Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Is the Small and Narrow Neck of Land Misunderstood? Part V

Continuing with George Potter’s article on the Narrow Neck of Land.
    Potter Comment: “a strategic road through a narrow 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.”
    Response: It is interesting that here Potter uses the word “point” consistently with the Alma 52:9 usage, i.e., “…was so vital that this single place or position would allow the Lamanites to attack the Nephites…”
    Potter quoting Hauck again: “Throughout Nephite history, this strategic west sea land bridge was critical to their defense of the land northward. Nephite protection of the entrance into this corridor began as early as the first century B.C. based on the information given in Alma 22:32-34. The Nephi defensive strategy repeatedly included the defense of the entrance into this corridor.”
    Response: First of all, there is no indication in the scriptural record that the narrow neck of land was a “West sea land bridge.” This is especially true when we understand that a “land bridge” is defined as “a strip of and subject to submergence that connects adjacent continental land masses and serves as a route of dispersal for plants and animals,” or a “land bridge can be created by marine regression, in which sea levels fall, exposing shallow, previously submerged sections of continental shelf; or when new land is created by plate tectonics; or occasionally when the sea floor rises due to post-glacial rebound after an ice age.” The term “land bridge” as a word/phrase did not come into being until 1895 to 1890. 
The so-called Beringia Land Bridge anciently connecting Siberia with Alaska; other such so-called land bridges were Doggerland, connecting England to Europe; Gibraltar Land Bridge, connecting Spain to North Africa; New Guinea-Australia Land Bridge, etc. 

It might be of interest to know that in the 19th century a number of scientists noted puzzling geological and zoological similarities between widely separated areas. To solve these problems, "whenever geologists and paleontologists were at a loss to explain the obvious transoceanic similarities of life that they deduced from the fossil records, they sharpened their pencils and sketched land bridges between appropriate continents" (William R. Corliss, Mysteries Beneath the Sea, Apollo Editions, June 1975, Chapter 5: "Up-and-Down Landbridges.” Corliss then went on to list “the hypothetical land bridges included” Africa, the North Atlantic, Central America, South America the Indian Ocean and Australia, where zoological similarities led scientists to invent ancient land bridges).
    Secondly, it cannot be said that this narrow neck and passage of the Book of Mormon was on the west coast as is indicated by Hauck, for no such indication is given by Mormon. Except for Hagoth’s shipyard being on the west coast (he launched his ships into the West Sea), there is equal mention of both the West Sea and the East Sea regarding the small or narrow neck of land.
    Third, the scriptural record does not say the Nephites defended the entrance into this corridor, or defended this narrow neck of land. However, it was important to Capt. Moroni that no defector or Lamanite army or group get into the Land Northward, and on occasion part of his army was dispatched to head off such an event, such as in the case of Morianton. In fact, in the case of Morianton, Moroni’s fear was that this defector would unite with the people of Bountiful in his defection and form an independent group to the Nephite north (Alma 50:32), which he knew would “lead to the overthrow of their liberty.”
    As a result, Moroni sent an army, to head the people of Morianton to stop their flight into the land northward” (Alma 50:33), which they did under the leadership of Teancum (Alma 50:35), and headed off Morianton’s northern flight 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). There is no mention of any defensive post, people, garrison, or other military function at the narrow neck, or at the narrow pass through it. Teancum was sent from some distance away with an army to head Morianton off from attaining the Land Northward.
    Continuing with Potter quoting Hauck: “It was defended from fortifications at Judea and in the land of Bountiful between 67 and 65 B.C., and again from 35 to 31 B.C.
    Response: Again, this is not what the scriptural record says. Teancum was sent from Moroni’s camp, which was to the south of Bountiful, near enough to the Land of Lehi that the people could flee to Moroni’s camp and seek aid for Morianton’s takeover of some of their land. When Morianton heard about it, and fearing Moroni, he took off to the north with his defectors. Moroni, worried about an alliance between Morianton and the people of Bountiful, sent Teancum to intercede and head off Morianton from reaching the Land Northward.
    When Teancum was successful in defeating Morianton, he returned to the camp of Moroni (Alma 50:35). At no time was any garrison or fortified area of Judea, or any troops from Judea used in this intercession and subsequent battle. For verification, we find that just after this, Moroni, in his camp, received an epistle from Helaman (Alma 56:1), who was in Judea where he received two thousand stripling warriors to assist Antipus, the leader of the Judean area, who was battling a large Lamanite force in the area (Alma 56:10).
    And for the second period, 35 to 31 B.C., this has to do with a huge dissension among the Nephites, a war among them, and the dissenters driven out of the land who immediately went over to the Lamanites (Helaman 4:2), who came down to do battle with the Nephites (Helaman 4:5). In the ensuing struggle, the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven clear up to the Land of Bountiful (Helaman 4:6), where they fortified a line of defense against the Lamanites from the West Sea even unto the east, a line about 20 to 30 miles long, at which they stationed their armies to defend their north countries (Helaman 4:7).
    It should be noted here, since so much that is inaccurate has been stated of this by various theorists, that the distance the Nephites built a fortification “from the West Sea even to the east,” is not given, and should not be confused with the following statement that “it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:7). That is, whatever the length of the fortification, “it being a day’s journey for a Nephite,” along that fortified line where they “stationed their armies to defend their north country.” That is, the fortification, such as a stone wall, could have been much longer than a day’s journey but that the Nephite armies were stationed only along the first 20-30 miles of it (day’s journey).
    It should also be noted that this is “north countries,” not Land Northward, meaning the Nephite lands in the northern reaches of the Land Southward. This fortification stopped the Lamanite advancement, and in the following year, Moronihah and his armies drove the Lamanites and the Nephite dissenters back toward the south (Helaman 4:9), and the following year regained half of all they had lost (Helaman 4:10).
    In all of this, nothing is said or implied that it had anything to do with the narrow neck of land, the narrow passage, or even the Land Northward. Once again, Hauck, like other theorists, makes the mistake of thinking or believing something the scriptural record simply does not say or imply.
(See the next post, “Is the Small and Narrow Neck of Land Misunderstood? Part VI,” for more of George Potter’s comments about how one theorist twists the scriptural record to meet his own pre-determined location for the Land of Promise)

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