Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Quichean Directionality

Accurate correlation of the Book of Mormon with the Mesoamerican map requires interpretation of the words "north, south, east and west." In order to justify his geography, John L.Sorenson had to skew the cardinal directions so his east coast cities are actually north northwest of his Zarahemla. The map below shows the Mezcalapa - Grijalva River in blue as it ran in early Book of Mormon times. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Five Book of Mormon Geonyms in the Sorenson Model
I find Sorenson's rhetoric on this point absurd. The blog articles "Water Fight on the River - Round Ten" and "Test #5 North South East and West" detail why I believe the ancient Jewish "east," Mesoamerican "east," Book of Mormon "east," Early Modern English "east," Jacksonian American English "east," and contemporary English "east" all orient to sunrise.

This article will explore directional cardinality as understood by the precontact Quiche of western highland Guatemala. My primary sources are two books by Dennis Tedlock, best known for his acclaimed translation of Popol Vuh.

The first is Rabinal Achi published by Oxford University Press in 2003.
2003 Tedlock Source
The second is Breath on the Mirror, paperback edition, published by University of New Mexico Press in 1997. The original hardcover edition was published by Harper in 1993.
1997 Tedlock Source
Tedlock distinguished himself as a Quichean specialist while serving on the English and Anthropology Faculties at SUNY Buffalo. He received his PhD in 1968 from Tulane. For many years he was an assistant editor of Current Anthropology.

Rabinal Achi is the only precontact Mayan theater extant. It is still performed in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz today. UNESCO recognized the dance drama in 2005 as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Breath on the Mirror, subtitled Mythic Voices and Visions of the Living Maya, is an ethnographic collection of stories gathered from priest-shamans and daykeepers in the K'iche' speaking Guatemalan highlands. Tedlock draws on his training in both anthropology and linguistics for erudite notes and commentary that relate the drama and stories to the ancient Quichean literary tradition, Maya archaeology, and highland Guatemalan geography.

Four important precontact Quichean texts have survived. All four are now available in excellent academic editions that take advantage of the knowledge explosion precipitated by Mayan decipherment. The four are:
Because its motifs were rendered on hundreds of stone, ceramic, wood and stucco surfaces from Yucatan to the Soconusco, the earliest dating to ca. 300 BC (Izapa stela 25), Popol Vuh is now generally recognized as the most important precontact Mesoamerican text extant. It shares a great deal of intertextual commonality with the other three Quichean works listed above.

This corpus of precontact Quichean literature is significant to Book of Mormon studies because all credible Mesoamerican geographical correlations (Sorenson 1985, 2013; Hauck 1988; Allen 1989, 2008; Turner 2004; Norman 2006; Magleby 2011) place the city and land of Nephi in highland Guatemala. 208 correspondences between these Quichean texts and the Book of Mormon have been identified to date. See the blog articles "Kaqchikel Chronicles," and "Rabinal Achi." This article about cardinal directionality in the Quiche worldview constitutes correspondence #209.

Rabinal Achi, aka Dance of the Trumpets, is performed on a square stage oriented to the four cardinal directions. Circular dances are performed at each of the four corners of the square. The play refers often to "four edges and four corners" (Rabinal pp. 106, 111) This is Tedlock's stage diagram (Rabinal p. 25).
Rabinal Achi Stage Oriented to the Four Cardinal Directions
When Cawek is executed at the end of the play, he faces west because the Maya associated sunset with death and descent into the underworld.

In Cawek's seventh speech he describes the Quiche lords assembled at Utatlan as "Gathered Cane Plants, Gathered Lakes, Gathered Canyons, Gathered Birds" (Rabinal p. 65). In Man of Rabinal's ninth speech he calls the same assemblage "Gathered Cane Plants, Gathered Canyons, Gathered Lakes, Gathered Honey, Gathered Birds" (Rabinal p. 76). Tedlock explains that these names are various symbols of the length and breadth of Quiche territory. In particular, he describes Kuchuma Cho "Gathered Lakes" as referring to the five sacred Quiche lakes, one at each of the four cardinal directions with a fifth at the center near Utatlan. Kuchuma Tz'ikin "Gathered Birds" refers to fowl that flock together at lakes and wetlands. Kuchuma Aj refers to cane plants that grow in bodies of water (Rabinal p. 260). For more information about the five sacred lakes located at the four sides and center of the Quiche world, Tedlock refers his readers to Breath on the Mirror (Rabinal p. 340).

Tedlock's diagram of the Quiche lake geography is a classic compass rose (Breath p. 88).
Layout of Quiche Sacred Lakes at Each of the Four Cardinal Directions
Tedlock then goes on to explain where each of these lakes is located on the modern map (Breath pp. 243,244). Chi'ul Landslide Place is between Nebaj and Cunen in Quiche. Tz'ujil Dripping Place is east of Joyabaj in Quiche. Panajachel Puppet Trees is on the north shore of Lake Atitlan in Solola. Socob Water Jar is due west of Momostenango in Totonicapan. The center lake, Lemoa' Mirror Water, is southeast of Santa Cruz del Quiche in Quiche. This map shows the five sacred lakes of the Quiche in context.
Five Sacred Quiche Lakes
In the precontact Quiche world, the four cardinal directions were the same ones we use today and their azimuths were plotted from the capital Utatlan at the center or heart of Quiche lands. In the Book of Mormon world we believe the four cardinal directions were the same ones we use today and their azimuths were plotted from the capital Zarahemla in the Sidon corridor at the center or heart of Nephite lands.

In  the western Quiche town of Momostenango, Maya daykeepers continue to perform rituals at mountaintop shrines as their ancestors did before the Spanish invasion. Momostenango, which Tedlock calls "Altar Town," is surrounded by four sacred mountains oriented to each of the four cardinal directions. Quilaha is east, Socob west, Pipil north, and Tamancu south of Altar Town (Breath pp. 69, 84-85). This map shows the geography.
Four Sacred Mountains Surrounding Momostenango
Socob on the map above is the very same mountain as Water Jar on the map of Quiche lakes. Socob has some small pools near its summit. In K'iche' Socob means "water jar." Daykeepers break fired clay water jars and use the shards as holders to burn copal incense at shrines on certain propitious calendar days.

Monday, March 23, 2015

English in the Book of Mormon

On Saturday, March 14, 2015 I attended the conference "Exploring the Complexities in the English Language of the Book of Mormon" at BYU. Co-sponsored by Interpreter Foundation and BYU Studies, the presenters were Stanford Carmack, Jan J. Martin, Nick Frederick and Royal Skousen. Daniel C. Peterson introduced the conference and John W. Welch concluded it. Following are my notes.

Stanford Carmack is an independent scholar who lives on Cape Cod. He holds degrees in Linguistics and Law from Stanford and a PhD in Hispanic languages and literature from UC Riverside. He has written three very important articles published in 2014 and 2015 in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:
His presentation was entitled "Exploding the  Myth of Unruly Book of Mormon Grammar: A Look at the Excellent Match with Early Modern English."

Robert F. Smith published the first Book of Mormon critical text with FARMS in the 1980's. Since 1988 Royal Skousen has been working on his critical text which reached a milestone in 2009 with the Yale University Press publication of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. A Kindle edition appeared in 2013. Carmack is a contributor to Volume 3 of Skousen's critical text (in preparation).

Carmack makes extensive use of the 54,000 and counting volumes in Early English Books Online EEBO. Literature Online (LION) is another of his fundamental resources, as is the OED. He not only finds examples of Book of Mormon words and phrases, but also plots their usage frequencies by time period. He has demonstrated, conclusively in my opinion, that the original English text of the Book of Mormon revealed to Joseph Smith has strong affinities with Early Modern English (EModE 1470 - 1700). This era in the evolution of the English language includes Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) and the King James Bible ( KJV 1611). See the blog article "Early Modern English."

Carmack pointed out many examples of Book of Mormon vocabulary and syntax that are not in the KJV but are attested in EModE, thus dispelling the myth that Joseph simply plagiarized the Bible.

Some of the interesting language constructs Carmack discussed:
  • "mights" KJV always uses the singular "might"
  • "nor no manner of"
  • "if it so be that"
  • "it supposeth me"
  • "him supposeth"
  • "did" as an affirmative past-tense marker. The Book of Mormon uses did + a verb to express past-tense 27% of the time - over 1,800 instances. The Bible uses this syntax less than 2% of the time. This usage was common in EModE, peaking about 1560 and then tapering off sharply. The Book of Mormon is a good 16th century match at a deep syntactic level.
  • "didst" & "did" in the same sentence
  • command syntax using "that" or "to" with an embedded verb
  • causative syntax "cause us that we should"
  • "adieu" which was very common in EModE
  • "wearied him with their teasings"
  • "have went," "have became"
  • "had ought," "had came," "had gave" 
  • "people which was"
  • "hath" & "hath" or even "hath," "hast," & "hath" in the same sentence
  • "have" & "hath" in the same sentence
  • "engraven" & "molten" as verb stems
  • "even to that" meaning until
  • "th" versus "est" word endings
  • "ye" versus "thou"
  • "done" as a simple past-tense of "do."
  • "much provisions"
  • "should not do none" double negation
The question on everyone's' lips after Carmack's rapid-fire delivery was why? Why would the Lord have revealed a text in 1829 in a language that had not been spoken anywhere on earth for several generations? Carmack gave four cogent answers:
  1. KJV affinity. This language has an old-fashioned biblical feel.
  2. Witness of the gift and power of God. This makes the Book of Mormon miracle even that much more astonishing. No other 19th century work uses EModE syntax, not even those that are consciously mimicking KJV style. This is simply beyond human capability.
  3. Translation facility. The Book of Mormon is translation literature. The Lord knew this text would be widely translated (113 languages currently). Shakespeare and the Bible are the most translated bodies of literature in history, so EModE provides a good base text to support translations.
  4. Plainness. Even though EModE syntax sounds odd, even erroneous to modern ears, the meaning is seldom in doubt. Some of modern English's ambiguities were not yet in the language in the EModE era.
Jan J. Martin, whose advanced degree is from University of York, is delightful to listen to. I found myself wondering if she was a Brit who has spent a lot of time in the States, or a Yank who has spent a lot of time in the UK. She is an American who has spent enough time in the UK that her speech is peppered with charming British English. She is a specialist in biblical translations, currently an Assistant Visiting Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU. Her presentation was entitled "Charity, Priest, and Church versus Love, Elder, and Congregation: The Book of Mormon's Connection to the Debate between William Tyndale and Thomas More."

More (1478 - 1535) was high church, clerical, Catholic. Tyndale (ca. 1494 - 1536) was low church, lay, Protestant. Theology is dependent on language. "God is but his word" was the way Tyndale phrased it. Alexander Campbell, one of Joseph Smith's most virulent critics, characterized the Book of Mormon as a crude compilation of the theological debates swirling on the American frontier in the 1820's. Martin showed the Nephite text is much more subtle, nuanced and sophisticated. It deftly navigates the waters between More and Tyndale just like every 16th century English Bible translation was forced to do. Major English Bible translations from Tyndale to the KJV:
  • Tyndale 1526
  • Coverdale 1535
  • Matthew's 1537
  • Great 1539
  • Geneva 1557
  • Bishops' 1568
  • Douay-Rheims 1582 (Catholic)
  • King James 1611
More argued Greek New Testament agape should be translated "charity," presbuteros "priest," and ekklesia "church." Tyndale passionately advocated for "love," "elder," and "congregation." Both men were executed in their prime and their debate was never resolved.

All 8 of the Bible translations shown above favor "love" over "charity." The KJV uses "charity" 29 of 252 times which is 11.5%, a higher usage rate than in any of the other versions. The Book of Mormon uses "charity" 27 times and "love" 66 times, for a usage rate of 29%. The Book of Mormon also uses several qualifying adjectives with the word "love" such as "pure," "everlasting," and "perfect" which bring it close to the caritas of the Vulgate: love imbued with god-like qualities. 4 Nephi 1:15 is one example of the high standard to which "love" is usually held in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a wonderful blend of charity, high order love such as the love of God, and carnal or materialistic love.

All 8 of the Bible translations shown above favor "elder" over "priest" and the two terms are roughly synonymous with "high priest" being a separate office. Note that the 2013 LDS edition of the KJV does not follow the original 1611 text in many instances. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, uses the word "priest" 105 times and the word "elder" in an ecclesiastical sense only 9 times. In this case, the Book of Mormon contradicts the KJV. In the Book of Mormon, "elder" and "priest" are separate offices with an elder superior to a priest. Elders ordain priests Moroni 3:1.

The Bible translations up to 1540 use "congregation" 100% of the time. Beginning with the Geneva Bible, the word "church" predominates. The Book of Mormon has 235 instances of "church" and only 2 of "congregation." Tyndale thought the word "church" should be reserved for the "elect." The Book of Mormon church is thoroughly egalitarian.

Far from being a clumsy parody of Jacksonian American theological polemics, the Book of Mormon beautifully synchronizes More's Catholicism with Tyndale's Protestantism. The Book of Mormon contribution to the More/Tyndale debate ends up a draw. Its refined treatment of theological and religious issues go much beyond Joseph Smith's innate capabilities. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Book of Mormon also deftly handles many other contentious issues that have riven Christianity for centuries such as favor earned versus grace freely given, authority through lineal descent versus the priesthood of all believers, culpability for original sin versus newborn innocence, essential sacraments versus confession of faith, etc.
Nick Frederick holds a PhD in the History of Christianity from Claremont. He is an Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU where his research interests focus on intertextuality between the Bible, particularly the New Testament NT, and LDS scripture. His presentation was entitled "'Full of Grace, Mercy, and Truth': Exploring the Complexities of the Presence of the New Testament within the Book of Mormon."

This was the presentation that caused me to re-examine my preconceptions. The Brass Plates of Laban are a plausible explanation for the presence of so much of Isaiah (about 1/3) in the Nephite text. I can easily understand why our risen Lord chose to quote Malachi 3 & 4 to the Nephites at the Temple in land Bountiful as recorded in 3 Nephi 24 & 25. The Savior's masterful recasting of Matthew 5-7 as the Sermon at the Temple in 3 Nephi 12-14 I find moving and persuasive. But Nephiquoting from the Acts of the Apostles ostensibly written by Luke ca. AD 70? That caused me to think more deeply than I ever have before about intertextual dependencies in the Book of Mormon.

Biblicists classify instances of intertextuality as quotations, allusions and echos. Frederick has identified about 1,800 potential shared phrases between the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. Not counting 3 Nephi 12-14 reduces that number to 778. 333 are precise and therefore highly likely dependencies (quotations). 338 are very likely (allusions) and 107 are likely (echoes). New Testament phrases are quite evenly distributed throughout the entire Book of Mormon. The books of Matthew, John, Revelation, 1 Corinthians, Acts and Hebrews are the most referenced. Frederick wrote his dissertation on the many tight relationships between 3 Nephi 9 and John's prologue to his gospel.

After showing dozens of instances of New Testament intertextuality with the Book of Mormon, Frederick began to explore patterns in the data.
  • Grand visions have similarities. 1 Nephi 11-14 corresponds in many ways with the Revelation of John.
  • The Book of Mormon weaves NT phraseology into complex literary tapestries that go far beyond mere cut and paste plagiarism.
  • We tend to focus on the similarities between the Sermon at the Temple and Matthew 5-7, but 3 Nephi, including chapters 12-14, have remarkable affinities with the writings of John.
  • The life experiences of Almaand the sons of Mosiahclosely mirror those of the Apostle Paul. We should not be surprised to find intertextuality between them and we do.
  • The correlation between Mormon 9 and Mark 16 is lengthy and precise. Both Mark and Moronisummarize the life and ministry of the Savior with its implications for believers.
  • The resurrected Savior explicitly says he shared the same words in the Old World and the New 3 Nephi 15:1. Jesus' logia are a necessary and sufficient urtext behind many dependencies such as Moroni 7:45 and 1 Corinthians13:4-7.
  • In the spirit of Nephi's "plainness in the which I know that no man can err" 2 Nephi 25:7, the Book of Mormon often makes things explicit so as to be crystal clear. Deuteronomy 18:15, 19 is the source for both 1 Nephi 22:20 and Acts 3:22-23. The Lord Himself quoted Nephi in personally announcing the fulfillment of Moses' prophecy 3 Nephi 20:23.
  • The Book of Mormon is closer to the New Testament than it is to the Old Testament OT.
  • The Yale 2009 text is closer to the NT than is the LDS 1980-2013 text.
  • Context is often determinative. Passages about faith or priesthood have strong similarities.
So why do we find Luke showing up in First and Second Nephi? In the time of Joseph Smith, the KJV was considered the voice and language of God. Steven C. Harper's aritcle "Infallible Proofs, Both Human and Divine: The Persuasiveness of Mormonism for Early Converts" Religion and American Culture 10 (1) 99-118 (Winter, 2000) shows that the reciprocity of the Book of Mormon and Bible mutually corroborating each other powerfully influenced the saints in Joseph Smith's day. Mormon 7:9 prophesied this intertextual validation.

Lucy Mack Smith said Joseph Smith at age 18 had never read the entire Bible and was more inclined to meditation than to study. The fact that at age 24, from April 7 to July 1, 1829, he dictated almost the entire Book of Mormon in a revelatory marathon is nothing short of amazing. The Book of Mormon is precisely a "marvelous work and a wonder" as Nephiprophesied 2 Nephi 25:17 quoting Isaiah 2 Nephi 27:26, Isaiah 29:14 who alluded to King David Psalms 105:5 who echoed 1 Chronicles 16:2 or vice versa. So, finding intertextuality between the New Testament and the Book of Mormon should be a source of wonder for modern readers.

Divine timekeeping is superior to mortal reckoning Moses 1:6. So, what seems anachronistic to us may be the power of God at work in the world inspiring various people in various places at various times. That is the clear message of 2 Nephi 29. 2 Nephi9 29:2 in particular says the words of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon will come through God's own mouth and be His own words. So, when we see Moses Deuteronomy 32:35 quoted by Isaiah Isaiah 34:8, Isaiah 35:4 and Jeremiah Jeremiah 51:6, the question becomes who quoted whom when Paul used similar terminology writing to both the Romans Romans 12:19 and the Jews Hebrews 10:30? In what way did the voice of the Lord come to Mormon Mormon 3:14  as he included the same words in his own writings Mormon 3:15? To what scripture was Moronireferring when he engraved his own version of the famous passage Mormon 8:20? We know that content has flowed and will flow freely between different groups of people 2 Nephi 29:13. We also know there is an underlying unity to God's word 2 Nephi 29:14 analogous to the latter-day gathering of Israel. In the final analysis the historical transmission process underlying textual criticism does not adequately account for the divine hand of providence at work in sacred writ. The real question then becomes "Is text X the word of God yes or no?" In the case of the Book of Mormon the answer is unequivocally yes.
Royal Skousen holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Illinois. He is a Professor of Linguistics and English at BYU. He has been the editor of the Book of Mormon Critical Text since 1988. His presentation was entitled "A theory! A theory! We have already got a theory, and there cannot be any more theories!"

Skousen has a wonderfully dry, understated wit. Audiences have to pay attention because, like Nibley, some of Skousens best comments are unscripted & off the cuff. This is what we know about the translation process from eyewitnesses:
  • The text of the Book of Mormon was revealed to Joseph Smith word for word
  • The Prophet was not at liberty to express ideas in his own words
  • Words appeared in the interpreters or the seer stone
  • Joseph's head was buried in a hat to exclude light so he could better read the words 
  • Joseph could see 20 - 30 words at a time
  • He read aloud about 10 words at a time to his scribe who wrote them down
  • The scribe then read the text back to Joseph who compared it with the revealed words
  • When Joseph and his scribe felt they had the right words recorded, the divine display changed
  • The translation team worked for about 6 hours per day
  • Proper names were spelled out the first time they appeared
  • The process was transparent, out in the open, seen by all
  • The plates themselves, nearby but not consulted, were wrapped up in a cloth of some kind
  • After breaks, Joseph Smith began where they had left off without notes or prompting
6 people left us eyewitness accounts of the translation methodology. One of the most important was Michael Morris, Emma Smith's brother-in-law. Morris never joined the Church.

The Book of Mormon text uses systematic phraseology. 131 expressions appear 100% of the time, without exception. This remarkable standardization was a big help in the process of re-constructing the original text. Skousen's first inkling that the text may be pre-modern came in 1998 when Renee Bangerter suggested the "ceremony" in Mosiah 19:24 may actually be "sermon."  The OED showed sermon meaning talk or conversation, but that usage died out after 1594. Then in 2003 Christian Gellinek suggested "pleading bar" for "pleasing bar" in Jacob 6:13. Pleading bars in judicial settings are attested in the 1600's.

Once he began looking for archaic vocabulary, EModE terms were evident throughout the text:
  • require meaning request
  • cast arrows meaning shoot arrows
  • wrap meaning roll
  • for the multitude meaning as many as could
  • but if meaning unless
  • counsel meaning to counsel with
  • depart meaning divide in parts
  • errand meaning message
  • extinct meaning dead
  • detect meaning expose
  • withstand meaning oppose
  • retain meaning take back
  • thou meaning plural
  • descendant meaning plural
  • view meaning vision
  • unwearingness meaning unweariness
  • to become for oneself meaning to become of age, to become independent
  • morrow month meaning next month
  • wist meaning know
Helaman 13:37 "in them days" (Yale Text) is boorish modern English. It was acceptable EModE usage. The word "and" in an interruptive or extended subordination clause takes you back to the main clause. EModE has multiple instances of "and" that we would consider run-on sentences in modern English. Examples are 1 Nephi 8:13, 3 Nephi 23:8 and Moroni 10:4. Book of Mormon vocabulary is filtered, massaged and carefully prepared. Every word was known to Joseph Smith and his scribes, although many meanings had changed since the EModE era.

The Book of Mormon fits well in the 1500's. It takes an expansive view of mankind in line with the renaissance, enlightenment and reformation. It deals with many of the issues that were debated in reformed Protestantism.

Abinadi was burned at the stake as a heretic. Mosiah 17:13 should read "scorched" not "scourged." During the 1500's, many people were burned at the stake along with their scriptures. "Secret combinations" describe Catholic and subversive political groups, not freemasons. The Book of Mormon refines the KJV resolutions of the Tyndale/More debate. The Book of Mormon is definitely low church in its practices, but high church in many of its doctrines. Mosiahand Alma1 had to wrestle with the same church/state issues that plagued the 1500's and 1600's. The Book of Mormon solution that excommunication was not a civil crime Mosiah 26:35-26 eventually became obvious to western society generally after the tumultuous EModE years.

The Book of Mormon shows the hand of the Lord. Joseph Smith was not really its translator. He was its transmitter through divine instrumentality.
John W. (Jack) Welch read Greek Philosophy at Oxford and holds a JD from Duke. He is the Robert K. Thomas Professor of Law at BYU.

All the presenters deserve our thanks and praise. "Thank" and "praise" are the same word in both Greek and Hebrew. Jack began serving as General Editor of BYU Studies in 1991. Since that time many significant discoveries have helped us better understand the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is very complicated. We must take it seriously. Superficiality is quite offensive to the Lord. The presenters in this conference have taken a new tack and are examining the text through the lens of new disciplines. Practically every academic discipline has something important to contribute that will help elucidate the Book of Mormon. Welch then listed well over a dozen disciplines that have shed light on the Nephite text in our day. These include Arabic, the discovery of the Hittites in 1950, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebraisms, Statistics, Botany, Geography, Theology and now Historical Linguistics. Noting that March 14, 2015 was the 10th year anniversary of Hugh Nibley's funeral, Welch commented that Hugh would have enjoyed these conference proceedings.

In a sacred text, every word counts for something. For years we thought bad grammar was an embarrassing weakness in the Book of Mormon. Looking at it now through an EModE lens we know it is one of the text's greatest strengths. We will find Hebrew, Elizabethan English, 19th century, 20th century, and even 21st century phraseology in the Book of Mormon. It is simply a miraculous, marvelous translation.

Some of the research we take for granted today was not possible before the computer age. We now have the Yale text that we can compare quickly with many other databases. Jack has found over 3,000 possible New Testament phrases in the Book of Mormon. We know, for instance, that Alma 32 quotes from both the OT and NT. It includes wording from 22 discrete passages in many different books of the Bible. That level of synchronicity is beyond human capacity.

Church historians of an earlier era were embarrassed at the image of Joseph Smith with his head buried in his hat. The hat is our strongest evidence of a divine translation through the gift and power of God. Joseph Smith was not consulting reference materials. He was not collaborating with a team of experts. He was reading words that appeared on a stone in the bottom of a hat. The whole thing is simply astonishing and supernatural.   

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Rabinal Achi

In 2008 I took family members to St. Peter Stiftskeller Restaurant in Salzburg. Housed in a cave, the establishment claims to be the oldest restaurant in Central Europe. We enjoyed a unique ambiance dining in a place that has been serving food to travelers for over 1,200 years.

I can only imagine the thrill of attending a play that has been performed since the early 1400's. That is possible each January in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Gautemala. The drama is called Rabinal Achi "Man of Rabinal" aka Xajoj Tun "Dance of the Trumpets." It is the only precontact Mayan theater extant. The definitive modern edition of this UNESCO-designated masterpiece was published by Oxford University Press in 2003.
Pre-contact Guatemalan Play
Dennis Tedlock, translator, spent his career as a distinguished member of the English and Anthropology faculties at SUNY Buffalo. Tedlock is best known for his widely-read translation of Popol Vuh published by Simon & Schuster in 1985 with a revised & expanded edition in 1996.

In the 1400's the Quiche capital was Utatlan near modern Santa Cruz del Quiche in Quiche. The Kaqchikel capital was Iximche near modern Tecpan Guatemala in Chimaltenango. The Rabinal capital was Rabinal in Baja Verapaz. The play is set in Rabinal and at the fortress on Kaqyuq' "Red Mountain", which overlooks the city from the north. Utatlan was about 70 air kilometers west of Rabinal. Iximche was about 65 air kilometers to the southwest.
Capitals of Quichean Polities ca. AD 1430
The main characters in the drama are:
  • Lord Five Thunder, Rabinal ruler
  • Man of Rabinal, one of Lord Five Thunder's warriors
  • Man of Quiche called Cawek of the Forest People
The most prominent Quiche ruler in that era was K'iq'ab' "Quicab" who took a great deal of Rabinal territory by force. Prior to Quicab's depredations, for instance, the modern towns of Zacualpa and Joyabaj were part of Rabinal's domain and spoke Achi (p. 185). Cawek was one of Quicab's warriors turned outlaw and may even have been his son. As the play opens Man of Rabinal has taken Cawek prisoner. Man of Rabinal eventually takes Cawek to Lord Five Thunder. The play ends with Cawek's execution atop Red Mountain.

This is the second Quichean volume we are analyzing for possible Book of Mormon connections. In the first, Kaqchikel Chronicles, we found 117 parallels. This article will continue the numbering system from that previous article with the addition of "k" for a correspondence found in Kaqchikel Chronicles and "r" for a parallel from Rabinal Achi. When a person, place, or thing is found in both Kaqchikel Chronicles and Rabinal Achi both "k" and "r" are present.

1 k r. Rabinal Achi was originally in the Achi dialect of K'iche' Mayan, recorded in Latin characters and then translated into various European languages beginning in 1862 (p. 208).

5 k r. Females have small roles in Rabinal Achi, but not speaking parts.

12 k r. Rabinal Achi contains a thorough mixing of history with religion and metaphysics.

18 k r. Rabinal lands were north of the Motagua. This large east-west river was a major boundary in Rabinal geography.

23 k r. Rabinal Achi is full of parallelisms and repetitions. The speakers typically parrot what the other just said before presenting their new material (p. 221). Even a listener who does not understand K'iche' can tell the performers are speaking in parallel verse (p. 16).

25 k r, 26 k r. Man of Rabinal asked Cawek "where is your mountain? where is your valley?" (p. 30). In other words, where are you from?

28 k r. Cawek expects his posterity to revere his memory (p. 105).

34 k r. A play called Baile de San Jorge is popular in Rabinal. It recounts the myth of Saint George and the dragon with touches that recall the ubiquitous Mesoamerican plumed serpent (p. 188).

37 k r, 70 k r. Cawek, portending his fate, describes himself as a drop of water (p. 35).

40 k r. Cawek says his descendants will hear his words (p. 105).

43 k r. Lord Five Thunder's mountaintop fortress had great walls (p. 34).

48 k r. The Quiche and Rabinal peoples considered themselves "elder and younger brother one to the other" (p. 70).

55 k r. The Rabinal paid tribute to the Quiche (p. 153).

57 k r. Man of Rabinal and Cawek describe a military confrontation "down in the canyons, up on the heights" (pp. 63, 69).

65 k r. Lord Five Thunder had a mun "slave" attending him (pp. 1, 309).

68 k r. Man of Rabinal began many sentences with the phrase "To tell the truth" (p. 52).

78 k r. The Quiche capital, Utatlan, had two citadels. The Rabinal called them Q'umarka'j and Chi Ismachi' "Old Camp and Whisker Place" (p. 65).

100 k r. Lord Five Thunder's vassals harvested honey for his sustenance (p. 36).

104 k r. Ajaw Job' Toj "Lord Five Thunder" bore the name of Jun Toj "One Thunder," patron deity of the Rabinal nation (p. 344).
118 r. Lord Five Thunder employed the services of two warrior priests costumed as apex predators kot "eagle" and b'alam "jaguar" representing powerful forces of nature (p. 1). The Book of Mormon represents the entire animal kingdom with the phrase "beasts of the field and the fowls of the air" 2 Nephi 2:13, Alma 34:10.

119 r. Lord Five Thunder's young maiden daughter was called Uchuch Q'uq', Uchuch Raxom "Mother of Quetzal Feathers, Mother of Glistening Green (p. 345). When presented to Cawek, she carried additional titles "(Mother) of jade, of precious beads." The resplendent quetzal bird was sacred in ancient Mesoamerica and jade had great religious and spiritual value. The young girl is precious because she will fetch a high bride price. The Book of Mormon also calls a maiden a mother, describing a virgin who will give birth to deity 1 Nephi 11:18, 2 Nephi 17:14. The text describes her as precious Alma 7:10.

120 r. Cawek of the Forest People was a renegade, not cultivating crops, and on the run (pp. 1, 30, 54, 56). The Book of Mormon describes a group of outlaws Helaman 11:28 who lived in the wilderness Helaman 11:31, did not cultivate crops 3 Nephi 4:19-20, and were hunted from place to place Helaman 6:37.

121 r. Throughout the play, the couplets "ax and shield" (p. 1) or "weapon and shield" (p. 30) represent military power. Moronitranslated the similar couplet "with their swords and with their shields" from the Jaredite records Ether 15:24.

122 r. The stone ax was an important weapon and symbol in Maya culture (p. 2) as it was in the Book of Mormon Enos 1:20, Mormon 6:9.

123 r. The terms "sky, earth" are invoked dozens of times in Rabinal Achi. This is an abbreviated version of the ancient phrase "Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth" referring to deity (p. 2). The Book of Mormon version of this phrase is "heaven and earth" 2 Nephi 25:12, Jacob 2:5, Mosiah 4:9 which appears dozens of times in the text referring to the power of God 2 Nephi 29:7.

124 r. Quiche kings, including the most famous, Quicab, were from the lineage of Cawek (p. 3). Nephite kings were descendants of Nephi Mosiah 25:13.

125 r. Cawek declared that because of his capture, his destiny had been turned upside down (p. 4). This same idea is expressed in the Book of Mormon in a similar way 2 Nephi 27:27 citing Isaiah 29:16.

126 r. Rabinal Achi, like much of Mesoamerican literature, is fatalistic with emphasis on prophecies and fulfillment (p. 4). Ditto the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 12:20, 1 Nephi 13:35, Alma 45:10-11, Helaman 13:8-10 which goes to great lengths to document prophecies fulfilled Mormon 8:6-7.

127 r. Cawek was put on trial before he was executed (p. 5). Alma 51:19 shows this was standard practice among the Nephites as well. Abinadi Mosiah 17:7 and Nehor Alma 1:10 both went through formal legal proceedings before being executed. See the blog article "The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon."

128 r. Cawek confessed to multiple misdeeds before he was dispatched (p. 5). In the Book of Mormon some malefactors confessed their sins before they died Jacob 7:16-20Alma 1:15, Alma 30:52-59.

129 r. Cawek was executed atop Red Mountain. The top of Hill Manti was a place of execution in the lesser land of Zarahemla Alma 1:15.

130 r. At one point in the drama, Cawek drinks a beverage Lord Five Thunder calls poison (p. 16). Poison figures in the Book of Mormon narrative as well Alma 47:18, Alma 55:30-32.

131 r. Cawek wished he could chop through "the root, the trunk" of Lord Five Thunder's family (p. 17) to eradicate the bloodline. The Book of Mormon also uses a tree as a metaphor for a family 2 Nephi 21:1 citing Isaiah 11:1, The entire chapter of Jacob 5 is an extended allegory in which trees represent people. Cawek's wording is similar to 3 Nephi 25:1 where the Savior cites Malachi 4:1 to mean a wicked person's bloodline can be destroyed at the root. In the Book of Mormon the phrase "hewn down" refers explicitly to trees 3 Nephi 14:19 and to people Mormon 6:11.

132 r. Cawek raised a rebel army that threatened his own people (p. 17). This scenario plays out repeatedly in the Book of Mormon Alma 2:10, Alma 48:1-3, Helaman 1:15.

133 r. Lord Five Thunder briefly considered the possibility that under different circumstances Cawek could have become his son-in-law (p. 17). In the Book of Mormon King Lamoni offered Ammon his daughter's hand in marriage Alma 17:24.

134 r. Cawek was promised land as a reward for military service (p. 18). The Book of Mormon records an instance where Lamanites were given land following military service Alma 62:29.

135 r. In a military campaign, Cawek spied on enemy forces (p. 18). Spies were common in Book of Mormon military strategies Mosiah 9:1, Alma 2:21, Alma 56:35.

136 r. The Rabinal believed land could be cursed (p. 18). The Book of Mormon repeatedly mentions land being cursed Jacob 3:3, Alma 37:28, 3 Nephi 3:24.

137 r. Man of Rabinal, a decorated warrior, had a gem inserted in a nose piercing (pp. 26, 278). The Book of Mormon mentions a nose jewel 2 Nephi 13:21 citing Isaiah 3:21.

138 r. The Rabinal bound captives with henequen rope or cord (pp. 28, 75). In the Book of Mormon captives were bound with strong cords Alma 14:22, Alma 20:29, Alma 26:29.

139 r. In his second speech, Cawek issued the injunctive E'ja "Listen!" (p. 31). The Book of Mormon equivalent is "give ear" 2 Nephi 4:3, 2 Nephi 9:40Alma 36:1 or "hearken" Mosiah 2:9.

140 r. In his second speech, Cawek used the mournful exclamation "Alas" two times in a couplet invoking deity (p. 31). The Book of Mormon equivalent is "wo, wo" which is used in various contexts involving deity 1 Nephi 1:13, Mosiah 3:12, 3 Nephi 29:5.

141 r. Words spoken by Man of Rabinal caused Cawek's face and teeth to hurt (p. 31). The Book of Mormon mentions a painful condition called gnashing of teeth Mosiah 16:2, Alma 14:21, Alma 40:13. The Book of Mormon also describes God's mouth and lips as active agents whose words can smite and slay 2 Nephi 30:9.

142 r. Cawek addressed Man of Rabinal with the honorific title "Man of Glory" (p. 32). In the Book of Mormon, meritorious humans achieve glory 1 Nephi 14:14, Jacob 4:11, Alma 14:11. High ranking officials have earthly glory 2 Nephi 18:7, 2 Nephi 24:18, Ether 8:9. Glory is promised to the righteous in the hereafter Alma 22:14Alma 36:28.

143 r. Cawek, in self-effacement, called himself a little bird (p. 35). The Book of Mormon compares rebellious Israel to small chicks 3 Nephi 10:4-6.

144 r. Man of Rabinal accused Cawek of enticing Lord Five Thunder's subjects to rebel and leave his service (pp. 36, 58). Rebel leaders enticed Nephite dissenters to change loyalties and abandon their homeland Helaman 11:25, 3 Nephi 1:28.

145 r. Nine Rabinal warriors died in battle and their forearms were used for the casualty count (p. 37). When Ammon maimed and killed robbers at the waters of Sebus, his Lamanite colleagues brought severed arms as proof of his exploits when they made their report to King Lamoni Alma 17:39.

146 r. The Rabinal conceived of their capital city as the navel of the sky, navel of the earth (p. 38). The Nephite equivalent was "center" Helaman 1:24-27 or "heart" Helaman 1:18 of the land.

147 r. The Rabinal had a place they called Pan Cha'lib' "Bountiful" or "Abundance" near Xoyab'aj "Joyabaj" (pp. 42, 292). The place name Bountiful is attested more than 30 times in the Nephite text Alma 53:3.
The Rabinal Bountiful in Context
148 r. The Rabinal used cacao beans as media of exchange, as well as q'ana "yellow" and saqi "white" pwaq "money." Gold was yellow and silver was white. (pp. 49, 295). Among the Nephites, gold and silver served as stores of value and media of exchange Mosiah 22:12, Alma 11:7.

149 r. The Rabinal conceived their world as having chi kaj pa "four edges" and chi kaj xukutal "four corners" (pp. 50, 296). The Nephites conceived their world as having four quarters 1 Nephi 19:16, 3 Nephi 5:24-26.

150 r. The Rabinal thought of territory as being pa jun warab' al "a day's journey" or pa kay warab' al "two days' journey" in length or width. A literal translation would be "one place to sleep" or "two places to sleep" (pp. 50, 296). The Nephite standard unit of distance measure was one day's journey Mosiah 23:3, Alma 8:6, Alma 22:32, Helaman 4:7. See the blog articles "Land Southward Travel Times" and "Test #6 Relative Distances."

151 r. In his sixth speech, Man of Rabinal says Cawek lost his strength through misdeeds and no longer enjoyed a comparative military advantage over his enemies (pp. 52, 57). Mosiah 1:13 prophecies a time when the Nephites will become weak because of sin and no longer prevail over the Lamanites. Helaman 4:24 and Mormon 2:26 record fulfillment of that prophecy.

152 r. Man of Rabinal gloried in his numerous posterity of descendants, children and sons (p. 53). Nephi saw in vision multitudes of Lehite descendants 1 Nephi 12:1.

153 r. The Rabinal recognized a standard unit of distance measure they called a k'a'm "cord" (pp. 55, 342). It equalled twenty strides or ten paces, about 18 meters. The Nephites had a standard unit of distance measure. See point #150 above. The Nephites also had standard units of measure for value Alma 11:4, volume of grain Alma 11:7, and time 3 Nephi 8:2.

154 r. Rabinal Achi mentions about two dozen place names, most of which can be correlated with known places on the modern map.
Geonyms Attested in Rabinal Achi
The extent of the territory attested in the play is about 130 kilometers X 80 kilometers. Contained within that area are parts of the K'iche', Kaqchikel, and Q'eqchi' domains. The wars described in the text reduced Rabinal holdings to about 900 square kilometers which is consistent with the sizes we have proposed for Nephite and Lamanite lands. See the blog article "Test #7 Land Areas."

155 r. In Cawek's fifth speech he says that Rabinal lands are not extensive, approximately one day's journey, two days' journey across (p. 50). This map shows the approximate extent of Rabinal lands ca. AD 1430 to which Cawek was referring.
Rabinal Territory ca. AD 1430 
This area is very close to 30 air kilometers in diameter. 15 air kilometers is the metric we derived for the Nephite standard unit of distance measure "one day's journey." See the blog article "Land Southward Travel Times." The Rabinal distance "one day's journey" also meant about 15 air kilometers. 7.7 air kilometers from Chicabracan to Utatlan were less than a day's journey (p. 184). In fact, they were one-half a day's journey (p. 258) which closely corroborates the 15 air kilometers per day metric. The fact that 9.5 air kilometers from Between the Wasps Nests to Pitted and Planted were less than one day's march (p. 254) further corroborates this distance.

156 r. Cultures worldwide recognize that earthquakes shake the earth. The Rabinal had the curious idea that both the sky and the earth could shake (p. 58). The Nephites & Jaredites had the same idea 2 Nephi 23:13 citing Isaiah 13:13, Ether 4:9.

157 r. Cawek led an army that moved from Big Tree north to Lord's Place "Chichicastenango" and then north to Earthquake "Chicabracan". At that point the text says they were a "very short distance" from the Quiche capital, Utatlan "Quiche Mountain, Quiche Valley" aka "Old Camp & Whisker Place" (p. 59). How long was a very short distance in Rabinal parlance? 7.71 air kilometers as the map below shows.
Very Short Distance from Earthquake to Quiche Capital
The Book of Mormon uses the terms "near" and "by" to designate places that are close to each other. In the blog article "Things Near and Far" we analyzed all occurrences of the word "near" in a spatial context and concluded that two places must be within 5 kilometers to be near each other in the Nephite worldview. Looking at the word "by" in the blog article "By and By" we concluded that two places must be within 25 kilometers and have a clear border to be by each other in Nephite usage. The Rabinal idea that less than 8 kilometers was a very short distance fits the Book of Mormon pattern. The Book of Mormon would have said they were by each other, recognizing the river between them as a border.

158 r. In Man of Rabinal's seventh speech, we learn that when Lord Five Thunder was outside the walls of his fortress, he was heavily guarded (p. 62). When King Limhi ventured outside the walls of the city of Nephi, he had his guards with him Mosiah 7:10.

159 r. In Rabinal Achi, planting crops was considered a noble virtue (p. 66) as it was in the Book of Mormon Enos 1:20-21, Alma 62:29.

160 r. Cawek, a foreign noble, offered to be a servant in the household of Lord Five Thunder (p. 71). Ammon, one-time heir to the Nephite throne, offered to be a servant in the household of King Lamoni Alma 17:25.

161 r. Cawek reminded Man of Rabinal that it would be a mark of greatness if he let his prisoner of war go free (p. 71). The quintessential great Nephite military commander, Moronilet thousands of prisoners of war go free during his illustrious career Alma 44:15, Alma 44:20, Alma 62:27-28.

162 r. Rabinal Achi has several passages where personal possessions are mentioned. The list always includes the couplet q'ana and saqi "gold and silver." The Book of Mormon uses some form of the couplet "gold and silver" 43 times in describing personal property 1 Nephi 3:16, Jacob 1:16, Mosiah 22:12.

163 r. Just before he took his captive to Lord Five Thunder, Man of Rabinal itemized Cawek's personal effects. He had gold and silver, weapons, and apparel (pp. 70, 72). Lists containing gold, silver, and apparel occur several times in the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 13:7, Alma 1:29, Ether 9:17.

164 r. In his eighth speech, Man of Rabinal said he was perfected and completed because of his Lord (pp. 72, 73). Moroniadmonishes us to be perfected in Christ Moroni 10:32.

165 r. Since Cawek's was a capital case, his fate could only be decided by the Rabinal supreme ruler (p. 73). In Nephite times, only the governor could authorize a death warrant 3 Nephi 6:22-15.

166 r. Man of Rabinal said it was an act of God that caused Cawek to fall under his  power (p. 75). The Book of Mormon repeatedly says God delivers people either into Mosiah 11:21Alma 44:3, or out of Mosiah 2:4, Alma 58:37 the hands of their enemies.

167 r. Man of Rabinal described several fortresses and sets of defensive walls presided over by multiple lords (p. 76). Moronicaused fortifications to be built around every Nephite city Alma 50:1.

168 r. Lord Five Thunder in his palace had a bench adorned with metal (p. 79). King Noah in his palace had a throne ornamented with gold and silver Mosiah 11:9.

169 r. In the Rabinal palace nobles had rainment adorned with metal (p. 79). The Zoramites had costly apparel with ornaments of gold Alma 31:28.

170 r. Craftsmen worked metal and jade inside the walls of Lord Five Thunder's fortress (p. 78). Artisans worked wood, copper, and brass insides the walls of King Noah's temple Mosiah 11:10.

171 r. Lord Five Thunder delighted in an alcoholic beverage that brought him dreams (p. 79). King Noah made wine in abundance and became a wine-bibber Mosiah 11:15.

172 r. The Rabinal had fabric with double warp, tamped weft and weaving tightly done (pp. 79, 86). The Jaredites and Nephites possessed fine silks, fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing 1 Nephi 13:7, Helaman 6:13, Ether 10:24.

173 r. Lord Five Thunder expected respectful subjects to bow and lower their face in his presence (pp. 81, 87). Lamanite emperors expected their subjects to bow before them Alma 22:2, Alma 47:22-23.

174 r. The Rabinal were familiar with both highland and lowland topographies (p. 83). In the Book of Mormon, relative elevation differences are distinguished by the words "up" and "down." See the blog article "Test #1 Ups and Downs."

175 r. Man of Rabinal's weapons were gifts from Lord Five Thunder (p. 83). In the Book of Mormon, Moroniprovided defensive armaments and weapons to his soldiers Alma 43:19, Alma 55:16-17. Amalickiah armed his Lamanite soldiers Alma 51:9.

176 r. In Rabinal Achi, mud is associated with humility (p. 91). The equivalent term in the Book of Mormon is "dust of the earth" Mosiah 2:25Mosiah 4:2, Helaman 12:7.

177 r. Among the Rabinal, being dead was equated with being lost (p. 100). The Book of Mormon also associates death with being lost Mosiah 16:4-7, Alma 12:22-24, Alma 42:6.

The 2003 edition of Rabinal Achi includes 31 images of Maya, Mixtec, and Aztec art that illustrate aspects of the drama. Proveniences of that art are shown as triangle symbols on the map below. Light blue pushpins identify locations mentioned in the play.
Origin Sites of Art Illustrating Facets of Rabinal Achi
Of particular interest are Chama, our correlate for the city of Manti, Palenque and Pomona which are in the territory we identify as the lesser land of Zarahemla, and Yaxchilan in the area we correlate with the land of Melek.

178 r. Attending certain royal ceremonies demonstrated loyalty to the king (p. 134). King Lamoni was threatened for not attending a feast given by his father, the Lamanite emperor Alma 20:9.

179 r. The Rabinal thought of lightning and meteors as divine weapons (p. 135). The Mayan name K'ak' Tiliw Kan Chaak meant "thunderbolt fire that burns in the sky (p. 141). The Book of Mormon describes lightning as being under divine control Helaman 14:26 and calls it part of "the fire of the anger of the Lord" 2 Nephi 26:6.

180 r. Nobles among the Rabinal were almost certainly familiar with the Caribbean (p. 136). In our correlation, the Caribbean is the Book of Mormon's east sea.

181 r. The Quichean peoples understood the word patan "burden" to also mean an office or duty (p. 140). Ditto in the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 24:25 citing Isaiah 14:25, Mosiah 29:34.

182 r. Cawek was executed by decapitation (p. 145). Decapitation is attested in the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 4:18, 1 Nephi 22:13, Ether 9:5, Ether 15:30-31.

183 r. The Maya linked lineages with named places (p. 147). The Nephites linked lineages with place names Alma 8:7.

184 r. Classic Maya carved stone stelae were called te' tun "tree stone." Royals had their lineage trees engraved on their stones (p. 149). Coriantumr, former Jaredite king, carved his genealogy on his stela Omni 1:22.

185 r. Quichean lords fasted and prayed for their people (p. 139). Fasting and prayer are mentioned together as a couplet nine times in the Book of Mormon Omni 1:26, Mosiah 27:23, Moroni 6:5.

186 r. Rabinal Achi was performed originally from a glyphic book of some sort. Hieroglyphic texts are extremely terse. The pictorial version may have been more like program notes for the play rather than an actual script or libretto (pp. 158, 239). Nephite scribes, engraving characters in reformed Egyptian on metal plates, were hindered in their expression because of the terse nature of their language. They were trading articulation facility for archival longevity Jacob 4:1, Ether 12:24-25.

187 r. Rabinal Achi has many literary flashbacks (p. 174). The Book of Mormon has many literary flashbacks such as the records of the Zeniff colony in Mosiah 9-22 and the account of the sons of Mosiah's fourteen year mission to the Lamanites in Alma 17-26.

188 r. Throughout ancient Mesoamerica, kings were killed by assasins (p. 179). The Book of Mormon records several instances of rulers being killed by assasins Helaman 6:15Helaman 9:6, Ether 9:6, Ether 14:9.

189 r. Quicab, Quiche antagonist behind the scenes in Rabinal Achi, forbade his subjects "to travel the roads" which meant he did not want them to migrate (p. 182). This recalls the incident with the people of Morianton chased by Teancum and his army Alma 50:33.

190 r. In Rabinal Achi, rebels outside the bounds of legitimate political authority are "forest people" (p. 183). Tn the Book of Mormon, rebels outside the bounds of legitimate political authority live in the "wilderness" Helaman 2:11, Helaman 11:31.

191 r. Rabinal Achi implies the second Kaqchikel capital, Iximche, was founded in a time of hunger (p. 184). The Book of Mormon uses the term "famine" 31 times 2 Nephi 1:18, Helaman 11:8, Ether 10:1.

192 r. Rabinal Achi almost always describes Lord Five Thunder's headquarters complex on Red Mountain as nimal "great" (p. 198). A number of cities in the Book of Mormon are called "great" 1 Nephi 11:13, Alma 16:9Helaman 13:12,

193 r. Prayers in K'iche' Mayan address Tiox, supreme celestial deity, then Juyub' Taq'aj "Mountain-Valley," ultimate terrestrial deity; followed by qatit qaman, "our grandmothers our grandfathers" referring to ancestors (p. 216). This heaven, earth, ancestor combination also appears in the Book of Mormon. 1 Nephi 1:14 combines Father Lehi with the Lord God of heaven and earth. 3 Nephi 15-17 includes Jesus Christ, creator of heavens and earth, and the sons of God. Ether 4:7 describes the brother of Jared and Jesus Christ, Father of heavens and earth.

194 r. Professional orators ply their trade in highland Maya towns today (p. 239). The Book of Mormon has many instances where preachers and politicians influenced their audiences through flattery Jacob 7:2, Alma 30:47, Ether 8:2.

195 r. Prayers are offered around household altars in highland Maya homes (p. 241). Nephiprayed atop the tower in his household garden Helaman 7:10-11.

196 r. The highland Maya use candles (p. 241) as did the Nephites 3 Nephi 8:21.

197 r. Rabinal Achi mentions bloodletting rituals (p. 248). The Book of Mormon describes blood as an active agent with salvific properties Mosiah 3:16, Alma 21:9, Helaman 5:9.

198 r. In the play, Cawek gives his words the power of an oath by invoking deity (p. 249). Oaths are mentioned dozens of times in the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 4:37, Mosiah 19:25, Alma 44:11.

199 r. Man of Rabinal believed his power as a warrior came from a divine source (p. 249). This idea is well attested in the Book of Mormon Mosiah 1:13, Helaman 4:243 Nephi 3:2,

200 r. In the play, Man of Rabinal insults Cawek by asking if he was born of clouds or mist (p. 250). This slanders Cawek's parentage. The Book of Mormon has the insulting expressions "child of hell" Alma 11:23, Alma 54:11 and "sons of a liar" Alma 20:13.

201 r. The Rabinal continue to maintain a number of shrines with hearths where pilgrims burn offerings. Five of those shrines are visited prior to each re-enactment of Rabinal Achi. Book of Mormon peoples considered burnt offerings part of their observance of the law of Moses 1 Nephi 5:9, Mosiah 2:3.

202 r. Man of Rabinal's seventh speech gives us some useful information about distances. He was marking boundaries around Lake Atitlan, mentioning Sculpture Tree (Panajachel) and two other places whose precise location is unknown. He then "traversed the length and breadth of the mountains and valleys" (p. 62) to rescue Lord Five Thunder at Bath. Tedlock interprets his words to mean he made a long journey (p. 259). We can map the distance from Panajachel to Bath.
65 Air Kilometers Sculpture Tree to Bath
It turns out to be a little over 4 days' journey using the metric described in point #155 above. The Book of Mormon would have called this several days' journey.

203 r. Rabinal Achi distinguishes between civilized, settled people living a courtly life and barbarians wandering around the forests (p. 262). The Book of Mormon makes a similar distinction between Nephites and Lamanites Jarom 1:6, Enos 1:20-21.

204 r. Man of Rabinal surrendered his weapons to find rest (p. 264). The Book of Mormon associates weapons surrender with peace Alma 24:19, Alma 44:14-15.

205 r. Cawek wished he could bind Lord Five Thunder's lower lip to his upper lip (p. 265). In other words, he wished he could curse Lord Five Thunder to become mute. The Book of Mormon records instances of leaders being struck dumb through a curse Mosiah 27:19, Alma 30:50.

206 r. Cawek addressed Lord Five Thunder as a mere mortal, not a demi-god (p. 265). King Benjamin dismissed the notion that he was anything more than a mortal man Mosiah 2:10-11.

207 r. Cawek engaged in a ritual invoking the four cardinal directions east, west, north and south (p. 266). The Book of Mormon makes it clear the Nephites thought of space in terms of these same four cardinal directions 2 Nephi 29:11, Mosiah 27:6, 3 Nephi 20:13.

208 r. The highland Maya conceived of an ideal city state as a town and its surrounding lands. Hills surrounded the town and mountains surrounded the hills (p. 269). Lands in the Book of Mormon follow this city state pattern. A principal city is surrounded by its adjacent lands Mosiah 7:21, Mosiah 23:25, Alma 43:25. Lands contain hills Alma 1:15, Mormon 1:3, Mormon 6:2. Lands border wilderness Omni 1:13Alma 8:5, Alma 31:3, Wilderness can be mountainous Helaman 11:31, 3 Nephi 3:20.

This list of correspondences continues in the blog article entitled "Quichean Directionality."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Driven Snow

I am indebted to Ted Stoddard who provided the information that led to this research. His excellent article entitled "The Whiteness of the Driven Snow: An Evaluation of the Word 'Snow' in the Book of Mormon" is hosted on the BMAF website.

1 Nephi 11:8 is the Book of Mormon's only reference to wintry weather, but it is clear from that verse Nephihad some knowledge of snow. That knowledge could have come from the version of the Old Testament contained on the brass plates of Laban. Pre-exilic books in the King James Version of the Old Testament mention the word "snow" 18 times. 7 of those verses contain the simile "white as snow" which is the sense of Nephi's meaning.

Nephicould also have had first-hand experience with snow either in the Old World or the New.

Old World
  • Mount Hermon, the highest peak in Israeli-controlled territory at 2,236 meters, receives enough snowfall to support skiing most years. Mt. Hermon Ski Resort opened in 1971. It has 5 chairlifts and 14 runs with a combined length of 45 kilometers. The resort capacity is 12,000 skiers a day on the mountain.
  • Jerusalem and environs experience occasional snowstorms. For the unusually heavy snows of 1950 that blanketed even the shores of the Dead Sea, see the Wikipedia article "1950 Snow in Israel." The snow accumulation in Jerusalem reached 60 centimeters that year.
  • January 2, 1992 Most parts of Jerusalem were covered with 50 centimeters of snow.
  • January 27, 2000 30 centimeters of snow accumulated in Jerusalem. See Ted Stoddard's article above for a photograph and more details.
  • December 12-13, 2013 Snow shut down Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Some parts of Jerusalem had 40 centimeters accumulation.
  • January 7, 2015 20 centimeters of snow fell on Jerusalem, leaving 17,000 homes without power.
  • February 21, 2015 35 centimeters of snow accumulated in Jerusalem, closing all roads in and out of the city.
Church of All Nations, Garden of Gethsemane Feb 20, 2015
Snow was not common in Jerusalem ca. 600 BC, but it was not unknown and Nephicertainly could have experienced it during his youth or childhood.

New World

After making landfall along the Pacific coast of Mexico or Central America, we think Nephispent most of his adult life in what is today Guatemala. Some higher elevations in that country do experience snow. 3 volcanic peaks in Guatemala (Tajumulco, Tacana & Acatenango) rise above 3,960 meters (13,000 feet). Many years, they get snow on top. Arctic peoples famously have many words describing different kinds of snow. The Maya have only one word, "bat," which means both snow and hail, They knew what snow was, even though they didn't see it very often.

This is a photo taken atop Tacana on the Mexico/Guatemala border.
Snow on Tacana, 2010
This is a photo taken on the trail to the summit of Tajumulco in the middle of January, 2010,
Campsite on Tajumulco January, 2010
This photo was taken on the slopes of Tajumulco three years later.
Guatemalans Playing in the Snow on Tajumulco January 26, 2013
Another photo taken that same day about 14 air kilometers away.
Ixchiguan, San Marcos, Guatemala on January 26, 2013
Ixchiguan sits at an elevation of 3,210 meters.

And this is a photo of the twin volcanoes Fuego & Acatenango as seen from Antigua. These impressive peaks rise 2,375 meters above the valley floor. Kaminaljuyu, which we believe was the city of Nephi, is 38 air kilometers from the summit of Acatenango. It is 22 air kilometers from the city of Antigua where this photo was taken. So, if Nephiwas at Kaminaljuyu as we suggest, he could have seen a sight similar to this.
Snow atop Fuego & Acatenango January 2013
Snow was not common in Guatemala ca. 600 BC, but it was not unknown. Nephicould have heard about it from others or even experienced it personally.