Saturday, February 22, 2014

Other Thoughts on Theorist’s Views of the Narrow Neck—Part II

Continuing with Alan C. Miner’s convoluted views on the geography of the narrow neck of land, we find that he, like so many theorists who want to promote their own beliefs and not Mormon’s clear and concise descriptions, seem to fit this reference: “for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be” (2 Nephi 32:7).
    This is shown by Miner’s statement: Thus we see that the interpretation of the terms "small neck," “narrow neck," "narrow passage," and "narrow pass," is not a simple task.” Nothing, of course, is a simple task when you go about confusing the issues, complicating simple things, and weaving elaborate, complex labyrinths of misleading scenarios.
    In fact, Miner adds to his last issue by saying, “Since I can be biased in this section, I will start by assuming a Mesoamerican setting.” That, of course, is the wrong approach. We have to start by understanding the scriptural record on its own merits! He adds, “Much has been written in the way of interpretation concerning this verse. Many maps have taken this verse to mean the total distance "from the east (sea) to the west sea. However, the verse does not say that. It says from the east (not east sea). By referring to the Mesoamerican map…” Again, the problem is in using an existing, pre-determined map to try and figure out what a statement in the scriptural record means is seldom, if ever, going to lead to an understanding of Mormon’s description—for the mind is made up, the interpretation already determined, and there is no room for the Spirit, common sense, or logic to play a role. It is a fait accompli before one even begins. This is simply not the way we should read scripture.
    In addition, Miner compares the travel circumstances of Mesoamerica “from ancient Jaredite (Olmec) times until the present,” where he states “it seems that most all traffic going from the Pacific coast of Guatemala, when confronted with these rugged mountains, moved instead through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec on relatively flat ground and thus moved toward the Atlantic coast and the Veracruz area in its course northward.” 
Blue arrows show the mountain ranges that run through Mexico and Central America that block most egress into the interior from the Pacific Coast. Red arrow shows the gap in the ranges through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Naturally, coastal traffic would go north or south to this area to penetrate the interior 
    Since there are mountain ranges running vertically down the coastal plain from north to south through Mexico and Central America as shown in map above, it is not surprising that traffic from this narrow coastal plain would travel through whatever gaps there are in that range. However, since that does not match any description in the scriptural record, it is not a basis for any land description criteria of the Land of Promise.
    Miner adds, “The dilemma that Mormon might have been trying to explain is that Bountiful and Desolation had a boundary line separating the two lands ("north" of the line was Desolation and "south" of the line was Bountiful).” 
    Since Mormon does not try to explain this factor more than the one time he addresses it, one has no basis to claim that he might have had a dilemma in that explanation—a dilemma, by the way, means “a doubtful or difficult choice,” and “a situation where it is difficult to determine what course to pursue.” Nowhere is there reason in Mormon’s writing to suggest he had a “dilemma” regarding any layout of land—a land he knew extremely well, having fought battles from one end to the other, as well as having all the records written from all the Nephites before him.
    After all, his description is simple and straight forward, suggesting that he had a very clear picture in his mind of that border or boundary or division between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful.
    Evidently trying to make something out of nothing, Miner continues: “This boundary line might have been located within this ancient travel corridor or ‘small neck of land’" (verse 32). Now this "small neck" apparently separated (or connected) the total "land northward" from the total "land southward". So far, so good. We are looking at a narrow neck of land between the two major land masses, as Mormon described. However, that is not Miner’s intent. In one quick sentence, he changes direction completely when he writes: “Could the day and a half's journey or the small neck of land be a description of the width of the coastal travel corridor from the Pacific Coast through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec?” He has now deflected the scriptural content of Alma 22:32, to a coastal corridor totally separate and in opposition to Mormon’s actual description of a small neck of land and a narrow pass or passage.
Alan Miner’s location for his narrow corridor along the West Sea east of the narrow neck of land. This is his narrow area, including his narrow pass or passage which is totally disconnected from the narrow neck and precludes any movement through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec along the northern corridor, or in the center 
    This coastal corridor is the same area for the narrow neck and narrow pass described by Joseph Allen, which we discussed in a previous post in this series about the narrow neck of land. Miner points out that “this narrow neck of land runs nearly two hundred miles along the Pacific coast of Guatemala and Mexico and has served as the primary north-south corridor of travel for millennia.” 
    That may well be so in Mesoamerica, however, there are two scriptural problems here: 1) this coastal corridor does not run north and south—in this two hundred mile distance Miner uses as Mormon described, which is actually almost 365 miles, from just east of Acajutla in Guatemala where the mountains of San Salvador reach the coast to the west of La Libertad, to around Arriaga, where a pass can be taken north (55 miles) through the mountains to Ocozocoautla de Espinosa.
Miner’s 365-mile-long “narrow neck of land” along the southwest coast of Guatelmala and Mexico—hardly what Mormon describes in Alma 22 
    If one were to stay along the coastal “corridor” and continue west to Santa Cruz (another hundred miles), they could continue southwest to Pochutla, or take the gap through the mountains and north across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. While it is true that this coastal plain from Arriaga to Acajutla mostly moves along the shore on a northwest direction, the actual land mass inland runs east and west through Mesoamerica, or stated differently, Guatemala is situated to the east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It is like saying Nevada is to the west of Utah, however, Reno, Nevada, is northwest of St. George, and Las Vegas, Nevada is southwest of St. George, while Elko, Nevada, is due west of Salt Lake City, but Carson City is southwest of Logan.
    The point is, one can make directions sound pretty much the way they want by picking and choosing a comparison; however, Guatemale is east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the coastal plain Miner refers to really runs east and west when looking at the major land mass of both areas—as Nevada is west of Utah and Colorado is east of Utah.
(See the next post, “Other Thoughts on Theorist’s Views of the Narrow Neck—Part III,” for more on Alan C. Miner’s views on the Narrow Neck of Land and how he thinks it fits into Mesoamerica despite so much scriptural comments to the opposite)

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