Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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

Continuing with George Potter’s article on the Narrow Neck of Land.    
    Potter Comment: “In the Lurin Valley, between the Lima area—that the Inca called ‘land of the people of Desolation” and their southeast quarter of Contisuyu—{Bountiful} is this transportation corridor.”
Geroge Potter's Transportation Corridor (or his Narrow Neck of Land)

Response: The Inca term being translated by Potter as “Land of Desolation, is Purum Runa, which does not exactly mean “desolation.” According to Diego Gonçález Holguín, better known as Fray Diego Gonçález Holguín, was a Jesuit priest in Lima, Peru, during the Viceroyalty of Peru in the 16th and 17th centuries, and a researcher of the Quechua language. He arrived in Peru as a missionary in 1581 and studied the Quechua language in Cuzco for 25 years, publishing his Grammar in Lima and Art of the General Language of Peru in 1607, and a year later his General Language Vocabulary Throughout Peru and the first Quechua Dictionary (Inca lengva Qquichua) of 13,000 words (As a side note, the term Language Arts was the name used for various grammars of native American languages from the 16th through 18th centuries; and Grammatica art or the general language of the Indians of the kingdoms of Peru (grammar or art of the general language of the Indians of the kingdoms of Peru) was the first treaty language of Quechua. It was published by the Spanish missionary priest and Domingo de Santo Tomás OP in Valladolid, Spain, in 1560, was a valuable informant for the works of the chronicler Pedro Cieze de Leon.
    Back to Purum Runa. The word Purum covers a spectrum of meanings from the agricultural, “sterile lands,” i.e., abandoned from cultivation, to the political “unconquered people,” “enemies.” The term “Desolation” is chosen to evoke the linkage between warfare and infertility, i.e., the people (Inca) were so blood-thirsty and terrible in battle that they left lands desolate and infertile, they were an unconquered people, and everyone’s enemies. The term purum runa, literally refers to people, not land.
    In Quechua Ontology and Philosophy, there were people anciently referred to as the Purum Runa, “ones who lived in that ancient era, used to spend their lives warring on each other and conquering each other—we speak of them as the Purum Runa, ‘people of desolation’.” In fact, according to the Huarochiri Manuscript (1991), a work on Inca Religions, the words Purum Runa means “people of antiquity.” Another example, Runa purum poques means “wild barbarians,” or more loosely, “the Indians are wild (animals),” and purummarca means “warlike,” and purum rune “wild and uncivilized men.” This term was also used by the Inca to describe all those people who had lived before them, who, compared to the Inca, they claimed, were wild, uncivilized and barbarians. It certainly does not mean “land of desolation” in the way Potter claims, which is totally misleading.
    Potter again quoting Hauck: “This corridor became the Nephite place of refuge during a war with the Gadianton robbers between A.D. 17 and 22. Last of all, it was a pertinent defensive asset to the Nephites in their final war, for it helped them block Lamanite access to their resources and population in the land northward during 48 years of bloody warfare.”
    Response: By this corridor, it would imply the narrow neck of land, the narrow passage, the area leading from the Land Southward into the Land Northward. However, this particular passage Hauck quotes is not about the narrow neck, which the Nephites had blocked by their northern boundary of their defensive gathering in the center of their lands, but that they were in an area covering many square miles that extended from that point clear to the southern end of the Land of Zarahemla (3 Nephi 3:23). It was not a corridor his many thousands of Nephites occupied, but the entire central part of the Land Southward extending from the southern end of the Land of Zarahemla to the northern line of the Land of Bountiful.
    This battle or war between the Nephites gathered in the center of their land and the Gadianton Robbers, took place between 18 A.D. and 22 A.D., a five-year war, that saw such great slaughter as had ever befallen the Nephites since Lehi left Jerusalem (3 Nephi 4:11).
    Potter Comment: “So what information do we have that can help us find a candidate for the “small and narrow corridor of land” in Peru?”
    He then goes on to list several points:
1. The small neck was not an isthmus or passage between water, it was a “pass” which suggest a mountain passage (Alma 52:9).
    Response: It was a stretch of land “which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34).
2. It started in the “east” and ended at the “west sea.”
3. From the “east” to the “west sea” took a Nephite one and one-half days to cross.
    Response: To both points, in elliptic sentences, this reads from the East Sea to the West Sea, and since the narrow neck stretched between these seas (Alma 50:34), it is quite likely that an elliptical statement is involved here. Otherwise, we would have to consider Mormon’s point in the east as meaningless, for he is writing to a future audience (us) and we have no idea what point to the east he could have meant or implied, if not the Sea East. Thus, there is simply no point to mention such a distance since it has no meaning to us if not from sea to sea.
4. It included a “line” which in antiquity probably meant a defensive wall.
    Response: In antiquity, as today, a “line” when discussing geography can equally mean a border or boundary. This line was not a barrier, like a man-made wall, but a dividing line between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful—that is, a border or separation of these two lands.
5. We know that the narrow pass had great military significance, for if the “pass” fell, the Lamanites could possess the land northward.
    Response: While the scriptural record does not say this directly, it certainly implies it. However, it should be kept in mind that the Lamanites never threatened to attack or enter this Narrow Neck of Land and its narrow passage, having been kept in the south throughout most of the Nephite era. Not until the defector Amalakiah in 67 B.C. at the head of a Lamanite army,  was a battle recorded in the Land of Bountiful near the narrow neck of land. Finally, in the last wars in the 4th century A.D., Mormon enacted a treaty with the Lamanites to give them the land south of the narrow neck and the Nephites took the land north of the narrow neck, did the Lamanites enter this area of the Nephite lands. Most of the effort to secure the narrow neck of land and the pass was against Nephite defectors.
6. General Moroni ordered Teancum to “secure the narrow pass” (Alma 51:30-32, 52:9).
    Response: Actually, the first cited scripture does not say or imply that. What it says is that “Amalakiah was marching forth with his numerous army that he might take possession of the land Bountiful, and also the land northward” (Alma 51:30), and the following two verses are about Teancum arriving and battling with the Lamanites until dark, and their encamping. On the other hand, Alma 52:9 says: “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side.”  Thus, this statement is correct in intent.
7. In a later attack by the Lamanites, the same strategic place is simply called “the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23) with no mention of a narrow neck of land.
    Response: These two points are not the same and do not refer to the same place or landmark. The line mentioned here (3 Nephi) is the boundary between the border of Bountiful and Desolation as described by Mormon earlier (Alma 22:31) which was the location of the Narrow Neck of Land (Alma 22:32). In Nephi, the line is not only the border between Bountiful on the south and Desolation on the north, but the northernmost area that was appointed for the Nephites to gather within by Lachoneus, the governor—that northernmost point is the border leading into the Land Northward, or stated differently, Lachoneus had the Nephites gather within the Land Southward, or no further north than the Land of Bountiful. That border, of course, crosses the Narrow Neck of Land (Alma 22:32).
8. It was a narrow track of land that included a “point” of military significance.
    Response: Again, the scriptural record does not say that—see earlier comment about this "point."
(See the next post, “Is the Small and Narrow Neck of Land Misunderstood? Part VII,” 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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