Sunday, June 26, 2016

Isn’t it Possible?

We are asked all the time if this or that isn’t possible. As an example, we are continually asked if it isn’t possible that the Hill Cumorah was in New York, since there is so much to suggest that and so many people think so. In answer, I suppose most people often take the stance that things we write about are not as clear cut as we claim. So I would answer, I suppose one could say just about anything is possible when they lack information or the facts behind the matter. So let me ask this question: “Isn’t it possible that God is wrong?” or  “Isn’t it possible that Nephi’s ship had a diesel engine?” or “Isn’t it possible that Moroni didn’t translate and abridge the Ether record?” or “Isn’t it possible that God simply picked up Nephi’s ship and placed it down along the shore of the Land of Promise?” 
    Are any of those possible?
    There simply are some things in life that we either know are not possible or know they did not happen. Sometimes reason alone confirms that, as in the case of a diesel engine driving Nephi’s ship. Sometimes it is the scriptural record which tells us how it happened as in Moroni translating the Ether record (Ether 1:1-2; Moroni 1:1). Sometimes it is simply impossible, such as in God being wrong.
    However, some questions are not quite so clear at first glance, as in when Mormon requested to meet for their final battle at the hill Cumorah, how did the Lamanite king know where it was? (Mormon 6:1-2).
    Without roads, signs, maps or something so unusual about it to make the hill stand out so that it could be seen for some distance, how would the Lamanite king, whose forces were to the south of Mormon, i.e, nowhere near the hill Cumorah, nor was he from the area, never having been in the Land Northward before since the Lamanites had always been to the south of the Nephites. Obviously, the Lamanites would not have had any knowledge of its location or the territory around it.
The Hill Cumorah in Western New York cannot  be distinguished from much around it. In fact, it cannot even be seen that it is a hill from any distance
    The logical answer, then, would be that the hill was tall enough with nothing else around it for the landmark to be easily identified from some distance away, or that the hill was so oddly shaped that it could be seen from some distance, or that Mormon was so capable of describing the area that the hill could not be missed.
    Despite people writing about how the Hill Cumorah in New York stands out, having been there recently and studied photos of it for years, the fact is it is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding terrain. It is a drumlin hill and, in fact, the name itself comes from the Irish word “droimnin,” which means “littlest ridge.” It is more or less rounded from side to side and is often described in geology as a “half-buried egg or inverted spoon.” Nor is it the only such hill in the area, since this part of western New York is filled with these drumlin hills, especially between the south shore of Lake Ontario and Cayuga Lake (Michael Kerr; Nick Eyles. “Origin of drumlins on the floor of Lake Ontario and in upper New York State," Sedimentary Geology, Elsevier, 193: 7–20).
    In short, there is simply nothing to set apart the Hill Cumorah in New York from its surrounding countryside that someone who had never been in the area before would be able to pick it out or even know where generally to head for it, in fact, drumlins occur in groups or “swarms,” and are composed largely or entirely of glacial till.
As can be seen, even in an open area, a drumlin hill is hard to distinguish and others around them look much the same
    So how could we answer that question? The word Ramat or Ramah, as in the Hill Ramah, which is Cumorah according to Moroni (Ether 15:11), means “height, high place, or high plateau,” in Hebrew; “Aramat Gan,” near Tel Aviv, means “Garden Heights;” “Ramat HaSharon,” near Sharon, means “Height of the Sharon;” ”Ramatayim,” in Hod HaSharon literally means “two hills;” “Ramat Hadar,” that is, “Citrus Hill,” is a farming community built on a hill near Kfar Hadar and Ramatayim; and “Ramat ha-Golan,” at 7,297-feet, means the “Heights of Golan” (James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1952, p782). In fact, Ramah is  “the name of several places in Palestine, so called from their “loftiness,” that being the radical meaning of the word; it could also mean “a hill that rises up from a highland or plateau, or a hill of imposing heights.”
    In Spanish, such “hills” are called “cerro,” and in Ecuador, all hills around 7,000 to 9,000-feet are called “cerros.” And in Ecuador, 37 miles northeast of Quito near the town of Otavalo, there is a mount called Cerro Imbabura, which rises up from the elevated inter-Andean highlands. It is of note that most cerros in Ecuador differ from the Imbabura because they rise from the Cordilleras themselves, rather than from the plateau.
Cerro Imbabura is a very noticeable hill about 7,000 feet in height above the surrounding plateau and visible for many miles
    The Cerro Imbabura is 15,190-feet in elevation, but stands about 7,000-feet above the highlands. As the dominant geographic feature of the area, it is a stand-alone peak and can be seen from miles around and is midway between the two great ranges of the cordillera Oriental and the Cordillera Occidental. At its base is the breathtaking Lago San Pablo (San Pablo Lake.
    It might be important to know that the Cerro or hill Imbabura is considered a sacred hill in Ecuador, even today. In fact, Imbabura is of significant importance to the local culture, which involves a spiritual relationship with the land. The mountain is sometimes personified locally as Taita Imbabura, or "Father Imbabura”, and is considered the sacred protector of the region.
    It is also of note that names, as also pointed out in Venice Priddis' The Book and the Map, of certain sections of the hill have been given names of “Compania,” meaning “Company,” “Batallón,” meaning Battalion, “Zapallo Loma,” meaning “sad person hill,” which is given to two parts of the hill.
    In fact, it is so sacred, that native Imbaburians today go to the mount to ask favors of God, where they light a cigarette and blow the smoke toward the hill—only then asking for the favor, always beginning by saying, “Daddy Imbabura.” It was often referred to as Achilly Pachacamac, the supreme God by pre-Inca Peruvians.
The hill has gentle slopes that make it easy to climb through tall grasses into rocky outcroppings, followed by surprising lush vegetation high on the mountain. Today, it is often used as a warm up or acclimation climb for more serious hills and mountains. Around the lower rim it is quite open and provides a clear nearly 360º view of the surrounding level ground. In fact, the ground above the tree line is high-altitude meadow, and it’s cone is relatively exposed from erosion and easy to identify for miles around.
    Mormon wrote 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; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4). One might ask what advantage could Mormon hoped he might achieve?
    In looking at this (or any so-called hill Cumorah) one should ask this very question—what type of advantages would this mount have given the Nephites? Consider Cerro Imbabura:
1. The mount is large enough around at its base that the entire Nephi army could have occupied higher ground;
2. Lake San Pablo is to the south of the hill, along the Lamanite route, and would restrict the approach of some of the advancing Lamanite army, and channel it into where the Nephites could have stationed their strongest defense;
3. The gentle slopes would make it easy for the Nephite army to retreat slowly while still presenting a formidable front, especially across the paramo grasslands, always commanding the high ground (a very desirable military strategy);
4. At higher ground, the rocky going would provide greater defensive positions, making it more difficult for the Lamanite attackers to advance;
5. Areas of larger outcroppings and rocky crags would make it easy for the defending army to lay in wait, set traps or counter attack;
    Other considerations that match the description of the hill that Mormon provides:
1. From the top one could see 360º for many miles and see down upon the 300,000 or more dead that lay scattered upon the battlefield;
2.  There are numerous vertical folds in the surface that provide ample protections from being spotted by those below as Mormon and the 23 other survivors looked down upon their dead comrades the following morning;
    As a side note, it might be of interest to know that unique to this area there are many species of birds of prey, including the Parque and Andean Condors, kestrals, and hawks here in unusually large numbers, perhaps anciently drawn to the area by the huge number of dead to feed on—today it is a condor reserve.
     All of this should suggest even to the most hardened Great Lakes advocates that the Hill Cumorah in western New York does not qualify for the hill Cumorah in the Land of Promise.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

So Where is the Land of Promise?

Very possibly never has a question been more often asked and incorrectly answered as this within the LDS community regarding the geographical setting of the Book of Mormon. It is very likely the most often sought answer in all the archaeological work, writing, investigating and teaching regarding non-doctrinal subjects about the Book of Mormon.
The scriptural record itself states several times that the land to which Lehi was led, was a “promised land,” a “land of promise,” a “choice land,” “more choice than other lands.”
    In First Nephi, the term “promised land” is used 8 times and the term “land of promise” is used 13 times, and “choice above all other lands” used twice—or this one idea is used 23 times, and five more times in Second Nephi for a total overall of Lehi and Nephi’s writings of 28 times, and that is just on the Small Plates, which were abridged by Nephi from his Large Plates and the lost 116 pages of the Book of Lehi. One can only imagine how many times in the original writings it would have appeared.
    In addition, we know that this land of promise was promised to the Nephites if they remained righteous, and we simply do not know how many “Nephites” remained righteous and earned that promise during the thousand year history of the Nephite nation, and of the areas of Central and North America the Nephites eventually settled through immigrating in Hagoth’s ships and traveled overland from there to spread out over the face of the Western Hemisphere.
    But where was this land of promise? Some theorists want to limit its scope to just the United States, others to just North America, yet we know that the Land of Promise was seen on a much larger scale than that. In Nephi’s vision (1 Nephi 11:1), which was the same vision granted earlier to Lehi, he saw a Gentile “discover” the Land of Promise, being led across the many waters toward it: “and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12).
This Gentile, being Columbus, who in his own words saw “himself as the fulfiller of biblical prophecies! Columbus saw himself as fulfilling the ‘islands of the sea’ passages from Isaiah and another group of verses concerning the conversion of the heathen. Watts reports that Columbus was preoccupied with ‘the final conversion of all races on the eve of the end of the world,’ paying particular attention to John 10:16: ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold’ (see also 3 Nephi 16:3). He took his mission of spreading the gospel of Christ seriously. ‘made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new earth…He showed me the spot where to find it,’ Columbus wrote in 1500” (Ed. John W. Welch, Re-Exploring The Book of Mormon, Columbus: By Faith or Reason?, chapter 9).
    As the scripture says, the Spirit led the gentile to the Promised land, the Spirit also led Columbus to the Americas. However, the exact place where Columbus was led was 1) the Bahama Islands of the Caribbean in his first two voyages, then 2) the northern portion of South America on his third voyage, and finally to 3) Central America. He did not ever sail to, touch foot on or land near or upon what is now the United States, or even the area of North America, meaning Mexico, the U.S. or Canada.
    Yet, in Nephi’s words, he was led to “even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” Thus to anyone, other than those who have their heads buried in the sand of pre-determined theories, Nephi is telling us the promised land covers an area larger than that of the United States, or that of North America!
    As we have indicated on numerous occasions, President Wilford Woodruff has stated: “This land, North and South America, is the land of Zion; it is a choice land—the land that was given by promise from old father Jacob to his grandson and his descendants, the land on which the Zion of God should be established in the latter days” (Journal of Discourses, 12 January 1873, Vol 15, p279).
    As Ezra Taft Benson has stated: “This is our need today—to plant the standard of liberty among our people throughout the Americas…the struggle for liberty is a continuing one—it is with us in a very real sense today right here on this choice land of the Americas. Conference Report (October 1962), pp. 14–15; “To the peoples who should inhabit this blessed land of the Americas, the Western Hemisphere, an ancient prophet uttered this significant promise and solemn warning.” Conference Report (October 1944), p. 128.
Milton R. Hunter (left): “This is one of the most important days of my life, and in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…We came in full view of the valley of the Great Salt Lake; the land of promise, held in reserve by God, as a resting place for his Saints” (Conference Report, April 1947, p67).
    Orson Pratt: “And the Lord gave unto them the whole continent, for a land of promise…” (Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records, Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840; cited in David J. Whittaker, The Essential Orson Pratt (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991), p11).
Orson Pratt: “We are not in possession of our land of promise particularly, only as we obtain it by a renewed promise; but we are inheriting a land that was given to the remnant of Joseph, and God has said that we must be remembered with them in the possession of this land” (Journal of Discourses, 1 November 1868, Vol 12, p322). Joseph Smith said “the whole of Ameerica is Zion itself from north to south” (teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt lake City, Deseret Book, 1938, p362);

    Ether through Moroni proclaimed, “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:10,12). And who are the “whatsoever nation” that will possess this land? There are several of them. According to  Ezra Taft Benson, the Lord promised, “I will fortify this land against all other nations” (2 Nephi 10:12), and in the decade prior to the restoration of the gospel, many countries of South America fought wars of independence to free themselves from European rule. Russia, Austria, and Prussia, however, urged France to aid Spain and Portugal to restore their monarchies in South America. This effort was repulsed by a proclamation from the United States government known as the Monroe Doctrine. The heart of the Monroe Doctrine consists of these words: “The American continents…are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.” 
President Joseph Fielding Smith (left) said “the greatest and most powerful fortification in America is the ‘Monroe Doctrine.’ It was the inspiration of the Almighty which rested upon John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson and other statesmen, and which finally found authoritative expression in the message of James Monroe to Congress in the year 1823” (The Progress Of Man, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., pp. 466–67).
    Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, all possess North America; while Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina possess South America. There are also Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and numerous small island governments that possess the islands connected to the Americas in the Western Hemisphere.
    Of all of these, it has fallen to the United States to be the protectorate of this land of promise, and the Lord raised up leaders in the Founding Fathers that brought about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Monroe Doctrine that has to-date guaranteed the freedom of this land. It will be to these United States that the eventual New Jerusalem will reside and the city of Enoch will return, and the Church from which will go forth the Law.
    This is the Land of Promise spoken of in the Book of Mormon. The Land of Liberty and freedom, the overall land to which Lehi was sent, and upon a part of which he landed. It was the land of his vision and that of Nephi, and the land to which numerous modern-day prophets have claimed is the Land of Promise.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Joseph Smith and Member Reactions to the Stephens-Catherwood Books

In the last post we discussed Wilford Woodruff’s journal notation entered after the experience with Zion’s Camp and Joseph Smith’s revelation or vision regarding the white Lamanite Zelph. 
    The interesting thing is that six brethren from Zion’s Camp notated in their journals the information regarding Zelp and the prophet Onandagus, and no two are identical, and some are considerably different, merely proving that different people seeing and hearing the same thing often view and hear differences and record them as such. All this proves is that people have opinions and not all opinions are the same, even of shared experiences.
    Thus, the location of the Land of Promise in the Book of Mormon was still open to speculation, and many of the brethren offered different opinions during the ensuing years. And while Wilford Woodruff uses the term regarding Onandagus “that was known from the hill Camorah, or east sea to the Rocky mountains,” Joseph Smith later wrote “from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains.” Again, suggesting the revelation or vision did not include any such Book of Mormon description of territory.
Therefore, when Wilford Woodruff (left) recorded in his journal seven and a half years later his excitement over the Stephens and Catherwood discoveries and said that these discoveries “brought to light a flood of testimony in proof of the Book of Mormon,” he was not being untrue or unfaithful to the Prophet Joseph, to his own conscience, to the Lord, or to the 1834 revelation given to the Prophet Joseph about Zelph. After all, Wilford Woodruff was a man of integrity and was true to the Prophet and true to every revelation from the Lord. When all the facts are understood, no conflict of interest or breach of integrity is evident in the actions or words of Wilford related to Zion’s Camp, the revelation received by Joseph, or Joseph’s stated feelings about the Book of Mormon being validated by the findings in Central America.
    Thus, when it is shown that men, no matter who, state their opinions about matters, we have nothing more or less than their stated opinion. Such understanding led the prophet Joseph Smith to record in his journal, “This morning I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that "a prophet is always a prophet;" but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such. (History of the Church, 5:265; see also Teachings, p. 278).
    Jesse W. Crosby wrote regarding the prophet: Brother Crosby said that he with some other brethren once went to the Prophet and asked him to give them his opinion on a certain public question. Their request was refused. [Joseph] told them he did not enjoy the right vouchsafed to every American citizen; that of free speech. He said to them that when he ventured to give his private opinion on any subject of importance his words were often garbled and their meaning twisted and then given out as the word of the Lord because they came from him. ("LaFayette C. Lee, Notebook," LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; also in Remembering Joseph).
Bruce R. McConkie (left), of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: “Are all prophetic utterances true? Of course they are! This is what the Lord’s system of teaching is all about. Anything which his servants saying when moved upon by the Holy Ghost is scripture....But every word that a man who is a prophet speaks is not a prophetic utterance. Joseph Smith taught that a prophet is not always a prophet, only when he is acting as such. Men who wear the prophetic mantle are still men; they have their own views; and their understanding of gospel truths is dependent upon the study and inspiration that is theirs. Some prophets—I say it respectfully—know more and have greater inspiration than others. Thus, if Brigham Young, who was one of the greatest of the prophets, said something about Adam, which is out of harmony with what is in the Book of Moses and in section 78, it is the scripture that prevails. This is one of the reasons we call our scriptures The Standard Works. They are the standard of judgment and the measuring rod against which all doctrines and views are weighed, and it does not make one particle of difference whose views are involved. The scriptures always take precedence. (“Finding Answers to Gospel Questions,” Letter dated 1 July 1980. Published in Teaching Seminary Preservice Readings, Religion 370, 471, and 475, 2004, emphasis added).
    Thus, when men of integrity speak, they may merely be uttering their own opinion on matters, and quite often do, especially when their words do not accompany a support reference or have a purpose to which we are not privy. As an example, a man of leadership may quote the First Article of Faith, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost,” then launch into a discussion about the Adam-God Theory in which he speaks inconsistently with the scriptural record. It cannot be mentioned too strongly that the scriptural record is the basis by the rest of what the man says, not his position, nor his strength of opinion, or his argument, only what the scriptural record states.
This is why Joseph Smith (left) was careful what he said, as he was often misquoted or misunderstood by those who thought every word he uttered was doctrine, when even he told people frequently it was not. As Bruce R. McConkie stated, that is why we call the Standard Works the Standard Works—they are the standard by which the word is determined.
    Thus, we can again state, that it is imperative that we should understand that what was important to these early Church leaders and members is that evidences such as Stephens book on the Central America ruins, or the bones and vision about Zelph, is that for the Church at the time, having spent eleven years being ridiculed since the publication of the Book of Mormon over some “so-called” and unknown civilization occupying some unknown area in the Americas, raising scientific eyebrows and jocular reactions, was for the first time being supported and validated by scientific and factual findings.
    This was especially true of Stephens and Catherwoods findings since neither of them had, or ever did have, a known connection to the Church or to Joseph Smith.
    So what was Joseph Smith’s initial reaction to the Stephens and Catherwood books and findings? Although we cannot clearly discern the date when Joseph first started reading Stephens’s two volumes, Joseph expressed his feelings about these books on November 16, 1841, in a thank-you letter to Dr. John Bernhisel who had sent him the books. In the letter, Joseph said, “I have read the volumes”; so we can probably assume that Wilford Woodruff delivered the two volumes soon after his return to Nauvoo in the first part of October 1841. The thank-you letter is in the handwriting of John Taylor, who was a scribe for the Prophet.
Here is the one long sentence from that letter that refers to Dr. Bernhisel’s gift of Stephens’s two-volume set:I received your kind present by the hand of Er Woodruff & feel myself under many obligations for this mark of your esteem & friendship which to me is the more interesting as it unfolds & developes many things that are of great importance to this generation & corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon; I have read the volumes with the greatest interest & pleasure & must say that of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprihensive."
    While people can ask: “Why would the Prophet say that Stephens’s two-volume book “supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon” if the findings in Central America had nothing to do with the Book of Mormon?” But in so doing, they miss the intent completely. To someone who is strongly desirous to know where the Book of Mormon Land of Promise was located, or has staked their reputation and career, as well as their fortune and earnings, on such knowledge, it is understandable this is their focus—but to Joseph Smith and the members of the Church at the time, they had not staked their beliefs on a specific spot within the Western Hemsiphere as to where the location of the Book of Mormon lands were located—they had staked their reputations, their testimonies, their very integrity on the fact that the Book of Mormon lands were, in fact, located within the Western Hemisphere. Joseph Smith and early Church leaders and members were delighted that the Stephens-Catherwood book and drawings bore testimony that the Nephites existed, that they were here in the Western Hemisphere as the Book of Mormon clearly states, and that they built magnificent buildings and left testimony of their existence. Nothing else mattered to them at the time of this discovery in Central America.
    “See, I told you so, they were here and there is the evidence of their existence!”
    That was their message. Not, “See, I told you so, they were in Central America, and there is the evidence of their existence!”
    They were here! In the Americas! That had been Joseph Smith's message, and the message of the Book of Mormon since its publication. Now, thanks to Stephens and Catherwood's work, they had proof of that! It was worth shouting about.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Joseph Smith Receives the Stephens-Catherwood Books

As is frequently, the case, few members know the full story of that which they talk about and some even write about. In the previous article, we outlined how the ancient Maya ruins of Central America became known to the world, and the two men who pioneered those discoveries, building on the little-known work of a few others who preceded them. Here, we will outline how their book, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, happened to reach the hands of Joseph Smith. We would also like to point out the time frame in which this took place, which was 1841-1842.
Catherwood’s drawing of Palenque in Mesoamerica
    After the second trip to Central America, both Stephens and Catherwood decided to retire from travel. After publishing their two-volume set, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan in 1841, John Lloyd Stephens was nominated by the Democrats, but ended up on the Whig ticket, for the State Convention to revise the New York Constitution. He became involved in and was instrumental in entering the United States into the Atlantic Ocean steamship business, and became a Director for the Ocean Steam Navigation Company, in which he sailed to Europe and met and interviewed in Potsdam shortly before his death the Lord Fredrich Wilhelm Chritian Karl Gerdinand von Humboldt, who had spent some time exploring Peru.
    Stephens then became Vice President of the newly founded Panama Railroad Company in 1849, and on a visit to Panama and New Granada, after which he traveled  to Bogota, he fell off his mule and sustained severe injuries from which he never fully recovered. He returned to the United States, and was appointed President of the railroad. However, he suffered from a disease of the liver, and died at the age of 46 on October 13, 1852 at his home in New York City.
    After their adventure, Frederick Catherwood went to California in 1849 to capitalize on the Gold Rush and opened a supply store in San Francisco, selling to the miners flocking there. His reputation endured as an artist, and his works were displayed in Manhattan salons and galleries.  Returning from a trip to London aboard the S.S. Arctic in 1854, Catherwood was among the more than 350 passengers who died when the ship was rammed during a thick fog by the steam ship Vesta on 27 September. He was 55 years old.
Before Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan was published in New York, John Milton Bernhisel (left), a Pennsylvania doctor who had found his way to New York City, where he began a medical practice. While in the city, he met LDS missionaries and joined the new church in 1837. Patients remembered him as an “urbane, cultured, and refined physician, making his professional visits in a long frock coat and a high silk hat—a rather formidable antiquarian.” At the conclusion of his examination of female patients, he would often advise: “Cultivate, my dear Madam, as far as possible, a cheerful, happy and contented disposition, and all will be well."
In 1841 be became a Bishop of a New York City ward and came to the notice of President Joseph Smith, who tried to get Berhisel to migrate to Nauvoo. Two years later, he did move and at the Prophet’s insistence, boarded in the Smith home, where he became Joseph’s personal physician and emissary to Governor Ford, and would deliver some of Emma’s children, and attending to Emma Smith after the birth of her son, David Hyrum, five months after the Prophet’s death. Even later he would move to Utah and become a Representative of Utah Territory in the U.S. House of Representatives.
    However, in 1841, as a new Bishop of the Church, he purchased the two-volume set by Stephens and Catherwood. He was so impressed by the work and what he read, that he wanted to give the books to the Prophet. Wilford Woodruff, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was returning from a mission abroad and passed through New York City on his way to Nauvoo. Dr. Bernhisel gave the books to Woodruff, along with a letter for the Prophet Joseph, and asked Wilford to deliver them to the Prophet when Wilford arrived in Nauvoo. Wilford Woodruff recorded the following in his journal: “September 9, 1841: I received $40 dollars of Dr. John M. Bernhisel for President Joseph Smith also Stephens travels in Central America in 2 volums."
    After arriving in Nauvoo on October 6, 1841, Woodruff recorded in his journal that he met with the Prophet on October 31 and on Sunday, November 7, but made no specific entry about giving the books to Joseph. We do not know the exact day the Prophet received these books, but we do know that Joseph received them because he wrote a thank-you letter to Dr. Bernhisel on November 16, 1841. In the letter, Joseph indicated that he had already read both volumes.
Wilford Woodruff (left) recorded in his journal that during the long trip from New York City to Nauvoo, he managed to read both volumes. He said that the books were some of the “most interesting histories” he had ever read and that they “brought to light a flood of testimony in proof of the Book of Mormon.”
    In his journal, Woodruff placed two entries regarding Stephens’ book: Incidents of travels in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, Illustrated by numerous engravings in two vol. I felt truly interested in this work for it brought to light a flood of testimony in proof of the book of mormon in the discovery & survey of the city Copan in Central America A correct drawing of the monuments, pyramids, portraits, & Hieroglyphics as executed by Mr. Catherwood is now presented before the publick is truly a wonder to the world. Their whole travels were truly interesting.”
    On September 16, 1841: “I perused the 2d Vol of Stephens travels In Central America Chiapas of Yucatan & the ruins of Palenque & Copan. It is truly one of the most interesting histories I have ever read.”
The enthusiasm of Wilford Woodruff to link these Central American findings to the Book of Mormon answers some interesting questions. Wilford was present with the Prophet in 1834 when the Joseph Smith was said to have received a revelation about Zelph, the white Lamanite whose bones had been found. Regarding this revelation received by Joseph Smith, Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal:
    “May 8, 1834: While on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man…Three persons dug into the mound & found a body. Elder Milton Holmes took the arrow out of the back bones that killed Zelph & brought it with some of the bones in to the camp…Brother Joseph had a vision respecting the person. He said he was a white Lamanite. The curse was taken from him or at least in part. He was killed in battle with an arrow…His name was Zelph, a large thick set man and a man of God. He was a warrior under the great prophet Onandagus that was known from the hill Camorah, or east sea to the Rocky mountains. The above knowledge Joseph received in a vision.”
    It should be noted that in this information that was revealed about “Zelph,” nothing directly linked him or the location to the events of the Book of Mormon. The fact that Wilford said that the mounds were flung up “probably by the Nephites & Lamanites” supports the conclusion that, in his mind, there was no “revelation” that these findings were a part of Book of Mormon history. The revelation on Zelph was very interesting, but it did not identify this area as the place where Book of Mormon events took place. As to the Hill Cumorah, of the eight journal entries of some of those present, he is the only one to mention Hill Cumorah, all the others mention East Sea or Atlantic (Ocean).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stephens-Catherwood Connection

Since so much of the Stephens book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, and Catherwood’s drawings are used to try and point out that this convinced Joseph Smith that the Land of Promise was in Guatemala, Mesoamerica, perhaps some background on this might be of help. 
    First, John Lloyd Stephens was born in 1805, the same year as Joseph Smith, in Sherewsbury, New Jersey. He graduated in 1822 at the top of his class at Columbia College after his family moved to New York. He then went to law school and practiced law in New York City for eight years until he was diagnosed with a throat infection. Stephens a self-proclaimed adventurer, explorer, and amateur archaeologist, took his doctor’s advice and left New York for a change in climate and traveled extensively through Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia Minor Palestine, and Egypt, resulting in his first two books, Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea and the Holy Land (1837), and Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia and Poland (1838). Both books were immediately popular and earned Strepens the nickname “the American Traveler.”
    Second, Frederick Catherwood was six years older than Stephens, being born 27 February 1799 in north London and, by his twenties, was already well known as an architect, artist and traveler. He had already published his drawings of structures in Egypt, Palestine, Asia Minor, and Greece and, in 1833, was the first westerner to survey and draw the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Catherwood and Stephens met in London in 1836 where Catherwood's panorama “The Ruins of Jerusalem” was on display. Both men were interested in exploring the region so vividly depicted in the published accounts of Mesoamerica by earlier explorers like Antonio del Rio and Juan Galindo and the drawings of Mayan sites by Jean-Frederic Maximilien Comte de Waldek, whose journal, in the form of a diary, was published (Journal du Mexique) describing Waldeck’s travels and life in Mexico, especially his visit to the ruins at Palenque in 1832-1833. Though his drawings have been considered “fanciful in the extreme” by Michael E. Coe, they excited the two travelers and both Stephens and Catherwood agreed to travel together to the region at the first opportunity.
    As an interesting side note, Waldeck’s depiction of panels of Maya script in the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque (a Mayan city-state in southern Mexico) included clear depictions of heads of elephants (now considered by archaeologists to be erroneous embellishments). This fueled speculation about contact between the ancient Maya and Asia and the role of the mythical lost continent of Atlantis as a common link between ancient civilizations of the Old and New Worlds. It is now also considered that Waldeck’s depictions of Uxmal (a Yucatec Mayan city in the Yucatan) looked similar to Egyptian pyramids.
At the time, Stephens was famous enough as a world traveler and writer to have President Martin Van Buren (left) appoint him Ambassador to Central America from the United States for the purpose of working out a treaty with that country. Thus Stephens and Catherwood left New York for British Honduras (modern day Belize) on 3 October 1839. Though conscious of his diplomatic duties, Stephens was primarily interested in exploring the ancient ruin of Copan and then moving on to Palenque. At this time, many of the now-famous Maya sites were unknown even to the indigenous people of the region. 
    The centuries had slowly covered the great temples and pyramids and turned them into mounds of green hills. Only a few cities of the Maya were known to exist at this time, among them Copan, Palenque, Topoxte/Tayasal (called `Islapag' by Galindo) and the mysterious unnamed city deep in the jungle (which came to be known as Tikal). There were no accurate maps of the region and the two men often discovered sites through word of mouth in conversation, such as Catherwood's discovery of Quirigua, a site named after a nearby village of that name (vassal state in southeastern Guatemala). 
    They traveled without any of the extensive entourage which usually accompanied 19th century explorations. They had only a guide, some men to carry equipment, and a crudely drawn map, which they had already been told was inaccurate. Even so, this did not stop them from exploring the jungles of Mesoamerica in search of the ancient sites which they had heard of and read about. In his Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, Stephens writes of his first impressions of Copan: “The sight of this unexpected monument put at rest at once and forever, in our minds, all uncertainty in regard to the character of American antiquities, and gave us the assurance  that the objects we were in search of were interesting, not only as the remains of an  unknown people, but as works of art, proving, like newly discovered historical records,  that the people who once occupied the Continent of America were not savages.”
Stephens and Catherwood explored each site together and then set themselves to their respective tasks of writing and drawing the area. Catherwood used a device called the camera lucida which would project the image from the lens onto paper so that the artist could draw it more accurately, which allowed him to draw such precise images right down to the intricate scroll work and inscriptions on the buildings. Although some have criticized his work as `overly romantic', his lithographs have been used by Mayanists in the modern day in helping to restore the buildings and temples depicted in his work. Catherwood does sometimes seem to take license in placing items, objects, or figures in a composition for artistic purposes but the depictions of the buildings themselves are regarded as completely accurate.
 At Palenque, Catherwood contracted malaria but continued to work in spite of his illness. Stephens describes him as refusing to rest and continuing to draw wearing gloves and netting to keep the mosquitoes away. Stephens' narrative is very descriptive in detailing the problems encountered with ticks, mosquitoes, stinging flies, bats, and mice not to mention having to hack through thick jungle and clearing the sites enough to see what lay beneath the overgrowth.
    Before leaving New York, Stephens had met a man named Simon Peon who owned a large tract of land in the northern Yucatan called Hacienda Uxmal, and had provided Stephens with a rough map to find the ruins he said were there. Leaving Palenque, and stopping at any site they came across or heard about, they made their way up to Uxmal. Among the sites they discovered or documented on this trip were Copan, Kabah, Merida, Palenque, Quirigua, Q'umarkaj (Utatlan), Sayil, Tonina, Topoxte, and Uxmal. Although they did not visit Tikal, Stephens mentions the white towers of the city and notes their approximate location. They remained at Uxmal, documenting that site extensively, until 31 July 1840.
    By this time, Stephens had also contracted Malaria and they left the Yucatan for the United States. The book which was published from these travels fascinated the world and prompted another trip to the Yucatan (this time along with Dr. Samuel Cabot) in 1841-1842 which resulted in the publication of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan and, later, Catherwood's book of lithographs, Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. On this second trip they documented sites such as Ake, Chichen Itza, Dzibilnocac, Itzamal, Labna, Mayapan, Tulum, and re-visited Uxmal. They mapped, surveyed, drew and wrote about 44 distinct Maya sites all of which have become national treasures and, some, world famous attractions.
    The work they did lay the foundation for all future study of the Maya civilization. They meticulously documented the sites they visited, carefully charted the courses they took, and logged the time in travel between one site and the next. In reading Stephen's narrative, and following the maps drawn by Catherwood, other explorers were able to expand upon their work to bring the Maya Civilization to light. 
    Once again, we should keep in mind that in 1842, when Joseph Smith received"Incidents in Travel," many of the now-famous Maya sites were unknown even to the indigenous people of the region, let alone to people in the U.S. in the area Joseph Smith grew up in and lived.
It is easy living in our world today, where so much is known of the world and by so many people, that there was a time when all of this in Mesoamerica and Central Americas was unknown in the United States, especially on the so-called frontier where Joseph Smith spent much of his life and the early Church got its start.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Has the Location of the Land of Promise Ever Been Revealed? – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding whether or not any Prophet, Church Leader, or Apostle, past or present, has ever stated officially, or known by direct comment were the Land of Promise was located. 
Along this line of discussion, it seems paramount that we understand an editorial that appeared in the Times and Seasons, dated 15 July, 1842, signed ED, on “American Antiquities,” in which discussing areas as diverse as Canada, the United States, Florida, the Mississippi, and Guatemala as providing evidence for the Book of Mormon, and specifically mentioned is Stephens and Catherwood's book about Central American ruins.  The final paragraph of the Times and Seasons article reads:
    If men, in their researches into the history of this country, in noticing the mounds, fortifications, statues, architecture, implements of war, of husbandry, and ornaments of silver, brass, &c. were to examine the Book of Mormon, their conjectures would be removed, and their opinions altered; uncertainty and doubt would be changed into certainty and facts; and they would find that those things that they are anxiously prying into were matters of his would find their conjectures were more than realized -- that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent -- that the arts sciences and religion, had prevailed to a very great extent, and that there was as great and mighty cities on this continent as on the continent of Asia. Babylon, Ninevah, nor any of the ruins of the Levant could boast of more perfect sculpture, better architectural designs, and more imperishable ruins, than what are found on this continent. Stephens and Catherwood's researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatemala, and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people -- men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormon unfolds their history.” – ED. ("The Government of God," Times and Seasons Vol 3, No 18, 15 July 1842, pp855-858; then "American Antiquities," 858-860).
    There are certain comments or phrases within this statement that should be fully understood. Let’s start with the easiest one:
1. …better architectural designs, and more imperishable ruins, than what are found on this continent. Stephens and Catherwood's researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing.
Obviously, as we have been saying for years, the term “this continent” as used by Joseph Smith (and all people of his day) had to do with the entire area of the Americas, as shown by his including both his North America and the area of Mesoamerica or Central America. As we have shown many times from old Atlas’ to the use within Joseph Smith’s time, as well as Moroni’s comment,” this continent” included both North and South America.
2. If men, in their researches into the history of this country realized -- that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent.
    Again, the 1842 article relaters both “this country” and “this continent” as the same place, i.e., which shows that in Joseph Smith’s time, the concept of a Land of Promise extended beyond the confines of the United States to include the entire continent. And the word “continent” in 1842, was both North and South America.
3. …in noticing the mounds, fortifications, statues, architecture, implements of war, of husbandry, and ornaments of silver, brass, & were to examine the Book of Mormon, their conjectures would be removed, and their opinions altered…that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent.
    This great and mighty people, obviously being referred to in this editorial are the Nephites, who inhabited “this continent” not just “the United States” and that “this continent” refers to the entire Western Hemisphere or both North and South America, as history shows was meant all the way up until just before World War II, as well as even today within the Latin World here in the Americas.
4.  …that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent -- that the arts sciences and religion, had prevailed to a very great extent, and that there was as great and mighty cities on this continent as on the continent of Asia.
Great and mighty cities on this continent. The only mighty cities Joseph knew about at the time were those in Stephens' book and Catherwood’s drawings of Mesoamerica. We now know of more than that, for the ancient cities of South America are far greater, more extensive, and of even greater design and construction. Thus, the Land of Promise was an area that covered the Americas, where these marvelous cities are found, where fortresses and temples, synagogues and palaces are found.
    For the first ten to twelve years of the Book of Mormon, no one knew of the great and marvelous cities that were yet to be discovered in the Americas. Once they were found, once construction beyond mounds and artifacts has been found, once Stephens’ book was seen, once Catherwood’s drawings had been shown, Joseph and other Church leaders and members realized that there was now proof of such building and construction in the Americas. It was like a revelation—a sign that the Nephites had actually inhabited this continent, i.e., North and South America, and now, for the first time, Joseph Smith was looking at the evidence of what he had been preaching since the publication of the Book of Mormon, and had been talking about to his family for nearly ten years before that.
    What an exciting moment in Joseph’s life; and in the life of his family and those who had believed in him. What an exciting moment in the lives of the Latter-day Saints of 1843 who had a testimony of the fact, but now saw the evidence of that testimony. As Joseph Smith said of this discovery of solid evidence of Nephite existence: “their conjectures would be removed, and their opinions altered; uncertainty and doubt would be changed into certainty and facts; and they would find that those things that they are anxiously prying into were matters of his would find their conjectures were more than realized -- that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent.”
5.  …that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent -- that the arts sciences and religion, had prevailed to a very great extent, and that there was as great and mighty cities on this continent as on the continent of Asia. Babylon, Ninevah, nor any of the ruins of the Levant could boast of more perfect sculpture, better architectural designs, and more imperishable ruins, than what are found on this continent.
    Note that Joseph didn’t say that Catherwood’s drawings were of Zarahemla, Bountiful, or the City of Nephi, but that they were Nephite! We can learn two things from this: 1) It was not important what location these ruins were, but that their existence proved the existence of the Nephites; and 2) It was not important where the ruins were located, Guatemala, Mexico, United States, or wherever, but that they were on this continent--that is, the Americas! After all, there were ruins on other continents, but not on this one until Catherwood’s drawings and Stephens’ words were seen. Note that “on this continent” is used four times in this one paragraph—four times! This was the importance of what Joseph saw in the Mesoamerican ruins.
Once again, while theorists today want to argue and debate where this city or that lake or a specific place was located, Joseph Smith exulted over the fact that evidence of the Nephites were found on “this continent.” Most likely that is because he understood in some manner, or at some level, that the entire Western Hemsiphere, ”this continent,” was the promised land. And of this entire area, Lehi was promised one portion of it—that area we know along the western lands of South America. Obviously, Nephi saw Columbus coming to America and he surely described his coming to the land where his brethren (the Lamanites) were located, which in his visits to the Caribbean, Central America and South America where they surely were located. But he also saw the promised land of the New Jerusalem, and understood as Moroni did, that this New Jerusalem would be in North America, where Joseph Smith located it among the area of Missouri, at Adam-ondi-Ahman.
    Nephi saw the coming of the Gentiles, both the Spanish that literally destroyed three great civilizations of Lamanites, i.e., the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan, and the coming of the Europeans who settled in the northern lands and created a freedom in the city set on a hill, where this one part of the promised land would guarantee the freedom of the entire land that was promised. After all, Hagoth’s ships went north with large numbers of immigrants, they built as their forefathers had done in the south, and their descendant went further north, also leaving their mark of building in the southwest. By the time Joseph Smith in Zion’s camp came along and discovered Zelph, and learned of Onandagus, the Nephites and Lamanites from Hagoth’s immigrants had settled across the Western Hemisphere. What others came and mixed in with them we are not told. What happened to those Nephites of Hagoth’s immigrants that went north, we are not told, though if Onandagus was one of their much later prophets, we can place him in the eastern United States.
    What happened to the immigrants in Hagoth’s ship that went evidently west and no one knew its destination, would have settled down current and down wind in Polynesia. In such a way, and no doubt with other forces of which we know nothing, the Americas and the South Pacific was settled by members of the House of Israel that had been led off from time to time at the Lord’s good pleasure.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Has the Location of the Land of Promise Ever Been Revealed? – Part I

Before we start discussing what Prophet, Church Leader, or Apostles, past or present, has said about the geographical setting of the Book of Mormon, perhaps we ought to take a look at exactly what they would have entailed, had any of these great men actually have known the answer to the location of where Lehi landed. 
    First, we draw attention to a statement made by President George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency to four Church Presidents, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow. In addition, President Cannon was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1860 to 1901, and was called the “Mormon Richelieu” by the press in his position as the Church’s chief political strategist. He worked in the printing office of the monthly Times and Seasons and the weekly Nauvoo Neighbor, which had succeeded the Elders’ Journal.
President Cannon’s statement: The First Presidency have often been asked to prepare some suggestive map illustrative of Nephite geography, but have never consented to do so. Nor are we acquainted with any of the Twelve Apostles who would undertake such a task. The reason is, that without further information they are not prepared even to suggest. The word of the Lord or the translation of other ancient records is required to clear up many points now so obscure” (George Q. Cannon “Book of Mormon Georgraphy,” The Juvenile Instructor, January 1, 1890).
    Second, it should be noted that the succession of the editorial position of the Times and Seasons is a little more complex than typically stated: When the Church left Missouri as a result of the 1838 Mormon War, the press and type for the elder’s Journal was buried in Brother Dawson’s yard in Far West. In April 1839, Elias Smith and Hiram Clark, among others, returned to the city and recovered the press and type. It was taken to Nauvoo and in June 1839 was given to Ebenezer Robinson and Don Carlos Smith, Joseph Smith’s younger brother, who served as the editors of the officially founded monthly and twice-monthly Mormon periodical in 1839, that was published on a press set up in the basement of a building.
    In December 1840, Robinson changed to exclusively book printing and dissolved his partnership with Don Carlos, who took over as the sole editor of the Times and Seasons. In May 1841, Robert B. Thompson joined as an editor. After the death of Don Carlos in August 1841, Robinson rejoined as an editor and worked with Thompson on a single issue before Thompson's death, just twenty days after the death of Don Carlos, on August 27. Robinson was then joined by Gustavus Hills for a few issues before he deeded the print shop to Joseph Smith.
In November 1841, seven of the Twelve Apostles met in council at the house of President Young, on the subject of the Times and Seasons; they not being satisfied with the manner in which Gustavus Hills had conducted the editorial department since the death of Robert B. Thompson. Ten days later it was voted that Ebenezer Robinson (left) be solicited to give up the department of printing the Times and Seasons to Elder Willard Richards, and if Robinson did not then Elder Richards was instructed to procure a press and type, and publish a paper for the Church.
    In the Times and Seasons Vol 3 No. 6, dated 15 January 1842, p663, Gustasvus Hills was announced as Assistant Editor in the Times and Seasons. According to some sources, discussion among the Twelve (and Joseph, at some meetings) in November 1841 that Hills was already having some informal input into the paper's contents before this date. However, on January 28, 1842, Joseph Smith received a revelation (not in the D&C, but History of the Church 4:503) that stated: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph, go and say unto the Twelve, that it is my will to have them take in hand the editorial department of the Times and Seasons, according to that manifestation which shall be given unto them by the power of my Holy Spirit in the midst of their counsel, saith the Lord. Amen.”
    It seems interesting that the exact wordage of the Lord is for the Quorum of the Twelve, not Joseph Smith, “take in hand the editorial department of the Times and Seasons.” Most theorists read this that Joseph smith was told to take over the Editorial Department, “go and say unto the Twelve, that it is my will to have them take in hand the editorial department of the Times and Seasons, according to that manifestation which shall be given unto them by the power of my Holy Spirit in the midst of their counsel, saith the Lord.”
    On February 3, 1842, "Elder Woodruff took the superintendence of the printing office, and Elder Taylor the editorial department of the Times and Seasons; and he commenced by taking an inventory of the establishment this day” (History of the Church 4:513), and the next day, Joseph "closed a contract with Ebenezer Robinson for the printing office, including the paper fixtures, bookbindery, and stereotype foundry for a cost between 7,000 and 8,000 dollars" (History of the Church 4:513-514). Of the high price, Brigham Young later said, "The reason I paid such a price was [because] the Prophet directed the Twelve to pay him whatever he asked” (Millennial Star 13 February 1864, 26:119).
A month later, Joseph evidently became involved in the hands on editorial work, stating on March 2, 1842, "I read the proof of the Times and Seasons, as editor for the first time” (T&S No. 9, Vol. III; History of the Church 4:542). And then a week later, "Examining copy for the Times and Seasons, presented by Messrs. Taylor and Bennett...." (History of the Church 4:548). Then the following week, on March 15, 1842, Joseph provided a formal announcement that he was taking over as editor from Robinson and Hills: “This paper commences my editorial career, I alone stand for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward. I am not responsible for the publication, or arrangement of the former paper; the matter did not come under my supervision” (imes and Seasons Vol 3 No 9, 15 March 1842, p710).
    It should be noted that Joseph’s wordage is specific: “all papers having my signature henceforward." Herein lies the difficulty. Did Joseph mean by “all papers” those articles that were editorials, those articles that were published in the paper, the entire paper, or those only bearing his signature. Of course, different people, looking through different lenses, read different things here. This becomes specifically important when we come to the five articles, or editorials, regarding Mesoamerica about John L. Stephens book, Incidents of Travel in Mexico,” and Frederick Catherwood’s drawings of the Mayan ruins, for those articles, appearing following his announcement of his becoming the editor, are unsigned.
    As an example, two weeks later, on April 1, 1842, an extensive editorial on "Try the spirits." In History of the Church the article is denominated as "The Prophet's Editorial in the Times and Seasons" (History of the Church 4:571), in which it is not signed, but has ED at the conclusion (Times and Seasons Vol 3 No 11,  April 1842. p748). This seems to suggest that Joseph then signed his editorials with ED for Editor. However, three of the five articles about Incidents of Travel and Mesoamerica do not have any name or ED following the article.
    On the other hand, in June of 1842, another editorial on “Baptism for the Dead,” has ED following, but no corresponding proof from the History of the Church it was written by Joseph Smith. The same can be said of other editorials signed ED, covering “the Holy Ghost,” and “Mosaic traits among the Aztec in Mexico,” which draws attention to the plates found in the hill Cumorah and the account found in Mexico.
    Yet, during this month, a letter addressed to the Editor is published in its entirety with the following comment: “We publish the foregoing letter entire; and for the information of the citizens of the neighborhood where the circumstances transpired, take this opportunity of expressing our decided, unqualified disapprobation of the proceedings of William and Alford Young. If they have ever been united with this Church and are not cut off, we withdraw fellowship from them until they make satisfaction for what they have done..." (Times and Seasons Vol 3 No 16, 15 June 1842, p822).
Regarding this incident, there is a note in the The Nauvoo High Council Minute Books, where a meeting was held “according to adjournment and adjourned to the House of Councillor Aaron Johnson (left), January 8,1843, where it was “resolved that a piece be published in the Times & Seasons” stating that William & Alford Young have been restored to fellowship (they having been disfellowshiped by Joseph Smith) upon the complaint of John D. Lee and others and that the Clerk shall prepare the piece and make report thereof at the next council” (The Nauvoo High Council Minute Books of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, March 8, 1840, Book #1, Fred C. Collier, Collier Publishing, 2005; and signed by Hosea Stout who was appointed to act as Clerk Protem. On March 8, 1840).
    What we know from all of this is only that someone called for the Youngs to be disfellowshipped in an editorial in the Times and Seasons on June 15,1842, which was later done by Joseph Smith, and then later withdrawn by an act of the Church High Council on January 8, 1843.
(See the next post, “Has the Location of the Land of Promise Ever Been Revealed? – Part II,” for more information on who has said what about the specific location)