Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part XXI

Continuing with Brant A. Gardner’s rationale of the Mesoamerianists’ skewed Land of Promise, and the various meanings of words that Joseph Smith used in the translation and their accuracy, and particularly how maps come into play in understanding directions and the ancient cultures who may have never seen one.
Gardner: “Hopkins and Josserand report that many of the languages they surveyed use terms such as “on the left,” or “on the right” to designate south and north. Where the Mesoamerican cultures used terms such as ‘on the right/on the left’ or some other spatial indicator (such as the ‘upslope/downslope’ of the Tzeltal) the Book of Mormon translation supplies the words ‘north/south.’ Although the specific word comes from Joseph’s western understanding, the words are couched in phrases that replicate the functional relationships of the Mesoamerican system.”
Response: As we have already answered this concept in earlier posts in this series, the point here is simply that Joseph Smith’s translate, as directed through the Spirit, shows us north, south, east and west. Mormon’s descriptions are given to us as north, south, east, and west.
The Land of Promise is presented to us as running north and south, with a narrower east to west.
    Since Mesoamericans being presented to us by Gardner as a fait accompli for the Land of Promise, when it does not meet this most simple concept of a north-south land is meaningless. It is also meaningless to claim that Mormon was using terms like “on the right hand” or “on the left hand,” for the Nephites, a culture with a long history, not to mention that its founder, Nephi, used the correct ordinal and inter-cardinal points.
    What on earth more is there to know about such simple descriptions Mormon gives us and the Spirit acknowledged with Joseph Smith’s translation? If something else was meant, one would think that the Spirit and the translation would have said that, for surely such translation is done by the power and gift of God. After all, God is not the author of confusion” (I Corinthians 14:33).
That which was found in the hill Cumorah by Joseph Smith included a breastplate to which a pair of glasses were attached called the Urim and Thummim, to at least translate the first 116 pages of the book of Lehi

As an example, we find that Mosiah “took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, and also the plates of Nephi, and all the things which he had kept and preserved according to the commandments of God, after having translated and caused to be written the records which were on the plates of gold which had been found by the people of Limhi, which were delivered to him by the hand of Limhi; And this he did because of the great anxiety of his people; for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people who had been destroyed. And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow. Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages; And they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people; And whosoever has these things is called seer, after the manner of old times. Now after Mosiah had finished translating these records..” (Mosiah 28:11-17, emphasis added)—the point being how matters are translated, which leaves no room for error or mistake. The words used are the words God accepts as a correct translation.
Gardner: “The Book of Mormon vocabulary of spatial orientation also replicates the four quarters assigned to east-west and the sides of the sky we know as north and south. Also, this is the only verse (Mosiah 27:6) indicating the four quarters. However, a phrase indicating that something is “in” a quarter occurs more frequently (See Alma 43:26: 52:10; 56:1; 58:30; 58:35; Ether 2:5; 14:15.).
The 1581 Bünting Clover Leaf Map, an ancient map of the world, showing the three parts: Europe, Asia and Africa, before the discovery that America was a separate continent (Jerusalem is in the center of the map surrounded by the three continents)

Response: In maps, the “four quarters,” is a concept that man developed not long after the time Columbus discovered the Western Hemisphere. As that concept began to take hold, mapmakers stopped referring to their maps of the world as being in three parts. However, the concept of four quarters dates back to early biblical times, and the Lord tells the Brother of Jared that he is going to send them to a quarter never before inhabited by man. In addition, Mesopotamia history speaks of the four quarters when the king of the Akkadian Empire, in the 3rd millennium B.C, Sargon, boasted of having conquered and subjugated the four quarters. (An interesting read on the four parts of the World is Toby Lester’s The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America, 2010, in which the idea of how the fourth part of the world came into being; or more accurately, how the world was then seen as having four quarters and not just three as it had been before).
    As for spatial orientation replicating the four quarters and the sides of the sky we know as north and south, this is a fallacious idea since the globe has been sectored in hemispheric design and nomenclature since before the time of Lehi. The Northern Hemisphere is not made up of north and south, but just north, though you have east and west; and the Southern Hemisphere just south, though you have east and west. The Eastern Hemisphere is made up of just the east, though you have north and south; and the Western Hemisphere is made up of just the west, though you have north and south.
    Most primitive cultures knew certain things about the sky, and unless they were quite advanced with time on their hands for study and knowledge, their understanding of the sky was limited to those things that allowed them to plant and harvest successfully, tracking the sun across the sky for a day and along its horizontal path for a year, watching it reach the northern Solstice and the southern Solstice, pin-pointing the equinox (middle) and fully understanding the basic number of days between each.
Top Left: The regularly-spaced 13 towers of Chankillo Solar Observatory near Casma, Ancash, Peru, in the Casma-Sechin Oasis; Bottom Left: the sun lining up between two of the towers; Right: One of the stone stairways leading up to one of the towers        (Photos Archaeologist Ivan Ghezzi) 

Dated to the 4th century BC;  (500 to 400 B.C.), the oldest such observatory in the Americas, exactly when the Nephites, after separating from the landing area and establishing the city of Nephi, would have needed to know about planting and harvesting, and is considered the earliest known observatory in the Americas. This ancient observatory allowed the Ancash Culture to track the sun in the east from Solstice to Solstice across the Equinox. The ruins include the hilltop Chankillo fort, nearby towers of the solar observatory, which consists of a hilltop building complex encircled by thick, gated walls, a row running north-south of 13 towers, with observation platforms on either side of the towers.
    On the Winter Solstice, the sun would rise behind the leftmost tower and rise behind each of the towers until it reached the rightmost tower six months later on the Summer Solstice
    As for the sky itself, as Gardner argues, its division among early cultures, and certainly the Nephites, would have mirrored the knowledge they brought with them from Jerusalem, regarding the Celestial Equator and Celestial North Pole, the quadrants, and the understanding of north and south.
Gardner: “This conception of the Nephite usage of directional terms helps explain a passage that would otherwise be difficult. The flight of the Lamanite/Amlicite army is described in: “And it came to pass that when they had all crossed the river Sidon that the Lamanites and the Amlicites began to flee before them, notwithstanding they were so numerous that they could not be numbered. And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land; and the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them” (Alma 2:35-37, emphasis in original).
Response: This sees difficult for only Gardner (and maybe other Mesoamerican theorists). West and North are two different directions, not one. 
Lamanites/Amlicites were heading west toward Zarahemla; the Nephites were heading northwest to cut them off and keep them from reaching the city of Zarahemla

They were going into a mountainous wilderness of wild beasts (Hermounts) and the path or way was first west and then north, perhaps through a canyon, valley, or ridge, but there is nothing difficult about this particular language. People need to stop thinking of this land as flat and open like the central and eastern plains of the U.S., that Nephites or Lamanites could go in any direction they chose. Other events show that this is not possible, but first let us set the stage of this event.
(See the next post, “The Mystifying Rationale of Mesoamerican Directions – Part XXII,” and the continuation of Gardner’s rationale of the Mesoamericanists’ skewed Land of Promise, and the various meanings of words that Joseph Smith used in the translation and their accuracy, and the continuation of the movement of the Lamanites and Amlicites in a west and north direction)

1 comment:

  1. The ruins of Chankillo are far too north to have been of any use to Nephi while his people lived in the Land of Nephi. It's between Zarahemla and Bountiful, a place more likely known by Mulekites than Nephites until after 200 BC. Just a thought that crossed my mind while reading.