Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXVI

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first one hundred and two comments were answered in the previous 25 posts, the one hundred and third and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #103 Do you not think that the Lord had a knowledge of where in time Joseph would need to live.. what country.. the time period, the place.. before he was born? Could not Moroni be directed where to bury the plates and what to say to Joseph, so Joseph would indeed find them?” Teodoro.
Response: Absolutely. God knows the beginning from the end. It is all planned and He knows exactly when this or that will happen. Joseph Smith’s family lived where they did to fulfill the Lord’s purposes; the plates were buried in the hill in upstate New York where Joseph would be when the time for him to be led to them came. The hill in upstate New York did not have a local name before the plates were uncovered there. Moroni told Joseph the name of the hill, which was a perfect tie in to the scriptural record Joseph would soon be translating. To the Creator of all things, nothing is unknown, nothing is unplanned, and all things follow His plan to accomplish His purposes.
Comment #104 “Oliver Cowdery stated in January, 1831: ‘This Book, which contained these things, was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario County” (HC 1:184). So it was clear to Oliver Cowdery that Moroni had told Joseph Smith that the hill in Palmyra was called Cumorah—the only way the early saints could have known the hill was called that was because Joseph Smith told them. The only way Joseph Smith could have known was if Moroni had told him.” Penny.
Response: All that is true; however, one should not read into this information more than it states. Moroni told Joseph the hill was named Cumorah. He did not tell him it was the same hill that his father hid up records in, or the hill where the final Nephite battle took place, or the same hill mentioned in the Book of Mormon. And since the scriptural record does not tell us where Moroni buried the records, we only know that they were in that hill in upstate New York when Moroni informed Joseph of the fact. He well could have brought the plates from some other area to bury them in that hill, or he could have hid them in the ground elsewhere, then later, closer to the time of Joseph Smith’s living there, brought them from elsewhere and buried them there, or they could have been taken up (as the plates were taken up from Joseph after his work on them was completed) to be brought forth, in the ground, at a later time. None of this is known, for it is not written in the scriptural record, nor officially declared by the Church.
Comment #105 “I read this on another website and thought you might find it interesting: "Having just read a book titled “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica” I found at, I vote for the OTHER category above. This book will astound all Book of Mormon geography enthusiasts. It is different, well written, long, and with more footnotes and references than I have ever seen. More importantly, it is the only book on the subject that is not merely someone’s belief or opinion, but every point made is reference directly to the Book of Mormon text and explains things no other author or theory has so far stated to such a degree. I don’t usually recommend anything, but if you are interested in the subject, I highly recommend this read. There are also three other books in this series, and I am now reading the second one: “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica,” and find it as interesting and detailed as the first.” Malthe.
Response: Thanks for mentioning it. Perhaps we are making some headway.
Comment #106 “Back then, “isle” meant “continent”, not “island”. Sorry, no Gilligan theory today. (: Tim
Response: Perhaps you would like to get hold of Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. This dictionary, which Webster claims in a lengthy introduction was inspired, was written in the New England area around the time Joseph Smith was growing up, and published around the time Joseph was translating the plates, and within a hundred miles of where Joseph lived. Webster claims it was the language of New England. In that dictionary, “isle” is defined as “island,” a word (island) Webster claims was not really a word at all and meant “island land.” He claims the word “isle” was in common use in New England America (not island) and was used as we use “island” today. As for back then, “isle” never meant continent. The British Isles were never considered a continent, and Australia was never called an “isle.”
Comment #107 Geological, archeological and anthropological data all agree that, other than minor changes due to volcanic activity and earthquakes, the geography of the Americas has seen little change since well before the arrival of Book of Mormon peoples on the American continent.” Baldwin.
Response: Sometime sit down and think about a three-hour earthquake, coupled with tornadoes (whirlwinds), numerous cities sinking into the ground, some cities covered up by collapsing mountains, mountains that no longer exist, and valleys that rise into mountains whose “height is great,” and then say again, “the Americas has seen little change since well before the arrival of Book of Mormon peoples on the American continent.”
Comment #108 “I read this exchange in a website recently and wondered what you thought of it. Person 1) Since Lehi et al. could observe the sun rising and setting just as easily as we can, I'd say that we must anchor north to north. Any realignment of the Earth's axis of rotation, or flipping of its magnetic field is a nonstarter. Person 2) While I don't entirely disagree, you seem to assume that "north" has an absolute meaning that everyone accepts. If so, you would be mistaken. Secondly, you also assume that the existence of a technical celestial definition of north necessarily equals an on-the-ground description of north. I have seen firsthand that that assumption is not absolutely correct. So -- we certainly have to deal with directions, but if we require that all directions must conform to our opinions about what directions should be, then we are correct only if the text is modern and western. If it is something else (and it says it is) then those assumptions may not hold true.” Zoraida.
Response: While Nephi, and Jacob to a lesser degree, were not born in the Western Hemisphere, or location of the Book of Mormon, all others were, as was Mormon and Moroni—so “elsewhere” does not apply. But other than that, the plates were translated by Joseph Smith, a New Englander, and definitely a westerner. Couple that with the fact that his translation was written for us to understand, it can only hold true that the words he used would 1) be normal to him in his day, and 2) clearly understood by us who read it today. Thus, we must conclude that north is north, etc. In addition, let’s not play games about words—go out and ask 100 people “what does the direction north mean?” and you will get basically 100 answers that agree with the common understanding of north.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXVI,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXV

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first ninety-six comments were answered in the previous 24 posts, the ninety-seventh and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #97 Matthew Roper is claimed to have said, ‘Since Moroni offered Joseph Smith only a brief sketch, it is unlikely that he revealed to Joseph a comprehensive knowledge of Native American origins. It is important to understand that Joseph Smith did not have access to this knowledge. He translated the book, but apparently did not know the scope of its geography.’ Do you agree with that?"  Barclay
Response: I think it is safe to suggest that Joseph probably did not know exactly, but I would think he knew far more than he discussed, and that it was an area of interest to him, for when he learned of the ruins in Central America, he considered that they were Nephite. At the same time, he was a man constantly ridiculed by others for his beliefs, statements, and declarations. While I can’t speak for Joseph, I know if it were me, I would be thrilled to know from time to time that my ideas were well founded in the Lord. Such an expression seems to have been written by Joseph to Emma after his discovery of Zelph, the white Lamanite, who lived during the days of the Prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. In that letter, Joseph seems excited to tell his wife that the lands on which they had walked were “the Plains of the Nephites.” It was something he apparently did not know before his discovery of the bones of Zelph.
With all the contact Joseph had with Moroni, who lived in the Land of Promise, knew the Nephites, himself learned from his father, Mormon, and would have known all about the Nephite history, it is hard to image that Joseph would not have known a great deal about the Nephites he never discussed, though he did tell stories about them to his parents and siblings for years at family home evenings
Comment #98 “I agree with Hugh Nibley who said, ‘Book of Mormon geography is a waste of time. I wouldn’t touch it with a forty-foot pole. Never have; it’s not necessary. Some day we’ll get more information, I suppose. Everybody has tried their hand at it. I don’t know why; it doesn’t make any difference.’” Tommy T.
Response: To each his own. I find the subject fascinating myself and, as I’ve said before, the study of it over the past score of years has strengthened my knowledge of the Book of Mormon itself, and my testimony of its accuracy and truthfulness. It is interesting to note, however, that in Nibley's "some dayh we'll get more information, I suppose," I can testify that this is happening and has been happening for the past century or so. Scripture tells us that in the latter days the Lord will pour out his spirit and we will know things about the earth, above it, below it and within it. I can see that happening now in a big way.
Comment #99 “I have read your Book of Mormon and find nothing of value in it whatsoever.” J.R.
Response: How interesting. I found Captain Moroni’s valiant stand against the government and his declaration of the title of liberty inspiring; the story of Nephi’s unconquerable enthusiasm for the Lord and his willingness to trust in the Almighty quite uplifting; Alma’s repentance and the value of his father’s prayers in his behalf extremely motivating; Mormon’s willingness to lead his people in a last-ditch battle he knew he could not win most captivating. Maybe we were reading different books.
Comment #100 According to Joseph Smith, the angel said it gave: “…an account of the former inhabitants of this continent. (Joseph Smith History v.34)” which creates a problem for anyone choosing a setting other than North America. Central and your South America proponents have to stretch the geography to cover Moroni’s quote here.” Amber W.
Response: As has been written here many times, we ought to know the language of the time when a statement is made. The word “continent” in Joseph Smith’s time included all of the Western Hemisphere—that is, North, Central and South America, and did well into the 20th century—I still have a school geography book that shows the “American Continent.” This continent in Joseph’s day meant far more territory than we apply the term today in our language. Thus, Moroni was speaking to Joseph in the language Joseph knew in his day, and was referring to the entire Western Hemisphere, which was known as the American Continent in his day.
Comment #101 “I do not care for theories like that of Mesoamerica that try to skew directional descriptions in the Book of Mormon. Mormon and Moroni both saw our day and were writing to us, and the text was translated into the American English of Joseph’s day. They were not trying to deceive or confuse us.” Barbara O.
Response: I couldn’t agree more.
Comment #102 “You are claiming that the Jaredites went from Babel, on the Euphrates River and about 50 miles from the Tigris River, and traveled northward about 300 to 400 miles on foot. There they build barges and sailed back down one of these same rivers, past where they started out, and on for another 300 miles to the Persian Gulf. It doesn’t only not make any sense it is totally unreasonable.” Eric M.
Response: First, when you study a map area, what looks unreasonable can not only be reasonable, but outright necessary when you actually know the territory, etc., of the area in real life; Second, the distance would be no more than 200 miles, however, we really do not know exactly where the Jaredites were when they started. They would not have been in Babel (Babylon), where the Tower was being built for they would not have been involved in such work. Their village may have been a little closer to the Valley of Nimrod, but again, we do not know that.
The Jaredites traveled northwest into the Valley of Nimrod—now the man-made Lake Tharthar. Afterward, they traveled down the east side of the Tigris in the plains between the Zargos Mountains to the Mesopotamia Marshlands, which swamps, lakes and wetlands they crossed in “barges”
Third, they would have traveled northwest to the valley, which location today would be the man-made Lake Tharthar, which was filled in modern times by diverting the Tigris River (it being the only valley northward of Babel). Fourth, they did not build barges at that location. A key issue here is that this area, before it was made into a lake, was an ecological depression with water courses, animals, birds and fish. In other words, an excellent place for them to acquire the fauna needed for their journey. Note that in Ether 1:41, they were commanded to gather flocks of every kind and seeds of every kind, but after arriving in the Valley of Nimrod, they were commanded to gather birds, fish and bees (Ether 2:1-3)—something evidently they did not have around them where they lived. Consequently, for the Lord’s purposes to be fulfilled, they had to go to an area where such fauna was available to them, which in the desert area of upper Mesopotamia, was “northward;” Fifth, once in the Valley, the Lord told: “there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42). Note that He did not tell them “I will lead you through a Land,” but said, “to a land.” Then he adds, “there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed…a great nation.” Thus, we can see that the Lord is referring to the Land of Promise, their eventual goal. Then, still referring to the Land of Promise, “the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5). This, then, was the final destination—a land (quarter) where man had never been; Sixth, once “on the road,” they traveled in the “wilderness” between the settled areas next to the Tigris River and the Zagros Mountains. Once reaching the wetlands (north of present day Kuwait), they constructed barges to cross the marshes, swamps, and wetlands (known today as the Mesopotamia, Hammer, Hawizeh and Central Marshes—the worlds largest wetland system), which also included lakes and rivers, or what might be called “many waters.” The Jaredites along this course did not backtrack their route, nor would they have sailed down the Tigris or Euphrates rivers, which would have been heavily populated areas during a time of great turmoil. The entire journey is not only reasonable, but one of the few directions open to the Jaredites who traveled with women and children, flocks, birds, fish, and bees, and is spelled out in great detail in the book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXVI,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXIV

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first ninety-one comments were answered in the previous 23 posts, the ninety-second and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #92 “I read Joseph Smith History 1:34 in which it states: “[Moroni] said there was a book deposited written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. Ralph Olsen’s argument emphasizes this scripture as Malay Peninsula being “the source from whence they sprang” before reaching the Western Hemisphere. In addition, he says there were dark-skinned people pre-existing on the peninsula, and if they intermarried with the Lamanites, (while the Nephites did not intermarry) that might explain the “dark and loathsome" peoples in the Book of Mormon. Besides, the shorter 4000 miles oceanic travel makes more sense than a 16000 mile journey. What do you think?”
There is nothing written on the plates that would lead someone who has read and studied them to suggest that the Malay Peninsula is a possible site for the Land of Promise
Response: It is interesting how the Malay Theory keeps cropping up every so often. To answer your comment: 1) The word “source” basically means “origin or root,” and the Book of Mormon clearly states that the root or origin of Lehi and his family, as well as Ishmael’s family, and the later Mulekites, was Jerusalem. The word “sprang” is the past tense of “spring,” which means much the same as source, i.e., origin. Thus, we must conclude that the “source from which they sprang” was Jerusalem, not the Malay Peninsula; 2) The scriptural record makes it clear that the Lord cursed Laban and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael who fought against Nephi and tried to kill him, with a curse and marked them so they would not be enticing unto the Nephites (to intermarry with). This was like in the days of Cain. Since it would have been impossible for Cain to have intermarried with a dark-skinned person, there was obviously another method the Lord employed. Also, to consider that this mark would have taken a few generations of intermarriage for the Lamanites to become “not enticing,” is unrealistic--whatever action the Lord took to bring this about would have been immediately, or the act would have been lost to those He was punishing. it seems whatever the method the Lord used would have been quick—probably immediate. My best guess is that the Creator of all things, including DNA, which determines our features, skin coloring, etc., would simply have altered the DNA of Laban, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael and the women to whom they were married; 3) Since coastal-hugging vessels were already in use in the Arabian Sea, Laccadive Sea, and Bay of Bengal, it seems ridiculous that the Lord would have Nephi build a ship that was not “after the manner of men,” for a similar coastal voyage to the Malay Peninsula. However, a different ship as he was instructed to build, would make sense if you were going to sail out into the “great deep” across the “many waters” to the Land of Promise. As for 4000 miles making more sense than 16000 miles, what makes one think it was better, easier, smarter, or more sensical? On the other hand was it more sensible to place Israel between the warring nations of the Fertile Crescent than elsewhere? Was it more sensible to put the Lamanites among the Nephites which resulted in 1000 years of nearly constant wars? One would be hard pressed to question the Lord’s judgment and His purposes, but obviously he has plans that man simply does not understand.
Comment #93 “It would be extremely difficult for Moroni to have carried the records from South America to New York in order to bury them in the Hill Cumorah where Joseph found them. That is a distance of several thousand miles. Did he walk all the way?”
Response: Moroni does not tell us where he buried the records, only that “I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not” (Mormon 8:4). Most people tend to think he buried them in the hill Cumorah, but if he did, he never told us. Nor does the scriptural record tell us how he got from where he was when he wrote the final words in his father’s record to where he “hid up the records in the earth.” We don’t even know if this was done, at least the records placed in the hill in upstate New York where Joseph Smith uncovered them, while Moroni was a mortal or afterward. It is never a good idea to place restraints on the Lord.
Comment #94 Victor Wolfgang von Hagen an American explorer, archaeological historian, anthropologist, and writer traveled in South America with his wife between 1940 and 1965. He published a large number of widely acclaimed books about the ancient people of the Inca, Maya, and Aztecs. In the early 1950s, he went for a two year exploration of Peru's ancient Inca roads and found the only surviving suspension bridge of this trail. His book, “Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas,” quotes the Spanish soldiers as being amazed at the great cement cities, the marvelous roads, highways, etc. By the way, is there a great road system and cement buildings in Malaysia, or Baja California, or the Great Lakes?”
Response: Exactly. However, though they have become known as the "Inca" roads, they were built centuries before the Inca came to power--the Inca merely used them. In addition, in the same year as Ancient sun Kingdoms of the Americas, von Hagen wrote The Incas: People of the Sun, and the year following A Chronological Chart of pre-Columbian Indian Cultures of the Americas, and later, The Desert Kingdoms of Peru, The Incas of Pedro de Cieza de Leon, The Royal Road of the Inca, and many others before that time. In all, some 50 books. One might consider him an expert on the ancient lands of Peru, Ecuador, and the Andean area.
Comment #95 “I read somewhere that ships did not move fast. They didn’t need to move fast. But they did need to resupply. Speed and time are modern concepts. Again, Nephi didn’t need to hurry. He wasn’t being pressured to do this. The voyage could have taken quite a long time. The distance is long, and it’s made even longer by going along the coastline, and not in a straight line. But the necessity for speed was simply not there. Did they stop along the way? Surely. Why go without water when you can go ashore and get it, and also give the kids a run ashore on the sand. They may well have fished, of course. You’d expect them to fish on the way. Fish is a very nourishing food and a lot of water in it. They might get some water from tropical storms, but that would be unreliable."
Response: The type of ship Nephi built was “driven forth before the wind.” Such weather ships are reliant solely on wind and currents—both items, along with the design and construction of the vessel, determine its speed. How fast Nephi’s ship might have been is unknown, however, I suspect the Lord might be called the smartest and best boat designer the world has ever known. More importantly, the winds and currents in the Southern Ocean travel at great speeds, faster than anywhere else in the world—they are used today for long distance boat races. In addition, the weather there provides plenty of rain to be captured for drinking water. And let’s not forget that the Jaredites traveled 344 days without stopping. As for making landfall to “let the kids run in the sand” would be unwise based on the rebellious nature of Laban, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael—it would be unlikely, if the landfall was a paradisiacal island as found in the South Pacific, that you would get them back on the ship. All other things being considered, it seems most likely the ship did not stop, that it went where the winds and currents took it, and the shortest way from the Arabian peninsula to the Western Hemisphere would be the Southern Ocean—no islands, no stopping, plenty of speed.
Laman and Lemuel’s conspiring and rebellious nature suggests that any landfall of Nephi’s ship before it reached its final destination in the Land of Promise would have been unwise and likely even disastrous
Comment #96 John L. Sorenson said, ‘The historical sources give no indication that Moroni's instructions to the young Joseph Smith included geography. Nor did Joseph Smith claim inspiration on the matter. Ideas he later expressed about the location of events reported in the book apparently reflected his own best thinking.’"
Response: Historical sources do not tell us everything. What Moroni might have taught Joseph that the prophet never said or wrote down is merely conjecture, but might prove to be of great interest if it is ever revealed to us. On the other hand, according to his mother, Joseph told great stories about the Nephites, their land, their customs, etc., during family evenings during those four years before he obtained the plates. Either Joseph made them up, or Moroni taught Joseph during those many visits during the four years. You decide.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXIV,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXIII

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first eighty-six comments were answered in the previous 22 posts, the eighty-seventh and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #87 “I am always amazed how critics of the Book of Mormon claim that the archaeology of the Bible is well documented and if the Book of Mormon was true, why isn’t it. However, archaeology has identified only 55% of the modern sites and place names of the Bible, and this from the most carefully scrutinized and studied book in the world. For example, where is Mt. Sinai? There are over twenty candidates. What is the route taken by the Israelites in the Exodus? Again, there are many different theories. The geography of western Anatolia in the second millennium B.C. has for long been a subject of considerable dispute, with two major alternatives that have the same regions and locations over three hundred kilometers apart and are directionally skewed. Furthermore, the region where the province of Arzawa is frequently thought to have been, "so far show[s] no sign at all of settled occupation during the Hittite period."Thus, despite a hundred and twenty years of archaeological and philological investigation, no certain geography for western Anatolia during this period can be determined, and archaeological evidence cannot be fully reconciled with Hittite textual data. These and many other issues of biblical geography are all hotly disputed. Furthermore, the fact that there is widespread agreement on many questions of geography is simply an indication that scholarly consensus has been achieved but not necessarily that the consensus is correct." Olmstead.
Response: Exactly correct. Without the continuity of place names between biblical and modern times, only about 36 of the 475 biblical place names could be identified with certainty. But in fact those 36 are identifiable largely because it is possible to triangulate their relationship to known sites, moving from the known to the unknown. It is only because there are numerous biblical sites known with certainty through the continuity of place names that these 36 sites can be located. In addition, while all scholars now agree that the Norsemen did indeed discover and temporarily colonize North America in the eleventh century, the precise location of the "Vinland" of the sagas is hotly disputed with nearly a dozen candidates ranging between "Hudson Bay and the state of Florida." If precise geographical unanimity cannot be reached by scholars in 45% of the Bible locations, or things like Vinland, why should the analysis of Book of Mormon geography be considered "a fairly simple matter"?
Comment #88 “You can talk about the Book of Mormon facts all you want, but no horses have ever been found in the Americas. What about that?” Lawrence.
Response: A species may have existed at the time of the Nephites, but archaeological evidence of its existence has not been discovered, or has not been properly interpreted. The horse is an excellent example of this. Although generally thought to have been extinct by the end of Pre-Classic times (before A.D. 300), possible horse remains have been found in various locations in the Andean area and in Mesoamerica, which seem to be from archaeological strata contemporary with pre-Colonial civilizations. Just recently the remains of a horse was dug up in Carlsbad, California, dating to a period prior to the Spanish arrival--now thinbk about it. Carlsbad is extremely well settled, yet these remains were dug up only five years ago! Five years! Why weren't they discovered a hundred years ago, or two hundred? Obviously, because it is not always easy to find such remains! In addition, Darwin found a horse’s tooth in Chile in South America which he identified as being from a modern horse and dated to a time prior to the arrival of the Spanish.
Left: Horse remains have been found throughout the Americas. Right: The Carlsbad horse was recently discovered by Larry Tift and Archaeologist Luke Piek, along with another horse and a burro, dating to pre-Spanish times
It should be kept in mind, that while the Americas was the original home of the horse species, and evolved and thrived here it is claimed for over 57 million years, it is claimed they mysteriously died out some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. However, this is an unknown and unprovable belief. Remains of horses have been found in numerous locations in the Americas, and if the Earth is truly 13,000 years old as the scriptures indicate, then horses have been around in so-called “modern times.”
In addition, it can be mentioned that the Huns of Central Asia and Eastern Europe were a nomadic people for whom horses represented both a major form of wealth and the basis of their military power. Estimates are that each Hun warrior may have had has many as ten horses, yet to quote Sandor Bokonyi, himself a Hungarian, and a paleozoologist as well as a foremost authority on the subject, “We know very little of the Huns' horses. It is interesting that not a single usable horse bone has been found in the territory of the whole empire of the Huns.” During the two centuries of their domination of the western steppe, the Huns must have had hundreds of thousands of horses. If Hunnic horse bones are so rare despite their vast herds, why should we expect extensive evidence of the use of horses in Nephite lands in the Americas, especially considering the limited references to horses in the Book of Mormon text, and the limited effort to uncover such archaeological finds?
Comment #89 “No matter how much you try to prove it, you will never convince me of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.” Gilbert.
Response: My writing in this blog is not meant to convince you of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon stands on its own and needs no proving. This blog is written to show that archaeological setting behind the scriptural record and the accuracy of Mormon’s numerous geographical outlines. If you seek proof of the Book of Mormon, I recommend you follow Moroni’s suggestion found in Moroni 10:4; it is the way Latter-day saints have come to know the truth of the scriptural record since its publication.
Comment #90 “What do you think of the Malay Peninsula or Baja Peninsula theories?” Michelle.
Response: Joseph Smith knew and understood the word peninsula. In his many translated descriptions of the Land of Promise, show me where he used that word to describe the geographical setting of the Book of Mormon. Of course, he did not. However, he used in 1828 the word “isle” (2 Nephi 10:20), which is the same as the word “island” today. Other than that glaring problem with those theories, I have written extensively about other glaring difficulties with those theories. They simply do not match the numerous indicators in the Book of Mormon about the geography of the Land of Promise.
Comment #91 Wait, we can believe in angels coming back to earth and giving people ancient records buried in a hill, but a wormhole between a cave in upstate NY and one in Malay is out of the question? Are there no sci-fi fans theorizing about BOM geography?” Centrix.
Response: As an old science-fiction writer and follower, I’m sure there are, but I doubt any sci-fi scenario would hold up to the scriptural record.
 (See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXIV,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXII

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first seventy-nine comments were answered in the previous 21 posts, the eightieth and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #80 “Your Book of Mormon refers to barley and wheat, both of which were unknown in Central America, but fails to mention corn and potatoes which were commonplace in Mesoamerica.” Christopher.
Response: First of all, corn is mentioned in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 6:22; 9:9,14). Second, what was unknown in Central America is not now, or never has been, an issue since the Book of Mormon lands were never in Central or Meso America, though barley or a variant has been found recently. Third, the Book of Mormon fails to mention a lot of things since it is neither a work on flora or fauna of the New World, but the dealings with God and a portion of the House of Israel in the Western Hemisphere—those small items that are mentioned, usually are mentioned for a purpose and are certainly not all-inclusive.
Comment #81 “D. F. Green in “Book of Mormon Archaeology: The Myths and the Alternatives,” states that some of the few LDS archaeologist have stated that there is no such thing as a Book of Mormon archaeology.” Sharky.
Ruins in (left) South America and (right) Mesoamerica of two ancient civilizations that existed during Book of Mormon times
Response: In both the Andean area of South America and the area of Mesoamerica, stand similar works of antiquity that date during the Book of Mormon period. These ruins that have been uncovered in the last hundred and fifty years or so show an advanced culture and civilization having lived in these areas with most of the things found in the Book of Mormon, such as stone buildings, and in the Andean area: stone walls for defense, unparalleled road and highway systems, palaces, temples, almost constant wars, and vast cities housing populations in the tens of thousands, unknown animals and grains mentioned in the scriptural record, metallurgy, advanced textiles, use of circumcision, mummification of the dead, etc., etc., etc. It stands to reason that archaeologists should consider these matches with the Book of Mormon, but they do not—they prefer to maintain their own little worlds of peoples and cultures they make up and name, which is not really science, but simply a series of attitudes that move in lock-step in a singular direction.
Comment #82 “One of the problems the Book of Mormon faces is that there is absolutely no mention of any other groups inhabiting or co-inhabiting its land space.” Christiana.
Response: That is because there were none! While Sorenson, Nibley and other Mesoamerican Theorists like to claim there were, there were none. The Lord promised Lehi none would be allowed to know about his land of promise and gave the reason why. The fact that none are mentioned and none were there only verifies the location and accuracy of the Book of Mormon.
Comment #83 “The Book of Mormon speaks of a culture of hundreds of thousands of people inhabiting an area the size of Utah. How is it possible so little evidence has been found in such a small area?” Axelrod.
Response: No one reading the Book of Mormon without preconceived ideas to a certain location would ever consider that the events described there, the descriptions of the land, etc., could have possibly taken place in an area so small as the size of Utah—85,000 square miles. Those who make such claims do the Book of Mormon a disservice. Besides, we know of at least 230,000 soldiers, plus wives and children—some half a million people or more, being killed in the final battle at Cumorah, and that was only Nephites, a thousand years after their arrival, who faced an army far larger in numbers. We also know of many millions of Jaredites killed in the final battles that took place after some 1500 years of occupation of the Land Northward, not to mention all those who lived over the centuries before the final demise of the Jaredites and later Nephites. We are not talking about a tiny area like the size of Utah.
Comment #84 “Demographic analysis shows that the thirty or so people in the initial groups could not logically account for the “multitudes” described in the Book of Mormon given probable annual growth percentages, natural disasters, and recurring wars in which “tens of thousands” are repeatedly lost. The Book of Mormon figures simply do not make any sense.” Jennings.
Response: I have written in numerous areas, including my books, the numbers in the original Lehi Colony and don’t have space here to repeat the process arriving at those figures, but the original number would actually be somewhere close to 90 to130 people. Taking half that number and multiplying them over generations, including the size of families they had as opposed to later family numbers and those of today, it has been estimated that easily the figure could be around 91,000,000 descendants--even half of that when liberally accounting for disasters, wars, etc. There would be no  need for any other people. Do the math.
Comment #85 “There are so many problems with the Book of Mormon, where to begin? How about the fact that though the Nephite period closes as recently as the 5th century A.D., only 1400 years before the Book of Mormon was published in New York there are no Book of Mormon place or people names evident in Central American culture.” Heinkel.
Response: The names we have from the Book of Mormon were Nephite. The Nephites died out in 385 A.D. The Lamanites hated all things Nephite. Who would expect to find any Nephite names anywhere after a thousand years, or fourteen hundred years, after their total and complete demise, in any of South, Central or North America.
Comment #86 “The original temple of Solomon took 70,000 workers, 80,000 “hewers” in the mountans and 3,600 overseers seven years to complete, yet some thirty or so people in Nephi’s time built a temple “like unto Solomon’s.” Not possible." Caldwell.
Solomon’s Temple was built of stone and decorated with intricate and expensive workings throughout
Response: “Like unto” does not mean it was the same huge size, had the same porticos, exterior walls, had to hew stones in far off mountains, or was built in seven years. Nephi says he “did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.” For all we know, he might have meant that more than size, shape, appearance, etc., it was like Solomon’s in its religious purpose and fine workmanship. We also have no idea how lolng that took to built--he writes about it some 30 years after reaching the Land of Promise. Obviously, like the Jews building Solomon’s temple, the Nephites building their temple worked very hard at it, built it to the best of their ability, and with the purpose to glorify the Lord. We don’t even know how much Nephi knew about the construction of Solomon’s temple, or its measurements—though he certainly would have seen it before Lehi left his home at Jerusalem.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXIII,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XXI

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first seventy-three comments were answered in the previous 20 posts, the seventy-fourth and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #74 “I don’t know why others don’t see this, but I find the Nineteenth-Century American Phraseology of the Book of Mormon proof of the fact the Book of Mormon is a big fraud.” Oliver.
Response: Perhaps, if you understood how the Book of Mormon came about, you might have a different opinion on this issue. The original plates from which the scriptural record was taken were written by many different prophets anciently, between about 2100 B.C. and 421 A.D. Sometime around 350 to 375 A.D., those writings were abridged (condensed) and rewritten by one individual, the prophet Mormon (with a small portion by his son, Moroni). In the 1820s, Joseph Smith, was directed by that last writer, Moroni, now appearing as an angel sent from God, to translate the plates into English and have it printed in a book for distribution to mankind (like the Bible). Joseph Smith was not a professionally educated person, but a young man living in the New England area. His translation is in his own words—that of 19th-century New England English, and obviously would have “nineteenth-century phraseology.” You might not agree with what is written, or that God was involved, etc., which is your prerogative, however, the fact that the phraseology is such is not a deterrent to its authenticity.
Comment #75 “I have to chuckle once in a while from what is written in the Book of Mormon. Take for instance, about 90 B.C., Alma 17:26 suggests that "all the Lamanites drive their flocks hither” (to the water of Sebus). By then the Lamanties presumably numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and we are asked to believe that literally all of this great nation, which occupied a substantial part of Central America, traveled great distances to water their flocks in one place. Is this probable?” Connelly.
While in the Lamanite king’s service, Ammon defends the king’s sheep from other Lamanites trying to drive them off
Response: I’m glad you got a chuckle. I certainly got a chuckle out of your question. If you were to actually read the sequence you are poking fun at, you might find that this had to do with the Land of Ishmael, over which a Lamanite sub-king Lamoni ruled (the king over all the Lamanite lands was Lamoni’s father; and in addition, when “land” is mentioned in the scriptural record, it usually refers to that land immediately around a single city). The water of Sebus was an area where the flocks of those Lamanites in that land (or city, or settlement, etc.) tended to water their livestock. If you were to travel through Africa today, you would find that most settlements water their livestock in a local waterhole. In any event, you make two misjudgments: 1) The Land of Ishmael is not all of the land the Lamanites occupied; the term Lamanite here is used by a Nephite and refers to those people who only live in that land, not every Lamanite in existence in the many lands round about—how many lived in the land of Ishmael, or that city, is not given; 2) all the Lamanites did not water their flocks at the same time. If you read the following verse, it tells you: “…as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water…” suggesting that some, a few, but certainly not every Lamanite, was there at the water—again telling us that not every Lamanite led their flocks to water at the same time.
Comment #76 “Two things are annoyingly bothersome about your Book of Mormon—not only did God cause a skin of blackness to come upon the Lamanites (2 Nephi 5:21-23), but those Lamanites who later joined with the Nephites had their skin become white like unto the Nephites between the thirteenth and fourteenth year (3 Nephi 2:13-17)—after all, everyone knows skin color is not going to change in a single year but takes a long evolutionary period. And what about today, many Lamanites have joined your church but their skin color has not been changed to white.” Carmen.
Response: First, as has already been stated in these last posts, God created DNA, can change DNA, and the speed or time in which it takes is within His ability to control. What man considers an evolutionary process God has absolute control over, and can bring about his purposes within any time frame He sees fit. Second, in the days of the Book of Mormon, the difference in skin color separated the Lamanites from the Nephites, which was one of the purposes of the curse and mark in the first place “that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). Today, that is not the case, and there is no need to bring about such a change for it is not the mark that separates righteous from evil as in the day of the Nephites.
Comment #77 “The whole issue of the Book of Mormon plates and the information contained on them leaves much to be desired. M.T. Lamb, claimed there was too much info in the 500 pages of English text to have fit on the plates. Reed Putnam, using Joseph Smith’s measurements, speculated that each plate may have been .02-of an inch thick and each plate occupying up to .05 of an inch due to unevenness from hammering the plates and airspace between them. He estimated 20 pages to the inch, or 120 plates, engraved front and back, for 240 such plate pages. However, using Egyptian Demotic of the fifth century B.C. would require over 500 such plates.”
Response: Putnam’s measurements were speculation. We do not have sufficient information to make such a decision. If they were .02-inch with .02 airspace, or .015-inch, and .015-inch airspace, etc., there would be more than enough space. How can you speculate on something, come up with figures based on unknown factors, and then suggest that the answer shows an error, etc. Perhaps we would be better served by sticking to something that is clearly known and, therefore, can be correctly measured.
Comment #78 “John Sorenson points out that Latter-day Saints are not used to the idea that other people than Lehi’s immediate descendant were on the Book of Mormon scene, and claims abundant evidence from archaeological and linguistic studies assures us that such people were indeed present. How does he know that?” Marcella.
Response: “Archaeologists and Anthropologists like to make up entire civilizations from a piece of broken pottery,” is a quote from an archaeologist who disagrees with such practice, which I quote and discuss at length in my book, Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica. The answer to your question lies in the problem that all Mesoamerican Theorists have about the Book of Mormon lands. They try to add things that didn’t exist in the scriptural record to verify their supposed location or model. The quick answer to most things John L. Sorenson has written regarding Mesoamerica is that he is flat-out wrong. If you would like to know more about this line of thinking, read my book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists, which includes a list of Sorenson's incorrect statements about what is written in the Book of Mormon.
Comment #79 “Secular records show 593 years between Lehi’s departure and Jesus’ birth, but the Book of Mormon has it at 600 years—why the discrepancy?” Bellamy.
The mighty Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar raze the city of Jerusalem, and Bring the Jewish kingdom led by Zedekiah to an end
Response: The Babylonian Chronicles give 2 Adar (16 March) 597 as the date Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, therefore Zedekiah became king in the spring of 597 B.C. His first full year as king was 597/596 B.C., therefore Lehi left Jerusalem in 597 B.C., as nearly all LDS scholars on the subject agree. Why Lehi wrote 600 B.C. is not known. I suppose a person could come up with several good answers, but we simply do not know.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXII,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XX

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first sixty-nine comments were answered in the previous 19 posts, the seventieth and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #70 “You seem to know a lot, perhaps you can tell me why so many things in the Book of Mormon are written in the “past tense” when they are about “future happenings,” such as in 1 Nephi 14:23,27; 22:21; 25:18, etc.? The writing was supposedly written around 600 B.C. to about 545 B.C.” Lindsey
Response: When reading the Book of Mormon, it is helpful to understand who is speaking, who is writing, and who is telling the events. As an example, in 1 Nephi 14:23, you have to go back to 1 Nephi 10:17 to know that, after Nephi had heard all that his father, Lehi, had said concerning the vision he had received, Nephi said: “I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.” From this point on, an Angel guided Nephi through the same information or vision his father had heard and seen. This vision concerned not only the past events, but those events that were to unfold in the future. Thus, to the Angel, since all things are “now” with the Lord, he spoke to Nephi in the past tense, knowing what was to take place and, to him, had already happened—and having seen these events in the vision, Nephi would have seen them as past events. Note that in 1 Nephi 14:5, the Angel says to Nephi, “Thou hast beheld [that is, he had seen in the vision] that if the Gentiles [those who would come after the Nephites in the Land of Promise] repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest [from the vision] concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard [he had been taught] that whoso repenteth not must perish.” We need to keep in mind that to God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, all things are known and understood, and when He sends angels to speak to man, or provides a vision, the events are said and shown as though already having happened. This is one of the problems most people have in reading Isaiah in the Bible. He continually wrote about the past, the present and the future, and sometimes within the same sentence or paragraph, thus making his writing hard to follow and understand. You might want to compare Ether 13:2-12, in which Moroni, injecting his own thoughts into the Jaredite translation, jumps from the past (Noah’s Flood) to the distant future (coming of the New Jerusalem on the American continent) to a shorter future (coming of Lehi to the Land of Promise) to the past (Joseph in Egypt) to a future event at the time of the Jaredites, but a past event to him (a remnant of Israel led out of Jerusalem) to the future again (building of a holy city to the Lord) and then jumps back and forth several times, sometime in the same verse. Scripture, wherever it appears, is never meant to be read like a novel—it must be studied, pondered, and understood.
Comment #71 “In your Helaman 3:18,21,23, between the 46th and 49th year of the reign of the judges, Helaman produced two infants. In verse 37, however, it is suggested that in the fifty and third year, Helaman died, and his eldest son Nephi began to reign in his stead. If these dates are correct, it would place Nephi in the judgment-seat anywhere between his fourth and seventh birthdays. What adult population would elect a child as chief judge. Sounds kind of fishy to me.” Guilford
Response: That would be fishy. However, you are reading into the writing something not implied. Keep in mind that this is Mormon’s abridgement of Helaman’s writing of which he said, overall, he could only include 1/100th of what he was abridging (Helaman 3:14). There are two entirely different ideas found in those passages you list. Helaman 3:1-20 covers a ten year span and numerous events and activities are very  briefly mentioned. In verse 21, a new thought is mentioned, that Helaman had two sons, Nephi and Lehi, and then Mormon returns to the years of peace, prosperity, and blessings in the land. Finally, he concludes by stating that Helaman died. We do not know when the two sons were born, or even if they were the only children he had, which is not likely. All we know is that Helaman had these two sons, their names, and that after Helaman’s death, the older one, Nephi, became the Chief Judge. Following this, Mormon begins to write about problems, contentions, dissensions, etc., and covers Nephi’s life, and a little of Lehi’s life.
Comment #72 “Why does Alma, after receiving all the records from Mosiah, say, “for the time cometh, we know not how soon” regarding the Lord’s coming when Nephi wrote that “the Savior of the World” would be born “even six hundred years form the time that my father left Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 10:4). After all, Alma had these records now in his possession.” Hamstead
Response: I suppose an easy answer would be that maybe Alma had not yet read Nephi’s record, but that is not the issue here. Alma is not talking about when the Lord would be born and, by the way, 600 years does not name a month, day and time of day. However, Alma is talking about the time the Lord would come the second time—at the conclusion of the world. Alma states: “this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory” (Alma 13:24). Being born in a stable with very few people knowing of it is not “in his glory.” When he comes “in his glory,” the entire world will know it and “every knee shall bend and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.” Alma goes on to say, “And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice” (Alma 13:25). From the very beginning of time, the world looked forward to the Second Coming, when the world would pass away, righteousness would conquer evil, Satan would be bound, and man would receive the Savior in all his glory. Alma added, “And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them” (Alma 13:26). Not knowing when that great (and dreadful) day would come, Alma states the obvious, as all prophets do, “And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance” (Alma 13:27), and then goes on to preach a marvelous sermon.
Comment #73 “How do you justify where in Alma 52:12 Ammoron, brother of the deceased Amalickiah and a Nephite enemy, departs from the land of Zarahemla, when Ammoron could only have been in Mulek (Alma 52:2) as Zarahemla, at that time, was under Nephite control (Alma 51:11; 53:12).” Alexie
Response: The Land of Zarahemla was a large area, stretching from the west sea to the east sea, and from the narrow strip of wilderness in the south to the Land of Bountiful in the North. Amalickiah (along with his brother Ammoron) had gone down into the Land of Zarahemla and captured several Nephite cities. When Amalickiah is killed by Teancum, Ammoron rushes back to the Land of Nephi, tells the queen of her husband’s death, gathers a greater Lamanite army, and heads back to the land of Zarahemla to battle the Nephites on the borders by the west sea. If you actually follow the story line, you will not find a conflict.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XXI,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XIX

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first sixty-three comments were answered in the previous 18 posts, the sixty-fourth and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #64 “I love your work and information. I ran across this recently and thought you might appreciate it since it is what you have often said: ‘World Location First Errors—there (are many) articles and books that focus on a specific place in the world first, before analyzing the entire geography available in the Book of Mormon.  They typically use a few place names and features from the Book of Mormon to provide a cursory fit to some place in the world.  The rest of the Book of Mormon geography is then based on the geography of the part of the world that was selected.  The error with this approach is that if the first few places are not placed in the right world location, the rest of the map ends up not making any sense.  The map may become skewed or it becomes impossible to add all of the places.  The author then usually contradicts himself or herself trying to explain why some things don’t fit or just leaves places out of their description when they don’t fit.” Pearl W.
Response: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks.
Comment #65 “I find the parallels in phraseology of the Book of Mormon suggests a single author, not the many claimed to have written it.” Mona P.
The Prophet Mormon abridged the entire record except for the initial writings of Nephi and Jacob and the small portion prior to the Words of Mormon
Response: You are right with your first point. Mormon abridged the entire record—it is his writing we are reading; and Joseph Smith translated the entire record and it is his 1820s New England English language we are reading. Either way you look at it, the phraseology of the Book of Mormon is going to suggest a single author.
Comment #66 I believe in the Great Lakes/American Heartland model for the Land of Promise. Like others, I think that the statements Joseph Smith made were based on his knowing the location of the Book of Mormon. After all, looking at Joseph Smith's statements, he either knew or he didn't know. If he knew, he knew by revelation. And if he didn't know, you've got to ask yourself why he said the things that he said. It seems to me that if you don't agree with this line of reasoning, by implication, you think that Joseph lied.” Franklyn.
Response: At no time did Joseph Smith speak as a prophet uttering revelation regarding the location of the Book of Mormon. He had his own ideas, like many of us, and was free, like we are, to state them. We have posted here before Joseph’s own words about the fact that he did not always speak by revelation. He was, after all, an individual with his own mind and his own feelings and beliefs. When he spoke for the Church, he was speaking as a Prophet. However, the Church has never stated officially, nor has any of its leaders, where the Book of Mormon lands were located, other than in the Western Hemisphere. That many early leaders had strong feelings about it is obvious and understandable—just like many good LDS people do today. The fact that you believe in the Great Lakes or Heartland areas is your personal prerogative, and you are certainly entitled to that. I might suggest that you compare all the geographical comments described by Mormon and others in the scriptural record against that belief. The Book of Mormon, after all, is the first, second, and final word on the matter until the Church officially states a location.
Comment #67 “Why is there so much controversy and contention about the geographical locations of the Book of Mormon. Does it really matter where the Land of Promise was located?”
Response: First of all, there should be no contention regarding the Book of Mormon. Contention is fostered by the Adversary. Controversy, on the other hand, comes when people have and state their beliefs, opinions, and feelings on a matter and that, I suppose, is to be expected. However, what really matters about the Book of Mormon is the doctrines found therein. It is, after all, a Second Witness of Jesus Christ, and as such, a companion work to the Bible. Having said that, I also believe that when we determine a location for the Book of Mormon lands, we can better appreciate and even more understand the writing within it. Since I have spent the past nearly 25 years on this subject, the geographical understanding of the Land of Promise has added to my testimony and knowledge of the Book of Mormon and all that is within its pages, just as has knowledge of the Holy Land assisted millions to a testimony of the Bible. While a geographical location is not essential to help understand, appreciate, and gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, I have found it most helpful and beneficial.
Comment #68 “I find the Rapid Change in Lamanite Skin Color listed in the Book of Mormon hard to accept. How could skin color change so rapidly.” Trayson.
Response: Like in the times of Cain, the Lord cursed Laban and Lemuel and those with them who were opposed to the Lord and his plan, and placed a mark upon them. For the Deity who has created worlds without number, all the heavens, galaxies, supergalaxies, etc., etc., etc., anything and everything is possible. For the God who created DNA, to change its markers and the resultant effects, such as skin coloring, physical appearance, etc., is well within reason. Personally, I refrain from limiting what the Lord can do.
Comment #69 “The Book of Mormon contains some thousand years of history with numerous geographical locations stated, but nothing definitive. Can any of us imagine a Bible minus any definitive geography?” Daryl.
Response: A rather comical comment. When the early French and English knights, as well as numerous peasants, started off for the Crusades in the 11th century A.D., they had little knowledge about the Levant, and almost no idea where Jerusalem was exactly located. None had ever been there. They knew only that they were headed for the Eastern Mediterranean littoral, and the Holy Land beyond, but couldn’t have told you where Bethlehem was, how far from Jerusalem it was located, or where Jericho was located, or the Dead Sea—in fact, they knew nothing “definitively” about any of the Holy Land, nor about the Turkish Anatolia where Pope Urban II had called the western volunteers to help the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos repel the invading Seljuq Turks. Had they not have had mariners and other guides taking them there, they might not have even found their destinations. They went to win back the Levant and the Holy Land from Muslim control, but were not at all conversant as to specific geographical locations and areas. In a word, they had no idea of the definitive geography of the biblical locations. How interesting people think what is known today was always known. For centuries, as an example, the City of Troy (Troia), mentioned in both Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey, written in the eighth century B.C., as well as briefly in Virgil’s Aeneid, and in the Sack of Troy (Ilioupersis) the ninth epic of the Epic Cycle, attributed to Arctinus of Miletu, was all considered a fictional account for centuries. No one had ever found the city or believed in its actual existence. However, the ancient city was discovered by Charles McLaren in 1822 and then excavated by Heinrich Schliemann from 1870 to 1890. The Homeric city was found within what they called the “layers of ruins” in the citadel at Hisarlık which are now numbered Troy I through Troy IX, with various subdivisions. It is located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey,  south of the southwest end of the Dardanelles-Hellespont and northwest of Mount Ida, in an area anciently called Troas. Today, the City of Troy is “definitive”; however, for some twenty-five hundred years, it wasn’t even believed to have been real.
Left: Part of the remaining Walls of Ancient Troy located on the Biga Peninsula, anciently called Troad or Troas in the northwestern part of Anatolia, Turkey; Right: The fabled Trojan Horse of the Iliad
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XX,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XVIII

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first sixty comments were answered in the previous 17 posts, the sixty-first and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #61 You Mormons claim the Nephites sailed east from Palestine and came ashore in South or Central America. The Mulekites are inferred to have crossed the Atlantic and landed on the Caribbean coast of Central America. Just what it was about the American environment that caused all these Caucasians to turn into Amerindians is unclear, but most Mormons will tell you it was "sin" that did it. Sounds rather ridiculous, don’t you think?”
Response: When Cain killed his brother Able, the Lord cursed him and placed a mark upon him (Genesis 4:11-16). The curse was that the earth would not yield its fruits to Cain’s future efforts, and the mark was to set him apart as a fugitive and a wanderer and to preserve his life. The Syriac Christianity of the 1st century A.D. claims the mark was a black skin, as does the Eastern Christian Armenian Adam-book of the 4th Century A.D. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, says: “And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.” However, you want to interpret Genesis 4:11-16, the point is that for sin, or because of sin, Cain was marked and cursed. So, yes, for sin, the sons of Lehi, Laban and Lemuel, and those with them, were marked and cursed for their sins, which mark and curse survived the thousand years of the Book of Mormon and remained with Laban and Lemuel’s seed or descendants. Personally, I never consider what the Lord does as being ridiculous. It may not be understood by the human finite mind, but God’s infinite knowledge far exceeds anything human. As a sidelight, the Lehi Colony traveled south, then south by southeast along the red sea from the Palestine area and finally nearly eastward until they reached the Arabian Sea. From there they sailed to the Western Hemisphere. It is unlikely that the Mulekites sailed, across the Atlantic, but probably followed along about ten years later the same course the Lehi Colony took. Also, Caucasians did not turn into Amerindians—the Lamanite civilization survived the wars with the Nephites and were all that remained in the Land of Promise (Western Hemisphere). They are, at least in part, the original American Indians.
Comment #62 “I read somewhere about the Book of Mormon geography, that for any two places on a map, there are two pieces of information that describe the relationship of one place to the other.  One piece describes one place as north or south of the other place.  The other piece of information describes one place as east or west of the other.  A visual way to show these relationships is to draw a line between the two places.  If there are 3 places, there are 3 lines (or 6 relationships).  For 4 places, there are 6 lines that connect all 4 places (12 relationships).  For 5 places, 10 lines connect each place (20 relationships), etc.”
Response: You have to love people who try to use information, scientific or not, to locate the cities, rivers, valleys, mountains, etc., of the Book of Mormon from the meager details left us by Mormon in his abridgement. There are so few locations that can be identified, if for no other reason than we do not know any distances between two points. As an example, Wendover is west of Salt Lake City, and both Elko and San Francisco are west of that. Does that give you a clear picture of the distances between these cities? Provo is south of Salt Lake City, as is both Milford and Montecello, with Phoenix south of both of them. Does that give you any idea of the distances or actual directions involved? We know that the city of Zarahemla was north of the city of Nephi—but to the east, west, or directly north? The city of Bountiful was far to the north, and the city of Desolation to the north of that—but at what distances and in what exact direction? We know that Manti was to the west of the Sidon River, and Moroni to the east, but we do not know at what distances from the river either city was, or the distance from Manti to Moroni. As an example, using more or less Book of Mormon directions, but using a location within the United States and the cities therein, see if you can draw a logical map with reasonably accurate distances of the following real locations without seeking the internet, atlas, or map. Troy is south of Wetumpka, which is west of Lake Martin, with Cataula to the east of that, Butler to the east of that, Manchester to the north, and Tyrone and Fairburn to the north of that. And so far north you come to Harrison Bay near Middle Valley and the city of Soddy-Daisy. I think you would agree that such information does not help much except in very general terms, yet, these areas actually exist, and is located in the area of Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky. In addition, the information you quote, by the way, is in relationship to a Mesoamerican model setting, which is not where the Land of Promise was located.
Comment #63 You say the Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. Why then is there no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon's "cities, persons, animals, fabrics, metals, wars and war implements, kings, palaces, or crops" but "the archaeological evidence for the Bible is so convincing that even a former skeptic such as the great archaeologist Sir William Ramsay became converted to Christian belief."
Response: I can’t speak for William Ramsey, however, while there is evidence of the city of Jericho, there is no archaeological evidence for the Good Samaritan who was on his way there. While there is a place called Bethlehem, there is no archaeological evidence of a stable where Christ was born. Except in Jewish tradition, there is no archaeological evidence of David’s defeat of Goliath, Samson’s pulling down the Philistine Temple of Dagon, or that Peter and the others fished on the Sea of Galilee. Not even science believes there is any evidence of the Great Flood. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in all those things, but when someone starts talking about no evidence of the Book of Mormon, we are trying to compare apples and oranges. I remember in my early youth, there were many who did not accept the Bible, but over time, little by little (thousands of years as a matter of fact), the Bible has become more and more accepted. The Book of Mormon has only been in print 182 years. Few people have really been involved in archaeological evidence to prove it, etc., and almost no one ever in South America. As for evidence, there is plenty of evidence in South America (and some in Mesoamerica) of an advanced civilization during Book of Mormon times, numerous accomplishments rivaling and, in some cases according to the early conquistadors, surpassing Spain and even Rome’s accomplishments. However, is there evidence that Alma built churches there, is there evidence that Hagoth had a shipyard, or that King Benjamin addressed his people form a tower built within the temple grounds? Of course not. The kind of evidence that proves something like Biblical or Book of Mormon events is always coupled with faith, belief and understanding. That, over time, the Bible has earned. But by comparison, the Book of Mormon is only in its infancy—in the Bible’s infancy, few people believed in it.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XIX,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)