Friday, February 28, 2014

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

Continuing with Alan C. Miner’s convoluted views on the geography of the narrow neck of land, we find that he tries to change Mormon’s description of the narrow neck of land to a west coastal corridor.  
    As an example, concerning Bountiful, he states: “Mormon does not say here that the land of Bountiful definitely reached the east sea, only that it stretched "from the east unto the west sea." Nevertheless, as far as the eastern part of Bountiful ultimately reaching the east coast, we find in Alma 51:32 that "they (the Nephites) did slay them (the Lamanites) even until it was dark. And it came to pass that Teancum and his men did pitch their tents in the borders of the land Bountiful; and Amalickiah did pitch his tents in the borders on the beach by the seashore."
As noted in the scriptures, the city of Mulek was along the eastern seashore, to the east of Bountiful, with a plain in between
    Response: The Lamanites had taken the city of Mulek, which was in the northern part of the Land of Bountiful along its eastern borders, which was along the seashore (Alma 51:26). They then headed toward the borders of the Land Bountiful (Alma 51:28). At this time Teancum “marched forth with his numerous army that he might take possession of the Land of Bountiful and also the land northward” (Alma 51:30), and stopped the Lamanite advancement into Bountiful (Alma 51:31). And as dark fell during the battle, Teancum and his men pitched their tents in the borders of the land Bountiful; and Amalickiah pitched his tents in the borders on the beach by the seashore” (Alma 51:32).
    Now we need to understand that these two army camps were not close together, each had withdrawn after the days vigorous battle and made camp—Teancum to the west along the borders of Bountiful and Amalakiah to the east, along the seashore, evidently in the land of Mulek, the city of Mulek was on the east borders by the seashore (Alma 51:26). In fact, beginning in the south with the city of Moroni, several cities stretch northward along the eastern sea coast, including Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek (Alma 51:26). In fact, there were “so many cities” along this coastal range from the borders of Zarahemla and Nephi in the south, to Bountiful in the north, and all had been taken by the Lamanites in these wars (Alma 51:27).
    Thus, contrary to Miner’s view that “Therefore, we can probably say that the borders of the land Bountiful were very close to if not right at the east sea,” the Nephites would not have been that close to the Lamanite camp, nor would they have been north or south of their camp, but obviously between their camp and the city of Bountiful, which would have been beyond the borders where Teancum camped (Alma 51:32).
The next day, after Teancum stole into the Lamanite camp at night and killed Amalakiah, the Lamanites awoke to find their leader dead and were frightened. They quit their plan to march into the Land Northward, and retreated into the city of Mulek. Eventually, the Nephites lured them out of the city and a great battle commenced in which the Nephites soundly defeated the Lamanites and took the survivors captive—after the battle around Mulek, the captured Lamanites were forced to bury their dead and the Nephite dead, then they were marched back into the Land of Bountiful where they commenced laboring in digging a ditch round abut the city of Bountiful (Alma 53:3-4).
    Now, three things should be evident from the scriptural record at this point: 1) The city of Mulek would have been to the east along the seashore from the land of Bountiful, and 2) The Land of Bountiful would have run from the west of the Land of Mulek to the west sea, and 3) The city of Bountiful would not have been far from Mulek, so wither it was close to the eastern border of the land of Bountiful, or the Land of Bountiful at this point was narrowing toward the narrow neck area.  
    Miner also continues with his random thoughts on the 22nd Chapter of Alma in which he writes: “Alma 22:33 states ‘And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they [the Lamanites] should have no more possession on the north, that they [the Lamanites] might not overrun the land northward.’ One might ask, Does the fact that the Nephites desired that the Lamanites "should have no more possession on the north" imply that the Lamanites already had possessions on the north?”
    Evidently, Miner seems to have forgotten that at one time, for about 400 years, the Nephites controlled much of the Land of Nephi, especially the northern portion where the city of Nephi and numerous other cities had been built by them, then vacated when Mosiah I was told to flee, and traveled northward until he discovered the people of Zarahemla (Omni 1:13-14). At that time, the Lamanites flooded into the Land of Nephi and took over all that area from where they had been quartered somewhere in the south—exactly where we are not told. But the point is, they expanded northward to control all the Land of Nephi.
The Nephties controlled everything to the north (yellow arrow) of the narrow strip of wilderness (border) between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, which the Lamanites controlled (red arrow)
    So Mormon is telling us in 22:33 that the Nephites had been wise in bottling up the Lamanites to the south so they could not advance northward again—so they could not have any greater possession to the north.
    Miner continues: “In the course of relating an incident involving Nephite missionaries and the great king over the Lamanites, Mormon inserted a 570-word aside that summarized major features of the land southward (as well as connecting the geography of all the pertinent cultures associated with the promised land in the Book of Mormon). This raises the question of relating geographical statements in the Book of Mormon. In other words, How can one construct a geographical map of the lands of the Book of Mormon?”
There are two very key issues at stake here: 1) Mormon inserted this 570-word “aside” so that we, his future reader, would have a better understanding of not only where the king’s proclamation was sent, but how the Nephites and Lamanites were divided. It would seem he especially felt this was important because of the lack of continuity between the last words of Omni (1:30) and the first words of in Mosiah 1:1, keeping in mind that between those two statements several years had elapsed, Mosiah had lived all his life, and his son, king Benjamin had lived most of his. During those two generations, much had happened between the Nephites and the Lamanites, and though Mormon gave us a brief Segway, his insertion in Alma Chapter 22 adds a great deal to our understanding of the makeup of the land divisions, their locations, directions, and overall relationships. And 2) He did this not to confuse, but to clarify, consequently, he made his directions simple, his statements brief, and painted a simple but clear picture of what the Land of Promise looked like in general terms. Therefore, if we are going to construct a map, we need to do so carefully, using Mormon’s words, without change, alteration, or explanation beyond his simple statements. 
Consequently, north is north; narrow is narrow; small is small; and isle is isle (island), etc., etc., etc. In addition, we should not be trying to locate lands, borders, cities, etc., until we have shown without a shadow of doubt, that Nephi’s ship traveled from Point A to Point B, that is, from the first Bountiful, across the Irreantum Sea to the Land of Promise, and be able to do so with the movement of the vessel being nothing more than where a ship “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8) would have gone (i.e., with winds and currents), and how and why it would have stopped (i.e., lack of wind and currents).
    We simply cannot, no matter how much we might want to, nor how many others have done so, decide on a location because of what we find there, then try to fit the scriptures to that location—something every single Mesoamerican Theorists has done, and no doubt, every other North American, Baja California, Malay and other theorists have done as well.
(See the next post, “Other Thoughts on Theorist’s Views of the Narrow Neck—Part V,” 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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