Friday, August 19, 2016

Why Do We Have Scriptures? Part II

Continuing with the recently published book by Jonathan Neville that caught my attention entitled Moroni’s America: the North American setting for the Book of Mormon, published in December 2015. The previous post introduced one of Neville’s maps regarding the placement of the various lands in the Land of Promise and comparing them with the descriptions of Mormon in Alma 22:27-33.
Our Simple Map of the Area
4. The Land of Nephi and the Lamanites were hemmed in on the south of the Nephites (see his map in the previoius post or the last map below).
    Map Result: Partially. While the Land of Nephi is to the south in Neville’s map, they are not hemmed in by the sea on either side and could circumvent the Nephite land holdings by sweeping far to the west and then north or far to the east and then north.
5. The Land of Nephi ran from the Sea West to the Sea East.
    Map Result: Inaccurate. There is no Sea West or Sea East on the map that runs along the west or east borders of the land of Nephi in Neville’s map.
6. Lamanites were scattered on the west in the Land of Nephi and on the west and in the Land of Zarahemla on the west in the borders by the seashore.
    Map Result: Inaccurate. There is no Sea West to the west of the land of Zarahemla, and there is no Sea West to the west of the Land of Nephi.
7. The place of their Father’s First Inheritance was located in the west in the Land of Nephi and thus bordering along by the seashore. 
    Map Result: The Mississippi River cannot be a Sea West, and while they can draw it wide, at no time geologically was the river known to have been wide enough to be considered a “sea.” It did change course from time to time, but never was it deep enough (or it would not have changed course) for a deep sea vessel to pass. In addition, historically, because of the natural shallowness of the Mississippi and the several series of rapids that have always existed, no ocean-going vessel could have sailed up the Mississippi to the confluence of the Ohio River. Third, calling a place along a river its head is not the same as the actual head of a river. Fourth, naming half of a river the Mississippi and the other half the Sidon is not scholarly or accurate when this river as known to the Indians long before modern times as always having the same basic name.
8. There were many Lamanites in the east by the seashore. 
    Map Result: Inaccurate. There is no Sea East in the area of the Lamanites on Neville’s map (see last post or below). Secondly, the border around his Sea East is north of the hill Cumorah, and according to several scriptural references, the Lamanites were always to the south of the Nephites, yet Neville has run the Land of Nephi and the Lamanites all the waya up to Lake Ontario.
9a. The Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon… 
    Map Result: The head of the River Sidon on Neville’s map is far into the Land of Nephi in its overall design, with part of the land of Nephi running to the south of the land of Bountiful and to the east along Bountiful’s full border, all contrary to the descriptions Mormon left us.
9b. …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… 
    Map Result: The head of the Sidon River was in the narrow strip of wilderness, yet in Neville’s map, it is many miles to the west, and Manti is nowhere near the Sidon River, which is far to the south of Manti in his map.
9c. Bountiful was to the north of the Nephite lands of Zarahemla.
Map Result: Neville has the Nephite laneds to the south and east of the Land of Bountiful where the scriptures never placed them. Also he does not have the Land of Bountiful to the North of the land of Zarahemla where Mormon places it.
10. Bountiful bordered upon the Land of Desolation, which was to the north. 
    Map Result: Partially. While the Land of Desolation is to the north of the Land of Bountiful, there is not one single “narrow neck of land” between them that fits the narrowing confinement of a land or isthmus between two major land masses.
11. The Land of Desolation was so far northward that it came into the land of the Jaredites. 
    Map Result: Partially. Neville’s Land of Desolation is to the north of part of the land of Promise, but not to the north of the Land of Zarahemla. Also, his Land of Desolation is to the west of Cumorah, contrary to Mormon’s descriptions.
12. The land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful.
    Map Result: Partially. Those two lands are north and south of one another on Neville’s map where he placed them; however, neither are to the north of the Land of Zarahemla contrary to Mormon’s descriptions.
13. The land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi were nearly surrounded by water, except for a small neck of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward.
    Map Result: Inaccurate. No portion of that Land of Zarahemla or the land of Nephi are surrounded by water.
14. The small neck of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward was the distance of a day-and-a-half journey for a Nephite.
    Map Result: A small neck of land is identified by Neville, but it and its location does not fulfill the requirement of Mormon’s description since a river does not alter the movement of an army or bottle it up or keep it from advancing in the land he has chosen. Nor does it show a land within it nearly surrounded by water. Small rivers that are crossable do not meet Mormon’s criteria.
    So again, the question is asked, “Why do we have scriptures if someone is going to so blatantly ignore them in trying to tell us the description of the land that only the scriptures can enlighten us upon. Oliver Cowdery cannot help us understand where the Land of Promise was located since the Church has never identified a location other than the Western Hemsiphere of North and South America, and for all intents and purposes does not know the answer to that. In addition, several of Cowdery’s contemporaries, including Orson Pratt, who clarified and elaborated on the fact that North and South America was the land of promise for remnant of Joseph (David J.Whittaker, as well as early prophets.
As an example, “in 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith declared that “the whole of America is Zion itself from north to south” (TPJS, 362); Elder Joseph Fielding Smith linked an Old Testament prophecy to the Americas when he suggested that Isaiah’s declaration of “Woe to the land shadowing with wings” (Isaiah 18:1) would be better translated, “Hail to the land in the shape of wings” (Signs, 51); and President Spencer W. Kimball tied all these thoughts together as he reminded the Saints in Brazil and Argentina that “Zion was all of North and South America, like the wide, spreading wings of a great eagle, the one being North and the other South America” (Conference Report, April 1975), pp3-9). 
    This shows the difficulty a Theorist has when they decide a place the Land of Promise and try to fit in certain scriptural locations, such as Neville did with the Hill Cumorah, the Land of Nephi, Land of Zarahemla, and Land of Bountiful, as well as the head of the River Sidon, etc., getting them all out of position according to Mormon’s descriptions.


  1. If it was just one thing, we could think maybe an explanation will eventually come forth to resolve it. But basically everything he is claiming contradicts the Book of Mormon text. The only way Neville’s claims can be accepted is by dogmatic and head strong insistence. Almost no scholar, Mormon or non-Mormon, will do anything but mock his ideas. Neville and others are truly doing a great disservice to Mormonism with their erroneous geographical claims. Therefore, it is good to go through, claim by claim, and explain these errors so they cannot get away with it so easily.

  2. Minor point and off the subject. Isaiah 18:1 should read: Woe to the land of buzzing wings beyond the rivers of Cush - translation by Robert Smith and Avraham Gileadi. This verse isn't about America at all but is a woe or a curse against another nation beyond Cush. I won't go into it any further because it is off the point but it isn't talking about North or South America at all in this particular verse.

    Good stuff though Del, I mentioned a few months ago that the maps of JN were inaccurate. Nobody seems to care over there in his blog. They are all in fools heaven - ignorance is bliss.

  3. Good points gentlemen, thank you.