Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Answers to Reader Comments - Part I

Following are some of the comments or questions we have received from readers:

Comment #1: “I find it difficult to believe that there were no diseases among the indigenous Americans when the Spanish arrived, and that these Europeans brought disease with them that killed most of the Aborigines.” Paula B.

A normal life for the indigenous Peruvian before the Spanish arrived

 

Response: It is not that indigenous Americans (Indians) did not have diseases of their own, in fact, in recent examinations of 1,000-year-old Peruvian mummies, for example, paleopathologists under the direction of Richard H. Steckel, an economist and anthropologist at Ohio State University and Jerome C. Rose, an anthropologist at the University of Arkansas, discovered clear traces of tuberculosis in their lungs, more evidence that native Americans might already have been infected with some of the diseases that were thought to have been brought to the New World by European explorers (Steckel and Rose, The Backbone of History: Health and Nutrition in the Western Hemisphere, National Science Foundation, vol.94, University of Chicago Press, 2003, p695).

The problem was in the fact that while Europeans had built up immunity to such diseases over time, intermingling with numerous cultures and nations, those in the New World had no such background of immunity development, which means that upon exposure to a foreign antigen, either the antigen is eliminated by the standard immune response (resistance), or the immune system adapts to the pathogen, promoting immune tolerance instead.

Without this immunity, new diseases (or most any disease) would have rapidly spread throughout the population with devastating results—as was the case among in the Americas of the indigenous peoples in the New World.

Comment #2: “The pressing question in my mind is why the slow rise of a continent [at the time of the crucifixion]? It is true that fault scarps will form almost instantaneously. We are not dealing with such a thing here of course since the entire block came up relatively together. There had to be movement along individual fault traces during such an event. But the big question is why the relatively slow rise over 3 hours? I think the answer is still - it was an act of God to preserve life” Ira T.

Destruction in the Land of Promise following the crucifixion

 

Response: There was obviously great destruction during this time, with many people dying (3 Nephi 8:24-25). Those who survived were those “who had not fallen” (3 Nephi 8:20), but there were many who were slain (3 Nephi 8:14-15), with many being drowned (3 Nephi 8:9), and many being burned (3 Nephi 8:14), while others were buried in the earth (3 Nephi 9:5), or carried away in whirlwinds (3 Nephi 8:16) evidently meaning in tornadoes—all of these lives lost because of their iniquity and abominations (3 Nephi 9:2) and that there were none righteous among them (3 Nephi 9:11). According to the Lord, those that were spared were more righteous than those who were killed (3 Nephi 9:13).
Obviously, the way in which the destruction took place, the way in which the land rose, the way in which the face of the whole earth was changed was meant to destroy the wicked and save the more righteous. Under what conditions some were killed and others spared is not given us, other than the Lord controlled these events as described in 3 Nephi 9.

Comment #3: “A friend shared this comment with me and I was wondering what you thought since you are so opposed to Mesoamerica. “Dr. Sorenson, in agreement with most who have given careful scholarly consideration to this question, proposes a Book of Mormon location in Mesoamerica. Most Book of Mormon readers, when they find reference to the narrow neck of land, immediately imagine this to be Panama. They then conclude that the land northward is North America and South America is the land southward. Dr. Sorenson says that this just doesn't fit the data. He has found, however, that if the narrow neck is assumed to be the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a very close correlation with the details of Book of Mormon geography is achieved. This theory would place Lehi's landing somewhere near the coast of present day El Salvador. The Land of Nephi would then be in Guatemala. There are those who have proposed an ancient city, near the present day Guatemala City, as the location of the City of Nephi.” Brigham M.

Response: We certainly agree that North and South America, along with Central America, are not the lands North and South and the narrow neck of land in between. However, that would end an agreement with Sorenson. It is difficult to see how the Isthmus of Tehuantepec achieves any close correlation with the Book of Mormon geography. Consider:

1. Mormon tells us the narrow neck of land can be crossed in a day and a half. Tehuantepec is 144 miles across—short of some type of Iron Man, no one can cross that much land in a day and a half on foot—no one!

2. When standing along the southern shore of Tehuantepec, it cannot be determined from line of sight that the land cuts in sufficient to form a narrow neck; the same is true when standing along the northern shore. One simply does not get a perspective of an isthmus. The only reason Sorenson or anyone else knows there is an isthmus is because modern maps call it such, and satellite photos show the slight, gentle curve inward of both shores. In Nephite times, without these modern visionary aids, it would have been impossible to have known that this areas was a “narrow neck of land.”

3. Because of its width, this isthmus does not and would not have curtailed movement through it of an invading (Lamanite) or escaping (Morianton) army, nor could a defensive (Moroni/Teancum) army have sealed off this location from being entered. Thus, it does not serve the single purpose Mormon credits it to have—a way to keep the Lamanites to the South of the Nephites (Alma 22:33-34)

Mesoamerican theorists claim the sea to the north is the east sea and the sea to the south is the west sea

 

4. The two seas at Tehuantepec are: a) the Pacific Ocean to the south, and b) the Gulf of Tehuantepec to the north. There is no West Sea or East Sea as Mormon describes, thugh these north and south seas are claimed to be east and west by Mesoamerican theorists like Sorenson.

5. While the Land of Bountiful, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Nephi, as well as the entire Land Southward are all described as being to the south of this narrow neck of land—Tehuantepec is to the West of all three lands Sorenson and other Mesoamerican theorists place them.

Obviously, there is not any way in which Sorenson’s map of Mesoamerica clarifies the geography of the Land of Promise, or could be considered “a very close correlation with the details of the Book of Mormon geography.”

Comment #4: “I read recently that the Jaredite word for Cumorah was Ramah, which is also a good Hebrew word meaning “height” or “high point.” I had not heard the Hebrew connection before. Is it correct?” D.G.

Response: The word Ramah רָמָה from its root word means “hill,” it also means “height” as a seat of idolatry, and also “lofty” as one consecrated to the worship of idols. It is a proper locative noun, meaning its reference is to a location. In trying to claim that a Jaredite word was Hebrew, one forgets that the Jaredites arrived in the Land of Promise around 2100 BC., and neither the term “Hebrew” nor a “Hebrew people” did not yet exist according to Biblical scholars.

The name Hebrew designates the descendants of Eber, great-grandson of Shem, who claim that the term Hebrews to designate the descendants of the patriarchs of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)—i.e., Abraham (six generations after Eber), Isaac, and Jacob. The word ‘Eber’ means “the region beyond” and “crossing over beyond the Euphrates,” suggesting where Eber first settled (Marcuis Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, London, W.C. Luzac & Co., G. P. Putnam's Sons; New York, 1903, p1039).

 


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XIII

Continuing from the graph of 31 scripturally-based descriptions of the Land of Promise (graph shown in the first of these articles and here at the end). 30 of these descriptions are listed in the previous posts. Here we conclude with 31 below:

The sea cutting into the land in a wide inlet or deep bay

 

(31) Sea Divides the Land. The scriptural record states: “And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land (Ether 10:20, emphasis added). Note that it doesn’t say “a sea,” but “the sea.”

• The word “a” preceding a noun means that the noun is being introduced for the first time.

• The word “the” preceding a noun means that the noun has already been introduced.

This is seen earlier in Moroni’s abridgement where he introduced the great sea that divided the continents, in which he called it “that [introduction] great sea [larger than any sea yet seen], which dividedeth the lands [continents]” –note that it didn’t divide the land [singular] but the lands [plural—meaning  more than one land was divided. With this great sea now introduced, Moroni goes on to state of it as the sea, since the reader knows which sea is being discussed:

When they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God” (Ether 6:4); and they were “tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5); as well as “and no monster of the sea could break them” (Ether 6:10). The next time this sea was mentioned is found in the case of Omer who fled northward, then eastward to a place “which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent” (Ether 9:3), emphasis added in these scriptures).

Finally, Moroni states of this sea: “by the place where the sea divides the land. Consequently, we can see where this sea, upon which Jacob told the Nephites was their island, is the same sea over which the Jaredites had journeyed—and the same sea that divided the land. So what does it mean to divide land? In the 1830 dictionary, it means “to part,” “to separate,” “to part into two or more parts.”

Mormon obviously describes two specific land masses in the Land of Promise. One he referred to as the "Land Northward" (Alma 22:31; Mormon 2:29), which contained a land called "Desolation" (Alma 22:30) and also the "Land of Cumorah," which was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Mormon 6:4). The other or second land mass Mormon called the "Land Southward" (Alma 22:32; Mormon 2:29), where "Bountiful" was located in the far north to the Land of Nephi in the far south.

Adjacent to the Narrow Neck of Land was “the sea that divided the land”

 

Between these two lands Mormon says there was a small (Alma 22:32) or narrow (Alma 63:5) neck of land—it being the only land keeping the entire Land Southward from being surrounded by water (Alma 22:32). Thus, this narrow neck was the only land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and within it was a narrow pass or passage, which ran between the Land Northward (Alma 52:9) and the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29; 3:5), and ran by the sea that was on the east and on the west (Alma 50:34).

Now this narrow neck of land was by the sea that divided the land (Ether 10:20). In addition, there were seas to the north and south, and to the east and west (Helaman 3:8) of the entire Land of Promise, from the Land Southward to the Land Northward (Helaman 3:8), and these seas surrounded the entire Land of Promise since Jacob tells us, and Nephi confirms it, that their land was an island (2 Nephi 10:20).

So what sea divided the land?

Since we are dealing here with an island that has two major land masses, one to the north and one to the south, with a narrow neck of land in between, and the sea that divided the land was by this narrow neck of land, the only option is that this land’s division was some type of bay, gulf or inlet where the sea separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward.

Thus, the Land of Promise was separated into two parts, the Land Northward and the Land Southward, connected by a small neck of land (Alma 22:32).

In looking at Mesoamerica, the theorists claim the Isthmus of Tuantepec was the narrow neck of land; however, there is no sea of any type creating separate or an extension of the sea near this isthmus that divides or could have divided the land. There is only a sea to the north that they call the Sea East and a sea to the south they call the Sea West. There is no division of the land of any type.

As for the Heartland or Great Lakes models, there is no Sea that divides the land around their Narrow Necks of Land, that divided their Sea East from their Sea South—hardly consistent with Mormon’s description.

Narrow Neck of Land before and after the crucifixion. The narrow neck remains but the Sea East is driven east by the raising of the Amazon Drainage Basin

 

Peru. Between the Land Northward and the Land Southward is the Gulf of Guayaquil, with an eastern boundary between the east coast of the Gulf and the western edge of the steep Andes Mountains, forming a narrow Pass or Passage between the Land of Desolation to the North and the Land of Bountiful to the South—referred to by Mormon, which existed in his day, about 350 years after the crucifixion (Mormon 2:29; 3:5).

Anciently these mountains did not exist, with the area they now cover below the sea, which was called the Sea East, forming a Narrow Neck or Land Bridge between the Land to the north and the land to the south (Alma 22:32). This Gulf was the “sea that divides the land” (Ether 10:20), creating a land bridge between the two major land masses, and all that separated the Land Southward from the Land Northward.

31 Scriptural Matches in the Book of Mormon regarding the location of the Land of Promise

 

As can be seen from the references above there are at least 31 descriptions found in the Book of Mormon regarding the Land of Promise. It would seem that any claim to the location  of this Land of Promise would at least have to match these 31 descriptions, which are not opinions but statements of fact by ancient writers, i.e., Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, who all wrote about this land in which they spent their entire or almost entire lives. Thus, any attempt to locate the Land of Promise should include references to these 31 points, as well as others, such as the fevers that Mormon described as “there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land,” and the cure “but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40). That disease, of course, being malaria, which is still a major killer in certain parts of the world because of the climate at certain times of the year—but not so much anymore because of a plant indigenous to Andean Peru in South America called the cinchona tree, the only place in the world where this plant grows that produces quinine from its bark—the treatment and cure for malaria.


Monday, January 25, 2021

The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XII

Continuing from the graph of 31 scripturally-based descriptions of the Land of Promise (graph shown in the first of these articles and at the end). 29 of these descriptions are listed in the previous posts. Here we continue with 30 below:

(30) Unknown Animals. As Moroni wrote in his abridgement of the record of Ether regarding the animals the Jaredites brought with them to their promised land: “all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man(Ether 9:18, emphasis added). He then described their beasts of burden or animals that they used for work purposes: “They also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumom” (Ether 9:19, emphasis added).

Theorists’ suggestions: (Top LtoR): Buffalo, Mountain Goat; (Bottom LtoR): Sloth, Tapir

 

Most theorists pass right over this point in the scriptural record, or suggest animals that do not fit the purpose described by Moroni. As example, Heartland and Great Lakes theorists claim the cureloms and cumom—names by which the Jaredites called these animals and evidently also the Nephites—were the Buffalo and Rocky Mountain Goats. Mesoamerican theorists claim they were probably the sloth and tapir. As these suggestions show, all of these theorists appear to have chosen animals by their uncommon appearance rather than by their described purpose.

Looking at Moroni’s description, of all the animals, the beasts of burden included all manner of cattle, of oxen, horses and asses, as well as elephants and the two unknown animals. It should also be noted that in terms of value or importance to man, Moroni stated that “more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms. Obviously, elephants would be the most valuable because of their strength; however, because of their importance and value, the cureloms and cumoms were listed next, ahead of cattle, oxen, horses and asses.

Now to be useful to man, the animals would have to have been domesticated, trainable, and behavioral suitability. The domestication of animals is the mutual relationship between animals and the humans who have influence on their care and reproduction. It is also recognized that a small number of traits that made domesticated species different from their wild ancestors are found only in a few species. Only 14 large animals have been domesticated: sheep, goat, cow, pig, horse, Arabian camel, Bactrian camel, llama and alpaca, donkey, reindeer, water buffalo, yak (bovine), Bali cattle, and Mithun/gayal (bovine), and domesticated Gaur (bovine).

Elephants can learn more than 60 commands and have a wide range of abilities that man uses

 

The value of elephants is remarkable. While they have not been officially domesticated, one third of Asian elephants live in captivity and have been known to learn more than 60 commands. They have been used in the logging industry and other areas where their strength is used to move heavy items around. They are also used for riding, hunting, and movement of dignitaries. Thus, their help in building entire villages and their great size and strength made them the most useful animal to man.

Next in line of importance were the cureloms and cumoms—two draft animals that were very useful to man; following were the horses, donkeys, oxen, and cattle. These were the animals in the land, which came southward from the Land Northward at the time of the Jaredite poisonous serpents, and were discovered by Nephi who stated after landing in the Land of Promise, “we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men” (1 Nephi 18:25).

Obviously, the Mesoamerican sloth and tapir would not meet this criteria, since neither animal is worthwhile to man, except for meat; and the Rocky Mountain Goat and the Buffalo cannot be domesticated, and have never filled the role of a draft animal.

It should also be noted for those theorists who claim that domesticated Jaredite animals could not have lived unattended in the wild between the Jaredites and the  Nephites, cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry—all of these will happily survive in the wild. Despite being "domesticated," all of them are still capable of surviving without farmers to tend to them. What will happen however is the traits they have all been selectively bred for will diminish quickly (L. Dutch, “Which Livestock Could Survive Without Humans?” Worldbuilding, UK, July 8 2018). Dairy cattle (cows) would not survive, but this only applies to dairy cows, with high milk production. Cattle used for Beef production or breeds, that are not used for unnaturally high milk production, will not suffer the same fate.

LtoR the Llama and the Alpaca; South American camelids

 

Peru. In Andean Peru are two unique camelid animals that would have been unknown to Joseph Smith. In fact, would not have existed in North America in 1830 at all, as the first llamas to be imported into the U.S. were in 1920, 90 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, and the alpacas 63 years later in 1983. Their multi-purpose usefulness to the early Peruvians is found in hair that has been used for handicrafts, ropes, rugs, fabrics and clothing. Their hides have been used by the early Peruvians to make sandals, belts, and harnesses, and their meat is dried and consumed for nourishment. Even llama dung is used as a source of fire and warmth.

Llamas are highly social animals and need the companionship of other llamas or other livestock. Their intelligence and their pleasing, diverse personalities provide challenging opportunities for use and training. Llamas are aristocratic and regal, yet llamas and alpacas are both easily trained and have a rather low key, cooperative disposition.

A single llama can provide large quantities of wool for spinning, matting for blanket and cushion fill, and even insulation—their wool is 99% hypoallergenic. They breed easily and can be used for meat as well as milk. In addition, they are great beasts of burden and can carry a large amount of weight easily. Best of all, even a single llama will make a formidable guardian for other livestock and property. Llamas can even be taught to pull a cart and require less care than horses kept for the same purpose. With livestock such as sheep, goats, horses, or even cows, that are vulnerable to predators, from coyotes to wolves, llamas are excellent guardian animals—They’re a big animal, they stand right out and they don’t give ground, which cowers predators, especially against large predators like bobcats and coyotes. A single llama can guard several hundred other animals, but are equally at home with one or two charges to guard. They take less care and training than dogs and are less likely to jump a fence and roam.

In general, llamas are very hardy. They are less prone to illness than most livestock, and do not require a barn or other formal building. Their dense wool keeps them very comfortable in all types of weather, even in the coldest climate—the thick wool also provides insulation from heat and sun.

As for alpacas, they were bred for their fiber, which is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to sheep’s wool—and is highly prized.

Native peoples have used llamas as pack animals for centuries. Typically, they are saddled with loads of 50 to 75 pounds. Under such weight they can cover up to 20 miles in a single day. Pack trains of llamas, which can include several hundred animals, have carried large amounts of goods over even the very rough terrain of the Andes for millennia.

 

(See the next post, “The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XIII,” for the continuation of the list of items regarding the matching of the scriptural record)

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XI

Continuing from the graph of 31 scripturally-based descriptions of the Land of Promise (graph shown in the first of these articles). 28 of these descriptions are listed in the previous posts. Here we continue with 29 below:

Land of Many Waters—lakes, waterfalls, rivers and fountains

 

(29) Land of Many Waters. The Jaredites landed along the seashore and immediately began to till the earth (Ether 6:13), and soon spread upon the face of the land (Ether 6:18). Eventually they went inland and up in the hills and mountains, where they

established the city of Moron, and called the area around the city the Land of Moron, which was elevated above the land around it for people had to go “up unto the land of Moron where the king dwelt (Ether 7:5, emphasis added). This land of Moron “was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites” (Ether 7:6, emphasis added).

Thus, the first kingdom of the Jaredites was the city of Moron where the king dwelt, and along with the Land of Moron, was at a higher elevation than the lands around it.

Many years later, following a division of the kingdom, the return of secret combinations, and a great war between the two factions that ended with king Omer being overthrown (Ether 9:1). Now Omer was warned by the Lord “to depart out of the land” (Ether 9:3). Omer and all his family who did not seek his destruction (Ether 9:2) traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed [hill Cumorah], and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household” (Ether 9:3l, emphasis added).

Now, since Omer started from Moron, which was near the Land of Desolation, or the Narrow Neck of Land, and given that the Land of Promise was more narrow than its length, the only direction Omer could have traveled was north—south would have taken him into the hunting preserve filled with all types of wild animals; west would have stopped him at the Sea West; East would have not only taken them to the East Sea, but there would be no reason to state that after reaching hills Shim and Cumorah, that they turned east.

Consequently, Omer went north and after many days, reached the hills Shim and Cumorah. Thus, the hill Cumorah was to the north of Moron, which city was near the Land of Desolation (Ether 7:6), and the Land of Desolation bordered on the south the Narrow Neck of Land (Alma 22:32), and Desolation was so far northward that it bordered on the land which had been peopled and destroyed and lay covered with bones (Alma 22:30).

The four main parts of the Land Northward as reported in the scriptural record

 

In addition, the hill Cumorah was so far to the north, beyond the land of bones, that it was far from the Narrow Neck of Land, contrary to the view of several Theorists, who need to alter this reality to validate their models and maps. Mesoamerican theorists place the hill Cumorah about 25 miles along the north coast (their east coast) from their Narrow Neck.

However, while Sorenson’s map shows the Land of Many Waters more than three hundred and fifty miles from his hill Cumorah, Mormon states that: “We did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4).

On the other hand, the Heartland theorists have their hill Cumorah far to the east of their Land of Promise, to the south of their East Sea, and south of their Narrow Neck, Narrow Pass, and Narrow Passage—none of it is in their Land Northward. In addition, the Great Lakes theorists have their Land of Many Waters (Finger Lakes) in their Land Southward, which is also where they have their hill Cumorah.

Peru. In the area of the Land of Many Waters in Ecuador (Land Northward) are over 237 individual lakes, ponds, springs, rivers, waterfalls, and other bodies of water. Many of Ecuador’s 2,000 rivers run through the area shown above on the map as the Land of Many Waters. In fact, the largest lake in Ecuador and the largest waterfall are both only about five miles south of the hill Cumorah (Mt. Imbaburo).

The Land of Many Waters with Mt.Imbaburo (Cumorah) shown toward the top

 

The land described earlier, that Limhi’s expedition reached, “having traveled in a land among many waters” (Mosiah 8:8) refers to the area north of the Land of Desolation, and is referred to more accurately by Mormon as the Land of Many Waters, Rivers and Fountains (Mormon 6:4), and would be the area in between tat referred to on modern maps as surrounding the Laguna Velasco Ibarra and the Laguna San Pablo (San Rafael) where there are scores of lakes, swamps, standing water, ponds, etc., as well as major and small rivers, and the fountains from which the water springs, including the major mountain snow melts in the area.

In this area of Andean South America, where the Land Northward would have been located, north of the Bay of Guayaquil (Mormon’s small or narrow neck of land), and a little south of Quito, is located an area that even on ancient maps of the area is called in ancient Quechua, the “Land of Many Waters.” Here, in what is today labeled the “lagoons of Ozogoche” or the “Ozogoche Lakes,” in the center of the highlands of Ecuador, and important because their waters feed the Pastaza River, which flows into the Amazon River.

Here in the central Andes is the province of Chimborazo where extraordinary wildlife, floriculture, archaeological and cultural landscapes are found, with more than 327 lagoons, lakes and ponds, among which are some “forty-five natural water springs that are in the Sangay National Park,  (where is also found the newly discovered Pyramid of Punay) which offer tranquility and peace in this remote culture of the unique grasslands in the Andean highlands.” 
    This wet and cold region, covering an area 2,000 square miles, is considered a “mysterious and isolated place,” in an area of Wetlands—a high, treeless plateau called a paramo. These natural fountains, or springs as they are known today, are the sources of more than sixty lakes, lagoons, rivers, and waters scattered across the region, nestled at 12,000 feet in Ozogoche among volcanoes and differing elevations of the Andean peaks that even today isolates Ecuador’s remote and vast natural beauty. Within this land of many waters is found countless valleys, lagoons, small waterfalls, rivers, and dense vegetation, and numerous springs that feed the various water ways from underground aquifers.

 

(See the next post, “The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XII,” for the continuation of the list of items regarding the matching of the scriptural record)


Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part X

Continuation of the list of items regarding the matching of the scriptural record: 1 thru 27 are in the previous posts. Here we continue with 28 below:

Top: A single Volcano eruption throws millions of tons of debris and ashfall into the air; Bottom: This ashfall can fill the air for days, making it difficult to see

 

(28) Volcanoes and Earthquakes. Some Theorists claim there were no volcanoes mentioned in the scriptural record. That is like a Colonial American saying there are no telephones—or seeing a telephone working, trying to explain it and more importantly, trying to name it. Most likely, if one today was writing to future readers, he would try to describe its use or how it works, or the result of its use.

In 34 AD, the Disciple Nephi was faced with this dilemma when he observed the destruction in the Land of Promise at the time of the crucifixion. He didn’t have such words and phrases at his disposal as volcano, volcanic eruption, pumice. ashfall, tephra, magma,

melted rock, volcanism, lava, epicenter, rock fragments, tectonic, or gas. It would have been the same problem if he tried to describe an earthquake since that word did not exist anciently even in Biblical or Classical Hebrew—a language in the Canaanite branch of Semitic languages, spoken by the Israelites west of the Jordan River and east of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, the word “volcano” is volcan (הר געש),which literally means “raging mountain,” or (הַר פְּרָצִים), which literally means “mountain burst.”

Of these two events, eruption of a volcano and an earthquake, the ancient psalmists wrote: “The One who glances at the earth and it shakes; who touches the mountains and they let out smoke” (Psalms 104, emphasis added.

Clouds of blinding smoke and ashfall from two volcanic eruptions

The interesting point is that the result of an earthquake is described in the incident of the darkness that was to come: “The people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:3, emphasis added).

When the Lord was crucified in Jerusalem, the event had an effect on the Land of Promise. As Nephi the Disciple wrote: “When the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease—for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours—and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:19, emphasis added).

Compare this with the scientific definition of a volcano eruption which, incidentally, are typically heralded by earthquake swarms. They indicate the motion of molten rock beneath the surface. During the eruption, lava, heated gases and ash are mixed together in a "pyroclastic flow." The ash and pumice, along with a heavy feel of vapor, can extinguish light in a blinding darkness that can last hours or even days. At Mt. St. Helens, the first warning sign was a 4.1 magnitude earthquake striking underneath the mountain, signaling the first warning sign that the volcano had reawakened—60 days later, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck under Mt. St. Helens and within ten seconds, the bulge and surrounding area fell away in a gigantic, rock avalanche. The avalanche created a gap in the mountain, allowing the release of pent-up pressure that erupted laterally in a huge blast of pumice and ash. Within ten minutes, the plume of ash had reached 10 miles high with the eruption lasting nine hours.

It should be noted that all these volcano eruptions were the occurrence of a single volcano. But consider the result of dozens of volcanoes erupting at the same time. As the Disciple Nephi stated: “And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness; And there could be no light, because of the darkness…there could not be any light at all. And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land. And it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen” (3 Nephi 8:20-23, emphasis added).

The Ring of Fire is a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur

 

It should be noted that while volcanoes exist in nearly the entire length of western South America, and also in Central and Mesoamerica, they are almost non-existent in North America, except for the west coast, except for Hawaii and 90 in Alaska alone. In fact, there are three main sections of the U.S. that tend to experience volcanic activity—the U.S. Geological Survey ranked 18 volcanoes as "very high" threats these three regions of Alaska, Hawaii and the Cascades—the vast majority of active volcanoes in the Lower 48 states are in the Cascade Range, a mountain chain stretching from southern British Columbia to Northern California.

This is a major reason why Heartland and Great Lakes theorists try to claim 3 Nephi 8 does not state “volcano,” yet they are obviously described.

In addition, Heartland and Great Lakes theorists pay no attention to the Land of Promise being racked with earthquakes since their location does not have earthquakes. Their argument lies in the fact that the word “earthquake” does not appear in the Book of Mormon, yet ignore the fact that there was no such word known to the ancient writers. Thus, they used such terms as: “insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder” (3 Nephi 8:6, emphasis added); the whole face of the land was changed, because of the…exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 8:12, emphasis added); “and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain“ (3 Nephi 8:14, emphasis added); “thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the…quaking of the earth” (3 Nephi 8:17,19, emphasis added).

For those who have been in serious earthquakes, the words quake and shake are perfect definitions of an earthquake and so is “move up and down or from side to side with rapid, forceful, jerky movements.” The 1828 dictionary states an “earthquake” is:

“A shaking, trembling or concussion of the earth; sometimes a slight tremor; at other times a violent shaking or convulsion; at other times a rocking or heaving of the earth.” In addition, earthquakes almost always precede a volcano; in fact, there are what is called “earthquake swarms,” that occur beneath and precede the volcano outbursts. As an example:

An earthquake swarm hit El Salvador in 2017, involving 500 earthquakes within a two-day period, many in the 5.1 range. In 2008, Nevada was hit with a swarm of 1000 low-magnitude quakes, the biggest 4.7 magnitude. Another swarm hit Riverside County California containing 22,000 quakes as high as 4.7 on the Richter Scale. These earthquake swarms can last many hours to several days.

Results of earthquakes from the (left) shaking of items off shelves, to the (right) toppling of tall buildings

 

Thus, “this quaking of the entire earth (Land of Promise) suggests an earthquake, since nothing else shakes the earth like an earthquake. For those who have been in a severe quake know, quakes shake, knocking things over, off walls and shelves, damage and topple large buildings.

The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 in 1960 along the western coast of Chile on a fault almost 1,000 miles long—a “megaquake” in its own right. It should be noted that quakes of magnitude 10 or larger cannot happen. . A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth's crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10 earthquake is known to exist, and if it did, it would extend around most of the planet.

 

(See the next post, “The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part XI,” for the continuation of the list of items regarding the matching of the scriptural record)


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part IX

Continuation of the list of items regarding the matching of the scriptural record: 1 thru 25 are in the previous posts. Here we continue with 26 below:


Different height of mountains as shown in different regions of the Americas

 

(26) Great, Tall Mountains. Samuel the Lamanite gives us a clue as to where the Land of Promise was located when he described the future events surrounding the future crucifixion. Keep in mind that Samuel had tried preaching in the city of Zarahemla, and after many days he was cast out of the city, and forbidden to return. As he left, “the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart” (Helaman 13:3).

When not allowed to reenter the city, Samuel climbed onto the city wall r wall of the temple “and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart” (Helaman 23:4). As he was preaching, he said, “thus hath the Lord commanded me, by his angel, that I should come and tell this thing unto you; yea, he hath commanded that I should prophesy these things unto you” (Helaman 13:9).

Samuel then prophecies what will take place at the time of the crucifixion, saying: “There shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up; Yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath” (Helaman 13:21-22).

It should be kept in mind that the purpose of these signs were to provide for the people “that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 13:28, emphasis added). That is, these signs would be so obvious that when looking upon them, that there could be no doubt that the Lord had caused them.

One of these signs, and one the people could not ignore, was that “there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 13:23, emphasis added).

The steep saw-tooth peaks of the Andes

 

It should also be kept in mind that these mountains were not just normal mountains as found anywhere that mountains are located in the Americas, but mountains “whose height is great,” and so great, that they could be seen throughout the Land of Promise, so that no Nephite could have cause to deny the Christ.

Taking North America first, we find that in the entire land, the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains is Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet. The highest mountain in North America is Mount Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) in Alaska is 20,310 feet. However, the highest mountain in the area of the Heartland or Great Lakes lands of Promise is: Mount Mitchell at 6,684-feet in North Carolina—not in either Heartland or Great Lakes lands of promise; Clingmans Dome, 6,644 feet and Mount Le Conte, 6,593 feet, both in Tennessee (Heartland). No other rise of any prominence in the entire range of the Heartland or Great Lakes models.

As for Mesoamerica, their mountains range from one in Mexico at 18,491-feet, two at 17,000-feet, one at 15,000-feet, one at 14,000-feet, and four at 13,000-feet; however, 8 of these 11 are in their Land Northward, and only three (Guatemala) in their Land Southward (all three at 13,000-feet).

Peru. In South America, it is entirely different with hundreds of tall peaks over the entire area of the Land of Promise, with the tallest at 22,841 feet, and 11 over 22,000-feet; 14 over 21,000-feet; 49 over 20,000-feet; 77 over 19000-feet, and 41 more over 18,491-feet, making it 192 mountains in South America higher than the tallest peak in Mesoamerica.

When Samuel the Lamanite said of the mountains appearing “whose height is great,” it is hard to believe he meant either the Heartland, Great Lakes or Mesoamerica, when the Andes would have provided an obvious and drastic change in the topography of the land that would cause every Nephite (who would have been in view of these mountains) to acknowledge the Christ and not be able to deny His hand in the matter.

Left: An earthquake hitting a road of gravel or dirt only creates generally small fissures; Right; A paved road that has been “broken up” by an earthquake

 

(27) Roads and Highways in the Land of Promise. The Disciple Nephi, in 29AD wrote that: “There were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8). This suggests that roads in the Land of Promise went to every village and settlement and to every city.

What kind of roads were they? Theorists range in their claims from ground rock (gravel) and rubble to packed earth. In fact, Mesoamerican roads progressively got smaller from bottom to top, finally gradating to fine gravel near the surface and topped with fine powdered limestone (called sakbejo'ob or sacbeob, meaning “white way”), which was pressed smooth with stone rollers (Mark Alan Wright, “The Cultural Tapestry of Mesoamerica,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and other Restoration Scripture, Vol.22, no.2, Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2013, p4)

Justine M. Shaw has suggested that highways offered “unique physical, symbolic, cosmological, social, and political ties” for the kin-based rulers who were most likely responsible for their construction. She further pointed out that their “most likely intended purpose may be that of religion, most specifically for processions.” (Justine M. Shaw, Maya Sacebeob: Form and Function, Ancient Mesoamerica, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2002, p268).

Top: Mesoamerican road made of hard-packed limestone powder; Bottom: Peruvian road made of fitted rock

 

However, we find in Nephi’s description of the roads being “broken up,” that these roads were made of closely-fitted flat rock, cement or other solid stone surface for the result of the destruction that took place. As Nephi said: “The highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough” (3 Nephi 8:13, emphasis added), which eliminates all claims of gravel, rubble and dirt roads since those materials do not break up—they move, they drop or rise, or are crisscrossed with cracks, but do not break up. On the other hand, solid material, such as fitted rock or cemented stone break up.

In fact, the Nephite roads of the scriptural record had to be extensive, made of hard, solid material, and connecting all parts of the land, with each land connected to the other lands, from small villages to large cities to special places within the Land of Promise. This destruction of roads, highways, buildings and cities was the result of “The whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 8:12, emphasis added).

While North America had no such roads, Mesoamerican roads covered an 833-square mile area, and according to archaeologist and anthropologist Dr. Richard D. Hansen of the University of Utah, a noted specialist on the ancient Maya civilization with specific work in northern Guatemala, “individual super highway roads extended as much as 25 miles in length in some cases.” Anthropologist Justine M. Shaw has suggested that Mesoamerican highways offered “unique physical, symbolic, cosmological, social, and political ties” for the kin-based rulers who were most likely responsible for their construction. She further pointed out that their “most likely intended purpose may be that of religion, most specifically for processions.” (Justine M. Shaw, Maya Sacebeob: Form and Function, Ancient Mesoamerica, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2002, p268).

Peru. On the other hand, the roads in Andean Peru covered an area a little over one million square miles from Ecuador to central Chile, including Ecuador, Peru, northern Chile, southwestern Bolivia and upland Argentina. They ran for some 25,000 miles in total length (about three times the diameter of the Earth), with two highways stretching north to south for over 3,000 miles.

 

(See the next post, “The Absolute Necessity of Matching Scripture – Part X,” for the continuation of the list of items regarding the matching of the scriptural record)