Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Line Between the Land of Bountiful and the Land of Desolation

In John L. Sorenson’s book, he writes that:

1. “From Nephi to Zarahemla, on a direct line, was about 180 miles.”

There is no way a figure any distance can be determined from the scriptural record, let alone 180 miles. The only thing we can consider is that it took Alma and his group of some 450 men, women, children, and provisions, to walk from the Waters of Mormon to the Land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 23:3;24:23-25). But that was not from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla. The description of Limhi traveling directly from the city of Nephi to the Land of Zarahemla is described as “many days” (Mosiah 22:13), however, once again, this was to the “Land of Zarahemla,” not the city. In addition, it took Ammon and his group 40 days wandering in the wilderness (Mosiah 7:4) from the Land of Zarahemla to the hills over looking the valley north of the Land of Shilom. From there they went “down into” the Land of Nephi (Mosiah 7:6) and to the “walls of the city” (Mosiah 7:10)

It might even be said that Ammon might well have been more than 40 days, for “they knew not the course they should travel in the wilderness, therefore they wandered many days in the wilderness, even forty days did they wander” (Mosiah 7:4). This does that mean they wandered from the moment they left the city of Zarahemla, for they would have known of the land until they reached the borders of the wilderness. Therefore, Ammon may have been even longer reaching the Land of Shilom. And, too, how long did it take him to reach the city of Nephi from the hills north of Shilom?

To use the 21 day travel time of Alma, one would have to know how far from the city of Nephi were the Waters of Alma, and how far from the borders of the Land of Zarahemla to the city of Zarahemla. However, both of these figures are unknown.

The point is, all distances in the Book of Mormon are so ambiguous that it is simply not possible to arrive at even assumptive distance measurements, let alone set 180 miles as the distance between the city of Zarahemla and the city of Nephi—especially when there is not one single record of anyone traveling that specific route from city to city and how long it took.

2. “Twice that distance would have taken them to the "line" (Alma 22:32, logically a river) separating Bountiful from Desolation, the beginning of the land northward.”

First, there is no way of knowing that the distance between the city of Nephi and the city of Zarahemla was the same distance between the city of Zarahemla and the narrow neck of land boundary between Bountiful and Desolation. Here again, Sorenson sets an arbitrary distance between two points, then using that figure, uses it to determine the distance between two more points. That can hardly be called scholarship.

Second. The “line” mentioned by Mormon that separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward was the narrow neck of land (Alma 63:5), referred specifically as a “line” in which he states: “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). How Sorenson arrives at this line being a river is beyond the scriptural record. There is never a river, marshland, swamp, or other waters mentioned in connection with the narrow neck except for the east and west seas (Alma 50:34); however, there is a river in his Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica, so he glibly places it into his reading of the scriptural record. Whatever the reason, it is both lacking in scholarship and honesty since it cannot be tied to Mormon’s many descriptions in any way.

Third, “logically a river” is no more logical than the line being referred to is the narrow pass or passage, which is mentioned by Mormon (Alma 50:34;52:9). It is just as logical to assume that the line is imaginary, like any line referred to between two points, as in the line between Los Angeles County and Orange County, or between Ogden and Salt Lake City.

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