Most critics of the Book of Mormon believe that Joseph (or the mysterious group of contemporaries who never revealed themselves) were inspired by their native surroundings in their production of the Book of Mormon. In fact, in recent years a map of BoM lands placed in a Great Lakes setting has gained considerable popularity with anti-mormon critics. A popular theory is that Joseph was inspired by tales of North American moundbuilders as imagined the characters and storylines in the BoM.
John Sorenson points out a small detail, among much more that could be said, that demonstrates that the author of the Book of Mormon was not assuming the environmental norms of the northeastern United States.
And is it reasonable for a man living in upper New York State who is supposedly drawing upon his own experience of the physical environment to produce a book that fails to mention “cold,” “snow,” or “ice” in the climate of the ” promised land,” or for him to write of oppressive heat at New Year’s (see Alma 51:33 and 52:1)?
This can be read here, in footnote #3 : http://farms.byu.edu/publications/books/?b…&chapid=196
Here are the relevant verses:
33 And it came to pass that when the night had come, Teancum and his servant stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah; and behold, sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day.
34 And it came to pass that Teancum stole privily into the tent of the king, and put a javelin to his heart; and he did cause the death of the king immediately that he did not awake his servants.
1 And now, it came to pass in the *twenty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, behold, when the Lamanites awoke on the first morning of the first month, behold, they found Amalickiah was dead in his own tent; and they also saw that Teancum was ready to give them battle on that day.
Was this a convenient slip of the pen? Did Joseph have in mind Mesoamerica all along? Did “the-ever-increasing-in-wisdom-and-knowledge-in-the-eyes-of-his-critics-esteemed-professor” Joseph fool us again?
Is this a bulls-eye? Is this evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon? Is this evidence that the author of the Book of Mormon had in mind an geographical region in which the climate offered hot days around the new year?
My friend Andrew Miller pointed out to me that the Maya considered the first day of the year to be a sacred day, a day important to kings. Another friend at MADB pointed me to Michael Coe’s words on the subject:
“Within the Haab, there were 18 named “months” of 20 days each, with a much-dreaded interval of 5 unlucky days added at the end. The Maya New year started with 1 Pop, the next day being 2 Pop, etc. The final day of the month, however, carried not the coefficient 20, but a sign indicating the “seating” of the month to follow, in line with the Maya philosophy that the influence of any particular span of time is felt before it actually begins and persists somewhat beyond its apparent termination.”The Maya, 7th edition, pg 62.
The online poster who originally cited Coe went to say:
Lets say that the first day of the lamanite year was called “cheechee”. Amalikiah was killed on the 20th day of the previous month , which would have been the “seating of cheechee”. So if your king gets killed on the seating of cheechee, what does that tell you about the month of cheechee?
In other words, Teancum was waging some serious spiritual and philosophical warfare with his strategic, and very dangerous, midnight attack.
The original discussion at MADB can be read here.