Friday, August 15, 2014

Stoddard Evaluating Sorenson – Part II – Are the Scriptures Misleading?

We are continuing with the article that recently appeared on the internet written by Ted Dee Stoddard, a professor emeritus of Management Communication in the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management, where he taught business writing throughout his academic career. While involved in academia, he edited Joseph Lovell Allen and Blake Joseph Allen's book, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed., and wrote the article on John L. Sorenson, which began in the last post. 
    We are continuing here by discussing the six points that Stoddard claims has added to the confusion of these issues in Alma 22:32.
    1. Stoddard: What is the distance across the narrow neck of land?
Response: Numerous tests show that a man can walk about 1.5 to 2.5 miles per hour for an extended period of time across level ground. In a day and a half, or 18 hours, that would be between 27 and 45 miles. When you factor in uneven ground, hills, mountains, swamps, forests, etc., this number falls to between 25 and 30 miles. There is nothing confusing about this issue—a man can walk, under normal circumstances at a given pace which has been tested and known for centuries. The confusion to Stoddard comes because the distance of the width of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec does not agree with this standard walking distance.
    2. Stoddard: “Should Alma 22:32 read as it appears in the Book of Mormon, or should it read “on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east [sea] to the west sea?”
    Response: I don’t know about you, but to me, a scriptural record should stand on its own for merit, or of what value is it? However, in this issue as stated by Stoddard, there is little difference. After all, the line Bountiful is the border between Bountiful and Desolation, both lands are separated by this narrow neck of land—at what point you draw the boundary through this narrow next seems of little import. After all, Mormon is trying to tell us how to determine or understand the width of this narrow neck.
    3. Stoddard: “For directional purposes, did the Nephites employ the cardinal directions, or did they employ their own directional system? What do “east” and “west” refer to in Alma 22?
   First, in no other writing or scholarly discussion would a person ask such a ridiculous question—the cardinal compass directions have been basically the standard of directional thought and consideration in every civilization and in every era. The only reason Stoddard raises this question is because the cardinal directions do not fit the Mesoamerican model, therefore they have to be discredited in the scriptural record to allow for the Mesoamerican model. And Sorenson does not help the matter by talking about unusual circumstances, such as Eskimos having every direction as south, or every direction being north from Antarctica, etc.
    However, the answer to the question is simple. Nephi knew his cardinal points (north, east, south, west), his ordinal or half cardinal points (northeast, southeast northwest southwest), and his half-winds or false points (north northeast, east northeast, east southeast, south southeast, south southwest, west southwest, west northwest, north northwest), as is shown in his travel along the Red Sea (1 Nephi 16:13), and then across the great sand desert (1 Nephi 17:1) of the Empty Quarter (Rub’ al-Khali), where he very accurately states these points.
    Thus, there can be no doubt that Nephi, and then subsequent prophets, knew the directions and used north, east, south, and west as we would. If for no other reason than they all had the Liahona and the Land of Promise would have been first directionally described by Nephi, who also had the Liahona—and showed us he knew these various directions accurately.
    4. Stoddard: “Where are the east sea and east wilderness of the Book of Mormon?”
    Response: The east wilderness was in the east, along the east sea (Alma 50:9). It curved around (round about) from the narrow strip of wilderness and then curved upward along the coastal shore, which is where Moroni drove out the Lamanites and pushed them back into their own lands (Alma 50:9). This is the same type of directional thought that tells us that the Wilderness of Hermounts was to the north and west of the city of Zarahemla (Alma 2:37). This narrow strip of wilderness ran from the sea east to the sea west (Alma 22:27) and then round about (curved) on the borders of the seashore. Again, there is nothing confusing about any of this as long as you are not trying to prove a model that is different than the Land of Promise, as Stoddard, et all, are doing.
“The strip of wilderness ran from sea to sea, then curved up (round about) along both seashores” (Alma 22:27-28)
    5. Stoddard: “Where is the narrow pass in relation to the narrow neck of land?”
    There is only one land area between the Land Southward and the Land Northward and it is called a “small neck of land” (Alma 22:32) or “narrow neck of land” (Alma 63:5; Ether 10:20). Within this narrow neck of land ran a narrow pass, which also connected the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 50:34; 52:9).
    When you understand that Mormon tells you that there is one narrow neck connecting the two major land masses, and that there is also a narrow pass that runs between these two major land masses, the only conclusion can be that the narrow pass (movement) runs within the narrow neck of land (geography) between the Land Northward and the Land Southward.
    6. Stoddard: “What is unique about the narrow strip of wilderness in connection with Alma 22?” 
Response: The narrow strip of wilderness is a dividing line between the Land of Nephi to the south, controlled by the Lamanites, and the Land of Zarahemla, to the north, controlled by the Nephites. Mormon makes this quite clear in the scripture (Alma 22:27). This is even more clear when one recognizes that Mormon is inserting this information into Alma’s record to explain to his future reader the land held by the Lamanite King and how the Lamanite lands ended in this narrow strip of wilderness, with everything north of that controlled by the Nephites; “nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29).
    The problem with Stoddards’ comments and Sorenson’s writings, is they are trying desperately to make Mesoamerica the Land of Promise but it simply does not match the scriptural record, therefore, they are constantly trying to cloud the issue to find some reason why the scriptural record is not correct, or to alter or change the scriptural record, or in this case, make is sound confusing so they can insert their model into that area and support it by their twisting of the scriptural meanings.
    In a word, this is neither scholarship nor good writing, and should be far beneath two professor emeritus BYU academicians!

1 comment:

  1. If anyone has time to defend the South American model, go here: