Friday, June 2, 2017

More Comments from Readers – Part V

Here are more comments from our readers of this blog: 
    Comment #1: “Someone made this statement in our group and I was wondering what you thought of it: ‘Another way to look at directions, and I have no way of knowing for certain that this happened in the BOM, could be similar to how we divide the country today. Someone who lives in Utah, but wintered in Florida, would speak of going back down South or returning North, but these references, strictly as directions are not accurate. Should be south east and north west. Or Pennsylvania and Arizona. Again we would say going south for the winter or back north for the summer, but neither is technically correct. Basically we use the Mason Dixon line as the divider between north and south, with less emphasis on your east and west. It is certainly possible that the Nephites and Lamanites had a similar convention. Would help explain the apparent "fuzziness" of their directions, when we know they were capable of much greater accuracy” Adam W.
Directions are not very often determined by someone's opinion, but by cut-and-dried understanding of where things are from one another. The Mason-Dixon Line can be drawn mostly across the country, in 1762 when it was created, it ended at the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. From there it was unofficially extended to include the southwest Iowa border almost a hundred years later as a precursor to the Civil War. For the past neraly 100 years or so, this line has had little or no meaning west of the original slave states. As to directions, the map on the right is far more meaningful and in use today
    Response: The thing we need to understand is that people of all ages were pretty much the same in general understanding. The Nephites would not have had much difference in their world view (of their land) than we do of ours. To be specific to the statement given, no one in Utah would talk about going south to Florida, for that is neither accurate nor closely correct. Someone in Utah would simply say they were going to Florida. And certainly, no one in Florida would say Utah was north, but out west! We should keep in mind that directions, in this case, are more related to distance, i.e., Salt Lake to anywhere within the state to the south, is just “going south” (Price, Provo or Delta; as well as St. George, Bullfrog or Blanding). But the same person would differentiate between going south to Phoenix, southwest to Los Angeles or southeast to Albuquerque.
    A lot has to do with distance as opposed to just direction. And it is doubtful today that anyone would use the Mason-Dixon line to determine north or south unless involved in some technical division requirement. As an example, if you are in Florida, you would go north to Tennessee, South Carolina, even Georgia, as well as Maine. In such cases, direction is more important than distance.
    While that is the case in loose, general conversation, it would be different when becoming more technical, as an example, if someone asked the direction to some place, you would be more specific and use northward, northeast, southwest, etc. If your kid was asking you where aunt Mini lived, you might say north of Uncle Joe, using a general direction, but if they were asking for a school report, you would be more inclined to say to the northeast of Uncle Joe. Or stated differently, if your kid asked what was the direction of Alaska, you might say way up north, but if it is a neighbor’s kid asked, you might reply northward, to the west of Canada.
When Mormon abridged the record, he was giving us general terms. As an example, from Salt Lake City, Denver is east, but Oklahoma is eastward, as is South Dakota, or Idaho is north, but Washington is northward; in California, Los Angeles is southward, but San Francisco is West. He was not giving us map coordinates (southeast, or south-southeast) as Nephi did when traveling along the Red Sea, but a general sense of a direction, i.e., northward means “toward the north.” Salt Lake to Tucson is due south, while Salt Lake to Los Angeles is southward—“toward the south.”
    Generally speaking, directions are loosely held terms depending on intent. They are stated for the most part in terms of degree of importance depending on the purpose of giving them. When someone asks for a direction, the more specific you are the better for the one asking (it lies 12 miles to the north-northwest of the temple), if they are simply seeking information, less specifics in an answer is required (it lies northward, or north and west of here), and when it doesn’t specifically matter, a general term is applied (it’s to the north of here).
    It pains me to see the wrong purpose applied to Mormon’s intent. He is not giving us a specific, degree-bearing map of the Land of Promise, but a general overall understanding. It is foolhardy for readers to try and read something into his words that were obviously not intended.
    Comment #2: “How can the Book of Mormon use the word "book" in 600 B.C. when there were no books?” Tommy V.
The Hebrew word "cepher" (סֵפֶר) means properly, "writing" (the art of a document); by implication, a book (bill, book, evidence, letter, register and scroll). Thus an ancient scroll was a book and since the word "scroll" does not apply to modern printed records, the word book is almost solely used

    Response: The word "book" also occurs many times in the Old Testament (KJV). It's first occurrence is Genesis 5:1, followed by Exodus 17:14, 24:7, 32:32; Numbers 5:23, 21:14; Deuteronomy 17:18, 28:58, 28:61, 29:20-21, 29:27, 30:10, 31:24, 31:26; Joshua 1:8, 8:31, and many more other passages from before the time of Lehi, who saw a book in a vision (1 Nephi 1:11,19). The modern book is probably not meant. Rather, a collection of scrolls or other writings can be called a book. The Hebrew word translated as "book" in the Bible is "cepher" which can mean scroll or collection of writings. Translating that word as "book" is perfectly appropriate, though we need not think of a modern paperback or hardcover. 
    Comment #3: “Del,Your blog is very interesting. Every week I read your posts. I have a question. Where do you think the cities of David and Angola were built? La Libertad or Piura?” Alan Mike C. S.
    Response: Thank you for your comments and question. The problem in answering such a question, as we have stated many times, is that there is insufficient information in the scriptural record to place most cities, and even lands. As an example, when the Nephites and Lamanites went to war during Mormon’s time, that war originally began around the Waters of Sidon near the borders of Zarahemla (Mormon 1:10). Within six years, four of which had been peaceful, Mormon is appointed head of the armies and the Nephites began to retreat toward the north countries (Mormon 2:3), which would be north of Zarahemla. They arrived in the city of Angola (Mormon 2:4)—a city that had not been mentioned earlier in the scriptural record, so all we know of it is that it would be north of the Land of Zarahemla. 
Then they were driven out of Angola, and out of the Land of David (Mormon 1:5)—which is the first time the land of David or any city of David is mentioned. They were then driven into the land of Joshua, which was in the borders west by the seashore (Mormon 1:6)—but in the borders of what? What borders? Also, this is the first time the land of Joshua is mentioned. Obviously, all of these areas are north of the land of Zarahemla, and likely all three are in the west, possibly near the seashore like Joshua—but we do not know that for certain, for they could have been moving laterally across the land as well.
    During this 14 years between the huge battle involving 86,000 Lamanites and Nephites (Mormon 2:9), we don’t know if they moved anywhere, retreated further, or retook some of the earlier lost land to the south—nothing is said. Then, in the 15th year since that battle, the Nephites began to flee again before the Lamanite (Mormon 2:16) and came to the Land of Jashon and the city of Jashon (Mormon 2:17), which was near the land where Ammaron had deposited the records (Mormon 1:2), which Mormon then retrieved and wrote down the Nephite history of his lifetime (Mormon 2:17-18), which had to have been in the Land Northward since that was where Mormon was (Mormon 1:2) until his father brought him south (Mormon 1:6).
    The Nephites were then driven northward from wherever they were at this time to the Land of Shem (Mormon 2:20)—another city we know nothing about or where exactly it is. The following year a battle took place around the city of Shem, which resulted in the Lamanites fleeing and the Nephites following after them (Mormon 2:25-26)—however, we do not know in which direction the Lamanites fled, but can assume it was to the south, but it might have been laterally.
    At this time, the Nephites were victorious and “had again taken possession of the lands of our inheritance” (Mormon 2:27). While we don’t know how much of their previous lands they regained, it could have been as far south as the city of Zarahemla. However, at this point Mormon tells us the Lamanites and Nephites entered into a treaty, wherein the Lamanites took control of all the Land Southward and the Nephites took control of all the Land Northward (Mormon 2:28-29).
    Consequently, it is impossible to know with any certainty where the cities of David and Angola were specifically located. It could have been the lands you indicated, but then it could have been several other areas. It is the type of speculation we try to steer clear of doing in this blog.

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