Friday, July 30, 2010

The Problem With Zarahemla – Part II—Significance in a Name?

When people use the 125th section of the Doctrine and Covenants to try and prove the city of Zarahemla, Iowa, was inspired as to have a physical (location) connection to the original site of Zarahemla, one needs to learn a little about the origination of that city in Iowa.
The first LDS members to settle in Montrose and Nashville, Iowa, along the western bank of the Mississippi (across from where Nauvoo would be built), did so in May 1839. The Saints had been expelled from Missouri and many of them took refuge in Quincy, Illinois (on the east bank of the Mississippi just south of the Iowa line), for the remainder of the winter. Among the first to move north to Montrose from Quincy was Brigham Young and his family. They moved into one of the barracks' rooms in the deserted Fort Des Moines and were shortly followed by the families of John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, and others. They each lived in the abandoned fort until later moving to Nauvoo

In January 1839, Montrose had only a handful of residents but an abundance of ready-to-occupy housing. The barracks of the abandoned Ft. Des Moines had once quartered 180 soldiers but now provided shelter for several Mormon refugee families from Missouri. Israel Barlow provided Church leaders wintering in Quincy, information about land available in Lee County, as well as the site that became Nauvoo. When Joseph Smith approved the purchase, most of the refugees then in Quincy moved north. Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff, all future presidents of the Church, were among those taking rooms in the barracks.

Since land in Montrose itself could not be bought because of prolonged litigation over Tesson’s grant, trustees for the Church had bought from Isaac Galland some twenty thousand acres stretching westward from the village. Joseph Smith crossed the river to look over the land in 1839. He said that a town for Mormons should be developed just west of Montrose and given the name Zarahemla, though no action was taken for two years. The 1840 census did not delineate the village of Montrose and the township, but the population of the area was about a thousand. In October 1839, an “Iowa Stake” of the Church had been organized with Joseph Smith’s uncle, John Smith, as president. As a stake, the Iowa dwellers were on an ecclesiastical par with Nauvoo.

In March 1841, Joseph Smith received the 125th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, wherein the Lord acknowledged the name of Zarahemla, already given to the town, and declared that it was now time to build up Zarahemla. The Iowa Stake changed its name in August 1841 to the Zarahemla Stake, which included branches at the Ambrosia community west of Montrose, the Nashville community to the south, a handful of people at Keokuk (which then had a population of possibly 150), and the main branch called Zarahemla, consisting mostly of Montrose residents. Thirty houses may have been built at Zarahemla, but only one lot was recorded as sold, and no trace of the community remains.

In August 1842, Joseph Smith declared that the Mormons would become a mighty people in the Rocky Mountains. A few days later, the prophet crossed again to Montrose, this time to avoid Missourians trying to implicate him in the assassination of Lilburn Boggs, who as governor had expelled the Mormons from Missouri.

Two years later, tension was growing in Hancock County, and rumors flew about the state militia marching on Nauvoo. Joseph and Hyrum Smith again crossed the river to hide at the home of William Jordan, up the creek valley from Nashville. Emma Smith sent a message urging them to return, as the Nauvoo Saints felt threatened by persecution. Doing so led to the untimely deaths at Carthage.

It seems obvious, that such statements (last post) by Meldrum are meant to mislead when it is realized that Joseph Smith named the area in Iowa Zarahemla two years before receiving the revelation Meldrum claims was so significant. More likely, the Lord was telling Joseph to tell the Saints in Zarahemla, Iowa, and all those who would move there, that they should build up the stakes of Zion wherever they lived.

(Some of the foregoing is from Professor Fred C. Woods’ work. In 2001, Woods, a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, took a five-month leave of absence from BYU to accept a research-teaching fellowship at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he taught an honors course in nineteenth-century Mormon emigration history)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Problem With Zarahemla – Part I—Significance in a Name?

Rod L. Meldrum, a Great Lakes Theorist (or more specific, an American Heartland Theorist), has on his website ( on the question and answer page, the following:

“8. And finally, where did GOD himself place the city of Zarahemla? See D&C 125:3 and see for yourself where he placed it. Remember, God has only named a handful of places through his prophets, so it is likely very important when he does so. You may be very surprised at the answer, and it was not in Mesoamerica.”

Now, one would think from this that Meldrum is indicating that God himself, in the Doctrine & Covenants, stated where the Nephite Zarahemla was located—an attitude stated elsewhere in his writings as well. However, that is not at all what the 125th Section is about. In fact, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Book of Mormon, the Nephites, the Lamanites, the geography of the Land of Promise, or anything else relating to the subject matter of Meldrum’s book, tapes, or writings regarding the Land of Promise.

Instead, this short, four-verse section deals with what the Lord wanted the Saints located in the Territory of Iowa to do in March, 1841. Zarahemla, is indeed, mentioned in this section, but in the same sentence the Lord also names the city of Nashville and the city of Nauvoo, both along the Mississippi. Is this to mean there was a Nashville and a Nauvoo in the Book of Mormon that we know nothing about? Clearly, this idea about naming a city Zarahemla had nothing to do with the location of the original City of Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon, for that city was near the west sea, where the Mulekites landed (Omni 1:16). There never was a West Sea near Nauvoo or Nashville.

And just as clearly, this short 4-verse section relates to the question in verse 1: “What is the will of the Lord concerning the saints in the Territory of Iowa?” in which the Lord says in verse 2 “if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them gather themselves together unto the places where I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come.” Then, in verses 3 and 4, the Lord continues: “Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville, or the city of Nauvoo, and in the stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord” (verses 3 and 4).
Stated differently, the Lord was telling the Saints then, as well as now, that we should be building up cities, communities, and a society that will serve the Lord, and no matter from where we come (or who we are), we should “take up our inheritance” in the kingdom of God in that city (wherein we dwell), whether it be in Iowa, or anywhere else in the land. That is, no matter where we live, no matter in what city, no matter what the name of that city where we dwell, we should consider it our inheritance in the kingdom of God and build it up to the Lord through our devoted service to Him. How anyone can use such a reference to try and prove a point about the Land of Promise as stated in the Book of Mormon, that is, Lehi’s promised land, is beyond understanding.

Nor do we know why the Lord wanted that city named Zarahemla other than the fact that Zarahemla was the seat of government in the time of the Nephites in the Land of Promise, as this area around Nauvoo will, perhaps, be part of the seat of government when Adam returns to Adam-ondi-Ahman, where he once dwelt nearby.

The problem here, as in almost all areas Mesoamerican and other Theorists (such as the Great Lakes devotees), is that people have a location in mind and try to fit every possible little idea into it. Zarahemla was indeed the name of a city in the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, as was Jerusalem, Moroni, Mulek, Moronihah, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Gadiandi, Gadiominah, Jacob, Gimgimno and numerous others. That does not mean another city by that name is located today where the Book of Mormon city was located.

(See the next post “The Problem with Zarahemla – Part II,” for an understanding of how Zarahemla, Iowa, came to be—it is not as Meldrum claims)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Problems With Zelph – Part II

A skeleton of a white Lamanite named Zelph, though a minor figure in Mormon history, was uncovered in the late Spring of 1834 during a march from Kirtland, Ohio to Jackson County, Missouri, known as Zion’s Camp. On June 3, while passing through southern Illinois near Griggsville, some bones were discovered buried in a mound. These bones were identified by Joseph Smith as belonging to a Lamanite prophet-warrior named Zelph. The mound in question is now known as Naples Mound 8.

Poor Zelph. When he was killed by that arrow found in his ribs long ago, he had no idea how later generations would use him as an example of something far afield from the truth. Rod L Meldrum, on his website, makes a big point out of the fact that Joseph Smith said that Zelph was a “warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandugus, who was known from the hill Cumorah or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains.” Meldrum also writes that Joseph said Zelph “was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs during the last great struggle with the Lamanites and Nephites.” Meldrum, to further make his point, wrote: “several brethren (8 of whom wrote in their personal journals as having witnessed this account, and three of these men became future prophets of the church).”

Now, a few things need to be made clear. The comment about Cumorah and the eastern sea is discussed in the last post. But in addition, it should be noted that one of the witnesses Meldrum cites, named Reuben McBride, wrote in his journal that Zelph: "was known from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains” which has no mention of Cumorah or eastern sea, suggesting Joseph’s mention of the breadth of knowledge about the ancient prophet was from the Atlantic (eastern sea) to the Rocky Mountains. Levi Hancock’s journey entry said that: “"Zelpf was a white Lamanite who fought with the people of Onendagus for freedom.” Moses Martin wrote in his journal: "Soon after this Joseph had a vision and the Lord shewed him that this man was once a mighty Prophet and many other things concerning his dead which had fallen no doubt in some great battles.”

It seems that one could hardly claim that “some great battle” was “the last great struggle between the Nephites and the Lamanites.

Wilford Woodruff wrote that he "visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites." Woodruff also states that Zelph "was known from the hill Cumorah on East sea to the Rocky mountains," thus implying that the hill Cumorah in New York is the same hill Cumorah referred to in the Book of Mormon. However, some LDS scholars believe that "hill Cumorah" was Woodruff's term rather than Joseph Smith's, since other accounts refer only to the sea and fail to mention either Nephites or the hill Cumorah. And in 1842, two years before Joseph Smith’s death, Willard Richards compiled a number of records in order to produce a history of the church. Among the records examined were the various accounts related to Zelph. In the process of combining the accounts, Richards crossed out Woodruff's references to "hill Cumorah," and Heber C. Kimball's reference to the "last" great struggle with the Lamanites.

It is not likely that Willard Richards, who served as Second Counselor in the First Presidency under Brigham Young, served a mission to the eastern U.S. and also to Great Britain, was ordained an Apostle in 1840, and in 1842 was called to be the Church Historian and Recorder, and as such, wrote a total of 1,884 pages on the history of Joseph Smith, which B.H. Roberts later incorporated into the “History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Richards was also in Carthage Jail with Joseph, Hyrum and John Taylor, and the only one unhurt during the attack that killed Joseph Smith. It is hardly likely that a man of his stature, position, and trust would have just arbitrarily crossed out two extremely important entries, i.e., the hill Cumorah, and last great battle” unless given the reason by his leaders to do so.

When one sets out to quote from the past, one ought to not only get his facts straight, but give all the facts, even those which disagree with one’s viewpoint.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Problems With Zelph – Part I

One of the problems with Mesoamerican and other Theorists is that they have their minds made up before hand and when they read something of the early Church, they try to fit it into their own model without concern for the scriptural record of a long ago dead past.

These Theorists often do this in connection with something about Joseph Smith or the Brethren, which makes their view seem quite reasonable and true. However, with further analysis, it becomes apparent that how they are interpreting the comment or statement is not based upon an understanding of the overall picture the Book of Mormon paints for us.

Take the case of the comment Joseph Smith made, and faithfully recorded by others, about the Lamanite Zelph.
On June 3rd, 1834, Joseph Smith Jr. with several brethren (8 of whom wrote in their personal journals as having witnessed this account, and three of these men became future prophets of the church) visited a prominent mound on top of the bluffs overlooking the area around Valley City, Illinois. Joseph procured a shovel and dug down about a foot where he unearthed some bones. He continued until a ribcage could be distinguished wherein they found an arrowhead. Their combined, highly corroborated accounts were recorded as follows: “the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandugus, who was known from the hill Cumorah or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains… He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs during the last great struggle with the Lamanites and Nephites.” (History of the Church Vol. 2:79-80, 1948 edition)

Joseph here refers to the Hill Cumorah as an eastern landmark (eastern sea—the Atlantic Ocean), to the western landmark (Rocky Mountains), to refer the reader to the land in between. In this land in between, the reputation of a Nephite or Lamanite prophet was widely known. Joseph is definitely not referring to the Hill Cumorah as the original Book of Mormon hill Cumorah—only the one that existed in his present time as a landmark to the east and the well-known Rocky Mountains to the west. Nor do we know if his comment about the “last great struggle with the Lamanites and Nephites” refer to the last battle recorded in the Book of Mormon, or a last battle between the two groups later on, long after the Book of Mormon pages were finished—that is, Hagoth’s ships carried Nephites and Lamanites “to a land which was northward” and their descendants spread all over Central and North America. A last battle in the northeastern U.S. would be from those who were in the “land which was northward” and not in the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon.

It should also be kept in mind that the terms “eastern sea” and “Rocky Mountains” are not mentioned in the Book of Mormon at all. There is mention of a Sea East and East Sea, but not an eastern sea. And since Joseph interpreted those terms into English as he translated from the plates, we should understand that he knew the terminology of the Book of Mormon. In Joseph’s day, the term “eastern sea” referred to the area of North America, or what is called the Atlantic Ocean—the continent lying between the eastern and western sea, or between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Rocky Mountains has no correlation in the Book of Mormon at all. It should also be kept in mind that terms like continent in Joseph Smith’s day was not clearly understood in the way we do today. That is, when speaking of continent, the term then applied to the entire Western Hemisphere—not just North America or South America.

We need to be careful in applying today’s terminology to the era of the Nephites. The Book of Mormon is as accurate as a book could be on the subject and teaches us the correct terminology. All that is left for us to do, is understand it in the context it was written.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Fifth Land Mentioned in the Book of Mormon

As mentioned in the last post, Mesoamerican and other Theorists ignore the division of the Land of Promise as illustrated in the scriptures. There are actually five lands mentioned, not just the two everyone writes about. The first four, the Land Northward, Land Southward, Land North and Land South, were covered in the last post. This post will cover the fifth land mentioned.

The Land Which Was Northward.
At one time, Geologists claim South America was not connected to Central America, nor was the land to the east of the Andes above water.

Since both the prophets who recorded the statements and Mormon who abridged their writing used the term “Land Northward” or “Land North” why was the term “Land which was northward” used in the one single case in Alma 63? Perhaps it was used because in this single instance, Nephites sailed in Hagoth’s ships away to a land disconnected from the Land of Promise.

At the end of his book, Alma records an incident, which was more likely inserted by Mormon, that a man named Hagoth built several ships in an area at the narrow neck of land, along the southern side of the line separating the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful (Alma 63:5), and launched them there into the West Sea. Several of these ships took their course northward (Alma 63:6).

He also starts out this sequence of events by talking about how many Nephites emigrated to this land which was northward. Closing out the last verse of the 62nd Chapter of Alma, in the 35th year of the reign of the judges, or 57 B.C., Helaman died, and beginning Chapter 63 of Alma, in the 36th year of the reign of the judges, which would be 56 B.C., Shiblon took possession of the record, and Moroni also died that year (verses 1-3). Now, beginning in verse 4, in the thirty-seventh year of the reign of the judges, or 55 B.C., Alma or Mormon write about a northward emigration of Nephites.

“There was a large company of men, even to the amount of five thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children, departed out of the land of Zarahemla into the land which was northward” (Alma 63:4)--which would be about 25,000 people. Then in verse 5, we are told that “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5).
In verse 6 we are told that “many of the Nephites did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children and they took their course northward” (Alma 63:6). Contrary to Sorenson’s claim, Hagoth did not sail with these people—he stayed behind: “And in the thirty and eighty year, this man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward” (Alma 63:7).

These people who took their course northward, “to a land which was northward” were never heard from again (Alma 63:8).

It is interesting that Mormon, who could only write 1/10th of the records of the Nephites chose to spend almost an entire chapter, 6 verses describing Hagoth and his ship building and the Nephite movement “to a land which was northward” that were never heard from again. Might we not conclude, then, that these Nephites (and Lamanites) went somewhere other than to a land connected to the Land of Promise? After all, Jacob and Nephi told us that this land was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), which by definition, means it was not connected to any land to the north—thus, when taking their course northward, they left the island and landed on a land “which was northward.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Land North (Mulekites) Was Not the Land Northward (Jaredites)

Mesoamerican and other Theorists seem to ignore the division of the Land of Promise as illustrated in the scriptures, since there are four lands mentioned, plus a fifth, in the Book of Mormon, not just the two everyone deals with:

First of all, there is the Land Northward and the Land Southward, with which we are all familiar. However, the Land North and the Land South are not the same. These latter two names are actually divisions of the Land Southward as the map shows:

Thus, in the Land Southward, the southern half was called the Land South, which encompassed the Land of Nephi and was the area which the Lord led the Lehi Colony to and where they landed. Later, this landing site was referred to as the Lamanite Land of First Inheritance and was located on the West Sea to the south (Alma 22:28). The northern half of the Land Southward was called the Land North, which encompassed the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, and was the area which the Lord led the Mulekites to land, and where Mosiah found them “and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16).

When Captain Moroni rent his coat and wrote upon it the “Title of Liberty,” he then “named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—a chosen land, and the land of liberty” (Alma 46:17). In this act, Moroni was referring to all “the land south of the land of Desolation,” that is, all the land in the Land Southward, which he divided into two parts, “all the land, both on the north and on the south.” That is, he referred to the Land Southward as it was then known—for the Nephites had not yet traveled into the Land Northward. Thus, there was, in the Land Southward, two distinct lands, or divisions, referred to variously as the Land North and the Land South.

When Sorenson and other Mesoamerican Theorists miss this vital division of the Land Southward, they mistakenly think to call the Land North and the Land Northward the same area, which it was not. Thus, Mulek was led into the Land North (in the Land Southward) and Lehi into the Land South (in the Land Southward).

Thus, we can see that Alma 22:29-31 does not refer to the Mulekites (or people of Zarahemla) except for their discovery of the Jaredite bones, but, rather, is about the Nephite lands until they came north of the narrow neck, where the Jaredites and their lands were discussed:

“…on the north, even until they (Nephites) came to the land they (Nephites) called Bountiful. And it (Bountiful) bordered upon the land which they (Nephites) called Desolation, it (Desolation) being so far northward that it (Land of Desolation) came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed (Jaredites), of whose bones we have spoken (earlier discussed [Mosiah 8:8]), which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla (Limhi’s 43 man expeditionary force [Mosiah 8:7-8]), it (this land far to the north) being the place of their (Jaredites) first landing. And they (Jaredites) came from there up into the south wilderness (which they called the Land of Moron [Ether 7:6]). Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part (of the wild animals) of which had come from the land northward for food (during the Jaredite plague of poisonous snakes [Ether 9:21]).”

To try and claim the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward among the Jaredites, as Mesoamrican Theorists must do to satisfy their Olmec civilization in their model, is completely disingenuous. The Mulekites landed in the land where Mosiah found them (Zarahemla) and “they had dwelt their from that time forth” since their landing (Omni 1:16).

(In the next post, the fifth land mentioned will be discussed)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Land of Promise Had 4 Seas

Always ready to cloud the simple language of the Book of Mormon when it does not agree with his Mesoamerican model, John L. Sorenson, in his book “Mormon’s Map,” pp 18-20, writes: “The directional trend of the two lands and the neck was generally north-south. The east sea (six references) and the west sea (twelve references) were the primary bodies of water that bounded this promised land. But notice that the key term of reference is not "land north" (only five references) but "land northward" (thirty-one references).

There is, of course, a distinction; "land northward" implies a direction somewhat off from literal north. This implication that the lands are not simply oriented to the cardinal directions is confirmed by reference to the "sea north" and "sea south" (Helaman 3:8). These terms are used only once, in reference to the colonizing of the land northward by the Nephites, but not in connection with the land southward. The only way to have seas north and south on a literal or descriptive basis would be for the two major bodies of land to be oriented at an angle somewhat off true north-south. That would allow part of the ocean to lie toward the south of one and another part of the ocean to lie toward north of the other.

As Sorenson says, there were four seas: Sea West, Sea East, Sea North, and Sea South. And since Jacob claimed they were on an island (2 Nephi 10:20-21), we can conclude that the entire Land of Promise was surrounded by water. We certainly know that the Land Southward was surrounded by water except for a narrow neck of land between it and the Land Northward (Alma 22:32).

Now that we have established, and Sorenson agrees, that there were four seas, let us turn our attention to the words “northward” and “southward” since Sorenson makes an issue out of the fact that the land was not oriented to true north-south. As has been pointed out in previous posts, northward has a particular meaning today as it had in Joseph Smith’s day, and that is within the cardinal degrees of 337.5º and 22.5º, with north being 360º and 0º. In this same concept, southward would be within a degree swing of 202.5º to 157.5º, with due south being 180º. Any simple compass showing degrees will obviously bear this out.

That means that the Land of Promise must run at an angle with the northern most point of the Land Northward no more than 337.5º and the southern terminous of the Land Southward pointing toward 202.5 to 157.5º. On a map, it would look like this:

This is as far to the northwest a "northward" direction can be and is just about the exact compass direction that the island of the Andean area of Peru runs (See “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica”).

However, it is quite a bit off from the compass direction of Sorenson’s Mesoamerica:

(See the next post which covers the different between Land North and Land Northward and the Land Which was Northward)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mulekites and the City of Mulek

Speaking of Mosiah and the Nephites after they fled the Land of Nephi: “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 1:16).
Not to question any reader’s inability to follow the above, but because Mesoamerican Theorists rarekt ever quote this scripture and completely misunderstand the location of the Mulekite landing, let me explain:

1. Mosiah fled from the Land of Nephi and traveled until he found a land and city called Zarahemla (Omni 1:14)
2. The people of Zarahemla originally came from Jerusalem (Omni 1:15)
3. These people journeyed in the wilderness after fleeing Jerusalem
4. The Lord brought these people across the great waters
5. These people reached the Land of Promise
6. They landed in the area where Mosiah found them
7. They had lived in this area of their landing from the beginning

Now, that doesn’t sound too difficult to understand, does it? How could anyone construe anything different? Yet, listen to what these Mesoamerican Theorists claim:

Sorenson wrote in Mormon’s Map, p 20: “One's point of reference is critical. It is obvious to everyone that Mesoamerica around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has oceans to the north and south rather than to the east and west. But from the point of view of the Lehites and the Mulekites leaving Jerusalem, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans were eastward and westward paths to the promised land. The designations of these seas appears to be tied to these original, arduous journeys across oceans and the receding direction of their forfeited homeland. That the directional name might not be an accurate descriptor for every inlet, bay, or stretch of beach is a different matter. These seas had to be the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, respectively, because Lehi arrived from the Old World across the west sea (see Alma 22:28), and the party that brought Mulek from the land of Judah came 'across the great waters' (Omni 1:16) to the 'borders by the east sea. The city of Mulek was located in that area and was presumably near the location where they first settled (see Alma 51:26)."

What? Say that again? The ancestors of the people of Zarahemla were brought across the great waters to the east sea? Come again? We just read where they were brought by the hand of the Lord into the land WHERE MOSIAH FOUND THEM in the city called Zarahemla, not a city called Mulek, which was along the west sea.

To compound this issue, Joseph Allen wrote: “The reader will recall that the Mulekites had direct contact with the Jaredites, as the Mulekites landed in the midst of the Jaredite lands (Alma 22:30). The last surviving Jaredite king lived among the Mulekites for nine moons (Omni 1:21). As long as Allen was quoting Omni, why not quote Omni 1:16 which tells us where they landed and where they had lived all that time until Mosiah found them.

How is it that the Mulekites landed amidst the Jaredites in the Land Northward? Mosiah found them in the Land Southward in the land of Zarahemla just north of the Land of Nephi, where Amaleki said they had landed and always lived (Omni 1:16). The scriptures do not say they were ever in the Land Northward.

And nowhere is the city of Mulek identified with the people of Zarahemla. We do not know from scripture when the city of Mulek was built, or by whom, though it can be conjectured that someone named Mulek built it—but that does not mean the Mulek who was the son of Zedekiah was that Mulek. After all, the city of Lehi (Alma 51:26) was also nearby the city of Mulek on the eastern seashore, but was it a city the erstwhile Lehi who led his family across the sea settled? Obviouysly not. Besides, we know of others named Lehi in the Book of Mormon—the sone of Zoram, the sone of Helaman, the Nephite commander, etc. The fact that a city on the eastern seashore was named Mulek has nothing to do with the Mulek that was the son of Zedekiah (Mosiah 6:10), for they settled on the west seashore in the area of Zarahemla.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When North Does not Mean North – Mesoamerican Theorists’ Big Lie

John L. Sorenson, in his book, Mormon's Map, on pages 80—81, states: “We may be tempted to think automatically that "northward" and "southward" label directions that are the same as "north" and "south." But "northward" signals a different concept than does "north," something like "in a general northerly direction." By their frequency of using the -ward suffix, we can infer that Mormon and his ancestors used a somewhat different cultural scheme for directions than we do. However, we cannot tell from the Book of Mormon text exactly how their concepts differed from ours, because all we have to work with is the English translation provided through Joseph Smith.”
First of all, North basically means “due north,” while northward basically means “in the direction of north.” In fact, in the “1828 American Dictionary of the English Language,” Noah Webster gives us the exact New England language as known to Joseph Smith at the time of his translation of the Book of Mormon. In this dictionary, the definitions of North, Northward, etc., are clearly stated, and would not have been a problem for Joseph to understand. Nor would the Spirit have misled Joseph in this translation, for it was the Spirit that testified to Joseph whether his interpretation was correct or not—and if incorrect, the writing remained until he interpreted it correctly.

“North”: On our left when facing the rising sun in the meridian; being in the north

“Northward”: Being toward the north, or nearer to the north than to the east and west points

“South”: Facing the rising sun, south is to the right; opposite north; one quarter or 90 degrees or quarter of a great circle distant from east and west

“Southward”: Toward the south; to go southward

When the Lehi Colony left Jerusalem, Nephi records their direction of travel, using two entirely different statements: “South Southeast” (1 Nephi 16:13), and later “Nearly eastward” (1 Nephi 17:1). When comparing his line of travel along the Red Sea, then turning eastward to end up at the seashore, one sees that his use of these directions were exactly right. It would seem that Nephi, and obviously later Nephites, would have known their cardinal directions and their use is exactly right in the scriptures as Joseph Smith translated them, or the Spirit would not have allowed the translating to continue until he did get it right. (Eastward, by the way, means “toward the east; in the direction of east.”)

Therefore, it cannot be argued, as Sorenson does, that the “argument about directional systems is that they are cultural and not necessarily transparent.” I am afraid that early mariners, writers, geographers, mapographers, colonizers, wagonmasters, trappers, explorers, and their like would not agree that directions were “cultural” or any other such ridiculous description. When your life or livelihood depends on what you do, you tend to be exact and accurate. It might also be kept in mind that Mormon, who abridged all these directions and inserted many himself, knew he was writing to a future people so his directions would be what others would understand—not cultural to the Nephites.

In translating the Book of Mormon, we are informed that the Lord speaks to us in our language for our understanding. We also know that the Spirit passed on each statement, word, description, etc., Joseph translated. So who is correct? Joseph, Mormon and the Spirit? Or John L. Sorenson and other Mesoamerican Theorists?

The problem is that scholars and academics like to portray a mystery about things, to complicate information, to give epics and eras special names, and generally hide their disingenuous interpretations behind wordage and ideas that are not easily identifiable. The fact that Sorenson can spend pages on trying to explain away why the Nephites did not know basic cardinal directions for the thousand years they were in the Land of Promise seems worse than disingenuous—it seems like an outright fabrication! One that is necessary to Sorenson and other Mesoamerican Theorists because Mesoamerica is about 90º off line from north-south—it lies in almost a perfect east-west direction.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gulf of Tehuantepec vs. the Narrow Neck in the Land of Promise

Continuing with the problems facing the Isthmus of Tehuantepec being the Narrow Neck of Land, Mesoamerican Theorists like to point out that the Olmec and the Early Formative people of this area were equivalent to the Jaredites. However, there are many of their ruins on both sides of the isthmus—that is, in their Land Northward as well as in their Land Southward. The problem is, the Jaredites were never in the Land Southward, they did not build cities south of the narrow neck, instead, they kept that land for an animal preserve (Ether 10:21).
Geographically, this narrow neck as described in the Book of Mormon, was the only land mass that connected the Land of Bountiful in the Land Southward to the Land of Desolation in the Land Northward (Alma 22:32). Obviously, this narrow neck or narrow passage or narrow pass, was the only means by which movement from the Land Southward to the Land Northward was achieved (Mormon 3:5). It was such a topographical feature that it was both important to guard to keep the Lamanites from moving into the Land Northward (Mormon 3:6)—suggesting there was no other way into that land from the south—and it was defensible against a larger military force. It was also such a small boundary—one that marked the separation from the Land Southward from the Land Northward—that the Lamanites and Nephites agreed upon it as the dividing line between the two nations in a truce they signed around 350 AD (Mormon 2:29).

On the northern boundary of this narrow neck, the Jaredites built a city—no doubt the same city the Nephites called Desolation (Ether 10:20; Mormon 3:7); and on the western boundary of this narrow neck of land Hagoth built his shipyards (Alma 63:5); and on the southern boundry of the narrow neck was the Land Bountiful (Alma 22:32). Now this Land of Bountiful went “even from the east unto the west sea” (Alma 22:33). Many theorists try to claim this did not mean from the east sea to the west sea, however, the boundary of the Land Northward (Desolation) and the Land Southward (Bountiful) extended from sea to sea since the Land Southward was “surrounded by water” except for the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32), which should suggest that the narrow neck of land ran from the sea east to the sea west (Alma 50:34).

Different theorists have played havoc with this understanding because they have had to fit the concept into a model that is not accurate. Some have tried to claim the narrow neck, narrow passage or pass were different topographical features, however, this cannot be true since all three are described as serving the same purpose, a separation between the Land Southward and the Land Northward—and since there is only one narrow neck of land to separate these lands, all three phrases are used to describe the same feature. As an example, when Mormon agreed to a treaty whereby the Nephites got the Land Northward and the Lamanites took possession of all the Land Southward, Mormon wrote: “And the Lamanties did give unto us the land northward, yea even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward’ (Mormon 2:29). Also, Mormon wrote: “I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward” (Mormon 3:5). In both these passages, Mormon describes the same topographical location—the narrow neck just south of the Land of Desolation—by using the phrases “narrow passage” and also the “narrow pass” to describe this area usually referred to as the narrow neck of land.
Simply put, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec does not qualify, nor is it possible for it to qualify, as the narrow neck of land. As one blogger has written: “The line between the lands Bountiful and Desolation was a position that required specific fortifications…there is nowhere in Mesoamerica or Central America (including the Isthmus of Panama), where a person could have traveled from ocean to ocean, through dense jungles and over mountains, in one to one and one-half days.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gulf of Tehuantepec – Mesoamerican Theorists’ Big Lie

Basically, Mesoamerican Theorists use the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as the Land of Promise Narrow Neck of Land. This is the land that Mormon claims was narrow enough for a Nephite to walk across in one and a half days (Alma 22:32). A day and a half journey for a normal person would probably not exceed 30 to 40 miles, and likely for most would be between 25 and 30 miles—which would be 1.67 miles per hour for 18 straight hours without a rest. It is doubtful that Mormon meant 18 hours of straight walking. But more likely, a walk a normal man would make taking rest stops which almost anyone would require—which would make it around two and a half miles per hour—a good clip for an average person to maintain over a day and a half journey.
The distance of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is about 140 miles across, which should eliminate this area as the Nephite narrow neck of land without further discussion; however, John L. Sorenson in his book, “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” spent some time trying to show that special people under special circumstances could travel faster and longer. But that, again, is unlikely the meaning of Mormon’s insertion which was meant to show the future reader the distance of this narrow neck of land.

Consider the negative parts of using the Gulf of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica as the Narrow Neck of Land:

1. It is far too wide, covering 140 miles and would not be considered narrow to a normal person. Traveling 20 miles per day (on foot) would take seven days to cross.

2. It runs north and south, not east and west; therefore, it does not divide a land on the north from a land on the south (Alma 22:32).

3. It is not located where the sea divides the land, with the land to the south nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck (Alma 22:32).

4. It does not have a sea to the west, nor a sea to the east (Alma 2:32-33).

5. It does not have a sea to the west that would allow a launching of Hagoth’s ships that could take their course northward (Alma 63:6).

6. It does not have a narrow pass as a recognizable feature (Alma 50:34; 52:9).

7. It would be hard to imagine this 140 mile width area being completely blocked by poisonous serpents (Ether 9:31-34).

8. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to fortify this 140-mile width land against an invading army the size of the Lamanites (Alma 52:9).

9. It has no sea at the terminous of the land northward, nor at the terminous of the land southward, yet the land southward was surrounded by water (Alma 22:32

10. It does not have four seas (east, west, north and south)

(Next Post: Further reasons why Tehuantepec cannot be the narrow neck of land)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Disingenuousness of Mesoamerican Theorists

John L. Sorenson on page 36, Map 5, of his book “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” places the Land of Moron in his model in southern Mexico in the Oaxaca Valley, which is to the WEST of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, his narrow neck of land. Joseph Allen, on page 233 of his book “Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon,” also places the Land of Moron in this spot.

Allen goes so far as to describe his placement as “I propose that the Land Northward was located north and west (northward) of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.” However, there are two problems with this. On any map of Mesoamerican, it can easily be seen that the Valley of Oaxaca in southern Mexico is to the WEST of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, not north:

And second, north and west is not northward, but northwest. It could just as easily be westward since this word means the dividing line between north and west. For the proper use of northward, one would have to be within north by northwest to north by northeast—that is between 337.5 degrees to 22.5 degrees.

As an example, taking Salt Lake City, Utah, as a starting point, one might say that Pocatello, Idaho, and Helena, Montana, are due north. And that Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada, are northward (north by northwest), as is Gillette, Utah, and Kenmare, North Dakota (north by northeast). However, northwest (Allen’s north and west) from Salt Lake City would be Crescent City, California, which no one would call northward, but would say it was westward. And to the northeast would be O’Neil, Nebraska, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, which anyone in Salt Lake City would say was eastward, not northward. After all, northward from Salt Lake City would include Walla Walla, Washington (to the west) and Minot, North Dakota (to the east)—but further west or east of those points could not be considered northward.

In Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the usage of words that would have been known in New England at the time Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the definition of NORTHWARD is:

“Being towards the north, or nearer to the north than to the east and west points.”
Yet, in Allen’s and Sorenson’s Mesoamerican model, the compass point from their narrow neck of land into their Land Northward is 270º, which is due west—which is 90º off from due north.

One cannot rewrite language to fit their particular needs—nor can one change compass points to match their skewed model. Northward means just that—in the direction of north but not on a straight due north line. West or Westward cannot be construed as North or Northward, no matter how much it fits into a preconceived geographical model.

It is disingenuous to do so, and every scholar should understand this!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Allen’s Land of Moron? Was it West of the Narrow Neck?

Mesoamericanist Joseph Allen in his book “Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon,” in his Chapter on the Land Northward, pg 218, shows the Land of Moron to the West of the Narrow Neck of Land on his map, Figure 18-3. He writes: “The Land Northward requires that a narrow neck of land separate the Land Northward form the Land Southward.” But one look at his map shows that his narrow neck of land really separates the land to the west from the land to the east.

Yet, scripture tells us that the Land of Moron was north of the narrow neck in the Land Northward:

“Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites” (Ether 7:6)

“…on the north even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful. And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken” (Alma 22:29-30)

The Jaredite animals that escaped into the Land Southward, would be to the south of the narrow neck.

“And it came to pass that their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, toward the land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla…there were some which fled into the land southward” (Ether 9:31-32)

“And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land. And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness to get game” (Ether 10:20-21)

It would seem quite clear that the Land of Moron is to the north of the narrow neck, in the Land Northward, and that the wild animals that went south into the land the Jaredites kept as a preserve, was south of the narrow neck. However, Allen’s map showing his Mesoamerican model does not show it that way—obviously, because Mesoamerican does not run north and south, but runs east and west.

The fact that Allen labels the land to the West of the narrow neck as the Land Northward, and labels the land to the East of the narrow neck as the Land Southward does not change the fact that his map, and Mesoamerica as a whole, runs east and west, not north and south. Even so, John L. Sorenson also places the Land of Moron to the west of the narrow neck of land, evidently believing that Mormon had no idea in what direction he meant when he said “north.”

Such reporting is not scholarly, but disingenuous. It is misleading and meant to be misleading. And those who have accepted Mesoamerica as the locaton for the Land of Promise might want to take a real look at the map, location, and compass directions of the Mesoamerican model. It certainly does not agree with the scriptural record.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is in a Direction? Are Directions Important?

This map of Mesoamerica shows the cardinal directions of north, east, south and west as they relate to the Mesoamerican Theorists' model. They maintain the Nephites did not know the cardinal directions, though in scripture they are quite clear as stated by Mormon who had been throughout the Land of Promise, was a military General of the Army at 16, and a prophet of the Lord.
This is the division of lands the Mesoamerican Theorists, such as John L. Sorenson, use, despite that in Alma 22, the ancient prophet wrote “And it came to pass that 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 was bordering even to the sea on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by an narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west…”

In this passage found in verse 27, Alma is describing first, a notice the king sent to all his people, and second, that his people encompassed a very large area south of Zarahemla and from sea to sea. Following this statement, Mormon, during his abridgement, decided to make sure the future reader understood the vastness of the Lamanite lands, and also where those lands were in relation to the Nephite lands.

Beginning in the following verse, Mormon interjects a geographical outline of those lands and where the Lamanites and Nephites were at the time. He tells us:

1. The original landing site of the Lehi Colony, and now the land of the Lamanite’s first inheritance was south in the Land of Nephi, along the west coast (vs 28)
2. The Nephites held all the lands to the north of the Land of Nephi (vs 29)
3. The Land of Zarahemla was to the north of the Land of Nephi (vs 29)
4. The Land of Bountiful was to the north of the Land of Zarahemla (vs29)
5. The Land of Desolation was to the north of the Land of Bountiful (vs 30)
6. The Land of Desolation extended so far north, it bordered on the land of the Jaredites (vs 30)
7. The land on the north was called Desolation and the land on the south was called Bountiful (vs 31)

Mormon goes on to outline these lands through the end of the Chapter. The question arises, why did Mormon insert this additional information, giving the future reader a better understanding of where these lands lay, who peopled them, their history, etc.? And why did Mormon bother to make such a point of inserting directions? Is it possible that he thought it important for the future reader to know where these lands lay in relation to one another?

Certainly, Mormon did his best to describe the location of these lands as well as possible short of drawing a map. He made it quite clear that, moving from south to north, the Land of Promise was divided into lands starting with the Land of Nephi in the south, then to the north of that was the Land of Zarahemla, and to the north of that was the Land of Bountiful, to the north of that was the narrow neck of land, and to the north of that was the Land of Desolation, and finally, “so far to the north” of that was the land of the Jaredites and where the bones of their destruction were located.

One cannot read this Chapter without clearly understanding that these lands ran south to north. However, Mesoamerica, as these two maps show, do not run south to north, and beginning at the location the Mesoamerican Theorists claim is the narrow neck of land (Isthmus of Tehuantepec), it is plain to see that the Land Northward is to the WEST and the Land Southward is to the EAST. Despite all their attempts to cloud this issue of the failure of their model to meet the most simple and basic outline of the Land of Promise, it is plainly visible that Mesoamerica does not run north and south, but rather east and west.

If for no other reason, any sane person who accepts the Book of Mormon as inspired scripture, must reject the Mesoamerican model.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Destruction in the Land of Promise at the Time of the Crucifixion – Part IV

The actual destruction in the Land of Promise is recorded in 3 Nephi, when the disciple Nephi tells us of the great destruction that took place. On the fourth day of the first month in the thirty-fourth year, Nephi writes, “there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land” (3 Nephi 8:5).

This storm (a rushing, violent wind) was accompanied by a great and terrible tempest (a storm of extreme velocity and violence) and terrible thunder (the sound which follows the explosion of electricity or lightening). There were whirlwinds (a violent upthrust of air moving in a spiral, upward form), and the entire earth shook as it if was about to divide (to part) asunder (into separate parts). During this storm of severe proportions, more severe than had ever been known in 600 years of occupation of the land of promise, floods occurred, ground liquefied and sunk into the earth, dropping cities from sight; seasides or shorelines were so eroded and demolished that cities fell into the sea. Great upheavals of earth occurred, burying cities beneath millions of tons of earth and rock.

Cordilleras rose from the depths of the earth, shoving level ground upward and forming great mountains and very tall peaks. At the same time, great earthquakes struck the land, shaking the earth, and tumbling buildings. Highways were destroyed, broken into pieces, heaved up and thrust down and diverted from their regular path. These earthquakes were not simply local quakes, but shook the entire land of promise, both in the land southward and in the land northward, covering thousands of square miles.

So great were the earthquakes Nephi described that the entire land, wherever one looked, was broken up, huge shafts of earth shoved upward while other pieces fell into the earth and disappeared. There was hardly a smooth place left on the face of the earth. Huge rocks, large granite slabs, and sheer cliff faces were split apart and strewn over the ground. Large, sheer mountains were split, jagged cracks ran their entire length, and not a place could be seen where pieces of rock had not fallen across the earth.

This extremely violent storm and numerous earthquakes lasted for three hours. By today’s measurement standards, it might be safe to assume that in magnitude, this quake would have at least topped 9.0 on the Richter scale, maybe even into the 10s. There seemed to be no single hypocenter of the quake, and the epicenter spread over great distances. It would appear that the intensity of the quake was extremely high, with survivors feeling certain that it had lasted much longer than it did, and on the Mercalli scale, it would have been at least its highest measurement of XII. Had there been seismographs in existence at the time, likely the needles would have gone off the scale.

The Geological Record paints a similar picture of destruction and change in the Andean area, from northern Chile to Ecuador. According to Lowell Thomas in his 1964 “Book of High Mountains,” these earthquakes and volcanic action that built the Andes was beyond anything else recounted by the “record of the rocks.” The floor of the Pacific shook so violently, that it jarred both the South America and Asian continents, and the Andes spouted fire from 100 craters, and deluged their slopes with floods of molten rock that geologists identify as “Andean lava.”

Also, the disciple Nephi tells us that after the great destruction of the earthquakes, that a thick darkness followed which covered all the face of the land, and that the inhabitants who survived could feel this vapor of darkness, and it was so thick. that there was no light, not even from fire, candles or torches, or from the sun, moon or stars. Nothing at all could penetrate this vapor that lasted another three days (3 Nephi 8:20-23).

Such a vaporous darkness is the result of volcanic ash which can be so thick it can extinguish not only all light, but even oxygen, suffocating those over which it falls. An example of this is found in the eruption of Mount Visuvius in the summertime of 79 A.D. when the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried by an avalanche of boiling mud and lava about 40 and 75 feet underground respectively. In one of the most unbelievable catastrophes in the history of the world described by Pliny the Younger very similar to Nephi’s record.

Mesoamerican Theorists can claim there was only surface damage that did not alter the landscape, but Nephi tells us a completely different story.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Destruction in the Land of Promise at the Time of the Crucifixion – Part III

Continuing with the 9 points of Mesoamerican Theorists to limit the destruction in the Land of Promise during the crucifixion:

Point 6: “Mesoamerican Theorists claim that there were underground claps of thunder which the Nephites could not distinguish from aerial thunderings.” Actually, there may well have been underground disruptions sounding like thunder, as well as many other phenomena, and it is also possible the writers could not distinguish the difference. However, this is pure speculation with no supportive scriptural evidence. We only know that the solid mass of the earth was broken up (Helaman 14:21), both above and below the earth (Helaman 14:22). The cracking of solid rock, the forming of seams and cracks, especially if they were extended down through rock mountains, would certainly cause explosion-sounding thunder that would rock the earth as well.

Point 7: “Mesoamerican Theorists claim that winds blowing south over the Gulf of Mexico "pile up" water against the ("east") coast, inundating areas of low elevation.” However, blowing winds that pile water up along the coast can hardly be a major meteorological phenomena causing Book of Mormon recorders to react in such a manner. Even the worst hurricane hitting the coast would not cause the terrifying reactions that such an event was "never before known in all the land." Nor would such water bury a city in the depths of the sea, for hurricanes eventually move on, and the water associated with them eventually returns to its normal place. No, this event that sunk cities into the depths of the sea was something far more devastating, something that caused huge acreage of the earth to sink into the ground and cities fall in upon the sinkholes, with the sea then rushing in to fill the huge, deep earthen holes. Such happenings would indeed change the face of the land. Consider the seashore or inland seas being expanded and the visible earth disappearing under the advancing water. This is not cosmetic.

Point 8: “Mesoamerican Theorists claim that either this effect of a normal storm or the more profound result from a tropical hurricane sweeping across the Gulf of Campeche could well have caused "that great city Moroni" on that coast to be "sunk in the depths of the sea.” In this case, the scriptural record says "the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea" not that the sea was raised up to cover the city like from a flood or tropical hurricane. Many great and notable cities were sunk (3 Nephi 8:14; 9:8), and sunk, after all, means sunk, not covered over. And over these sunken cities, the Lord caused waters "to come up" (3 Nephi 9:7) over them. So deeply were the cities buried in the depths of the water, that "these cities could not be renewed" (4 Nephi 1:9).

Point 9: “Mesoamerican Theorists claim that burying cities "in the depths of the earth" (3 Nephi 9:6, 8) would have resulted from mud slides, as well as from falling volcanic ash.” However, the scriptural record says the "earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah that in the place of the city there became a great mountain" (3 Nephi 8:10). This hardly describes earth falling down upon the city, such as mud slides or volcanic ash. The earth was carried up, not down, to cover the city. Also, Gilgal was sunk and "buried up in the depths of the earth" (3 Nephi 9:6). Being buried in the depths of the earth is hardly being covered over by mud slides or falling ash.

The problem is, these 9 points, taken from John L. Sorenson’s book, “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” describes limited, facial, or cosmetic changes because his Mesoamerican model does not show such devestation as is mentioned in the scripture record. But the record does not verify his explanations. Rather, the record suggests a devesttion far more extreme and incidents not easily found happening elsewhere other than the Land of Promise.

(The Next Post will show where such devestation took place, and where the actual Land of Promise was actually located. See Destruction in the Land of Promise at the Time of the Crucifixion – Part IV)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Destruction in the Land of Promise at the Time of the Crucifixion – Part II

Continuing with the 9 points of Mesoamerican Theorists to limit the destruction in the Land of Promise during the crucifixion:

Point 2: “Mesoamerican Theorists claim that basic geographical reference points, such as the narrow neck and pass, Hill Cumorah/Ramah, and the river Sidon continued unchanged.” However, it should be kept in mind that Mormon's abridgment of these events were seen by him about 300 years after this great destruction. Whatever changes to the land that took place, would have been well understood and accepted through three full centuries. Throughout the record both Mormon and Moroni continually try to tie in places and events when they feel the reader might not make the correct connection on his own. As a result, what the narrow neck of land, the hill Cumorah, and the narrow pass, all looked like before and after the destruction is not stated. Only that each was still there, though each could have been drastically altered. As an example, prior to the destruction, the term "narrow neck" is used, after the destruction, the term "narrow pass" is used. But whatever the changes were, all were identifiable to Mormon in the 4th century A.D. -- more than that we know little concerning them. As an example, the hill Cumorah could have been taller, shorter, larger or smaller before and after—all we know is that it existed in both time frames. The same can be said for the narrow pass, the narrow neck of land, and other points.

Point 3: “Mesoamerican Theorists claim that it was the intensity of nature's rampage that impressed the Nephite recorder, not the novelty of the phenomena (3 Nephi 8:5, 7).” However, this is a conclusion unsupportable by the record. That is, storms would obviously have been known as well as thundering and lightning—these are common, necessary meteorological events in weather. However, why should a storm be labeled "such an one as never had been known in all the land" (3 Nephi 8:5) unless the entire event was unusual. In this vein, it must always be kept in mind that ancient prophets and scribes were limited in their vocabulary when describing unknown events, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel trying to describe the futuristic weapons of war during the battle of Armageddon. Mormon tries to describe such things as tornadoes, hurricanes, underground earth movements, sinkholes, water geysers, fumaroles, and other earth actions that were obviously unnamed in his day. And just as obviously, when entire cities sink into the earth and are buried under mountains with water filling sinkholes, there has to be unusual, unexplained earth movements that were both cataclysmic and foreign. Mormon, and the original writers of the events, simply had a limited vocabulary to express what happened.

Point 4: “Mesoamerican Theorists claim that all of these kinds of destruction had happened before in the land, but never with such terrifying effect”. However, when the writer states “sharp lightenings such as never had been known in all the land" seems like an odd statement to describe something that was common except in its severity. Normally, one would write "more severe than had been seen before" to denote a typical event, not "such an one as never had been known in all the land." What might have been labeled as lightning by these ancient writers? Flashes in the sky, meteors, hydrogen flares, fireballs? What kind of lightning-like phenomena would be "such as never had been known in all the land?" If it was normal lightning, what caused it to be so different? Lightning is, after all, lightning and though it can be quite fearful, it is still just lightning. Something had to be considerably different to warrant a comment that it had never been known in all the land.

Point 4: Mesoamerican Theorists claim that not surprisingly, the sorts of natural forces unleashed in that fateful three hours are familiar on the Mesoamerican scene. However, earthquakes generally last less than a minute, two at most. Other meteorological phenomena are usually only a few minutes. Whatever drove the events in the land of promise, they were unique and with such unparalleled force and magnitude that they lasted for 3 hours. It is difficult to consider these events and unbelievable devastation as being from natural events typically known to Book of Mormon inhabitants. Or to anyone else, for that matter. Southern California lives in dread of a 5-minute 8.0 earthquake that would flatten the land for several square miles. Consider what a 10.0 earthquake lasting 3 hours might do. It cannot be said that such a catastrophe would be familiar on the Mesoamerican scene, or anywhere else for that matter. No doubt, this is why the statement "as never have been seen before" was used by the ancient prophets.

(Points 6 thru 9 and the conclusion will appear in the next post - Destruction in the Land of Promise at the Time of the Crucifixion – Part III)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Destruction in the Land of Promise at the Time of the Crucifixion - Part I

Almost anywhere in the world could be shown to fit a description of ancient natural disasters when one limits the impact of those disasters to his own pre-determined intensity. The entire area of Southern Utah, for instance, is honeycombed with volcanic rock, ancient eruptions, cracks, seams, floods, and signs of tumultuous destruction.
All of western South America, Central America, western Mexico and the coastal area of western North America lay on various fault lines. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cracks and seams have appeared over the past 2000 years along this entire 12,000 mile line with great intensity—and a researcher could find evidence of the destruction outlined in 3 Nephi if one limits the effect and results of that destruction to fit his own model.

The problem seems to be in trying to fit an existing model to the destruction indicated in 3 Nephi. Another possibility is that the land changed and, perhaps, is now beyond recognition. A third possibility is that some of the land changed and other parts of it did not and that certain areas, such as that around Zarahemla north to the narrow neck of land, is yet visible.

The truth of the matter is, that the record in the Book of Mormon is limited in describing the extent of the overall destruction that took place. Yet, with careful study, an understanding of what actually happened as the record states, and a thorough knowledge of the area dating back thousands of years could give us a clear picture of the location. One thing we do know is that the destruction suggested in the scriptural record was extensive, and in some cases extreme.

The two locations indicated by scholars, obviously, would be 1) the Mesoamerican lands of southern Mexico through Guatemala, or 2) the Andes area of Ecuador, Peru and Chile. First, let's take a look at the Mesoamerican model. To show that such is the location, scholars have indicated 9 points to counter the extreme conditions stated in the scriptural record. However, these 9 points are not supported completely by scripture:

Point 1: Mesoamerican Theorists claim only the “face of the land” was affected. However, the scriptural record says: The whole face of the land was changed (3 Nephi 8:12); the face of the whole earth was deformed (3 Nephi 8:17); hills and valleys were made in the place where cities had been (3 Nephi 9:8); mountains became valleys and valleys became great mountains (Helaman 14:23); roads were destroyed (Helaman 14:24) and smooth places made rough (3 Nephi 8:13); rocks were rent, broken up, fragmented, with seams and cracks appearing upon the face of the whole earth, and upon all the face of the land (3 Nephi 8:18).

Any earthquake that shook the whole earth, accompanied by thunderstorms (hurricanes?) and whirlwinds (tornadoes?) that lasts for 3 solid hours would so deform the land that it would be unrecognizable in many, if not most areas. After all, the intensity of all this destroyed numerous cities, raised mountains (1 Nephi 9:11) from level plains, sunk mountains into valleys, opened the earth (1 Nephi 9:11), formed lakes and inland seas, split the earth in seams, and ruptured the mountains into cracks that formed canyons, rifts and deep gorges. Thus, contrary to Mesoamerican theorists of just being "cosmetic alterations" on the face of the land, we find in Helaman that these changes were both above and below the earth (Helaman 14:21-22).

(See “Destruction in the Land of Promise – Part II” in the Next Post for more of these points)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where Lehi Sailed – Part V

Many scholars searching 1st Nephi and trying to figure out where the Lehi Colony traveled and eventually landed, are of the opinion that the scriptures are silent on the point of how the colony got from their embarkation point to their point of landing. However, the scriptures are not silent on this issue—Nephi makes it quite clear in telling us how the ship was propelled. “We were driven forth before the wind to the promised land.”

As stated in the last post, what one needs to know to figure out where Nephi’s ship sailed, is to understand two things:

1. From where the ship sailed
2. Where currents and winds blew from that point

The first is generally not considered a point in question. Almost all scholars on this subject agree that Bountiful existed along the south Arabian coast and that the sea Irreantum was the Arabian Sea. So to know where Nephi’s ship sailed, one needs only to know where the currents and winds would take a weather (sailing) ship in 600 B.C. leaving the south coast of Arabia.

First of all, the winds and currents blow into shore from July through December on the monsoons, which would eliminate that half of the year. However, from January to June, the current and winds blow outward, moving SOUTH until they pick up the Prevailing Westerlies and the West Wind Drift that turns the currents and winds toward the EAST in what is now called the Southern Ocean, the circumpolar route that moves south of New Zealand, across the Pacific Ocean, and then through the Drake Passage (between South America and Antarctica) on its way around the globe. At this point, the northern half of the current and winds strike the continent and are turned northward, along the west coast of South America.
Thus, any weather (sailing) ship of 600 B.C. (and for 1,000 years thereafter), could only travel, “driven forth before the wind” down from the Arabian coast to the Southern Ocean, then eastward to South America, and then up the west coast of the continent. This is no mystery. Every oceanographer, mariner, and scientist involved with the world’s currents and winds knows and understands this passage from the coast of Arabia to South America.

It is the reason why this website is called the Nephi Code—because Nephi left us all the information we need to know about his journey and landing site though most people do not realize it when they read his words. He was not trhying to fool us, nor mislead us, or leave us to wonder. From the time Lehi left Jerusalem to the time they landed in the promised land, Nephi describes his entire journey and what they found at the end of that journey in clear and precise language.

Of course, Nephi did not have maps of the world at his disposal—so he described his journey, even giving directions where he felt it necessary, so we would know where he went and where he landed.

It is not rocket science to understand this. However, one must recognize that ships in 600 B.C. did not, and could not, travel against sea currents and against winds. In understanding this very simple and elementary point, one can then trace the route of Nephi’s ship and, in understanding where these currents and winds died down, one can see where the ship landed. It is also helpful to understand that life in 600 B.C. was totally and absolutely dependent upon planting and harvesting—and seeds grown in one area did not reproduce in other areas with different soils, temperature, rainfall, and climate. Not understanding this vital point nearly cost the Plymouth Colony their lives in 1620-21. Thus, to find an area where seeds from Jerusalem would grow exceedingly and produce an abundant crop, one needs to find in the Western Hemisphere where a Mediterranean Climate exists—and that is only in Southern California and at 30º South Latitude in Chile.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Where Lehi Landed – Part IV

Sometimes, one has to chuckle at the reasoning of these Mesoamerican and Other Theorists who have their own models they like to promote for the location of the Land of Promise. On one internet site recently, I ran across the rationale that the reason Frederick G. Williams chose the 30º South Latitude is because:

“Based on 1st Nephi descriptions of the family's journey through Arabia from Jerusalem as to lead future speculators to assume they must have traveled South-southeast and thereafter east throughout their journey to the 'Land of Promise'. It was from that overgeneralization that 30 degrees south latitude made sense in the context of Chile.”
Now, let’s take a look at this rationale. Joseph Smith said they traveled along about the 19º NORTH Latitude across the Arabian Peninsula to the sea. The location of Salalah, where most believe Nephi built his ship and from which they set sail, is about 17º NORTH Latitude (which is about 54º EAST Longitude). The landing site Joseph and Williams both mentioned is located 30º SOUTH Latitude (about 72º WEST longitude).

Maybe I’m just stupid, but I do not see how the Lehi Colony moving south-southeast along the Red Sea and then almost east to the sea relates in any way to a spot 49º south of one latitude, and half a world away in longitude, as the author of this website claims. Exactly how did “30º South Latitude make sense in the context of Chile” to these distances and locations with nothing in common to the latitude and longitude locations in Arabia?

Secondly, in reading 1st Nephi and the journey of the Lehi Colony, one need not “assume they must have traveled South-southeast and thereafter east throughout their journey” for that is EXACTLY what the scriptures claim.

Come on now, if someone wants to discredit Williams’ writing, let us use some reason and accurate context in the effort.

The Lehi Colony left Jerusalem and traveled SOUTH to the mouth of the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:5), then they traveled SOUTH SOUTHEAST (1 Nephi 16:13,14,33) to a location along the banks of the Red Sea, and finally traveled EAST (1 Nephi 17:1) to the area they called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:6). These are not my locations, words, or directions, but those of Nephi. If one is going to accept the Book of Mormon as factual, one cannot pick and choose which parts they are going to agree with and which parts they are going to discredit. The Book—the entire Book—is either accurate or it is not. It is either inspired scripture, or it is not.

Now recognizing the Lehi Colony was in a location they called Bountiful after traveling “nearly eastward from that time forth” until they reached Bountiful, which was an area along a coast of a sea they called Irreantum (1 Nephi 17:5). It is doubtful this could have been any sea but the Arabian Sea. Now from a place along this coast, you cannot sail east or you would run into the west coast of India (one would have to then turn south for 1500 miles to clear India and Sri Lank before turning east again). One could not sail west, or you would run into the Gulf of Adan and back up the Red Sea. One can only sail south from the Arabian coast along the Arabian Sea. Thus, east is not an option, and for the writer of the website mentioned earlier, the scriptures do not say they traveled “east throughout their journey to the 'Land of Promise'” but only to Bountiful.

The only comment in scripture beyond Bountiful, is that Nephi’s ship was driven forth before the wind. Therefore, to know where the Lehi Colony traveled once in the sea they called Irreantum, is to know where the currents moved and the winds blew.

(Next Post will show where the currents and winds blew off the coast of Arabia - See Where Lehi Traveled and Landed - Part V)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where Lehi Landed – Part III

Frederick G. Williams, the scribe of the Prophet Joseph Smith, from 1833-1837, jotted down on a piece of paper that indicated Lehi's party landed in 30 degrees south latitude in Chile. This proposed landing site of Lehi was found on the same sheet of paper with a known revelation regarding John the Beloved, and many presumed it, too, was a revelation. Much has been written by Mesoamerican Theorists and other theorists who claim other places, such as upstate New York, was the home of the Nephites, and all take the approach that this was not a revelation—obviously, because it does not agree with their models. Their arguments range far and wide to disclaim the statement as a revelation because it appeared on a sheet of paper with another revelation.
However, all this conjecture of trying to show it was not a revelation misses the point. Whether it was a revelation or not is immaterial—what matters is the location written down. What caused Frederick G. Williams in this case, and Joseph Smith in the case illustrated in the previous post where he said it was the landing site of the Lehi Colony, to choose the 30º South Latitude in the first place?

Forget about the revelation argument. It is immaterial to the point of why Joseph and Williams chose to indicate this particular spot on the Chilean coast of South America. In their day, not much was known about the west coast of South America—there was no internet and few families had an Atlas because of the cost. In addition, few people in New England had ever been to South America, let alone to the West Coast of Chile, and teachings in schools of the day did not include such detailed information on South America—whatever teaching of geography and history at the time centered in England, Ireland and Europe, for that is where the people who settled New England came from.

When one considers the very unique qualities of the area along the coastal strip of Chile exactly at the 30º South Latitude—a fact unknown until late in the 20th Century, that this area has the exact climate, precipitation, soil, soil group, temperatures, etc., as the Mediterranean zone—one of only five such places in the entire world, one must wonder how Joseph Smith and Frederick G. Williams stumbled on this particular location. And even so, how would they have known that the seeds Lehi brought from Jerusalem needed such a climate to grow abundantly and exceedingly? None of these men were travelers to other climatic zones, nor would they have known that about planting and harvesting in the Mediterranean or South America (or anywhere else outside New England).

Today, we have great knowledge of such matters, and if we personally do not know something, we can easily seek out the information from numerous sources—so much so that we sometimes forget that such knowledge was not always available. The younger a person is, the less likely he or she will have the experience of trying to find information without the internet, household books, well-read parents, teachers and extensive libraries. But such was not the case in 1830, especially to farmers who did not live within a city, but spent their lives working the fields and trying to eek out a living.

There are very few people today, even with all our modern technology and information, that know the circumstances that exist along this strip of Chilean coast in South America, nor that it is an area of temperate climate and arable soil suitable to plant and harvest abundant crops of seeds from Jerusalem that grew exceedingly—as the scriptures indicate.
After all, just a little to the north of this area is the Atacama desert, one of the driest deserts in the world, and just to the south of this strip the weather is far too cold for such planting and harvesting. And inland, beyond this strip, the land rises sharply into the Andean mountains where such crops cannot grow. But just inland from the Bay of Coquimbo is the La Serena valley, which has this Mediterranean Climate and where most of the crops of Chile are grown.

Indeed, Joseph and Williams must have been extremely lucky guessers to choose the 30º South Latitude—the only location in the Western Hemisphere from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego in South America, seeds from Jerusalem would have grown exceedingly and produced abundant crops.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where Lehi Landed – 30º South Latitude in South America - Part II

Between September, 1827, when Joseph received the plates from the angel Moroni, and June 1829, when the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed, Joseph was between the ages of not quite 22 and 24 ½ years old. At the time, Joseph was without a formal education, had traveled no further than about two hundred miles from his place of birth, and had little more for his reading material than the Bible.

Yet, in some way, at this age and under these circumstances, Joseph came to understand that the ancient Nephites in Arabia “traveled nearly a south, southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of north latitude; then, nearly east to the sea of Arabia, then sailed in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chili, thirty degrees south latitude,” and also knew and understood the topography of the land when saying that this landing site “was on the coast of the country now known as Chili—a country which possesses a genial, temperate and healthy climate.”

I would challenge any modern young man (who has not been in foreign lands on a mission or traveled extensively) to know that information about the 30º south latitude, Chile, its climate, and temperature. I have asked more than a hundred well-educated young men in my studies that very question. Most did not know where the 30º south latitude was, nor what area of land it crossed, nor that in that area of Chile was a unique temperate zone like the Mediterranean Climate of Jerusalem—the only place in the Western Hemisphere from Mexico to South America such seeds would have grown exceedingly and produced an abundant crop.

Isn’t it interesting that an uneducated young man who had no experience in travel, was not a person who had studied geography to any degree, nor had any formal training regarding the area of South America, could come up with the exact wordage used today (not then) to describe the Mediterranean Climate zone of Chile, South America, when there are only five such climate zones in the entire world outside the Mediterranean area.

How could such an uneducated individual in 1830 even know that when leaving the Arabian coast that the sea currents and winds led directly to this single area along the coast of Chile at exactly 30º south latitude (the Bay of Coquimbo—an area unknown in 1830 to anyone not having been there) where the sea and wind currents died down to allow for an easy landing. No one in 1830 knew about what is now called the Southern Ocean, and the West Wind Drift, nor the Prevailing Westerlies, that move along south of New Zealand and across the Pacific land bend north up the Chilean coast. Actually, well educated BYU professors and graduates who teach in this area, from Hugh Nibley to John L. Sorenson, do not know of this fact.
Yet, fact it is, and since the Southern Ocean was divided from the other oceans by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2000, and this area has been sailed upon extensively from late in the 20th century, mariners, geographers, and oceanographers have come to understand the unique currents and winds that blow along this circumpolar current and propel weather (sail) ships from west to east at an excellent clip of speed with few difficulties. They have obviously found it to be the fastest way across the southern Pacific Ocean, and many sailing clubs and organizations now use this area for their competitive races.

How did Joseph Smith know of this? How did he know about the 30º South Latitude and the Chilean climate there? How did he know of the winds and ocean currents? Short of being the luckiest guesser in the world, we would have to chalk this one up to inspiration—thus showing that Lehi’s route and landing site was exactly as Joseph described it.