Friday, November 21, 2014

Bison, Buffalo, Corn and People – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the website article of Richard G. Grant (Come to Zarahemla) and the article written in it called “Lehi in the Promised Land: What did he Find?” And with a sub-heading “When they arrived, what did they Find? Cows and horses? Were there others there?” In the previous post Grant is quoted as suggesting that Nephi gave names to the animals he found in the Land of Promise that were not indicative of the actual animals, but similar to what he had known back in the Old World. 
While Grant suggests explorers gave different animals familiar names, it is far more likely that they might have said “Looks like a horse,” or “Is similar to a cow,” rather than it was a horse or cow if it wasn't the same animal
    Grant continues: “What was Nephi to call them [the animals]. The only names he had were those for similar animals in the old country. He did what travelers throughout history have always done, he named these new animals according to their resemblance to that which was familiar.
    Response: This is the man who talked with God, who was instructed how to build a ship with no prior experience, took leadership of the colony, built a city and temple rivaling Solomon’s, who wrote extensively of all he saw—one could only wonder that he would have been so unwise as to flippantly give familiar names to animals when he didn’t know what they were. Such thinking is both demeaning to Nephi and not within the character of the prophet.
Joseph translated the writing on the plates and a scribe wrote down what he dictated—according to Emma Smith, Joseph translated for hours straight without looking at any book, notes, or other material
    However, what few people seem to understand is the role of an interpreter in the matters of the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith himself told us this process, the Lord told us about this process, and those who worked with Joseph in scribing the translation have written clearly about this process. Why writers choose to ignore the process, which involved the Spirit, is hard to understand. Grant, and others who want to talk about such matters, ought to read D&C 9:7-8, and what was been said by the scribes and others who observed the translation process.
    A second area Grant discusses is that of naming corn, in which he refers to Reynolds and Sjodahl, from their Commentary on the Book of Mormon. However, no matter who originated the idea, promoting it without doing any individual research on the matter is merely continuing a falsehood.
    Grant writes: “When the Spanish arrived in the Americas they were introduced to a new food crop for which they had no name. They called it corn. This was the old world name of the food which they found to bare the closest relationship wheat.”
    Response: Have you ever looked at corn and wheat growing in a field and had any difference in telling them apart?
Wheat and corn growing in a field. They look nothing alike, and could not possibly be mistaken for the same plant…
Nor do they look anything alike at time of harvest: Top: Corn on the stalk ready for harvest; Bottom: Wheat on the stalk ripe for harvest. Does anyone really think the Spanish conquistadores could not tell these apart?
    Again, the problem arises in not knowing what words meant at the time they were used. As an example, our meaning of “corn” today began in 1492 when Columbus’ men discovered this new grain in Cuba. An American native crop, it was exported to Spain rather than being imported, as were other major grains the colonizers brought with them during Columbus’ four voyages. At first, corn was only a garden curiosity in Spain, but it soon began to be recognized as a valuable food crop. Within a few years, it spread throughout France, Italy, and all of southeastern Europe and northern Africa. By 1575, it was making its way into western China, and had become important in the Philippines and the East Indies.
Maize (the British term for corn) and Indian Corn (which principally means maize, but is also a colorful variegated kernel corn, dried and used for decoration). Maize is taken from the Taino language of the Arawak people living in Cuba and the Caribbean at the time of Columbus, who called it “maiz”
    On the other hand, The word "corn" has many different meanings depending on what country you are in. Corn in the United States is also called maize or Indian corn. In some countries, corn means the leading crop grown in a certain district. Corn in England means wheat; in Scotland and Ireland, it refers to oats. Corn mentioned in the Bible probably refers to wheat or barley. Corn is indigenous to the Western Hemisphere, and anciently, grew from southern North Dakota and both sides of the lower St. Lawrence Valley southward to northern Argentina and Chile. It extended west­ward to the middle of Kansas and Nebraska, and an important lobe of the Mexican area extended northward to Arizona, New Mexico and southern Colorado. It was also an important crop in the high valleys of the Andes in South America, as well as Mexico.
    Grant, like Sorenson and other Theorists, love to try and explain away scriptural references they do not understand or cannot answer as written. The problem is, their explanations make less sense than what they are trying to explain away, and typically demean the stature of the prophet Nephi as well as Latter-day Saints generally.
    A third area Grant mentions is Sorenson’s belief that others lived in the Land of Promise when Lehi arrived. Again, parroting what others have written without individual research on the matter is merely perpetuating myths as truth.
    Grant writes: “When Lehi's party arrived in the land, did they find others there? John Sorenson cites population growth, cultural adaptation, and subtle hints given throughout the text as his evidence for a resounding answer of yes! It seems unavoidable that others were in the land, somewhere, when Nephi's boat landed on the shore of the "west sea," and quite certainly some of them were survivors from the Jaredite peoples.”
    Response: There is no “certainly” involved. Ether writes that all were wiped out, Moroni repeats that after reading the entire Jaredite record. Sorenson picks up the book and says, “a careful reading of the text does not support the general view,” and introduces numerous peoples populating the Land of Promise of which not one suggestion in the entire 522 pages Nephi, Mormon and Moroni left us. No, not one!
    So what careful reading?
(See the next post, “Bison, Buffalo, Corn and People – Part III, “ for the continuation of Grant’s comments and the misinterpretation of the words he describes and how that affects our understanding of Nephi’s descriptions of the Land of Promise)

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