Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part III

Continuing with the inquiry of Tyrus regarding questions about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. In the previous post, we responded last to the damages of earthquakes and tsunamis regarding 3 Nephi.
     More of Tyrus’ questions:
7) “You say the wind would take Nephi south to go below Australia and the currents would eventually take him to South America, but the land Bountiful on the Arabian Peninsula is so green because of the monsoon winds that blow northeast coming off the coast of Africa.”
During the monsoon months, wet winds move toward India for six months (and out to sea the other six months), bringing heavy rainfall to the Himalaya Mountains—as the air moves inland it absorbs additional moisture and as it moves up the mountains it loses all its moisture, leaving the land dry and warm

Response: First of all, the word “monsoon” means “a major wind system that seasonally reverses its direction,” and are not connected to other monsoon areas, but limited to their own wind system. The most prominent monsoons occur in four distinct and totally separate areas: South Asia (Arabian Peninsula), Africa, Australia, and the Pacific coast of Central America. Monsoonal tendencies also are apparent along the Gulf Coast of the United States and in central Europe; however, true monsoons do not occur in those regions.
    Second, the monsoons of Africa are not the same as the monsoons of the coastal area of the northern Indian Ocean, which affect the Arabian Peninsula where Lehi embarked. It might also be noted that the monsoons of Australia have an effect on another part of the Indian Ocean, below Indonesia.
    Third, the African monsoons effect an area 9º and 20º north and characterized by winds that blow southwesterly during warmer months and northeasterly during cooler months of the year. Although areas just outside of this region also experience wind reversals, the influence of the monsoon declines with increasing distance. Thus, the African monsoon winds have no effect on the other side of the Atlantic in the Indian Ocean, which has its own monsoon systems.
    Fourth, the Indian monsoon is the most prominent of the world’s monsoon systems, which primarily affects India and its surrounding water bodies, including the southern coastal area of the Arabian Peninsula. These monsoon winds blow from the northwest during cooler months and reverses direction to blow from the southwest during the warmest months of the year.
    The greenery in the area of Salalah, and the area Lehi called Bountiful, is the result of the monsoons that blow from the southwest in the Indian Ocean and onto the land, called the Khareef Season in Arabic. It is mostly known in India, where it does enormous damage each year with floods. During the opposite season, when the winds reverse and blow out to sea is when they blow to the southwest and took Lehi’s ship on the course we have illustrated numerous times in this blog.
8) “Wouldnt this have blown them along the coast of Asia/India and eventually taken them north of Australia where they could have caught a current to someplace north of Chile/Peru?”
    Response: The other monsoon area is around Australia and just north of there—the area you target for a ship to pass through to the Pacific. Three things cause a problem with this scenario:
The cycling of a Pacific Ocean circulation pattern known as the Southern Oscillation in which a surface low pressure develops in the region of northern Australia and Indonesia and a high pressure system over the coast of Peru causing the Trade Winds over the Pacific Ocean to move strongly from east to west

1. The Malaysian-Australian Monsoon. These winds blow southeast into the land, or reverse to blow northwest into Indonesia. Neither direction could take Lehi’s ship where you suggest.
Winds blow off the Pacific from east to west through Indonesia and into the Indian Ocean

2. The western wind blow winds off the Pacific Ocean into and through Indonesia precludes any sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” from moving eastward through Indonesia.
3. This is a route that has never been established in the age of sailing due to the problems with the double monsoon winds working against that direction, and the Pacific winds blow against entering the Pacific.
     The final problem is, even if you could get to the east of Australia, which the above shows would not be possible in Lehi’s ship, you would be picked up by the South Pacific Gyre which would drop you down to the Southern Ocean and across and up the coast of Chile.
9) “This would also allow them to make stops along the way to resupply.”
    Response: Obviously, you have not been reading what has been extensively written on this subject. Island hopping presents two problems (other than the winds and currents simply would not allow that for a ship “driven forth before the wind”):
Any area within 100 miles of shore is referred to as the “Danger Zone,” because visible rocks, reefs, sand spits, and uncovered rock that can rip holes in the hull; the area closer to shore is called the “nearshore” where currents are caused by wave action, such as eddies or overfalls, tide changes, swells, sudden heavy surf, irregular bottom, and tide race and streams which are typically quite tricky for a sailing ship

1. Maneuvering a large, deep-ocean vessel through the coral reefs, sand spits, rock shelves, submerged rocks, etc., to land within a protected area of an island takes a great deal of skill with a ship whose motivation is simply wind and currents. Nephi and his family had no sailing skill and were dependent on instruction—the dangers, difficulties and problems that would arise are overwhelming.
Note the dangerous shoals and reefs surrounding each of these South Pacific Islands, which is typical of islands in the South Pacific

2. Can’t you just see the rebellious Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael seeing an opportunity to gain control of the ship with land in sight and either landing and staying on a beautiful South Seas island or trying to return to Jerusalem?
    Remember, we are not talking about a small Polynesian canoe, we are talking about a 100-ton sailing ship that goes where wind and currents take it, like a small piece of wood you put in a gutter stream as a child and watched the current take it down the street.
10) “Plus, the map of wind currents you show on the blog shows the Earth as it is today, with a fully formed South American continent. If the world looked as you suggest in 600BC, South America would have been a small, skinny island. The wind and ocean currents would have been completely different under those circumstances.”
    Response: You need to study winds and currents more. They are dependent upon gravity (rotation of the Earth), the moon and somewhat the sun, the Coriolis Effect, and the placement of land masses (not size, but land mass—a skinny island effects the winds and currents much like a continent as long as the shore line is about the same). After all, the winds and currents in the Sea of Arabia and Indian Ocean are not affected by the limitation of South America as an island; the Pacific and Southern Oceans are not affected, the latter because it movement is affected by land masses to obstruct is circumpolar route, the Pacific because the Humbolt Current would still move northward along Chile and South America. The only change would be the missing connection of Panama and that effects only the pass-through (Central American Seaway) to the Caribbean Sea by the Pacific at the area of the Pacific Ocean counter current which would then have passed on through where Panama is now connected, effecting only the current Panama Gulf and Channel and the currents around the Cocos Islands and the currents flowing past the Colombian Trench, forcing the currents around this area into a north-south flow, instead of an east-west flow, causing a change in temperature along the southern half of Central America and within the Caribbean Sea. The biggest change is found in the Gulf Stream of the mid- to northern Atlantic, which would have totally had no effect on the Pacific Currents used by Lehi’s course. It also brought about the Great American Interchange—movement of animals north and south in the Americas.
    We might also add that this change no doubt had an effect on creating or worsening the Atacama Desert, and area that may well have been verdant like most of western South America prior to the rising of the Andes. However, it would not have affected the currents as we now see them along the path Lehi would have taken.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing with the inquiry of the reader Tyrus regarding questions about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. In the last post, we responded last to the “sinking” of the city of Moroni and others during the time of the crucifixion. 
    Continuing with Tyrus' questions:
6) “This means that they were not sunk by rain water, otherwise the water would have dissipated. They weren’t covered by a tsunami or the water would have receded back to the ocean and these cities wouldn’t have remained under water. The cities would have had to either fall into the ocean or the water of a large lake (that was big enough to be considered the sea) would have had to rise up to sink the cities (probably through some volcanic/tectonic event). Either way, the water was still there after the Crucifixion. How does this fit with your theory of the Andes rising up to displace the East Sea?”
    Response: “First of all, the Andes did not rise out of the East Sea, the Andes rose as a result of two tectonic plates slamming into one another, which is how mountains are formed, thus creating high mountains from level valleys as Samuel prophesied. In this case, very suddenly and very catastrophically as noted by all the damage.
Now, when the land or mountains rise as a result of this tectonic action, the water table is affected, both above and beneath the surface (aquifer). In this case, the surface water (sea covering the eastern continent) begins to be pushed back out of the way, but first it cascades into the deepening trenches formed by the tectonic collision as the land sinks and is covered by the water. Then the waters are pushed back away from the rapidly rising ground (mountains) toward lower ground. We see this in the remains of the elevated lands (mountains) around Lake Titicaca.
    Thus, as the Andes came up, the water then known as the East Sea receded across the rising continental shelf to the north, east and south through and into forming the present nine drainage basins of the continent. Mostly, however, the water flowed into and remained within the Amazonian area (Brazil), since that land did not rise that high and much of the water was trapped in various low areas. This is seen even today, as the Amazonian Drainage Basin floods most of this area during half of the year as more water is added from rains and snow melt in the Andes, etc.
The Amazonian Drainage Basin is barely above water, with many areas submerged year round and the entire area underwater from winter flooding for four months of the year

As the mountains rose suddenly, 35 to 40 water sources were trapped, later to run off toward the sea to the west in the Pacific Ocean, with others flowing to the east in the Amazonian River Flood Plain or south into Patagonia. Geologists have drawn maps of these eastern seas and how they were altered when the continent came up to its present form.In addition, Charles Darwin, not our favorite source of anything, wrote extensively about this happening in the time of man since he found numerous ocean shells and marine life trapped in the high Andes mountains on his way from Santiago, Chile, over the Andes to Argentina, claiming they were quite recently deposited at those heights by the sea which had receded hundreds of miles to the east.
    As mentioned in the last post, what 4 Nephi 1:9 says, is that “Many cities which had been sunk, and waters came up in the stead, thereof; therefore these cities could not be renewed,” however, it does not say that a sea, lake or river was then formed in its place—only that the cities could not be renewed. Nor does it say all the cities resulted in the same end situation. The point is, that when land (cities) are inundated with water, it is typically from a tidal wave or tsunami, both are natural results of earthquakes near water (seas). Thus, these cities (Moroni) were covered with water at one point, which means they could have been swept away, covered with mud from the sea or from collapsing land as the waters came up, inundating the land so that it became unbuildable for many years until the water recedes into the water table, sometimes leaving ground suited for building again, sometimes not; or the land could have been covered by trapped water (“in the stead thereof”) that formed a lake, etc.
    The point is, that all we know from the scriptural record is that where the city of Moroni once stood near the East Sea and near the border between Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, it was first covered with water, and secondly that it disappeared (covered with water or swept away) and could not be renewed, and that there was water where the city once stood. In the case of the trapped or standing water (“in the stead thereof”), in the thousand to 1500 years afterward before the Spanish arrived, this water would likely have dissipated, i.e., either runoff back toward the sea or seeped down into the aquifer.
Another example of this standing water left after a tsunami that inundates the land and makes renewal impossible for some time is seen in the tsunami that hit Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, on March 14, 2011. It is of note that Miyako city, which has 33-foot sea walls, warning sirens, and routinely conducts tsunami drills, was completely destroyed as the water rose in the bay to a height far exceeding 33-feet and crashed over the anti-tsunami walls. After the tsunami receded, it left behind a devastated area inundated with standing water that had nowhere to go, hampering any attempt at cleanup or renewal for a lengthy period. This was the largest mega-temblor in the nation’s history and fourth-largest in recorded history, the 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off the northeastern coast of Honshu, on mainland Japan Miyagi, Japan 2011.
    It should be kept in mind that the damages of these and all other earthquake-tsunami events happen in a matter of seconds to a few minutes—the earthquake damage that hit in 3 Nephi lasted 3 hours. One can hardly even imagine the damage involved in three hours.
(See the next post, “Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part III,” for more on this and the rest of the questions from Tyrus.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part I

Normally we handle reader inquiries together with other comments and questions, but this one is lengthy so we will answer it all in a complete post. 
    Reader Tyrus C: I have a few questions about your Book of Mormon theory. I am not an archaeologist or historian, just one who loves the Book of Mormon. I recently started my own study of what the setting of the Book of Mormon may have looked like and while my initial goal was not to find a place on the map, the more I studied the details the more it became clear that there were some significant clues. In learning about your theory I have some questions
1) “First, just to clarify, are you saying that the entire Andes mountain range (and the country of Brazil) rose out of the water in three hours? (3 Nephi 8:19) At most there was only three days of changes to the land before the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend (3 Nephi 10:9) No other changes to the land were significant enough to report, so I'm assuming that's what you are saying.
Response: When a tectonic plate subducts under another tectonic plate, the earth’s surface changes dramatically. In most cases, this is merely a long-term event and those changes occur so slowly, other than an initial earthquake, tsunami, etc., which hits suddenly, sometimes catastrophically, but always in a few hours or a day or two and its gone and the aftermath forgotten (except by those hit by it all and the record keepers);  however, when the Lord’s hand is involved (“darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days” Helaman 14:27) then the time frame is very quick by comparison (earth was divided in the days of Peleg) and the events can be quite noticeable (mountains rising from valleys “whose height is great” Helaman 14:23). Those mountains went up quickly, suddenly, and very noticeable, otherwise, the Lord’s prophecy through Samuel the Lamanite would be meaningless (“these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men—And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them” Helaman 14:28-29)
2) “Even after the destruction that came to the land after the Crucifixion, the River Sidon was still flowing in the same place, Mormon 1:10, and running by Zarahemla in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon. We know that Sidon ran just to the east of Zarahemla, with Gideon on the other side (Alma 6:7).” 
    Response: First, as we have reported before, there is no mention of the “Sidon River” after the crucifixion. Mormon 1:10 does not refer to the “River” Sidon, only to the “Waters of Sidon.” Waters seems to be a word used in the scriptural record for a body of water, such as a pool, lake, pond, etc., such as the “Waters of Mormon” (Alma 5:3). The “Waters of Sidon,” is also mentioned in Alma where people were baptized (Alma 4:4); on the other hand, both Lamanite and Amlicite dead were thrown into the Waters of Sidon (Alma 3:3) that had access to the sea (Alma 2:34)—whether or not this is a pooled or collected area of the River Sidon is not known, but they were connected at this point (Alma 2:35). The point is, the Waters of Sidon mentioned in Mormon 1:10 is not mentioned in connection with a river, and therefore might suggest a different arrangement of the river or waters then called Sidon. The fact is, we do not know and cannot arrive at a conclusion in either direction, but we do know the scriptural record does not say “river” in Mormon 1:10.
3) “Considering the river ran South to North, if there was a large mountain range that rose up out of the East (and North towards the narrow neck), then how was the river running in the same place? An elevation change would have changed the course of the river, yet there is no mention of this.”
    Response: There is no mention of a lot of things in the scriptural record—whether or not it was mentioned in the original we do not know since we only have the abridged form. Also, when the mountains rose, we do not know exactly where that was in connection to the River Sidon, since all rivers that were once in the Land of Promise, after the rise of the Andes, would have been altered to some degree to their flow either west to the Pacific, east to the Amazon (Brazil) and then to the Atlantic, or in a few cases, north to what is now the Caribbean. It is difficult to start speculating on a particular mountain and how it was configured at this time to effect the River Sidon or any other river or body of water in the Land of Promise. The rising of the Andes effected Lake Titicaca in the time of man as evidenced by the fact Titicaca was once at sea level as we have shown in these posts from time to time, specifically Puma Punku and Tiahuanacu, and that was when ocean docks were built and used, as we have written about numerous times.
    Finally, the River Sidon was not just to the east of the city of Zarahemla, but in the borders of the Land of Zarahemla to the east, and we do not know how large an area the Land of Zarahemla consisted of before or after the changes in 3 Nephi. But it appears it was some distance between the city of Zarahemla and the eastern border between the Land of Zarahemla with the Land of Gideon, which is where the River Sidon was located.
4) “The City of Moroni was by the East Sea (Alma 50:13). During the destruction of the Crucifixion, one of the cities that was sunk was Moroni (3 Nephi 8:9, 3 Nephi 9:4,7).”
    Response: First of all, we might want to be careful how we visualize the wordage of the scriptural record. While the word “sunk” is preterite tense and participle passive of sink, meaning “toss'd by hope, or sunk by care,” the word “sink” means “to fall,” “to become lower,” “subside or settle,” “to be overwhelmed,” “to become deep,” “to put under water,” “to depress,” “to plunge into destruction,” “to bring low,” “to overbear, to crush,” “to conceal,” according to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language,” and may suggest other than what is first viewed in the mind.
    Secondly, while the destruction as written would indicated some type of sinking beneath the water, it does not necessarily mean a tidal wave or tsunami, nor would it seem likely by rainfall. How the Lord works is often a mystery to man, so while the mind conjures up a sinking beneath a sea, we cannot be sure exactly how that happened; however, “to sink into the depths of the sea,” drowning the inhabitants (3 Nephi 8:9; 9:4), seems pretty clear.
5) “Many cities were rebuilt, but the cities that were sunk could not be rebuilt because the water was still there (4 Nephi 1:9). They weren’t covered by a tsunami or the water would have receded back to the ocean and these cities wouldn’t have remained under water.”
    Response: First, while the water was still there, we do not know in what form. “But there were many cities which had been sunk, and waters came up in the stead thereof; therefore these cities could not be renewed” (4 Nephi 1:9). This does not mention the city of Moroni specifically, though we might assume Moroni was included in the term “many,” yet it does not say that “all of the cities that had been sunk.”
    Second, assuming Moroni was included in this list of “many,” let us consider what is meant by the wordage “waters came up in the stead thereof” (4 Nerphi1:9). When an enormous amount of water is somehow dumped upon an area the size of a city, most of the water will return back to where it had been, such as with a tidal wave, but not all.
Take, for example the tsunami that struck Indonesia and 13 other countries after the 2004 offshore earthquake that hit in the Indian Ocean not far from Sumatra. While many conclusions can be drawn from this event to compare with 3 Nephi, the point is that after the initial and extensive flood waters returned to the sea, there were numerous areas still flooded, or swamped sufficiently as not to allow a renewal of the city, towns and villages wiped out because of the instability of rebuilding. In this case, tens of thousands of acres were wiped out and not renewable for years before the water table was able to absorb the millions of tons of water left behind that inundated the land.
(See the next post, “Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part II,” for more on this and the rest of the questions from Tyrus).

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Meaning of Narrow Neck of Land – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the various erroneous opinions about the narrow neck of land, what it was, how it was configured, and the meaning of the term as Mormon and Moroni used it and Joseph Smith, through the Spirit, interpreted it. 
    In the last post, we were discussing the meaning of “anti” as being a term for “east” in the Quechua language, and that the word "anti" as used in the Book of Mormon is claimed to also mean east. However, the fact that the Book of Mormon lists at least 37 names that include the term “anti” within them and that all those could not possibly refer to “east,” if in fact any did.
    Gordon C. Thomasson, in Old World Languages in the New World, suggests that the use of “anti” in a name is a root word or name of some sort in the Nephite language with which neither Joseph Smith nor anyone since really understands, or of which possibly has even the slightest notion. Whether this is true or not, one can see that the idea of "anti" meaning "east" in the Book of Mormon is quite suspect.
    The point is, and should be well understood, when Potter tries to make a point of a word meaning something, we might want to carefully investigate such suggestions and references, because such quotes often do not bear support at all to the claim being referenced. While “anti” in Quechua means “east,” it does not have any reference to the Nephite language (Hebrew and Egyptian) and cannot be used as a suggestive foundation for a move in that direction.
As Potter goes on to write: “The question remains, would the ancient Peruvians have called this geographic feature a neck of land? As noted, the "west sea" certainly meant the Pacific Ocean, and "east" to the ancient Peruvians meant the Andes Mountains.”
    There are four problems with this rationale regarding the Andes Mountains claim: 
1) the term “Andes” relating to the mountains is considered to have come from the Quechua word, “ande,” meaning “high crest,” or “high mountains.” The claim that it came from the Quechua word “anti,” meaning “east,” is unlikely before the time of the Inca, who used the term to specifically relate to “east” in their four quadrants of their growing Empire. Originally, the Quechua word “anti” referenced a people living to the east of Cuzco. Which meaning came first, tribal or directional, is unknown.
2) the indigenous populations used exclusively local terms for the mountains in their region and never used a uniform term for the cordilleras. In 1572, the Spanish chronicler Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa introduced the term “cordillera de los andenes” as a human landscape modeled by many terraces. In 1609, the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega used the term Antis for the people living in the eastern cordillera, but did not call the mountains by this name, nor use the term to signify east.
3) the Andes mountains are made up of three cordilleras, of which only one is presently called "East," and that is the Cordillera Oriental. The other two cordilleras are called Cordillera Occidental (meaning West) and Cordillera Central, because it lies in between the Occidental and Oriental.
4) the term during the Nephite period would probably not have been needed prior to the time of the crucifixion when the Andes Mountains rose to their present, significant height. What they were before, if anything, is unknown.
    Continuing with Potter: So what about the Book of Mormon terms "line" and "neck" being associated with a narrow mountain pass? Perhaps the most important mountain pass in the Andes is the La Raya pass that in ancient times connected the capital city of Cusco with the empires of the Altiplano and Lake Titicaca. The La Raya pass was the "line" between the Inca's East and South quarter; it was an important trade corridor, and an even more important military asset. Today, the narrow mountain pass has become famous by passenger trains and tour buses stopping at the summit so passengers can take photographs. The height of the pass is 14,232 feet above sea level. The name La Raya Pass means "line pass" in English. The name of the mountain that stands directly above the La Raya pass is called Kunka, meaning the "neck" in English. I believe it is no coincidence that the Peruvians associate the terms "line" and "neck" with narrow mountain passes. Rather it is another tribute to the amazing accuracy of the Prophet Joseph Smith's translation of the golden plates!”
    Again, we need to take a look at Potter's claims. First of all, we need to keep in mind that the term “La Raya,” is Spanish, and basically means “the stripe,” as in a stripe like on a pattern, which is a straight, often broad line; but it also can be translated as “streak,” “scratch,” and “crease,” as well as “line,” and in such case, the mountain cordillera that passes this area is referred to as “La Raya Mountain Range,” of the Andes, or a “stripe of mountains across the land,” or “a crease” of the Andes, or a “line of the Andes.” Thus the “La Raya Pass” is a break in that crease or line of mountains that connects the upper area of Cuzco with the lower area of the Altiplano and Lake Titicaca. It should also be noted that in Spanish, línea, is line; and the definition “line” is the fourth given for “raya.”
    As for Kunka, it is a Quechua word and basically means “throat,” but can also mean gullet or voice as well as neck, since "throat" is part of the "neck." The Spanish spelled kunka as Cunca, which is translated as "basin" or "bowl" or "depression," and today spelled as "cuenca." Kunka is a mountain in the La Raya mountain range in the Andes of Peru. While Potter can claim Mount Kunka means “neck,” it actually means “Throat” in this case, and a nearby mountain, called Hatun Ichhuna Kunka is translated as “Big Sickle Throat.” A lower elevation ridge is called Huch’uy Ichhuna Kunka, translated as “Little Sickle Throat.”
    Thus we see that Potter’s claim that this area connects “line” and “neck” with narrow mountain pass is inaccurate and not at all what the Quechua naming intended. In addition, since throat can also mean “passage,” it stands as much a connection to the pass through the mountains at the base of the throat, or passage, of Kunka, as any other, and more accurate than neck and line.
In a simple drawing, the line through the narrow neck separating the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and more specifically, as a border between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful, as the scriptures proclaim

 On the other hand, as Mormon so clearly tells us, that this narrow neck of land was the only separation between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 22:32), and he also tells us that there was a mountain pass or passage that ran between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 50:34; 52:9; Mormon 2:29). Thus, it can only be concluded that since both the narrow neck of land and the narrow pass ran between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, and that there was only one such area (Alma 22:32), they were one of the same—that is, the narrow pass lay within the narrow neck, thus making Potter’s entire argument on the subject null and void. This is especially true when we consider that Mormon tells us that there was water on both sides of the narrow pass (Alma 50:34).
    As for “line,” which Potter suggests means the same as this narrow neck, and used a Webster definition of: “line" is '6 b - disposition made to cover extended military positions and presenting a front to the enemy'," it should be noted that this definition is not from Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary definition, but Merriam Webster’s much later work. In Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language , of which there are 30 definitions of the word “line,” which states it as “a trench or rampart; an extended work in fortification,” which is not the same as the much later definition used by Potter; but also lists it as a “border,” and “a straight or parallel direction,” and “a straight extended mark,” which makes far more sense than Potter’s since this “line” was between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, or in other words, between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful (Alma 22:32), which describes a simple border, a straight or parallel line or extended mark separating these two lands.
The border between the Land of Desolation and the Land of Bountiful, called a "line"  between these lands by Mormon
In fact, Mormon’s wordage is “on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation,” which suggests on the line of Bountiful and Desolation, or the line in between, or the border between these two lands. In fact, this is the usage of this “line” in 3 Nephi 3:23, which states: “And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation.” That is, the land in which the Nephites occupied (against the attack of the Gadianton Robbers) ran from the Land of Zarahemla northward to the line (or border) between the land of Bountiful and the Land of Desolation.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Meaning of Narrow Neck of Land – Part I

It is interesting that the term "Narrow Neck of Land," or "Small Neck of Land," as used by both Mormon and Moroni in their abridgements of the scriptural record, continues to be so misunderstood and erroneously defined by Land of Promise theorists. Take George Potter, who in his Nephi Project Newsletter of Winter 2017, under the article entitled “Would    Ancient Peruvians Have Used the Phrase, a 'Neck of Land?'“ gives several definitions of the phrase:
1. Claiming the Book of Mormon describes the narrow neck of land as a "line" between two lands (3 Nephi 3:23);
2. A fortified military line (3 Nephi 3:25);
3. A fortified border line road or defensive line with a length of no more than 30-40 miles;
4. Military defenses needed to protect the land northward from the Lamanites in the south;
5. Mountain barrier.
    Potter goes on to say: “The Peruvians would have understood that the west sea was the Pacific Ocean. The question remains. "What was on the east end of the line?" In the language of the native Peruvians, the word "anti" means "east." Anti also appears to mean "east" in Book of Mormon (see Alma 31:3; 27:21,22)."
The four quarters or regions of the Inca Empire, called Tawantinsuyu

First of all, the reason Potter raises the question is that in his model in South America, he has to place the east end of his so-called "narrow neck" in the mountains, since his neck has nothing at all to do with the seas around it. So let us look at his rationale. “Antisuyu” in Quechua does means “east region” or “eastern region,” that is, anti means “east” and suyu means “region.”  
    However, “anti” also anciently referred to a people who inhabited the Amazon region in the east. In fact, Antis is a collective term for the many varied ethnic groups living in the Antisuyu such as the Asháninka or the Tsimané. Nor should it be a surprise that the Inca referred to these tribes separartely, since they were savage and brutal tribes and superior warriors that the Inca never really conquered and brought into their Empire.
    The second smallest of the suyus, Antisuyu, was located northwest of Cusco in the high Andes. Indeed, it is the root of the word “Andes” (Terence N. D’Altroy, The Incas, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, Mass, 2005, pp86-87). Along with Chinchaysuyu, it was part of the Hanan Suyukuna or "upper quarters" of the empire (D’Altroy, The Incas, pp42-43; Julian H. Steward, and Louis C.  Faron, Native Peoples of South America, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1959, pp185-192); and like all the suyus, was divided into wamani, or provinces, with antisuyu made up of ten wamani.
    At the same time, most of the lowland jungle was not part of Tawantinsuyu (Quechua meaning “Realm of the Four Parts”). Only the jungle region that could not be dominated by the Incas, given they could not colonize the jungle region. Thus, they collectively referred to these tribes or people as the Antis.
    Arguably, the first organized and planned naval action of Peru, was in time of the Sapa Inca Tupac Inca Yupanqui, as he mobilized 10,000 men and their supplies on large rafts navigating the rivers, a task that took two years, After that campaign, Sapa Inca sent these men into the rupa rupa (a very hot, High Jungle, with narrow long valleys, fluvial mountain trails and canyons called pongos) of the fierce and savage Ch’unchu (Chunchus), a neighboring people of the Antis, which was a catastrophe for the Incas, since only 1,000 soldiers returned alive. After subjugating the Chunchus in the forests east of Cuzco in central Peru, very few arrived at Musu (present day Bolivia).
    The point of this is to show that the word “anti” in Quechua was an Inca word, and found in the Quechua language at the time of and after the Spanish invasion. There is no way of knowing if this word meant “east” in “the language of the ancient Peruvians,” if by that it is meant the Nephites. However, to make his case, Potter suggests that “anti also appears to mean “east” in Book of Mormon (see Alma 31:3; 27:21-22).”
    Again, let us take a look at his rationale: The first reference states: “Now the Zoramites had gathered themselves together in a land which they called Antionum, which was east of the land of Zarahemla,” which may reference the direction of “east,” however, when adding the rest of the sentence, “which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites” (Alma 31:3), we find that both “east’ and “south” are reference, the latter direction twice.
    The second reference, “And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance” (Alma 27:21-22). This latter reference has nothing to do with “anti” meaning “east” in any way, since the name of these converted Lamanites is referred to as: “People who are,” or “they who are.”
    In light of the context of these converted Lamanites, it would not make sense for these recent converts to declare themselves to be against Nephi and Lehi. Alternatively, if the name element Anti- derives from the Egyptian relative adjective nty (Coptic ente), which means “the one who,” then the name would mean roughly, “that-which (-is-of-) Nephi-Lehi” or “the-one-who (-is-of-) Nephi-Lehi.” Or, according to Daniel H. Ludlow, it could also be taken from the Hebrew word neged (anti) that means “facing opposite, which could mean “those who imitate the teachings of the descendants of Nephi and Lehi, or face opposite their Lamanite  birth.
    In fact, it is far more likely that the converted Lamanite king so named his people this so the people with the new name “the–one-who-is-of-Nephi-Lehi” could recognize themselves as descendants of Lehi living in the land of Nephi, and they were no longer following the traditions of their more recent fathers, but sought to look back to the times and teachings of Father Lehi, who promised all of his posterity the blessings of peace and prosperity based on their united obedience to the laws of the coming Messiah.
    According to Richard Dilworth Rust, of the Maxwell Institute, the acceptance of Nephi and Lehi as fathers to the converted Lamanites is exemplified in King Lamoni's father, who has his people take upon themselves (and also gives to Lamoni's brother) the name of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, which could be interpreted to mean "in imitation of Nephi and Lehi." The prefix anti- means "against, facing, or opposite"—as is a reflection in a mirror. While it can have the negative meaning of a false imitation, anti- can also indicate a similarity or likeness. In this positive sense of being a reflection, Anti in Anti-Nephi-Lehi might well have signified the converted Lamanites' desire to be like the prophet-fathers Nephi and Lehi. In what must have been a similar intent, Helaman named his sons Nephi and Lehi so they would remember their "first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem" (Helaman
5:6). (“Their Fathers” – Letters and Autobiography, From Feasting on the Word: The Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon, chapter 6).

    In addition, consider the many Book of Mormon names or words that involve Anti: Ani-Anti, Antiomno, antion, Antionah, Antiparah, Antipas, Antipus—in fact, a complete list of all Book of Mormon usage of “anti” in a name has at least 37—and not all are used the same, as an example: Antipus, name of a Nephite commander; Antiparah, name of a city; Antipas, name of a mountain; Antionum, names of a land; Manti, name of a hill; Antion, name of a Gold unit or coin. It could also be used as a title in some of these names.
    It would be difficult to suggest that all these referenced the term “east,” but far more likely held some significant meaning to the Nephites than a direction—while the name of a place could reference a direction, certainly the name of a person would not.  
(See the next post, “The Meaning of Narrow Neck of Land – Part II,” for more on how Quechuan words may not necessarily date back to the period of the Nephites and therefore, not be the interpretive word for a scriptural passage)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Looking at Some Interesting Comments – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, over the years, we have been inundated with comments sent to us and have faithfully answered each one, including highly critical comments about the Book of Mormon and the Latter-day Saint faith, though we try to restrict our blog to dealing with the geographical setting and the correct reading of the scriptural record just as it was written.
     Recently, we have come across another type of comment directed to the scriptural record and the location of the Land of Promise that begs to be answered, since they are being made by people with considerable following and who have achieved a high degree of credibility in the community.
    First, one of the problems every Mesoamericanist faces is the fact that their historical records claim there were people living in the area of their Promised Land prior to the arrival of Lehi. Second, is the understanding every Mesoamericanist has that the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward and interacted with the Jaredites.
    As to the latter issue, so much has been written about the Mulekites being in the Land Northward and its impact on the development of so-called Mulekite cities and social order among the Jaredites, that perhaps we should deal with that problem first. Part of the problem is that the Mesoamericanists quote from one scripture, and completely misunderstand its simplicity of meaning, and ignore the second scripture which tells you exactly where the Mulekites landed and where they lived all the years between their landing and when Mosiah discovered them.
    When Mormon was inserting his description of the Land of Promise in Alma 22, he uses a type of language called elliptic, that is, a language that shortens statements and eliminates unnecessary words, completely consistent with his purpose of abridging, or shortening, the record on the plates. This is a form of writing where part of the sentence is left unstated, in what is called “understood,” and is implied or inferred; that is, taken for granted, assumed.
In the English language, you do not need to repeat pronouns or even nouns in many cases; nor do you need to repeat information that is understood, either from earlier introduction, or from the structure of the sentence, thus in the examples above, the first in each is "understood" or "ellipted" and the second is the full sentence if not understood or ellipted

This is found in:
• “The king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which [region round about] was bordering even to the sea” (Alma 22:27);
• “the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and [the more idle part of the Lamanites] dwelt in tents” (Alma 22:28);
• “from the east [sea] to the west sea” (Alma 22:32).
• “Therefore the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about [the land of Nephi] (Alma 22:34).
    For the most part, one can read these elliptical sentences without any loss of understanding; however, once in a while, the noun or subject is left to be understood, and sometimes that leads one to misunderstand the meaning, as in:
    “Nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts…on the north, even until they [Nephites] came to the land which they [Nephites] called Bountiful. And it [Bountiful] bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it [Desolation] being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it [the people of the bones] being the place of their first landing. And they [the people of the bones] came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it [Bountiful] being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which [wild animals] had come from the land northward [Desolation] for food.”
    However, when someone has a different belief or viewpoint, they completely misunderstand the scriptural meaning. Take, for example, this theorist’s belief in the Mulekites landing in the Land Northward, who states:
    “This can be unambiguously settled based on Alma 22:30–31. Here the “people of Zarahemla” are said to have discovered the land of Desolation, “it being the place of their first landing” (v. 30). Next, it says “they came up from there into the south wilderness” (v. 31, emphasis added). Only when we have an idea of that [i.e., the geographic location] can we know which historical traditions or archaeological sequences can be compared most usefully with Mormon’s text.”
    However, the people of Zarahemla did not discover the Land of Desolation by landing there—the people of Zarahemla, now living in the city of Nephi, found the Land Northward, or the Land of Desolation, during an expedition to find Zarahemla (Mosiah 8:8), to which Mormon is referring when he inserted his statement found in Alma 22:30.
    Thus, the term “the people of Zarahemla” is used by Mormon to tie together an understanding of the bones found in the north, first introduced into the narrative in Mosiah 8:8 (which he had earlier abridged), so his future reader would know whose bones they were—“discovered in a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Mosiah 8:8), and that this place of all the bones, buildings, breastplates, swords, and gold plates, was the “place of their first landing,” i.e., the Jaredites {people of the bones) first landing.
    It certainly could not be the place of the Mulekite landing because elsewhere we find that the Mulekites, or “the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, who was carried away captive into Babylon. And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:15-16, emphasis added).
    Amaleki, an eye-witness to the discovery of the Mulekites (people of Zarahemla) by Mosiah, adds, “And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them” (Omni 1:17).
    Thus, we see, that unless we read elliptical writing when it is used, we miss the point of Mormon’s abridgement at various spots in his record.
    We also know that Mormon, when he abridged Alma and added his insertion as to where the Nephites and Lamanites were located, knew of Amaleki and his writings of the Mulekite discovery, for he wrote: ““…after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi. And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled; yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass—wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi” (Words of Mormon 1:3-5).
    When we read the scriptural record correctly, without making any adjustments at all, but merely showing what was written, there is no confusion and no conflict in the record.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Looking at Some Interesting Comments – Part I

Over the years, we have been inundated with comments sent to us and have faithfully answered each one, including highly critical comments about the Book of Mormon and the Latter-day Saint faith, though we try to restrict our blog to dealing with the geographical setting and the correct reading of the scriptural record just as it was written. Recently, we have come across another type of comment directed to the scriptural record and the location of the Land of Promise that begs to be answered, since they are being made by people with considerable following and who have achieved a high degree of credibility in the community. 
     Since these comments often place the scriptural record either in a poor light, or incorrectly state what was written in its simplest format, we have endeavored to respond to such statements to try and keep the integrity of the scriptural record intact, since it is a sacred record written by prophetic means and guided by the Spirit from beginning to end. With this in mind we submit the comments and who made them, with our responses.
Comment #1: “Almost invariably the first question that arises is whether the geography fits the archaeology of the proposed area. This should be our second question, the first being whether the geography fits the facts of the Book of Mormon—a question we all can answer without being versed in American archaeology. Only after a given geography reconciles all of the significant geographic details given in the Book of Mormon does the question of archaeological and historical detail merit attention. The Book of Mormon must be the final and most important arbiter in deciding the correctness of a given geography; otherwise we will be forever hostage to the shifting sands of expert opinion” (John E. Clark, “A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 1, 1989, p21; reprinted as John E. Clark, “Revisiting ‘A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies’,” Mormon Studies Review 23/1, 2011, pp13–14.)
    Response: Actually, the first question anyone should ever ask about the location of the Land of Promise is “Does the geographical area being determined fit the location that the scriptural record leads one to find?” That is, under the circumstances of the facts Nephi states in arriving at the Land of Promise in his ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” does that match the scriptural record?—could his ship in 600 B.C., directed by only winds and ocean currents, have reached the location being discussed? If not, then the location should be discarded--it is as simple as that!”
    As simplistic and practical as this question would be, it seems to seldom be asked, and often ignored completely by theorists who have pre-determined locations based on other criteria. As an example, contary to individuals and uninformed groups using specially designed graphs may suggest differently, winds and currents from the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula do not move to the east toward Indonesia according to all known wind and ocean charts from recognized Oceanographers, NOA, NASA, etc.—nor do winds and currents move into the Pacific Ocean through Indonesia, but flow into the Indian Ocean from the Pacific through what is called the Indian Ocean/Western Pacific Thoroughfare. In fact, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, the Pacific-to-Indian Ocean connectivity, or Indonesian Throughway, is described as “the water in the upper ocean flows from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean as part of the upper limb of the global thermohaline circulation.”
Actually, there are two routes for this Pacific-to-Indian exchange, the first of which is around the north of Australia via the Indonesian Archipelago, in this Indonesian Throughway, which has been studied for many years, culminating in the early 2000s in an extensive field campaign known as the International Nusantara Stratification and Transport (A.L. Gordon, J. Sprintall, et al, The Indonesian Throughflow During 2004-2006, as observed by the INSTANT program, Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans, 2010; A. L. Gordon, Oceanography of the Indonesian seas and their throughway, Oceanography, Vol 18, 2005).
    Now, before someone gets their pet belief furled, and their pen out to write, we are not talking about small craft of antiquity, powered by oars, and others having moveable Polynesian-style sails that can be moved about to capture various wind angles. Those have sailed into winds and currents for centurieseven larger such craft used for trade and settlement. However, we are talking about deep ocean vessels designed to withstand the pounding of the blue water of the world's deep oceansthe ones that crossed the Pacific Ocean to the Western Hemisphere.
    The actual movement of winds and currents off the coast of Arabia move toward the southwest and then the southeast through the Indian Ocean in what is called the Indian Ocean Gyre, and then east along the Southern Ocean. Or, while winds and currents might be possible to have achieved an Atlantic crossing, though getting around the Cape of Africa was so perilous they called it the “Graveyard of Ships,” there would have been no way to go inland once reaching North America because the Mississippi and St. Lawrence rivers were blocked from inland sailing by an ocean-going vessel because of shallow waters and heavy rapids. Until the age of sail and the knowledge of tacking (about 2000 years after Lehi sailed), it was impossible to cross the Pacific Ocean from west to east south of the equator.
    Consequently, the first question that should be asked, even before a location is considered, is “Where would the winds and currents take a ship leaving the southern coast of Arabia as Nephi describes?” Now, before trying to answer that, one has to understand we are not talking about rowing a boat, tacking the sail, moving a sail about to catch winds, or staying close to shore where winds and currents are different—we are talking about a current acting on its own, taking the vessel where it flows and the wind blows behind a fixed sail as in "driven forth before the wind."
    Keep in mind that it took man until the age of Columbus to discover that currents could be found to take a ship westward across the Atlantic. And no ship in 600 B.C., especially with a “land lubber” crew, could possibly have maneuvered through straits, islands, shoals, etc., of Indonesia in a ship “driven forth before the wind.” Such sailing even todayis not for the novice, but for experienced mariners.
    Comment #2: “Geography provides us a rather permanent set of landmarks from which to compare the Book of Mormon text: mountains, valleys, rivers, and seas should be arranged in a way that actually fits the text. Archaeology does not hold this same advantage. Today’s archaeology might contradict an element of the Book of Mormon history; however, that does not mean that in another twenty years the reverse might not be the case” (George Potter, Nephi in the Promised Land: More Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is a True History (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2009)
    Response: The Book of Mormon tells us of mountains tumbling onto the plains and becoming valleys, and of other valleys rising up to form mountains, “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). It hardly seems worthwhile to suggest that mountains, valleys and rivers could be considered permanent sets of landmarks that existed in the Land of Promise prior to the destruction during the crucifixion as described in 3 Nephi. Even seas can change as sub-surface shelves rise and fall through plate tectonic movements over a two thousand year period. 3 Nephi, discussing events in the Land of Promise at the time of the crucifixion indicates some serious land movements. It is also interesting that after that time, three very prominent features of the Land of Promise are never again mentioned, though each were mentioned many times before then—the East Sea, the Narrow Neck of Land, and the Sidon River.
    It seems very doubtful that land features not mentioned after the crucifixion should be considered a prominent feature of the current location of the Land of Promise. As an example, in a land where mountains ceased to exist, and other mountains were created, mountain passes existing in B.C. times may not also exist in A.D. times, including rivers and similar features.
    Comment #3: “Over the last couple of years, one of the many things I have dabbled in off-and-on has had to do with the methodologies employed by those who develop New World Book of Mormon geographies. There is obviously a lot of diversity of opinion on this topic, and certain proponents have blamed all this confusion on there being inadequate information in the text, or on the methodology followed by a select few, as if it were the dominant methodology. The reality is that the diversity of opinions is the result of a diversity of methods: 1) Geographic priority, 2) Archaeological priority, and 3) Prophetic priority. All those who fall into one category or another do not necessarily follow the same method—they just place priority on the same kind of evidence. From there, their methods can be quite different, and hence they can reach vastly different conclusions” (Neal Rappleye, “Models and Methods in Book of Mormon Geography: The Peruvian Model as a Test-Case,” Interpreter, A Journal of Mormon Scripture, January 2014).
    Response: It is interesting that no one seems to think that the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon should be a priority in determining where the Land of Promise was located. Instead, they look to try and match a geographical appearance, or archaeological findings, or comments by Joseph Smith (often taken out of context) or prophecies and promises (often misinterpreted). It is more than curious that while the Book of Mormon was written by those who lived in the Land of Promise, walked its lands, knew its seas, passes, mountain ranges, and roadways, and which was abridged by one who fought wars from one end of the Land of Zarahemla to the furthest area in the Land Northward, who had read all the Nephite records, and intimately knew the entire landscape, is not even considered a major priority as the basis in locating the Land of Promise.
    The sad thing is, not only does the actual record of this land take a back seat in trying to locate it, what is written within its sacred pages is often altered in one way or another to allow the record to agree with a pre-determined location. As we have shown on numerous occasions, such disagreement over directions of the land have resulted in theorists altering the meaning of Mormon’s cardinal compass points of north, south, east and west, to an understanding that north was really meant to be west; east, meant to be north; south meant to be east; and west meant to be south, thus these theorists champion Mesoamerica and feel confidence in their misalignment since they have changed the meaning of the words in the scriptural record. At the same time, others change seas to mean rivers, narrow necks to be mountain passes distant from any sea, lands disoriented from one another, inland locations where no ship could have reached, thus these theorists champion North America, such as the Heartland or Great Lakes theories.
(See the next post, “Looking at Some Interesting Comments – Part II,” for more on various comments and our responses)