Friday, March 16, 2018

The Intent of Mormon’s Description – Part II

As we ended the last post, Mormon’s statement “it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea” (Alma 22:32), was introduced. And in doing so, Mormon introduces two unknown factors, i.e., “the line” and “east.” So let us take these two words “line” and “east” 
First of all, the word “line” is only mentioned three times in the book of Alma. The first time is here in Alma 22, the other two are in Alma 50 (vs 11 “fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites,” and vs 13 “it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites), in both cases in Alma 50, the word “line” has to do with a boundary.
    The word line in 1828 meant “a straight or parallel direction, a straight line, a course, direction, limit of a country, border.” We see this in the statements: “the line went “from the north sea to the south sea,” or “from the east sea to the west sea,” as opposed to being from a particular area or point, such as “from the east boundary to the west sea,” or “from the east mountains to the west sea,” or “from the east canyon to the west sea.” Either way the intent is understood clearly.
    Line meant a boundary direction.
    Thus, the word “line” in Alma 22:32 would appear to mean a boundary. First of all, “line” in vs 32 is used “On the line Bountiful and the land Desolation,” which would obviously suggest some type of boundary, as his use twice of “line” in Alma 50.
That makes pretty clear sense here, since Mormon is telling us about the division of the Land of Promise from the south (Land of Nephi, or the Lamanite king’s land) to Bountiful in the north, with “the land on the northward [of Bountiful] was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31). Then, after a sidenote about animals, he states: “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation” (Alma 22:32), which continues with his description of the land. That is, along a line between Bountiful (on the south) and Desolation (on the north), the width or distance was a day-and-a-half journey for a Nephite.
    Now, when Mormon wrote that, the East Sea or Sea East, had likely not existed for some 350 years, but the “narrow neck of land” still existed, or more correctly, “the narrow pass separating the Land Northward (Desolation) and the Land Southward (Bountiful) still existed. We see this since it was still being used in the third century A.D. when it was a boundary between the Land Southward, being granted to the Lamanites in the treaty, and the Land Northward, granted to the Nephites (Mormon 2:28-29), and that narrow pass led from the north into the Land Southward (Mormon 3:5). President Ezta Taft Benson in General Conference stated that “The Book of Mormon was written for our day” (Ensign Nov 1986 p6); and Mormon himself stated that he was writing to a future people (Mormon 7:1); and Moroni, writing after all had been killed, was a prophet without a people, thus his audience was a future people when he wrote: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know our doing” (Mormon 8:35); and the Lord said “they should be given unto future generations” (3 Nephi 26:2).
    Since Mormon was writing to a future people of whom he did not know, nor would have known their language nor way of thinking about distances, etc., any more than we can assume how people in 2368 A.D. would refer to distances, so he is letting us know that between these two lands, of which the Land Southward was completely surrounded by water except for a Narrow Neck of Land, he is telling us how wide that “narrow neck” is, so we can get a picture of this overall land he has been describing to us.
    It should be kept in mind, that when saying he went “from the east to the west sea,” that is not clearly understood, unless the point in the east was made clear (mentioned or described previously).
    Now when Mormon says “amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27)—he clearly states the subject matter he is talking about, i.e., the regions round about. “Round about” what? Round about his land. Where was his land? It bordered “even to the sea.” What sea and in what direction? “On the east and on the west.”
    So Mormon’s writing is clear—the area in question was the king’s domain stretched “round about” the land that bordered from the east sea to the west sea—or the sea in the east to the sea in the west. Therefore he did not have to identify the seas since he identified the extension of the land stretching to the sea in both directions.
    In the same verse, he says “by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west” (Alma 22:27). In this case, he does not identify the extent of the east/west direction since he identified the subject matter earlier (the land “which ran from the sea east even to the sea west”).
    So we see that already in the previous five verses (Alma 22:27-31), Mormon has mentioned the Sea East and the Sea West as being the terminus borders of the land (twice in vs 27) and mentioned an east seashore (once in vs 29), so in vs 32, when he mentioned “from the east to the west sea,” and again in vs 33 “from the east unto the west sea,” he is still referring to this singular area of land (Land of Promise) which was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), at the time in which Mormon is referring.
    Secondly, in looking at east/west direction, Mormon uses the phrase “from the east to the west sea,” twice (vs 32 and 33). Now in vs 33, it seems pretty clear he is referring to “from east sea to west sea” since he is talking in that verse about “hemming” in the Lamanites and to do so in the land he has been describing since vs 27, would mean that the Nephites had blocked the Lamanites off from sea to sea so they could “have no possession (or expand) on the north.” No other type of topography is introduced in this vein, so a boundary in the east would be “understood” to be the same boundary as mentioned in the West.
    Once again referring to my friend’s comment about this, he stated: “The line went from the West Sea to the East along the Jubones River which was the line talked about, for about 45-50 miles into the southern entrance to the narrow pass area.”
    However, if that was what Mormon had in mind to say, he did not convey any thought, suggestion, idea, or intimation that he had that in mind. And since his entire insertion (vs 27-34) fits perfectly with a detailed description of what he is talking about, It seems out of character to suggest that he was referring to a river or some other topography of which he not only does not mention, but doesn’t even allude, insinuate, or provide an inkling about.
    Not only that, but nowhere in the entire book of Alma, does he suggest the word “line” meant anything other than boundary that was clearly understood. In vs 27 of his insertion, he tells us what area he is talking about. As an example, he gives us four boundaries and mentioned what they were in each case: “all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and roundabout on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness.
    Nothing is left to the imagination. It seems clear that the idea of an east boundary in vs 32 and 33 not being identified is such is inconsistent with both Mormon’s previous elliptical writing, and his intention of being understood by a future reader. The problem is, the truth simply does not fit the Mesoamerican narrative and runs contrary to these theorists protecting their Mesoamerican model.

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