Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Zarahemla Encounter– Part I

Many theorists have tried to make a point that the Nephites did write about other people in and upon the Land of Promise because they were only interested in their own lineage. In his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, John L. Sorenson writes (p53): 
The keepers of Nephi’s records put down no more than a selective fraction of even what they were aware had happened. Obviously, this is why the Nephite scripture is so silent about “the people of Zarahemla.” They are mentioned when their presence occasionally touches upon the fortunes of Nephi’s lineage headed by the “Nephis” or kings, but we would have to have the Zarahemlaites’ own records to learn anything significant about their history.”
    Sorenson also wrote: “Another thing is important about the nature of the Nephite record. All those who kept it were from the powerful and wealthy level of society.”
    It is interesting that this attitude shows up continually in Sorenson’s writing, yet we know of no instances where the Nephites were “narrow” in their thinking. They included everyone and everything surrounding their lives, even if touched on briefly, since only one-hundredth part of the record could be edited or abridged making up the 500 pages of the scriptural record.
As though this was a continual problem among the Nephites, Sorenson writes (p54): “some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches” (3 Nephi 6:12).” However, this does not take place until around 30 A.D., after being in the Land of Promise for about 600 years! And it only lasted for about 4 years, for in 34 A.D., the terrible destruction that shook the land and killed so many, destroying some twenty cities and much of the land.
    While Sorenson for some reason wants us to believe this was the typical condition of the Nephites, in support of his other claim of their singular attentive condition to themselves, one can only wonder why Sorenson makes such an issue of a four-year period of time that was followed by more than 200 years of unrivaled Nephite accomplishments (4 Nephi 1:22), where “every man did deal justly one with another” (4 Nephi 1:2), at a time when “they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift” (4 Nephi 1:3). In fact, “there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought” (4 Nephi 1:13), and were described as having “No robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:17).
    Sometimes one must wonder what scriptural record Sorenson reads, when he wrote (p55): “All this boils down to the fact that the Book of Mormon is a partial record of events, emphasizing what happened to one group of people, put in their own ethnocentric terms, in the midst of other peoples each with its own version of events.” Yet, it is not that the Nephite did not write about others—in fact that was about all they did write about, how others impacted on them and what their teachings and lack of spiritual development caused—and we have a lengthy progression of those events along with their causes and effects.
    What Sorenson blames on lack of writing about other people is, in reality, a lack of information about other people, i.e., except for a few rare circumstances, there were no other people—there were no myriads of people in the Land of Promise as Mesoamericanist theorists want to claim, since the historical record shows there were people in Mesoamerica—just not in the Land of Promise. In fact, we don’t even know there were people in Mesoamerica, only that historians claim there were. Certainly nothing in the record in any way verifies that point. Consider, that
1. “There shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the lord (2 Nephi 1:6)—note the future tense statement;
2. Lehi and his seed acquired the Land of Promise, as a promise from the Lord (2 Nephi 1:5)—such a promise is unbreakable on the part of the Lord;
3. All other countries would not know of the Nephites or the land (2 Nephi 1:8)—a total secret from the world, which precludes others in the land;
4. The Land of Promise was to be kept for only the Nephites (2 Nephi 1:9)—again precluding all other people;
5. No one else in the Land of Promise to molest the Nephites (2 Nephi 1:8,9)—there would be no one in the Land of Promise to molest them or take away their land.
    All the children of Lehi had to do in order to receive this “first blessing,” that is, the five outlined above, was to listen to their younger brother, Nephi (2 Nephi 1:31) and keep the commandments of the Lord (2 Nephi 1:32).
    Now, as for Sorenson’s singling out, let’s take a look at these different groups who Sorenson says we know nothing about and that the Nephi elite did not want to discuss:
1. Sam—he became part of Nephi’s lineage (2 Nephi 4:11);
2. Zoram—he became part of Nephi’s lineage (2 Nephi 1:32);
3. Zarahemla (Mulekites)—they became part of Nephi’s lineage (Mosiah 25:13);
As such, all three of these groups did not have a separate lineage, and whenever it is mentioned Nephites or children of Nephi, they are included. At the same time, every time a new group of people were encountered, we learned sufficiently about them to understand who they were and why they were included:
1. Jaredites – quite a bit is told about the Jaredites, included from their first encounter in Omni, to their final inclusion into the Nephite lineage and were no longer a separate entity. The fact this bothers Mesoamericanists is that they can not place the Jaredites exactly into any interaction with the Nephites or later groups. They invented a connection between the Jaredfites and Mulekites by changing the meaning of Alma 22:30—“which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing”—from the subject matter of the Jaredites, to that of the Mulekites.
    This simple parenthetical statement of the Jaredites first landing place is changed by Mesoamericanists to put the Mulekites in contact with the ancient civilization from Mesopotamia, instead of understanding the the statement had to do with the 43-man expedition finding the Jaredite bones, not the first landing place of the Mulekites, i.e., “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing,” which should be read:
    “And it (Bountiful) bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it (Land of Desolation) being so far northward that it (Land of Desolation) came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed (Jaredites), of whose bones we have spoken (Jaredites already introduced), which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla (discovered the bones), it (the land where the bones were found) being the place (location) of their (Jaredites) first landing.”
(See the next post, “The Zarahemla Encounter– Part II,” for more information on the people discovered by the Nephites and how they were introduced into the scriptural record as opposed to Sorenson claiming they were ignored by the Nephite elite)

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