Saturday, March 1, 2014

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

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. 
    Miner goes on to quote: “John Sorenson writes that the beginning in addressing Book of Mormon geography is the text of the Book of Mormon itself…”
    One might wonder, then, why Sorenson has not followed his own advice, since the “text of the Book of Mormon” states over and over again north and south, which Sorenson promptly decides means “east and west?”
Sorenson’s map of the Land of Promise (Mesoamerica) showing it runs east and west—note the tiny compass direction icon pointing north
    Miner also adds: “Elder Joseph Fielding Smith put the principle well for Latter-day Saints: "The teachings of any . . . member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them."
    Again, one might wonder why, then, Miner does not square with the revelations, i.e., the revelations of the scriptural record within the Book of Mormon (no other revelations within the Church deal with the geography or location of the Land of Promise). So if Miner is going to square with the scriptural record, why then is he using the same east-west direction system of Sorenson?
Alan C. Miner's Map of the Land of Promise, which he also locates in Mesoamerica—obviously, an east-west running land, not north-south as Mormon describes
    If Miner intends to follow the scriptural record, why does he separate the narrow neck from the narrow pass, create a corridor along the western seashore that is not mentioned anywhere in the scriptural record, and even discredited by actual descriptions Mormon left us?
Far more examples of both Sorenson and Miner not following their own counsel could be given, but we have written many of those within the posts of this blog, and for Sorenson’s many infractions of his own counsel, in the book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists.
    Miner then goes on to conclude this thought with: “Whatever the Book of Mormon says about its own geography thus takes precedence over anything commentators have said of it.”
    I could add, over anything anyone has said about it short of any forthcoming revelation. The problem lies in what people write, and what they actually think. As an example, the scriptural record clearly states:
1. The Land of Promise was an island (2 Nephi 10:20)
2. The Land Southward (lands of Zarahemla and Nephi) were completely surrounded by water except for a “small neck of land” (Alma 22:32)
3. This small or narrow neck of land connected the Land Southward and the Land Northward (Alma 63:5)
4. There was a narrow pass or passage leading from the Land Southward and the Land Northward (Alma 52:9)
5. The narrow pass between the Land Southward and the Land Northward ran between the West Sea and the East Sea (Alma 50:34)
6. Thus, since the small or narrow neck of land was the only connection between the two larger lands, and there was a narrow pass leading from one of these lands to the other, it must be concluded that the narrow pass or passage traveled through the narrow neck of land.
    However, Miner separates these two areas, placing a narrow neck in an area that is not narrow (144 miles across), and his narrow pass along the coast where there is a sea on the south, and a small narrow lagoon on the north, but no east sea)
Miner’s narrow neck is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (green arrow), 144-miles across; his narrow pass or passage is a strip (actually an outer bank) of land along the coast of Mexico (red arrow) about 365 miles long to the east of his narrow neck. Hardly a match to Mormon’s description
    Miner then adds another quote from Sorenson which, I can honestly say, Sorenson is right on target and it could not have been said any better: “Overall, over 550 verses in the Book of Mormon contain information of geographical significance. Some fifteen lands are named therein, and their positions are noted, connoted, or implied. The positions of forty-seven cities are more or less characterized (thirteen of these forty-seven are mentioned only once, and that limited data fails to provide enough information to relate the thirteen to the locations of the locations of other cities or lands). Mormon never hints that he did not understand the geography behind the records of his ancestors that he was abridging; rather, his writing exudes an air of confidence. According to his account (see the book of Mormon), he personally traveled through much of the Nephite lands. In fact, he was a military leader and strategist who was accustomed to paying close attention to the lay of the land, and he may also have had actual maps to which he could refer. [John L. Sorenson, Mormon's Map, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 9-11]”
    In summary of this, it seems necessary, having read most of what Sorenson has written and said about the Land of Promise, to again ask the questions, “Why does he not follow his own advice and counsel? Why does he parade forth page after page of explanation as to what Mormon really meant, and what was intended, and what needs to be clarified. Why not just accept what Mormon said and run with it?
    In his writing, Miner also quotes Glenn A. Scott in his Voices from the Dust (p 154), who claims in a discussion about the narrow neck of land that “the Gulf of Mexico and Tehuantepec Isthmus [are] areas worst hit by the current floods. Because much of this narrow neck of land is alluvial (i.e., built up from soil washed down from higher elevations), the neck was much narrower in Book of Mormon times.” The problem with this type of thinking and pronouncement is simply that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec runs east and west and there simply is no way to get around that fact. And for the isthmus itself to be narrow enough to meet the scriptural record requirement of a day-and-a-half journey for a Nephite, it would have to be at least 90 miles narrower—that is this isthmus would have to have been three-fourths narrower at least 1600 years ago and then filled in during a 1000 year period, then not added to at all over the next 600 years—most geologists would tell you that such would be highly unlikely. But more importantly, the ruins of ancient settlements dating to or just after Nephite times would preclude this from having happened, for these settlements would have been ruined, washed away or covered by the alluvian soil cascading down from higher elevations.
The whole point of all this (and all our posts) is simply to state that while writers talk about following the scriptural record, and following the revelations found therein, they simply do not, as the saying goes, "walk the talk." They ignore their own advice and counsel to stray far from the actual descriptions Mormon left us. These five posts, and numerous others, along with the book on Inaccuracies mentioned above show how far afield their writings go. It would seem more prudent to actually follow the scriptural record than just merely talk about it and then do something different.

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