Monday, February 17, 2014

One Theorist’s View of the Narrow Neck – Part II

Continuing with the article one of our readers sent in written by Mesoamericanist Aric Turner describing his view of the Narrow Neck of Land. In the last post we were discussing Turner’s criteria for a narrow neck of land. We continue here with him moving to the Land of Promise overall: 
    6. Turner: “Travel through jungle where no trails exist can be as low as 10 to 15 miles per day (the lower limit).”
    Response: Jungle, forest, swamp, many rivers and lakes, etc. Depending upon the topography, would depend upon the speed or movement. After all, a 5280 foot high hill would mean one is covering two extra miles to walk over it, consequently, it is not possible for us to determine the speed of someone covering this distance based on our lack of knowledge as to the topography of the narrow neck.
Long distance runners rarely run more than five or ten miles with marathons about 26 miles (Boston Marathon 26 miles 385 yards), who train with 20 mile weekly runs and a minimum of 40 miles in a week, with musculoskeletal and dermatological problems following marathon runs of 26 miles, with many suffering tendonitis, extreme fatigue, knee or ankle sprains, and extreme dehydration, among other conditions
    Obviously, these specialty distances and abilities are far from normal, and there is no indication of a specialty condition to the Nephite journey mentioned by Mormon.
Consequently, all these specialty situations are of little value. As an example, Turner goes on to add, “The world record for a 48-hour run is 428,890 meters (266 miles), or 200 miles in a day and a half on a perfectly flat track (the upper limit).” Does it seem reasonable that Mormon was giving us an example of travel across the narrow neck using a world record to understand the width? Hardly. Once we eliminate all this “fooferall” we find that Mormon was trying to tell us how wide the narrow neck was, and used an average Nephite as the measurement device, i.e., how long would it take a person to walk across that distance. Had he meant someone who was more inclined to speed, perhaps he might had used a Lamanite, or a “fit person,” or a "conditioned runner," etc.
    7. Turner: “As a best estimate, the width of the narrow neck should be between 15 and 200 miles.”
Response: Well, that covers just about every known isthmus in the world. Which means, Turner gave us a lot of writing that meant nothing at all. He even discusses canoe travel “on flat, smooth, fast-flowing rivers can be up to 326 miles in 24 hours, but only one river meets this criteria (Yukon).  Otherwise, believe it or not, travel is the same, or less, than foot travel,” which is another worthless comment unless we are going to claim Mormon meant a Nephite in a canoe—or a Nephite on a horse, etc. From this point, Turner returns to his criteria for the location of the narrow neck of land:
    8. Turner: “There must be a north-flowing river south of the narrow neck.  The river Sidon headwaters are in the South Wilderness which are south of the narrow neck.”
    Response: And also north of the Land of Nephi as Mormon describes (Alma 16:6), and very likely does not reach Bountiful, because the area across the Land of Promise is mentioned without any reference to the river Sidon in Bountiful, yet troops and battles occur back and forth there in Alma (Alma 52).
    9. Turner: “There must be elevated areas on the west and south parts of the land.  There is a south wilderness and the Hermounts were on the west.”
    Response: Obviously, on the south, for the land moves upward to the Land of Nephi, with the south wilderness the narrow strip of wilderness that lay in between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27). Now the wilderness called Hermounts was on the west of the river Sidon and to the north of the city of Zarahemla (Alma 3:26, 37); however, there seems to be no wordage of an elevated area to the west of the land.
    10. Turner: “There must be an elevated area on the east that borders an east sea. The east wilderness bordered the east sea.”
Wilderness can be any area and type of topography, flat, hilly, mountainous, desert, swamp, forest, etc., wherever people have not settled in the land
    Response: Again, we do not have any indication in the scriptural record of the land to the east being elevated. It would appear that Turner is translating the word “wilderness” as being mountains, and thus claiming the east and west wilderness areas of the Land of Zarahemla as being high in elevation, but the scriptural record does not say that. Wilderness, after all, can be any elevation since it means an “unoccupied tract of land.”
    11. Turner: “There must be at least two large bodies of water north of the narrow neck. Helaman 3:3 ...there were an exceeding great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward, to inherit the land; And they did travel to an exceeding great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water, and many rivers.”
    Response: And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers” (Helaman 3:4) is the land described by Mormon as “it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains,” which was the Land of Cumorah (Mormon 6:4), which was also described by king Limhi who said his rescue mission traveled in a land “among many waters” (Mosiah 8:8). This was the land far to the north in the Land Northward, which had many waters, rivers and fountains (sources of water). We are not talking about two large bodies of water, but many bodies of water (the word large is not mentioned or implied), where rivers and source rivers flowed.
    12. Turner: “There needs to be significant geological forces (earthquakes, volcanism, and tsunamis) that can explain the destructions described in III Nephi.”
    Response: This describes the entire west coast of North, Central and South America, called the Pacific Rim, though there are far more volcanoes in Andean South America, including earthquakes than anywhere else in the eastern side of the rim. The Tsunamies that strike the northern half of South America are numerous, since the current they travel tends to bend southward from the equator toward the Western Hemisphere.
The internal map showing the major land areas and their distribution in the Land of Promise, including the six major waters mentioned in the scriptural record
    Turner's entire views seem to stray far from the scriptural record and provide little, if anything of value in understanding the Land of Promise. His attempt to place this land in Mesoamerica simple falls short of Mormon's numerous descriptions.

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