Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Comments from Readers Regarding Cuzco Sacsahuaman – Part II

Here are more questions from the readers of this  blog regarding the ancient city of Cuzco and the Fortress of Sacsahuaman: 
    Comment #1: “Why do you think that Sacsayhuaman and the city of Cuzco were not built by the Inca? Is it just because of the time frame you so often claim, that there wasn’t enough time from their rise in 1438 to their defeat in 1533?” Arthur R.
    Response: When I first began the study of this area about 25 years ago there was so little known that I often wondered about this myself—I just knew it had not been the Inca. My first breakthrough was when I met several people in and around Peru in private discussions who were life-long residents and knowledgeable of the artifacts and ruins in their country. They were often insistent that the tourism comments about the Inca building everything were merely a tourism gimmick and not anything anyone believed.” 
    Over the past dozen years or so, it has become common knowledge among archaeologists and anthropologists as well as a growing number of historians that there were numerous cultures that lived before the Inca who had developed, built, and accomplished most of the things the Inca were credited with building by the early investigators, including the roads. Then reading the original chroniclers who accompanying the Spanish in their conquest, it was seen that even the Inca themselves had no idea who created most of the things they claimed were theirs. ln talking to those of the Andean area, you find that they all know it was not the Inca—however, their incomes often depend upon the tourism industry, which still harps on the Inca involvement.
    Take a look at these three rock walls in Cuzco, that appear very near each other, that archaeologists now know were built in different periods of time and, obviously, by different peoples with different skills:
Nephite Wall. Pre-Inca stonework where the huge stones are cut and dressed (smoothed) and inter-lock with intricate cuts and match perfectly not even a pin can be inserted between them and put together without mortar
Inca work, with normal small rock boulders, about a foot square in size and in their natural state, were fitted according to their natural sizes and shapes as closely together as possible and a mud mortar used between them
Spanish work, where the same kind of rock boulders the Inca used placed within mortar more like we build today. There was no attempt to use similar shaped or sized rocks, giving a very hap-hazard and unfinished look as though it was done in a hurry with limited ability
    Comment #2: “How do you know the tower or towers that were beside the temple on the Sacsayhuaman hill were made of stone and not just wood towers?” Justin P.
    Response: Because when the Spanish dismantled the tower, they wrote about it, as well as leaving some of the stones around the base. The foundation and lower stones were Limestone, a sedimentary rock of very common building and architectural use, (which are still there), with the upper tower stones or wall stones of Andesite, the latter being an extrusive igneous volcanic rock of intermediate (between felsic and mafic) composition of aphanitic (smooth) texture.
    Comment #3: “Why do you think they call Sacsahuaman a fortress? Having been there, other than the three outer walls, there isn’t much there to suggest a fortress—looks more like just a hill” Keith M.
Response: According to Brian S. Bauer (left), an anthropological archaeologist and professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, it is probably because of its location high above Cusco and its immense, zig-zag terrace walls that provide excellent fields of fire (even for bow and arrow), this area of Sacsahuaman is generally referred to as a fortress (Kasapata and the Arachaic Period in the Cuzco Valley, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA Press, Los Angeles, 2007).
    The importance of its military functions was highlighted in 1536 when Manco Inca lay siege to Cusco. According to John Hemming, (The Conquest of the Incas, Macmillan Books, 1970), much of the fighting occurred in and around Sacsahuaman, as it was critical to maintaining control over the city. Descriptions of the siege, as well as excavations at the site, had recorded towers on the summit of the site, as well as a series of other buildings. Pedro Sancho, Pizarro’s official secretary, who visited the complex before the siege, mentions the labyrinth-like quality of the complex and its many storage rooms filled with a wide variety of items. He also notes that there were buildings with large windows that looked over the city. These structures, like so much of the site, have long since been destroyed
    Comment #4: “Archaeologists claim that in the temple of the Sun in Cuzco that the Peruvians placed mummy bundles of past kings on carved seats that faced the audience as a sign of reverence.
That doesn’t sound very Nephite to me” Brenda T.
Response: Actually, these carved seats were of gold. In fact, the area they are talking about is the main room where a huge golden plaque with the likeness of the sun, a round face, with prolonged rays or flames hung on the wall, much like the sunstone design used in connection with the Nauvoo Temple, which symbolized the dawning of the Restoration and the coming forth of the gospel light to illuminate a dark earth. This, of course, would have been very Nephite, and in fact these sun stones were figured prominently on the Nauvoo Temple, and may well have inspired Parley P. Pratt’s hymn “The Morning Breaks.” As for the seats, we find in Mosiah “And the seats which were set apart for the high priests which were above all the other sets, he [king Noah] did ornament with pure gold (Mosiah 11:11). Keep in mind that archaeologists have certain things they like to claim were part of everything ancient like this, with one being human sacrifice, and the other mummy reverence, and the third is sun worship--they almost always weave these three ideas into their interpretation of whatever they find. 
    Comment 5: “When Nephi first arrived in the area his people called ‘Nephi’ (he immediately began to teach everyone to build buildings, a temple, plant and harvest, etc., but nothing is said of building a fortress or fort” Josh C.
    Response: Evidently,the early contentions and battles with the Lamanites didn’t require a fortress or fort—the numbers would have been somewhat small to begin with and contentions are more like heated arguments than outright fighting. However, by two generations we find that Jacob’s grandson, Jarom, the wars between the Nephites and Lamanites were evidently so severe that the Nephites felt the need to do so, for they “fortify [their] cities or whatsoever place of [their] inheritance" (Jarom 1:7).
An example of a defensive fort with three zig-zag walls protecting the only entrance to the fortress, temple, and building complex that once rose on the hill behind them 
    What those fortifications amounted to we are not told, but if Sacsahuaman is an example, then the Nephites built that huge fortress, one at Ollantaytambo, and others along what is now called the Sacred Valley, northward to the narrow strip of wilderness, plus southward to include Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco), Puma Punku, etc.
    Still, during this time, the Nephites were heavily involved in their daily living, acquiring gold and silver, also they must have been expanding their territory since by 400 B.C., they had “multiplied exceedingly and spread upon the face of the land (Jarom 1:8). It would be another 150 years or so before Mosiah was forced to leave the city, and discover Zarahemla. Those 150 years would have been interesting times before the Nephites began to become so evil that the Lord told Mosiah to flee and take those who would go with him (Omni 1:12).
    Comment 6: “Do we know how old Nephi was when he died?” Brenda B.
    Response: Possibly. If he was about 25 when he left Jerusalem, as I suspect, then in Jacob 1:1 Nephi would have been about 80 (55 years after leaving Jerusalem) in 544 B.C. Nephi died shortly after that (Jacob 1:12), so let’s say he died between the age of 80 and 85.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

More Comments from Readers Regarding Cuzco Sacsahuaman – Part I

Here are some comments from the readers of this blog regarding the ancient city of Cuzco and the Fortress of Sacsahuaman.     
Comment #1: “I have been told that there are all sorts of small carvings in stone around Cuzco and Sacsahuaman. Is thit true, and if so, who did them and why?” Karla K.
These boulders are found on the hills beside Sacsahuaman, overlooking the city of Cuzco. No one has even suggested a purpose for them
Response: Yes, there are all sorts of pre-Inca, megalithic monuments carved into giant boulders and large rock formations in that area. They are often called “Inca Ceremonial Sites,” but all were carved long before the Inca, who had only bronze chisels and stone hammers. Engineers claim these boulders of Andesite stone, which is harder than granite, are cut with either steel, carbon steel, tungsten carbide or possibly even diamond. The work is smooth and finished, but lack any apparent use. They sit in the middle of fields on rolling hills, with no connection to one another and no seemingly useful purpose.
Comment #2: “You wrote an article recently which included a description of the horrendous loss of airmen and bombers during World War II that almost spelled the end of the war, but never stated how it was overcome” Gaylord J.
    Response: Sorry. It was not a major topic of the article, but I should have concluded it for curiosity sake. The U.S. Bomber Command, after losing 642 airmen and over 60 B-17s in October 1943, did an about face—an almost unheard of military position of admitting they were wrong—and stopped bombing while long-range fighter escort planes were designed and built. At the time, the fighter escorts were P-47 Thunderbolt which were totally inadequate to carry out the long-range requirements needed to see the  bombers to their targets and back. While a Curtis-built P-40 was built for the British Purchasing Commission in September 1940, it wasn’t until the original Allison V-1710 engine was replaced by the Rolls-Royce Merlin for the p-51 B/C that transformed the Mustang’s performance to match or exceed that of the German Luftwaffe fighters, and even more so with the definitive version, the P-51D, powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 two-stage, two-speed supercharged engine. This P-51D was not only built for two large 150-pound wing fuel tanks, but also armed with six .50 caliber M2/AN Browning machine guns,which dominated the skies over Europe and made daylight precision bombing successful. All of this took only a few months after the bombing runs were stopped toward the end of 1943.
Chuck Yeager’s P-51D 44-14888 of the 8th AF/357th FG/363rd FS, named Glamorous Glennis III, in which he achieved most of his 12.5 kills, including two Me 262s – shown here with twin 108 gallon drop tanks fitted
    With this change, flying daylight prevision bombing runs with new, long-range fighter escort planes, completely caught the Germans off guard, and was perhaps one of the most important singular decisions made in the airwar over Europe. The story of how this came about and what actually took place makes for fascinating reading if you like military stories.
Comment #3: “I heard there was a legend about bearded white men in the Cuzco area of Peru who built all these old buildings. Is that true?” Elicia V.
    Response: John Denison Baldwin says of the area that 'The oldest structures were attributed to bearded white men, who it is said, worked stone with iron implements brought from their own country. The traditions call them 'sons of the sea'.
It is a remarkable fact, not generally known, that these Peruvians worked iron mines on the east side of Lake Titicaca (Pre-Historic Nations. 1869. Harper and Brothers; see also John. D. Baldwin, Ancient America, in Notes on American Archaeology, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1871; and also the Introduction to Popl-Vuh, p224). It is also well known that these early Peruvians had a great knowledge of astronomy at a very early period. Montesinos and De Bourbourg say the Peruvians had an accurate measure of the solar year, and a knowledge of the art of writing, together with paper made of banana leaves at least 1800 years before our era.
    It also might be of interest to know that just recently, an article in Latin American Herald Tribune (Caracas April 21, 2016), under the headline of “12,000 Year Old Mine found in Peru,” stated that'Archaeologists from the University of Chile have discovered a 12,000-year-old iron oxide mine in the north of the country. Researchers say it is the oldest mine discovered in all the Americas. Chief researcher Diego Salazar said the iron oxide was used by Huentelauquen Indians as a pigment in dying cloth and in religious rituals. the mine was exploited heavily between around 10,000 B.C. and 2,000 B.C. It yielded over the millennia a total of 2,000 tons of pigment extracted from 700 cubic meters of rock. Researchers also found a treasure trove of stone and conch mining tools in the area. "We've found more than 1,000 hammers...but considering the amount of material we have yet to sift through, the real number could rise to several thousands," archaeologist Hernan Salinas said. Before this find, the oldest mine in the Americas was 2,500 years old and located in the United States.' Another factoid is that 12,000-year-old textiles have been found in Peru (Current Anthropology, April 2011).
    It might be suggested also that legends are often modified historical accounts. As an example, the title Manco Capac (pronounced MAY-coh CAW-Pawk), which means “royal master,“ which is a more modern rendition. Anciently, according to Garcilaso de la Vega, the term meant simply: “chief” or “ruler,” which is reminiscent of Nephi, who chose to be called “ruler” rather than “king” (The Incas, translated by Maria Jolas, Grossman Publications, New York, 1961, p5). That is to be a Ruler over his people (2 Nephi 5:18; see also: 1 Nephi 2:22; 3:29; 16:37-38; 18:10), who the people looked on as a “king” or “protector” (2 Nephi 6:2).
    It might also be of interest to know that the Quechua word “Sinchi” (pronounced “zinchi”), which is another name given Manco Capac, and the name he gave his son, means “Chief, leader.” In addition, the legend of Manco was that he carried a golden staff given him by the Sun God to tell him where to settle, where Nephite carried a brass ball (Liahona), given Lehi by God (1 Nephi 16:10) to guide him to the place where he was to settle (1 Nephi 16:26). It is also of interest that Manco is described in legend as being pale-faced, or “white” (Bertrand Flornoy, World of the Incas, Vanguard Press, New York, 1965, p118).
    Further, Manco Capac had a sister-wife, which is usually interpreted to mean that he married his sister (which later became an Inca practice), but the actual wordage of the legend is that there were four brothers who all married “sister wives,” meaning that the women were sisters to one another, not a sister to whom they married. This is also found in Nephi, where Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi all married sisters, i.e., the women were sisters to one another (1 Nephi 16:7).
The legend claims Manco came from the south, moving northward from Titicaca through the fourteen-thousand foot LaRaya pass (which separates the Titicaca basin from the Vilcanota valley) and on to Cuzco. There, according to Garcilaso de la Vega, Manco stuck his golden staff into the ground and it disappeared, telling him that was where he should settle. Nephi, after being tied up and then loosed aboard his ship in the storm, “took the compass and it did work whither I desired it” (1 Nephi 18:21), and after praying the storm ceased and “I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again toward the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:22).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Moroni’s Unrecorded 36 Years

We have often been asked what we think Moroni was doing during the time between Cumorah and when he ends his record in 421 A.D. and how old he might have been when he died. In order to do this we need to remember that Mormon was born in 310 A.D., and came south into the Land of Zarahemla in 321 A.D. at the age of eleven (Mormon 1:6). He died at the age of 75 in 385 A.D. at the battle of Cumorah, at least he was wounded in that first wave of Lamanite attacks (Mormon 6:11), and evidently wrote on the plates at least the next day (Mormon 6:11,20), though we assume he died of his wounds shortly after this attack, we do not know exactly when.
Understanding that Mormon took over the army at the age of 15 in 326 A.D. (Mormon 1:15), he was probably heavily engaged in his military work and might not have married until he was older. If he was about 46 years old when Moroni was born, that would be about 356 A.D., which would have been about two years after the treaty had been arranged with the Lamanites (Mormon 2:28).
    If these days are near correct, Moroni would have been about 30 years old when the final battle took place at Cumorah.
    Between 385 and 421 A.D., Moroni finished his father’s record (Mormon 8 and 9), abridged the record of Ether and wrote his own Book of Moroni. He might even have nursed his father for a time before Mormon died, we simply do not know, other than the fact that by the time Moroni began to complete his fathers record, he wrote, “And my father also was killed by them [Lamanites], and I remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfill the commandment of my father” (Mormon 8:3).
    In some way, Moroni became privy to the fact that the Lamanites had tracked the escaping Nephites at Cumorah into the south countries and that they were all overtaken and killed (Mormon 8:2).

What Moroni’s plan was for his hiding the record when he was completed with it, he did not seem to know. Though he had been at the hill Cumorah, where he was when he finished his father’s record is neither said nor implied, but it must have been some distance away for he says: “Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not” (Mormon 8:4). So evidently, he was not near Cumorah at that moment, and was either not planning to hide the records there or did not feel it was feasible. He did understand that he had to hide them in the earth after he was finished with his work on them, for he wrote: “And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord” (Mormon 8:14), and seemed to understand that he would be involved in their eventual discovery as he added, “And whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless…for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God” (Mormon 8:16). He also seemed to understand that after the record was retrieved from its hiding place and translated, that it would have numerous critics, “And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemeth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire” (Mormon 8:17), and “For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be” (Mormon 8:19).
    Of course, this is all speculation since we have no direct evidence of what Moroni thought or knew that he did not write about, but the events seem to have led in this direction.
    Much to Moroni’s surprise, thirty-six years later he was not only still alive, but prompted to write more in the record, and begins  by telling us that the civil wars between the Lamanites are still raging and were exceedingly fierce (Moroni 1:2).
Now Moroni was not stationary, sitting in a cave somewhere like Ether, waiting for the end. First of all, the terrible stench from 230,000 to 300,000 dead bodies decaying over the years at Cumorah would have long before this time driven Moroni far away from the hill Cumorah, as it would have the surviving Lamanites, who were still so strongly taken with the blood lust that as soon as they made sure all the Nephites (men, women and children) were dead, commenced this blood lust against one another—a civil war between them, no doubt tribe against tribe, family against family, that had lasted at this point for 36 years.
    No doubt this led to the tribal mentality that existed a thousand years later when the Europeans arrived, where tribe distrusted anyone not of their own tribe and wars between tribes evidently existed down through the ages into the times of the arrival of the Gentiles.
    Where Moroni went, we have no idea. Fifteen years after Cumorah, Moroni tells us he is wandering around keeping clear of the way of the Lamanites for his own safety. We can guess during this time that he did not go south, where the Lamanites were located and no doubt the strongest in numbers, and where they were then tracking down every Nephite that had escaped in that direction. Nor would he have gone West for he would have been stopped by the ocean (West Sea), and it seems likely he would not have gone east into the deep jungles that had so recently come up out of the water. This leaves his most likely direction of travel would be northward, perhaps into the area of modern day southern Colombia.
    Obviously, he was well aware of the danger to his life from the warring Lamanites, who seemed to be everywhere in their wars for he tells us he “wandered whithersoever he could for the safety of his own life” (Moroni 1:3). Who the wars were against or why is not stated, other Lamanites could have come north and challenged those then residing in the Land Northward, or it could have been between converted Lamanites. In all, Moroni had enough space of the plates after abridging Ether to write his own few pages and then the title page as he kept on the move, keeping a keen eye out for Lamanites, and avoiding known trails and paths where they might be traveling. No doubt hiding by day and perhaps engraving his record by moonlight at night, he finished his work—a lone man, the last survivor of the Nephite nation and people.
Of the title page, Joseph Smith said, “I wish to mention here that the title page of the Book of Mormin is a literal translation taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated (Joseph Smith History of the Church, vol 1 p71).
    What is important here is that Moroni does not tell us where he put the record.  We do not know anything more than he said 36 years before this that “I will write and hide up the records in the earth” (Mormon 8:4).
    If there was ever any question by anyone at the greatness of this man, Moroni, consider his wandering around, hiding everywhere he went, trying to keep out of site of the Lamaniters, knowing they would kill him and destroy the records he carried (Moroni 1:1), yet as he sat down to write this final “few thigns” nearly the first thing he says is but I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord” (Moroni 1:4). Not many of us, I think, would be thinking of the souls of those who sought our life at such a time as this. But Moroni was far above the level to which most men live.
    That people read into this what they want, i.e., burying the plates in the hill Cumorah, is without merit—at least not for many years afterward. First of all, the stench as mentioned would have driven all away from Cumorah for many years—an example of this was the battle at the city of Ammonihah where when it was over, “The smell [of dead bodies] was so powerful that no one was willing to live in Ammonihah for many years” and it was called the “Desolation of Nehors: for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain; and their lands remained desolate” (Alma 16:11). And this was one city, with the bodies lightly covered with earth—Cumorah had ten times that many dead or more, and they were not covered with earth.
    The stench would have kept the area free of all people for many, many years.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Coriantumr’s Stone History

One of the problems we find with the Mesoamerican theory, is that the theory drives the scriptural record, rather than the scriptural record driving the history. Take for example Coriantumr’s Stone, on which he engraved a brief history of his people during his nine month stay among the Mulekites in the area of Zarahemla. In one Mesoamerican article, it states that “When the people of Zarahemla met the elder Mosiah, they showed him a “large stone … with engravings on it” which stone, of course, is described by Amaleki, but instead of “showing it to Mosiah,” it was brought to Mosiah, which is not quite the same.    First of all, something shown to another person gives no idea of its size, portability, or weight. On the other hand, something brought to a person suggests, despite how it is described, it was small enough to be portable, and though it might have taken more than one person to carry it, it was carryable! And even thought Amaleki described it as a “large stone” it was still portable!
(LtoR) Stela 5 Ixkun at Peten, Guatemala 8.7 feet high and 3.3 feet wide; stela 2 Ixtgonton at Peten, 6.9 feet high by 3.9 feet; Stela E at Quiriguá, 35 feet high, weighing 60 tons—none of which could be carried
    Is this important? Well, let’s take  Mesoamerica for a moment. In this civilization, the cultures engraved large stones, called stela (stelae plural) that were 20-feet, 23-feet, 26-feet, etc. The point is, to equate the stone Coriantumr carved upon as a stationary stela, it suggests a connection to the huge stone stelaes of the Mayan. So in bringing Coriantumr’s stone to Mosiah, it dispels any such connection and suggests a smaller stone upon which the Jaredite wrote down his brief history.
    However, that is not the entire story. As Great Lakes people point out, while Mesoamerica is a culture that throughout writes their history on stone, the Nephites did not, neither did the Jaredites. Both recorded their histories on metal plates. In fact, Nephi tells us quite plainly that "if my people desire to know the more particular part of the history of my people they must search mine other plates." And King Benjamin told his sons that were it not for the history on plates they would have dwindled in unbelief. The Nephites did not write on stones or stelaes, or record their history on such, yet in Mesoamerica, that is all they used—there are no metal plates found there or even metal work of any kind prior to about 900 A.D.
An artists’ rendition of Coriantumr writing on stone; however, the size of the stone would not have been that large. The point is, he had to write on stone because he did not have access to metal plates
    Consequently, when Coriantumr reached the Mulekites, an illiterate people with no written records, therefore, no metal plates on which they engraved, the Jaredite survivor was left engraving his brief history on stone. It is the only example of writing on stone found in the entire scriptural record of the Book of Mormon. It is interesting that while Mesoamericanists consider the writing on stone stelaes as proof of their matching the scriptural record, as Brant A. Gardner writes in Second Witness: Gardner explained, “Mesoamerica is unique in the Western Hemisphere for its writing systems. … Part of that tradition includes inscriptions on stelae, or large stones” (Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007–2008), 3:64)
    As though Nephi had not spoken of where to find the information about Nephite kings, John L. Sorenson writes that “most stelae [in Mesoamerica] were meant to memorialize the king and his accomplishments,” which rather than support the Book of Mormon, actually runs contrary to it as mentioned above when Nephi says the story of their kings would be found on the large plates. 
In fact, it is claimed that “The impetus to erect stelae first came in the Middle Formative (900–300 BC) among the Olmec, when efforts to record history also developed. Stelae at La Venta depict historical rulers attired in regalia that symbolized and reinforce the office and power of an early king” (Miller and Taube, An Illustrared Dictionary of the God andsumbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya, p157), and by 400 B.C., stelae typically focused on a king or ruler depicting him as a warrior, providing a record of his actions, and listing of the ruler’s ancestors. However, as late as Amaleki we have an unbroken record (Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni) by several recorders that were obeying Nephi’s injunction to write on the plates—so why would we feel that writing about the kings on rock stelae would be consistent with the scriptural record?
    It is also interesting that the author of the website calls attention in a footnote to the fact that Kerry Hull, “War Banners: A Mesoamerican context for the Title of Liberty,” p109: “The seemingly uninspiring description of the monument as simply a ‘large stone’ may actually be significant. The ancient Maya word for “stela” was lakam-tuun, literally translated as ‘large stone.’ While possibly merely coincidental, that the precise designation of ‘large stone’ for a carved monument with writing on it would be given in the Book of Mormon as well as in myriads of ancient Maya texts is further indication of a shared cultural and linguistic origin” (Hull, “War Banners, 117 n.107 credits Mark Wright with first making the observation in a 2006 Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum Conference).
Flags, hanging banners and other such patriotic or inspiring insignia has as much more in common with lakam-tuun than does the term ‘large stone’ 
     First of all, the term “lakam-tuun” literally means “banner stone,” and can actually mean “flag,” “standard,” which in reality is far more suggestive of a banner or flag depicting an event or patriotic meaning than “large” for stone. Secondly, the problem with Hull’s thinking is that the term “large stone” is just about all that could be said in any language of a stone upon which someone is to carve or engrave a history of his life, thus we find making a correlation between two events that are neither remarkable nor out of the ordinary in any way and trying to tie them together to reach a correlation.
    As Hull writes of his own idea: “The possibility remains that the stela glyph literally reads “banner stone.” That is, stelae were conceived as standards made of stone. We can easily imagine large flags and banners decorating plazas and architecture (as graffiti at Tikal and elsewhere explicitly shows).” Consequently, rather than be a tie in for Mesoamerican connection between history and the Book of Mormon, the idea actually separates the two, since unlike the Book of Mormon who engraved on metal to record their histories and especially the record of their kings, the Mesoamerican cultures engraved on huge stones where not a single instance outside Coriantumr is recorded or even suggested in the scriptural record.
    However, true to his Mesoamerican stand despite no scriptural support, Hull goes on to say: “The more scholars learn about Mesoamerican stelae, the more comfortably Coriantumr’s stela fits the description,” yet, actual banners and flags among the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish invasion were both common and extensive. According to John Pohl and Charles M. RobinsonI II, Aztecs and Conquistadores: The Spanish Invasion and the Collapse of the Aztec Empire (Osprey Publishing, Great Britain, 2005, p75) banners and flags were described in great detail and were used by the Aztec warrior and “essential to coordinating troop movements.” According to the Codex Mendoza (History of the Aztec rulers and their conquests, and description of daily Aztec life in traditional Aztec pictograms with Spanish explanations, 1535), the quaxeletl banner was umbrella-like in shape and was produced in yellow, blue and green.
Top Left: Aztec battle line with the (yellow arrow) tlescocomoctli raised to signal formations; Top Right: Aztec battling Spaniard with a club in one hand and the (yellow arrow) battle flag in the other; Bottom: Aztec warrior wearing a vexiloid, or flag. The veiloid were the ancestor of what we know as flags (vexilloid) 
    The point is, inaccurate statements or misleading ideas have no place in writing about the scriptural record. The stelae found in Mesoamerica were not “large rocks” but “banners and flags” meant to convey a message, and among warriors, formations and battle messages, as well as pomp and ceremony for battle preparation.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What is the Great Deep?

It is interesting that Great Lakes theorists want to define words their own way in order to support their view points. Take the idea of the Great Deep. How would you define that term?
    On a Great Lakes Theorist website, the following statement is provided: “The Book of Mormon refers to the Pacific (or Atlantic) Ocean as the “Great Deep” “Great Water” “Irreantum” “Many Waters” and “Deep."
    Actually, the Book of Mormon does not refer to the Pacific or Atlantic oceans by name, nor by geographical reference. We can assume that is correct and most likely is, but we cannot arbitrarily say outright since the Earth was divided in Peleg’s time, but we do not know in what shape it was divided for the Old Testament and Book of Ether does not tell us that.
    But let us precede as though the Earth in the days of the Jaredites and later Nephites were more-or-less configured as it is today.
The World's Oceans are all tied together and is really one very large area of water and all of the Great Deep is tied together
   The point is, the website article is trying to tie the world’s oceans into the one, singular meaning “the Great Deep,” “Great Waters,” “Many Waters,” “Raging Deep,” “the Deep,” “Waters of the Great Deep,” and “Irreantum.” However, they do not include “Ripliancum,” which by interpretation means waters that are large, or to exceed all” (Ether 15:8).
    We know that Irreantum, which means “many waters,” would be the Sea of Arabia where Lehi stopped at the place he called Bountiful since his journey from Jerusalem is well described. And  “many waters” fits the Sea of Arabia, which flows into the Indian Ocean which flows into the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and into the Southern Ocean.
    So why are we discounting Ripliancum, which means “large or to exceed all” when the Jaredites had already spent 344 days crossing the Great Deep?
    Since the Great Lakes theorists has to discount any water within or around the Land of Promise, which is what this article on the website is meant to do, by isolating all the oceans far away from where the Land of Promise was located, Ripliancum is discarded and turned into a secondary water area--Lake Ontario in the Great Lakes model.
    Yet, in all of this, they have to ignore Jacob’s comment about being on an island in the midst of the sea over which they sailed from Oman/Arabia to the Western Hemisphere or the Americas. “The Lord has made the sea our path and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
    So let’s take a look at their argument and their article outlining it: 
    Theorist: “And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship they began to murmur against me saying: Our brother is a fool for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters” ( 1 Nephi 17:17). 
Tehom (Hebrew  תְּהוֹם‎‎) literally the Deep or Abyss (Greek Septuagint:abyssos) refers to the Great Deep of the primordial waters of creation in the Bible. Tehom is a cognate of the Akkadian word tantu and Ugaritic t-h-m which have similar meanings
     Response: First, at the time we are dealing with and the people we are following, these oceans were not separate and did not have different names. It was all “the sea.” When he first saw it, Lehi named this sea “Irreantum,” meaning many waters. And to he and his family and party, the sea was huge. Secondly, looking out from the Bountiful shore along the southern coast of Arabia, they would have seen the Sea of Arabia, which is 1.491 million square miles in size. That his brothers called it “Great Waters” is understandable, standing on the shore, or looking out from a hill or even mountain, you see nothing but water. 
    Theorist: “And they journeyed in the wilderness and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16). 
Response: First, we have to keep in mind that the Hebrews and Jews had no word for “ocean.” Their word was “sea,” which was yam (yawm) and literally meant “sea,” and interpreted as “sea” 278 times and “seas” 27 times in the Bible, but also was used for seacoast (5), and seashore (9). It could also mean “west” (translated 59 times), “west side” (4), “western” (1) and “westward” (12), as well as “south” (1); secondly, in this case, the Mulekites were led across the same Great Waters or deep ocean. Consequently, the word “yam” meant a body of water, and the term Great or Deep, referred to its size. That is, to get from one continent (Asia) to another (Americas), Nephi’s ship had to sail across the deep ocean—the Great Deep, the Raging Deep, the Great Waters. 
    Theorist: “Behold O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?” (Ether 2:22); “And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness” (Ether 6:3). 
    Response: The same can be understood from the Jaredite responses, i.e., the barges they built had to cross the great ocean. So we can interpret Great Waters as Ocean in our English vocabulary. 
    Theorist: “And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren…separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters… he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land…beheld the many waters” (1 Nephi 13:10-13). The theorist quotes one more mention of “many waters” separating the nations of the Gentiles (1 Nephi 13:29), again referring to the deep oceans of the world and those separating the Western Hemisphere (Atlantic). 
Response: First, we see that the great oceans are being referred to here, and now we see that the Hebrews referred to both the Pacific and Atlantic as “Great Waters,” and “Many Waters.” Second, we see that the waters being mentioned and called the Great Deep, Many Waters, Great Waters, etc., border the promised land as “he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land). 
    Theorist: “O Lord, look upon me in pity and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across the raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock (Ether 3:3); and when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them” (Ether 6:7); he remembered what the Lord had done in bringing Jared and his brother across the deep and he did walk in the ways of the Lord and he begat sons and daughters.(Ether 10:2) 
     Response: From this we learn that the Raging Deep, Great Deep, the Deep are all the same waters. 
    Theorist: “My God hath…led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep” (2 Nephi 4:20). And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross the great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?” (Ether 2:25). 
    Response: “First, we learn that the Great Deep and the Deep are the same area of seas or oceans; and second, we find that the depths of the Sea and the Great Deep are the same. 
    Theorist: “And there were no more wars in the days of Shule; and he remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the great deep and into the promised land…” (Ether 7:27).
    Response: From this we learn that the Great Deep bordered on the Land of Promise, for they went from the sea (crossing the great deep) into the land, that is the promised land. 
    Theorist: “While they were buried in the deep…they were encompassed about by many waters (Ether 6:7) 
    Response: Thus we see that the term “Great Deep” and “Many Waters” also have the same meaning. 
    Theorist: “And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which being interpreted, is many waters” (1 Nephi 17:5). 
Response: Thus we see that the words or terms Sea (that stretches out from the shore at Bountiful), Many Waters, and Irreantum, all mean the same thing.
    So using the exact scriptures that the Theorist presents to prove his point, we can see that all these waters mentioned are the same waters, whether the Deep, Great Deep, Raging Deep, Great Waters, Many Waters, and even Irreantum all mean the same thing. 
    Theorist: [his conclusion} At no point in time however are these terms used to describe the waters that border Book of Mormon lands. 
    Response: Which is not true at all. Using his very own words and how he used them, we find that the Great Deep bordered on the Land of Promise, for they went from the sea (crossing the great deep) into the land, that is the promised land; and “…we see that the waters being mentioned and called the Great Deep, Many Waters, Great Waters, etc., border the promised land as “he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” Here we have a specific instance of the scriptural record showing that the Great Deep bordered the Land of Promise. In addition, using Jacob’s words, we find that the Land of Promise is an island in the sea over which they sailes (2 Nephi 10:20).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dealing With Opposing Information to One’s Views – Joseph Didn’t Mean or Write That…Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding a statement Joseph Smith made regarding both North and South America being Zion, and also other statements the prophet made that the Great Lakes Theorists want to claim he did not make. 
In this continuation, a letter to John Bernhisel who sent John L. Stephens book Incidents in Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, to Joseph Smith as a gift, is being discredited by the theorist of the website Book of Mormon Wars.
    According to the history involved as written on the website by the theorist: “John Bernhisel joined the LDS Church in 1837 while practicing medicine in New York City. In 1841 he was ordained bishop of the congregation in New York City. Bernhisel was a well-educated man, and in 1841 read Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan by John L. Stephens.
    Impressed by the book, Bernhisel gave the two-volume work to Wilford Woodruff in September 1841 with instructions to make sure it was given to Joseph Smith. Woodruff, who was on his way back from England to Nauvoo, delivered the book, as requested. It would appear that Joseph appreciated receiving the book, as he wrote a letter to Bernhisel acknowledging the gift.”
    The theorist then goes on to discredit this incident by saying:
    This statement is false. No one knows who wrote this letter; the handwriting remains unidentified. There is no evidence that Joseph dictated this letter or even knew about it. I've written a detailed analysis of the historical evidence, which shows that by far the most likely source of the letter is Wilford Woodruff.”
    Response: Now, when the theorist claims there is no evidence Joseph Smith wrote the letter, there is strong evidence he would have (i.e., had one of his scribes write the actual letter he would have dictated or told him what to write). After all, the gift was recorded, delivered to Wilford Woodruff according his journal, and placed in the hands of Joseph Smith. For the Prophet not to have made an acknowledgement of such a gift, which would have been costly in that day, would be to deny Joseph Smith’s natural appreciation for something done to him which numerous other occasions show deserved and received acknowledgement.
The letter, dated November 16, 1841, and over the signature of Joseph Smith, suggests this not to be a false statement at all, but one of accurate content. It should also be noted that in the course of the leadership of the Church, in those early days as well as today, no member, no matter how highly placed in the Church leadership roles, would write a letter for the prophet, over the prophet’s signature, that was not dictated by the prophet, told what to write by the prophet, or read afterward and approved by the prophet. Church leaders simply do not usurp the authority of someone over them!
    This theorist can claim the letter was written by Wilford Woodruff, but that is not the point. Joseph Smith used several people (scribes) to write letters, articles, even his own history, for him and from time to time he wrote some himself, but those were usually written to his wife, Emma. The Church correspondence and most of his personal writing was done for him by those he appointed to do so, and exactly what the process was with each letter or article is not known other than the fact that Joseph had others do much of his writing for him. It is interesting that this theorist makes that very claim in the writing of Letter VII by Oliver Cowdery with Joseph Smith’s involvement, yet seems to ignore or forget that when discussing this particular writing.
Left: John M. Bernhisel; Right: Wilford Woodruff
    What is important is that the letter bore the prophet’s signature, therefore the letter had the prophet’s approval or never would have been written, let alone sent.
    In addition, it might be noted that Bernhisel was a close friend of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. In fact, Joseph convinced Berhnisel to move to Nauvoo from New York and insisted that he live in the Mansion House with the Smiths. An additional note of interest is that Bernhisel was one of the few early citizens who had a university education which he used along with his considerable talents and energy to help reconcile the Utah Territory with the federal government in Washington D.C.
    It does not seem likely Bernhisel would have received a letter over Joseph Smith’s signature not authorized by the prophet since they had such a close relationship. In fact, if one were to study Bernhisel’s history within the Church one would be a little less likely to jump to such an unsupportable conclusion.
    In addition, while I am certainly not a Mesoamericanist nor Central Americanist in regard to the location of the land of Promise, this letter to Bernhisel deserves its rightful place in the events that took place in the latter part of 1841 regarding the prophet and the events of both this book, and his writings.
    In addition to what Joseph Smith said and wrote that is under attack by the Great Lakes theorists, let’s take a look at some other comments they hammer away at:
1. Theorist: “I presume you know that there is no direct evidence Joseph ever paid any attention to Mesoamerica.”
    Response: The theorists discounts Joseph Smith’s comments about Central America when writing to Berhisel about John L. Stephens Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,” by claiming he, Joseph, did not write the letter (see above). However, if you are going to go around claiming what is accepted is not correct, then you have to have some proof that is both accurate and makes sense. As seen above in the comment about the letter to Bernhisel, all the logic and reason behind accepting the letter written to Berhisel far outweighs this theorist’s personal view.
    Theorist 2: “All of this analysis conflates the "narrow neck" with the "narrow neck of land." They are two different locations, mentioned by two completely different civilizations--that's why they have two different terms.”
    Response: Isn’t that interesting. Somehow, someone forgot to tell them that we don’t know what the Jaredites called the narrow neck of land nor do we know what the Nephites called it—we only have Mormon and Moroni’s abridgements of their writing as found in their own words. Moroni called it a “narrow neck of land” (Ether 10:20). His father, Mormon, called it a “narrow neck” (Alma 63:5) and a “small neck of land” (Alma 22:32).  It should be noted, however, that a “narrow neck which led into the land northward” could only have been a narrow neck of land, for only land could lead across water from one land (Land Southward) to another land (Land Northward), and undoubtedly between the two, father and son, the same meaning is implied, for no other simple and understandable meaning or interpretation could be rendered. 
Thus, it cannot said that these are two different locations known by two different civilizations with two different names. “Narrow Neck” and “Narrow Neck of Land” are not two different names, especially when used by father and son recording their abridgements of different writings. The interesting thing is, the term “narrow neck” refers only to two things: 1) An isthmus, or 2) Neck of a person or animal. Since isthmus is the only one that fits the Land of Promise use of the term, then a narrow neck has to be an isthmus, or narrow neck of land.
    Now, before leaving this subject, and because this idea of Great Lakes Theorists that if you choose any other area but upstate western New York as the Land of Promise because it has in its location the New York hill Cumorah that you are wrong, is getting far more press and internet coverage than it deserves, I cannot close this article and move on without quoting two statements from the Book of Mormon Wars website of Wednesday, July 20, 2016, and asking one question: “In our opinion, a North American setting is the simplest and best explanation of Book of Mormon geography, but we don't object to others' ideas. We like to discuss the setting that we think is most consistent with Church history, fits the text, and is corroborated by geology, topography, anthropology, archaeology, etc.” And the second statement: “I think the text describes the North American setting, with Cumorah in New York. I think this setting reconciles everything Joseph taught, as well as the statements by Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer. It makes sense out of the promises and prophecies. It fits the archaeology, anthropology, geography, and geology.”
    The question I have is this: “If you are going to champion the New York area as the land of Promise, then where are the scripture-stated descriptions of mountains? As an example:
1. “And behold, 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 14:23);
2. “And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah that in the place of the city there became a great mountain” (3 Nephi 8:10)
    Again, I ask where are these mountains in your Land of Promise which you claim “fits the text” and "fits geography"?
    Since no hills, let alone mountains exist in this New York area, then what you are saying is that Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII is more important, more accurate, and more factual than the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, which obviously has to be wrong. Do you really want to stand so firmly on that ground?