Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part VI

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “I have studied much about the different ideas of where the Book of Mormon took place and keep coming up with new ideas and names. Knowing that there are in the neighborhood of 25 ideas about the location. Will you give me a short answer as to the geography of Book of Mormon lands as it relates to Lehi and his group as you see it. Then I will take the dive and purchase your book” Petri1gc.
    Response: Hmmm, 35 years research in one paragraph. Well, Nephi’s ship was driven forth before the winds, the ocean currents and winds blew south off the Arabian Peninsula, taking Nephi’s ship to the south and then southeast in the counter-clockwise South Indian Ocean Gyre, then into the Southern Ocean heading due east until hitting the Humboldt Current moving up the west coast of South America to the Tropic of Capricorn around the 30º South Latitude where the winds and currents die down and allow a simple landing for a ship “driven forth before the wind,” allowing a landing in the Bay of Coquimbo at La Serena, Chile.
Nephi’s ship was caught in the Monsoon winds and currents that flow southward off the Arabian Peninsula, turn into the Indian Ocean Gyre, swinging to the southeast, and slip into the West Wind Drive and Prevailing Westerlies of the Southern Ocean; then hitting the South American shelf, turn northward in the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current to where they die down to almost nothing at 30º South Latitude where a landing could be made in Coquimbo Bay at La Serena,  Chile
    This is where the Mediterranean Climate provided the abundant growth of the seeds “they brought from Jerusalem,” also a Mediterranean Climate area. After Lehi’s death (1-3 years later), Nephi flees northward, eventually reaching the area of present day Cuzco, building his city, Temple, and fortress to defend himself against his brothers and the sons of Ishmael (Lamanites) at the area known today as Sacsayhuaman, where the ancient foundation of a tall tower (built by king Noah next to the temple) can still be seen (it was still standing at the time of the Spanish conquest). The rest of the Book of Mormon takes place mostly between Cuzco and Lima (Pachacamac—Zarahemla), and north to Cajamarca (Bountiful), with the Gulf of Guayaquil the area of the narrow neck of land. This is all spelled out in great detail in the first book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica. The Jaredites and their barges and landing are covered, along with those who went north in Hagoth’s ships and where they landed, etc., are covered in the second  book, Who Really Settled Mesoamerica; the third book, Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists, deals entirely with all the other Land of Promise theories and comparing each to the scriptural record, using the theorists own statements and comparisons. The fourth book, Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths, shows why the Earth is not 4.55 billion years old, and covers numerous scientific “facts” that are incorrect and why, based on scientific principles and scientists’ research and statements (you never hear about), to show that the Book of Mormon is correct, both scientifically and historically.
    Comment #2: “Your idea of South America being underwater is too far-fetched for me. This makes your entire theory wrong as far as I’m concerned” Hamilton R.
    Response: Either you haven’t been reading all that has been printed on this subject, or you simply know nothing about geology. Take for instance, above all we’ve written, the so obvious sequence of erosional marine terraces along the western South American coast.
Typical sequence of erosional marine terraces: 1) low tide cliff/ramp with deposition, 2) modern shore (wave-cut/abrasion) platform, 3) notch/inner edge, modern shoreline angle, 4) modern sea cliff, 5) old shore (wave-cut/abrasion) platform, 6) paleo-shoreline angle, 7) paleo-sea cliff, 8) terrace cover deposits/marine deposits, colluvium, 9) alluvial fan, 10) decayed and covered sea cliff and shore platform, 11) paleo-sea level I, 12) paleo-sea level II
    It is a well known fact that tectonic forces played a central role in the uplift of marine terraces along the Ecuadorian and Colombian Pacific coasts. Sandy terraces in southern Ecuador have been eroded by numerous small seasonal streams, leaving small areas of alluvial soils (Encyclopedia of Prehistory, Vol 5, Middle America, ed Peter N. Peregrine and Melvin Ember, Yale University, 2001, p269). When the continent tilted in the west from the subduction of the tectonic plates, it created Pacific coastal marine terracing, i.e., raised beach or perched coastline of relatively flat, horizontal or gently inclined surface of marine origin, mostly an old abrasion platform which has been lifted out of the sphere of wave activity (sometimes called "tread"), creating on the Atlantic side a wetland vegetation supplemental area of submerged and emergent vegetation along the low-energy coastline of the Amazon Basin.
Left: The terraced Pacific coast of Ecuador; Right: The submerged wetland Atlantic coast of Brazil
    Comment #3: "You wrote about Nephi's ship having to reach the sea from the inlet where he built it through the currents, etc., and how difficult it could be and why it was important to have the two mountain cliffs on each side. I never understood what you meant until I saw a movie this week called "The Finest Hours" that showed a small powerboat trying to get out past a sand bar in a storm. That was so graphic that I now realize what you keep writing about that ships can't go just anywhere" Diana T.
Top: When leaving the inland channel and crossing the Chatham Sand Bar, the motor launch is driven up in an attempt to pass over the bar at full throttle--shown here cresting the wave and trying to pass up the wall to the lip and over the peak; Bottom: But the waves are so strong that they drive the launch backward and sideways (broaching the wave) and nearly capsizing the vessel
    Response: Generally speaking, you get the idea. The Chatham sand bar in Massachusetts is an extremely long sand bar and the Chatham Lighthouse is necessary to warn of the hazard to incoming shipping; the Coast Guard Motor Life Boat Station is necessary because the sand bar changes and moves about from the impact of strong ocean waves, especially when a stiff east wind (heading inland) is blowing. When moving out to sea from Chatham Harbor and Pleasant Bay (just south of Aunt Lydias's Cover) it can be a difficult maneuver, especially when a storm is blowing. In fact, there is always a duty Surfman standing in the front door with binoculars in hand watching the bar and studying the wave patterns, just in case. Before the lighthouse was built, and for sometime afterward, the Surfman would walk the beaches of Cape Cod slinging a lantern and trying to keep his Coston signals dry beneath his oil skins in case he spotted a stricken vessel. A Surfman from the other direction would also walk his beaches, typically a three mile distance in between Life Stations, where they would meet and exchange notes on the waves and Surfman checks, before retracing their earlier route; However, the Cape Cod situation is far worse than what we were referring to in our article, yet there can be similar dangers trying to crest the waves coming shoreward over sand bars and troughs as the article suggested, especially in a sailing vessel without power. By the way, the halfway houses (Life Stations of the Life Savings Service) are gone now, replaced by radios, telephone lines and mechanized vehicles.
One of the old Life Stations, called Halfway Houses and named when in use "The North Patrol House," and though originally sat on the beach below the foot of Holway Street, it was moved closer toward Chatham Light at the foot of Water Street, and still stands today, located on Forest Beach road. The Chatham Lighthouse is shown in the movie 'The Finest Hours' you mentioned (an excellent and extremely intense story based on a true incident that took place in 1952and for all those readers who have such a readiness to accept Lehi sailing and landing just about anywhere they choose, the movie shows weather patterns, currents and winds and how difficult they are to go against even in a 37-foot power launch) 
    Comment #4: “You seem to think that the term used in the promise to Lehi “a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands” (2 Nephi 1:5)” has to do with a land far larger than the United States, which can only be so described” David S.
    Response: One of the problems we make is thinking the Lord thinks in the same scope as we do, and that the early history of people covers the same land masses and concepts we have today. Both thoughts and approaches are in error. From the time of Noah down to Lehi, a period of about 1700 years, the world only knew of the land masses of Europe, Asia and Africa. That was the world. Those were the countries of the world, the people of the world, the governments of the world—nothing else and nowhere else existed.
    At that moment in time, the Lord opened the eyes of people through Lehi of an entirely new world existing halfway across the oceans which he had preserved “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land, it became a choice land above all other lands” (Ether 13:2). That land, what we call “the Americas” today, or the Western Hemisphere, was unknown to anyone (other than the Jaredites in complete secrecy) and held no place in the knowledge of all men at the time.
    By 1820, its origin and first settlers were still basically unknown to man, leading Moroni to tell Joseph Smith of a record, “giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang” (JS 1:34). That is, ”this continent,” as opposed to the “old continent,” or old world, or Asia (Middle East), etc.
   

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part V

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
    Comment #1: “You say Pachacamac is the currant name of the city of Zarahemla. Do you have any idea where the name came from and what it actually means?” Brenda W.
The Ancient city of Pachacamac about one half mile inland from the Pacific Ocean, and about 20 miles south of Lima, Peru. Note the yellow arrows pointing to the old, ancient wall around the city
    Response: The name is actually Pacha Kamaq, literally “Earth Maker,” or more accurately, anciently meant “God dwelt here.” This is very close to saying “the Prophets, Seers, and Revelators dwelt here,” and would be most appropriate when comparing it to the scriptural record of it being the home of both Mosiahs, Benjamin, Alma, Helaman, and other prophets and seers. It also fits the fact that while Zarahemla was surrounded by a wall, upon which Samuel the Lamanite preached to the Nephites: “many heard the words of Samuel the Lamanite, which he spake upon the walls of the city” (Helaman 16:1). Pachacamac was at one time completely surrounded by a wall (Blair Niles, A Journey in Time Peruvian Pageant, Bobbs-Merrill, N.Y., 1937, p62, quoting Miguel Estete, the royal veedor or inspector, who accompanied Hernando Pizzaro on this expedition, wrote: “It must be a very old place, for there are numerous fallen edifices. It has been surrounded by a wall, though now most of it is fallen.” His account was also included by secretary Xerez in his own (William Hickling Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru, 1522-1548, 1998, p500). Cieza de Leon visited here, and Ephraim George Squier wrote that the tenement houses in the ancient city had one-story apartments with no narrow, dark passages, but all opening on a spacious central court, and the temple had several terraces which led to the summit, which still showed rose-red and chrome-yellow stucco.
    Comment #2: “I wonder how many times the Book of Mormon contains the words "And now I would speak (prophesy, write. etc.) somewhat concerning..."  I do not believe this phrase appears even once in the Bible” Steve W.
    Response: Nor should it. The Book of Mormon is an abridgement by Mormon of the record written by several early prophets. In his abridgement, he condenses a much larger volume to a small work by comparison, and continually inserts his own wordage in the process. “And now I would speak somewhat concerning...” is used as a seque from one thought or event to another, much like "and it came to pass," and has nothing to do with Biblical terminology or writing, but was used by the abridger, Mormon, who lived from 310 A.D. to 385 A.D.
    Comment #3: “Wow! I read an article by Joe V. Andersen in the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum in which he critiqued Wayne N. May’s This Land: Zarahemla and the Nephite Nation, 2002. He shows where it is not possible for the Book of Mormon to have occurred in the United States, but only in Mesoamerica. How does that set with your South America?” Terrance J.
    Response: In that article, Andersen also states: “If one is going to attempt to identify geographical locations of the Book of Mormon, the fundamental premise must be that it must conform precisely to what the Book of Mormon states and cannot go against specific directions, spatial requirements, elevations and consistent textual descriptions stated therein. One must not pick and choose some locations or facts to the exclusions of others.”
Until Andersen brings his Mesoamerican model into a north-south alignment as Mormon so vividly describes in Alma 22:27-34, and elsewhere, as Andersen himself says “any model must conform precisely to what the Book of Mormon states and cannot go against specific directions,” then he might have something of interest to say on the matter. As for May’s model, he also is so far afield that one of the co-writers of the first volume, Edwin G. Goble, has recanted both his writing and apologizes for doing so, and recants his support of May’s artifacts and information.
    Comment #4: “You seem to keep skirting the problem that modern DNA does not show a connection between the American Indian and the Book of Mormon” Laura Z.
    Response: It is interesting that despite all the problems showing up with DNA, including the recent evidence that mitochondrial DNA is inaccurate, people still harp on it. Actually, we have written quite a bit about the American Indian and DNA—among other articles, see “In Changing the Lamanite Skin Color, Parts I and II, and also “DNA and the American Indian, Parts I and II, Sunday, February 27, 2013 thru March 2, 2013. On the other hand, it might also be said that in regard to the nature and identity of Lehi’s people, Latter-day Saints have held a variety of opinions and expressed several interpretations historically, but whether some Native Americans, or many Native Americans, or even all Native Americans have Lehi as an ancestor, it does not follow that they did not also have others over the centuries since the demise of the Nephites in 385 A.D.
    It should also be understand that in in all tribal genetic testing, information is expressed in terms of probability or a chance of something. It should also be kept in mind that Genetic Ancestry Testing looks at more historical connections; however, it cannot reflect the whole of a person’s ancestry but instead traces ancestry through specific variations in genes. In addition, since mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing runs through the mother, if the mother was not on the ancestral line between Lehi and the present testee, then there would be no apparent connection. In this case, an entirely different DNA test is required. Also, not all American Indian DNA shows up regardless of the test. As an example, many men of eastern U.S. tribes, such as Cherokee, have a European haplogroup like R1b. That’s because there was a lot of intermingling with the early settlers from Europe. And lastly it should also be noted that with mtDNA  testing other than Full Sequence the time frame of common ancestors may be too far back to provide useful information. So good luck with your DNA approach and test.
    Comment #5: “We were having a discussion in our class recently about the ball or compass. I mentioned your excellent articles about how it probably worked. Tell me, do you happen to know what the word “liahona” stands for or means?” Kimberly B.
Response: Keep in mind that the Hebrews created new words by combining existing words in accordance with the circumstances in which the need for that new word arose, taking into account the purpose of the object that received the word. Thus, the word “yah” is God Jehovah. “Liyah” means the possessive, and “ona” means “whither” or direction. Thus, “the direction (director) of the Lord, or literally “to the YWHW is the whither” (To God is the direction). The term Liahona, then, is composed of three words: the first part of the name “li” indicates the possession of something; “iaho” exhibits the fingerprints of the tetragrammaton YHWH, i.e., the Lord; and “ona” is an adverb that means direction or motion to a certain place. This has, evidently, led to the name Liana, which means “To God is the guidance. More precisely, the Hebrew name Liana means “My God has answered (me)”; It is composed of three Hebrew elements: “El” meaning God; “ana” meaning “answered,” and the “Yud” located after EL, indicating first person possession. If spelled Layin, it means “he answered me.”
    Comment #6: “Why do you think Hugh Nibley kept talking about other people in the Land of Promise? I read where he said, ‘It is nowhere said or implied that even the Jaredites were the first to come here, any more than it is said or implied that they were the first or only people to be led from the tower.’ What do you think?” Zack D.
    We do know from the Book of Mormon and from Isaiah that other groups of the house of Israel were led away (1 Nephi 19:10; 21:1; 2 Nephi 10:20-21), but we do not know from where or when or to where or when. If any were led away from the Tower by the hand of the Lord rather than wandered away, we have no knowledge and it is fruitless to speculate on such. However, in regard to the Land of Promise, we have been given a pretty good understanding of who, how and when, people were led there through the prophecies, visions, and promises given to Lehi and later to Nephi. Since there is no suggestion, comment, reference or thoughts given us on this, it seems likely none arrived or they would have been mentioned in their vision as the ones we know about were, including the gentiles of Europe, etc.
    One of the problems is that Nibley, like others who champion Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise, are convinced from sectarian writing and "scientific evidence,” there were other people in Mesoamerica before, during and after, the Jaredites and Nephites, so Nibley and others feel the need to provide room for them to have been in their models of the Land of Promise. Personally, I do not think so, but that is beside the point. The issue at hand is, none were ever mentioned, suggested or eluded to, thus it is of no consequence to us in understanding the Jaredites, Nephites, Mulekites or Lamanites to start thinking others were around.
When the Lord told the Brother of Jared that he would lead them "into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth" (Ether 1:42), and then tells him that he would be going forth into the wilderness, "yea into that quarter of the land where never had man been" (Ether 2:15 emphasis added), that seems rather specific and unquestionable that the Jaredites would have been the first into the Western Hemisphere, the fourth quarter of the Earth, the land that had been held in reserve after the Flood (Ether 13:2), and should have, I believe, been understood even to Nibley.
    Comment #7: “I ran across a map by someone named Rosenvall regarding Baja California and found it fascinating. I think you’ve missed a bet by not looking closer to home than South America. Why don’t you study that area?” Lennie J.
    Response: This map was developed by Lynn and David Rosenvall. While we have written much in this blog about Baja, and why it could not possibly be the Land of Promise based upon Mormon’s numerous descriptions, let me ask you just one question. If you can intelligently answer it for me, I will consider your point of view. When the Nephites were faced with annihilation at Cumorah in 385 A.D., why did they choose to stand and fight rather than keep retreating northward as they had been doing for nearly 40 years? They certainly had plenty of room in Baja to continue retreating northward right into the area of the southwest United States. Why on earth would they stop and fight a battle against an overwhelming larger force they knew they could not defeat? Rosenvall’s so-called “narrow neck of land” is only about 300 miles from what is now the U.S. Mexico border and beyond that straight north would have been today’s area of San Diego and Southern California—if you have ever been in Baja, especially in what Rosenvall considers his Land Northward, you would quickly grasp the benefit of continuing north into what is now California. So why did the Nephites stop and fight an anihilating battle?

Monday, February 8, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part IV

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “Let me ask you a question. If you are so certain the hill Cumorah in New York is not the place, when were the records buried there? Personally, I don’t think you have a leg to stand on in this matter. That is where they were found” Jennings A.
    Response: Let me ask you a question. With a minimum of 230,000 unburied dead bodies lying in the vicinity of Cumorah and the awful stench that would have caused, and Moroni taking some 36 years between that battle and the hiding of the records, do you think he hung around that hill? The stench of the bodies after the destruction of the evil city Ammonihah left the area desolate for many years because of the stench—and they were lightly covered with Earth. Have you ever been around the dead left unburied? If not the stench, the disease alone would cause a person to leave the area far behind. No, Moroni did not hang around there so he could hide up the records in Cumorah. He was long gone somewhere else, and would not have returned to the area during a civil war that went on evidently long after he succumbed to death.
    Comment #2: “I have been studying Book of Mormon lands, by the scriptures and in context, since 2008. I'd like your opinion on 1 Nephi 22:7-8…specifically, which nation is the mighty nation raised up among the Gentiles? And what is the marvelous work the Lord would proceed to do after the seed of Nephites/Lamanites were scattered?” Jeff A.
Response: While you are quoting from the Book of Mormon, the writing cited was on the Brass Plates (Bible). At this time, Nephi is given a vision and shown what would happen to his people, and those descendants of the "seed of my brethren" the Lamanites. The nation referred to is the United States. The work is in two parts: 1) Save the remnant of the House of Israel scattered among the Lamanite (American Indians of the Western Hemisphere); and 2) Preach the gospel to the Lamanites, bring them the Book of Mormon to whom the work was written and addressed by the Nephite prophets, and bring them back into the fold of God (the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints).
    Comment #3: “You mentioned in one of your posts on the Mulekites that Zedekiah replaced Jeconiah as king of Judah, and that Jeconiah reigned only three months and ten days. I understand he was but a boy of eight years of age, isn’t that kind of young to be king?” Alexis B.
    Response: If you mean Zedekiah, he was 21 years of age when placed on the throne of Zudah. If you meant Jeconiah, he was eighteen. The problem with the latter’s age stems from a wordage in the Masonretic Text version of 2 Chronicles 36:9, in which it states that Jeconiah’s rule began at the age of eight; however, the Septuagint and Syriac versions of this scripture state he was eighteen. Of the Vulgate, Challenor’s note in the Douay-Rheims Bible, reconciles this discrepancy thus: “He was associated by his father to the kingdom, when he was but eight years old; but after his father’s death, when he reigned alone, he was eighteen years old” as found in 2 Paralipoménõn 36:9 (Greek name, which means “things left on one side,” that Jerome changed to chronikon, and the Hebrews called Divrei Hayyamin “The Matters of the Days”)  
    Comment #4: “I found your post on Mulek and Hugh Nibleyh’s explanation of his name, of considerable interest. Is there any other evidence that a son might have survived Nebuchadnezzar?” Sandra C.
    Response: You are welcome. On the other hand, since Nibley often gets carried away with names, I do need to qualify that what was written about Mulek should be tempered with the understanding that Nibley's extensive study of Arabic probably colored his analysis of Mulek. While Arabic has a diminutive form CuCeC (where C is a consonant of the root, in this case MLK), Hebrew does not. Moreover, Mulek appears as Muloch in the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon and as Mulok in printed editions from 1830 to 1852, which later became Mulek. On the other hand, since the Hebrew changed among the Nephites, the pronunciation may have been affected, and the Hebrew root mlk, as in Hebrew melek “king,” is accurate.
As for survival, we are told in scripture that Zedekiah had daughters as well as sons (Jeremiah 43:6; 52:10), but nowhere are they named. The fact that his daughters survived, and that Mulek was undoubtedly just an infant (Zedekiah was only 32 when he was captured, and had multiple wives once made king), makes it a likelihood of such a possibility. But other than the Book of Mormon, there is no indication of such happening.
    Comment #5: “The fact that the people of Zarahemla spoke a language unintelligible to the Nephites further hints at an ethnic makeup more diverse than the brief text suggests, which assumes a solely Jewish origin” Ferguson R.
    Response: Any language, completely isolated from any other language, from written knowledge of its own language, and given a few hundred years, will become altered. The Mulekites evidently were also illiterate. None of this suggests anything other than what the scriptural record claims, their language had become corrupted from its original phonetics until it could not be understood by those who had known its original mother construction (Nephites and Mulekites origins both were from Jerusalem).
    It should be noted, also, that the scriptural record does not suggest that the Nephites could not comprehend any part of their language—only that the speakers of it could not be understood. One of my early travels into the deep south in the 1950s left me at a loss to understand the people in small, backwoods towns, though they spoke the same English I spoke. Phonetics, accents, odd or very different speech pacing, and irregular emphasis on key words can often make it very difficult, if not impossible to understand someone. In fact, today, listening to the speed of which a group of teenage girls speak, makes me wonder what language they are speaking.
    Comment #6: “John L. Sorenson writes in his work ‘The Mulekites,’ suggests that because the Phoenicians were the premier sailors of that era, it was they who brought Mulek and those with him to the promised land. This means they would have crossed the Atlantic and entered the New World from the east coast” Randy W.
Response: In this same writing, Sorenson also states “Israel had only a minor seafaring tradition of its own, and there is no hint that the Mulek party received divine guidance in constructing a ship of their own as Nephi did.” While that is a true statement, we also should say, there is no hint that Mulek did not receive divine guidance, either. In fact, “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),  which shows divine guidance was involved—what kind we are not told, but it is as correct to say something was provided as saying something was not.
    Since we have written in this blog extensively on how Mulek got to the Land of Promise, we will not repeat it here, but suffice it to say that if the Lord was going to use Phoenician sailors to bring someone from Jerusalem to the Land of Promise, why not Lehi and his family as well? The fact of the matter is, the Lord rarely does that—rather, he shows people how to do things for themselves, and since he did this with both the Jaredites and the Lehites, it is more consistent to say that Mulek came via the Lord’s direction rather than Phoenician sailors.
    Comment #7: “Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy your writing style, information, and especially your scripture references per almost every point. You make it easy to follow and understand your information. While I don’t always agree with you, I find it hard to disagree with your references and scripture choices. You make a very strong case, which I find most intriguing and see myself moving little by little toward your viewpoint” Fredrick W. S.
    Response: If you run across any questions that pop up at you, let me know. We answer all questions and comments.
    Comment #8: “It seems to me that these writers who talk about other peoples in the promised land might be right. Just look at the statistics you mention in Mulekite articles about the Mulekites being twice as many as the Nephites who Mosiah took to Zarahemla, and combined they had only half as many as the Lamamites. Those Lamanite numbers had to come from somewhere” Prince.
Response: Just two thoughts on this. First, 320 years after Lehi left Jerusalem, around 280 B.C., the more wicked part of the Nephites had been destroyed, which may have considerably depleted the ranks of the Nephites ; secondly, when Mosiah left the Land of Nephi and eventualy discovered the Land of Zarahemla, he left the city of Nephi and surrounding area that had been in Nephite hands for some 365 years; there obviously would have been a lot of Nephites there. However, Mosiah took only “as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord should also depart out of the land with him” (Omni 1:12), which would have been a small number of the existing Nephites, for those of the Church who are righteous always seem to be in smaller numbers. Those left behind were overrun by the Lamanites and while some may have been killed, we do not know that and others would have defected over to the Lamanites to save their skins, considerably bolstering the Lamanite numbers while depleting the Nephite numbers. In just these two instances, we find that the numbers would have considerably swung to the Lamanite side. To suggest that there needed to be even more from some outside sources on their side of the population ledger seems unnecessary in light continual wars and these major changes.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part III

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
    Comment #1: “Someone told me that the stone upon which Coriantumr’s story was engraved was actually engraved by Ether. Is that true?” Janet S.
    Response: To my knowledge, this idea was first promoted by E. L. Peay, who wrote a book called The Land of Zarahemla, in 1994, in which he wrote “Coriantumr's last days were recorded on a large stone, probably engraved by Ether.  This stone was found in the days of Mosiah and the account was recorded in the Book of Omni”  (p 316). Two obvious errors are exposed here.
First, the stone was not found in the days of Mosiah. In Peay's referenced scripture, we find:  "In the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God"  (Omni 1:20).  Obviously, the people of Zarahemla had the stone in their possession, but were unable to read it and when Mosiah showed that he could interpret with the power of God, they brought the stone to him for his interpretation.
    Second, there is no mention of Ether regarding this stone and its engravings.  When interpreted by Mosiah, Amaleki only states:  "And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people.  And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons"  (Omni 1:21).
    Thus, Omni says nothing of any stone engraved by Ether, or gives any suggestion to draw such a conclusion from the scripture. It is sloppy scholarship when people write about the scriptural record and are not even aware of the lack of understanding they have for what they are writing.
    Comment #2: “You say there was an sea to the east around the Land Northward, which was part of the sea that surrounded the land, which was an island. However, there is no reference made of a sea to the east bordering either the narrow corridor or the land northward” Roger H.
    Response: The scriptural record says differently. Around 46 B.C. when the Nephites went north "to inherit the land" and Lamanites followed during a time of peace and co-mingling, Helaman wrote:  "They did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east" (Halaman 3:8, emphasis added).
    Ether gave us an even clearer picture of the east sea being to the east of the land Northward when he wrote:  "Shiz did pursue Coriantumr eastward, even to the borders of the seashore" (Ether 14:26). Thus, it cannot be said there was no east sea in the land Northward.
When the Andes rose up “to a height which was great,” bringing the eastern part of the continent to the surface, the sea to the east (East Sea) disappeared, part of which became Lake Titicaca and the rest draining into rivers to the east and west of the Continental Divide (Andes Mountains), and inundating the entire Amazonian Basin so it is barely above the surface—only inches in some areas and a few feet in others
    As for the narrow neck of land, which some call a transportation corridor, which was the only land connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 22:32), thus placing the narrow passage within it, there was a Sea East to one side and a Sea West to the other side (Alma 50:34).
    We have also written in these posts numerous times that Jacob said they were on a island (2 Nephi 10:20). It is hard from all of this to understand why anyone wants to challenge that there was a Sea East and that the Land of Promise was surrounded by water.
    Comment #3: “In a class recently someone said the dark skin of the Lamanites was a result of their intermarrying with another group in the land the Lord promised to Lehi. He also said it wasn’t really a dark skin at all, but that the Nephite recorders were prejudiced toward the Lamanites. He even read it from a book. I have never heard of that before, have you?” Charlene C.
    Response: We live in a politically correct world today and there are many false ideas being presented with a purpose of appeasement in mind, and the dark skin of Cain and of the Lamanites is not a popular subject. He was probably reading from a book by Robert A. Pate (Mapping the Book of Mormon, A Comprehensive Geography of Nephite America, Cornerstone Publishing, SLC, 2002, p 18), in which is written: “The reason for the Lamanites’ darker skin may heave been because they mixed with other native groups.” As for the prejudiced part and not really dark, that sounds like John L. Sorenson who has harped on that issue more than once.
Nephi wrote: “Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:19-20)
    It is astonishing how Pate and Sorenson and other Mesoamerican Theorists all try to place additional people in the Land of Promise when the Lord promised Lehi it would be kept secret from all other nations (2 Nephi 1:8), and it is equally astonishing when they simply disregard what is written in the scriptural record about a dark skin—even when it is a direct quote from the Lord.
    The very reason it was called the Land of Promise was because the Lord promised this land to Lehi and his family forever, providing they remained righteous. And the curse of the dark skin had nothing to do with marriage, but as a result of their unrighteousness. We find this verified later when Mormon wrote: “And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren…who were just and holy men. And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women” (Alma 3:6-7)
According to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men” (Alma 3:6)
    The dark skin of the Lamanites, contrary to Pate’s suggestion, and that of your classmate, was the result of their behavior and rebellion, not of accidental genetics due to intermarriage with some other race of unknown people. In fact, we learn further that “this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction. And…whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed. Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him” (Alma 3:8-10).
    This obviously points out at least one of the problems in reading or listening to theorists views is that they seem to write and say anything they want that furthers their point of view, irrespective of what is found in the scriptural record to the contrary.
    Comment #4: “Doesn’t the experience of Brigham Young saying when they went to the hill Cumorah in New York to return the plates that a room opened up to them, which was filled with stacks of Nephite records, show that the hill in New York is the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon?” Debbie M.
Response: This was a vision that Joseph and others had when they went into to Cumorah (Journal of Discourses, 4:105). However, keep in mind that when righteous individuals have visions, they can be taken anywhere in the world, or even to the heavens for that matter. Visions are not tangible; they are seen through spiritual eyes. As Nephi stated: “as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot” (1 Nephi 11:1). As for the cave, from a practical standpoint, it might be of interest to know that the hill Cumorah in New York is a drumlin, which was formed by the gravel and boulders deposited from a receding glacier. Such deposits by glaciers do not have caves.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part II

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
    Comment #1: “You’ll love this. I read that someone said, I am convinced that the reference to a north sea and a south sea is devoid of any concrete geographical content.  All specific references or allusions to Book of Mormon seas are only to east and west seas.  Any geography that tries to accommodate a north and south sea, I think, is doomed to fail. But we cannot dismiss the reference to these seas out of hand.  If they are metaphorical, what was the metaphor?’ How about that?” Sanderson W.   (Clark, p 65)
    Response: This was written by John E. Clark (The Book of Mormon and Archaeology, New World Archaeological Foundation, BYU, 2004). I think Clark would have some difficulty with Helaman, who wrote about the north and south seas, and used them not as a metaphor, but as a directional boundary to show the extension of the Nephite expansion as they filled up the Land of Promise in 46 B.C. (Helaman 3:8).
    Comment #2: “Sorenson isn’t the only one that claims the directions of the Book of Mormon are wrong. A writer named Hauck also says the directions of Mesoamerica are correct” Klayton G.
Response: F. Richard Hauck (Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, 1988), was one of the early Mesoamerican Theorists who came along after Sorenson, and his book,because it departed from Sorenson’s model to some degree, was panned by FARMS and BYU writers. He wrote on p 31: “This analysis demonstrates that the "greater" land northward was actually northwest of the "greater" land southward and therefore the land southward was southeast of the homeland of the Jaredite people.  Eastward, then, in the Book of Momon context, meant northeast.  Had westward been used, it would have signified the southwestern quadrant."  (Hauck, p 31).
    Actually, Hauck can use northeast and southwest, but his alignment, like Sorenson’s is almost 90º off from true compass directions, making his northeast really east, and southwest really west. The point is, Nephi said he gloried in plainness (2 Nephi 33:6) and that the Lord speaks to men according to their language unto their understanding (2 Nephi 31:3).  Hauck's explanation seems so convoluted that it hardly makes sense, however, when compared with the scriptures, shows that it is only wishful thinking on his part to justify his Mesoamerican model which is skewed about 90º off the directional terms used in the scriptures.  As an example, in describing the land of promise, we find Mormon describing the land north of Zarahemla which the Nephites controlled: "On the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful" (Alma 22:29), and "That thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward" (Alma 22:33). It seems to me that on the north is quite plain.  Everyone knows what "on the north" should mean.  It cannot be justified, no matter how hard Hauck and others try, to place the land "on the north" into an area to the west, or east, or south! Though it is understandable that they do so because that is how the Mesoamerica landmass runs.
    Comment #3: “I wonder if you have any idea of how many things your “revered” Joseph Smith did that were illegal. As an example, take the time when he was mayor of Nauvoo when he participated in the destruction of the newly established opposition newspaper in Nauvoo. Even B.H. Roberts conceded that it was illegal for him to do so” Maryann R.
    Response: Well, in this particular case, B.H. Roberts was wrong. There was a legal basis for this action in the Illinois law of 1844. The amendment to the United States Constitution that extended the guarantee of freedom of the press to protect against the actions of city and state governments was not adopted until 1868, and it was not enforced as a matter of federal law until 1931. (See Dallin H. Oaks, “The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor,Utah Law Review 9, 1965, p862). We need to learn to judge the actions of our predecessors on the basis of the laws and commandments and circumstances of their day, not ours. And Joseph Smith is still revered, especially by me.
    Comment #4: “I thought it was interesting that Hugh Nibley called the Book of Mormon writers being stubborn and not mentioning other people than the “subjects of their history.” Doesn’t that open the door to a better understanding of the possibility of other people in the promised land?” Margaret V.
Response: Nibley’s exact comment was: “Though these people (referring to the Mulekites) play an important role once they enter the sphere of Nephite history, their whole past is summed up in but three verses. (Omni 15-17) That shows us how closely the editors of the Book of Mormon stick to the business at hand, shunning any kind of digression and stubbornly refusing to tell about any people but the announced subjects of their history”  (Lehi in the Desert, and the World of the Jaredites, Bookcraft , 1952, p 251).
    For some reason, he seems to forget that the Large Plates of Nephi contained a lot of information not found on the Small Plates. Plus, according to Helaman, there were numerous other books written about the Nephites (Helaman 3:14:15). He also seems to forget that the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites) had no records (Omni 1:17), and that once learning the Nephite language, the best Zarahemla could do was recount his genealogy from memory (Ether 1:18). Even that record was written down by the Nephites (Ether 1:18), and that the Mulekites, being nearly twice the number of the Nephites  (Mosiah 25:2), and a warring people (Omni 1:17), agreed voluntarily to join the ranks of the Nephites and be numbered among them (Mosiah 25:13), and though larger in number, voted to appoint Mosiah their king (Omni 1:19), and along with the Nephites were called “the people of God” (Mosiah 25:24) from that time forward, and referred to overall, as was Sam’s posterity, as “Nephites.” 
    Nowhere in scripture do we find Sam’s posterity separately named, as we do Jacob’s and Joseph’s posterity, or even Zoram’s posterity. In addition, we know very little about the Nephites from around 420 B.C. down to about 120 B.C., which is about one half of their history from the time of their landing to the advent of the Savior in the Western Hemisphere. We have one thousand twenty-one years of recorded history on only 489 pages, and about 961 of those years on only 382 of those pages, which is about two-and-one-half years per page. Obviously, much is left out of those one thousand years by necessity in Mormon’s abridgement.
And lastly, it should be kept in mind that Mormon, in abridging this 1,000 year history, wrote “I make it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God has given me” and that he wrote by the “whisperings of the Spirit” and that which the Lord “worketh in me to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:7-9). It is difficult to think in terms of “stubbornly refusing” to tell something about a people when guided by the Spirit to record those events the Lord wanted written down and evidently, nothing more. It would seem, in this case, that Nibley is simply inaccurate.
    Comment #5: “I enjoyed your article on the languages. Is it possible to give us a reference for your comment: “Nor can it account for the very deep and intimate associations between the Quechua and Aymara language families.” Thanks” Carlos S.
    Response: That quote is covered by Peruvian linguist Rodolfo Cerrón Palomino (b. February 10, 1940, Huancayo Peru) who has crucially contributed to the investigation and development of the Quechua language and has also made outstanding contributions to the study of the Aymara, Mochica and Chipaya languages. See his work: Lingüística Aimara, Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos "Bartolomé de las Casas", Lima, 2000, pp 34-36. Since that, which had been his last of 17 published works, he has also published: 1) Castellano Andino. Aspectos sociolingüísticos, pedagógicos y gramaticales (2003) Lima: PUCP; 2) El chipaya o la lengua de los hombres del agua. (2006) Lima: PUCP; 3) Voces del Ande. Ensayos sobre Onomástica Andina. Lima: (2008) PUCP.

Friday, February 5, 2016

More Comments from Readers – Part I

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
   Comment #1: “Tell me this, if Lehi landed at 30º South Latitude in Chile as you claim, why don’t we find any of the types of ruins there or around there like those in Peru you claim are Nephite?” Nat D.
Response: In Nephi’s account, they landed and immediately pitched their tents (1 Nephi 18:23) and tilled the ground and planted (1 Nephi 18:24). Meanwhile they investigated their land and found all sorts of animals and precious ores (1 Nephi 18:25), and they harvested their planting. In a Mediterranean climate as it is in that location, their crop(s) would have come in quickly, probably in less than a year, while they set up living in this area. During this time, Lehi, knowing he was near death, blessed and preached to his children and sons-in-law (2 Nephi 1:2 to 3:25). When Lehi died (2 Nephi 4:12), living with his brothers became intolerable for Nephi and he feared for his life (2 Nephi 5:2-3). The Lord told him to leave and take those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:5).
    It is likely Nephi spent no more than a year or a little more in this area before being told to leave by the Lord for his safety (2 Npehi 5:6-7). Obviously, there would have been little time to have built much other than seeing to immediate shelter (tents) and food (planting and harvesting and killing some nearby animals), and a little investigation. However, after leaving and traveling for “many days” they arrived at a place they called “Nephi,” (later to be called Lehi-Nephi), and built a city and a magnificent temple (2 Nephi 5:15-16). It is also interesting that they did “sow seed,and did reap again in abundance” (2 Nephi 5:11) and here they began to raise flocks, herds and animals of every kind—Nephi makes it sound as though this was the second planting of the seed, thus in no more than the second year in the Land of Promise.
    Thus, we would not look to find any construction of the type Nephi taught his people to build (2 Nephi 5:15-17) between where they landed (30º South Latitude at Coquimbo Bay, Chile), and where they eventually settled and built the City of Nephi (between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca), and none have been found in Chile basically south of there.
Comment #2 “I've always been a believer of the Central and South American theories. I've been to ruins throughout central and south America. However, it never rang true. This Hopewell connection is hard to disregard. Additionally, all the evidence of Hill Ramah and Hill Cumorah, not to mention the places Joseph Smith indicated such as Zarahemla and Manti. I'm leaning toward the Eastern US model being about as accurate as anything put forward today and I'm quite excited about it as well. It's been a fun journey to learn something new and to realize if nothing else if the "Prince of America" Moroni had visited even Columbus and is trying to protect this great land of liberty. I can think of no other land in central or south America that could lay claim to a land of liberty or freedom. God has set this land as a standard. You make good points, but I think there is much truth to a true North American model. Just my opinion” Princepleoverparty.
    Response: The wonderful thing about opinions, anyone can have one. The difficulty with opinions, is they are often wrong. The scriptural record tells us what we need to know. If you have read and been following this blog for long, you would see where even a landing in the North American continent would have been extremely difficult to have reached an inland sea (Sea West) where Lehi landed. No inland river went far enough into the interior to have reached its landing spot as indicated in the scriptural record. How would Lehi and Saraih have managed to reach middle America in their infirmities?
Left: Hopewell mounds, from the Mound City Group in Ohio, for the most part they were used for burials, but also for decoration and as well as in a few cases a base for building on top; Right: Jersualem in 600 B.C., where Lehi, Nephi, Sam, and Zoram walked and knew all about their style of construction--coming from a lifetime in Jerusalem (where mounds have never been found) who would build earth mounds in the Land of Promise having seen and lived in such a modern city for the time?
    As for Hopewell relating to the Nephite nation, one has to ignore the scriptural record almost completely. We are talking about mounds of earth compared to buildings, cities, and temples that would have been built by a people coming from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., where buildings were made of stone and the temple was a marvel of modern architecture and construction.
    What kind of “temple like unto Solomon’s” (2 Nephi 5:16) would Nephi have built with the Hopewell mounds? And when Nephi writes that “I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15), where do we see evidence of that in mounds of earth?
    If you have been following this blog, you would see where there are simply no matches to the scriptural record with the Hopewell development. It is interesting that their mounds, used throughout Indiana to New York and from central Ohio south to Kentucky, but southern Ohio seems to be the center of their culture simply because of the size and number of mounds found there. When American settlers first began moving into the Ohio Country they discovered the 1000s of conical mounds and various earthworks. They didn't have any idea of what they were or who built them. When they asked local Native Americans about them, they too didn't have any idea of who built them or why. This was the beginning of a long process to understand these mysterious mounds that were all over the Ohio Country. Some of the mounds were dug into by local settlers just to see what was inside. This was haphazard at best. Most of the conical mounds were mostly dirt. There were a few burial crypts inside containing historic artifacts.
Cross Section of a mound, showing the way the dead were buried in it
    They would begin with the burial of one noted individual, perhaps the leader of the clan. As time passed, and more celebrities died, they added their remains to the mound. Not everyone was buried in this way, but only a select few. It is not clear from current studies how they handled the deaths and burials of the other or perhaps common people. Previous excavations in and around the larger mound groups suggest that perhaps most of the dead were handled by cremating the remains. It is also possible that the groups of mounds found in central locations such as the Mound City Group in Chillicothe, were central burial locations for multiple clans or groups of people that came there specifically to bury their honored dead. Funny how not a single evidence of such burial mounds exist anywhere in the Middle East from whence the Jaredites and Lehites came. In addition, there are numerous descriptions in the scriptural record that are not found anywhere in the eastern U.S., such as "mountains whose height is great"; roads that were paved and thus "broken up" from earthquakes, etc., and rebuilt; to animals and two grains unknown to Joseph Smith, a farmer from a farming family, in 1829 that were so important to man; herbs that cured deadly fever, etc., etc., etc.
    My suggestion is that when considering a location of the Nephites, use the scriptural record!
    Comment #3: “I read somewhere that the Jaredites landed at Sampu in Peru, but I cannot find any Sampu listed anywhere in the Andean area” Temara J.
    Response: You probably read about this in either Venice Priddis’ The Book and the Map, or someone’s comments about her South American belief as the area of the Land of Promise. However, in her work, she misspells the name that the area of Santa Elena Peninsula in Ecuador, just north of the Gulf of Guayaquil, where we have suggested the Jaredite barges landed, was once called. It is Sumpa, not Sampu (Enrique Rosales Ortega, “Descubrimiento de la Península,” El Universo, Opinión, 16 de agosto de 2010).
    Before the Spanish conquest, the town was called Sumpa in the Chimu language, which means “spike,” obviously referring to the peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean like a spear or spike. 
St. Helena (left) shown typically with the vera cruz (vera crux), or “true cross"
However, when Francisco Pizarro landed on August 18, 1531, he called it Santa Elena because that was the day of St. Helena—The Roman Empress Flavia Julia Helena (250-329 A.D.), the concubine and later wife of the joint ruler (tetrarch) Constantius (who later divorced her), she was also known as Saint Helena and Helena of Constantinople, who was venerated as a saint in the Catholic, Lutheran and Orthodox churches. Her son, Constantine, became the emperor of the Roman Empire.