Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – Part III

Continuing from the previous post and our responses to the article George Potter wrote that was sent to us by one of our readers. 
    Potter: “Furthermore, the Book of Mormon tells us that the Nephites fortified this line (3 Nephi 3:23,25). It would appear then that the “line” was a fortified border line, a road or a defensive line which must have had a length of no more than 30-40 miles. One definition Webster’s provides for a “line” is “6 b – disposition made to cover extended military positions and presenting a front to the enemy.” The Noah Webster’s original 1828 American Dictionary of English Language defines a line as “a trench or rampart; an extended work in fortification.” Again, it is important to remember that whenever the small neck of land is mentioned in the Book of Mormon, it is specifically in reference to military defenses needed to protect the land northward from the Lamanites in the south.”
    Response: Perhaps the reader might want to read our earlier posts: “What Did Mormon Mean “The Line Which was Between the Land“? andWhat Did Mormon Mean “On the Line Bountiful and the Land of Desolation”?, both of which discuss this very subject of the meaning of this “line.”
    The point is that this line, as a border, could have been any number of things: a river, canyon, ridge, swamp, trail, depression, etc., its purpose was obviously to divide the two lands mentioned in connection with it—“Yes, to the line which was between the Land Bountiful and the Land Desolation” (3 Nephi 23)
The line is a border, and could have been anywhere along the narrow neck of land, such as shown here, or further south
    Potter: “This is probably a new notion to readers of the Book of Mormon; however, two decades prior to my analysis, F. Richard Hauck (M.A. degree in Anthropology from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Utah) formulated the same conclusion in his book, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon. Hauck writes:
    Hauck: One of the traditional assumptions of Book of Mormon scholars and casual readers alike has been to equate the “narrow neck of land” with an isthmus. Because this assumption has been widely accepted without careful examination, it has complicated and confused the numerous attempts made to identify the setting of the book, for the identification of the proper isthmus is frequently the primary focus of attempts made to identify the Book of Mormon geography. Careful analyses of all the references in the text to this topographic feature fails to identify the presences of two seas flanking the transportation corridor. The west sea is clearly evident in the descriptions given in the text, but the east sea is never specifically mentioned as being associated with the narrow corridor. Since two bodies of water flanking a narrow strip of land create an isthmus, the “narrow neck of land” as described in the Book of Mormon, does not qualify as an isthmus. The description of a transportation corridor narrowly constricted on the west flank by the sea and on the east flank by a possible mountain barrier does, however, qualify as a land bridge.
Response: If we use the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language that recorded the language of New England that existed during the time of Joseph Smith, we find three definitions:
    Neck: A narrow track of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts of land
    Bridge:  Any structure of wood stone, brick, or iron, raised over a river, pond, or lake, for the passage of men and other animals.
    Isthmus: A neck or narrow slip of land by which two continents are connected, or why which a peninsula is united to the mainland.
    While the word “isthmus” does not appear anywhere in the scriptural record, it at least is much closer to the meaning of narrow neck of land that Hauck’s land bridge.
    Obviously, Mormon’s small and narrow neck of land does not equate to a land bridge at all and the idea of Potter referencing Hauck who, himself, is way off the mark, shows a certain amount of non professionalism for a scholar, let alone one writing about the scriptural record.
    Potter: “The question remains. “What was on the ‘east’ of the line?” It appears to have been a highly secured mountain pass that was a strategic gateway between the northward and southward lands.”
    Response: Here we go again. How can anything “appear to have been” when it is not eluded to in the scriptural record. If you eliminate ellipted writing, then you obviously feel free to make up anything you choose.
    Potter: “We learn in Chapter 52 of Alma that the narrow entry or neck leading from the land of Bountiful into the land northward was a “pass,” i.e., presumably a narrow mountain pass through the Andes.”
Response: Following Morianton’s aborted attempt at reaching the narrow neck of land and getting into the Land Northward, thanks to Teancum’s race to head him off and intercept him before he reached that point, Moroni issue further instructions to Teancum (Alma 52:8) to retain the prisoners “who fell into his hands,” for a potential prisoner exchange with the Lamanites. He added, “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9).
    That point, obviously, is the Land Northward, the narrow neck of land, through which the narrow pass ran, was the most strategic place within the entire Nephite territory. However, oblivious to the obvious, Potter goes on:
    Potter: “The narrow pass or neck is described in the Book of Mormon as a “point” (Alma 52:9).”
    Response: Again, the point is a location—the Land Northward. The 1828 dictionary describes point: “A small space, as a small point of land,” and “An exact place,” and “A place to which anything is directed.” Moroni was directing Teancum to secure the narrow pass so the Lamanites could not get to a point beyond that, or to the Land of Desolation in the Land Northward.
    Potter: “Webster’s defines a “point” as “4. a (2): a geometric element determined by an ordered set of coordinates;  b (1): a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position  (2): a particular place.” A strategic road through a narrow a mountain pass between two geopolitical lands would form a strategic military point, which was so vital that this single point would allow the Lamanites to attack in the Nephites from every side. (Alma 52:9)  Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary includes these definitions of a “point.”: “a small space; as a small point of land,”“the place in which anything is directed.” Both these definitions could apply to a narrow passage through the mountains.”
The narrow pass (yellow arrow) ran between the Land Northward and the Land Southward within the narrow neck of land
    Response: To make things clear, there was a narrow pass running through the small and narrow neck of land, the only connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward mentioned in the scriptural record. It was through this narrow passage “And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34) that ingress to the Land Northward could be reached, but it was not a narrow pass through the Andes since it had the West Sea to one side and the East Sea to the other (Alma 50:34).
(See the next post, “Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – PtIV,” to see not only why the narrow neck was strategic, but also to see how theorists get so many wrong ideas about Mormon’s many descriptions when they try to alter or change his meanings that are clearly stated in his writing)

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