Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Let’s Not Make Things Up – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding a Reader’s points on North America vs. South America for the Land of Promise:

• Comment: In the area of a written language, the North American model has the advantage over South America and Mesoamerica, since native tribes such as the Iroquois had a written language while the Inca did not, and the Mayan and Aztec languages have zero resemblance to the characters on the golden plates.”

Response: First, the scriptural record tells us that the brethren of Amulon were appointed by the Lamanite king to teach his people the Nephite language (Mosiah 24:4), and how to read and write (Mosiah 24:6). At this time they were “friendly one with another” (Mosiah 24:5), thus providing a means and necessity to use a language—trade and commerce (Mosiah 24:7). In addition, at the time of the Nephite destruction the Lamanites still had the written language of the Nephites, since Mormon and the king of the Lamanites wrote epistles to each other (Mormon 3:4; 6:2).

Second: We do not know how the epistle Mormon wrote was delivered. It might have been by courier, by emissary, or some other means.

Third, we do not know the king of the Lamanites could actually read or write. There were numerous Nephite defectors among the Lamanites who could have “read” the content of the epistle. Nor is it said in what format the king of the Lamanites responded (Mormon 6:2-3).

(Image A – The Civil War among the Lamanites that lasted for many years following their defeat of the Nephi Nation

Fourth, shortly after the Lamanite victory at Cumorah, Moroni tells us they became involved in a serious war among themselves since they were “at war one with another” (Mormon 8:8). This suggests a war not of one side against another (Lamanites against Nephites), but of all factions against each other (Lamanites against Lamanites), which was “exceedingly fierce among themselves” (Moroni 1:2).It should also be noted that this civil war was still going on 36 years later, and no doubt continued for some time after the close of Moroni’s record.

Fifth, it should also be understood that the scriptural record does not suggest that the Lamanites were determined to destroy all writing, just the records of the Nephites.
Of course it is possible that in the degenerate state of the Lamanites in South America, that they ended up destroying all written language at some point prior to the rise of the Inca.

It should also be pointed out that the Lamanites hated all things Nephite, and following a 1,000-year history of being hereditary enemies, that the Lamanites would want nothing to do with anything Nephite, language included. However, the main point is that any language, left to its own without written guides and people who taught and instructed in said language, is doubtful to continue. It is far more realistic for the written language to cease, than for it to continue in written format, since they were at war one with another, there would have been no need for writing, no one to contact outside their own small group—we see much of the same situation among the vast majority of American Indians, especially North America, at the time of the European arrival.

(Image B– Top: Iroquois language; Middle: Reformed Egyptian language; Bottom: Hebrew language. Reformed Egyptian (of the Book of Mormon) is closer to the early Hebrew (pre-6th century BC) than the Iroquois, which shows no resemblance at all

The Iroquois language has a long history beginning as early as 4,000 years ago when it split into its northern and southern branches. The northern branch includes: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora; while the southern branch includes only Cherokee, still spoken widely among the Cherokee people today. Cherokee is also the only written form of Iroquoian. The Cherokee syllabary consists of characters specific to the Cherokee people that represent syllables used to construct the written and spoken forms of language. It should be noted from the above comparison that the Iroquois-Cherokee language does not resemble the early Hebrew that would have been known to Lehi at all, though the characters Joseph Smith wrote down from the writing on the plates at least shows a resemblance.

Comment: “The Land of promise is clearly identified with a major river flowing southward out of the north, and the city of Zarahemla on the west bank of the river. This exists perfectly in North America, with the Mississippi and the Zarahemla of the early Church being on the banks.”

Response: This is erroneous on at least two major points: 1) The scriptural record does not say the Sidon River flowed to the south—actually it shows just the opposite; and 2) The city of Zarahemla was not situated on the bank of the Sidon River according to Mormon’s descriptions.

First, the headwater of the Sidon River were in the mountains to the south of Zarahemla—those mountains between the Land of Zaarahemla and the Land of Nephi, in what is called the Narrow Strip of Wilderness, matches the continual statement of the Nephites going up to the Land of Nephi and the Lamanites going down to the Land of Zarahemla. Being south of Zarahemla, the course of the river would have to flow northward in order for it to cross the Land of Zarahemla. As an example, Mormon states: “the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla, and there they began to make war with the Nephites” (Alma 2:15). Note that the river ran “by the land,” not “through the land,” or past the city of Zarahemla—it ran by the land of Zarahemla. In addition, the land of Minon was above the land of Zarahemla, evidently between the Land Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, for, as Mormon states: “in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi, we saw a numerous host of the Lamanites” (Alma 2:24)

(Image C – NO Caption

Now the word “course” is much the same today as it was in 1828 when it was defined as “The direction of motion; line of advancing; point of compass, in which motion is directed,” thus showing that the Lamanites were coming from their own land, the Land of Nephi, and heading through the mountains between the two lands, on a “course” for the Land of Zarahemla. In so doing, they became visible to those on the north side of the hills, and the frightened non-combatant Nephites were running from the Lamanites (Alma 2:26). The intruding Lamanites joined the Amlicites and engaged the Nephite army as they crossed out of the Land of Nephi and across the Sidon into the Land of Gideon (Alma 2:26-27).

Following a vicious battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites/Amlicites, the Nephites crossed from the east to the west into the Land of Zarahemla, but they were yet nowhere near the city of Zarahemla, as the frightened Lamanites fled westward “before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land; and the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them” (Alma 2:36). The Nephites drove the Lamanites into the wilderness called Hermounts (Alma 2:37). Now after the ensuing battle, the Npehites buried their dead and they “all returned to their lands and to their houses, and their wives, and their children” (Alma 3:1).

Obviously, if the city of Zarahemla was on the west bank of the Sidon River, this battle would have been around the city, not to the north in the wilderness of Hermounts.

All this, of course, illustrates that the Sidon River flowed northward, with its “head” or “headwaters” in the mountains or hills south of Zarahemla in the Narrow Strip of Wilderness, and ran by the Land of Zarahemla, meaning it had to have been flowing northward.

Comment: “A group ostensibly consisting of the very young and old with "their flocks" and some belongings, could travel from the land of Nephi "down" through a "strip" of wilderness to the land of Zarahemla in less than 21 days, showing the Land of Promise was not as large as your South America.”

Response: First, the Land of Promise was an island in 600 BC, as Jacob so states (2 Nephi 10:20). Second, the Andean region of western South America was also an island at one time as numerous geologists point out.

As pointed out in a recent post, “We now know scientifically and geologists agree that much of South America was underwater and at some time in the distant past rose up out of the water to its present configuration. We also know that at this time, the Andes mountains, which are the youngest mountains in the world, formed, that the seas that once covered the central continent receded, and that these events occurred recently in geologic time. We also know from new research by Carmala Garzione of the University of Rochester that points to a rapid surface uplift of mountain ranges that the Andes “spurted up,” and “not through a continuous gradual uplift of the surface, as was traditionally thought” (Carmala Garzione, “Andes Mountains Formed by Growth Spurts,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Newscenter, University of Rochester, April 21, 2014). In fact, from 2006-2008, Garzione and several colleagues provided the first estimates of the timing and rates of the surface uplift of the central Andes in the article “Mountain Ranges Rise Much More Rapidly than Geologists Expected” (Andrew Leier, et al., “Stable isotope evidence for multiple pulses of rapid surface uplift in the Central Andes,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol.371-372, Elsevier, June 2013, pp49-58).

The only qualifier is the difference between Biblical time and geologic time, the former being given by God, the latter by man.

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