There are 26 thoughts on “Zarahemla Revisited: Neville’s Newest Novel”.

  1. Pingback: Thankful for the Heartland Model – BofM.Blog

  2. Brother Neville’s books prove nothing about Mesoamerica or the Heartland being the lands of The Book of Mormon. In the book “Jesus The Christ” by Apostle James Talmage (Chapter 2, page16) we find that the land of Desolation probably was located in Mexico. In The Book of Mormon we read that the Hill Cumorah (Ramah) was located in the land of Desolation (Ether 9: 3, 15:11, and Mormon 6: 6). The Hill Cumorah where Mormon buried the Nephite records was probably in Mexico. Hence, the Heartland theory is suspect.
    In the Index of the B of M (printed in March 2012) it is written: “Sidon River, most prominent river in Nephite territory, runs north to the sea.” Brother Rod Meldrum wrote saying that he was getting “runs north to the sea” removed from the Index. Yes, it is gone. Who in SLC was authorized to make this change? This I want to know.
    Because the Sidon River runs north to the sea, the Mississippi River is not the Sidon, and the “Heartland Therory” can be discounted. Anyone that can read well can surely understand that (1) the land of Zarahemla was located north of the land of Nephi, (2)that the “head” (most likely headwaters, probably not confluence) of the River Sidon was near to Manti and the boundary line between the land of Nephi to the South and Zarahemla to the north, (3) that the city of Zarahemla was located well to the north of the “head” of the river Sidon, the land of Nephi and the city of Manti, the city of Zarahemla being located on the bank of the River Sidon (Alma 2; 24-27), (4) that it was downhill from Manti and the land of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla. (Alma 22: 17-33 and Omni 1: 13 and Alma 16: 6). Moreover, Rod Meldrum reports that it was downhill from the land of Nephi on the south to Zarahemla on the North (Meldrum, “Exploring The Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland,” p. 197). (5) that water runs downhill.
    The Sidon ran downhill to the north. The Mississippi runs south. The Mississippi does not appear to be the River Sidon.
    The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It discounts the Heartland Theory. For example. Lehi apparently landed at the west sea (Pacific Ocean), surely not at the Great Lakes and probably not on the east sea or the Gulf Coast. (Alma 22: 28). General Moroni went to the west sea (Pacific Ocean?) to fight the Lamanites (Alma 52: 11), then he went to the east sea (Atlantic Ocean?) to fight the Lamanites (Alma 51: 26 and 52: 15-19). Antipus was apparently appointed by General Moroni to lead the Nephite armies on the west sea (Alma 56: 9&31). General Moroni probably could not have traveled from the west sea of the USA to the east sea. He could easily have traveled across Mesoamerica.
    The land of Nephi “was divided by a narrow strip of wilderness that ran even from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22: 27). If the Heartland of the USA contained the land of Zarahemla, and if the city of Zarahemla is located at Zarahemla, Iowa across the Mississippi from Nauvoo, then where is this narrow strip of wilderness located in the USA that ran from the sea east to the sea west. One will have better luck locating this narrow strip of wilderness in Mesoamerica where the Cuchumatanes mountains run in a straight line from the sea east to the sea west.
    From the time that I was a boy, Mormons have taught me that the Heartland is the right place and that the Hill Cumorah is in New York. Supporters of the Heartland Theory, refer to Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, President Hinckley’s secretary, Orson Pratt, and others, and they believe that these people support their Heartland Theory.
    I have a letter from Apostle, Dallin Oaks. His letter tells me that the Church has no position as to the location of the lands of The Book of Mormon. This being the case, then the writings of historic Church leaders on the location of the lands in question cannot be revelation. The Book of Mormon is revelation, and it describes the lands of The Book of Mormon. Read it, quote it, and learn the truth. This I have done. I have underlined every verse in this book that refers to the lands in question. I am convinced beyond any doubt that Mesoamerica is the place where Zarahemla was located.
    I have written a booklet on this subject. I am Eldon V Guymon.

  3. This is not Science yet. Please show us where to look, and I think many of us will scurry about to corroborate your claim.
    Many of your readers will suppose that you used good (stylometric) science to claim that Joseph Smith wrote the Times and Seasons articles and that Benjamin Winchester did not. However there is no such such thing as science without corroboration. Also, there is no such thing as pure science without some amount of art.
    An example from my field of expertise is: Einstein claimed that gravity would bend light. He used good science (by logical reasoning). He told everyone where to look: at stars near the sun, but block the sun with the moon so it doesn’t wash out the near stars. That was good art, because the effect is so small no one could measure it in a lab. Einsteins claim sent hundreds of scientists from many nations scurrying all over the earth to get in good position for the next solar eclipse to take pictures of stars near the sun. All of them corroborated Einsteins claim.
    Here is another science/art example: I found that Neville appeared 180 times in your article and Winchester appeared 128 times. My conclusion is that you are more interested in Neville than you are in Winchester. Good Science: I used Microsoft Find. Bad art: I did not filter out the comment sections. My conclusion is not science. It is merely an Inference (art). But I showed you where I looked, so you can correct (or corroborate) my error of including comments. You can also make your own evaluation whether my conclusion is science or not.
    Einstein has hundreds (maybe thousands) of scientific corroborating tests. You have zero.
    Your claim and Einsteins are both monumental. Show us where you looked. Show us the art you used to select data and parameters. I for one (and I believe others) will scurry about to evaluate whether you used good art for data and parameter selection and whether the science of good stylometry will find corroboration.

  4. I’m glad there is a forum like Mormon Interpreter where these things can be talked about, and I respect the attention to detail that went into these three articles. I really appreciate the high level of LDS scholarship that these articles represent and defend. Speculating about the location of Book of Mormon sites is a time-honored armchair pastime, but to seriously contribute to the body of knowledge, ‘heartlanders’ are going to need to do more than pull conspiracy theories out of the air and accuse those who oppose them of lack of belief. To those who think Roper et al are coming down too hard on Neville, you have to understand that he has openly questioned their own academic integrity and misconstrued their research in print. These articles are (patiently, in my opinion) defending their reputations and research as good scholars should.

  5. Richard, can you give us any examples of Roper’s supposed intolerance, vindictiveness, superiority, or attacks on Neville’s character?

    • Mike… You might take a glance at Roper’s final conclusive paragraph. The intolerance, vindictiveness and superiority are all displayed in the last two sentences. Or perhaps I have a preconceived bias? Roper seems to have an eye for such things… 🙂

  6. This appears to me to be an extension of the well known “shoot the messenger because we do not like the message” scenario.
    Here I see two different messengers with two different messages. Some now want to shoot one of the messengers and accept the other messenger’s message. The decision as to which messenger they shoot is based on their own interpretation of the personal relationship between, and possible motives of, the two individual messengers. Just like the single messenger version of this scenario, the personal relationship or motives of the messengers is irrelevant–the message alone has value.
    Of course the message here is the data with its subsequent interpretation and analysis. So forget about the messengers. Consider both messages and then pick which is the strongest and most compelling. We can let both messengers return home without shooting one of them.

    • Andres,
      Can you give any examples of where Roper, Fields, and Bassist have “shot the messenger” in their article? I see nothing here but an attempt to deal with Mr. Neville’s data and methodology.

      • Hi Mike,
        I guess I didn’t articulate my thoughts very well in my post–sorry about that.
        I was not implying that Roper, Fields, and Bassist were doing the shooting–they are one of the messengers and Mr. Neville is the other messenger. Each messenger has his own message with its associated data and methodology. The picture I was trying to paint was that Mr. Winwood appeared to be doing the shooting. He was aiming at the messenger (Roper et al) while ignoring just how compelling and strong their message actually was.
        Mr. Winwood did not comment regarding the messenger’s (Roper et al) message, so he is not shooting the messenger because he doesn’t like his message. But it seemed to me that he was shooting the messenger because he felt the messenger had an unprofessional attitude, ulterior motives, and a ‘smug disrespect’ for the other messenger.

        • Let me further clarify my above clarification.
          Reading this series of articles I did *not* get the impression that Roper et al “had an unprofessional attitude, ulterior motives, and a ‘smug disrespect’ for the other messenger” but Mr. Winwood appears to have that opinion.
          It was obvious that Roper et al were enjoying themselves in pointing out the weakness of Mr. Neville’s data and methodology. It was likewise obvious that they have a deep emotional connection with their research. But to me this is precisely what makes these articles so enjoyable to read, or perhaps even ‘entertaining’ to read.
          Many of the academic articles I read are so dry and without emotion that I wonder if the author really believes his own conclusions, or whether he even enjoys his work. I personally enjoy the read much more when I can sense the author’s excitement and emotional commitment to the presentation.
          Mr. Winwood appears to object to Roper et al showing excitement–and expressing that excitement–at finding weaknesses in Mr. Neville’s data and methodology. I personally do not have a problem with that. Anytime someone presents stronger data–whether in support of a theory or against a theory–we are getting closer to the truth, and therefore it should be a time for excitement.

        • Please let me clarify a few points. First, I do not know Jon Neville. I’ve never met him. What indirect experience I’ve had is in reading his book and seeing his replies to others on this board. I found his book interesting and even amusing at times, but not compelling. I would not recommend it to others, but I respect him for the obvious time and effort he put forth. I have respect for his conclusions as well because has a right to his conclusions even if others disagree with him. I have no reason to question Neville’s sincerity or his motives. Since I wrote my first reply to this article I’ve learned a few things about Neville’s negative proclivities as well. Turns out we are all a bit more human than benefits us at times.
          Roper’s reply to what he feels are inadequacies in Neville’s research or methodologies are fair enough and adequate to make the points necessary. I don’t know any more about Roper than I know about Neville, but I sense a personal intolerance for Neville in Roper’s expressions toward him that go beyond the subject at hand. It was vindictive. This isn’t about data, heart landers, or Winchester. It’s about Roper and Neville. It’s pretty obvious that they don’t much like each other – and that is my point. The Interpreter should not be the place for such public interpersonal battles. What I find discomfort with is Roper’s overly heavy handed denunciation of Neville’s character. This accompanied by the insinuation that Roper is simply superior to Neville by virtue of his academic position and supported by ‘genuine scholarship’ (read academician) which implies that his opinions are more valuable or worthy than someone less academic. Again, I feel that this kind of personally damaging dialog diminishes this forum.

  7. Thank you. I fail to understand Winwood’s angst. If you are going to assert unsupportable things, be prepared to be called on it. I fail to see the merit in letting someone get away with making unsustainable claims.

    • When people cannot respond to arguments, they tend to claim that the argument has not been expressed nicely enough.
      Neville has misrepresented and mischaracterized Roper, Fields, and others’ stylometry work. He has also misrepresented his interaction with Roper, as Roper has described elsewhere.
      It is not a “lynch mob” or rudeness to set the record straight.
      If such data make Neville look bad–and I agree it doesn’t make him look particularly good–that is his fault, not the fault of those who are providing the data.

  8. I’m not questioning the methodology, I’m actually looking for more analysis to back up the BofM. From what I remembered, this class of studies were fairly conclusive that the Book of Mormon was filled with multiple authors; I was hoping that that conclusion was still out there.
    What would be interesting is to combine this kind of research with the early modern english stuff that’s come out recently. Put it all together and shake and see what comes out.
    Like is Nephi’s voice a strong Early modern one while Alma has very little, that kind of thing. Maybe academic, but could be interesting.
    In any case, a fascinating article!

  9. Vance:
    The problem is not with what Roper, Fields and Bassist have demonstrated. It is, instead, with the ideology that drives Rodney Meldrum and Jonathan Neville. You should, as Paul Fields has pointed out, being paying attention to genuine scholarship. The footnotes in this essay should be helpful, as Paul has pointed out, to research on authorship and the Book of Mormon.

    • Thanks for your interest, Louis. You might also want to see my comments on my interpreterpeerreviews blog, since the Interpreter won’t let me post them here.

  10. I am sorry, but this is a total smack down. Neville’s book? Fiction it is!
    Outside of the snuffing out of a falsity, I do have a question: what happens when the same research is done to the Book of Mormon? I recall a decade or so ago various word print studies, but I haven’t seen anything more recent.
    I would love to read an article on the Book of Mormon and stylometric analysis as well.

    • We have done several studies on Book of Mormon stylometrics. Please refer to the articles from 2011-2012 cited in endnotes 21 and 23 in this article.
      We have several more articles nearing publication. I would be happy to provide you with summaries of each of the studies, and I would be happy to discuss any stylometric question you may have about the Book of Mormon.

        • Jon,
          Are you referring to Earl Wunderli, author of the anti-Mormon work ‘An Imperfect Book: What the Book of Mormon Tells Us about Itself’?
          Are you now taking to accepting and using arguments from critics of the Book of Mormon?
          How odd.

    • Not really a smack down, Vince, more like a lynch mob. I’ve followed these articles and responses since the beginning and, as a long-time supporter of the NMI and now the Interpreter, have been both alternatively disgusted and ashamed with and for those involved. This is a clear case of career academics going out of their way (apparently at great expense) to put down the conclusions of another (less worthy) researcher/writer. I could see in my minds’ eye the three exulted ones jumping around in a circle giving each other high-fives and they completed their “smack down.” Just three Christian guys rejoicing over discrediting another scholar. Ropers final paragraph was enough to put me over the top and force a comment.
      Neville has made several comments and replies on this board directly to Neville, Midgely and others. His tone is always considerate and respectful. He never attacks, belittles or makes unkind characterizations toward those who disagree with his theories. I do not know Jonathan Neville, but I think I might like him a great deal. As for Roper et al, I have no respect for their smug disrespect and ‘genuine scholarship.’
      Finally, I wonder if some sort of review of articles written for publication in Mormon Interpreter should made to ensure at least a respectful and civil dialog between contributors and those they critic. Stylometric that, Fields.

      • “Neville has made several comments and replies on this board directly to Neville, Midgely and others. His tone is always considerate and respectful. He never attacks, belittles or makes unkind characterizations toward those who disagree with his theories.”
        You should read his books. That certainly isn’t true of what I’ve read there. He has also mischaracterized others’ data and the conversations he’s had with them, as Roper has described here:
        But, ultimately, what matters is the quality of the data and arguments. If someone is rude, it may be unintentional, or it may be in the eye of the beholder, or it may suggest that they can’t respond to the data.
        Rather than speculate about motives, why don’t we focus on the evidence? That–unlike motives–is in the public domain. Even if Roper and the rest have evil motives as “career academics,” does it really matter? What matters is the data.

      • To Richard Winwood I would have to say that after having personal time with Jonathan Neville on the subject at hand, he is considerate and polite if you agree with him, but as soon as you have another point of view things change fast. Even to the point of accusing of leading people away from the Book of Mormon and the Church if you have a belief in a limited Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon. I want to say thanks to Matthew Roper for his wonderful research and insights.

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