Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Nature of the Record-Part II

Continuing with the article by John L. Sorenson that was sent to us recently regarding the so-called “new ideas” about the Book of Mormon that he claims have surfaced in recent years. In this article we see why Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists so misunderstand the isolation of the Land of Promise and the absence of other nations and other cultures and other peoples there, which causes them to insist on putting other people into the mix and insist they were there (in the case of Mesoamerica, they claim other people existed there long before Lehi arrived, thus they must find other people in the scriptures and when they do not, they claim the prophets who recorded the Nephite events were narrow-minded and deliberatel ignored the other people). 
    Sorenson: “It shows Abraham moving out of northern Mesopotamia and into Canaan, then Egypt—his family closely knit with other peoples and cultures who are mainly ignored in the record.”
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah are introduced to us in the Bible narrative quite completely—they are not ignored or skipped over
    Response: However, when they do interact, we find their mention. We see Lot and his involvement in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, which gives us the evil of sodomizing and homosexuality and the results of not obeying. We may not know much about them, but we know about them! And in the Book of Mormon, there is no other people for us to know!
    Sorenson: “Ur, Lot, Abimelech, Gomorrah, the “five kings,” and Melchizedek are glimpsed in passing, but they are essentially part of the scenery, almost props on the stage to facilitate telling the account of how and why Israel obtained its place in the promised land.”
    Response: Again, we know they are there because they are mentioned, however briefly and incomplete. There is nothing of the kind in the Book of Mormon!
    Sorenson: “Both the Nephite and Jaredite documents display these elements.”
    Response: No, they do not! There are no elements of any kind displayed to show that another people were involved. Everyone mentioned is known, along with an understanding of their connection to the Jaredite lineage. There is nothing to suggest anything similar to the brief mention of other peoples and events as found in the Bible.
    Sorenson: “Moroni, the last scribe of the lineage of Nephi, concluded and buried the record not because there was no more history being made around him” (See Morm. 8:1-9; Moro. 1:1-2).
    Response: The records were hidden because “for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not” (Mormon 8:5). And because: “having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni” (Mormon 6:6). Consequently, there was no more history made around him for he was alone, and the plates were hidden in the ground, both by Mormon and finally the last by Moroni, for fear the Lamanites might find and destroy them.
    Sorenson: Those happenings were simply not part of his group’s history.”
Response: Moroni was alone. He was the last man standing of the Nephite Nation. The remaining Lamanites and Gadianton Robbers were at war with one another in a giant civil war that ended up lasting at least 26 years and was still raging in 421 A.D., when Moroni wrote: ” And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen” (Moroni 10:34). Why did he not write more? Because: “and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father” (Mormon 8:3), and “Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Mormon 8:7), and “And now, behold, I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9). There was nothing left to write about but the wars among the Lamanites and the Robbers and he obviously saw no reason to harrow up the reader with the terrible destruction that entailed.
    Sorenson: “(Of course, there were other, more important, reasons for finishing and sealing up the record. See Moro. 1:4; title page.) It is apparent, then, why Mormon’s abridgement all but ignores the people of Zarahemla, or “Mulekites” as we have dubbed them, even though they were more numerous than the Nephites. (See Mosiah 25:2-3).”
    Response: In terms of God’s dealing with man, the information of God leading Mulek to the Land of Promise is sufficient. They had no records and kept no information about themselves, so even if one wanted to write about them, there was nothing more known than what we have.
    Sorenson: “Neither did Ether give much attention to those usurping rulers, likely from a competing lineage, who imprisoned his ancestors and so kept them from their place on the throne.”
The record of Ether was rather extensive. Moroni condensed 1500 years of existence to just a few pages. Obviously, he did not deal with anyone or any circumstance in much detail, but we can be assured it was a much longer writing than what we have now
    Response: Sorenson's comment is simply not true. In all cases we know who these people were, i.e., they were part of the overall Jaredite kingdom. As for specific families, we do not know them separately. On the other hand, Moroni had 1500 years of records before him, the part he chose of that was obviously very brief and what more in the record will some day be available we do not know.
    Sorenson: “In fact, their names aren’t even mentioned in the Book of Ether. (See Ether 10:30-31; 11:17-19).”
    Response. In going over these references, what Sorenson says is not true. We are given the names: Heth, Aaron, Amnigaddah, Coriantum, Com, who split the kingdom in two and fought against Amgid, and during Com’s time the old order of the Robbers was resumed and Com fought against them but did not prevail. It is true in 11:17, we do not know the name of the mighty man who arose, but we know he was a descendant of the brother of Jared. The problem with Sorenson and his like is that in trying to prove their point, they ignore what the scriptures actually say and make up their own interpretation of it.
    After all, it was Moroni who was abridging this record and we do not know all that he had from which to draw his writing. Perhaps it was Moroni who decided not to write detailed about one battle after another, and perhaps there was no interaction during these times between God and man for him to draw upon. But to lay blame here that those who kept the record kept an incomplete one or that those who drew from it were sketchy, we do not know what the Spirit prompted them to write and what not to write. To draw any other conclusions is simply to further one’s own personal agenda, which Sorenson seems to continually do.
    Sorenson: “To the people of Jared’s lineage, those names were not important.”
    Response: Sorenson neglects to understand, or to acknowledge, or to consider that all these people were of Jared’s lineage (that is, from the original 24 families that arrived and made up the Jaredites the Lord led to the land of promise).
    Sorenson: “In significant ways, the burden of these ancient American records was about the fate of the central families who kept them.”
Response: Of the original 24 families, two were the leaders of the entire Jaredite nation—Jared and his brother. While Jared’s lineage became the first and subsequent kings (we do not know if that was maintained or not), the Brother of Jared seemed to hold the spiritual key to the people, and possibly his descendants (we do not know if that was a fact or not).
    The entire record is brief and sketchy, obviously abridged by Moroni who included what the Spirit directed him to do and left out what he was directed to ignore. What conclusions can be drawn from that are minimal, if any. Sorenson draws a considerable scenario, but has little to base it on.
    Sorenson: “Others were sometimes mentioned, but only because they provided necessary scenery and furniture for the primary drama. Even centuries-long periods could be ignored, no doubt because little happened then which was considered crucial in determining the destiny of the descendants of Nephi or of Jared.”
    Response: Sorenson loves to make this point, but in reality there is little to base his conclusions upon. Without Moroni to ask, it is all moot and the negative view Sorenson draws from this is ill-based assumption serves no worthwhile purpose. Simply put, there were no other people mentioned. The simplest conclusion to draw is that there were no other people involved. Anything else is pure speculation and evidently without purpose other than to further the Mesoamerican beliefs that simply have to merit in this case at all.

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