Thursday, August 20, 2015

Another Area of Disagreement – Part I

Evidently, John L. Sorenson, former head of archaeology and anthropology at BYU, extends his disagreement with the written word to that beyond the Book of Mormon. In his work, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p116, he takes aim at the record of Moses when he writes: 
Moses writing down the first five books of the Old Testament. According to some scholars, it was dictated to him by the Lord
Sorenson: The words in the Book of Ether tell the Jaredite story in a manner that cannot be compared directly to the picture just sketched” (about the Olmec found in the last post), then goes on to say, “First, let us spell out the origin of the Jaredites in historical and cultural terms. When did the Jaredites originate as a people? Historical texts and archaeological research on Mesopotamia, their homeland, tell us that big pyramid-shaped temple platforms called ziggurats were being erected well before 3000 B.C.”
    Now, keep in mind that we have both Moses writing in the Bible about the Tower period, and the writing in Ether about that same period, yet Sorenson goes on to write (p117): “There is no sound evidence, by the way, to support the idea from outmoded biblical commentaries that the great tower (“of Babel”) dated to near 2200 B.C. as some Later-day Saints continue to believe. Indeed contrary data abound.”
    Let’s look at this latter statement:
1. There is no sound evidence. The evidence is in Moses writing, which it is claimed he received directly from the Lord;
2. Outmoded biblical commentaries. In the most distant connection, it is known that Jethro’s people had records, that Abraham came from a country where the knowledge of writing and reading was common and from an important city mentioned in the code of Hammurabi. By the time of Moses, the record we now know as Genesis was handed down for we know that Adam kept a Book of Remembrance;
3. The Great Tower of Babel dated to near 2200 B.C. The very dates Moses lists as the birth dates of the patriarchs from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Moses, are used to date the events Sorenson calls “outmoded.”
4. As some Latter-day Saints continue to believe. The reason they continue to believe these dates is because they are told to us by Moses, given to him by God, and fit the time frames of the lives of the patriarchs. And if that is not enough, in the Book of Moses, Pearl of Great Price, these dates are verified and repeated.
Some of Sorenson’s contrary data abound—El Popol Vuh, the 18th century A.D. Creation story of the Maya
5. Indeed, contrary data abound. The contrary data Sorenson uses is stated in his footnotes as: “For a generation scholars agreed on a date in the vicinity of 3100 B.C.,” but radiocarbon dating has now pushed the first occurrence back a bit more. Reference: James Mellaart Egyptian and New Eastern Chronology: a Dilemma? Sorenson also states: “All Jaredite dates are from my paper “The Years of the Jaredites,” and read at a conference on the Book of Mormon at BYU in 1968, pp18-24; the Mayan Long Count Calendar which places the Flood around 3100 B.C., and the so-called historical data which suggests that Mesopotamia was first settled around 3100 B.C., and also such early 16th century writers (both indigenous and Spanish) such as the Popoh Vuh, Ixtlilxochitl, Sahagun, and others.
    However, none one of these other sources can command the respect and accuracy of Moses’ writing.
    Thus we are left to contemplate which is correct—Sorenson and his 3100 B.C. date for the Jaredites, or Moses and his 2100 B.C. date.
    Well, let’s take a look at those two dates:
    3100 B.C. – this is about 750 years before the Flood; and about 1000 years before Peleg, in whose time the Earth was divided—all of which took place before the Jaredites left Mesopotamia;
    2100 B.C. – This is about 243 years after the Flood, and shortly after the time of Peleg, when the Earth was divided.
    Hmmm. The second date seems to line up with the other events we know about. 2100 B.C. would therefore be a far more accurate date than 3100 B.C. (or 3300 B.C. as Sorenson also claims (p117).
    With the Jaredites arrival around 2100 B.C. in the Land of Promise, this lines up more accurately with their 1500 years existence before coming to a violent end around 600 B.C. If they landed in 3100 B.C., then their history in the Land of Promise would have had to cover 2500 years, which does not line up with the generations outlined in the scriptural record of the Jaredite kingdoms.
Thus, we might change Sorenson’s wordage around and say there is no sound evidence by the way, to support his view of the great tower being in 3100 B.C., since at that time, the Flood had not even happened.
    Still another way to check this out is to look at the generations involved and the generational age both ideas suggest. That means:
1. Using a 2100 B.C. landing date. With 29 generations shown in the scriptural record, and a year span of 1600 years, we see a generational age of 55.17 years per generation.
2. Using a 3100 B.C. landing date. With 29 generations shown in the scriptural record, and a year span of 2600 years, we see a generational age of 89.66 years per generation.
    So how do these two possible dates figure out with the facts available to us. First of all, we take a look at the generations. The passage of time is often governed by generations, so all we need to know is how long would a generation age be? Well, as a matter of common knowledge, we know that:
1. A generation average today is about 25 years—from the birth of a parent to the birth of a child—although it varies case by case;
2. It is generally accept that the length of a generation was closer to 20 years in earlier times when humans mated younger and life expectancies were shorter;
3. A recent study by sociologist Nancy Howell, however, has shown that among present-day members of the !Kung, a contemporary hunter-gatherer people of Botswana and Namibia whose lifestyle is claimed to be relatively similar to that of our pre-agricultural ancestors, the average age of mothers at the birth of their first child was 20 years, and 31 years at their last birth—giving a mean of 25.5 years per female generation—about 25% above the 20 years often attributed to primitive cultures (Fathers were six to 13 years older than mothers, giving a male generational interval of 31 to 38 years).
4. A separate study, conducted by population geneticists Marc Tremblay and Hélène Vézina (left), was based on 100 ascending Quebec genealogies, which found a generational interval, based on the years between parents’ and children’s marriages, to average 31.7 years, and they determined that male generations averaged 35.0 years while female generations averaged 28.7 years, about 50% more than currently believed;
(See the next post, “Another Area of Disagreement – Part II,” for more regarding several recent studies that have adjusted the Generation Age on the average, extended the time period from as little as 20 years today to as much as 35 years of the past, which helps us better understand the differences between the Jaredite landing in the land of promise as Moses wrote it and why Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists want to use the 3100 B.C. date, and how to tell the difference)

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