Posts Tagged ‘ Mayan ’

Passage of the Day, 10/3

Today’s passage comes from Helaman 4:9 in the Book of Mormon, one of the four primary texts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons.  Like most of the rest of that text, today’s passage concerns the story of the Nephites, whom Mormon texts describes as the descendants of 6th Century BCE Israelites who fled their original homeland, built ships, and apparently sailed to the New World under divine guidance.

Once there the refugees separated into two peoples, the Nephites and Lamanites.  The Nephites are the people of the Book of Mormon who kept true to the prophecies of their founder Nephi.  In today’s passage we read of how, after a bitter conflict with the Lamanites in which the Nephites were weakened by pride and internal divisions, they rallied together under their church and retook most of their losses from the Lamanites, whom Mormon texts characterize as sinful and hard-hearted portion of its Israeli settlers of North America.  It is only later, when they too abandon their faith, that the Nephites are destroyed once and for all.

Mormon scholars do not have a firm consensus on where exactly in the Americas the events of the Book of Mormon are set.  Some point to Illinois, where the Mormon prophet and founder Joseph Smith alleged to have found the golden plates from which he copied the text that became the Book of Mormon, and associate the civilizations described in Mormon texts with the Mississippian mound-builder cultures.  Other scholars believe that the Nephites and Lamanites built their settlements in southern Mexico, and that their works eventually informed the high urban civilizations of the Mayans and Aztecs in the same region.

No archaeological evidence has yet been found to corroborate either theory.  Mormon missionaries I’ve spoken to on behalf of Churchspotting responded to this lack of evidence by declaring that their faith called on them to trust the text, as it is the word of God in their tradition, and that they held to it regardless of outside influences.