Monday, October 28, 2013

The Land Northward and Land Southward

From time to time we receive several comments about a particular subject and use them to write a complete post. In this case, several comments have been received about different writers (Mesoamericanists) who are trying to convince their readers of the directional system of Mesoamerica agreeing with Mormon’s descriptions.    
    Comment: There is another feature of the Book of Mormon that may be plausibly related to an underlying Mesoamerican directional system. The vast majority of the times we see either the word northward or southward in the Book of Mormon, they are descriptive of a place, not of movement.”
    Response: The issue surrounds the meaning of northward and southward. Northward literally means (noun) “The direction to the north,” (adjective) “In a northerly direction,” (adverb) “Toward the north"—that is, “to, toward, facing, or in the north.” Synonyms are northern, north, northerly, northwardly, northwards. It does not matter whether you are talking about “a place or movement.”
You can go in a northward direction to a place that is northward—it is the same as saying you can go north to a place that is in the north. While Mesoamericanists and academicians love to play with words, you cannot make a word mean something different than it means.
There are really three sections to this area between the U.S. and South America: 1) Mexico to about Mexico City, northward-southward, Mesoamerica, eastward-westward, and Honduras and beyond, northward the southward—while we can see this, the Nephites without aerial maps, would not have. To them, the land would have run east and west if they had been located in Mesoamerica
    First of all, it can be correctly said that Mexico runs northward and southward until you reach the the area of Mexico City (about the border of what is called today Mesoamerica) where the land turns eastward. This is like the United States can correctly be said to run eastward and westward, though from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, it becomes more applicable to saying it runs northward and southward. In addition, from eastern Honduras to Colombia, it can be said that Central America runs northward and southward. However, the area of Mesoamerica (the middle area between these two points) does not run in those directions—but in an eastward and westward direction. Secondly, Mormon’s description clearly states the land went northward and southward.
    Comment: “Mormon refers to the land northward and the land southward. The term northward only appears three times as a description of motion and southward only twice. Eastward occurs three times, always as an indication of direction of travel, and westward does not occur at all.
Response: When we talk today, we do so with a complete understanding of our surroundings and the cardinal directions of a compass. As an example, when we first moved from Southern California to southern Utah, we realized that Cedar City lies north of St. George, Parowan lies north of Cedar City, Beaver lies north of Parowan, Fillmore lies north of Beaver, and Nephi lies north of Fillmore, etc. The reason we knew that was because they were all on the I-15, which runs north and south through the entire states. However, as Utah residents no doubt know, the I-15 does not run directly north—it runs off at an angle toward north by northeast until you reach Spanish Fork, then the freeway heads north by northwest to the Point of the Mountain, then it goes almost due north until you reach Farmington, etc. In fact, from Brigham City to Burley, Idaho, you would be traveling almost exactly Northwest. However, we refer to these cities north of St. George as being north, though they would more correctly be called northward. The point of all this is simply that today we talk about more direct compass points since we  have aerial photographs and satelite images. However, when Jim Bridger first crossed into what is now Salt Lake County to investigate what he thought was an arm of the Pacific Ocean, he eventually turned northward toward where he finally built his trading post that later became Fort Bridger across the line in Wyoming. However, the direction he took was northeast, though he referred to it as northward. In the past, because of lack of specific locations, maps, etc., people generally referred to directions in a more casual way—things to the north were northward, the farther away they were, the more inclined they were to use northward rather than north. In the eastern United States, the land toward the Pacific Ocean was the land “out west” or “westward.” When one of my Huguenot ancestors entered New York, they wrote about going northward into Canada to avoid the war with Britain. It would be wise, I think, if scholars didn’t try to milk a statement beyond the point where it could give milk, or produce more than the simple language in which it was written.
    Comment: “The phrases ‘land northward/land southward’ can parallel the functions of the ‘north/south’ spatial orientation markers, but they are textually distinct from them.”
    Response: For those who do not use such language, spatial orientation is about having a sense of direction while moving around an environment—a sense of direction. It’s a nice skill to have when exploring a new city, following directions to a friend’s place or navigating towards the bathroom in the dead of night. In very short distances, it is something we use all the time, though seldom connected to directions but to landmarks of which we have heard or seen; however, having taught orienteering to both military personnel in far away unknown areas, and Boy Scouts in local surroundings, it is of less, if any value. For long distances or general map alignment, that is thinking of an area like a map with cardinal and ordinal directions and choosing a direction that will take you to a known location some distance away, spatial orientation is more of a hindrance than a value. I have seen numerous men in critical situations choose a path they felt was right, only to end up in swamps, dead ends, or enemy positions.
    Comment: “We find in 3 Ne. 6:2 “And it came to pass that they had not eaten up all their provisions; therefore they did take with them all that they had not devoured, of all their grain of every kind, and their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and they did return to their own lands and their possessions, both on the north and on the south, both on the land northward and on the land southward.” There is no reason to indicate the spatial orientation twice, and the reference here clearly separates the ‘land’ from the spatial orientation.
Response: When one realizes that the Land North and the Land South were not synonymous terms with Land Northward and Land Southward, then such a statement shows a lack of understanding as to how these terms were used. When Lachoneus had the Nephites gather (3 Nephi 3:22), they did so in the Land Southward (3 Nephi 3:24). The Robbers themselves were only in the Land Southward, coming down from the mountain hideouts, and took possession of the Land Southward, both in the land north and in the land south (3 Nephi 4:1). After the Robbers were mostly defeated, the Robber leader, Zemnarihah commanded his followers to march into the furthermost parts of the land northward—and area they had not been in earlier (3 Nephi 4:23). Eventually, after complete victory, the Nephites returned to their homes in the land north and in the land south of the Land Southward, and also in the Land Northward. Spatial orientation has no part in this series of events.
    Comment: The two lands conceptually meet along a dividing line: “Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food” (Alma 22:31). When the land northward has a name, it is Desolation. When the land southward has a name, it is Bountiful. They are adjacent lands. Land northward and Desolation are interchangeable labels, as are land southward and Bountiful.
    Response: This is not entirely true. The Land Southward is more often referred to as the Land of Zarahemla than the Land of Bountiful. And the term Land Southward cannot be interchangeable with Land of Bountiful, for in the Land Southward were located two lands with greater emphasis, the Land of Zarahemla (the chief city of the Nephites and their nation’s capital), and the Land of Nephi, the land of their enemies. In fact, when Mormon is carried into the Land Southward from his home in the Land Northward at the age of ten, he calls the Land Southward the Land of Zarahemla (Mormon 1:6). Nor when Mormon arranges with the Lamanmites their final battle, he does so in the Land of Many Waters, which contains the Land of Cumorah and the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:2, 4). The land of Desolation is not mentioned.

No comments:

Post a Comment