Wednesday, November 4, 2020

One Theorist’s View of Mesoamerica – Part III

Continued from the previous post regarding Joseph L. Allen’s erroneous comments about Mesoamerica and the scriptural record. Below, continuing with page 72, are the pages on which Allen’s comments are found.

• (Page 71) “Because the Classic Maya, 350 AD to 900 AD, does not fit into the Book of Mormon picture, no justification results in assuming the scientists are always wrong or in diminishing the importance of Book of Mormon research. This...implies the doctrine in the Book of Mormon is the most important (and that) anything else that does not relate to doctrine is totally irrelevant.  I would not want to tell Mormon to his face that he wasted space on gold plates telling us things that were not important. No matter how we look at it, the Book of Mormon is a spiritual account written in a geographical, cultural, and historical setting.  (However) a better approach (than the scriptures) is to analyze, to the best of our abilities, the civilization that existed during the time the Book of Mormon history was written. We then may develop a deeper understanding of the Book of Mormon and the people whose lives graced the pages of the book.”    

It is always interesting how archaeologists, anthropologists and others who call themselves LDS scholars on the Book of Mormon, continually want to try and place the Book of Mormon events, people, civilization, locations and cultures into recently discovered archaeological sites that bear little resemblance to the written text (scriptures) recorded by the writers (prophets) of the time. 

Trying to fit a Land of Promise model into the scriptural record


When something doesn't fit their model of Mesoamerica, they try diligently (though unsuccessfully) to change the text without admitting they are doing so in order to make the text and their model fit together. 

Since Book of Mormon dates and peoples do not fit the accepted periods of time and cultures found in Mesoamerica, we are told that we should discard a starting point in the scriptures and look to the "specific and significant events" going on in the Americas at the time. 

Allen goes on to say that "the more we learn about the culture of the Maya, the more we can expect to learn about the culture of the Lamanites and the Nephites" (pg 72).  Now, if someone said, no matter how learned, that the more we learn about the Martians (or African aborigines, or the Alaskan Eskimos) the more we would learn about the culture of the Lamanites and Nephites, you would laugh them off the face of the planet.  Yet Allen's premise is no less a joke. 

As an example, it mattered little during the American Revolution what was going on in San Diego, California, or Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  The important events were going on in Philadelphia, Concord, New York, and the southern colonies.  The history of the Revolutionary War is found in the original 13 colonies and their effort to throw off English tyranny. 

If one was to study the American Revolution, it would benefit one to study those events which surrounded the 13 colonies, not look 3,000 miles away.  The same might be said of Lehi's colony as described in the Book of Mormon.  One should find where the colony landed, how it got there, and what events were involved—all spelled out in some detail in the scriptures themselves. What was happening thousands of miles to the north during the Mayan Pre-Classic or whatever other period of Mesoamerica one might believe, had nothing to do with the struggles of the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites in the Land of Promise.

• (Page 72) “Prior to 2000 BC, only one language was spoken in Mesoamerica.”

Prior to the Jaredite landing in the land promised to them, and up to the advent of the Mulekite/Nephite/Lamanite landings, only one language could have been spoken in the Land of Promise. That language would have been the Adamic language, or the language of Jared and his brother (and friends) that was not confounded by the Lord (Ether 1:35, 37). We know of no other people that occupied this land, and to claim there was is not found within the scriptural record and the recording of the Jaredites found in the Book of Ether.

• (Page 72) “Today, a uniformity of agreement exists that all groups who speak Maya came from the same ancestral branch.”

Two languages were brought to the Land of Promise. The Jaredite language and the Hebrew language, the latter brought by the Mulekites and Lehi Colonies (1 Nephi 1:2; Mormon 9:33). Jared's language came about 2200 BC and ended around 600 BC in the total annihilation of that civilization (Ether 13:4; 15:12, 29-31). The second, or Hebrew language, came around 600 BC, in the Lehi Colony and in Mulek's group (Omni 1:15).  These two languages (Jaredite and Nephite) had nothing at all in common, nor did they ever integrate. When Coriantumr, the last king of the Jaredite people, wandered into the Mulek colony where he lived for nine months before dying (Omni 1:21), they could not understand his language, not could the later Mulekites in Zarahemla, or Mosiah or  his people, understand the history Coriantumr left engraved on a huge stone.

This language, the Jaredite language, had to be translated by a prophet (Omni 1:20) using the . provided by the Lord.  Unless the Mayan language was Hebrew, it was never spoken by those Allen claims were the Nephites occupying Guatemala.

• (Page 72) “By 600 BC, that one language had evolved into six language groups.” 

As far as scripture tells us, there were actually four languages and dialects spoken by three groups in the Land of Promise:

° Jaredite language—no one spoke this but the Jaredites (no longer spoken after the destruction of the Jaredites)

° Nephite language—this was the language that came out of Jerusalem by Lehi

° Mulekite language—originally they spoke Hebrew, also coming out of Jerusalem (Omni 1:15), but their language became corrupt and Mosiah and his people could not understand them around 150 BC when they entered Zarahemla.  However, these Mulekites (people of Zarahemla) were taught Hebrew (Omni 1:18) and spoke that from then on

° Lamanite language—originally they spoke Hebrew, also coming out of Jerusalem, but their language became corrupted and Amulon and his brethren had to teach them how to speak and write Hebrew (Mosiah 24:4), which was the Nephite language and originally, the Lamanite language as well.

• (Page 72) “The above linguistic and archaeological picture suggest that, for their early development, the Maya were dependent upon the Olmec—that is, the Olmec culture formed a population base for the Maya civilization.”

Since Allen suggests that the Maya were the Nephites and the Olmec were the Jaredites, he claims that the Nephite language was based on the Jaredite language and Nephite culture was based on Jaredite culture. This, despite the fact that Nephi tells us that his language was based on Hebrew and Egyptian, ktwo languages that would not have existed in the time of the Jaredites (1 Nephi 1:2).  It is interesting that nowhere in the scriptures do the Mulekites, Nephites, or Lamanites ever come in contact with the Jaredites except for the man Coriantumr who lived long enough, after the great and final battle that completely wiped out the Jaredite civilization, to see another people inherit the Land of Promise as Ether prophesied (Ether 13:21). 

In Ether's lengthy account of the Jaredite people (beginning with the Creation [Ether 1:3] and ending with the great and final battle of extinction [Ether 15:29]) which Moroni edited out of necessity (Ether 1:5), did Ether mention any other people that the Jaredites encountered in their approximately 1500 years of existence in the Land of Promise.  Nor does Nephi, Jacob, Alma I, Alma II, Helaman I, Helaman II, Mormon or Moroni mention any other people than the four distinct groups of Jaredites, Mulekites, Nephites and Lamanites. Consequently, Allen’s opinions on other peoples in the land promised to Lehi has not correlation with the Book of Mormon.

• (Page 72) “Between 600 BC and 300 BC, a type of fusion developed in Maya lands, as a number of the above-mentioned sites, as well as additional sites, manifested an increase in activity.” 

Once the Lehi Colony landed in the Land of Promise and until Lehi died (perhaps about 5 to 10 years later), there was only one developed site, and that was the place of their fathers Inheritance or First Landing along the western seashore (Alma 22:28).  It seems logical that this site was not much improved, meaning buildings of any type, since Nephi and his people were still living in tents (2 Nephi 5:15) at the time he departed and fled in the middle of the night with all those who would join him. 

Thus any site at the place of first landing and settling would have been quite limited, probably just to fields for their seeds (1 Nephi 18:24). Not until Nephi stopped in a land which they called the Land of Nephi, did he and his people settle down and begin building (2 Nephi 5:15). Evidently one of the first buildings was a temple that rivaled Solomon's (2 Nephi 16).

Here they stayed for some 400 years, living in the same general area.  Obviously, more than one city was founded in that time, but by 300 BC, none are mentioned. The City of Lehi-Nephi is mentioned when Zeniff goes back to inherit the land of the Nephites First Inheritance (Land of Nephi) and an adjacent land, (Shemlon) is indicated, but no other city is mentioned. Thus, we see that no flurry of city development other than the one great city of Nephi is even mentioned or suggested in the scriptures.


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