Sunday, November 24, 2013

More Comments from Readers – Part VIII

We seem to be receiving a lot more questions and comments lately and we will endeavor to answer them all; however, it might take a while because of our backlog of articles we are also posting.    
    Comment #1: “Why is it you do not think the Omec were the Jaredites? The dates seem correct, and all the other evidence leads to that conclusion” Danielle C.
    Response: We have given numerous reasons why the Olmec could not have been the Jaredites in previous posts; however, since you asked, you might be interested in knowing that a 2700-year-old site, the oldest known pyramid in Mesoamerica, discovered in May 2010, was found at Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico, which would have been in 700 B.C., certainly toward the end of the Jaredite period, yet it was further into the Mesoamerican model Land Southward than even La Venta. In fact, these three sites, La Venta, San Lorenzo, and Chiapa de Corzo, make up a triangle, stretching across their narrow neck, with two sites in their Land Southward and one in their Land Northward. In addition, the archaeologists involved in this discovery claim this site was built by the Zoque, who emerged from the Olmec.
Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico, where the oldest known pyramid in Mesoamerica has been found, is about 130 miles east (their model south) of their narrow neck of land, which is their Land Southward. In the scriptural record, the Jaredites were never in the land south of the narrow neck except to hunt (Ether 10:20-21)
    Comment #2: “Lynn V. Foster in Life in the Ancient Maya World, pages 238-39 states: “The Maya constructed cities with complexes that could cover many football fields and pyramidal ones that rose to heights of 231 feet, yet they built their cities with Stone Age technology. No steel beams supported pyramids or vaults, no metal tools were available to quarry stone or to carve it. Instead, wooden beams, stone, and lime cement were the structural building blocks; rope-and-water abrasion and stone and obsidian tools provided the basic technology of Maya cities. Limestone was burned under intense heat to make plaster, or stucco, and cement. To make a small pile of plaster 3 feet high, 20 trees had to be felled and burned. Plaster on exterior walls weather poorly, so little is recovered during excavation. There is enough evidence, however, to indicate that some buildings were colored red or cream by the addition of either iron oxide or organic materials to the plaster. Lime cement was used as mortar or fill at many sites, including Palenque and Uxmal.” This sounds like Book of Mormon terminology in Helaman to me” Keller F.
    Response: First of all, the scripture you quote has to do with those Nephites who went north, into the Land Northward, but Palenque is in the southern Yucatan, which would be the Mesoamerica Land Southward, about 150 miles from the narrow neck of land; and Uxmal is also in Yucatan, to the north, about 250 miles from Palenque, and about 400 miles from the Mesoamerican narrow neck of land. Consequently, these two sites cannot be used to verify the cement comment in Helaman 3:7, 9-11). Another area, by the way, where cement was used in Mesoamerica was in the Peten region in Guatemala, again in the Mesoamericanists’ Land Southward. On the other hand, there were concrete (crushed limestone with dirt and water) buildings in the area of Teotihuacan, Mexico, which is near Mexico City about 25 miles to the northeast. In all of this, you need to keep in mind that this was in the first century A.D., which places the time about 100 years after Helaman’s comment, but matches the time frame of the 5,400 Nephite men with their women and children who went to a "land which was northward" in about 55 B.C. to settle in Mesoamerica. Obviously, they would have taken with them their knowledge and ability in working with cement.
    Comment #3: “You quoted in a series of articles earlier on your blog about John Clark quoting Keith Christenson who ‘looks to geology (plate tectonics and vulcanism) to sort the puzzle of Book of Mormon geography. He proposes a narrow neck 150 to 225 miles wide that crossed eastern Guatemala in two places and that the Nephite’s day and a half journey was on horseback, proposing two distances across this narrow region—one line is a day and a half's journey long, and another is a day's journey. The shorter distance is comparable to the as-a-crow-flies distance across Tehuantepec, so Christensen cannot be faulted for proposing an unreasonable distance for his narrow neck.”
Response:  First of all, we have talked about plate tectonics in many previous posts as connected to the Andean area of South America, and Vulcanism, in geology, is a process where the phenomenon of eruption of molten rock (magma) is extruded on to the earth’s surface, which basically is the collective processes that result in the formation of volcanoes and volcanic activity, i.e, the eruption of pyroclastics and gases that erupt through a break in the surface called a vent.  It comes from volcan(o) and -ism, coined between 1865 and 1870. Obviously, plate tectonic movement can change the topography of a land considerably, including raising land masses just below the surface, or sinking others, and raising up mountains, “whose height is great.”
    Secondly, we have also written extensively about the narrow neck of land. Mormon’s example to show his future readers the width of the narrow neck is stated in simple and understandable terms. The idea that Mormon meant something other than what he said is an unacceptable change to the scriptural record. While Mesoamericanists do this all the time and find no fault with it whatsoever, it is totally unacceptable and not worthy of a scholarly approach to better understand the written word. If the scriptural record was nothing more than an ancient Mayan codice, then OK, perhaps that might be one way of interpret it—but the Book of Mormon is not a codice written by some scribe (though Sorenson insists on using such a word to describe the prophets who wrote the scriptural record), but written by a prophet, abridged by a prophet, translated by a prophet, and accepted by the holy spirit. Let’s not get caught in the web of trying to change the scriptural record, its meaning, or the thought process that went into bringing it to us. There was no horse involved, Mormon does not suggest anything that might lead us to that conclusion, and the only mention of horses in the Book of Mormon is in connection with chariots.
    Thirdly, the idea of two different measurements for the narrow neck is also unfounded. The only measurement of the narrow neck is the day and a half mentioned by Mormon (Alma 22:32). The distance of a day has to do with a separate area, and in the Land of Bountiful, no doubt close to the narrow neck, but not in the narrow neck. We learn this from Mormon’s description that took place at the end of a three-year preparation and battle. In 34 B.C., the Lamanites had obtained “possession of the land of Zarahemla; yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful.” And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful. And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:4-7). These passages say nothing of the Sea East, and is not the same as the narrow neck of land and its narrow pass which did lead “by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east”  (Alma 50:34). Thus, these are not the same measurements, one being “as the crow flies,” etc., but measurements of two different areas.
Left: An example of a narrow neck between two large land areas. Note that the narrow neck is obvious and would be obvious to anyone on the ground without aerial or satellite photography; Right: An example of a narrow pass. Note that it is, indeed, narrow. Mormon uses the word “narrow” to describe both areas
    Fourthly, there is no possibility that anyone can justify a 144-mile-wide narrow neck. The definition of narrow, after all, is narrow. And without a doubt, the idea that the narrow neck of land was 150-225 miles wide is beyond believability. First of all, you could not cross 150 miles in a day and a half, even on horseback, let alone 225 miles on horseback. The idea is ludicrous to even suggest!

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