Rob Osborn

The Mesoamerica Model's Setting For The Book of Mormon, Its One Major Flaw

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From time to time I get into discussions regarding the geographical locations of the Book of Mormon events. Modern LDS scholars are moving wholesale to the Mesoamerican model with its "narrow neck" being the isthmus of Tehuanatepec in southern Mexico. They have all also agreed in large part that both the Jaredites and Nephites and Lamanites civilizations were all in relatively close proximity to each other. And yet, the one major flaw that they skate around is the question of how does a vast empire of millions and millions of Jaredites and their ruins and remains go unoticed for nearly half a millennium (about 468 years to be exact) if their civilizations were on each others doorsteps? Even using a vastly conservative figure, the farthest their civilizations coukd have been apart was a measley 200 miles. But, to put the larger focus on the elephant in the room, the real figures according to their theory places that distance within a 100 miles! Im sorry but I am wholly unconvinced that Mesoamerica with its isthmus of Tehuantepec is the setting for the Book of Mormon. I can climb the nearby hills around where I live and see that far. I can walk that distance in less than a week! How am I supposed to believe that a group of adventurists travel half way around the world traveling thousands of miles within a matter of 10 years and somehow dont know about an adjacent civilization of millions of peoples a few days walking distance away? I am truly baffled. What am I missing? Help me think our scholars arent that stupid.

Edited by Rob Osborn

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I have a friend who has invested himself very heavily into the so-called "Homeland" model. While I disagree with his reasoning, I am far less concerned about his ideas on geography and far more concerned about how vehemently he advocates for his views, at times going so far as to accuse the Mesoamericanists of apostasy. I sense the same general attitude here. I hope I'm wrong.

I see nothing in the Book of Mormon that convinces me that the entire history might not have occurred in an area a hundred or so miles on a side. I see a great deal that persuades me that it's spectacularly unlikely that it took place over vast distances of five hundred miles or more. So the Mesoamerican theories look reasonable enough to me.

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14 minutes ago, Vort said:

I have a friend who has invested himself very heavily into the so-called "Homeland" model. While I disagree with his reasoning, I am far less concerned about his ideas on geography and far more concerned about how vehemently he advocates for his views, at times going so far as to accuse the Mesoamericanists of apostasy. I sense the same general attitude here. I hope I'm wrong.

I see nothing in the Book of Mormon that convinces me that the entire history might not have occurred in an area a hundred or so miles on a side. I see a great deal that persuades me that it's spectacularly unlikely that it took place over vast distances of five hundred miles or more. So the Mesoamerican theories look reasonable enough to me.

I have my own theories and perhaps that really isnt important. To me this is important because I cant fathom the reasoning here- I am at a loss for a good explanation.

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56 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

How am I supposed to believe that a group of adventurists travel half way around the world traveling thousands of miles within a matter of 10 years and somehow dont know about an adjacent civilization of millions of peoples a few days walking distance away?

More to the point, if you assume there's not a civilization there, (and thus the land is available for the taking) how would you keep every kid tired of his parents' way of doing things from setting out to find his fortune there?  Look at the millions of Americans who took advantage of the various Homestead Acts and left the only civilization they knew to get 160 acres of their own hundreds of miles away in the middle of nowhere.

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1 hour ago, Tampasteve2 said:

We are still discovering plenty in that area of the world. It is amazing that even a year ago mainstream science had no idea that it could support a large city as in the article. 
Mayan civilization of 'unimaginable scale'

Yeah, they are saying it was a megalopolis akin to something like southern California. Could you imagine having population centers like this right next to each other that dont know each other a 100 miles away for half a thousand years?

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3 hours ago, Vort said:

 

I see nothing in the Book of Mormon that convinces me that the entire history might not have occurred in an area a hundred or so miles on a side. I see a great deal that persuades me that it's spectacularly unlikely that it took place over vast distances of five hundred miles or more. So the Mesoamerican theories look reasonable enough to me.

I have seen a few theories about where it takes places, North OR South America. But there is always some piece of evidence that lacks from one, but is found in the other. I feel like it makes more sense that it took place over both north and South America, not just a small area as you mentioned

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You’re assuming an awful lot, @Rob Osborn.  For starters, you’re assuming that Coriantumr’s time with the Mulekites had only recently ended when the Mulekites merged with Mosiah’s Nephites.  For another, you’re assuming that the Nephites were generally unaware of the existence of any foreign peoples other than the Lamanites.  For another, unless the Mesoamerocan theory has greatly changed in the last 15 years, you’re grossly understating the proposed relative distances (Kaminaljuyu, often proposed as the site of the City of Nephi, is about 550 miles by road from San Lorenzo, the center of the Olmec civilization).  

There’s a lot we don’t know, to be sure; and the Mesoamerocan theory may well be wrong.  But the arguments you’ve proposed don’t seem to be the silver bullet that put the theory firmly to rest.  

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2 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

You’re assuming an awful lot, @Rob Osborn.  For starters, you’re assuming that Coriantumr’s time with the Mulekites had only recently ended when the Mulekites merged with Mosiah’s Nephites.  For another, you’re assuming that the Nephites were generally unaware of the existence of any foreign peoples other than the Lamanites.  For another, unless the Mesoamerocan theory has greatly changed in the last 15 years, you’re grossly understating the proposed relative distances (Kaminaljuyu, often proposed as the site of the City of Nephi, is about 550 miles by road from San Lorenzo, the center of the Olmec civilization).  

There’s a lot we don’t know, to be sure; and the Mesoamerocan theory may well be wrong.  But the arguments you’ve proposed don’t seem to be the silver bullet that put the theory firmly to rest.  

Coriantumr's time with the Mulekites is kind of a moot point. The BoM text doesnt mention any other major civilization until the Nephites find the Mulekites and then find the ruins of the Jaredites.

Were not measuring from the center of lands but rather the edges and thats about a hundred miles give or take ten or twenty.

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4 hours ago, Fether said:

I have seen a few theories about where it takes places, North OR South America. But there is always some piece of evidence that lacks from one, but is found in the other. I feel like it makes more sense that it took place over both north and South America, not just a small area as you mentioned

Personally, I lean towards both North and South America.

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14 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

[1] Coriantumr's time with the Mulekites is kind of a moot point. The BoM text doesnt mention any other major civilization until the Nephites find the Mulekites and then find the ruins of the Jaredites.

[2] Were not measuring from the center of lands but rather the edges and thats about a hundred miles give or take ten or twenty.

1.  I wasn’t aware that we had other internal BoM evidence suggesting that the Nephite and Jaredite histories overlap for some 468 years.  How do you date the end of the Jaredites to 132 BC?  And again, how do you extrapolate the fact that the BoM doesn’t mention a particular thing, into the conclusion that the entire Nephite civilization was ignorant of that thing?  

2.  Again - what internal evidences bring you to that conclusion regarding relative borders of the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations?  Thus far, you haven’t offered any.  And for that matter, what leads you to conclude that San Lorenzo was at the geographical center of Olmec civilization; or that the city of Nephi was at the geographical center of the early Nephite domains?

And, expanding on your post to Fether—how does one embrace a North-and-South-America paradigm when we know from Mosiah 23 and 24 were only a twenty-days’ journey from each other?  Doesn’t that bring in just as many logistical issues as the limited-geography Mesoamerocan model you are pooh-poohing in this thread?

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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I would have thought that the 'One Major Flaw" would simply be that all the currently available scriptural sources that offer any sort of specifics indicate North American locations in reference to the Lamanites.  Seems to me like a bigger flaw than anything related to geographical distances.

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

 I wasn’t aware that we had other internal BoM evidence suggesting that the Nephite and Jaredite histories overlap for some 468 years

The Mulekites found coriantumr ALIVE (Omni 1:21), So there may have been some overlap. This was 277-470 years after Nephi and his family left Jerusalem.

1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

expanding on your post to Fether—how does one embrace a North-and-South-America paradigm when we know from Mosiah 23 and 24 were only a twenty-days’ journey from each other?  Doesn’t that bring in just as many logistical issues as the limited-geography Mesoamerocan model you are pooh-poohing in this thread?

Dude, I don’t know x) I apologize for any poohing I have, I try to keep that to the bathroom. My thoughts and ideas are coming from probably only a grand total of 30 minutes of watching videos and thinking about the topic.

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5 minutes ago, Fether said:

The Mulekites found coriantumr ALIVE (Omni 1:21), So there may have been some overlap. This was 277-470 years after Nephi and his family left Jerusalem.

How do you know? The "Mulekites" were probablyl in the Americas shortly after the Nephites, possibly even before. How do you know it didn't happen, say, 20 years after the Lehites left Jerusalem?

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

1.  I wasn’t aware that we had other internal BoM evidence suggesting that the Nephite and Jaredite histories overlap for some 468 years.  How do you date the end of the Jaredites to 132 BC?  And again, how do you extrapolate the fact that the BoM doesn’t mention a particular thing, into the conclusion that the entire Nephite civilization was ignorant of that thing?  

2.  Again - what internal evidences bring you to that conclusion regarding relative borders of the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations?  Thus far, you haven’t offered any.  And for that matter, what leads you to conclude that San Lorenzo was at the geographical center of Olmec civilization; or that the city of Nephi was at the geographical center of the early Nephite domains?

And, expanding on your post to Fether—how does one embrace a North-and-South-America paradigm when we know from Mosiah 23 and 24 were only a twenty-days’ journey from each other?  Doesn’t that bring in just as many logistical issues as the limited-geography Mesoamerocan model you are pooh-poohing in this thread?

A lityle misunderstanding. The Jaredites were wiped out around the time the Nephites were first established. Their ruins (the Jaredites) wouldnt be found for 468 years. Ruins of millions and millions of a destroyed people belonging to a vast empire arent going to go unoticed for that long if they were in such close proximity to where the Nephites were living.

Im judging the distances off of their theories combined with the Olmecs who they say are the Jaredites. Olmec cities and areas of influence actually spread well south of their proposed narrow neck and into their land of Nephi.

The 21 day journey is from some location in the Land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla which is irrelevent to the narrow neck because we dont know the distance from Zarahemla to the land of Desolation. The only clues we have are that Hagoth built ships to go from the land of bountiful in the land southward to the land northward thus bypassing the barrier of the narrow neck. Its pointless to build ships to go around the narrow neck if its the isthmus of tehuantepec. So, the length and perhaps difficulties of initially traveling the narrow neck was severe enough that travel in the ocean on ships is better. The isthmus of tehuantepec fails miserably on that account alone. We just have nothing solid to know how far the land of Zarahemla was from desolation. The clues we have though show that it was a pretty far distance and initially not easily accessable on foot.

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3 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

The Jaredites were wiped out around the time the Nephites were first established. Their ruins (the Jaredites) wouldnt be found for 468 years.

Do you have any evidence for these claims?

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8 minutes ago, Vort said:

How do you know? The "Mulekites" were probablyl in the Americas shortly after the Nephites, possibly even before. How do you know it didn't happen, say, 20 years after the Lehites left Jerusalem?

I think there is some confusion on your or my part. I am very open to the idea that te Jaredite, Nephite and mulekite history all overlap. Nephites and mulekites all got to America around the same time. Mulekites find a living jaredite... just makes sense

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1 minute ago, Vort said:

Do you have any evidence for these claims?

Well, we know that the Mulekites found Coriantumer alone somewhere in the land of desolation after the destruction of the Jaredite nation. Coriantumr lived with them nine moons, a very brief time. We know that Nephi and Zedekiahs son Mulek were contemporary and both Muleks group and Lehis groyp arrived in the Americas around the same time, Lehis perhaps coming first. This thus places the destruction of the Jaredite nation around the time of the Arrival of the Mulekites and Nephites.

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13 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

Well, we know that the Mulekites found Coriantumer alone somewhere in the land of desolation after the destruction of the Jaredite nation. Coriantumr lived with them nine moons, a very brief time. We know that Nephi and Zedekiahs son Mulek were contemporary and both Muleks group and Lehis groyp arrived in the Americas around the same time, Lehis perhaps coming first. This thus places the destruction of the Jaredite nation around the time of the Arrival of the Mulekites and Nephites.

Why might the Jaredite nation not have been destroyed, say, ten years before the Nephites found Zarahemla? Or fifty? Why must it have occurred within Nephi's lifetime, some 550 years or so before Christ's birth?

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Perhaps I misunderstood your point in this part:

47 minutes ago, Fether said:

The Mulekites found coriantumr ALIVE (Omni 1:21), So there may have been some overlap. This was 277-470 years after Nephi and his family left Jerusalem.

The people of Zarahemla, or their American-based ancestors, clearly overlapped with the remnant of the Jaredites. But Omni 21 doesn't say that the meeting took place at or near the time the Nephites encountered the people of Zarahemla. Seems highly unlikely, given the stela remnants discovered by the Nephites.

My point to both you and Rob is that we don't know the timeline within more than a few centuries of resolution. Fine distinctions are impossible to draw with any confidence.

Edited by Vort

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2 minutes ago, Vort said:

Why might the Jaredite nation not have been destroyed, say, ten years before the Nephites found Zarahemla? Or fifty? Why must it have occurred within Nephi's lifetime, some 550 years or so before Christ's birth?

Because Coriantumr was the last survivor of his civilization (minus Ether of course who was in hiding) and wad found by Mulek who was discovering the Americas at the same time Lehi and their group was also just setting up in the new world.

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33 minutes ago, Fether said:

I think there is some confusion on your or my part. I am very open to the idea that te Jaredite, Nephite and mulekite history all overlap. Nephites and mulekites all got to America around the same time. Mulekites find a living jaredite... just makes sense

Perhaps I misunderstood your point in this part:

49 minutes ago, Fether said:

The Mulekites found coriantumr ALIVE (Omni 1:21), So there may have been some overlap. This was 277-470 years after Nephi and his family left Jerusalem.

The people of Zarahemla, or their American-based ancestors, clearly overlapped with the remnant of the Jaredites. But Omni 21 doesn't say that the meeting took place at or near the time the Nephites encountered the people of Zarahemla. Seems highly unlikely, given the stela remnants discovered by the Nephites.

My point to both you and Rob is that we don't know the timeline within more than a few centuries of resolution. Fine distinctions are impossible to draw with any confidence.

Edited by Vort

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3 minutes ago, Rob Osborn said:

Because Coriantumr was the last survivor of his civilization (minus Ether of course who was in hiding) and wad found by Mulek who was discovering the Americas at the same time Lehi and their group was also just setting up in the new world.

Where do you get the idea that Mulek himself met Coriantumr?

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32 minutes ago, Vort said:

Where do you get the idea that Mulek himself met Coriantumr?

Its inferred. By this I mean that Coriantumr probably never went into the land southward after the destruction of his people. So, who found him in the land northward? The people of Zarahemla.

30 And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing. (Alma 22:30)

So who is this people who made the first landing? Mulek-

10 Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south.(Helaman 6:10)

Now we need to make the connection from Coriantumrs view on who finds him-

21 Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr. (Ether 13:21)

So, we can piece together the logic that Mulek first found the land northward and found Coriantumr, stayed with him 9 moons and then recieved a burial by them and from there Mulek and company set sail again and come up into the land southward and dwelt in Zarahemla fron that time forward.

 

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