Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mesoamericanist Agenda: Put More People in Land of Promise-Part I

What do you do when archaeologists and anthropologists show there were more people other than who the scriptures claim were in your model of the Land of Promise? If you are a Mesoamericanist, you simply claim that the scriptural record is wrong (or at least did not include other people) and there were more people there than Jaredites, Mulekites, Nephites and Lamanites. After all, your model cannot be wrong because secular work and scientific models show there were more people there, therefore, the scriptural record must be wrong. 
Ether’s record tells us that a small number of families left the Tower with Jared and his brother, 24 families in all, which included their friends
    Such wrote David A. Palmer, BYU graduate and firm Mesoamericanist, who said, “It should be emphasized that there were more lineages than just the Jaredites. There were the descendants of the brother of Jared, and perhaps other offshoots” (In Search of Cumorah, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, UT, 1981, p126).
    Referring to archaeological evidence, Hugh Nibley wrote: “The assumption of an empty New World represented a ‘simplistic reading’ of the Book of Mormon. He also said, “Now there is a great deal said in the Book of Mormon about the past and future of the promised land, but never is it described as an empty land.” He also stated: “The descendants of Lehi were never the only people on the continent, and the Jaredites never claimed to be." And again wrote: “The Book of Mormon dealt with a small, local geography that left plenty of room for other migrations and for a vast continent filled with people who had come from other places, including Asia via the Bering Strait.” He also added, “The focusing of the whole account on religious themes as well as the limited cultural scope leaves all the rest of the stage clear for any other activities that might have been going on in the vast reaches of the New World, including the hypothetical Norsemen, Celts, Phoenicians, Libyans, or prehistoric infiltrations via the Bering Straits.” And finally concluded with, “Indeed, the more varied the ancient American scene becomes, as newly discovered artifacts and even inscriptions hint at local populations of Near Eastern, Far Eastern, and European origin, the more hospitable it is to the activities of one tragically short-lived religious civilization that once flourished in Mesoamerica.”
    Obviously, Nibly believed there were other people in the Land of Promise than just those mentioned in the scriptural record. It is interesting, however, that in all his writing about it, he seldom, if ever, addresses the specific wordage of the scriptural record that tells us that no one else was there—restricting his comments to the belief that these Nephite historians didn’t writ about anyone else.
    So let us take the Jaredites first.
    When Jared and his brother became old they gathered their people together so they could number them and see what they might want of the two elders before they died. (Ether 6:19).  The people asked of Jared and his brother that they appoint someone of their direct lineage, i.e., “one of their sons” to be king. None of the sons of the brother of Jared wanted to be king (Ether 6:25-26), nor did any of the sons of Jared, save one (Ether 6:27) whose name was Orihah, who finally agreed to be “king over the people.” (Genesis 6:27)  Orihah had twenty-three sons, one of which was Kib who became the next king. (Genesis 7:8) These kings were kings over “all the people,” that is, over Jared’s posterity, the posterity of Jared’s brother, and the posterity of their friends who came out from the Tower with them. The division that later created a rift between the entire and overall group of people occurred within Jared’s lineage, which held the kingship of all the people, with Jared’s grandson, Kib and his greatgrandson (Kib’s son) Corihor. (Ether 7:3-5)
There is simply no mention in the entire record of Ether of any other lineage or “offshoots” as Palmer suggests. Obviously, there were family divisions of direct lineage, but they were joined together as a single people until Corihor decided to war against his father, Kib.
    It also should be kept in mind, contrary to Nibley’s restricted view, the Book of Ether included the record from the time of the Creation downward. As Moroni put it, “the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower” (Ether 1:3), should suggest to us that more than the Jaredites were mentioned in this early record, and that the Jaredite record included any and all peoples involved from the time of “the Tower downward until they were destroyed” (Ether 1:5). What in that tale would lead someone to say that Ether did not include all people in the time slot covered in the land in which the Jaredites occupied?
    The record itself, though brief and obviously abridged, covering some 1600 years, includes the language “face of the land” 24 times, and “all the face of the land” 10 times. This was a choice land “above all the earth,” “choice land,” and “choice above all other lands” mentioned four times, a “land of promise,” mentioned three times, and “promised land” mentioned six times. It seems impossible to defend a belief that in such a land, of such importance, that no Jaredite recorder mentioned anyone else in this land at any time--orthat Moroni in his abridgement chose to eliminate all mention of anyone else.
    What is it about the statement: “And it came to pass that they did gather together all the people upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether” (Ether 15:12), that is unclear? “All the people,” is pretty clear, and so is “upon all the face of the land.” But that is not just one comment, there is another: “Wherefore, they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive” (Ether 15:14).
    Nor was Ether just recording a local group of people, for he states: “there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.” Just a quick addition suggests upwards of four to five million when including wives and children of nearly two million fighting men.
    But it wasn’t just the demise of the Jaredites that talks about all the people being annihilated. Mormon describes wars in the final battles with the Lamanites.
    “Behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land” (Mormon 2:8).
    The Nephites, in their anger toward the Lamanites, swore that they would “cut them off from the face of the land” (Mormon 3:10). After the battles were over, Moroni, finishing his father’s record, states: “I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9). Around 350 A.D., Mormon made a treaty with the Lamanites in which the Lamanites took possession of all the land south of the narrow neck, all the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29).
    Later, when the Lamanites regrouped for a second attack, “when they had come the second time, the Nephites were driven and slaughtered with an exceedingly great slaughter; their women and their children were again sacrificed unto idols…the Nephites did again flee from before them, taking all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages” (Mormon 4:21-22).
    And finally, “it came to pass that whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus three hundred and seventy and nine years passed away” (Mormon 5:5). In the following year, “the Lamanites did come again against us to battle, and we did stand against them boldly; but it was all in vain, for so great were their numbers that they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet…we did again take to flight, and those whose flight was swifter than the Lamanites' did escape, and those whose flight did not exceed the Lamanites' were swept down and destroyed” (Mormon 5:6-7).
The final battle was fought at Cumorah, when Mormon tells us “we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah” (Mormon 6:5) and “with their wives and their children” they beheld the armies of the Lamanites marching toward them and “they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers” (Mormon 6:8).
    This final battle saw the death of 230,000 warriors, and their wives and children, perhaps a million or more, and as Moroni put it “and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people, but behold, they are gone” (Mormon 8:3).
    When those who were there write that everyone was killed, save one person, it seems that we should believe them. Nibley, Sorenson and others can say that is not true, but the scriptural record tells us it is.
(See the next post, "Mesoamericanist Agenda: Put More People in the Land of Promise - Pt II," to see why that is their agenda and what drives their desire to have more people involved in the scriptural record than is listed there)

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