Saturday, October 20, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XV

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first fifty comments were answered in the previous 14 posts, the fifty-first and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #51 “The scriptures do not say "clearly lead the Lehi Colony to the southern coast of Arabia" as you claim. 1 Nephi 17:1, 'nearly eastward' could mean northeast, to Lebanon, sailing out the Mediterranean.”
Response: If you read the scriptures, you will find that the Lehi Colony was far south along the east coast of the Red Sea, after traveling for many days (1 Nephi 16:15,17) from the borders of the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:5). At the point where they turned “nearly eastward” (1 Nephi 17:1), Lebanon would be northwest, not northeast, and to get to Lebanon from that point along the Red Sea, they would have had to retrace their steps toward Jerusalem, pick up the King’s Highway along the east coast of the Dead Sea, and travel through Jordan. To go northeast, as you suggest, would take them 1045 miles across the Empty Quarter, an area where there were no water holes and where people in four-wheel vehicles today do not travel. Besides, even if you could go that way, you would end up in the area of Kuwait, over 805 miles from the Mediterranean. None of this would be a likely route for the Lehi colony, which was traveling secretively to keep the Jews from trailing after them and killing Lehi (1 Nephi 1:20; 4:36). The route they took, along the Frankincense Trail, would lead them only to the shores of the Arabian Sea. In fact, the scriptural record does say that is where they went.
As can be clearly seen, the trek of the Lehi Colony toward the southeast, following the eastern shore of the Red Sea as the scriptural record reads, there is no way they sailed out of the Mediterranean Sea
Comment #52 According to Joseph Smith and subsequent presidents and apostles of the LDS Church, the geographical extent of Book of Mormon lands included virtually all of North and South America.
Response: This is not exactly correct. Joseph Smith and others have always maintained that the Land of Promise, that is the land that “became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord” (Ether 13:2) was the entire Western Hemisphere, that is, North and South America. The lands specifically mentioned in the Book of Mormon in which the Jaredite civilization, Nephite nation, and Lamanites existed between about 2100 B.C. to about 421 A.D., are only a part of that promised land, and nether Joseph Smith nor any apostles have, in speaking for the Church, ever said where they were specifically located. Obviously, like many of us today, they had their opinions, and sometimes mentioned those opinions, but the Church has never made any such statement. The problem members of the Church have, as well as others, including critics of the Book of Mormon, is that they get these two thoughts mixed up, and seldom, if ever, distinguish between them. There are two specific areas involved in this land that the Lord promised to the tribes of Manessah and Ephraim: 1) the overall land—the Western Hemisphere, and 2) the Book of Mormon lands where the events of the scriptural record take place. The latter, obviously, is located within the former, but the latter, the actual lands of the Book of Mormon, have never been officially located or identified by the Church or any of its leaders.
Comment #53 “I find your claims untenable. As an example, despite the teaching of the Church's spiritual leaders, unquestioned for a hundred years, a number of Mormon scholars have concluded that the traditional view of Book of Mormon geography is unrealistic. Their conclusions are based on a number of major problems that arise when one attempts to apply Book of Mormon descriptions of travel times and population growth to the vast territories of North and South America. For instance, while the Book of Mormon makes it clear that the rival Nephite and Lamanite civilizations were centered near the "narrow neck" of land (understood to be somewhere in Central America), it says that they agreed to meet for their epic final battle at the "Hill Cumorah" (Mormon 6:1-6). Joseph Smith and Mormon tradition locate this site several thousand miles distant in New York state. It is difficult to find a reasonable explanation for why the armies would travel this immense distance to do battle.”
Response: When the Book of Mormon was first published, many read it, including church leaders and members, and assumed North America was the Land Northward, South America was the Land Southward, and Central America was the narrow land in between. This was a common belief well into my teen years. It was based on general concepts, not specific reading of geographical terms. After all, the early church members and leaders were interested far more in the spiritual matters, and the doctrines stated therein, and were not concerned about location other than a general understanding of these Western Hemispheric lands.
When knowledge of the ruins in Central America emerged, many people immediately saw that as a verification of the Book of Mormon civilizations living there thousands of years ago. Sometime in the 1940-1950s, archaeological and anthropological minds began to think in terms of specific locations, which  became known as the Limited Geography Theory, which matched the actual descriptions of the scriptural record. The problem arose when people began limiting the entire concept of the promised land to merely the areas described in the Book of Mormon, and not understanding its much broader significance. Obviously, Joseph Smith did, for he knew the Nephites and Lamanites were not only in South and Central America, but also in North America—something few people have really understood. Consequently, in trying to apply many of Joseph’s comments to a limited area, problems and misunderstandings have occurred.
However, there is no conflict in any of this. In a very brief and simple explanation, these events occurred: 1) Lehi landed around the 30º south latitude as Joseph Smith said; 2) they moved northward along the Andean plain and occupied the areas of Peru and Ecuador and western Bolivia which is where most of the Book of Mormon took place; 3) in the last century B.C., ships were built and many thousands of men, women and children emigrants set sail northward from that area and landed in what is now Central (Meso) America. The ruins we find in both the Andean area and Mesoamerica testify to their existence in these lands. We also know, 4) that Nephites and Lamanites traveled further northward and eastward and occupied the area from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean from Joseph’s explanation of the warrior Zelph and the prophet Onandagus. However we need to keep in mind, that the lands illustrated in the scriptural record took place where Lehi landed and where Nephi traveled—from mid-Chile to southern Peru, and from there Mosiah went further northward and eventually the Nephites spread as far north as the Ecuadorian southern Colombian area.
That is the location of the Book of Mormon lands. But, the promised land mentioned in Ether 13:2 is all of the Western Hemisphere, where the Nephites and Lamanites expanded, and eventually, where Lamanite descendants were found when the Spanish arrived, from the Inca in the south to the American Indians in the north. In all of this there is no contradiction in any of the Book of Mormon, or anything most church leaders have ever proposed.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XV,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

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