They have determined past civilizations populations in basically all of the same way, and the study which I quoted supports previously (and currently) known information. There were no cities among the Hopewell, only small villages. How do you house tens of thousands of people in a small village that only big enough to contain 100 people? There just is no evidence of a large population. You mention large mounds, but these were not built over night (or over several years like in The Book of Mormon) but built over the span of several centuries (North American Archaeology Pauketat and Loren). If they are built over the span of centuries, then a large group of people would not be needed. Archaeologist’s are not dumb people and they have discovered enough to know about how big a population is. They’ve been digging Hopewell sites for a very long time now and have yet to discover anything to indicate they matched anything close to the population and cities we find in The Book of Mormon. If you discover numerous large cities with the kind of trash, remains, houses, products of everyday living, etc… to support a large population, then there probably actually was a large population. If you discover only villages, with hamlets, and the trash, and products of everyday living to support a small population, then it probably was only a small population.
You say “There were huge populations in America's Heartland in ancient times.”
This is true, but these populations post-date The Book of Mormon. For that matter, so does the internet and electricity. They happened after the time period of The Book of Mormon and therefore have nothing to do with The Book of Mormon. It is a bit dis-honest do make this claim, since I have brought this up to you in the past. You know that these populations happened centuries, even millennia after The Book of Mormon, yet you continue to use it as evidence for The Book of Mormon. Let’s please stick to the facts, document your answers, and keep within the correct time period for The Book of Mormon.
Rod says “please show us one single historically documented instance of Joseph Smith writing in his own handwriting,”
I have provided the Bernhisel document above, which he states that the Stephens and Catherwoods book on Mesoamerica “corresponds with and supports The Book of Mormon.” I provided several other examples as well. I don’t proudly wave it around either because I don’t think it makes or breaks BOM geography. Particularly since there are other men who held the same calling as Joseph Smith who believed The Book of Mormon to have taken place in Mesoamerica which would have just as much validity.
Rod says “but no matter how much you may DESIRE to believe this account to be from Joseph Smith, it is another second hand account”
Rod, you realize that you have used these same second hand accounts as evidence for your model? Yet when I use them, you immediately throw them out? How is that fair?
Regarding Zarahemla, you try to dismiss what I say without even hearing the evidence. The Church has published in the Church Institute manual, approved to be taught in Church sanctioned classes that provides a different interpretation that what you’d like to present. It says that the Lord did not reveal it to be the original Zarahemla, but that it was named *after* the Zarahemla in The Book of Mormon.
“D&C 125:3 . Where Does the Term Zarahemla Come From? Where Was the City Located?
The precise meaning of the word Zarahemla is not known. The term comes from the Book of Mormon account of the people who came to America from Jerusalem at the time Zedekiah was carried captive into Babylon. They were called the people of Zarahemla after the name of their leader. They lived in a city named Zarahemla, in the land of Zarahemla (see Omni 1:12–19 ).
It was common in Book of Mormon times to name cities “after the name of him who first possessed them” ( Alma 8:7 ). The Latter-day Saints gave many of their settlements Book of Mormon names. For example, in Utah are such cities as Nephi, Moroni, Manti, and Bountiful.
One of the first settlements named in this way by the Saints was Zarahemla, at Nashville, Lee County, Iowa. “This settlement was founded by the Saints in 1839, on the uplands about a mile west of the Mississippi River, near Montrose and opposite Nauvoo, Ill. The Church had bought an extensive tract of land here. At a conference held at Zarahemla, August 7th, 1841, seven hundred and fifty Church members were represented, of whom three hundred and twenty-six lived in Zarahemla. But when the Saints left for the Rocky Mountains, that city was lost sight of.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 796.)”
As mentioned above, there are several BOM cities in Utah that have nothing to do with The Book of Mormon. The city Bountiful, Lehi, Nephi, Moroni all are within a few hundred miles of me and are not BOM sites. They named these cities after important cities in The Book of Mormon. How many New Yorks are there? Springfields? There is a Moscow in Idaho that has nothing to do with Russia. Just because it shares a name does not mean it is the exact same site.
Matthew Roper, who currently works at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute and has written several articles rebutting Rod Meldrums theory, wrote this about the subject
“In March 1841, in a revelation now known as section 125 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord counseled the Saints in Iowa to gather at several appointed locations:
What is the will of the Lord concerning the saints in the Territory of Iowa? Verily, thus saith the Lord, I say unto you, if those who call themselves by my name and are essaying to be my saints, if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them gather themselves together unto the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come. Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville, or in the city of Nauvoo, and in all the stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord. (D&C 125:1–4)
Porter and Meldrum use this revelation to support their theory about the location of the ancient Zarahemla. Noting that the Book of Mormon speaks of the New Jerusalem as geographically distinct from Jerusalem (Ether 13:5), they argue that since the Lord called the Iowa settlement "Zarahemla" in revelation, it must be the same location mentioned in the Book of Mormon; otherwise, the Lord would have called the Iowa site "New Zarahemla" rather than "Zarahemla" to clarify the difference in location. "There is no indication that He named it for any other purpose than to establish an understanding of where the ancient city may have stood" (p. 111). Really? The name Zion, besides referring to the Lord's people (Moses 7:18), can refer to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:1); the City of Enoch (Moses 7:19, 63); Jackson County, Missouri (D&C 66:6); or the city to be built there (D&C 57:2). Each is a different geographical location named "Zion" by the Lord; none is called "New Zion."
More important, Porter and Meldrum's theory rests upon the assumption that it was the Lord who first designated the Iowa gathering site as Zarahemla. This, however, is not the case. On 2 July 1839, Joseph Smith and other church leaders visited the site in question. The entry published in the History of the Church reads as follows:
Spent the forenoon of this day on the Iowa side of the river. Went, in company with Elders Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, and Bishops Whitney and Knight, and others, to visit a purchase lately made by Bishop Knight as a location for a town, and advised that a town be built there, and called Zarahemla.
The last three words of this entry, "and called Zarahemla," were not written by Joseph Smith but were written into the "Manuscript History of Joseph Smith" by Elder Willard Richards when he recorded the history for that date sometime after the Prophet's death in 1844.85 However, referring to the settlement as "Zarahemla" before the March 1841 revelation is consistent with other historical evidence showing that the Saints already referred to the site by that name. Brigham Young, who began keeping a regular journal in early 1839, recorded that on 2 July 1839 "Brothers Joseph, Hyrum and others came over the river to Montrose, and went out on the prairie and looked out the sight for a city for the Saints, which was called Zarahemla." 86 Elias Smith, a cousin of Joseph Smith, recorded in his journal for 24 June 1839 the following: "Moved from Commerce to Lee County, Iowa Territory, and went on the farm bought of F. P. Blevins." 87 In his journal for 16 August 1840, he recorded the death of the Prophet's brother Don Carlos and noted that there was a "Conference at Zarahemla" on that day. 88 These early references to the name of the Iowa settlement previous to March 1841 indicate that the Saints referred to it as Zarahemla long before the reve lation in question. There is no indication in these early sources that this designation was based upon revelation or even that it was Joseph Smith's idea. This evidence suggests, rather, that the name did not originate with the March 1841 revelation and that the Lord was referencing a location already known among the Saints by that name. The purpose of the revelation was most likely to counsel the Saints to gather at the appointed place and not, as the authors suggest, to reveal the ancient location of a Book of Mormon city. The Saints did what they would often do—name places they lived after places mentioned in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. There is no compelling reason to associate the Iowa settlement with ancient Zarahemla.” You can read the entire article here: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publica ... m=2&id=805
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John Lund has wrote “They believe that the city of Zarahemla in Iowa across the Mississippi River and opposite of Nauvoo, was named by revelation as the original Zarahemla. That is trying hard to make that scripture say something that it does not say. One wonders why the Lord didn’t name Nauvoo, which in on a hill, “Amnihu?” In the Book of Mormon the hill Amnihu is directly across the River Sidon (Alma 2:15). Zarahemla, Iowa was named by revelation, but there is no indication that the Lord was declaring where the original Land of Zarahemla stood… It is also contrary to the official Church newspaper Times and Seasons published article under the supervision and editorship of Joseph Smith wherein he states that Zarahemla stood upon the land of “Guatemala.” These same Great Lake’s advocates recognize that somewhere south of the Land of Zarahemla are the highlands of the Land of Nephi. Their current proposal is the eastern hills of Tennessee. West of the east hills of Tennessee is Chattanooga, Tennessee. From Chattanooga to Zarahemla, Iowa is about six hundred and thirty-four miles.
West of Zarahemla is the Land of Melek and three days north of the border of Melek is the city of Ammonihah. A conservative estimate is fifty miles north of Zarahemla. The Land of Zarahemla does have its borders and east to west distances are about three hundred miles, while the north south range is about five hundred to a maximum of six hundred and fifty miles. In order for the Great Lakes geography to work, it requires over eight hundred and seventy miles from Zarahemla, Iowa, to Palmyra, New York. This is an east to west range nearly three times greater than what armies and escaping Nephites can travel given the internal restraints of the Book of Mormon.”