Sunday, September 8, 2013

Confusion About Book of Mormon Geography – Part IV

Continuing with F. Richard Hauck’s explanations why confusion occurs in reading Mormon’s geography of the Book of Mormon.
Hauck: “A classic example of this type of thinking involves the concept that the Nephite and Lamanite armies marched all the way from mountains and jungles of South America through the mountains and steaming forests of Central America and the bare deserts and endless plains of North America to fight a final battle in upper New York state.”
Response: This statement is just as ridiculous as these two armies marching all the way from Mesoamerica to battle in upstate New York. But that is neither a reason to accept or reject either area since nothing in the scriptural record would lead one to believe that any army marched such distances. On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons why Mesoamerica and North America are not the locations for the Land of Promise.
Hauck: “Our preconceived notions make us blind to what’s written.”
Response: Since Hauck's Ph.D dissertation in 1975 was on “Preconquest Mayan Overland Routes on the Yucatan Peninsula and their Economic Significance,” one might conclude that his preconceived notions about Mesoamerica led him to write Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon in 1988 in which he claimed Mesoamerica was the Book of Mormon Land of Promise and set about to locate cities there, etc., and today allows no articles to appear on his BMAF website unless they deal with Mesoamerica as the Book of Mormon lands.
Hauck: “When we disagree with a verse, there is a tendency to wonder why Mormon made such an error.”
Response: Does Hauck mean when Mormon wrote that the Nephites withdrew into defensive positions for protection against the Gadianton robbers, he disagreed with Mormon claiming it was into the “center of the land” (3 Nephi 3:21,23), and he wrote: “this conflict was in the narrow neck by the west sea”? (Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, p 37.) Or when Mormon wrote that “by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east’ (Alma 50:34), he disagreed by saying “Careful analyses of all the references in the text to this topographic feature fail to identify the presence of two seas flanking the transportation corridor.  (Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, p 12). Are these and numerous other disagreements Hauck has with the scriptural record, the type of examples of disagreeing with Mormon he had in mind?
Hauck: “Almost all of the factors blinding us to what is written cannot hold us bound if we read the text, if we accept what is written as scripture from the mouth of the prophets who were there.”
Response: Good advice. Too bad Hauck didn’t follow that when he wrote: This analysis demonstrates that the "greater" land northward was actually northwest of the "greater" land southward and therefore the land southward was southeast of the homeland of the Jaredite people.  Eastward, then, in the Book of Momon context, meant northeast.  Had westward been used, it would have signified the southwestern quadrant”  (Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, p 31). After all, Mormon’s description of the Land of Promise does not talk about anything being northwest or southeast, or eastward regarding the alignment of the major land divisions and the lands mentioned within them (Alma  22:27-34). Hauck's explanation is so convoluted that it hardly makes sense, however, when compared with the scriptures, shows that it is only wishful thinking on his part to justify his Mesoamerican model which is skewed about 90º off the directional terms used in the scriptures.  As an example, in describing the land of promise, we find Alma describing the land north of Zarahemla which the Nephites controlled: "On the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful" (Alma 22:29), and "That thereby they [Lamanites] should have no more possess on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward" (Alma 22:33) 
After all, “On the north” is quite plain.  Everyone knows what "on the north" should mean.  It cannot be justified, no matter how hard Hauck and others try, to place the land "on the north" into an area to the west, or east, or south! However, regarding this, Hauck claims on page 25 in his book:
Hauck: “The Book of Mormon contains a variety of terms relating to directions and geographic locations that can be interpreted with various meanings”
Response: North, south, east, and west are used as directions: north 24 times; south 22 times; east 30 times; and west 29 times.  In each case, the use of the direction is specific and exact.  Also, the term "in the south" is mentioned once, and "in the north" is mentioned 3 times. In addition, regarding seas: Sea North is used 1time; Sea South 1time; Sea West or West Sea 12 times; Sea East or East Sea 6 times.  Also, there is mentioned 3 times the term "east to the west sea, and once the west sea to the east. As for land, the Land North is mentioned 4 times; Land South is mentioned 5 times. As for wilderness, the East Wilderness is mentioned 7 times; South Wilderness is mentioned 3 times. As for winds, the East Wind is mentioned twice, and for valleys, the West Valley is mentioned once. In addition, North countries is mentioned 5 times, and South Countries 1 time. As for borders, the term South borders is mentioned once. In addition to all of this, the scriptural record uses the terms “northward,” “southward,” “eastward,” and “westward,” which are not ambiguous terms, numerous times to depict the following: Northward 9 times; Southward 4 times; and Eastward 3 times. The term "on the northward" is mentioned twice. The Land Northward is mentioned 31 times; Land Southward 15 times; and the "land which was northward" is mentioned 4 times. Finally, the country which was southward is mentioned once.
Now, if all these very clearly stated terms “can be interpreted with various meanings” as Hauck claims, then indeed the Book of Mormon is a mass of confusion, confusing terms, and confusing descriptions. In fact, not in one single case does the term used seem ambiguous, nor do any of the words convey numerous meanings.  Northward is, after all, northward.  It was meant that way in the scriptures, for north and northward are used to describe the same movement as in Bountiful was north of Zarahemla (Alma 22:23, 29), and Bountiful was northward of Zarahemla (Alma 63:4).  The terms of direction are only confusing to those who try to use these cardinal compass points to justify an oblique land of promise, such as Mesoamerica. As an example:
•  The Nephites possessed all the land northward, yea, even all the land which was northward of the land Bountiful (Alma 50:11).  Northward of Bountiful was the land of Desolation, and Moroni refers to the land southward as all the land which was south of the land of Desolation (Alma 46:17) which shows that the term northward and north referred to the same land and direction and south as in the opposite direction—there is nothing ambiguous about that or do these two terms mean something else. 
•  All the land northward of Bountiful is also referred to as this north country (Ether 1:1) and Helaman uses this same term to describe the land northward of Zarahemla (Helaman 4:7).  Yet, Desolation is called northward of Bountiful, and the land beyond that is also called northward, thus showing that north and northward in this sense are synonymous terms and there is nothing ambiguous about that nor do these two terms mean something else.
•  Alma refers to hemming "in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward” (Alma 22:33).  This, of course, shows that the north and land northward are synonymous directions, since it would be hard to hem in someone on the north if that was not in the same direction as the land northward which you were trying to keep them from entering. There is nothing ambiguous about that nor do these terms mean something else.
•  When the fighting was over the Nephites returned to their own lands...both on the north and on the south, both on the land northward and on the land southward (3 Nephi 6:2), thus north and northward, and south and southward are clearly and understandably used and there is nothing ambiguous about it.
There are many more examples one could use of Hauck’s very sloppy attempts at claiming the scriptural record says things it does not, but the idea is quite clear as shown above. To him there is only one place in the world where the Land of Promise is located, therefore all scripture must relate to it—if it does not, then it is changed to do so, or claimed it means something else. Hauck himself states: “Almost all of the factors blinding us to what is written cannot hold us bound if we read the text, if we accept what is written as scripture from the mouth of prophets who were there, and get nervous any time we find ourselves “explaining” away any verse that is uncomfortable to us. The most correct book upon the face of the earth is not riddled with geographic errors.” Too bad he doesn’t live up to his own words!

No comments:

Post a Comment