Saturday, May 13, 2017

Legends of the Book of Mormon - Part II

 Continuing from the last post regarding the Legends of the Book of Mormon as found within the Western Hemisphere, in which such legends and connections were found in North America. Concluding now with legends in North America:
Joseph Smith identified remains of a burial in Illinois curing Zion's Camp, which he identified as Zelph, a white Lamanite who lived during the time of Onandagus, a prophet known from the Rocky Mountains to the East Sea
North America: Bones identified on June 3, 1834, as Zelph, a white Lamanite and “a man of God,” was uncovered by some of the brethren in Zion’s Camp and verified by Joseph Smith, who received a vision of Zelph and his identity as a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern sea.” In a letter he wrote to his wife, Emma, the following day, he referred to the area in which they passed through as “wandering over the plains of the Nephites.” Joseph Smith also told Oliver Cowdery to preach to the Lamanites, and sent missionaries to the Lamanites on the frontier to the west of the Alegehny and Appalacian Mountains in the Indian Territory, and Joseph Smith himself on May 23, 1844, taught the Sac and Fox Indians the Gospel in his back kitchen. Joseph in a letter to John Wentworth in March of 1842, stated “The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.”
    Consequently, though not Book of Mormon names, there can be no question that Joseph Smith placed Lamanites in the United States in his day and in times past. Therefore we know that the Nephites and Lamanites were this far northward in the Western Hemisphere. However, were they they earliest and the furthest south?
The Creek dominated the aareas of Georgia and Alabama, who outnumbered both European settlers and slaves until the 1760s, and then ceded the balance of their lands to the new state in the 1800s. Before the 1500s, the Creek were part of the larger Southeastern natives who lived throughout the southeastern area of the present United States
In the Muscogee, also known as the Creek Nation, they have certain words that are the same as Hebrew or so similar it is remarkable. In addition, the area of the Creek was also dominated by the Cherokee who originated in Ohio and moved south reportedly before 1540 when the Spanish arrived. The Cherokee also had connections to the Hebrew language and customs, including a widow could not marry without the permission of her brother-in-law, a custom only found among the Israelites and some American Indians. Also, like the Hebrews, the Cherokee had their own "Day of Atonement" in which insults were forgiven and all disputes buried. Their totem corresponded in significance to the Ark of the covenant, was carried on poles and could never touch the ground and during wartime, like the Israelites carrying their Ark, the Cherokee carried their totem. Their degree of connection between the New Moon and their ceremonies is also very similar and to the Biblical feast and festivals. 
Legends of Book of Mormon can be identified within areas of north America

Obviously, then we find Book of Mormon or Hebrew references and legends within the North America native Indian.
    Now, let’s take a look further south than North America to see if any such legends or Book of Mormon references exist south of North America. 
    Mesoamerica: There is a legend in Mesoamerica of the great white bearded God called Quetxalcoatl and that he would someday return. Although Quetzalcoatl's origin is clouded in obscurity, the legends, the few pre-Columbian writings extant today, and the early post-Conquest writings contain an abundance of material on this ancient and revered god. These accounts are contradictory and vary widely both on the god's attributes and the details of how he was worshiped, undoubtedly due to a millennium of digressions from the original concept from the end of the Book of Mormon to the time of the Conquest. However, through all this maze, we find that the Mesoamericans consistently endow Quetzalcoatl with many Christ-like attributes, some of which were “the creator of life,” “the greatest lord of all,” “long beard and features of a white man,” “he taught virtue,” and “that he would return.
David Carrasco, Professor of Latin American Studies in the Harvard Divinity School and an Anthropologist and historian of religion is the author of 15 books including the award-winning Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire, has written: "There are a number of references in the primary sources to the expected return of Quetzalcoatl.... These references strongly suggest that the belief in Quetzalcoatl's return was a pre-Columbian attitude and not, as some have suggested, invented by the Spaniards" (University of Chicago Press, 1982)
    In addition, The Mayan rituals encountered by the Spanish included concepts of being reborn, purified, and prepared for the next life, repenting of sins, confession to a priest, white cloth as symbol, and was called with a name that meant "the descent of the god." These remarkable parallels with teachings in the Book of Mormon may be due to the teachings on baptism that Christ gave to his people in the Americas when he ministered to them after His Resurrection (3 Nephi 11). While baptism was not found in North America, it was practiced among the Mayan in Mesoamerica, in the Yucatan. 
An excerpt from Friar Diego de Landa's 1566 book Observations on the Yucatan, regarding an early account of life in Mesoamerica just after the Spanish Conquest, states that “Baptism, called sihil, meaning to be born anew or a second time, it is a ritual they have always used and for which they have had such devotion that no one fails to receive it, and had such reverence for it that those guilty of sins, or who knew they were about to sin, were obliged to confess to the priest, in order to receive it; and they had such faith in it that in no manner did they ever take it again.” Any honest researcher must find this pre-Columbian ritual of the Yucatan fascinating! A major Mayan ritual associated with being born again, purification, cleansing from sin, confession of sins to a priest, changing one's nature to be a better person, and gaining salvation in the afterlife

 Michel Graulich, doctor of art history at the Free University of Brussels, and a researcher in the history of art and religion of pre-Columbian America and particularly of Mesoamerica, as well as author of Myths of Ancient Mexico in his "Afterlife in Ancient Mexican Thought" insists that elements in Mexican myth represent native, pre-Columbian beliefs and maintains that the sources tell of a divine creator couple who lived in a paradise from which they were expelled because of a transgression. They were rescued from their dismal state on earth by the self-sacrifice of the Mayan creator god Kukulk├ín, known to the Aztecs as Quetzalcoatl, and this allowed them to escape the underworld and provided a means by which humans who emulate their qualities may reach the lost paradise
    There is also a legend in Mesoamerica in which the natives indicate another singular event in their histories with great exactness, which later served them as a fixed era for their chronological calculations. They say that 166 years after the correction of their calendar, at the beginning of the year that was indicated with the hieroglyph of the House in the number ten, being a full moon, “the sun was eclipsed at midday, the solar body being totally covered, such that the earth became darkened so much that the stars appeared and it seemed like night, and at the same time an earthquake was felt as horrible as they had ever experienced, because the stones crashing against one another were broken into pieces, and the earth opened up in many parts.
(See the next post, “Legends of the Book of Mormon – Part III,” for a look into South America)

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