Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Zeroing in on a Theory – Part I

There are several theories held among Latter-day Saints for the location of Book of Mormon lands. Some place the geography of the book in western New York near the Great Lakes. Others look to Mesoamerica, Peru and South America, or to the Baja Peninsula, or Texas, and some even propose the Malaysian Peninsula. Obviously, they all can’t be right, although they could all be wrong. The only criteria to use to determine the accuracy of a location is the Book of Mormon scriptural record, which describes both the Land of Promise and much of what was found there. 
The first thing that has to be excepted and cannot be changed, ignored or explained away, is that the writers of the scriptural record from Nephi to Mormon and Moroni, lived in the Land of Promise, the latter ones knowing the complete expanse of the land, with Mormon having been born in the Land Northward and also lived in the Land Southward, and was a military leader of the Nephite army which fought from the Land of Zarahemla through to the Land of Cumorah, almost the entire length of the Land of Promise. Thus, Mormon especially, and the others as well, would have intimately known the land of which they wrote, its location, description, configuration, and appearance. Consequently, we are obligated to follow their descriptions and locations without change or alteration, or trying to explain away what does not agree with one's beliefs.
    And the only way that can be done is to use all of the references found in the scriptural record and not just use the ones that seem to match one area or another.
    As an example:
    1. The Land of Promise, at the time of Jacob, sometime between 559 and 545 B.C., was an island (2 Nephi 10:20). There is no disputing this statement without trying to change the obvious meaning of the scriptural record where Jacob said, “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. But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren.” Despite how much Mesoamerican and other theorists try to either ignore this or attempt to discredit it, or change its meaning, the statement must hold true to the way it was written. Thus, at the time Jacob spoke this, the Land of Promise was an island!
    2. The Land of Promise at the time of Helaman, about 46 B.C., had four distinct seas, each lying in a cardinal direction. That is, “They did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.” (Helaman 3:8). This cannot be fudged by claiming the sea north was simply a higher part of the sea east, etc., for the statement has to do with showing that the entire Land of Promise was inhabited and covered with people. Thus, at the time Helaman wrote this, the Land of Promise was surrounded by water. This point is non-debatable unless we are prepared to show that the scriptural record was not inspired by the spirit and the writers following the path of other prophets who have been so guided.
3. The Land of Promise has a narrow neck of land between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, which was narrow enough that “it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite” (Alma 22:32), which could not possibly be more than 50 miles wide as described (averaging 2.8 miles an hour for 18 hours), and probably much less than that, say about 30 miles (1.7 miles an hour for 18 hours). By comparison, Mesoamerica at 140 miles would be a pace of 7.8 miles an hour for 18 hours. No amount of claim about special runners could cover greater distances, can be used to try and alter the simple meaning of Mormon’s statement, which was obviously meant to tell a future reader the width of that narrow neck of land.
    4. In the Land of Promise there was the Land of Bountiful to the south of the narrow neck and the Land of Desolation to the north of the narrow neck “Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31). No amount of trying to explain away the actual directions stated by Mormon can be used to try and alter this simple fact, that the Land of Promise ran north and south.
5. The Land of Promise has a West Sea that extends so far south, no indication in the scriptural record suggests that the Land of Promise extended beyond the point where Lehi landed, which was “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). This was not only the place of the Lamanites’ first inheritance, but also that of the Nephites (Alma 54:12-13). In addition, we know that this West Sea is the same sea over which Nephi’s ship sailed, for Jacob tells us “for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
    6. In the Land of Promise, the land to the south, called the Land Southward, was made up primarily of the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Nephi, and was surrounded by water—“the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32). Regarding the Land of Bountiful, Mormon writes “That I, being eleven years old, was carried by my father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla” (Mormon 1:6), skipping over the Land of Bountiful as though it were a secondary location. The point being that Zarahemla, was the Nephite capitol, and sometimes the Land of Zarahemla is used to mean all the land between the Land of Nephi and the narrow neck of land. Obviously, this was the intent of Alma’s insertion when he said all that land was nearly surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land. Obviously, then, the Land Southward was not flanked  by two seas as Mesoamericanists claim, but surrounded by water except for the narrow neck.
    7. The Land of Zarahemla stretched from the east sea to the west sea, as did the Land of Nephi stretch from seashore to seashore, as did the narrow strip of wilderness between these two lands (Alma 22:27). Any Land of Promise model that doesn’t have such configurations cannot be considered. Nor is there any mention, suggestion, or indication that the east coast of the Land Southward stretched far out from the rest of the east coast.
    8. The Land Southward was longer north to south than it was wide, from east to west. This is attested to from several inferences, not the least of which was when the Nephites had two armies, one on the east border and one on the west boarder (Helaman 26), when Coriantumr attacked and defeated the city of Zarahemla, then took off up the center of the land (Helaman 1:24-25) for the Land of Bountiful, “marching through the most capital parts of the land” (Helaman 1:27), and Captain Lehi, who had been by the seashore, raced to intercept Coriantumr’s march northward, and Moronihah raced from the west coast to cut off Coriantumr’s retreat, who ended up surrounding the Lamanites and cutting them off from any flight (Helaman 1:30-31). Had the land been the same width or wider than its length at this point, such maneuvering would not have been possible. And in this sense, it could be said that Mesoamerica, with its Yucatan Peninsula, makes their Land Southward wider then long.
The Mesoamerican Land Southward. Their narrow neck is to the left of the image, and their East Sea is the Gulf of Mexico, consequently their model shows a much wider Land Southward than its north-south direction
    Now, these eight simple facts cannot be altered, changed, ignored, or explained away. Any Land of Promise location must agree with all eight of these descriptions since they are clearly stated in the scriptural record and are inarguable! Nothing outside the scriptural record can take precedence over these points.

(See the next post, “Zeroing in on a Theory – Part II,” for more of these points that are absolute musts for a Land of Promise model and its adjoining theory to be accurate)

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