long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kudos to Kirk Magleby

So far, of all the Mesoamerican proponents, I think Kirk Magleby has done the best job. With just a few exceptions, he reads the text and doesn't change it the way Sorenson and so many others do. I suspect Kirk doesn't realize that he's reading the text to fit his model. For example, he writes:

"The fact that the Nephites and Mulekites remained oblivious to each other for so long implies extraordinarily difficult terrain between them." 

As he points out, according to his model, these people were only 320 kilometers (about 200 miles) apart. In 400 years they're never going to run into one another? When they were both part of a far larger Mayan population? Kirk ought to rethink his model; i.e., he has the two groups much too close together.

One aspect of this that undermines the whole Mesoamerican theory is that the Nephites found it remarkable to discover Zarahemla, and Zarahemla was excited to be discovered, but they were both supposedly living among long-established Mayan cultures. If any Mesoamerican proponents have explained this, I haven't seen the explanation yet.

Here is Kirk's overview of Book of Mormon lands:


If only he would apply his expertise to North America, we'd be getting somewhere.

The biggest stumbling block for Kirk is probably the River Sidon. Here is the Q&As he provides, with my comments in bold:

Q. How do we know the river Sidon flowed south to north?

A1. Near the land of Zarahemla, the hill Amnihu Alma 2:15, 17 and the valley of Gideon Alma 6:7 were both east of the river Sidon. Near the city of Zarahemla, the river Sidon had a west bank Alma 2:34. These data points all imply a general north/south orientation for the river in that part of its course. Okay.

A2. Beyond (south of) the land of Manti, a south wilderness Alma 16:6, 7 lay east of the river Sidon. This implies a general north/south orientation for the river in that part of its course. Okay.

A3. Upstream from (south of) the land of Manti Alma 43:32, Captain Moroni placed part of the Nephite army west of the river Sidon Alma 43:27 and another part east of the river Sidon Alma 43:53. These data points imply a general north/south orientation for the river in that part of its course. Okay, except for the "upstream from" part. Stick with the text and write "south of" instead.

A4. One verse in the text has been interpreted to mean that the river Sidon flowed from east to west in part of its course. Alma 22:27 is ambiguous. It could mean that the river Sidon flowed from east to west at that point. Given the repetitive nature of Mormon's phrasing, though, it is more likely that all the east to west references in Alma 22:27-29 refer to the narrow strip of wilderness that separated Nephite lands on the north from Lamanite lands on the south. The text mentions several geographic entities or human activities either east or west of the river Sidon. The text never mentions entities or activities directly north or south of the Sidon. All of these data points reinforce the notion that the Sidon flowed in a general north/south direction over most of its length. 
Good catch, Kirk, but you dropped the ball. The Sidon flows both north/south and east/west because the Nephites called the entire river system "Sidon" and, as you acknowledge elsewhere, the head of the river was the confluence of the east/west tributaries. The narrow strip of wilderness was the border demarked by the east/west tributaries. 

A5. The land of Manti was south of the land of Zarahemla Alma 17:1. The land of Manti was also near the head of the river Sidon Alma 43:22. From the head of the river Sidon, one went down in elevation to Zarahemla Alma 56:25. These data points indicate that the river Sidon flowed generally northward from Manti to Zarahemla.
Except, that’s not what the scripture says. Alma 56:25 "Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah." Those were two separate options: either cross or go down to Zarahemla. It is just as likely they would have had to go down to cross as that they would have had to go up to cross. You're assuming they were already at the head of Sidon, but that's not what the text says. 

A6. The greater land of Nephi was south of the greater land of Zarahemla Alma 50:7. An east/west dividing line separating the two lands ran by the head of the river Sidon Alma 50:11. To go from Zarahemla to Nephi, one went up in elevation Alma 2:24. Therefore, the river Sidon which bordered the land of Zarahemla Alma 2:15 flowed generally from south to north.
True, Nephi was both south and higher in elevation. But the river didn't flow through the highlands of Nephi--it flowed through a river valley to the sea. This is like saying the castles along the Rhine River are lower than, say, Wiesbaden, which is in the river valley--up stream.

A7. The Mulekites made landfall in the land northward Alma 22:30, then founded their capital, Zarahemla, in the land southward Mormon 1:6 along the Sidon Mormon 1:10. As the Mulekites traveled south from the seacoast they went up in elevation Alma 22:31. This means the Sidon flowed downhill toward the north.
Except, that’s not what the scripture says. 

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