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I saw wars between the Nephites and Lamanites (two of the peoples whose history is related in the Book of Mormon), culminating in a pitched battle on an open plain. The battle ended when the Lamanites escaped into what looked like a vast tropical forest, at which point the Nephites gave up the pursuit.
The narrator or guide (a disembodied voice that often accompanies such dreams) said, "And so they believed that the Lamanites had escaped into the wilderness, but . . ." The camera zoomed out to an aerial view, revealing that the "vast forest" was in fact a tiny island of woodland, an acre or two at the largest, in the middle of an enormous grassland.
"So," I said, addressing the voice, "the Lamanites never made it to America at all."
"That's right. Only Nephites. The Lamanites were presumably all eaten by Tyrannosauruses. It is highly probable that not a single one survived."
Thus ended the dream, and thus began my hypnopompic, and later waking, attempts to make sense of it.
"The Lamanites never made it to America at all" seems an odd statement, since on the conventional reading of the Book of Mormon the Lamanites originated in America and never lived anywhere else. However, I had recently read Ralph Olsen's book The Malay Peninsula as the Setting for the Book of Mormon, which argues for pretty much what it says on the tin, and the dream was presumably influenced by that alternative understanding. Olsen hypothesizes that representatives of the various Book of Mormon peoples (not only Lamanites) eventually made it to the Americas by way of Polynesia, but that the Book of Mormon narrative itself takes place entirely in Asia. (I will perhaps post a review of Olsen later.)
Now, about those Tyrannosauruses.
First of all, being eaten by Tyrannosauruses is hardly consistent with never making it to America, since I believe that genus of dinosaur was confined to the continent of Laramidia, now part of North America, and never existed anywhere in what was to become the Old World. And of course, there's the little problem that there were no Lamanites to eat until about 65 million years after the extinction of the Tyrannosaurs. Anyway, let us grant the premise that there were "Tyrannosauruses" of some sort in the area and proceed.
It is implied that if the Lamanites had in fact escaped to a large forest, they would have been safe, and that their being eaten by Tyrannosauruses was a result of their unwittingly entering a tiny wood instead. I suppose it would be quite difficult for something as large and bulky as a Tyrannosaurus to navigate a dense forest and that they would have hunted only on the plains. In a wood too small to support them, though, the Lamanites would have had no choice but to venture out onto the plain, where they would have been picked off by Tyrannosauruses until there were none left.
But if the forest was the only safe place, and if to venture onto the Tyrannosaurus-infested plains was death, how to explain the fact that the Nephite-Lamanite battle had been fought on the plain -- and that the Nephites apparently felt safe on the plain and were afraid to pursue the Lamanites into the forest?
It is tempting to conclude that the Nephites were the Tyrannosauruses. Nephiim (Nephites) is awfully close to nephilim (giants), and we know that their progenitor Nephi was "large in stature" (1 Nephi 2:16, 4:31) and that a Nephite was normally much stronger than a Lamanite (Helaman 4:24). (See more here.) It is also said of certain Nephites that "like dragons did they fight" (Mosiah 20:11). Could "Tyrannosaurus" be a metaphorical way of saying "Nephite"? Still, while Nephites would certainly kill Lamanites, we can hardly believe that they ate them. And in the Book of Mormon it is of course the Lamanites that annihilate the Nephites, not the other way round.
If the Tyrannosauruses were more or less just that -- large dinosaur-like predators (in the spirit of "horses can be tapirs," perhaps they were late-surviving specimens of Gastornis xichuanensis or something of the sort) -- then we can only assume that they didn't mess with Nephites, perhaps because Nephites were larger and stronger than Lamanites and had superior weaponry. But if the Nephites were sufficiently badass to walk among Tyrannosaurs with impunity, how is it that they were afraid to pursue the Lamanites into the forest? Well, the Lamanites were born and bred in that briar patch, and perhaps the Nephites would have been no match for them on their home turf. Or, depending on just how large the Nephites were, they may have found the forest impassable for much the same reasons that the Tyrannosaurs did.