Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Painting With a Broad Brush—Written Language – Part III

Continuing again with John L. Sorenson’s claim that because writing was found in Mesoamerica, and none other in the Americas, it : “restricts the possible real-world location [of the Land of Promise] to Mesoamerica (central and southern Mexico and northern Central America),” is not as conclusive as he would like us to believe.

First of all, as mentioned in the last post, the ancient Peruvians had a form of writing that was found on Easter Island and called today Rongo Rongo, a written form that dates back to B.C. times and was brought to the island from the Peruvian mainland—obviously, afterward in the Andean area, it was either destroyed or died out.

Second, since it was pointed out in the first post of this series, the Maya written form has no semblance nor outgrowth of either ancient Hebrew or Reformed Egyptian, the only two languages known to the Nephites around the time they were destroyed (Mormon 9:32-33), it cannot be claimed that this writing originated with the Nephites.

Third, it was the language of the Nephites that was taught among the Lamanites (Mosiah 24:4), and that language was Hebrew, and the Lamanites wrote to each other (Mosiah 24:6), which increased their trade and wealth (Mosiah 24:7)—and it was told them that they should keep a record of themselves (Mosiah 24:6). Whether they kept a record or not, we have no knowledge, but if they did, it would have been written in Hebrew, which was the written language they were taught.

We also know that Giddianhi, the governor of the band of robbers, and of the secret society of Gadianton (3 Nephi 3:8) wrote an epistle to the Nephite governor Lachoneus around 15 A.D.

During the time the Savior was on the earth and for the two hundred years following when there were no –ites, but all were one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God (4 Nephi 1:17), we might assume that all or most were literate. In addition, by about 385 A.D., Mormon writes an epistle to the Lamanite king (Mormon 6:2), which might lead one to believe that at least the king could read the Hebrew. Yet, this might not be true, for the epistle could have been delivered by one of Mormon’s trusted officers and read to the Lamanite king. While most believe that the Lamanite king responded in writing, the scriptural record does not say that. The response is stated by Mormon as:

“And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired” (Mormon 6:3).

Thus, while the Lamanites might have retained their literacy from the time around 231 A.D. when a division among the people took place once again (4 Nephi 1:35), and the time of Mormon’s epistle, 155 years later. If the Lamanites did retain the Hebrew they were taught, then when the Nephites were annihilated in 385 A.D., and the internal wars between the Lamanites continued afterward for many years, they would have spoken Hebrew, and possibly still have written it.

One of three things must be understood from this. 1) The Lamanites could write in the Hebrew language after the fall of the Nephites, 2) Whether the Lamanites were literate or not, they certainly would not have written in Reformed Egyptian, since that was the language of the record keepers, and had to be especially taught in order to read the record on the gold plates (Mosiah 1:2), or 3) The Lamanites did not write at all.

Whatever the response, there is no way that the Lamanites from the Nephite language of Hebrew could have evolved a written language to that of the Mayan glyphs as a result of Nephite influence.

Thus, it must also be understood that the Mayan glyphs, which bear no resemblance to written Hebrew, could be considered proof that the Nephites existed in the area of the Mayan people, that of Guatemala. It is a perfect example, when Sorenson lays claim to such, that he is indeed painting with a broad brush.

In addition, Moroni was told by the Lord and wrote for us that: “none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof” (Mormon 9:34). Obviously, the language that no man knew could only be translated by the power of God, and this through the two stones called the Urim and Thumin, which “were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages” (Mosiah 28:14).

Therefore, that the language of the Nephites could have been interpreted by a linguist or modern-day scientist simply does not hold true with the discovery and eventual deciphering of the Maya language. Simply put, what was discovered in Guatemala and the Yucatan has absolutely nothing to do with the Nephite writings and, therefore, cannot be used to suggest the Nephites once lived where it was written. Obviously, the natives of the area evolved their own writing, as those of ancient Peru did with the Rongo-Rongo language—neither proving nor disproving where the Nephites dwelt, or the location of the Land of Promise.

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