Monday, November 2, 2015

Going Far Afield With Personal Views-Part II

Continuing with John L. Sorenson’s landmark book that supposedly shed new light on the Book of Mormon and the location of the Land of Promise, we can see how far afield from the actual scriptural record and its intent we get when we try to place everything in a pre-determined location, such as Mesoamerica as he does in his writing.
    (p229)  “The best analysis of what was going on in highland Guatemala at the time of the books of Mosiah and Alma is by Southern Methodist University professor David Freidl. He considers it clear that social life and public art reached a peak during the Late Pre-Classic period (300 B.C. to 100 A.D.) During the rest of the pre-Columbian history the area was “balkanized” in political fragments that never again attained even the limited degree of unity enjoyed in Mesoamerica 1900 years ago.”
    Response: However, in the 200 years following this period, from about 50 A.D. to 250 A.D., the Land of Promise was one people with “no contention among the people in all the land because of the love that dwell in the hearts of the people” (4 Nephi 1:13, 15), nor any envyings, strifes, tumults, whoredoms nor lyings, murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God” (4 Nephi 16). This happiness seems to have been in the period Sorenson claims was “balkanized” in political fragments that never again attained even the limited degree of unity.” Pride did not enter into the land until after the 200th year, or 200 A.D. (4 Nephi 1:24).
    (p268) In writing about no evidence of Spanish type ships being built before the Spanish arrived, there is a reference Sorenson makes to an obscure writing of Robert C. West, “Aboriginal Sea Navigation between Middle and South America,” American Anthropologist (New Series 63, No 1, Feb 1961 p 133-135). In this article in 1961, according to a record of Indian tradition about regular trading expeditions by sea, written by a Spaniard in 1525, and writing about two Spanish ships being built at the Balsas River (Zacatula) undertaken by an unidentified people from islands somewhere south of Mexico.
Zacatula is located to the south of Mexico about 1800 to 2100 miles, placing it either in the Cocos (1800 miles) or the Galapagos (2100 miles) according to a 1525 A.D. writing
    Response: There is some question to the authenticity of this other than its mythical or legendary status. The writer claims while the people building the ships are unknown, they come from an island or islands 1800 to 2100 miles to the south (600 or 700 leagues), which suggests two possibilities:
The Isla del Coco, or Cocos Island, lies south of Cost Rica, is the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest
1) Cocos Island, about 350 miles off the Costa Rica shore, surrounded by Hammerhead and Bigeye Thresher sharks, rays and dolphins, the climate is extremely wet and oceanic. With 300-foot cliffs ringing the island, docking is possible at only four bays. Other than mythical pirate treasure, there is no record of valued ore or other natural resources.
Galapagos Archiplego off the coast of Ecuador
2) Archipelago de colon, a group of 18 volcanic islands, plus three smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets, are better known as the Galapagos Islands, 621 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Its isolated coasts are considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife viewing and shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else. The main use of the islands was as hideouts for mostly English pirates who pilfered Spanish galleons carrying gold and silver from South America to Spain.
    Who might have been building two Spanish-style ships in 1525 who lived in either of the islands mentioned, if even accurate as a story, is unknown.
    It certainly seems to have no purpose in a book about the scriptural record, for it neither verifies nor opposes any point under discussion by Sorenson.
    (266)  “There is on apparent exception to the likely rule of short travel. Helaman 3:4 reports that some Nephites “did travel to an exceeding great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers.” That statement seems to imply a distance greater than the area in the land northward that Morianton tried to reach, so close to a Bountiful that it might have allied with it (Alma 5);29, 32)”
    Response: It is interesting, that in the entire scriptural record there is never a mention of “short travel,” within the Land of Promise, but since Sorenson is always trying to limit the distances to match Mesoamerica, he creates a “short distance” scenario, then tells us there is no apparent exception to the likely rule of short travel. Cutting through the hyperbole, that means there is no scenario of short travel, and no comment about it one way or another. Stated differently, there is no reason to consider distances were short in the Land of Promise, and no comment to support short distances. But that, of course, does not stop Sorenson.
    It is also interesting that Sorenson claims Morianton was headed for the land just beyond Bountiful so he could be close to the city of Bountiful when the scriptural record tells us: “Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward” (Alma 50:29). It was well beyond Bountiful that Morianton headed—sometimes it seems Sorenson is reading from a different Book of Mormon than the rest of us have.
The fear Moroni had was that once beyond the narrow neck and in possession of the Land Northward, Morianton could convince some of the people of Bountiful to support him, thus creating a separate line of defense for Morianton against the Nephite nation, and a place of refuge from which Morianton could attack the Nephites as he chose.
    (270)  “Scattered throughout the middle part of the Book of Mormon with increasing frequency as one reads on are statements abut Nephite dating (none are exactly correct). If we investigate the Nephite’s calendrical references exhaustively, the footnoted dates fall into question.”
    Response: Why so? These are based on the scriptural reference that usually relates to the “year of the judges,” “reign of the kings,” or “years since Christ’s appearance,” etc. Each date can be readily evaluated against the scriptural record and the timing shown. What Sorenson refers to is that these dates don’t always agree with his secular Guatemala Mayan calendar dates, which he places in high esteem, even more the writings and dating of Moses). Sorenson writes: “Perhaps we will be able to clarify this matter by looking at Mesoamerican calendars.” Stated differently, “if the scriptural record date is different from the Mesoamerican calendar then Sorenson adjusts the record to agree with the Mesoameircan calendar—in this way he has the Noah Flood occurring in 3114 BC like the Mesoamerican calendar rather than 2344 BC according to Moses writing in Genesis and the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.
    However, this does not stop Sorenson. He launches into a several-page discussion on the word “year,” and how it means different things in different circumstances, all in an attempt to get the reader to question the three or four year difference in the scriptural record of the two dates shown, without applying his questionable logic to the 770 years of the Mesoamerican calendar differences.
    (p274)  “If the Nephite “year” had been the same as our present year of 365+ days, then the Book of Mormon prophecies and its history as well would be in error.”
    Response: First of all, our calendar is not 365+ days, which means more days than 365. In reality, the modern Gregorian calendar is 365.2425 days. There are also the fiscal year, the academic year, the seasonal year, etc. Then again, there is the leap year (every fourth year, or 97 years out of 400) to account for the plus .2425 days for four years. In the older Julian calendar (still used in revised form in some Eastern Orthodox churches, the year was 365.25 days. According to Miriam Nancy Shields, ”The New Calendar of the Eastern Churches,” Popular Astronomy (NASA Astrophysics Data System), while this is currently not a problem, the Julian and Gregorian calendars will begin to differ in 2800.
Consequently, Sorenson, like many theorists with their minds made up to their pre-determined location for the Land of Promise, forces issues or tries to change meaning or, in this case, the very clear dates of the scriptural record in favor of a calendaring system found in Mesoamerica that is 770 years different from the Biblical dating of Moses, which is based on the progressional birth dates of the Patriarchs that he lists.

No comments:

Post a Comment