Friday, December 14, 2012

Fighting Like Dragons – Part I II - Sheep, Lions, Jaguars and Dogs

Continuing with the comment sent in by a reader, the part of his comment not covered in the last post is:
Comment:  “… The Book of Mormon also reports lions in flocks of sheep (3 Ne 20:16; 21:12; Msh 20:10). There were no lions or domesticated sheep in America during Book of Mormon times. They were Old World animals. The accounts preferentially support Mala. According to B.H. Roberts, the dog was apparently the only domesticated animal in Book of Mormon times in Mesoamerica, and he claims it was very valuable for transportation, hunting, guarding, companionship and for food. One would expect very favorable reference to dogs, therefore, in the Book of Mormon. Instead we find only two derogatory comments (3 Ne 7:8; 14:6) such as a dog turning to his vomit and keeping holy matters away from dogs. The comments seem inappropriate for a Meso setting. Also, the jaguar, a very large American feline, was of special symbolic and religious significance in ancient Mesoamerica and jaguar statues are found at many ziggurat (temple?) structures. In preferential support of a Land of Promise in the Old World, there is no reference to jaguars in the Book of Mormon” Brinkman.
The desolation of this mountainous country and its many inaccessible areas makes it impossible to determine what did or even does exist in the wild. The Spanish came to conquer and find gold, and those who followed came to lead and control. Not until the 20th century did people come to investigate. By then it was too late to know what existed prior to the 1500-1600s
Response: Again, taking this one point at a time, 2) Lions and flocks of Sheep. No one has any idea what animals existed in the Americas from about 2100 B.C. to about 400 A.D. The Spaniards did not arrive for about 1100 years after Moroni placed his last comment on the plates, and the Europeans about 1200 years later. What animals, wild or previously domesticated, might have existed is beyond our knowledge. As an example, take a look at the two landscapes of the Land of Promise (above), and see how many animals could have existed in inaccessible areas that the Spanish never visited, nor for the most part, did anyone else for up to 1400 to 1500 years after the Book of Mormon times, and many areas haven’t been visited even today.
The Andean area of northern Chile, Peru and Ecuador has numerous inaccessible areas that have not been explored and seldom even flown over. Until Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu in the mountains north of Cuzco in 1911, no one even suspected there were a series of cities in those mountains, some quite large.
Left: Hiram Bingham was a Military Lieutenant Colonel, Governor, U.S. Senator, aviator, explorer, teacher and lecturer; Right: Bingham (above) when he discovered Machu Picchu in 1911
3) While B.H. Roberts can claim that dogs were good for “transportation, hunting, guarding, companionship and for food,” it is difficult to see the use of dogs for transportation—man could certainly not ride one. Sleds would not have been useful in most of the Americas, except for the far northern regions of
Canada, Alaska and possibly the border states of North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, etc. While some Indian tribes might have eaten dogs, Jews did not, nor would the Nephites have eaten dogs—the Bible is full of passages about dogs in a most negative and evil sense. While dogs might have been used for guarding, actually the Llama in the Andean area is a much better guard than a dog, and far more intimidating—they have even been imported into the U.S. over the years to serve in part as guards, especially for sheep herds, which is done in Southern Utah where I live.
Only hunting would have been a singular benefit of the dog in Nephite times. As for the derogatory comments, they come from the Bible (brass plates) in the possession of the Nephites and was a common enough idiom or metaphor to the Nephites. Consequently, there is no reason to expect a Book of Mormon favorable comment about dogs any more than one can be found in the Bible, and would certainly be appropriate. 4) As for a Mesoamerica setting, this is not applicable to any discussion abut the Book of Mormon Land of Promise since it has been shown in this blog time and again that Central America does not fit the geographical descriptions by Mormon and others (see the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica). 5) the Jaguar is referred to in the Book of Mormon as “wild beasts,” and is not mentioned much, since the Book of Mormon is not a history book or one about the flora and fauna of the Land of Promise, nor would it be mentioned in relationship with religious matters, since the Jewish religion did not use animals as characterizations, but rather as sacrifices. It should also be noted that the names jaguar, puma, cougar, etc., were not known to the Nephites, and mostly understood collectively as mountain lion to a farm boy in Joseph Smith's time, so you could not expect to find anything beyond wild beasts than possibly lion in the Book of Mormon.
It should also be noted that in the Middle East, animals were inscribed on temples, ziggurats, buildings, palaces, etc., but not in Israel. To the Jewish faith, of which the Nephites brought with them to the Land of Promise, and under the direct leadership of the Lord, no animal would or should be depicted in religious matters. That “special symbolic and religious significance in ancient Mesoamerica,” or anywhere else, would have to relate to later generations of Lamanites—not Nephites. In fact, from Jewish times to the present, those who claim the rights of the Priesthood, temples, etc., are far more inclined to use symbols of angels, cherubim, sun, moon and stars, etc., rather than animals.
Actually, your comments of not finding such matters in the Book of Mormon speaks highly for the truthfulness and accuracy of the scriptural record.

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