Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Problem With The Malay Theory – Part II

Continuing from the last post which showed how the Land of Promise was in the Americas and that the early inhabitants came from Mesopotamia and Jerusalem in contrast to Ralph Olsen’s claims, this post will deal with the area of Malay since it is considered by some to be a theory of the location of the Land of Promise.

First of all, Olsen’s theory is based upon a coastal voyage from the Arabian coast of Oman/Yemen along the coasts of Pakistan, India, and Burma, through the Bay of Bengal and into the Andaman Sea. This, of course, is the route early traders took between Indonesia and Arabia. This was a well-known area, and as long as a coastal vessel is involved (shallow bottom, light weight, single sail, usually dependent upon oars), there would be little problem sailing this course as Olsen prescribes for the Lehi Colony. However, there are significant problems:

1. Everyone would know where Lehi’s ship passed;

2. Everyone would eventually know where the Lehi Colony settled;

3. There would be no separation from the nations of the earth, since numerous peoples traveled this route constantly trading among each other;

4. The Malay Peninsula was settled, according to anthropologists, dating to 2500 to 1500 B.C. by the proto-Malay peoples;

5. The Malay peninsula (today called the Peninsular Malaysia) archipelago is closely connected with portions of adjacent islands of Southwest Asia, including the east coast of Sumatra, the coast of Borneo and smaller islands that lie between these areas;

6. The entire area of Malay has been strongly influenced by Siamese, Javanese, Sumatran, and Indians of India and historically the Malay intermarried a lot with the people of Thailand, a country that today occupies the eastern half of the upper peninsula;

7. For nearly two thousand years the unremitting traffic of traders between the Archipelago and India resulted in frequent inter-marriage along the whole of the west coast of the peninsula, the trading traffic has been heavy since earliest times.

In addition, in the second century A.D., at the time when the Nephites were all united and there were no Lamanites or other “ites,” (4 Nephi 1:17), there were at least a hundred separate small kingdoms on the Malay Peninsula according to Chinese records of Wu. Then, too, the entire peninsula lacks broad, extensive, fertile plains and was always unable to support densely populated civilization such as Cambodia and Java did. Thus, the peninsula was populated with renowned seafarers who became prosperous through trade, and the peninsula a prosperous maritime trading area.

These descriptions hardly agree with the Book of Mormon record of the Land of Promise and the peoples who settled there.

Finally, what is called the proto-Malay people, also known as Melayu asli (aboriginal Malay) or Melayu purba (ancient Malay) are the mongolic (East and North Asian peoples, mostly Mongol) and austronesian peoples (south sea islanders), who moved to the Malay peninsular and Malay archipelago in a long series of migrations between 2500 and 1500 B.C. Most anthropologists claim that the Malay people and the Cambodian people both originated in China’s Yunnan province at the source of the Mae Nam Khong (Khong, Mother of Water, known in English as the Mekong River, and to locals as the Khong River). This would make the peoples of China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam an original group, all originating somewhere along the Mekong source.

According to the ethnicity and identity in the Malay Peninsula based on Btsisi’ folklore and ethnohistory, the original Malay people are believed to have come from China around 2000 B.C. While these intermarried with numerous other groups from nearby islands, etc., there are still small tribes of aborigines, descendants of pre-Malay immigrants, that are found in the hills and jungles.

(See the next post, Problems With Malay Theory Part III,” for more information, and specifically how Olsen claims Lehi reached the Malay Peninsula)


  1. MrNirom: In the last post, you commented: “I think Brother Olsen is saying that Lehi traveled to Malay.. and then a remnant of his seed then became the "inhabitants of this continent"..”
    It would seem this type of thinking poses some noticeable problems: 1-When did Lehi’s descendants travel to the Americas? 2- Was this the entire Nephite/Lamanite/Mulekite people who traveled to the Americas, or just a portion of them like those who went to Mesoamerica? 3- The West Sea of Malay would be the Malacca Strait, not the easiest, wisest, or even the likely way to travel from Malay to the Americas—and which way would they go? From Indonesia they would be forced to cross the Pacific Ocean, and as Del has pointed out in numerous posts and his book, currents would not take them eastward to the Americas from Indonesia. 4- I believe there are several passages in the Book of Mormon that tell us that “from whence they sprang” was Jerusalem, not Malay. 5- The logic of traveling to Malay and then to the Americas escapes me…the record does not allow for such a voyage…but even if it took place as claimed, where is the separation in the Book of Mormon? Since the record shows a continuous movement through time in one basic location, then where do we logically and reasonably separate the record into two parts…one for Malay and the other for the Americas? 6- In the case of those leaving in Hagoth’s ships northward, we know nothing of them so why would we know of those who came to the Americas? Or is it that the Book of Mormon record only deals with those in Malay? And if so, why does nothing match in Malay with the record? 7- Since travel from Arabia to Malay could be done in any type of existing ship of the day, why did the Lord have Nephi build a ship unlike any man had made? 8- Chronologically, Lehi landed along the West Sea south (Alma 22), and from that point Nephi migrated northward into the highlands which his people called Nephi (2 Nephi 5), or the Land of Nephi, and from that point onward, the Land of Nephi is the focal point of the Lamanites in their attacks against the Land of Zarahemla, to which Mosiah fled from the Land of Nephi earlier. After that the chronology is constant from about 200 B.C. onward to 420 A.D. Where is the break in this chronology from Malay to the Americas?
    I could go on, but it seems to me that just the above is sufficient to throw rocks at such an idea that includes the Malay Peninsula in any way shape or form. And given today’s post by Del, it seems there is no possible inclusion of people from Israel into the Malay mix in B.C. times…the Chinese records of Malay, which are considered I’ve been told, the best available source of ancient history for Indonesia, show no inclusion of anyone outside the Indonesia, India, and Chinese areas.
    Personally, I think Olson is way off the mark and has no support in scripture to validate such an area. Nor, I believe, should we even give any type of credence to such a theory because it detracts from the Book of Mormon in the eyes of the world…something, I think is Del’s main point in trying to correct such wild ideas and bring our thinking accurately back to the record of the scriptures.

    1. Give it a closer look. You'll answer your own questions.

  2. Colin. Well said. That’s the longest post I’ve seen you make here, LOL.

  3. As I see it, the problem is that anyone can say anything they want about Lehi’s land of promise. I once heard Del say he could show some matches on the moon. Certainly, anywhere in the world could be found some matches, either in people, heritage, animals, or plants. But as has been pointed out here so many times, and accurately, I believe, any area must match all the scriptural information given to even be considered as a possible area of Nephite lands.

  4. It was mentioned above that some of the Nephites traveled to central America, and it can be shown the logic of that with the verses about Hagoth’s ships and the direction of their travel. It can also be logically shown that in Peru, et all, are older ruins of ancient civilizations of such magnitude they rival or surpass anything elsewhere in the B.C. world.

    And to the north of there are ruins of similar magnitude that continue the accomplishments of those to the south. That, at least, in my mind, makes Peru and Guatemala/Mexico a match with the scriptural record.

    Where are the ruins and evidence of Nephi’s magnificent buildings, temple, etc., in Malay? Nada, nine, non, Ne, Naa, Ni, Nope, Ndak, etc.Not a one.

    1. Angkor Wat (the largest temple complex in the world) did not just magically appear. There was an advanced civilization there (buildings, temples etc.). It was called Zhenla. Add a few letters and you're pretty close to Zarahemla.

  5. The point is, no matter how Olson wants to cut it, the scriptural record is very exact about Lehi leaving Jerusalem, traveling the Red Sea, arriving in Arabia along the shore of the Arabian Sea, and setting sail toward the promised land. The record is also exact in the Lord directing them across the sea and their landing on an isle of the sea. It is also exact in the area of their first inheritance, and as Colin said above, the chronology is unbroken from first leaving in 600 B.C. to final annihilation in 421 A.D. There is no place to interrupt this narrative to have Lehi land in Malay and then later descendants travel to the Americas, for the Angel Moroni said the book (plates) contained the record of this people and from whence they came. The book also shows an unbroken line of events. Olson can try to confuse the issue, but he has not a scriptural leg to stand on!

  6. I love it when we get into a detailed discussion. We should have more of them.

  7. @Colin Oh.. believe me.. I am not a proponent of the Malay Theory. But I can remember some place reading that because of the DNA issue.. where the American Indians had Asian DNA.. the Malay Theory would explain it. And since it is the descendants of Laman and Lemuel that make up a remnant of the House of Jacob.. at least that is ONE piece that fits. :-)