Thursday, April 12, 2018

How Did We Get to a Limited Theory for the Land of Promise Geography? – Part III

Continued from the previous post regarding the movement of the Jaredites in the Land Northward.
    Another interesting point of this is that, while a large numbers of geologists agree that South America was once inundated with water and formed a much smaller land mass is of little value since the “human conscience” of history is in evolution, i.e., the world is 4.55 billion years old, therefore to these academicians and like-thinking people, what happened over those billions of years is immaterial to the age of man and the period of the Book of Mormon.
The Patriarch Time Line

Of course, the Bible, Pearl of Great Price, the early School of the Prophets all state and used the time table of a very young Earth, basically around 13,000 years old based on the genealogy of the Patriarchs that Moses transcribed from the Lord’s dictation, is of little interest—especially to the mind of the academician, the scientific elitist, and the unknowing or unthinking.
    Thus, we are inundated in this study of the Land of Promise with a foundation base that the Earth is very, very old, which then skews all the dating concepts that are set forth to show the location of Lehi’s landing site as indicated and described in the scriptural record, and the home of the Jaredites and Nephites as written in that work.
    So what size was the Land of Promise? It seems reasonable, at least, to keep in mind that the events and descriptions recorded by Nephite and Jaredite prophets obviously seem to cover a much more limited territory in the Western Hemisphere than an entire continent, or even close to that. At the same time, it seems just as reasonable to realize that the area was probably no less the size of the territory Lehi covered between Jerusalem and Bountiful, with the understanding that the actual bulk of the period, particularly from the period after Nephi settled in his city (2 Nephi 5:8) to the beginning of the final war between the Lamanites and Nephites beginning “by the Waters of Sidon” (Moron 1:10), covered an area even smaller than that of the entire Land of Promise, which stretched from Lehi’s landing site in the far southwest to the Land of Many Waters and the hill Cumorah, which area of the Land Northward is mostly covered in the book of Ether.
    So how large or how small was the area in which the vast majority of the Nephite story in the south and the Jaredite story in the north took place?
Once landing in the Land of Promise, the story line takes place in two areas: 1) First Landing 1 Nephi 18:23 to 2 Nephi 5:5; 2) Land of Nephi 2 Nephi 5:8 to Omni 1:12—two distinctly small areas. We know generally where the Lamanites were because of Mormon’s insert in Alma 22:27-34

Let’s take the Land Southward first—that part where the majority of the written record takes place after Nephi fled from his brothers and settled in an area they called Nephi, or the Land of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:8). From that point to when Mosiah I is told to flee the city of Nephi (Omni 1:12), which was somewhere around 400 years after Nephi settled his city. In those 400 or so years, the entire story of the Nephites takes place in a very small area, specifically, the Land of Nephi immediately around the City of Nephi.
After Mosiah fled northward and discovered the People of Zarahemla, the Nephite World consisted of the Land of Zarahemla and gradual expansion northward
From this point onward, the Nephites of the story line fled northward and discover the people of Zarahemla, and the area known later as the City of Zarahemla. This land ran from the Sea West eastward to the Sidon River, which was in the borders (Alma 2:15; 26:26-27) of the land and evidently separated the Land of Zarahemla from what was later called the City of Gideon (Alma 6:7) in the Land of Gideon (Alma 8:1; 17:1; 30:21), which was in the valley of Gideon (Alma 2:20).
    From this point on, we find the story line restricted to the area of the Land of Nephi through the Land of Zarahemla, and eventually to the land of Bountiful (Alma 27:22), but mostly from the area of the Narrow Strip of Wilderness (north of the Land of Nephi) to the Land of Bountiful. Not until 72 B.C. (Alma 50:11), do we find mention of a land northward of the Land of Bountiful in the storyline (not just Mormon’s insertion in Alma 22).
The Nephite story line until the time of the crucifixion in 3 Nephi 8 took place in the area between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, with expansion up the east coast and some involvement around Bountiful—again, not a large area compared to the overall Land of Promise

Thus, in the first 600 years of the Nephite storyline, the area discussed is a small portion of the Land of Promise, i.e., from the City of Nephi to the City of Bountiful.
    Also at this point, we find the building of cities along the eastern seashore just north of the Narrow Strip of Wilderness and toward Bountiful. Later in Alma, the storyline expands more toward the north, including battles by Moroni and Helaman around the Narrow Neck of Land, but there is little movement north and south, mostly in the area of the Land of Bountiful all the way up to the crucifixion period and the destruction mentioned.
    The point is, the lines of movement are almost entirely limited to movement between the city of Nephi and the city of Zarahemla, or the city of Nephi and the city of Moroni and northward along the eastern seashore all the way to Mulek. After that, begins the final battle that starts in the Land of Zarahemla and quickly builds to the Land Northward where it ends.
    The point is, movement is rather limited in discussion, and we are not shown much in the way of time frames of movement. Even in the missionary travels of Alma in the Land of Zarahemla, or the sons of Mosiah in the Land of Nephi, we are not given much description of distances or length of travel. Consequently, to claim in a Limited Geography Theory that distances demand a very small area, like the size of Mesoamerica, is simply without merit. We just do not know how far places were apart. The distance from the Waters of Mormon, near the city of Nephi, to the Land of Zarahemla can be more or less determined by days of travel, but nothing else, and certainly that is not definitive in determining the distance to the City of Zarahemla. It is disingenuous to talk about limiting to a certain size the Land of Promise on nothing more definitive than what appears in the scriptural record.
At a break in the final wars between the Nephites and Lamanites, Mormon arranges a treaty, with the Nephites obtaining the Land Northward and the Lamanites obtaining all the Land Southward

In discussing these distances involved overall in the Land of Promise, and specifically in the land by the Nephites and its limited travel descriptions found in the scriptural record, we need to consider the Land Northward—the home of the Jaredites, and later the land given by treaty to the Nephites by the Lamanites during Mormon’s time, and the more specific travel of the Jaredites back and forth across their land.
    First of all, it is important to keep in mind that the Mesoamericanists, in order to justify their model, interpret the scriptural record in light of the dimensions of their Mesoamerican model. As an example, to limit the distances of the Land Northward, they use the situation of Ether in his cave. They claim the final battles of the Jaredite kingdom took place over a relatively limited area. As John L. Sorernson writes (p15), is demonstrated by the prophet Ether, who “fled for his life from the king’s headquarters in Moron, ‘hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people’.”
    The idea of going forth at night, Ether would have been limited to a close area. While Sorenson claims this limits distance of the surrounding events, there are far more viable interpretations, from his not seeing everything, but merely that portion near him, to being given visions of the overall land and the occurrences of which he then writes.
    Sorenson goes on to write (p15), “While in hiding, Ether “made the remainder” of the record he had apparently begun earlier and watched the progress of the Jaredite war. After eight years of intermittent combat, battles were still going on in the land of Moron, still within Ether’s viewing range. And he was still in his cave after a population of more than two million, which had covered ‘all the face of the land,’ had been killed (Ether 14:11, 22–23; 15:2).
    Again, this seems hardly unlikely that Ether could have seen what took place covering an area where two million people had been killed. It would be far more likely that a combination of his looking upon a scene and being given a vision as well as a verbal description, like the visions Nephi records in his writings of seeing the destruction of his people (1 Nephi 11:3,8).
(See the next post, “How Did We Get to a Limited Theory for the Land of Promise Geography? – Part IV,” for more on this and specifically the travel in the Land Northward of the Jaredites)


  1. I was reading this week of the brothers Lehi and Nephi who lived in Bountiful after Zarahemla had been conquered by Lamanites and dissenters. They wanted to teach the gospel since the people were reaching a point where the majority preferred wickedness. So, they traveled in a year's time from Bountiful to Zarahemla where they baptized thousands, then to the city of Nephi where they were imprisoned and then miraculously converted many more Lamanites.

    According to Google Maps, that is a journey of about 1,300 miles within the Andes model. Walking for 10 hour stretches, that's about 47 days of walking.

    At first I was thinking it was too long a journey for a year, plus all the preaching in between. But it is certainly possible when in the Lord's errand. The Apostle Paul traveled thousands of miles on his missions, and the Nephites roads probably rivaled those of the Roman Empire. So, large distances shouldn't be ruled out. Most of my neighbors drive 3 blocks to church, so it's hard for a lot of folks to comprehend such travels.

  2. In addition, our penchant for "time" is strictly a modern concept--anciently, time was far less of an issue and seldom a motivation for things. People traveled and worked in a much more leisurely period--not that they didn't work as hard, they simply were not pressed to work within a set time frame but one much longer--the same for travel. Hard for modern man, so pre-occuppied with time, to understand that.

    1. Indeed, we're conditioned to believe that time is money. We clock in, we clock out. We follow the schedule. Our entertainment is presented at certain times. Our games are timed, and the leader at the conclusion of the allotted time is the winner. I'd say more on the subject, but I have a meeting to get to, or I'll be late.