Saturday, July 15, 2017

Misleading Statements About the Book of Mormon

One of the many problems we find today because of well-meaning, but poorly-informed or badly-written articles on the location of the landing site and region of Lehi’s landing and the Nephite Nation homeland, is that loosely worded or poorly chosen comments, which become embedded in the membership (or non-members) mindset. And once so entrenched, are almost impossible to remove, no matter how compelling the evidence against such ideas and the scriptural record statement supporting an opposite view by those who lived upon that ancient land.
Take, as an example, one of the earliest works entitled Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, written by Milton R. Hunter, then member of the Quorum of Seventy, and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, then head of the New World Archaeological Foundation, with a forward by John A. Widtsoe, then member of the Quorum of the Twelve, makes the odd statement: “[Fernando de] Ixtlilxochitl and the Book of Mormon both make the claim that there were white people in ancient times in Middle America” (Kolob Book Company, 1950, p241; Fernando de Ixtlilxochitl (writing about 1595) as published in Antiquities of Mexico, M. Dupaix, London, Vol IX, LVIII) 1848).
    The problem is, despite Hunter and Ferguson making the claim, the Book of Mormon says no such thing regarding “Middle America.” Thus, while Lehi’s “white” family was in the Land of Promise, we do not know that there were “white” people in Middle America from the scriptural record. However, Hunter and Ferguson’s blatant disregard for the scriptural record and their insertion of Middle America (Mesoamerica) into the print dialogue as early as 1950, shows the willingness of some historians to alter facts to fit their own pre-conceived beliefs and ideas.
    The Hunter and Ferguson article goes on to claim that “References to white people persisted in the traditions and histories of Mexico and Guatemala even down to and following the colonial period. In fact, after the Spanish arrived in America, they discovered some very light-complexioned Americans, descendants of the ancient cultured inhabitants, living in Guatemala, Yucatan, Mexico and Peru, ancient seats of high culture.” However, they fail to give any sources to this and we are left with believing them or not.
    We can, of course, pinpoint the white reference above to Peru, since Cieza de León stated in his history of Peru that, among the indigenous Peruvians, the Chachapoyas were unusually fair-skinned and famously beautiful. He wrote: “They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in Indies, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas' wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple.
The Llauto head piece or covering—a type of turban with the colors of the Tahuantinsuyo, woven with vicuña hair, a kind of braid of different colors that gave five to six turns to the head and it held on the forehead a strip of wool, called mascaipacha, that along with The feathers of the korekenke (sacred falcon whose symbol was on the forehead) and the topayauri (golden rod or scepter) were the particular attire of the Chachapoyas and the Sapa Inca

The women and their husbands always dressed in woolen clothes and on their heads they wear their llautos, which are a sign they wear to be known everywhere” (Pedro Cieza de Léon, The Incas of Pedro de Cieza de Léon. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1959, Chapter 27).
    It should be noted that the area of the Chachapoyas or “Cloud People,” is sometimes referred to as the "Amazonian Andes" due to it being part of a mountain range covered by dense tropical forest, basically located in between the Western and Central Andes ranges. The Amazonian Andes constitute the eastern flank of the Andes, which were once covered by dense Amazon vegetation and where these white-skinned, blonde haired people lived.
   The region extended from the cordillera spurs up to altitudes where primary forests still stand, usually above 11,500 feet. The cultural realm of the Amazonian Andes occupied land situated between 6,600–9,800 feet, and according to Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, was so extensive “We could easily call it a kingdom because it has more than fifty leagues [155 miles] long per twenty leagues wide [62 miles], without counting the way up to Muyupampa, thirty leagues long more [93 miles].”
    Located in the Jamalca district in Peru's Utcubamba province, about 500 miles north-east of the capital, Lima, the area was an extremely isolated part of northern Peru because of the size of the Marañón River and the surrounding mountainous terrain, with the Chachapoyas beginning between 1000 and 500 B.C., and major sites such as Kuelap and Cerro Olán (Helaine Silverman and William Isbell, Handbook of South American Archaeology, Spring Science & Business Media, 2008).
Lamanties killed every Nephite who would not deny the Christ

Hunter and Ferguson (p244) go on to claim that the scriptural record further states: “Thus, it would appear from the meager facts available from the Book of Mormon on the matter that at the time the record closed in 421 A.D. there were both white-skinned and dark-skinned people in the victorious Lamanite political ranks.” They also quote Moroni 1:2-3, adding, “Moroni makes it clear that as of about 400-421 A.D. not all of the Nephite religious-political faction had yet been killed off.”
    However, this is not accurate according to the scriptural record, for Moroni clearly states: “For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ” (Moroni 1:2-3). While the first part of this statement is in the present tense, (wars are exceedingly fierce), and are between the Lamanites (among themselves), the last part is what has already happened (they put to death) “every Nephite “that at the time will not deny the Christ—or would at the time of the event. In addition, if there were any Nephites in 400-421 A.D. denying the Christ, then they became Lamanites, and as Nephi writes: “And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed for they shall be cursed with the same cursing” (2 Nephi 5:23).
    Thus, there would have been no “white” Lamanites after that last final battle at Cumorah.
    It should be pointed out, on the other hand, that around 55 B.C., when Hagoth was building ships and Nephites were traveling to “a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4-6), that some “white” Nephites went beyond the Land Northward in the Land of Promise to settle. No doubt, because of the similar construction and settlement examples, some ended up in Mesoamerica and evidently would have been Maya and Aztec progenitors. Therefore, we can place “white” Nephites (or their descendants) in Mexico and Guatemala in later centuries.
    Thus, we can draw a reasonable conclusion that, as Hunter and Ferguson write: “It is therefore not surprising to find Ixthlilochitl talking about “white” Tultec kings as late as the tenth century A.D.” It is just that those of the Book of Mormon record, in the location of the scriptural record Land of Promise, are not the same as any that might have gone elsewhere aboard Hagoth’s ships.
On the other hand, not all references in Hunter and Ferguson are to be accepted at face value. As an example, they write (p248): “The founder of the ancient Maya city of Mutul in Yucatan was one Zac Mutul, his name meaning “white man” (quoting from M. Wells Jakeman, The Origins and History of the Mayas, Research Publication Co., 1945, p182). Since the city was founded centuries before the coming of the Europeans, it is apparent that the name was descriptive of the man. Zac is the Maya word for "white." Amazing enough, the Hebrew word for "white” is identical to the Maya—Zac.”
    The problem, however, is the Hebrew word for “white” is not Zac, but laben. In fact, “laben” לָבָן, in Hebrew, pronounced “law-bawn,” means “white,” and is so given in 29 usages or occurrences in the Old Testament, as in Genesis 30:37, Exodus 30:31, Leviticus 13:3, etc. This is not to be confused with Laban, pronounced “law-ban,” which means “brick,” though sometimes translated as white, as in Isaiah 1:18 and Daniel 11:35. Also, as a name, Laban, like in the Book of Mormon, the meaning is “white.”
    The word Zac, in Hebrew, means “pure, clean,” or “clear.” As a name, it means “remembered by God,” and is also short for Zachariah, a name which means “The Lord has remembered.”
    Thus, no parallel can be drawn from the scriptural record and Ixtlilxochitl on this, or most other subjects.
    Unfortunately, because it is within the popular mindset, claiming things that are found in Mesoamerica or Middle America are also in the Book of Mormon is an inaccurate use of the scriptural record. We should be very careful of inserting our own opinions and beliefs into the scriptural record when there is no indication or support for doing so.


  1. “And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed for they shall be cursed with the same cursing” (2 Nephi 5:23).

    Del.. does this not have to do more with DNA than anything else? The same "curse" goes hand in hand with all races other than "white". Mix the white seed with black, red, yellow, brown, etc.. and one is not usually left with white offspring.

  2. It would appear that DNA would have had to have been changed by the Lord for these alterations of skin color and physical characterizations to have changed. There may be other factors of which we know nothing, but DNA seems a current fit in understanding what took place.

  3. So.. do we believe that the Nephites that did deny the Christ in those last days.. and that the Lamanites allowed to live.. that their skin became dark?

  4. MrN... I think that is a good assumption because the Nephites at that time were in a state of apostasy at 400ad. The scripture about their dark skin cursing of the Lamanites tells us that if you join them you become like them 2 Nephi 5:23. Verse 23 is a prophesy about the end of the Nephites. The Nephites would have known that the dark skin cursing would come upon them if they joined them.

    That curse has not been lifted yet either. When the Lamanites are brought in at a later date perhaps at the time of the general gathering of Israel they will become white again as it says in 2 Nephi 30:6. The Church changed this scripture (I think the 1990's) to pure and delightsome which is not correct. It should be white and delightsome.

    1. Mixing ones seed is different that denying the Christ. I believe that the initial DNA change happened that separated the family into two.. Lamanite from Nephite.. but there is no scriptural account of the remaining Nephites that joined the Lamanites.. themselves becoming of a darker skin. Their off spring certainly did if they "mixed" with Lamanite women. Or if Nephite women mixed with Lamanite men. Of course the Church changed this scripture. God can be what humans would classify as "racist" only because it is humans doing the classification. The church must deal with the "human" factor of all possible converts.

  5. Oh I agree that the cursed followed if they mixed seed. The scriptures are clear about that. I did not mean to imply that the Nephites were cursed because they were in apostasy. The curse did follow in later generations when they mixed with them.