Neal's basic complaint here is that I haven't shared my proposed geography. He needs to recall my experience with Matt Roper of the Maxwell Institute. I visited Roper three times to get his input before I published anything. I shared an early draft with him, thinking he would act as a colleague. Instead, he never gave me input, he shared my material with others, he reneged on an agreement to collaborate with me, and he spent six months preparing a review that contains obvious errors.
So while I would love to work with Neal, or any of the Mesoamericanists, as colleagues, Roper has poisoned that well and Neal and the others have not only endorsed what Roper did, they applaud it.
I understand Neal is a student, and he writes well. Unfortunately, he has embarked on the Mesoamerican theory. All my critiques are intended to improve the quality and accuracy of the conversation. Hopefully he has an open mind and will be willing to consider the merits when I publish them.
Here is my review of what he recently wrote on his blog.
Book of Mormon Geography in Neville-Nevilleland
It turns out that if you put Cumorah in New York and Zarahemla in Iowa, the geographical references in the text fit nicely. The archaeology, anthropology, and geology also match up with the seas, the narrow strip of wilderness, going up and down, the narrow neck, etc..
- to replace in power, authority, effectiveness, acceptance, use, etc., as by another person or thing.
- to set aside or cause to be set aside as void, useless, or obsolete,usually in favor of something mentioned; make obsolete:
- to succeed to the position, function, office, etc., of; supplant.
[Good. Always best to trust readers.]
|From Brant A. Gardner, Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History|
(Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2015), 145, red circles added by Jonathan Neville.
Now, you might wonder why the sea east is north and the sea west is south of the supposedly “narrow” neck of land that is 125 miles wide. The answer is that Joseph Smith didn't understand Mayan mythology so he didn't know how to translate the book correctly. Well, that's not fair. When he translated 1 Nephi, Joseph translated directions accurately because when Nephi lived in the Middle-East, he used the same cardinal directions we do today. But when he came to the New World, Nephi and his successors immediately rejected the Hebrew customs and embraced Mayan mythology and worldview.
- No one has ever said that Joseph Smith didn’t translate the book correctly. The “correctness” of the translation is not the issue at all. The issue is how well the Nephite directional system translates into cardinal directions. [This is the kind of argument that explains why I'm going to publish the excerpts from Mesoamericanist writings.]
- Israelites used a directional system that translates easily into our cardinal directions. This is not necessarily true of all directional systems used in ancient cultures. [I can't see the relevance of this point.]
- There are absolutely zero directional references in the New World until Mosiah. That is roughly 300 years after Lehi left Jerusalem. As such, no one supposes that Book of Mormon peoples necessarily “rejected” their traditional directional system “immediately.” It was probably a gradual process. Even if it was immediate, though, why would that be so objectionable? [Again, this is why I have to publish the excerpts from the Mesoamericanists. The fundamental premise of the Mesoamericanist argument is that Lehi's company encountered a huge Mayan civilization that completely absorbed them.]