Tuesday, July 14, 2015

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

What do you do when archaeologists and anthropologists vehemently claim there were more people other than who the scriptures claim were in your model of the Land of Promise? Since 1946, Mesoamericanists have been claiming there are more people in the Land of Promise than the scriptural record shows and describes. On the other hand, Mesoamericans, since the 1940s, have been claiming a match between the land mass of Mesoamerica and Mormon’s description of the Land of Promise, which in all reality, there are almost no matches unless we change the meaning and writing of the actual scriptural record itself. 
    So why do Mesoamericanists keep insisting on putting more people in the Land of promise when the scriptural record keeps telling us there were none others?
    What is their agenda and why?
    Certainly it is not to report what is written in the scriptural record, because they keep telling us the scriptural record is wrong or, at best, incomplete, or doesn’t tell us the total story.
We need to keep in mind that Mesoamericanists have been championing this idea of changing the meaning of the scriptural record for some time. They claim that changes, not only in science and how we interpret it has changed, but also changes have occurred in some ideas Latter-day Saints have had of the Book of Mormon. Our faith in the saving principles taught by the prophets from Nephi to Moroni has not changed; if anything, it has grown. But in considering scripture as an ancient document, the careful student is now aware that we have much more than we had suspected.
    And what do they claim that we now know that originally was not known that helps us better  understand the scriptural record? For one thing, it is this idea that Mormon had a different compass than we do, which allows for a near 90º off-kilter land of prolmise from the one described in the scriptural record. The problem is, that one one accepts this fallacy, an idea based on an inaccurate understanding of the Hebrew direction system and ignoring the fact that Nephi well understood correct compass settings (1 Nephi 16:13; 17:1), one finds himself now ready to accept other changes of questionable origin, such as the narrowness of the “narrow neck of land,” which Mesoamericanists have stretched to a distance of 144 miles (Isthmus of Tehuantepec), which is not possible for a common man to cross in a day and a half as Mormon tells us. Thus, one is ready to accept another change in the scriptural record which Sorenson tells us is that the distance of the narrow neck described is from some point in the east and not actually the east sea, ignoring the point that the Sea East and the Sea West flank this narrow neck and the passage that runs through it (Alma 50:34).
    Now, since all these changes make sense when presented with the Mesoamerican model, one is now ready to accept other changes the Mesoamericanists claim are necessary, and misunderstandings, or not complete information in the scriptural record.
    Such as the promise the Lord made to Lehi about the land being restricted to just Lehi’s seed: “Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:5). On this issue, the Mesoamericanist points out that “led out of other countries” means other people had already been led there, lived there, and occupied the Land of Promise when Lehi arrived. The same can be said for the comment: “there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6), “shall be brought” being a future tense statement.
They neglect the English tense of “should be led,” or “shall be brought,” which Lehi is telling his family that others will be led there at some point in the future. And that future people are the Gentiles, which Nephi saw in a vision about their coming to inherit the land when the “seed of his brethren,” the Lamanites, had wiped out his own descendants and were themselves ripe for destruction (1 Nephi 13:14).
    In fact, Lehi’s entire purpose in his preaching to his sons at this point shortly before his death is to warn Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael of their need for repentance and to follow Nephi and the Lord or they would be lost (2 Nephi 3:25), and in that warning, he tells them that if they do not, another people, the Gentiles, would bring terrible destruction on their descendants, and eventually drive and control them, and following Gentiles would inherit the land (2 Nephi 10:10).
    Despite all of this, M. Wells Jakeman, with his background in the Maya people of Mesoamerica (The Origins and History of the Mayas V1), convinced that the Land of Promise was in Mesoamerica, taught numerous archaeology and anthropology students regarding his Mesoamerican theme as the first head of Archaeology at BYU. Beginning with Jakeman, Hugh  Nibley, and Sydney B. Sperry, the growing community of LDS researchers began in the late 1940s to uncover some of these details. This change of perspective—of seeing new possibilities—is exemplified by John W. Welch’s discovery a mere fifteen years ago that the Near Eastern literary form called chiasmus lay hidden in the Book of Mormon, unrecognized by its readers for almost 140 years after its first publication in 1830.  In recent years, other workers have been finding unsuspected facts, patterns, and implications in the Book of Mormon that had been overlooked in an earlier day.
    Many Latter-day Saints have not had access to sources that communicate how recent research has changed our understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient document. "Many also are unaware of some rather surprising new discoveries supporting the Book of Mormon, which have been brought about by the advanced methods of science."
Much great work came out of this type of study, but since Mesoamerica was the hub, or center point, inconsistent scripture was subtly changed, such as the Nephi compass skewed nearly 90º of center in order to allow Mesoamerica as the “north-south” Land of Promise. Whether by design or conviction of the rightness of the location, the point is that the scriptural record has been altered by all this work and those involved within it to show that additional people, contrary to the writing itself, existed before, during and after the Nephite nation.
    And once some was altered, it opened the door for anyone to establish an idea, even an inconsistent idea with the scriptural record, and champion it as a factual understanding of the location of the Land of Promise.
    We now have locations scattered about, many of which have no corresponding connection to Mormon’s numerous descriptions of the Land of Promise, and in locations unavailable to Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” and inconsistent with the location of the Jaredites within the Land of Promise area called the Land Northward that allows the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerican to establish homelands, cities, and settlements far to the south of their narrow neck of land without any concern for the scriptural restriction that the Jaredites never entered the land Southward except to hunt in the preserve they established there.
    The point is, and we should jump up and down on this as often as we can, because once you start changing the scriptural record so it agrees with your pre-determined Land of Promise location, then you feel free to change other scriptural writings that are not consistent with other things that crop up in your studies that do not fit into your pre-determined location.
    If one is going to honestly search for where Nephi’s ship took them and where Lehi landed, follow Nephi’s description. If one is going to honestly search for the Land of Promise, search for how Mormon described it; if someone is going to honestly champion a place as the Land of Promise, then make certain it agrees with all the descriptions and indications found in the scriptural record, not just a handful—but all of them!
    And when there is no mention of other people in the Land of Promise in the scriptural record, or any hint or suggestion of anyone else, then do not try to implant them there!

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