Sunday, June 30, 2013

More Comments to be Answered Part IV

Here are some more comments that we’ve received on this website blog. Many are from readers who champion the Costa Rica model, using the Isthmus of Rivas as the narrow neck of land.
Comment #1: “Can the Gulf of Mexico on both sides of the Yucatan peninsula (Gulf of Honduras and Bay of Campeche) be considered two different seas? It would take more evidence than what is mentioned in the Book of Mormon to support it.  The Book of Mormon does not support this and examples from ancient societies does not support this.  Also, there is no precedent that people living near a peninsula considered the waters on either side of the peninsula as two different bodies of water.  Before 600 B.C., the people in the Middle East knew the Red Sea and Persian Gulf (as we call them today) were connected around the Arabian Peninsula.  Some populations even called the Persian Gulf the Red Sea as an extension of the Red Sea between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  Just because the two bodies of water have different names today does not mean that they were always considered to have two names” Andrey W.
The Caribbean Sea along the north-eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Around the bend to the top of the image is the Gulf of Mexico waters—one sea but with two names here and no division line between
Response: I am in no way defending the Mesoamerican model, however, there is certainly precedent to name these two areas around the Yucatan Peninsula by different names. One is called the Gulf of Mexico and the other is called then Caribbean Sea. What more precedent do you need? It is interesting that when we were in Cancun recently, I happened to ask some of the locals there about the seas surrounding the Yucatan. No one seemed bothered or objectionable to the fact that north of Cancun, the sea is the Gulf of Mexico, but to the east of Cancun, this same body of water is called the Caribbean Sea. It is also called the Caribbean south of Cuba, but north and west of Cuba it is the Gulf of Mexico—but all one ocean. Yet, within the Caribbean Sea, the southwestern area along the southern coast of Belize, is the Bay of Honduras, and within that, closer to shore is the Bahia de Amatique, the Amatique Bay, along the coasts of Guatemala and Belize. Of course, what is done today is not necessarily true anciently is also accurate. Names of locations, seas, and lands change over time. Consequently, this type of argument seems meaningless.
Comment #2: “The article “Who Were They Afraid Of? Part I, is awesome. Hate to ask this as it shows that I may not be the student I thought I was... but... did you bring this up in your book…Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica?” Mr. Nirom.
Response: Thank you. But no, this was not included in the books, at least not directly. This blog is a continuing process of study and learning, or expanding on previous knowledge that did not make it into the books because of space and purpose. Hopefully, I will get around to another book, which will include all the new ideas or expanded understanding over the years since the first books were written.
Comment #3: “I appreciate that the Book of Mormon does not directly mention other people in the land of promise. However, consider Mosiah 25:2 (120 BC): ‘Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness. And there were not so many of the people of Nephi and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of the Lamanites; yea, they were not half so numerous.’ Why would there be so many more Lamanites than Nephites 580 years after they separated in about equal numbers? The Mulekites were called Nephites in the BoM because they united with them. All those that united with the Lamanites were called Lamanites. If Laman and Lemuel and those who remained with them married into tribes that existed in the New World, they would eventually all be called Lamanites. Nephi and the record keepers that succeeded him had a limited scope for their records. It is believable to me that this detail of the Lamanites intermarrying with existing tribes could have remained unwritten in the abridged Book of Mormon as we have it” George T.
Response: As for equal numbers, when Nephi fled from his older brothers, he took all those who would go with him “And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words” (2 Nephi 5:6). We don’t know exactly the numbers in the Lehi Colony, whether or not Lehi’s and Ishmael’s household servants went with them, or how large the families of the married sons of Ishmael were, etc. We don’t even know how many sisters Nephi had, for they are mentioned only once (2 Nephi 5:6), but since it is a plural statement, there had to have been at least two. Experience tells us that those who follow God are less than those who do not, so it is not likely that this was an even break in the numbers. However, the main issue is that when Mosiah fled from the Land of Nephi around 220 B.C., the Nephites had become extremely wicked and the Lord separated those who followed him from this evil city and land. Mosiah left and took with him “as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord” (Omni 1:12-13). While we do not know the numbers involved, after more than 350 years, the numbers would have been significant, and again, experience tells us that those who went with Mosiah would have been a much smaller number than those who remained in the Land of Nephi. We do not know about the tens of thousands of Nephites left behind, it can be assumed that many, if not most, or even all, would have ended up joining the Lamanites and being called Lamanites from that time forward. Thus, the original Lamanites who likely would have been larger in number than the Nephites, had their numbers augmented while the Nephite numbers were reduced by a very significant amount. After all, the numbers of non-members has always been significantly larger than those who follow God. Look at the number deviation after the 230 years of peace following Christ’s visit to the Nephites, when Lamanites split from the Nephites, or the followers and believers in God (4 Nephi 1:36-38). The number of Lamanites at this point “became exceedingly more numerous than were the people of God” (4 Nephi 1:40).
140 years later, the Lamanites were so numerous, that when they came to the final battle every Nephite soul, men, women and children were, “filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers” (Mormon 6:8). As for there being others in the land, Lehi was told there were not, for the children of Lehi that they would possess the land unto themselves (2 Nephi 1:9). Now, based on the scriptural record, both Lehi and Nephi were shown the history of the Land of Promise from their time forward without a single mention of any other people involved other than the future coming of the gentiles (Spanish, English, Europeans); and Moroni, reading Ether’s record, saw that the Land of Promise was a chosen land and anyone on it should serve the Lord (Ether 13:2), and again did not mention any other people than the ones we know. Mormon in his abridgement mentions the Mulekites and tells us enough about them for us to know who they were and where they came from and their involvement with Lehi’s family. So why should we even consider that there were any other people anywhere around the Land of Promise, let alone intermarried with one half of the principal participants in the land?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Answering More Comments from the Website Part III

Here are some more comments that we’ve received on this website blog. They are all from readers who champion the Costa Rica model, using the Isthmus of Rivas as the narrow neck of land.
Comment #1: “Another unexplained issue in Nephite history is their determined zeal in keeping their enemies from gaining a foothold in the land northward. Why was this so important if the Lamanites bordered them on the south, and the Gadiantons infiltrated their mountains?” Brayton.
The Land of Bountiful was narrow in its northern boundary where the Narrow Neck of Land was located. This area was more easily defended, especially with a narrow Pass or passageway into the Land of Desolation in the Land Northward
Response: Mormon comments on this: “And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward. Therefore the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about. Now this was wisdom in the Nephites—as the Lamanites were an enemy to them, they would not suffer their afflictions on every hand, and also that they might have a country whither they might flee, according to their desires” (Alma 22:33-34)
So, logically, the Nephites didn't want to have to defend against their enemies on two fronts. They also wanted to maintain the only access to the north country in case they should need to retreat there some day, which of course, they did and claimed all that land northward in the treaty enacted in 350 A.D. (Mormon 2:29).
Comment #2: “It appears that archaeology has revealed another possible reason why the narrow neck was so critical. According to the “Isthmus of Rivas Theory,” which has the narrow neck of land along this isthmus, has been the corridor and trade route between lower Central America and Mesoamaerica throughout history. Those who controlled it had a distinct trade advantage. It is possible that the Nephites derived substantial income from their control of this critical resource. An historical example of this is shown in about 700 AD when the Nicaro, an Aztec affiliated tribe from Mexico, had to leave their homeland and fled to Nicaragua. They drove out the Chorotega people, who where occupying the Isthmus of Rivas, and took possession of this valuable real estate. They were still there when the Spanish arrived. It is claimed they derived great power and revenue from their control of the isthmus” Carley T.
The Isthmus of Rivas is a narrow land running 110 miles long and about 10 to 15 miles across near its narrowest point; however, while that could be defended, the movement around the east side of Lake Nicaragua could not be defended since, at its narrowest point, is about 70 miles across
Response: Some theories, like unwanted colds, seem to hang on despite all effort to eradicate them. The Isthmus of Rivas is one of those without any real support in the scriptures. In this case, the value of the narrow neck, which was not a settled area, but a pathway from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, was listed by Mormon for its strategic importance. After all, it was the only thing that kept the Nephites from being annihilated earlier than they were, and is shown by Mormon, who lived through this war that eventually saw the Nephites driven into the north country for good. As an example, it is hard to claim that Morianton wanted to gain the Land Northward for trade purposes when we are told he wanted to flee there to escape retribution from Moroni and his army (Alma 50:25). When Teancum intercepted Morianton’s flight, Morianton’s people fought as a result of Morianton’s flattering words (Alma 50:34)—hardly fodder for a tale of merchant control. In addition, Moroni ordered Teancum to hold the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9), hardly a rational act simply to maintain merchandizing rights. 
Comment #3: “Others have suggested that the people of the Atlantic watershed of Costa Rica were of Nephite origin,” Bernice.  
Response: The Atlantic Watershed culture was from 1 A.D. to 500 A.D., in the eastern area of Costa Rica. It is very likely that the people who settled in and built parts of Central America, Mesoamerica, and southern Mexico were Nephites—those who went north in Hagoth’s ships around 50 B.C., but they were not the Nephites of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise after that point.
Comment #4: “You have referred repeatedly to an area in the land northward you call “the land of many waters,” yet in Ether, it appears that there is no such separate land, but that the many waters are in what is called “the land of Cumorah. Am I missing something?” Laney O.
Response: Actually, you raise an excellent point. The land in question, which is to the north of the Land of Desolation, is called by Mormon “The Land of Cumorah,” which is “by a hill which is called Cumorah” (Mormon 6:2). Both the land and hill Cumorah “was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4). I suppose one could make a case for it either way, but I think because of the scriptural references I would lean toward the many waters being in the Land of Cumorah. On the other hand, to be inclusive, on an old map I ran across sent to a friend of mine by a missionary serving in Ecuador some years ago, there was an area showing many lakes, rivers, and river and water sources in an area to the southwest of Quito, labeled on this map as “The Land of Many Waters.” This area is also referenced as a land that “was covered with large bodies of water” (Alma 50:29), and Limhi’s expedition “traveled in a land among many waters” (Mosiah 8:8). Thus, it could be said that the Land of Cumorah, not only held the hill Cumorah, but also an area with the land where many waters, rivers and fountains (water sources) were located. For the sake of this blog, I have often referred to the Land of Many Waters as a separate area to separate it in a discussion of the Land of Cumorah and what took place there—typically, I use the Land of Many Waters to refer to a land far to the north in the Land Northward, such as in the case of discussing Morianton’s plan to go into that land (Alma 50:29). But very perceptive of you to spot this out and bring it up.
Comment #5: “The Nephite stronghold on the borders of Zarahemla, Bountiful and Desolation for the Nephite war with the Gadianton Robbers would have been at or near the modern city of La Cruz, in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. This location is at the headwaters of the Sapoa River at the northern end of a long plateau that borders the Pacific coast” Hughes.
The Battle with the Robbers took place “in the center of the land” not near the seacoast; in addition, it took place in the Land Southward, from Bountiful southward to the southern end of the Land of Zarahemla—not in the Land Northward as claimed in the Isthmus of Rivas Theory
Response: Gidgiddoni, the Captain of all the Nephite armies at the time said, “therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands” (3 Nephi 3:21), which should preclude being by a coast since the term “center” means: “a point equally distant from the extremities, the middle point or place,” and “to be placed in the middle.” Since this gathering place was as far north as the “line between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23) and as far south as the Land of Zarahemla (3 Nephi 3:23), it should be recognized that from north to south, this area was not the middle of the land, but the northern half of the Land Southward. The term center, therefore, must have meant from east to west and, therefore, not by the edge of the land (coast).

Friday, June 28, 2013

Answering More Comments from the Website – Part II

Following are more of the comments that have been sent in to our website that we are answering here:
Comment #1, “I ran across this map recently, but have no idea of any article that was once attached to it. The map shows an interesting idea about Mexico and Mesoamerica, as well as all of the United States area, showing a large, overall Land of Promise. I was wondering if you have seen it and what you think of it” Clark G.
Response: The map you sent is one of several presented by Wheeler Research on a “Restored Israel” website, which includes the subheading: “An LDS Perspective On the Restoration of Israel, Scriptural Science, Prophesy, and the Building of Zion.” The best I can uncover is that the author of all this is Tom Wheeler, a BYU graduate, but since his name does not appear on the website, this might not be accurate. The problem with the map is that it establishes a major issue with a cutaway of northeastern Mexico, which he claims is an Ancient Extension of the Gulf of Mexico, which, as far as my research has uncovered now and over the past, never existed. At one time, a significant body of water (referred to as the Central American Seaway) separated the continents of North and South America, allowing the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to mix freely through what is now Panama. Beneath the surface, two plates of the Earth’s crust were slowly colliding, forcing the Pacific Plate to slide under the Caribbean Plate, which movement eventually forced some areas above sea level—specifically that area of lower Panama about 3 million years ago. Granted there is a difference between geological dates and those of the biblical record, however the point is that there is no record at any time of a waterway cutting into most of northern Mexico and forming a much larger Gulf of Mexico as Wheeler claims. He has created this huge gulf in order to create a narrow neck of land between Mexico and the U.S., the latter being his Jaredite lands, from around the Rockies to the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, he gives no support to this gulf, its opening and or its closing, and as a problem for him, there is a great deal known and understood geologically about this entire area and nothing so far in print to agree with his point of view. Until that can be resolved, and shown to be accurate, there is no reason to pursue such a map or all the other claims he makes.
Comment #2: “I saw the attached map where the line between Bountiful and Desolation was 50 miles and covered in 1.5 days” Killian.
A line from Buffalo, New York, to Consesus Lake, one of the Finger Lakes just east of Geneseo, New York. This area has no narrow pass, no defensible area, and can easily be skirted to the east of the lake between the other several Finger Lakes. Also this so-called "Sea East" does not run completely along the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla and cannot be said to nearly surround the Land Southward
Response: The reference to which you refer is taken from the "True Book of Mormon Geography" website and found under the heading of “Line Bountiful: Line Defined” in which it refers to the boundary line between lands, i.e., between Bountiful and Desolation, obviously referring to Alma 22:32. I am always surprised to find people saying how far a day and a half journey was for a Nephite. Mesoamerican Theorists claim it is about 144 miles, with John L. Sorenson citing how far certain Indians have been known to run. However, two things need to be kept in mind: 1) Mormon is using this example for a future reader to understand the distance across the narrow neck of land he is describing, and 2) Mormon knows this will be read by a future reader in some distant generation and society, and uses a typical man walking at a typical gate, otherwise the example is meaningless.
Consequently, how far can a typical man walk in an 18 hour period with a 12 hour rest during darkness? While the average man can walk about 3 miles an hour (one mile every 20 minutes), that pace cannot be maintained for very long. The simple answer is merely to go out and see how far you can walk for four or five hours straight without a break. Most men can cover about 3-4 miles the first hour, 2-3 miles the second hour, 1-2 miles the third hour, and barely a mile the fourth hour, for a maximum total of 7-10 miles before giving out. When pacing yourself at about a 2 mile an hour gate, most men can cover 10 miles in five hours, but give out after that. 
When I was in the military, we had forced marches, 20-mile marches, 50-mile marches, etc. And even in top shape, walking on level ground, marching in route-step, with ten minute breaks every hour, the best record in the units I dealt with was approximately 15-20 miles for 10 hours. When moving across uneven ground, that distance dropped to about 10-15 miles in 10 hours, and across low hills, around cuts, stands of trees, etc., the pace dropped to about 10 miles in 10 hours. Of course, Herculean efforts are always recorded, miraculous achievements known, records achieved, but average men in average conditions—which would have been the objective of Mormon’s example—are far from record breaking.
The Boy Scouts have a 50/20 walk event, where there is no sleeping break—just stopping occasionally for meals usually delivered by others. The walks are generally on roads, typically level ground or low hills, and you walk at your own pace, though generally you stay in groups. On the two done in my area recently, the first one only two teenagers finished out of the 48 (14 years to adult) that started, and in the second, only four finished. All the others dropped out after ten, fifteen, twenty miles, etc. Of the 6 that finished in the two events, only one was an adult, the others were 16-18 year old teenagers, including two girls. But even at 50 miles in 20 hours, the finish rate was 7%--hardly what might be considered a typical accomplishment.
Of the 6 that finished in the two events, only one was an adult, the others were 16-18 year old teenagers, including two girls. But even at 50 miles in 20 hours, the finish rate was 7%--hardly what might be considered a typical accomplishment. 65% never made it past the half-way point
So the next time you read about the narrow neck of land that a Nephite could cross in a day and a half journey, consider going out and verifying if that distance they claim is even reasonable. Of course, you might run across the person who determined the fifty miles above, who says: “The width of Book of Mormon lands at Bountiful and Desolation was therefore 50 miles. If the width of the Land Bountiful in your  model is more or less than 50 miles, it's wrong. The width of the rest of Book of Mormon lands could be more, less, or the same.” My answer, as always, is go out and do it, then tell me it was that width!
Comment #3: “I was reading Dr. Joseph Allen’s book “Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon,” in which he said, “Bruce Warren, coauthor of the Messiah in Ancient America, discovered that Ixtlilxochitl made an error in calculation that placed the creation of the earth at 4825 BC and the flood date at 3109 BC.  For the sake of this study, I will place the 3114 BC date as representative of the flood. I have not been able to reconcile the 2350 BC flood date, which scholars derive from the Bible, with archaeological reports or with Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican histories.” I assume you have an opinion on this” Hernando Z.
Response: What I find interesting about this time of reasoning is the willingness of Book of Mormon scholars to take the word of Ixtlilxochitl or some other historian over that of Moses and the Lord.  The Flood occurred in 2344 B.C. according to Genesis and the Book of Moses, and there is nothing anyone can do about changing that fact for the Lord told it to Moses, and Moses wrote it down chronologically. Perhaps it would be wise for Allen to reject archaeological reports and Mesoamerican history in favor of the Biblical dating system of the Flood as the Lord told it to Moses.  As for Book of Mormon history, there is no mention of the Flood by date, and only twice is the word flood used at all: 1) Alma 10:22, referring to the Flood in the days of Noah, and 2) Ether 13:2, that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land, it became a choice land above all other lands.  Thus, one can hardly have any difficulty with Book of Mormon dates and the Flood.  That there would be problems with Mesoamerican history and the Mayan calendar may be true, but that has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon history.  And the fact that these two don't jive ought to be another proof that the Lehi Colony did not land in Mesoamerica; however, with these Theorists, when questionable historical data disagrees with the revealed word of God in the Book of Mormon or the Bible, they will take so-called Mesoamerican history every time, which should cause a person to ask "why"?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Answering More Comments from the Website

Following are more of the comments that have been sent in to our website that we are answering here:
Comment: “How many wildernesses were there? I read somewhere that the South Wilderness is the wilderness on the south of the land of Moroni.  The East Wilderness is the wilderness on the east of the land of Moroni.  This verse indicates that the East Wilderness meets or almost meets the South Wilderness in proximity of the land of Moroni in order to encircle the land of Moroni. Is that correct?”
Response: No. This makes it sound like there were several different wildernesses. Mormon makes it clear in describing the Land Southward that there was a narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Nephi (to the south) and the Land of Zarahemla (to the north), and that this wilderness curved up “round about” (Alma 22:27), on the east along the seashore, and also on the west, along the seashore. The areas where this wilderness curved upward was the temporary location of Lamanites who lived in tents (Alma 22:28) and were driven out by Moroni and forced back into the Land of Nephi (Alma 50:9).
Once this was done, Moroni caused Nephites to move into these wildernesses and occupy the land along the seashore (Alma 50:9), thus eliminating a refuge area for the Lamanites (Alma 50:11). We know more about the cities then built in the east seashore, of which Moroni (Alma 50:13) and Nephihah (Alma 50:14) were two. Once the Nephites moved into this area along the east seashore, it was no longer a wilderness, and no longer called a wilderness, since it was then occupied. This left only the narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla—it was located to the south of the Land of Zarahemla, thus it was also called in this sense, the South Wilderness.
Comment #2: “Alma 24:5 has Alma and his brethren going to the land of Midian. This is the only occurrence of this Biblical name in a Book of Mormon New World setting. This verse tells us that Midian was near the land of Ishmael. Robert F. Smith’s 3-volume “Critical Text of the Book of Mormon” in the 1980s takes issue with the name "Midian," replacing it with the well-attested "Middoni" that was definitely close to Ishmael. Would this be accurate?”
Response: There are several places in the scriptural text that are mentioned only once. The plains of Agosh are mentioned only in Ether 14:15-16; Valley of Alma in Mosiah 24:21; hill Amnihu in Alma l2:15; village of Anti-Anti in (Alma 21:11); city of Boaz in Mormon 4:20; the hill Comnor in Ether 14:28; plains of Heshlon in Ether 13:28; wilderness of Hermounts in Alma 2:37; city of Gimgimno in 3 Nephi 9:8; city of Gadiomnah in 3 Nephi 9:8; land of Heth in Ether 8:2; Irreantum sea in 1 Nephi 17:5; city of Jacob in 3 Nephi 9:8; cityh of Jacobugath in 3 Nephi 9:9; city of Jashon in Mormon 2:17; city of Jordan in Mormon 5:3; city of Josh in 3 Npehi 9:10; land of Joshua in Mormon 2:6; city of Kishkumen in 3 Nephi 9:10; city of Laman in 3 Nephi 9:10; city of Lemuel in Alma 23:12; land of Minon in 2:24; city of Mocum in 3 Nephi 9:7; city of Nehor in Ether 7:9; place called Ogath in Ether 15:10; city of Omner in Alma 51:26; city Onihah in 3 Nephi 9:7; waters of Ripliancum in Ether 15:8; city of Shimnilom Alma 23:12; tower of Sherrizah in Moroni 9:7 (during the time of Mormon); land of Siron in Alma 39:3; and the city of Zeezrom in Alma 56:14.
Given all these singularly mentioned places (and perhaps more), why would one more cause someone to claim the name Midian was a mistake in the scriptural record? To me, the idea that someone has published three-volumes of changes they claim are required for the Book of Mormon because Mormon, Joseph Smith, or a scribe made a mistake is the height of arrogance.
Sometimes people lose sight of the fact that the various writings in the Book of Mormon were written by prophets, abridged by prophets, translated by a prophet under the direction of the Holy Spirit. For someone to come along and say one or more of these people made mistakes other than grammatical or spelling-wise is not only arrogant, but ignorant.
Comment: “What about the incidents where Mormon had trouble keeping everything straight in his mind all the time and engraved “the land,” then corrected himself and said, “or, the city..” as in alma 53:3 and Alma 56:14. And what about earlier when Mormon temporarily confused the lands of Bountiful and Moroni in Alma 50:32?”
Response: First of all, let’s take Alma 50:32—in this case, Mormon was not confusing two lands. Moroni had his camp in the area of Bountiful, and when he received word that Morianton was marching northward to pass through the narrow neck of land north of Bountiful and gain control over the Land Northward (Alma 50:29), a fact over which both the people in Bountiful and Moroni, as commander, was greatly concerned, “Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward” (Alma 50:33). Teancum did not catch up to Morianton until the rebels nearly reached the Land of Desolation, where a battle took place and Morianton was killed (Alma 50:35). There was no confusion on Mormon’s part, only in the mind of the person reading the scripture and making the absurd statement.
Secondly, in the other two cases, Mormon was not confused about what he was writing. We have to keep in mind that every city in the Land of Promise had land around it, and that land carried the same name as that of the city—but at the same time, each land was part of a greater land, specifically, the three main divisions of the Land Southward—the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Bountiful. Mormon expected that to be somewhat confusing to a future reader, and often stated that something was happening in an area, and used the term “land,” and sometimes expanded on that to center that activity within the city within the land. Since he would have been inserting an extra explanation, it sometimes did not read well with the rest of the sentence he was copying from the original. As Moroni said, “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Mormon 9:31). How many people are wiser than Mormon and Moroni I would not even try to suggest—I know I am not, and I seriously doubt that those who try to find fault with them are wiser, either.
We also need to keep in mind that Mormon is not writing from memory—he is abridging someone else’s writing, in this case, that of Alma; that is, Mormon was shortening, abbreviating, reducing or condensing. He was not ad-libbing! He had the actual information in front of him as he engraved his abridged record. It was not a matter of making a mistake, but a matter of trying to clarify for the future readers—us—the areas he was writing about.
Comment #3: “I understand that the punctuation in the Book of Mormon was added by other than Joseph Smith or his scribe. Some say that E.B. Grandin and his employees (primarily John Gilbert) added punctuation and set the type for the 1830 Palmyra edition, largely from the printer's manuscript, but partly from the original manuscript.”
Response: Although Joseph Smith was the translator of the Book of Mormon, the spelling in the first edition was Oliver Cowdery’s (scribe), and the punctuation was John H. Gilbert’s, a non-Mormon typesetter who worked for E.B. Grandin, who published that edition. Gilbert, after receiving permission from Hyrum Smith, took the manuscript home with him for “two or three nights” and punctuated it with a lead pencil. It is reported that his effort resulted in somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 additional punctuation marks. Because of several typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors, the next publication (1837) edition had over a thousand corrections made by Joseph Smith with the help of Oliver Cowdery, most were grammatical changes, with some minor clarifications. We should keep in mind that Joseph Smith had no formal schooling, though at this time he was learning the rudiments of Hebrew, and English grammar (History of the Church, 2:390, 474; 3:26).
This is why I have a copy of the original 1830 First Edition Book of Mormon that was reproduced from uncut sheets that has the original punctuation. It is sometimes extremely valuable to consult that when looking at meaning from commas, semi-colons, etc., and without the division into verses and with fewer chapters.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The H38 Virus Rears its Ugly Head Once Again

We received the following question from one of our readers recently that deserves answering in a complete post:
Comment: "I saw on a website that someone claims of your South American Land of Promise: “The H38 Virus effectively shifted the Sea South to south of the Land of Nephi where no body of water is ever referenced - neither directly or indirectly. Importantly, DowDell refuses to acknowledge that the land in his model is not hidden and his Internal Map fails to show the Great Deep which did not border Book of Mormon lands.” Do you have an answer to this?"
Response: These criticism were answered in my posts dating to early August of last year under “Direct Criticisms Answered – Parts I, II, and III” and three posts at the end of April, 2011 regarding his H38 Virus claim. But even though I have written numerous posts on this website about Peter Covino’s H38 Virus, that is, the meaning of Helaman 3:8, there has never been a response (the H38 Virus is always in attack mode, never, it seems, in response or answer mode).
First of all, for someone to base an entire concept on a single verse in the Book of Mormon has always amazed me. But let me quickly answer the comments in the paragraph above: 1) Nowhere in the scriptures does it say the Sea South is anywhere but in the South. The south of the Land of Promise is the Land of Nephi, and south of that was the sea, which was part of the sea over which the Lehi Colony traveled (see 2 Nephi 10:20)—which is an obvious direct reference to a sea all around the Land of Promise; 
2) All land in the Western Hemisphere was kept from the knowledge of all mariners, explorers, settlers, emigrants, etc., until sometime around the fifteenth century—I would say it was so well hidden, that no one even landed upon it (the Vikings were in Greenland and Leif Erickson spent a little time in New Foundland, Canada) and no one ever colonized it until the Spanish in the early 16th century. How hidden does it have to be? By the way, the word "hidden" is never mentioned in the scriptural record--Lehi was promised "and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever (2 Nephi 1:9)--nothing about being "hidden";  3) The Great Deep is the ocean, that is deep water, sometimes called Sea, which covers 3/5th of this entire planet in a never-ending flow, as one mass or body partially separated by continents. Jacob, who was on the ship that brought the Lehi Colony to the Land of Promise, claims the Lord made the sea their path—that is, they were traveling upon the sea in their ship—and they were on an isle of the sea (2 Nephi 10:20)—they landed upon an island in the midst of the sea over which they were traveling. The 1828 dictionary tells us that the ocean is the sea, or the sea is the ocean, and that deep is defined as the sea, and great as vast, unusually large, the whole. This obviously tells that Jacob claims the Great Deep bordered the entire Land of Promise. Only Covino could interpret this differently.
He also said on his website: “The accuracy of DowDell's work is reflected by the following example of his powers of deduction: "Thus, it can be concluded that the east seashore was altered considerably and, evidently, no longer in existence, for it is never mentioned after 34 A.D." (What Happened to the East Sea, May 16, 2011).” According to his logic, the seas South and North must have also mysteriously disappeared as they are no longer mentioned either. Apparently, the H38 Virus is capable of not only rearranging seas but of erasing them also.”
To which I responded in my website: “Perhaps a little perspective might be involved here. Prior to the destruction described in 3rd Nephi, the terms “East Sea,” “Sea East,” and east “seashore” are mentioned 25 times—far more than any other Land of Promise feature, and far more than all the other seas combined. However, after the destruction mentioned in 3 Nephi, none of these three terms were ever mentioned again. On the other hand, the “West Sea,” ”Sea West,” or west “seashore,” are mentioned only 14 times in all of scripture--and contrary to Covino’s comment, the West Sea is referred to once after the destruction: “We marched forth and came to the land of Joshua, which was in the borders west by the seashore” (Mormon 2:6). In addition, none of the cities along the East Sea, including Mulek, Moroni, Nephihah, Lehi, Gid, Morianton, and Omner, where much activity took place before the destruction, are not mentioned at all after the destruction—in fact, the eastern part of the Land of Promise is not again mentioned, included, referred to, or otherwise inferred after the destruction in 3 Nephi 8.” But we do know that where there was level ground, mountains rose of whose height was great (Helaman 14:23). 
A simple depiction of the narrow neck of land separating the two major lands. It is one of the more prominent features of the geography of the Land of Promise, yet after 3 Nephi 8, it is never mentioned again, nor is the East Sea, or any of the cities that were built along that seashore
In addition, it might also be said that the narrow neck of land is not again mentioned after 34 A.D., however, the narrow pass or passage is mentioned after the destruction (Mormon 2:29 and Mormon 3:5). Also, regarding a Sea North, there is only the one mention of this in Helaman 3:8. But, there is mention of a Sea that Divides the Land in Ether 10:20.
So let’s take Helaman 3:8 first. “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.”
While Covino separates that verse from everything else, claiming it only has reference to the Land Northward, he ignores a second verse, more or less stating the same thing: “And thus it did come to pass that the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to build up their waste places, and began to multiply and spread, even until they did cover the whole face of the land, both on the northward and on the southward, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 11:20). To make this clear the entire Land of Promise is being described, we see a separation of the Land Northward in another scripture where only that portion of the Land of Promise is covered with people “The whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants” (Ether 10:21).
These two verses tell us that Helaman is explaining the growth of the people in the Land of Promise (“did cover the whole face of the land”), not just one part of it. “From the Sea South to the Sea North, from the Sea East to the Sea West,” and “Both on the Northward and on the Southward, from the Sea West to the Sea East.” This seems pretty clear that the area Helaman is describing is the entire Land of Promise, which is found surrounded by four seas, including the Sea North—mentioned only once in all scripture—and the Sea South, also mentioned only once in all scripture.
In addition, with the Sea that Divides the Land (Ether 10:20), what is that describing? After the great famine, the Jaredites built a city in the Land Northward near the narrow neck of land, “by the place where the sea divides the land,” and preserved the land beyond the narrow neck—the Land Southward—as a preserve (Ether 10:21) filled with the animals chased there by the poisonous serpents (Ether 9:31) before they were destroyed (Ether 10:19).
Now consider an entire Land of Promise that is divided into two large portions, the Land Southward and the Land Northward. Between these two lands is “a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32) that connects these two lands. This narrow neck of land is formed by the sea encroaching from the east and the west, on either side (Alma 50:34). This arrangement (see sample drawing below) leads Ether do describe a “sea that divides the land” (Ether 10:20).
A simple depiction of an “isle” of the sea (2 Nephi 10:20) showing cardinal points or seas, including the “sea that divides the land” (Ether 10:20)
That is, there is one land with a large bay or inlet on one side that cuts into the land, at which juncture, the land is divided into two large, separate areas, connected only by a small  neck of land.
One last point to make. Covino, on his website in the same article of criticism, then adds, “Sadly, his entire model is outside of the fulfilled land prophecy zone, having zero regard for official church history, church canon, and LDS prophets, apostles, and Book of Mormon witnesses who said the Hill Cumorah in Western New York was the place where the final battles occurred.”
1) There is no fulfilled prophecy zone per se—certainly not in the United States. As has often been reported within these posts in the past, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and several other prophets and General Authorities have stated that the entire Western Hemisphere, specifically North, Central and South America is all the Land of Promise!
2) As has been reported here in these posts numerous times, no prophet or general authority, speaking for the church, has ever claimed that the Hill Cumorah or the last great battle that wiped out the Nephites in 385 A.D., took place in the United States. There has been much speculation on this, but most of that occurred in the middle part of the last century, and has been pretty much discredited by almost all LDS since that time.
3) The comments made regarding Zelph and the bones found, etc., have also been covered extensively in these posts, showing the details of those remarks that have been changed and altered by the Church from the early reports in journals.
Lastly, if any prophet or General Authority, speaking for the Church were to say anything different than has been published by me in my books or on this website, I would be the first to acknowledge that!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Land Southward Nearly Surrounded by Water

Joseph L. Allen, long time advocate of Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise (See Part II, Chapters 1-7, of Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists) as posted by Kirk Magleby on the Book of Mormon website, the following map is supposed to outline the area of the Land Southward and show that it was “nearly surrounded by water
According to “Book of Mormon Resources” website, this is the Land Southward that was “nearly surrounded by water”
In Alma 22:32, Mormon, in attempting to clarify the appearance and of the Land Southward to the future reader, states that “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water.” Thus, the above website talks about “the perimeter outlined in red is 11.69% land and 88.31% salt water coastline,” claiming “this is indeed what Mormon had in mind in his mental map of the land southward.”
The problem with such thinking, and all thinking that tries to change the meaning of the scriptural record, is that they have a pre-determined location in mind—Mesoamerica—thus, to a pre-determined mind, this makes sense. However, it is not what Mormon wrote.
First of all, Mormon begins that statement with the words: “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, from the east to the west sea” telling us his intent in this 32nd verse was in talking about there being a narrow neck of land. How wide was the narrow neck of land? It was the width of a day and a half journey for a Nephite. Then he goes on to tell us that this narrow neck of land was all that kept the entire Land Southward, which he described in the previous verses, from being completely surrounded by water. That is, the Land Southwared was nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck of land.
Mormon, if we follow his insertion of this land description, begins in verse 27. At that point, he was abridging Alma’s record of Aaron’s conversion of the Lamanite king. The king then invited Aaron and his brethren with him to preach to the king’s subjects that were present, then Mormon tells us that the Lamanite king sent a proclamation throughout all the land of the Lamanites: “throughout all the land, 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).
At this point, so the future reader can get a clear picture of how vast the Land of the Lamanites was, Mormon describes the boundaries of their land, then includes the boundaries of the Nephite lands, and how the two lands were divided by a strip of wilderness.
We need to keep in mind that at this point in the Nephite record, which was between 90 and 77 B.C., about 23 to 36 years before Alma tells us that many Nephites went north into the Land Northward (Alma 63:9) and about 31 to 44 years before Helaman tells us that a great many Nephites went into the Land Northward to “inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3).
In 90 to 77 B.C., the vast majority of Nephite were settled in the Land Southward, and the entire scriptural record from the time of first landing (about 587 B.C.) to that point in time, nearly 500 years, had taken place in the Land Southward, and most of that in the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Before this time, the Land of Bountiful had never been mentioned, and not until Alma 27:22 is it used in the context of a land inhabited by the Nephites, which was about 77 B.C.
Consequently, it can only be concluded that when Mormon is inserting the description of the land in Alma 22, his intent and purpose is to basically describe the Land Southward, and mostly the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Thus, at this point, he tells us the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, which he had clearly described, and that both ran from sea to sea across the width of the land, as well as the narrow strip of wilderness, he tells us this entire area was surrounded by water except for a "narrow neck of land" (the first we know of this area) that separated the Land Southward from the Land Northward.
This narrow neck of land was all that kept the entire Land Southward from being surrounded by water. And this is verified when we read Jacob’s description of the entire Land of Promise described around 559 to 545 B.C. “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20-italics added).
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language (Webster and Joseph Smith both lived and grew up in New England around the same time), an isle is described as “a track of land surrounded by water, a detached portion of land embosomed in the ocean.”
Consequently, the image above of Mesoamerica and the red area outlined, could not possibly be considered the Land Southward, even if its perimeter is 88.31% water—the Land Southward was part of an island, and completely surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land—a narrow neck Mesoamerica does not have! And no amount of trying to change meaning, alter wordage, or claim “Mormon was confused” can change that simple fact.
It might also be noted that Mormon’s words: “nearly surrounded by water” should be understood to mean “almost, within a little” according to the 1828 dictionary mentioned above. That is, the Land Southward was “almost, within a little” surrounded by water. The word “nearly” suggests “closeness, a small distance” according to Webster, thus, the map above shows two distances, that are not really that close. That is, each of the two distances represent the basic width of the area outlined except for the Yucatan bulge. Stated differently, 144 miles across on the west side is hardly suggestive of a day and a half travel for a Nephite, nor is the 180 miles on the east of this outlined area.
Also, regarding the map, there is one additional comment that is easily recognizable. Mormon tells us: “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. And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed” (Alma 22:29-30).
Mormon makes it clear that the Land of Promise ran, south to north, with the Land of Npehi, the narrow strip of wilderness, the Land of Zarahemla, the Land of Bountiful, the Land of Desolation, and the Land of Many Waters in the far north. Yet, the map below does not show Bountiful north of Zarahemla and, more importantly, the narrow neck north of that and the entire Land Northward north of that.
Same map, showing the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla. What is not shown is that Bountiful, or the narrow neck and Land Northward is actually to the left (west) of Zarahemla
Same map, showing the Land Northward to the west of the narrow neck, which is to the west of the Land Southward. Mormon did not describe these lands in this manner in Alma 22

Monday, June 24, 2013

What the Battle of Thermopylae Teaches Us

Sometimes when people read the Book of Mormon and see where a strategic pass is mentioned, such as the one through the narrow neck of land that connected the Land Southward with the Land Northward (Alma 50:34), they begin picturing in their minds all sorts of concepts. But Mormon makes it quite clear that this narrow pass between the Land Southward and the Land Northward was a very important strategic position to the Nephites and they guarded it diligently to make sure no enemy could get beyond their lines and get through the pass and into the Land Northward (Alma 22:32, 52:9).
Some theorists place little attention on the strategic nature of this pass, and only try to relate it to a narrower land area within their model. However, the strategic nature of this pass makes it imperative that the width of it was narrow! Narrow enough to be defended, and a singular passage between the two lands (Alma 50:34).
So we turn to the 480 B.C. story of the Greeks who battled an overwhelmingly superior force of Persians in the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae (meaning “the hot gates”). At the time, Leonidas (“spirit of a lion”) was a son to the Agiad Spartan king, Anaxandridas II. It is not known when he was born but Cleomenes, his half-brother, became king when their father died; however, he committed suicide in 490 B.C. Leonidas became king of Sparta the next year and married his niece, Cleomenes' daughter, Gorgo.
The new king adopted many of the policies of his half-brother including the attacks on Athens. He further expanded his foreign policy to include a belligerent attitude towards the Persian Empire to the east under Xerxes I. Trouble with Persia had begun in 546 BC when the Greek city-state of Ionia in Anatolia had been captured by the Persians. When Ionia rebelled in 500 BC, the Athenians lent their support by sending a small fleet. Persia's emperor, Darius, used this as an excuse to invade mainland Greece in 492 B.C., however, this first invasion attempt ended in disaster for the Persians when their fleet was destroyed in a storm.
Two years later, the Persians launched a second invasion attempt. The Athenians prepared to meet the 25,000 Persians at Marathon and asked Sparta to send a contingent to assist them. Cleomenes replied that the Spartans were in the midst of an important religious festival and declined. Fortunately for the Greeks, the Athenians were able to defeat the Persians at Marathon without Spartan help. The Athenian general, Miltiades lost only 192 men compared to the Persians 6,400 deaths.
The second invasion of the Persian army 200,000 strong as they march toward Thermopylae
By the time the Persians invaded again, Leonidas was King of Sparta. He was at the forefront in confronting the Persians and when word came that the armies of the new Persian king, Xerxes, were on the move, the Greeks this time were united in their response. An alliance of the Greeks city-states had been formed in 481 B.C. and command of the army given to Sparta while that of the navy went to Athens.
The slow moving Persian army gave Leonidas plenty of time to prepare and initially he had planned a defense of Thessaly but when it was learned that the 7,000 Greeks were faced with 200,000 Persians he changed his plans. In July 480 the Greeks withdrew to the narrow pass at Thermopylae, which had cliffs on one side and the sea (Gulf of Malis) on the other.
The actual narrow pass at Thermopylae. Note the pass is 46 feet across, and how easily it would be for a small force to defend against a much larger invading force
The Passage at Thermopylae was chosen with care. Though Xerxes had a huge army it was to no advantage in the narrow pass, where fourteen to fifteen men standing abreast with shields and spears several courses deep, prevented the Persians from getting close enough to use their own weapons—short swords, in a battle technique known in the military as “Defeat in detail.” The initial Persian assaults were repulsed and despite repeated attempts by the chosen Persian Immortals—an elite heavy infantry and Imperial Guard—over the next two days, the Greeks could not be dislodged from the pass.
The Spartans were aligned shoulder-to-shoulder across the narrow pass, with long spears that kept the Persians at bay
Keep in mind they we are not dealing with handguns, rifles or machine guns, or with dynamite, hand grenades or explosives. There were no greater weapons employed than spears, swords and arrows. The type of warfare where a narrow pass would strategically be most important as Mormon describes between the Land Northward and the Land Southward in the Land of Promise.
Equipped with long spears and shields. The small Greek force of Spartans was able to withstand a mighty Persian army of over 6,000 soldiers in the narrow pass between the cliffs and the sea
On the evening of the second day a Greek villager named Ephialtes turned traitor and informed the Persians that there was a little known path through the mountains that would allow them to outflank the Greeks. Leondias was aware of the path and had left 1,000 Phocians, from Corinth, to guard it. That night Xerxes sent Hydarnes with 10,000 Immortals up the path. The Phocians took to the high ground and prepared to fight them but the Persians marched past and continued on to confront Leonidas.
When the Greek scouts reported that they had been outflanked them, Leonidas realized that his army was doomed. He dismissed the army and stayed himself along with 300 Spartans, 400 Thebans, and 700 Thespians, forming a rear guard. The small army formed in a circle on a hill and waited for the enemy. The Persians surrounded the valiant Greeks and the final fight ended with the deaths of all of the Greeks. The 300 Spartans were cut down as they defended the body of their king.
With the Persians later defeated at Artemisium and Salamis, the victorious Greeks erected a memorial on the battlefield at Thermopylae which read "Tell them in Sparta, passerby, that here, obedient to their orders, we lie."
What we learn from the battle at Thermopylae, is that a very small force can withstand a very large army in a narrow pass. This battle was fought in 490 B.C., the same time that the Nephites were in the Land of Promise and a little before they fortified the narrow neck of land and guarded the narrow pass into the Land Northward. It was, as Mormon tells us, a strategic pass to the Nephites, just as Thermopylae was to the Greeks.
It cannot be said that this narrow pass was miles wide as some Book of Mormon theorists claim, showing on maps where it was supposedly located, etc., with no apparent understanding of the reason Mormon mentioned the pass at all.
In Thermopylae, the narrow pass rendered the sheer numbers of the 200,000-strong Persian army meaningless and took away that advantage as repeatedly the much larger Persian force attacked, only to be thrown back with heavy casualties. Had there not been treachery, the Persians may never have breached the pass, but the treachery shows the importance of a pass that cannot be circumvented, as all Theorists maps of their locations show can be done.
Wherever one might want to claim this narrow pass was located, and it existed both before the destruction covered in 3 Nephi 8, and after (Alma 50:34, 52:9; Mormon 2:29; 3:5), it has to be the only way of getting from the Land Southward into the Land Northward, and strategically narrow as to be defensible, as well as marking an obvious dividing line between lands. It was, we might point out, the line for a truce between the Lamanites and the Nephites (Mormon 2:28-29), and the dividing line between lands (Alma 22:32), separating the lands of Bountiful and Desolation (Alma 63:5).
Like so many descriptions of the land that Mormon left us, it must be understood before one can arbitrarily make a claim as to its location.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Narrow Pass Between the Great Lakes?

One of our readers sent me a map of a narrow pass between the Great Lakes taken from a website. The map is found in Wayne May’s “Book of Mormon Geography” presentation at the Ancient American History Conference in Salt Lake City, in April of 2011.
May’s Map of his proposed Narrow Pass through the Great Lakes
The trouble with this location for the narrow pass, which should be understood to be within the narrow neck of land, is that May’s line is at least 300 miles long (perhaps more) and at its widest is 140 miles, and at its narrowest is just over 50 miles, with another narrow area about 70 miles wide. By the very definition of a “narrow pass” is that it is narrow! Which this line is certainly not and cannot possibly be considered as such.
Another problem, since this narrow pass was the point of entry between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, it was also an easily defensible area for the Nephites to keep unwanted enemies from getting through to the northern land. First of all, the entrance into the narrow passage, between Lake Erie and Lake Michigan (roughly Toledo to South Bend) is 190 miles across, making it impossible for Teancum’s army to head off Morianton’s army from getting into the passage (Alma 50:33) since there would be no possible way for any army racing to intercept the northward flight of an enemy to 1) locate him across a 190 mile wide line, and two, guard against an enemy across that 190 miles to block the passage of that enemy.
In addition, to get into the passage, Morianton would have had to pass either to the south and east of Lake St.Clair, or to the north of the lake (which is more than 25 miles across), providing two points where Teancum would have had to guard, thus splitting up his army to do so, with one guarding a 20 mile wide line and the other guarding a 25 mile wide line.
Morianton had a choice of moving across 120 miles of open space and through one of two routes around Lake St.Clair—it would have been impossible for Teancum, who was rushing to catch up to Morianton to head him before he reached this "narrow" pass
In case you have never been in the military, stringing soldiers across a 20 to 25 mile line (without nothing but line of sight to spot an enemy in 72 B.C.) would take a very large force, far larger than Teancum’s army described in the scriptural record. But even if so, there would be no way to reform the army, once spotting the enemy, to win any battle of an aggressive, onrushing enemy as Morianton's force is described.
In addition, May’s "narrow" pass is not the only passage or way into his Land Northward. Any army bent on escape, or bent on outflanking the Nephites in his "narrow" pass could take an eastern route around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and enter Canada (Land Northward) and across the St. Lawrence River north of Lake Ontario. A river is a hinderance, but not a total barrier for an army, with manpower to make rafts, etc., or they could travel up near present-day Montreal where the river has a series of rapids that could be crossed in the shallows.
Mormon describes a narrow neck of land and a narrow pass as the only entrance into the Land Northward, and that it was defensible against an enemy. May’s location would require tens of thousands of soldiers covering a hundred thousand square miles
In this same presentation, May showed maps of the Land of Nephi, located in Tennessee (3000 feet elevation), and the Land of Zarahemla (600 feet elevation), located to the northwest, in Iowa, which is a distance of over 500 miles. Now think about that. Every time the Lamanites came down to battle against the Nephites, they would be traveling some 500 miles to get to the battle site. 500 miles, which would have to have been on foot! 500 miles! In addition, they would have to cross the Ohio River and the Mississippi River, in order to get to the battle area.
Now tell me that makes sense!
It would appear that May, along with others who agree with these wide open areas they want to call a pass, do not understand the wordage Mormon used, and Joseph Smith translated. Looking at Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, we find that the word pass means “A narrow or difficult place of entrance and exit, a passage, as a pass between mountains.” And since Mormon described this as both a pass (Alma 50:34) and a passage (Mormon 2:29), the word passage is described as “Road, a way, a place where men or things may pass or be conveyed.” So we have a narrow passage that is difficult to enter and exit, where men or things can be conveyed, such as a narrow pass between mountains. The word “narrow” means “of little breadth, not wide or broad, having little distance from side to side, very limited.”
With this in mind, there is no way to describe the area between the lakes that May does, as being narrow in any stretch of the imagination. Fifty miles is not narrow, nor is 190 miles, or anything in between, which is the various width distances of his 300-mile long narrow passage.
A picture of a narrow pass between a mountain. As one can see, such a pass could be easily defended and would certainly restrict passage
We should also keep in mind that the narrow passage is the same as the narrow pass (Mormon 2:29 and Mormon 3:5). This pass “led into the land northward” (Alma 52:9) and “led by the sea into the land northward, by the sea on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:33), and also, obviously, “led into the Land Southward” (Mormon 2:29), and this pass was by the borders of the Land Desolation (Mormon 3:5), and between Bountiful and the Land Northward (Alma 52:9), as was the small or narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32; 63:5).
Now, since the entire Land Southward was surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land between the Land Southward and the Land Northward (Alma 22:32), this narrow pass or passage had to have been part of, or ran through, this narrow neck of land from the Land Southward to the Land Northward as the above scriptures show.
Consequently, any suggestion of a narrow neck, a narrow pass, or passage, are all of the same topographical feature—that narrow strip of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward. In addition, this narrow strip of land was also the only passage between these two lands, and was the focal point of the Nephite defenses, to preserve that land to the north and keep their enemies from gaining access to it by defending the narrow land in between (Alma 22:32-33).
Thus, any narrow neck of land, no matter the width, that does not have a narrow pass or passage through it narrow enough to guard against movement between the two lands, does not meet Mormon’s numerous descriptions and is simply not the narrow neck of land of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. No amount of rhetoric, explanation, or deceptive dialogue can change this simple fact!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Have You Ever Wondered? – Part II

Continuing from the last post in which Mormon’s descriptions of the Land of Promise were covered, the question was asked, “Why did Mormon include so much and so detailed geographical information?”
Obviously, Mormon didn’t include geographical information for scholars today to dispute and argue over, any more than the Biblical writers wrote their books thinking people would argue over what they wrote—yet there are some 40,000 different Christian denominations at last count, each using the exact same scriptures as the basis of their religion.
In the case of the Book of Mormon, it is not a matter of disputing the statements of doctrine, as in the various Christian religions, but a matter of disputing the meaning of geographical information among those trying to locate the Land of Promise among today’s geography.
The problem seems to stem from one basic source—that of Mesoamerican Theorists who claim that area is the site of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. To understand this, we need to retrace the steps of the LDS thinking in the early days of the Church.                 
Simply put, when Joseph Smith told others of his First Vision in which he saw God the Father, and his son, Jesus Christ, he was met with such strong opposition, including that from local ministers, he was astounded. From that time forth there was a concentrated effort from the surrounding communities to ridicule and defame Joseph and his claim. When the Church was organized and the Book of Mormon in publication, early members were eager to learn more of the ancient people called the Nephites found within its page. When the ancient ruins of Mexico, Yucatan and Guatemala were discovered, many members and scholars began trying to show that this was the area of the Book of Mormon. It became the pet view of M. Wells Jakeman, the founder and first chairman of the department of archaeology at BYU. In time, certain early scholars at BYU and later elsewhere began touting Mesoamerica as the home of the Nephite nation.
Studies were made, books written, trips arranged, and soon the idea of Mesoamerica as the home of the Book of Mormon within the Church, especially at BYU, came into the LDS consciousness. Archaeology began at the University and it was all centered in Mesoamerica. In 1953, Jakeman, erroneously claimed the carved stela found at Izapa (Izapa Stela 5) was the Lehi Tree of Life Stone, which swept through the church like wildfire for many years. However, many scholars with the requisite technical training, knowledge, and experience in this area, some LDS and some not, examined the stone and Dr. Jakeman's interpretation of it--their conclusions were all the same: Professor Jakeman's interpretation was not correct.
Replica of the Chiapas Izapa Stela 5 “Tree of Life Stone” presented to West Valley City, Utah, by Chiapas. Standing beside it is Donald W. Lowe, son of Gareth W. Lowe, who was field director of BYU’s New World Archaeological Foundation and directed excavation of the Stela 5 site in the 1960s
However, this did not deter Jakeman and other scholars who followed at BYU, such as John L. Sorenson, in teaching, claiming, and writing about Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise. Sorenson, head of the Department of Anthropology at BYU and now emeritus, wrote his landmark book, “An American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” and in it took extreme license with the scriptural record, twisting and turning Mormon’s writing to agree with Mesoamerican topography and geography. Along came FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies), founded by John W. Welch, of which Sorenson was part for 28 years, an organization dedicated to studies connecting the Book of Mormon with Mesoamerica (today, this group is called Neal A. Maxwell Institute and is involved in LDS historical scholarship, but the archaeology has always been centered on Mesoamerica).
As an example of twisting and turning the scriptural record, Sorenson in his book, and Mesoamerican Theorists today, among others claim:
1. The Land of Promise really ran east and west as does Mesoamerica, not north and south as the scriptural record shows;
2. Nephi and others did not know directions as we do today and didn’t know the directions of the Land of Promise;
3. Mormon’s day and a half journey was really meant for a marathon runner or the like and is over 120 miles;
4. The Land Northward was really to the west of the Land Southward;
5. Land of Desolation was to the west of the Land of Bountiful;
6. Where no distances are stated in the scriptural record, they provide short distances to fit Mesoamerica;
7. Ignore clearly stated scripture and use their own interpretation, such as with the Mulekite landing in the Land Northward;
8. Involve Jaredites among 1) Mulekites, 2) Lamanites, and 3) Nephites; though the scriptural record shows no connection at all other than Coriantumr for 9 months;
9. Claiming the narrow neck of land was 120 miles across (144 by foot);
10. Creating a land to the east of the Land of Nephi, though the Land of Nephi ran from sea to sea;
11. Claiming the destruction in 3 Nephi 8 was only cosmetic and really didn't alter the land view;
12. Claiming other indigenous people were in the Land of Promise, even before Lehi arrived despite the promise to Lehi that the Land would he his;
13. Claiming the Nephite copper or dark skin blended them in with indigenous Indians already in the land of promise when Lehi arrived;
14. Claiming other indigenous people of numerous languages were in the land of promise;
15. Claiming indigenous people in the land of promise taught the Lehi colony how to plant seeds when they arrived, and that Nephite diseases killed off the indigenous people;
16. Claiming the Nephites were not literate;
17. Claiming the Lamanites were not dark skinned;
18. Claiming the Nephites hated the Lamanites and spoke ill of them and described them as far worse than they were;
19. Claiming not all Jaredites were killed off, only the ruling line;
20.  Claiming linen and silk, horses, elephants, metallurgy, etc., in the scriptural record meant something else.
This list of 20 items is only a glimpse of all those errors, changes, alterations, stretches, and outright disagreements Sorenson makes with the scriptural record in his book and later publications (for a more complete list, see the book Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists).
The point is, Mormon gave us an exact and clear glimpse of the Land of Promise. Changing or altering Mormon’s descriptions, or explaining away why they meant something else, is not worthy of a scholarly effort, let alone an inspired understanding of the Book of Mormon.