Friday, January 30, 2009

Rebuttal to Mormon Mesoamerica Part I

Summary: The writer of this blog criticizes Book of Mormon warfare based on an incredibly narrow and superficial reading that seemed designed to fit the secondary sources the writer had available. I intend to show that his criticisms are simply straw men based on a shallow reading of the text. And, while much more study remains to be done, comparisons of the Book of Mormon to Mesoamerican scholarship must at least start with what the Book actually says, not what is seems to say.

Territorial Conquest Warfare: The writer starts with a discussion of the debate between a destructive war and simply tributary wars. The latter would simply change the political leader, and would effect the population far less than the destruction chronicled in the BoM. Conquest warfare arguably started in 378 (AD) according to the Rice in Maya Political Science (p102). Assuming this is true, I agree with Brant Gardner that this type of destructive warfare is consistent with the Book of Mormon time frame that has the latter fourth century featuring the final bloody finale to the Nephite nation. The blogger actually twists the quoted portion Gardner's words. Gardner's "suspicion" simply suggests plausible connections to events in the Book of Mormon to Mesoamerican trends, while the blogger treats his words as statement of hard fact and then smashes the straw man.

What I find interesting, is that the detailed war chapters taking place around 75 B.C., and receiving the most criticism from the blogger for its early date of territorial conquest, actually seems to be resemble all the facets of that final war in limited form. In other words: the elements of the final Book of Mormon war features all the essential elements much earlier. Editorially this would make sense, because Mormon had a strong connection to this period (he even named his son Moroni, like the figure that is highlighted in the 75 B.C. chapters,and he may be named after the waters where Alma started the church) There is limited evidence of ritual sacrifice (Alma 58:31-32), blood drinking and human sacrifice (Alma 49), territorial conquest (Alma 59:5-10) and an "eternal war" with language very similar to the Nephites 4th century destruction. (Alma 54)Thus, Nephite society moved towards war violent absolute, and Moroni is treated as a hero for successfully defending the Nephite nation and arresting that trend. (see my blog post: Moroni the War criminal part two for more)

On a final note the blogger cites David Friedal as to the impossibility of marches halfway across mesoamerica for territorial conquest, and that it likely happened instead through local factions attaching themselves to powerful foreigners. This is another example of the lack Book of Mormon study by the blogger. The war chapters are replete with local factions that ally themselves with foreign powers, possibly for greater trade (see my BCC paper publication for more). The numerous king men references are one, and the allusion to "gaining advantage through intrigue" (Alma 53:8) seems a spot on description of opportunistic session politics.

Coming soon: standing armies, Homeric warfare, and logistics.

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