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Interesting Argument Against "Others" in the Book of Mormon


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In 1995, an LDS Bishop named Gaylen Hinton published a book entitled "Lamanites, Lands and The Book of Mormon". In it, he argues strongly for a hemispherical geography for the Book of Mormon. The short (84 page) book is filled with arguments and observations that would make even an armchair apologist gasp, but he does raise one interesting point.

In discussing whether or not the Book of Mormon describes a scenario that involves "others" (i.e. non-Lehite, Mulekite or Jaredite natives in the New World co-existing with BoM peoples), he says:

Throughout the Book of Mormon there are many accounts of dissenters that left the Nephites and went to join the Lamanites or to the Gadianton robbers. The only time recorded in the Book of Mormon where an effort was made to try to stop a dissenter from going to the Lamanites was in the case of Amalickiah, who was guilty of crimes against the people of Nephi anyway. (see Alma 46:29:30) Apparently, if someone, or some group, decided to go over to the Lamanites or to the Gadianton robbers, nothing was usually done about it.

However, there are at least three occasions in the Book of Mormon where disgruntled groups of people tried to leave the Nephite society and go into the land northward. On each of these attempts, the Nephites made every effort to stop them.

For example, there was a group of people from the land of Morainton who had a dispute with a neighboring land. (Se Alma 50:26:35.) When they saw that they could not get what they wanted, they attempted to flee into the land northward. But Captain Moroni found out about their plan, and he immediately sent an army to stop them. He feared that if they succeeded in getting to the land northward, it "would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty." (Alma 50:32) Moroni was afraid that they would establish their own colony in the land northward, which would eventually lead to a conflict with the Nephites.

If there had already been other people in the land northward, it would have been no less dangerous to allow dissenters to join them than to join the Lamanites. After all, whoever they might have been, they could not have been any worse than the Lamanites were. But if there were no other people there, allowing another group to form their own colony could have proved very serious in the long run.

Moroni tells us that "...the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possessions on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward...Now this was wisdom in the Nephites...that they might have a country wither they might flee, according to their desires." (Alma 22:33-34)

Had any other groups of people already been in the land northward, Mormon could never had made the above statement. It would then not have been the Nephites' country, and they could not have done with it according to their desires. Therefore Mormon's words confirm that there could not have been any other people in the land northward at that time.

In several places in the Book of Mormon, we read that the land northward had been peopled, but that those people had been destroyed. (See Mosiah 8:8-12; 21:26; Alma 22:30.) If there had sill been people in the land northward, surely in the history of the Nephites there would have been some contact with them. Then the Nephites would not have been able to say that the people of the land northward had been destroyed, for there would have still been people there. Surely Mormon, with a thousand years of history before him, and the advantage of prophetic perspective, would not have scribed the words "had been peopled" if there were still other people there.

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In discussing whether or not the Book of Mormon describes a scenario that involves "others" (i.e. non-Lehite, Mulekite or Jaredite natives in the New World co-existing with BoM peoples), he says:

It is an interesting argument, but it has problems. Hinton mentions the people of Moriantion trying to go northward. Here is the relevant text:

29 Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward. (Alma 50:29)

After the great war with the Lamanites in which this incident takes place, we have a migration northward that was allowed - apparently to the same destination:

3 And it came to pass in the forty and sixth, yea, there was much contention and many dissensions; in the which there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land.

4 And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers.

5 Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land.(Helaman 3:3 - 5)

There is never an indication of Nephites in the north, but someone had been there. Of course, one might argue that it was old Jaredite lands. That, of course, is dependent upon the way you read the text as history. If you read it that way, then all of the people who went northward eventually become those described in this verse:

8 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.

9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings. (Helaman 3:8 - 9)

Real world conditions suggest that this would not have happened based on the emmigrant population. It is a more conservative reading of the text (at least against human history) to have "others" in the north who were the ones who had denuded the area of trees and begun making the houses of cement. Of course, this position is bolstered in the LGT by the plausibility of the timing and geographic location of Teotihuacan.

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