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Does Limited Geography Conflict With The Bom?


maupayman

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I have been trying to understand where apologists and LDS scholars are getting the idea that the Book of Mormon speaks of other people being present in America when Lehi's party arrived. I must admit that I don't see it. Specifically one verse seems to conflict with this idea in 2 Nephi 1:8.

In verses 5-7 Lehi is talking about the promised land which the Lord had led them to and in verse 6 it reads: "I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord."

Then in verse 8 it reads: "And behold, 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."

Furthermore, in verse 9 it says: "I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring our of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance."

The idea of the Mayan civilization already being present and the Lehites being absorbed into their civilization seems to contradict these verses in many ways. First of all, that would mean that the asian migrations were brought here by the hand of the Lord, as in verse 6. Second, it says that at the time Lehi arrived this land had been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations. This is not correct, in light of what we know about the established civilizations and what is suggested by the LGT. Lehi also says that they will possess this land unto themselves. I cannot understand how these verses are compatible with the LGT.

Any insight? Am I missing something here, or misreading the verses? I have seen no clear reference to the established Mayan civilization within the Book of Mormon, so where do they get this idea from? Are any of these people writing papers and books on the limited geography theory experts, or scholars in Mesoamerican history? This idea also seems to conflict with revelations to prophets regarding Nephite/Lamanite lands.

Thanks in advance all for any insight and thoughts.

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I have been trying to understand where apologists and LDS scholars are getting the idea that the Book of Mormon speaks of other people being present in America when Lehi's party arrived. I must admit that I don't see it. Specifically one verse seems to conflict with this idea in 2 Nephi 1:8.

In verses 5-7 Lehi is talking about the promised land which the Lord had led them to and in verse 6 it reads: "I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord."

Then in verse 8 it reads: "And behold, 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."

Furthermore, in verse 9 it says: "I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring our of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance."

The idea of the Mayan civilization already being present and the Lehites being absorbed into their civilization seems to contradict these verses in many ways. First of all, that would mean that the asian migrations were brought here by the hand of the Lord, as in verse 6. Second, it says that at the time Lehi arrived this land had been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations. This is not correct, in light of what we know about the established civilizations and what is suggested by the LGT. Lehi also says that they will possess this land unto themselves. I cannot understand how these verses are compatible with the LGT.

Any insight? Am I missing something here, or misreading the verses? I have seen no clear reference to the established Mayan civilization within the Book of Mormon, so where do they get this idea from? Are any of these people writing papers and books on the limited geography theory experts, or scholars in Mesoamerican history? This idea also seems to conflict with revelations to prophets regarding Nephite/Lamanite lands.

Thanks in advance all for any insight and thoughts.

Did not Lehi's group find other nations already here... ie Jaredites and Mulekites?

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I'm not much of a scholar on this, but here is how I see it.

No nations found out about the americas. The Lord led several groups to this land, and they became a nation once they got here. The Brother of Jared and his crew came here around the time of the Tower of Babel, and the built up at least two nations.

The Mulekites also came over, and I think it would be safe to say that they also started at least two nations.

There may have been more groups that were led here whose records we don't have.

Any way, the point is, that any nations that were here before the Columbus voyage were remnants of nations built up by groups that were led here by the Lord.

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I'm not much of a scholar on this, but here is how I see it.

No nations found out about the americas. The Lord led several groups to this land, and they became a nation once they got here. The Brother of Jared and his crew came here around the time of the Tower of Babel, and the built up at least two nations.

The Mulekites also came over, and I think it would be safe to say that they also started at least two nations.

There may have been more groups that were led here whose records we don't have.

Any way, the point is, that any nations that were here before the Columbus voyage were remnants of nations built up by groups that were led here by the Lord.

So, is the idea then that the Asian migrations, which led to the Mayan civilization and others were led by the Lord?

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I'm not much of a scholar on this, but here is how I see it.

No nations found out about the americas. The Lord led several groups to this land, and they became a nation once they got here. The Brother of Jared and his crew came here around the time of the Tower of Babel, and the built up at least two nations.

The Mulekites also came over, and I think it would be safe to say that they also started at least two nations.

There may have been more groups that were led here whose records we don't have.

Any way, the point is, that any nations that were here before the Columbus voyage were remnants of nations built up by groups that were led here by the Lord.

If I understand this correctly, you are saying that although different groups came here, they didn't take the news home to the "nation" from which they came, but stayed here and had nations here? That actually makes sense, and it's true. Though there's plenty of evidence of other groups coming here for a long time, none of them took the news back home as did Columbus, leading to the conquest of the Americas by Europe. THat's how I've always interepreted the idea that this land was "kept from other nations."

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So, is the idea then that the Asian migrations, which led to the Mayan civilization and others were led by the Lord?

Though I don't know anything about the Asian migration or how the Mayan civilization began, I believe that the Lord led other groups here, and they were the genesis of whatever nations were here before the Columbus discovery.

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If I understand this correctly, you are saying that although different groups came here, they didn't take the news home to the "nation" from which they came, but stayed here and had nations here? That actually makes sense, and it's true. Though there's plenty of evidence of other groups coming here for a long time, none of them took the news back home as did Columbus, leading to the conquest of the Americas by Europe. THat's how I've always interepreted the idea that this land was "kept from other nations."

That is how I understand it. After all, whomever the Lord led here, this land was a land of promise for them, and there would be no reason to go back and tell anyone else. Besides that, they probably weren't much of a seafaring people.

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I have been trying to understand where apologists and LDS scholars are getting the idea that the Book of Mormon speaks of other people being present in America when Lehi's party arrived. I must admit that I don't see it. Specifically one verse seems to conflict with this idea in 2 Nephi 1:8.

In verses 5-7 Lehi is talking about the promised land which the Lord had led them to and in verse 6 it reads: "I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord."

Then in verse 8 it reads: "And behold, 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."

The problem isn't in what is written, but in the way it is read. We tend to read it with way too many assumptions, such as the idea that "the land" obviously meant the continent. Unfortunately for that reading, no ancient document ever used "the land" that way, and the Book of Mormon demonstrably does not. When the text speaks of "the land," is is a rather small area. Hence the part that is kept from other people and hasn't been overrun is the area where they live, not the entire continent.

The Nephite land of inheritance is "overrun" in around 200 B.C. and forces Mosiah and those who believed as he did to flee to Zarahemla. That was the reason for the "as yet" in verse 8.

Furthermore, in verse 9 it says: "I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring our of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance."

Again from the Book of Mormon itself, the city of Nephi is overrun around 200 B.C. Other nations overrun the people of Zeniff. At the end of the Book of Mormon, other nations overrun the entire group. All of those promises deal with the small portion of land where they lived and not with an entire continent.

The idea that being kept from other nations must mean that no one else was here is a modern imposition on the text that never could have been correct.

The idea of the Mayan civilization already being present and the Lehites being absorbed into their civilization seems to contradict these verses in many ways.

Not in any way that fits history.

First of all, that would mean that the asian migrations were brought here by the hand of the Lord, as in verse 6.

First, perhaps. Second, since "the land" was a relatively small portion, it only had to indicate (at most) that the place where they decided to settle was not inhabited. However, if God's promise of land to Israel is any indication, having people there before wasn't that big of an issue.

Second, it says that at the time Lehi arrived this land had been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations. This is not correct, in light of what we know about the established civilizations and what is suggested by the LGT.

Sorry, your reading is not correct. All that the this requires is that someone on the other side of a mountain range did not know (or care) that they were there. That condition existed for the shortest of time, but Nephi reports skirmishes quite early on, so it was never really true for very long in any part of the text. Again, you are reading an unusual interpretation on to the text. No ancient text could survive such a reading.

I have seen no clear reference to the established Mayan civilization within the Book of Mormon, so where do they get this idea from?

I see large numbers of them. I wonder why we have such a different perspective?

Are any of these people writing papers and books on the limited geography theory experts, or scholars in Mesoamerican history?

Yes.

This idea also seems to conflict with revelations to prophets regarding Nephite/Lamanite lands.

You are confusing popular opinion with prophecy. There is a very big difference. Prophets are quite susceptible to popular opinion, but that doesn't mean that those beliefs have the stamp of God on them. It means that they are people of their times. That is clearly demonstrable in the Old and New Testaments. Can you see any reason it should be different now?

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What are the odds of some other nation from the other side of the world coming over to the Americas and landing even remotely close to where the Nephites where. They might land thousands of miles away from them and might be decades or centuries even before they came in contact with the Nephites. Look how long it took for this country to be settled. I think this passage is referring to other established natiions that already where on the American continent.

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Thanks for your comments Brant, you make some good points.

Hence the part that is kept from other people and hasn't been overrun is the area where they live, not the entire continent.

Doesn't limited geography say that they encountered these people early upon arrival? The building of the temple etc?

The Nephite land of inheritance is "overrun" in around 200 B.C. and forces Mosiah and those who believed as he did to flee to Zarahemla. That was the reason for the "as yet" in verse 8.

Again, due to the population growth mentioned early in the Book of Mormon, don't limited geography theories generally say they met the Mayans early and became a part of their culture?

Again from the Book of Mormon itself, the city of Nephi is overrun around 200 B.C. Other nations overrun the people of Zeniff. At the end of the Book of Mormon, other nations overrun the entire group. All of those promises deal with the small portion of land where they lived and not with an entire continent.

Even the area they lived was inhabited by Mayans, was it not? This is what I have read in apologetic articles etc. about building the temple and population figures in the Book of Mormon.

However, if God's promise of land to Israel is any indication, having people there before wasn't that big of an issue.

God never said that the land had been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations to the Israelites.

I see large numbers of them. I wonder why we have such a different perspective?

Do you mind sharing them with me?

You are confusing popular opinion with prophecy. There is a very big difference. Prophets are quite susceptible to popular opinion, but that doesn't mean that those beliefs have the stamp of God on them. It means that they are people of their times. That is clearly demonstrable in the Old and New Testaments. Can you see any reason it should be different now?

I am talking about specific instances where Joseph said he had a revelation or a vision regarding the Nephite/Lamanite lands. When a prophet says he has revelation on the matter I would hope we could trust it, otherwise what on earth is the point of restoring prophets? So they can tell us their ideas? Again, I am not talking about time when a prophet is just speaking or thinking out loud, I am talking about incidences like the Zelph revelation where he claimed it was a revelation and he gave many specific details that he could not have known.

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Doesn't limited geography say that they encountered these people early upon arrival? The building of the temple etc?. . . . Again, due to the population growth mentioned early in the Book of Mormon, don't limited geography theories generally say they met the Mayans early and became a part of their culture?

The text says "other nations." the LGT hypothesizes that there were people in the area and that there was an early combination with cultures from that area. With that combination, "they" become "us." People who are "us" cannot be "other nations." As I noted, that is how it has worked in all of the history of mankind. I see no reason for it to be different in the New World.

Even the area they lived was inhabited by Mayans, was it not? This is what I have read in apologetic articles etc. about building the temple and population figures in the Book of Mormon.

The continent was inhabited. There were people in lots of places, but that doesn't mean that every possible site for a community was already inhabited. I live in New Mexico, which is certainly inhabited. However, it isn't hard to find parts of New Mexico where no one is living. If the Navajo had received Lehi's promise, they would probably say that it holds yet, since they are in their own lands and technically have their own government and taxes. They have not been "overrun" (obviously depending upon the way you read that term - certainly things are different from before the US arrived).

The key to the Book of Mormon text is understanding that "others" always defines "not us." When people consider themselves a community, they are by definition "us." Think early Greek states. Transpose Lehi's statement to Athens. What "other nation" might overrun them? Sparta, for one. It wouldn't require waiting around for the Persians when there were other local threats.

God never said that the land had been kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations to the Israelites.

You are still stuck with a very modern interpretation of a text that could never have been seen in that way anciently.

I am talking about specific instances where Joseph said he had a revelation or a vision regarding the Nephite/Lamanite lands. When a prophet says he has revelation on the matter I would hope we could trust it, otherwise what on earth is the point of restoring prophets?

In the which case, please give the citation for the revelation or vision, since I am not coming up with anything that fits your description.

I am talking about incidences like the Zelph revelation where he claimed it was a revelation and he gave many specific details that he could not have known.

You are aware, of course, that the Zelph incident is somewhat controversial in its recording and details? Even with that caution, however, nothing that was said about Zelph precludes other peoples in the New World.

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I am glad this subject was brought up, because I had a similar feeling as I was reading through 2 Nephi 1 in preparation for Sunday school class.

But then, in the very next chapter, Lehi says something that seems to make little sense if the Lehites were all alone in their new land:

2 Nephi 2:8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

My question is how to make sense of Lehi's missionary injunction if they were unaware of any other "inhabitants."

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I'd recommend carefully reading Matt Roper's "Nephi's Neighbors" in the FARMS Review, Brant's excellent "The Social History of the Early Nephites" at FAIR, Sorenson's 1992 JBMS 1 essay (which Roper surpasses). For that matter, even I wrote on the topic of very early population mixing in my essay in RBBM 7:2, "Paradigms Crossed."

Lehi's blessing and cursings note that if his children do not keep their covenants, the curse pertaining to other nations overrunning their lands would be in effect "as one generatation passeth to another." In 2 Nephi 5, which recounts what happens after the death of Lehi, and therefore, the time when "one generation passeth to another," it is clear that they weren't keeping the covenants. So the mixing happens very early. And very early Nephite and Lamanite become political/cultural, rather than lineage designations. And that, as has been observed before, has implications for understanding their use in the D&C and LDS tradition.

Given that the perception of conflict depend heavily on the way one reads the text, and that different people read the text differently, why shouldn't LDS favor readings that resolve the conflict? What is to be gained by choosing questionable readings to force conflict into the reading? Why decide to save the problems from workable solutions?

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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I have been trying to understand where apologists and LDS scholars are getting the idea that the Book of Mormon speaks of other people being present in America when Lehi's party arrived.

I agree that is a huge problem.

Add in the fact that Nephi lists all the animals and ores they find in the New World, but fails to mention the different tribes of dark-skinned people (!?), and note God's distinct attitude change from the Old Testament Israelites finding "others" in their Promised Land ("kill them, and wipe out their paganistic culture"), to His more enlightened approach with the Lehites ("intermarry with them, try to maintain a sub-culture with your beliefs and language, but allow the general population to continue their worship of the Sun-god"), with nary a warning to the Pre-christian Nephites to avoid the larger population's paganism, and it isn't as clear-cut as I wish it was.

Perhaps this is how Nephi originally wrote 1 Nephi 18:25:

1 Nephi 18

[25] And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the *** and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper, and....

Holy crap! What the heck is that?!! There's like a bazillion people living in this valley. It's a huge city, and they've all got dark skin and black hair. And they're worshiping some sort of sun god or something! They're heathens! What are heathens doing in our promised land?!

Chapter 18.2

[1]And it came to pass that we did give these others beads and feathers, after which they were exceedingly friendly. And though we could not speak their language, we were able to convert many thousands of them unto Jesus Christ, who we believe will come sometime in the next 600 years or so. And behold, this was the greatest miracle granted unto the children of men of all the days of the Earth. For do we not know that God destroyed the Earth in the days of Noah, and the children of Moses were sent to destroy the heathens in the Promised Land, and not to convert them, lest they should become tainted with their religion?

[2] But lucky for these natives, we Lehites were sent not to cleanse the promised land of sun-worshipping heathens, but instead to convert as many of them as possible to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and live among those others who would not convert, ruling over them when possible, preaching when we can, but never affecting them to the point that our isolated, minority religion and hebraic culture would be discernible to the people of the time of the great seer I will tell you about in my next book.

[3] And it came to pass that my brothers were able to convert many of the people to hate us, and they became their leaders, even though we spoke Hebrew, and the many thousands of natives didn't know what the heck we were saying. I guess either we taught them Hebrew, or we learned their language, I rememberest not.

[4] And it came to pass that the people were impressed with the manner in which we did work metal, and use rounded wheels, and sat upon our horses for transportation instead of eating them. But nevertheless, they did quickly forget about our sharp, durable swords, and our rounded wheels, and the usefulness of the horses, even unto the second generation.

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I agree that is a huge problem.

Add in the fact that Nephi lists all the animals and ores they find in the New World, but fails to mention the different tribes of dark-skinned people (!?), and note God's distinct attitude change from the Old Testament Israelites finding "others" in their Promised Land ("kill them, and wipe out their paganistic culture"), to His more enlightened approach with the Lehites ("intermarry with them, try to maintain a sub-culture with your beliefs and language, but allow the general population to continue their worship of the Sun-god"), with nary a warning to the Pre-christian Nephites to avoid the larger population's paganism, and it isn't as clear-cut as I wish it was.

Perhaps the Lamanites "religious" record would parallel the Old Testament selections better than the Nephite record would.

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Here's some other thoughts I had in this post here:

This raises an obstacle for me in understanding the BoM.

I can understand an "us/them" view of the world, but in reality, there would have to be three groups of people coexisting in the land:

1. The pre-christian "Nephites" who are familiar with the story of Lehi, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the brass plates, observant of Mosaic law, etc.

2. The anti-christian "Lamanites" who are antagonistic against the Nephites, and want to destroy them.

3. The people who aren't "Nephite" or "Lamanite", who don't believe in the Christian teachings of the Nephites, but aren't antagonistic towards them. They just don't care. They hardly give the Nephites or Lamanites a second thought, and find their squabbles to be irrelevant or bothersome. (I believe these people are the only ones who have left archaeological evidence of their existence.)

Whatever estimate one can give for the total size of the population of the Book of Mormon areas at any given time, there just doesn't seem to be a workable way to have these three groups coexisting in the scope of the Book of Mormon. Especially when claims are made about whole cities being "Nephite" or "Lamanite" (or everyone in every city being "Nephite", with no "Lamanites" or "Others" anywhere in 4 Nephi). Global events in the Book of Mormon present a problem, because some things are claimed to have happened on a large scale, which would have affected the "others" to such a degree that we would expect it to show up in the archaeological record, such as the "full stop" in 33AD, where everyone everywhere in the Book of Mormon either dies or becomes Christian, with no pagans or heathens or atheists anywhere.

Then there is the problem of warfare. If you have a city with a Nephite presence and a bunch of "others", if the Lamanites attack the city, the "others" will probably get upset and fight against the Lamanites, regardless of their religious feelings. So even though the "others" are off the radar in the religious sense, when it comes to warfare, they wouldn't stand by and let the Lamanites destroy their city just because they didn't like the Nephites.

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I agree that is a huge problem.

I have no problem at all. You see, I have read and studied the LDS version of the BOM text.

Add in the fact that Nephi lists all the animals and ores they find in the New World, but fails to mention the different tribes of dark-skinned people (!?),

He recorded these details on the large plates. You simply did not read where Nephi told us the purpose of the small plates. he was expressly forbidden to fill these plates with stuff.

and note God's distinct attitude change from the Old Testament Israelites finding "others" in their Promised Land ("kill them, and wipe out their paganistic culture"), to His more enlightened approach with the Lehites ("intermarry with them, try to maintain a sub-culture with your beliefs and language, but allow the general population to continue their worship of the Sun-god"), with nary a warning to the Pre-christian Nephites to avoid the larger population's paganism, and it isn't as clear-cut as I wish it was.

You really need to read the BOM. It explains that prophets taught these people in the OT, they were warned, and refused to follow the warning. Your "huge problems" would be solved with a careful reading of the BOM text.

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I agree that is a huge problem.

Add in the fact that Nephi lists all the animals and ores they find in the New World, but fails to mention the different tribes of dark-skinned people (!?), and note God's distinct attitude change from the Old Testament Israelites finding "others" in their Promised Land ("kill them, and wipe out their paganistic culture"), to His more enlightened approach with the Lehites ("intermarry with them, try to maintain a sub-culture with your beliefs and language, but allow the general population to continue their worship of the Sun-god"), with nary a warning to the Pre-christian Nephites to avoid the larger population's paganism, and it isn't as clear-cut as I wish it was.

Perhaps this is how Nephi originally wrote 1 Nephi 18:25:

We know next to nothing about the culture and religious practices of Mesoamerica during the period of Nephite civilization. Almost all modern impressions of Mesoamerica are related to the study of artifacts and ruins that post date that period of time -- often by hundreds of years. There is no evidence whatsoever to support the argument that there were "pagans" or "sun-worshipers" in the area posited by Sorenson (and others) as a possible site for the Nephite civilization. Also, the Nephites needn't have assimilated many "others" into their culture in order to account for the things claimed by the text. Indeed, it is most likely that they moved into an area that was sparsely-populated, built up a largely agrarian-oriented culture, and steadily gained in numbers and strength over the period of several hundred years until the time they joined with the people of Zarahemla -- a people who, we are told, was exceedingly more numerous than the Nephites themselves.

The Nephites definitely do make reference to other people, and quite often. The people of Zarahemla are the most obvious example. As for the other hints, it is the modern reader that too often misses or otherwise imposes an interpretation upon those references that cannot be justified by the text itself.

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I agree that is a huge problem.

Add in the fact that Nephi lists all the animals and ores they find in the New World, but fails to mention the different tribes of dark-skinned people (!?), and note God's distinct attitude change from the Old Testament Israelites finding "others" in their Promised Land ("kill them, and wipe out their paganistic culture"), to His more enlightened approach with the Lehites ("intermarry with them, try to maintain a sub-culture with your beliefs and language, but allow the general population to continue their worship of the Sun-god"), with nary a warning to the Pre-christian Nephites to avoid the larger population's paganism, and it isn't as clear-cut as I wish it was.

Perhaps this is how Nephi originally wrote 1 Nephi 18:25: ......................

A prime example of how a reader motivated to see only one thing reads the text of the Book of Mormon.

Again, the text will not support the assumptions inherent in this comical reconstruction. Perhaps some prevalent LDS folk beliefs would support them, but not the text itself.

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cinepro:

I can understand an "us/them" view of the world, but in reality, there would have to be three groups of people coexisting in the land:

1. The pre-christian "Nephites" who are familiar with the story of Lehi, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the brass plates, observant of Mosaic law, etc.

2. The anti-christian "Lamanites" who are antagonistic against the Nephites, and want to destroy them.

3. The people who aren't "Nephite" or "Lamanite", who don't believe in the Christian teachings of the Nephites, but aren't antagonistic towards them. They just don't care. They hardly give the Nephites or Lamanites a second thought, and find their squabbles to be irrelevant or bothersome. (I believe these people are the only ones who have left archaeological evidence of their existence.)

Patently wrong within the context of the Nephite record.

There are only ever two groups of people to the Nephite historians: Us and Them. There are Nephites and there are Lamanites. All who are not Nephites are Lamanites.

This is an important key to understanding the Book of Mormon. Those who donâ??t â??get itâ? can never understand the book.

Whatever estimate one can give for the total size of the population of the Book of Mormon areas at any given time, there just doesn't seem to be a workable way to have these three groups coexisting in the scope of the Book of Mormon.

Why? There is no basis for your conclusion whatsoever. Even the current understanding of Mesoamerica would accommodate a relatively small, insular culture existing within a 1000 square mile area. You simply donâ??t know what youâ??re talking about. Read 1491 as a primer on this subject matter.

Especially when claims are made about whole cities being "Nephite" or "Lamanite" (or everyone in every city being "Nephite", with no "Lamanites" or "Others" anywhere in 4 Nephi).

What is a â??cityâ? in the context of the Book of Mormon? Do you know? Do you know what might have been considered a â??cityâ? in the context of pre-classic Mayan civilization? How many people would reside in such a â??city?â?

Global events in the Book of Mormon present a problem, because some things are claimed to have happened on a large scale, which would have affected the "others" to such a degree that we would expect it to show up in the archaeological record, such as the "full stop" in 33AD, where everyone everywhere in the Book of Mormon either dies or becomes Christian, with no pagans or heathens or atheists anywhere.

What is a â??globalâ? event in the context of the Book of Mormon? Do you know? To us, â??globalâ? means something very different than it did to someone living anywhere in the world 2000+ years ago. All of your arguments are based on completely flawed premises. You start with an assumption based in your ignorance of what an ancient record of the time and place should look like, and then proceed to impose those assumptions on the text. Of course, even people in the first century of the church were guilty of that very thing. But that doesnâ??t mean it was the correct exegetical approach to the text!

Anyway, I realize that discussing this issue with you is an exercise in futility. But hopefully some of the newcomers to the board will profit from some of the things that get said on this thread.

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The Nephites definitely do make reference to other people, and quite often. The people of Zarahemla are the most obvious example.

And this is a pretty major example. This is, precisely, the "holy crap, there are other people here" experience some have been expecting to see. Critics tend to dismiss this event because the people of Zarahemla are descended from Mulek. But unfortunately, we don't have that history. We don't even have an abridgement of it. We only have the explanation that they didn't keep a history. When Mulek arrived in the New Land, did he find others here? Did his people mingle with them? We don't know. We can't know.

This seems to me to be an enormous problem for those insisting that the Book of Mormon does not allow for the presence of "others." The Nephite record explicitly states that they did find "others." It also explicitly states that we have no detailed history of them to tell us what they found when they came here.

*SHRUG* Makes sense to me anyway.

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All of your arguments are based on completely flawed premises. You start with an assumption based in your ignorance of what an ancient record of the time and place should look like, and then proceed to impose those assumptions on the text. Of course, even people in the first century of the church were guilty of that very thing. But that doesnâ??t mean it was the correct exegetical approach to the text!

I'm not sure there is a correct exegetical approach. We are all hopelessly situated in a modern context that we will never escape. We bring a lot of baggage to the text, so much so that even Nephi recognizes this in telling us to liken the scriptures to ourselves.

The fundamental flaw here is in assuming that you can somehow approach the original meaning of the text, as if original meaning applies at all. When the author put pen to paper (or stylus to gold plate, as it were), the meaning he intended was forever altered by the mere fact of expressing it in a structured language. Then we have the summarizing, recasting, and editorializing by the abridgers and compilers of the book. Add to that Joseph Smith's expressing those "original" thoughts in English (which were once again subject to alteration through recopying the printer's manuscript and then typesetting (and punctuating) the original 1830.

What is the correct exegesis? Understanding based on Joseph Smith's retelling in 1830? Moroni's retelling in 400 AD? Mormon's redaction of the Nephite record? What exactly are we supposed to be getting at? And whose definitions are we to use? What does steel mean to Joseph Smith? To Moroni? To the brother of Jared?

Anyway, I realize that discussing this issue with you is an exercise in futility. But hopefully some of the newcomers to the board will profit from some of the things that get said on this thread.

Yes, it is futile because you and cinepro and I have our own biases and assumptions that we bring to the text. Reading is a messy business.

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I'm not sure there is a correct exegetical approach. We are all hopelessly situated in a modern context that we will never escape. We bring a lot of baggage to the text, so much so that even Nephi recognizes this in telling us to liken the scriptures to ourselves.

The fundamental flaw here is in assuming that you can somehow approach the original meaning of the text, as if original meaning applies at all. When the author put pen to paper (or stylus to gold plate, as it were), the meaning he intended was forever altered by the mere fact of expressing it in a structured language. Then we have the summarizing, recasting, and editorializing by the abridgers and compilers of the book. Add to that Joseph Smith's expressing those "original" thoughts in English (which were once again subject to alteration through recopying the printer's manuscript and then typesetting (and punctuating) the original 1830.

What is the correct exegesis? Understanding based on Joseph Smith's retelling in 1830? Moroni's retelling in 400 AD? Mormon's redaction of the Nephite record? What exactly are we supposed to be getting at? And whose definitions are we to use? What does steel mean to Joseph Smith? To Moroni? To the brother of Jared?

Yes, it is futile because you and cinepro and I have our own biases and assumptions that we bring to the text. Reading is a messy business.

Actually, the last fifty years has seen the development of many reliable methods for examining ancient texts; for applying superior exegetical methods to those texts. But I'm sure that as those tools and methods are increasingly used to examine the Book of Mormon, that we will see a sharp increase in this kind of response: "We all bring our own biases to the text ..."

The fact is, the exmo crowd is currently insistent that we only use LDS folk beliefs as the basis of our exegetical assumptions. cinepro is a proponent of this approach. Now you are branching out and saying that any exegetical approach is going to be inherently subjective, and therefore unreliable.

Well, I will only say that I am satisfied that my exegetical approach to the text of the BoM has proven completely satisfactory to me in terms of answering the many purely intellectual questions that revolve around the book. If others choose to disbelieve it and use an alternate exegetical method to justify that disbelief, I'm fine with that, too.

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