Monday, May 16, 2011

What Happened to the East Sea?

After the Savior’s crucifixion, and the destruction outlined in 3 Nephi, the terms “East Sea” or “Sea East,” are never mentioned.

In fact, in Mormon’s writing after 34 A.D., he uses the word “seashore” in regard only to to the West Sea (Mormon 2:6; 4:3), but never the east sea. In addition, the term “narrow neck” or “small neck” is not mentioned after the destruction either, though the term narrow passage is mentioned once (Mormon 2:29), as is the narrow pass (Mormon 3:8).

Thus, it can be concluded that the east seashore was altered considerably and, evidently, no longer in existence, for it is never mentioned after 34 A.D. Before that time, the east sea or seashore was mentioned 4 times in Alma and 2 times in Helaman, with 14 references to the east seashore regarding cities built there and military engagements from the Land of Nephi to the Land of Bountiful. Thus, the East Sea was referenced 20 times before the destruction, not once after.

Consequently, for whatever reason, the activity that had been so prevalent in the east shore before the destruction, ceased after the destruction. It is as though some type of huge wall had been erected in the east, blocking off the eastern cities, seashore and East Sea at the time or directly after the destruction described in 3 Nephi regarding the time of the savior’s crucifixion.

So the question remains, what happened to the East Sea?

The simple answer is that the East Sea ceased to exist at the time or directly after the destruction. “the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 8:12).

Many Book of Mormon scholars and theorists want to lessen the destruction that took place, however, at least this major landmark, the East Sea, was altered complete, so much so that it ceased to exist in the writings of Mormon. The Disciple Nephi, and later the Lord himself, described the destruction of cities that sank into the sea, or were buried under a mountain, or sank into the earth (3 Nephi 8:9,14; 9:3-10).

During this time, mountains appeared where level land had been (3 Nephi 8:10) and cities covered over by earth (2 Nephi 9:5,8). Some of these mountains and hills were described by Samuel the Lamanite who saw in a vision “there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 23:14).

In the entire Western Hemisphere, the only mountains that can be described “whose height is great” would be the Andes of South America. As has been described in these posts, the Andes have several mountain peaks over 22,000 feet—and are the only mountains that climb sharply from near level ground, appearing even higher. In addition, the Andes are a range that were formed in very recent times, and are the youngest mountains in the Western Hemisphere. Lastly, the Andes formed along what was once the east coast of the Andean plateau, running from the middle of Chile to southern Colombia, including Ecuador, Peru and western Bolivia—an area once an island with everything to the east underwater until the South American plates emerged, bringing the eastern continent up out of the Atlantic Ocean.

In this way, the East Sea was pushed hundreds of miles to the east, to the current eastern shores of the Brazilian and Argentinian lands, and the Andes arose where the eastern seashore had once been. Indeed, a huge wall of rock and stone jutting up out of the ground, forming “mountains whose height is great.”

From this point on, Mormon writes of no eastern boundary, but of a narrow passage and pass that once existed in a narrow neck of land, now ending in the mountains instead of at the East Sea. While he personally had never seen the East Sea, he had all the records the Nephites had written about it and he knew of its earlier existence and, therefore, wrote about it in the proper time frame of its existence—during the time prior to the destruction—but never after.

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