Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Zarahemla Encounter– Part II

Continuing with the previous post regarding Sorenson’s claim that the Nephite elite recorders of the scriptural record ignored other people and concentrated solely upon the wealthy and successful Nephites and ignored other groups and people in and on the Land of Promise.
   Starting with the Jaredites as the first group to be introduced (see last post), we then move to:
2. The Mulekites (People of Zarahemla) – which are first mentioned in Omni when Mosiah I was commanded to flee the city of Nephi and traveled northward to discover Zarahemla. There is not a lot mentioned about the people of Zarahemla since when discovered they were illiterate, had no records of their history, brought no records with them from Jerusalem, denied the being of their Creator, and could not even be understood by the Nephites (Omni 1:17).
    There is no mystery to any of this being brief. Without records, Zarahemla, the leader (or king) of the Mulekites only had a memory handed down over generations of the previous 400 years of Mulekite history (Omni 1:18), which he told Mosiah and which Amaleki, the prophet, briefly wrote down (Omni 1:14-22). Now it is likely Amaleki could have written more on these Small Plates of Nephi, but the space was limited and his comments were brief.
    After all, his entire record is only nineteen (19) verses of which 10 verses (54%) he devoted to this one event. When recognizing two other events of extreme importance, i.e., Mosiah being led by the power of the Lord’s arm out of the city of Nephi and through the wilderness by many preachings and prophesyings (Omni 1:13), and a serious war fought between the Nephites and Lamanites and King Benjamin drove the Nephites out of the land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:24), 54% about the Mulekites and Coriantumr might be considered a lot.
    On the other hand, Amaleki tells us that Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory, and they are written, but not in these plates” (Omni 1:18). This can only mean:
1) A much more complete record of the Mulekites is given in the Nephite record;
2) That Nephite record was on the Large Plates of Nephi, which were kept by the kings, which Mormon had already abridged by the time he encountered these Small Plates (Words of Mormon 1:4);
3) Amaleki had no reason to go into greater detail about this encounter;
4) There is no suggestion in any of this that the Nephite elite wrote only about themselves.
For that record we need to turn to Mosiah and also to Alma to find—of which both records are quite extensive, involving the entire story of Alma the Elder, king Benjamin, Mosiah I, Ammon, Zeniff, king Noah, and Limhi, and the rescue of the Nephites who went back to reclaim the Land of the First Inheritance—the City and portions of the Land of Nephi. And as far as this story is concerned, we can learn of its placement within the Israelite kings by reading the accounts of king Zedekiah, the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., and the fate of Zedekiah’s family—which, when read all together, gives us the complete picture of the son Mulek and his history. We can even go into secular history and read about the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzer, Zedekiah and the end of Zedekiah’s Royal Line in Israel.
    The Lord knowing all this, and being involved in the writing of the ancient prophets and Mormon’s abridgement, of which Mormon said:
And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:7), so that without much overlap, the Lord brought about the entire record of Zedekiah, Mulek, and the involvement of the Mulekites into the Nephite people in the Land of Promise.
    It is a shame that theorists like Sorenson lose sight of the workings of the Lord within the scriptural record, but the facts are there and need not be belittled by him or other theorists who want to show that other people were in and on the Land of Promise who were not, of course, there at all.
    Thus, when Sorenson writes (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,” is not at all accurate. However, despite Sorenson's negative take on the scriptural record, the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be, “Another Witness of Jesus Christ,” or another witness of the scriptural record of the dealings with God and man, or another witness of God’s involvement with the House of Israel—all we need to do is put the two together, i.e., the Bible and the Book of Mormon and see how they so easily and perfectly fit.
    One can only wonder how great will be the day when we have a third witness, the record of the Ten Tribes, and even more than that, all the witnesses of God’s dealings with man and the House of Israel as we will someday see as more and more peoples come together in the future to bring God’s word out of the dust of the ages and into the hands of modern man.
    We saw how that happened in the time of Alma, when the record of Alma, the record of Zeniff, and the record of Limhi, all came together in a spiritual feast of the early Church as the Mulekites and Nephites joined together to be one people. The fact that there will be other days like that one is obvious—and no doubt there will be those who fight and complain about it, but overall, the work of the Lord will go forth in these writings, showing his power and accomplishments through man as his works are unveiled and revealed for the first time in new lands among other peoples from the House of Israel and the Gentiles as well.
    The problem lies in the changing of meaning of the written words of Mormon and the beliefs of Sorenson, the other Mesoamericanists. And since the latter feels he is absolutely correct, he feels completely free to change the meaning of the scriptural record in light of his understanding of the Mesoamerican scene. As an example, Sorenson writes (p117): “The Jaredites were essentially confined to the land northward until the time of King Lib (Ether 10:21), about 1500 B.C. The Book of Mormon reports that at that time Lib built a great city at then narrow neck of land, suggesting increased penetration into the land southward.”
    Of course we know from the scriptural record that Lib did “that which was good in the sight of the Lord. And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter” (Ether 10:19). However, despite Mormon writing to the contrary “And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants” (Ether 10:21), Sorenson ignores that knowledge and makes up his own mind that the Jaredites moved into the Land Southward contrary to what the scriptural record says. He adds (p117): “The archaeological record tells us that earlier First Tradition settlements had been concentrated north of the isthmus (his narrow neck of land), but that after 1500 B.C. significant though still secondary Olmec activity was manifested south of the neck.”
In insisting that the Olmec were the Jaredites, the theorist is left having to defend why the Jaredites went into and settled the Land Southward when the scriptural record says the opposite
    Again, the problem lies with Sorenson, the avowed Mesoamericanist, who thinks he knows more than Mormon, because in his Mesoamerican model, the Olmec people, who he claims were the Jaredites, moved south of his narrow neck of land—therefore, in Sorenson's world, the Jaredites would have to do that even though Mormon tells us they did not.
    It is this type of thinking that causes so much trouble in the discussion of Land of Promise location. To the Mesoamericanist, it doesn’t matter what the scriptural record says—the only thing that matters is the location of Mesoamerica and anything that disagrees with that has to be wrong or change, even if it is in the scriptural record, and is so stated in the writings of Mesoamericanists!

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