Friday, January 10, 2020

How Did Mormon Describe Nephi’s Temple and Noah’s Tower? – Part I

In answer to the many letters and questions/comments we have received regarding the meaning of Alma 22, which describes in a small insertion the territories of the Lamanites and Nephites in the Land of Promise, we are answering in a full article. However, before doing so, it seems prudent that we accept some ground rules in order to understand scriptures in general, and Mormon’s writing in particular.
1. Mormon was abridging a much larger record. • “And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them” (Helaman 1:13)
• “…after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi. And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled; yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass—wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi” (Words of Mormon 1:3-5)
• “And I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people” (Words of Mormon 1:5)
    Nephi makes it clear that the Lord was involved in constraining the prophets (constrain means to restrict from or direct to certain expression in writing) (2 Nephi 28:1, see also Jacob 2:9 and Helaman 8:11).
2. Mormon covered a single subject at a time, i.e., he did not skip around with a willy-nilly story jumping all over the place.
3. Mormon felt there was a compelling reason why he should include an event, circumstance or explanation.
4. Mormon was writing from a particular viewpoint—in this case, he was writing about the Land of Nephi, and when introducing the Land of Zarahemla and points north, he is still oriented within the Land of Nephi.
5. Mormon knew he was writing to a future reader who may or may not understand some of the finer points without further explanation.
6. Mormon was not writing in verses—these were added in modern times. Mormon was writing in “thought format,” i.e., in paragraphs—however, one paragraph could be several of our paragraphs since the paragraphs were also added in modern times.
There were two movements northward: one through the narrow neck of the Land Northward, and one via ship to a “Land which was Northward”

As an example, in response to the question about the 5400 men mentioned in Alma 63:4-9: Verses 4 through 8 are one thought, with verse 9 a different subject. That is, Mormon writes about emigrants to another land “a land which was northward” (which it seems was another land disconnected from the island of the Land of Promise). Mormon is telling us two things: 1) People emigrated to a far off land, and 2) Hagoth built ships which allowed the emigrants to go to this far off land.
    It does not say that 5400 men, plus women and children entered into one ship. Hagoth did not build just one ship. He built several (Alma 63:7). He was a shipwright, not an explorer as just about every Theorist claims—there is no suggestion that he ever sailed anywhere, ever journeyed on his ships, ever crash landed anywhere, and was never lost at sea or stranded on another land, or sailed to another land where he stayed (as John L. Sorenson claims)—the scriptural record says nothing of the kind, nor would lead anyone to think that.
    Mormon also adds two parenthetical notes in this paragraph. 1) the second sailing of the first ship was never heard from again (that is, it did not return the second time, so there would be no report by the Captain or crew as happened when it came back from its first voyage); 2) one ship sailed in a direction and to a far off land of which Hagoth or those of his shipyard did not know about, i.e., the emigrants must have purchased this ship for an endeavor that was not any of Hagoth’s business. If this ship went west, into the currents, it would have ended up in Polynesia.
    Now we come to verse 9. This is the first and only mention of Nephites moving “into” the land northward in this story of Hagoth. “There were many people who went forth into the land northward.” These people are singled out after the 5400, after the ships, after some possibly lost at sea, after a ship going in a different direction. In writing, this would be called an afterthought from the main story line, i.e., 5400 Nephites and their families, along with extensive provisions, sailed to far off lands in ships built by a man named Hagoth.
Some Nephites went overland into the Land Northward

In addition, around this time there were other Nephites who went into the land northward. It is an afterthought because it was not unusual for people to travel into the land northward—this did not occur for a few years afterward as mentioned in Helaman—but the main idea that Mormon included was that a large amount of Nephites left the Land of Promise and sailed north (and elsewhere) and were not heard from again.
    Now, one might ask, why did Mormon include this in his writing? Of what significance was this? Let’s compare this with the story line in Helaman where some Nephites also went into the Land Northward:
    “…there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land. And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers. Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land” (Helaman 3:3-5).
    Here we find there was reason to mention this group in detail—1) there was no timber and timber had to be sent by ship (Hagoth’s ships, of course), 2) The previous inhabitants, Jaredites, had denuded this land, 3) the land was denuded by the Jaredites during their wars (Helaman 3:6), 4) the intro of Nephites knowing how to use cement (Helaman 3:7), 5) these people in the Land Northward spread throughout the land (Helaman 3:8), 6) Nephites involved in shipping (Helaman 3:10), etc.
    Note the difference in emphasis from that in Alma and that in Helaman. Alma was about emigrating to far off lands, Helaman about those in the Land of Promise filling up the land from sea to sea. As for the actual number of 5400, there is no reason to include such a number (note in Helaman “there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla,” which suggests a much larger number than 5400—exceedingly is usually used to denote quite large) except that they were a significantly large group that left the Land of Promise.
All that is remaining above ground of the original ancient temple site in the Valley of Cuzco; the Spanish built the cathedral of the Church of Santa Domingo. The dark wall in bottom foreground is the original structure

2. There were two temples in Cuzco, one was built down in the valley today called the Qoricancha (Coricancha), originally consisting of four rectangular structures placed symmetrically around a central plaza, and called Amarucancha and Patacancha (Patallaqta). The complex layout is compared to the Temples of the Sun at Llactapata and Pachacamac: in particular, although this is difficult to prove because of the difficult lack of integrity of Coricancha's walls. These walls were trapezoidal, and had a vertical inclination built to withstand the severest of earthquakes. Stones for the Coricancha were quarried from the Waqoto and Rumiqolqa quarries. According to the chronicles, the walls of the temples were covered with gold plate, looted shortly after the Spanish arrived in 1533.
    The largest extant portion of the exterior wall at the Coricancha lies on what would have been the southwestern side of the temple. The wall was constructed of finely cut parallel-piped stones, taken from a specific section of the Rumiqolqa quarry where a sufficient number of flow-banded blue-grey stones could be mined.
    The Rumiqolqa quarry was chosen for Coricancha and other important structures in Cuzco because the stone approximated the color and type of the gray Andesite from the Capia quarry used to create gateways and monolithic sculptures at Tiwanaku, thought to be the homeland of the original construction area.
However, this temple is not the one referenced in the Book of Mormon. That was a different temple.
(See the next post, “ How Did Mormon Describe Nephi’s Temple and Noah’s Tower? – Part II,” for more information on the difference of immigration into the Land Northward and to a Land which is Northward)

No comments:

Post a Comment