Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part VIII—Mesoamericanists’ Achilles Heel

Continuing from the last posts showing the fallacy of the Mesoamerican Theorists’ view of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in being the narrow neck of land—it becomes clear that this isthmus is the real Achilles heel of every Mesoamerican model. In pursuing this, the following is from John E. Clark, himself a Mesoamericanist and follower of John L. Sorenson’s model, in which he defends the Mesoamerican Theory.
Clark’s argument continues :
4. Clark also states: "These seas [that flanked the Land of Promise] had to be the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, respectively, because Lehi arrived from the Old World across the west sea (see Alma 22:28), and the party that brought Mulek from the land of Judah came 'across the great waters' (Omni 1:16) to the 'borders by the east sea.' The city of Mulek was located in that area and was presumably near the location where they first settled (see Alma 51:26)." Sorenson, Mormon's Map, 20.”
Response: First, we have dealt with the words “flanked the Land of Promise” before, since that term suggests just two seas on one side and the other; however, Helaman 3:8 makes it clear there were four seas, and they seem to be opposite one another, or in the four compass directions. 
An island, by its very nature, is surrounded by water. By modern standards, such water is generally given a singular name, such as Pacific Ocean or Mediterranean Sea, however, the waters close in to the island are often given local names, such as the Tasmanian Sea between New Zealand and Australia, or the Timor Sea and Coral Sea around Australia, or the Balearic Sea off Palma in the Med
Second, Omni 1:16 does say “across the great waters” but does not say or suggest “to the borders by the east sea.” In fact, the scriptural record says: “And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth,” which land, of course, has to be the Land of Zarahemla since that is where Mosiah discovered them (Omni 1:13)--and they had dwelt there from that time forth, that is from the time the Lord brought them into the land. Thus,  they were living in the City of Zarahemla and the land of Zarahemla, which over time, became the capitol of the Nephite nation. There is no mention that the people of Zarahemla, who were the Mulekites, ever occupied the city of Mulek, which was on the east coast. Now, in an assumptive sense, we can suggest that the seas that surrounded the Land of Promise, were the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as Clark claims, since Lehi sailed into the Arabian Sea, and Jacob tells us the Lord led them across the sea and that they were on an island of the sea (2 Nephi 10:20), so they were on an island surrounded by these oceans, which they called the Sea North, Sea East, Sea South, and Sea West (Helaman 3:8). As for where they settled, the Mulekites settled in the land where Mosiah found them, that is, the Land of Zarahemla—more than that cannot be stated other than the fact that they settled in the city called Zarahemla, not the city of Mulek.
5. “The directional trend of the two lands and the neck was generally north-south. The east sea (six references) and the west sea (twelve references) were the primary bodies of water that bounded this promised land. But notice that the key term of reference is not "land north" (only five references) but "land northward" (thirty-one references). There is, of course, a distinction; "land northward" implies a direction somewhat off from literal north. This implication that the lands are not simply oriented to the cardinal directions is confirmed by reference to the "sea north" and "sea south" (Helaman 3:8). These terms are used only once, in reference to the colonizing of the land northward by the Nephites, but not in connection with the land southward. The only way to have seas north and south on a literal or descriptive basis would be for the two major bodies of land to be oriented at an angle somewhat off true north-south. That would allow part of the ocean to lie toward the south of one and another part of the ocean to lie toward north of the other.”
Response: To Clark’s credit, he at least acknowledges that the Land of Promise is a north-south oriented land. However, the Land Northward and Land North, in addition to showing directions, could also in the Hebrew mind denote distance. That is, the Land North was a closer area to the north, but beyond that land was another, larger land, called the Land Northward. To understand this, we need to see how the Land North was used separately from the Land Northward. First, the “land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31), thus we can definitely see that the Land Northward was that area north of the narrow neck of land.
Left Map shows the Land of Desolation to the north of the narrow neck of land and the Land of Bountiful to the south of the narrow neck. Right Map shows the difference between the Land Northward and the Land North as described in the scriptural record

However, the Land North was south of the narrow neck as Moroni declared in his claim of liberty: “And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south -- A chosen land, and the land of liberty
” (Alma 46:17). Note that he was naming the land “which was south of the land Desolation” and he called it the land on the north and the land on the south. That is, there was a division of land in the Land Southward, that land north of the narrow strip of wilderness (between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla) was called the Land North and that south of the narrow strip was called the Land South, for “Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10, emphasis mine). This is also seen in the preceding verse: “And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” (Helaman 6:9).
We also see this division in 3 Nephi when Lachoneus had the Nephites “gather themselves together in the land southward, because of the great curse which was upon the land northward” (3 Nephi 3:24, emphasis mine), so when the Robbers came down out of the hills, they would have been in the Land Southward (3 Nephi 4:2), they “began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south and which were in the land north, and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites, and the cities which had been left desolate” (3 Nephi 4:1, emphasis mine).
As for Clark’s belief that the Land of Promise was not “oriented to the cardinal directions,” which he bases on the “reference to the sea north and sea south (Helaman 3:8). These terms are used only once, in reference to the colonizing of the land northward by the Nephites, but not in connection with the land southward.” This is obviously due to the fact that there was no colonizing by the Nephites of any land to the south of their first landing. Nothing unusual about that. On the other hand, the Sea North is not mentioned to any degree simply because not much in the Nephite records took place that far to the north. On the other hand, several actions took place along the east and west seas, so they would have been mentioned more frequently.
It might be of interest to consider the scriptural record separate from any model site, which is hard, of course, for any Mesoamericanist to do, but Jacob tells us they were on an island, and he also tells us they came across the sea and that they landed on this island in that sea. Thus, if we took an island surrounded by the sea and then, being on that island, tried to name the sea around us, what terminology would we use? It could not be just one name, like the Great Sea (Mediterranean). It would have to have separate names, and since it is an island, the four cardinal directions would be the ideal name, which was typical of early man—that is, the Sea North, the Sea East, the Sea West, and the Sea South. This, of course, would not require any particular alignment of the island. It is only when we start trying to fit these seas around an existing land mass do we have difficulty with it, especially in the case of Mesoamerica, which only has two seas, the Gulf of Mexico (to the north) and the Pacific Ocean (to the south). In that case, you would have to scramble to find another way to explain the scriptural record, as does Clark, Sorenson, Allen, Hauck, et all.
(See the next post, “The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time – Part IX—Mesoaermicanists’ Achilles Heel,” for more on this difficult area for the Mesoamerican Theorist model to reconcile with the scripture)

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