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Statement on Book of Mormon geography

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6 hours ago, Burnside said:

Jerusalem doesn’t have “driven snow” as in snow drifts. 

It snows In Israel. There is even a ski resort!

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33 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

It snows In Israel. There is even a ski resort!

Wow. I didn't know that. Looks cool although about on par with Spring skiing at Sundance on the lower mountain.

58 minutes ago, Brant Gardner said:

Why should we believe that Joseph had a clear idea of Book of Mormon geography? He never said he did. All of his actions suggest that he was willing to take information from different sources if it might support the Book of Mormon.

This is important. There are plenty of reasons to think Joseph had to learn the Book of Mormon just like the rest of us. He may have had insights from Moroni for parts of it, but almost certainly he made inferences based upon his presuppositions that weren't true.

5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Morris Swadesh and Pierre Agrinier Bach both demonstrated that the languages of Oaxaca, Mexico, were heavily Semitic, while Mary LeCron Foster argued that Mayan was related to Egyptian (as an Afro-Asiatic language).

To be fair this has hardly been widely accepted in the broader linguistic community. There are people who make language arguments including the recent ones, but that's not quite the same as it being a slam dunk argument.

Edited by clarkgoble
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1 hour ago, Brant Gardner said:

Full stop for a moment. Why should we believe that Joseph had a clear idea of Book of Mormon geography? He never said he did. All of his actions suggest that he was willing to take information from different sources if it might support the Book of Mormon. If we are to posit that Joseph knew precisely where it took place, do we then suggest that he neglected to tell anyone, and that all of the subsequent apostles (and especially those who became Prophet for the Church later) forgot what Joseph said? 

Are we really willing to say that Joseph kept this from everyone, and that subsequent leaders of the Church are mislead when they say there is no Church position? Must we really suggest that everyone intentionally ignored Joseph's teaching and then forgot them entirely? 

I find that very had to believe, given that there were people who had known Joseph who lived into (or at least almost into) the time when the Church started saying that there was no revealed geography.

As for a Book of Mormon geography being based on a theory that Joseph didn't know what he was talking about, that is an incorrect statement. A more clear statement would be that Book of Mormon geography is allowed to be a subject of speculation because Joseph didn't reveal the location. He knew what he was talking about--but he didn't talk about a defined Book of Mormon geography. 

You prove the point of the basis of the Mesoamerica Theory: “Joseph Smith was a speculator.”

He mentioned the plains of the Nephites in a letter to his wife Emma during Zions Camp in 1834 as mentioned in the recent Church essay.

Then changed his mind 7 years later in 1841 that it all occurred strictly within Central America because of a travel book (similar to a National Geographic magazine) Bishop Bernhisel gifted Joseph Smith as a gesture of friendship and to thank him for taking the time to buy a plot of land in Nauvoo for Bishop Bernhisel - a gift for a real estate transaction?

Brilliant logic for a geography theory. Really brilliant.

Then we’re supposed to believe Joseph Smith learned from said travel book that the Maya were the Nephites - per Dr. Sorenson’s theory - who later changed HIS mind when he wrote in 2011 in his “Open Letter to Dr. Michael Coe” of Yale - that the Maya were not the Nephites.

Sheesh..sounds like a projecting of speculations onto Joseph Smith.

Your theory makes Joseph Smith look like an idiot.

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3 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

................................

To be fair this has hardly been widely accepted in the broader linguistic community. There are people who make language arguments including the recent ones, but that's not quite the same as it being a slam dunk argument.

We don't actually live in a world of "slam dunks," even though the younger generation likes the idea.  And these are not at all recent ideas, each of them being hatched in the 1960s.  Indeed, Prof Swadesh was one of the premier linguistic experts in the world, his name still being cited long after his death.  He supervised the efforts of a couple of his grad students in examining Hebrew cognates and grammar as they were compared with Oaxacan languages.  Hebrew and Egyptian are actually cognate languages (part of the Afro-Asiatic language family).  Those were all non-Mormons.  Much later, Brian Stubbs (a Mormon linguistics expert) found a deep relationship between Uto-Aztecan and Hebrew & Egyptian.  The relationships are systematic, rather than happenstantial.  Those in the broader linguistic community seem to have been stunned into silence, and that is understandable.  How does one account for such odd facts?  Explain the data, or ignore it.

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10 hours ago, Burnside said:

.....................Book of Mormon Central (BMC) is not neutral despite their statement you linked to.

Can you find me any neutral organizaiion anywhere on Earth?

10 hours ago, Burnside said:

........................................................

The Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization dedicated as an open forum for presentation, dissemination, and discussion of research and evidences regarding Book of Mormon archaeology, anthropology, geography and culture within a Mesoamerican context.  Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex, (2) to correlate and publish works of LDS and CofC scholars, (3) to help promote unity and cooperation among scholars and students of the Book of Mormon, and (4) to provide a forum where responsible scholars can present current ideas and discoveries. BMAF has no overhead. Funds received from donations are used 100% toward our stated goals.”

I can't think offhand of any CofC scholars with whom BMC cooperates, correlates, or publishes.  There are several spin-offs from the RLDS Church (CofC) who do communicate with BMC from time to time - they are not part of the CofC, and frankly disagree with CofC theology.  They have formed their own organizations, which share the Mesoamerican geography view.

10 hours ago, Burnside said:

..............................

I added the bold and underline to prove Book of Mormon Central is not neutral in their geography. And noted they work with RLDS Scholars (now called Community of Christ or CofC).

I noted earlier on this discussion thread the 1924 book by RLDS Louise Edwards Hill, and the RLDS HA Stebbins BoM lectures and how their works are being plagiarized by LDS Scholars today.

You might want to look up the meaning of plagiarism,  Burnside..  It just doesn't comport with your false claim.

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11 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Full stop for a moment. Why should we believe that Joseph had a clear idea of Book of Mormon geography? He never said he did.

If Joseph had no clear idea of the setting then why do we even assume it was America? Our assumption (based on Joseph's claim that an angel told him) that it is set in the Americas causes the biggest problem for the text. Drop that assumption and the text can speak for itself, there is no known geography.

As an Old World text without any clear geographical setting, the text has no anachronisms. Why should we believe Joseph even had the right continent? Can't we simply say it is an ancient text, and we have no idea where the setting was? Why must we force it anywhere?

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46 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

If Joseph had no clear idea of the setting then why do we even assume it was America? 

Not having a clear understanding of the geography does not mean that he didn't have a vague understanding of the geography. Joseph and all of his associates assumed a New World setting. 

I agree that there is no reason not to look at other locations, but the burden of proof becomes even more difficult.

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9 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

We don't actually live in a world of "slam dunks," even though the younger generation likes the idea.  And these are not at all recent ideas, each of them being hatched in the 1960s.  Indeed, Prof Swadesh was one of the premier linguistic experts in the world, his name still being cited long after his death.  He supervised the efforts of a couple of his grad students in examining Hebrew cognates and grammar as they were compared with Oaxacan languages.  Hebrew and Egyptian are actually cognate languages (part of the Afro-Asiatic language family).  Those were all non-Mormons.  Much later, Brian Stubbs (a Mormon linguistics expert) found a deep relationship between Uto-Aztecan and Hebrew & Egyptian.  The relationships are systematic, rather than happenstantial.  Those in the broader linguistic community seem to have been stunned into silence, and that is understandable.  How does one account for such odd facts?  Explain the data, or ignore it.

I think it hasn't proved persuasive in the field. I don't think I'd say the linguistic community is "stunned into silence" either. There are reasons to be skeptical. So for instance my co-blogger Jonathan Green, who works in historic linguistics recently gave some reasons why these things won't pan out. He's a believer and most primed to want Stubbs work to work, but has some pretty solid reasons to be skeptical. (To be fair, Uta-Aztecan is not his field) That said there have been relatively positive reviews of Stubbs work by Dirk Elzinga (a linguistics professor at BYU) and John Robertson (an emeritus linguistics professor at BYU). I don't know of any non-Mormon review.

As for odd facts, in any study whether linguistics, physics or history sometimes you just get patterns that appear accidentally or coincidentally. Being able to show that such odd facts are significant is always the trick.

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14 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

Full stop for a moment. Why should we believe that Joseph had a clear idea of Book of Mormon geography? He never said he did. All of his actions suggest that he was willing to take information from different sources if it might support the Book of Mormon. If we are to posit that Joseph knew precisely where it took place, do we then suggest that he neglected to tell anyone, and that all of the subsequent apostles (and especially those who became Prophet for the Church later) forgot what Joseph said? 

Are we really willing to say that Joseph kept this from everyone, and that subsequent leaders of the Church are mislead when they say there is no Church position? Must we really suggest that everyone intentionally ignored Joseph's teaching and then forgot them entirely? 

I find that very had to believe, given that there were people who had known Joseph who lived into (or at least almost into) the time when the Church started saying that there was no revealed geography.

As for a Book of Mormon geography being based on a theory that Joseph didn't know what he was talking about, that is an incorrect statement. A more clear statement would be that Book of Mormon geography is allowed to be a subject of speculation because Joseph didn't reveal the location. He knew what he was talking about--but he didn't talk about a defined Book of Mormon geography. 

I don't find this argument even remotely compelling.  

In particular, John Sorenson in Codex both (1) advanced this particular argument and (2) quoted from some supposed sources linked to Joseph Smith advocating a Mesoamerican geography.   

I really don't know what to make of Book of Mormon geography at this point.  Joseph Smith certainly spoke authoritatively about it, authored or edited articles in the Times and Seasons about a hemispheric model, claimed to have dreams about it and spoke about it.  When he spoke, people listened and mimicked him with articles and sermons of their own.  But does it really matter? I suppose it matters just a little, but not enough to warrant an entire life's work to it.

 

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

I think it hasn't proved persuasive in the field. I don't think I'd say the linguistic community is "stunned into silence" either. There are reasons to be skeptical. So for instance my co-blogger Jonathan Green, who works in historic linguistics recently gave some reasons why these things won't pan out. He's a believer and most primed to want Stubbs work to work, but has some pretty solid reasons to be skeptical. (To be fair, Uta-Aztecan is not his field) That said there have been relatively positive reviews of Stubbs work by Dirk Elzinga (a linguistics professor at BYU) and John Robertson (an emeritus linguistics professor at BYU). I don't know of any non-Mormon review.

As for odd facts, in any study whether linguistics, physics or history sometimes you just get patterns that appear accidentally or coincidentally. Being able to show that such odd facts are significant is always the trick.

I have  no problem with skepticism, and I am not impressed by acceptance of Stubbs within the LDS intellectual community.  What most impresses me is the predictive value of Stubbs' systematic rules of linguistic development of Uto-Aztecan in an Egypto-Semitic context.  That is simply not possible by accident.  I have not seen anyone come up with anything so interesting as Stubbs' work.  Whether the wider community of linguistics scholarship will examine it is the real question.

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1 hour ago, Bob Crockett said:

I don't find this argument even remotely compelling.  

In particular, John Sorenson in Codex both (1) advanced this particular argument and (2) quoted from some supposed sources linked to Joseph Smith advocating a Mesoamerican geography.   

I really don't know what to make of Book of Mormon geography at this point.  Joseph Smith certainly spoke authoritatively about it, authored or edited articles in the Times and Seasons about a hemispheric model, claimed to have dreams about it and spoke about it.  When he spoke, people listened and mimicked him with articles and sermons of their own.  But does it really matter? I suppose it matters just a little, but not enough to warrant an entire life's work to it.

Hey, Bob, if you ask a little kid what he wants to be when he grows up, you get a whole range of possible answers -- whether such wishes ever come to fruition.  We shouldn't belittle the variety of predilections people express.  The human family is an organic whole and needs people doing all kinds of things, such that we might ask with Saint Paul whether "I have no need of thee" (1 Cor 12:21), and not for the reasons that we think we don't need another "Indiana Jones."

Anthropology and its subdiscipline archeology provide us with crucial data on human lifeways and history.  Certainly important enough to devote one's life's work to it.

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1 hour ago, Bob Crockett said:

I really don't know what to make of Book of Mormon geography at this point.  Joseph Smith certainly spoke authoritatively about it, authored or edited articles in the Times and Seasons about a hemispheric model, claimed to have dreams about it and spoke about it.  When he spoke, people listened and mimicked him with articles and sermons of their own.  But does it really matter? I suppose it matters just a little, but not enough to warrant an entire life's work to it.

I agree that Book of Mormon geography, for the sake of Book of Mormon geography, is not terribly important. For the vast majority of models, they might satisfy curiosity for a while, but they don't do much. We don't understand the Book of Mormon any better because of them. 

I view the benefit of a geography only in the sense that knowing the geography of the New Testament is interesting. It is possible to be a good Christian and understand nothing of the geography of Jerusalem and Galilee. However, if we understand the cultural and political climate of the times in those places, there is a lot that we can learn that enriches our understanding of the New Testament in ways that we would otherwise miss. Understanding that the contemporary concept of the role of the eye in vision was that light emanated from the eye rather than being received by the eye allows us to have a much better understanding of Matthew 6:22.

In that same way, if we can identify a plausible geography for the Book of Mormon, that should lead to cultural and political climate at specific times (the Book of Mormon covers a much longer time range than the New Testament, of course). That background should help us understand what is happening in the text. To the extent that it does, the resulting enriched understanding is ample reason to care about geography--in that it leads to helpful context.

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Geography as geography is also helpful. For example, without a good geographic understanding, we don't know why Manti was such an important defensive site. We don't understand the crucial role that the defection of Antionum had on Nephite defenses and the war that followed the defection. We don't understand the nature of the attack on Ammonihah, and why it was a surprise. We don't understand how, when Lamanites leave the battlefields in the north and travel to Manti, that the Nephites could leave later but arrive earlier.

So, geography itself does help us understand some parts of the text.

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On 2/1/2019 at 5:33 PM, Burnside said:

Do you think the BYU fantasy map describes the location of the Land of Promise?

http://liahona.bom.byu.edu/

Go to 1 Nephi 18 then 19 and watch how Nephi’s ship travels from a modern-map of Arabia and arrives on the west coast of the Fantasy Map. 😁 I never seen anything so stupid.

It's not that difficult of a sailing solution. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the currents and Winds of the world. You would sail the monsoons and trade winds South out of Arabia to around 40 degrees south latitude.

The westerlies would carry you around to South America, South of Australia and around the South Pacific high pressure system that bends the trade winds to the Northeast. From there once you enter the itcz the currents could carry you to the Gulf of tehuantepec. 

This can all be found in Jimmy Cornell's World cruising routes.

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On 2/7/2019 at 2:51 AM, rodheadlee said:

Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the currents and Winds of the world. You would sail the monsoons and trade winds South out of Arabia to around 40 degrees south latitude.

Accomplished sailsmanship could do it, but currents alone would not drive them to South America, but rather directly into the Malay Peninsula, and with 600 BC technology there'd be no easy way past that peninsula.

Below is a (slow-loading) gif showing where currents pushed marine plastics in this study, right to the point where we find a new civilization arriving by boat on the Malay Peninsula in 582 BC, 7 years after the Lehites departed Arabia. Someone was following the Lehite's path in that same decade.  

download?id=dQbrlzkctdFYlM3HiuzedoDXIVv6

Edited by Rajah Manchou

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1 hour ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Accomplished sailsmanship could do it, but currents alone would not drive them to South America, but rather directly into the Malay Peninsula, and with 600 BC technology there'd be no easy way past that peninsula.

Below is a (slow-loading) gif showing where currents pushed marine plastics in this study, right to the point where we find a new civilization arriving by boat on the Malay Peninsula in 582 BC, 7 years after the Lehites departed Arabia. Someone was following the Lehite's path in that same decade.  

Just an FYI, you are lecturing a very accomplished sailor. rodheadlee has lived in his sailboat and has sailed IIRC the currents we are speaking about many times. Besides currents will change at different times, seasons, temperatures, El Nino, etc..  Furthermore, God can move currents, ships, both too accomplish this.

Edited by Anijen
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4 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Accomplished sailsmanship could do it, but currents alone would not drive them to South America, but rather directly into the Malay Peninsula, and with 600 BC technology there'd be no easy way past that peninsula.

Below is a (slow-loading) gif showing where currents pushed marine plastics in this study, right to the point where we find a new civilization arriving by boat on the Malay Peninsula in 582 BC, 7 years after the Lehites departed Arabia. Someone was following the Lehite's path in that same decade.  

download?id=dQbrlzkctdFYlM3HiuzedoDXIVv6

I believe that Nephi sailed perhaps the first Sloop. Later I will find the verses that describe the build of their boat.

Also I would like to point out that there are currents that are not chartered on the various maps of the world. But they are known among sailors that run the same routes. One such current is around the equator at about 131 degrees west I will have to check my log books but this current will push you right back towards Mazatlan where we came from. We knew about this because of another sailor that warned us.

I appreciate all of your post and your alternative point of view that you bring to these discussions.

Edited by rodheadlee
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8 hours ago, Anijen said:

Just an FYI, you are lecturing a very accomplished sailor. rodheadlee has lived in his sailboat and has sailed IIRC the currents we are speaking about many times. Besides currents will change at different times, seasons, temperatures, El Nino, etc..  Furthermore, God can move currents, ships, both too accomplish this.

I've always enjoyed rodheadlee's insights on sailing, and I'm in no way trying to lecture anybody. My point in looking at an entirely different geography for the Book of Mormon is to discuss new questions in new ways.

For example, did you know that there are ancient texts that tell of a group of Israelites leaving Jerusalem in 600 BC and arriving on an unidentified island where they live completely isolated from the Old World? 

These accounts are, in my opinion, extremely significant, yet completely overlooked by models that look only at the American mainland. 

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5 hours ago, rodheadlee said:

I believe that Nephi sailed perhaps the first Sloop. Later I will find the verses that describe the build of their boat.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts on the design of the boats in the Book of Mormon.

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On 1/31/2019 at 1:17 AM, Rajah Manchou said:

In other words, every aspect of the Book of Mormon fits into history. .....

These accounts are, in my opinion, extremely significant, yet completely overlooked by models that look only at the American mainland. 

It also could fit the Ten Lost Tribes narrative.

Edited by cdowis
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59 minutes ago, cdowis said:

It also could fit the Ten Lost Tribes narrative.

It fits Ten Lost Tribes narratives in the same way that the Book of Mormon does:

(1) A tent-dwelling Biblical tribe migrates to Jerusalem following the Assyrian captivity. 
(2) God covenants with this group that they will always stand before him.
(3) God leads this group to an unidentified island where they live a completely separate existence from those in the Old World.
(4) This group of isolated Israelites keeps records of their history.

Additionally:

(1) Scholars have identified the island where this narrative (which became popular in Slavonic and Russian literature) took place as the island known anciently as Rahma/Comoro.
(2) The geography of Rahma/Comoro matches the geography of the Book of Mormon.
(3) The history of Rahma/Comoro aligns with the narrative in the Book of Mormon, including a founding date of 582 BC and the destruction of their civilization (known then as Komoriyya) in the 5th century AD following a battle between hundreds of thousands or warriors.

There are only two options here: (1) there are two unrelated coincidental narratives of Israelites being led by God in 600 BC to an island that matches the internal geography of the Book of Mormon known as Ramah/Cumorah that was destroyed in the 5th century AD, or (2) the Book of Mormon narrative is based on narrative of Rechabites sailing to the island of Rahma/Kamara. Can you think of any other explanations for this?

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3 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

....................... Can you think of any other explanations for this?

Archetypal?

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5 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

There are only two options here: (1) there are two unrelated coincidental narratives of Israelites being led by God in 600 BC to an island that matches the internal geography of the Book of Mormon known as Ramah/Cumorah that was destroyed in the 5th century AD, or (2) the Book of Mormon narrative is based on narrative of Rechabites sailing to the island of Rahma/Kamara. Can you think of any other explanations for this?

The early Nephites may have, with their limited view, seen mesoamerica as an "island", but I cannot agree to use that term with our expanded  view of their location as being  part of a continent.

Anyway, Lehi and his family landed in the Americas.  This is my view and I'm sticking with it.   And you have given us  a plausible confirmation on my theory  on the connection regarding "Moroni" and "Cumorah".  So, option 1.

Edited by cdowis

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