Sunday, October 15, 2017

Are the Differences in Theories Reduced to Only One Issue?

According to Jonathan Neville, there seems to him that the “apparent foundational geographic differences between the Mesoamericanists and the North Americanists are twofold:(1) the nature and location of the narrow strip of wilderness and (2) the direction of flow of the river Sidon.”
    This statement, without a doubt is about the most simplistic and irresponsible thing either theorist, Mesoamerican or North Americanist could say.
In fact, there are so many differences it is hard to imagine them listed in a single article, but then again, there are so many differences between both theories and the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, it is almost humorous to attempt to list them all in even a series of articles.
    In an interesting misunderstanding of facts, and a view into the narrow thinking of theorists, it is written in this discussion: “According to the Book of Mormon, if the narrow strip of wilderness was mountainous and ran from a west sea to an east sea and if the river Sidon flowed north, then the Heartland (North American) Model is false. Conversely, if the narrow strip of wilderness was not mountainous and if the Sidon flowed south, then the Mesoamerican Model is false. It is that simple, and Neville agrees with this premise (page 314 and by personal conversation).”
    Only a Mesoamerican or North Americanist theorist could reduce the large number of scriptural references to the descriptions and understanding of the Land of Promise to a single issue—the flow of the Sidon River. However, even this singular issue is poorly described, for the River Sidon no matter which way it flowed, was in a highland area or right near it that was the Land of Nephi, which occupied a higher elevation than the Land of Zarahemla, yet in the Heartland or North American models the land around their Zarahemla is all flat, and the Mississippi River is a flat valley its entire length, which eliminates this area from any possible consideration.
    So let us take further examples:
1. The direction of the land:
    Mesoamericanists have a distinct east-west orientation with their land extension; North Americanists have a more or less east west land divided off from the overall huge land mass of North America.
2. The height of mountains:
    Mesoamericanists have mountains, two ranges, one in the Land Northward and one in the Land Southward, but neither range has any peaks over 15,000 feet, and most are far shorter; North Amerianists, have no mountains at all within the designated areas of their Land of Promise; and even in the entire eastern half of the continent (east of the Rocky Mountains), no mountains are high enough to even mention, especially in light of Samuel the Lamanites prophesy, which the Lord told him to utter, that the Land of Promise would have mountains, “whose height is great.”
3. Two unknown animals to Joseph Smith in 1829:
    Mesoamericanists can only point to the sloth and tapir as unknown animals at the time, but neither are beasts of burden, and could not possible be ranked with the elephant as equally important to  man over the horse and ass. North Americanists have no unknown animals to point out. Sometimes they try to use the Buffalo and Mountain Goat, neither of which are domesticatable and neither are beasts of burden, and probably at least one, or probably both, would have been known to Joseph Smith.
4. Growing climate to match Jerusalem:
    Mesoamerica is a tropical climate and neither wheat nor barley will grow there, let alone olive trees and numerous other seeds that Lehi brought from the Mediterranean Climate of Jerusalem. North Americanists, especially the Great Lakes, has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa), which is 4º-7º warmer overnight than surrounding areas, but still a far cry from the Mediterranean Climate of Jerusalem where olive trees and numerous other Jerusalem seeds and grains would not have grown.
5. The Land of Bountiful being north of the Land of Zarahemla:
    Mesoamericanists have the Land of Bountiful to the north of the Land of Zarahemla (though actually east on their map). North Americanists have the Land of Bountiful to the east of their Land of Zarahemla. Neither case does the location agree with the scriptural record.
6. The West Sea reachable by sailing:
    Mesoamericanists have their West Sea as the Pacific Ocean which is to the south of their Land of Promise. North Americanists have their West Sea either as a Great Lake or as the Mississippi River, neither of which could be reached by deep ocean sailing ships in 600 B.C., let alone by submersible barges in 2100 B.C.
7. The West Sea:
    Again, Mesoamericanists have their West Sea to the south of their Land of Promise. North Americanists have two West Seas, one in the north is Lake Michigan, which is nowhere near their Land of Nephi, and is to the north of the Land of Zarahemla. The other is in the south, south of the Land of Zarahemla, and is actually the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Now, geologists and potamologists agree that the Mississippi River was never very wide, though it changed course continually over the several millennia of its existence and therefore could never have been a lake, sea, or anything other than a river of around a mile or so in width.
8. Narrow strip of wilderness:
    Mesoamerica has a narrow strip of wilderness that runs almost from the Seas East to the Sea West,     from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, except for a short distance. North Americanists do not have a narrow strip running from sea to sea, but from their Sea East (Lake Ontario) to the Mississippi River, not a sea (and their River Sidon). In addition, the narrow strip was mountainous, a much higher elevation than the land of Zarahemla, and their narrow strip is flat, along the Allegheny and Ohio rivers.
9. Land of Nephi Stretching from Sea to Sea:
    Mesoamericanists have their Land of Nephi stretching from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, which is almost a north-south plane, instead of east-west. North Americanists have their Land of Nephi (“Lamanite Lands”) stretching east and west from the Susquehanna River in the east to the Mississippi River in the west—neither are seas.
10. Distance from Lehi-Nephi (City of Nephi) to the City of Zarahemla:
    Mesoamericanists claim the two cities were about 21 days travel apart, at 15 miles a day, that would be 315 miles, or 20 miles a day would be 420 miles; yet their map shows the two cities about 200 miles apart—that would mean traveling at about 10 miles per day. If we use that criteria, then the narrow neck of land, in a day and a half, would be only 15 miles wide. It seems when theorists want a narrow distance, they give one statistic, but when they need a longer distance, they use another. North Americanists show a distance on their map of 550 miles between the two cities (one on the Tenessee River, the other across from Nauvoo along the Mississippi).
    The point is, that a single issue, no matter what it is, cannot be the criteria of determining the location of the Land of promise. Where Lehi landed and where Nephi settled is not a matter of a single issue, but a compilation of all of the descriptive information given us by Mormon in his abridgement, and Nephi in his travels and Jacob in his description of the overall land. When we take all of those descriptions into account, along with those Moroni left us in his abridgement of the Jaredite record, which actual scriptural references overall number more than 45 and as much in some ways as 65 or more, we begin to create an image and of the land and able to follow Nephi’s course and landing site, his trek to escape his brothers, where he settled, and where the Nephite Nation was located. Any attempt to reduce this list of a handful of ideas is bound to fail, since Mormon’s descriptions are rich with information that enable us to know where the Land of Promise was actually located.

1 comment:

  1. Good points Del. However, using the narrow neck is a good starting point. On page 564 of Verla Birrell in her book Book of Mormon Guide Book produced a map of possible locations for the narrow neck. In 1948 she chose the exact location where we/you see the narrow neck. As far as I know she was the first to pick the right place for the narrow neck. The Meso boys did the same thing with their theory. If however as you've pointed out if they had gone beyond there location for the narrow neck and looked at the other elements they should have found that their theories don't work at all. It is a good starting point but certainly not the end. You don't end a search at the beginning point. Thanks Del