Monday, December 31, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part VII

Here are some more comments received from our readers:
Comment #1: “Proof of Lehi’s family knowing about the sea and being on it is shown in Nephi’s response to the Lord telling him he was to build a ship. He did not question the fact that he could build a ship, obviously he had been around ship building and knew of it. All he asked was where to go to find ore to build tools” Les T.
Response: Nephi has already described himself as a person who trusted in the Lord. He stated: “I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). Unlike most of us, he had no doubts he could do whatever the Lord asked of him whether or not he knew anything about the task, all he wanted to know was where to find the ore to build the tools so he could get started. There is no indication in this that he knew anything about ship building, only that the Lord would show him how to do it.
Comment #2: “It seems to me that the story of Zelph as given by Joseph Smith himself would tell you that the Nephites and Lamanites were in North America, not South America and the last, great battle was fought right there around the hill Cumorah as Meldrum and others claim” Raymond G.
Mound 8 where the bones identified as Zelph were unearthed during Zion’s Camp in Pike County, Illinois

Response: Perhaps we should set this story straight once again. First, we have never denied that the Lamanites and Nephites eventually found their way into North America from their landings in Hagoth’s ships in Central America (especially around Guatemala and Mexico), and eventually populated what are now parts of the United States. Secondly, Joseph Smith’s original account of this event finding the bones of Zelph do not suggest any hill Cumorah, East Sea, or Book of Mormon setting. Of those future Church leaders who wrote about the event in their journals after-the-fact, their accounts contradict one another, with the Hill Cumorah appearing in only one of the eight accounts.
    As Joseph Smith stated in the History of the Church, “This morning I went up on a high mound, near the river, accompanied by the brethren. From this mound we could overlook the tops of the trees and view the prairie on each side of the river as far as our vision could extend and the scenery was truly delightful. On the top of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars having been erected one above the other, according to the ancient order, and the remains of bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitsh arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms, and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the spirit of the almighty.
Joseph went on to write: “I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or at least, in part—one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during a great struggle with the Lamanites” (Documentary History of the Church, Vol II, 1904 edition, pp79-80, as quoted in U.A.S. Newsletter, January 30, 1961).
    Because the story of Zelph is worded differently in the current edition of the Documentary History of the Church, we need to look at Fletcher B. Hammond’s book Geography of the Book of Mormon (Bookcraft, 1960, pp102-103) where he refers to careful examination of a microfilm copy of the original entry in the Prophet’s journal, which he says indicates that the 1904 edition of the Documentary History of the Church correctly reproduces the words of that entry, whereas the current edition does not. We should note that the words “the hill Cumorah” and “the last great struggle of the Lamanites and the Nephites,” in the current edition, are not in the original. Thus, Zelph was killed during ‘a” great struggle with the Lamanites, not during the “final” struggle with the Lamanites. Note to that in the Prophet’s words, Onandagus was known from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains, not from the East Sea to the West Sea. Such small errors in reproduction cause enormous misunderstandings in people’s interpretation of what Joseph Smith’s statement meant.
Comment #3: “I read this recently about South America and thought you might want to respond: ‘This Chilean landing site places Lehi's party in an arid climate, as we know it today. They would be south of any forested lands having to cross over a 1000-miles desert lands northward to arrive at such in Bolivia and Southern Peru. This includes the 600 mile Atacama desert known as the driest desert and land on earth.’ Hardly seems likely this would have been Lehi’s landing site” Richard R.
Response: This is probably Don R. Hender’s article “The Chile Landing Site: A Myth?” which has appeared on several internet web sites, and which we had addressed before. However, since you ask, let me suggest that people’s opinions are scattered all over websites, articles and books written about the Land of Promise found in the Book of Mormon. The problem with Henders rationale is tht it is simply wrong. Let me respond with these points:
The Atacama Desert

1. The 30º south Latitude landing site mentioned for Lehi is south of the Atacama Desert, and is in an area of Coquimbo Bay and today’s city of La Serena—both of which are within an area boasting a Mediterranean Climate, which is the climate of Jerusalem.
2. The Atacama Desert would be passed through if someone were to travel from La Serena north along the coast. However, when one travels in Andean South America, one learns to travel where the mountain passes are located, and a little east of the Atacama Desert is the Andean foothills of the Cordillera Occidental (Western Andes) with passes that lead through the Argentina border area and onto the Altiplano that eventually takes one past Lake Titicaca and to the El Raya Pass and eventually into Cuzco. It is a fairly pleasant trip climate wise, and avoids the desert lands along the coast.
3. South of La Serena, bordering on the city and flowing south and east is the Valdivian forest of Chile, part of the Fray Jorge National Park, home among others of the majestic Alerc tree which can reach heights of 377 feet, and live for more than 3000 years. This forest covers 103,301 square miles, and extends as far east as Argentina, and considered even larger in B.C. times.
    We have written about this area before to show how well it matches the landing site Nephi describes. The problem with Hender’s article and so many others is that the writers simply do not bother to look up the facts, but rely on erroneous statements made by other theorists.
Comment #4: “I just got through reading your book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.” It is very good and I see that this is the place where they lived. Years ago I read The Book and the Map by Venice Priddis and was sold on South America after that. I was curious as to why you don't ever quote her in your books? Also Did you find the narrow neck on your own or did you get it from her? She and Verla Birrell were the first that I can find that discussed the location of the narrow neck. Good stuff! keep up the good work.” IT
Response: I did not know about Venice Priddis until long after that book and the others I’ve written were published. I found her book a couple of years ago and thought it was great and since then have commented frequently about her work. I came across the narrow neck series of lengthy discussions with Art Kocherhans, who wrote Lehi’s Isle of Promise.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

More Comments from Readers Part VI

Here are some more comments received from our readers:
Comment #1: “You are so prejudice toward your own views and beliefs, you never consider any other theory, such as Mesoamerica or the Great Lakes land of promise models” Shandra K.
Response: Thank you for your evaluation. However, if I were prejudice toward my beliefs, I would be against them. You meant “bias,” which is in favor of as opposed to, while “prejudice” is in opposition to. On the other hand, since I started out way back in my teen and young adult years believing in the earliest Land of Promise location as being North America as the Land Northward, South America as the Land Southward, and Central America as the narrow land in between as most members of the Church at one time thought, I have at least changed my bias as I have learned more.
    At one time in the 1960s, I thought the ruins in Mesoamerica were Nephite and that Hunter and Ferguson in their Ancient America and the Book of Mormon idea of running parallel understanding between the Book of Mormon text and the works of Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, along with the Popol Vue were quite intriguing; however, an extensive and serious period of study in the 1980s and 90s convinced me that the Book of Mormon leads to South America through Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni’s extensive descriptions.
    As for being prejudice, I have studied extensively the works of William James, (1842-1910), the eminent pioneering American psychologist and philosopher who was trained as a medical doctor, but became influential in the early years of psychology. He has written extensively and I would recommend his work, for he has understood mankind better than anyone outside the scriptures I have ever read.
    He was the brother of novelist Henry James and of diarist Alice James, and the intellectual brilliance of the James family milieu and the remarkable epistolary talents of several of its members have made them a subject of continuing interest to historians, biographers, and critics for a century. In addition, James interacted with a wide array of writers and scholars throughout his life, including his godfather Ralph Waldo Emerson, his godson Williams James Sidis, as well as Charles Sanders Pierce, Bertrand Russel, Josiah Royce, Ernst Mach, John Dewey, Walter Lippmann, Mark Twain, Horatio Alger, Jr., Henri Bergson and Sigmund Freud.
One of James (left) most important and famous quotes, of which he was often quoted over a wide variety of subjects and comments, and my personal favorite is: “A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices" — William James.
    I go over this mantra every day before writing in this blog, or in study or other intellectual pursuits. I have, over my lifetime, tried to stay clear of prejudices, but I do have certain biases. One very important one, is that I feel certain that Mormon and the writers of the Book of Mormon in their time knew more about the Land of Promise than any professor, historian, or scholar of today. So, as far as I am concerned, if someone’s idea, beliefs, or writing does not square with the scriptural record as it was written, and without altering or explaining away the intended meaning, then I tend to reject it out of hand.
    As an example, Mesoamerica is an east-west land and Mormon tells us the Land of Promise was a north-south land. There is no reason to debate this, or try as John L. Sorenson does, to try and get around it by claiming the Nephites used a different set of cardinal compass points, or as other Mesoamericanists, such as Joseph L. Allen, et al., try to claim that an hourglass set on its side changed the direction, etc. North and south is north and south—end of discussion.
    The same is true with the Great Lakes. There are too many errors in that theory to mention here, though they have been listed on these pages innumerable times. I’ll just mention one. Samuel the Lamanite says there would be mountains in the Land of Promise “whose height is great,” and there are no mountains—I repeat, no mountains—in the Great Lakes area, or in Heartland America, or even in the eastern area of the U.S. to speak of—certainly nothing “whose height is great.” So that ends those discussions.
Comment #2: “The temple of Zarahemla had walls around it according to Mosiah—have you found that wall in Pachacamac?And do we know any more about this temple?” Brandon N.
Response: Yes, the wall is identified. However, it was not just one wall all around, the complex, but that the temple complex had a wall, as did the city itself (much like is found in Jerusalem). In fact, the entire complex was surrounded by several walls. They were of thick sun-dried adobe. Of these walls, Edgar Lee Hewett wrote: “The temple was in a large enclosure, heavily walled, and seems to have been well isolated” (Ancient Andean Life, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1939, p230).
Top: Pachacamac is definitely on a hill; and Bottom: it has walls around it

In addition, Mormon tells us that the temple at Zarahemla was on a hill, since the people had to go “up to the temple” (Mosiah 2:5) to hear king Benjamin speak. Indeed the temple at Pachacamac is on a hill.
Comment #3: “Thank you for this very interesting series on the Hebrew writing style showing forth in the Book of Mormon. I found it fascinating and a further testament of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon” David K.
Response: It certainly is, and so is all that we did not cover. The references of the Book of Mormon to the ancient Hebrew is so compelling, and has been known since Hugh Nibley's work in the late 1960s, it is remarkable that it is so ignored by the professional linguists.
Comment #4: “I understand that irrigation channels have been found in and around Lima that date back 2000 years, which would be to Nephite times. Is that true?” Richard P.
Response: In an article appearing on January 20 of 2016, in discussing Peru’s seemingly endless problems with providing its people with clean water because of polluted supplies and environmental changes, which has undermined Peru’s water system for decades, a series of ancient water canals and channels are being used to provide fresh, clean water to the area of Lima. These ancient structures, were so well built 2000 years ago or more, that they are still useable today and solving today’s Peruvian water crisis.
One of the ancient water channels that brought water from the Andes down to the coastal plain

In April of 2015, a new plan was presented by Lima’s water utility company, Sedapal, to revive this ancient network of stone canals that were built before the ancient Lima culture and later expanded by the Wari culture—a period of time by the way that covered the region from about 200 B.C. to about 500 A.D. Since Peru’s highly populated and arid Pacific coast depends on water from glacial melt to compensate for the region’s lack of rainfall, Peru was being hit hard by the retreating glaciers. The canals and channels needed some repair and regrouting, but they have now resumed their ancient original purpose.
    EFE researcher and journalist Javier Lizarzaburu, promoter of the campaign Millennial Lima [through El Espectador], has stated: “I believe it is important that citizens are aware of how ancient technology is playing a role in meeting their modern needs, including placing posters announcing to park users that they enjoy these green areas thanks to the work done by prehistoric engineers. The channels of Lima, which are a pre-hispanic institution, continue to pay a service to a city that depends more than ever on the work of citizens who 2,000 years ago transformed the desert valleys and now can improve the lives of some nine million.”
Comment #5: “If your Pachacamac was indeed the city of Zarahemla, what would have been the southern boundary of the Land of Zarahemla?” Mark O.
Response: The southern boundary would probably have been near Pisco, about 95 miles south of Pachacamac. The Lamanite territory began south of there and continued all the way down through Chile to just south of the Bay of Coquimbo, with its eastern border somewhere beyond the western boundary of Argentina. All of that territory was referred to as the Land of Lehi (Helaman 6:10), with the Land of Nephi being that area from around the La Raya Pass south of Cuzco northward to the narrow strip of wilderness between the Apurimac River and the Carabaya Mountains. The eastern boundary of the Land of Zarahemla would have been somewhere around the Montaro River, perhaps 100 miles east of Pachacamac with the land to the east called the Land of Gideon and the Land of Jershon.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part V

Here are some more comments received from our readers:
Comment #1: “How do you get around the fact that Oliver Cowdery said that the hill Cumorah in New York was the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon?” BeBe J.
Oliver Cowdery, Orson Pratt, Frederick G. Williams

Response: How do you get around the fact that Orson Pratt on more than one occasion referred to Lehi’s landing on the coast of Chile at 30º south latitude near today’s Coquimbo, Chile?” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, London, England, Albert Carrington, 1869, vol.12, p342). How do you get around the fact that Frederick G. Williams, personal secretary and physician, and counselor in the First Presidency to Joseph Smith as well as his personal scribe, wrote down the statement that Lehi sailed from Arabia “in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chili, thirty degrees south latitude” (U.A.S. Newsletter, Provo,Utah, University Archaeological Society,Brigham Young University, January 30,1963, p7).
    The easiest way to deal with such differences of opinion is to chalk them up to individual beliefs and statements. Neither has been acknowledged by the Church as official doctrine. On the other hand, while the Hill Cumorah in New York was known to all members as the site that Joseph found the plates, transported there by Moroni, coming up with Coquimbo Bay at the 30º south latitude in Chile had precedent at the time, would have been unknown to these men in New England in the 1840s, and ends up matching, as we have written several articles about, all of the criteria in the scriptural record, 1 Nephi 18:23-25, which nowhere around the Hill Cumorah in New York does.
    While on the subject, the area of western New York, which we have personally driven all through, walked all around from the hill Cumorah to Joseph’s home, the Sacred Grove, Palmyra, etc., where on earth are the mountains, “whose height is great,” that the Angel told Samuel the Lamanite to prophecy for the Land of Promise from atop the wall of Zarahemla in 6 B.C., as a sign of the Lord’s crucifixion (Helaman 14:23). In fact, though the scriptural account suggests several mountains raising out of valleys to such a height, we would settle for just one anywhere in western New York—just point it out to us! Just one!
Alma Hill in Western New York, the highest point in the area
The simple fact is, no one can, because the highest point in the entire 11,764-square-mile, 17-county area of Western New York is Alma Hill, in the hamlet of Alma, New York, at 2,548-feet, located at 42º00’45”N, 78º03’28”W., which is along the New York-Pennsylvania border and not in the actual area claimed to be in the Great Lakes Land of Promise.
    That is not to say the hill is that high, that is the elevation of the top of the hill above sea level. As you can see from the photo above, the hill itself is hardly noteworthy—it has no peak and a prominence of only 948 feet above the Northern Allegheny Plateau upon which it sits.
    By the way, the town name was not formed until 1854 and while the name’s origin is uncertain, but believed to be named for a city in Germany. It was not named after or for the Book of Mormon prophet.
Comment #2: “You speak of the ancient prophets hiding all their writings so that the Lamanites could not find them because they would destroy them. If this is true, where are those plates? Where did they hide them? And how could the Lamanites not find them if they were so bent on their destruction and destroying everything Nephite?” Randall P.
Response: Several of the early brethren spoke and wrote of talks they heard from people like Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Jesse Nathaniel Smith, William Horne Dame, Edward Stevenson, David Whitmer, Orson Pratt, and even from a non-member woman named Elizabeth Kane—all of whom spoke of a cave or room visited by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery that opened somewhere in the Hill Cumorah in western New York as the two ascended the small hill. They described a large table in the center of the room, upon which they placed the “Golden Plates” from which Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, along with the Urim and Thumim. Under the table were stacks of additional plates as high as two feet, and “piled high along the walls and in the corners of the room were enough plates to fill many wagon loads.”
Joseph stated that when he received the plates, the Angel Moroni told him that he was in charge or the caretaker of the plates, and when Joseph was finished with the translation, they were to be returned to him. What the two saw when they returned the plates, and on a second trip back at the request of Moroni, was the many other “sacred engravings.”
    It should be noted that the Hill Cumorah in New York is a drumlin, meaning it has no earth (dirt) base, but basically gravel or till from the moving glacier, which has caused numerous critics to laugh at such a thing as a cave or inner “room” in the hill. However, like all critics of the work, the idea of a vision or being transported elsewhere by the spirit is unknown to them. In fact, Heber C. Kimball described the event as a “vision.” Thus showing us that the cave or room in which Joseph and Oliver entered was not actually in the area of the Hill Cumorah in New York, but elsewhere, which should tell us that these records since the time of Moroni’s initially depositing them was not in New York, but elsewhere. For a comparison, see Nephi’s comparable experience of being “caught away in the spirit” in 1 Nephi 11:1.
Comment #3: “Do we have the name of a single Nephite city in the land northward? (except perhaps Jacobugath?) Just "the land Desolation" - is that correct? Well, wait, until about Mormon 2, where we see the city Desolation and a bunch of others” Brian P.
Response: Keep in mind that it is fairly safe to assign a city name to any land mentioned, i.e., the land of Desolation, is going to have a city of that name. As for the names of the cities, the city of Teancum would have been a Nephite city name; the name Desolation for a city would have been a Nephite name; city of Jordan a Nephite name; while Shurr, Corihor, Alom, Antum, Ripliancum, Ramah, Ogash, Shem, Shiz, Gilgal, Heshlon, Moron, Sherrizah, etc., would be Jaredite.
Separate governmental neighborhoods or communities within the City of Los Angeles, each with its separate boundaries
In addition, we do not know what kind of division between areas the Nephites used, such as provinces, counties, regions, municipality, state, prefecture, parish, etc., as used today, or how they were divided. As an example, within the city limits of the city of Los Angeles, there are 114 separate communities, with separate boundaries, such as Encino, Northridge, Hollywood Hills, Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights, Watts, Mid-City, Fairfax, Bel-Air, Pacific Palisades, San Pedro, Wilmington, Westchester, etc. Surrounding Los Angeles are scores of independent cities with their own boundaries, such as South Gate, Lynwood, Carson, Torrance, Lawndale, Gardena, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Burbank, Glendale, Altadena, Pasadena, etc. In the days of the Nephites, they did not have separate names for areas, such as county, precinct, municipality, borough, suburbs.
    The problem is, we don't have a lot of info on the Land Northward at all. Ether, and the earlier Jaredite prophets from whom he garnered his information, are even less geographically clear than the Nephite writings.
    In addition, since the words that the Jaredites would have known, being of Mesopotamia, could also have survived into the Hebrew language and into the Jewish state up to the time of Lehi. Some of the word-smithing is not as clear as Hugh Nibley would suggest. As an example, Hittite names could be both Jaredite and Hebrew. And just because they are in the Book of Ether does not make them solely Jaredite names. It is safe to go in that direction, but from a scholarly viewpoint, that is not a good stance to take, since it boxes in the subject and names, even anciently, were not all that localized. Many Egyptian names, as an example, ended up being Jewish names, etc. And Hittite names covered a large area. Also, they all stemmed from Noah’s family a short time earlier after the Flood.

Friday, December 28, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part IV

Here are some more comments received from our readers:
Comment #1: “From time to time you indicate that Joseph Smith and others talked about “this continent” as the Americas and that is where Lehi landed. Do you have any references for this?” Sharon G.
Prior to World War II, the Americas were considered one continent, and in some areas, including Latin America, still are

Response: According to the official designation, map makers, and the nomenclature of continents, “North and South America have been viewed as a single continent known as America or the Americas, which viewpoint was common in the United States until World War II, and remains prevalent in some Asian and Latin American six-continent models. In fact, “The United States viewed the two continents (North America and South America) as a single continent and referred to it as the Americas. However, this point lasted only until the Second World War. Geographers regard North America and South America as two continents” (World Facts, World Atlas, May 22, 2018, Rachel Cribby, Managing Editor).
    In addition to all the quotes that we’ve listed in our articles of Presidents and General Authorities, we will just add that Joseph Smith said of the plates he translated, “[they] contained the word of God which was delivered unto them. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians all descendants from that Joseph who was old into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them and unto all the tribes of Israel which will come with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requirements of the new covenant” (DHC Vol 1, p3150. Many more can be added.
Comment #2: “All these claims about the Malay area as the Land of Promise. I understand that wheat and barley will not grow in the tropics of that peninsula” Ron J.
Response: The Equator runs through the middle of Sumatra with the Malay Peninsula between the Equator and 10º north latitude, with 5º degree line through what would be considered the Land of Nephi in their theory, which has a climate categorized as equatorial, being hot and humid throughout the year. The average rainfall is 98 inches a year and the average temperature is 80.6 °F., which is a climate where wheat and barley do not grow.
Wheat field of Idaho; wheat does not grow in Malaysia/Indonesia

According to Chris Lyddon, “Focus on Malaysia,”, March 2014, (from CIA World Factbook): “Malaysia is a major producer of palm oil. It produces no wheat and little maize and needs to make up a shortfall in rice with imports. Maize and wheat are imported to feed livestock, while demand for wheat-based products is growing and the country does have a significant flour milling industry. The International Grains Council (IGC) puts Malaysia’s total grain imports at 4.5 million tonnes in 2013-14, compared with 4.1 million the year before. The total includes 1.4 million tonnes of wheat, up from 1.3 million the year before, and 3.1 million tonnes of maize, up from 2.8 million the prior year.”
    According to The Americana: “Wheat and barley do not grow in Southern India or Malay [same latitude], the winter not being sufficiently severe to prepare the ground for them” (The Americana: A Universal Reference Library, Comprising the Arts and Sciences, Literature, History, Biography, Geography, Commerce, Etc., of the World, Volume 2, Scientific American, New York, Frederick Converse Beach, Ed, 1904)
Comment #3: “As you know, 3 Nephi mentions many cities being burned at the death of the savior including Zarahemla (3 Nephi 9:3) I've been curious. Do you think 2,000 years later, there would be any evidence of a city once having been burned?  I'm thinking maybe like charred stone walls or perhaps volcanic lava?  I realize that there would have been woods and fabrics (and people) burned that would not have any remains. I also realize that Zarahemla and other cities were rebuilt later. If it is possible for there to be any evidence like a charred stone wall, have you ever heard of any? I don't think I have yet. Also, in Mormon 5:5, he explains that the Lamanites also burned many cities, which would have been much later, even to 375 AD. With so many cities burned by fire it would seem to me there should be some evidence of charred rocks or something.  On the other hand, the findings at Taraco indicate any findings would be buried deeply (and therefore perhaps not discovered yet) and at times the fires were so hot, they may have melted some structures. In addition many of the burned cities were built over” David K.
Response:   Good question; however, as you indicated, we need to keep in mind that Zarahemla was rebuilt so it is doubtful any evidence of burned edifices would have remained after the reconstruction. Plus, in regard to other cities burned, following this event, there was a 200-year-peace and period of untold prosperity unlike anything probably the Earth had ever known except perhaps for the city of Enoch period.
    During that 200-year-period whatever had been destroyed would have been renewed, rebuilt, etc., and again, unlikely burned elements remain. In 2000 years, the sediment, or earth pile-up would have covered most anything remaining as we see in South America from the accumulation of earth (hills and mountains) covering numerous cities where most have yet to be found and uncovered.
Rainforest in northeastern Ecuador where little, if any, investigation has taken place

Besides, your final analysis is correct. In the northern part of the country, except along the coast where some research has been done, much of what existed has yet to be uncovered or thoroughly studied. Evidence of burned stone after such a time can be determined, but the archaeologist needs to know what he is looking for and often such matters are overlooked unless they are studying matters pertaining to wars, or such destruction of stone complexes.
    However, when you talk about the Land Northward keep in mind that much of this area has never been investigated to any extent, possibly because so much of it is heavily forested or jungle. Just recently a huge pyramid complex was discovered in Ecuador. No one knows much about it and its investigation is going on and will probably take years to complete.
    Many of the areas in Ecuador are difficult to get to and the cost of doing so is beyond most research programs. Besides, archaeologists have no idea that there is a plethora of ruins in the country to be found and tend to ignore such areas, preferring to study along coasts or natural areas of movement. But when a country is overgrown (like Guatemala), without a strong reason to know something is there (FARMS/BYU investigations because of the Book of Mormon), such areas are simply ignored.
Comment #4: “Joseph Smith certainly made numerous mistakes in his so-called translation of your Book of Mormon. His English in Alma 46:19 about the rent garment was atrocious and had to be changed!” Carlyn P.
Response: “In the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon Alma reads, "When Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent of his garment in the air” (Alma 46:19). Of course, the rent is the hole, the tear, the space that now separates what was once a whole. Yes, the Prophet made an error which has been corrected in later printings to read, "rent part." But, while it was poor English, and “waving his rent garment,” or “waving the rent part,” is not correct English, it is correct Hebrew.
    In Hebrew, the noun modified by a verbal substantive like rent is assumed from its context. Thus, "part" would not be included in the Hebrew text. It must be supplied by the translator. While Joseph failed to supply the missing word, thus leaving us this interesting evidential strand, it certain would be supplied by the reader of Mormon’s writing. That is, Joseph’s translation is correct for a Hebrew reader, just not for an English reader. As many other so-called mistakes have shown, when compared to the actual translation of Hebrew, Joseph Smith was correct.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part III

Here are some more comments received from our readers:
Comment #1: “First of all, I love your films. Thank you and keep them coming. However, I would like to comment on one of your last film on YouTube about Frederick G. Williams…it seems many of the Church Leaders in the late 1800s and early 1900s criticized his comment” Jacob J.
Response. B.H. Roberts (Left) sums up the criticism of an early belief that Williams’ written statement was a revelation for the Church received by Joseph Smith, when he said, “If no more evidence can be found to establish this passage in Richards and Little’s Compendium as a revelation to Joseph the Seer, than the fact that it is found in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, and on the same sheet of paper with the body of revelation about John, the beloved disciple, the evidence of its being a revelation to Joseph the Seer, rests on a very unsatisfactory basis” (B.H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, volume 3, The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1909, pp. 501-502).
    What they, and even theorists today, criticize was and is the early belief that the statement was a revelation—which it was not and not claimed to be by Joseph Smith or even Frederick G. Williams. The problem surrounding the importance of this comment from Williams lies in limiting the conversation to this single issue, which subjugates the most important point—the one we made in the film. That point is the underlying and all important agreement William’s comment has with 1 Nephi 18:23-24 as to what Nephi found where they landed.
    We need to keep in mind that this statement, attributed to an 1833 event, i.e., the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, was made by a person who had not only never been to South America, but could not have possibly known anything about the area he identified as Lehi’s landing site. In fact, this area today called the Bay of Coquimbo and La Serena, though it perfectly matches the scriptural description of Lehi’s landing site, was not only unknown to Williams in the 1830s, but to just about everyone else in the area of the Church’s early locations.
    Forget the argument over it being a revelation, which, again, Williams never said it was meant to be a revelation for the Church, or even a statement by Joseph Smith, but pay attention to what he wrote and when he wrote it and the lack of any knowledge of the area on the part of anyone in that part of North America.
    Simply put, it matches the statements made about the ocean currents; the dying down of those currents in the vicinity allowing a maneuver into the Bay of Coquimbo (a serene and protected bay for ships); an immediate place to settle, with both soil and climate not only conducive to planting seeds brought from Jerusalem, but having an identical climate to that of Jerusalem (Mediterranean Climate)—a fact not understood until well into the 20th century; having fresh water for both planting and growing crops and for personal use (a mountain river running from the Andes down to the bay); a forest nearby large enough for both domestic (feral) and wild animals to co-exist; and untold amounts of copper, gold and silver. These facts, easily confirmed today, have always existed there, but would have been unknown in North America until much later in the 19th century.
Comment #2: “I found the discussion about Malaysia quite interesting and like the idea of the Malay Peninsula” Robert W.
Response: Then you should also like the claim by Frank Joseph Hoff in the Atlantis and Lemuria Interview, wherein he claims that Indonesia was the site of Eden (Garden of Eden) and states: “It was in Indonesia and the neighboring lands that Man, after emigrating from the semi-desertic savannas of Africa, first found the ideal climatic conditions for development, and it was there that he invented agriculture and civilization. All this took place during the Pleistocene, the last of the geological eras, which ended a scant 11,600 years ago. Though long by human standards, this is but a brief moment in geological terms…the land of Sumatra, “Ancestral Land” in Hindi and where they placed their pristine Paradise…in the region of Indonesia, precisely the spot where humanity first flourished.”
    On the other hand, there is much to discredit such an idea, of which we have written many times in this blog.
Comment #3: “You make a big deal out of your Book of Mormon, yet I understand that the original witnesses to the work of Joseph Smith denied their testimonies” Paul G.
Response: You understand wrong. The original three witnesses were David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. In 1887, at the age of 82, just one year before his death, David Whitmer refuted all claims that he had ever denied his original testimony. He wrote a remarkable pamphlet under the title of Address to All Believers in Christ, on which he wrote in the first Chapter, page 8, the following: “I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world that neither Oliver Cowdery nor Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the deathbed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were ‘Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon.’ He died here in Richmond, Mo., on March 3, 1850.”
    The pamphlet can be found on the internet or the LDS Church historian’s office, or from Kessinger Publishing, (2010) LLC ISBN-10:1162951907, or from Amazon Books. It is entitled “An Address to All Believers in Christ, By a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon.” Written in Richmond Missouri 1887. The quote above is found on Page 8 of the 75-page work, in Part First/Chapter I.
Comment #4: “You refer to the Book of Lehi, but I know of no such book nor have I heard of any. Where do you get that information?” Cy B.
Response: Joseph Smith wrote: “I would inform you that I translated by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written one hundred sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi which was an account abridged from the plates of Nephi by the hand of Mormon” (DHC [Documentary History of the Church], approved by David O. McKay and the entire First Presidency in 1956] vol.1, p56). These are the first writing that Joseph translated, the same 116 pages that Martin Harris requested to take home to show his wife and subsequently lost, and had to be replaced with the existing translation of the Small Plates of Nephi (which is what we have now).
Comment #5: “I read that the word “Mormon” comes from the Greek “mormo.” Is this true and if so, what does it mean?” Randy W.
Response: The Greek word “mormo” meant “terrible wolves,” and was a female spirit, ghost, specter, or phantom in Greek folklore, sometimes referred to as mormolyce; mormolykeia, or mormolyceum. Her name was invoked by mothers and nurses to frighten children to keep them from misbehaving. That would hardly suggest a comparison to the word Mormon as referenced in the Book of Mormon.
    Joseph Smith, in quoting Moroni (Mormon 9:32-34) tells us that “none other people knoweth our language therefore the Lord, and not man, had to interpret, after the people were all dead.” And as Paul said, “The world by wisdom knew not God,” so the world by speculation are destitute of revelation; and as God in his superior wisdom has always given his Saints, wherever he had any on Earth, the same spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus. I may safety say that the world “Mormon” stands independent of the wisdom and learning of this generation…the word “Mormon means literally “More good” (DHC, Vol V, pp399-400).
Comment #5: “You make repeated claims that Joseph Smith was a farmer, but other than the fact he lived at a time when farming was prevalent in America, how do we know Joseph Smith, or his father, were actually farmers?” Dick M.
The Smith family farm in Manchester, New York, where Joseph Smith, Sr., farmed and where Joseph Smith Jr. grew up (picture taken in 1907, after the Smiths moved from here)

Response: In the Wentworth letter, which Joseph Smith wrote at the request of Mr. John Wentworth, Editor and Proprietor of the Chicago Democrat, Joseph Smith wrote a “sketch of the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints of which I have the honor, under God, of being the founder.” He states in his first paragraph, that “I was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, on the 23 of December 1805. When ten years old, my parents removed to Palmyra, New York, where we resided about four years, and from there we removed to the town of Manchester. My father was a farmer and taught me the art of husbandry…”
    In 1828, the area where Joseph Smith lived, the word “husbandry” meant “the business of farming, comprehending agriculture or tillage of the ground, the raising, managing and fattening of cattle and other domestic animals, the management of the dairy, and whatever the land produces” (DHC, Vol IV, pp 505-541).

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

More Comments from Readers – Part II

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog:
Comment #1: “The Mulekite migration to the New World appears to have been between the destruction of Jerusalem, 587 B.C. and the overthrow of Babylon in 539 B.C. This I adduce from the phrase “driven out,” used in the account “Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us., and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem? (Helaman 8:20-21) Dennis C.
    Response: Zedekiah and his sons were driven out of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Mulek, his only surviving son, was: “The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (Omni 1:15). That was about 587 B.C., not 40 or 50 years later. Whether he was “driven out” or “came out” of his own (or his adult protectors’) volition is unknown. The phrase “driven out” in 1828 meant “constrained by necessity” (better to leave than to stay), “impelled to move” (moved by force) or “urged forward by force” (to press; to drive; to impel). There is no doubt they came out of Jerusalem as a result of the Babylonians—had they not left, Mulek would surely have been killed, even if a lad or baby.  
“And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16). Why people continue to try and cloud the issue with added ideas rather than what is said is hard to understand.
    In addition, Mulek and those who brought him came out of Jerusalem and were led by the hand of the Lord—which means this was not a group of people rushing out looking for a ship somewhere to hire along the Mediterranean. They were led by the Lord, as Lehi was led by the Lord. Also, there is no indication that Mosiah discovered Zarahemla along the east coast, nor in the number of cities mentioned along the east are there any that indicate they were named Zarahemla.
Comment #2: “I just wandered onto your site as I've been looking into these things recently. In a recent blog post, responding to David McKane's 24 questions, you say that the East Sea exists as you have described in a 13,000-year-old world. I am only asking for reference, but are you of the opinion that the Creation represented a period of 6000 years as per interpreting "day" under the context of 2 Peter 3:8 and Abraham 5:13? This of course being added upon by the last 6000, equaling 13,000 in total? Ninthtale
    Response: The time frame is based on more than the two quotes you make, and in part by the description of the time of the Earth and the patriarchal lives as indicated by Moses who wrote in Genesis and the Book of Moses, in the Pearl of Great Price, which lists the time frame of the creation. These tell us the Lord dictated to him—which Joseph Smith used verbatim in his second session of the School of the Prophets in which he tested the brethren to make sure they learned those dates. In addition, since there was no death before Adam, then there could not have been millions or billions of years before man of anything living. 13,000 years would be a rough approximation.
The "day" period in the scriptural record, which the Lord dictated to Moses to write, is not an exact 365-day year, or 24-hour day, etc. In other words, did Adam and Eve spend 1000 years in the Garden of Eden? Undoubtedly not. But the idea of 13,000 as a rounded figure is used and basically correct. If you were to read our book Scientific Fallacies and Other Myths, all the information is therein listed and referenced.
Comment #3: “I explain more in my comments on the promised land, but my general point was that the Nephites must not have actually explored that far north or they would have discovered the Mulekites or the remains of the Jaredites” Tyrus.
    Response: You may well be right in that the very top of the island may not have been visited and the Sea North seen by exploration; however, one would not have had to see that to understand they were on an island given the amount of water that would be seen exploring along the coast of the Sea East nearly to the top (northern most) of the island combined with seeing the Sea South and the Sea West on their approach by ship. In addition, Limhi's expedition was sent to look for Zarahemla, not explore, and thus they may have been in areas more conducive to seeing inland than an exploring party; however, that is merely speculation. In reality, it tends toward a vision and the Lord rather than walking around the entire island to know they were on an isle. The point is, Jacob said they were on an island that was in the midst of the sea over which they traveled, i.e., the sea was their path to the island on which they lived—a subject which would have been understood by Nephi, Sam and Zoram, and their wives, and possibly by Jacob personally having been somewhere around 6 to 10 years old when making the original journey to the Land of Promise.
Comment #4: “If your Book of Mormon actually took place in the Americas, why has no one found the cities mentioned within the work, such as Nephi, Zarahemla, Bountiful, etc.? After all, we know where the Biblical Jerusalem is located” Rob E.
    Response: Names do not remain constant over time. You mention Jerusalem, but you might not be aware of the fact that this city’s name changed numerous times, based on conquest and linguistic changes. From the Canaanite u-ru-sa-lim derived the Hebrew Yerushalem or Yerushalayim.
The city was also frequently called the City of David, Salem, and Zion, giving five common names for Jerusalem in the Old Testament alone. The Greeks called the city both Ierousalem and Hierosolyma; the Latins retained Hierosolyma. However, following the Roman conquest in A.D. 135, the emperor Hadrian changed the name to Aelia Capitolina. It retained its identity as Jerusalem only because Christians eventually came to dominate the Roman Empire and changed the name back.
    Following the Muslim conquests, however, the city was called Aliya (from the Roman Aelia), Bayt al-Maqdis, or al-Quds, as it still is by Palestinians today. If Christianity had been exterminated rather than becoming the dominant religion of the Roman empire, what linguistic evidence would we have that al-Quds of today was the ancient Jerusalem? None at all. For example, the Greeks renamed all of the major Egyptian cities with Greek names, such as Hierakonopolis for the Egyptian Nekhen; Heliopolis for the Egyptian Iunu; Diospolis Magna or Thebes for the Egyptian Waset; Hermopolis for the Greek Khmun. Although some of these names represent translations of Egyptian names, in almost no cases is there a phonetic relationship among these changes. In addition, the Classical Greek Byzantium became Constantinople in the fourth century A.D., and eventually Istanbul in the fifteenth century; Baghdad has been known as Kish (Sumerian), Agade (Akkadian), Babylon, Seleucia (Greek), Ctesiphon (Persian), and Dar al-Salam (Muslim).
    Without a continuity of occupation, names slip into oblivion from one culture to another, which is exactly what we find in the Americas. And in Central and South America (Andes), names known today are the invention of archaeologists and anthropologist who give areas they are working on names according to location, and names known at the time. As an example, what were the original names of Cuzco, Tiwanaku, Cajamarka, Kuelap, Chan-Chan, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu?
    What was he original name of Saltillo claimed to date back to the last Ice Age on Central coast of British Columbia, Canada. Since a 13,000-year-old skeleton was found in an underwater cave near Tulum, what was the original settlement name of what the Yucatecs called Tu’lum, on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan before the Maya built there? Was it anciently called Zama (City of Dawn) as some have suggested, because it was built facing the sunrise, or perhaps the name Siguanaba, the Maya word for cliff or bluff, upon which it was built?
Comment #5: “Why do you keep talking about the Flood, since scientists and geologists claim it never happened!” T. E.
A carving of Allessandro Masnago in Milan around 1600, from a woodcut by the French book illustrator Bernard Salomon around 1540s

Response: We are not the ones that claim there was Noah’s Flood, the Lord is the one who claims it. First, in the Bible in Genesis, and then during his visit to the Nephites in which he said, “For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee” (3 Nephi 22:9).
    Joseph Fielding Smith said it best: “So far as the philosophy and wisdom of the world are concerned, they mean nothing unless they conform to the revealed word of God. Any doctrine, whether it comes in the name of religion, science, philosophy, or whatever it may be, if it is in conflict with the revealed word of the Lord, will fail. It may appear plausible. It may be put before you in language that appeals and which you may not be able to answer. It may appear to be established by evidence that you cannot controvert, but all you need to do is to abide your time. Time will level all things. You will find that every doctrine, every principle, no matter how universally believed, if it is not in accord with the divine word of the Lord to his servants, will perish. Nor is it necessary for us to try to stretch the word of the Lord in a vain attempt to make it conform to these theories and teachings. The word of the Lord shall not pass away unfulfilled, but these false doctrines and theories will all fail. Truth, and only truth, will remain when all else has perished (Conference Report, Oct. 1952, p60)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas! Nollaig Shona Dhuit! Feliz Natal! Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! Zalig Kerstfeest! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Buon Natale! счастливого Рождества! Merii Kurisumasu.

To all our readers: Christmas is the time to touch hearts with love and kindness; it is the time to receive and send blessings; it is the time of friends, the comfort of home, and the unity of each nation. It is the season to remember “For unto [us] is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). 
This festive season is so much more than Christmas parties and gift giving, it is the season of the gift of Jesus Christ. May your Christmas be filled with the true miracles and meaning of this beautiful time, and let us take time to slow down and enjoy the simple things, and remember in whose name this season is given. May this wonderful time of the year touch your heart in a special way. Wishing you much happiness not just today, but throughout the New Year. 
(Today's Blog Post appears below)

More Comments from Readers – Part I

Following are comments and questions from our readers:
Comment #1: “It appears to me that a lowland west coastal strip runs all the way from the land of "first inheritance" to the isthmus or narrow neck of land (Alma 22:27-29), and the "west wilderness" of Zarahemla likely consists of this coastal strip plus a range of uninhabited mountains paralleling the coastal strip because groups had to cross "over" the wilderness or mountains either by one pass near Antiparah on the south (Alma 55:31-40), or another on the north near Ammonihah (Alma 25:2)”  Bronco J.
A person “crossing over” this chasm is not necessarily involved in mountains, river gorges, canyons or numerous other types of terrain. “Crossing over” means from one side to another, not “what” is being crossed

Response: First of all, “to cross over” does not necessarily imply only mountains. You can “cross over” a river, a lake, a desert, a canyon, a valley, etc. It does suggest an unoccupied area, i.e., a wilderness, but as we have discussed numerous times here, a wilderness is any uninhabited or unoccupied or unimproved tract of land. The actual meaning of “cross over” (crossover) is to move or go from “a point or place of crossing from one side to the other,” or “a place at which a crossing is made,” and could more specifically refer to a bridge crossing over a canyon or river.
    As for a lowland west coastal strip running all the way from the land of "first inheritance" to the isthmus or narrow neck of land, the references given do not say that at all. It only suggests that in between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of First Inheritance was a wilderness in which Lamanites dwelt in tents, as they also did live in tents down around the Land of First Inheritance, but we are not told that it runs all the way up and down the coast. And certainly there is no reference to there being mountains along the coast or that there was a lowland all along the coast.
Comment #2: “I find it impossible that you think Lehi could have sailed from Arabia to the Land of Promise without having to stop on the way at islands to reprovision and take on water” Sandy G.
Response: You might find the following of interest regarding the combat vessel U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) in 1798, which carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (i.e. fresh water distillers). According to her ship's log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, and 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder. Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping.”
    Despite so many fictional stories and movies to the contrary, water was not difficult to obtain at sea over a period of time from rain, storms, etc., as Thor Heyerdahl in Kon Tiki proved. Ships, from the beginning of time have always been able to take sufficient supplies for their planned voyages—it is when they were blown off course and lost that they ran out of food and supplies. Columbus’ voyage drew short of provisions because he had the wrong distance factor as to how far he had to sail to reach the Spice Islands. The problem with early sailing was in scurvy, not dying of thirst or running out of food. And that problem existed because no one understood the cause of scurvy for many years. Once that was known, fresh fruit became a factor of planning into voyage provisions. Surely, in Lehi’s case, the Lord knew of this and showed Nephi how to adjust to it.
    Besides their voyage down around the Southern Ocean cut the distance across the Pacific by about one-half to two-thirds from that understood by so many of the Land of Promise Theorists writing on the subject. In addition, the provisions of the Baobab tree (see Who Really Settled Mesoamerica) would have taken care of fresh water needs.
Comment #3: “Why do you people have such an aversion to drinking wine—even Jesus miraculously created wine for the guests of a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee in John 2:1-11 in the New Testament” Maggie M.
At the marriage at Cana, the Lord turned water into wine

Response: There is much that we need to learn about the meaning of words in the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. As to the marriage feast, it might be considered that in view of the long trip from Bethabara to Cana—Bethabara, by the way, is believed to be the same as the area of Bethany—it is probable that Christ and his disciples arrived late to the wedding only to find that the guests had exhausted the wine supply and had ‘well drunk’ (literally had ‘become drunken’ (John 2:10). ‘Have well drunk’ is one word in the Greek (methuo) meaning simply “are drunk” and is translated with this meaning in every other instance where it is used (Matthew 24:49).
    “And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece” (John 2:6), and Christ told the servants to fill them with water. Thus, one firkin was 8 7/8 gallons (8.75), and one waterpot contained between 17 and 26 gallons. Now these waterpots, which were normally used for “the purifying of the Jews,” meaning the washing of their feet, when full contained between 105 and 157 gallons.  
    Obviously, this much additional intoxicating wine would certainly be too much for guests who were already drunk, and it is inconceivable that Jesus would provide such. Thus, we need to understand that this ‘good wine’ had been miraculously created by the Creator and was brand new, with no time to ferment and become old, intoxicating wine. The Greek word oinos was used for the juice of grapes in general, the same word for both unfermented and fermented wine, with the context determining which. The decay process, utilizing leaven (always representing corruption in scripture) to convert good fresh wine into old, intoxicating wine, could not have acted in this case because Christ Himself had created the wine in its originally intended form before sin and decay entered the world.
    In this form, it was certainly the best wine, having all the health-giving, joy-inspiring character it was created to exhibit in the beginning. It was probably the same wine which Christ will provide in ‘that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom’ (Matthew 26:29), and it will certainly not contain corruption and induce drunkenness.”
Comment #4: “You might be surprised that the prevailing view among LDS scholars is that the hill Cumorah in New York has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon text. According to them, that hill is merely the unnamed location where Moroni concealed the plates and other artifacts that Joseph found in 1823. Supposedly, then, Moroni hauled these items over 3,000 miles from the "real" Cumorah in southern Mexico. I know that makes no sense, but that's what you are supposed to believe if you read the scholarly works by professors employed by, affiliated with, or trained at BYU” Kevin G.
    Response: This is right out of Book of Mormon Wars (October 3, 2016) website. In any event, what makes you think Moroni had to “haul” the records anywhere after his death and before Joseph Smith was led to the plates? Surely the Lord moves things about without having to carry them. Numerous scriptural incidents show us that visions “transport” individuals from one place to another in the blinking of an eye. Somehow, I can’t quite see God or Christ walking down the street carrying a knapsack over their shoulder, nor do I see Moroni doing the same unless there is a reason for him to make an appearance like alongside the road with Joseph and Martin Harris in the buggy on their trip.
Part of the Magellanic Cloud, one of trillions of star clusters and in the Universe the Lord created

Many seem to forget who we are dealing with in our God—remember him? He created and organized the universe. And we certainly do not know that the plates were left in the ground for 1400 years until Joseph was led to them. It seems obvious the Lord has other places things of importance can be kept until they are temporally needed for a time. Certainly, the so-called “cave” where the records were returned is not of this world, but of that of the Lord’s.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Comparing Mesoamerican, Heartland, and Andean South American Lands of Promise-Part X

Continued from the previous post regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the Mesoamerican and Heartland models of the Land of Promise listed by Michael De Groote, as appeared in the Deseret News. We continue here with the Weaknesses of the Mesoamerican and Heartland models with #1 through #4 in the previous posts and continuing below with #5:
5. Lack of Civilization
The evidence of the type of high civilization described in the Book of Mormon is less prevalent than in Mesoamerica.

The Mayan ruins of Sayil in northern Yucatan—nothing like it in all of North America

Response: There is no question that Mesoamerica had advanced civilizations at the time the Spanish arrived than anywhere in North America. The Aztec and earlier Mayan built stone structures, temples, palaces and public buildings, had highly developed governments and advanced development in art, ceramics, textiles and weapons.  Nowhere in North America was such found. People still lived in tents of one type or another, or in stick huts with thatched roofs. They built nothing out of stone, and nothing of their early cultures lasted through the years to suggest any truly advanced civilization.
North America:  The most advanced native-American people in all of North America are considered to have been the Iroquois, who were known collectively during the colonial years to the French as the Iroquois League and later the Iroquois Confederacy; to the English as the Five Nations, comprising the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca (after 1722 when the Tuscarora joined the confederacy, as the Six Nations)—believed by most professionals as being the most developed and progressive of all tribes or groups in North America. A matrilineal society, each clan was linked by a common female ancestor with women possessing a leadership role with in the clan, with the number of clans varying among the nations with the Mohawk only having three to the Oneida having eight.
    The Iroquois built and lived in houses made of tree branches and bark, and were called longhouses. In fact, the Iroquois people called themselves Haudenosaunee (Ho-dé-no-sau-nee), meaning “People of the Longhouse.” These houses, varying in length from 15 to 150 feet in length and 15 to 25 feet in width, were clustered in large villages, scattered throughout their territory, with each nation having one to four villages at any one time. Generally, they moved their villages every five to twenty years depending on the depletion of the soil for planting and firewood. These villages were surrounded by a palisade and usually located in a defensible area such as a hill, with access to water.
Top: A typical Iroquois Longhouse—Bottom: a typical settlement in Andean South America dating long before the Iroquois. Note the difference between stone houses and those of North America

Response: The houses themselves were built of layers of elm bark on a tree branch frame of rafters and long hickory poles, stuck in the ground, then bent over and fastened to one another, forming a curved roof. Fires are stationed along a open aisle in the center of the inside from end to end, with one or more holes in the roof to exhaust smoke. Typically, there are sixteen to eighteen families in a single house, each sleeping on stacked beds made of tree branches on either side of the center aisle. Basically, all houses were the same shape and looked identical, and were waterproof because of the extensive covering of tree bark.
    Since Iroguois history was known only from oral traditions, it is believed they were first established in 1142 after a solar eclipse brought different indigenous groups together (Barbara A. Mann and Jerry L. Fields. "A Sign in the Sky: Dating the League of the Haudenosaunee," American Indian Culture and Research Journal, vol.21, no.2, 1997, pp105-163). Most archaeologists and anthropologists believe that the actual Iroquois League was established in 1450 when five groups or tribes/clans joined forces who emerged just south of the Great Lakes, though some argue for an earlier date of formation, that of 1142, but others maintain they were single indigenous tribes earlier, and not organized into a single confederacy until the 15th century.
    The point of this being that the comparison between the most advanced indigenous people in North America, were far inferior in development, achievement, arts, textiles, weaponry, and organization than that of the Aztec and Maya, and especially that of the Inca, by the time the Spanish invaded and the Europeans arrived.
Machu Picchu built high on a mountain overlooking the Canyons below

South America. However, nothing in Central or Mesoamerica equaled the achievements of the older cultures that dominated Andean South America. The stone edifices were older, their governments and development more advanced, their achievements greater. By the time of the Spanish arrival, the Inca controlled a much larger area than any other American civilization, were a people and civilization that was equaled only by that of Rome, with its magnificent roads, temples, squares, palaces, houses and public buildings.
    There seems little question that the development and level of achievement of the cultures in North America were far inferior to that of Mesoamerica, which itself, did not equal that of Andean South America. It should also be noted that when Lehi left Jerusalem, all four of his sons were grown men and adults, with Nephi the youngest in his late teens or young adult years. The civilization in which they grew up was indeed one of the most advanced in Europe and Asia, with Solomon’s Temple structure drawing people from around the known world to view it.
    More than three hundred years before Lehi left Jerusalem, Solomon expanded the confines of the city northward to include the Temple Mount. This more than tripled the size of the original City of David, with the expansion taken up with the Temple and royal buildings. More people came to reside in the city as a consequence of their official and religious capacities, while others came to seek a livelihood in its developing economy, increasing the number to somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 occupants. 
    A hundred years later, the area usually referred to as the Western Hill was added to the city of Jerusalem, almost tripling its size, with the populating increasing proportionately. By 721 BC, the populating increased dramatically due to the influx of refugees from the north after the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel. 100 year before Lehi left, the city covered 160 acres, with settlement also extending northward outside the city walls, expanding to a population of 8,000.
Today’s 40-foot high wall around Jerusalem; this wall was 26-feet high at the time Lehi left Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s walls date back to 14th century BC, when it was a Jebusite city. Solomon extended the walls around the new temple he had built, which walls were expanded by Hezekiah in 800 BC to with stand the Assyrians under Sennacherib, being 26 feet high and 26 feet thick, and referred to in history as the “Broad Wall” (Nehemiah 12:38). At the same time, Babylon was even greater, with its magnificent buildings, cities and ziggurats. To think that immigrants from this Middle East would have been satisfied to live in twig huts and thatched roofs, with wooden poles for a wall, is beyond credulity, and does not match the level of achievement Nephi and his people would have achieved in the Land of Promise.
    After all, Nephi himself built a large, sea-going, deep-water ship, capable of carrying 50 to 70 people across thousands of miles of open ocean. In addition, Nephi taught his people within a decade of landing in the Land of Promise how to “build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15).
    Would such a man that had worked timbers after the manner the Lord showed him have stooped to show his people how to use twigs and branches and grass to make a rickety hut in which to live as found anciently in North America?
    Reason suggest otherwise.