Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Land Southward Nearly Surrounded by Water

Joseph L. Allen, long time advocate of Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise (See Part II, Chapters 1-7, of Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists) as posted by Kirk Magleby on the Book of Mormon website, the following map is supposed to outline the area of the Land Southward and show that it was “nearly surrounded by water
According to “Book of Mormon Resources” website, this is the Land Southward that was “nearly surrounded by water”
In Alma 22:32, Mormon, in attempting to clarify the appearance and of the Land Southward to the future reader, states that “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water.” Thus, the above website talks about “the perimeter outlined in red is 11.69% land and 88.31% salt water coastline,” claiming “this is indeed what Mormon had in mind in his mental map of the land southward.”
The problem with such thinking, and all thinking that tries to change the meaning of the scriptural record, is that they have a pre-determined location in mind—Mesoamerica—thus, to a pre-determined mind, this makes sense. However, it is not what Mormon wrote.
First of all, Mormon begins that statement with the words: “And now, it 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” telling us his intent in this 32nd verse was in talking about there being a narrow neck of land. How wide was the narrow neck of land? It was the width of a day and a half journey for a Nephite. Then he goes on to tell us that this narrow neck of land was all that kept the entire Land Southward, which he described in the previous verses, from being completely surrounded by water. That is, the Land Southwared was nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck of land.
Mormon, if we follow his insertion of this land description, begins in verse 27. At that point, he was abridging Alma’s record of Aaron’s conversion of the Lamanite king. The king then invited Aaron and his brethren with him to preach to the king’s subjects that were present, then Mormon tells us that the Lamanite king sent a proclamation throughout all the land of the Lamanites: “throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27).
At this point, so the future reader can get a clear picture of how vast the Land of the Lamanites was, Mormon describes the boundaries of their land, then includes the boundaries of the Nephite lands, and how the two lands were divided by a strip of wilderness.
We need to keep in mind that at this point in the Nephite record, which was between 90 and 77 B.C., about 23 to 36 years before Alma tells us that many Nephites went north into the Land Northward (Alma 63:9) and about 31 to 44 years before Helaman tells us that a great many Nephites went into the Land Northward to “inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3).
In 90 to 77 B.C., the vast majority of Nephite were settled in the Land Southward, and the entire scriptural record from the time of first landing (about 587 B.C.) to that point in time, nearly 500 years, had taken place in the Land Southward, and most of that in the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Before this time, the Land of Bountiful had never been mentioned, and not until Alma 27:22 is it used in the context of a land inhabited by the Nephites, which was about 77 B.C.
Consequently, it can only be concluded that when Mormon is inserting the description of the land in Alma 22, his intent and purpose is to basically describe the Land Southward, and mostly the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Thus, at this point, he tells us the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, which he had clearly described, and that both ran from sea to sea across the width of the land, as well as the narrow strip of wilderness, he tells us this entire area was surrounded by water except for a "narrow neck of land" (the first we know of this area) that separated the Land Southward from the Land Northward.
This narrow neck of land was all that kept the entire Land Southward from being surrounded by water. And this is verified when we read Jacob’s description of the entire Land of Promise described around 559 to 545 B.C. “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20-italics added).
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language (Webster and Joseph Smith both lived and grew up in New England around the same time), an isle is described as “a track of land surrounded by water, a detached portion of land embosomed in the ocean.”
Consequently, the image above of Mesoamerica and the red area outlined, could not possibly be considered the Land Southward, even if its perimeter is 88.31% water—the Land Southward was part of an island, and completely surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land—a narrow neck Mesoamerica does not have! And no amount of trying to change meaning, alter wordage, or claim “Mormon was confused” can change that simple fact.
It might also be noted that Mormon’s words: “nearly surrounded by water” should be understood to mean “almost, within a little” according to the 1828 dictionary mentioned above. That is, the Land Southward was “almost, within a little” surrounded by water. The word “nearly” suggests “closeness, a small distance” according to Webster, thus, the map above shows two distances, that are not really that close. That is, each of the two distances represent the basic width of the area outlined except for the Yucatan bulge. Stated differently, 144 miles across on the west side is hardly suggestive of a day and a half travel for a Nephite, nor is the 180 miles on the east of this outlined area.
Also, regarding the map, there is one additional comment that is easily recognizable. Mormon tells us: “Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful. And it 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” (Alma 22:29-30).
Mormon makes it clear that the Land of Promise ran, south to north, with the Land of Npehi, the narrow strip of wilderness, the Land of Zarahemla, the Land of Bountiful, the Land of Desolation, and the Land of Many Waters in the far north. Yet, the map below does not show Bountiful north of Zarahemla and, more importantly, the narrow neck north of that and the entire Land Northward north of that.
Same map, showing the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla. What is not shown is that Bountiful, or the narrow neck and Land Northward is actually to the left (west) of Zarahemla
Same map, showing the Land Northward to the west of the narrow neck, which is to the west of the Land Southward. Mormon did not describe these lands in this manner in Alma 22

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