Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Criteria for the Book of Mormon

In an article by Joseph L. Allen, Blake J. Allen and Ted Dee Stoddard, called “The Waters of Sidon,” these avowed Mesoamericanists, claim: “The only defensible way to determine the New World setting for the Book of Mormon is to use the Book of Mormon itself in identifying relevant criteria that are generic in nature and that can be tested in connection with any proposed New World setting.” According to them, “An examination of the Book of Mormon for the purpose of determining such criteria that can apply anywhere yields the following critical criteria:
1. The area must show evidence of a high-level written language that was in use during the Book of Mormon time period for the Nephites, Lamanites, and Mulekites.
2. The area must reflect two high civilizations that show extensive evidence of major population centers, continual shifts in population demographics, extensive trading among the cultures, and almost constant warfare among the inhabitants—in harmony with the dates given in the Book of Mormon.
3. The archaeological dating of the proposed area must reflect thorough analyses of sites and artifacts with resulting radiocarbon dates that agree with the dates given in the Book of Mormon.
4. The historical evidence from the area must provide valid findings that dovetail with the customs and traditions associated with the peoples and dates of the Book of Mormon. 
5. The geographic configuration of the area must resemble an hourglass as a reflection of two land masses and a narrow neck of land (an isthmus) dividing the two. The hourglass must be on its side in a horizontal position to justify the Nephite cardinal directions of “northward” and “southward” associated with the two land masses.”
Mesoamericanists claim the Olmec were the Jaredites; however, the Jaredites did not settle in the Land Southward and the Olmec site of LaVenta is far into the Land Southward, and Olmec type sites are found through Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, in opposition to the Nephite record

Isn’t it always interesting that Mesoamericanists always start out with or include this idea of a “written language,” as though any written language would do—like Chinese, Sawhali, or Inuit. They never talk about the language that the Nephites spoke or wrote in by their own admission—Hebrew or Reformed Egyptian—but just any language. One would think that their least degree of interest in language would include one that could be shown to have at least descended from Hebrew or a form of Egyptian.  Nor do they always include the scriptural record in their list. Take for example in item #5 above, an hourglass shape for the Land of Promise. Now where did that come from? While it is true there is a narrow neck of land situated between two large land masses and all surrounded by water, there is no indication, let alone description of an “hourglass.”
    The problem is, Allen, like all Mesoamericanists and theorists in general, start out with a place in mind and then build their case around it.
    It is also interesting that #4 on their list is one that simply cannot be proven one way or another, other than in mummified graves and tombs where “customs and traditions” can be seen from burials for certainly there is no written record of the Nephite period in any modern-day writings that can be verified. Not even the Maya writing that has been deciphered give us that information. What we know of history is what people wrote about it much later, such as the Popo Vuhl, which is a corpus of mytho-historical narratives of the Post Classic K’iche’ kingdom in Guatemala’s western highlands, written between 1554 and 1558 A.D., or the Chilam Balam, written in the 17th and 18th century A.D.
    Just because Mesoamericanists have built up a society of cultures living in Mesoamerica anciently does not mean that it is factual, supportable or provable—it is just a matter of these theorists’ views, and now they want any claim to the Nephites to match their beliefs as proof “based on the scriptural record.”
Archaeology dating of hard items (buildings, temples, cities, etc., show that Andean Peru was settled long before Mesoaamerica 

Their item #3, archaeological dating, using Carbon-14 dating methods, which have been proven time and again, and written about here numerous times as inaccurate to be the criteria. The only thing C-14 can accurately show without a doubt is that dating sequence, i.e., which is the older civilization or artifact of two items or places dated, and without a doubt Andean South America was established quite some time before Mesoamerica.
    The reality of such an exercise as Allen proposes is not in his isolated five items, but in the 44 specific scriptural descriptions, which Allen ignores, that provide Mormon’s view of what agrees with the Book of Mormon, not Allen’s view. As an example, we would set out these five obvious scriptural references to use for the Land of Promise in leiu of Allen’s number.
1. The Land of Promise is in an area in the Western Hemisphere that could have been reached by a drift voyage from the southern shores of Oman in the Arabian Peninsula, i.e., the area of Bountiful into the Irreantum Sea (“driven forth before the wind” is a drift voyage, i.e., driven forward by the flow of the wind and the drift of currents).
2. The Land of Promise is in an area where “the seeds brought from Jerusalem” would have “grown exceedingly” and produced an “abundant harvest.” This, obviously, would have been a Mediterranean Climate (The seeds such as barley and wheat wouldn’t have grown in Mesoamerica in 600 B.C., let alone exceedingly).
3. The Land of Promise would be in an area where two unknown animals of great worth to man, equal to an elephant and greater than a horse or donkey, were indigenous dating back to some 2000 B.C. (in Andean South America that is the Alpaca and Llama. No such worthwhile animals unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830 existed in Mesoamerica).
Quinoa and Kiwicha, two unknown grains high in nutrition and equal to wheat and barley, grown only in Andean South America 
4. The Land of Promise would be in an area where two unknown grains of great nutritional value equal to corn, wheat and barley, were indigenous in Nephite times (The Quinoa and Kiwicha super grains of Andean South America are unmatched in value and nutrition, and equal to wheat and corn, and indigenous to Andean South America—Mesoamerica has no such unknown grains that Joseph Smith would not have known about in 1830).
5. The Land of Promise would have medicinal plants and herbs that cured the Nephites, and one that cured them from killing fevers of malaria (The bark of the cinchona tree produced quinine in Nephite times, the only cure for malaria in the world and grew only in Andean South America. In addition the Andes produce more pharmaceutical plants than anywhere in the world). 
    It should be obvious that Allen’s five are not all scripture-specific, most are the theorists’ view of the Land of Promise and not what Mormon said, where the five about Andean South America follow the scriptural record specifically, and frankly, there are 39 other scriptures that are as specific and indigenous to South America that were written by Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni.
    The point is, if you are going to say The only defensible way to determine the New World setting for the Book of Mormon is to use the Book of Mormon itself,” then you have to use the scriptural record as it was written by Mormon and the others and not interpret it the way you want to meet your own criteria and beliefs. Allen’s five are questionable, our five are exact.
    Take Allen’s #5 point regarding his geographic configuration of the area. Who says it must resemble an hourglass as a reflection of two land masses and a narrow neck of land (an isthmus) dividing the two. There is no such statement of either an isthmus nor an hour glass shape in the scriptural record. An the fact that two larger land masses were connected by a narrow land mass does not require an hourglass shape.
Each of these outlines match the descriptions in the scriptural record of the Land of Promise—only one is shaped like an “hourglass” 

In addition, they claim the hourglass must be on its side in a horizontal position to justify the Nephite cardinal directions of “northward” and “southward” associated with the two land masses.
    However, the scriptural record does not say that, imply that, or suggest that. This requirement is unique to the Mesoamerican theory simply because Mesoamerica runs east and west, not north and south as Mormon tells us.
    Allen goes on to say that, “Such a search results in one and only one location that fits the geographic restraints imposed by the text of Alma 22:27 for the river Sidon,” yet it simply does not. Mesoamerica runs east and west, which Mesoamericanists’ claim is north and south—if east and west is Mormon’s north and south, then the actual north-flowing Grijalva River would be flowing East, from inland to the Gulf of Mexico—the Mesoamerican Sea East.
    No matter how they try to twist and bend the facts of the scriptural record, Mesoamerica simply does not meet Mormon’s many descriptions, nor Jacob’s description of an island, nor match the numerous descriptive examples of the physical Land of Promise.
    Simply put, it is time to retire this fanatical claim about Mesoamerica, and move on to an actual study of the scriptural record and a land that matches Mormon’s descriptions.

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