Sunday, June 5, 2016

Were There Volcanoes Involved in the Destruction of 3 Nephi? – Part III

Continuing with the previous two posts regarding the descriptions about the three days of darkness in 3 Nephi at the time of the crucifixion, and the disagreement over volcano eruptions between Mesoamericanists and the Great Lakes/Eastern U.S./Heartland theorists. 
    Again, one cannot fault the quoted theorist’s frustration with how Mesoamerican attitudes (see last post) have completely taken over FARMS, Neal A. Maxwell Institute, Deseret Book, and most non-Church doctrinal comments about geography and the Book of Mormon, but at the same time, that does not excuse someone from trying to foster their views simply because they are not in Mesoamerica.
Most of us, however, expect any theorists to have a pair of clear scriptural glasses and look through those lens when reading the Book of Mormon, not this theory or that theory lens.
    After all, we know from very authoritative means—the scriptural record itself—that the Land of Promise was filled with mountains “whose height was great” to such an extent that volcanoes would certainly be part of that land if the Land of Promise is in the western coastal region of the Western Hemisphere because of the very accurate and easily documented Ring of Fire that accompanies nearly every part of that coastal region.
    Since Mormon gives us irrefutable evidence that Lehi landed on the Sea West in the Land of Nephi (Alma 22:28), we can easily apply the theorists' complaint against Mesoamericanists to his own problem in seeing through Great Lakes lenses, i.e., seeing no mountains, no west coast landing, etc., when the scriptural record clearly points out that Lehi landed where there would likely be volcanoes.
    Here is his view of Mesoamericanist lense viewing:
1. Assume a Mesoamerican setting because of the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles.
2. Put on the Mesoamerican lens (or eyeglasses, or spectacles, or Urim and Thummim).
3. "See" a hill in Mesoamerica that "fits" the text. Reject the New York Cumorah (along with David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Joseph Smith, because they were merely relying on a folk tradition started by unknown Mormons, they were unreliable people anyway, and they didn't have the Mesoamerican lenses that would have given them the correct understanding that modern scholars have achieved.
    However, here is the Great Lakes approach:
1. Assume a Great Lakes setting because of the location of the hill Cumorah and Letter VII that Oliver Cowdery wrote to W.W. Phelps.
2. Put on the Great Lakers lens (or eyeglasses, or spectacles, or Urim and Thummim).
3. "See" the hill Cumorah in which Joseph Smith found the plates and claim it "fits" the text of the hill Cumorah in the Land of Promise.
4. Reject the numerous descriptions written by Mormon of the hill Cumorah that do not fit the hill Cumorah in New York.
5. Rely on Letter VII that Oliver Cowdery wrote W.W. Phelps and claim it is the doctrine and stance of the Church; and claim Joseph Smith helped Oliver Cowdery write it for his own (Joseph’s) history, without explaining that Letter VII also includes the history of Joseph Smith finding the plates in the New York hill and that was his interest in the Cowdery explanations.
    It does not matter whether one wears Mesoamericna lenses, or wears Great Lakes lenses—as long as those lenses distract from and allow the ignoring of the scriptural record and uses personal views and modern day leader’s personal views to offset and replace the actual scriptural record.
    Great Lakes theorists claim that Mesoaemricanists mistranslated “a historical mistake from 1842,” as the means of their view; however, it can be said of Great Lakes theorists that their misunderstanding of Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII as being only his opinion and neither Church doctrine nor any stated view of Joseph Smith merely because he helped Oliver craft the information regarding his (Joseph’s) involvement in finding the plates on the hill Cumorah in New York.
    Had both Mesoamericanists and Great Lakes theorists relied solely on the Book of Mormon scriptural record, neither of these views could hold any claim to Church or leader support whatever.
    Another error is that of Great Lakes theorists using Joseph Fielding Smith’s claim that there were not two Cumorahs as a Church stance on the matter, even though years later, as President of the Church he referenced his earlier remark about being his opinion.
    As this theorist stated: “For years, I've been told about volcanoes in the Book of Mormon. I always respond to this by asking where is the evidence of volcanic activity in the Book of Mormon? The people supposedly lived in Central America for 1,000 years and never once mentioned volcanoes?” to which a response is easily suggested in the fact that numerous things are not mentioned in the record, yet we know they took place—however, when they are mentioned specifically, like mountains rising out of valleys to a “height which is great” (Helaman 14:23), it is denied by Great Lakes theorists whose location in western New York is basically a land that is flat as we’ve pointed out here and where no mountains of any kind are located.
Samuel the Lamanite said that in the Land of Promise “…and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). It is amazing how the Great Lakes Lens screen out that particular scripture and its so clearly obvious meaning
    It is not a matter of what the scriptural record says is or isn’t there—to theorists, it is a matter of what they agree with or disagree with that exists in the Land of Promise. Mesoamerica has mountains and volcanoes, therefore they read volcanoes and mountains in 3 Nephi 8; on the other hand, Great Lakes theorists do not have any mountains, let alone volcanoes in their model in western New York, therefore they see no description of volcanoes in 3 Nephi 8. However, that does not dispel the fact that volcanic action is the most plausible explanation of 3 Nephi 8 and the three days of darkness.
    So what are we to make of 3 Nephi 8 where it describes the stifling darkness that began, then spread until it was dark for three days amidst the thundering and lightening. For an example, let’s take a look at the story of Uzziah in Kings and Chronicles. The biblical Kings lists Uzziah as reigning 52 years over Judah, and besides that it has precious little to say about him except to note that he “did right in the eyes of YHWH,” did not remove the high places, and eventually contracted leprosy and spent the last years of his reign as a figurehead while his son did the actual work of governing the kingdom (2 Kings 15:1-7). However, Chronicles contains a whole host of details about Uzziah’s reign which portray him as the head of a powerful kingdom, defeating the Philistines and the Arabs, extending Judah’s territory as far south as Eilat, placing Ammon under tribute, and maintaining a large army (2 Chronicles 26:1-15, 22).
    Among this list of accomplishments is a more enigmatic statement “And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal” (2 Chronicles 26:15. In this Hebrew, three related words are used to make a phrase that cannot easily be rendered into English—the things built on the towers are called hishbonot mahashebet hosheb. All three nouns come from the same consonantal root. A loose translation would be something like “little inventions of inventions of inventors.” It’s a literary device, and being used to describe something new that the writer didn’t have the vocabulary to describe. The second half of the description mentions that these devices were installed in the migdalim (towers) and pinnot (“corners,” probably towers at the corners of the wall) and somehow enabled the shooting of stones and arrows.
(See the next post, ”Were There Volcanoes Involved in the Destruction of 3 Nephi? – Part IV,” as we continue with the descriptions about the three days of darkness in 3 Nephi at the time of the crucifixion, and the disagreement over volcano eruptions between Mesoamericanists and the Great Lakes/Eastern U.S./Heartland theorists)
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