well in a tropical climate, such as Mesoamerica, but not in a Mediterranean Climate
    Second, Nephi and those who went with him did not flee because of the climate along the coast but because the Lord told him to leave his brothers who threatened to kill him (2 Nephi 5:2, 5). Third, according to Tropical Permaculture and Biodynamic Agriculture, Green Garden, and Garden Web, “Most Mediterranean plants…can’t stand humidity…the best thing to do during hot weather is to grow tropical vegetables that will withstand waterlogging, like heat and high humidity, such as Ceylon or Egyptian spinach, ibika, salad mallow, Asian greens and broccoli, pigeon pea, choko, lots, loofah (luffa), eggplant, chillies, pepper, jicama, capsicums, Chinese cabbages, okra, kangkong, pumpkin, squash, collards, kale, chard, and sweet corn. None of these plants are Mediterranean and would not grow in a Mediterranean Climate where Lehi lived and from where he brought his seeds (1 Nephi 18:24).
    Fourth, Nephi does not tell any story about the Lamanites or the Land of First Inheritance being a hot and humid climate or area. In fact, Sorenson’s reference of 2 Nephi 5:24 shows the reason the Lamanites became “an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey” was because of “their cursing which was upon them.” Nor does his reference of Enos 1:20 have anything to do with the climate, but it was “their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a bloodthirsty people.”
    When reading Sorenson, one needs to look up his references since quite frequently, they do not support his statement, but gives an entirely different reasoning, as shown above.
    Fifth, and lastly, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael, who had likely been farmers in the Old World, living outside Jerusalem on the surrounding farmland, and would have known how to plant and harvest if they chose. In addition, they would have been part of the first very successful planting (1 Nephi 18:24), that is, they would have if they wanted to survive in this new land that first year. The idea they didn’t know how to do anything is pure fabrication on Sorenson’s part.
    In another brief, but pertinent comment, Sorenson (p138) shows his lack of understanding of Nephi’s comments about his voyage, when he states: “Nephi lefrt us no information in the Book of Mormon about the route, nor did he tell us in modern terms where they landed.” Interestingly enough, Nephi did exactly that. He tells us his ship was “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8), which is a very important and clear statement. In oceanography, a simple term “drift voyage” tells us how a vessel or object is moved across the ocean and, once we know and understand the currents and winds involved, exactly where that drift voyage would go.
    Thor Heyerdahl in his “drift voyage” Kon Tiki proved that winds and currents would take a vessel “driven forth before the wind” along a certain current until it reached land.
A drift voyage, such as Thor Heyerdah’s Kon Tiki, is a voyage where the vessel enters the water and is subject to only the winds and currents for its direction and movement. Within a slight range, steerage is possible, but only for a matter of yards, not miles. Note (black line) how Heyerdahl’s path followed the (white arrows) current
    A drift voyage, by definition—a transoceanic journey between continents by primitive boat or raft, propelled by ocean currents—drifts with the wind and current. Numerous such voyages have been undertaken, both accidentally and by design. In November 2001 a pair of Samoan fishermen were accidentally caught in a current that took them westward across the Pacific 2500 miles in four months to Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea off the northeastern coast of Australia, where they were rescued. In 1992 a storm washed several containers once carrying 29,000 plastic bathtub toys from a sinking ship bound from Hong Kong to Tacoma,
Washington. Over the next ten months, frogs, ducks, turtles and beavers began washing up near Sitka, Alaska, following the currents as they drifted thousands of miles.  Numerous studies have been made of the effects of ocean surface currents on drifting objects, until today it is well understood where currents flow and where “drift voyages” will end up.
    Such is the case with Nephi’s ship. We know where it left, we know the currents involved in the sea (Arabian Sea) it started on and where that current took it to the Indian Ocean, and how it was affected by the currents leading into the Southern Ocean, the West Wind Drift and the Prevailing Westerlies. We also know where a drift voyage would flow on such a voyage and where it would cease, as it was forced up the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current to a cessation of wind and current at 30º south Latitude along the Chilean coast at a spot called Coquimbo Bay. And, we know that if a landing was not affected at that spot, what would happen to the vessel as it continued drifting as the winds and currents picked up north of the Tropic of Capricorn and was pushed out by the Peruvian Bulge into the currents that form the South Pacific Gyre—the very current that took Thor Heyerdahl westward from Peru and across and into the Polynesian islands. We know all this today because of the tremendous studies of drift voyages, currents, and winds that have been accomplished in recent years.
As the map shows, any vessel moving northward from the Peruvian Bulge (just below the bottom of the picture) and along the Peru Coastal Current (Humboldt Current) would be sent, as the Kon Tiki was, out into the South Equatorial Current north of the Galapagos Islands or into the Peru Oceanic Current south of the Galapagos
    What is obvious from the map is that no vessel is going to continue northward toward Panama because of the strong oceanic currents moving south and southeast from Central America. Recent scientific experiments with Drift Voyages have shown the truth to this statement—such voyages, subject to the wind and currernts “driven forth before the wind” would never have reached Central or Meso-America.
    The point is, Sorenson can say (p138) “Nephi’s ship likely threaded through the islands of the western Pacific, then across the open reaches north of the equator to landfall around 14 degrees north latitude,” which would be along the southern Guatemala coast. However, as has been pointed out, a drift voyage would not have gone in that direction, a ship “driven forth before the wind” would not have traveled across the Pacific against either the Northern arm of the South Equatorial Current (south of the Equator) or the Southern arm of the North Equatorial Current (north of the Equator) as Sorenson so flippantly claims.
    Thus, it is not difficult to know where Nephi sailed, because he tells us how he sailed his ship, and modern oceanography has mapped the world’s oceans and currents so thoroughly that there can be no mistake about where a drift voyage “driven forth before the wind” would have gone, given its embarkation from the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
(See the final post on, “More on Sorenson—the Duplicitous Sales Job,” to see how the scriptural record is manipulated to support an erroneous conclusion)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part IX

We are continuing with John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which is so extensively hyped by Mesoamericanists and Land of Promise Theorists, especially because of Sorenson’s reputation as the one-time Dean of Anthropology at BYU, and current status as Professor Emeritus, and referred to as the “Guru of Book of Mormon Archaeology,” that it needs a reality check every so often, to remind us of how far afield from the scriptures he wanders to try and prove his Mesoamerica model.
    In discussing the way Sorenson treats the scriptural record over the past several posts, it is also interesting how he uses figures to satisfy his meanings, though they are in conflict with one another. Take, for an example, how he describes a distance factor for travel on pp 8-9 when he is trying to prove a short distance for the Land of Promise overall.
The pioneers cross the plains in America averaged about 10 to 11 miles per day
    To do this he tries to limit the distance from the Waters of Mormon (City of Nephi) to Zarahemla. He begins by discussing Alma and his converts making about 10 to 11 miles per day, as did the Mormon Pioneers. He also cites Guatemala drovers taking 11 miles a day to drive pigs to market 90 miles away in 8 days. Or travelers on routine trading trips on jungle trails from Cotal Valley to the Peten, 120 miles away taking 19 days or more, averaging a little more than six miles a day. He also states that during the movements of the Toltecs described in the Mexican chronicles, dawn-to-dusk marches, without animals along, averaged six leagues, somewhere between 15 and 24 miles a day. He concludes by stating that “other data on travel rates fall within these established ranges.” Thus he surmises that the distance from the Waters of Mormon to Zarahemla would be no more than 231 miles at 11 miles per day for the stated 21 days of travel.
    However, and here is the issue. When he needs a distance to be further than the record states, such as across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which he states is 125 miles, which Mormon claims could be covered by a Nephite in a day and a half’s journey, he talks about Mohave Indians covering 100 miles in a day, etc., and about 75 years ago, one Indian reportedly made a hundred mile trip, then turned around after only a few hours rest and went back again, averaging six miles an hour, which was not exceptional in their case. From this and other unusual circumstances, Sorenson concludes that the narrow neck at 125 miles is plausible for a day and a half’s journey. Sorenson concludes his discussion (p 17), “As we have already calculated the rate for ”a Nephite,” a single individual, could potentially be up to six miles an hour for as long as 24 hours within the ‘day and a half.’ That would amount to 144 miles.”
    The fallacy of this comment is borne out in every marathon run in recent history. Nearly every runner trains for as much as three to six months prior to the marathon, they have special shoes, are assisted along the way with food and drink, and all the modern conveniences, yet the average run is about 6 hours, averaging about 4.74 miles per hour. The world record is a couple of minutes over two hours at the speed of 12 miles per hour. The idea of someone covering 144 miles in 24 hours at the rate of six miles an hour for a day and a half without stopping is beyond any sane person’s imagination (see our recent post on this subject). If you doubt that, take a look at the marathon runners after two to four hours running at such a pace—you’ll get the idea how fallacious such a statement is.
    The point is, when Sorenson begins writing he does so with a blind eye to parts of the scriptural record he doesn’t like, a willingness to make changes and alterations to the meaning of Mormon’s descriptions when it does not agree with his theory, and a propensity to add or delete information that meets his purposes. 11 miles a day when he wants a short distance, but 6 miles an hour for a day and a half when he needs a longer one. That is obviously not scholarship.
Take another example, that of Hagoth, the shipbuilder. For some reason, despite no word to support this, Sorenson writes (p269): “What about the LDS tradition that Hagoth, the Nephite shipbuilder who failed to return home was an ancestor of the Polynesians?” Then added, “The Book of Mormon itself of course, says only that the man and his mates disappeared form the knowledge of the people in Zarahemla. For all they knew he might have died at a ripe old age on the west Mexican coast without a suitable vessel in which to make the return voyage. And neither do we know.”
    It is always interesting to read Sorenson’s writing which, at times, is more fiction than fact. One wonders if he really ever read the Book of Mormon. As stated in the scriptural record, Hagoth was a shipbuilder not an explorer. While Hagoth’s ships were at sea, Mormon tells us “this man built other ships” (Alma 63:7). In fact, he was building other ships while his first ship went north and returned, “and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward” (Alma 63:7). There is absolutely no suggestion that Hagoth ever went to sea, sailed in his ships, and certainly went anywhere with the ships that went northward and were not heard from again. Nor is there any suggestion his history and later life were known in any way.
    Sorenson, as we have pointed out in these past 9 posts, plays it loosely with the scriptural record, more often than not completely in error without seeming to understand he is so far afield from the scriptural record itself. As in the case of Hagoth, all we now from the scriptural record of only four verses is that he was a curious man and built exceedingly large ships (Alma 63:5-8).
    Sorenson also makes rather definitive statements where the scriptural record is silent, or suggests the opposite. He states on p268 that “The ‘ship’ of Hagoth, if it was like craft known later on the Pacific coast, was either a very large dugout canoe with built-up sides or a log raft with sails Whatever its form, it could hardly have been a complex planked vessel at all resembling European ships.”
Dugout canoes, no matter how large are still just canoes, with limited space and limited use. It would be hard to imagine men taking their families, provisions and supplies to a far off land in such a canoe
    However, Mormon, who had lived at the tail end of the Nephite golden age (100 to 300 A.D.), and read their records which showed and covered the Nephite “shipping and their building of ships” (Helaman 3:14) and a list of their other accomplishments, would have known something about their building ability, and even their ships, which no doubt were still in use in his growing up years, stated: “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship” (Alma 63:5). It would be hard for anyone to understand that a large dugout canoe would be considered an “exceedingly large ship.” In addition, Joseph Smith knew the different between a canoe, raft, dugout, boat and ship—and chose the word “ship.”
    In 1828, “ship” was defined as: “a vessel or building of a peculiar structure, adapted to navigation, or floating on water by means of sails [and] fitted for navigation, furnished with a bowsprit and three masts, a main-mast, a fore-mast and a mizen-mast, each of which is composed a lower-mast, a top-mast and top-gallant-mast, and square rigged.” Thus, we can see, that Joseph Smith was not translating a word that mean canoe or dugout, etc., but a full sized ship that could carry many emigrant passengers along with their families, provisions and supplies to start a new life elsewhere (Alma 63:6-7).
Phoenician ships of the Abydos fleet in 1300 B.C. were 72-feet long and found buried in Egypt in 1991. Such ships were built in the eastern Mediterranean 700 years before Lehi
    In another example of Sorenson not understanding the meaning of Mormon’s writing, he states (p240): “It is an interesting commentary on Nephite conceptions of the land that the territory on the south described as “wilderness” should be “full of the Lamanites.” Clearly the essence of “wilderness” lay not in the absence of inhabitants but in something else, apparently the substantial modifications of the landscape that civilization entails.”
    The problem lays in Sorenson’s pre-determined understanding of the word “wilderness.” He states elsewhere that wilderness means desert or mountains; however, in 1828, the word had a very specific meaning—first, is understanding the word comes from “wild,” meaning “not tamed or domesticated, growing without culture, not refined by culture, or cultivated, an uncultivated tract or region,” and wilderness defined as “a tract of land or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings, whether a forest or a wide barren plain. In the United States, it is applied only to a forest. In Scripture, it is applied frequently to the deserts of Arabia, and can mean desert, ocean, forest, etc.”
    Thus, we understand that it is an area where people are not living in a permanent setting, with plowed fields, houses, improvements, etc. After all, “the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents” (Alma 22:28), which are not permanent dwellings, lending to a cultivated and cultured area. Understanding this meaning, “wilderness” is not only the correct word, but nomadic people living in such an area does not violate the definition of “wilderness.”
(See the next post, “More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part X,” for more information on how far Sorenson is willing to go to stretch reality and believability to prove his Mesoamerican Theory, and how often he ignores what is in the scriptural record, or adds things that are not there)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part VIII

We are continuing with John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which is so extensively hyped by Mesoamericanists and Land of Promise Theorists, especially because of Sorenson’s reputation as the one-time Dean of Anthropology at BYU, and current status as Professor Emeritus, and referred to as the “Guru of Book of Mormon Archaeology,” that it needs a reality check every so often to show how far afield his thinking has strayed from the scriptural record.
    This is especially true when Sorernson begins inserting numerous cultures, civilizations and peoples in Lehi’s Land of Promise that the Lord promised would be his alone, and where there is not a single suggestion any other people outside the Jaredites, Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites existed there, nor is there a single suggestion that Jaredites lived into Mulekite or Nephite times or any survived their last, great battle other than Coriantumr and Ether; nor is there any suggestion a single Nephite other than Moroni survived their last battle at Cumorah. Yet, despite not a single word to suggest such a thing, Sorenson writes (p119):
    “The evidence is persuasive that significant Jaredite elements persisted into Mulekite and Nephite times.”  And that there is “evidence of cultural continuity from Jaredite into later times” and “there is really no question about it—Jaredite contributions to the later peoples were substantial.” In addition, Sorenson tries to make a claim that the Mulekites (People of Zarahemla) upon landing in the Land of Promise (p120): “were able to find a niche for themselves in the land, incorporating and ruling over some remnant of the people left in the land southward after the abandonment of Olmec La Venta [a Jaredite city of his model].” And concluding, Sorenson adds: “On the limited basis of archaeological findings, it appears that other groups dating to the immediate post-Olmec [his Jaredites] centuries had similar ambitions.”
    That is, Sorenson tries to convince us that the writing of the prophet Ether—who conversed with the Lord—is wrong and that some Jaredites outlived their final battle where the scriptural record states that only Coriantumr survived among his people (Ether 15:29-32).
Even though Ether makes this crystal clear: “The Lord spake unto Ether, and said unto him: Go forth. And he went forth, and beheld that the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled,” that is that Ether prophesied “unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people—otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:20-21). That is, the prophecy Ether gave to Coriantumr had been fulfilled as a result of his lack of repentance and accepting the Lord. Ether was told to go make sure it had been done, and he saw that it had. All the Jaredites save Coriantumr and himself had been slain.   
    However, despite this, Sorenson states as previously shown (p 119) “There is really no question about it. Jaredite contributions to the later peoples were substantial.” He takes this opposition to the scriptural record stance because in his model of Mesoamerica he had to make room for the Olmec  (his Jaredites) who remained in the area and among his later Nephites.
    To show why he can disagree with the scriptural record, Sorenson writes: “The scripture is clear that the Nephites were prejudiced against the Lamanites [and] that must have influenced how they perceived their enemies” (p90). In fact, Sorenson carries this to the extreme when he adds: “The question is how great the difference was; we may doubt that it was as dramatic as the Nephite recordkeepers made out” (p90-91). In this sense, Sorenson seems to disagee righteously with the prophets of old.
    Or, when Sorenson changes the meaning of the scriptural record. As an example (p55), “When the Zoramites became Lamanites” (Alma 43:4), this does not mean that they took on new biological characteristics, only that they changed their political allegiance.”
However, Alma tells us that there was a change made, “whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.” In fact, the Lord made it clear when he said, “I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also. And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed. And again, I say he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed” (Alma 3:15-17).
    And what was this mark? It was something noticeable, easily identifiable, and could not be altered, changed or hidden. Nephi makes it clear that the mark was a dark skin: “that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). This is made clear when Nephi adds, “And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:23).
    Thus it can be concluded that whoever defected from the Nephites to join the Lamanites became Lamanites in name, appearance, and genetics, since their skin color was changed to that of the Lamanites. The Lord made it clear they were no longer Nephites in any way.
    Sorenson, forever wanting to alter or change what is written in the scriptural record, however, states of this: “What about the ‘dark skin’ of the Lamanites and the ‘fair skin’ of the Nephites? In the first place, the terms are relative. How dark is dark? How fair is fair?” (p 89).
    However, Nephi does not just state “fair.” He also says “white,” a word Sorenson conveniently ignores. “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). In this case, there can be no question that “fair” is used as a synonym of “white,” so Sorenson’s question, “how fair is fair,” is just another of his misleading comments meant to cloud the issue. Since Joseph Smith translated Mormon’s writing to say “fair” and “white,” in Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, “fair” is defined as “Clear; free from spots; free from a dark hue; white; as a fair skin; a fair complexion.” And for “white” it was defined in 1828 as “Being in the color of pure snow; snowy; not dark; as white paper; a white skin.”
    Thus, as we find in answer to much of Sorenson’s writing, there is no question to be answered. It is as Mormon wrote it and Joseph Smith translated it. Pure and simple.
Shortly before his death, Lehi prophesies to his family and leaves a blessing on each of them 
    In addition, it appears Sorenson, not satisfied with the way Mormon abridged the record, wants to change it, or even write his own. Take, for example, that he simply does not accept Nephi’s writings of his father’s prophesying to his family about the Land of Promise being held in reserve for his posterity as long as they remain righteous and “it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8, emphasis mine), and “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves” (2 Nephi 1:9, emphasis mine).
    Despite this, Sorenson blatantly claims numerous other cultures, peoples and civilizations existed within the bounds of the Land of Promise, and that they interacted with the Lamanites, Mulekites and Nephites, and not one word of this is mentioned or even suggested in the scriptural record, he has the effrontery to say, “The entire subject has too many ramifications to treat fully here. The question uppermost in the minds of Latter-day Saints readers is likely to be this: If all those people are actually not described in the Book of Mormon, then should we consider their descendants to be “Lamanites”?
    NO! The question in the minds of Latter-day Saints is “by what authority do you claim the scriptural record is wrong and you are right that there were other people in the Land of Promise?”
(See the next post, “More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part IX,” for more information on how far Sorenson is willing to go to stretch reality and believability to prove his Mesoamerican Theory, and how often he ignores what is in the scriptural record, or adds things that are not there)