Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Silliness Behind Mesoamerican Thinking – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the silly and disingenuous descriptions and ideas Mesoamericanists use to promote their model of the Land of Promise
The fact that “the Hebrews, like most Semitic peoples, oriented themselves by facing east,” toward the rising sun, is not significant, no matter how much Welch, Sorenson and others may want to sell us on the idea. The Americans, like most English speaking people (and many others), oriented themselves by facing north, with the rising sun on the right hand. The word north comes from the Old High German nord, which descended from ner, meaning “down” or “under.” However, it is doubtful that many Americans even know this, let along would think of it when talking or writing about “north.” As for the Chinese, they oriented themselves facing south (nan). South permeates names in China, such as Nanking (South Capitol), Chinan (Tsinan), which is a city in eastern China, it literally means “south of the Chi,” Minnan (Min’nan) is South[ern] Min, etc.
To the ancient Greeks, north was boreas, and to the Romans, borealis, both referring to the wind out of the north. Some cultures have specific meanings for the cardinal directions, such as Navajo: South=child; North=adult; West=death; and East=birth. Ancient Celtic: East=air; South=fire; West=water; North=earth. Chinese with their animal meanings: North=rat; East=rabbit; South=horse; West=rooster. Some cultures refer to North=as the infinite; South=the present; West=the past; East=the future. Others see North=as wisdom; East=salvation; South=beginnings; West=conclusions—while others see North=thought; East=spirit; South=purity; West=-fullness.
The point of all this is that the cardinal directions have elicited ideas, beliefs, concepts, mystery, etc., in just about every culture that has ever existed. And in each culture, these words (north, south, east, west) have different originations, background understanding, and etymologies—however, in every language and culture, the meaning of the words have not changed over millennia when applied to directions. East is where the sun comes up, north is where you face with the sun coming up on your right hand, etc.
It is not, as Mesoamericanists want us to believe that East is where you face, with West behind you and north on you left and south on your right—unless you are facing where the sun comes up! After all, where one faces is constantly changing, as is having the sea behind or at your back, but directions do not change, nor their meaning—the sun always rises from the east and always sets in the west. And as long as a person or people are between the 30º north and south latitudes (which Jerusalem and Mesoamerica are, as well as Peru—and all other suggestions for the location of the Land of Promise), then the rising and setting of the sun is not going to cause a people to mis-align their directions much at all, let alone upwards of 90º off-kilter as Mesoamerica is from Mormon’s descriptions.
Mesoamerica (Middle America) is aligned almost due East and West, though the upper half of Mexico to the north and Central America (beyond Honduras) to the south are more in a northward-southward alignment
Nor is anyone going to face east with the sun coming up and then align themselves to north—no matter the language they use, unless they are a child just learning directions. Nor is it that you place your back to the sea and then know you are facing east—unless the sun comes up in that direction. And here is the major issue with all of this—the Nephites (as almost all ancient people) were agrarian, that is they were farmers, and dependent upon planting in season and harvesting in season. Thus, they tracked the sun across the heavens, knowing where it rose and set at different times of the season. They built observatories so they could track the sun and moon. So “How would the Nephites, using the "learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians" (1 Nephi 1:2) have written north, south, east, and west?” They would have written it, spoke it, and thought of it, just as you and I do today! After all, their existence depended on it.
And let us not misunderstand the two comments Nephi makes when he said, “Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2). In breaking this statement down, we find that Lehi’s language was 1) the learning of the Jews, which would have been religious oriented, that is, the language of the fathers (the patriarchs), and 2) the language of the Egyptians. This latter would be the Egyptian language that Lehi knew and used, which is later called a Reformed Egyptian. Since it was used for brevity on the plates, perhaps it was some type of shorthand, or at least a condensed version of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. Stated differently, when Nephi made his record, “which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge” (1 Nephi 1:3), he used his understanding and knowledge of 1) the words of the patriarchs (no doubt as his father had taught him), and 2) his father’s condensed or reformed Egyptian language. For accuracy, let us be clear on this point—Nephi spoke Hebrew and wrote Hebrew, and obviously, thought in Hebrew for it was the language of Jerusalem at the time where he grew up. Secondly, Nephi used the reformed Egyptian characters in order to save space on the plates.
However, he did not think in Egyptian, any more than a brand new missionary learning a foreign language, thinks in that foreign language—that comes about some 14 to 18 months in the field, and that happens because that is the language he speaks every day, day in and day out. However, Nephi was not speaking in Egyptian, any more than he was writing (other than on the plates) in Egyptian. Missionaries do not write home in a foreign language, but in their native tongue (unless they are writing to someone who is of that foreign language) or showing his parents how much he has learned. Thus we can conclude that the reformed Eyptian was not Nephi’s native tongue and, except for writing on the plates, would not have used it for much, if anything, in his daily work or conversations.
As a result, when he wrote on the plates, he thought in Hebrew and used the Egyptian characters to convey that thought onto the plates. Since Nephi was obviously brought up knowing the Egyptian language, he would have known their wordage for directions--and would have known that Egypt and the Nile ran south to north, and that north was toward the Mediterranean in Egypt, but was west from Jerusalem. When he began writing on the plates, he was around 30 and had his father to ask any unknown words or word meanings. A thousand years later, Moroni, the last Nephite alive, tells us that the reformed Egyptian with which they were still using to write on the plates had been altered by them according to their manner of speech! That is, the Egyptian characters had been altered by the inclusion of Hebrew thought and speech--an altered language that Mormon would have thoroughly known when he abridged the entire record from Mosiah to 4 Nephi. To what degree the language was altered, we are not told, but after 1000 years of use, their Hebrew language was still in tact (though it was also altered), and the Egyptian characters had been altered, according to the Hebrew speech (Mormon 9:32). In fact, because Moroni tells us that “if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record (Mormon 9:33), which obviously tells us that the Nephites spoke, wrote and thought in Hebrew, and those who kept the record were far more familiar and comfortable with it than Egyptian--nor would those who followed Nephi have known anything other than what Nephi taught Jacob, and he Enos, etc. After all, tese following Nephi, including Jacob, did not grow up in Jerusalem.
(See the next post, “The Silliness Behind Mesoamerican Thinking – Part III,” for more on the silly and disingenuous descriptions and ideas Mesoamericanists use to promote their model of the Land of Promise)

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