Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In Search of the Truth

In a book written by David A. Palmer entitled In Search of Cumorah, one would think the title should have been “In search of the truth,” since there seems to be little of that in the writings. Take, for example, Chapter 7, entitled “From Cumorah to Zarahemla.”
    Palmer: “The Book of Mormon was not written as a comprehensive history, but rather as a record of the people of Nephi.”
    Response: Actually, the Book of Mormon was written as another testimony of Jesus Christ, involving three distinct peoples, first the Jaredites, then Lehi and his family, called the Nephites and Lamnites, and also the Mulekites, referred to as the People of Zarahemla. While it is not a comprehensive history of these groups, what history and geography that is included should be dealt with far more reverently than many theorists do, especially Palmer in his book.
    Palmer: “It is, therefore, only from occasional glimpses that we catch the impact upon the Nephites of their contemporaries.”
    Response: One can only ask, what contemporaries? The word contemporary is defined as an adjective “living or occurring at the same time” and “belonging to or occurring in the present.” It is defined as a noun as “A person or thing living or existing at the same time as another.” Now, since the groups we know about, that are suggested and referred to in the scriptural record are all accounted for, and we know sufficient about them to understood who they were and what they were doing there, one can only wonder, again, at who or what Palmer is referring.
    Being a vowed Mesoamericanist as his book so clearly points out, we can surmise that Palmer is referring to other cultures, peoples, and civilizations that he claims (along with all other Mesoamericanists) as having existed in the land prior to and during Nephite times, but never mentioned in the scriptural record.
    Regarding his comment, what impact would Palmer want to know of the Nephites as seen from other cultures? We have a very clear view of the Nephites, from both prophets views and from the Lord. There isn’t much about the Nephites we are not provided to fully understand them.
    Palmer: “The story of Mormon’s Cumorah would not be complete without bringing into focus the Mulekites, a major group of people who bridged the historical gap between destruction of the Jaredites and the rise of Nephite culture.”
Response: Actually, the Mulekites or people of Zarahemla, knew absolutely nothing about the Jaredites. Their exposure to Coriantumr, the last Jaredite left (besides Ether) after their internal war of annihilation, wandered into the Zarahemla settlement at some point (years?) following that final battle. No one could understand him, he spoke a language they did not know, he had no way of communicating with them, yet wanted to at least leave some knowledge of he and his people for future peoples.
    When Mosiah arrived with the remnant of the righteous Nephites at some point later, Zarahemla, the chief or ruler of the Mulekites, wanted to know what had been written on that stone, which Coriantumr had engraved. So it was brought to Mosiah who interpreted it by the “gift and power of God” (Omni 1:20).
    There was no bridging the gap for the Muleites between the Jareidtes and themselves, or the Nephites. Nor did Mosiah know anything about such a people. This was all information new to both the Nephites and the Muleites, and not completely uncovered until when the Ether record was later translated.
    Palmer: “We will…follow the Mulekites as they developed their culture in the land of Zarahemla and branched out into other areas.”
    Response: In Omni, we learn from an eye-witness, the prophet Amaleki, who wrote of the Mulekites: “Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon. 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 1:15-16).
    Now to make sure there is no question about this, Amaleki tells us:
1. The Mulekites left Jerusalem “at the time Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away into Babylon.” This eliminates the idea that they left in any other year than the one in which Jerusalem fell and Zedekiah was captured, which was either 587 or 586 B.C.
2. The Lord guided the Mulekites “across the great water,” which sounds like they were not involved with anyone else, such as the Phoenicians, but came like Lehi, by themselves, under the Lord’s specific guidance.
3. They came across the great waters “and into the land where Mosiah discovered them.” This means that where Mosiah found them is where the Mulekites landed and lived, “and they had dwelt there from that time forth.” So where the Mulekites landed is where Mosiah found them, which would be along the coast—so that is where the city of Zarahemla was located.
    Now as clear as this is, Palmer goes on to write about “Two Mulekite Landings.”
    Palmer: “We are told that the Mulekites landed in more than one place.”
    Response: No, we are not told that. Amaleki makes it quite clear that the Mulekites landed along the seashore, which was where Mosiah found them. His erreoneous belief comes from a misunderstanding of Alma 22:30-31, which reads (and he quotes) “on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful. And it [Bountiful] bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it [Desolation] being so far northward that it [Desolation] came into the land which had been peopled [by the Jaredites] and been destroyed, of whose bones [Jaredite] we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla [Limhi’s 43-man expedition], it [where the bones were found] being the place of their [Jaredites] first landing. And they [Jaredites] came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward [of the narrow neck] was called Desolation, and the land on the southward [of the narrow neck] was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food” (Alma 29-31, italics added for explanation).
    Another scripture that Palmer misunderstands, which leads to a furthering of this idea that the Mulekites landed “north of the isthmus,” as he puts it is: “Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10). The problem is, nearly all Mesoamericanists combine the terms Land Northward and the Land Southward as synonymous with the terms Land North and Land South. But they are not the same.
Mormon makes this quite clear when he wrote of Capt. Moroni, “And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—a chosen land, and the land of liberty” (Alma 46:17, emphasis added), which clearly shows that the land in the Land Southward was considered in two parts, i.e., a land in the north (of the Land Southward) and a land in the south (of the Land Southward). This dividing point between the Land North and the Land South in the Land Southward was undoubtedly the narrow strip of wilderness which divided the northern lands from the southern lands.
    Taken together, we can see where the Mulekites were always in the Land Southward, never in the Land Northward.

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