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A Peru setting for the Book of Mormon


erichard

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I finally got around to watching the free DVD I got from a small order I made with nephiproject.com.

This dvd gives George Potter's support for a Peru setting for the Book of Mormon. He promises to continue his research in Peru next year.

Here is a summary of the points he gives on this dvd:

Ancient Peru means present day Peru and the surrounding countries of Bolivia, Ecuador and parts of Chile.

1. Gold Plates Thin metal gold plates have been found. It has been shown that people in the area were working gold as early as 1900 BC. In contrast, the earliest evidence of metal working in Mesoamerica is about 900 AD.

2. BoM people mined gold and silver in abundance, as well as copper and iron. The gold found by the Spanish in this land is legendary, and yet there is evidence that the Incan priests hid much gold from the Spanish. Large collections of highly skilled gold artifacts remain. Also evidence of iron is found. In contrast there is no evidence of any iron workings in Mesoamerica.

3. The Nephites worshipped Jesus Christ. The Quetzalcoatl legends start around 900 AD, long after the time of Christ. In contrast, the premier god of the Andes is Viracocha. He dressed in a white robe and wore sandals. He is always in the form of a normal man, and never with the beast like features associated with Quetzalcoatl.

4. Jesus Christ visited the Americas. The Peruvians have legends of a bearded white god who came among them and taught them and healed the sick. The Icons of Viracocha usually show him with tears.

5. A language with middle eastern roots. Mesoamerica has many Chinese roots:

http://www.chinese.tcu.edu/www_chinese3_tcu_edu.htm However, the native Quechua in Peru has semetic roots by many studies.

6. A vanished written language. The Incans told the Spanish that they had had a written language, but it was lost long before. In contrast, hundreds of written documents have been found in Mesoamerica. Jacob 4:1-2 predicts only things written on plates will survive.

7 Great cities built form 3rd millennium BC. In the andies city ruins from 2700 BC exist. In contrast, cities in Mesoamerica exist from only 1200 BC. The cities of Caral date from 2700 BC and the ruins resemble the ziggurats from Mesopotamia from which the Jaredites came. The Book of Mormon main civilization ended around 400 AD. The Mesoamerican classic period was from 300 AD to 900 AD.

Archeological periods (civilizations) for proposed Book of Mormon lands:

Caral -- Norte Chico 2700-300 BC (Jaredites)

Central Andes -- Early Intermediate 600 BC to AD 200 (Land of Nephi)

Early Tiwanaku IV -- Late Chiripa II Middle formative 600 BC - AD 400 (Lamanite lands)

Northern Titicaca basin Late/Upper Formative 500 BC - AD 400 (Zarahemla)

8. Land of BoM was divided into quarters: Alma 43:26 52:10. The Incas called their land the land of the four quarters, and divided the land into four quarters.

9. The land was covered with borders, meaning Mountains. The word borders means mountains in Hebrew and Arabic. The book of Mormon talks of mountains. This is indicative of the Andes which has many mountains.

10. The Incans were great Highway builders. The BoM speaks of many highways. 3 Nephi 8:13 The Incas and preIncans used cement, as also mentioned in the BoM.

11. The Nephites were Hebrews The only place the Hebrew DNA has been found in the Americas so far is in South America.

12. BoM people divided into two groups: fair skinned and dark skinned. Artifacts and legends in Peru tell of two earlier people: one fair skinned and one dark skinned. The legends say the dark skinned killed of the fair skinned people. Artifacts show well dressed light skinned people fighting dark skinned people with only loin clothes.

13. The Nephites were skilled ship builders. The reed boats in Titicaca match the reed boats in Mesopotamia. The Incans had large ships when the Spanish came.

14 The people of the BoM had horses. But it never mentions anyone riding horses. It was common in ancient histories for Generals to call new animals they found with names they were used to. Possibly Nephi saw Llamas and called them horses.

15 The BoM had many types of grain. There are many types of grains grown in the Andes.

16 The BoM people were shepherds. The BoM mentions sheep and shepherding many times. This fact alone removes North and Mesoamerica as a candidate for the BoM history. The only domesticated animals the Mayans had were turkeys and dogs. In the andes Alpacas are hered like sheep and the Spanish described them as sheep. The Nephites could have also called them sheep. Vicunas would be what are called wild goats in the BoM.

17 Elephants, pigs and cattle are mentioned in the BoM. These terms must have applied to Andes versions of these animals.

18 The Nephites had solar and lunar calendars. The ancient Peruvians also had solar and lunar calendars.

19 The Incans had large graineries. The BoM speaks of storages of grain at times.

20 Costly apparel. Silk spoken of in the Book of Mormon. The Peruvians were the master weavers of the ancient Americas. Silk could be any finely woven cloth.

I found some of his points original and well worth considering.

Richard

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Yes, George Potter put out some incredible videos on the Arabian geography and did a fascinating segment on the location of the real Mount Sinai. Many of his points in the Peruvian history and traditions are interesting, but they're still far from conclusive. As ebeddoulos points out, it will not likely survive the "map" test.

I don't view the current criticisms of Mesoamerica to be a problem. Legends most always degrade over time and the geographic features set works well in Mesoamerica. I'd like to see Potter's candidates for the Sidon River, the narrow neck of land, the regions nearly surrounded by water, the East and West Seas and, of course, Cumorah. Mesoamerica also is rich in traditions of geographical unrest via earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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In finding a model, one must first look for a fit in the land, then see if the culture matches. Many of the prophets in the Book of Mormon saw a time when the remnants of their people would be "scattered." Again, this was very true of Mesoamerica. Every advanced nation has its fine clothing and jewelry, and so did the Mesoamerican cultures. It doesn't make much sense to say that because the clothing and jewelry were superior in Site B than Site A, that Site B is to be preferred. As for the legends of a bearded white god with white robes and sandals, there are similar legends about Quetzalcoatl. If the Nephite Christians who would not denounce their religion fled south, it's more likely that their legends would be closer to the fact than the legends of the people who remained. And who knows, many of these could have easily reached Peru over the years, as well as explorers from years before.

To make Peru viable, you have to have a map, and I just don't see it in South America. Even the folks who believe in the Great Lakes region cannot get their maps to fit anywhere near the same precision as it fits in Mesoamerica. Peru also has it's cold weather, which is a major problem for the Great Lakes area, as the Book of Mormon never mentions snow or ice. Only Nephi uses it, and only once if I recall correctly. If Potter can produce a valid geographical map that fits, I'll be completely astounded. Right now, my bet is that he can't do it.

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I don't put as much trust in maps. Aside from changes in landscape, there is also the question as to what seas are, and how big they can be. But then I am generally cautious with Book of Mormon placement, it moves too much for me to tie my precolumbian horse to it.

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Here is a summary of the points he gives on this dvd:

I will provide my impressions based on this summary. I have not seen the DVD and don't know exactly what evidence Potter is providing. However, there is a lot that is suggestive in the summary points. I am trying it in two parts since I was informed that I "have posted more than the allowed number of quoted blocks of text." We'll see if it accepts half of them.

The very first thing that is very suggestive to me is the nature of the points. This is not a carefully crafted argument connecting the Book of Mormon with the real world, but very much the same kind of shotgun parallel lists we have seen before. It is a methodology that produces results that typically look better than they are. They can be impressive to those who want to believe them, and unimpressive when you really start digging in to them. This list lacks the important rigor of linking place, time and culture simultaneously. Therefore, we are getting not a coherent argument that uses the data from specific places and times, but an unconnected series that covers way too much geography and time depth (let alone without being appropriately tied to the right cultures from those locations and times).

Ancient Peru means present day Peru and the surrounding countries of Bolivia, Ecuador and parts of Chile.

That is a very large area. This begs the question of whether Potter has done the distance calculations that Sorenson provided for Mesoamerica. While Potter can use a different argument to come up with a different constant, the resulting presentation of distances related to the text is critical. Perhaps it is there, but not in this synopsis.

1. Gold Plates Thin metal gold plates have been found. It has been shown that people in the area were working gold as early as 1900 BC. In contrast, the earliest evidence of metal working in Mesoamerica is about 900 AD.

Gold working is earlier in South America than Mesoamerica. However, trying to make a point that one region has one thing that is better than another model may be a reason to compare the models--but only if there are other reasons for the comparison. The simple fact of gold working doesn't tell us anything about whether or not the area is related to the Book of Mormon. It is an interesting supplemental piece, but not a fundamental argument.

2. BoM people mined gold and silver in abundance, as well as copper and iron. The gold found by the Spanish in this land is legendary, and yet there is evidence that the Incan priests hid much gold from the Spanish. Large collections of highly skilled gold artifacts remain. Also evidence of iron is found. In contrast there is no evidence of any iron workings in Mesoamerica.

This has nothing to do with a connection to the Book of Mormon. Not only is it too late, but the same thing could be said of Mesoamerica.

3. The Nephites worshipped Jesus Christ. The Quetzalcoatl legends start around 900 AD, long after the time of Christ. In contrast, the premier god of the Andes is Viracocha. He dressed in a white robe and wore sandals. He is always in the form of a normal man, and never with the beast like features associated with Quetzalcoatl.

I may spend the rest of my life trying to get Mormons to understand the problems associated with using native legends to support the Book of Mormon. This is an attempt to say "we liked the Quetzalcoatl-Christ connection, but we think Viracocha is better." The problem is that all of the problems involved in comprehending the native Quetzalcoatl are present with Viracocha, but to my knowledge, the data available to sort it all out is not as comprehensive or detailed for Viracocha as it is for Quetzalcoatl. That means that we have a bigger issue trying to tie Viracocha to anything in the Book of Mormon, because it is highly likely that the legend that we have from the Spanish sources did to that myth what they did to Quetzalcoatl--but we may not have the data to know that. I confess that it isn't my area of expertise, so I don't know. However, when there are so many white, bearded, gods, and all of them share the fact of being described by the Spaniards, it immediately suggests that we are seeing a Spanish myth more accurately than a native one.

Short version--I am really suspicious of this point.

4. Jesus Christ visited the Americas. The Peruvians have legends of a bearded white god who came among them and taught them and healed the sick. The Icons of Viracocha usually show him with tears.

See above--but amplified. These same kinds of parallels are given for Quetzalcoatl, but the native legends are not nearly as parallel as the parallel is written to be.

5. A language with middle eastern roots. Mesoamerica has many Chinese roots:

http://www.chinese.t...se3_tcu_edu.htm However, the native Quechua in Peru has semetic roots by many studies.

Please do not accept Potter's linguistic statements. Neither will be accepted by any linguist with training in the appropriate languages.

6. A vanished written language. The Incans told the Spanish that they had had a written language, but it was lost long before. In contrast, hundreds of written documents have been found in Mesoamerica. Jacob 4:1-2 predicts only things written on plates will survive.

This is a fascinating one given the way mythology developed in the crucible of conquest. The "lost book" theme is pretty universal, even among unrelated and far-distant locations. It always occurs because of the presence of the Europeans and their book. Given the lack of any evidence of a script anywhere, this has the feel of the other myths of contact rather than as history. The reading of Jacob 4:1-2 is a very interesting reading of those verses--but unconvincing.

7 Great cities built form 3rd millennium BC. In the andies city ruins from 2700 BC exist. In contrast, cities in Mesoamerica exist from only 1200 BC. The cities of Caral date from 2700 BC and the ruins resemble the ziggurats from Mesopotamia from which the Jaredites came. The Book of Mormon main civilization ended around 400 AD. The Mesoamerican classic period was from 300 AD to 900 AD.

This is much better on the dating, but we are missing the geographic connections. We have to have the earlier cities north of the Nephite cities. As I remember, that doesn't fit the Andean situation. As for the dating itself, I have argued for a much more recent Jaredite timeline. If I am correct (and of course, only in that case) then the older cities in the Andes are irrelevant and the Mesoamerican Jaredite timeline works extremely well.

Archeological periods (civilizations) for proposed Book of Mormon lands:

Caral -- Norte Chico 2700-300 BC (Jaredites)

Central Andes -- Early Intermediate 600 BC to AD 200 (Land of Nephi)

Early Tiwanaku IV -- Late Chiripa II Middle formative 600 BC - AD 400 (Lamanite lands)

Northern Titicaca basin Late/Upper Formative 500 BC - AD 400 (Zarahemla)

I don't handle these cultures and would have to look them up. The dates provided are good enough, but what must happen is that each of these has to be correlated to relative geography as well.

8. Land of BoM was divided into quarters: Alma 43:26 52:10. The Incas called their land the land of the four quarters, and divided the land into four quarters.

Many peoples divide their land into quarters. This is just as easily coincidence as correspondence. You could make the same argument for Mesoamerica.

9. The land was covered with borders, meaning Mountains. The word borders means mountains in Hebrew and Arabic. The book of Mormon talks of mountains. This is indicative of the Andes which has many mountains.

Potters assertion that borders=mountains has been questioned in his Old World connection. That doesn't give us much of a solid base when the same questionable meaning is applied to the New World. If, however, all we had to do to locate the Book of Mormon was to find mountains, then we can exclude Kansas, but we have a long way to go to narrow it down after than.

10. The Incans were great Highway builders. The BoM speaks of many highways. 3 Nephi 8:13 The Incas and preIncans used cement, as also mentioned in the BoM.

The Inca are post Book of Mormon. The issue of cement is not simply the use of the material, but the fact that it is part of a geogrpahic marker. Finding cement isn't enough. It has to be buildings of cement in a location of many waters, no tress, north of Nephite lands, and between say 100-400 CE.

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The second section:

11. The Nephites were Hebrews The only place the Hebrew DNA has been found in the Americas so far is in South America.

This is sufficiently generalized that I couldn't make a specific comment. However, there are multiple ways in which it is incorrect. "Hebrew" DNA has been found in lots of places--some way too late for the Book of Mormon and some way too early (and that depends upon the definition of "Hebrew" DNA). This is a suspicious claim that I suspect will not stand to scientific scrutiny.

12. BoM people divided into two groups: fair skinned and dark skinned. Artifacts and legends in Peru tell of two earlier people: one fair skinned and one dark skinned. The legends say the dark skinned killed of the fair skinned people. Artifacts show well dressed light skinned people fighting dark skinned people with only loin clothes.

We have a non-expert interpreting both legend and art. That is dangerous. There is a similar difference in Mesoamerica in painted depictions, but the "skin color" depicts either enemy/friend, or higher/lower status. Of course, since I maintain that the Book of Mormon is speaking metaphorically and not literally, I don't expect to find light and dark pigmented peoples. I think this is a misreading of both the Book of Mormon and the native legends and art.

13. The Nephites were skilled ship builders. The reed boats in Titicaca match the reed boats in Mesopotamia. The Incans had large ships when the Spanish came.

The Inca are too late. The Nephites came in a boat, and then we don't hear of them for 500 years or so. Then, when we do, we have no idea what kind of boat Hagoth had. This is a parallel of description that is made to look better than it is.

14 The people of the BoM had horses. But it never mentions anyone riding horses. It was common in ancient histories for Generals to call new animals they found with names they were used to. Possibly Nephi saw Llamas and called them horses.

This perpetuates the New World problem of horse but simply substitutes a different animal. If you already have a good geogrpahic correlation, you might use this to explain the anomalies, but it is not evidence.

15 The BoM had many types of grain. There are many types of grains grown in the Andes.

Empty parallel.

16 The BoM people were shepherds. The BoM mentions sheep and shepherding many times. This fact alone removes North and Mesoamerica as a candidate for the BoM history. The only domesticated animals the Mayans had were turkeys and dogs. In the andes Alpacas are hered like sheep and the Spanish described them as sheep. The Nephites could have also called them sheep. Vicunas would be what are called wild goats in the BoM.

The Book of Mormon mentions are in the context of texts that are repeating Biblical texts. There are no texts where the Book of Mormon is describing their own country (and excluding replicated sermons, such as the Sermon on the Mount) which describe sheep. On top of that, Alpacas are not sheep, so the problem of a correlation is multiplied. Again, this works best as an answer to anomalies after the real case has been made. It is a very weak argument if you try to build a case on it.

17 Elephants, pigs and cattle are mentioned in the BoM. These terms must have applied to Andes versions of these animals.

See above.

18 The Nephites had solar and lunar calendars. The ancient Peruvians also had solar and lunar calendars.

As did other peoples (including Mesoamericans). As for the Book of Mormon solar and lunar calendars, Spackman has provided good evidence of a continued use of the lunar calendar. There is no explicit internal explanation of either a solar or lunar calendar, let alone a description of both.

19 The Incans had large graineries. The BoM speaks of storages of grain at times.

Empty parallel. The Inca are way too late.

20 Costly apparel. Silk spoken of in the Book of Mormon. The Peruvians were the master weavers of the ancient Americas. Silk could be any finely woven cloth.

See above--any one dealing with animals.

To date I have not seen anything coming from this project that begins to approach the rigor needed to actually approach the issue of the Book of Mormon in America.

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Excellent post, Brant.

In Hebrew and Canaanite borders meant either borders or coasts. Never mountains. The Hijaz is named the barrier (not exactly boundary) not becuase it is a mountain range, but because it cuts between two areas.

I think it is painfuly obvious that Potter travelled his trails by jeep, not by foot!

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Potter's borders=mountains argument perplexed me when I read "Lehi in the Wilderness."

In Arabic, border is Ḥadd (Ḥudūd), a cutting edge of a knife or sword, hence a cutting or dividing line between two countries. Mountain is jabal (jibāl)--gabal in Egyptian Arabic, which is the purest form, of course--which means mountain and not border.

Jeff Chadwick seems equally perplexed in his review of the book: The Wrong Place for Lehi's Trail and the Valley of Lemuel.

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While it doesn't appear so far that his "Peru" theory will work out, I still have found his "Lehi in the Wilderness" book and DVD's to be some of the best research on the subject (next generation compared to previous works). Now, whether they picked a part of the trail wrong or was a couple of miles off of something, I'm willing to give them that leeway, but that's all speculative and up for grabs anyway. His evidence otherwise is solid and plentiful along each and every point.

I think he still is likely 95% right in most of his conclusions in that work of his. Human error and opinion is still possible in any good scholarship and research. Unlike anti-mormonism which is about 95% WRONG in everything they say. Anyway, good stuff it is.... At least his current work can add to the body of knowledge if he misses the ball on this one.

Also, for the previous work he had a lot of help. Is anyone helping and assisting on the current work? If not, he's definitely making a mistake.

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