Thursday, December 7, 2017

Looking at Some Interesting Comments – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, over the years, we have been inundated with comments sent to us and have faithfully answered each one, including highly critical comments about the Book of Mormon and the Latter-day Saint faith, though we try to restrict our blog to dealing with the geographical setting and the correct reading of the scriptural record just as it was written.
     Recently, we have come across another type of comment directed to the scriptural record and the location of the Land of Promise that begs to be answered, since they are being made by people with considerable following and who have achieved a high degree of credibility in the community.
    First, one of the problems every Mesoamericanist faces is the fact that their historical records claim there were people living in the area of their Promised Land prior to the arrival of Lehi. Second, is the understanding every Mesoamericanist has that the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward and interacted with the Jaredites.
    As to the latter issue, so much has been written about the Mulekites being in the Land Northward and its impact on the development of so-called Mulekite cities and social order among the Jaredites, that perhaps we should deal with that problem first. Part of the problem is that the Mesoamericanists quote from one scripture, and completely misunderstand its simplicity of meaning, and ignore the second scripture which tells you exactly where the Mulekites landed and where they lived all the years between their landing and when Mosiah discovered them.
    When Mormon was inserting his description of the Land of Promise in Alma 22, he uses a type of language called elliptic, that is, a language that shortens statements and eliminates unnecessary words, completely consistent with his purpose of abridging, or shortening, the record on the plates. This is a form of writing where part of the sentence is left unstated, in what is called “understood,” and is implied or inferred; that is, taken for granted, assumed.
In the English language, you do not need to repeat pronouns or even nouns in many cases; nor do you need to repeat information that is understood, either from earlier introduction, or from the structure of the sentence, thus in the examples above, the first in each is "understood" or "ellipted" and the second is the full sentence if not understood or ellipted

This is found in:
• “The king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which [region round about] was bordering even to the sea” (Alma 22:27);
• “the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and [the more idle part of the Lamanites] dwelt in tents” (Alma 22:28);
• “from the east [sea] to the west sea” (Alma 22:32).
• “Therefore the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about [the land of Nephi] (Alma 22:34).
    For the most part, one can read these elliptical sentences without any loss of understanding; however, once in a while, the noun or subject is left to be understood, and sometimes that leads one to misunderstand the meaning, as in:
    “Nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts…on the north, even until they [Nephites] came to the land which they [Nephites] called Bountiful. And it [Bountiful] bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it [Desolation] being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it [the people of the bones] being the place of their first landing. And they [the people of the bones] came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it [Bountiful] being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which [wild animals] had come from the land northward [Desolation] for food.”
    However, when someone has a different belief or viewpoint, they completely misunderstand the scriptural meaning. Take, for example, this theorist’s belief in the Mulekites landing in the Land Northward, who states:
    “This can be unambiguously settled based on Alma 22:30–31. Here the “people of Zarahemla” are said to have discovered the land of Desolation, “it being the place of their first landing” (v. 30). Next, it says “they came up from there into the south wilderness” (v. 31, emphasis added). Only when we have an idea of that [i.e., the geographic location] can we know which historical traditions or archaeological sequences can be compared most usefully with Mormon’s text.”
    However, the people of Zarahemla did not discover the Land of Desolation by landing there—the people of Zarahemla, now living in the city of Nephi, found the Land Northward, or the Land of Desolation, during an expedition to find Zarahemla (Mosiah 8:8), to which Mormon is referring when he inserted his statement found in Alma 22:30.
    Thus, the term “the people of Zarahemla” is used by Mormon to tie together an understanding of the bones found in the north, first introduced into the narrative in Mosiah 8:8 (which he had earlier abridged), so his future reader would know whose bones they were—“discovered in a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Mosiah 8:8), and that this place of all the bones, buildings, breastplates, swords, and gold plates, was the “place of their first landing,” i.e., the Jaredites {people of the bones) first landing.
    It certainly could not be the place of the Mulekite landing because elsewhere we find that the Mulekites, or “the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, who 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, emphasis added).
    Amaleki, an eye-witness to the discovery of the Mulekites (people of Zarahemla) by Mosiah, adds, “And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them” (Omni 1:17).
    Thus, we see, that unless we read elliptical writing when it is used, we miss the point of Mormon’s abridgement at various spots in his record.
    We also know that Mormon, when he abridged Alma and added his insertion as to where the Nephites and Lamanites were located, knew of Amaleki and his writings of the Mulekite discovery, for he wrote: ““…after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi. And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled; yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass—wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi” (Words of Mormon 1:3-5).
    When we read the scriptural record correctly, without making any adjustments at all, but merely showing what was written, there is no confusion and no conflict in the record.

No comments:

Post a Comment