Monday, May 31, 2021

More Comments from Readers – Part X

 Following are more comments or questions we have received from various readers of this blog.

Comment #1: “Is the land referred to by Mormon as having many waters part of the land of Desolation?” Jeremy R.

The Land of Many Waters would cover most of the north central part of what is now Ecuador


Response: No. The Land of Many Waters is descriptive of the Land of Cumorah in a land of many waters. The exact scriptural comment is: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites. (Mormon 6:4). We write about that as the Land of Cumorah within the Land of Many Waters. However, the area that was the land of waters, rivers, and fountains, simply may have been a description, such as valley, mountains or desert are used. In any event, the hill Cumorah was not in the Land of Desolation, but in the Land of Cumorah “in a land of many waters” that was north or beyond the Land of Desolation.

Comment #2: “Many scholars and BYU professors claim that Mesoamerica is the only place where the physical geography can be aligned with the Book of Mormon” Jeffry J..

Response: They have either never been to the area, never read the Book of Mormon geographical statements, or looked into the many scriptural matches with Andean South America. In the books Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica, and Who Really Settled Mesoamerica, an extensive understanding of the magnitude of these comparisons is outlined in great detail. And for comments about those who claim Mesoamerica to be the Land of Promise, see the book: “Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists.”

We will give just one example here: Helaman makes it clear that there are four seas surrounding the Land of Promise, as found in “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added).

Yet, Mesoamerica has only two seas. Now, if we are going to use the scriptural record as a basis, then Mesoamerica does not measure up to this point, as it does not in many other points. Many of these that do not match up are listed in the above book (Inaccuracies).

Comment #3: “I read something that didn’t make sense regarding the city the Jaredites built by the narrow neck of land: ‘Lib built a great city by the narrow neck, at a specific place where the sea divided, or separated, the land (Ether 10:20), which may have been the very place found by the Limhi expedition when they found evidence of the Jaredite destruction while searching for the city of Zarahemla. They wrote that they had: “discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel (Mos. 8:8).’ Is the narrow neck the same as, or in, the land of many waters?”

Limhi’s 43-an expedition sent to find Zarahemla, but instead found the Jaredite remains


Response: No. The author of this article evidently had a location in mind, perhaps his own model, that he was trying to prove. But like many theorists, he left out an important part of this verse in which King Limhi told Ammon: “they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters” (Mosiah 8:8). This land among many waters is further described by Mormon “it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4). This area, as Mormon describes, was in “the land of Cumorah,” an area far to the north of the Narrow Neck of Land, where the last Jaredite battle took place and evidently where the 43-man expedition found the plates Ether left to be discovered—but nowhere near where the Jaredites built their city of Desolation.

Comment #4: In Eth 2:3: “And they did also carry with them Deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of honey bees.” Can you imagine crossing the ocean for nearly a year in an enclosed barge with swarms of honey bees?” Constance F.

Response: There are stingless honey bees, called Meliponines, which are a large group of bees (some 500 species) belonging to the family Apidae, and are related to common honey bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees and bumblebees. In fact, there are a great many other bee species, especially in the family Andrenidae, which are incapable of stinging, as are all male bees. While the Meliponines do have stingers, they are highly reduced and cannot be used for defense. The majority of native eusocial bees of Central and South America are stingless bees, and Meliponines honey is prized as a medicine in South America. While most bees are not active all year round, and most can be made to be inactive by their care and environment, the Meliponines are also nearly dormant in cooler weather—such as a voyage at sea.

Comment #5: “Pyramidal structures were not part of the Nephite culture. These were typical of the Jaredite culture which was located to the north, and would not be found in the Nephite Land of Promise” Martina

Response: Actually, we do not know what the Jaredite culture did in the way of building. We do not know if the Jaredites were involved in the building of the Tower, though it seems unlikely they were, they knew about building. We really don’t know when stepped pyramids were first built and by whom—carbon dating is faulty at best. On the other hand, the Jews would have known about the Egyptian pyramids—Jews traveled to and from Egypt frequently in BC times, were aligned with them politically at different times, and since Lehi was involved in some way with them, no doubt Nephi and Sam knew about pyramids. In fact, the interior of Solomon’s Temple is said to have been very much like the interior of the Egyptian pyramids inner sanctums. 

Ziggurats were huge religious monuments built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels. They were often built in receding tiers upon a rectangular, oval, or square platform, the ziggurat was a pyramidal structure; Others were more or less familiar square buildings


Of course, the question has been asked, how else would the ancients build several stories upward unless it was by stepping each level smaller than the one below it. As far as the scriptural record is concerned, statements like: “And built many mighty cities” (Ether 9:23; 10:12; 10:20); “his father did build up many cities upon the face of the land” (Ether 10:4), “He did build many spacious buildings” (Ether 10:5), is all that we find, and no mention of style, shape or size.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

More Comments from Readers – Part IX

 Following are more comments or questions we have received from various readers of this blog.

Comment #1: “You write a lot about ancient cities in Peru but don’t try to match them with named Book of Mormon cities. Why is that?” Peter d’B.

Response: When Nephi was given a view in his vision by the angel (1 Nephi 12:1) he saw many cities in the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 12:4)—as he put it: “And it came to pass that I beheld many generations pass away, after the manner of wars and contentions in the land; and I beheld many cities, yea, even that I did not number them” (1 Nephi 12:3, emphasis added). These cities Nephi saw were occupied by a large population. Again, as he put it: “And I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea(1 Nephi 12:1, emphasis added). The point is that Nephi’s vision of the Land of Promise identified a very large population living in so many cities that Nephi did not number how many cities there were because of their extensive number. Thus, the Land of Promise should have an extensive record of, and the remains (ruins) of, hundreds of ancient cities—so many they defied counting.

Now, in all the theories of land identified by theorists as the Land of Promise, none have identified, nor remains (ruins) show, such a vast number of cities stretched over distances that would warrant such numbers. Our purpose in the writing you mention was and is an attempt to show how this fits Andean South America, specifically the area now known as Peru.

As for the identifying of these ancient Andean cities as a match to Book of Mormon cities, such a task, except in a very few cases, is not possible based on the lack of identifying information in the scriptural record.  

The Waters of Mormon in the Place of Mormon: Hidden from the King


As an example, the Waters of Mormon are mentioned as being near the City of Nephi. However, we do not know the distance, the direction or the elevation of the Place of Mormon, Waters of Mormon, and Forest of Mormon (Mosiah 18:30). So how can we identify a location of the one and claim we can identify the other as well? The same can be said of most of the other cities identified by name in the scriptural record. Thus we have identified numbers of ancient cities, that in all fairness, could not be shown to be specific named Book of Moron cities.

Comment #3: Is it correct that the Lamanites in the last century B.C. were controlled by Nephite defectors, not pure Lamanites?” Mark M.

Response: It would appear that way from the scriptural record. Around this time it was the Nephite apostates and their descendants who took over the rule of the Lamanite people, for when the Lamanite king was killed in 73 B.C., he was replaced by Amalickiah, an apostate Nephite, and later by his lineage, Amalickiah, Ammoron and Tubaloth, the latter appointing Coriantumr, a descendant of Zarahemla (Helaman 1:15) to lead the Lamanite armies.

Comment #4: “Was the Liahona an actual compass and if so, how did Lehi and Nephi know how to read it?” Maxwell T.

While a compass, the Liahona was far more than that


Response: “The Liahona was far more than just a compass, though it was that also. It was, among other things, a teacher—live worthily and the Lord would help them (1 Nephi 16:28); a descriptive instrument, which wrote comments on its surface (1 Nephi 16:27); an instructor that taught the ways of the Lord (1 Nephi 16:29), a guide to show where the more fertile parts of the wilderness were located (1 Nephi 16:10,14, Alma 37:39), and where to go to find beasts for food (1 Nephi 16:30-31); a punisher for disobedience (1 Nephi 18:12), a faith promoter (Alma 37:40-41), a director that pointed toward the Land of Promise (Alma 37:44), a similitude of Christ (Alma 37:45); and a compass (1 Nephi 16:13; 17:1).

As for reading it, first of all, Nephi knew his cardinal and intermediate or ordinal direction, as well as half winds directions—cardinal: south; intermediate (or intercardinal): southeast; and half winds: south-southeast. We do not know if he knew the quarter winds (east by south, southeast by east, southeast by south, and south by east). He did know the 16-points, or half winds, which he described of travel down by the Red Sea, in which he wrote: “We traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer” (1 Nephi 16:13)

As for landing where he wanted, his ship was “driven forth before the wind.” Thus, he could only go where the wind blew, and that was well determined and today well understood. If we back up a bit, we can recognize that the Lord led them along the path they took to the eventual place they called Bountiful (in Oman on the shores of the Sea of Arabia). From Bountiful the Lord knew the winds would take them to the Land of Promise,which he had prepared for them and was to be Lehi’s promised land. All things with the Lord are known and planned from the beginning.

 Winds blowing across the ocean cause drag, which in turn, pulls the water along in the direction of the wind. The greater the wind, the stronger the current and rougher the sea


By the way, as a side note, the winds that blew the Jaredites to the Land of Promise were not haphazard—constant winds are a pre-determined factor. Again, the Lord knows all things, designed all things, built all things in the universe, including this earth and all that is involved herein, such as ocean currents, winds, etc. (Ether 2:24), thus the Lord told the Brother of Jared: “I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:25). The only thing that might be suggested as hap-hazard, would be the up and down of the barges, sometimes above the surface, sometimes below the surface, buried in the ocean depths.

Three forces cause the circulation of a gyre: global wind patterns, Earth’s rotation, and Earth’s landmasses. Wind drags on the ocean surface, causing water to move in the direction the wind is blowing. 

The Earth’s rotation deflects, or changes the direction of, these wind-driven currents. This deflection is a part of the Coriolis effect. The Coriolis effect shifts surface currents by angles of about 45 degrees. In the Northern Hemisphere, ocean currents are deflected to the right, in a clockwise motion. In the Southern Hemisphere, ocean currents are pushed to the left, in a counterclockwise motion.

Finally, once the winds and currents are understood, there would be no landing in the Mexican Gulf from the Arabian Peninsula. And no ship could have in 600 B.C., or even in our generation before the dredging and channeling of the Mississippi for ocean vessels, sailed up the Mississippi or the Ohio. Even in the 19th century the only transportation for any distance up the Mississippi was done by flat-bottomed river boats—even large river boats were flat-bottomed.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

More Comments from Readers – Part VIII

Following are more comments or questions we have received from various readers of this blog.

Comment #1: The Lord promised that his posterity would be "kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations" (v. 8) as well as "kept from all other nations" (v. 9). As ethnohistory specialist Brant Gardner has explained, "Lehi comforts his people by indicating that there will not be foreign nations overrunning them as yet." While modern readers automatically assume that these "nations" must come from across the sea, in Lehi's limited-land view, other "nations" could come from over the next mountain or valley. Verse 9's "kept from all other nations" also means "kept from domination by them.” It seems obvious to me that there were other people in the land of promise when Lehi arrived.” Diane K.

Lehi blessing his children and telling them about the prophesies of the Land of Promise


Response: First, Lehi was not comforting his children, when he ultimately—in this overall discussion—bawls out two of them. He was informing them of what they could expect if they lived righteously or if they lived unrighteously. Likely, Lehi through vision knew that he two wayward sons would fall away, but that Nephi and Sam would not. Second, his prophesying was intended to provide a path to the future as prophesying has done in this dispensation. He was telling his children that they would be in control of the Land of Promise, which the Lord had promised to Lehi and his posterity—provided they lived righteously.

He was also providing for them information about the condition of this Land of Promise and what they might expect. It hardly seems consistent to tell Lehi’s family that no others would be led to their land as long as they were righteous, yet there already be people who were there prior to Lehi’s landing.

Third, notice that all of the Lord’s promise to Lehi, which he repeated to his children, were couched in the future tense: “would be led,” “shall be led,” “shall bring,” “should be kept,” “shall serve Him,” “should have,” “should be,” “shall be,” “none shall,” “will bring,” “they shall,” some of which are used more than once (2 Nephi 1:4-9).

He also used past tense four times in one verse: “I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished” (2 Nephi 1:4)

There is one verse that stands out in this discussion: “It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8)

In addition, Gardner states that "kept from all other nations" also means "kept from domination by." The problem with this thinking is that in order to be kept from domination, the people who would dominate the Nephites are never introduced, mentioned or referred to by any writer of the Book of Mormon, except in Lehi and Nephi’s visions regarding Columbus and the Spanish and later the Europeans not arriving until long after the Nephite demise.

Comment #2: “The Deseret News published an article about the Mesoamerican and Heartland theories, writing that: “Geographic correlation with features in the Book of Mormon under Mesoamerican strengths: “[There are] Hundreds of different geographic descriptions in the Book of Mormon – such as two seas, a narrow neck of land, a large north-flowing river and so forth.” I thought there were other seas – am I wrong?”

The four seas of the Land of Promise


Response: No. You are correct. There were four seas surrounding the Land of Promise: seas East, West, North and South (Helaman 3:8). In addition, there was a “sea that divides the land” (Ether 10:20). However, this “fifth” sea was really a gulf or bay that cut inland, forming a narrow neck leaving a larger land mass on either side, and just an extension of one much larger sea (Sea West). The idea of just two seas is of Mesoamerican design since that land has only two seas, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, which John L. Sorenson claimed were the Sea East and the Sea West, though they are actually to the north and south of his Mesoamerican model.

Comment #3: “It seems to me that North America fits the seas mentioned in the Book of Mormon much better than Mesoamerica—which has only two sea, whereas the Heartland-Great Lakes models have all four seas.” Paul K.

Response: The four seas you mention as the Great Lakes, are not really seas, but lakes. Nevertheless, we will deal with them as seas in this comparison between the Heartland in North America and the scriptural record:

• Land of Nephi stretches from Sea West to Sea East (Alma 50:8)—Heartland: Land of Nephi touches none of the seas: north, south, east, or west; Great Lakes Land of Nephi touches Lake Ontario which they claim is the Sea East;

• Sea West is west of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful (Alma 22:23; 63:5)—Heartland: Sea West is east of Zarahemla and north of Bountiful;

• Land of Nephi and Land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water (Alma 22:32)— Heartland: None of the seas surround these lands;

• Seashore west of Zarahemla (Alma 22:28)—Heartland: There is no seashore west of Zarahemla;

• Seashore west of Nephi (Alma 22:28)—Heartland: There is no seashore west of Nephi;

• Seashore west of Nephi in the Land of First Inheritance (Alma 22:28)—Heartland: Land of First Inheritance does not touch the Sea West, Sea East or Sea North, its only seashore is the Gulf of Mexico to the south;

• Hill Cumorah is beyond the Narrow Neck of Land in the Land of Many Waters north of the Land of Desolation (Mormon 2:29; 6:2-6)—Heartland: Desolation is the area above and between the Great Lakes, but to get to Cumorah one must either cross or travel around the “sea east,” which is south of Desolation.

Hagoth’s ships “took their course northward” (Alma 63:4,6-7)—Heartland: Hagoth could not have gone northward from Lake Ontario or the Sea West (Alma 63:4,6-7);

• The Sidon River flows from the Narrow Neck of Land northward past Zarahemla (Alma 2:15; 6:7; 22:27)—Heartland: Mississippi River flows north to south, with neither head or mouth in their Land of Promise.

Obviously, the article you read did not seem to compare the Heartland North America theory to the scriptural record—the same could be said of Mesoamerica (not comparing well with Mesoamerica).

Friday, May 28, 2021

More Comments from Readers – Part VII

Following are more comments or questions we have received from various readers of this blog.

Comment #1: “The three Mayan codices, covering the ancient time period as that of the Nephites, have no inclusions of any kind in either Egyptian or Hebrew. Nor are there such inclusions on the ruins of two of the oldest cities of Palenque and Copan in Mesoamerica. Michael Z.

Response: Much older than either Palenque or Copan is the city of Kaminaljuyu, near Guatemala, which is a site of the Maya civilization that was primarily occupied from the Formative Period in 1500 BC until its decline after the Late Classic Period which ended in 900 AD. In fact, Copan did not originate until a Maya leader, Yax Kuk Mo of Tikal arrived in Copan Valley in Honduras in 427 AD and began a dynasty claimed to have had 16 rulers—becoming one of the greatest Maya cities during the Classic Maya Period, with the great period of the city, paralleling that of other major Mayan cities, occurred during the Classical period, AD 300-900.

In neither case do these cities cover the Nephite period of Beginning at 600 BC and Ending at 400 AD.

The Madrid Codice, often called the Tro-Cortesianus codice as the four surviving codices, are written in pictographic images


As to the codices, there are actually four remaining Mayan hieroglyphic codices: the Dresden, Grolier, Madrid or Tro-Cortesianus, and Paris codices. However, according to Drs. Gabrielle Vail and Christine Hernandez, along with a very large team that have been studying the actual texts, these screenfold codices do not date to the Nephite period. It is true that the ruins of Palenque are claimed to have been dated from 226 BC to 800 AD, the codices themselves were not written until sometime between 1200 AD to 1521 AD, what is called the Late Preclassic to Early Post classic

Their work, the Maya Codices Database Project, is quite clear on the dates involved, and that this is an ongoing project, not by any means complete as suggested. In addition, Maya culture can also be investigated from documents of the period of European occupation that discuss the indigenous culture; which are texts written by the Maya themselves after many years of being christianized and educated by the Spanish conquerors. But there are precious few hieroglyphs found that date earlier than long after the demise of the Nephite culture. For some unfathomable reason, Book of Mormon critics continually cite problems that have nothing to do with the issue of their critique. The Lamanites never wrote in Reformed Egyptian, nor did they write in Hebrew except for a very brief period after being taught how to do so in B.C. times. 

Whatever the language the Lamanites later developed, had nothing to do with what was used by the Nephites. As for your two cities, little is known of the rulers of Copán before the founding of a new dynasty with its origins at Tikal in the early 426 A.D. (after the demise of the Nephites). All of Copán's known history dates from that time to about 822 A.D., covering the time of their 16 or 17 claimed rulers, though two of their names are unknown. As for Palenque, we have covered this before in this blog, but not even the name of the site is truly known. It had been abandoned for several centuries before the Spanish arrived, and they were told by the local Chol Maya it was called Otolum, meaning "Land of strong houses," which, obviously, is not the real name. The city is claimed to have been dated to 226 B.C., but that is an estimate for little has been excavated there, and few studies made, though something of it is known from 599 A.D. onward, when it is claimed to have been rebuilt by Maya Ajaw, K'inich Janaab' Pakal (Pascal the Great)--again, long after the Nephite demise.

Screenfold codices. They fold together into the size of a single board


Maya codices were written in a screenfold manner as shown here. The ideograms were strange to the Spanish, such as Friar Diego de Landa, the 16th century Bishop of Yucatán, and motivated by curiosity, undertook the task of gathering all the codices they could find and deciphering them with the help of interpreters. They then saw them as diabolical, and impelled by fear, undertook a systematic burning of all the codices they could find

Comment #2: "Since the Book of Mormon was engraved on metal plates, which takes a lot of time and not allow for correcting errors, why is it so wordy?"

Response: It is understandable that people writing on metal would be brief since the task is laborious with limited space—yet on almost every page the Book of Mormon reveals a text that is much wordier than needed to convey the basic message. In fact, there are numerous repetitions and wordy phrases like, "And it came to pass." To critics, who lack understanding of ancient Hebraic writing techniques, this is an obvious evidence of fraud.

However, the wordiness of the scriptural record is quite supportive of Hebrew or a similar Semitic language and an obvious feature of Biblical Hebrew. Certainly, ancient Hebraic writers would not have written like Hemingway—even though they had the challenge of engraving their sacred records and quite selective in what they chose to write about, when they did write scripture, they wrote it in Hebrew style. Why would they depart from their Hebraic literary tradition, the language of sacred scripture?

In fact, scholars of ancient languages have noted that Hebrew tends to be wordier than Greek or other languages. Written Hebrew often has the flavor of an oral language, filled with repetitious elements like chiasmus (that would be used to help an orator remember the structure of the story) and repetitive phrases. These latter serve not only a poetical or stylistic role, they also may occur as an editorial tool.

As indicated in the previous post,  (for example, parenthetical phrases, or repeating phrases at the beginning and end of a parenthetical remark, can serve a role similar to the modern use of parentheses to mark the insertion—a tool known as repetitive resumption, which is a Hebraic literary technique in which editorial comments are framed between two parallel statements.

The repetition of statements could function somewhat like our use of parentheses in modern English to mark where an explanation or departure from the story had occurred. This is seen in the Old Testament in Joshua 1:7-9, which begins with a command to be strong and courageous, followed by what some scholars see as an editorial insertion about the need to study the law daily, followed by a repetition of the command to be strong and courageous. This is a pattern, abundantly used in the Book of Mormon. 

The lawyer Zeezrom and his followers


For example, in Alma 10:32 and Alma 11:20, two passages stating that the object of Nephite lawyers was to get gain, and that they got gain according to their employ. In between, in Alma 11:1-19, there is a lengthy parenthetical explanation about Nephite law, payment for judges, and the monetary system. The departure from the story appears to have been added editorially to help readers understand the significance of Zeezrom's subsequent offer of six "onties" (a large measure of silver) to Amulek if only he would come to his senses and deny the existence of a Supreme Being (Alma 11:22), which essentially is a parenthetical expression.

This is also seen in Alma 22:17-24, where Mormon is describing the Lamanite king’s extensive land over which he ruled.  In the midst of this, he digressed to provide the reader with an extensive understanding of how this land of the Lamanites corresponded to the land of the Nephites, and then added the Nephite control to the narrow neck of land and what existed beyond that in the Land Northward. Or in Helaman 10:3 where the disciple Nephi, while walking back to his house, considers the people: “And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:”

Thursday, May 27, 2021

More Comments from Readers – Part VI

 Following are more comments or questions we have received from various readers of this blog.

Comment #1: “According to John Sorenson, about 200 languages were spoken in Mesoamerica alone when the Spanish arrived 1100 years after the demise of the Nephites. Other LDS scholars claim that by the time of the arrival of the English in some 100 or more years later, more than 1000 to 1500 languages existed in North America. These scholars claim that all these languages could not have derived from Lehi’s Hebrew in only 1000 years.” Carlton C.

Mosiah discovering the Mulekites or People of Zarahemla


Response: While we do not know what happened in people being led to the Americas after the demise of the Nephites and the fulfillment of the promise made to Lehi, we can consider this explosion of languages in 1000 years is less than problematic. As an example, when the Mulekites landed in the area of Zarahemla, they had no records, no written history, nothing to ensure the continuation of language other than the spoken word. In just 400 years, their speech could not be understood by the Hebrew-speaking Mosiah and the Nephites.

Now, the Mulekites Mosiah discovered had been isolated to just one location and one interaction of people. Now, consider Moroni’s words following 385 BC. “The Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8). Thus, following their final victory over the Nephites, the Lamanites broke up into warring groups (tribes) and were at war for at least 36 years “with no end in sight.” Consider that during the following these Lamanite civil wars, individual tribes would have been found over the land with each tribe speaking their language isolated from any other tribe, like the Mulekites, but over an 1100 to 1200 year span, with all these groups’ languages altering and changing over that period—there would be as many languages as there were groups. And when the Europeans eventually cover all of North America, they found over 600 isolated Indian tribes, each with a different language. The population in these 1100 to 1200 years had reached an estimated 7 to 10 million—some scholars have opted for figures between 50 and 100 million (Alan Taylor, American Colonies, vol.1, Penguin History of the United States, History of the United States Series, Penguin, London, 2002, p40; David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World, Oxford University Press, UK, 1993, p151)

Comment #2: “How can you claim that the Mulekites did not land in the land northward as Alma wrote (22:30), which says, “which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” Alcon C.


The Mulekites were isolated in the area of Zarahemla in modern-day Lima, Peru. There is no mention in the scriptural record of another people


Response: According to Mormon’s writings, the Mulekites did not have contact with the Jaredites (other than Coriantumr).  When reading the full verse, and not just a part of it as you quoted, there is a “parenthetical phrase,” when understood, gives the meaning of the statement: “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken (which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla), it being the place of their first landing.” In the case of any parenthetical phrase (above in italics), it is not part of the original meaning of the sentence, or rather, a digression from the original meaning. Thus, the sentence reads: “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, it being the place of their first landing.”
Thus, the “parenthetical phrase” is used as the mildest form of parenthesis, for when you want to quickly insert a detail without distracting the reader—it is called “a subordinate clause”: a “nonessential phrase” framed by a pair of commas. In this case, the sentence includes a subordinate clause: “which was the discovered by the people of Zarahemla.” If you temporarily remove that phrase from the sentence, its structural integrity remains intact.

Now before you ask “how do you know that it was intended as a parenthetical phrase,” let me suggest two reasons: First, we know this because of Omni 1:16, where we are told the Mulekites “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.” That is, the Mulekites were brought across the sea into the area where Mosiah found them (the city of Zarahemla) and they dwelt there, in that land where they landed, until Mosiah found them.

That is why you know it is a parenthetical phrase in Alma 22:32, otherwise we would be given two entirely different landing sites.

Secondly, we know it is a parenthetical phrase because the sentence reads: “And it (Bountiful) bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it (Desolation) being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed (the home of the Jaredites), of whose bones we have spoken (again, the Jaredites), which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla (that is, the bones of the Jaredites had been discovered by Limhi’s 43-man expedition to find Zarahemla and all those in the expedition, and all those living under Limhi in the city of Nephi, had originally been from Zarahemla, or their parents or grandparents had been), it being the place of their (again refers to the Jaredites) first landing.”

Comment #3: “The phrases ”the whole earth,” or “all the land,” or “face of the whole earth,” are used, such as in 2 Nephi 17:24 as well as 3 Nephi 2:11 and 8:12, what exact area is being discussed? It sounds rather confusing when you compare them with the plainness in Mosiah 1:1 and 3 Nephi 8:12.

Response: We need to consider words and phrases in the light of the descriptions and surrounding verses in which they are used. This is seen in all the usages in 3 Nephi where almost all refer to the Land of Promise. In addition, in Alma 36:7, the entire verse reads: “And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us,” which does not suggest an answer until you read the previous verse, which is: “For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way,” which is descriptive of a local event in the Land of Zarahemla, therefore, the usage refers to the Land of Promise. On the other hand, where Mosiah 25:19 is explicit (all the land of Zarahemla), Alma 16:21 may not be, and Alma 20:8 might be misleading without putting the phrase into perspective.

Specifically, the verses you mentioned: 2 Nephi 17:24 (in all the land) refers to events in the Jerusalem and around the Levant (eastern Mediterranean); 3 Nephi 2:11 and 8:12, refers to the Land of Promise (which event may have included all the Western Hemisphere); and 3 Nephi 8:12 has to do with the Land of Promise

The point is, usage of these phrases, and any other, that might sound confusing usually occurs because one reads the verses too quickly, or singularly or separately and does not ponder or evaluate the circumstances of surrounding descriptive information.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

More Comments from Readers – Part V

 Following are more comments or questions we have received from various readers of this blog.

Comment #1 “How can Book of Mormon people, writing in approximately 600 B.C., be quoting from the Bible whose sources weren’t written until centuries later?” Zach R.

Response: They were not quoting the Bible, they were quoting the same source that gave the Bible writers their knowledge, and the doctrines and principles about which they wrote. God is the author of all such knowledge—why would anyone think they would be different? How unthinking is the idea that time to the Lord is chronological—he said: “my sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27-30). Should anyone think his voice would say different things to the Jews than to the Nephites? Or to you today?

Comment #2: “Has any archaeologist or anthropologist, or anyone else, ever found a city or town with a Book of Mormon name?”  

Response: First, there are two points to keep in mind: 1) historical development has shown that city, town or village settlements do not maintain their original names—the first name given to the island we call England was Britannia, given it by the Romans in 43 AD; France was called Gaul in 51 BC, again, by the Romans—following their collapse, it was “the Land of the Franks” in 494 AD; Sweden was known at different times as Bohuslän, Kalmar, Tjust, Jämtland, and Sweden; and 2) Such original names are known only because they or another area have had continuous occupation and historically recorded earlier names.

As an example: Florida was called Waca Pilatka before Juan Ponce de Leon called it “Pascua Florida.” New Roxbury in Connecticut became Woodstock in 1690; New Town became Hartford in 1637 and Watertown became Wethersfield in 1635. In California Todos Santos is now called Concord; in George, Franklin is now West Point; and Terminous became Marthasville; while in Nebraska Lancaster is now Lincoln; Hot Spring in New Mexico is Truth or Consequences; the township of Longwood in Michigan was called Isabella City before that and Indian Mills before that; New Amsterdam, then New Orange is now called New York City; Nieuw Amersfoort and Pigtown are Flatlands and Wingate respectively in Brooklyn.

The reason, as stated above, that we know of these earlier names is simply because of a continuity of occupation that knew of the changes. This is also borne out by knowing that Cincinnati was originally called Losantiville; Austin was Waterloo; Deseret became Utah; and Fort Utah became Provo.

Early American Indian names that were replaced by English names


On the other hand, some old cities were given English names that once had an Indian name in pre-history, such as the area we call Wisconsin was called Meskonsing by the Ojibwe; Green Bay was originally called Bale lverte by the French; Kekionga was named by the Miami, the capital tribe of Indiana, which is now called Fort Wayne; Kentucky was called Kentahten by the Iroquois; Quinnehtukqut was the original Indian name for Connecticut; Ongiaahra was the Iroquois name for Niagara Falls; the Lenape Indians called New Jersey Scheyichbi; Old Millstone, in Somerset County, was once known as Matawank; Crystal River in Florida was called Weewahiiaca by the Seminole-Creek Indians; Boston was originally called Trimountaine; Albany was originally called Beverwijck; On the other hand, the Algonquian certainly didn’t call Manhattan Island by that name,; Tallahessee was original called Anhaica by the Alalachee Indians. The list obviously could go on, but if we did not have continual records, we would know nothing of these original names—nothing at all, much like the old Nephite names.

The point, we think, is obvious—ancient cities, towns and villages, of which there are hundreds, are unknown today by their original name since occupation there was interrupted. We find this all over ancient Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile, as we do in the Book of Mormon.

Comment #5: “There has, of course, been numerous civilizations that lived on the American continent before, during and after the Nephites. It is true that there is no archaeological, anthropological or linguistic evidence to demonstrate that a pre-Columbian, white Jewish, 'pre-Christian Christian', steel smelting, horse/cattle/ox/sheep herding civilization ever lived on the American continent during the time period suggested by the Book of Mormon. Additionally, the fact that natives have inhabited the Americas for over 15,000 years and are of Asiatic descent refutes the primary Book of Mormon tenet that the American continent was "kept hidden" or "preserved" specifically by God for his chosen group(s) of people. Nor were these civilizations wiped out in a global flood as the Great Flood is taught as a historical event in the BOM and other LDS scriptures” The Mechanic.

Science and the scientific method is a continually improving and ever-changing voyage towards knowledge and betterment


Response: There are so many theorists today who simply repeat the same dogma of previous theorists that we no longer see the field of scholars there once was who understood that evidence leads to credibility, which also leads to accuracy. Nor do we find much in the way of theorists actually reading the scriptural record and using what is described there by Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, and following it through as written, looking for descriptions of importance.

As an example, Jacob’s statement the Nephites were on an island; Nephi seeing a vision of a future Land of Promise where mountains, during a three-hour period, tumbled to the ground and new ones were raised; Mormon who clearly described the geography of the Land of Promise, and Moroni tells us several things regarding language, the narrow neck, and an additional sea. In addition, many artifacts have been found in the ground in South America that verifies the existence of the Nephites there and supports the Book of Mormon, such as metallurgy, existence of gold, silver, and copper, the only location for quinine found, stone walls built around cities and the Land of Zarahemla, an actual narrow neck and passage, ocean and wind currents leading to South America where Lehi could “land” along a Sea West, etc.

After all, saying something is not so does not make it not so. We invite you to go back and read all the posts that have been provided here to show the fallacy of such an argument.

Comment #6: “I read recently, but can’t right now recall where that “Among modern Book of Mormon scholars, no one that I am aware of maintains that the new world was empty when Lehi arrived, or that that the Nephites and Lamanites multiplied in “splendid isolation.” Certainly that is not an official LDS church position.” What do you think of that?” Tyrene F.

Response: Evidently you are quoting from John Charles Kunich, the adjunct professor at the Belmont Abbey College, and a Fulbright Senior Specialist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, who also discusses Book of Mormon population sizes. He states that “Many assumptions Mormons have about the Book of Mormon, including its historicity, its geography, the ancestry of Native Americans, and unrealistic population sizes, is likely inaccurate based on a "sophisticated scrutiny" of the Book of Mormon (John Charles Kunich, “Multiply Exceedingly: Book of Mormon Population Sizes,” Sunstone vol.14, June 1990, pp27,44; Kunich, Scientific Scholar, 2013, p 231-267 (265).

Modern Book of Mormon scholars would be those in the academic field, specifically BYU, whose archaeology department is committed to Mesoamerica. In that region it is claimed that much smaller segments of population existed, therefore, such scholars are faced with defending the theory of small populations or discrediting their own beliefs.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

More Comments from Readers - Part IV

Following are more comments or questions we have received from various readers to this blog.

Comment #1: “I’m confused. Who was the leader of the Jaredites: Jared or the Brother of Jared. And if the Brother, whoynot use his name? Robert D.

Response: First of all, the Brother of Jared had a very long and difficult word to say and write several times. That name was Mahonri Moriancumer (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Messenger and Advocate, vol.1, no.112)—more easily in engraving on ancient plates as the Brother of Jared. Second. His much younger brother, however, was evidently a spiritual man who spent much time dealing with spiritual matters. When it became understood that the Lord was going to (or had) confounded the people’s languages at Babylon where the Jaredite brothers lived (or near there), he sought the Lord’s blessing of not having their own language altered and asked his spiritual brother to inquire of the Lord: first, not to confound their language, and second, where they should go, since the people of Babylon at the tie were unable to communicate with one another and were leaving the area for other regions.

Comment #2: “I read somewhere that there is a distinct explanation for the puzzling description of the wildernesses described in Alma 22:27, which defines two different wildernesses, one wilderness to the north of the land of Nephi and one wilderness to the south of the land of Zarahemla with a canyon or mountains in between them. Did I read that correct? Ryder W.

Examples of wilderness—it can be almost any terrain, as it is not occupied with permanent construction


Response: Phyllis Carol Olive, in one of her books, The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, makes this claim. However, Mormon writes that there was a “narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla” i.e., the Land of Nephi, which the king controlled, “was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27). Thus, the northern edge of this narrow strip of wilderness touched on the Land of Zarahemla and the southern edge of this narrow strip of wilderness touched on the Land of Nephi. Consequently, the Land of Zarahemla had a wilderness to its south, and the Land of Nephi had a wilderness to its north—these being the same wilderness. It is not complicated. There is a single strip of wilderness between the two lands that ran from sea to sea.

Comment #3: “You claim that Andean Peru had a connection with Egypt, at least in language, and possibly in building, but  I haven’t read of any scientist, archaeologist, anthropologist, etc., who thinks there was any connection between Egypt and your Andean Peru like you allude to” Vance L.

Response: It is certainly not a common belief among archaeologist, anthropologists, or other professionals, such as linguists, however, there are connections, but you just do not read of them in the mainstream journals, reports, or news coverage, that there was transatlantic voyaging before Columbus.

Emmet John Sweeney in “Links Across An Ocean,” in The Evidence of Science (Algora Publishing, 2010), quotes Berlitz who noticed an interesting list of parallels between ancient Egyptian (or its modern descendant Copitc) and the Quechua language of Peru, which are, importantly, often connected to religious and cosmic ideas—Egyptian chlol meaning people and Quechua cholo meaning people; Egyptian Ra meaning sun god and Quechua Ra-mi meaning festival of the Sun; Egyptian andi meaning mountain top and Quechua andi meaning high mountain. In addition, the Peruvian and Egyptian words for copper, sheaf, and clothing, are similar, as is the Egyptian anta meaning the sun and Araucanian anta meaning the sun. In fact, there seems to be many striking parallels between the Egyptian language and the Quechua and Aymara tongue of the Andes. 

(Left) Egyptian doorway, and (Right) Peruvian doorway—both were trapezoidal in shape, a rather unusual shape for a door but extensive in both areas


As for buildings, we have shown similarities in pictures of both Peruvian and Egyptian stone work, and also pyramid construction, earthquake angling and fitted stones. All of this is far more than mere coincidence between these two civilizations on opposite sides of the ocean from one another.

Comment #4: “John Sorenson is considered the expert on Book of Mormon geography, yet you disagree with almost every point he makes about his central America location and all his points to which by the way the majority of members agree.” Gerard P.

Response: While many have bought into Sorenson’s Mesoamerican theory, that has been championed by several groups and organizations, it simply does not match Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni’s descriptions—in short, the scriptural record; however, it should be kept in mind, Sorenson—in fact no theorist—speaks for the Church, nor for its members. That is his sole idea, despite that understanding. For further understanding of how Sorenson fails to match the descriptions of these ancient writers, see the four books we have published on the matter.”

Comment #5: “You mention that Mormon’s insert was 543 words in one article and 568 in another. Why the difference?” Rhonda J.

Response: The larger number is the complete count of words of Alma 22:27-34; as to the smaller number, and to be exact, Mormon’s insert appears to begin with the words “who were in the land…” in verse 27, giving us a smaller count.

Comment #6: “If Reformed Egyptian was a readable mixture of Egyptian and Hebrew, and Joseph Smith portrayed it as being the universal language of North and South America, one would expect archaeologists to have uncovered something written in it. But nothing has been found to support this claim.” Ray M.

Response: First, at no time did anyone suggest, either Joseph Smith or the prophets who wrote in the record two thousand years ago, that Reformed Egyptian, with or without a mixture of Hebrew, was ever the universal language of any land, nor did Joseph Smith claim such a language was universal in North and South America. Reformed Egyptian was simply the language used by those who wrote on the sacred records, one such record has been translated into the Book of Mormon. We have no indication anyone ever spoke a mixture of Hebrew and Egyptian—only that Reformed Egyptian was that used on the plates, and Hebrew spoken. Obviously, after the annihilation of the Nephite people and nation in 385 A.D., there was no one left who wrote or spoke either language in the Land of Promise—let alone some type of combination of both.