Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where the Events of the Book of Mormon Took Place – Part III

Continuing with the article by Matthew Roper and John L. Sorenson, discussed in the last earlier posts (Part I and Part II), some of the answers they gave need further discussion and understanding. As an example, the comment:

“The southern portion of the land southward, called the land of Nephi, was mostly elevated and mountainous (it included the headwaters of the principal river); the territory closer to the isthmus, called the land of Zarahemla, lay at an intermediate elevation.”

First, for the in correct term “isthmus,” see the last post. Second, certainly, the area of the city of Nephi was elevated and mountainous, for the city itself lay in a mountain valley. This is understood when Ammon and his friends were to “go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi to inquire concerning their brethren” (Mosiah 2), and that after “forty days they came to a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom, and there they pitched their tents. And Ammon took three of his brethren…and they went down into the land of Nephi” (Mosiah 8:5-6).

However, the term “Land of Nephi” when using it to cover the “southern portion of the land southward,” was not all mountainous or elevated, for when Ammon and king Lamoni prepared to leave the Land of Ishmael (a land within, or a sub-division of, the Land of Nephi), they were in a less elevated area for they had to “go up to the land of Nephi” (Alma 20:2), but “down to the land of Middoni” (Alma 20:7), another land within the Land of Nephi.

In addition, the cities or lands of Amulon, and also in the land of Helam, and who were in the land of Jerusalem, and in fine, in all the land round about (Alma 24:1), were also at a lower elevation for they “came up to the land of Nephi” (Alma 24:20), to do battle with those Lamanites who had converted to the gospel preached by Ammon, Aaron and the others.

Thus, this overall land was at different levels, and cannot be called “elevated and mountainous,” for some of this land was at lower elevations and might even have been quite low in elevation—we simply do not know. To use such a term to describe all the Land of Nephi is both erroneous and self-serving, for the area in Mesoamerica chosen by theorists as the Land Southward may all be “mountainous and elevated,” but the scriptural record does not bear this out in total.

Obviously, the term “Land of Nephi” for all the land is correct, since Lamoni was king of his own kingdom (Alma 20:12), the land of Ishmael, but his father was king “over all the land” (Alma 20:8), which is also borne out when his father sent a proclamation “throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness” (Alma 22:27).

Third, for “the territory closer to the isthmus, called the land of Zarahemla, lay at an intermediate elevation,” is another inaccurate statement. We simply do not know what the elevation of the Land of Zarahemla was; however, we can take an educated guess that it was near or at sea level.

When Amaleki wrote of Mosiah discovering a people “who were called the people of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:14), he writes of them, “that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon. 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 1:15-16)

It stands to reason that where the Mulekites first settled would have been at or near where they landed. This was true with the Lehi Colony and with the Jaredites, and was probably true with the Mulekites. Thus, the “land where Mosiah discovered them would have been near the coast. Such land is rarely more than a couple of hundred feet above sea level, making the city and much of the land of Zarahemla near sea level, not at “an intermediate elevation.”

An intermediate elevation to the Mesoamerican theorists, who claim the city of Nephi was Kaminaljuyu, now Guatemala City, at about 5,000 feet, would be about 2,500 feet. The scriptural record simply does not bear this out.

(See the next post, “Where the Events of the Book of Mormon Took Place – Part IV,” for more of these inaccurate points)

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