Tuesday, February 20, 2018

In a Language That Cannot be Read

In all the books, articles, published scholarly reports and studies regarding the location of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise there seems to be one glaring area all authors miss or ignore—and that is the involvement of the Spirit in the translation.
Mormon, who wrote his own record and abridging the majority written by others, then hid up the records so the Lamanites could not find them and destroy them, seems to make it quite clear that in his involvement of abridging most of the record of five prophets, from Mosiah through Fourth Nephi, he writes: “And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:7).
    Also, he adds, “and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come” (Mormon 3:16); concluding the thought with, “And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all” (Mormon 3:20).
    When Nephi wrote his record, he made it quite clear that his “soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3), and when he turned over the record to his brother, Jacob, he commanded him to write only that which was sacred upon them.
    As Jacob said, “And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should write upon these plates a few of the things which I consider to be most precious; that I should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people which are called the people of Nephi…And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ's sake, and for the sake of our people” (Jacob 1:2, 4).
    In fact, so closely was the Spirit involved in the writing of the record, that from time to time the prophets were restrained (prevented) from saying or writing certain things, such as in “And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance” (2 Nephi 32:7); or restrained (controlled/directed) to say other things. As he said, “for thus the Spirit of the Lord constraineth me that I should speak” (1 Nephi 7:15); and “now, behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me;” (2 Nephi 28:1).
    Nephi, like other prophets of the scriptural record, was often in direct contact with the Spirit. As he said, “And the Spirit said unto me again…” (1 Nephi 4:11) and also, “And it came to pass that the spirit said unto me again…” (1 Nephi 4:12), and “Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit…” (1 Nephi 4:18). Another time, Nephi wrote: “And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?” (1 Nephi 11:2).
    In fact, Nephi makes it quite clear that in speaking with the Spirit that it was a distinct process, more than just a whispering in his mind. He wrote: “And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof—for I spake unto him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another” (1 Nephi 11:11).
    Nephi also makes it quite clear that his conversations with the Spirit were a visual process of interacting as one man interacts with another, and when the Spirit left him, he knew it. “And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence” (1 Nephi 11:12).
    The point is, that when these great men of the Book of Mormon wrote, they were often guided by the Spirit to say certain things, and even restrained or kept from saying more than the Lord wanted said. Yet, as closely as the Spirit was in the involvement of their writing, today’s theorists, like Sorenson and the rest, would have us believe that what they wrote is not clear, and does not mean what they said it meant, but something entirely different.
Mormon, as an example, makes it quite clear that the Land of Zarahemla was north of the Land of Nephi, separated by a narrow strip of land that ran from the Sea East to the Sea West (Alma 22:27), and the Land of Bountiful was north of that (Alma 22:29), and that the Land of Desolation was north of that (Alma 22:30), and that Desolation was north of Bountiful (Alma 22:31), and that it was only a day and a half journey for a Nephite from east to west across the narrow neck of land between these two lands (Alma 22:32), and that the Land Southward was completely surrounded by water except for this narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32).
    Yet, Sorenson and other Mesoamerican theorists all want to tell us that the scriptural record doesn’t mean north and south as we know them, but completely different, with their Land of Promise in Mesoamerica actually running east and west.
    It is not that the land direction is critically important, but that Mesoamerican theorists claim the Spirit’s involvement and the message the Prophets left us in the record is not accurate. In fact, Sorenson and other theorists would like us to believe that they know more of what Nephi and Mormon and the other prophets meant than we can glean from reading their “plain and simple” language they used so we could understand them.
    It is interesting that when the Lord instructed the Brother of Jared to write down all that he had been shown, and added: “And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read” (Ether 3:22).
    Then, through the process we have described several times, the Spirit worked through Joseph Smith in the translation of all the record that could not be read by anyone except through the power of the Lord as Joseph was directed. Yet, these theorists still think they are the only ones that know exactly what was meant and that the rest of us are all wrong in accepting what is written at face value.
    As one LDS scholar has written: “Much of it is beyond the competence of any one person,” and Hugh Nibley said, “I think by now it should be apparent that the Book of Mormon account is not as simple as it seems,” adding without scriptural support and in opposition to the promises the Lord made to Lehi, “Ether alone introduces a formidable list of possibilities, few of which have ever been seriously considered. Foremost among these is the probability, amounting almost to certainty, that numerous Jaredites survived in out-of-the-way places of the north to perpetuate a strong Asiatic element in the culture and blood of the American Indian.”
    Yet, isn’t it interesting that as much as the Spirit was involved in the writing of the record, and in the translating of the record, we have a myriad of academicians and scholarly writers who keep telling us over and over again that the record is not correct if we read it the way it was written, but that we have to understand that mistakes were made in the writing and translation and/or that we are reading it incorrectly because it really means something other than what it so plainly says.
    As an example, in trying to tell us we do not understand this simple language, Sorenson writes: “Many Latter-day Saints will have to change their thinking markedly to adjust to the dimensions we have discussed,” and also, “the reader had to have a good background of mythology and folklore to comprehend the texts,” and speaking of the great difference Nephi and others claim existed between the Nephites and the Lamanites, Sorenson states; “We may doubt that it was as dramatic as the Nephite recordkeepers made out.” 
    Perhaps these scholars would do well to keep in mind the method of translation and who was involved before they start claiming what is written is not exactly correct and that we need to look beyond what is written to better understand the correct meaning of the events. Perhaps these scholars need to become better acquainted with the workings of translation, the involvement of the Spirit and the fact that the record is correct as written, and stop trying to change things so that the writing better supports their personal pre-determined locations for the Land of Promise, rather than what Mormon so clearly tells us.

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