Friday, December 20, 2013

The Land Northward – Part V

Continuing with the article we ran across on the internet and decided it would make a good posting based on the numerous errors and misstatements it contained.The comments are from the article, the responses from us:    
    Comment: “In 3 Nephi 6:2, after defeating the robbers, the phrases 'on the north' and 'on the south' are general phrases that encompass more area than the land northward and the land southward”
    Response: The entire statement is: “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.”
Now, on the north and on the south are not general phrases, but places within the Land Southward, telling us that the Nephites returned to their homes in the Land Southward (between blue arrows), both in the north and the south (red arrows). The reason for this is simple--in the Nephite nation, there were two divisions of land, the Land Southward, where most of their history takes place, and the Land Northward, which evidently was not opened to settlement until the last century B.C. (Helaman 3:3). Now, within their major homeland, the Land Southward, there were two divisions--the Land North and the Land South, divided by the narrow strip of wilderness that separated the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi. While we may not, the Nephites thought of these two areas as separate areas within the Land Southward, and so referred to them as such from time to time.
    We might recall, as an example, that when Captain Moroni made his title of liberty, he: “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). That is, he referred to the Land Southward, and within that, the land on the north and on the south. We see this stated more clearly with “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).
Finally, “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 (blue arrow), and Lehi into the land south” (red arrow) (Helaman 6:10). Now, since Mulek (the people of Zarahemla) landed in the Land Southward (green and blue land areas), “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” (Omni 1:16), we see that this north and south division is only within the Land Southward. The division of this Land Southward, was at the narrow strip of wilderness, between the Land of Nephi, including the area of First Landing, and the Land of Zarahemla, including the Land of Bountiful and other minor lands mentioned in these lands.
    Comment: When Zemnarihah gave “command unto his people, that they should withdraw themselves from the siege, and march into the furthermost parts of the land, northward” (III NEPHI 4:23)—this is not a reference to the land northward.  The phrase 'parts of the land, northward' does not directly refer to the land northward, but to areas northward of the land southward and the one place.”
    Response: By including a comma between “land” and “northward,” it appears this comment has validity, however, the actual scripture quoted has no comma between land and northward, reading: “and march into the furthermost parts of the land northward” (3 Nephi 4:23). Obviously, the record shows that this comment is about the Land Northward. It is fallacious and disingenuous to add or delete punctuation in order to try and change the meaning of a statement in the scriptural record. It is the worst kind of scholarship!
    Comment: “Mormon states: ‘And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward; yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward." The term 'passage' is the only time this term is used in the Book of Mormon.  The term 'pass' is also used differently than 'neck'.  The narrow pass is between the land northward and the land southward.  This puts it in or near the narrow neck.  The narrow neck runs from the Sea West to the Sea East.”
Response: The term “pass” is different from “narrow neck,” since the latter is an area (a stretch of land) and the former is a means through that area. Since there is only one land mass (Narrow Neck) between these two lands (Land Northward and Land Southward), the pass (green arrow) or passage must be within the narrow neck (yellow arrow). As for the narrow neck, it does not run from the Sea West to the Sea East, it actually runs from the Land Southward to the Land Northward (Alma 22:32). The narrow pass that ran through the narrow neck, ran past the Sea East and the Sea West (Alma 50:34). Thus, the narrow neck ran between the seas, not to them.
    Comment: “The term 'passage' indicates a length.”
    Response: This is not correct. The term “passage” is the same as the term “pass.” In fact, under the definitions of “pass” is the statement: “noun: passage.” And as a noun, we find this definition for pass: “A way, such as a narrow gap between mountains, that affords passage around, over, or through a barrier.” A “narrow pass” is defined as “especially one [pass] between mountains.” The definition of “passage” is “corridor,” “pass,” “passageway” “the act or process of moving through, under, over, or past something on the way from one place to another.” These two terms can often be used in place of one another, and do not suggest anything other than a pass from one point to another. While “pass” tends to bring to mind a passage between mountains, a “passage” could be used for other surroundings, even such as a corridor in a building or a tunnel. But because pass and passage can be used to describe the same thing, it is likely they are being used here for the same area. This is especially born out by the fact that there is only one land source between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, called a “small neck” and “narrow neck,” and within it is a “pass” and on one occasion called a “passage.”
    Comment: “So, a narrow passage indicates that part of the distance from the narrow neck to the land northward is a narrow area that was navigable.”
Response: The term “navigable” is generally used with a waterway or sea, “able to be sailed on by ships or boats.” It can be used for a track or road, but to keep from miscommunicating, one might want to use “passable” rather than “navigable.” And the narrow pass or passage would have, indeed, been narrow and ran from the Land Southward into the Land Northward through the Narrow Neck of Land.
    Comment: “The city in the land Desolation where Mormon was defending the narrow pass is in a strategic spot to defend.  So, the narrow pass is in a strategic spot.  This verse also indicates that the narrow pass is key to preventing the armies of the Lamanites from getting to their lands (the land northward).  There is no other way to get to the land northward except through the narrow pass.”
    Response: This is absolutely correct so long as it is understood that this narrow pass runs through the narrow neck of land, which, by the way, should eliminate Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as the narrow neck of land.
    Comment: “In Mormon 6:15, it says that some Nephites left the area of the hill Cumorah and went to the south countries.”
    Response: The record says: “also a few who had escaped into the south countries” (Mormon 6:15), which should suggest they just didn't leave the area of Cumorah, but were fleeing for their lives. 
    Comment: “It is interesting to note that there is no mention of people escaping to the north, away from the general Lamanite population.”
In the Mesoamerican model, there would have been all sorts of room to flee northward rather than stand and fight at Cumorah since the land runs continually northward into Mexico, the United States, and Canada. At the point of their Cumorah, the land is about 300 miles across (Veracruz to Acapulco), and actually 600 miles of land east to west. However, in the Land of Promise there was no egress northward. Mormon could only stand and fight along with all the Nephites. This is just another of many reasons that Mesoamerica does not fit Mormon’s descriptions of the Land of Promise
    Response: The main reason for this, though no Mesoamericanist is going to agree, is that there was no way to go to the north. If there were, Mormon would not have led his army to a battle he knew he could not win, but would have tried to escape further north. But even if Mormon did not want to do that (he was 75 years old), at least those of his army with their wives and children, certainly would have tried to escape to the north. But there was nowhere to go to the north—the only direction escape might have seemed possible was to the south, and that’s where some went, only to be “hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed” (Momon 8:2).
(See the next post, “The Land Northward – Part VI,” for more information from the Article and our responses to it)


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  3. To be fair on the punctuation issue, it was added by the printer and therefore can be ambiguous at times. It's not reasonable to call it fallacious and disingenuous--especially if people are honestly trying to understand what is being said. The fact is, there is room for "flexibility" at times. That's why there is so much general disagreement on geographical references especially. So I wouldn't call it the "worst kind of scholarship." I would call strict adherence to current punctuation at all costs and in all cases poor scholarship because it ignores and/or denies the fallible human component.

    You are probably correct in your assertion in this case, but to call a disagreement over this ambiguity "fallacious and disingenuous" is itself short-sighted and arrogant. Especially since a comma in that specific point isn't necessarily required. An author *could* put one there for clarification, but it's not grammatically necessary for either interpretation.