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Limited Geography Theories


jskains

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So the big points in favor of traditional one Hill/North American views (Hemispheric Model) is the Jeredites, the position that anyone against the Nephites were considered Lamanites, and finally the heavy adoption theme.

What are the current driving forces for this need for FAIR and other groups to limit the geography of the BoM?

JMS

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LGT does not "limit" the geography of the Nephites/Lamanites. It merely limits the geograhic scope of the BOM text.

For example, the land northward is barely mentioned except to say that there were many records. We know nothing of the "land southward", beyond the location of the Lamanites. Our view of the BOM peoples can certainly expand to the entire western hemisphere, only that the text of the BOM is located in mesoamerica.

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So the big points in favor of traditional one Hill/North American views (Hemispheric Model) is the Jeredites, the position that anyone against the Nephites were considered Lamanites, and finally the heavy adoption theme.

What are the current driving forces for this need for FAIR and other groups to limit the geography of the BoM?

JMS

My view is that it is a lack of faith.

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George Q. Cannon, John Taylor's nephew and counselor, put the issue well in Cannon, George Q. “Editorial Thoughts: The Book of Mormon Geography”, The Juvenile Instructor: 1 January 1890: 25:18–19. "But valuable as is the Book of Mormon both in doctrine and history, yet it is possible to put this sacred volume to uses for which it was never intended, uses which are detrimental rather than advantageous to the cause of truth, and consequently to the work of the Lord. . . . The First Presidency has often been asked to prepare some suggestive map illustrative of Nephite geography, but have never consented to do so. Nor are we acquainted with any of the Twelve Apostles who would undertake such a task. The reason is, that without further information they are not prepared even to suggest. The word of the Lord or the translation of other ancient records is required to clear up many points now so obscure."

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George Q. Cannon, John Taylor's nephew and counselor, put the issue well in Cannon, George Q. “Editorial Thoughts: The Book of Mormon Geography”, The Juvenile Instructor: 1 January 1890: 25:18–19. "But valuable as is the Book of Mormon both in doctrine and history, yet it is possible to put this sacred volume to uses for which it was never intended, uses which are detrimental rather than advantageous to the cause of truth, and consequently to the work of the Lord. . . . The First Presidency has often been asked to prepare some suggestive map illustrative of Nephite geography, but have never consented to do so. Nor are we acquainted with any of the Twelve Apostles who would undertake such a task. The reason is, that without further information they are not prepared even to suggest. The word of the Lord or the translation of other ancient records is required to clear up many points now so obscure."

And I would agree that Mormon Mesoamericanists, such as John Sorenson and a lot of what FARMS has published, do exactly what George Q. Cannon says shouldn't happen.

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And I would agree that Mormon Mesoamericanists, such as John Sorenson and a lot of what FARMS has published, do exactly what George Q. Cannon says shouldn't happen.

These "Mormon Mesoamericanists"are engaged in their work for various reasons, the biggest, I suppose, being to limit archaeological and genetic attacks along the BoM locations and peoples. Such discussion generates much heat but little light.
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These "Mormon Mesoamericanists"are engaged in their work for various reasons, the biggest, I suppose, being to limit archaeological and genetic attacks along the BoM locations and peoples. Such discussion generates much heat but little light.

I guess that depends on how you choose to interpret the data. I find alot of it faith inspiring. You may not consider it light, but I do find it enlightening.

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I guess my concern is some people seem to be defending problems that might not actually be problems. The DNA issue to me did not force one to suddenly create two Hill Cumorahs or force the location of activity far south or even disclaim that they were Principle Ancestors of the Native American people.

I think sometimes Apologists create issues and defend issues for the sake of defending them. And then it leads to the calls of "whitewashing" because suddenly FAIR (for example) creates a defense that contradicts parts of what the Church teaches...

JMHO.

JMS

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These "Mormon Mesoamericanists"are engaged in their work for various reasons,

I suppose that is a given.

the biggest, I suppose, being to limit archaeological and genetic attacks along the BoM locations and peoples.

That doesn't describe any of them that I know, or have read (and that encompases most of them). I can guarantee that it has absolutely nothing to do with my interest in the topic.

Of course, you are quite free to hold your opinions, but you should know that it is an opinion in contradiction of all available evidence. I give you personal assurance of that, based on my participation in the subject for almost 40 years, and conversations with those whose interests extend at least 20 years beyond that.

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I suppose that is a given.

That doesn't describe any of them that I know, or have read (and that encompases most of them). I can guarantee that it has absolutely nothing to do with my interest in the topic.

Of course, you are quite free to hold your opinions, but you should know that it is an opinion in contradiction of all available evidence. I give you personal assurance of that, based on my participation in the subject for almost 40 years, and conversations with those whose interests extend at least 20 years beyond that.

We all know you're a faithless, amateur historian. Just admit it. ;)

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We all know you're a faithless, amateur historian. Just admit it. ;)

Maybe he is filthy too?

I am a little disheartened that some would claim that because we hold to a mesoamerican view we are faithless. I am glad you posted what you did. It reminds me to not take some things so seriously.

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What are the current driving forces for this need for FAIR and other groups to limit the geography of the BoM?

JMS

Because the evidence does not support a hemispheric model. For now they feel a limited geography can more easily explain the lack of evidence.

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Maybe he is filthy too?

Definitely filthy. Depending which side you're coming from, he is either a filthy apologist or a filthy apostate.

I can smell the stink of his Mesoamerican mire...

In all seriousness, Brant has been one of the greatest helps to providing a cultural context to the BoM. Someday, when I am no longer a poor college student, I will buy his BoM commentary.

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Questions, questions, and more questions! If the BoM itself did not raise questions there would never have been any inquiry into its location in the Western Hemisphere. But it purports to be a history located somewhere in the WH. The Bible's general location has never been an issue of actual existence. The BoM started out in geographic obscurity and remains so. That is dissatisfying to many students of the scriptures. It needs "balancing" so that the two "sticks" of Judah and Joseph are more equal. But the trouble is that the more you delve to achieve some kind of geographical (real world) balance the further away the BoM seems to get from any historical basis. That has been my experience.

Where I am now with the BoM is to treat it as a reworking of scriptural themes in a new setting and leave the real world out of it. And I treat the Bible (especially the OT, and even most of all the pre-Israelite parts) the same way.

The purpose of scripture is to teach principles of thinking and behavior to better your life. When I compare "real history" to scriptural "history" I do not see that much difference: history really is "his story", whosoever is doing the creating of it. The further back we go the fewer "facts" we can hold in evidence; the greater the distortion, the more likely the agenda-based reworking of what has survived to our own day, etc. This discovery was a great disappointment to me, and led directly to my current view of scripture: religion-makers and defenders are just fallible humans also, ergo all religion is manmade including the scriptures produced by religion. There is no reason why we should accept any of it as literal and accurate history at all....

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George Q. Cannon, John Taylor's nephew and counselor, put the issue well in Cannon, George Q. “Editorial Thoughts: The Book of Mormon Geography”, The Juvenile Instructor: 1 January 1890: 25:18–19. "But valuable as is the Book of Mormon both in doctrine and history, yet it is possible to put this sacred volume to uses for which it was never intended, uses which are detrimental rather than advantageous to the cause of truth, and consequently to the work of the Lord. . . . The First Presidency has often been asked to prepare some suggestive map illustrative of Nephite geography, but have never consented to do so. Nor are we acquainted with any of the Twelve Apostles who would undertake such a task. The reason is, that without further information they are not prepared even to suggest. The word of the Lord or the translation of other ancient records is required to clear up many points now so obscure."

Yet our own scriptures and a quote from Joseph Smith seem to contradict what you wrote;

Doctrine and Covenants 88:78

78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

Doctrine and Covenants 97:14

14 That they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.

"Mr. Stephen's great developments of antiquities are made bare to the eyes of all people by reading the history of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They lived about the narrow neck of Land, which now embraces Central America…Who would have dreamed that twelve years would have developed such incontrovertible testimony to the Book of Mormon? Surely the Lord worketh and none can hinder.

It would not be bad plan to compare Mr. Stephens' ruined cities with those in the Book of Mormon. Light cleaves to light and facts are supported by facts. The truth injures no one…” (times and Seasons 3:927)

Anijen

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I suppose that is a given.

That doesn't describe any of them that I know, or have read (and that encompases most of them). I can guarantee that it has absolutely nothing to do with my interest in the topic.

Of course, you are quite free to hold your opinions, but you should know that it is an opinion in contradiction of all available evidence. I give you personal assurance of that, based on my participation in the subject for almost 40 years, and conversations with those whose interests extend at least 20 years beyond that.

20 years beyond 40 years? I am having fun, Brant. I have talked to some who are concerned about archaeology and genetics as avenues of attack. I like President Cannon's comments. Worrying about geography of the BoM is not productive, in his thinking.

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Yet our own scriptures and a quote from Joseph Smith seem to contradict what you wrote;

Doctrine and Covenants 88:78

78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

Doctrine and Covenants 97:14

14 That they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.

"Mr. Stephen's great developments of antiquities are made bare to the eyes of all people by reading the history of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. They lived about the narrow neck of Land, which now embraces Central America…Who would have dreamed that twelve years would have developed such incontrovertible testimony to the Book of Mormon? Surely the Lord worketh and none can hinder.

It would not be bad plan to compare Mr. Stephens' ruined cities with those in the Book of Mormon. Light cleaves to light and facts are supported by facts. The truth injures no one…” (times and Seasons 3:927)

Anijen

Anijen, I quoted President Cannon; I did not write anything of my own opinion. MelvinCJohnson, on 10 May 2011 - 08:18 AM, said: George Q. Cannon, John Taylor's nephew and counselor, put the issue well in Cannon, George Q. “Editorial Thoughts: The Book of Mormon Geography”, The Juvenile Instructor: 1 January 1890: 25:18–19. "But valuable as is the Book of Mormon both in doctrine and history, yet it is possible to put this sacred volume to uses for which it was never intended, uses which are detrimental rather than advantageous to the cause of truth, and consequently to the work of the Lord. . . . The First Presidency has often been asked to prepare some suggestive map illustrative of Nephite geography, but have never consented to do so. Nor are we acquainted with any of the Twelve Apostles who would undertake such a task. The reason is, that without further information they are not prepared even to suggest. The word of the Lord or the translation of other ancient records is required to clear up many points now so obscure."

I am quite willing to let Joseph Smith, the LDS scriptures, and President Cannon work this out.

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I certainly don't see it that way. Is there a way we can disagree without your assumption that my faith is qualitatively deficient with respect to yours?

My comment that the LGT is spawned from a lack of faith shouldn't be read to say that I have greater faith than somebody else. You know nothing about me or what I believe, nor do I expect that you would or should.

Rather, I've been following this theory a long time. It was originated by people who are troubled by a lack of on-the-ground evidence for the Book of Mormon. What better way to counter that fear than to draw the ground so small that nobody can find it?

I agree with President Joseph F. Smith who said that such a theory demonstrates a lack of faith. I agree with President Cannon that the Book of Mormon is the message. Trying to prove an LGT basis for the Book of Mormon is no different than publishing papers on the possible whereabouts of Noah's Ark.

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I am quite willing to let Joseph Smith, the LDS scriptures, and President Cannon work this out.

As am I. My point is there are authorities who say don't look and there are those who say it would not be a bad plan... I am on the side where there is no harm done positing geographical data to form a theory. I have always kept the main point of the Book of Mormon in the forefront that is to bring people to Christ. I have never let my theorizing shadow that point although I have been accused of having a lesser faith even apostate just for subscribing to a Mesoamerican view.

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As am I. My point is there are authorities who say don't look and there are those who say it would not be a bad plan... I am on the side where there is no harm done positing geographical data to form a theory. I have always kept the main point of the Book of Mormon in the forefront that is to bring people to Christ. I have never let my theorizing shadow that point although I have been accused of having a lesser faith even apostate just for subscribing to a Mesoamerican view.

Apostasy and or heresy cannot exist if your theories do not contradict defined church stands. I do not believe that the LDS church took a broad hemispheric position on this issue. A brother of mine agrees generally with your type of thinking and another one thinks much like Bob.

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Worrying about geography of the BoM is not productive, in his thinking.

President Canon was waiting for more information, and that is always wise. In this case, however, we not only have more information, but that information serves a purpose much more important that proving the Book of Mormon. It helps us understand it. That is always a worthy goal.

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It was originated by people who are troubled by a lack of on-the-ground evidence for the Book of Mormon. What better way to counter that fear than to draw the ground so small that nobody can find it?

It seems to me that it was originated by people who decided that before looking for evidence, it might be a good idea to figure out where to look. The Washburn's 1938 book offered a purely internal geography. They found that the limited geography comes from the text. No one had done that work before. Hence President Cannon, who wrote decades before the publication of their work, did not have access to that information. Not having studied out the relevant details in their minds, not having prepared their minds for the morrow, not having taken the time to learn about the relevant languages, countries and kingdoms for the kind of contextualization that permits one to read the text with the eyes and mindset of those who wrote it (2 Nephi 25), the great bulk of the relevant information still many decades from discovery away even had they given it a go. The B. H. Roberts study demonstrates the folly of trying to answer questions prematurely without having done the necessary close reading, and just as importantly, having the necessary level of scholarship to turn to. For President Cannon's era, "Wait and see," was the best they could do. But times changes the situation.

The "nobody can find it" remark resembles rather smarmy cartoon in Sunstone that accompanied a John Charles Duffy essay. It does not at all describe the puzzle testing situation I get from watching Larry Poulson's recent FAIR presentation on the topic. It seems to me that he found the best candidate for the Sidon. And while that is not proof, it provides a setting in which to begin looking in a realistic context. If that identification is correct, what else fits? And how does that context illuminate the text? I find the illumination matters. I see more in the text than I did before.

I agree with President Joseph F. Smith who said that such a theory demonstrates a lack of faith.

A lack faith in what specifically though? In God? In the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The restoration of the Gospel? In living prophets? In elements of received tradition? Of the Orthodox religion? The infallibility of one's favored authorities, regardless of the promise of any possible further light and knowledge that might be had by those who knocked, and searched, and dug, and read, and studied? Or the ability of the text to survive and indeed thrive given the most rigorous experiments, the most careful searching, real world contextualization, and importantly, given a frank admission of human limitations and knowledge?

I agree with President Cannon that the Book of Mormon is the message.

Is it enough to just wave it around as a sign pointing to Joseph Smith? If just a pointing sign was all we needed, the untranslated and untranslatable plates would serve as well.

Trying to prove an LGT basis for the Book of Mormon is no different than publishing papers on the possible whereabouts of Noah's Ark.

There's is no point trying to prove a paradigm when an opponent can simply say to one's efforts, "So what? I hold to orthodoxy," whatever that happens to be. This kind of judgment involves no risk, no trial by jury, no presentation of evidence, no cross examination, no experimentation, no planting and nurturing, no intellectual enlightening of the mind or increase in understanding, no unexpected discovery, no new revelation within or without the text. Trial by orthodoxy is not conducive to the discovery or production of further light and knowledge.

Paradigm testing is quite a different thing. It asks, "which paradigm is better", regardless of whether it is orthodox or not. It simply asks that if orthodoxy really is better that orthodoxy provides a demonstration that such is the case. Not just assertion that such is the case, but competitive demonstration. Does the Book of Mormon text provide testable puzzles? Say, does it provide detailed description of the Nephi's Bountiful or Nahom? Given such puzzles, do we have the resources at present to solve them? President Cannon did not have the resources in his day, but now we have much more. Are the text descriptions of the Sidon sufficient to identify a unique river in Western Hemisphere, (and I think Larry Poulson has persuasively demonstrated via 3D Satellite maps to which President Cannon had no access that the Sidon descriptions uniquely fit the Grijalva). If that identification holds, and we have a place to start looking, what else fits? (And Larry's recent FAIR presentation is notable for showing other details that fit, and they in turn fit with many more things, as Brant and Sorenson and others have argued. And John Clark has shown that the overall trend is toward resolution.)

Is publishing on the possible whereabouts of Noah's ark (an item made of perishable materials, and built long enough ago to have, in fact, utterly perished no matter where it might have been) really the same as looking for a a unique candidate for the Sidon, or say, evidence of people building with cement in a land Northward of Zarahemla?

The Sidon is less likely to have utterly perished. Cites built of cement are more likely to have survived 2000 years than a wooden boat 5000 plus. So a huge difference I see is that we see candidates for both in the Mesoamerican model that have the correct spatial and temporal locations. And no one has any bits of ark. And even if one found a location without an ark, what decisive tests could be made for that location? Even if someone found a bit of rotted wood, or strained soil, what could show that it was Noah's wood? And for the record, I do like Jeffery's Sunstone essay on various approaches to the Flood story, including the Black Sea hypothesis.

And I like and respect your work on the MMM. Brilliant work on a difficult topic. Having been enlightened by your reviews and essay, I read all your posts on the topic with avid interest, and usually come away having benefited from your insights. You always provide good evidence and insight.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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