Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More Comments from Readers:

Comment #1 “Your Zarahemla (Pachacamac) is, at best, northwest of Cusco, where you claim the land of Nephi is located, but it’s supposed to be north” Tyrus.
An Internal Map of the scriptural reference of these locations found in Alma 22:27-34. (Red Diamond) represents City of Zarahemla (Pachacamac today), and (Yellow Square) represents City of Nephi (Cuzco today). While the two cities are mostly west and east of one another, the two lands are north and south of one another. Note: In his descriptions of locations, Mormon  uses location of “lands” not “cities” in Alma 22:27 regarding this separation
    Response: It is to the north. It is not due north, or even mostly north, but it is north, which is what Mormon is describing. Also, he is not talking about the city of Zarahemla (Pachacamac), but the Land of Zarahemla (note his use of “land of Zarahemla” in his description in Alma 22:27). This land of Zarahemla is described as running east and west on the north side of the edge of the narrow strip of wilderness, with the Land of Nephi running along the southern edge of the narrow strip. Mormon describes this division or separation of Nephi and Zarahemla thus, as he outlines the Land of Nephi over which the king ruled: “amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla…” In addition, most of the Lamanite incursions northward were into the eastern land of Zarahemla along its borders with the land of Gideon (or into the valley of Gideon just to the east).
Certainly to the cities along the Sea East coast, which would be directly north of the City of Nephi. The problem is in not using the terms “land of” and inserting your own idea “city of” but that is not how the scripture reads. On the other hand, you are not alone, a lot of people think Zarahemla was not along the coast, but Amaleki tells us that it was.
    “And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16, emphasis added). This should suggest, though it does not outright say it, that this settlement was where they landed, which was the case Lehi who “pitched his tents after landing.” So "into the land where Mosiah discovered them" would place them along that west coast.
    Comment #2: “Helaman 1 states that the city of Zarahemla was in the center of their lands.”
Response: This is not correct. As Mormon states: “for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city Zarahemla” (Helaman 1:18). Heart does not mean center—in 1828, it meant “the inner part of any thing, the interior, the chief part, the vital part”; today it means “central or innermost part of something, the hub, core, nucleus, bosom, etc. It is an idiom that means where the most important things happens, where the control is located, where the main parts are. The heart of Salt Lake City is either the capital, the temple, the Church headquarters, the business district, the restaurant district, the city hall/court house, etc. These are not necessarily in the center of the city, but depending on category, make up the hub or the core, or the heart of the city. 
    On the other hand, "center" means the middle point of a circle or sphere, equidistant from every point on the circumference or surface, which "center" is not implied regarding the location of the city of Zarahemla, though the city would have been "in the heart of the Land of Zarahemla," and in government, the heart of the Land Southward, it assuredly was the capital of the Nephite Nation at that time and for hundreds of years.
    As for Central: “And now he did not tarry in the land of Zarahemla, but he did march forth with a large army, even towards the city of Bountiful; for it was his determination to go forth and cut his way through with the sword, that he might obtain the north parts of the land. And, supposing that their greatest strength was in the center of the land, therefore he did march forth, giving them no time to assemble themselves together save it were in small bodies; and in this manner they did fall upon them and cut them down to the earth” (Helaman 1:24).
Even if we determine that “center of the land” meant the “center” as you indicate, that does not mean that Zarahemla was located in the center. This usage is in regard to Coriantumr marching his Lamanite army up to Bountiful, assuming where the strength of the Nephite resistence would be and determining to rush quickly through and overcome any resistance before it could be properly organized. It does not say that Zarahemla, as the starting point, was located in the center of the land, only that Coriantumr traveled up the center of the land.
    Comment #3: “Pachacamac is on the west coast and doesn't leave room for the land of Melek to the west and the wilderness of Hermounts.”
    Response: Zarahemla is right where the Mulekites would have landed. As Amaleki stated (see above). On the other hand, the wilderness of Hermounts, which is mentioned only once in the scriptural record (Alma 2:37) is north of the City of Zarahemla, beyond the borders of the land of Zarahemla. It says west, but that is in reference to the location of the Amlicites and Lamanites and the battle that took place between the Nephites, Amlicites and Lamanites, who were marching, fighting, and then fleeing from the east of the city toward it—having started out in the Valley of Gideon (Alma 2:20) and on the east of the River Sidon (Alma 2:17). So west of that location would be the land of Zarahemla and much further west of that location would be the City of Zarahemla (Alma 2:26)—and north and west of that location would he the wilderness of Hermounts.
Internal Map showing the relationship east to west of the three places mentioned: Sidon River, and cities of Melek and Zarahemla and the Wilderness of Hermounts
    As for Melek, its first mention is after Alma returned home to his own house at Zarahemla to rest himself from the labors which he had performed” (Alma 8:1), where he spent the rest of the year. In the beginning of the next year, “Alma departed from thence and took his journey over into the land of Melek, on the west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness” (Alma 8:3). Thus we find that the City of Zarahemla in the far west, and the River Sidon toward the far east, with Melek in between, for Alma left the city, traveled east to the land of Melek, which was “on the west side of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness” (Alma 8:3).
    The point is, all of the locations we suggest meet the scriptural record as Mormon states it, not a belief in the record, or an assumption of what the record states, but what Mormon wrote.
    In summation, since we receive numerous comments, inquiries, questions disagreements, and request for clarification,  that most of the errors being made by readers of the scriptural record can be summed up in just a few categories:
1. Lack of knowledge of the meanings of the words being used;
2. Lack of knowledge of the Hebraic way of thinking, writing and speaking;
3. Mis-interpreting what is being stated in the scriptural record, such as thinking Mormon wrote the “river” Sidon when he wrote the “waters” of Sidon (Mormon 1:10), or thinking the land of Zarahemla meant the city of Zarahemla, etc.
4. Having one’s mind made up of a situation that requires the person to not accept what is actually written in the scriptural record and allowing the person to substitute a preferential meaning;
5. Not bothering to search out other scriptural comments that supports or counters the point under question;
6. Approaching a problem with a counter or negative point of view, rather than thinking "that's wrong," or "I don't agree with that," recognizing if the scripture says this, then finding out why and what it means the way it is stated;
7. Believing common sense prevails over spiritual matters, i.e., like saying ”Jacob did not know what was at the northern-most point of the land northward (about 1500 miles from Cusco), or Jacob could not have known whether they were on an island or not, etc., when the scriptural record suggests, as any LDS should consider, that the Lord talks to his prophets and provides visions for them of matters, such as both Lehi and Nephi having a vision of the entire Land of Promise, the seas around it, the wars fought upon it, the gentiles coming in ships to it, etc., etc., etc. Jacob even tells us that the Lord spoke to him when he said regarding this message of their being on an island, “or the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands” (2 Nephi 10:19, which is the sentence before saying they were on an island).


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  3. Tyrus, my interpretation of this post was that Del started specifically answering your question. By the end of the post his reference to "most of the errors being made by readers of the scriptural record" had shifted to a more general statements referring to the whole of all of the questions he receives. I cannot, of course, put words in Del's mouth, but I don't believe he meant all, or even most, or perhaps any, of his list to be applied to your question.

  4. For my part, I went through many years not really paying attention to, or caring about, specific BoM geography. If I thought about it at all, I simply assumed that the whole of the Americas was the Promised Land.
    Several years ago, I came across "Mormon and Moroni", which was the first time I recall ever being exposed to the thought that the BoM covered a much more limited territory (Mesoamerica, in this case). I had concerns with that theory, but it made *much* more sense than North and South America being the lands Northward and Southward.
    Several years after that I came across "Nephi in the Wilderness" (South American model). Reading through that, it seemed to make even more sense to me, though I felt it did have shortcomings in what it interpreted the directional seas to be.
    Several years after that, I came across "Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica". Reading through it took remarkably little time for so large a book. To me, it makes much more sense than other theories I have read (both prior and since). I do still have questions, but I feel it is the most likely location.

    That said, I believe the Book of Mormon to be scripture, and wherever its history unfolded is merely a point of interest compared to its message that Jesus is the Christ.

  5. To Michael: Your first comment is absolutely correct. It is a list I have used many times over the years.
    As for the second point, your experience to a certain extent seems to mirror mine, though the ending for me was that I decided to see what the scriptural record had to say and not other writers. So I took Nephi and Mormon at their word and progressed step by step across the globe.

  6. Tyrus: Because of length, answering in two parts:
    Tyrus: regarding your comments above:
    No personal attack intended—if you knew me better you would understand that. However, my wife does tell me all the time I get sarcastic (unfortunateloy, the humor of my youth) ☺
    First of all, I enjoy debate, but I try to be careful when the scriptures are involved since I do not feel the Lord wants us debating scriptures—discussing them, yes, but debate suggests a form of contention, which usually escalates.
    But just so you know. I welcome differences of opinion as I have stated before because it forces me to check and double-check and triple-check my position or understanding, which I do against the scriptures involved. Being the youngest brother in my family growing up, I developed a very strong tendency to make sure I was right before opening my mouth ☺. Running various businesses over the years, I found that to be most helpful.
    Differences also give me more to write about in the blog, which I also appreciate. Many of our articles have been the result of comments or questions or disagreements sent in by readers.
    Now, having said all that, I also think differences ought to be well thought out, not just a knee-jerk reaction some people have when they disagree. I don’t know if you have ever been in a discussion with a Mesoamericanist who has written about his/her theory, etc., but knee-jerking responses seem to be the order of the day. The conferences held in Provo years ago often resulted into shouting matches between those with one part of Mesoamerica against those who thought another part of Mesoamerica was the Land of Promise, etc.
    I have no intention of allowing this blogsite to degenerate into that type of forum. On the other hand, I doubt many of our readers agree with our points on every issue (maybe not even most), though many do from personal correspondence sent to us via email, but just about all seem to think the general idea of Andean South America to be accurate.
    On the other hand, I have always felt a compelling need to write for everyone who follows this site, which we started over six years ago, have posted over 2000 articles with over 551,000 visits to-date.
    Part of our problem is that those who join our site in recent months, as an example, are unaware of all that has been covered on almost every topic possibly connected to the Book of Mormon geographical location. Thus, having missed the six year build up to the point we are at this time, they are unaware that some of their questions have been answered extensively in the past—as an example for the first nearly five years or more we did not try to pinpoint any location within the Land of Promise as a specific city, mountain, river, waterway, etc., though in recent months have begun to branch into that area, believing we have set enough groundwork to make our views on solid ground (plus having far more research on that specific issue available to us now that was not available in years past).
    However, for those who do not go back and read all that was written, they do not have that background of our position on some areas now being stated, and that groundwork simply cannot be given when answering in an article or two, let alone a single comment, since it may have involved scores of articles in the past. Most of our new readers have learned this and have gone back and read all the former posts from beginning to present, and/or have purchased the books to bring them up to speed.

  7. Tyrus (cont)
    Most of our questions we receive are from one of two groups: those who have little idea of what we have written in the past and covered extensively already, and secondly, those who have read almost everything and have a further question.
    Evidently, you are a person who has very strong ideas about your point of view and want to express it whenever it comes into disagreement with our statements. While you are certainly in your rights to have your own opinions, and state them if you wish on our blog, I would prefer you become aware of what has been previously covered, recovered and re-recovered many times so we are not rehashing information many of our readers have read several times. In that, I mean no disrespect, just a matter of convenience for us both.
    On the other hand, there are going to be times when two people reading the same scripture see two different possibilities, and there is nothing wrong with that. As we have stated more times than I can remember, all work in the Book of Mormon from a geographical point of view is at best, assumptive. There simply is not enough information in most cases to do any more than form an educated opinion about the answer. Yet, it should be noted, that when reading the scriptural record in total, we find that most subjects have sufficient information to be specific and no longer assumptive.
    As an example, you mention among others two points in your comments above 1) location of City of Nephi on east coast; and 2) Coriantumr in the center of the Land where Zarahemla must be, etc. Since those two items happen to be among already written articles scheduled to post soon, I won’t both to duplicate the information here. Nor do I assume you will agree with the points covered when they do post, that is obviously your choice. But I see no further value in discussing the differences unless you can see an additional point not already covered on the issue.
    Once again, we appreciate your readership and have no intention of attacking anyone’s point of view or beliefs. Even those who are Mesoamericanists, Great Lakes, Heartland, etc., etc., etc., theorists, ☺, though we will continue to point out where people misrepresent the scriptural record in their beliefs.

    1. Del-I apologize for calling this a personal attack if that was not the intention. I'm sorry I spent so much time expressing disagreements instead of focusing on common ground. Thanks again for your time and good luck moving forward.

  8. No problem. As I said before, your comments and all others keep me on my toes and I appreciate it...otherwise I might get complacent and think I know everything :)

  9. BTW...if I took everything people said to me that disagree with me as a personal attack, I would be a bloody mess by now :)