Friday, January 1, 2016

America is the Land of Promise—But Where is America?-Part XVI

Continuing with the previous posts regarding one of our readers sending us information of a blog and asking our opinion and comments.
     Blog comment: “Compare this to the assumptions made to support the Mesoamerican Hill Cumorah: 1) Joseph Smith did not know Book of Mormon Geography…”
    Response: Actually, we do not know what Joseph Smith knew about the geography. But from at least one incident, we might infer he did not know particularly where the Nephites were. A convert named John Bernhisel joined the Church in 1837 while practicing medicine in New York City. In 1841 he was ordained bishop of the congregation there. Bernhisel was a well-educated man, and in 1841 read Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan by John L Stephens with drawings by Frederick Catherwood.
Left: John Lloyd Stephens; Center: Frederick Catherwood self-portrait; Right: The red shaded area is where the information in the book “Incidents of Travel” covered
    Impressed by the book, Bernhisel gave the two-volume work to Wilford Woodruff in September 1841 with instructions to make sure it was given to Joseph Smith. Woodruff, who was on his way back from England to Nauvoo, delivered the book, as requested. It would appear that Joseph appreciated receiving the book, as he wrote a letter to Bernhisel acknowledging the gift. Dated November 16, 1841, the first paragraph of the letter states: “I received your kind present by the hand of Er Woodruff & feel myself under many obligations for this mark of your esteem & friendship which to me is the more interesting as it unfolds & develops many things that are of great importance to this generation & corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon; I have read the volumes with the greatest interest & pleasure & must say that of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprehensive” (Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002, p533).
    Two points should be made here: 1) Joseph’s statement: “of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country it is the most correct luminous & comprehensive,” indicated as we have said, “this country” pertains to both North and South America, since Incidents of Travel dealt with Mesoamerica, and not at all with North America or the area of the United States; and 2) Joseph did not say directly that Mesoamerica was the home of the Nephites, but suggested that the ruins were Nephite. None of this was in what this blog author claims was the Nephite landsin fact almost all theorists refrain from putting into their articles information that would work against their views, like this one.
Some of Catherwood’s drawings that impressed Joseph Smith to feel these were Nephite ruins
    Following this event, in September 1842, while John Taylor was editor of the Times and Seasons, an article appeared in the paper regarding Stephen’s book: “Mr. Stephens' great developments of antiquities are made bare to the eyes of all the people by reading the history of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They lived about the narrow neck of land, which now embraces Central America, with all the cities that can be found. Read the destruction of cities at the crucifixion of Christ, pages 459-60. Who could have dreamed that twelve years would have developed such incontrovertible testimony to the Book of Mormon?” (Extract from Stephens' 'Incidents of Travel in Central America'," Times and Seasons 3 no. 22 ,15 September 1842, p915)
    It is obvious that when first shown the ruins in Central or Mesoamerica, the early Saints, including Joseph Smith, Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor associated those ruins with the Nephitesand why wouldn't they? It was proof positive of an early civilization in the Western Hemisphere as the Book of Mormon and the early Saints, especially Joseph Smith, proclaimed.
More of Catherwood’s drawings that inspired numerous people and early church leaders to look toward Central and Mesoamerica for the early American advanced culture
    Obviously, Joseph was taken and impressed by these ruins. He stated in July 1842: “Stephens and Catherwood's researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatamala, and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people-men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormen unfolds their history.-ED” (Joseph Smith (editor), "American Antiquities," Times and Seasons 3 no. 18, 15 July 1842, p860).
    In the stories and knowledge the Angel Moroni imparted to Joseph Smith about those who lived on this continent and from wench they came, one might suggest that the information was general as opposed to specific, i.e., general area of this land, this country, this continent, as opposed to this tract of land, this hill, this mountain, this valley. Certainly Joseph thought the land the Nephites occupied at one time or another was in Central and Mesoamerica—he also, evidently, thought Lehi landed 30º South Latitude on the western Chilean coast of South America according to Frederick G. Williams (see our blog post: More Interesting Facts About 30º South Latitude – The Chilean Coast, Tuesday, August 28, 2012).
Left: Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, First Presidency meeting in which was written down the 30º South Latitude landing; Right: Coquimbo Bay, Chile, located at 30º South Latitude on the Chilean coast of South America–the magnificent Andean ruins were unknown to Americans in Joseph Smith's day as were those of Mesoamerica until Catherwood's drawings in "Incidents of Travel" reached America
    Joseph also obviously thought that which ever generation of Nephites he thought built or occupied the ruins he saw depicted by Catherwood’s drawings in Stephen’s book, he knew “the Book of Mormon unfolded their history.” That is, the history of these people would be found in the Book of Mormon.
    Blog comment: [That Joseph Smith] “…did not know where the Book of Mormon Cumorah was…”
    Response: Whether or not Joseph knew this is unknown; however, it is obvious he did not make a statement as to where it was, and obviously not in New York for the hill there he referred to only as “the hill where the plates were buried.” This sounds like he was separating the hill where the plates were found from the hill where the plates were buried (or more correctly deposited and hid up), but again, that cannot be confirmed from Joseph’s writings.
    Blog comment: “[That Joseph Smith] “did not declare the Book of Mormon Cumorah to be in New York…
    Response: Joseph Smith never declared the Book of Mormon Cumorah to be in New York. He declared that the hill where the plates were found by him was in New York.
    Blog comment: “[That the] “…anonymous articles in the “Times & Seasons” reflected better knowledge than Joseph and Oliver, or at least better speculation…”
    Response: Actually, as pointed out above, Joseph wrote in the Times & Seasons that the Nephites were in Central America, Chiapas and the Yucatan from seeing the pictures of the ruins drawn by Frederick Catherwood.
    Blog comment: “Scientific evidence supports a Mesoamerican setting better than a North American setting. The first four, I suppose, are matters of personal belief based on inferences one makes from the evidence, but the last one, as I demonstrate in Lost City of Zarahemla and Moroni’s America, is inverted.”
    Response: The blog author claims it is a matter of opinion even though Joseph Smith said the ruins in Central and Mesoamerica were obviously Nephite. I guess he thinks if it doesn’t agree with his beliefs, he can pass it off only as an of opinion. As for the last point, one has to agree with him since there is little evidence that the Mesoamerican Book of Mormon Land of Promise matches the scriptural record. For the most part is does not at all; but that does not preclude the fact that Nephites at one time moved into, settled, and built up Central and Mesoamerica.
Ruins in Mesoamerica where a culture similar to that of Andean Peru built similar stone pyramids and complex centers
    Hagoth’s immigrants went northward (Alma 63:5) in such large numbers—“five thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children” (Alma 63:4), that evidence of their culture would have to be somewhere north of the Land of Promise, i.e., north of the entire Land of Promise, which includes the Land Northward in the Land of Promise, which was part of Lehi's promise since Nephites (Lehi's descendants) eventually went into the Land Northward to inherit the land (Helaman 3:3).
    Blog comment: “The big problem here, to state it again, is the Mesoamericanists don't disclose all the evidence in a fair and objective way as Sperry requested.”
    Response: Based just on the last comment before this one, it sounds like this blog author is guilty of his own accusation, i.e., not disclosing all the evidence in a fair and objective way as Sperry requested!

No comments:

Post a Comment