Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Matter of Perspective – Part II

Regarding the “small” or “narrow neck of land” and the “narrow pass” or “passage,” Mesoamericanist Joseph L. Allen claims that the “defensive line must be located near the base (south end) of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec because the line clearly involves the west sea (the Pacific Ocean).”
Allen’s defensive line that has to be along the south end (in orange) blocking off the Pacific Coastal Route; however, as the yellow and white arrows show, routes through the mountains and along the 90-mile wide lowlands of the Gulf Coastal Route would be unguarded. His narrow neck does not close down egress into the Land Northward (to the left) from the Land Southward (to the right)
More from Allen: “From the perspective of Alma 22 and the Lamanite king living in the land of Nephi (valley of Guatemala City) whom Mormon is talking about, the “west sea” is indeed west and is that portion of the west sea in close proximity to the narrow neck of land. In other words, the west sea is the Pacific Ocean based on the content in verses 27 and 32.”
Response: This is simply not correct and totally indefensible. A map clearly shows that the sea is far closer to the south of their city of Nephi than to the west, and there is no reason to say that it was the West Sea, when it is to the south of their narrow neck of land, the narrow passage, and Mesoamerica in particular. In viewing the map, it is easy to see that the Pacific Ocean would be considered to the south of Guatemala, not to the west. Nor can Allen claim one sea in the same area has two different names, like South Sea (north of West Sea) and West Sea to the South. This is simply a play on words in order to place the seas where they do not actually exist, and has nothing to do with the way directional locations were used by the Nephites.
    Allen: “The Location and Nature of the Narrow Pass—A narrow pass is an essential component of any New World isthmus being considered as the “small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32). The term “narrow pass” is used only three times in the Book of Mormon.
    Response: It is extremely difficult to discern a narrow neck of land between Allen’s Land Northward and Land southward, when his narrow neck is a small outer bank along the south coast of Mexico and has nothing to do with any narrowing of the land as Mormon describes.
There are certain aspects of the narrow neck that should be understood. In 600 B.C., the neck should be such that anyone could have perceived it being “narrow” when standing in the vicinity of it (no aerial photography, NASA satellite photos, etc., would have been available)—it has to be seen by an individual standing in the area that the land narrows, a small neck between two major land masses exists. Such is simply not the case with this area of Mesoamerica. A narrow neck is not a narrow tract of land between a mountain and a sea coast, as this area is, but a neck of land with water on both sides as Mormon states (Mormon 50:34).
    Allen: “Sorenson claims the terms narrow pass/narrow passage and the term narrow neck of land are not synonymous terms. Seemingly, readers can easily discern that the narrow pass was located in the narrow neck of land.”
    Response: Yes, the reader can discern this; what cannot be discerned is Allen’s location for the narrow neck of land, isolated along one coast that does not limit the rest of the land, nor cause the rest of the land to nearly be surrounded by water except for this narrow neck (Alma 22:32).
    Allen, again on Sorenson: “In speaking of the narrow pass, Sorenson, in another source, says: “The pass led to the land northward. Control of the pass was required to get into the land northward (at least that part of interest to the Nephites then).” By “then,” Sorenson is referring to Alma 52:9, which dates to the first century BC. Sorenson is confused. At this point in time (the first century BC), as reflected in Alma 50:34, the Nephites are not on the north side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Rather, they are on the south side, near the borders of the land Desolation. “By the sea, on the west and on the east” means they were at the west sea (Pacific Ocean/Gulf of Tehuantepec) on both the west side and east side of the narrow pass that led into the narrow neck of land.”
Mesoamericanists seem overly confused about the idea of the Nephites controlling the entrance into the Land Northward. In their model, they are dealing with 144-mile width of a narrow neck. How are you going to defend 144 miles across to keep a group (red arrows) determined to get there from passing through such a width? Or what path would Teancum take to intercept Morianton (green arrows) in the south or in the north?

Response: It seems that Allen is the one confused. On his map, he places Bountiful in the north near the narrow neck of land yet centers his activity in the south along the coast as though this was the only way to get into the Land Northward.
    The problem is, and for some reason not one Mesoamerican theorist seems to understand this rather simple military point—the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is far too wide with difficult terrain (mountains, marshes, flat lands, highlands, etc.) to defend in the era of swords and arrows, which required hand-to-hand combat. Stated in other words, in close fighting. When the Pass that Mormon describes is relegated to a coastal route while many other routes also exist beyond mountains, far to the north, etc., there is simply no way that a military unit of almost any size could have defended such a large area requiring in-close fighting. Today, with machine guns, rocket launchers, mines, canon and aerial bombardment, it could likely be done, but not during Nephite times. After all, the 300 Spartans (actual number around 7,000) at Thermopylae guarded a pass in 480 B.C. against a million Persians (actual number about 150,000) along a Pass about 300 feet wide of great strategic importance as it commanded the way from Thessaly through Lokris and into Boeotia.
View of the Thermopylae pass at the area of the Phocian Wall. In ancient times the coastline was where the modern road lies, or even closer to the mountain

One of the problems we have today in trying to determine a location is that our lives are so different than in Nephite times. Seldom does anyone go anywhere they do not already know the lay of the land, either from topical maps, pictures, aerial or satellite photos, GPS, etc. It is hard to divorce one’s mind from something already known and understood (like Tehuantepec being referred to as an Isthmus) and try to see something as it would have been seen in Nephite times. If theorists would do this, not a single person would consider Tehuantepec to be an isthmus to the Nephites, and referred to as a “small” or “narrow” neck of land—no, not one. It is simply impossible to see and understand Tehuantepec as an isthmus from any source other than being told it is such and seeing aerial maps and photos.
There is no possible way a traveler in 600 B.C. or 400 A.D. could tell this was an isthmus. The narrowing of the land is so slight and the regular distances so great, that to someone in the area without satellite photos or aerial maps, no difference in the land is discernable

Allen: “When going through the southern part of the narrow neck of Tehuantepec and thereby experiencing the narrow pass, travelers can almost “reach out” on both the east side and the west side and touch the massive mountains that rise up as impenetrable barriers to movement and that constitute the heart of the narrow pass through the narrow neck of land.”
    Response: However, neither can they know or tell without being shown, that the land beyond these towering mountains continues northward for 140 miles or so through which are numerous paths from the east (Allen’s south) to the west (Allen’s north). Once you factor that in, it becomes much more clear that they are not seeing what is written in the scriptural record at all.

1 comment:

  1. " has to be seen by an individual standing in the area that the land narrows"

    Are we really sure a person could see "a day and half distance" of walking?

    But over time it would be known that the distance was very short and many or all would hear about it.

    Whereas, the distance of 140 so miles with no real one narrow pass would not become something that even over time would be understood as a narrow neck of land.

    Their narrow neck and pass are extremely disqualifying for a true Book of Mormon geography in that area for many reasons.

    I do what I can to help others understand:

    Top 10 Book of Mormon Evidences