Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Importance of Specific Descriptions – The Land in Between

Continuing with the importance of specific descriptions and information Mormon left us that enables us to better understand the Land of Promise and its geographical layout, Mormon provides us another detail when he casually mentions a previously unknown land. He states: “And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23).
The land in between Zarahemla and Bountiful

It might be noted that this verse was omitted from early printings of the Book of Mormon because of a typesetter’s error, and not inserted until the 1981 edition (Stan Larson, “Change in Early Texts of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign 7, Sept 1976, p81), by a committee headed by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who were assigned to do a major revision of the four standard works (Boyd K. Packer, “Using the New Scriptures,” Ensign, Dec 1985, pp49-53; Robert J. Matthews, “The New Publication of the Standard Works,” BYU Studies, Vol22, No4, pp387-424).
    Two major goals of each published edition of the Book of Mormon have been 1) to faithfully reproduce the text; and 2) to make the text accessible to the reader. This goal of textual accuracy led later editors to earlier editions and, when available, to the original and printer's manuscripts. In the 1981 edition, the Committee found and made twenty significant textual changes that corrected typesetting errors made in the original printer’s copy through referencing the original manuscript (Bruce Satterfield, “The Publication History of the Book of Mormon,” Church News, Jan 1, 2000).
    Mormon, in abridging the earlier story line describing the Land of Zarahemla being separated from the Land of Nephi by a narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27), we find the Land of Bountiful being north of the Land of Zarahemla: “the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29).
    Yet, Mormon did not mention another land between Zarahemla and Bountiful, giving rise to most theorists’ writings that the lands of Zarahemla and Bountiful were all that were located north of the Land of Nephi. An early assumption that led to many erroneous theorists’ views.
Though Mormon would have passed through several lands, particularly the Land of Bountiful and the Land in Between, not to mention others, none are listed by Mormon as he describes his father carrying him to the Land of Zarahemla

Mormon also seemed to skip over other lands when he, living in the Land Northward, tells us: “And I, Mormon, being a descendant of Nephi, (and my father's name was Mormon)…being eleven years old, was carried by my father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla” (Mormon 1:5-6).
    Most readers also skip over Mormon’s mentioning of this land between Zarahemla and Bountiful. Though it is never mentioned again, we need to keep in mind such matters when we discuss, write about or think of the Land of Promise, for once we start realizing there were other lands in the Land Southward than those frequently mentioned, it tends not to slip past us when configuring the geographical layout.
    As an example, in trying to minimize the size of the land, theorists who promote the Limited Geography Theory of the Land of Promise often try to place the land size much smaller than it would have had to have been. Take John L. Sorenson’s comment in his much heralded “landmark” book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (p8), “The crucial information in the record for determining the distance from Nephi to Zarahemla by how long it took people to get from one place to another.” He then goes on to argue that “the [distance] must have been on the order of 250 miles,” though he argues 180 miles as the crow flies—an assumption without merit since there is no way such a reduction of 70 miles (28%) in his own figures could be assumed.
    Yet, true to form, Sorenson then goes on to use his revised 180-mile distance, rather than his own 250 miles arrived at by figuring the 21-day journey times how long people could travel in a day based on the circumstance he earlier laid out. He states (p12): “If we take all of these considerations into account, it seems reasonable to divide our tentative mileage figures this way: on the order of 180 airline miles overall separated the city of Nephi from the city of Zarahemla.” To justify his own figures, Sorenson sums it up with “Though only estimates, these distances and relationships are as carefully derived and true to the Nephite record as present information allows.”
Location of Sorenson’s City of Zarahemla and City of Nephi in his Mesoamerica Land of Promise

However, two glaring omissions by Sorenson are involved that shortens this distance in his figures: 1) His assumption that the city of Zarahemla was close and basically northwest of the city of Nephi, and 2) that the 21 days travel time was from city to city. Yet, in the scriptures we find that Alma did not start his travel from the city of Nephi, but from the Waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:30,34); nor did he arrive in the city of Zarahemla after twenty-one days in wilderness travel, but “arrived in the land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 22:13, emphasis added).
    Note the 21 days of travel were from the Waters of Mormon to the Land of Zarahemla.
    Sorenson also claims the Waters of Mormon might have been a two-day travel from the city of Nephi, which would add another 22 miles travel distance, or 272 miles overall (though it was probably further since the terrain would have been easier to travel near the city than in the deep wilderness). Nor do have any idea how far the border of the land of Zarahemla that Alma entered, would have been from the actual city of Zarahemla.
    It would seem far more likely that the overall distance would be at least 300 miles using Sorenson’s own measurements—and if the cities were separated east to west, which they likely were since Mulek would have landed near the seashore coast, not in the middle of the land (Capital parts does not mean center—it means great or important). This would have added many more miles to the distance.
   Thus, we find that the small size of the land claimed by Mesoamerican theorists specifically, is not supported by the scriptural record unless one tries to make the land be smaller than described—however, it obviously does not mean the Land of Promise was the size of a continent or anywhere near that large either.
    The point being, there were lands within the Land Southward besides the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, making the area much larger than theorists believe. After all, each city had an area of land around it called by the city name since “it was the custom of the people of Nephi to call their lands, and their cities, and their villages, yea, even all their small villages, after the name of him who first possessed them” (Alma 8:7).
    Thus, in the north of the Land Southward, were the lands of Gideon, Minon, Melek, Ammonihah, Sidom, Ammonihah, Moroni, Manti, Jershon, Antionum, Noah, Morianton, Lehi, Nephihah—all of which were either in the Land of Zarahemla or the Land of Bountiful, or next to them, such as that of Gideon, which was along the borders of the land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:15,20) or the land of Melek (Alma 8:3), or the land of Minon, which was above the land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:24), or the city of Mulek, which was beyond the borders of the Land of Bountiful (Alma 52:39).
    And between them was an unnamed land, evidently a major land area to be so singled out as it was.
    In the Land Northward, there were the lands of Desolation, Cumorah, David, Josuah, Jashon Moron, Nehor, Heth, Corihor, and also the land of Many Waters. There were also lands around the cities of Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno, Jacobugath, Laman, Josh, Gad, Kishkumen. And in the Land of Nephi, there were lands of Jerusalem, Mormon, Ishmael, Middoni, Shilom, Shemlon, Amulon, Helam, Midian, Siron.
    These are just the city/lands mentioned. There might have been others—even many others given the numbers of Nephites and Lamanites listed.
    The fact that there was a land large and important enough to be mentioned between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, should suggest that we really do not know how large and encompassing the Land of Promise was, either before or after the destruction covered in 3 Nephi.

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