Friday, December 28, 2018

Names Evidence Antiquity

Book of Mormon Central just published the sixth video in its stellar Evidences series. This new production analyzes Book of Mormon names with interesting origins in ancient Semitic and/or Egyptian languages.

The blog article entitled "Watch: Five Evidences for Book of Mormon Names" has a long list of references documenting the copious scholarship behind this video.

The five other superb videos in the Book of Mormon Central Evidences series are all available on the BMC Studios YouTube Channel. Elder Larry Y. Wilson of the Seventy saw the Complexity video and thought it was so good it should be featured on the homepage so every Church member could see it. These are the highest quality Book of Mormon evidence videos ever produced. They deserve a wide audience. The first one was published in June, 2017 and in the intervening year and a half they have garnered over 500,000 views in English and Spanish. Videos with this much animation are costly to produce. Dozens more videos in this series are possible if funding materializes.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Mulekite Zarahemla

2 Nephi 1:9 mentions other people the Lord would bring out of the land of Jerusalem (the Mulekites). When he uttered this prophecy, Father Lehi was already in the Americas. The next to leave the Near East would be Mulek and his party. This passage contains details that can help us locate the Mulekites in time and space.
  • they would be kept from all other nations
  • they would possess their land unto themselves
  • their righteousness would bring blessings
  • none would molest them to take away the land of their inheritance
This isolation narrative agrees with Alma 22:31 which says after making landfall in the land northward, the Mulekites settled a wilderness in the land southward. Omni 1:16 adds that the Mulekites, once settled, stayed put until the Nephites under Mosiah I discovered them ca. 200 BC. The term "discovered" implies the two groups had no prior knowledge of each other.

The Mulekite capital, the city of Zarahemla, will be found in an area that was relatively isolated during the nearly 400 year period from ca. 580 BC to ca. 200 BC.

Serious proposals for the city of Zarahemla in Mesoamerica include:
  • Yaxchilan, Chiapas (RLDS candidate since Louis Edward Hills, 1917)
  • Santa Rosa, Chiapas (John L. Sorenson followed by Joseph & Blake Allen)
  • Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Alta Verapaz (F. Richard Hauck followed by Joe V. Andersen, Stanford S. Smith, and Lenard C. Brunsdale)
  • Santa Cruz, Chiapas (Gareth W. Lowe)
  • Ceibal, Peten (Robert Roylance & Richard Terry)
  • Nueva Esperanza, Chiapas (V. Garth Norman followed by Kirk Magleby & Javier Tovar) 
See the map in the article "Toward Consensus on Nephi and Zarahemla."

We can test the various Zarahemla candidates against this isolation narrative. We know from the work of Barbara Arroyo, Lucia Henderson, Takeshi Inomata, and others that all 3 candidates for the city of Nephi were within early Kaminaljuyu (KJ)'s sphere of influence. We also know that 4 of the 6 candidates for the city of Zarahemla were within this same sphere of influence that reached along the Grijalva to Chiapa de Corzo, along the Usumacinta to Chama, and along the Pasion to Cancuen and Ceibal.
Attested Diplomatic and Trade Relations with Early KJ
ca. 600 - 200 BC
Only Zarahemla candidates Nueva Esperanza and Yaxchilan pass this KJ influence test.

We can plot known Olmec and Olmec-influenced sites.
Zarahemla Candidates with Known Olmec & Olmec-Influenced Sites
Since the Olmec (ca. 1,200 - 400 BC) generally preceded the Mulekites, areas with large numbers of Olmec or Olmec-influenced sites are incompatible with the isolation narrative we are testing. Only Zarahemla candidates Nueva Esperanza, Yaxchilan, and Salinas de los Nueve Cerros pass this Olmec influence test. Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Ceibal were all Olmec or Olmec-influenced sites themselves, and in close proximity to other Olmec sites.

Bruce R. Bachand with BYU's NWAF has extensively studied Chiapa de Corzo. He documents a Zoque sphere of influence centered on Chiapa de Corzo that extended southeastward to La Lagunita and eastward to the Usumacinta ca. 1,000 to 400 BC.
Zoque Sites and Sphere of Influence ca. 1,000 - 400 BC
Sites within the area shaded blue in the map above are incompatible with the isolation narrative we are testing. Only Zarahemla candidates Nueva Esperanza and Ceibal pass this Zoque influence test.

The results of these 3 isolation narrative tests:
  • Nueva Esperanza passes all 3 tests.
  • Yaxchilan passes 2 tests.
  • Salinas de los Nueve Cerros passes 1 test.
  • Ceibal passes 1 text.
  • Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa fail all 3 tests.
The article "Obsidian Trade Patterns" documents a fourth test that produced similar results, validating Nueva Esperanza while ruling out Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Salinas de los Nueve Cerros.

Among the Mesoamerican proposals we have considered for the city of Zarahemla, Nueva Esperanza best fits the isolation narrative described in 2 Nephi 1:9.

This is the first slide of John E. Clark's powerful presentation at the Library of Congress Worlds of Joseph Smith Conference in 2005. The conference commemorated the bicentennial of the prophet's birth in 1805.
John Clark's Joseph Smith Bicentennial Presentation Title Slide 
The site pictured is Nueva Esperanza, Chiapas, just west of the Usumacinta in Palenque municipality. John Clark told Garth Norman about the site which motivated Garth and me to visit it in 2006. It has about 200 mounds similar to the ones shown above. Garth did a little surface scavenging and found preclassic pottery shards. We saw no evidence of excavation or looting except for a couple of backhoe gashes in larger mounds. Robert L. Rands (1922 - 2010) wo(rked at this site and the backhoe trenches were probably dug under his direction. He was the recognized expert on the preclassic built environment around Palenque. Rands spent time with George (1935 - 2014) and David Stuart at the former's Boundary End Archaeology Research Center in North Carolina prior to the publication of the Stuart's Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya in 2008.

Rands published an article entitled "Palenque and Selected Survey Sites in Chiapas and Tabasco: The Preclassic" in Damien B. Marken, editor, Palenque: Recent Investigations at the Classic Maya Center (Lanham, MD: Altamira Press Division of Rowman & Littlefield, 2007). In his article, Rands discusses Nueva Esperanza, aka Zapatillo. Based on his study of ceramics, he says the site had limited external relationships in the Early Preclassic prior to 950 BC. It's relationships were mainly with the Olmec and Zoque areas to the west during the Middle Preclassic (950 - 400 BC). Relationships with the Maya Lowlands to the east strengthened in the Late Preclassic (400 BC - AD 250). Rands finds stylistic links with ceramics from such far-flung places as Tres Zapotes (390 air kilometers to the NW), Oaxaca (535 air kilometers to the SW), and Ceibal (230 air kilometers to the SE). 

Based on Rands' results at Nueva Esperanza and nearby sites, the Stuarts reported in their 2008 joint masterwork that Nueva Esperanza was the archetype of a unique early cultural tradition that was neither Olmec nor Maya. Palenque did not evolve from Nueva Esperanza 40 air kilometers up the road toward the Usumacinta. (Nueva Esperanza was the riverside port on the shortest route between Palenque and the sea.) Palenque evolved from the early Maya culture in the Mirador Basin 225 air kilometers to the east. The Nueva Esperanza development, coterminous with El Mirador and Nakbe, was less ornate than the great early Maya centers, and it died out without ever becoming classic Maya as did Palenque. See the article "Palenque." Cultural anomaly Nueva Esperanza is an A-list candidate for the Mulekite and later Nephite capital city, Zarahemla.

Another test we can use to determine best fit to the text is the distance narrative described in the articles Plotting Alma, The Usumacinta/Sidon Correlation, and Test #6 Relative Distances. For a variety of reasons, we believe 15 air kilometers is a reasonable approximation for the value of the standard Nephite distance measure "one day's journey." See the article "Land Southward Travel Times." The text is so explicit on the distance between Nephi and Zarahemla (Mosiah 23:3, Mosiah 24:20, Mosiah 24:25 total 21 days) one senses Mormon is leaving bread crumb clues in his record so we moderns can locate these landmark locations 1,600 years later. This is how the various Nephi to Zarahemla candidates measure up in ascending distance order:
  • Tzalcam to Salinas de los Nueve Cerros 105 air kilometers or 5 km/day
  • Tzalcam to Ceibal 162 air kilometers or 7.7 km/day
  • San Juan to Yaxchilan 201 air kilometers or 9.6
  • Kaminaljuyu to Santa Rosa 258 air kilometers or 12.3 km/day
  • Kaminaljuyu to Santa Cruz 318 air kilometers or 15.1 km/day
  • Kaminaljuyu to Nueva Esperanza 376 air kilometers or 17.9
But, closely reading the text, it is clear the 21 day distance is not from city to city, but rather from the wilderness outside Nephi/Shilom to the wilderness border of the lesser land of Zarahemla. This reduces the linear distance Alma and his people traveled to a value closer to these numbers:
  • Tzalcam to Salinas de los Nueve Cerros 83 air kilometers or 4 km/day
  • Tzalcam to Ceibal 120 air kilometers or 5.7 km/day
  • San Juan to Yaxchilan 188 air kilometers or 9 km/day
  • Kaminaljuyu to Santa Rosa 220 air kilometers or 10.5
  • Kaminaljuyu to Santa Cruz 305 air kilometers or 14.5
  • Kaminaljuyu to Nueva Esperanza 322 air kilometers or 15.3
Salinas de los Nueve Cerros and Ceibal fail the distance test. People simply traveled  further than 4 - 6 air kilometers per day in southern Mesoamerica. Historically attested travel contradicts such short distances. Yaxchilan and Santa Rosa are marginal. 9 - 11 air kilometers per day is shorter than we would expect after examining known pre-industrial travel patterns in the area. Santa Cruz and Nueva Esperanza are right in the sweet spot. These two pass the distance test and are the Zarahemla candidates that best fit the text based on the day's journey criterion.
Teal Lines are Longer City to City Transects
White Lines are Wilderness Border to Wilderness Border
The Limhi Explorer Narrative offers three additional ways for us to test the various Zarahemla candidates. See the articles Ramah/Cumorah and Test #8 Limhi Expedition for context. Basically, the 43 men dispatched by King Limhi thought they knew where Zarahemla was and how to get there. Overshooting Zarahemla, they found remains of the once-mighty Jaredite nation in the general vicinity of Hill Ramah/Cumorah. Returning to King Limhi in the city of Nephi, they reported that they had found Zarahemla and the King believed them until Ammon and his party from the real Zarahemla showed up. Limhi, himself a record-keeper, had access to his grandfather, Zeniff's records, so he had some knowledge of these matters.

We map four proposed Ramah/Cumorah hills associated with the six Zarahemla correlations we are testing.
Black Lines from Candidate Cities of Nephi to Hills Ramah/Cumorah
The first Limhi Explorer Narrative test determines how close to its Zarahemla a proposed Nephi to Ramah/Cumorah transect passes. If the 43 men could have passed right by the Zarahemla they were searching for on their way to the final Jaredite battleground, that scenario is not as believable as if they probably passed dozens or hundreds of kilometers distant from the Zarahemla they sought. The black lines in the map above are straight line transects from a candidate Nephi to its corresponding Ramah/Cumorah. When we measure the distance from each straight line transect to its corresponding Zarahemla, the data shows in ascending order:
  • Santa Rosa - transect passes 9 air kilometers away
  • Santa Cruz - transect passes 10 air kilometers away
  • Ceibal - transect passes 45 air kilometers away
  • Salinas de los Nueve Cerros - transect passes 62 air kilometers away
  • Yaxchilan - transect passes 122 air kilometers away
  • Nueva Esperanza - transect passes 165 air kilometers away
Yaxchilan and Nueva Esperanza pass this transect proximity test. If the Limhi explorers traveled more than 100 air kilometers distant from their intended target, Zarahemla, they were unlikely to find it and the textual scenario fits. Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz fail this test. Traveling within 10 air kilometers of their intended target, the explorers should have found Zarahemla. Ceibal and Salinas de los Nueve Cerros neither pass nor fail this test. Traveling within 45 to 62 air kilometers from their intended target, the explorers could have found Zarahemla, but contrary scenarios are more likely with increased distance.

The second Limhi Explorer Narrative test measures how far they actually traveled versus how far they should have traveled. The greater the proportional distance, the less likely the scenario becomes. Suppose someone sets out from Salt Lake City, Utah expecting to travel to Moab, Utah which is an air distance of 315 kilometers. When they get to Flagstaff, Arizona, which is an air distance of 619 kilometers, they will have traveled 1.97 times their intended distance. They are highly likely to realize by that point that they overshot Moab and went too far. Here are the Mesoamerican Zarahemla candidates ranked by proportional distance from Nephi to Zarahemla versus Nephi to Ramah/Cumorah:
  • Nueva Esperanza - should have traveled 376 air kilometers from Kaminaljuyu, actually traveled 604 air kilometers to Cerro San Martin Pajapan - overshot target by a factor of 1.61
  • Santa Cruz - should have traveled 318 air kilometers from Kaminaljuyu, actually traveled 664 air kilometers to Cerro Vigia - overshot target by a factor of 2.09
  • Ceibal - should have traveled 162 air kilometers from Tzalcam, actually traveled 354 air kilometers to Achotal - overshot target by a factor of 2.19
  • Santa Rosa - should have traveled 258 air kilometers from Kaminaljuyu, actually traveled 664 air kilometers to Cerro Vigia - overshot target by a factor of 2.57
  • Yaxchilan - should have traveled 201 air kilometers from San Juan, actually traveled 755 air kilometers to Cerro Rabon - overshot target by a factor of 3.76
  • Salinas de los Nueve Cerros - should have traveled 105 air kilometers from Tzalcam, actually traveled 655 air kilometers to Cerro Vigia - overshot target by a factor of 6.24
Nueva Esperanza passes this expected distance test. Yaxchilan and Salinas de los Nueve Cerros fail spectacularly. Santa Cruz, Ceibal, and Santa Rosa neither pass nor fail this test.

The third Limhi Explorer Narrative test discriminates between land forms. The 43 men traveled from the highlands, through the coastal plain, back into the highlands, and announced they had found Zarahemla. This implies Zarahemla was in the coastal plain. Nueva Esperanza passes this test. It is the only one of the six Zarahemla candidates in the coastal plain. Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Ceibal, and Yaxchilan neither pass nor fail this test. They are in the lowlands, but not in the coastal plain. Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz are in the highlands, so they fail this test.

Another test we can apply to the various Zarahemla candidates derives from the incommunicado narrative. The Nephites in Nephi and the Mulekites in Zarahemla were unaware of each other's existence for nearly 400 years. This scenario is plausible if a great distance separates the two, or if the area between them is sparsely populated. This is a map of Mesoamerican Nephi/Zarahemla candidates overlaid with ancient American archaeological sites known to science.
Nephi - Zarahemla Combinations in Context with Archaeological Sites
Several patterns emerge from this data. Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa fail the Nephi to Zarahemla incommunicado test. There were simply too many ancient settlements in between them - so many that the teal lines we have drawn on the map are almost blotted out. Tzalcam and Ceibal neither pass nor fail the test. They both have a paucity of intervening sites, but their distances are so modest the 400 years without contact scenario seems unlikely. Yaxchilan and Nueva Esperanza pass the test nicely. Significant distances separate them from their corresponding Nephis, and there are multiple areas between each pair of sites with relatively low ancient settlement densities such that the teal lines show through more or less intact.

In summary, we have documented 9 tests that determine how well a particular Zarahemla candidate fits the text.
  1. Isolation Narrative KJ Influence
  2. Isolation Narrative Olmec Influence
  3. Isolation Narrative Zoque Influence
  4. Isolation Narrative Obsidian Trade Patterns
  5. Nephi to Zarahemla Distance Narrative
  6. Limhi Explorer Transect Proximity
  7. Limhi Explorer Expected Distance 
  8. Limhi Explorer Land Forms
  9. Nephi to Zarahemla Incommunicado Narrative
Nueva Esperanza passes 9/9 tests.
Yaxchilan passes 4/9 tests.
Ceibal passes 1/9 tests
Salinas de los Nueve Cerros passes 1/9 tests
Santa Cruz passes 1/9 tests
Santa Rosa passes 0/9 tests

Toward Consensus on Nephi and Zarahemla

Book of Mormon geographical correlations are being proposed throughout the Americas. Serious Book of Mormon geographical correlations are being proposed from the Andes on the south (George Potter, Bret Eborn) to Baja  California on the north (Lynn & David Rosenvall). Several serious Book of Mormon geographical correlations are being proposed in Mesoamerica. Looking at the Mesoamerican theories, I find it impressive how tightly clustered the various proposals for the city of Nephi and the city of Zarahemla are within the vast landscape of Mesoamerica (about 830,000 square kilometers or about the size of Texas and Louisiana combined).
Proposed Nephis and Zarahemlas
Six correlations are represented on the map above.
  1. Aric Turner in the RLDS (Community of Christ and Restoration Branch) tradition put Nephi at San Juan, Baja Verapaz and Zarahemla at Yaxchilan, Chiapas.
  2. Gareth W. Lowe put Nephi at Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala and Zarahemla at Santa Cruz, Chiapas.
  3. John L. Sorenson followed by Joseph & Blake Allen put Nephi at Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala and Zarahemla at Santa Rosa, Chiapas.
  4. Robert Roylance & Richard Terry put Nephi at Tzalcam, Baja Verapaz and Zarahemla at Ceibal, Peten.
  5. F. Richard Hauck followed by Joe V. Andersen, Stanford S. Smith, and Lenard C. Brunsdale put Nephi at Tzalcam, Baja Verapaz and Zarahemla at Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Alta Verapaz.
  6. V. Garth Norman followed by Kirk Magleby & Javier Tovar put Nephi at Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala and Zarahemla at Nueva Esperanza, Chiapas.
The distance from the northernmost Nephi candidate (San Juan) to the southernmost candidate (Kaminaljuyu) is 84 air kilometers (about Salt Lake City to Brigham City). The furthest distance between any of the six Zarahemla candidates (Santa Cruz to Ceibal) is 288 air kilometers (about  Salt Lake City, UT to Twin Falls, ID). The shaded area around the proposed Nephis is 2,300 square kilometers (a little over half the size of Rhode Island). The shaded area around the proposed Zarahemlas is 40,000 square kilometers (just under half the size of South Carolina).

A priority is to identify the river Sidon (Grijalva, Usumacinta, or Pasion tributary of the Usumacinta) which would shrink the potential Zarahemla landscape significantly. I (Kirk Magleby) became convinced the Usumacinta is the Sidon after working on the problem during the second half of 2011. See the article The Usumacinta/Sidon Correlation. Discoveries since that time have significantly strengthened the Usumacinta/Sidon correlation. See for example "Obsidian Trade Patterns," "75 BC," and "Ground-Truthed LiDar."

Eventually, truth will prevail. In the meantime, it is satisfying to know movement toward consensus is possible because many of the Mesoamerican correlations are relatively close to each other for the key sites Nephi and Zarahemla.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 020

Father Lehi prophesied that multiple nations would come to the Americas and steal the native's land 2 Nephi 1:11. These 13 European nations colonized parts of the New World beginning in the years indicated:
1. Spain 1492
2. Portugal 1500
3. France 1534
4. England 1607
5. Netherlands 1615
6. Scotland 1622
7. Courland & Semigallia (Poland, Lithuania) 1637
8. Sweden 1638
9. Knights Hospitaller (Malta) 1651
10. Denmark 1665
11. Brandenburg - Prussia 1689
12. Norway 1754
13. Russia 1784
Extent of Spanish and Portuguese Empires in 1790
By the mid 1700's nearly all of the Western Hemisphere was claimed by one or more of the European colonial powers. Lehi's prophecy was explicitly fulfilled.

Prophecy Fulfilled 019

Nephi saw in vision the book of the Lamb of God which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew (Bible) going from the Gentiles (Europeans) to the remnant of the seed of his brethren (Lamanites) 1 Nephi 13:38.

This prophecy was dramatically fulfilled in 1553 and 1554 when Domingo de Vico's Theologia Indorum was composed and distributed in Guatemala. de Vico was a Dominican friar with a gift for languages. After studying at Úbeda and Salamanca, he came to Guatemala in 1544. His Theologia Indorum translated biblical passages into Mayan with commentary. Over a dozen hand-written manuscripts exist today in the Newberry Library in Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania Library, the Firestone Library at Princeton, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and the Bibliothèque nacionale in Paris. The various copies are in Kaqchikel, Q'eqchi', Tz'utujil, and K'iche' Mayan. We know from historical sources that the Theologia Indorum was translated into other Mayan dialects as well, but those manuscripts are currently lost to science.
Domingo de Vico, Theologia Indorum in K'iche' Mayan
American Philosophical Society Indian ms. 178
Domingo de Vico was killed while preaching to the Lacandon Maya in 1555. His work is the longest manuscript in a native American language known from the colonial era and the first translation of the Bible into a New World language.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 018

The Savior prophesied that the Gentiles would help gather the remnant of Jacob (Lehi's posterity) in unto the New Jerusalem 3 Nephi 21:23-24. The city New Jerusalem will be built at some future date in Jackson County, Missouri D&C 84:2-4. The scriptures also reference a land called New Jerusalem associated with the city D&C 45:663 Nephi 20:22.

This prophecy is being fulfilled as thousands of missionaries from the United States and other Gentile nations serve throughout Latin America. Inevitably, some of those who join the Church in Latin America emigrate to the U.S. I served in Peru from 1972 - 1974 and some of the members of the Church I worked with in that country now reside in the U.S.
Sisters from the U.S. at the Mexico City MTC
The "B" on the hill in the photo above stands for "Benemerito de las Americas," the name of the school whose campus became the MTC in 2013. Thousands of young Mexican Latter-day Saints who received an excellent high school education at Benemerito went on to be leaders of the Church in their country. The school letter on the hill is a transplanted Utah tradition.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 017

Father Lehi prophesied that his posterity would be scattered upon all the face of the earth as part of the scattering of the house of Israel which was also going to be scattered upon all the face of the earth 1 Nephi 10:12-13. This suggests we will find Lamanites across a wide area in multiple modern nations. See the article "Face of the Land" for context.

Samuel the Lamanite prophesied that the Lamanites would be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth and scattered abroad Helaman 15:12. The "face of the earth" reference implies a wide area in multiple modern nations as the article "Face of the Land" explains. "Scattered abroad" means moved from their homeland to distant places, even overseas places.

Jesus Christ prophesied that the Lamanites would be scattered upon all the face of the land 3 Nephi 21:24. As above, this refers to a wide area in multiple modern nations.

When the Spanish invaded the Americas, they explicitly fulfilled this prophecy. First, they sent enslaved Taino from the Caribbean to Spain. Then they imported Lucayo slaves from what we now call the Bahamas into Hispaniola (Dominican Republic). After despoiling the Nicaraguan natives of their gold and pearls, the Spanish enslaved them. 200,000 Nicaraguan slaves were exported to South America between 1528 and 1540 to work the rich mines in Peru. Most died en route or in the merciless mines. The Spanish sent enslaved natives from many places in Central America to Cuba and other Caribbean islands. Slaves from what is today Florida were sent throughout the Spanish realm, as were enslaved natives from northern South America (modern Colombia and Venezuela). The Pueblo Revolt in 1680 was caused by the enslavement of natives in what is today New Mexico who were sent to work the rich silver mines of central Mexico.

A good source on native American slavery under Spanish rule is Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).
Important Book First Published in 2016
Reséndez documents native Americans being scattered abroad, driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and being scattered upon all the face of the land in direct fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecy.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 016

Nephi explained to his brothers that the Lord would raise up a mighty nation among the gentiles in the New World 1 Nephi 22:7. This prophecy uses the phrase "upon the face of this land" in the sense of a large extension of territory up to continental scale. See the article "Face of the Land" for context on the semantic range of meaning this phrase exhibits in the text. After other members of the House of Israel such as the Jews had been scattered worldwide, this mighty nation would scatter the Lamanites with some of Nephi's posterity counted among them. Nephi's angel explained that this mighty nation would be without peer - "above all other nations upon the face of the land" 1 Nephi 13:30. The phrase "face of the land" in this verse is also used in the sense of a large extension of territory up to continental or even planetary scale.

Who was the most powerful gentile nation in the Americas for 329 years (1492 - 1821)? Spain. Who was the most powerful nation on the planet for 151 years (1492 - 1643)? Spain, the House of Habsburg, the western seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Some historians argue for Spanish dominance not just through the Battle of Rocroi (1643), but all the way to the War of Spanish Succession (1714) which would make Spain the most powerful nation in the world for 222 years. In any event, France was ascendant during the reign of Louis XIV (1643 - 1715), the Sun King.

This is a map of the Spanish Empire aka Hispanic Monarchy aka Catholic Monarchy at its peak.
Territories Once Part of the Spanish Empire
Spain was the world's first global superpower, the first nation able to project power and trade literally around the world. Every other European colonial power (Portugal, France, England, Netherlands, Denmark) tried to copy Spain's success. Between 1580 and 1640 Spain and Portugal were united in a formidable concentration of power. France followed Spain as the world's most powerful nation and French dominance lasted through 1815 (Waterloo) when England became pre-eminent.

The mighty nation Nephi and the angel prophesied would dominate the Americas, dominate the world, and scatter Lehi's posterity was Spain.

For additional confirmation, see the article "Mighty Nation = Spain."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Face of the Land

This article will investigate meanings behind the Book of Mormon terms "face of the land" and "face of the earth" that occur over 125 times in the text. Virtually everyone who closely reads the Nephite record realizes it is highly consistent. Respecting that consistency, we will determine these phrases' semantic range of meaning.

First, the variants. In the text we find:
  • the face of the land
  • the whole face of the land
  • all the face of the land
  • the face of the earth
  • the face of this land
  • the face thereof
  • the face of all the land
  • the face of the waters
  • much of the face of the land
  • the whole face of the land northward
  • the face of the whole land
  • all the face of this land
  • the whole face of this land
  • the face of the land of promise
  • the face of the whole earth
  • all the face of the earth
  • the face of this earth
  • the face of all the earth
Three senses permeate the usage of these phrases in various contexts. 1) We are dealing with the natural earth rather than man-made entities demarcated by political boundaries, 2) large extensions of territory up to continental or even planetary scale and the implication of wholeness, completeness, and totality, and 3) the land of the living on the surface of the planet rather than the heavens above or the underworld of the dead beneath.
NASA Composite Image of the Western Hemisphere
Examples of the natural earth rather than polities:
  • darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land 3 Nephi 8:3.
  • the whole face of the land was changed 3 Nephi 8:12.
  • no rain upon the face of the earth Ether 9:30.
Examples of large extensions of territory up to continental or even planetary scale:
  • And the people had spread again over all the face of the land Ether 9:26.
  • carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites Mormon 2:8.
  • the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth 1 Nephi 13:39.
Examples of the land of the living as opposed to other realms:
  • the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land Mormon 1:19.
  • the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land Alma 16:16.
  • the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth Alma 7:9.
With these meanings in mind, we are prepared to interpret passages in the text containing variants of the phrases "face of the land" and "face of the earth." This will allow us to publish Prophecy Fulfilled 016.

Prophecy Fulfilled 015

The Savior prophesied that European gentiles would be established in the Americas as a free people 3 Nephi 21:4. Nephi clarified that the gentile nations in the Americas would have to win their independence on the battlefield, defeating their mother gentiles 1 Nephi 13:17, 18. This prophecy was dramatically fulfilled in 19 countries between 1783 and 1825.

1783 United States of America - British Empire.
1804 Haiti - First French Empire.
1811 Paraguay - Spanish Empire.
1816 Argentina - Spanish Empire.
1818 Chile - Spanish Empire.
1819 Colombia - Spanish Empire.
1821 Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama - Spanish Empire
1822 Ecuador - Spanish Empire
1824 Peru - Spanish Empire
1825 Bolivia - Spanish Empire
1825 Brazil - Portuguese Empire
Diego Rivera Mural of the Grito de Dolores on September 16, 1810
The Mexican case was typical. Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave the famous Grito de Dolores near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810. September 16th is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day. The Mexican War of Independence, though, dragged on for 11 years, finally ending on September 27, 1821 with the Treaty of Córdoba. During the long war, 15,000 Mexicans and 8,000 Spaniards were killed, and 450,000 Mexicans were wounded.

Prophecy Fulfilled 014

Nephi uses the curious expression "grind upon the face of the poor" in 2 Nephi 26:20. It is clear from context it is related to elites getting "gain." The expression comes from Isaiah 3:15 cited in 2 Nephi 13:15. Bible Hub is a convenient place to see multiple Bible translations of a single verse. Other renderings of this phrase are:
  • rubbed in the dirt the faces of the poor (Contemporary English Version)
  • take advantage of the poor (Good News Translation)
  • shame the face of the poor (Brenton Septuagint Translation)
  • grind the faces of the afflicted (Darby Bible Translation)
Isaiah chapter 3 is generally interpreted as a condemnation of ancient Judaism which became so corrupt that rather than protecting vulnerable members of society, the rich exploited the poor and the strong exploited the weak (the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor Isaiah 3:5). The predictable result was national poverty (this ruin, in my house are neither bread nor clothing Isaiah 3:6,7).

Developmental economists call this condition "institutional" or "structural poverty" when a permanent overlord class benefits financially by depressing wages for the masses who struggle to survive in a radically unequal society. Economists have a measure of income inequality. They call it the Gini Coefficient. The CIA World Factbook publishes a list of most nations on earth ranked by Gini Index. Most Latin American countries are on the highly unequal end of the scale. As with all images on this blog, click to enlarge.
Countries with Most Unequal Income Distribution
European democracies with generous social safety nets are on the highly equal end of the scale.
Countries with Most Equal Income Distribution
The United States is the most unequal of countries in the middle tier.
Countries in Middle Range of Income Distribution
Furthermore, as most US citizens realize, the United States of America is rapidly becoming much more unequal as the rich get richer and the poor become less self-reliant. Throughout most of its history, though, the US has been quite egalitarian, a true land of opportunity where hard work tended to pay off with upward social mobility. The US also created strong social institutions (churches, schools, local governments) that tended to help the poor who wanted to help themselves.

The reverse was true in Spanish America. Conquistadores exploited natives. Patrones exploited peones. Churches were rapacious, schools largely non-existant, and local governments highly corrupt. Institutional or structural poverty was endemic. Nephi's prophecy was explicitly fulfilled. Only in recent decades have many Latin American countries begun to educate and provide essential services to their most vulnerable. You will notice on the chart above that Argentina and Uruguay now outrank the US with flatter income distributions.

I know a little about developmental economics in the Western Hemisphere. My book, Ending Global Poverty: The Microfranchise Solution, has been translated into multiple languages and downloaded millions of times. I state with some authority that Nephi's prophecy about the gentiles in the New World getting gain by exploiting the poor 2 Nephi 26:20 fits much better in Latin America than it does in the US or Canada.

Prophecy Fulfilled 013

In Canada, American Indians are called "First Nations" and Indian Reservations are known as "Reserves." Canada has established more than 3,100 First Nations Reserves throughout the country. This is a map showing some of them from British Columbia to Labrador.
Some of the 3,100+ Canadian First Nations Reserves
In the US, more than 56 million acres are protected in 326 Indian Reservations, Pueblos, etc. established in 41 of the 50 states. This is a map showing many of them:
Many of the 326 Indian Reservations in the US
No such system of protected reservations existed in most of Latin America until recent decades when native American rights have entered public discourse. Indigenous movements in Costa Rica and Argentina are making some headway, but for most of their history the countries of Spanish America did little to protect their natives.

This disparity in the way native Americans were treated in English and Spanish America is relevant to our search for Book of Mormon lands. Samuel the Lamanite prophesied that in the latter times the Lamanites would be driven to and fro, hunted, smitten, scattered abroad, having no place for refuge Helaman 15:12. This prophecy fits in Spanish America. Indian reservations and First Nations reserves in English America directly contradict Samuel's words.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 012

The Book of Mormon says in the last days the Lamanites, aka remnant of the house of Jacob, will go forth among the numerous gentiles and be in the midst of them 3 Nephi 20:16. The text further prophesies the Lamanites will be among many different gentile nations 3 Nephi 20:20. It also says the remnant of Jacob will be among and in the midst of the gentiles in a position of power and influence 3 Nephi 21:12.

In the great Latin American diaspora, Lamanites have literally gone forth as minorities among several gentile nations, many are currently living among or in the midst of gentiles, and in the case of Hispanics in the US, Lamanites are beginning to wield considerable power.

The US Census Bureau reports that 57.5 million Hispanics were living in the US in 2016, comprising 17.8 % of the total US population. The Spanish Instituto Nacional de Estadística reports that by 2017 2,473,784 Latin Americans had emigrated to Spain, comprising 5.3% of the total Spanish population. These Latin American emigres are literally fulfilling the prophecies in 3 Nephi 20 & 21.
Guatemalans Living in Spain, from the Spanish Newspaper El Pais

Prophecy Fulfilled 011

The Book of Mormon in several places prophesies that gentiles in America will be numbered among the seed of Lehi or the house of Israel 1 Nephi 14:2, 2 Nephi 10:18-19, 3 Nephi 21:6, 3 Nephi 30:2. The text uses the term "numbered" to refer to membership in the true Church Moroni 6:4, 7. It also uses the term like a modern census taker would - to denote that a person belongs to a certain ethnic or political group Alma 45:13, 3 Nephi 2:14, 16.

This prophecy has been fulfilled in a remarkable way in many Latin American countries where large percentages of the population are mestizos of mixed native American and European ancestry. So, for example, the CIA World Fact Book reports that Guatemala is 60.1% mestizo (aka ladino), Peru is 60.2%, and Mexico is 62% mestizo. Modern mestizos realize they are a new race and culture - neither Amerindian nor European, and they are proud of both legacies. In Latin American countries where mestizos predominate, gentiles are literally numbered among the seed of Lehi, aka remnant of Jacob, in direct fulfillment of 3 Nephi 21:22.
Most Modern Mexicans and Many Latin Americans are Mestizos

1830 Editions

I was in Bryan Crockett's office in Salt Lake this afternoon. He is the printer who did the 1830 Palmyra Collector's Edition of the Book of Mormon, a mass-produced replica of the original 1830 edition. He also did a limited run 1830 Letterpress Edition which is a more faithful replica including cotton rag paper, letterpress printing techniques, calfskin binding, and hand-affixed gold lettered spine titles and decor about as close to the original 1830 as one is likely to get in the modern era. In some of the Letterpress Edition copies, he tips in one original page from a distressed 1830 edition that is being parted out page by page. People who are not likely to ever afford an 1830 edition (which can sell for $100,000 or more) can own a high quality replica that includes a single original page. I purchased two of these Letterpress Edition replicas. One has an original page from Jacob's allegory of the olive tree, the other an original page from the end of 3rd Nephi and the beginning of 4th Nephi.
2 Copies of the LetterPress Replica Edition, and
 1 Copy of the 1830 Palmyra Collector's Edition 
This is a single page from a distressed 1830 edition tipped into a LetterPress Replica Edition.
Left Hand Page is from an 1830 Original Edition
As satisfying as it is to finally own even a single page from one of the original 5,000 copies of the 1830 Book of Mormon, what really grabbed my attention was another book Bryan had on his desk. In his Palmyra print shop, EB Grandin sold an edition of the Bible. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had Grandin produce the Book of Mormon to be about the same size and have the same look and feel as that Bible so people would easily recognize the new book as holy writ. The book of the left is one of the Bibles EB Grandin sold. The book on the right is one of Crockett's LetterPress Replicas of the 1830 edition Book of Mormon.
Trade Bible Sold in 1830 with Book of Mormon Replica
With both books sharing similar physical characteristics, Ezekiel's prophecy of the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph becoming one in thine hand Ezekiel 37:16-20 seems very real and tangible.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 010

The Book of Mormon has a recurring prophecy whose chronology helps establish the location of Nephite and Lamanite lands in the New World. In a nutshell, the prophecy says European gentiles will come to the Americas, dispossess the numerous Lamanites, then drive the Lamanites almost to extinction. After the Lamanites are nearly wiped out, their fortunes will reverse and the fullness of the Gospel will become available to them through the Book of Mormon. Enlightened Lamanites will become a force to be reckoned with among many gentile nations. The prophetic timeline is: a) large Lamanite populations followed by b) gentile invasion which causes c) Lamanite demographic collapse to near extinction, which is followed by d) Joseph Smith and the restoration, which is followed by e) Lamanites regaining power. Latin American history precisely matches this pattern. US and Canadian history contradicts it. According to this prophecy, Book of Mormon lands will be found in Latin America.

The prophetic pattern in chronological order:
A. Large Lamanite populations. 1 Nephi 12:1-3.
   B. Gentile invasion. 2 Nephi 1:11.
      C. Lamanites driven nearly to extinction. 2 Nephi 26:15.
   D. The restoration. Mormon 5:20.
E. Lamanites regain power. 3 Nephi 20:16.

Supporting scriptural passages:
A. Large Lamanite populations. Mormon 1:7.
   B. Gentile invasion. 1 Nephi 13:14, Helaman 15:12, 3 Nephi 16:8-9.
      C. Lamanites driven nearly to extinction. 1 Nephi 13:30-312 Nephi 3:3,  Helaman 15:16.
   D. The restoration. 1 Nephi 10:14, 1 Nephi 13:342 Nephi 26:16, Mosiah 12:8.
E. Lamanites regain power. 3 Nephi 16:12, 20:19.

We know key dates in this chronology. Sustained European intrusion began with Columbus in 1492. The restoration began with the birth of Joseph Smith on December 23, 1805 and continued through the First Vision in the spring of 1820 and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon on March 26, 1830. One example of Lamanites regaining power was Benito Juarez (1806 - 1872), beloved Zapotec President of Mexico, inagurated on January 15, 1858.

So, when were the Lamanites almost exterminated? Historical demographers call this a population nadir or low point as opposed to a zenith or high point. An excellent source for indigenous New World demography is William M. Denevan, editor, The Native Population of the Americas in 1492, second edition, (Madison and London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1992).
Credible Source for Native American Demographics
Denevan's estimate for the native population of the hemisphere in 1492 is 53,904,000, of which 3,790,000 were north of the Rio Grande and 50,114,000 were south of it. Native population in Latin America reached its nadir in 1650 when only 4,000,000 indigenous individuals remained. In what would become the US and Canada, on the other hand, 1,600,000 natives were alive in 1650, some populations such as the Sac and Fox in Wisconsin, were increasing, and much of North America (Alaska, Canada) had been only marginally affected by European contact. The indigenous population in the US reached its nadir in 1890 when there were only 250,000 native Americans still living. The native population in Alaska and Canada reached its nadir about 1910 when 150,000 original Americans were still alive. So, the depopulation factor from zenith (contact) to nadir was 12.5 to 1 in Spanish and Portuguese America and 9.5 to 1 in English America.

President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830 and the disastrous Trail of Tears from the southeastern US to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma) played out between 1831 and 1850. The Book of Mormon says the Lamanites would be driven and smitten almost out of existence prior to the restoration. The 240 year difference between native population nadirs in Latin America (1650) and English North America (1890 - 1910) means this particular Book of Mormon prophetic chronology fits best in a Latin American context. US history is a direct contradiction of 1 Nephi 15:17 and 3 Nephi 20:15.

This is the tenth in a series of articles about fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecies. You may also enjoy articles 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, and 009. Book of Mormon authors wrote their texts in part to demonstrate history vindicating prophets.

Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central, whose mission is to build faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible in all the world. Book of Mormon Central currently publishes in English and Spanish.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 009

The term "scarlets" appears twice in the Book of Mormon describing expensive clothing worn by rich and powerful European gentiles of the great and abominable church more or less contemporaneous with the Age of Discovery (1492 - 1783) 1 Nephi 13:7-8. Sumptuous apparel is mentioned many times in the text in multiple time periods (2 Nephi 13:23, Mosiah 10:5, Alma 1:29, Alma 4:6, Helaman 6:13, Ether 9:17, 10:24). Scarlets, though, are only associated with the gentile nations of Europe at the time of Columbus and the establishment of New World colonies. This subtle detail is corroborated historically. Scarlet is the color worn by Roman Catholic Cardinals. In Western Civilization, it has traditionally signified power, luxury, and wealth. Purple was reserved for royalty, but scarlet was worn by the various classes of nobility.
"Portrait of a Young Man" by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)
Soldiers often wore red, but military officers wore the more brilliant scarlet. The British House of Lords opened new sessions of parliament dressed in scarlet robes.
"Queen Anne in the House of Lords" by Peter Tillemans (1684 - 1734)
It is no coincidence that scarlet is also associated with immorality per Revelation 17:4 and the great and abominable church is the mother of harlots 1 Nephi 14:17 and the whore of all the earth 2 Nephi 28:18. Scarlet and crimson are sometimes used interchangeably as in Isaiah 1:18.

The formula for brilliant scarlet dye was a secret closely guarded by Venetian guilds for generations until Mexican cochineal became available in large quantities beginning in 1523. 

Color symbolism in Renaissance Europe precisely and accurately fulfilled Nephi's prophetic use of the term "scarlets" in 1 Nephi 13:7-8.

Prophecy Fulfilled 008

In Nephi's expansive historical vision chronicled in 1 Nephi 13, the prophet refers five times to gentiles leaving captivity in Europe and emigrating to the New World. What captivity were they fleeing? Europeans in the Age of Discovery (1492 - 1783) were subject to various forms of exploitation such as slavery (humans bought and sold), serfdom (humans bound to land, which could be bought and sold), bound or indentured servitude (humans bound to other humans under certain conditions and/or for certain time periods, with contracts that could be bought and sold), debt servitude (humans bound to other humans until a debt was repaid with contracts that could be bought and sold), forced labor (benefiting king, noble, or church), forced military service (press gangs), high taxes, and mandatory tithes. Landed nobles or vassals owned most assets. Peasants had few rights and limited prospects for improvement. Grinding poverty was endemic for most people. Inheritance laws favored first-born sons to prevent breaking up large real estate holdings.

Nephi tells us who was behind these rigid social structures that advantaged elites by exploiting commoners - the great and abominable church founded by Satan 1 Nephi 13:6. This church was not a religious institution per se, although clerics as social elites participated in its spoils. This church was a pervasive social order that helped high class individuals remain self-indulgent (gold, silver, silks, scarlets, fine-twined linen, precious clothing, harlots) while low class persons had little or no self-determination. Saintly people who tried to reform this pathological system were either killed or incarcerated 1 Nephi 13:9. See the article "What is the Great and Abominable Church?"

And what did the gentiles get when they fled captivity in the Old World and settled the New? They gained their freedom 3 Nephi 21:4, obtained land 1 Nephi 13:15, and became prosperous 1 Nephi 13:20. This graphic shows the social structure in Nueva España (Mexico).
Social Structure in Spanish Colonies
Spaniards or other Europeans occupied the top strata, followed by their children born in the New World. Children born to a Spanish father and native mother (mestizos) came next, followed by natives, then imported Africans, and finally mixed breeds. Most Europeans who emigrated to the Americas remained in the New World because they enjoyed a higher quality of life than they would have had in the Old Country. People who had been peasants in Europe became landed elites (hacendados in Spanish America) in the Western Hemisphere, thus fulfilling 1 Nephi 13:13, 16, 19, and 29-30.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 007

Nephi saw in vision many multitudes of gentiles 1 Nephi 13:14 from various nations and kingdoms 1 Nephi 13:1-3 who crossed the many waters 1 Nephi 13:13 to settle in the promised land.
Artist's Conception of Europeans Arriving in the New World
How many were multitudes? The text uses the term "multitude" to describe the divine capacity for mercy 1 Nephi 8:8, unnumbered masses of humanity 1 Nephi 8:30-31, 33, the size of audiences gathered to hear the Savior during his mortal ministry 1 Nephi 11:28, afflicted people healed by the Savior during his lifetime 1 Nephi 11:31, and enemies of the first-century Apostolic Church 1 Nephi 11:34-35. The Nephite text also uses an augmentative phrase implying out sized or unusually large numbers: "multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea" 1 Nephi 12:1 and Mormon 1:7. Lehi's descendants in the New World were multitudes as numerous almost as the sands of the sea.

So, according to the Book of Mormon, the multi-national gentiles coming to the New World in the Age of Discovery would be multiple groups, each perhaps numbering in the hundreds of thousands, while the indigenous population at European contact would be a much larger number. History and science explicitly corroborate the fulfillment of these prophecies in appropriate proportion.

We know from history about how many Europeans emigrated to the Americas from various countries in the 1492 (Columbus) - 1783 (Treaty of Paris ending the US Revolutionary War) time frame. These are the numbers:
  • Great Britain (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales) 722,000
  • Spain 437,000
  • Portugal 100,000
  • Germany & Switzerland 100,000
  • France 51,000
That's a total of 1,410,000 gentiles from 9 countries, not including smaller numbers of emigrants from the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Greece, etc. Source: Ida Altman & James Horne, editors, To Make America: European Emigration in the Early Modern Period, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).

The pre-contact population of the Americas has been the subject of intense academic scrutiny by historical demographers for decades. A widely-accepted figure of 53,904,000 comes from William M. Denevan, editor, The Native Population of the Americas in 1492, Second Edition, (Madison and London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1992). Denevan's estimates:
  • North America (US and Canada) 3,790,000
  • Mexico 17,174,000
  • Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize) 5,625,000
  • Caribbean 3,000,000
  • Andes (Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela) 15,696,000
  • South America (Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile) 8,619,000
1.4 million gentile emigrants to America from multiple countries between 1492 and 1783 precisely fulfill Nephi's prophecy in 1 Nephi 13:14. Much larger numbers of natives in the Americas at contact precisely fulfill Nephi's prophecy in 1 Nephi 12:1 and corroborate Mormon's observation in Mormon 1:7.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 006

Nephite general and historian, Mormon, recorded a prophecy that Gentiles would scatter Lehi's descendants who would be "counted as naught among them" Mormon 5:9. "Naught" generally means zero, nothingness, or nonexistence. This prophecy was dramatically and explicitly fulfilled during the first sixty years of European contact with Native Americans.
Columbus Statue, Parque Colon, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
1492 - 1493 Columbus (1451 - 1506) discovered America, landing in what today are the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

1493 Pope Alexander VI (1431 - 1503) granted the Americas to Spain.

1493 - 1496 Columbus returned on his second voyage, bringing a large number of Europeans with him. He landed in what today are the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba.

1498 - 1500 Columbus, on the third of his four voyages, began distributing "encomiendas" on Hispaniola Island (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) to the Europeans who accompanied him. An encomienda was a land grant that included the services of the indigenous people residing in that territory. Essentially the old European feudal system transported to the New World, encomiendas allowed European landowners to enslave and exploit the natives. Landed lords terrorized their American victims, forcing them to work in mines, fisheries, and on farms and ranches. Encomenderos captured slaves from neighboring islands to augment their work force. Conditions aboard the slave ships were so horrendous most of the impressed people died en route and their bodies were thrown overboard. The recently-arrived European overlords justified their brutality with clever sophistry, reasoning:
  • Native males could not grow beards, so they were not truly men.
  • Natives were beasts, without souls, incapable of religion and ineligible for salvation. Europeans frequently called the locals "dogs." 
The pernicious idea that the indigenous people were brute sub-humans allowed the greedy newcomers to rationalize everything from rape and torture to murder and genocide.
Antonio de Montesinos Statue, George Washington Avenue,
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
1511 Antonio de Montesinos (1475 - 1540), a Dominican friar on Hispaniola opposed to Spanish cruelty, complained "Are these not men? Have they not rational souls?"

1512 - 1513 Montesinos' highly critical reports back to Spain resulted in the Laws of Burgos, one tenet of which forbade Spaniards from calling the natives "dogs." On the American side of the Atlantic, the Laws of Burgos were routinely ignored.
Image of Bartolomé de las Casas on
1978 Guatemalan Centavo Coin
1524 Charles V (1500 - 1558) created the Council of the Indies which included Bartolomé de las Casas (ca. 1484 - 1566), an outspoken social reformer turned Dominican friar who advocated humane treatment of native Americans.

1530 Charles V prohibited Indian slavery. Predictably, his edict was ignored in the Americas and promptly rescinded.
Sublimis Deus, Papal Bull Issued
by Pope Paul III in 1537
1537 Pope Paul III (1468 - 1549) issued an encyclical called "Sublimis Deus." It attempted to settle the philosophical argument whether native Americans were beasts or humans. It declared the indigenous peoples of the Americas are rational beings with souls, eligible for Catholic evangelism. This papal decision resulted in a wave of missionaries going to the New World.
Bartolomé de las Casas, Brevísima Relación
1552 Seville Edition
1542 Bartolomé de las Casas wrote his damning Brevísima Relación de la Destrucción de las Indias which was formally published ten years later. The future Bishop of Chiapas estimated the population of Hispaniola in 1492 at 3 million. Fifty years later, only 200 indigenous people were still alive. He estimated the pre-contact population of Lucayos (Bahamas) at 500,000, all of whom were dead. He described Cuba and Puerto Rico as almost totally depopulated from forced labor, starvation, disease, public torture, and Spanish massacres.

1542 Las Casas' exposé had an immediate effect. Realizing how counter-productive Spanish colonial policies had been (dead Indians don't pay tribute), Charles V issued the New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians. The New Laws abolished Indian slavery and ended encomiendas. Opposition from Spaniards in the New World was so pronounced Charles V was forced to revoke the New Laws in 1545.
Learned  Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
1550 - 1551 A great debate took place in Valladolid, Spain between philosopher and theologian Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (1494 - 1573) and Dominican Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas. Sepúlveda argued that New World natives were barbarians and slaves by nature who should be forced to accept Catholicism. Las Casas defended the Indians as free, rational human beings capable of self-government who should be invited but not forced to accept Catholicism. Sepúlveda's harsh viewpoint prevailed and Spanish atrocities continued unabated throughout North, Central, and South America.

Within the first few decades after European contact, Spanish Gentiles forced natives to abandon their homes and life ways. Entire populations were exterminated. Indigenous Americans were generally considered lower life forms who could be enslaved, abused, and killed with impunity. Mormon 5:9's prophecy that Lehi's descendants would be scattered and counted as naught was expressly fulfilled.

Additional blog articles in the Prophecy Fulfilled series are numbered 001, 002, 003, 004, and 005.

For another instance of a Book of Mormon prophecy fulfilled, I recommend Stephen Smoot's excellent recent article entitled "No Kings Upon the Land: A Note on 2 Nephi 10."

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 in all the world. Book of Mormon Central currently publishes in English and Spanish.