Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Robbers and Lamanites

For hundreds of years, the Nephites battled a single monolithic nemesis, the Lamanites. At the end of their civilization, though, the Nephites fought two different, allied enemies: robbers and Lamanites. The Nephites were caught in a vise with nowhere to flee. Being surrounded with no escape route was a perpetual fear of both Nephites Alma 51:30 and Lamanites Alma 56:37. Here is the textual basis:

Mosiah 21:5 ca. 130 BC The Nephites under King Limhi were caught in a vise with no escape. The Lamanites had surrounded them on every side. It required the intervention of Ammon and his fifteen companions dispatched by King Mosiah II to liberate the people of Limhi by strategem.

Alma 22:33-34 ca. 90 BC The Nephites were diligent to fortify the Bountiful/Desolation line along the west sea so the Lamanites would be hemmed in on the south and unable to overrun  the land northward. This gave the Nephites an escape route. They could always flee into the land northward if conditions became intolerable in their traditional homeland in the land southward.

Alma 50:29-30 ca. 67 BC Had fiery Morianton been allowed to settle the land northward, it would have caused trouble for the Nephites who were trying to protect the land northward as a possible refuge.

Alma 52:9 ca. 66 BC The Nephites were engaged in a two-front war led by Moroni in the southwest and Teancum in the northeast. Lamanites already controlled the southeast beginning at the city of Moroni and from there up the east coast. Therefore, it was strategically important to secure the narrow pass in the northwest because if the Lamanites could obtain that point they would have the Nephites surrounded and could harass them on every side.

Alma 63:4 ca. 55 BC Large scale migrations began from the land of Zarahemla into the land northward.

Helaman 1:9-12 ca. 51 BC Kishkumen (critical text orthography Kishcumen) as a hired assasin murdered Pahoran II (critical text orthography Parhoron). A secret band formed by oath. Its members were embedded incognito among the Nephites. The Nephite state executed any member of the band they could find.

Helaman 2:3-14 ca. 50 BC Gadianton (critical text orthography Gaddianton) emerged as the leader of the band of Kishkumen. Gadianton's goal was to seize control of the Nephite state. The band murdered, robbed, and acquired political power. Kishkumen attempted to murder Helaman II and was killed in the attempt. The Nephite security apparatus attempted to apprehend Gadianton and his band to execute them, but Gadianton swiftly led his band into the wilderness using a little-known escape route. Gadianton ultimately proved to be almost the entire cause of the Nephite destruction. The Nephite destruction narrative is recounted in the books of 4 Nephi and Mormon which were taken from original source documents near the end of the Nephite record-keeping tradition that began with the large plates of Nephi.

Helaman 3:3 ca. 46 BC Large scale migrations continued from the greater land of Zarahemla into the land northward.

Helaman 3:23 ca. 43 BC Gadianton was still alive, leading his nefarious band of robbers who had spread beyond the wilderness and infiltrated the more settled parts of the land.

Helaman 6:6 ca. 29 BC Lamanites began migrating into the land northward.

Helaman 6:15-41 ca. 26 - 24 BC The band of Kishkumen-Gadianton murdered two Nephite chief judges in quick succession. Many Nephites and even more Lamanites joined the band whose members lived incognito among the people. The increaingly virtuous Lanamite state used extraordinary measures including religious evangelism to eliminate the band from their midst. The increasingly amoral Nephite state tolerated and finally embraced the band. Gadianton is not mentioned in these passages as a person and he may no longer have been alive, but the band carrying his name finally succeeded in accomplishing his primary objective: they seized control of the Nephite state (sole management of the government). Nephite destruction was now inevitable.

Helaman 7:4-5 ca. 23 BC Robbers openly controlled the Nephite government in the lesser land of Zarahemla. In their corrupt rule, there was no justice. Judgment was for sale to the highest bidder. Mormon's description of this wicked regime (condemning the righteous, exonerating the guilty for money, seeking for material gain and the glory of the world, committing adultery, larceny, and murder) identifies it as part of the great and abominable church Nephi saw in vision 1 Nephi 13:8 whose founder is the devil 1 Nephi 13:6, Helaman 6:26.

Helaman 7:21-28 ca. 22 BC Nephi II, returned from preaching in the land northward, berated the people of Zarahemla from atop his garden tower for seeking after gain, the praise of men, and worldly wealth. The Nephites were chastised for murder, plunder, stealing, and bearing false witness. The wicked Nephites faced impending destruction because they had united with the robbers. The righteous Lamanites would be preserved and multiplied. Gadianton's band was explicitly called an abomination.

Helaman 8:1, 27-28 ca. 22 BC Nephite judges belonged to the Gadianton band. One member of the band who lusted for power murdered his own brother, a fellow band member.

Helaman 11:1-2 ca. 20 BC The Gadianton robbers started wars throughout all Nephite-controlled territory until the entire nation was embroiled in war.

Helaman 11:10 ca. 17 BC After two years of lethal famine that killed thousands, the Nephites completely eliminated the band of Gadianton from their midst and the documents undergirding the organization were buried in the earth.

Helaman 11:24-33 ca. 12 BC Nephite dissenters and Lamanites re-constituted the Gadianton robbers, who hid out in mountain and wilderness areas. They dug up the old documents supporting the organization and preyed upon both Nephites and Lamanites. They repulsed two Nephite armies sent to destroy them. Their numbers grew to such an extent they threatened both the Nephite and Lamanite armies. The robbers sent raiding parties into Nephite and Lamanite lands, killing many and taking others, particularly women and children, captive.

3 Nephi 3:7 ca. AD 16 Giddianhi's epistle to Lachoneus revealed the mindset of the Gadianton robbers. They wanted the Nephites to join them as partners in crime, not conquered subjects. The robbers attempted to coerce the Nephites through violence into accepting their proposal.

3 Nephi 4:13-14 ca. AD 21 Supreme Nephite military commander, Gidgiddoni, issued a shoot-to-kill order for any robber that fell into Nephite hands. Giddianhi, leader of the Gadiantons, was killed in the field pursuant to this order.

3 Nephi 4:16 ca. AD 21 The Nephites were concentrated in the land of refuge that ran from the lesser land of Zarahemla to the Bountiful/Desolation line along the west coast. The robbers unsuccessfully tried to hem in the Nephites on every side, to surround them and thereby force them to surrender.

3 Nephi 4:23 ca. AD 22 Gadianton leader, Zemnarihah, ordered his band to migrate en masse to the furthermost parts of the land northward.

3 Nephi 4:24-28 ca. AD 22 Nephite armies intercepted the Gadiantons in their march and surrounded them. Members of the band either gave themselves up as prisoners of war or were killed. Zemnarihah was executed in a ritually significant manner. See the Book of Mormon Central KnoWhy #192 published September 21, 2016 entitled "Why Did the People Cut Down the Tree after Hanging Zemharihah?"

3 Nephi 6:28-30 ca. ca. AD 30 After a brief respite, a secret combination formed again according to the ancient pattern. Their aim was to destroy the people of the Lord and replace the Nephite form of government with kingship.

3 Nephi 7:1-3 ca. AD 30 The secret combination murdered the chief judge, Lachoneus II, and destroyed the Nephite central government. What had been a state level society collapsed into tribalism and chiefdoms. See the blog article "State Level Society" for a fascinating comparison of the Book of Mormon with modern political science studies of states that degrade into tribes.

3 Nephi 7:9-13 ca. AD 30 Jacob III became king of the secret combination. He fled with his followers to the northernmost part of the land to build up a kingdom.

3 Nephi 9:9 ca. AD 34 The great city Jacobugath, home to the people of king Jacob who destroyed the Nephite government, was burned by fire at the Savior's death.

4 Nephi 1:42-46 ca. AD 260 The Gadianton robbers re-formed and began to overspread the land. Gold, silver, and trade were their priorities.

Mormon 1:18 ca. AD 326 The Gadianton robbers were among the Lamanites.

Mormon 2:8 ca. AD 331 Mormon faced two enemies, robbers and Lamanites.

Mormon 2:27-29 ca. AD 350 After establishing their most northerly capital in the city of Shem (Mormon 2:20), the Nephites fought their way back southward and negotiated a treaty with both the Lamanites and the robbers that divided the land. The Nephites got the land northward and the Lamanites took the land southward. So, where were the robbers? They were everywhere among both the Nephites and Lamanites, but their headquarters was still in the northernmost parts of the land (3 Nephi 7:12) and their strong presence in the far north was probably the reason the Nephites couldn't just continue fleeing northward beyond Shem.

Mormon 4:23 ca. AD 375 The hill Shim in the land Antum, securely under Nephite control for decades, had become vulnerable to Lamanite attack, causing Mormon to move the Nephite repository from hill Shim to hill Ramah/Cumorah.

Mormon 8:2 ca. AD 385 A few survivors of the Nephite holocaust at hill Ramah/Cumorah, including Mormon, fled southward where they were killed by the Lamanites. Why southward? They must have thought their chances of survival were better with the Lamanites in the land southward than they would have been traveling northward. This implies a powerful, hostile political force entrenched northward from hill Ramah/Cumorah.

Mormon 8:9 ca. AD 401 Moroni remained alone. The Nephites were all gone. Only Lamanites and robbers existed upon the face of the land.

This detailed textual narrative fits astonishingly well into Mesoamerica between 90 BC and AD 385.

The enormous city, Teotihuacan, began its rise to prominence ca. 100 BC. Many people migrated to Teotihuacan from points southward. Cities such as Cholula and Cantona came under Teotihuacan control. About AD 300, Teotihuacan influence began to appear along the Pacific coast of Chiapas and Guatemala. About AD 350, Teotihuacan established Matacapan in the Tuxtlas as a trading outpost. Then in AD 378, Teotihuacan and allies overthrew the ruling house in Tikal and installed a new dynasty loyal to the central Mexican behemoth. Soon after the regime change in Tikal, much of the Maya world was under strong Teotihuacan influence.

And yet, Teotihuacan has always been considered by anthropologists as more of a trading empire than a conquering hegemon. Some have doubted it was even an empire at all. In 2015, I heard Michael Coe insist Teotihuacan absolutely was an empire that in the AD 350 - 450 time frame dominated the entire Maya area from northern Yucatan to the Pacific coast of Guatemala from its base in central Mexico. See the blog article "Hansen and Coe."

These maps summarize what I think was going on. A few years before the Nephite holocaust at Ramah/Cumorah, Teotihuacan was expanding its influence throughout the Maya world.
Teotihuacan and Sites with Known Teotihuacan Influence
Three sites with strong Teotihuacan relationships were in the Tuxtla Mountains of southern Veracruz, where we think hill Ramah/Cumorah is located.
Proposed Book of Mormon Lands with Teotihuacan-Affiliated Sites
The Nephites were literally caught in a vise. Their traditional enemies, the Lamanites, were pressing them from the south, and the Gadianton robbers had them hemmed in on the north. Furthermore, the Lamanite/robber connection was growing stronger over time. The Nephites' worst fears were realized. They were surrounded with nowhere to flee. An overwhelming force massed in the area around hill Ramah/Cumorah and the Nephites were annihilated.

These cogent comments are from my friend, Larry Stay, formerly Mission President in Guatemala City South:
  • When the Teotihuacan armies invaded in 378 A.D. they brought new technology with them. They brought atlatl and short lances with them. This increased the range at which they could effectively engage another army (long range artillery). Stele from the period show warriors with square shileds (Mayan were round) with a hand filled with a large number of lances.
  • It is interesting to me that after 375 A.D. (the approximate time of the invasion) Mormon never won another battle. His armies were swept before the enemy. Perhaps the combination of new technology from the robbers and the consolidation of Lamanite forces crossed the tipping point.
  • Moroni notes that there was continuous warfare after the Nephite defeat (Mormon 8:8). There is a pause in the Mayan archaeological record of about 150 years after the Teotihuacan invasion where Mayan civilization appears to stop. It is consistent with Moroni's observation.
Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which helps people make the Book of Mormon central in their lives. Book of Mormon Central publishes the remarkable new mobile app ScripturePlus.

Saturday, February 8, 2020


I spent Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at the site of Cacaxtla, Tlaxcala with my friends, Javier Tovar, Ignacio Salguero, and Alejandro Martinez.
Tovar, Magleby, and Salguero at Cacaxtla
We filmed a video in Spanish that establishes the case for Mesoamerica being the land where New World Book of Mormon events took place from twenty different perspectives. Cacaxtla is renowned for its vibrant murals and for the fact that it is essentially a Maya site in the heart of central Mexico. Three things are interesting about the site right off the bat:
  1. The first settlers of Cacaxtla showed up ca. AD 400 just after the Nephites were exterminated and while Moroni was wandering during his solitary last 35 years of life. Cacaxtla reached apogee AD 600 - 900.
  2. Later historians called these first settlers the "Ulmeca Xicalanca" and archaeologically we know many of them came from the Gulf Coast of Tabasco and Campeche. The Book of Mormon describes large migrations beginning ca. 55 BC from the land southward into the land northward Alma 63:6, 7 and those migrations continued to the end of the record Mormon 2:28, 29.
  3. The site of Xicalango, Campeche, is 685 air kilometers distant, 800 kilometers if you follow Mexican Highways 150 and 180. We know from archaelology that Cacaxtla and Xicalango maintained a strong trade and cultural relationship in middle to late classic times. This distance is in the ballpark of the size most serious students of the text deduce for Nephite lands (1,000 - 1,200 air kilometers maximum extent of terra cognita).
Cacaxtla's sister site 1 kilometer away, Xochitecatl, was occupied ca. 800 BC and abandoned ca. AD 150 after Popocatépetl erupted yet again. Popocatépetl (5,426 meters or 17,802 feet) and Ixtaccíhuatl (5,230 meters or 17,159 feet) are the second and third highest peaks in Mexico (after Orizaba's 5,636 meters or 18,491 feet) and these two impressive volcanos dominate Cacaxtla's horizon.
Aerial View of Ixtaccíhuatl in Foreground, Popocatépetl in Background
Cacaxtla in context:
Cacaxtla Maintained Trade and Cultural Relationships
with Maya Sites Hundreds of Kilometers Distant
This was my third trip to Cacaxtla over the years. During that time INAH has made significant improvements to the site including the addition of an excellent small museum. From a Book of Mormon perspective, these are the things at Cacaxtla that caught my attention.

1. Mormon 4:14-15, 21 talks about the Lamanites sacrificing Nephite children. At Cacaxtla excavations revealed more than 200 sacrificed children buried as an offering during construction of the Palace. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Sacrificed Children Interred in the Cacaxtla Palace 
2. It is clear from the text that the Book of Mormon peoples were very aware of the surrounding oceans. See the blog article "Smoking Gun." Even though it is more than 200 kilometers from the nearest salt water, Cacaxtla preserves ample evidence of a marine mindset.
Marine Shells on Display, Cacaxtla Museum
Marine creatures are on the bottom of this Jaguar-themed mural.
Aquatic Animals Depicted on Cacaxtla Mural
3. The text describes mountains that move and respond as animate beings (Jacob 4:6; Alma 12:14; Helaman 10:9; 12:9-10, 17; Mormon 8:24; Ether 12:30). Ancient Mesoamericans viewed mountains as living beings, particularly big volcanoes such as Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl that breathed smoke, emitted rumblings, and occasionally erupted.
Representations of the Two Volcanoes Near Cacaxtla
The Mixtec Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus I (14th century AD) describes mountains as living beings.
  Placard in the Cacaxtla Museum Referencing Codex Vindobonensis
4. The Book of Mormon mentions shields as part of a warrior's protective armor (Alma 43:19, 21; 44:9; 46:13; 49:6, 24; Helaman 1:14; 3 Nephi 3:26; Ether 15:15. 24). Cacaxtla has several war murals which all depict elaborately decorated shields.
Cacaxtla War Mural Depicting Various Types of Shields
The Nahuatl name for shield is chimalli.
Placard in the Cacaxtla Museum Referencing Chimalli (Shields)
Spanish (Escudos)
5. The Book of Mormon mentions spears (Alma 17:7) and javelins (Jarom 1:8, Alma 51:34, 62:36) as offensive weapons. Several murals show spears or lances.
Cacaxtla War Mural Showing Spears or Lances
Volcanic glass (obsidian) was fashioned into projectile points.
Obsidian Lance Points
6. The Book of Mormon twice lists grains important to the Nephite diet (Mosiah 7:22; 9:9). In both cases, corn appears first on the list. Corn was clearly a staple crop among Book of Mormon peoples (Mosiah 9:14). Corn was the principal food crop grown throughout ancient Mesoamerica and Cacaxtla has numerous depictions of it.
Ears of Corn in Ceramic, Cacaxtla Museum
Corn figures prominently in the famous Cacaxtla murals.
Ripe Corn with Silks
Corn today is the most important food crop on the planet, generating more agricultural income than rice, wheat, or any other staple. Consequently, corn has been intensively studied and its origins are widely-known. It was domesticated in central Mexico ca. 6,000 BC. By 5,000 BC it had spread throughout Mesoamerica and the Andes. It was then carried to the American Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico) ca. 2,100 BC and finally began entering the Mississippi River Basin ca. AD 100. Widespread corn (zea mays) cultivation in the Mississippi drainage and points east began ca. AD 900.

How do we know these dates? The Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database (CARD) contains tens of thousands of C14 dates from all over the world. The University of British Columbia has created a subset of CARD they call the Ancient Maize Map. This map visualizes hundreds of macro samples (corn cobs) and micro samples (corn pollen, phytoliths) from the Americas which have been competently radiocarbon dated.
University of British Columbia Ancient Maize Map
An exhibit on display in the Ohio History Connection Museum in Columbus validates this data. Isolated corn kernels have been found in Hopewell (ca. 100 BC - AD 500) mounds, but widespread corn cultivation and consumption in Ohio did not begin until centuries after the Hopewell.
Display in Ohio History Center Museum
The absence of corn during Book of Mormon times is a fatal flaw in any model that attempts to locate Nephite and Jaredite lands. Corn is the only grain grown widely enough in ancient America to supply the caloric needs of the populations (Ether 15:2 says millions) mentioned in the text. I am indebted to BYU's prolific Mesoamericanist, Kerry Hull, for this profound insight. The first true city in what is today the USA was Cahokia in East Saint Louis, IL. Cahokia's population at apogee (AD 1050 - 1200) reached 20,000. It was the arrival of widespread maize agriculture in the area around Cahokia that allowed the urbanization to coalesce. No corn, no city.

Mesoamerica, on the other hand, had extensive and intensive corn cultivation since early Jaredite times.
Ears of Corn from a Carved Stone Panel in the
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
7. The Book of Mormon contains the curious idea that a human and a plant can co-exist in the same physical body, that people can become trees (Alma 32:28, 41). We see anthropomorphic plants among the luxuriant Cacaxtla murals.
Human Heads as Ears of Corn on a Cornstalk
8. The Book of Mormon says people in the land northward used cement as an architectural building material (Helaman 3:7, 9, 11). Cacaxtla is in the part of Mesoamerica most Book of Mormon modelers consider the land northward. Major public structures at Cacaxtla were built using cement.
Elaborately Worked Cement Pillar at Cacaxtla
9. The Book of Mormon says the Nephites reaised flocks and herds and animals of every kind 2 Nephi 5:11. That may have included birds such as the South Mexican wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo which has been found in a preclassic context at El Mirador in Guatemala's Peten. The Palace at Cacaxtla had a room dedicated to aviculture.
Cacaxtla Room with Bird Cages (Jaulas)
10. The Book of Mormon associates Jesus Christ with both a bird and a serpent. The bird serpent imagery comes from the incident where fiery flying serpents were biting and killing the Israelites in the wilderness 1 Nephi 17:41, Numbers 21:6. Moses was instructed to create a metallic serpent and lift it up on a pole. Whoever was bitten by the poisonous serpents and looked upon the brazen serpent was instantly healed 2 Nephi 25:20, Numbers 21:8,9. The serpent on a pole, of course, was a symbol of the Savior on the cross John 3:14.
Moses Raising the Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness
The Book of Mormon mentions or alludes to the brazen serpent incident and its attendant avian imagery several times. The raised or lifted serpent motif is more prominent in the Book of Mormon than in the Bible:

  • 1 Nephi 11:33 The Savior at His crucifixion would be lifted up.
  • 1 Nephi 17:41 the fiery serpents could fly, combining avian & reptilian characteristics.
  • 1 Nephi 19:10 The Savior at His crucifixion would be lifted up.
  • 2 Nephi 25:13 After the crucifixion, the Savior would resurrect with healing in his wings.
  • 2 Nephi 25:20 Moses raised up the brazen (bronze) serpent. The act of raising up symbolizes flight or ascension to heaven.
  • Alma 33:19 The serpent Moses raised up in the wilderness was a type of the Savior.
  • Helaman 8:14, 15 The brazen serpent lifted up by Moses symbolized life through Christ.
  • 3 Nephi 10:4-6 The Savior compared Himself to a hen gathering chickens under her wings.
  • 3 Nephi 25:2 The Savior would arise with healing in his wings.
  • 3 Nephi 27:14-15 The Savior was sent to earth to be lifted up on the cross and draw all men unto Him.
  • 3 Nephi 28:6 Jesus Christ was lifted up by the Jews.
  • Ether 4:1 The Savior would be lifted up upon the cross.
It may be that bird serpent imagery is prevalent in the Book of Mormon because a Mesoamerican belief in a feathered serpent was common and the Nephites were trying to liken the scriptures unto themselves. This is a feathered serpent image from La Venta Monument 19 which dates to ca. 600 BC.
Serpent with Feathers on La Venta Monument 19 in the
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
And this is a feathered serpent image from Teotihuacan which dates to ca. AD 300.
Serpent Scepter with Feathers in the Site Museum, Teotihuacan
The Mesoamerican feathered serpent is strongly correlated with the pan-Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl. Quetzal in Nahuatl means "precious feathers" alluding to the famous Quetzal bird from the cloud forests of Guatemala. Coatl in Nahuatl means "serpent." This is one of several represenations of Quetzalcoatl from Cacaxtla. This mural dates to ca. AD 700.
Cacaxtla Priest or Ruler Representing Quetzalcoatl
This personage has prominent wings at his shoulders and he holds a serpent bar as a symbol of power. He has bird feet and he is standing on a feathered serpent. This is a close-up of the feathered serpent from the replica mural in the site museum.
Cacaxtla Feathered Serpent with a Beard
Several of the murals at Cacaxtla have a similar feathered serpent around their border.

11. One last small item. The Book of Mormon mentions sounding a trumpet (3 Nephi 13:2, Ether 14:28). An artifact from Cacaxtla shows a figure blowing on a conch shell trumpet.
Sounding a Trumpet, Cacaxtla Museum
Cacaxtla is a terrific site, well worth a visit.

Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which builds enduring faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to the entire world. Book of Mormon Central publishes the remarkable new scripture study app ScripturePlus.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Clayton Magleby Christensen (1952 - 2020)

My cousin died early Thursday, January 23rd, 2020, of complications from leukemia. It was his fifth bout with cancer. He was 67. What Clayton Magleby Christensen accomplished in his life was exceptional by any standard. We will miss him. A bright light has passed from the earth to the heavens.
Clayton M. Christensen, Giant of a Man
The second son of Robert Magleby Christensen (1926 - 1976) and Verda Mae Fuller (1922 - 2004), Clayton was precocious, bold, self-effacing, and faithful. His father was President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake. His mother served for eleven years on the Relief Society General Board. Clayton served as an Area Authority Seventy from 2002 - 2009. He and Christine's oldest son, Matt, is currently President of the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake.
Presidents of the Rose Park Stake. Robert Magleby Christensen is Top, Center
Robert, a tall man, played basketball in central Utah on the team Verda Mae called the "Richfield Stumblebums." Clayton, 6' 8", was an all-state basketball player for West High School who went on to play for the University of Oxford. President Monson told the story of his refusal to play on the Sabbath in October, 2010 General Conference. His son Matt, 6' 10", played center for Duke University on the team that won the 2001 NCAA championship.

Robert's grandfather, Hans Olsen Magleby (1835 - 1903), helped convert the family of future Apostle John A. Widtsoe (1872 - 1952) in Trondheim, Norway. Clayton, author of The Power of Everyday Missionaries, helped convert dozens of colleagues and students over the years.

Robert was a dedicated genealogist. Clayton found thousands of names and enlisted the help of his Belmont, Massachusetts Ward to get their Temple work done. 

Christensen wrote ten books in several different disciplines. Each was a best-seller. He founded several companies, all of which thrived. He was a David O. McKay and a Rhodes Scholar who earned degrees from BYU, Oxford, and Harvard. He consulted with heads of state and business titans. He was ranked the #1 business consultant in the world multiple times. He was the superstar of the Harvard Business School faculty. His youngest brother, Carlton, former Salt Lake City Councilman and currently President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake, once asked his famous brother for a favor. Clayton had to turn him down because he would be consulting with 100 high-powered CEO's at Bill Gates' home on Lake Washington. None of this went to Clayton's head. The first time he appeared on the cover of Forbes, I sent him a congratulatory email. He replied right back, "It must have been a slow week for news."
Clayton Christensen Memorabilia Display
When news of Clayton's death reached the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in their Thursday meeting, the question was who wanted to go to Boston to preside at the funeral? All fifteen hands went up. Pres. Henry B. Eyring was selected. His son, Henry, co-wrote The Innovative University with Clayton. The funeral was held in the Cambridge Stake Center with an overflow video feed to the Belmont Ward Meetinghouse and a Facebook facility in Cambridge. Clayton and Christine's daughter-in-law, Channing Hancock Christensen, Elder Gerrit W. Gong's niece, is head of global business marketing for WhatsApp which is part of Facebook.
Clayton Christensen in His Prime
Accolades poured in from all over the world. Salt Lake newspapers ran stories about Clayton almost every day for a week. Intermountain Healthcare took out a full page ad honoring him as a former board member.

The essence of Clayton Christensen, though, was his faith. His favorite book was the Book of Mormon. His testimony came with full force while he was at Oxford. His Enos-like story is worth re-telling. This is The New Yorker version from 2012 written by Larissa MacFarquhar:

Being a Mormon at Oxford, it was soon clear, was going to be extremely inconvenient. He had already served a two-year mission to Korea, and thought he was certain of his beliefs, but now he decided he'd better figure out for sure whether his was the true church. Each night at eleven, he knelt down and told God out loud that he needed to know whether the Book of Mormon was true. After praying, he sat and read one page, and then he stopped and thought about it. Then he knelt and prayed out loud again, asking God to tell him whether the book was true. Then he read another page. He did this for an hour each night for many weeks. "One evening in October, 1975," he wrote later, "as I sat in the chair and opened the book following my prayer, I felt a marvellous spirit come into the room and envelop my body. I had never before felt such an intense feeling of peace and love. I started to cry, and did not want to stop. I knew then, from a source of understanding more powerful than anythying I had ever felt in my life, that the book I was holding in my hands was true."
Clayton M. Christensen, Faithful Scholar
Why was Clayton M. Christensen able to accomplish more in 67 years than most people could in five lifetimes? Because like Nephi or Ammon or Alma the Younger or Joseph Smith or Russell M. Nelson, he received inspiration from on high pretty much 24/7/365. If products from Samsung or Apple or Intel have enriched your life, you have been blessed by Clayton Christensen's inspiration. If you hold the Book of Mormon diligently in your hands, God Himself promises you will receive your own personal inspiration Moroni 10:4. And, if you consistently follow the promptings you receive from the Spirit, you will become Christlike. Clayton Christensen became very Christlike. These words were printed in the program of the memorial service held in the Rose Park Stake Center on Saturday, February 15, 2020:
How Clayton Magleby Christensen Measured His Life
Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which builds enduring faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to the entire world. Book of Mormon Central publishes the remarkable mobile app ScripturePlus.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Where did the Mulekites Land?

Several lines of reasoning about the Mulekite ocean voyage across the Atlantic point to Tabasco, Mexico, as likely landing locations. The Mulekites landed twice, once in the land northward near the place where the Jaredites were destroyed Alma 22:30 and a second time in the land southward near the local land of Zarahemla where Mosiah I discovered their descendants who had not moved from the area their forefathers settled Alma 22:31, Omni 1:16. Mulek (Critical Text orthography Muloch) was a son of Zedekiah, King of Judah, who was captured Omni 1:15 by Nebuchadnezzar II (ca. 630 - 561 BC), blinded, and taken in chains to Babylon where he died in prison. Before he blinded the Jewish monarch, Nebuchadnezzar killed all of Zedekiah's older sons in their father's presence Helaman 8:21, 2 Kings 25:7. It has long been assumed by Book of Mormon scholars that Mulek was very young, perhaps even an infant, and that he came to the Americas in a Phoenician vessel. The Phoenicians were world class sailors and traders ca. 586 BC Ezekiel 26:15-17 while the Jews had few maritime assets. For an article describing an ancient stamp seal potentially belonging to the young son of Zedekiah, see the Book of Mormon Central KnoWhy #103 published May 19, 2016 entitled "Has An Artifact That Relates to the Book of Mormon Been Found?"

The Mulekite capital, the city of Zarahemla, was west of a dominant river called Sidon Alma 2:15, 34. Sidon was a major port in ancient Phoenicia. The modern Sidon, Lebanon, is midway between Beruit and Tyre.
The Mediterranean Port City, Sidon, in Context
The Book of Mormon Onomasticon etymology for Sidon suggests the Mulekite/Nephite river got its name from the ancient Phoenician seaport. Could the Phoenicians have reached the Americas ca. 586 BC? Briton Philip Beale just demonstrated that yes, they could have.
Philip Beale, British Banker Turned Explorer
Beale had a shipwright on Arwad Island, Syria, build a working replica of an ancient Phoenician sailing ship from ca. 600 BC. For models, he used stone carvings of ancient ships plying Mediterranean waters and the shipwreck Jules Verne 7, dated to ca. 600 BC, discovered in Marseille harbor, France. Beale sought to prove two things:
  1. Phoenicians could have circumnavigated Africa ca. 600 BC just as Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 484 BC - ca. 425 BC) says they did.
  2. Phoenicians could have sailed from the Old World to the Americas ca. 600 BC. 
His ship, Phoenicia, is a 50 ton, 65 foot vessel with a single mast and a single square-rigged sail.
Phoenicia, Working Phoenician Ship Replica
In 2009-2010, Beale skippered Phoenicia from Lebanon through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, through the Gulf of Aden into the Arabian Sea, around the Cape of Good Hope, up the Atlantic, and back to Lebanon. My friend, Warren Aston, was a volunteer deckhand on board Phoenicia during part of her voyage around the Arabian Peninsula. This is a map of the 2009-2010 journey.
Phoenicia Circumnavigation of Africa 2009-2010
Phoenicia then docked in southern England for a decade where she was a tourist attraction. On July 4th, 2019, she left Gosport, Hampshire, and sailed to Tunis, Tunisia, anciently known as Carthage, one of the Phoenicians' principal trading colonies in the Mediterranean. She left Tenerife, Canary Islands, on November 23, 2019, and 39 days later, on December 31, 2019, she docked to a festive reception at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. My friend, Boyd Tuttle, was a volunteer deckhand on board Phoenicia during the Mediterranean leg of her voyage.
Phoenicia Transatlantic Crossing 2019 has videos about the Phoenicians Before Columbus Expedition. Philip Beale knew he would spend time in the Canary Islands. They have been ports of call for Mediterranean ships since Greek and Roman times. After the Canaries, though, he did not know exactly where in the Americas Phoenicia would land. That would depend on the winds and ocean currents. Phoenicia followed the Canary Current south, skirted Cape Verde, then followed the North Equatorial Current almost due west and made landfall in the Caribbean at about 18 degrees north latitude.
Ocean Currents per National Geographic
The Sorenson/Norman/Hauck/Allen/Aston/Potter/Magleby/Tovar (SNHAAPMT) Book of Mormon geography model that scored 100% on a strict audit (see the article "Auditing Book of Mormon Geography Models) places the Mulekite landfall in the land northward at about 18 degrees north latitude 2,560 kilometers due west of Santo Domingo.
Proposed Mulekite Landfall, Settlement in Context
Compared with Phoenicia December 31, 2019 Landfall
The ocean current that brought the Phoenicia to the southern coast of the Dominican Republic could take her westward past Jamaica and on to Yucatan. Not only did Philip Beale dramatically demonstrate that the Phoenicians could have reached the New World, he also showed a likely route the Mulekites may have taken.

Philip Beale and Phoenicia followed many other seafarers who traveled similar routes. This map shows the four voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492 - 1502 and two voyages of Thor Heyerdahl in working replicas of ancient reed vessels. All six voyages passed through the Canary Islands and ended up in or near the Caribbean.
Columbus, Heyerdahl, and Phoenicia Expeditions
All Following Similar Routes
From 1969 to 2019, the Ocean Rowing Society International recognized 93 solo rows across the Atlantic. These small vessels with a single person aboard had no choice but to follow the surface winds and ocean currents. The vast majority of them began in the Canary Islands and ended in the Caribbean.
93 Human Powered Voyages that Followed Transatlantic Ocean Currents
First Line of Reasoning
Known historical examples of transatlantic ocean voyages made under circumstances similar to those the Mulekites would have encountered strongly suggest passage through the Canary Islands to the Caribbean.
The land southward was divided into the land north where Mulek landed and the land south where Lehi landed Helaman 6:10. Most serious Book of Mormon geographers consider the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas to be part of the land southward along with Guatemala and Belize. This map shows locations per the SNHAAPMT Book of Mormon geography model.
Proposed Mulekite Landings in Context
In this proposal, the Mulekites landed first near the site of La Venta which in Olmec times was at the mouth of the Grijalva River. They then moved eastward to the mouth of the Usumacinta River where they settled a wilderness Alma 22:31 and remained in situ for more than 350 years until Mosiah I discovered them. The proposal for Lehi's landing is the Soconusco coast of southern Mexico/western Guatemala which is the seashore explicitly west (per Alma 22:28) of the area many identify as the lesser land of Nephi (valley of Guatemala).

Second Line of Reasoning
Tabasco is in the northern portion of what many consider the land southward, which fits Helaman 6:10.
Ancient iconography at La Venta strongly supports the idea of foreign visitors about the time the Mulekites would have landed. This is the famous La Venta Stela 3 dubbed the "Uncle Sam" stela which dates to 600 - 550 BC.
La Venta Stela 3 Excavated by Matthew Stirling in 1943
Philip Drucker, a member of the excavation team, said this stela depicts "a meeting of Olmec and non-Olmec personages." A typical Olmec figure on the left is meeting a decidedly non-Olmec figure on the right. See Philip Drucker, "On the Nature of Olmec Polity" in The Olmec and Their Neighbors: Essays in Memory of Matthew W. Stirling, Elizabeth P. Benson, Editor, Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1981, p. 44. Drucker said non-Olmec foreigners visiting the site are also depicted on La Venta Monuments 13 and 19.
Bearded Foreigner Depicted on La Venta Monument 13, Photo by Linda Schele
Tatiana Proskouriakoff was even more explicit, calling the person on the right of Stela 3 "...a bearded man with a conspicuously aquiline nose." She went on to call the figure a "bearded visitor" and a "bearded stranger." Like Drucker, she interpreted the La Venta carvings as depicting "two racially distinct groups of people." Tatiana Proskouriakoff, "Olmec and Maya Art: Problems of their Stylistic Relation" in Dumbarton Oaks Conference on the Olmec October 28th and 29th, 1967, Elizabeth P. Benson, Editor, Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1968, p. 122.

Third Line of Reasoning
If La Venta stone carvings do not represent Mulekite/Olmec interaction, they show people with physical features similar to those we would expect in a Mulekite population visiting the Olmec capital at about the time the Mulekites arrived in the New World.
Ca. 600 BC, the Phoenicians and the Greeks were in a major competition to settle the entire Mediterranean shoreline and establish trading colonies. This map shows Greek colonies in blue and Phoenician colonies in red.
Greek (Blue) and Phoenician (Red) Colonies ca. 550 BC
Notice where these two colonial powers established settlements: along the sea coasts with cities at good harbors or along large navigable rivers. Theirs were maritime rather than inland empires. This tells us something about where a joint Mulekite/Phoenician expedition to the Americas would likely establish a capital city such as Zarahemla. Ocean-going vessels could sail up navigable rivers. In fact, ships through the ages have purposely sailed upstream on large rivers to rid their hulls of barnacles. Barnacles die and fall off in freshwater. Rivers, though, are only navigable to the fall line which is the place, usually at an escarpment, where severe rapids or a waterfall prevent upstream boat travel.

The SNHAAPMT model correlates the city of Zarahemla with the ancient pre-classic site of Nueva Esperanza/Calatraba in northern Chiapas. The site is riverside west of the Usumacinta in the coastal plain upstream from the perennial flood zone and downstream from the fall line.
Proposed Zarahemla in the Coastal Plain Between Swamps and Mountains
Fourth Line of Reasoning
Given what we know of Phoenician settlement patterns in the Old World, we would expect them to favor a city site close to the seacoast at a good harbor or along a large river downstream from the fall line. The Usumacinta in Tabasco and northern Chiapas is such a setting.
The Jaredite final battles had a massive casualty count. Ether 15:2 talks of 2 million slain. The bones mentioned in Alma 22:30 and the bones, ruins, plates, breastplates, swords, etc. mentioned in Mosiah 8:8-11 were likely strewn over a sizable area in the general vicinity of hill Ramah/Cumorah. The proposed site of the Mulekites first landing, the mouth of the ancient Grijalva, modern Tonala, is 60 air kilometers from the most likely Ramah/Cumorah - Cerro San Martín Pajapan.
Proposed Mulekite Landfall 60 Air Kilometers from Likely Ramah/Cumorah
Could this area anciently have supported a population in the millions? Yes. This is the center of the densely-populated Olmec heartland. Olmec civilization collapsed about the time the Book of Mormon records the annihilation of the Jaredite nation (ca. 300 BC).
Dozens of Known Archaeological Sites in the Olmec Heartland
Fifth Line of Reasoning
The proposed first Mulekite landing near La Venta in the Olmec heartland could reasonably have been proximate to the massive destruction mentioned in Alma 22:30 and Mosiah 8:8-11.
Some Book of Mormon modelers over the years have tried to correlate La Venta with the city of Mulek based on the likely Mulekite/Olmec interaction in the Olmec capital recorded on stone monuments such as Stela 3 and the Nephite cultural pattern of naming cities after their founder Alma 8:7. There are three problems with this logic. First, La Venta was the Olmec capital ca. 800 BC and was a thriving city long before Mulek arrived on the scene. Second, Royal Skousen continually reminds us that the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon spells the name of the son of Zedekiah "Muloch" rather than "Mulek" which is the name of the city on the Nephite east coast near the city Bountiful. And third, Muloch was a Mulekite, not a Nephite. The Mulekites arrived in the New World ca. 586 BC and Mosiah I did not lead a group of Nephites from the city of Nephi to the lesser land of Zarahemla until ca. 200 BC. So, any name La Venta carried in Book of Mormon times is much more likely to have been Jaredite or Mulekite than Nephite. The name "Sidon" for instance, was probably applied by the Phoenicians/Mulekites to their dominant river and then simply adopted by the Nephites.
So, in summary, the SNHAAPMT model which has passed a rigorous audit with a perfect score of 100% places the first Mulekite landfall at the mouth of the ancient Grijalva, modern Tonala river not far from La Venta. The model predicts the second Mulekite landfall was at the mouth of the Usumacinta which led to settlement immediately upstream of the permanent wetlands. This correlation represents a convergence of several lines of reasoning:
  1. The Caribbean is an overwhelmingly likely landing place for any ancient voyage passing through the Straits of Gibraltar and the Canary Islands on its way to the Americas.
  2. Tabasco is in the northern tier of a viable land southward as the text requires and the Usumacinta area had wilderness characteristics when the Mulekites first arived.
  3.  Monuments at La Venta dating to the Mulekite time period record the visit of foreign people whose beards and facial features would have been at home in ancient Jerusalem.
  4.  Known Phoenician settlement patterns in the Mediterranean during Mulekite times accommodate an initial landfall in Tabasco with a capital city on a large navigable river.
  5. The proposed first landing near La Venta is in the Olmec heartland which can reasonably accommodate the Jaredite destruction narrative including a likely hill Ramah/Cumorah.
Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central which makes the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible to the entire world. Book of Mormon Central publishes the exciting new free app ScripturePlus.