Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How Can Anyone Defend Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise? – Part V

Continuing from the previous two posts with a list of differences between what Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni told us and just the opposite view held by Sorenson.
• Nephi tell us what they found when they landed in the Land of Promise: 1) there was land to till and plant their seeds they brought from Jerusalem (which grew exceedingly and produced an abundant crop), 2) a large forest, 3) domesticated type animals of every kind, 4) wild animals, and 5) all manner of ore, including gold, silver and copper (1 Nephi 18:14-25). Nephi describes no people; no villages; no humans, their habitats, or improvements; no buildings or ruins from previous inhabitants, no anything! 
    It was, as readers have always understood, to have been empty of other people, a virgin land held in reserve for Lehi and his descendants as Moroni describes (Ether 13:2), and about which Lehi prophesied when he said, “we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord”(2 Nephi 1:5)—and note that Lehi’s comment about others is a future tense statement (should be led), not a past tense one, meaning no one was yet there in the land where Lehi arrived that had been led there by the Lord.
Sorenson tells us just the opposite, saying: “It is consistent with the known data to suppose that only a few scattered farming hamlets occupied the Valley of Guatemala in the earlier half of the sixth century B.C., when we suppose Nephi and his party arrived there.”
Response: This should tell any objective reader that either Sorenson’s location of Guatemala is wrong, or the scriptural record is wrong—you choose.
The major lands of the Book of Mormon, showing the Land of Mulek and the Land of Nephi were both in the Land Southward

Mormon tells us that “the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north” (Helaman 6:10). Now historical facts tell us Mulek would have been anywhere from a baby to a young child, was his youngest son and living in Zedekiah’s palace, when led away, thus, would have been entrusted by the king to his personal guard, palace dignitaries, palace servants, trusted friends, perhaps his mother and certainly female attendants, etc. All these people would have been Hebrew and most likely Jewish for they would have held positions reserved mostly for Jews.
Sorenson tells us differently, saying that “The picture is further complicated by the “people of Zarahemla.” Mosiah quickly found out when he located them that their chief claimed to be descended from the Jews (Omni 1:14-15,18), but nothing is said about the ancestry of the people this Zarahemla ruled over.
Response: Again, this child was the king’s youngest son, from the palace in Jerusalem, taken care of, watched over, and spirited away by trusted and close associates, either at the king’s request or that of Mulek’s mother—no doubt several women were in the party because Mulek was a baby or young child. There is nothing complicated about this, or complicates the blood lines of the Mulek party (Mulekites) for they would have been mostly Jews, and certainly Hebrews.
Left A Nephite; Right: A Lamanite

Mormon tells us the skins of the Lamanites were dark (Alma 3:6), Nephi tells us the Lamanites had black skin (2 Nephi 5:21), Jacob tells us that the skin of the Lamanites was dark (Jacob 3:9).
Sorenson, on the other hand, takes the opposite view and tries to limit the importance of this difference, and minimize its contrast when he asks “What about the dark skin of the Lamanties and the fair skin of the Nephites? In the first place, the terms are relative. How dark is dark? How white is fair? We may doubt it was as dramatic as the Nephite record keepers made out.
Response: What is there to doubt? There was a curse placed upon the Lamanites and those who joined them, including the sons of Ishmael and the Ishmaelitish women who joined them (Alma 3:7). In fact, the curse is expressed in two diametrically opposite phrases: “as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). The phrases describe a previous condition (white skin) and its succeeding condition (black skin), pivoting upon causality (cause and effect). The Lord changed the Lamanites from what they had been to what they had become, and it is clearly described as two distinct differences in color tone, or skin tone, between the Nephites and the original coloring of the Lamanites to the dark skin.
Traveling at 2 miles per hour for 12 straight hours, which is a rapid pace for the average person, the width of the Narrow Neck could be crossed in the above times

Mormon, in describing the width of the small (or narrow) neck of land separating the Land Northward from the Land Southward in the Land of Promise, uses a simple description for his future reader to understand: “now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea” (Alma 22:32).
   If we look at this language part by part, we find that the distance across the narrow neck was only…preparing the reader that the distance to be mentioned was not very much, no great distance, a small distance, etc.
    “day and a half journey…” The main and significant meaning of the word “journey” in 1828 meant “the travel of a day.” In 1828, that might have included a horse, but in 100 B.C. this would have been on foot since that was the mode of travel at the time.
    “for a Nephite…” A Nephite suggests a normal person, an average person, as opposed to “a Lamanite,” the only other type of person in the Land of Promise ever described, who was a hunter, wore limited clothing, and used to being out in the wilderness and traveling. Thus, a “Nephite” suggests normalcy—something anyone in the future could do.
    “on the line…” generally suggests in the sense of territory a border, a division between areas. Thus, in this sense, the border or ‘line” between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful. Or, in other words, somewhere along the middle of the small or narrow neck of land, again suggesting the smallest or most limited, or average point.
    “from the east to the west sea…” This could be interpreted two ways. Either 1) from some point in the east to the West Sea, or 2) as an ellipsis remark, i.e., “an omission of one or more words,” that is, the omission of the word “sea” twice. Or, in other words, “the statement meant “from the east (sea) to the west sea.”
    If it was the former, that is some point in the east short of the seashore, then the statement does not make sense, since the future reader would not know how far that point was since none is mentioned. If that were the case, why include it anyway, since Mormon knew he was writing to a future reader who likely would have no understanding of the Land of Promise other than what Mormon described—otherwise, why include verses 27-34 of Chapter 22 at all?
    Thus, we are on safe ground by suggesting that the latter meaning, the ellipsis, was intended and the distance was from the East Sea to the West Sea.
    In this sense, then, we get a clear picture of the distance across the narrow neck of land. It was the distance a normal person, journeying on foot, could cover in a normal day and a half trip. That is, walking during sunlight and dusk, or about 12 hours for a day, and then half that again, or 18 hours overall, a normal man on foot could cross the narrow neck of land from sea to sea.  If this is not the purpose and meaning of Mormon’s inclusion, then its inclusion makes no sense and is of little value.
    We could go on with all the erroneous views Sorenson includes in his theory regarding his Mesoamerican location for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, but the point is, how can one defend such a theory in light of just a few of the items Sorenson mentions? The only conclusion that could be drawn is that Mesoamerica is simply not the Land of Promise mentioned in the Book of Mormon—no other explanation can validate all these errors. Repeating our initial question, and based on all of this, and these 25 comments about what the Prophets of the Book of Mormon have said and what Sorenson, the guru of Mesoamerican geography for the Book of Mormon as said, “How Can Anyone Defend Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise?"

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