Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do We Know Where the Land of Promise is Located? – Part VII – Determining Distances Part II

John L. Sorenson has determined certain distances within the Land of Promise, and thus an overall distance of the entire land. As an example he claims the distance of 180 miles from the City of Nephi to the City of Zarahemla, and another 180 miles from the City of Zarahemla to the narrow neck of land, which he claims is 75 to 125 miles across.

He arrives at a very short distance (no miles given) from the land of First Inheritance (Lehi’s landing site) to the City of Nephi stating that Nephi’s flight was of “many days.” He then measures the City of Nephi to the City of Zarahemla as 180 miles citing Alma’s 21+ day journey, and Ammon’s forty days. However, Alma’s journey was 21 days from the Waters of Mormon to the Land of Zarahemla—it doesn’t state the City of Zarahemla—and Ammon’s 40 days was “wandering” which means to travel without a certain course. Neither of these two examples are particularly helpful.

As an example, when Zeniff and his group traveled from Zarahemla to the City of Lehi-Nephi in the Land of Nephi, they “wandered” in the wilderness for forty days (Mosiah 7:4). When his grandson, Limhi, and the Nephites escaped and fled to Zarahemla, “after being many days in the wilderness they arrived in the land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 22:13)—no length of time is given that is helpful for either direction.

The only possible distance shown by days is when Alma left from near the city of Nephi and reached the Land of Zarahemla. As stated: “From the borders of the land, from a place called the waters and forest of Mormon, some distance from the city of Nephi, Alma and his 450 converts fled with their tents and their families before the armies of the king” (Mosiah 18:30-35). They traveled eight days in the wilderness (Mosiah 23:3) and settled in a land “they called the land of Helam” (Mosiah 23:19). They eventually left and traveled all day in the wilderness and stopped in a valley, calling it Alma (Mosiah 24:20). They left there immediately and traveled 12 days in the wilderness and “they arrived in the land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 24:25). Thus, they were 21 days between the Waters of Mormon and the Land of Zarahemla. However, we do not know how far from the city of Nephi lay the Waters of Mormon, or in which direction, nor do we know how far they traveled once in the Land of Zarahemla until they reached the city and Mosiah.

If we use 40 days to go 180 miles, they were traveling at 4.5 miles per day. If we take this 180 miles in 21 days, the travel speed is 8.6 miles per day. In 21+ days (22 days) it would be 8.2 miles per day. So averaging out Alma’s trip, he traveled with 450 people, including women and children, flocks and possessions, at a much greater speed than did Zeniff with a much smaller group and therefore less baggage—that does not make much sense. On the other hand, when the Mormon Pioneers came west, they averaged 14-20 miles per day (figuring the middle average of 17 miles per day). Thus, if someone took 22 days to travel, that would be about 374 miles, not 180 miles as Sorenson claims. In 40 days, that would be 968 miles. It would appear that Sorenson’s figures are self-determined to meet his model, and obviously of no value.

Thus, we cannot draw conclusions from any of this as to set any type of distance whatsoever. To do so is merely an assumption often borne of an interest to limit the distance to a known model of the Land of Promise. So, when Sorenson says it was a land of “limited geography,” he is simply making up his own mind and violates his own stated premise to “approach the textual elements of geography as bias-free as possible.”

(See the next post, “Do We Know Where the Land of Promise is Located-Part VIII,” for more comments on the website quoted above and an understanding of Mormon’s Map)

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