Sunday, September 12, 2010

James E. Talmage and the Chilean Landing Site

It is getting to the point lately that scholars and theorists today are more interested in what early church leaders had to say about the location of the Land of Promise than what the actual prophet/historians wrote. So taking that theme, perhaps James E. Talmage’s comment on pages 9 and 10 of his book, “The Story of Mormonism,” written in 1914 might suffice.

In writing about the book itself and describing its contents, Talmage, who was a Teacher, Mining Geologist, Engineer, University President, Writer and Apostle, wrote: “The book tells of the journeyings across the water in vessels constructed according to revealed plan, of the peoples' landing on the western shores of South America probably somewhere in Chile.” He also wrote: “The Nephites lived in cities, some of which attained great size and were distinguished by great architectural beauty. Continually advancing northward, these people in time occupied the greater part of the valleys of the Orinoco, the Amazon, and the Magdalena.”

Thus, Talmage tells us that the Nephites landed in the south and moved continually northward, reaching the Peruvian and Ecuadorian areas and spreading out as they went, building impressive buildings and infrastructures. Something not found, by the way, anywhere in what is now the United States.

In addition, of those who traveled further north, such as those who left in Hagoth’s ships to travel “to a land which was northward” (Alma 63:4), and of the later migration of Nephites across Central and North America, he adds that the Nephites: “successively occupied extensive tracts in what is now Mexico, the valley of the Mississippi, and the Eastern States. It is not to be supposed that these vast regions were all populated at any one time by the Nephites; the people were continually moving to escape the depredations of their hereditary foes, the Lamanites; and they abandoned in turn all their cities established along the course of migration. The unprejudiced student sees in the discoveries of the ancient and now forest-covered cities of Mexico, Central America, Yucatan, and the northern regions of South America, collateral testimony having a bearing upon this history.”

Thus, Talmage, who seemed to have a better grasp on the subject than most of his contemporaries as well as earlier writers on the subject, describes the movement of the Nephite/Lamanite nations from the Chilean area in South America to the area of the Mississippi valley and Eastern States. This is exactly the progression found in the books “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” and “Who Really Settled in Mesoamerica?”, and involves the accurte dispersement of the Nephites/Lamanites and, later the Lamanite descendants, across the entire Western Hemisphere—the Land of Promise.

Talmage also added, “The Lamanites led a roving, aggressive life; kept few or no records, and soon lost the art of history writing. They lived on the results of the chase and by plunder, degenerating in habit until they became typical progenitors of the dark-skinned race, afterward discovered by Columbus and named American Indians.”

No matter how well Talmage follows the Book of Mormon sequence, it is still the writers found on the pages of that book, and their description of the Land of Promise, that is the most important, for they lived there, new of its boundaries and location, and exactly where it was. Jacob spoke and Nephi wrote about this location.

[Dr. James E. Talmage's "Story of Mormonism" was first delivered by him at the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and elsewhere, and first appeared in print as a lecture report in the “Improvement Era,” and was afterward issued as a booklet from the office of the “Millennial Star,” Liverpool. In 1910 it was issued in a revised form by the Bureau of Information at Salt Lake City, and has been translated and published abroad, including in Swedish, modern Greek, and Russian. Parts were also delivered by Talmage before the Philosophical Society of Denver, and appeared later in the columns of the “Improvement Era,” and translations have been published in pamphlet form in the Danish and German languages]

(see the next post: “How Did Jacob Know?” regarding this location)

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