Sunday, August 16, 2015

Have You Ever Wondered Why? – Part V

Continuing for a moment with John L. Sorenson’s writing about directions in the Land of Promise, he states (p42): “What began as a direction “problem” has been plausibly resolved.” Yet, the definition of “plausible” simply means “superficially plausible, but actually wrong” (see the last post).
Thus, once again, when Sorenson writes: “We have discovered that the Nephite record makes sense when it is linked to Hebrew thought and language on the one hand and to Mesoamerican conditions on the other,” that his “plausible linkage” accomplishes nothing and adds only additional confusion to a straightforward set of directions Mormon initially gave us.
    Now, just to make sure we understand what that statement means, let’s write it more correctly:We have discovered that the Nephite record makes sense when it is unlinked from the spirit in abridgement and guidance, unlinked from prophets being guided by the spirit, and unlinked from translation guided by the spirit, which was all meant to make the scriptural record more understandable to us, the average reader, in fulfilling Nephi’s command of simplicity in the record.”
    However, with it all unlinked, we can now see how Mesoamerica can be considered.
    Yet it is important to keep in mind what it was initially linked to.
    To a questionable idea introduced by Sorenson that the way the ancients understood directions was to put their back to the sea and face east.
    So linking this ancient idea with Hebrew thought and language on the one hand and to Mesoamerican conditions on the other, who is the self-proclaimed expert on Hebrew thought and Mesoamerica? Sorenson, of course. So who has the upper hand in this discussion, the reader, with limited if any knowledge of Hebrew thought about directions, and the professor who teaches it?
    Turning to Goebbels once again, we find how consistent his statement: “information that is especially biased or misleading, meant to promote or publicize a particular point of view, for it to be credible, its credibility alone will determine whether it is true or false.”
    And his secondary thought, “The information may be true or false, but it is always carefully selected for its effect.”
    Sorenson also writes (p42): “Another geographical question that keeps coming up as one reads the Book of Mormon is the nature and location of the “narrow ‘passage” referred to in Alma 50:34 and 52:9 and Mormon 2:29 and 3:5.” A little later, he then submits his solution as he writes (p43): “A solution is found by looking at fine-grained geographical detail of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec area.”
    One might think that the solution to the “narrow passage” would be found in studying and understanding the four scriptural references Sorenson gives earlier, and then connecting that with the “small or narrow neck of land” he discusses in Alma 22:27-34, and putting these two explanations together.
    However, in a matter of extreme understatement of conditions anciently and today, Sorenson then goes on to write a couple of pages about the land of Tehuantepec in connection with how it is today and how it matches (at least in his mind) the conditions being written about in the scriptural record—then, on the third page over, (p45), he writes (as he introduces another subject): “The location of Cumorah is not the only question that will have come to the alert reader’s mind. What if the physical conditions changed so much from ancient to modern times that the former locations no longer can be found? We learn from the Book of Mormon that “the face of the whole earth” was changed through terrible earthquakes and other destruction at the time of the Savior’s crucifixion. Sorenson’s question (p45) “Could it be that today there is no way to reconstruct the geography of pre-crucifixion times?”
    Did we read that right? We should look at fine-grained geographical details, such as “an irregular sandstone and gravel formation appearing on a ridge averaging a couple of miles wide and rising 150 to 200 feet above the surrounding landscape as not being changed from all this destruction he mentions, while on the other hand trying to convince us an entire hill Cumorah is no longer available. After all, both the hill Cumorah and the narrow passage of land existed both before (Alma 50:34; 52:9; Ether 15:11) and after (Mormon 2:29; 3:5).
The interesting thing is, despite the completely erroneous information that Sorenson has presented to make his point, there are people who flock to the Mesoamerican banner as though it is everything Soreonson says it is, rather than so completely off the descriptions Mormon describes and left for us to better understand his land. Most of these scholars are found at BYU, having passed through Sorenson’s teachings as head of the Anthropological Department over the years, and the many students he taught on this subject of the scriptural record being Mesoamerica.
    Take William Hamblin, a Board Member of FARMS, and quoted by John L. Sorenson (FARMS update May 1990; The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book), is that “the Nephites used Egyptian terms with Hebrew meanings, claiming that the Hebrew “land west ward (Hebrew behind)” would be written in Egypto-Nephite characters as “land northward” (eg Behind) while the conceptual Hebrew “land eastward” (Hebrew front) would have been written in Egypto-Nephite as ‘land southward’ (eg Front)…In other words, you find the conceptual geography of the Hebrew universe must be “distorted” in relation to the Egyptian vocabulary.”
    Making this simple, Hamblin claims the Semitic minded Nephites tried to say land westward but it got translated “land northward” in the English Book of Mormon. They tried to say land eastward but it got translated “land southward”. They tried to say south sea but it got translated “west sea”, and they tried to say north sea but it got translated “east sea.”
    Now is there anyone out there who really believes this happened?
    Not to be sacrilegious, but if this is really true, then we need to fire the Spirit who acknowledged the correctness of Joseph’s translation, and fire Joseph Smith himself for his terrible job of translating.
    How on earth can any intelligent being today make such statements?
    This seems to me to be one of those points that needs to be belabored—again, and again, until we get it right!
    There are two major issues with this type of thinking. First of all is the fact that Nephi wrote plainly that he knew the directions he was traveling along the Red Sea, when he wrote: “And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction” (1 Nephi 16:13). Consider these points:
(See the next post, “Have You Ever Wondered Why? – Part VI,” for an explanation of the four points listing as to whether or not there were any mistakes made by the Spirit in the translation)

No comments:

Post a Comment