Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Comments from Readers – Part IX

We continue to have comments, questions and criticisms sent in from readers of our blog. Here are a few more with our responses. 
   Comment #1: “You are always talking about Andean Peru having been settled by the Nephites dating from about 587 B.C. onward; however, you never show any buildings dated to that period” Chance D.
The flat-topped pyramid at Cerro del Gentil stands 16 feet tall and is made out of adobe. Pyramid artifacts found nearby the pyramid include textiles, shells and ceramics. A settlement nearby contained around 1,000 people 
    Response: How about this one? Archaeologists have discovered a pyramid in southern Peru, built between 600 B.C. and 50 B.C., that aligned with two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. The two stone lines frame the pyramid with the sun setting directly behind it. This alignment may have had cosmological significance for the people who lived there.
The partially destroyed El Paraiso , part of a 12-pyramid complex outside Lima, Peru 
    Or how about this one? Another, outside Lima Peru, was recently partially destroyed by developers. Authorities in Peru say an ancient pyramid at the oldest archaeological site near the capital, Lima, has been destroyed. They are pressing criminal charges against two real-estate companies blamed for tearing down the structure, which was 20-ft high. An archaeologist said those responsible had committed "irreparable damage". The building was one of 12 pyramids found at the El Paraiso complex and is thought to be at least 4,000 years old, is situated several kilometres north of Lima. According to Peru's tourism ministry, it was a religious and administrative center long before the pre-Columbian Inca civilization. More can be shown, of course—Andean Peru has hundreds of such sights most dating to Nephite times.
    Comment #2: In the account of the Nephite/Gadianton war, the Nephites were initially forbidden to attack the Gadiantons, and were only allowed to defend themselves. Yet when the Gadiantons attempted to escape to the north countries, the Nephites were allowed to attack them and prevent them from occupying this area. Apparently the Lord felt that it was important to preserve the land northward for future Nephite expansion or retreat” Manfried.
Response: The reason the Nephites were forbidden to initialize an attack is that the Lord’s people have always been instructed to defend themselves to the death, if necessary, but not to initiate or begin wars or battles. Such an aggression by the Nephites in Mormon’s time spelled their doom (Mormon 4:4). In addition, at the time the Gadianton Robbers were in the mountain regions of the Land Southward (3 Nephi 4:1) and there was no need to be concerned about the Land Northward. However, when the war had already begun, and the battles fought, and the Robbers defeated, they attempted to flee into the Land Northward, since there was no game, hunting, food, etc., left in the Land Southward where they had been fighting for several years (3 Nephi 4:20), and that was when the Nephites, who had been attacking regularly once the war was underway (3 Nephi 4:21-22) were sent to attack the retreating Robbers. This may not have been so much to keep the Robbers from fleeing to “the furthermost parts of the land northward” (3 Nephi 4:23), as the Robbers were decimated from hunger and being slaughtered day and night by the Nephites, and were easy prey for total defeat by the Nephite army (3 Nephi 4:25-28), which had a most amazing impact on the Nephites (3 Nephi 5:1).
    Comment #3: Dr. Hugh Nibley once observed: “Blinded …Book of Mormon students have declared themselves “not interested” in the drab and commonplace remains of our lowly Indians. But in all the Book of Mormon we look in vain for anything that promises majestic ruins. My sentiments exactly” Handley P.
A replica of King Solomon’s temple, the first temple in Jerusalem, with its Kodesh Kahodashim (Holy of Holies) in the 9th century B.C. What type of Nephite temple did Nephi build that he would compare to Solomon’s, which Nephi had seen and knew 
    Response: Hmmm. I wonder what Mormon had in mind when he described king Noah’s “spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things” (Mosiah 11:9), and when he added, “Also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass” (Mosiah 11:10). We also find that king Noah “built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine works of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper” (Mosiah 11:8).
    In addition, we know that Nephi built a temple like Solomon’s and that “the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Nephi 5:16). In Mosiah we find that those who went to the Land Northward discovered an area and people where the land was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind” (Mosiah 8:8). While Hugh Nibley has some great insights into some matters, this certainly isn’t one of them—the so-called “drab and commonplace remains of our lowly Indians” in no way meets any criteria of the Jaredite or Nephite world as described in the scriptural record.
    Comment #4: “I read this recently, and wondered what you thought: “LDS filmmaker Keith Merrill says he picked the background for "The Testaments" by default, and if he had it to do over, he would have sought locations in North America rather than Central and South America..."I'm the guy who made the biggest, most expensive film (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has ever made, and I put it in the wrong place." Merrill said the common notion that the Mayan and Aztec peoples and other such civilizations known to have lived in Central America ... influenced his choice of jungle location. (He ultimately filmed "The Testaments" on the Hawaiian island of Kauai after roaming the jungles of the Yucatan.)” Clark G.
(Left: Keith Merrill and a scene (right) from the Testaments 
    Response: Keith Merrill is entitled to his own opinion. However, we have written scores of articles posted in this blog about the fallacy of North America being the location of the Land of Promise of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. As we have said many times, there are basically no matches in North America, especially upstate New York, to the many descriptions Mormon offers us in the scriptural record. I invite you to read them rather than repeating them here. If Merrill made a mistake with Central America and the jungle background, he would have made an even bigger mistake with North America as his background. One of his concluding remarks Merrill has made on this subject is: "... I suggest a re-reading of the Book of Mormon and see if you don't discover a new perspective.” Well, let’s offer this same advice to him, trying to find any matches in upstate New York to Mormon’s descriptions other than the hill Cumorah being there—but even that does not match the description of it as Mormon described his last battle there. 
    After all, Mormon was there. He fought a battle there—the last battle of the Nephite Nation. He lost 230,000 fighting men, plus their wives and children there. He was severely wounded there. He looked out from the top of the hill Cumorah over the entire battlefield and saw his dead comrades. Besides Moroni and the Lord, no one else modern or ancient could know more about these events than Mormon.
    Why would we not listen to him, read what he wrote, and understand this hill from his perspective?

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