Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Was Guatemala the Land of Nephi? Part V

In the four previous posts on Sorenson’s fanciful depiction of the land of first inheritance—Lehi’s landing site—and the Land of Nephi, including the City of Nephi, it seems quite clear that very little of his writings actually can be found in, or match, the scriptural record. It is mostly his trying to fit the scriptural account into his pre-determined Mesoamerican model.

His depiction of Guatemala City (Kaminaljuyu) as the city of Nephi seems to be limited in its matching of Mormon’s writings. As he wrote: “The city of Nephi was probably the archaeological site of Kaminaljuyu, which is now incorporated within suburban Guatemala City; the land of Nephi in the broader sense constituted the highlands of southern Guatemala.”
According to Sorenson’s map (above), the distance from the city of Nephi to the landing site is about 110 miles, the distance from the city of Nephi to city of Zarahemla is about 230 miles. Thus, Sorenson must restrict the distances the scriptures indicate between these areas to match his locations.

However, one must consider Nephi’s state of mind as he fled from the area of first inheritance. Speaking of his brothers and the sons of Ishmael, he wrote: “But behold, their anger did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life” (2 Nephi 1:2), and the Lord telling him to leave: “The Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me” (2 Nephi 1:5). Obviously, there was a state of urgency here, and a state of fear for one’s life.

In such a case, it would seem that Nephi would want to get as far away from his brothers as possible—to a place where he would feel safe and secure. It seems like 110 mile is not very far under such circumstances. Certainly, he still feared that his brothers would find him, for he “did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people” (2 Nephi 5:14). It seems most people would want to be further away form such a threat.

Obviously, according to Sorenson’s map, Mosiah when he fled from the city of Nephi more than 300 years later, continued to at least twice the distance as Nephi—yet, Nephi knew of the hatred of his brothers and that they had tried to kill him on more than one occasion (1 Nephi 17:48)—where Mosiah was merely fulfilling the commandment of the Lord (Omni 1:13).

In addition, in this new land, Nephi and his people built cities (2 Nephi 5:15-16), and spread out (2 Nephi 5:14), and must have been somewhat secure (2 Nephi 5:27), for it appears the Lamanites did not find them for about 20 years, though they finally did sometime between 567 and 557 B.C. (2 Nephi 5:28, 34).

Thus, the facts seem to support that when Nephi said they “did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days “ (2 Nephi 5:7), he was talking about quite some distance from the area of first landing. He used the same terminology to depict traveling several thousand miles across the ocean (1 Nephi 18:23), though he was specific about a time frame of eight years (1 Nephi 17:4) when wading through the deserts to Bountiful.

Obviously, the term “many days” can mean just about any distance, it would seem, however, the rest of the record suggests a longer distance for Nephi to escape from his brothers than a mere 110 miles.

In addition, Sorenson's line of travel from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla is basically to the west, not the north as Mormon tells us. First of all, Mormon wrote: “Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). This shows that Mormon understood directions and tells his future readers that to the west of the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla was a seashore—to the WEST. Thus, Zarahemla could not be to the west of the city of Nephi!

All of this, of course, shows the fallacy of Guatemala as being the Land Southward where Lehi landed, where the city of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla was located.

(See the next post, “Was Guatemala the Land of Nephi? Part VI – Looking Beyond the Mark,” to see where Sorenson goes astray from the scriptural record)

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