Saturday, June 18, 2011

Was Guatemala the Land of Nephi? Part III

Continuing from the last two posts regarding Sorenson’s fanciful description of the land of first inheritance and the Lamanites living there, he wrote:

“The Nephites soon fled up to the land of Nephi, where the elevation permitted living in greater comfort.”
There is absolutely nothing in the scriptural record to indicate that the area of the city Nephi built in the land they called Nephi (2 Nephi 5:8) was more comfortable in its climate than along the seashore. We do know that the elevation was higher, for they continually “went down to Zarahemla” (Alma 27:5), from the Land of Nephi (Alma 27:1), which would probably mean that Zarahemla was a lowland coastal city. But nothing is said of a difference in climate. The fact that they lived in tents in this new land (2 Nephi 5:7), as they did along the seashore, speaks more for a similar climate than a different one.

In addition, in this new land, they planted seeds once again and “did reap again in abundance” (2 Nephi 5:11), suggesting again that this land was similar in many ways to the coastal region they had just left. In addition, they prospered exceedingly (2 Nephi 5:13), but this seems more to their life style of “keeping the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things according to the law of Moses” (2 Nephi 5:10), and that “the Lord was with us” (2 Nephi 5:11), than any environmental factor as Sorenson claims.

Sorenson also wrote: “As Nephi tells the story, the Lamanites down in the hot lowlands were nomadic hunters, bloodthirsty, near naked, and lazy (2 Nephi 5:24; Enos 1:20).”

Obviously, much of this is true—“they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey” (2 Nephi 5:24), and “they became wild, and ferocious, and a bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven;” (Enos 1:20). The problem is the phrase “down in the hot lowlands,” which may fit his Mesoamerican model, but does not relate to the scriptural record.

In fact, the word climate is used only once in the entire record: “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40), and “heat,” referring to the temperature is mentioned only once “sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day” (Alma 51:33).

Thus, any comment about the “hot and humid” climate along the seashore in the area of their first landing—or anywhere else in the Land of Promise is strictly an unwarranted insertion by Sorenson.

Further, Sorenson states: “As for getting a living, the tangle of forest and swamp along the coast itself may have been too hard for the Lamanite newcomers to farm effectively, since they wouldn't immediately get the knack of cultivation in that locale.” In the scriptural record, there is no “tangle of forest and swamp” mentioned, implied, or even intimated. And as for being “too hard to farm effectively,” they were part of the planting of that first crop Nephi mentions which grew exceedingly and provided an abundance (1 Nephi 18:24).

(See the next post, “Was Guatemala the Land of Nephi? Part IV,” for how Sorenson fancifully describes Guatemala as the Land of Promise.”

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