Saturday, May 28, 2011

Do We Know Where the Land of Promise is Located? Part VI – Determining Distances Part I

In the last five posts the several points in a FARMS website were introduced and an evaluation of those points begun. In this post, we will deal with the comment:

4. “One of the premises is that “When an internal model is generated from the text we discover a number of significant features. First, and foremost, the Book of Mormon events took place in a limited geography.”

It is always interesting when one of these theorists try to show how fair they are, and the first thing they say is something that is totally inaccurate and completely biased. Nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it say or even suggest that “a limited geography” area was involved. Naturally, the geography was smaller than an entire continent, but not as small as the current size of Israel as many claim.

An internal map shows that the only distance we can ever determine to some extent is that distance Alma’s group traveled from the City of Nephi to the City of Zarahemla, which, as can be seen, is a small area within the Land of Promise

The fact is, we cannot determine the size of the Land of Promise, nor is its size even intimated other than it appearing to be a long and narrow land. The closest we can come to understanding this is the statement made by Mormon in Alma when he describes the Land of Promise, beginning with the Land of Nephi which “was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by “a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” and thus “were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided.”

There were Lamanites on the west in the Land of Nephi as far south as “in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore.” Now to the north was the Land of Zarahemla all the way northward “even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” which land “bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed.”

The land went from the East Sea to the West Sea, making it narrower than its length, and at one point was narrow enough, that a small neck of land “was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea” (Alma 22:27-32).

From this very complete description, there is no way to determine distances. Travel time between areas, such as First Landing to the City of Nephi was “many days” travel (2 Nephi 5:7), “Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore” (Ether 9:3), and speaking of the length a king served, “having seen exceedingly many days, which were full of sorrow” (Ether 9:15), and “Corom did that which was good in the sight of the Lord all his days; and he begat many sons and daughters; and after he had seen many days he did pass away” (Ether 10:17). Limhi’s 43-man expedition that traveled far to the north “they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days” (Mosiah 8:8. The first group that traveled from Zarahemla toward the City of Nephi camped “after many days' wandering in the wilderness” (Mosiah 9:4). Alma hid near the Waters of Mormon “concealed for many days” where he wrote all the words of Abinadi (Mosiah 17:4). “After many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma” (Mosiah 18:7).

It seems obvious that “many days” is a term that could mean just about any time length. In some cases it is used for a short time frame: Alma “fasted and prayed many days” (Alma 5:46), and in others, more than 80 years: “And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory” (Alma 9:26). Sometimes, it is implied as when Mosiah fled this city and discovered Zarahemla “they departed out of the land into the wilderness, as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord; and they were led by many preachings and prophesyings. And they were admonished continually by the word of God; and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness, until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:13).

(See the next post, “Do We Know Where the Land of Promise is Located? Part VII – Determining Distances Part II,” for a further understanding of the fallacy of determining distances in the Land of Promise)

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