Sunday, August 12, 2018

Things That Are Known – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding theorists use of the distance in Alma’s escape as a basis for determining overall distances for the Land of Promise.
Now the blog author being discussed here draws his conclusions of 24 miles per day travel based on his understanding of biblical travel, as Sorenson does based on his facts regarding Mormon pioneers, and Guatemalan drovers herding pigs. Other Theorists have done the same, including Hugh Nibley, but all these writers should keep in mind that biblical travel is across the land mostly from the area of Galilee in the north to the area of the Negev and the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. For those unfamiliar with this area, it is mostly flat, involving easy, level walking, and covers a distance of about 170 miles along the coast and a full 263-mile-length from north to south along the east border (Jordan River, valley and the rift), and only 114 miles in width (10 miles width at narrowest point). There is one mountain range that runs north to south through the middle of the country, with an elevation of 2500 feet at Jerusalem, so most of the travel is along the coastal valley or Jordan River Valley. The point being, what a group of people could cover in Israel is in no way indicative of what a group of people could cover in the Land of Promise since, without knowing where that is located, what type of topography, travel landscape, or terrain people would have to cover.
    This alone should make the point of travel time and distance a meaningless yardstick, yet every Theorist insists on using it.
    This author goes on to use the terminology of Mormon describing Coriantumr’s approach to Bountiful after leaving Zarahemla when it is written: “And now he did not tarry in the land of Zarahemla, but he did march forth with a large army, even towards the city of Bountiful; for it was his determination to go forth and cut his way through with the sword, that he might obtain the north parts of the land. And, supposing that their greatest strength was in the center of the land, therefore he did march forth, giving them no time to assemble themselves together save it were in small bodies; and in this manner they did fall upon them and cut them down to the earth” (Helaman 1:23-24).
After attacking and defeating Zarahemla, Coriantumr headed up the center of the land (there was a coastal road and an interior road through the mountain valleys)

This change in venue of Coriantumr, now marching up the center of the land instead of along the coast, was a huge mistake on his part, for as Mormon tells us: “But behold, this march of Coriantumr through the center of the land gave Moronihah great advantage over them, notwithstanding the greatness of the number of the Nephites who were slain. For behold, Moronihah had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the center of the land, but that they would attack the cities round about in the borders as they had hitherto done; therefore Moronihah had caused that their strong armies should maintain those parts round about by the borders” (Helaman 1:25-26).
    We need to keep in mind here that Coriantumr is not attacking cities as he travels up the center of the land, (those were on the east coast, including Moroni, Lehi, Morianton, Nephihah, Omner, Gid and Mulek, which had been attacked in other attempts) ), but he is marching northward through the rural strength of the Nephite nation toward Bountiful. Stated differently, if Coriantumr had stayed along the coast where he had been when attacking Zarahemla, and marched northward from there, he could not have been entrapped by the armies of Moronihah and Lehi, each coming from the coastal lands where they thought the Lamanites would be attacking.
    The point is, there is no way we can come up with a distance factor from the information of Alma’s travels. We don’t know how far from the city of Nephi he started out (Land or Waters of Mormon) and how far he was from the city of Zarahemla when he concluded his 21 interrupted days of travel. We don’t know what kind of terrain they covered, nor can we judge the energy in which the people, fleeing before Noah’s guards, then the Lamanites, exerted in their flight. We don’t know if this group were mostly young, had a lot of young children, or old and more feeble. At best, it is a very poor yardstick in which to judge the distance—and the only one available to us. So to claim the Land of Promise was about this distance by that distance, is downright foolish and certainly unscholarly.
    Continuing upward on the blog author’s list to #8 (see previous post), regarding the meaning of the word Wilderness.
• The claim is that in the scriptural record “wilderness,” as it is used in the Book of Mormon, usually refers to mountainous areas and lands that are higher in elevation. The Lamanites (at least the more “idle part”) preferred to live in the mountains, hunting beasts for food, whereas the Nephites preferred to live in the lowlands and raise their own animals.”
Hugh Nibley tells us that “wilderness does not necessarily mean an uninhabited wasteland,” yet the above statement is taken from the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, known to Joseph Smith at the time of his translation; nor does it mean only a desert, or only mountains, as some theorists claim—but an uninhabited land, where man might be, but not in permanent dwellings
One of the mistakes most Theorists make about the Book of Mormon is the meaning of words we know today that mean one thing but that meant something else in earlier times. Nor should we think that changing the meaning of words is new and unique to this discussion for it has been going on forever. Take, as an example, in the past few years:
Nice – used to mean “silly, foolish, simple”
Silly – once meant something worthy or blessed
Awful – used to mean “worthy of awe;” spectacular, amazing, magnificent
Wench – meant children of either sex
Clue – meant a ball of yarn
Myriad – once meant 10,000; MM in Greece meant 100-million
Naughty – originally meant having naught or nothing
Spinster – was once meant as an occupation, a person who spun
Flirt – meant to “flick,” as in flick open something
Hussy – meant “housewife” or “mistress of the house”
    Or take just in recent years the changes we have seen:
Grass used to only mean the stuff you mow with a lawnmower
Bad used to describe someone who had done something wrong, today it means “good”
Gay used to be merry or happy
Backlog used to mean the biggest log in the fire; now means a reserve of work
Thongs was a word for flip-flops footwear, today it means underwear
Cell used to mean jail, today it’s a phone
Cloud used to mean water vapor suspended in the sky; today means an internet storage area
Catfish used to mean a fish with whisker-like barbels; today it’s a person who sets up a false personal profile on social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes.
    Few would argue, of course, that the British and Americans have different ways of saying the same thing. Take, for instance:
The question then arises, what difference in word meanings might exist in the scriptural record during Joseph Smith’s time as he translated the plates into his knowledge of English, and how those words are used today.
    Which brings us back to the use of the word “wilderness” by the author of the article under discussion. Beginning with Hugh Nibley (Lehi in the Desert Part II), who said: “From 1 Nephi 8:4 and 7, we learn that by wilderness he means waste, i.e., desert, and not jungle,” to this author’s certainty that “wilderness” meant “mountains.” However, Nibley is misusing the scriptural verse to verify his view which is inaccurate, for the two verses have to do with a dream or vision of Lehi regarding the Tree of Life, and does not relate to the wilderness into which they would be traveling.
    Nor does the word “wilderness” today mean any specific type of terrain, such as desert or mountains, etc., but any number of sites according to the U.S. Wilderness Management or Bureau of Land Management, who lists wilderness areas as: creeks, canyon, cliffs, washes, mountains, river canyons, springs, plains, forests, table top, plateaus, valleys, hills, volcanic islands, even lakes, swamps and marches. Thus, we can conclude from this that the Lamanites that lived in tents in the east and west wildernesses were in a mountain terrain where they like to hunt.
    Thus, we see that in the 8th and 9th of this author’s “facts that we can easily deduce” are not only wrong, but cannot be determined easily at all.
(See the next post, “Things That Are Known – Part III,” for more on the distances involved in Alma’s escape and how theorists use this erroneous information as their basis for determining overall distances for the Land of Promise)

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