Others in the Land?

235A-Image Zedekiah.jpg

Tomorrow’s GD lesson begins with these verses from Mosiah 25:

 And now king Mosiah caused that all the people should be gathered together.

 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.

 And there were not so many of the people of Nephi and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of the Lamanites; yea, they were not half so numerous.

I planned to use this text to make a comment about whether there were “others in the land,” since the vast numerical disparity between the Nephites and Lamanites (who at the time of original separation were more or less equal in number) would seem to support the position that there were indeed others in the land, and that the term Lamanites is being used generically for those opposed to the Nephites (as the BoM explicitly tells us).[1] My focus in making that point was going to be on the numerical disparity between the Lamanites and the Nephites. But as I thought about it, I realized that this passage actually reflects an even more dramatic rationale for accepting the presence of others in the land.

The reason this other rationale occurred to me was a total fluke. Last week I had hoped to talk a bit about the stolen daughters of the Lamanites, but we were almost out of time so my comments on that topic were brief. I thought I might say a few more words about it at the beginning of tomorrow’s lesson, along the lines of this old blog post of mine.

As you may recall, in that old blog post I compared the stolen daughters of the Lamanites to the famous story of the Rape of the Sabine women as recounted by Livy and Plutarch. In the story, which dates to the legendary time of Rome’s founding in the eighth century B.C.E, the Roman tribe under King Romulus consisted almost entirely of men. While that can be an efficient thing for military purposes, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that without women and marriage the tribe will cease to exist after a single generation. The surrounding tribes feared the Romans and therefore denied them rights of intermarriage, so the young Romans became desperate to obtain wives, which led to the famous raptio [abduction for marriage] as recounted in the story.

Thinking about that story turned my attention from the numerical disparity between the Lamanites and the Nephites to that between the people of Zarahemla (= Mulekites) and the Nephites. Let’s reflect for a moment on where the Mulekites came from.

Mulek was a son of Zedekiah, the king of Judah. Zedekiah had been allied with Babylon, but he foolishly listened to advisers who pushed him to ally with Egypt instead. At some point it became clear Babylonian forces were coming to exact severe punishment on Zedekiah. And so apparently Zedekiah, realizing that he was toast, took steps to save the life of his (oldest?) son Mulek (possibly = the Malkiyahu the son of the king mentioned in Jeremiah as several Mormon scholars have suggested). If his oldest son (or one of the oldest), Mulek probably would have been about 15 years old at this time.

Zedekiah sent his son to Egypt in the effort to save him. Since he had allied with Egypt he obviously had official friends there; it was the logical (and perhaps only) choice for a destination to keep his son safe. In fact, Zedekiah then takes his officials and leads the Babylonians on a wild goose chase to Jericho. There he is finally captured by the Babylonians, who kill his (other) sons while he watches, then blind him and carry him back to Babylon. (Is it possible I wonder that Zedekiah intentionally led the Babylonians north and east away from Jerusalem so as to increase the odds that his son, traveling south and west [IE exactly the opposite direction], would successfully reach Egypt?)

Zedekiah of course would not have sent his son alone on such a journey, but with a guard or entourage, small enough to be inconspicuous but large enough to be able to protect him from brigands on the journey (half a dozen? a dozen?).

Recall that when the Lehites made their journey, the purpose was explicitly that of colonizing the new land. That is why Lehi sent his sons back to get Ishmael and his family, and critically Ishmael’s five daughters. But the purpose behind Mulek’s journey was not colonization of anything; it was to get the boy as far away from the power of the world superpower of the time–Babylon–as quickly as possible. So it seems doubtful to me that there were any women in the entourage making the journey.[2]

One might think that once the group made it to Egypt they would be safe and could stop. That probably would have been true for official, governmental purposes. But he would have remained susceptible to kidnapping by people willing to sell him to the Babylonians for a rich reward. So the group didn’t just stay in Egypt; they continued west desperately trying to put as much distance between themselves and Babylonian influence as possible.

At some point they apparently contracted with Phoenician sailors to get even further away. (Exactly where they thought or hoped they were going is unclear, and perhaps didn’t matter that much to them so long as it was far from Babylonian influence.) A large Phoenician ship that could have made the transoceanic journey would typically have a crew of at least 20–all men.

So by now I trust you see where I’m going with this. The 30 or so people on board the Mulekite vessel were in all likelihood all men or, if there were some women, they would have been a small number, no more than 10% of the total. After a long ocean voyage they arrive in the New World. If they were all men–and there were no “others in the land”–they would have died out after a single generation, just as the Roman tribe would have died out but for the raptio  of the Sabines. If there were a small number of women on board, conceivably they might have limped along as a people,[3] but there’s no way they would have far exceeded the Nephites in population as Mosiah 25 asserts. That the Mulekites not only survived but actually flourished and far outnumbered the Nephites at this time provides prima facie evidence that there were preexisting women available in the New World with whom the Mulekite men could mate and preserve their society.

[1] For those unfamiliar with the argument from population dynamics (and other reasons) for the presence of others in the land, see the seminal treatment by John L. Sorenson, “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1/1 (1992) (A pdf is available online, just do a google search). (For those who do not believe in BoM historicity, just consider this question in terms of the internal logic of the text.)

[2] It is possible that instead of being an older son Mulek was the youngest son, perhaps even a baby. In such a case women (two? three?) might have accompanied the group as wetnurses. This strikes me as a less likely possibility than Mulek being an older son.

[3] If the ship landed with no other human beings around, 30+ men and a small number of women, it seems likely that many of the men would have killed each other off in the competition for the small number of women. The sexual imbalance in that situation would have been extremely destabilizing and very well could have led to their destruction as a group.

Comments

  1. This is really cool – especially considering that Mulek (“MLK” or “king”) is a hypocoristic version of Malkiyahu. Also cool because by the time the Nephites and Mulekites met centuries after their exoduses from Jerusalem, their languages were totally different – suggesting some serious intermixing with native cultures – probably by both the Mulekites and the Nephites (which the Book of Jacob makes pretty obvious a couple times). Great post!

  2. Not as smart as y'all says:

    Loved this post!

    Daniel, can you point out those references in the Book of Jacob?

  3. Rob Osborn says:

    Too much conjecture. I would leave it out of the lesson. The assumptions you make arent based off any textual proofs. The Mulekites only recorded finding one person- Coriantumr who dwelt with them nine moons. The text also makes no mention how big Muleks group was, or how many women were on board.

    We also do not know how big the Lamanite group was when Nephi and company left in the night to depart the land. We could make assumption after assumption but still be way off from the truth. I find it interesting however that every group mentioned in the text is found, accounted for, and spoken about. At no time is any other group spoken of who already inhabited the land, besides (Coriantumr), when both the Nephites and Lamanites and Mulekites explored the land.
    If there were “others”, we cannot know. There is no reason to read “others” into the narrative. We also have no clue how fast the Nephites and Lamanites and Mulekites were reproducing. We have nothing from the text that speaks of population actual numbers over several hundred years. Models have been shown to easily account for all the people in the end times of the BoM without “others”.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Rob, that’s fine if one doesn’t care about historicity. But if one does, here’s the rub: we in fact are not ignorant of the actual answer. American anthropologists know there were indeed others in the land at this time. The land wasn’t empty; there were others–millions of others–in the Americas at the time the Lehites came. Now, I am indeed sympathetic to just reading the BoM on its own terms without reference to external information such as that. But I’m also sympathetic to Sorenson’s project to read the BoM in its presumed real world context. (But this might be bias on my part, as John was the high council rep to my first married student ward, called me to my first post-mission calling [that of EQ instructor], and is an all-around gentleman and a scholar.)

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Also, Rob, have you actually read Sorenson’s “Others in the Land” article? I personally find it very compelling. Even if you assign Duggar-like fertility to the Lehite women with no infant deaths (completely unrealistic assumptions for an ancient setting), there is no way to reach the large population sizes assumed by the BoM in just a few generations as described in the text. Sherem for instance coming to the Nephites externally wouldn’t make any sense under such as assumption. While I personally find Sorenson’s reading with regard to this subject compelling, I understand that for whatever reason not all do.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Also, we have a pretty decent understanding of the composition of Lehi’s family; see, once again, an article by Sorenson titled, oddly enough, “The Composition of Lehi’s Family”:

    http://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1129&index=7

  7. Brant Gardner draws some similar conclusions about “others in the land” in an article from 2001 based on the sermons of Jacob in II Nephi and Jacob. See fairmormon.org, and look at the 2001 conference for “A Social History of the Early Nephites.” Granted, there is a lot of conjecture here, but the internal logic makes such conjecture seem plausible. Interesting to think of a western path to the New World for Mulek, Kevin., something I had not considered.

  8. Rob Osborn says:

    Kevin,
    Sorensons claims are also complete conjecture. Its not about possibilities but rather just minding to what the text actually states. Accordingly, there were no other peoples mentioned in the BoM.

    Anthropologists in general believe the BoM is fiction. If we say its not, then what credibility is left with anthropology?

  9. I wasn’t aware that anthropology as a discipline made any judgments about the historicity of anybody’s scripture. I thought anthropology addressed only, you know, anthropology.

  10. To be a little less snarky, your arguments, Rob, are no different from those raised over the past 200 years by fundamentalists against archaeologists in the Holy Land. While individual scientists may or may not have opinions about historicity of biblical events, neither archaeology nor any other -ology makes assertions about historicity of the Bible. All the science does is study what exists and say “this supports/contradicts the biblical claim of a kingdom of David” or “there is as yet insufficient evidence to verify a Hebrew presence in Egypt” or “the number of people claimed in the Bible to have wandered in the desert for 40 years would have required X gallons of water per day and produced Y tons of waste per day, having such-and-such effect on the environment.” The science doesn’t give a verdict of “false,” merely the Scottish verdict of “not proven.”

    Ditto for scientific study of questions that affect claims of Book of Mormon historicity. Individual scientists may make personal judgments, but the science does not. Sciences like anthropology only produce tools that can be used in the study of the Book of Mormon. To say that anthropology has limited or no credibility because some individual anthropologist draws a personal conclusion is simply ignorance of the meaning and limits of science.

  11. We should also assume the people back then didn’t have any toes, right Rob? The record never mentions toes, so we should assume they didn’t exist.

  12. Fellow Chicagoan says:

    Kevin: love it.
    Also, I like that verse 2 says “who was a descendent of mulek” (referring to zarahemla, rather than “who were descendants of mulek” (which would have referred to the whole people. It is as if the writer new that the entire people were not all descendants of mulek.

  13. It’s not particularly relevant to how I understand the Book of Mormon these days, but I’ve long been relatively intrigued by Orson Scott Card’s contention that there is plenty of contextual space within the received record itself to imagine that the Mulekite claim was fictional, made solely for purposes of jury-rigging a politically palatable reason for the people of Zarahemla to acquiesce to the kingship of Mosiah.

  14. Aha! Russell made exactly the point I was going to. Further, Card doesn’t note that “Mulek” is exactly what a bluffing foreigner would say an Israelite king was named: it’s literally “king”!

    Note, too, the following:

    1. The “Mulekites” encountered Coriantumr.
    2. Nearly all the Nephite dissidents throughout the entire book have Jaredite names–Nehor, Morianton, Korihor. (And Grant Hardy’s hypothesis that the Jaredites, well, weren’t Christian.)
    3. The other dissidents have names based on the M-L-K root (aMaLicKiah, aMLiCi) and are obsessed with restoring royalty.
    4. The Jaredites have a long history of kings being restored to power after entire generations of captivity.

    I think there’s a good case to be made that the “Mulekites” are leftover Jaredites and much of the social unrest from Alma onward comes from the bubbling up of Jaredite religious and political traditions suppressed by the reigning Nephites. This might also explain some of Zeniff’s impetus in leaving Zarahemla: yearning for a more purely Nephite nation.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    A fascinating take!

  16. Rob Osborn says:

    There may have been other people but the Book of Mormon makes no mention of finding anyone else. We could assume that the Nephites were a small group lost in a new world of many “other” peoples and nations but to do so requires an entire fabrication of imagination. The Book of Mormon teaches about the peoples and nations of the Americas, nothing more, nothing less.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    So that I don’t have to keep repeating it I will just affirm once and for all here for the record that I agree with the rationale for positing others in the land as articulated in Sorenson’s seminal article on the subject (citation given in footnote 1). Anyone who thinks the population dynamics of the BoM work without the posited presence of others in the land bears the burden of responding effectively to Sorenson’s cogent observations.

  18. Rob Osborn says:

    I wanted to mention just three issues that Sorenson mentions about in his paper of why he believes there must have been “others”
    He mentions first about the account of Nephi speaking about his people having many wives and concubines after such a short time. But, the text itself never explains in context what was meant by “many”. In context, it actually states that the people started to desire to have the lifestyle of David in the OT which was one of having many wives and concubines. How many? And from what type of population would one describe as being able to provide “many”? It certainly could come ftom a population of a hundred. At this time, in Jacobs run as spiritual leader, 50+ years had already passed and several new generations would have already begun exponentially raising the population numbers. Whats interesting is that at this time in the history, Jacob names off all the distinguishable population. These are called – “Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites.” (Jacob 1:13). Note how no other group is mentioned. All of their entire popuation in all the land are direct lineal offspring from “only” the original colony that Nephi and company brought from Jerusalem. This is pretty indisputable that at this stage of their nation of people in the new world, no other people are mentioned besides those who came over on Nephis ship.
    Next of Sorensons claim is this guy named “Sherem”. Who is he? There are several clues that he was a Lamanite. In verse 6 he addresses Jacob as “brother” which was consistant at that time for Nephites and Lamanites to address each other in this manner. After Sherem confesses he was lying and was deceived he dies. Then, immediately Jacob goes on to explain that thus was the nature of the Lamanites- “24 And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually.” (Jacob 7:24) Most assuredly Sherem, schooled in the language, religion and culture of the Nephite/Lamanite nation, was none other than a disbelieving Lamanite who came in amongst the Nephites and dwelt with them for some time.
    The other issue brought up by Sorenson is the many wars spoken of by Nephi. Sorenson claims that a small population of only Nephites and Lamanites dont have wars. This immediately reminds me of the “Hatfield McCoy war” as papers of that era (1860’s) called it which would have been similar semantic style Joseph Smith would have correctly used to define warring confrontations between small groups. This is an important distinction to understand in order to put the context in proper light. 50 people can have a “war”.

    It was also known from American history that small tribal wars involving very small groups against each others tribe was commonplace in certain areas of America frontier. This is why Im not sure where Sorensons claims have any merit at all.

  19. @Rob – I’m curious about where you think the Nephite/Lamanite lands were located. You seem really determined to prove that there were no other peoples in the area, but where on the American continent could that have taken place?

  20. The Nephites didn’t have any idea of what Laman’s descendants were up to during this time. Laman and company could’ve met up with a local tribe, and aligned themselves (and intermarried with) the tribe and the Nephites would remain totally in the dark about it. This would explain all kinds of things, such as why the Lamanites always seemed to be more numerous than the Nephites, why some of their customs were so strange, why their skin was darker…

  21. Tiberias says:

    In the same vein as the O.S Card hypothesis above, let’s also not forget that by the time the plates were put in the ground they had information on events that happened nearly a millennium ago on them. Moroni et al, thought that they were dealing with the original plates, but I’d be quite dubious that such a specific relic was retained over a thousand years. Once we get the possibility of changes to the original record across time that opens up all sorts of possible reconciliations (for this and other issues) that allow for the basic historicity of the BoM while recognizing that it has the same accuracy problems as every other ancient document purporting to describe events over a long historical period.

  22. Chadwick says:

    Rob, Joseph Smith only claimed that The Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth, not the most complete. The absence of a written record of all sorts of things doesn’t disprove its existence.

    As to your comment above that all tribes were described perfectly which mentions no others, where are the Samites? If the recordkeepers forgot to mention what happened to Sam, then it’s certainly is also possible the recordkeeping forgot to mention the others.

  23. I have said for a long time that the population figures make sense only if the Lamanites merged with and governed an indigenous group, just like the Nephites eventually merged with and governed the Mulekites (whatever their origin). Ether also deals with the annihilation of a political kingdom, not every descendant of the original settlers – which is patently obvious when it is read as the greatly abridged dynastic chronicle it clearly is. Positing a merger of Lamanite leadership over an indigenous Jaredite population fits the actual record much better than viewing the entire narrative as unfolding in isolation within an empty land.

    Such a merging also would explain perfectly the racial differentiation and revulsion that too many members chalk up to modern racism or, even worse, divine pigmentation alteration.

    Finally, Alma’s decision to impose a judiciary leadership and the struggle for power after that change fits well with a minority religious group governing a much larger majority group – and it makes the entire story of Nehor and the subsequent kingmen nearly inevitable. That same pattern appears to be replicated within the Lamanite society throughout the war accounts in Alma, to the extent such things can be inferred through classic historical analysis.

  24. Rob Osborn says:

    RT,
    I am not exactly sure where the lands were. I have a few possibilities but I am most interested with reading the text for what it actually states without a mountain of conjecture thrown into it. Its important that we do not come to unecessary conclusions, which more than likely are wrong, and create the atmodphere ripe for a faith crisis.
    Another major issue is tring to fit the Book of Mormon into the way modern science has declared what must be pertaining to ancient American history.

    I gather evidences from deep south in South America all the way up to Canada and never do I assign any specific area to a BoM land, city, etc. This allows me to remain open minded to every possibilty that isnt hindered by a predisposed theory. As such, I have been able to gather evidences from all over the Americas and been able to compare similarities and differences. Doing research this way shows me lots of valuable insights that most Meso-American theorists cant even come close to comprehending because they are completely set on one theory or bust! All they do is set up scenerios for people to have a faith crisis because the evidence altogether doesnt paint the BoM picture correctly.

    I would just like to see more careful thorough study without all the conjecture thrown in that is tied to some unproven theory.

  25. Rob, I think it’s great that you are interested in creating an atmosphere that isn’t ripe for a faith crisis. Is it possible, however, that the strict reading of the BoM you are suggesting creates just such an atmosphere for many people? For instance, I’ve personally known many more people to leave the church over claims like yours than the other way around. The literal historicity that you are suggesting is quite difficult for many people to defend. Why not find a way to posit text-based arguments that can help those people stay?

    I’m sure you’re well-intentioned. Allow other people to be. You are suggesting a reading much more rigid than the text actually holds and (in the end) that is difficult to defend in the face of a vast amount of actual data (though I understand that data is suspect to you) Just realize that such date is not suspect to everyone. Remember how the introduction to the BoM was changed to open the possibility that other people were also the ancestors of the Native American tribes? There’s room here. I see no reason the ideas in this post should trouble anybodies faith, though perhaps they trouble yours. Perhaps your faith in God or Jesus or Joseph is challenged because of this post. That would perhaps explain the strawman (people will lose their faith with such ideas) you have created. Perhaps you have done so to the degree that suits your beliefs as much as anybody here is with their attempts at understanding. Let’s not project what would be true for us (it hurts my faith, for example) onto others. Perhaps they deserve the benefit of the doubt that they are sincerely trying to do good in the world. As you should be allowed.

    Interestingly, to me, is that people who feel the way you do generally would also give some credibility to the fact that the Sorenson piece was published by the Maxwell Institute and not just outright dismiss it. Let’s us all press on. Take care. Of your faith. Of others’.

  26. Perfect reply Brian. I’ll add my own experience in that feeling there was only one way (a rigid, specific path) of not just understanding the BofM, but of being a Mormon in general, that headed me into my own faith crisis. What brought me a certain amount of peace in the matter was accepting that the rigid, specific path didn’t actually exist and it was the exploration of the forest itself that connected me to God. Which makes me revel in posts like this – all options are open for exploration and discussion.

    But here’s the interesting thing, I would think your experience searching for parallels in historical cultures, Rob, sounds somewhat similar. Perhaps the sections of the forest we are interested in exploring are just different.

    On the other hand, the comments telling me that I am somehow wrong in wanting to explore trigger all my old anxiety about ‘not being on the ‘approved’ path’. For me, you create the exact experience of being ‘ripe for descending into a faith crisis’ that you are seeking to avoid.

  27. Franklin says:

    Interesting conjecture, but like so many attempts to explain away the inconsistencies in the BM account, it involves reading stuff into the book that just isn’t there.

  28. Grimalkin says:

    I do believe that there were probably many other people in the Americas than just Book of Mormon colonists. But as to this reasoning, I wonder if the Pharaoh might have protected Mulek and his group for a while till other remnants of northern Israel gathered to them. Then they could have made the decision to travel and colonize elsewhere.

  29. Rob Osborn says:

    Exactly as Franklin states. “Reading stuff into the book that just isn’t there” creates problems.

    Heres the deal- Sorenson, the Maxwell Institute, and various others have created this atmosphere ripe for faith crisis because they hold so dearly this pet theory of theirs that they seek to put down any and all other ideas and try to sell to the general public what “mainstream” Mormons believe as if it is official doctrine. But, as I have shown with just 3 of Sorensons strongest claims, its shotty conjecture at best that cant stand the scrutiny it needs to be legitimate. But, this isnt even the main issue. The main issue stands upon why Sorenson makes such conjecture. He does so to fit readily accepted scientific beliefs. The Smithsonian being of course the benchmark institution believes the Book of Mormon is historically unlikely. So, immediately it creates a faith crisis on that premise alone. Its what I just dont get- How can someone claim and uphold beliefs in large part held by institutions like The Smithsonian on the one hand and yet develop a theory on the other hand that doesnt mix at all with that belief system? That is why I have a different approach that doesnt require me to shape my beliefs around an istitution that already has concluded the Book of Mormon “historically unlikely”.

    I honestly dont know for sure where BoM lands were nor do I think its greatly important to know such things at this time. I can accept it on faith its true regardless of what scientists conclude. They dont author my salvation, Jesus does that. I know the Book of Mormon is a true historical record of ancient date regarding the inhabitants of the Americas. Thats all that matters. Believing there really were or must be “others” is playing into the trap of thinking with the same mindset the Smithsonian has in coming to eventually conclude the BoM is historically unlikely. I have since seen these effects with many LDS concluding they no longer believe the BoM to be a historical record although it has good moral ancedotes.

  30. “…conclude the BoM is historically unlikely. I have since seen these effects with many LDS concluding they no longer believe the BoM to be a historical record although it has good moral ancedotes.”

    Hmmm… I guess this pretty much describes me, which perhaps is a negative place to be for you. It isn’t actually a negative to me though. I don’t feel any inherent tension and I’m much more open to the book itself and future explorations than I ever was before when I was worrying about a black/white narrative for it.

    I feel like what you are saying is that one of the ways we got to where we are (and created people with my shape faith) is by earlier generations (including the church leaders) setting expectations of how the BofM connects to historical facts as we understand them. Those expectations have turned out not to be provable and people’s faith faltered. Thus your solution is to not have any expectations beyond what is written in the text itself (with the idea that the text is perfect). Is that correct?

    There is something about that which appeals to me for some reason. In a jump-off-the-cliff-trust kind of way. So far, God has not required me to consider such a cliff-jump and every time I think I’m being backed toward a thousand-foot-fall faith-wise, God has surprised me with his solutions.

    What I have found very, very helpful is opening up to the idea that there are many theories and opinions on the BofM being made by many intelligent and articulate people. The variety of thought and debate on the topic underlines for me how little we actually know for sure. I suppose that brings me back to your statement (slightly altered by me): “I can accept it on faith its true regardless of what scientists/authors/historians/bloggers conclude. They don’t author my salvation, Jesus does that.” I absolutely agree. There is a value in what scientists/authors/historians/bloggers do though. They push me to delve deeply into my understanding of my faith making me much more aware of the power of Grace.

  31. Rob Osborn says:

    RT,

    It does stem from earlier generations, jumping to unwarranted conclusions by them and failing, after many generations to retract earlier thoughts and do better research. Interesting enough is the fact that officially, the church has never hinted at or announced where any geographical location was besides the land of Cumorah and the Hill Cumorah.

    I am firm that we will find direct evidence for the Book of Mormon lands but its going to take an entirely different philosophy and approach. We need to get out of this strict limited Meso-American mindset and forcing things to fit where its just not possible. There are tons of inferences we can make from the scriptures but one must still apply some simple logic. But, its impossible to even do that if one is set in stone on a particular ideal.

  32. lehcarjt says:

    I wonder what percentage of church members believe in the meso-america hypothesis? I was under the impression that with the lack of DNA evidence there was a move to much farther north (great lakes area…? I can’t remember.).

  33. Oh ugh… Lehcartjt = RT – I don’t know why it switches on me occasionally. I apparently need to pay better attention!

  34. Hi Rob, at the risk of sounding nutso, I’m curious what you

    https://www.academia.edu/21785432/Two_Eastern_Christian_Sources_on_Medieval_Nusantara

    No joke, when placed within the context of a 5th century Judeo-Christian text compiled in Asia, the Book of Mormon fits. The geography, the historical record and the archaeology back it up.

  35. Rajah M. says:

    Oops, that comment above launched too early. Apologies.

    What I intended to ask was, if we are keeping our horizons open to all possibilities than why even limit the Book of Mormon to the Americas? The text never says America, it only says an island in the sea. And from that view the Book of Mormon fits snugly within the genre of apocryphal Judeo-Christian literature placing lost Jews (eg. Rechabites and Camarini as found through the link above) in the East Indies. Its worth mentioning that Book of Mormon scholars often compare these texts to the Lehite narrative. Funny enough, the Book of Mormon is strangely accurate when placed in an Asian setting. Almost as if it was written by Asian Christians near the narrow neck of the Malay Peninsula in the 5th century.

    But is that too far afield?

  36. Rob Osborn says:

    Raja,
    I find it a bit too far off. I believe that the BoM only works if in the Americas somewhere.

  37. Mormonado says:

    It is good reasoning to follow patterns. It is unlikely that the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites arriving in virtually the same place from the middle-east is coincidence. There were likely other groups from the middle-east in the Americas as well.