Friday, September 6, 2013

Confusion About Book of Mormon Geography – Part II

Continuing with F. Richard Hauck’s explanations why confusion occurs in reading Mormon’s geography of the Book of Mormon. The last item covered in the previous post was about Chiasms. To continue with that issue, you will want to read the last part of the previous post again before continuing below:
Since we could find no confusion brought about by changing Chiasm writing into English paragraph format, let us now turn to Hauk’s reference to Alma. First of all, while several chiasms appear in Alma, none suggest that Alma 22 is one. From a simple chiasm in Alma 37:34, “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth, yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God,” to the far more involved, such as Alma 29:8-17, and Alma 41:13-15, and what some call his masterpiece, Alma 36. In addition, there are chiasms in Nephi, Mosiah, and Helaman.
According to John W. Welch, who some consider the man that discovered chiasm in the Book of Mormon, “There is only one significant example of Chiasmus by Mormon: the outline of the Book of Mosiah,” though there are many passages in Mormon’s abridgement that exhibit chiastic character, mainly in selections quoted by Mormon from other sources, such as in Helaman 6:7-13. Actually, a careful analysis of the scriptural writing suggests that the majority of the chiastic passages were written by three authors: Nephi, Benjamin, and Alma. Notable also are the expressions of Abinadi and Amulek, the latter being dotted with simple chiastic passages. The teachings of Christ, in 3 Nephi, are rich with chiastic, as well as a wide verity of poetic structures. While the quoted writings of Isaiah are richly poetic, chiasm is rare in Isaiah. The personal writings of both Mormon and Moroni are almost barren of chiasmus.
The point is, Alma 22 does not fit into any chiasmus writing and for Hauk to suggest it does, is misleading, but that doesn’t stop him from forcing a chiasm where none exists. Hauck’s structure is of Alma: 22:27: “And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land…
(1 A)  amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about,
(2 B E F)  which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west,
(3 C)  and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla
(4 D)  by a narrow strip of wilderness,
(5 B’ F’ E’) which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore,
(6 D’) and the borders of the wilderness
(7 C’) which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla,
(8 B” E” F”) through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west—
(9 A’) and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided (Alma 22:27).
First of all, we have to define that a chiasm is found because of redundant repetition, but this verse is not repetitive. As an example, the verse tells us:
1. a proclamation went out to all the king’s people in all his land, but the counter line is about how the king’s people were divided from the Nephites, not about the proclamation, nor about how his people were dispersed throughout his land;
2. the king’s land (Land of Nephi), stretched from sea to sea, but the counter line showed how the narrow strip of wilderness ran from sea to sea and the narrow strip was not in the Land of Nephi but adjacent to it;
3. the narrow strip of wilderness separated the king’s land from the land of Zarahemla (Nephite land),  but the counter line is about the northern portion of boundary of the narrow strip;
4. the narrow strip of wilderness is repeated, but the counter line is about the borders;
5. the central line (it has no counter line and should have one that repeats this line) is not related to any other line, but simply a continuation of the line before it.
For this to have been a chiasm statement, it would have to have been worded something like:
1. The king sent out a proclamation
2. to all his people in all his land round about
3. that bordered even to the sea on the east and west
4. which was divided from the Land of Zarahemla
5. by a narrow strip of wilderness which also ran from sea to sea
6. and divided the Land of Nephi from that of
7. Zarahemla, it being divided from the king’s land and
8. extending to the sea east and the sea west
9. round about the land to all the people
10. thus the proclamation was sent out by the king.
However, Alma 22:27 is not written that way and is not a chiasm as Hauck claims because it is not a repetition of the same description, but a series of progressive descriptions that do not repeat themselves. That is, the Land of Nephi ran from sea to sea, the narrow strip of wilderness ran from sea to sea, the Lamanites were divided from the Nephites by this wilderness—the reintroduction of this wilderness has to do with a completely different topography, the borders of Manti and the river Sidon.
The point is, Hauck can claim this topography is hard to understand, but it is not, and no introduction of a non-existent chiasm is going to change that.
Hauck Many people interested in understanding the setting of the Book of Mormon want a quick fix.”
Response: Usually, people want to better understand what Mormon writes. It is not a quick fix, but a simple understanding of a simple set of directions. The problem arises when people like Hauck, Sorenson, and all the other Mesoamericanists try to make simple things complicated by introducing concepts not contained in Mormon’s writing. Through this confusion of conflicting concepts (simple language vs. complicated non-existence concepts), people lose interest because it makes no sense to them (north-south directions changed to east-west maps with long, confusing, and unreasonable explanations, etc.). If they would stick to the simple explanations of simple writing (north means “toward the north”), people would become quite excited about the geography.
(See the next post, “Confusion About Book of Mormon Geography – Part III,” for more of F. Richard Hauck’s explanations why confusion occurs in reading Mormon’s geography of the Book of Mormon)

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