Monday, January 27, 2014

Hender’s Narrow Neck and Bountiful

Continuing from the last posts regarding the articles of Don R. Hender’s website that one of our readers sent us asking for an evaluation: 
    Article: The 'Narrow Neck' was a day and a half's journey for a Nephite on the line Bountiful and Desolation “from the East to the West Sea.” Much is discussed about the size of this width. Depending on mode and ease of travel it could well range from 45 to well over 100 miles and that was a 90 BC measurement.”
    Response: Actually, it was not a 90 B.C. measurement, but a measurement Mormon gave us around 350 to 380 A.D., that would make sense and be useable at any time since he was writing to a future reader. Thus, a person could walk in a day and a half is the measurement for a Nephite—not a Lamanite, or any special type of person, just a Nephite. And 45 to 100 miles is simply not possible for the average person. We have written numerous articles about this previously in these posts.
The narrow neck of land in coastal South America is about 26 miles from sea to sheer Andes mountains, creating a passable narrow neck of land; anciently, before the Andes rose, this area was a sea, named the Pebasian Sea by geologists. When the Andes mountains rose “whose height is great” as Samuel the Lamanite foretold, the Pebasian Sea was pushed eastward into what is now the Amazon Basin
    As an example, Noah Webster in his 1828 dictionary stated that a man could walk at 3 mph, though that figure is for short distances of only a couple or so hours at a time; a camel can cover 20 miles in a day (30 miles in a day and a half); a horse can travel about 50 miles in a day (75 miles in a day and a half). A man in a day and a half, as has been shown here in numerous past posts, can travel about 1.5 miles per hour in a sustained walk, covering several hours (in a day and a half that would be about 27 miles in a day and a half). This all suggests that Mormon’s day and a half journey across his small or narrow neck of land would be between 25 and 30 miles
    Article: “But there are more telling matters about the 'small neck of land' than its measured width. First is what is next said, if Mormon is taken at his word with no ifs, ands, or buts. The land of Zarahemla was nearly surrounded by the Lamanites on the south, east, and west except the Land of Bountiful which” led into” the narrow neck of land.”
Response: First of all, Bountiful did not lead into the narrow neck of land. Bountiful was south of this neck, and Desolation was north of it, the narrow neck being the border between both major lands as we discuss these separations. For a political border, a line is generally drawn across a map, but in reality, ancient borders were determined by topography—a physical area that was easily seen and understood, i.e., a river, a ridge, a canyon, or some other noticeable break in the landscape. While we do not know the length of the small neck of land, it might be assumed it was at least as long (north-south) as it was wide (east-west). This would defeat a “line,” though it might be understood that “on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation from the east to the west sea” (Alma 22:32) ran east and west, and that the small neck was between the “line Bountiful” and the “land Desolation.”
    It is much like the narrow strip of wilderness that separatged the Land of Nephi (south) and the Land of Zarahemla (north). We do not know what that north-south distance was, but it was not considered part of either land by Mormon. But to be fair, both Bounltiful and Desolation could have claimed the narrow neck or a portion of it—we are simply not told.
    However, another point is that there was an unnamed land between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful. Mormon explains this land this way: “And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23). This unnamed land is never named throughout the scriptural record. Yet, it does show that Hender’s statement above “The land of Zarahemla was nearly surrounded by the Lamanites on the south, east, and west except the Land of Bountiful which” led into the narrow neck of land“ is not accurate in any way.
    It should also be noted, that though one website ( claims “The land Bountiful was southward and eastward of the land Desolation, eastward of the narrow pass, and westward of the land of Morianton, land of Gid, and land of Mulek,” we need to keep in mind that the scriptural record tells us differently, And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea” (Alma 22:33). The Land Bountiful lay to the north in the Land Southward, bordering on the narrow neck of land (and Desolation north of that), ran to the West Sea, and far to the east (elsewhere we find that Bountiful was separated from Mulek, which was on the east seashore by a plain).
Finally, then, we should recognize that this “surrounding” had to do with the people in the Land of Zarahemla, not all of the Land Southward—and in reality, we are talking about some Lamanites who were camped in tents along both seashores “round about” or northward from the narrow strip of wilderness.
    In addition, this “nearly surrounded” by the Lamanites lasted less than 100 years—from the time Mosiah settled in Zarahemla to when Moroni ub 72 B.C. drove the Lamanites out of the east and west wilderness and back into their own lands (Alma 50:7, 9, 11).
    The phrase “nearly surrounded” is better applied to the entire Land Southward (Zarahemla to Bountiful) being nearly surrounded by water except for “a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32).
    Article: “Mormon knew what being nearly surrounded meant! The lands of Nephi and Zarahmela were nearly surrounded by water. There was water to the east of them, there was water to the west of them, and there was water to the south of them. Only in the north was this not the case. That is what being surrounded means! The only exception was the 'small neck of land' between the land northward and the land southward.”
    Response: We could go further and say the Land Northward was also nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck, since Jacob tells us the entire Land of Promise was an island (2 Nephi 10:20).
    Article: “Second, no land today in America fits the description as it is currently mapped. South America is too wide as mapped today to be the Lands of the Book of Mormon. MesoAmerica is attached in the south by the Isthmus of Panama as mapped today. Whatever you conceive as the Lands of the Book of Mormon, they will be significantly different from how the lands of America map today in 2001 AD.”
    Response: We want to be careful how far we go with this. That is, ancient geology, though there being a huge difference between geology’s 4.55 billion years in age to Moses account of there being only thousands, the point is not every land has been so altered. The alteration or major changes have taken place between what is now coastal South America, i.e., to the west of the Andes range, has undergone significant change from tectonic plate movement that formed the Andes in recent times. The basic change in Central America was the rising of the Panamanian Isthmus to block the previous sea passage between the Atlantic and Pacific, forming the connection between Panama and Colombia. Few other changes have been recorded by geologists that so altered land and brought about the vast changes described in 3 Nephi, including the raisinbg of mountains “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23).
(See the next post, “More of Mormon’s Views as Described by Hender,” from Don R. Hender’s website articles sent to us by one of our readers who asked for an evaluation)

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