In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Vision of Mani and the Vision of Nephi

The Persian Prophet Mani
Over two years ago I did a blog post about a correlation between the Book of Mormon and the Narrative of Zosimus.  This was spawned by some of the research that I had read through by John Welch and his comparison between the two texts.  This post will continue on those same lines with a comparison between the Cologne Mani Codex and the Book of Mormon.  I would like to thank a colleague of mine Tyler Livingston President of the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum for pointing this one out to me as well as another comparison between the Book of Mormon and the Pistis Sophia which will be forth coming in a blog post as well.  It is these resemblances and parallels that I love because they act as an accompanying witness or testimony in favor of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  For the above mentioned Narrative of Zosimus correlations blog post please follow this link.

Manichaeism was a religion that was founded in modern day Iran by the prophet Mani around 216-276 AD.  It actually consisted of Zoroastrian, Dualism, Babylonian folklore, and Buddhism.  It survived as a popular religion in both the East and the West although it flourished mainly in the east Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Turkestan, China and Northern India through 1000 A.D. but eventually died out at an uncertain date. 
Mani is a title or term of respect rather than a personal name thought to mean “Light King” or “the illustrious”. It is assumed that he took the title and replaced his personal name.  Exactly what his personal name was is still unknown.  Two Latin versions have been handed down Cubricus and Ubricus.  Some scholars have stated that these are corrupt uses of the name Shuraik.  
At the age of 12 is when Mani received his first revelation. He was visited by an angel who appeared to him and advised him to leave the Mandaeans and live chastely but to wait another 12 years before proclaiming himself to the people. On Sunday March 20th 242 A.D. Mani finally proclaimed his gospel in the royal residence, Gundesapor, on the coronation day of Sapor I in Babylon.  He taught, “As once Buddha came to India, Zoroaster to Persia, and Jesus to the lands of the West, so came I in the present time, this prophecy through me, the Mani, to the land of Babylonia” a proclamation from this “Apostle of the true God”.  With limited success Mani left Babylon and set up Manichaean communities in Turkestan and India.  He did eventually return to Persia and converted the brother of Sapor I (Peroz).  During his travels Mani used epistles (encyclical letters) to spread his doctrine and teachings.  His popularity varied with different leaders of Persia.  He was later imprisoned by Sapor I, released by Ormuzd I but under his successor Bahram I he was crucified, had the corpse flayed, and the skin stuffed and hung up at the city gate as a warning to his followers in roughly 276-277 A.D.
The Prophet Nephi
Fast forward to 1969 when a group of four parchment palm sized pieces of vellum were purchased by the University of Cologne.  They were originally found in Asyut (Upper Egypt) at an undetermined date.  When translated these documents contained a Greek translation of the earliest Manichean teachings and the life of Mani including his youth and missionary activity and his introduction into the Elkesaite Baptist sect entitled “On the Origin of his Body”. 
The first translations were done in 1969 and the first English translations were done in 1979 roughly 149 years after Joseph Smith had translated the Book of Mormon.  I say this because there is an interesting comparison to the content of Mani and his visitation by an angelic being and Nephi from the Book of Mormon and his visitation from an angelic being.  In the Book of Mormon in the book of 1Nephi the prophet Nephi while pondering on the meaning of a vision his father Lehi had received was given the opportunity to have the same vision opened to him.  This took place in Jerusalem in roughly 600 B.C.  We will now compare similarities between what Mani experienced to what Nephi experienced.  In doing this I will put BOM next to the reference or scripture for 1 Nephi to represent the Book of Mormon and I will put CMC next to the Cologne Mani Codex reference for ease in comparison. 
BOM-For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen . . . as I sat pondering in mine heart (11:1)
CMC-I was reflecting about how all the works came to be. As I pondered (43) 

BOM-I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord (11:1)
CMC-The Spirit snatched me up (41)
Suddenly the living [Spirit] snatched me, [lifted me up] with greatest [force] (43)  

BOM-yea, into an exceedingly high mountain (11:1)
CMC-set me [down] on [the pinnacle] of a [very] high mountain (43)
…and carried me off to the mountain in silent power (41)  

BOM-And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou? (11:2) [Nephi wants to have the "mysteries of God" revealed to him (10:17, 19)]
CMC-Now he spoke with me and said: He who is eminently most powerful sent me to you so that I may reveal to you the secrets which you pondered (43) 

BOM-The Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all (11:6)
CMC-The living [Spirit] . . . said to [me: . . .] give glory to the greatest King of honor (43) 

BOM-[Nephi beheld many things in a vision (11-14)]
 CMC-There many great [visions] were revealed to me (41) 

BOM-And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me (11:14)
|CMC-I saw a glorious throne room coming down from the highest height and a mighty angel standing by it (43)  

BOM-[Nephi beheld many places in his vision (11:13; 12:1; 13:1; 14:11-27), including other angels (11:30)]
CMC-[to the] north and I beheld there enormous mountains and angels and many places (43) 

BOM-[Nephi is questioned by the angel (11:14, 16, 21; 14:8)]
CMC-He beheld everything and carefully questioned the angels (47) 

BOM-[Nephi is forbidden to write many of the things which he sees since others have and will write them (14:28)]
 CMC-Now all these things that are hidden, write (43) 

BOM-The things which I have written sufficeth me [He writes only what the angel tells him he can write] (14:28)
 CMC-And whatever they said to him, he would inscribe in his writings (47) 

BOM-[Lehi's family has "plates of brass" (13:23). Nephi makes plates of ore (19:1-6). The Lord commands him to make another set of metal plates later in 2 Nephi 5:30]
CMC-Write upon bronze tablets (43) 

BOM-These things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb (13:35). [Records similar to Nephi's are "sealed up to come forth" in a latter time (14:26)]
CMC-And store them up in the desert land (43) 

BOM-[The Nephites] shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious (13:35)
CMC-All that you write, write most clearly (43) 

BOM-[John sees "many things" which Nephi has seen, but Nephi only wrote "but a small part" of the things he saw (14:24, 28)]
CMC-[Now many other things] like these are in his writings, which tell about his rapture and revelation (43) 

BOM-These plates should be handed down from one generation to another (19:4)
 CMC-For all which he heard and saw he wrote down and bequeathed to all posterity of the Spirit of Truth (43)

BOM-[Following his vision Nephi is left weak from the experience and sorrows over his brothers' unbelief (15:1-6)]
CMC-My heart became heavy, all my limbs trembled, my backbone was shaken violently, and my feet did not stand on their pins (41) 

Although the comparison between these two visions shows many correspondences between them, critics may say that it doesn’t stand as physical evidence for the Book of Mormon.  They would be right if this were the only case but when it is combined with the above mentioned Narrative of Zosimus and other texts such as the next blog post on the Pistis Sophia we can begin to see the Lord working in similar manner to his prophets and apostles of old.  These texts work as literal voices from the dust within their own right.   

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book of Mormon Tributes v.s. Aztec Tributes

"Matricula de tributos" of the
Codex Mendoza
Throughout the Book of Mormon there are many stories of groups who at one point or another fell under tribute/bondage to other larger groups.  These usually happened as one group conquered another in warfare or through mutual agreements used to avoid further warfare.  Rather than recognizing the individuals in the tributary groups as direct property or as slaves they were set up as tributes where taxes or heavy burdens were placed up on them.  This practice was also commonly used among the Aztecs.  This is not assuming that slavery to some degree didn't exist in both the Book of Mormon and by the Aztecs because it more than likely did but to the degree that was practiced with the Israelites in Egypt or Africans driven into slavery in the Americas that doesn't seem to be the case.  This article will be a quick peak into the practices of tributaries in the Book of Mormon and among the Aztec populations. 

In the Codex Mendoza which was an Aztec codex that was created after the Spanish conquest of Mexico (14 years after the conquest) it contains multiple sections, one section in particular has a portion of 39 pages which provide a list of the towns conquered by the Triple Alliance which is better known as the Mexica Aztec Empire.  The Triple Alliance was made up of an alliance between three Nahua city-states Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan.  These three "altepetl" (city states) ruled the Valley of Mexico from 1428-1521 when they were defeated by the combined forces of the Spanish conquistadores and their native allies under Hernan Cortes.  In the 39 pages mentioned above there is a smaller section known as the "Matricula de tributos" which details the tributes paid from the lesser towns of a province to the principal city-state.  These tributes include gold and other precious metals for jewelry, cocoa, cotton, jars of honey, granary, copal, feathers, strings of semiprecious beads, warrior suits, animals and many, many other goods.

Many of these tributes were in such large quantities that it would have been hard for a conquered people to compile and would have been considered an extreme hardship.  This caused the hatred for the Aztec Empire from the smaller towns and city-states that were forced to pay tribute.  It was this hatred and discontent that eventually caused many of these tributaries to join forces with the Spanish conquistadores in hopes of alleviating this burden. Bernal Diaz spoke of one such king who ruled on the Veracruz coast who had to deal with this burden.  "This king was known only as the Fat King or Fat Chief who, "broke into bitter complaints "saying, the Mexica (Aztecs) ruler "had taken away all his golden jewelry, and so grievously oppressed him and his people that they could do nothing except obey him, since he was lord over many cities and countries, and ruler over countless vassals and armies of warriors."1

Captain Moroni and Zarahemna
This same type of oppression is seen throughout the pages of the Book of Mormon.  At many points there are military wars between the Lamanites and the Nephites because the Lamanites delighted in bloodshed and wanted to destroy the Nephites or subject them to bondage.  This was the case in the wars between the Lamanite (Amalekite) leader Zarahemna and the Nephite leader Captain Moroni in Alma 43 and 44.  Captain Moroni and the Nephites fought to uphold their freedom (including religious freedom) and their families and lands, whereas the Lamanites fought for bloodshed and to put the Nephites in bondage through making them a tributary state.

This is seen again in more detail when we look at the people of Limhi and their dealings with the Lamanites in Mosiah 19. There was internal turmoil between the previous King of the Nephites (the group who lived in the lands of the Lamanites) a man named wicked King Noah and another man named Gideon.  This turmoil caused dissensions between the Nephites and their loyalty to the wicked King Noah.  It was at this precise time that they were attacked by the Lamanites who conquered them and scattered their leaders who had fled for their lives (Noah included).  In the absence of leadership and being subjected to bondage a tributary King was placed over the Nephites named Limhi (the son of King Noah) and his people were forced to pay a grievous tribute as noted in Mosiah 19:15 which states,

"Therefore the Lamanites did spare their lives, and took them captives and carried them back to the Land of Nephi, and granted unto them that they might possess the land, under the conditions that they would deliver up King Noah into the hands of the Lamanites, and deliver up their property, even one half of all they possessed, one half of their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and thus they should pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites from year to year."

The dealings of Limhi and his people with the Lamanites only got worse form there.  At one point after some limited prosperity the people of Limhi had multiple wars against the Lamanites in which they were badly beaten three times in a row.  These losses caused them to be humbled as Mosiah 21:13 states,

"And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitted themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies."

Fat Aztec Chief
The resemblance between the tribute chronicled in the Matricula de tributos and the tribute paid by the people of Limhi is uncanny.  Both tributes were obviously hindrances that had to be endured by all tributary parties involved.  A comparison of the scenarios of King Limhi and those of the Fat King or Fat Chief from Veracruz coast noted above show many similarities as well.  The burdens placed on both leaders as tributes were enough to bring about complaints and murmurings.  In the case of Limhi, he and his people eventually escaped to join the larger group of Nephites in the land of Zarahemla in order to ease their hardships and gain freedom.  Unfortunately we do not have the outcome of the Fat Chief but it is assumed that he would have either continued to either comply or joined the movement with other tributaries to join the conquistadors and battle the Mexica Aztecs in Tenochtitlan.  Either way it is easy to see the parallels between both practices held by the Nephites and later by the Aztecs.  If the Nephites were a minority population during the same period as the Maya than it would be easy to see why this practice of tributary bondage was still alive and well during the time of the Aztecs.

1. Stuart Gene S, Glanzman Louis S, The Mighty Aztecs, May 1982.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Hopi Mixed Dance Ragalia and Jewish Prayer Shawl. Shesh, How Permanent is this Stuff?

This is a Mixed Animals Dance done by the Hopi on First Mesa (Sichamovi).  I am just using this video to point out similarities between some of the Hopi dance regalia and some of those worn by Jews during their ceremonies.  In particular I would like to point out the Kachina's dancers which are dressed as deer or antelope have a white shawl hanging behind them from their waist.  These are extremely similar to ones used by Jews in their ceremonies.  With that in mind I would like to share a quick insight by Hugh Nibley in regards to some of these ceremonial harmonies. 

Nibley was quick to share these intimate experiences among the Hopi with others.   Numerous times he took friends and family to observe the Hopi.  On one occasion he shared the following:

And when I had taken professors from Israel to visit the Hopi’s they were simply bowled over.  Whats his name? Professor Shinar (Pessah Shinar Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies) who teaches Hebrew at Hebrew University at which he is Arabic at Hebrew University, paid us a visit and I took him too, with the Raphi brothers [actually the Patai brothers Raphael (was Hungarian-Jewish ethnographer, historian, orientalist and anthropologist) and Saul Patai (Organic chemist) both from Hebrew University] who are Israeli and he saw a woman who was making something and he said, “What’s that?” and I said, “well, that’s a shawl, a prayer shawl”.  He says, “Well, we have the same kind” and said, “Well, what do they call it?” I said, “a shesh” (Hebrew for white fine linen) and he nearly fainted and said, “that’s what we call it”.  And Raphi, well some little boys were beating some drums on a mound and Raphi stopped and said, “That’s a song, we used to sing that in my village”.  How permanent is this stuff? It gives you the creeps.”[1]

To sum it up in Nibley’s own words he stated, “My own connections with the Hopi…are exhilarating, puzzling, and faith-promoting.”[2]

[1](Hugh Nibley, Hugh Nibley Speaks on Temples: Temples Everywhere. Track 7 [audio cd])
[2] (Boyd J. Petersen. "The Home Dance: Hugh Nibley among the Hopi" Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 31.1 (1998): 27)

Black Elk’s Vision and Lehi’s Dream

Black Elk

This blog post is technically an extension of my previous post on Crazy Horse and Joseph Smith except this post deals with one of the main sources of my information for Crazy Horse, the one and only Sioux Oglala medicine man/healer and visionary Black Elk.  Much of the previous post’s information on Crazy Horse was taken from Black Elks accounts of his and his father’s dealings with Crazy Horse (Black Elks second cousin).  The source for most of this information was John G. Neihardt’s book “Black Elk Speaks” which shares the life story of Black Elk and covers the history of his people as well as his history of his visions and dealings that lead to him becoming a warrior and Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux.  While reading his story I couldn’t help but feel his love for his people and his family as well as his desire to understand his purpose here on earth. This desire was magnified by an early vision he received as a kid when he was about 9 years old when he had become very sick for several days and received an interesting vision.  He used this vision to search for understanding throughout his life; he even used it to gain insights into other visions he later received.  This blog post is in regards to one of his “later” visions he received and its comparison to Lehi’s dream which was also seen by his son Nephi. 
The vision I speak of happened in the spring of 1890 according to the book.  This would have roughly made Black Elk about 27 years old.  He was assisting in a dance on Wounded Knee Creek just below Manderson South Dakota.  During the ceremony Black Elk states he was taken into a vision and described the visions happenings as follows,
“As I touched the ground, twelve men were coming towards me, and they said: “Our Father, the two-legged chief, you shall see!”
Then they led me to the center of the circle where once more I saw the holy tree all full of leaves and blooming.
But that was not all I saw.  Against the tree there was a man standing with arms held wide in front of him.  I looked hard at him, and I could not tell what people he came from.  He was not a Wasichu (white man) and he was not an Indian.  His hair was long and hanging loose, and on the left side of his head he wore an eagle feather.  His body was strong and good to see, and it was painted red.  I tried to recognize him, but I could not make him out.  He was a very fine looking man.  While I was staring hard at him, his body began to change and became very beautiful with all colors of light, and around him was light.  He spoke like singing: “My life is such that all earthly beings and growing things belong to me.  Your father, the Great Spirit, has said this….
Then one of the twelve men took two sticks, one painted white and one red, and, thrusting them in the ground, he said: “Take these! You shall depend upon them.  Make haste!”….
There was a fearful dark river that I had to go over, and I was afraid.  It rushed and roared and was full of angry foam.  Then I looked down and saw many men and women who were trying to cross the dark and fearful river, but they could not.  Weeping, they looked up to me and cried: “Help us!”  But I could not stop gliding, for it was as though a great wind were under me.”
Black Elk entered this vision by being greeted by twelve men who advised him that “Our Father, the two legged chief, you shall see”. In the Book of Mormon Lehi was a prophet about 600 B.C. in Jerusalem who was given many visions.  One in particular was not only given to him but also to his son Nephi who was also a prophet.  Lehi and Nephi and their families and followers were led by the Lord to the Promised Land which is in the Americas (presumably in Central America).  Lehi’s children broke apart into two civilizations the Nephites and the Lamanites. It is commonly thought that these civilizations have contributed to some degree to the current Native American populations found throughout the Americas especially in Central America and the South Western United States.  I will be using both Lehi’s and Nephi’s accounts of this vision in comparison with that of Black Elks. 
Like Black Elk Nephi was also shown twelve men in 1 Nephi 11:29 he states,
“And I also beheld twelve others following him (Christ) and it came to pass that they were carried away in the Spirit from before my face, and I saw them not.”
Both Lehi and Nephi also saw a sacred and holy tree as well and Nephi referred to it as the “tree of life”.   Lehi explained it like this in 1 Nephi 8:10,
“And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.”
Nephi went into further detail saying,
“And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.
  And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all. (1 Nephi 11:8-9)”
Now Black Elk also beheld a man standing in front of the tree who was not Native American or Caucasian but he had long hair and stood with his arms wide open.  He stated he was a very fine looking man and light shined all around him.  Nephi’s vision also beheld a man, the literal Son of God!
“And behold this thing shall be given unto thee for a sign, that after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:7)”
Now Nephi’s vision went into further detail into the things that the Son of God would do and how he would be born which are details that were obviously not included in Black Elks vision.  I would like to skip to the end of Black Elk’s vision where he sees “a fearful dark river….which rushed and roared and was full of angry foam…and many people who tried to cross this river but they couldn’t”.  A similar river was seen in Lehi’s dream as he recalled,
“…I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking of the fruit. (1 Nephi 8:13)”
His son Nephi was able to receive further clarification about this river in his vision when an angle advised in 1 Nephi 12:16,
“…Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell.”
So we see that there are multiple similarities between the visions of Lehi/Nephi and that of Black Elk.  Interestingly enough both Nephi and Black Elk feared for their people and their welfare as if these visions were to lead them in future events to help save them.  Nephi had seen the entire destruction of his people in vision and Black Elk had seen signs he hoped would offer future assistance.  It is this future assistance which I would like to shift the focus too.  I will have to back track to a point in Black Elks vision where he stated,

The Bible and the Book of Mormon
(The Stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph)
“Then one of the twelve men took two sticks, one painted white and one red, and, thrusting them in the ground, he said: “Take these! You shall depend upon them.  Make haste!”….
Joseph Smith taught that the Biblical prophecy given by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:16-17) regarding the “two sticks” one of Judah and one of Ephraim was fulfilled through the combination of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the Bible being the record of Judah and the Book of Mormon being the record of Ephraim.  Could this “two stick” prophecy about the Bible and Book of Mormon have been a sign for Black Elk to look for throughout his life?  Could the truths contained in these “sticks” have been and still be part of the answer needed to help redeem these Native cultures to their fullness?  The Book of Mormon cover page seems to think so when it states,
“Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile…Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever… And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations”
On top of all of the above noted parallels and similarities there are a lot of interesting symbolism taking place in the background of these visions and prophecies.  One in particular is that the one of the twelve men who appeared to Black Elk took the two sticks and “thrust them in the ground”…as noted above these could very well be interpreted to be the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon is noted as being “A voice from the dust” meaning that it was a record that was sealed up and buried in the ground only to be revealed at a later date.  Could this stick thrust in the ground be a hint at the voice from the dust connection?  I find the parallels stunning and the possible message intriguing especially for the future of the Sioux people for whom Black Elks vision was shared.  If this is indeed the case I hope that the time will come when the connection will be made and the prophecies tested!  Exciting things may still await.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Joseph Smith and Crazy Horse

Black Elk and Elk
I have posted blog posts in the past based off of books about Native American chief’s or shaman or other important individuals such as “The Sun Chief” about Don C. Talayesva or “Big Snow Falling” about Albert Yava.  This post is more of the same but with a slight twist. The research for this post is mainly from John G. Neihardt’s book “Black Elk Speaks” about the Oglala Sioux Holy Man Black Elk and his visions and dealings throughout his life.  The caveat is that this post isn’t necessarily about Black Elk but rather it’s about his father’s cousin, the great Sioux Oglala leader and warrior Crazy Horse.  It is Black Elks description and stories about Crazy Horse that are significant and interesting when compared to the life of Prophet Joseph Smith.  Now it appears there have been others who may have noted some of these interesting comparisons but I felt I would add my version to the list. 

The Book does not spend an inordinate amount of time speaking about Crazy Horse but what little it does say, shows that Black Elk and his father held Crazy Horse in high regards.  The first correspondence noted is Black Elk quoting his father who is describing the vision Crazy Horse had that led to him being called Crazy Horse,

“he said that Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things.  That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world.  He was on his horse in that world, and the horse and himself on it and the trees and the grass and the stones and everything were made of spirit, and nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float.  His horse was standing still there, and yet it danced around like a horse made only of shadow, and that is how he got his name, which does not mean that his horse was crazy or wild, but that in his vision it danced around in a queer way.”[1]

This world of spirits seen by crazy horse correlates very well with what Joseph Smith described as the spirit world.  Joseph Smith taught,

“the righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection.”[2]

During a funeral sermon Joseph touched on the location of this spirit world when he taught that righteous spirits,

“are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire they are not far from us.”[3]

And to show his belief in this teaching he also stated to Benjamin F. Johnson while visiting the Johnson farm,

 “From a boy I have been persecuted  . . . Why should I not wish for my time of rest?” And then he said, “I would not be far away from you, and if on the other side of the veil I would still be working with you, and with a power greatly increased, to roll on this kingdom.”  [4]

We also find in Doctrine and Covenants section 77 the teachings revealed to Joseph Smith that things in the spirit world are like those in this temporal world,

“that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.”[5]

Possible Photo of Crazy Horse
We can see that the revelations received by and the teachings given from Joseph Smith relate directly to what Crazy Horse saw in his vision.  Crazy Horses vision offers an interesting parallel to the Joseph’s teachings because they were received in a different context but still attest to similar truths but his vision isn’t the only correlation the two have in common.  It was taught that Crazy Horse also carried a sacred stone with him one that he had either seen in a vision or used to see a vision.   Black Elk shared the following,

“They used to say too that he carried a sacred stone with him, like one he had seen in some vision, and that when he was in danger, the stone always got very heavy and protected him somehow.  That, they used to say, was the reason no horse he ever rode lasted very long.”

Now Joseph Smith was known to have had or used at least one if not multiple seer stones also referred to as a peep stone during his lifetime.  Now whether the seer stone offered him direct protection like the stone that Crazy Horse used it is not known.  But we do know that visions and revelations were directly tied to Joseph Smith’s seer stone including his ability to translate ancient texts like prophets of old.  It was Joseph Smith’s seer stone that helped him translate what we now have as the Book of Mormon.     After Joseph Smith’s death his wife Emma Smith was remarried (Emma Smith Bidamon) and gave the following account of Joseph’s use of the stones during the translation process.

“Now the first that my husband translated, [the book] was translated by use of the Urim, and Thummim, and that was the part that Martin Harris lost, after that he used a small stone, not exactly, black, but was rather a dark color.”[6]

Joseph Smith jr.
Another account of Joseph’s use of the seer stones was given by David Whitmer one of the original three witnesses of the Book of Mormon who described how Joseph Smith would use the stone to translate. 

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” [7]

So the visions the seer stone and the similar understanding and teachings of the spirit world were not the only things that these two leaders had in common.  They were similar in death as well.  Both were not captured before being killed or martyred but they turned themselves in.  Joseph and his brother Hyrum were shot at Carthage Jail and Crazy Horse was stabbed with a bayonet during a scuffle at Fort Robinson.  Both deaths are shrouded in controversy.  On the disposal of Crazy Horses body Black Elk recounts the following,

“When it was day, Crazy Horse’s father and mother brought him over to our camp in a wagon. Then they put him in a box…They fastened the box on a pony drag and went away alone toward the east and north…the old people never would tell where they took the body of their son.”[8]

Sketch of Crazy Horse by Mormon Missionary
Upon the death of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum their bodies were taken back to Nauvoo IL the next day in a wagon where they were cleaned and examined.  On June 29th 1844 there was a public viewing after which the empty coffins weighted with sandbags were used to avoid any theft or destruction at the public burial.  The coffins with the actual bodies of the brothers were first buried under the Nauvoo House only to later be moved and reburied under an out-building on the Smith homestead.

It can be seen that both Joseph Smith and Crazy Horse lived very separate and different lives that in many ways seem to have mirrored each other in certain aspects and they each have left their influence on the future generations of their people and followers.  It is interesting that a Mormon missionary in 1934 after investigating Crazy Horses sister made the above referenced sketch of Crazy Horse.  Upon completion Crazy Horses sister claimed the depiction was accurate.

[1] Niehardt John G. Black Elk Speaks pg 85
[2] Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, Pg. 310
[3] Teachings, page. 326
[4] LDSLiving Magazine, Life After Death: 6 Insights into the Spirit world 11/17/2014
[5] D&C 77:2
[6] Emma Smith Bidamon to Emma Pilgrim, 27 March 1870, “Early Mormon Documents, 1:532.
[7] David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.
[8] Niehardt John G. Black Elk Speaks pages 143-144.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Early Formation of Maya Sedentary Life and the Combination of Book ofMormon Populations

Ceibal Guatemala
So in the wee hours of the morning while going through my nightly routine of surfing the internet before dozing off into oblivion I happened across an interesting article on entitled, “Archaeologists Discover Clues to Early Formation of Maya Sedentary Life”.  I mean what screams I should lose more sleep like “Maya Sedentary Life”?   My thoughts exactly!

In the article Takeshi Inomata from the University of Arizona and his international team (who have been collecting this data since 2005) have evaluated “detailed stratigraphic and ceramic data, along with an analysis of radiocarbon dates, to develop a detailed, “high-resolution” chronology of Ceibal (Seibal)”.  Ceibal is part of the Mayan lowlands and was originally built around 950 BC in Guatemala.  In this chronology they have been studying how small mobile forager groups combined into larger communities.  

The common thought process is that these smaller mobile groups stayed separate and maintained their own community.   The data collected by Inomata suggests otherwise and states that ceremonial complexes built during this time period were few and far between and only existed in a number of important communities in the Mayan lowlands.  It also suggests that the ceremonies performed and the building of the ceremonial complexes were the cause of the gathering of these mobile forager groups and tribes into one location.  This gathering resulted into the development of larger sedentary communities.  In his own words Inomata stated, 

"It is probable that public ceremonies, as well the construction of ceremonial complexes, provided opportunities for groups with different lifestyles to gather and collaborate," He also stated that "Such collective activities possibly played a central role in facilitating social integration among diverse participants and eventually, in spreading more sedentary ways of life."

Takashi Inomata’s Ceibal research is quite comparable to the combination of the Nephite community under the leadership of the first King Mosiah and the Mulekites in the Land of Zarahemla as noted in Omni 1:15-19 around 300 BC.  Here we have two smaller communities combining to form one larger community.  It is interesting that King Mosiah from the smaller Nephite community became the king over all the Nephites and Mulekites but this is another discussion for another day.  

Sorenson Book of Mormon Geography Map
In John Sorenson’s Mormon’s Codex he proposes that the modern day site for the ancient Zarahemla would be Santa Rosa Guatemala in the central depression of Chiapas.  The area and timing of Santa Rosa fits the Book of Mormon’s description and history of Zarahemla.  It was a small society that was influenced by the Olmec which is exactly what would be expected if the Mulekites had been influenced by the surrounding culture of the remaining Jaredites when they arrived.  Its history technically dates back to 1000 BC so when the Nephites combined with the Mulekites they are entering into an community that already has an existing structure but the history of Santa Rosa show signs of further development during the late Preclassic time period.  

It is during this growth time period that Sorenson notices an interesting occurrence on one of the temple mounds from that area. He quotes Agustin Delgado (Delgado, Agustin. Archaeological Research at Santa Rosa, Chiapas and in the Region of Tehuantepec. BYU, New World Archaeological Foundation. 1965, p. 79) who said:

"The plaster floor continued in both trench extensions. In contact with it, both above and below, was a thin layer of gravel. That below was of different natures to either side of the medial line of the temple. To the north it was composed of larger fragments of broken stone, while to the south it was natural gravel. The difference was probably due to different sources of material." (Delgado 1965, p. 29).

Another archaeologist working at Santa Rosa expanded the analysis of this unusual gravel sub-floor: "To the north the gravel was broken and to the south it was rounded. I supervised that excavation and, upon noting the difference, carefully searched the gravel, finding no mixture whatever. Not only does the difference suggest two sources of materials but it may be taken to imply two separate groups, each working on its section. Further, the medial line runs roughly east-west." (Brockington, Donald L. The Ceramic History of Santa Rosa, Chiapas, Mexico. BYU. New World Archaeological Foundation. 1967, p. 60-61.)

So with the findings of Delgado and Brockington as noted above, the sub-floor contained two different types of gravel that were separated by a north/south medial line and with the south gravel being a rounded type of gravel and the north gravel being a broken edgier type and upon his supervision he found absolutely no mixture in these types of gravel between the two groups.  Brockington concludes that may imply that two separate groups worked on this section of the temple mound.  This would seem to be a possible confirmation to Takeshi Inomata’s research.  Both of which also fit well with a Book of Mormon setting for the combination of the Nephites and Mulekites or people of Zarahemla.  It will take more time for more of Inomata’s findings to be published and available to the general public and these may shed more light on other ways that these migrating foraging groups combined and may also bring to light interesting insights in to other groups in the Book of Mormon that later combined such as the People of Ammon and the Nephites, Zoramites and Lamanite populations as well as smaller Nephite dissenters and Lamanites.  We will have to stay tuned for more.