Monday, December 31, 2012

Finding Proof of Book of Mormon in South America

There has been much criticism by critics of the Book of Mormon that no artifacts or “proof from excavations” in the New World, that shows evidence of the Book of Mormon. Actually, that is not true. In fact, there is so much evidence that one can only wonder why so many critics continue to harp on such a useless argument.
But before discussing that, let me ask two simple, representative, questions: 1) In the Bible lands, we can point to the mount of Golgotha and say that is where Christ was crucified. Now, I’m not denying that this is true, however, what “proof” do we have? Sure, a hill outside Jerusalem exists, and it is called Golgotha, but there is no evidence whatsoever that Christ was crucified there; 2) In the story of Samson, we are told that in one fell swoop, he eliminated the entire Philistine leadership, bringing a major setback in their conflict with Israel. It was a turning point, and from that time on, the Israelites started to gain the upper hand. But did it really happen? Could one man actually pull down an entire temple single handedly?
Archaeologists have found two temples, each with two stone pillar bases in the Philistine area at Tel Qasile, Israel. Could one strong man have toppled the entire temple by pulling down pillars that weighed several tons?
As a counter example, outside Cuzco, which we claim was the area of the city of Nephi (later called the city of Lehi-Nephi), there was a magnificent temple once built on the hill overlooking the valley. This temple had:
1) a tall, round tower next to it that was identified by the conquering Spanish when they arrived in the valley (Mosiah 11:12);
2) the Spanish said the tower, about five stories tall, had a top, level floor upon which guards could stand and look out over all the land (Mosiah 11:12);
3) the tower overlooked the entrances to the valley below and tall enough to see invading forces entering the valley or city from some distance away (Mosiah 19:6);
4) Where the Spanish said the tower was located, and which they tore down claiming it was built by the Devil, there remains a huge rock base upon which the tower once stood, an undeniable round stone base.
Left: The remaining base of the tower beside the temple at Sacsayhuaman, overlooking Cuzco valley. Note the size of the tower circle compared to the person standing inside it; Right: The entire base, with support ramps and flanges
This City of Nephi and valley is said to be 3000 years old, having been inhabited by the Marcavalle, Chapanata, Qotakalli, Sawasiras, Antasayas and Wallas cultures, dating it to at least 1000 B.C. Around 600 A.D., came the Wari, Killki, and the Lucro cultures, to finally be conquered by the Inca in 1400 A.D., who renamed the area Cuzco, meaning “navel or center of the world.” In 1533 the Spanish arrived and moved the capitol to Lima. In 1572, Tupac Amaru I, the last Inca dynasty and leader was defeated and executed. Because the Inca remained somewhat in control of Cuzco, with rebellions in 1780, 1814 and 1820, they retained that name. The following year Peru received its independence from Spain and the name has remained, being declared by law in 1983 as the "Tourist Capital of Peru" and "Cultural Heritage of the Nation."
There can be no question that this tower once existed next to the temple that overlooked the valley and city of Cuzco, and dated to Nephite times. Had the name not been changed numerous times through various Lamanite culture conquests after the demise of the Nephites, it may have well remained its City of Nephi or City of Lehi-Nephi name. Yet no one considers this site a match of the Nephite site in the Book of Mormon as the hill outside Jerusalem is considered proof of the Bible.
There are numerous other areas in the Bible lands that cannot be “proved” that Biblical events took place there, but we have long passed that issue after two thousand years of discussion, research and belief. On the other hand, we are only 180 years into the Nephite knowledge, and almost no Nephite research by serious archaeologists and anthropologists who insist in spreading their own, minute vision of the development of the Andean area. Yet, artifact after artifact, excavation after excavation, discovery after discovery, continue to validate what is written in the Book of Mormon.
Still, even today, there are critics of the Samson story. They claim the Samson myth was copied from an icon showing the exploits of the Sun God, with the beams of light from the Sun God’s head being mistaken for long, uncut hair. They say the Hebrew mythologian created a hero-god, whose downfall was brought about by not obeying the Nazirite law never to cut his hair, and that Samson’s name was a variant of Shamash the Babylonian Sun God. It was also the Hebrew name for the Sun, and that Samson was born in Tsorah near Beth-shamash (house of the Sun) which was an ancient center of Sun worship. So what “proof” is there that the Bible event was real? In the end, it is a matter of faith—just as it is to those believing in the Book of Mormon.
In addition, it is interesting that even today science cannot explain the magnificent structures found in Peru, including walls that have been built with stones weighing hundreds and even thousands of tons, that have been assembled and fitted without modern technology that still stump modern engineers. Yet, they have no understanding of who built these magnificent buildings and structures, or exactly when they were built, or how they were built in a land with no record or history of prior development.
Another question could be posed. If we did not have the Bible record, would we know who built Jerusalem, or when it was built, or by whom? If we did not have the written records, though fragmentary at best, of Middle Eastern kings and empires, would we know anything about them? Take for an example:
1. Stonehenge in England. We do not know who built the giant stone megaliths, why it was built, or how it was built. There is no written record to tell us.
2. Catal Huyuk in Turkey. Since there is no written record, we only have speculation as to who they were that built this 32-acre city. We don’t even know what it was called.
3. Mehrgarh in Pakistan. An Indus people who are said to have existed 4,000 years before the first pharaoh of Egypt. We know nothing about them other than artifacts they left behind.
4. Uyghur east Turkistan. A people whose history is unknown and little understood. Who they were is only conjecture, believed to have been the ancestors of the Chinese yuezhji.
5. Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming. At 9,642 feet, on top of the Bighorn Range in Wyoming that is reachable only during the warm summer months, lies an 80' diameter wheel-like pattern made of stones. It is unknown when, why, or by whom it was built.
6. Mystery Hill in Massachusetts. This complex, the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in North America, covers over 30 acres and is composed of monolithic standing stones, stone wall and underground chambers, most of which are aligned to obvious astronomical points. No one knows when it was built, or by whom, or for what reason.
7. Lamokans in Michigan. Claimed to have settled the area 5000 years ago, they are unknown, nor do we know where they came from or exactly when the 2.5 acre site was built.
8. Teotihuacan in Mexico. The mysterious city that is laid out in a grid was built and abandoned before the Aztec settled in central Mexico. The Aztec named the site and guessed about the purposes of the buildings, but archaeologists are only now beginning to understand the importance of the temples here. Who they were or from where they came is unknown.
9. Nazca Lines in Peru. Giant drawings in Peru’s Nazca Desert can only clearly be seen from the sky or the tops of surrounding hillsides, but not from the ground. The drawings depict many different things such as humans and different kinds of animals, but no one knows who made them, when they were made, or for what purpose.
Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards
10. Dolmens throughout the World. In various places from all over the world across the coasts of West Europe—from Portugal to Denmark—and in France, Ireland, Scotland, England, Sweden, the Netherlands, Russia, Korea and the American north-east, there are seemingly primitive constructions consisting of a single chamber and built with enormous megalithic stones. Who built them, for what purpose, and when they were built is unknown.
Typically single-chamber megalithic structures, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone that mostly date from 4000 to 3000 B.C. It is unclear when, why, and by whom the earliest dolmens were made
There are far more than these ten unknowns, but the point is, science, including archaeologists, anthropologists, and numerous others, have no idea where so many things came from, who created or built them, or for what purpose. We can only theorize. And one person’s guess is as good as another. The only manner in knowing something beyond guesswork is to rely on written information of the period, cultures, and structures under investigation—like the Bible for the Middle East, or the Book of Mormon for the Andean area of South America.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More Comments to be Answered Part VI

Here are some more comments that we’ve received from this website blog.
Comment #1: I have seen references to Portuguese fishing in the North Atlantic (possibly the Grand Banks) before Columbus. It was thought to have been an 'industry' secret -- If true, how did they keep together if they were using a mother ship and longboat approach? Could they also have known more about the not too distant coasts or lost some of their people to winds and currents who might have made landfall?” MaLiChii
Response: While it is true that sometime after John Cabot’s discovery in 1497 voyagers from Portugal and England (Bristol) began fishing along the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, but there is no archaeological evidence for a European presence near this area prior to that time. These relatively shallow underwater plateaus along the North American continental shelf where the cold Labrador Current mixes with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream have created one of the richest fishing grounds in the world and have been fished for the past few centuries, but there is no evidence they were fished prior to Cabot’s discovery, though the short-lived Greenland Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows around 1000 A.D. was about 500 miles north along the tip of Newfoundland across from Labrador, about 1000 miles from Greenland.
On the other hand, the Norse (Vikings) claim in their histories that settlements in continental North America, though referred to as emigrant, actually were aimed to exploit natural resources such as furs and in particular lumber, which was in short supply in Greenland. Historians say it is unclear why the short-term settlements did not become permanent, though it was in part because of hostile relations with the indigenous peoples, referred to as Skraelings (Eskimos of Greenland and Vinland) by the Norse. Nevertheless, it appears that sporadic voyages to Markland (Newfoundland) for forages, timber, and trade with the locals could have lasted as long as 400 years. The point is, before Columbus and the later Spanish and Europeans, the Americas were not settled by any permanent emigrant group of which we know.
Comment #2: “What about the language of the Jaredites and that language of the Mulekites--at a minimum that doubles your possible language variances. Obviously, there seems to be more possibilities for language devolution than just the two you mentioned in your article “Languages in the Land of Promise” Reggie.
Response: There are three important points to be made here.  First, when the Jaredites were annihilated, there was no one left who knew that language to continue it—it simply died out from non-use. When the Mulekites were reintroduced to their original Hebrew language, there was no one left to continue with their corrupted language, since speaking it would have alienated that fringe or group from the language being spoken by everyone else. Lastly, when the Nephites were annihilated, there was no one left to speak the Hebrew language. Consequently, whatever bastardized language the Lamanites spoke would be the only language left after 421 A.D. in the Land of Promise. The second point is that language changes dramatically over time—the only thing that keeps language understandable from future generations is written records, teaching, and constant insistence of parents for their children to speak correctly.
Consider what would happen if there were no dictionaries, no written records, no printed examples of how the language developed, was spoken, or word meanings, and no teachers to pass on such information. It would not take long before the younger generation developed a different language, and the next and the next. Before long, the language would be so corrupted, it would be a different language entirely—that is exactly what happened to the Mulekites in just three hundred years or so. In fact, the spoken language of English in America has changed drastically since the Pilgrims landed, and the printed word even more—just trying reading something written in the 18th century. The third point is, that under these circumstances, language, among different, warring groups, will change from each other. That is, each group will evolve their own language until they cannot understand one another—which is one of the reasons why there are so many languages among the Indian nations in North America, as well as in other locations like Africa.
Examples of 16th and 17th century writing of the English language. Having spent many long hours reading old English script, it is extremely difficult to read and understand since the language has changed so much in just 300 to 400 years in the U.S.
Comment #3: The dominant geographical feature in The Book of Mormon is the river Sidon. Likewise, the dominant geographical feature in North America, east of the Rocky Mountains, is the Mississippi River system. Author John Gunther wrote: The Mississippi River remains what it always was—a kind of huge rope, tying the United States together. It is the Nile of the Western Hemisphere. The River Sidon was the Nile of The Book Of Mormon. Obviously, the two—Sidon and Mississippi—are the same river” Sheffield.
Response:  Please read the scriptural account of the Sidon River. The Mississippi River runs from the north to the south. The River Sidon in the Book of Mormon is described as running from the south to the north. Obviously, they are not the same. Nor is the topography, described in the scriptural record, to the south where the headwaters of the Sidon River were located, match in any way the topography of the Mississippi.
Comment #4: “Moroni told Joseph Smith that the United States was a “Choice land above all other lands.” Why do you have such a hard time accepting that the U.S. is the Land of Promise?” Carlton.
Response: First of all, Moroni’s comment stated in Ether while he was translating that record follows the proclamation: “behold the decrees of God concerning this land,” and continues with “that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them” (Ether 2:9) and Moroni goes on to add, “this is a land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:10), and concludes with “this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written” (Ether 2:12). While many theorists, like the Great Lakes, Heartland, and eastern U.S. Modelists, want to limit Moroni’s statement to mean just the U.S., or even a smaller portion of it, Moroni had a much larger picture in mind.
When he wrote those statements, he was in the Land of Promise, hiding from the Lamanites as the last Nephite remaining alive. His view was not then, any more than it would be now, limited to the small thinking of modern man. At the time, the entire Western Hemisphere had no drawn boundaries, no country names, no political divisions—there was no United States, no Mexico, no separate North, Central, or South America. There was only one large land. A land that the Angel showed Nephi in a vision would be where Columbus (a man among the Gentiles) who later “went forth upon the many waters” and who would go “even unto the seed of my brethren” (1 Nephi 13:12). Naturally, Columbus, who never set foot in North America, reached Central and South America (not Mesoamerica), and following would come the Spanish conquistadors that Nephi saw “the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters” and he beheld “multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” (1 Nephi 13:13-14).
It should be noted that the Spanish, whose singular effort to destroy the two greatest cultures in the Western Hemisphere, never set foot on what is now the United States. As for your comment about accepting the U.S. as the Land of Promise, I do. I just expand the Land of Promise to include the entire Western Hemisphere, which at the time Joseph Smith translated the plates, was called one continent, which also matches Moroni’s comment.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

More Comments to be Answered Part V

Here are some more comments that we’ve received from this website blog.
Comment #1: “Because of the lack of evidence for the Book of Mormon, Mormon scholars resort to rationalizations. One explanation they give for the lack of evidence, is that God purposely prevented evidence from being uncovered because He wanted people to accept the Book of Mormon on faith. Using this reasoning, one would wonder why God hasn’t kept all Biblical evidence hidden? Fletcher B. Hammond, a Mormon, adds another rationale. The reason nothing can be found, he says, is because “the entire face of the land of Central America [was] changed” due to the great destruction of earthquakes [at the time of the crucifixion], recorded in Third Nephi.” This, however, is not so. Book of Mormon history continued 400 years more after the supposed crucifixion-destruction, providing archaeologists with stable strata. Thomas S. Ferguson, founder of BYU’s New World Archaeological Foundation, confirms this: Innumerable excavations . . . in the time span [of the Book of Mormon] (3000 B.C. to 400 A.D.) reveal great undisturbed architectural structures, extensive relatively undisturbed ancient strata . . . right through the time of the crucifixion’” Caden.
Response: Whatever God decides to do to bring to pass His plan for this Earth and our education is beyond the knowledge of this author and, I might add, that of anyone else short of a prophet. Any comment about God purposely preventing evidence from being found is merely a wild guess and not worthy of discussion. As for the land changed—it was, but not in Central America, which shows no particular evidence of any drastic change, though in South America, significant changes took place that has been well documented in these posts. On the other hand, you are right in suggesting that this would not have changed knowledge of the pre-crucifixion period. One correction, the time period of the Book of Mormon would be from about 2100 B.C. to 421 A.D. I might also suggest that paying attention to wild or unknowledgeable speculations from people who do not know what they are talking about does little to advance any knowledge of the Book of Mormon or any of the statements within its pages.
Comment #3: “Mormons claim that Lamanite priests destroyed the Nephite documents necessary to identify Nephite remains. Thus we are not able to identify Nephite cities, and for this we should blame those priests, not the Book of Mormon. If they destroyed these alleged documents because they supposedly identified Nephite cities, why would that prompt the priests to destroy them? From their point of view, there was no Book of Mormon or Latter Day Saint religion for them to suppress. People do not attempt to suppress something if they are not aware of its existence. This is an extraordinarily important point which has ramifications elsewhere. When people do things, they usually do them for a reason. What reason did the priests have to do destroy these alleged documents?” Malcolm.
Left: Friar Diego de Landa, the Bishop of Yucatan, who gathered all the Mayan codices and burned them in the 16th century, considering them works of the Devil; Right: Mural by Fernando Castro Pacheco showing de Landa burning the codices, which was done in 1562 during a ceremony called auto-da-fe
Response: First of all, there is no mention anywhere at any time in the scriptural record that the Lamanites had any priests. But assuming they did, the answer to your question is clearly stated in the events of the Spanish conquistadors and the priests that came with them. Those priests knew nothing of the Aztec, Mayan or Incan religions—they knew nothing of any future application of those religious or sectarian matters they saw in the New World. In fact, they were awed by the accomplishments of these cultures, of the buildings, roads, highways, etc. Yet, despite the advanced accomplishments, the Roman Catholic Priests and Friars that always accompanied the conquerors burned every written text and had torn down every evidence of the culture they conquered. You ask the question, “What reason did the priests have to destroy these alleged documents?” Perhaps you might want to ask those Dominicans that destroyed the advanced knowledge and work of two cultures they believed were on a par with their own and ancient Rome. Why? They claimed it was of the Devil and they were eradicating it from existence. The Lamanites hated the Nephites with a passion, with a hatred that was a thousand years old, when they finally destroyed the Nephite Nation. That hatred resulted in the destruction of everything Nephite they could find. What is it exactly you do not understand about that when you have such a example of the exact same happenings of the Spanish, the Nazis, the Communists, etc., in our day?
Comment #3: “The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early immigrants to our hemisphere” Candice.
To some, it might be of interest that the defensive turret wall shown on the left, which was part of an ancient Israel fort, and the one on the right, which is the fortress of Kuelap in northeastern Peru, were built by the same people. The very similar construction might cause some to feel this is proof that people of Israel settled in Peru of South America
Based upon your premise, “What has ever shown up in the Middle East to which would suggest to a dispassionate observer” that the Bible was true? The world is full of Hindus, Budhists, Confucianists, Shintoists, Sikhism, Druids, Druse, Eckankar, Hare Krishna, Jainism, Santeria, Scientology, Taoism, Godum, Zorastrianism, Wicca, Neopagan, etc., etc., etc., that do not accept the Bible, nor any of its premises. Do you think any of them are going to believe that proof has been dug up out of the Old World excavations that prove Biblical events? I might also ask you, “What do the buildings, palaces, temples, roads, highways, stone walls, defensive forts and resorts, etc., etc., etc., that have been excavated in the South American Andean area mean to you?” Do you ascribe these real live accomplishments to aliens? Has anyone, anywhere, ever suggested a creditable answer to that fact?
Left: Stone doorway in an ancient Israel fort; Right: Stone doorway at Sacsayhuaman in Peru above Cuzco. Some might say these two doorways are so similar that they were built by the same people
In addition, these similarities between ancient Israel forts and ancient Peruvian forts should show enough similarity to suggest that there is a New World connection with that of the Middle East and specifically the Palestinian area from which the Nephites originated.
Comment #4: “As has been noted by others, there is a large amount of acknowledged, quoted material in the Book of Mormon. These include the prophets Isaiah and Malachi from the Old Testament, and the Sermon on the Mount from the New Testament. It can also be shown that the Book of Mormon contains an extraordinary number of unacknowledged Biblical quotes. The exact number is difficult to pin down, for a variety of reasons, but can safely be said to exceed several hundred. The New Testament is by far the most fruitful source of these quotes. Of the twenty-six books of the New Testament, twenty of them are represented by one or more quotes in the Book of Mormon. The Old Testament also furnished a small number of unacknowledged quotes. Among these are quotes from Genesis, Exodus, Job, Micah, Hosea and Psalms. One would call this plagiarism.”
Response: How remarkable that a God who inspired the writers of the Old and New Testaments would also inspire the writers of the Book of Mormon, and the result would be identical or near-identical information. Since the purpose of the Bible and the Book of Mormon are identical, and surround God’s dealing with his people in two different hemispheres, why would you think the information would be different? One of these days we will have the writings of the Lost Ten Tribes, and you will be astounded to find that much of that writing is similar to the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Comment #5: I just thought I would send you a message to tell you that your blog has fascinated me. I love the details and the logic with which you make your arguments. As a physicist and a Mormon, the information you have included has made for great bedtime reading, and I look forward to reading each night. I came across your blog only a few months ago, and I've started reading from the beginning. Anyway, thank you for your blog, and keep up the awesome work!” C. M.
Response: Thank you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

More Comments to be Answered Part IV

Here are some more comments that we’ve received from this website blog.
Comment #1: “Some Mormon missionaries claim that archaeologists have verified that the ruins in Monte Alban, Yagul and Mitla, coincide with the time of the Jaredite and Nephite migrations. But, again, this is not so. Even BYU anthropologist, Dr. Ross T. Christensen, admits that this is another invalid Mormon claim. These cities were built after the Book of Mormon time period ended” Nigel.
Response: By the best estimates, and according to J.M. Garcia, A.F. Bandelier, Leopoldo Batres, who was the General Inspector of Monuments for the Mexican government, Alfonso Caso, Ignacio Bernal and Jorge Acosta, among others, Monte Albán in Mesoamerica, was founded around 500 B.C., and had become the capital of a large-scale expansionist polity that dominated much of the Oaxacan highlands and interacted with other Mesoamerican regional states, such as Teotihuacan to the north, between 100 B.C. and 200 A.D. By 500 A.D. to 750 A.D., the city had lost its political pre-eminence and soon thereafter was largely abandoned. In fact, Alfonso Caso and his colleagues, over an 18 year period, resulting in the excavation of a large number of residential and civic-ceremonial structures and hundreds of tombs and burials, established a ceramic chronology of the site dating 500 B.C. to 1521 A.D. In addition, Kent Flannery of the University of Michigan in the late 1960s spent 20 years documenting the development of the socio-political complexity in the valley to a period of the Rosario phase from 700 B.C. to 500 B.C. immediately preceding Monte Albán, setting the stage for an understanding of the latter's founding and developmental trajectory. 
San José Mogote, of the Zapotec, who flourished in the region of what is now Oaxaca in Mexico, which was a forerunner to the better-known Zapotec site of  Monte Alban. San José Mogote was the largest and most important settlement in the Valley of Oaxaca in the last centuryh B.C.  development.
Among the major accomplishments of Flannery's work in Oaxaca are his extensive excavations at the important formative center of San José Mogote, of the Zapotec culture, in the Etla branch of the valley, a project co-directed with Joyce Marcus of the University of Michigan. A further important step in the understanding of the history of occupation of the Monte Albán site was reached with the Prehistoric Settlement Patterns in the Valley of Oaxaca Project begun by Richard Blanton and several colleagues in the early 1970s. It is only with their intensive survey and mapping of the entire site that the real extension and size of Monte Albán beyond the limited area explored by Caso became known. Subsequent seasons of the same project under the direction of Blanton, Gary Feinman, Steve Kowalewski, Linda Nicholas, and others extended the survey coverage to practically the entire valley, producing an invaluable amount of data on the region's changing settlement patterns from 500 B.C. to the arrival of the Spanish.
Left: Monte Alban; Right: Yagul. Both sites are in Oaxaca, which is in southern Mexico, just south of modern-day Acapulco, and north of Guatemala
As for Yagul, it was first occupied around 500 B.C. to 100 BC. And around 500 A.D. to 700 AD, residential, civic and ceremonial structures were built at the site. However, most of the visible remains date to 1250 A.D. to 1521 AD, when the site functioned as the capital of a city-state. Mitla is believed to have been inhabited from at least 100 A.D. to 650 A.D. and perhaps as early as 900 B.C. The point is, as you can see, all of these sites, especially Monte Albán, overlap the Nephite period. As for Dr. Ross T. Christensen, chairman of the BYU Department of Archaeology, he took an 8-week field trip to Mexico in 1961, visiting among others, Tula, Xochicalco, Izapa Chiapa de Corzo, and El Mirador, Aguacatal, San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlan and other ruins in the Xicalango district of western Campeche (which had been investigated by BYU expeditions in 1948); also Dzibilchaltun, near Merida, Yucatan. It might be recalled that Dr. Christensen was a firm believer in the Lehi, Tree of Life Stone (known as Stela 5). Evidently, he did not visit Monte Albán, Yagul or Mitla—at least, he didn’t write about it, having spent most of his effort and writing, as did BYU in the 1960s, at Izapa. Izapa is in Chiapas and Monte Albán is in Oaxaca, about 300 miles apart. Of course, the bottom line is simply that Mesoamerica was not the setting of the Nephite Land of Promise and this entire question is mute—it was answered in length only to show that what Dr. Christensen might say on the matter of Monte Albán in conflict with Mormon Missionaries is not exactly accurate. However, the Missionaries should not be making such comments about Monte Albán of which they know little or nothing.
Comment #2: “Could they possibly have come from Jerusalem as the Book of Mormon claims? The Smithsonian Institute claims: The ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World--probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age--in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago” Ross.
Upper Left: The so-called Land Bridge, is claimed to  have connected Siberia and Alaska over which it is claimed (Bottom) people traveled to settle the Western Hemisphere in times past; Upper Right: However, while there is no evidence of any bridge, it should be noted that the barren Cordilleran Ice Sheet and the Laurentide Ice Sheet would have to have been crossed--a distance of thousands of miles. What could possibly have driven a people to do such a thing?
Response: the so-called Siberian Land Bridge, called officially the Beringia Land Bridge, is simply some anthropologists and historians’ viewpoint. There is no evidence that anything like that ever existed, and if it did, what would cause people from warmer climates to travel northward into colder, if not freezing, climates in order to cross it? Of course, a so-called mysterious warm corridor is conveniently said to have existed across the Bering Sea, etc., but there is no evidence of that, either. In addition, all development in the Americas are shown to have started in the south and moved north. Michael Collins, an archaeologist with the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, for more than 20 years, along with other scientists have been digging up artifacts from Chile to Texas that convince them the first Americans didn't walk here from the north at all, but came by boat, and arrived much earlier than previously thought. An archaeological discovery in 1997 drew a panel of expert archaeologists to the site of Monte Verde, Chile, where the panel was unanimous in their opinion that the archaeological materials found dated to around 14,800 years ago, a full millennium older than the Clovis artifacts of New Mexico. In addition, the Guitarrero rockshelter cave in the region of Callejon de Huaylas, Ancash, Peru, is also a pre-Clovis site locating textiles dating to 12,100 years ago, again, long before the so-called north to south development over the so-called Land Bridge previously believed.
Left: Ruins of a Monte Verde settlement in Chile; Right: Textile weaving from the Guitarrero Cave in Ancash, Peru, all date long before the Clovis settlement in New Mexico
This effectively shattered the initial theory of the Clovis people being the first actual group of humans to settle in the new world. The Monte Verde discovery suggests that humans not only came to the Americas more than 1,000 years earlier than once thought, but that they also settled as far south as Chile. In fact, numerous anthropological and archaeological studies have shown a south to north settlement of the Americas, and many in the field of modern cultural anthropology and linguistics claim that there exists a striking resemblance between the cultures of Australia, Southeast Asia, and South America. This suggests that a pan-Pacific journey might have brought the first Americans to our shores—or, to LDS, that a migration from South America to Polynesia to Australia. The point is, the idea of a Siberian Land Bridge crossing has been losing favor among archaeologists and anthropologists for quite some time (See Ted Goebel, Michael R. Waters, and Dennis H. O'Rourke, "The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas." Science, 2008, Vol 319, pp1497-1502). As for the Smithsonian, it was established in 1846 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," and is a group of museums and research centers administered by the United States government. Termed "the nation's attic" for its eclectic holdings of 137 million items, the Institution's Washington, D.C. nucleus of nineteen museums, nine research centers, and zoo—many of them historical or architectural landmarks—is the largest such complex in the world. It is not, however, the seat of all knowledge—it requires funding from the government, and therefore, does government funded work where universities do educational work, and private teams accomplish private field work. Some might say the Smithsonian research has a hidden agenda, however, in their support of a Siberian Land Bridge, they are far behind the cutting edge of modern knowledge on the subject.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

More Comments to be Answered Part III

Here are some more comments that have been recently received from this website blog.
Comment #1: Most Mormons readers don’t bother to verify writers’ claims, especially if they validate their beliefs” Donovan.
Response: It might be said in answer that most critics of the Book of Mormon have never read the book, nor try to understand any of its precepts. They simply hear or read what other critics have said and repeat them as though there is a list of talking points for criticizing.
Comment #2: “Even Mormon Historian, B.H. Roberts questioned Reformed Egyptian. He looked at the varieties of dissimilar languages and dialects found in the New World, especially the time necessary for their development, and concluded there was no way they could have originated from the single Hebrew-based language Joseph Smith attributed to the Book of Mormon people” Ashlyn.
"When all men were of one language, some of them built a high tower, as if they would thereby ascend up to heaven, but the gods sent storms of wind and overthrew the tower, and gave every one his peculiar language; and for this reason it was that the city was called Babylon" –Flavius Josephus
Response: An interesting thought. I wonder how B. H. Roberts would have compared that with the knowledge that almost overnight about four thousand years ago, one universal language in Mesopotamia became hundreds, if not more. Between approximately 400 A.D. and 1500 A.D., 1100 years, a rather simple language among the Lamanite people, that was divergent from the Hebrew spoken by Mormon and his people, which itself had been altered over 1000 years according to Moroni, a very wicked, murderous people who were involved in a civil war and “the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war,” and 36 years later, “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves,” that is, the civil war among the Lamanites was still raging with obviously still no end in sight. Since this war evidently involved everyone, it would be just as obvious that the different clans, groups, or families, moved toward separation and everyone of a different clan, group or family was an enemy. 
This is pretty much the attitude found among the North American Indians when the Europeans arrived and spread across the continent. It is also just as likely that such clans, groups or families would develop their own, different, way of communicating over time so as to remain aloof and separate from any other group. Why B.H. Roberts believes this would not generate different languages and different peoples among the illiterate surviving Lamanites over 1100 years is beyond me. In just 300 years, the Mulekites, coming from the royal family at Jerusalem could not be understood by the Nephites, who also came from Jerusalem around the same time. I have traveled extensively through this country and find it difficult at times to understand a regional dialect—think what would happen here if it were not for education, schools, books, movies, etc., that keeps a language alive.
Comment #3: “Three books of the ancient Mayas in existence, written during the same time period of the Nephites, have been closely checked. So also have carvings on ruins of the two oldest cities in Central America, Copan and Palenque. Absolutely no Reformed Egyptian--no Egyptian--and no Hebrew!” Giovanni.
Response: Actually, there are four remaining Mayan hieroglyphic codices: the Dresden, Grolier, Madrid (or Tro-Cortesianus), and Paris codices. However, according to Drs. Gabrielle Vail and Christine Hernandez, along with a very large team that have been studying the actual texts, these screenfold codices do not date to the Nephite period, but rather from 1200 A.D. to 1521 A.D. Their work, the Maya Codices Database Project, is quite clear on the dates involved, and that this is an ongoing project, not by any means complete as you suggest. In addition, Maya culture can also be investigated from documents of the period of European occupation that discuss the indigenous culture; which are texts written by the Maya themselves after many years of being christianized and educated by the Spanish conquerors. But there are precious few hieroglyphs found that date earlier than long after the demise of the Nephite culture. For some unfathomable reason, Book of Mormon critics continually cite problems that have nothing to do with the issue of their critique. The Lamanites never wrote in Reformed Egyptian, nor did they write in Hebrew except for a very brief period after being taught how to do so in B.C. times. 
Left: Copán in western Honduras; Right: Palenque, in southern Mexico
Whatever the language the Lamanites later developed, had nothing to do with what was used by the Nephites. As for your two cities, little is known of the rulers of Copán before the founding of a new dynasty with its origins at Tikal in the early 426 A.D. (after the demise of the Nephites). All of Copán's known history dates from that time to about 822 A.D., covering the time of their 17 known rulers, though two of their names are unknown. As for Palenque, we have covered this before in this blog, but not even the name of the site is truly known. It had been abandoned for several centuries before the Spanish arrived, and they were told by the local Chol Maya it was called Otolum, meaning "Land of strong houses," which, obviously, is not the real name. The city is claimed to have been dated to 226 B.C., but that is an estimate for little has been excavated there, and few studies made, though something of it is known from 599 A.D. onward, when it is claimed to have been rebuilt by Maya Ajaw, K'inich Janaab' Pakal (Pascal the Great)--again, long after the Nephite demise.
Maya codices were written in a screenfold manner as shown here. The ideograms were strange to the Spanish, such as Friar Diego de Landa, the 16th century Bishop of Yucatán, and motivated by curiosity, undertook the task of gathering all the codices they could find and deciphering them with the help of interpreters. They then saw them as diabolical, and impelled by fear, undertook a systematic burning of all the codices they could find
Comment #4: Have the names of any Book of Mormon cities been discovered? The answer is, no” Dominic.
Response: Looking at the U.S. today, the area we call Wisconsin was called Meskonsing by the original Ojibwe settlers; Green Bay was originally called Bale lverte by the French; Kentucky was called Kentahten by the Iroquois; Quinnehtukqut was the original Indian name for Connecticut; Ongiaahra was the Iroquois name for Niagara falls; the Lenape Indians called New Jersey Scheyichbi; Old Millstone, in Somerset County, was once known as Matawank; Crystal River in Florida was called Weewahiiaca by the Seminole-Creek Indians; Boston was originally called Trimountaine; New York was called New Amsterdam and later New Orange; Albany was originally called Beverwijck; Atlanta was originally called Terminus, then named Thrasherville, and then Marthasville. On the other hand, the Algonquian certainly didn’t call Manhattan Island by that name, the township of Longwood in Michigan was called Isabella City before that and Indian Mills before that, Tallahessee was original called Anhaica by the Alalachee Indians. The list obviously could go on, but if we did not have continual records, we would know nothing of these original names—nothing at all, much like the old Nephite names.
Comment #3: “Obviously Smith was not well-versed on Israelite law. The Book of Mormon makes no mention of Sabbath observance, Jubilee years, tithing, circumcision, sacrifices, passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread or any of the other festivals. As noted by the Tanners, “there is not even one case where a Jewish feast or festival was celebrated . . .!” Very strange for a people claiming to be strict Jews. Neither does the Book of Mormon, with its appearance of Jesus, have Him explaining to the Nephites that the Law of Moses has been fulfilled and to stop sacrifices” Roderick.
Response: If you were to read the Book of Mormon, you would find it is not so much about the Jews and their festivals and celebrations, as it is about Jesus Christ, whom the Jews rejected. In fact, there is no mention or reference in the scriptural record that the Nephites were “strict Jews.” Keep in mind, that Nephi and Sam, and their wives, were the only ones who had lived among the Jews in Jerusalem, none of the Nephites knew very much about the Jews. In fact, Nephi wrote regarding his teaching of the Nephites: “For I, Nephi, have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness, and their doings were doings of abominations” (2 Nephi 25:2). As for the Law of Moses, Christ, in his appearance to the Nephites, tells them “behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled” (3 Nephi 12:19) and again, “Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled” (3 Nephi 12:46), and finally, “I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses” (3 Nephi 15:4). Clearly, the Tanners and others have not read what they criticize, or have failed to understand it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More Comments to be Answered Part II

We seem to be flooded lately with numerous comments, mostly from critics of the Book of Mormon, which I welcome and will endeavor to answer here:
Comment #1: “The BYU interpretation of the Tree of Life Stone, claiming it contains Hebrew inscriptions and portrays Lehi, Sarah, and Nephi, has been refuted by Dr. Hugh Nibley of BYU, the Smithsonian Institute, and an expert in Meso-American archaeology” Zach.
Response: As it should be! The interpretation of Izapa Stela 5, known to some as the ‘Tree of Life Stone,’ was made by M. Wells Jakeman. He never actually interpreted the stone, but merely proposed that the image was a representation of a tree of life vision found in the Book of Mormon. His idea found little support among knowledgeable LDS people, however, many members in the 1960s embraced the proposal hoping it proved the Book of Mormon, which it did not, nor does it today. Hugh Nibley is in good company on this issue, as Jakeman’s view is not supported by Brigham Young University or the LDS Church, or any (to my knowledge) of its leaders, archaeologists, or historians.
Comment #2: “Egyptian speaking Jews is a major weakness in Smith’s book. When Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem in 600 B.C. to migrate to the Americas, no Jew spoke Egyptian! One author points out how preposterous it would have been for Lehi and his family to use Egyptian in any form. They were pure Hebrews, lived in Jerusalem all their lives, were surrounded by people who only spoke Hebrew, and their people hadn’t spoken Egyptian since they left Egypt under Moses” Johanna.
Outside the city walls of Jerusalem were many farms where people lived during Lehi’s time
Response: First of all, Lehi and his family never lived in Jerusalem—he lived “all his days” at Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4), which is an important difference. Secondly, this is another one of these silly comments that critics like to make that has no bearing on reality. The Jews in and around Jerusalem spoke Hebrew, of course, but being bi-lingual was not unknown among many, especially those involved in international trade (i.e., buying items from the Arab caravans coming up from the Frankincense Trail which passed by on the King’s Highway below Jerusalem). The Jews have always been involved in monetary matters, buying and selling, lending and collecting, etc., and to do so in the Middle East in any period, such Jews had to know other languages.
Third, the Book of Mormon does not say that Lehi and his family spoke Egyptian, in fact, 1000 years after landing, the last Nephite made it quite clear, that they only wrote on the record in Reformed Egyptian, but preferred Hebrew (Mormon 9:32-33). Fourth, when interacting with other cultures, a businessman would have had to know the language, for both communication and for record keeping, and since Lehi named his second two sons, Sam and Nephi, which were both Egyptian names, it might be concluded that Lehi had dealings with the Egyptians at this time while he was building his wealth, which the scriptural record tells us was great (1 Nephi 2:4.11; 2 Nephi 3:16,25). What you misunderstand is that no Jewish person in 600 B.C. would have chosen to speak Egyptian were it not necessary, and no Jew spoke Egyptian or any other language in their home among their family, in the city among other Jews, or in the synagogues. As a side note, several years ago I had a good friend that was a proudfully Jewish Engineer—he had two things he talked about a great deal, 1) how the Jews were an independent people who had never been swayed by other cultures, etc., and 2) that he could speak four languages beside Hebrew, and used that knowledge frequently to study Arab and other historical claims regarding the Middle East.
Comment #3: “If Moses, trained to speak in Egyptian, chose to speak and write in Hebrew--as well as the whole nation of Israel, after living in Egypt for 400 years--why, then, as author Anthony Hoekema asks, “should Lehi or his son Nephi, who apparently had never lived in Egypt, write in Egyptian?” Further, since the Jews hated the Egyptians, it would have been an insult for Lehi to have used that language. This raises the question of why Smith decided to say the Book of Mormon was written in Reformed Egyptian?” The Ripper.
Hoekema and two of his books, describing Mormonism as one of the four major cults in religion, and the false doctrine of being saved by grace alone
Response: First of all, Anthony Andrew Hoekema believed Mormonism was a cult, was born in the Netherlands but emigrated to the U.S. when he was ten years old, attended the Calvin College, and the Calvin Theological Seminary. He pastored several Christian reformed churches, before becoming Associate Professor of Bible at Calvin College, where he was the professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for 21 years, as a Dutch Reformed traditional minister, and spent two sabbatical years in Cambridge, England, one in the 1960s and one in the 1970s. He published four books, none of which dealt with early Jews and Egyptians, nor did any of his studies qualify him to be an expert in that matter. However, his writings against Mormonism are well known. 
Now, specifically to your questions: 1) Moses spent the first 40 years of his life speaking and writing and thinking Egyptian (Acts 7:21), the next forty years of his life as a Hebrew herdsman in the land of his father-in-law, Jethro, who was a leader in the Jewish faith at the time. When he was about 80 years of age, he had his life-changing meeting with God, appointed his mission to get the Lord’s people out of Egypt, and bring them to the Jewish Land of Promise in the Canaan/Palestine area. Moses’ biggest problem was to try and eradicated the 400-year Egyptian influence from his people, which he was never able to do so the Lord had them wander in the wilderness until all those except a valiant few, had died off. Since Moses effort was to take 10-12 generations of Hebrews who knew only Egypt, then it would be understandable that the Egyptian language and all things Egyptian would have been avoided at all costs. 2) Since Moses died about 1400 B.C., according to the best efforts at calculation of experts, by 600 B.C. the Hebrews had been in Israel for some 800 years, twice as long as they had been in Egypt.
By this time, Egypt was no longer the earlier threat, and at times, the Jews were aligned with Egypt on an international level. One of these was in their war with Syria in 700 B.C., when both Babylon and Egypt were aligned with Israel. By the 5th century B.C., Jews had built a fortress in Egypt to help the Egyptians protect their eastern border, considered to be the earliest Diaspora Jewish settlement. The Jews, from the beginning of their history were an independent people and remained such from that time to this; however, they were not fools—they knew at times they had to make alliances with other peoples in order to continue to survive, and often chose Egypt, sometimes to their detriment.
Comment #4:  “Giving Joseph Smith the benefit of the doubt, let’s say that Reformed Egyptian was indeed some kind of readable mixture of Egyptian and Hebrew. Since Smith portrayed it as being the universal language of North and South America, one would expect archaeologists to have uncovered something written in it. But, they haven’t” Kelsey.
Response: A reading of the scriptural record would tell you that at no time did anyone suggest, either Joseph Smith or the prophets who wrote in the record two thousand years ago, that Reformed Egyptian, with or without a mixture of Hebrew, was ever the universal language of North and South America. Reformed Egyptian was simply the language used by those who wrote on the sacred records, one such record has been translated into the Book of Mormon. We have no indication anyone ever spoke that language, only that it was written, and after the annihilation of the Nephite people and nation in 385 A.D., there was no one left who wrote that language in the Land of Promise.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

More Comments Answered

Comment #1: “Le Plongeon, trying to prove the Indians practiced Masonry, describes a Mayan ruin in which he claims to have found Masonic and Egyptian symbols, including a cornice with rings intended to hang curtains for a Holy of Holies. He also stated that the symbols were comparable to those found in the Old World: “Inscriptions in the Mayan language [are] identical with and [have] the same meaning and value as those carved on the temples of Egypt. . . . These symbols are precisely the same that we find in the temples of Egypt, Chaldea, India and Central America.” On the other hand, a highly skilled Egyptian scholar, Dr. James H. Breasted of the University of Chicago Oriental Institute (now deceased), contradicted him. After Breasted laboriously researched the ruins, Frank H. Roberts of the Smithsonian, stated: I was at the Maya city of Chicen Itza in Yucatan in 1932 when Dr. Breasted spent two weeks studying the ruins and inscriptions at that location as well as at several other cities in the area, and at the end of the period he was very emphatic about the total lack of evidence for any Egyptian influence” Hernando.
Left: The ruins of Uxmal in the Yucatan, Mexico; Right: The ruins of Chichen Itza, also in the Yucatan
Response: Augustus Le Plongeon, was an 1860s pioneering Mayanist, renowned for having made the earliest thorough and systematic photographic documentation of archaeological sites in Yucatan. He was later regarded by archaeologists as no more than a troublesome eccentric who proposed preposterous theories about the Maya. He got his start in Peru as a photographer for Ephraim G. Squier to make illustrations for his book, Peru: Incidents of Travel and Exploration in the Land of the Incas. Uxmal, in the Yucatan, provided Le Plongeon with his first evidence that the New World was the source of world civilization.  A Freemason, Le Plongeon noted a number of motifs on Temple IV of the Adivino Pyramid which he related to Masonic iconography.  These included crossed-bones and skeletons with hands raised, and a carved hand on an apron on the lower half of a sculptured bust, as well as the Mayan corbelled arch. While Uxmal provided a link to the Old World through Masonry, it was at Chichen Itza that Le Plongeon thought he had found the Mayas' own account of their history, including an exodus to Egypt by a Maya queen. In his book The Mayas and the Quiches, Le Plongeon wrote, "There [at Chichen Itza], we not only see their portraits carried in bas-relief, on stone or wood, or their marble statues in the round, or represented in the mural paintings that adorn the walls of the funeral chamber [Upper Temple of the Jaguars] built to the memory of the victim, but we discover [in the Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars] the ornaments they wore, the weapons they used, nay, more, their mortal remains" (1886:84). In short, his interpretation of the murals and iconography at Chichen Itza and Uxmal allowed him to develop a single generation account of the Maya elite at those sites.
Machu Picchu, which means "Old Peak," was discovered by the American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911

When I was at Chicen Itza, which means  “at the mouth of the well of Itza ,” I found it very impressive site, which was elected, along with Machu Picchu in Peru, as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” (announced in Lisbon, Portugal, on July 7, 2007, after seven years of publicity and promotion); however, the ruins of the Temple of Kukulcan and the Pyramid of El Castillo, at Chich'en Itza, as does the entire site, dates to about 600 A.D. to 1200 A.D. (according to World Heirtage and National Geographic, dated from 750 A.D. to 1200 A.D.), though it is claimed that about 987 A.D. the ruler of the Toltec people of central Mexico came to “The Sacred Cenote” (a large natural well or limestone sink hole) which was holy to the ancient Rain God "Chac," and with his Maya allies made Chichen Itza the most powerful city in the Yucatan. The ruler called himself "Kukulcan" (the Feathered Serpent), and the city lasted until 1221 when it was not abandoned, but fell from power. The point is, this is not Book of Mormon lands, and verifies the claim we have always made that the Book of Mormon Land of Promise was NOT in Mesoamerica. So La Plongeon’s claim and this issue is a mute one. Therefore, what La Plongeon claims he found, and what Dr. James H. Breasted claims is not accurate, has no bearing on the Book of Mormon.
Comment #2: “Is there any evidence that Jewish worship was practiced by the ancient Indians? The answer is no. But, from the Mormon view, there ought to be. Why? Because the Book of Mormon, claiming to be a record of Jews who left Palestine, states they kept the Law of Moses: And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses. And they were strict in observing the ordinances of God, according to the law of Moses; for they were taught to keep the law of Moses.”
Response: The Nephites followed the Law of Moses and looked forward to the coming of the Christ. The Lamanites (who you address as Indians) did not. The Nephites were annihilated by the Lamanites in 375 A.D., the Lamanites were not religious, were barbarous nomads whose blood lust for vengeance and killing wiped out the Nephites to the last man (except for Moroni). Why would you think to find any religious, let alone Jewish, worship among them? If you are going to criticize the Book, why not read it first to make sure of your disagreements? At least your questions would not appear so juvenile.
Comment #3: “The obvious question should be, how can Book of Mormon characters, writing in approximately 600 B.C., be quoting from Bible sources which weren’t written until centuries later?”
Response: They were not quoting the Bible, they were quoting the same source that gave the Bible writers their knowledge, and the doctrines and principles of which they wrote. God is the author of all such knowledge—why would you or the Tanners think they would be different? How silly and uninformed you are about the workings of the Spirit and the voice of your Creator. He said, “my sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27-30). Did you think his voice would say different things to the Jews than to the Nephites? Or to you today?
Comment #4: “The strongest argument against Quetzalcoatl being Jesus is that the time frame doesn’t match the AD 34 Book of Mormon appearance of Christ. The period of Quetzalcoatl’s worship was AD 750 to AD 1500, seven hundred years after the Book of Mormon account. Further, Quetzalcoatl approved of human sacrifice and after he sailed away, committed suicide” Xanthe.
Response: Neither the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, nor the LDS Church has ever made such a claim regarding Quetzacoatl. Who or what Quetzalcoatl was has no bearing on the Book of Mormon. If you were to read 3 Nephi, you would not make such an uninformed statement, for there is no comment or suggestion that Jesus Christ, who appeared to the Nephites, was ever called, thought of, or described as Quetzalcoatl.
Comment #5: “Very cool!! I agree, not merely a coincidence about Frederick G. Williams knowing regarding the 30º south latitude.” Tiffanie
Response: Thank you. It does seem quite obvious, doesn’t it.
Comment #6: “Whoever heard of wild goats as Joseph Smith wrote in your Book of Mormon. Goats are domesticated, not wild, and there is no difference between goats such as wild and domesticated. What a crock!
Response: We have answered this before, but including it here to show how often critics simply voice the “talking points” of other critics without knowing what they are talking about. First of all, you might want to look up the wild goat (Capra aegagrus), which is one of the widespread species of goat, with a distribution ranging from Europe and Asia Minor to central Asia and the Middle East—it is the ancestor of the domestic goat.
Secondly, wild goats are common in the hills of Israel, and as such, are well known to those in and from the area. Nephi, living on a farmland outside the walls of Jerusalem, would have known the difference between the domesticated goat and the wild goat, as he indicated in 1 Nephi 18:25.
Left/Center: Wild goats roaming the hills of Israel; Right: Domesticated goat in Israel
Thirdly, in the wild, goats live in herds of up to 500 individuals, not to be confused with the feral goat, which is a domestic goat that has become established in some areas in the wild.
The wild goat in the wild, which can be found in most parts of the world—especially in the Middle East, including Mesopotamia

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wheat Not Found in the New World – Part II

Continuing from the last post, the evidence indicates that wheat was first domesticated in the Old World, although the exact location of the event is a matter of debate. The earliest known grains of domesticated wheat have been found with barley and pulses in the Fertile Crescent, in Anatolia (Turkey) and the Balkans, and date to as early as 7500–6500 BC. (Simcha Lev-Yadun, Avi Gopher, and Shahal Abbo, "The Cradle of Agriculture," Science 288, 2 June 2000, p1602)
Top: Wheat fields that criss-cross the land of Israel. Wheat was used throughout the scriptures such as telling the parables of the sower and tares and the bread of life; Bottom: Granaries from an Iron Age Israelite fortress in the Negev, 1200 to 1000 B.C.
The wheat Zeniff's people sowed was probably descended from seed stock originally imported from the Old World by Lehi and his family, which was prehistoric in the Old World—meaning it existed from earliest times. Egyptian monuments indicate that wheat crops were already established before the Hebrew scriptures came into existence, and when the Egyptians and Greeks speak of its origin they refer to mythology—plants from the gods—according to Moshe Feldman, "Wheats," in Evolution of Crop Plants, ed. Norman W. Simmonds, Longman, London, 1976, p124.
Lev-Yadun, Gopher, and Abbo note that it is generally agreed that plant domestication first took place in the Jordan Valley and areas of the southern Levant (present-day Israel and Jordan) according to Eviatar Nevo, "Genetic Diversity in Wild Cereals: Regional and Local Studies and Their Bearing on Conservation ex Situ and in Situ," Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 45/4, 1998, p355.
They suggest, however, that since the remains of wild forms of einkorn and emmer wheat, barley, chickpea, lentil, bitter vetch, flax, and perhaps pea, have been found in a small cove area in the Fertile Crescent near the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the northern Levant (present-day southeast Turkey and north Syria) is also a candidate for the location of domestication of these species. They conclude that agriculture in the region was first based upon three cereals (barley and einkorn and emmer wheat), four pulses (lentil, pea, chickpea, and bitter vetch), and a fiber crop (flax).
All of these would have been available to Lehi and no doubt were crops he grew at his home outside the walls of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4), and most, if not all, would have been included when they “gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind” (1 Nephi 8:1), before leaving Jerusalem and heading into the wilderness, eventually reaching Bountiful, along the coast of the Arabian Sea, and later sailing to the Western Hemisphere.
“And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24)
Early farmers of antiquity spent from daylight to nightfall working their fields in order to provide food for themselves and their family. It was difficult labor, long hours, and back-breaking work
Growing wheat anciently was a labor-intensive undertaking. First the land had to be tilled (or plowed) and then leveled, after which seeds were sown in rows. When the seed heads ripened, the farmer used a sickle to cut the stalks, which were then tied into sheaves and taken to the threshing floor (a flat area of hard, compacted earth) for threshing. This was usually accomplished in Lehi's day by dragging a heavy threshing sled over the wheat, which would grind, cut, and crush the seed heads, thereby separating the naked kernels from the chaff (Isaiah 28:24–28).
Winnowing followed. On a breezy day the Nephite farmer would use his winnowing fork to pick up the chaff and grain mixture from the threshing floor and throw it into the air. The wind would blow the light chaff away, while the heavier grain would fall back to the earth in a pile. The clean grain would then be collected and stored in barns or garners. The stubble left in the field would be plowed back under or often burned in preparation for planting in the next growing season. That Book of Mormon peoples were familiar with these grain-growing practices is suggested by the use of terms throughout the text such as plowing, tilling, sowing, reaping, chaff, stubble, and sickles.
Left: Winnowing the wheat involves throwing the mixture into the air so the wind blows away the lighter chaff, while the heavier grains fall back down for recovery; Right: The final grain is gathered in baskets
Coming back to the renowned botanist Alphonse de Candolle who was discussed in the last post, in addition to his comment that “archaeologists typically accept the axiom that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” we also have the problem of location in trying to find something in the ground to verify historical events or find artifacts.
As an example, archaeological information is generally derived from official digs by university teams, professional excavations or by accidental discoveries of people digging in areas for other reasons. Typically, the first two are undertaken because of some type of evidence that some ancient city, pyramid or culture existed there, the latter because a farmer was digging on his property or workers were digging for construction purposes.
Which brings us to the location where artifacts or evidence of ancient cultures might be found. And in this case, the location either encourages or discourages such activity. The more open and accessible an area is, the more likely people, archaeologists and construction would be involved. Conversely, the more inaccessible an area is, the less likely accidental finds will be located, or knowledge of ancient cultures existed.

Inaccessible, difficult to reach, uninhabited, and remote areas where no archaeological interest has been shown, yet this type area covers much of Andean Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia
It should be obvious that whatever might be in the ground in areas like these is going to stay in the ground, including ancient animal bones, artifacts and even buried cities. For people to ask why such and such of the Book of Mormon has not been found, it should not be difficult to ascertain why looking at such areas as these and much of the rest of the Andean area of South America.