Saturday, November 18, 2017

The “I’m Not Changing Scripture” Game - Mesoamerica

In a typical Mesoamerican view of the scriptures, the following statement is submitted by John E. Clark (FARMS Review 16/2, 2004, p1-54, of Review of Sacred Sites: Searching for Book of Mormon Lands, by Joseph L. Allen, 2003; and A New Model for Book of Mormon Geography, by James Warr, 2001) as a defense of John L. Sorenson and his treatment of directions in the Book of Mormon scriptural record. Regarding those critical of Sorenson's work, Clark claims:
    “The specific claim of interest is that "some literature" alters directions in the Book of Mormon or on Mesoamerican maps. This is demonstrably untrue. Sorenson's geography is the real target here. He has preserved the orientation of Mesoamerica in all of his arguments, and he has not, to my knowledge, altered even a single scripture to say that north was west or south was east. What Allen's loose accusations appear to be trying to convey is that Sorenson does not assume that "northward" in the Book of Mormon is obvious, so it is not something that can be taken at "face value." The problem resides neither in the manipulation of modern maps nor in ancient scripture but in the rapprochement of the two.”
    One can only wonder how an intelligent individual can make such a claim. First of all, the word used here is “rapprochement.” While it is taken from the French “rapprocher,” meaning “to approach,” from Late Latin “appropiare” which is “to approach.” Originally the French word was used to signify “to approach with intensive force.” In public groups it was sometimes used for “reunion, reconciliation,” and literally means “a bringing near,” it is used today “in public relations and international groups” who have been enemies” to have “friendlier relations.” Even in 1809, the word was meant to “establish cordial relations.” In fact, its meaning is listed as the opposite (antonyms), such as “alienation, disaffection, disgruntlement, estrangement, coldness, cold shoulder, distance, iciness, animosity, antagonism, antipathy, bitterness, enmity, hostility ,jaundice, rancor, spite.”
    Hardly an appropriate word to use in this case, but since it is used, we can assume that what Clark meant is that combining both Sorenson’s map, which shows a 90º tilt from true north-south directions, and the difference between it and “ancient scripture,” i.e., the Book of Mormon, is in harmony. 
    However, there is no possibility of this being true unless one changes the intent of either the existing maps or the directional wordage in “ancient scripture.” To be clear, Sorenson does not come out and say “the scripture is wrong,” nor does he write, “We need to change this scripture to read,” etc. But what he does is ignore the scripture because it does not fit his pre-determined shape and compass orientation of his Land of Promise, which he claims is Mesoamerica. And when one looks at Mesoamerica—not Central America, which are to entirely different things—we find a land form that runs basically east and west, in fact, almost due east and due west!
Mesoamerica, meaning “middle America” is that area of land beginning a little above Mexico City and extending a little beyond Guatemala, including the area of southern Mexico, the Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize, and the western portion of Honduras and El Salvador. It lies between North America and Central America in theory and ancient usage

However, if one goes beyond Mesoamerica lines, then one can bring in that there is a northwest orientation through upper Mexico, and a southeast orientation from Nicaragua southward. In fact, if we take the entire land mass from the United States southern border, including all of Mexico to the Panama border with Colombia in South America, then we can see a definite northwest to southeast direction of the land going from north to south.
The actual lay of the land of Mexico, Mesoamerica and Central America

The problem lies in the fact that Mesoamerica, or Middle America, or the land that Mesoamerican theorists claim is the Land of Promise of the Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites, actually runs from about Mexico City through western Honduras, including Guatemala, Belize the Yucatan and southern Mexico. At best, because of the slight curve of southern Mexico, one can say that Mesoamerica is about 90º off kilter from the north-south orientation of both Mexico and Central America, which is inarguably the direction of the Land of Promise as Mormon so clearly describes it.
When the rest of the land is removed from Mesoamerica, you get a very different picture. That area inside the red lines is the actual location of ancient ruins, southern Mexico, Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize and some of Honduras. As one can see, it basically runs east and west

So how on earth is it possible to make any claim at all that Mormon’s north-south descriptions are not being changed when you introduce a map of the Land of Promise that runs basically east and west, when you label the Gulf of Mexico, at the north of the narrow neck of land, as the Sea East, and the Pacific Ocean, as it runs along the narrow neck of land to the south as the Sea West? 
    How is that not changing the scriptural record?
    To say Sorenson does not come out and change any scripture is a blatant falsehood—since he is changing the basic meaning of the scripture even though he tries to do so without appearing to do so. 
    In the early days of verbal manipulation, it was called a “sleigh of hand,” a “silver-tongue” a “selling of snake oil.” Today it is called “The Word Game,” a psychological technique of using words to make it sound positive when discussing a negative idea, or stating a positive sound in order to cover up a negative approach. More specifically, using words that are positive in their individual meanings in a context that is, in and of itself, representing a movement, theory, idea or ideology that is fundamentally negative to those receiving the information.
During the Cold War of the 1960s through 1990s, the Soviet Union developed numerous front organizations to hide their infamous internal organizations bent on the destruction of the American Way of Life. In all cases, they used names and titles that, on the surface, sound like great ideas and organizations, yet in reality, represented organizations bent on the overthrow and destruction of the United States

So one can say Sorenson is not changing scripture; however, when you take a map and change its directions from those Mormon described in clear and precise language, you are changing scripture and it is not a game! Neither is taking locations of lands Mormon gave us and putting them on a map out of order, in the wrong direction, and not in relationship one to another as Mormon laid them out. 
    If that is not changing the meaning of scripture, then we would like to know what is!
    In fact, our third book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists, in which more than half of the book is devoted to all the claims that Sorenson makes about the scriptural record that is wrong, altered, changed, or misleading, i.e., changing what the scriptural record states in the clear and previse language Mormon uses, shows this constant tendency.
Sorenson’s Map of Mesoamerica as he Land of Promise (Map 5, Page 37)

In addition, when looking at Sorenson’s map of his Land of Promise, not only are the directions skewed from Mormon’s clear and precise language, but so are the placement of locations within the Land of Promise. Take, for instance, Sorenson’s distance between the Land of Many Waters and the land and hill Cumorah, that distance is approximately 400 miles, yet Mormon describes Cumorah being within the Land of Many waters as he so states: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4).
    Also in looking at the map of Sorenson’s Land of Promise, he has the land of Bountiful (using his directions) east of Zarahemla, and east of Nephi (north on a regular map); the Sea East to the north, and the Sea West to the south, Desolation due west of Bountiful, and the Land Northward due west of the Land Southward.
    One cannot defend changing scripture in order to make the scripture sound like it means something else—which is no different than claiming the scripture means something else if you think you know what Mormon meant to say, but did not, or should have said, or said differently than was meant. One can play a word game, but the end result is that the meaning and intent of the scripture is changed! And John E. Clark, a professor of Archaeology at BYU, who has published, according to his bio, over 177 works, should know that.
    Clarke goes on to say: “We may be tempted to think automatically that "northward" and "southward" label directions that are the same as "north" and "south." But "northward" signals a different concept than does "north," something like "in a general northerly direction."
    The problem with this is, theorists think they can change the meaning of words in order to make the scriptural record say what they want it to say. As an example, “north” means “being in the north,” and “being that point of the horizon which is directly opposite to the sun in the meridian, on the left hand when we stand with the face to the east.” And northward, as we have written many times, means “being toward the north,” or “nearer the north than to the east and west points.”
    Thus, we have two words, “north” and “northward” which pretty much mean the same thing, i.e., "in the north” and “toward the north.” It cannot be said that “northward signals a different concept than does north,” in that both point to the same basic direction, with northward having a little more leeway in degree latitude—but does not signify a “different concept.”
    Clark then goes on: “By their frequency of using the -ward suffix, we can infer that Mormon and his ancestors used a somewhat different cultural scheme for directions than we do.”
    How on earth anyone can draw that conclusion is beyond irresponsibility, it is downright fallacious! Mormon and his ancestors used north just as we do today, i.e., placing lands and places to the “north” and to the “northward,” or stated in definition terms, placing lands and places “to the north,” and “toward the north.”
    Lastly, this theorist concludes: “However, we cannot tell from the Book of Mormon text exactly how their concepts differed from ours, because all we have to work with is the English translation provided through Joseph Smith.”
    It is near impossible to understand such thinking. We can certainly tell from the Book of Mormon text exactly what Mormon’s concept was and that it was not different from ours despite how much this author and other theorist want it to be, so it would validate their model and thinking. And because we have the English translation provided through Joseph Smith, by the Spirit, we know exactly what Mormon meant!
    Thus we can easily see that in order for these Mesoamerican and other theorists in their desperate attempt to make the scriptural record say what they want it to say and not what Mormon actually said, they do have to change the meaning of the scriptural record! They must cloud the issue, introduce doubt and problems that do not exist, and throw a cloud over both the writing and the translation of the original prophets on the plates. The only reason to do that is to try and prove their own message, their own location of the Land of Promise, and their own beliefs that obviously do not agree with the scriptural record—if it did agree with the scriptural record, then all this subterfuge would not be necessary on their part!

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