Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Comments from Readers – Part III

We continue to receive comments, questions and criticisms being sent in from readers of our blog. And since it is our policy to answer all such, here are a few more with our responses.     
    Comment #1: “I read recently that the Jaredites, who left the great tower at the time the Lord confused the language of the people, spoke a language that was not changed throughout their 1500 year history in the promised land, so we may assume that they remained the only people still speaking the original language which began with Adam. They brought a written record with them, no doubt the Book of Remembrance. Because their language had remained unchanged, they would have been the only ones who could have read the Book of Remembrance. When I read that, I wondered about this Book of Remembrance—what was it?” Archer W.
    Response: This seems taken from the Zarahemla Research Foundation and Raymond C. Treat’s “Mesoamerican Linguistics.” To answer your question, we are told in the Book of Moses that “A book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; and by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled” (Moses 6:5-6); and also “For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language” (Moses 6:46).
Adam and his children kept a book of remembrance, in which they wrote by the spirit of inspiration, and a book of the generations, which contained a genealogy (Moses 6:5, 8). A book of remembrance was written (Malachi 3:16-18)
    Of course, for LDS, the pattern of preserving records of past generations dated from Adam and Eve. As Joseph Smith recorded, “for Father Adam and Mother Eve kept a book of remembrance that was recorded in the language of Adam.” He made it clear in his inspired translation of Genesis that “the Book of Remembrance was the first human scripture,” a memorial scripture, a vessel to preserve the ancient dead, their voices, and the language they spoke.” Whether this was the record referred to by the daughter of Jared who danced before the Jaredite Akish when she said, “Hath ye not read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep?” (Ether 8:9), is not known, however, it does not seem likely that this book of remembrance record would have been in the hands of Jared or his brother at a time when the Patriarchal line was in existence in the same area. In addition, the record the daughter of Jared referred to as it containing “an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?” (Ether 8:9), and also that it contained secret “oaths that had been given them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain” (Ether 8:15), would not have been contained in Adam’s book of remembrance. Consequently, the Jaredite record may well have been some form of copied information more of a secular nature.
    Comment #2: “Alma 51:32, which involves Bountiful, the land northward, the Sea East, and the Sea West, tells us that the borders of the land Bountiful were in proximity to a beach by the seashore. While there is no direct reference whether the seashore is the Sea East or the Sea West, it could be by the Sea West, making the city of Bountiful close to the Sea West” Kody.
Response: All we need to do is follow the events before this verse. Moroni was heading to meet Amalikiah, the Nephite defector who had wormed his way through fraud and deceit (Alma 48:7) into leading Lamanites and their armies. Amalikiah came down along the east coast, capturing Nephite cities from Moroni to Mulek along the east sea coast (Alma 51:22, 25-26). At this point, Amalickiah marched his Lamanite army toward Bountiful that he might take possession of that land and the Land Northward (51:30), and in the borders of the Land of Bountiful, that Amalickiah pitched his tents in the borders on the beach by the seashore (Alm 51:32). Now, since all this fighting was along the east coast of the Sea East, and the following day Amalickiah retreated into the city of Mulek (Alma 52:2, which is along the east sea coast, we can conclude that all this action took place along the coast of the Sea East. And that the city of Bountiful was inland from the city of Mulek, with a plain  between Mulek and the city of Bountiful (Alma 52:20).
    Comment #3: “I read recently that after the turn of the 20th century all references to Lehi landing in Chile were withdrawn from the foot notes in the new edition of the scriptures, and subsequent theories began to reflect the new wave of freedom on the subject of Book of Mormon geography. Even though many Saints still embraced the two continent theory many others began to realize, after careful study on the matter, that the distance traveled between those lands and cities described in the Book of Mormon was not very great. Thus, the tide was beginning to turn in favor of the more limited geographical picture which incorporated just a few hundred miles. Several different landing sites for Lehi were now being proposed and speculation on where the various cities and lands were to be located became a favorite topic of discussion among the Saints. What do you think of this?” J. Konrad W.
    Response: “A new wave of freedom”—an interesting term to use here. However, it is hardly a term I would use about the scriptures. This is not a social event, debating what scriptures mean like in the Sectarian World, and we have always been free to make up our own minds as to how a scripture applies to us, personally. Unfortunately, what happened was not a freedom, but a rapid increase in people’s personal interpretation, which ultimately led to changing scriptures, their meaning, and purpose so they fit various theories.
    Look at John L. Sorenson and his effort to claim Nephi, Lehi, Mormon, et all, did not know the true cardinal directions of a compass and, therefore, the Land of Promise that Mormon continually tells us ran north and south, Sorenson changed to east and west.
Mormon tells us the Land of Promise ran north and south; Sorenson claims it ran east and west—you choose which source to believe
    As a result, Sorenson has changed the entire scriptural description of Mormon for the Land of Promise to run east and west, and the tremendous following of those who have bought into this fallacy and accept Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise. If there was any “freedom” involved, it was the freedom to make mistakes, compound them, and sell the mistakes to an unsuspecting following, first in the classroom at BYU, then through the reading of his books and unchallenged lectures.
    There is, after all, only one place Lehi could have landed, i.e., he did not land in multiple locations. And there is only one source of information available to us as to determine where that landing site was located—the scriptures. And we are not free to alter, change, re-write, or confuse their meaning.
    As for the rest of the comment, undoubtedly, this idea of where Lehi landed will never be answered to the satisfaction of those who champion different theories. While the Book of Mormon is not open (nor is any scripture according to Paul) for private interpretation, different Theorists continually want to read something into the scriptural record that is not there, eliminate things that are there, and ignore those parts of Mormon’s writing with which they simply disagree or disagrees with their pet theory.
    North and south is, after all, north and south and no matter how much Sorenson and others want to try and change that, it is still north and south—to make it anything else is to change the scriptural record. And, yes, there can be two Hill Cumorahs, like there are two Bountifuls; as Moroni’s term “continent” in the 1800s meant both North and South America; etc.
    The other issue here is just because people want to embrace a smaller location for the actual Book of Mormon happenings, it does not eliminate the 30º south latitude as Lehi’s landing site. Or, stated differently, accepting Lehi’s landing site in Chile does not equate to thinking the Book of Mormon happenings ranged all over the Western Hemisphere. Indeed, those happenings were in a much smaller area, as the scriptural record bears witness, but that smaller area could have been along the western Andean lands of South America, with the actual events from the City of Nephi (founded soon after landing) through the rest of the record—indeed a few hundred miles.

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