Sunday, January 30, 2011

Is Baja Choice Above All Other Lands? Part II

Continuing with the previous post, Rosenvall has set three criteria as his most important factors to determine the Land of Promise. In the last post the first, being “choice above all other lands” was covered. In this post, the second point is listed. As Rosenvall wrote:

“The second area is scale. The scale of the Book of Mormon lands, as measured in days of travel, must match actual distances within any proposed location on the earth’s surface.”

This is a favorite concept among all theorists it seems. They love to gauge travel times in the scriptural record and equate it to distances. However, there is not a single incident in the entire Book of Mormon where two distinct travel points can equate to a specific time. The only one that even comes close is the 21 days it took Alma and his group to travel to Zarahemla. All theorists consider that it took this 21 days to travel from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla. However, the record shows they did not start out from the city of Nephi, but the Waters of Mormon, which “was in the borders of the land” (Mosiah 18:30-31). From here “they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness” (Mormon 18:34).

Nor does the record show that they arrived after 21 days of travel at the city of Zarahemla, for as Mormon wrote of Alma after having traveled nine days already: “And after they had been in the wilderness twelve days they arrived in the land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 24:25)

That is, they “arrived in the LAND of Zarahemla.” Since we do not know how far the borders of the land were from the city of Zarahemla, nor how far the Waters of Mormon were from the city of Nephi, we can do no more than calculate that the distance between the borders and the waters took 21 days.

But even so, how long would it take about four hundred and fifty people (Mosiah 18:34) with their tents, and probably some provisions and maybe even flocks, to travel in a day? The Mormon pioneers coming from Far West to Salt Lake valley were said to have average 8 miles per day. That would make the waters of Mormon 168 miles from the borders of the land of Zarahemla. On the other hand, it is also said the pioneers average about 11 miles per day across the flat plains, making their travel time in the mountains far less than 8 miles per day.

On a level, unobstructed plain, it is said that a person could average about 2.5 miles an hour. Over a twelve-hour period, that would be 30 miles in a day (making the distance above about 630 miles). Scaling mountains, cliffs, and other terrain, could reduce that travel time to less than a mile per hour, or about 10 miles a day (a distance of about 210 miles). Fording streams, looking for sand bars to cross, building any kind of rafts, bridges, or other physical needs, could reduce travel time considerably. Going uphill would slow one down, going down hill might speed up the pace.

The question is, how can anyone know how far a person or group could travel in a day when we do not know the type of terrain crossed, nor the specific difficulties encountered?

The answer is obvious. This cannot be determined. We can assume the distance traveled averaged so many miles in a day, but that is merely an assumption—and as such, not qualified to determine distances to any degree at all.

In addition, even if the distance between the city of Nephi and the city of Zarahemla could be determined, that would not help to know how far it was from the city of Nephi to the land of first inheritance in the south (Lehi’s landing place), nor how far it was from the city of Zarahemla to the city of Bountiful. Nor do we even know how far the city of Bountiful was from the narrow neck of land, nor how far that narrow neck was from the Land of Desolation. Nor do we know how far it was from that narrow neck to the Land of Many Waters.

Nor do we know how far it was from the East Sea to the West Sea. We only know that the narrow neck of land could be crossed in a day and a half by a Nephite, presumably on foot—which makes that distance about 25 to 30 miles average 2.5 miles per hour for about 12 hours, or 50 to 60 miles in 24 hours (1 ½ days of travel time). On the other hand, if the terrain was mountainous, we are looking at about 1 mile per hour average, which brings that distance down to about 25 miles.

As one can see, the variables involved in trying to place distances of travel and mileage involved is impossible to calculate with the little information known from the scriptural record. Presumably, and it seems almost certain from the record, that the Land of Promise was much longer north to south, than east to west. But other than that, no distances can be calculated with any degree of accuracy.

Therefore, “the scale of the Book of Mormon lands, as measured in days of travel, must match actual distances within any proposed location on the earth’s surface” is of no value whatsoever. If someone tries this, they are merely guessing, and when such guesses are driven by a need to prove a model, then they are completely worthless.

(See the next post, “Is Baja Choice Above All Other Lands? Part III,” for the other criteria Rosenvall has set for the Land of Promise, including the river Sidon)

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