Monday, November 30, 2015

Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – Part V

Continuing from the previous post and our responses to the article George Potter wrote that was sent to us by one of our readers. Resuming with Potter’s reasoning regarding the line between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful:
• “We know that the narrow pass had great military significance, for if the “pass” fell, the Lamanites could possess the land northward.”
The Nephites were separated from the Lamanites by a (white arrow) narrow strip of wilderness. North of there, beyond the Lands of Zarahemla and Bountiful lay the (red arrow) narrow neck of land. It took the Lamanites until 350 A.D. 950 years to reach that point where Mormon and the Lamanites made a treaty giving the Lamanites all the Land Southward and the Nephites all the Land Northward; obviously, Potter’s statement is not accurate
    Response: First of all, the Lamanite throughout most of the Nephite history (until around the third century A.D. in the time of Mormon) were nowhere near the narrow wneck of land, being restricted to the Land of Nephi as Mormon informs us (Alma 22:34). Before the Lamanites battled their way toward the north in the last century B.C., most of the Nephite concerns were from dissenters trying to gain the Land Northward as a base of operations, and in some way enter into a liason with the Lamanites in order to have a two-front war against the Nephites (Alma 50:32). 
Secondly, the entire small or narrow neck of land marked this area of significance. The narrow pass was simply the means of ingress from one land (Land Southward) into the other land (Land Northward). As long as that pass was held, the Lamanites or Nephite defectors could not take possession of the Land Northward and create a Second Front the Nephites would be compelled to protect.
• “In a later attack by the Lamanites, the same strategic place is simply called “the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23) with no mention of a narrow neck of land.”
    Response: There was only one way to get from one land (Land Southward) into the other land (Land Northward) and that was through the narrow pass or passage that led across the narrow neck of land. The line, once again, was the division or boundary between these two major lands, and the actual border between the Land of Desolation on the north and the Land of Bountiful on the south (Alma 22:32).
    From all of this, it should be quite clear why this area was such a strategic value to the Nephites. As long as they could hold the narrow pass within the narrow neck of land, then they could maintain the Land Northward and keep it from being infiltrated by Lamanites or defectors. In this way, as Mormon said “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 Nephite—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 [Land Northward] whither they might flee, according to their desires” (Alma 22:34).
    Now Potter switches in his writing to try and place such an area within his Land of Promise. He writes:
    Potter: “Is there in Peru a narrow, yet strategic, transportation corridor that starts at the Pacific and ends in the mountains that possessed these seven characteristics at the time of the Jaredites and Nephites?”
    Response: We are not really looking for a transportation corridor, for no such language is used or implied within the scriptural record. What we are looking for is an area that could have been once, during the time of the Nephites, or today, a narrow neck of land with a narrow pass or passage through it, enabling a limited or guarded ingress from the Land Southward into the Land Northward.
As Mormon wrote of the northward flight of the defector Morianton: “Now behold, the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni, feared that they would hearken to the words of Morianton and unite with his people, and thus he would obtain possession of those parts of the land, which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty. Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward” (Alma 50:32-33).
    The problem is, when we start calling it a transportation corridor and not a narrow passage, we lose sight of the restricted area this passage contained, which in turn, allows one to use a much larger land area to claim is this area. Thus Potter answers his question about there being such a place in Peru by saying:
    Potter: “The answer is yes, and it is not hard to identify. It is right where we would expect it—the Lurin Valley.”
Response: The Lurin Valley, or Lurin District, is about 22 miles south of Lima, and is a basin 112.8 square miles running east and west, with its main archaeological complex that of Pachacamac, though there are dozens of ruins in the valley. Though it appears as a defensible valley, there are three separate unconnected valleys in this area, anyone of which, or all three, could provide ingress to the north, which is not consistent with the description of the area Mormon gives us.
Top: Lurin Valley from several vantage points. It should be noted that most of these surrounding hills are scalable by an attacking force, which would not be restricted to the valley pass
One of the dozens of ruins within the Lurin valley. Ancient cities dot the landscape of the Lurin Valley and certainly do not match the idea of the narrow neck, narrow passage, or any land connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward
    As an example, Potter then introduces his map of the Lurin Valley, just south of Lima, Peru, as his “transportation corridor,” which hardly fits the restricted are of ingress into the Land Northward that a narrow pass through a narrow neck of land would be.
Left: Potter’s map. He has his Land of Desolation in an area of Lima, which would include the ancient city of Pachacamac, which was the area of a major cultural area including ten thousand or more people, and does not show an East Sea; Right: A current map of the larger area of the Lurin Valley and Lima
    In addition, his Land of Desolation would also incorporate the gigantic city of Huacas Pucllana, built on seven staggered platforms, and one of the most important ancient monuments in the area. Just one of the numerous plazas of this city was 1640 feet long (over five football fields), 328 feet wide and 72 feet high (seven stories)
Huacas Pucllana.There is no suggestion in the scriptural record that the narrow pass or narrow neck of land contained a city of any size, let alone one as huge as this one, which is right in the city area of Lima
    Potter: “The Lurin Valley where the Transporation Corridor is located—exactly between the Lima area that the Incas called ‘land of the people of Desolation’ and their southeast quarter of Contisuyu.
    Response:  First, throwing in this comment as though it is both proven and realistic, in an attempt to relate a scriptural point (Land of Desolation) with this area of Peru is not very scholarly since the impression is completely inaccurate. According to Paul Richard Steele and Catherine J.Allen (Handbook of Inca Mythology, 2004) In Peruvian mythology, the People of Desolation, an ancient people of Peru of whom nothing is known, other than their name Purum Runa, a term that elsewhere was applied to a dangerous epoch and were born from live eggs that were hatched, And according to Thomas C. Patterson (The Inca Empire, 1992), “that life was never easy in the Andes, heightening the ever-present sense of desolation, imminent danger, and vulnerability.” He points out that much of Andean history is based upon “the level of the supernatural world, confronted by dangerous forces of nature.” Therefore, “people of desolation,” is linked in Peruvian thought to incidents of nature, such as storms, earthquakes, and lightening “that are responsible for destructive forms of precipitation.”
    Secondly, introducing Inca information of this manner is misleading, since the Inca came to power around 1423 A.D., and certainly under no circumstances existed before 1200 A.D., all of which is about 1000 years after the demise of the Nephite nation and its people, could have no bearing on anything Nephite, such as the People of the Desolation, even if the appellation was accurate, which is highly doubtful.
(See the next post, “Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – PtVI,” to see not only why the narrow neck was strategic, but also to see how theorists get so many wrong ideas about Mormon’s many descriptions when they try to alter or change his meanings that are clearly stated in his writing)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – Part IV

Continuing from the previous posts and our responses to the article George Potter wrote that was sent to us by one of our readers. In the article, Potter again quotes Hauck: 
    Hauck : “Throughout Nephite history, this strategic west sea land bridge was critical to their defense of the land northward.”
    Response: Because Hauck is trying to make a case for his own model and the location of his own narrow neck, he keeps referring to it as a land bridge and therefore is able to maintain it as a multiple connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, which it is not as the scriptural record describes it as a singular connection.
    Hauck: “Nephite protection of the entrance into this corridor began as early as the first century B.C. based on the information given in Alma 22:32-34. The Nephi defensive strategy repeatedly included the defense of the entrance into this corridor.”
Response: The 1828 dictionary does not provide a definition for “corridor” that matches Hauck’s use of the term. The scriptural record uses “pass” (Alma 50:34; 52:9) and “passage” (Mormon 2:29), which is given the meaning in the 1828 dictionary of “entrance or avenue,” “a difficult place of entrance and exit, as a pass between mountains,” “a passage, a road.”
    Hauck: “It was defended from fortifications at Judea and in the land of Bountiful between 67 and 65 B.C., and again from 35 to 31 B.C.”
    Response: While it is true that when the Lamanites attacked up the east coast and overran several Nephite cities of Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni, and Antiparah (Alma 56:14), Helaman arrived at the city of Judea with his “stripling” warriors. However, this had nothing to do with the narrow neck of land, the narrow pass or passage into the Land Northward, but with the defense of the eastern coastal area and the city of Judea, in which Helaman’s arrival with 2000 warriors was to assist in Judea’s defense, which was under the direction of Antipus (Alma 56:15-19). This was not a corridor, but the entire eastern coastal area that contained cities from Moroni in the south to Mulek in the north. The narrow neck of land and its narrow passage was further inland and north, beyond the Land of Bountiful along the border of the Land of Desolation.
    Hauck: “This corridor became the Nephite place of refuge during a war with the Gadianton robbers between A.D. 17 and 22.”
    Response: The area of refuge was a very large area. As Gidgiddoni said to the Nephites: “we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands” (3 Nephi 3:21). So in the 17th year “Lachoneous had gone forth throughout all the face of the land” and gathered in the people and their belongings, “and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed” (3 Nephi 3:22), 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). Therefore, this place of refuge was capable of holding many tens of thousands of people and could hardly serve as the narrow neck or passage (or Hauck’s corridor) as claimed.
    Hauck: “Last of all, it was a pertinent defensive asset to the Nephites in their final war, for it helped them block Lamanite access to their resources and population in the land northward during 48 years of bloody warfare.”
    Response: Actually, during 23 years between 327 A.D. (Mormon 2:2) and 350 A.D. (Mormon 2:27), a bloody war took place that saw the Nephties first losing much of their lands in the Land Southward and then regaining them. At this point, a treaty was enacted between them (Mormon 2:28), “in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided. And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage, which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” (Mormon 2:28-29). This gave the Nephites a ten year hiatus in which they spent their time “preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle” (Mormon 3:1).
    In all of this, it should be obvious that Hauck’s many comments are all inaccurate and do not give a correct picture of the narrow neck of land, the narrow pass or passage, or the area of lands under discussion, which in turn, invalidate Potter’s arguments for this area of the Land of Promise. However, continuing with Potter’s discussion:
    Potter: “So what information do we have that can help us find a candidate for the “small and narrow corridor of land” in Peru?
• “It was a track of land that separated the land of Desolation on the north and the land of Bountiful on the south.”
Response: More accurately, it separated the entire Land Northward from the entire Land Southward and was the only connection of land between these two larger land masses—that is why the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla were not completely surrounded by water (Alma 22:32)this narrow neck kept that from happening.
• “The small neck was not an isthmus or passage between water, it was a “pass” which suggest a mountain passage (Alma 52:9).”
    Response: Once again, a small neck of land between larger lands is called an “isthmus,” though that term is usually meant for much larger lands, such as continent sized according to the 1828 dictionary.
• “It started in the “east” and ended at the “west sea.”
    Response: According to Mormon, it was “a narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34), thus it ran from sea to sea.
“From the “east” to the “west sea” took a Nephite one and one-half days to cross.”
    Response: The narrow neck of land took a Nephite a day and a half to cross (Alma 22:32),and since Mormon tells us the narrow pass that runs through this narrow neck of land is flanked by both seas (Alma 50:34), the statement in 22:32 is an ellipted statement with “sea” mentioned only once, not twice, but meant in both cases.
    • “It included a “line” which in antiquity probably meant a defensive wall.”
Response: While the 1828 dictionary in this case is of no help, there is a reference elsewhere about this line that suggests it means a border: “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).
    There is no reason to indicate that the word “line” as used here has referene to anything military since the word “line” in a military sense is usually connected to an explanation, i.e., “line of defense,” “a defensive line,” “a line of troops,” “a line of fortifications,” etc. However, a line on a map is always used as a border or boundary. In modern language, a line is defined as: “A border or boundary: the county line (or state line),” “A demarcation, to establish limits,” “to form a bordering line” (If you cross the border between Utah and Nevada, or between Nevada and California, there is no specific feature involved, just a "political" line drawn on a map).
(See the next post, “Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – PtV,” to see not only why the narrow neck was strategic, but also to see how theorists get so many wrong ideas about Mormon’s many descriptions when they try to alter or change his meanings that are clearly stated in his writing)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – Part III

Continuing from the previous post and our responses to the article George Potter wrote that was sent to us by one of our readers. 
    Potter: “Furthermore, the Book of Mormon tells us that the Nephites fortified this line (3 Nephi 3:23,25). It would appear then that the “line” was a fortified border line, a road or a defensive line which must have had a length of no more than 30-40 miles. One definition Webster’s provides for a “line” is “6 b – disposition made to cover extended military positions and presenting a front to the enemy.” The Noah Webster’s original 1828 American Dictionary of English Language defines a line as “a trench or rampart; an extended work in fortification.” Again, it is important to remember that whenever the small neck of land is mentioned in the Book of Mormon, it is specifically in reference to military defenses needed to protect the land northward from the Lamanites in the south.”
    Response: Perhaps the reader might want to read our earlier posts: “What Did Mormon Mean “The Line Which was Between the Land“? andWhat Did Mormon Mean “On the Line Bountiful and the Land of Desolation”?, both of which discuss this very subject of the meaning of this “line.”
    The point is that this line, as a border, could have been any number of things: a river, canyon, ridge, swamp, trail, depression, etc., its purpose was obviously to divide the two lands mentioned in connection with it—“Yes, to the line which was between the Land Bountiful and the Land Desolation” (3 Nephi 23)
The line is a border, and could have been anywhere along the narrow neck of land, such as shown here, or further south
    Potter: “This is probably a new notion to readers of the Book of Mormon; however, two decades prior to my analysis, F. Richard Hauck (M.A. degree in Anthropology from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Utah) formulated the same conclusion in his book, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon. Hauck writes:
    Hauck: One of the traditional assumptions of Book of Mormon scholars and casual readers alike has been to equate the “narrow neck of land” with an isthmus. Because this assumption has been widely accepted without careful examination, it has complicated and confused the numerous attempts made to identify the setting of the book, for the identification of the proper isthmus is frequently the primary focus of attempts made to identify the Book of Mormon geography. Careful analyses of all the references in the text to this topographic feature fails to identify the presences of two seas flanking the transportation corridor. The west sea is clearly evident in the descriptions given in the text, but the east sea is never specifically mentioned as being associated with the narrow corridor. Since two bodies of water flanking a narrow strip of land create an isthmus, the “narrow neck of land” as described in the Book of Mormon, does not qualify as an isthmus. The description of a transportation corridor narrowly constricted on the west flank by the sea and on the east flank by a possible mountain barrier does, however, qualify as a land bridge.
Response: If we use the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language that recorded the language of New England that existed during the time of Joseph Smith, we find three definitions:
    Neck: A narrow track of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts of land
    Bridge:  Any structure of wood stone, brick, or iron, raised over a river, pond, or lake, for the passage of men and other animals.
    Isthmus: A neck or narrow slip of land by which two continents are connected, or why which a peninsula is united to the mainland.
    While the word “isthmus” does not appear anywhere in the scriptural record, it at least is much closer to the meaning of narrow neck of land that Hauck’s land bridge.
    Obviously, Mormon’s small and narrow neck of land does not equate to a land bridge at all and the idea of Potter referencing Hauck who, himself, is way off the mark, shows a certain amount of non professionalism for a scholar, let alone one writing about the scriptural record.
    Potter: “The question remains. “What was on the ‘east’ of the line?” It appears to have been a highly secured mountain pass that was a strategic gateway between the northward and southward lands.”
    Response: Here we go again. How can anything “appear to have been” when it is not eluded to in the scriptural record. If you eliminate ellipted writing, then you obviously feel free to make up anything you choose.
    Potter: “We learn in Chapter 52 of Alma that the narrow entry or neck leading from the land of Bountiful into the land northward was a “pass,” i.e., presumably a narrow mountain pass through the Andes.”
Response: Following Morianton’s aborted attempt at reaching the narrow neck of land and getting into the Land Northward, thanks to Teancum’s race to head him off and intercept him before he reached that point, Moroni issue further instructions to Teancum (Alma 52:8) to retain the prisoners “who fell into his hands,” for a potential prisoner exchange with the Lamanites. He added, “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure 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).
    That point, obviously, is the Land Northward, the narrow neck of land, through which the narrow pass ran, was the most strategic place within the entire Nephite territory. However, oblivious to the obvious, Potter goes on:
    Potter: “The narrow pass or neck is described in the Book of Mormon as a “point” (Alma 52:9).”
    Response: Again, the point is a location—the Land Northward. The 1828 dictionary describes point: “A small space, as a small point of land,” and “An exact place,” and “A place to which anything is directed.” Moroni was directing Teancum to secure the narrow pass so the Lamanites could not get to a point beyond that, or to the Land of Desolation in the Land Northward.
    Potter: “Webster’s defines a “point” as “4. a (2): a geometric element determined by an ordered set of coordinates;  b (1): a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position  (2): a particular place.” A strategic road through a narrow a mountain pass between two geopolitical lands would form a strategic military point, which was so vital that this single point would allow the Lamanites to attack in the Nephites from every side. (Alma 52:9)  Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary includes these definitions of a “point.”: “a small space; as a small point of land,”“the place in which anything is directed.” Both these definitions could apply to a narrow passage through the mountains.”
The narrow pass (yellow arrow) ran between the Land Northward and the Land Southward within the narrow neck of land
    Response: To make things clear, there was a narrow pass running through the small and narrow neck of land, the only connection between the Land Northward and the Land Southward mentioned in the scriptural record. It was through this narrow passage “And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34) that ingress to the Land Northward could be reached, but it was not a narrow pass through the Andes since it had the West Sea to one side and the East Sea to the other (Alma 50:34).
(See the next post, “Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – PtIV,” to see not only why the narrow neck was strategic, but also to see how theorists get so many wrong ideas about Mormon’s many descriptions when they try to alter or change his meanings that are clearly stated in his writing)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – Part II

Continuing from the previous post and our responses to the article George Potter wrote that was sent to us by one of our readers asking for our view on his work. In speaking of the narrow neck of land, Potter writes:
    Potter: The most commonly cited clues to its nature are found in the Book of Alma. ‘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”
    Response: Commonly means “ordinarily” and “frequently,” which in neither case would that be the correct word to use here. The point is, though, that the statement made is a simple explanation as to the width and/or length of the small neck of land. And that means that said distance would be about 25 to 30 miles, based on what a Nephite, or average man, could travel in a day and a half.
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica, the theorists’ narrow neck of land, is 144 miles wide according to information released by the Mexican government
    Despite Sorenson, and other Mesoamericanists, trying desperately to fit their 144-mile wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec into a day and a half journey and describing unusual and heroic individual effort, such as “small groups of Mohave Indians could cover nearly 100 miles in a day,” or Toltecs described as tlanquacemilhuique, meaning “they could run an entire day without tiring,” or describing “Toltecs in the Mexican chronicles, on dawn-to-dusk marches without animals along, averaged six leagues, somewhere between 15 and 24 miles.” Now if we were to take this last one, traveling 15 to 24 miles in a day, would mean 17 to 36 miles in a day and a half, which when comparing the meaning of league to current distances, probably talking about 20 to 30 miles—so  compare that to the 144 mile width Isthmus of Tehuantepec
    While Sorenson in his book (p9) says, “other data on travel rates fall within these established ranges,” the fact is that the only normal possibilities described by him are far closer to the 25 to 30 miles a modern man can walk in a day and a half than his 144-mile Mesoamerica narrow neck. Obviously, when Mormon is giving his future reader a way to determine a distance, he would not use some unusual or out of the ordinary example, like the Mohave Indians, but one that would hold true down through time, i.e., what a common man could do.
    Potter: “Thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.”
    Response: In all Mormon’s descriptions of this connection between the two lands, this is the only one he describes. Consequently, it is difficult to say there were multiple connections between the two lands when only one is singled out and mentioned. Therefore, it seems prudent to say that any movement or connection between these two lands (Land Northward and Land Southward) is connected with and within this small and narrow neck of land.
    Potter: “And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land of Bountiful, even from the east [Andes mountains] to 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.”
    Response: The Andes mountains had not risen when Mormon first describes the small neck of land, and that area was the East Sea. After the destruction and drastic land form changes described in 3 Nephi, with the Andes have then risen (Helaman 14:23), this area would have been between the West Sea and the Andes Mountains. It might also be of interest to realize that Mormon never mentions a narrow neck of land after the destruction in 3 Nephi, but only the narrow pass.
    Potter: “As important as what is written in this verse is what is not written.”
    Response: Again, this is where theorists go astray, trying to inject meaning into the written word that is not so described or mentioned in the actual scriptural record. It is as if they know  what Mormon meant to write but for some reason chose not to write.
    Potter: “The verse does NOT say the “small neck…ran from the east sea even to the west sea,” nor does it state that it ran between the east to the west seas (plural). Rather the small neck of land ran from the east to the west sea. Clearly, the phrase is only referring to one sea, the Pacific and a place called the east. A similar phrase would be “the Union Pacific railroad ran from the “east” to the Pacific Ocean.”
Driving of the Golden Spike, Promontory Point, Utah, May 10, 1869
    Response: First of all, the Union Pacific Railroad, created by the 1862 Pacific Railroad Act of Congress ran from Sacramento, California to Council Bluffs, Iowa—it did not run to the Pacific Ocean. It was at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869 that Governor Stanford drove the Golden Spike (or the Last Spike), that symbolized the completion of the transcontinental railroad, joining the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads.
    Secondly, whenever theorists try to claim the scriptures do not mean what most would interpret them to mean, they tend to run into difficult ground, always thing to explain away what is reasonable and inserting what is unreasonable. In the English language, there is what is called an ellipsis, and is used in the economy of speech. It is like saying the “Pacific and Atlantic ocean,” rather than the longer “the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean,” or “She didn’t water the flowers, I did” (instead of "She didn’t water the flowers, I watered the flowers").
    While we do not know if that was what Mormon in his abridgement, or Joseph Smith in his translation, had in mind, it makes a lot more sense in translating than would Potter’s comment about “a place called ‘the east’.” The problem is that theorists often forget why Mormon is writing and to whom he is writing. In this case:
1. Why: Mormon is describing the Land of Promise and its various parts and their locations along with the separation between the Lamanite and the Nephite lands (an ellipted statement, meaning Lamanite lands and Nephite lands).
2. Whom: His future readers. Therefore, his intention would have been for simplicity and clarity.
    Consequently, it should not take a complicated or unreasonable answer to make his meaning clear. It should be clear in the simplest and clearest manner.
Generally speaking, in English, an ellipted statement (meaning something is left out; marked by extreme economy of speech or writing, also refers to merismus and brachylogous writing), the ellipted part is clearly understood and does not allow for making up something not implied. Ellipted statements are used primarily for the purpose of using fewer words to convey much information or meaning. It is far more understanding that East and West Sea would refer to two seas since those two seas are constantly used within the scriptural record. To claim it means some point to the east that has never been established in unreasonable and without merit.
    Potter: “Two reasons can be cited for believing that there was no sea on the east side of the small neck of land. First, a Nephite could cross the “line” on the small neck of land in one and one half days. There is nowhere in the Western Hemisphere where one can start at the Pacific Ocean and walk to another separate large body of water (sea) in one and a half days.”
    Response: While that is true, the problem is that theorists forget Jacob said and Nephi wrote that they were on an island. There is no island now, but there was in B.C. times, and, no doubt, was altered at the time of 3 Nephi by mountains that rose “whose height is great.”
    Potter: “Second, what was being traversed in a day and a half was not a crossing between two bodies of water, but a “line” between two lands: “yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23) and “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).”
The Line (yellow arrow) between the Land of Bountiful and the Land of Desolation was a border, or separation of the two lands, and also marked the narrow neck of land or the boundary between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and like many modern lines used on maps as borders, it was not a physical line, but a “political” line
    Response: The line was the border between the Land of Bountiful and the Land of Desolation that was within the small neck of land. The small neck marked the line, or boundary, and walking across that small neck took a day and a half for a Nephite as Mormon writes.
(See the next post, “Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – PtIII,” to see not only why the narrow neck was strategic, but also to see how theorists get so many wrong ideas about Mormon’s many descriptions when they try to alter or change his meanings that are clearly stated in his writing)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – Part I

A reader sent in a lengthy article by George Potter about the Narrow Neck of Land and requested we respond to his views. We are doing so in this post.  
     Potter: Along the border that separated the Book of Mormon land northward from the land southward and the land of Bountiful was a feature referred to as a “small neck of land.”
Response: Mormon referred to this neck as both a small neck (Alma 22:32) and a narrow neck (Alma 63:5). Since he used both these terms, then we should put them together to describe:
1. Neck: Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language describes a neck of land as “a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts”
2. Small: 1828 dictionary: “Slender, thin, of little diameter” and “little in size”
3. Narrow: 1828 dictionary: “Of little breadth, not wide or broad, of little extent, very limited” and “a narrow passage through a mountain, or a narrow channel of water between seas”
    Thus, Mormon is describing a section of land that is small (not long) and narrow (not wide) between two larger land masses. Elsewhere, we find that this narrow neck is the only connection link or land  between the Land Northward and the Land Southward of the Land of Promise, i.e., “there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32).
    We need to keep in mind that Mormon’s description of this small neck in Alma 22:32 is specific and requires no additional knowledge or information to describe its overall land mass. To add to or subtract from is merely an attempt to change or alter the scriptural meaning of Mormon’s specific description (that does not mean that Mormon elsewhere does not give us more information about how this neck fit into the Nephite plans and the overall Land of Promise).
    Potter: “This feature is one of the most misunderstood features of Book of Mormon geography. As a result, there have developed over time many popular misconceptions about its nature and location. As with all the Book of Mormon sites, we have very limited information available to identify it.”
    Response: While it is true that many theorists have stated misconceptions about its nature and location, we have sufficient information from Mormon to describe its appearance, location and purpose
    Potter: “Readers of the Book of Mormon usually assume that the “narrow neck of land” defines a geographical feature, but a closer examination of its context in the Book of Mormon shows that it describes an important military fortification that must be defended to stop a Lamanite invasion.”
    Response: Here is where Potter goes astray in his thinking. There is no assumption about the small or narrow neck being a geographical feature—Mormon carefully and succinctly describes it as such: a narrow neck of land separating the Land Northward from the Land Southward (Alma 22:32). In fact, he makes it quite clear that “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32).
 An example of an island with two major land masses and a narrow neck of land in between. The circle in the southern land shows “nearly surrounded by water” except for the narrow neck of land as Mormon describes
    Obviously it is a geographical feature—it is a small neck of land that exists between two larger land masses, and so far as the entire scriptural record states, is the only parcel of land lying between the Land Northward and the Land Southward. That is geographical! Now, we can go on to suggest, as Potter states, that it held an important and strategic position to the Nephites, but not for the reason Potter states. There was no likelihood that the Lamanites could have invaded the Nephite territory by coming through or using the narrow neck of land. After all, it was to the far north of the Land of Nephi that the Lamanites controlled and inhabited. In fact, the entire Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful lay between the Land of Nephi and the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:27-32), and Mormon makes this quite clear when he said, “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” (Alma 22:33, emphasis mine).
    The fear was not of an invasion as Potter claims, but that somehow the Lamanites (or the defector Morianton or others unfriendly to the Nephites) might get through the narrow neck into the Land Northward and in someway make an alliance with the Lamanites, to have an attacking force on the north while the Lamanites had their attacking force on the south of the Nephite lands. However, throughout the scriptural record until the last final series of battles in the third century A.D., the Nephites had restricted the Lamanites from gaining ground in the Land of Zarahemla or the Land of Bountiful. Of this, Mormon said, “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 22:34).
Showing  how the narrow neck of land, about 26 miles across, could be defended against a pursuing army, allowing the Nephites to escape into the Land Northward, if that was their desire
    This country to which they could flee, obviously, is the entire Land Northward, which lay beyond or to the north of the narrow neck of land. Not until the final battles, did the Lamanites ever gain access to the Land Northward. In fact, in 350 A.D., after the Lamanites had overrun the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, they entered into a treaty (Mormon 2:28) with Mormon and the Nephites in which the narrow neck of land became the new southern boundary of the Nephite people (Mormon 2:29) and the Lamanites controlled everything south of that.
    Potter: “John Sorenson notes of the narrow neck of land: “Mormon was speaking of a fortified line of defense.”
    Response: The narrow neck of land was not a line of defense. It was simply a piece of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward. However, because of its narrow and small size, it served as a line of defense, and was easily defended by the Nephites. As an example, when Morianton fled northward with his rebellious followers, Moroni feared he would gain the land Northward and set up a “second front” against the Nephites. While the narrow neck at that time may not have been guarded, or at least sufficiently, to withstand an attack, he dispatched Teancum with an army to “head them by the narrow pass, which led by the sea into the land northward” (Alma 50:34).
The mistake so many people make is to try and separate this narrow passage from the narrow neck of land; however, both of them led from the Land of Bountiful into the Land Northward—the narrow neck being the only parcel or tract of land between the two larger land masses. In fact, Mormon makes this clear when he shows in this instance with Teancom and Morianton that the Land of Bountiful was to the north, then the narrow neck and passage, and then the Land of Desolation, which is in the Land Northward (Alma 50:32-34, compare with Alma 22:32).
(See the next post, “Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – PtII,” to see not only why the narrow neck was strategic, but also to see how theorists get so many wrong ideas about Mormon’s many descriptions when they try to alter or change his meanings that are clearly stated in his writing)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Did Nephi Mean “We Did Put Forth into the Sea”?

Continuing with our series on “What did Mormon mean”? or, in this case, “What did Nephi mean”?, we look at the simple statement Nephi made as he talks about setting out on their voyage to the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:8). Considering the amount of people in Lehi’s party, the vessel would have had to have been in the neighborhood of 70 to 100 tons to handle the size of Lehi’s party, and a minimum of 55 to 60 feet (though probably longer) in length to be able to handle the swells yet recover easily in the troughs
By comparison with ships built by man in the Age of Sail 13th through 19th centuries, nearly two thousand years after Nephi built his ship, the ships of Columbus, Santa Maria, the largest of his three ships was 108 tons, 62 feet long, with a keel length of 41 feet, and 18-foot beam (width) and a draught (depth) of 10 feet, with a compliment of 40 people. The ship had a single deck and three masts. It was comparable in size to a modern-day cruising yacht. The other two vessels, the Pinta (60 to 70 tons, 56-foot deck with a complement of 26) and Nina, (about 50 to 60 tons, 50-foot deck with a complement of 24.
    Magellan’s fleet included his ship, Trinidad, was 100 tons, 77-feet in length, with a compliment of 55; the San Antonio, 120 tons, with a compliment of 60; the Concepcion, 90 tons, with a compliment of 45; the Victoria, 85 tons, 65-feet, and a compliment of 42; and the Santiago, 75 tons and a compliment of 32.
    Drake’s fleet of five ships were much smaller, though his ship, Pelican, renamed Golden Hind, was typical of the time at 100 tons, 70-foot hull and 102 feet in length, with a 19-foot beam, and a drought of 9 feet, carrying a compliment of 80 people, with five decks and three masts. On the other hand, Marigold, 30 tons; Elizabeth, 80 tons; Swan 50 tons; and Christopher, 15 tons, were all much smaller. Cabot’s ship, Matthew, (1497), 50-tons and 78-foot in length, beam of 20 foot, draught of 7.5 feet, with two decks and three masts, and had a crew of only 19
    Theorists can talk about the size and construction of Nephi’s and Hagoth’s ships, but when discussing ocean-going vessels, there are certain things about design that cannot be ignored. While modern man has far more knowledge of ship design than did the people of Nephi and Hagoth’s eras, we cannot ignore that ships in deep ocean sailing were faced with circumstances of the elements no different than those of today. And their vessels show that they learned how to build ships that could go to sea.
    As an example, swamping underway in today’s smaller vessels are caused by only a few problems, one of which is too low transom height, i.e., the rear or stern of the vessel is not high enough to keep following waves from flooding over the stern.
Ancient Polynesian ocean-going ships like those seen by Captain Cook in the 18th century, had (Red Arrow) high prows and (White Arrow) high sterns. Their shortcoming was their size in regard to carrying large numbers of people
    In large sailing ships, transoms or sterns were square (hence the term “transom”), and was attached to the last U-shaped rib-like frame called the “fashion timber” or “fashion piece,” because fashioned to it was the aft part of the ship.
These were square stern transoms originally built to stop any type of following wave action in high seas, especially when tightly maneuvering. However, in 1817 the British naval architect Sir Robert Seppings first introduced the concept of the round or circular stern, because the square transom had been an easy target for enemy cannon, and could not support the weight of heavy stern chase guns. But Seppings' design the rudder head was exposed, and was regarded by many as simply ugly, giving way to the elliptical stern design in 1820.
The elliptical design that lasted long after the Age of Sail and far into the steam and later diesel eras
    Another important need for a deep ocean vessel, not needed in coastal sailing, such as the Portuguese rounding Africa and sailing the Mediterranean, Red Sea and along the coasts of Arabia, India, and Indonesia, is the need for a front and rear structure in the design that discouraged swamping, i.e., being over-powered by large cresting and following surface waves (especially storm waves) of a wind sea in evolving sea states. It should be kept in mind that in the deep ocean, a fully developed sea has the maximum wave size theoretically possible for a wind of a specific strength, duration and fetch, and often reaches a significant wave height.
There is always the danger of being swamped by following waves
    To compensate for this, early ship designs included a poopdeck. Just aft (to the rear) of the mainmast the lower or main deck gives way to a higher deck, referred to as the poopdeck (from the French term for stern—la poupe, and Latin puppis). This structure, which was the flat roof of the poop (stern) cabin, was essential in ocean-going vessels to keep from being swamped from the stern by a wave and served the same purpose as a raised bow. In fact, at 45 feet above the waterline and nearly 60 feet above the keel, the structure was so high that no following sea could ever have conceivably “pooped” it. The raised stern structure also gave the captain and helmsman an elevated position that was ideal for both navigation and observation of the crew and sails.
In ocean-going vessels, one of the important parts of ship design was the poopdeck, the high, elevated structure at the rear or stern of the ship: Left: Yellow Arrow: the poopdeck; Right: Red Arrow: main deck; White Line: height of a man; White Arrow: height of the gunrail or side of the ship
    When Nephi says, “We did put forth into the sea,” this was no idle comment to be taken for granted, or passed over by the reader if one wants to truly understand the scriptural record and what it contains. After all, the adventure Lehi set out upon to reach the distant Land of Promise by voyaging across the deep ocean was fraught with difficulties and dangers unknown to them and very likely, unheard of in their experiences.
    Had not the Lord designed the ship (1 Nephi 17:8) and told Nephi exactly how it was to be built, how the boards were shaped and fashioned, joined and framed, how all parts of the ship came together (1 Nephi 18:1), it would have been impossible for 600 B.C. man to have made such a voyage. For those theorists who love to talk about the sailing of Phoenicians who voyaged far and wide around the globe is far from true—few sailed out of the Mediterranean, an inland sea that had become well know, and most of that sailing was coastal. The same is true of those who finally ventured beyond the Gates of Gibraltar and along the currents to northern Africa, and then along that coast. There were even early mariners who traveled up the coast of Portugal, Spain and Gaul (France) and braved the jaunt across the channel to Britain, in search of tin for trade.
    However, the islands to the west, the Canaries (60 miles off the coast of Morocco); Sao Tome (150 miles off Africa); Cape Verde (350 miles off Africa), the Azores (850 miles off Portugal) were not to be reached for more than two thousand years after Nephi sailed.
    Madeira, due west of Gibraltar and off the coasts of Portugal and Morocco, the first of the offshore islands to be discovered possibly as early as 1000 A.D., by Vikings, and actually visited as early as 1339, but not officially “discovered” until 1415, and considered to be the first territorial discovery of the exploratory period of the Portuguese Age of Discovery (1415 to 1542), shows how long it took for man to venture out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is easy to give credit in writing to Phoenician sailors for exploits they never achieved, but something else to show evidence of their sailing away from coastal waters until long after the time of Christ.
    Again, coastal sailing, like the early traders along the coasts of Arabia, India and Indonesia is not the same thing as sailing deep oceans. Nor were ships built before the Age of Discovery capable of withstanding the pounding of the ocean waves that often could take a ship up and slam it down into a trough and split it in half. The Lord knew how to build such ships, but not man, not for more than a thousand years after Nephi, and it was His knowledge and direction that caused Nephi to build a ship that could have successfully “put forth into the sea.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Did Mormon Mean “And did sail forth with much provisions”?

Continuing with our series on “What Did Mormon Mean,” we all too often skip over statements or phrases used in the scriptural record, that if we would dwell on them for a moment (contemplate their meaning, “ponder” them as Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Seventy stated in a Conference Talk in April 1982), we often get an insight into events and happenings that otherwise seem vague or unimportant to us.
"Pondering," as Elder Wirthlin explained, means to “weigh mentally, to deliberate, to mediate, and can achieve the opening of the spiritual eyes of one’s understanding.” Nephi wrote that he “sat pondering in his heart and was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Nephi 11:1), and the Lord told the Nephites, “Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said” (3 Nephi 17:3).
As we ponder Mormon’s many meanings, there is no question we get a deeper understanding of what he was writing about. This is not the same as change the meaning, or injecting information not found in the scriptures as theorists do, but simply ponder what has been written—exactly what was written exactly the way it was written.
    Take, for example, Mormon’s comment at the end of the record of Alma regarding the emigrants that entered into the ship(s) Hagoth built and “did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward” (Alma 63:6).
    Over the years, with seven children and living in Southern California with most of our extended family in Utah, we made several trips by car with the family. Even in those days, with nine of us pulling into a restaurant (there were few fast food places along the freeway then), it cost a considerable amount to feed us all, especially with each kid having a different “like” than the others. So, often we would pack “provisions” for us to nibble on and sometimes eat our meals while driving.
Before air conditioning (yes, there was a time when we drove across the summer heat of the 120º of Death Valley, etc.), we also made sure we had sufficient water (I remember a time when we took extra water for the radiator [left]—an unheard of need today), made sure the spare tire had air in it (no tiny emergency wheels in those days), and other paraphernalia in case of an emergency.
    Today, we grab a couple of battles of water and hop in the car. There are In-n-Out Hamburgers all along the way, rest stops and restrooms everywhere, and cars are built to travel across the heat of the desert on long trips without a problem.
    One can only wonder at the “provisions,” Hagoth’s emigrants took with them. When it says much provisions, the emphasis is on “a lot.” In addition, these people were going somewhere they, and possibly others, had never been, so they could not count on supplies of any kind being where they were going, certainly no food stuff would be available wherever they went, other than what they took, and need to prepare for most kinds of needs and emergencies.
    Since the ship returned without them the following year, we can conclude two things:
1. They went a very long way (it took a long time for the ship to return);
2. They were not intending to return (had no future way of obtaining supplies).
    So their provisions would have been quite extensive, including seeds “of every kind” for planting; constructing tools to make houses, forts, cities, and other building needs; clothes, blankets, and other materials to see them through the winter, especially if this was a land they knew little about. In addition, they would have taken special plants, even the core of their culture, including food plants, fiber plants such as flax or hemp, cotton or husk fibers like coconut, medicinal plants and their ritual plants. The first settlers to an area might have found incredibly unique ecosystems, yet very little that could sustain them other than a marine ecosystem. Initially, of course, they would have looked for a place with abundant marine resources, fresh water, and rainfall to water the plants they brought.
    All of this would have required a vessel large enough not only for themselves, which included entire families, and provisions needed to sustain life, but also that which would have been required for the future success of a colony. In any type of a migration, people move prepared to take care of themselves, sometimes individually, sometimes collectively.
In a mass exodus from the Plains during the 1930s, poor migrants streamed out of the Dust Bowl area of the mid west and flocked to California looking for a better life. They often carried their entire belongings on the top of their cars. By 1950, one quarter of all people born in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas or Missouri lived outside their region with most having come like the above photos to make a new life in the west
    When taking passage on a ship to an unknown land in 55 B.C., in a time when survival depended on what you could take with you to build a new home would also have included tents, means of cooking meals, obtaining food in the wild, weapons for protection and tools for everyday use.
    The point is, all of this would have required much space and a type of vessel unlike those most theorists envision, even large, the high-sided canoes Sorenson claims Hagoth built would not have been sufficient.
    Certainly, there would have been a need for a lower deck where provisions, supplies, and all implements could have been stored during the voyage—a sort of cargo hold. In later European ships, there was an Orlopp deck like that, a low storage deck, right about the waterline, and typically filled with casks of stores for maintaining the ship and crew. Plus, a loaded deck such as that helped a vessel to be stable, otherwise it could be top-heavy with people.
Also, an important point that most theorists and especially academicians, often forget, is that from a financial point of view, there had to be a lot of passengers in order to compensate the owners of the ship for its use and their passage. Contrary to popular belief among certain historians and scholars, there has never been a time when people were not expected to work for their sustenance, and worked to support themselves and their families.
    Nobody builds a “very large ship” without expecting to be paid for its use or sale. No one opens up an emigration route by ship without charging for passage. And when we talk about taking along women and children (Alma 63:4), then we are talking families and all the needs, burdens and responsibilities families require; and when we talk about provisions, we are talking about life-sustaining needs for everything from eating to building to professions for continued earnings; and when we are talking about not returning, we are talking about taking with you everything you would possibly need to continue life, growth, and future.
    Thus, a lot of passengers requires a “very large ship,” which is exactly what Hagoth built and Mormon records: “Therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship” (Alma 63:5).