Saturday, February 15, 2014

What Was the Shape and Size of Mormon's Small Neck of Land? – Part V

Continuing with the question of “What was the size and shape of Mormon’s small neck of land” from the previous four posts, we take a look at the ideas and beliefs held by many Theorists that allows them to place this area in settings that do not match Mormon’s descriptions. As an example, Matthew Roper in his Travel Across the Narrow Neck of Land in a FARMS Update claims: 
   “While it was a day and a half journey on the defensive line "from the east to the west sea" (Alma 22:32), it was apparently only a day's journey "from the west sea unto the east" (Helaman 3:7).
    First of all, it is Helaman 4:7, not 3:7. Secondly, the problem is, like all Mesoamericanists, Roper sees the Land of Promise through his pre-determined map of Mesoamerica. Consequently, he feels these two comments are about the same place, however, they are not. One (Mormon 22:32) is referencing the width distance of the narrow neck of land; the other (Helaman 4:7), is referring to a defensive position which Moronihah commanding the Nephite army fortified as a defensive line against Lamanite approaches—at this time, the Lamanites had overrun and occupied all the Nephite areas in the Land Southward (Helaman 4:5). Using the same rationale to let his future reader know how long this line was, Mormon tells us it was a day’s journey for a Nephite along this line—which must have been some type of obstacle, perhaps a wall, maybe even one that Moroni had built 41 years earlier (Alma 48:8). Once this line or wall was fortified or repaired, in whatever way Moronihah accomplished it, he “stationed his armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:7).

One such ancient wall in Peru built around 200-100 BC (about 200 years before the Romans built Vallum Aelian [Hadrian’s Wall] in northern Britain) running many miles from the east on a line to the sea in the west (Pacific Ocean).Archaeologists claim it was built for defensive purposes to stop those attacking from the south from reaching further north
    However, though the Lamanites “succeeded in obtaining possession of the land of Zarahemla; yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful, they did not capture or overrun the Land of Bountiful for they were stopped at whatever border area existed separating the Land of Bountiful from “the land which was near the Land Bountiful” (Helaman 4:5).
    Thus, this line that Moronihah fortified must have been somewhere in that area along the southern border of Bountiful and this unnamed land to the south. Evidently, this wall or obstruction existed from the West Sea for the distance it would take a Nephite to walk in a day, perhaps about 15 to 20 miles, depending upon the landscape. Also, evidently, at the end of that distance, other, existing and impassable obstructions existed, such as unscalable cliffs, mountains, or deep ravines, etc.
    Not finished with his thought, Roper adds: “Although other interpretations are possible, these two passages would make sense if part of that journey was by water, since those traveling eastward would be going downstream and could presumably move much faster with the current than could those journeying upstream.”
As can be seen, it would be difficult to fortify a river with just troops. Crossing could be anywhere and the defending troops would be strung out along the river, unable to bunch for a defense
    For troops to fortify a line, they need something to protect them from the advancing force against them. Standing out in the open with a shield is the least effect way to fortify a line. Typically, troops are stationed behind a wall, since walls (before artillery) deterred an advancing force. Certainly a river could never be fortified with troops—while the river might slow down an advancing force, sooner or later the attackers will find a way to cross and then you are in hand-to-hand fighting, which is not the best way to plan a defense. However, evidently, Roper did not consider this line and for what it was intended or he never would have suggested this river idea. Obviously, then, this fortification was not Moronihah stationing troops along a river. Nor is that the meaning of the statement of “fortify,” since “on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:7), tells us that some type of “line” was fortified, and then the troops were stationed.
    That is, Moronihah 1) fortified that line, whether repairing a wall or some other obstacle, then 2) he stationed his troops along it.
This is what Rome did when they first builtg Hadrian’s Wall, and then stationed troops at intervals alolng the wall to fortify it
    Consequently, this line being a day’s journey for a Nephite, and figuring that to be about 18 miles or so, stationing troops along an entire 18 mile line that is not, in and of itself a deterrent, such as a wall would be, than Moronihah would have needed an extremely large number of men to fortify 18 miles of nothing more than open land or a river, etc. This is especially important to consider when one realizes that the Lamanites would have attacked a single area, maybe a half mile wide with a concentration of such numbers that a line stretched along 18 miles simply could not have held any one location.
    Thus, the idea of this foritified line being a wall is a much more likely scenario, and especially so when we know that Moronihah’s father, Moroni, 40 years earlier, was “building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8). If this is the case, then this forty-year-old wall would likely have been in need of repair, or “fortifying,” a word defined in 1828 as “To strengthen against any attack, “ “To surround with a wall, ditch, palisades or other works, with a view to defend against the attacks of an enemy; to strengthen and secure by forts, batteries and other works; as, to fortify a city, town or harbor.” Fortify did not mean simply to place troops along a line, but to “add strength and firmness,” as in building up, repairing or creating an obstacle to deter or withstand attack. So there is no way to conclude from this that this line, or the narrow neck Mormon described in Alma 22:32, was referring to a river.
    Consequently, despite Roper’s efforts to cloud the issue with scenarios resulting from his erroneous views, these two lines were not the same and were not located in the exact same place, i.e., one was in the narrow neck of land, the other was in the Land of Bountiful.
    In quoting this river theme of Roper, Alan C. Miner in his extensive two volume work Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon, states: “Mormon does note travel by boat in Alma 63:5, and even locates the launching into the west sea "by the narrow neck which led into the land northward." On the other hand, if travel by boat is significant enough for Mormon to mention with respect to Hagoth, one might wonder why Mormon is silent in connecting it with "a day and a half's journey for a Nephite."
It is amazing that anyone would try to connect Roper’s comments about balsa wood canoes with Mormon’s comment about the Nephites being involved in “shipping and their building of ships” (Helaman 3:14). After all Hagoth “built him an exceedingly large ship” (Alma 63:5—emphasis mine), in which “there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children” (Alma 63:6), which would also include supplies and equipment for starting new lives in a distant land.
    In addition, one of the main prerequisites in reading the scriptural record should be not to inject thoughts, ideas, or events, not specifically mentioned, suggested, or intimated. There is no suggestion of a journey by water across the narrow neck of land, nor is there any intimation that the day-and-a-half journey of a Nephite across this narrow neck was the same location of the day’s journey of a Nephite along Moronihah’s fortified line.
    When one starts along such speculative lines, one is bound to get far afield in his thinking, and the result is typically the invention of one idea after another, none of which can hold up under clear and honest evaluation.
    Miner continues with “The only other mode of travel mentioned, other than by foot, has to do with "chariots" and "horses" and is found very close in the text at Alma 18:9.” However, once again, Mormon is trying to tell us the distance of the width of the narrow neck—would he say a journey of a Nephite and then mean “on horseback or bychariot” without mentioning it? If so, then his comment is absolutely worthless and such speculative writing is neither scholarlyn or of any value, other than to be intentionally misleading.

No comments:

Post a Comment