Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part VIII

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 to show how far afield his thinking has strayed from the scriptural record.
    This is especially true when Sorernson begins inserting numerous cultures, civilizations and peoples in Lehi’s Land of Promise that the Lord promised would be his alone, and where there is not a single suggestion any other people outside the Jaredites, Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites existed there, nor is there a single suggestion that Jaredites lived into Mulekite or Nephite times or any survived their last, great battle other than Coriantumr and Ether; nor is there any suggestion a single Nephite other than Moroni survived their last battle at Cumorah. Yet, despite not a single word to suggest such a thing, Sorenson writes (p119):
    “The evidence is persuasive that significant Jaredite elements persisted into Mulekite and Nephite times.”  And that there is “evidence of cultural continuity from Jaredite into later times” and “there is really no question about it—Jaredite contributions to the later peoples were substantial.” In addition, Sorenson tries to make a claim that the Mulekites (People of Zarahemla) upon landing in the Land of Promise (p120): “were able to find a niche for themselves in the land, incorporating and ruling over some remnant of the people left in the land southward after the abandonment of Olmec La Venta [a Jaredite city of his model].” And concluding, Sorenson adds: “On the limited basis of archaeological findings, it appears that other groups dating to the immediate post-Olmec [his Jaredites] centuries had similar ambitions.”
    That is, Sorenson tries to convince us that the writing of the prophet Ether—who conversed with the Lord—is wrong and that some Jaredites outlived their final battle where the scriptural record states that only Coriantumr survived among his people (Ether 15:29-32).
Even though Ether makes this crystal clear: “The Lord spake unto Ether, and said unto him: Go forth. And he went forth, and beheld that the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled,” that is that Ether prophesied “unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people—otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:20-21). That is, the prophecy Ether gave to Coriantumr had been fulfilled as a result of his lack of repentance and accepting the Lord. Ether was told to go make sure it had been done, and he saw that it had. All the Jaredites save Coriantumr and himself had been slain.   
    However, despite this, Sorenson states as previously shown (p 119) “There is really no question about it. Jaredite contributions to the later peoples were substantial.” He takes this opposition to the scriptural record stance because in his model of Mesoamerica he had to make room for the Olmec  (his Jaredites) who remained in the area and among his later Nephites.
    To show why he can disagree with the scriptural record, Sorenson writes: “The scripture is clear that the Nephites were prejudiced against the Lamanites [and] that must have influenced how they perceived their enemies” (p90). In fact, Sorenson carries this to the extreme when he adds: “The question is how great the difference was; we may doubt that it was as dramatic as the Nephite recordkeepers made out” (p90-91). In this sense, Sorenson seems to disagee righteously with the prophets of old.
    Or, when Sorenson changes the meaning of the scriptural record. As an example (p55), “When the Zoramites became Lamanites” (Alma 43:4), this does not mean that they took on new biological characteristics, only that they changed their political allegiance.”
However, Alma tells us that there was a change made, “whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.” In fact, the Lord made it clear when he said, “I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also. And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed. And again, I say he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed” (Alma 3:15-17).
    And what was this mark? It was something noticeable, easily identifiable, and could not be altered, changed or hidden. Nephi makes it clear that the mark was a dark skin: “that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). This is made clear when Nephi adds, “And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:23).
    Thus it can be concluded that whoever defected from the Nephites to join the Lamanites became Lamanites in name, appearance, and genetics, since their skin color was changed to that of the Lamanites. The Lord made it clear they were no longer Nephites in any way.
    Sorenson, forever wanting to alter or change what is written in the scriptural record, however, states of this: “What about the ‘dark skin’ of the Lamanites and the ‘fair skin’ of the Nephites? In the first place, the terms are relative. How dark is dark? How fair is fair?” (p 89).
    However, Nephi does not just state “fair.” He also says “white,” a word Sorenson conveniently ignores. “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). In this case, there can be no question that “fair” is used as a synonym of “white,” so Sorenson’s question, “how fair is fair,” is just another of his misleading comments meant to cloud the issue. Since Joseph Smith translated Mormon’s writing to say “fair” and “white,” in Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, “fair” is defined as “Clear; free from spots; free from a dark hue; white; as a fair skin; a fair complexion.” And for “white” it was defined in 1828 as “Being in the color of pure snow; snowy; not dark; as white paper; a white skin.”
    Thus, as we find in answer to much of Sorenson’s writing, there is no question to be answered. It is as Mormon wrote it and Joseph Smith translated it. Pure and simple.
Shortly before his death, Lehi prophesies to his family and leaves a blessing on each of them 
    In addition, it appears Sorenson, not satisfied with the way Mormon abridged the record, wants to change it, or even write his own. Take, for example, that he simply does not accept Nephi’s writings of his father’s prophesying to his family about the Land of Promise being held in reserve for his posterity as long as they remain righteous and “it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8, emphasis mine), and “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves” (2 Nephi 1:9, emphasis mine).
    Despite this, Sorenson blatantly claims numerous other cultures, peoples and civilizations existed within the bounds of the Land of Promise, and that they interacted with the Lamanites, Mulekites and Nephites, and not one word of this is mentioned or even suggested in the scriptural record, he has the effrontery to say, “The entire subject has too many ramifications to treat fully here. The question uppermost in the minds of Latter-day Saints readers is likely to be this: If all those people are actually not described in the Book of Mormon, then should we consider their descendants to be “Lamanites”?
    NO! The question in the minds of Latter-day Saints is “by what authority do you claim the scriptural record is wrong and you are right that there were other people in the Land of Promise?”
(See the next post, “More on Sorenson’s Land of Promise – Part IX,” 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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