Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part II

We are continuing with John L. Sorenson’s book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, which is so extensively hyped by Mesoamericanists and Land of Promise Theorists, especially because of Sorenson’s reputation as the one-time Dean of Anthropology at BYU, and current status as Professor Emeritus, and referred to as the “Guru of Book of Mormon Archaeology,” that it needs further evaluation.
     As stated in the last post, one of the questions “Sorenson also asks is : “What does the Book of Mormon contain that can be used as criteria in a test for determining the validity of any proposed New World geographic setting for the Book of Mormon? ‘From the text,’ relevant, critical criteria that readers can easily deduce in identifying a valid setting for New World Book of Mormon geography are five in number:”
    These five points were discussed in the last post, along with our clarifying responses—it is interesting that none one of the five are scriptural-based.
Sorenson’s map of his Land of Promise model in Mesoamerica. As shown before, his orientation is 90º off from that of Mormon’s descriptions (see Alma 22:27-34)
    Continuing from the last post, the following is the final comment on point five.
    Fourth, in his book on this subject, Sorenson writes: “The general hourglass shape is evident in both” (meaning both his first four maps and his fifth map, that of Mesoameria). “The dimensions are very similar—that is, if we ignore the northern and western extension of Mesoamerica, which we may do, since the Book of Mormon is silent about the corresponding area.”
    Response: This is another outright falsehood. The scriptural record is not silent, but makes it clear the Land of Promise is an island (2 Nephi 10:20), and that the “north” which is really “west” in Sorenson’s map, and “south” extensions can be ignored—however, Helaman 3:8 tells us that the Land of Promise was filled up with Nephites when he wrote: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (emphasis mine).
    Thus, we obviously cannot ignore the northern and western extension of Mesoamerica, but must include them in any model, which shows the fallaciousness of the Mesoamerican model from the start! This is not scholarly work! It is the promotion of an individual point of view that is incorrect and does not match the scriptural record in any way!
    Speaking of hourglass shapes, Mormon’s description of a narrow neck of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward does not necessarily indicate an hourglass shape as Sorenson shows so he can flip it on its side and point it 90º off Mormon’s compass points.
In these four examples, not all take on the evenly hourglass shape yet all fulfill the description of Mormon of having a narrow neck of land between two larger land masses
    So there is no  misunderstanding, the entire issue in the first 37 pages of Sorenson’s book is to show that when he turns his map and points it in the wrong direction (east-west, instead of north-south), he can then say, “The topography also matches. The mountainous band of wilderness separating highland Guatemala from central Chiapas is in the right place to be the “narrow strip of wilderness” of the Nephites” (page 36). He also adds, “More detail is not necessary at this pint. Many features of south and central Mexico and Guatemala seem to match up decisively with the requirements of the Book of Mormon territory.” 
    Of course, when we move maps around until they point the way we want them to, we can often find they reflect what we want them to reflect. The issue is not finding a match by changing the directions of the model, but by finding an existing map and overlaying it with Mormon’s description without altering the map or the descriptions. This Sorenson does not do!
    It is interesting though, that after all this showing how everything matches, Sorenson (tongue in cheek?) writes, “Except perhaps for one major anomaly. The Book of Momron writers talk about their topography in terms of “north” or “northward” and “south” or “soughward,” while Mesoamerica seems skewed from those standard compass directions” (p 36-38). Seems skewed? He knows very well it is skewed--90º. But does this stop him? No. He merely dodges the deadly bullet of inaccuracy and writes, “How is this problem to be solved?”
    Most writers would hesitate at this point with some concern and say, “Hey, my model is shaped wrong.” But not Sorenson! He takes the approach that the scriptural descriptions of “north” “south” “east” and “west” are wrong and spends the next five pages (38-42) to explain away that the Jews did not use the normal, cardinal compass points that the rest of the world uses. In fact, in a most bizarre attempt to cloud the issue, he claims the early Jews knew the direction, “in their most common mental framework, derived directions as though standing with backs to the sea, facing the desert Yam (“sea”) then meant “west,” for the Mediterranean lay in that direction, while qedem (“fore”) stood for “east.” However, both in the Old World and in Mesoamerica, putting one’s back to the sea gives one several choices of “east,” hardly a solution to the problem.
In Sorenson’s scenario, depending on where one places their back would depend on in what direction “east” lies. It might be of interest, that though putting one’s back to the Mediterranean Sea (which Nephi knew very well) and thinking east as along the Red Sea being eastward (instead of actually facing southward), Nephi used the correct cardinal, sub cardinal and ordinal compass points in his descriptions in their travel (1 Nephi 16:13; 17:1), which shoots holes in Sorenson’s crafted answers
    Really now, is anyone thinking this is quite stupid and foolish?
    Nephi knew his compass directions, stated them twice quite clearly when directions were changed, even though he was in an area he had never been, and was in total violation to Sorenson’s explanation, yet for some reason, Nephi had no idea about directions when he reached the Land of Promise? And really. Mormon, who had never been to Israel, never lived among the Jews, yet till used their old concept of directions for no apparent reason and without explanation?
    Come on, let’s be serious about this.
    And if that doesn’t get you, the Mesoamericanist goes on to say, “This article’s purpose is not to explore those criteria as a basis for determining where in the New World the Book of Mormon took place. When the criteria are applied to all potential settings, Mesoamerica—and only Mesoamerica—meets the criteria. Thus, the New World geographic setting for the Book of Mormon is not an issue in this article.”
    Really? And just how did you arrive at that conclusion?
    To be honest about this, Mesoamerica is 1) shaped wrong—it runs east-west and Mormon describes the Land of Promise as running north-south; 2) the narrow neck of land is 120-144 miles across, and not possible for a Nephite to cross it in a day and a half’s journey as Mormon tells us; 3) the narrow neck of land is far to wide to be a deterent for an enemy to sneak into the Land Northward as Mormon describes; 4) the East Sea is in the north, the West Sea is in the south, not as Mormon describes; 5) The Land of Desolation is to the west of the narrow neck rather than the north, not as Mormon describes; 6) the Land of Bountiful is to the east of the narrow neck, rather than to the south, not as Mormon describes; 7) the narrow neck is not described as an Isthmus in the scriptural record, and the entire Land of Promise is described as a island by Jacob. Let’s see, there are seven simple, but major errors in the Mesoamerica model. There are tons more that have been listed here as any reader of this blog knows.
    Now, here is another interesting statement Sorenson makes: “For purposes of this article, the Book of Mormon’s narrow neck of land is an isthmus. Further, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica is the narrow neck of land of the Book of Mormon." One of Sorenson's colleagues claims: Sorenson adamantly maintains that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrow neck of land, and he is 100 percent correct in that identification for three reasons:
(See the next post, “More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part III,” to see the three reasons this colleague claims proves why the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrow neck of land and how we can show why it is not)

1 comment:

  1. I would like to hear John Sorenson's explanations after he heard your critique.