Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Rewriting the Nephite Record

More and more we find Theorists writing about the Book of Mormon’s Land of Promise with speculative assertions, as though they were there and know more about the land than those who lived upon the land and wrote about it.
To clarify the scriptural record on the matter, Nephi wrote: “After we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land. And we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance. And we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:23-25).
That is all that is written about the landing site other than Alma’s comment: “and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). So we know that the landing site was along the seashore of the West Sea, somewhere to the south of the dividing line between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, probably far to the south; however, no temperature or climate is mentioned other than the fact that the seeds brought from Jerusalem grew exceedingly and provided an abundant harvest (1 Nephi 18:24), which, in 600 B.C. would require a climate and soils like those in which the seeds had been grown, i.e., Jerusalem. Thus, with Jerusalem having a Mediterranean Climate, this area of first landing would also have to have a similar Mediterranean Climate.
This point is inescapable. Even today with all the advances in agriculture, seeds will not grow just anywhere, and every packet of seeds has a climate control on the back, showing in what clime the seeds should be planted. But in 600 B.C., there was no knowledge of such since farmers did not move about and seeds were always planted in the same ground from which they were grown. As has been stated here many times, the Pilgrims in 1620 learned that their seeds from England/Holland would not grow in New England, and they would have starved except for the help of local Indians.
In a vintage example of John L. Sorenson’s rewriting of the Nephite record, the Mesoamerican guru states in his book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, on page 140:
“What can we tell about the living conditions in the land of first inheritance? The coastal plain where the landing of Lehi would have occurred was uncomfortably hot and humid. That climate favored rapid crop growth, but the weather would be unpleasant for colonizers.”
Nowhere around the Mediterranean Sea is the coastal area hot and humid, and certainly not in Jerusalem. Nor do we find in the scriptural record anything to suggest the temperature or humidity, but that does not deter Sorenson from writing about it.
He goes not to write: “The Nephites soon fled up to the land of Nephi, where the elevation permitted living in greater comfort.” The Nephites fled from the land of their first landing because the lord told Nephi to leave before his brothers killed him and take all those who would go with him (1 Nephi 5:5). While the Land of Nephi, at least that area where Nephi built his city and temple, was on much higher ground, evidently in a high valley (Mosiah 7:5-6), there is no indication that it was a more comfortable place temperature or weather wise.
Sorenson continues to write: “As Nephi tells the story, the Lamanites down in the hot lowlands were nomadic hunters, bloodthirsty, near naked, and lazy (2 Nephi 5:24, Enos 1:20). The circumstances of life in that environment could account for some of those characteristics.”
It is interesting that Sorenson feels the climate is the reason the Lamanites were nomadic hunters, bloodthirsty, near naked and lazy. Obviously, Nephi and others, who had to have lived in that area for at least one planting and harvesting season, if not more, were neither lazy, bloodthirsty, or went around naked. More importantly, Nephi tells us the problem with the Lamanites: “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21).
Thus, the Lamanites were cursed by the Lord because of their iniquity and had hardened their hearts against the Lord. According to Nephi’s nephew, the Lamanites were a ferocious and bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness, feeding upon beasts of prey, dwelling in tents and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven, and constantly seeking to destroy the Nephites (Enos 1:20). Jarom, the son of Enos also described the Lamanites by saying “They loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts” (Jarom 1:6). In all of this, there is no mention of a temperature problem causing the Lamanite nature. Unfortunately, it is the nature of Sorenson and other Mesoamerican Theorists to write in such a manner about the Book of Mormon, which is nothing more than a rewriting of the Nephite record.
Obviously, he and others are driven by the fact that their Mesoamerican model has an area that is hot and humid, and they write about it, describing the Land of Promise in terms of their model, rather in terms of the scriptural record. For instance, the Lamanites are never described as living “down in the hot lowlands.” In fact, the land of first inheritance, or the land where Lehi landed, is not mentioned in any way regarding its climate, nor throughout the entire Book of Mormon is any temperature alluded to in the Land of Nephi--and generally, a seacoast environment is not considered hot and humid lowlands. Nor is the temperature of their land ever suggested as the cause, or any cause, of their behavior; however, Nephi tells us that “their cursing which was upon them” was the cause and that “they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey” (2 Nephi 5:24). Like so much of his book, and that of most Mesoamerican Theorists, Sorenson is adept at making outlandish statements that agree with his Mesoamericam model, but disagree with the scriptures, in such a way that the casual reader would accept and never question his writing. There can be no other explanation but that Sorenson deliberately misstates scripture to further his Mesoamerican model, which cannot be supported in any other way. And it is certainly not a scholarly approach to writing about the Book of Mormon.

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