Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Limiting Distances and Other Criteria – Part III

Continuing from the last post regarding an article a reader sent in to us recently and our responses to their comments, and specifically regarding the Lord using snakes with both the Hebrews and with the Jaredites. 
   In the case of the Jaredites, the Lord also brought about an increase in the number of snakes because of the drought, a condition, by the way, that has been known in history, such as at the Araxas (Aras) River, located in Lesser Armenia, beyond Hycrania (part of Iran facing Caspian Sea) a damp environment along the swampy banks which the snakes prefer because of the presence of lizards, a favorite food.
When Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) the Great (above) invaded Armenia, he was stopped in his attempt to advance with his forces upon the Hyrcanian and Caspian Sea, by crossing the Araxes River, which takes its rise in the same mountain as the Euphrates, but turns towards the east and empties into the Caspian Sea; however, he was forced to retreat at a distance of three days' march from it by the number of venomous serpents, and so he retreated into Armenia the Less where he was led by Tigranes around the snakes, where he attacked the King of Parthia, who had made incursions upon Gordyene, and despoiled an army under the command of Afranius, and put him to the rout, and followed him in chase as far as the district of Arbela.
    Comment: “The Isthmus of Tehuantepec has a few things going for it: "It is surrounded by ancient ruins of the classical Maya and Olmec eras. . . . The land below the isthmus (east and south) is largely surrounded by water and could loosely be considered an island…It is at a lower elevation than the land on either side" (Warr, "The Isthmus of Tehuantepec")
    Response: Except for the mention of the city of Desolation, which Mormon describes as “they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward. And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force. And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again” (Mormon 3:5-7), there are few areas of description that can be pinpointed.
    The Jaredite Land of Moron and perhaps the Nephite city of Teancum which is by the seashore near Desolation, but not much else can be placed with any certainty, though theorists always do make such placements.
The point being, that the city of Desolation is located in the borders of the narrow neck of land (borders between Land of Desolation in the north, and the Land of Bountiful in the south), and the mouth of the narrow pass
Comment: “The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is not bordered by a west sea and an east sea, but by a north sea and a south sea (Alma 22:32).
    Response: Not only is the sea to the north called the East Sea, and the sea to the south called the West Sea, making only two seas in Mesoamerica, but when we take 2 Nephi 10:20 and Helaman 3:8, we see that there are four seas (Sea North, Sea South, Sea East and Sea West), and when we add Ether 10:20 (the Sea that divides the land), we find there are five sea descriptions. The only answer to this is Jacob’s comment that they were on an island in the midst of the sea. It is interesting how hard all theorists fight against this description, delivered by a prophet in the temple and recorded by another prophet in the temple, and verified by the Spirit in the translation by Joseph Smith. However, they all do, because their models do not include more than two seas, let alone four. And the fifth one mentioned, is merely where the sea cuts in and separates the two lands—or divides the Land Northward from the Land Southward.
The Sea that divides the land is the Gulf of Guayaquil that surrounds an island (Puna) today and divides the Ecuador area from the Peru area
Comment: “We may be tempted to think automatically that "northward" and "southward" label directions that are the same as "north" and "south." But "northward" signals a different concept than does "north," something like "in a general northerly direction."
    Response: Because this is such a common thread among theorists, it is an issue that we constantly try to correct. In this case, “northward” does not mean something like “in a general northerly direction. It means “toward the north,” or “nearer to the north than to the east and west points.” That is quite specific. It does not leave any “something like” comments. Thus, when Mormon writes northward, he is saying “toward the north, not due north” and when he writes southward, he is saying “toward the south, not due south.”
It means a direction toward the north, and nearer to the north than east or west. In name: it means “North by East to North by West; on a degree compass rose, it means from 11.25º to 348.75º, or a swing of 22.5º; the next wider movement is from North by Northeast to North by Northwest, or 22.50º to 337.50º. While both of these designations are more to the north than east or west, officially the movement of “Northward” means the former, not the latter.
    We might also add that our normal first reaction to directions would have been what Mormon was directing us toward—or at least the Spirit in the translation—a direction to which we would normally and easily understand.
    Comment: “By their frequency of using the -ward suffix, we can infer that Mormon and his ancestors used a somewhat different cultural scheme for directions than we do. However, we cannot tell from the Book of Mormon text exactly how their concepts differed from ours, because all we have to work with is the English translation provided through Joseph Smith.”
    Response: This sounds almost like an apology that all we have is Joseph Smith’s translation. As for the Nephite concepts, one can only wonder in what way the author thinks they differ from ours. Of course, every society’s concepts differ a little from another society. The Nephites, being believers in the Law of Moses, would have had certain concepts that were different than most, but not too different from Latter-day Saints.
    The point is, however, that these directions are not different in any way than our own. All we have to keep in mind is the fact that in the ancient Hebrew language, there was north, south, east and west. They combined these in simple terms, i.e., northeast, southwest, etc. However, they did not have north-by northwest, south by east, etc. as we have on our compass rose today. So northward, was a general term, meaning “toward the north,” it was not a different directional meaning than we understand today—only a term we use a little more specific, north by northwest; north by north by east, etc.
    As for the author’s main purpose in clouding the directional system again is to throw another monkey wrench in the mix by trying to suggest that because all we have is Joseph Smith’s translations, we really don’t know how the Nephite directional system differed from ours.
    This, then, leads to the obvious question “what makes you think it did differ from ours?” After all, in the very beginning, Nephi uses the cardinal direction of south, the ordinal direction of southeast, and the inter-ordinal direction of south-southeast, as well as eastward (we today use south, south east, and south by east and southeast by east).
    Where, then do we find a difference, since we can evaluate those directions against a known location with known directions and find he used all three levels of the compass rose exactly correct, and as anyone of us today would use those directions.
(See the next post, “Limiting Distances and Other Criteria – Part IV,” for more on the article sent to us and our responses)


  1. The one issue alone of changing the cardinal directions to fit the modern map should rule out Mesoamerica as the Book of Mormon lands. Even within their own model they change directions to fit the modern map. They have the river Sidon going north/south in actual cardinal directions- in other words they ignore their own rule and don't rotate the directions 90 degrees because then their river wouldn't fit. Same with the city Moroni and other cities along the East Sea- they progressively go true north. But then they flip the map and make the city bountiful due west. It used to make my head spin trying to follow it and match it to the text of the Book of Mormon. I remember cocking my head sideways looking at the map trying to follow their directions.

    1. Years ago I did the same thing. I took Sorenson's book and tried matching the Bom scripture to his maps. I found villages 180 degrees in the opposite direction from where the Bom says. About that time I was told about Preddis book. It didn't take much convincing that Priddis had it right and the Mesoam had it all wrong. That was about 15 years ago. I thought that was all we were going to get on the subject. Thank heavens Del came along with his wonderful in-depth studies.