Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part VI

Continuing with the comments made by a Great Lakes theorist about the Lehi Colony traveling around Africa and across the Atlantic (see last five posts), he wrote:

“If you are a devout Israelite, you trust that the LORD has led you to a land with all four seasons, goats (e.g. mountain goats), sheep (e.g. bighorn sheep) and various cattle (e.g. bison)—“

It is interesting how scholars and theorists like to inject their own model’s description and perspectives, and their own interpretations, into their views about the Land of Promise. Like ”wooden boat” as shown in an earlier post in this series, the author is now suggesting that, without scriptural verification, the Land of Promise has:

1. Four seasons

First of all, Israel does not have four season like the eastern United States. Israel has a Mediterranean Climate, much like Southern California and Central Chile. Secondly, there is nothing in all of the Book of Mormon to suggest any climate whatsoever. The word “climate” does not appear in the scriptural record, nor does “summer,” “winter,” or “spring,” in relation to seasons. The word “season” appears seldom, such as in Alma 46:40 referring to the season for fevers, which is probably summer, but unnamed. There is also a couple of references in Alma 57:17-18, in which it is recorded “for behold, the Lamanites were upon us, and they returned in season to save us from falling into their hands, and did arrive in season to check them” which probably has reference to the “season” or “time of year” in which the Lamanites mounted their attacks.

In Helaman 11:6, 13, 16, regarding a famine, grain did not grow in its season, but later, after rains were sent, both grain and fruit did grow in season. The terms spring and season are mentioned relative to two parables, Zenos’ parable of the Olive Tree (found in Jacob), wild beasts infested an area in the Land of Nephi “by times or at seasons” (Alma 18:4), and the parable of planting seeds found in Alma. In 3 Nephi, the term “season” is used as a general term.

2. Mountain Goats

It is always amazing how far scholars and theorsts will reach to try and prove their Land of Promise model. Stating Mountain Goats existing in the scriptural record is really disingenuous. The term stated in Nephi’s account is “the goat and wild goat and all manner of wild animals” (1 Nephi 18:25). By definition, a “wild goat” is an “undomesticated goat.” The wild goat, “Capra aegagrus” is a widespread species of goat, with a distribution ranging from Europe and Asia Minor to central Asia and the Middle East. It is the ancestor of the domestic goat.

Left: Mountain Goat “Oreamnos americanus,” Right: Wild Goat “Capra aegagrus.” They are not even close to the same animal

On the other hand, the Mountain Goat “Oreamnos americanus,” also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat, is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. Despite its vernacular name, it is not a member of Capra, the genus of true goats. The Mountain Goat stays at high elevations and is a sure-footed climber, often resting on rocky cliffs that predators cannot reach. Their range is within the Rocky Mountains, Cascade Mountains, northern Washington, Idaho and Montana through British Columbia and Alberta into the southern Yukon and southeastern Alaska.

While Mountain goats are not found in the Book of Mormon, or even alluded to, just the idea of their location in the U.S. is preposterous for the “beasts of every kind” Nephi listed “as they journeyed in the wilderness” would have required walking some 2000 miles or more from their “land of first inheritance” along the west sea, to the Rocky Mountains to see any Mountain Goats.

3. Big Horn Sheep

This is simply another of these disingenuous claims. There is no mention of Big Horn Sheep anywhere in the scriptural record, and the only mention of sheep at all is among the Jaredites as one of the animals they gathered together when they left their homes (Ether 9:18). While we can assume that sheep were intended in some of the mention of flocks, such as when Ammon tended the Lamanite king’s animals, there is no mention anywhere of sheep among the Nephites, nor described as any of the animals found when first journeying in the wilderness.

Left: Big Horn Sheep “Orvis Canadensis,” Right: Domesticated Sheep “Orvis aries.” One cannot be mistaken for the other

In Alma we find there were “flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind“ (Alma 1:29), and a “fatling” could be a lamb, but could also be a calf, kid, or young pig. Still, it seems a given that there would have been sheep (Ovis aries) among the Nephites—the point here is that such is never mentioned. Nor are Big Horn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis) implied in any way. In addition, the range of Big Horn sheep is west of Colorado, from Canada into Mexico—but not in the Midwest or in the East.

4. Bison (buffalo)

The American bison (Bison bison) is a North American species of bison, also commonly known as the American buffalo. The term "buffalo," which dates to 1635, has a much longer history than the term "bison," which was first recorded in 1774. The American bison is more closely related to the wisent or European bison (Bison bonasus), and is one of the more distinct looking animals known. Certainly, the Lehi Colony coming from Israel and never having seen such an animal, might have mentioned something about it. However, there is no reference in any scriptural record, nor alluded to in any way, of a bison or buffalo.

Left: American Bison (Buffalo) “Bison bison,” Right: Oxen “Bos primigenius.” An Ox is a steer allowed to grow to full size and is no different than the term “cattle”—a steer being a castrated bull

This is simply another of this author’s disingenuous attempt to prove his Great Lakes theory. But the attempt, as do all these theorists ideas, falls far short of any scriptural record support.

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part VII,” for more of the disingenuous claims made by Great Lakes theorists)

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