Monday, August 25, 2014

More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part VII

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 a reality check every so often. 
    Sorenson continuing (p 21-22): "Besides, the immediately adjacent west coastal strip was counted part of the land of Nephi, although to the north strip was conceived as "on the west of the land of" Zarahemla. Nothing definitely to the east of Nephi is discussed. The entire area east from the land of Nephi is left undefined, except that it was part of the whole and southward "nearly surrounded by water."
    Resonse: This is not true. Mormon tells us the Land of Nephi ran from sea to sea. To the East Sea: “And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west” (Mormon 50:8), thus the Land of Nephi ran to the East Sea. He also wrote that “And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea…” thus the Land of Nephi ran to the West Sea as well.
    As for what cities or special features were in the east of the Land of Nephi we are not told, but then we know nothing of the area from the First Landing or First Inheritance (Alma 22:28), to the area Nephi occupied and called the City of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:8) once he left their area of First Landing.
At the same time, one might draw the conclusion that since the Lamanites built a city called Jerusalem near the borders of Mormon (Alma 21:1), and Mormon was near the City of Nephi (Alma 18:4, 8), and some have placed the City of Nephi toward the east in the Land of Nephi, and that the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the overflowing of waters, it could be concluded that Jerusalem was built along the Sea East. But that is merely conjecture, even though based upon responsible information.
    Sorenson also has a habit of making words mean what he wants them to mean and rejecting those that are clearly stated. This idea that nothing is to the east of Nephi is something like Sorenson’s statement about a second crop grown from the seeds brought from Jerusalem, in which he wrote (p 184): "We did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance" (2 Nephi 5:11). 
    Sorenson: “The crops of the Zeniffites are of interest in several ways. As we have noted, corn appears as the most prominent food. That is what we would expect in most parts of Mesoamerica. But the “wheat” and “barley” mentioned as among their crops are another story.”
    Why is that? "Wheat" and "Barley" are listed along with "corn." Obviously, all three were grown as well as two other crops mentioned for the first time: "neas" and "sheum" (Mosiah 9:9).
    Evidently, Sorenson wants to cast doublt on "wheat" and "barley," because while corn grows in Mesoamerica, wheat and barley do not basically grow there in a tropical climate. So, to Sorenson, it is all right for Mormon to say “corn,” but not OK for him to say “wheat” and “barley.” 
    Sorenson then goes on for two pages to explain away the use of “wheat” and “barley” actually meant something else. He also does this with even the word “corn,” by stating: “Now, “corn” is clearly maize, the native American plant that was the mainstay of the diet of many native American peoples for thousands of years.” This is an interesting use of a double-standard. In one case, “wheat” and “barley” had to have been some other grains, but “corn” is clearly maize, an American corn.
    Noah Webster in his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, states: “corn … comprehends all the kinds of grain which constitute the food of men and horses.” He goes on to say this is true in Great Britain, where corn “is generally applied to wheat, rye, oats and barley.” He then adds that in the United States, “it has the same general sense, but by custom, it is appropriated to maize.” However, Webster then states that this is not the general rule when using terms like “wheat” or “barley” along with “corn.” “In this sense, corn has no plural” and is just corn—which is the way it is used in (Mosich 9:9), however, we might question its singular use in (Mosiah 9:14) since in 1828 when Joseph was translating, the single term “corn” it comprehends all the kinds of grain which constitute the food of men and horses, such as wheat, rye, oats and barley.
    In a different look at this, we might listen to Zeniff further when he wrote: “And behold, we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind” (Mosiah 7:22, emphasis mine).
    Exactly what other grain did he have to plant? In fact, there were two very important ones, which Zeniff called Neas and Sheum (Mosiah 9:9).
Left: Zea mays, of the family Poaceae, a tall cereal plant which originated in the New World and has been introduced globally, and often referred to as maize or Indian Corn; Right: Zea mays indentata, a yellow corn grown in the U.S. called field corn, or yellow dent field corn
    But back to corn, there is no listing for “maize” in Webster’s 1828 dictionary, however, “maiz” is defined as “A plant of the genus Zea [a generic name of maiz] the native corn of America, called Indian corn.”
    The point of all this is that when Sorenson wants to accept a word or subject that agrees with his theory, he readily does. But when Mormon states a word or subject that does not agree with his theory, Sorenson rejects the word and claims something else entirely was meant.
    Take as an example of the latter. In Mesoamerica, wheat and barley would not, in Nephi’s time nor even today, grow well at all. In order to satisfy his model, Sorenson completely ignores a scriptural reference to the contrary to his thinking and tries to lessen the impact of the seeds brought from Jerusalem doing so well in the area of the First Landing (1 Nephi 18:24) by suggesting they would not have done well in a second planting. He states (p139): “The experience of pioneers suggests that first success for an imported crop does not necessarily mean continued vigor for it” and “what happened later to those plants from the seeds the Lehi party carried across the ocean is not stated.” 
    Response: The point here is that it is stated, and quite clearly. Lehi died after being in the Land of Promise about a year, long enough to preach to his family and leave blessings upon them (2 Nephi 1-4). After his death, Nephi is told by the Lord to leave and take those with him who believed in the Lord (2 Nephi 5:5-7). After reaching a suitable place to settle (the area that would later be called the City of Nephi), “And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind” (2 Nephi 5:11, emphasis mine). Yet, Sorenson wants us to believe the crops did not do well in the second planting!
    Sorenson also wants to change the meaning of words he does not agree with such as (p 299): Claiming a Mastodon or Mammoth was meant instead of  an Elephant; a Deer instead of a Cow; a Deer or Tapir instead of Horse; a Tapir instead of an Ox; a Camelidae instead of a Sheep; Deer instead of a Goat; Peccary instead of a Swine, but a Dog was used for Dog.
Top Left: The Llama was native to Andean South America, not Mesoamerica, and stands 6’ tall and weighs 280 to 450 pounds; Top Right: The Sheep, stands 2 to 4’ tall, and weighs 99 to 220 pounds; Bottom Left: Typical sheep, about 3’ tall; Bottom Right: Typical Llama with their long necks
    Sorenson also misstates facts of South America and inserts them into his Mesoamerica. As an example, his Camelidae, or camelids, are the llama and alpaca (guanaco and vicuna), all four of which were indigenous to the Andean area of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina—they were never found in Central or Meso-America until after South American peoples transported them there (The Chavin of Peru were credited with first domesticating these Andean camelids according to Richard L Berger, Chavin de Huantar and its Sphere of Influence (2008); "Maize and the Origin of Highland Chavin Civilization" in American Anthropollogist 92; and "Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization" (1992).
    The llama, after all, was the only large domesticated animal in the entire pre-colonial Americas. Consequently, of all the indigenous cultures of the New World, only the Andean peoples could obtain animal products (namely meat and clothing) through raising (rather than hunting) large animals.
(See the next post, “More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part VIII,” for more information on how far Sorenson is willing to go to stretch reality and believability to prove his Mesoamerican Theory, and how often he ignores what is in the scriptural record, or adds things that are not there)

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