Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lands of Appropriate Scale Part VI – Other Peoples in the Land of Promise Part IV

Despite High Nibley’s irrational comments about other people in the Land of Promise covered in the last three posts, he also wrote: “the Book of Mormon . . . presents no obstacles to the arrival of whatever other bands may have occupied the hemisphere without its knowledge."

As stated in the last post, the scriptural record tells us quite clearly under what circumstances people would come to the Land of Promise. And in all cases, it is a people led by the hand of the Lord who once here serve him or are destroyed. That is the entire story of the Book of Mormon—that is, this is a choice land, a land choice above all others, and only those brought here by the Lord came to this land, and they remained only if they served him. One might say the Lamanites were an exception to the latter part of that statement, but no one can really say they were not “scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” (1 Nephi 13:14).

Nibley also wrote: “And that the Book of Mormon dealt with a small, local geography that left plenty of room for other migrations and for a vast continent filled with people who had come from other places, including Asia via the Bering Strait.”

First, we need to keep in mind there were two groups of peoples on the earth: those who lived before the Flood (Antediluvians), and those who lived after the Flood. The Book of Mormon, unlike the Bible, makes no reference to the antedulivians except in Ether and only by inference (Ether 1:3-4). Therefore, what remains of people, incriptions and artifacts that might have survived the Flood is of no interest here. As for continent, again, we are not dealing with a continent in the Book of Mormon, except by inference (Ether 13:2), and in Nephi’s vision. Who the Lord brought and where he brought them is not known, nor is it covered or inferred in the scriptural record except for one place and that is in Jacob’s address to the Nephites “great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21).

Having said that, however, it should be crystal clear that the area of the Land of Promise addressed from 1 Nephi to Moroni, includes no other people than those mentioned as far as the scriptural record is concerned. If Nibley and Sorenson and others want to claim there were other people, then we need to understand they are outside the scriptural record, and making up an issue that cannot be verified in any way. As Quinton L. Cook, addressed in an earlier post, said, they are “looking beyond the mark.”

Nibley, referring to archaeological evidence, stated that the assumption of an empty New World represented a "simplistic reading" of the Book of Mormon.

As has been stated in these posts numerous times, Nephi delighted in plainness—what we may call “simplistic writing.” He said, “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3). And again, “I shall prophesy according to the plainness which hath been with me from the time that I came out from Jerusalem with my father; for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn” (2 Nephi 25:4).

Of the scriptures, Nephi said, “Because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God -- because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them” (1 Nephi 13:29), and also “At the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men” (1 Nephi 14:23), and finally, Nephi “received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates (1 Nephi 19:3).

It would seem from this that a "simplistic reading" of the Book of Mormon is the correct path and not one that causes people to “look beyond the mark,” or try and read into something that is plain and simple things that are complicated and complex. The Book of Mormon is not an ancient writing that needs to be interpreted or translated by scholars, for Joseph Smith already performed that task under the Spirit, but it is a book of plain and simple language written in a manner for our understanding.

(See the next post, “Lands of Appropriate Scale Part VII – Other Peoples in the Land of Promise Part V,” for the last of this series of Nibley’s comments about other people being in the Land of Promise)

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