Saturday, December 29, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part V

Here are some more comments received from our readers:
Comment #1: “How do you get around the fact that Oliver Cowdery said that the hill Cumorah in New York was the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon?” BeBe J.
Oliver Cowdery, Orson Pratt, Frederick G. Williams

Response: How do you get around the fact that Orson Pratt on more than one occasion referred to Lehi’s landing on the coast of Chile at 30º south latitude near today’s Coquimbo, Chile?” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, London, England, Albert Carrington, 1869, vol.12, p342). How do you get around the fact that Frederick G. Williams, personal secretary and physician, and counselor in the First Presidency to Joseph Smith as well as his personal scribe, wrote down the statement that Lehi sailed from Arabia “in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chili, thirty degrees south latitude” (U.A.S. Newsletter, Provo,Utah, University Archaeological Society,Brigham Young University, January 30,1963, p7).
    The easiest way to deal with such differences of opinion is to chalk them up to individual beliefs and statements. Neither has been acknowledged by the Church as official doctrine. On the other hand, while the Hill Cumorah in New York was known to all members as the site that Joseph found the plates, transported there by Moroni, coming up with Coquimbo Bay at the 30º south latitude in Chile had precedent at the time, would have been unknown to these men in New England in the 1840s, and ends up matching, as we have written several articles about, all of the criteria in the scriptural record, 1 Nephi 18:23-25, which nowhere around the Hill Cumorah in New York does.
    While on the subject, the area of western New York, which we have personally driven all through, walked all around from the hill Cumorah to Joseph’s home, the Sacred Grove, Palmyra, etc., where on earth are the mountains, “whose height is great,” that the Angel told Samuel the Lamanite to prophecy for the Land of Promise from atop the wall of Zarahemla in 6 B.C., as a sign of the Lord’s crucifixion (Helaman 14:23). In fact, though the scriptural account suggests several mountains raising out of valleys to such a height, we would settle for just one anywhere in western New York—just point it out to us! Just one!
Alma Hill in Western New York, the highest point in the area
The simple fact is, no one can, because the highest point in the entire 11,764-square-mile, 17-county area of Western New York is Alma Hill, in the hamlet of Alma, New York, at 2,548-feet, located at 42º00’45”N, 78º03’28”W., which is along the New York-Pennsylvania border and not in the actual area claimed to be in the Great Lakes Land of Promise.
    That is not to say the hill is that high, that is the elevation of the top of the hill above sea level. As you can see from the photo above, the hill itself is hardly noteworthy—it has no peak and a prominence of only 948 feet above the Northern Allegheny Plateau upon which it sits.
    By the way, the town name was not formed until 1854 and while the name’s origin is uncertain, but believed to be named for a city in Germany. It was not named after or for the Book of Mormon prophet.
Comment #2: “You speak of the ancient prophets hiding all their writings so that the Lamanites could not find them because they would destroy them. If this is true, where are those plates? Where did they hide them? And how could the Lamanites not find them if they were so bent on their destruction and destroying everything Nephite?” Randall P.
Response: Several of the early brethren spoke and wrote of talks they heard from people like Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Jesse Nathaniel Smith, William Horne Dame, Edward Stevenson, David Whitmer, Orson Pratt, and even from a non-member woman named Elizabeth Kane—all of whom spoke of a cave or room visited by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery that opened somewhere in the Hill Cumorah in western New York as the two ascended the small hill. They described a large table in the center of the room, upon which they placed the “Golden Plates” from which Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, along with the Urim and Thumim. Under the table were stacks of additional plates as high as two feet, and “piled high along the walls and in the corners of the room were enough plates to fill many wagon loads.”
Joseph stated that when he received the plates, the Angel Moroni told him that he was in charge or the caretaker of the plates, and when Joseph was finished with the translation, they were to be returned to him. What the two saw when they returned the plates, and on a second trip back at the request of Moroni, was the many other “sacred engravings.”
    It should be noted that the Hill Cumorah in New York is a drumlin, meaning it has no earth (dirt) base, but basically gravel or till from the moving glacier, which has caused numerous critics to laugh at such a thing as a cave or inner “room” in the hill. However, like all critics of the work, the idea of a vision or being transported elsewhere by the spirit is unknown to them. In fact, Heber C. Kimball described the event as a “vision.” Thus showing us that the cave or room in which Joseph and Oliver entered was not actually in the area of the Hill Cumorah in New York, but elsewhere, which should tell us that these records since the time of Moroni’s initially depositing them was not in New York, but elsewhere. For a comparison, see Nephi’s comparable experience of being “caught away in the spirit” in 1 Nephi 11:1.
Comment #3: “Do we have the name of a single Nephite city in the land northward? (except perhaps Jacobugath?) Just "the land Desolation" - is that correct? Well, wait, until about Mormon 2, where we see the city Desolation and a bunch of others” Brian P.
Response: Keep in mind that it is fairly safe to assign a city name to any land mentioned, i.e., the land of Desolation, is going to have a city of that name. As for the names of the cities, the city of Teancum would have been a Nephite city name; the name Desolation for a city would have been a Nephite name; city of Jordan a Nephite name; while Shurr, Corihor, Alom, Antum, Ripliancum, Ramah, Ogash, Shem, Shiz, Gilgal, Heshlon, Moron, Sherrizah, etc., would be Jaredite.
Separate governmental neighborhoods or communities within the City of Los Angeles, each with its separate boundaries
In addition, we do not know what kind of division between areas the Nephites used, such as provinces, counties, regions, municipality, state, prefecture, parish, etc., as used today, or how they were divided. As an example, within the city limits of the city of Los Angeles, there are 114 separate communities, with separate boundaries, such as Encino, Northridge, Hollywood Hills, Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, Watts, Mid-City, Fairfax, Bel-Air, Pacific Palisades, San Pedro, Wilmington, Westchester, etc. Surrounding Los Angeles are scores of independent cities with their own boundaries, such as South Gate, Lynwood, Carson, Torrance, Lawndale, Gardena, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Burbank, Glendale, Altadena, Pasadena, etc. In the days of the Nephites, they did not have separate names for areas, such as county, precinct, municipality, borough, suburbs.
    The problem is, we don't have a lot of info on the Land Northward at all. Ether, and the earlier Jaredite prophets from whom he garnered his information, are even less geographically clear than the Nephite writings.
    In addition, since the words that the Jaredites would have known, being of Mesopotamia, could also have survived into the Hebrew language and into the Jewish state up to the time of Lehi. Some of the word-smithing is not as clear as Hugh Nibley would suggest. As an example, Hittite names could be both Jaredite and Hebrew. And just because they are in the Book of Ether does not make them solely Jaredite names. It is safe to go in that direction, but from a scholarly viewpoint, that is not a good stance to take, since it boxes in the subject and names, even anciently, were not all that localized. Many Egyptian names, as an example, ended up being Jewish names, etc. And Hittite names covered a large area. Also, they all stemmed from Noah’s family a short time earlier after the Flood.

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