Sunday, February 11, 2018

What Military Line? – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding two statements Alma makes that Dr. Ted Dee Stoddard, Professor Emeritus of Management Communication in the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management makes regarding John L. Sorenson’s interpretation of these two scriptures. 
    After commenting on the meaning of the word “line” used in criticizing Sorenson’s interpretation, Stoddard then goes on to ask another question and answer it: “Should he have said “for the Nephite army”? Answer: Obviously not because an entire army would be hard pressed to march the same “standard” distance in a day and a half that an individual would cover.”
A military unit can cover ground in any number of methods and paces, just as a single individual can do. In fact, military “marching” is more regulated than an individual does, and their coverage of distance more accurate time after time

Actually, this is as fallacious statement, for a military unit is capable of marching at any pace given it, from a standard march or “route step” (normal walking) to a “quick march,” which varies by military unit from 112 steps per minute to 140 steps per minute. There is also a “slow march,” which is usually used only for ceremonial or funeral marches; “Double March,” which is almost a jog of 180 steps per minute; and “Easy March,” which is an unrestricted march used for field marching or other rough conditions. Thus, a military unit can cover ground in any number of methods and paces, just as a single individual can do.
    Stoddard goes on: “In other words, “for a Nephite” has no special meaning other than to describe the defensive line of the Nephites and to reflect the Nephites’ measuring system as they understood it rather than to communicate the distance in some other measuring system such as miles, kilometers, or leagues.”
    Actually, we do not know what terminology the Nephites used for measuring. However, what is important here is to realize, as Mormon tells us in numerous ways, that he knew he was writing to a future people and knew that that people would not necessarily know specific Nephite measurement terminology, so he used a method of distance through what an individual, normal (“common”) man could cover in a certain amount of time.
A fortified line (wall) that was as long as a “day’s journey for a Nephite”
However, obviously unknown to Stoddard, he adds: “For example, Joseph Smith might have correctly transliterated this verse to read “It was only twelve miles on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation to the west sea” when he translated Mormon’s words—but he didn’t. By analyzing the verse carefully, readers can readily deduce that “a Nephite” has no special meaning beyond the measuring system employed by the Nephites.”
    It is this type of meandering through the scriptural record that causes so much confusion in people’s minds when the actual writing of the Nephites and Mormon’s abridgement is rather simple, and it was meant to be, so that we would understand many centuries later what was intended and what was meant.
    Another example of this confusion is when theorists try to combine two separate issues into one, such as Stoddard’s using this “line” mentioned in Alma 22:32, as the “line” mentioned in Helaman 4:7, the latter being used in conjunction with a military issue where the one in Alma was not.
A defensive line can be a man-made wall of stone, or of wood, dirt, or even a “wall of spears,” swords and shields

There can be no doubt that a “defensive” line needs to have something substantial, such as a wall, to stop an invading army equipped only with swords, spears and arrows. Such walls were no uncommon for the Nephites to erect, as seen in “and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land“ (Alma 48:8). Whether or not a wall was involved in the Helaman 4:7 fortified line is not said and not known, however, some type of defense was erected where Moroni “stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:7). In this case, it is easy to see that subject at hand was a line of fortification, and the several verses before this describe military action, which the verses before the Alma statement did not.
    So here we have two issues:
1. In Helaman, a military line to stop the forward progress of the Lamanites, that is some type of edifice, such as a wall, was built across the land, from the sea in the west to a point in the east that was the distance of a day’s journey for a Nephite from the starting point in the west at the seashore;
2. In Alma, a border separating the Land of Bountiful from the Land of Desolation somewhere at either end or within the narrow neck of land.
    These two things are not related; however, the method of measurement, i.e., “the distance a Nephite could travel in a certain time frame” were related. This was given for us to understand the length of the defensive line and the width of the narrow neck of land.
    How much simpler the scriptural record is to read and understand when one tries not to relate it to a given area, or pre-determined concepts, but simply reads it the way it is written. It is almost humorous that Stoddard begins his article by stating: “The error committed here by Sorenson is in misreading Alma 22:32 and then trying to determine the distance across the narrow neck of land from the content of the Book of Mormon,” when in reality, the error committed in the article was Stoddard’s in believing he knew more about the scriptural record he speaks about than the person who wrote it and gave us a clear understanding of his inserted points.
    Stoddard then went on to add, “What a shame to spend so much time and attention on “the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation” without realizing that the phrasing merely describes one period-of-time defensive line rather than the distance across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
    It shouldn’t take much expertise to see that Mormon’s insert was exactly for that purpose, giving us a measuring device not of a military line as he did in Helaman 4:7, but of the width of the narrow neck of land as he did in Alma 22:32.
    Of course, that measurement does not fit Stoddard’s Mesoamerica, so it must be rejected. What an approach to scholarly work. If you don’t agree or like what is there, reject it!

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