Monday, July 30, 2012

Another Narrow Neck of Land

James Warr, who claims the Land of Promise was located in Central America, and that the Narrow Neck of Land was west of Lake Nicaragua, claims that the massive land area to the east of the lake could not have been breached by the Lamanites, thus making the western path by the lake easily defensible. He states:

1. Warr: “The San Juan River, which drains the lake and connects it with the Caribbean to the east, is 112 miles long and averages 1000 feet in width. This river is an effective barrier which separates the land masses of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”

So let’s take a look at the Rio San Juan. At its head at Lake Nicaragua, it is about 600 feet across, but downriver a few miles it narrows to as much as 250-feet around the Isla El Cano, and 400 feet around San Francisco, 300 feet around Santa Fe, and 300 feet again between Santa Fe and the Orange Plantation area. The point is, the river, while it might average 1000 feet in width, there are points far less than that as listed here. In addition, this is not a fast moving river and could be easily crossed at these narrower points by canoe or raft, such as indigenous natives (Lamanites) could easily have constructed. Both sides of the river are chock-full of trees that could be felled, tied together, and used to cross the river, especially at these narrow points just past bends where water tends to slow in its movement.

2. Warr: “On its eastward course to the sea, it passes through a densely forested region which is the least inhabited area of either country. This lack of habitation is due to the inhospitable nature of the country and climate (dense jungle, high rainfall, high humidity and high temperatures), and to the difficulty in building and maintaining roads."

This area, as is much of Central America, is basically a jungle or rain forest. It is thick with trees and exotic animals. However, as in all such areas, indigenous natives are able to find their way through such forests and jungles and certainly an invading army of warriors (Lamanites) bent on killing their arch enemy, could find their way through to the north around the lake.

3. Warr: “Even in our day no bridges span the river, no ferries cross it, and no interconnecting roads end at its banks.”

One of the reasons, is about half the distance of the river, on the north, is the  640,000 acre “Indio Maiz Biological Reserve.” Access in the Reserve is limited by MARENA (the Ministry of Natural Resources) and travelers must sign their names to walk through the trails to admire these nature wonders. This magical Biological Reserve is made up of mangrove estuaries, lagoons where one can fish, waterways that wind on endlessly, and lowland forests. By law, it is closed to any traffic, construction, building of roads, etc., but it is obviously penetrable, and certainly by warriors of the past bent on getting around the lake.

4. Warr: “At the outlet from Lake Nicaragua, and more so in the eastern delta region, there are vast areas of swamp and wetlands blocking any attempt at foot travel.”

The interesting thing about such sweeping statements is that we are talking about thousands of square miles here, and much of it is very penetrable if one had a reason to travel there and knew how to do so. To the west of this eastern land are rolling hills, low-grown foliage, sparse trees and mostly dry land (see photographs below). To the eastern side of this area is the biological reserve, which is heavy forest, even jungle, but through which natives have moved for centuries. In the middle are some mountains. This is all beautiful country and the pride of Nicaragua. Once peace was established in the land recently, Nicaragua has opened up its doors to all kinds of tourist traffic, not the least of which is this area east of Lake Nicaragua.

The image at the lower left shows hikers moving through the reserve in the eastern acreage. Other shots show the land east of the lake. Obviously, penetration through this area is very possible (Pictures provided by the Nicaragua Ministry)

5. Warr: “…it is entirely possible that in Book of Mormon times the San Juan River Basin was lower in elevation thus increasing its size as a water barrier, and possibly even featured an ocean embayment. However, this proposal is valid even with the present topography. Increasing the size of the river, and submerging the present wetlands under the Caribbean, would only enhance its potential as a barrier.”

As has been mentioned here before, speculation is of little value. Without geological factors, one cannot claim something might have been. However, even more important is that fact that while this area east of Lake Nicaragua is even today a barrier to modern style living, it is not now, and never has been, a barrier to indigenous native movement. Warr might do well to study jungle and thick forest living conditions by native peoples, even today, but especially anciently. And lastly, where an army of warriors who know how to live off the land can move is seldom blocked by natural geography. Even in the past centuries of warfare, soldiers with little more than their own physical ability, have performed what seems like miraculous fetes to surprise an enemy that believed an approach from a certain direction could not be achieved.

After all, rivers can be crossed, jungles and forests penetrated, mountains climbed, and “impossible” objectives reached. Time and again history has shown us this. To consider that thousands of square miles could not be crossed by a group of warriors bent on the total destruction of their enemy is simply foolhardy.

It is also foolhardy to claim that the narrow neck of land is along the west of lake Nicaragua, between it and the Pacific Ocean. There are numerous other problems with this setting besides the ones listed above in answer to Warr's claim. Some of which we will discuss in future posts.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

James Warr and his Mormon Geography in Central America-Part II

Continuing with Warr’s counter, but not-so-accurate, claims regarding a Land of Promise in South America:

Warr: "However there are a number of major obstacles to the theory [about South America]. First, if we can move oceans and continents to suit our theory, there are no limits to what could be proposed."

One does not move continents and oceans in describing the Land of Promise. What one does is rely on the records of geologists, plate tectonics, Earth movements and similar criteria that is basically accepted by scientists both of the past and of today. This information differs only in the length of time of the Earth’s existence. In my book, Scientific Fallacies and Other Myths, a case is made against the Big Bang Theory, Universe Expansion, and both C-14 and Long Term time clock dating theories. In that work it is shown that the Earth is only about 13,000 years old or so, a fact, by the way, that Willard Libby, inventor of the C-14 Carbon Clock, found his clock showed, but decided to ignore.
Most Scientists accept the theory of Continental Drift. Whether this happened, and in this manner, is unknown. However, Scientists agree that there has been and is currently a drifting of continents, and at different stages continental shifts, movements, subductions, and collisions have occurred over time

Warr: "Second, most of the geographic references were made by Mormon 350 years after the changes which took place at the time of Christ" 

While Mormon abridged the entire record, the original words and terms were written by the early prophets whose names are listed in their books. Occasionally, Mormon injected his own words into the record, such as in Alma 22:27-35. Again, while Mormon lived about 300 years after the destruction that “changed the land,” he had all the records of the Nephites, which Helaman claimed were “many” (Helaman 3:13). Mormon, unlike many of today’s Book of Mormon historians, did not write from opinion, but had all the records to refer to when he abridged the writings, including the Spirit to guide him in this work. While he obviously could not know from his own experience the differences brought about by the destruction of the Land of Promise around 33 A.D., he had the writings of those who lived through that period and the writings and descriptions of the land of those who lived before and those who lived after. 

As an example, we cannot really knon from our own perspective what once existed where the Bonneville Salt Flats are now located, or what Zion National Park once looked like, nor can we see the Inland Sea that once occupied the Great Basin. 

Temple of Aeolus, now known as Angels Landing, Zion National Park, located in southern Utah. Photo is a stereogram taken in 1872 of the 1208-foot tall rock formation. The entire area sits at 5790 feet elevation, with its slot canyons, soaring towers, monoliths and scenic sandstone

However, we can fully understand from written history what all these areas were once like and more-or-less what caused their current appearance.

Warr: "There was still a narrow neck during his time and some of the last battles were fought there.

Oh, contraire. After the destruction in 3 Nephi, which depicts the tremendous changes to the Land of Promise, there is no further mention of 1) the East Sea, 2) the east seashore, or 3) the Narrow Neck or Small Neck of Land. The term “narrow neck” or “narrow neck of land” is mentioned only once, in Alma 63:5, and the term “small neck” or “small neck of land” is mentioned only once in Alma 22:32, both of which reference the small area between the Land Northward and the Land Southward. Those terms are not used after 3 Nephi, or the time of the destruction during the crucifixion of the Savior. Mormon writes of the battles around the City of Desolation, beginning in 361 A.D. (Mormon 3:7), and two years later the Nephites left that area to battle the Lamanites (Mormon 4:1), but the Lamanites in that battle drove the Nephites back and took possession of the city of Desolation (Mormon 4:2). Other battles took place near there, such as the city of Teancum, and eventually, the Nephites were driven out of the Land of Desolation entirely (Mormon 4:19). But there is no mention b y Mormon in all of these ensuing battles that they took place in the narrow neck of land.

The term Narrow Pass is mentioned twice in Alma (50:34 and 52:9), and once in Mormon (3:5), and a narrow passage mentioned once in Mormon (2:29), all of which refer to the pass or passage between the Land Southward and the Land Northward.

Warr: "Third, there is no geologic evidence that the Amazon basin was underwater during Book of Mormon times, or for that matter, any time during recent geologic history."

Once again, this is simply not true. See the previous post on this subject. One note not included in that post is that every year, over 155,000 square miles of the Amazon Basin is covered by water and results in the most extensive system of riverine flooded forests on Earth. This occurs because the Amazon Basin is basically flat and low-lying, floods occur every rainy season. Much of this land is still at sea level or just below and the water can rise up to fifteen feet above its normal height, and the the water level rises by 30 to 45 feet. Tens of millions of acres of rainforest are covered by water as the flood advances. Eventually, "as the Amazon Basin floodwaters drain into the Atlantic Ocean, the water levels begin to fall and the forests "rise" again from the water." In fact, the land is so flat and some below sea level, that the Amazon River is as wide as thirty-five miles in the Basin, and 200 to 300 miles wide near its mouth.

Warr: "Fourth, the Andean chain of mountains are too massive and elevated to allow for a narrow neck, even if we were to lower the continent by a thousand feet."

The height of the Andes Mountains has nothing to do with a narrow pass, narrow neck, or anything of the kind. Either Warr is blowing smoke, or does not understand the geography of the Andean area. As shown in the following diagram taken from Satellite photos, a narrow neck between the Land Northward (Ecuador and part of Colombia) and the Land Southward, (Peru, and parts of Bolivia and Chile) do not require a pass or narrow neck through the Andean Mountains!

Bay of Guaraquil and the Narrow Neck to the WEST of the Andean Mountain Chain

In this drawing, note that the Andes runs north and south as does the Narrow Neck of Land. The width of this narrow neck is about 26 miles across to where the Sea East once was located, and now the location of the Andes Mountains "whose height is great." The bay, or gulf of Guayaquil cuts into the Andean shelf, or land west of the Andes, providing a narrow neck to the east in which is located a north to south running pass, called the Pass of Huayna Capac in which an important Inca battle took place  in a stand against the invading Spanish Conquistadores.

Warr: "Fifth, it doesn't match the criteria for Book of Mormon lands listed in the text."

Well, now that is interesting. In my book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica, there are 65 distinct statements, descriptions, and comments in the scriptural record that directly relate to and are found in the Andea area—many of which are not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, such as the the cureloms and cumoms, neas and sheum, and the cinchona tree which provides the only source of natural quinine for fevers (malaria) prior to the 20th century, not to mention the  numerous stone walls, buildings, temples, magnificent road and highway system, etc., as well as many other matches. Numerous articles have been written and posted here on the subject of these numerous matches. Obviously, Warr is not very familiar with the Andean area of South America.

Warr: "Sixth, Joseph Smith's opinion in the Times and Seasons (Vol. 3, #22) indicating that the land of Zarahemla was in Central America would tend to eliminate this location."
Much has been written about what Joseph Smith said on this and many other subjects. Dr. John L. Lund claimed that "According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the city of Zarahemla was located south of the Rio Grande in Guatemala and Central America." This claim rests entirely on several articles appearing in the Times & Seasons newspaper during the fall of 1842, a time when Joseph Smith was in hiding from the law for a crime he did not commit.

According to Rod L. Meldrum, in an article written in March 2012, that “while Joseph Smith's name appeared on the end-plate of the paper as being its editor, as was customary at that time, there is no historically verifiable evidence that he participated in the writing, publication or printing of these specific articles or edited these editions whatsoever. Official Church historians know this fact, along with the fact that every single article proclaimed by Lund to be written by Joseph Smith was unsigned and that their authorship is historically unknown. Lund claims that "new research has confirmed that Joseph Smith was indeed the author of this and several other articles proclaiming the lands in Central America and Southern Mexico were the lands of the primary American events in the Book of Mormon." However, what Dr. Lund does not disclose is that the new research he is referring to... is his own, and is based solely on comparing word usage of several early brethren of the Church. It is simply an attempt to link the articles in question to the Prophet Joseph, because these few unsigned and unknown authored articles make up the last remaining historical hope for Mesoamerican theorists to shore up their collapsing speculations that Joseph Smith was abandoning his earlier revelations wherein he indicated a North American setting.”

The point here is, trying to link Joseph Smith or early Church brethren to a factual statement on the location of the Book of Mormon lands is not creditable, since not one of these men ever made such a declaration as a fact or stand of the Church, though several did offer their own opinions on the subject--one of which is that Lehi landed at the 30º south latitude in Chile.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

James Warr and his Mormon Geography in Central America-Part I

Following are some of James Warr’s counter, but not-so-accurate, claims regarding a Land of Promise in South America.

1. Warr: “South America has been suggested as a possible site for Book of Mormon lands. This theory requires some major geographic changes to make it possible.”

There have been “major geographic changes” at different times in the course of the Earth’s development. First, was the original organization; second, the Flood; third, when the Earth was Divided; fourth, the destruction at the time of Christ’s crucifixion; and fifth, the tectonic movement of plates claimed by scientists over several thousands of years. Taking just one example: the idea of an earthquake lasting three hours (3 Nephi 8:19), is beyond imagination—there has never been an earthquake recorded for more than a minute or two. This earthquake toppled and destroyed buildings over thousands of square miles (3 Nephi 8:12-13), created vast valleys in level ground, earth opened to envelope entire cities, oceans rushed in to cover other cities (3 Nephi 8:14), level ground rose up to form mountains, “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23), and “the face of the whole earth became deformed” (3 Nephi 8:17). The changes Warr claims would have to take place have already been recorded as taking place.

2. Warr: "The most common proposal suggests that the Amazon basin was at a lower elevation and was underwater before the time of Christ."

Much of the Amazon Basin is underwater even today

The Amazon Basin, which is 2,670,000 square miles (the land mass of the entire United States is 3.5 million square miles), and covers about 40% of the entire continent of South America. This Basin is east of the Andes, covering parts of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, and flows to the Atlantic Ocean about 4,000 miles away. This Amazon Basin is mostly underwater, with the land itself beneath the surface in many areas.
Iquitos, along the flood plain of the Amazon in northeastern Peru, is called the floating city

As an example, Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and major port of the Amazon Basin, with a population of 406,340 people, is partly built on balsa rafts that float up and down as the water level rises and falls. Its highest point is in May, its lowest in October.
Belen, Amazonas, is a floating city east of Iquitos, where the buildings are tethered to poles so they can move up and down as the flood plain waters rise or fall

3. Warr: "This created a narrow neck somewhere in eastern Peru or Ecuador, the land southward being south of this narrow neck, and the land northward to the north."

With most of the land east of the Andes more or less underwater, the land was what is now west of the Andes. Chileans, even today, call their country an island. According to the scientific findings of the deep sea drilling vessel, Glomar Challenger, Panama was not connected to Colombia in recent times, and Darwin himself claimed his findings of the Andes mountains told him that land eastward was underwater in very recent times and the Atlantic Ocean reached the Andes Mountains. This particular land mass west of present day Andes, is separated north and south by the very large Bay of Guayaquil along the southern Ecuadorian border. The distance from the east end of the Bay to the Andes is about 26 miles. If the Andes Mountains are the mountains Samuel the Lamanite claimed rose up, “whose height is great,” then the Sea East would have been about 30 miles from the east end of this Bay. As a footnote, the great height of the Andes, ranging between about 19,000 and 22,000 feet, is the highest mountain range in the Western Hemisphere, and dwarfs any mountains in Central America and the Eastern United States.

The Bay of Guayaquil, more accurately called the Gulf of Guayaquil, was created along several fault systems, and surrounded by mangrove forests

The Bay of Guayaquil along the Pacific Ocean coast of southwest Ecuador divides the Andean plain between the coast and the Andes Mountains. Almost all the rivers in Ecuador flow east into the Amazon, but a few rivers from the north and some from the south in Peru, empty into the gulf, such as the Guayas and Jubones rivers in Ecuador, and the Zarumilla and Tumbes rivers in Peru.

4. Warr: "At the time of Christ's crucifixion the surface of the land was changed (elevated in this case) resulting in what we see today.” 

The term “elevation in this case,” is not what the scriptures indicate. When Samuel the Lamanite was preaching, he prophesied that at the time of the Savior “shall yield up the ghost there shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up; Yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath” (Helaman 14:21). Note he describes what will take place above and below the earth, which is not merely “elevated in this case.”
Andes Mountains, whose height is great, is the longest continental mountain range in the world

The Andes range is the highest mountain range outside of Asia. The highest peaks are over 22,000 feet, and the range is farther from the Earth's center than any other location on Earth's surface due to the equatorial bulge resulting from the Earth's rotation. The world's highest volcanoes are in the Andes, at 22,615 feet and 50 other Andean volcanoes rise above 19,685 feet. Indeed, as Samuel the Lamanite said, mountains will rise up whose height is great!

(See the next post, “James Warr and his Mormon Geography in Central America-Part II,” for the rest of these points, and more of his inaccurate and obviously biased comments regarding the problems with South America as the setting for the Land of Promise)

Friday, July 27, 2012

One More Time-The Mounds of North America Were Not Nephite!

Theodore Brandley, like nearly all the other North America Land of Promise theorists, tries to tell us that the Mounds found throughout the Mississippi Basin, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, are evidence of the Nephite nation in the Land of Promise. The problem is, not only is there no mention of mounds in the Book of Mormon, there is no history among the Jews in Jerusalem or anywhere round about that they ever built or knew of such mounds.

The main purpose stated by archaeologists is that these mounds were for religious and ceremonial burial, as well as elite residential purposes. It is claimed these mounds, included the Pre-Columbian cultures of the Archaic period; Woodland period (Adena and Hopewell cultures); and Mississippian period; dating from roughly 3400 B.C. to the 16th century A.D. and living in regions of the Great Lakes, the Ohio River valley, and the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. Beginning with the construction of Watson Brake about 3400 B.C. in present-day Louisiana, nomadic indigenous peoples started building earthwork mounds in North America nearly 1000 years before the pyramids were constructed in Egypt.
While this all sounds well and good, we need to keep in mind that the Nephites did not arrive in the Western Hemisphere until about 587 B.C. and died out in 385 A.D. Not even the Jaredites had arrived here until around 2000 B.C.
According to archaeologists, these burial and ceremonial structures were typically flat-topped pyramids or platform mounds, flat-topped or rounded cones, elongated ridges, and sometimes a variety of other forms. They were generally built as part of complex villages that arose from more dense populations, with a specialization of skills and knowledge. The early earthworks built in Louisiana in 3400 B.C. are the only ones known to be built by a hunter-gatherer culture.
Monks Mound at Cahokia Indian Mounds across the Mississippi River from St. Louis in present-day Collinsville, Illinois

The best-known flat-topped pyramidal structure, which at over 100 feet tall and the largest pre-Columbian earthwork north of Mexico, is Monks Mound in Illinois. At its peak about 1150 A.D., Cahokia was an urban settlement from 600 A.D. to 1400 A.D., 120 earthwork mounds over an area of six square miles with 20,000-30,000 people; this population was not exceeded by North American European settlements until after 1800. Yet, it could not have been Nephite! They were gone a little over two hundred years before Monks Mound was begun!

Serpent Mound located on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio

Some effigy mounds were constructed in the shapes or outlines of culturally significant animals. The most famous effigy mound, Serpent Mound in southern Ohio, is 3 feet tall, 20 feet wide, 1,348 feet long, and shaped as an undulating serpent. Such effigy mounds were primarily built 350 to 1300 A.D., again, after the Nephite period and long after the Jaredite period.

Effigy Mounds National Monument, Marquette, Iowa

In fact, most effigy mounds were built in the Wisconsin area and numbered between 15,000 and 20,000 mounds. These mounds have been found to contain grave goods and funerary items along with human remains.
Rock Eagle prehistoric effigy mound near Eatonton, Georgia

Built atop a natural rock outcrop, the Rock Eagle mound in Georgia is estimated to have been constructed 1,000 to 3,000 years ago. The earthwork was built up of thousands of pieces of quartzite laid in the mounded shape of a large bird, about one foot high, 102 feet long from head to tail, and 120 feet wide from wing tip to wing tip. Although it is most often referred to as an eagle, scholars do not know exactly what type of bird the original builders intended to portray.

Etowah Mound, Bartow County, Georgia

Again, while all of this sounds interesting, it does not suggest that such mounds were ever built by the Nephites, or even the Jaredites. In fact, the word “mound” does not appear at all in the Book of Mormon, nor is there any mention anywhere of building up large acreages of dirt or earth for any purpose what-so-ever! Nor, in fact, were there ever any mounds built in all of Israel, and no mention of them in the Bible. It was not a Jewish or Hebrew custom! Nor was it a near east custom! 

Mounds have been found all over Europe, and many places around the world, including China. There have been pyramids found in Egypt, there is Stonehenge in England, the Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, and the mysterious Nazca Lines in Peru. None of this has anything to do with the Nephites, ancient Jews or Hebrew cultures. They simply exist, created by ancient civilizations of which we know little or nothing about (see previous posts on this subject)
Silbury Hill, England. Largest man-made mound in the World at 130 feet height, covering 5 acres. It is claimed it took 150 years to complete

At Glauberg, Germany (near Frankfurt) are located elite burials covered by mounds

As for the Nephites, there are only five places in the Book of Mormon, all in Alma, where piling up dirt or earth is even mentioned, and in each case it was to create defensive walls around cities and other defensive positions:

Alma 48:8  “He had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.”

Alma 49:2-4:  “They had cast up dirt around about to shield them from the arrows and the stones of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought with stones and with arrows…the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance.”

Alma 49:22  “They began to dig down their banks of earth that they might obtain a pass to their armies, that they might have an equal chance to fight; but behold, in these attempts they were swept off by the stones and arrows which were thrown at them; and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies.”

Alma 50:1-4  “He caused that his armies…should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites. And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high. And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them.”
Alma 53:4  “Should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height.”

Note that there is not a single hint that there were mounds built, or that any structure other than a wall, was ever built upon these heaps of earth thrown up round about the cities of the Nephites. Since Nephi and Sam came from Jerusalem where houses and cities were built out of stone, where they were quite familiar with splendid construction, such as Solomon’s Temple and the many Palaces and synagogues, all built of stone, one can only wonder why anyone would think that Nephi, when he taught his people to build, would have shown them how to build in anything other than what he was familiar with—stone buildings. Nor would he have had any reason to build mounds, either for burial, or other purposes. The idea of such is ludicrous!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Brandley’s Map-Final Comments

To summarize Theodore Brandley’s map of his Land of Promise in North America, we need only compare, in addition to the last seven posts, some of his locations with how they are described in the scriptural record:

1. Alma 50:13 states: “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites.”
It can easily be seen in Brandley’s map that the City of Moroni is nowhere near the Land of Nephi, in fact, he has it to the east of the Land of Nephi, more than 1000 miles away when it should be “on the south by the line of possessions of the Lamanites.” But Brandley has no line of possession of the Lamanites anywhere in the vicinity, and certainly not anything to the south that was occupied by the Lamanites!
2. Helaman 4:6-7 states: “And the Nephites and the armies of Moronihah were driven even into the land of Bountiful; And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country.”
Heleman is describing a battle or series of battles between the Lamanites and the Nephites in which the Lamanites drove the Nephites northward into the Land of Bountiful. At this point, the Nephites dug in their heels and made a stand, “fortifying from the west sea, even unto the east.” However, since Brandley’s map has the Land of Nephi to the WEST of the Land of Bountiful, it would not be possible to fortify a line form the West Sea (which is to the south) toward the east to stop the Lamanite advance.

3. Omni 1:12-13 states: “I will speak unto you somewhat concerning Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he being warned of the Lord that he should flee out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord should also depart out of the land with him, into the wilderness -- And it came to pass that he did according as the Lord had commanded him. And they departed out of the land into the wilderness, as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord; and they were led by many preachings and prophesyings. And they were admonished continually by the word of God; and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness, until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla.”
On Brandley's Map, Mosiah would have traveled about 500 miles to reach the city of Zarahemla, some 350 miles of that on basically level ground

One of the things you cannot do and maintain credibility is create a Book of Mormon city in an ancient location that does not meet scriptural description. When Amaleki, who was with Mosiah when he discovered Zarahemla, said they “came DOWN into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla,” we have to find Zarahemla in an area where someone traveling from the Land of Nephi would “come down” to reach it. Along the path from the area where Brandley places the City of Lehi-Nephi (around Loredo, Texas), there is no high ground at all on the way to his Zarahemla, at Poverty Point, Louisiana, some 500 miles to the east and a little north. 

Loredo sits at 438 feet elevation. Along that general route, you have Mathis, Texas, at 161 feet, Beeville, Texas, at 210 feet, Victoria, Texas, at 95 feet, Houston, at 43 feet, Beaumont, Texas, 16 feet, Lake Charles, Louisiana, 13 feet, Alexandria, Louisiana, 75 feet, and Monroe, Louisiana, 75 feet, to finally Poverty Point, about 100 feet. In fact, no matter how you come into Poverty Point, you do not “come down” to it. To the north is Oak Grove, 121 feet, Epps to the west at 98 feet, Delta to the south at 89 feet, Transylvania to the northeast at 98 feet, and Tallulah to the southeast at 85 feet. 

The point of this is that Mosiah left the Land of Nephi and “came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla.” According to Brandley’s map, if Mosiah left the City of Lehi-Nephi, and traveled through southern Texas and western Luisiana, it would not have been possible to “come down into the land of Zarahemla” as shown by the elevations listed above. Yet, the scriptures are full of references to the Lamanites “coming down” to the Land of Zarahemnla: Alma 51:13; 53:10,12; 56:3,25; 57:15-16,28-30; 62:7; 63:15; Helaman 1:15,17; 4:5; 6:4; Mormon 3:7-8; 4:17,19. Brandley’s map does not allow for the Land of Nephi to be at a significant higher level than his Land of Zarahemla.

4. Alma 22:31 states: “And they 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 being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food.”

Brandley's Narrow Neck does not match the scriptural record which states this neck was used as a passage from the south to the north, but the Delmarva Peninsula does not connect to any land to the south

These are the animals described in Ether 9:31-34, which fled into the Land Southward. This is also described in Ether 10:19-21, which states: "And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter. And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land. And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants.” Consequently, we can see that the animals fled into the Land Southward through the narrow neck of land “by the place where the sea divides the land” and “built a great city” and “preserved the land southward.” None of this makes any sense when looking at Brandley’s location of his narrow neck location. Nor does it make any sense that the animals would flee in only that direction when they could have fled southward in any number of areas along the west side of the Blue Ridge, and up into the mountains themselves since they are only 2,000 feet in elevation (climbs to 6,000 feet further south in the Carolinas) and mostly rolling and gently sloping hills (not like actual mountains we know in the West).

Following are images of the Water Gap through the Blue Ridge Mountains which Brandley claims is the Narrow Pass. Would  Mormon have called this landscape a Pass? And would animals have had to come through this gap where two rivers join? Why not just go up over the low, sloping hills? And would such a pass keep the Lamanites at bay?

Various views of Brandley's Narrow Pass into the Land Northward. There is never a mention of a river connected with the narrow pass; however, there is a Sea mentioned which does not exist here: "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)

5. Alma 50:7-8 states: “And it came to pass that Moroni caused that his armies should go forth into the east wilderness; yea, and they went forth and drove all the Lamanites who were in the east wilderness into their own lands, which were south of the land of Zarahemla. And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west.”

However, Bradley’s map does not allow for either of these two points to occur. Zarahemla’s east wilderness, which is along the east seashore, does not exist in Brandley’s map; Moroni could not drive those Lamanites along the east wilderness  into their (Lamanite) own lands south of the land of Zarahemla since in Brandley’s map, the Lamanite lands are not south of the Land of Zarahemla; and the Land of Nephi could not “run in a straight course from the east sea to the west” since in Brandley’s map the Land of Nephi is north and east of the West Sea, and lies about 1000 miles west of the East Sea.

It would seem that anyone promoting a specific area and map of his Land of Promise, would at least make his map closely aligned to the scriptural record.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part VII

Brandley tries to tell us that when Joseph Smith wrote “head of the River Sidon,” he actually meant its mouth, and that the word “head” can be used to describe a river’s mouth. However, the facts are a little different:

According to a modern dictionary, the definition of the “head” of a river is: “The head is where it starts and the mouth is where it lets out into a body of water like a lake or ocean.” And according to the “1828 American Dictionary of the English Language,” the language basically known to Joseph Smith at the time he translated the plates, is: “the principal source of a stream, to originate, to spring to have its source, as a river,” and “the part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea.”

Gravity flow of a River, from higher ground to the sea

First of all, the head of a river has to be on higher ground than the mouth, or otherwise it could not, by gravity, flow from head to mouth. And the head of the Sidon River is SOUTH of Zarahemla, which means that somewhere in the Narrow Strip of Wilderness is a high area of ground and the head of the Sidon River! The trouble is, just about every river in North America basically runs from the north of the south; consequently, those who want a Land of Promise in North America have to find a way to change the scriptural record or the meaning of words regarding the River Sidon.
Brandley also writes: There is a second witness from the text in Alma 50:11 confirming that the head of the river Sidon was by the sea:
“And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon...” (emphasis added).
What Brandley evidently fails to realize is that the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wilderness in between, all run from the East Sea to the West Sea, thus, Alma is describing the Sidon River (and its head) being somewhere in between these seas in the Narrow Strip of Wilderness. Again, this is not Brain Surgery. All we have to do is read the words without trying to make them say something they do not!
Brandley adds: “As rivers run to the sea the river Sidon therefore flows from Zarahemla south to the sea.” However, there is no “therefore” about this. The head of the river is to the south, up in the highlands of the Land of Nephi, which demands that the river flowing past Zarahemla to the north has to flow to the north! Just because Brandley wants to make the Mississippi River his Sidon River does not allow him to change the scriptural record stating clearly that the river flows northward.
Yet, undaunted, Brandley goes on to claim “the term “head of the river Sidon” is actually the river delta or “headland” where the river empties into the sea. The word “head” has a different meaning when it relates to lands by the sea. In that case it refers to a promontory or headland that juts out into the sea, such as Hilton Head in South Carolina or Nags Head in North Carolina. A large river forms a delta or a headland where it empties into the sea as the silt carried by the river is deposited there over time.”
As Brandley states: “The word “head” has a different meaning when it relates to lands by the sea.” While that can be true in some cases, it is only true when speaking of land. However, the scriptural point here is the river. The head of a river is at is beginning. The head of land can be where it juts into the sea or ocean, such as a point.
It should also be kept in mind that what words might mean in 2012 is immaterial to what words meant in 1828-29 when Joseph Smith was translating the plates. And English as it was known at that time in England, Canada, etc., is also immaterial to what English words meant in New England at that time. Fortunately, Noah Webster “felt inspired” to create an American Dictionary of the English Language in the early nineteenth century. Webster, having grown up within a hundred miles of where Joseph Smith lived, would have used the words most common and understood by the people of the area at that time. His “1828 American Dictionary of the English Language” is quite clear on the word “headland," which is defined as “a cape; a promontory; a point of land projecting from the shore into the sea, or other expanse of water.”
It is poor commentary by any historian to make such a claim that when Joseph Smith wrote “head” he meant “headland.” It is also obvious that Joseph Smith understood the phrase “head of the river” to mean where the river begins, not where it empties into the sea.
The City of Riverhead along the Peconic River is three miles from the River Mouth in Long Island where it opens into Flanders Bay
Brandley claims that his comment about Joseph Smith thinking “head” meant “headland” is supported, he claims, by the fact that in 1792, 38 years before Joseph interpreted the plate, the New York State Legislature passed a bill creating the town of Riverhead in Suffolk County, New York, on the north shore of Long Island. The name signifies that the mouth of the Peconic River is in this town. The town of Riverhead is situated where the Peconic River flows from the west into Flanders Bay at the east end of Long Island. Joseph Smith, was born and raised in New York where the State law makers considered the mouth of the river to be the head of the river. It is reasonable to assume therefore that Joseph Smith also understood the mouth of the River Sidon to be the “head of the River Sidon.”
At the mouth of the Peconic River where it flows into Flanders Bay are two “headlands,” or points of land that jut out into the Bay: Indian Point and The Point. Both of these are "headlands."
For clarification, Suffolk County is at the extreme northern end of Long Island, and Riverhead is at the end of the Great Peconic Bay inlet, about three miles from Flander’s Bay, and not at any river opening. By comparison, geographically, the town is closer to New London and New Haven in Connecticut than Palmyra in upper New York, some 300 miles away, where Joseph’s home was located.
However, consider that the town of Riverhead is about half way along the Peconic River that flows between Peconic Lake and Flanders Bay, which is the eastern opening of the Great Peconic Bay, that flows into the Little Peconic and later into Gardiners Bay. Granted Riverhead is the last city along this river before it empties into the Bay, but it is still some three miles to the actual river’s mouth. The town of Riverside is also located here, though not along the river itself. Today, the city of Riverhead extends to the mouth of the river, but in 1792, it was three miles away.
If we follow the river to its mouth or opening into Flanders Bay, there are two bodies of land, one to the north and one to the south, both of which are land “heads” or “headlands” that extend into the Bay. The north area is called Indian Point and the one on the south is merely called “The Point.” Both of these are “headlands” and at the mouth of the Peconic River.
Brandley’s comment: “State law makers considered the mouth of the river to be the head of the river,” is so misleading it is difficult to see how any historian could even consider it. There is no state law. It was merely a name given the town when the state split the town of Suffolk in 1792, and just as likely was named "where the river heads into the Bay" as meaning the head of a river, which would have been against the language of the area in that era.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part VI

According to Mormon, the Land of Nephi “which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27). This should be as plain as a statement needs to be not to be misinterpreted. That is, The Land of Nephi ran from sea to sea, and to the north of the Land of Nephi, between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, was a narrow strip of wilderness that RAN FROM THE SEA EAST EVEN TO THE SEA WEST!

What is so hard to understand about that?

The Land of Nephi, the Narrow Strip of Wilderness and the Land of Zarahemla ran in basically a straight line from the East Sea to the West Sea

Yet, Brandley, in his description of the River Sidon, claims: 1) The narrow strip of wilderness runs east and west around about on the edge of the seashore; 2) Manti is near the narrow strip of wilderness, that is by the sea; 3) The head of the river Sidon is by the narrow strip of wilderness, that is by the sea. Conclusion: As rivers run to the sea, the river Sidon runs from Zarahemla south to Manti, and through the east/west narrow strip of wilderness to the “head of the river Sidon” near the sea.
Contrary to Brandley’s comment, the Sidon River does not run from “Zarahemla south to Manti, and through the east/west narrow strip of wilderness to the “head of the river Sidon” near the sea.”
After all, south of Zarahemla is the Land of Nephi, which was in much higher ground that that of Zarahemla, which not only was in the lowlands, but probably near sea level. At least we know that the Land of Zarahemla, through which the River Sidon flowed, was at a lower level than the Land of Nephi, as attributed to numerous scriptures which point out that the Lamanites contiunually “went down” to attack the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla.
However, Brandley continually tries to point out that the Sidon River flowed north to south to the sea. This is, of course, necessary for his Land of Promise model, since he uses the Mississippi River as his River Sidon which, obviously, flows from the north to the south.
The scripture in question is: “And it came to pass that 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 was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west -- and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” (Alma 22:27).
In considering this statement, it should be kept in mind that its purpose is to describe the Land, not the river Sidon. The Land in this case was a narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla. This land “ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west.” The parenthetical inclusion of the river Sidon is of secondary import to this sentence. In other words, the sentence could be rendered: “ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, running from the east towards the west.” The inclusion of the parenthetical inclusion of “by the head of the river Sidon,” is meant only to convey where the narrow strip of wilderness was located—or, stated differently, that the narrow strip of wilderness ran “by the head of the River Sidon.”
However, Brandley wants to claim that the import of the River Sidon here iust to tell us that the river ran by the sea, when Mormon is describing the Narrow Strip of Wilderness which ran from Sea to Sea!
He confuses the issue when he tries to tell us that the narrow strip of wilderness ran along the Sea, and not from Sea to Sea. However, when we use Mormon’s exact words, we find that the narrow strip of wilderness, which “ran from the sea east even to the sea west,” also curved up along both seashores as shown in the image below:
The Narrow Strip of Wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla
Thus, Mormon wrote: “and round about on the borders of the seashore.” Thus, with this curved border which encroached into the Land of Zarahemla, and inhabited by Lamanites, caused Mormon to add: “And thus the Nephites were nearly surrounded by the Lamanites; nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:27,29).
On the other hand, the River Sidon had its “head” in or by this narrow strip of wilderness, which would have been in the highlands of the Land of Nephi, and flowed NORTH toward Zarahemla and “ran by the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 2:15). Since the bodies of the dead were thrown into the River Sidon (Alma 3:3), and that battle took place near the Wilderness of Hermounts, which was to the north and west of Zarahemla (Alma 2:34-37), we can accurately assume that the Sidon River flowed not only past Zarahemla from the South, up in the narrow strip of wilderness, but northward across the Land of Zarahemla, for Alma tells us that the last part of this battle “was beyond the borders of the land” (Alma 2:36).

The trouble Brandley has with this is because he is convince the Land of Promise was in North America and that the Mississippi River was the River Sidon. In so doing, he has to try and fit the scripture into his model, which is the wrong way to go about scriptural support. Obviously, one MUST start with the scripture, not a place. He, like almost all Book of Mormon historians, have made this classical mistake. When starting with a land, the scripture must be made to fit the land chosen. When starting with the scripture, a land can be found that fits the scripture. Obviously, Brandley's map DOES NOT fit the scripture!
(See the next post, “Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part VII,” for an understanding of a river’s head (headwaters) and its mouth, which Brandley tries to obscure with meaningless explanations)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part V

Continuing with Theodore Brandley’s North American setting for his Land of Promise, we revisit his map to show the relationship errors according to the scriptural record.

First of all, Brandley suggests correctly that the Mulekites, once disembarking from their ship in the Land of Promise, did not move from that spot; however, he erroneously wants to claim that this disembarkation was about 400 miles upstream along the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico.

He writes: “Notice that their journey through the wilderness was before they crossed the great waters, and they had remained where they had landed. They therefore would have sailed up the river Sidon from the sea and landed at Zarahemla. As previously noted, Zarahemla could not be a great distance from the sea because it was in the low lands.”
It is both accurate and logical to say that the Mulekites built their city of Zarahemla where they landed, not far from the Sea. However, it seems to go against all logic and common sense to believe that the Mulekites sailed up a river for 400 miles or so in order to find a location to land and build their city.
Brandley claims this distance was 200 miles, but it is actually 290 as the crow flies, 380 miles by river direction, and actually over 400 miles when considering the numerous twists, turns, and switchbacks of the river along that distance from Donaldsonville north, which can actually double the distance of a voyage upriver.
Note the twists and turns and switchbacks of the Mississippi River, which add numerous miles to a journey upriver
Just to set the record straight, and be realistic about this, when Columbus crossed the Atlantic, his seamen were threatening mutiny two days before they finally sighted land. Once sighting the island of San Salvador, in the Bahamas, they landed! They were so grateful to see land and be on it once again after more than a month of nothing but water around them. In fact, every further voyage of Columbus and subsequent explorers, once sighting land after over a month at sea, they landed. Consider that while Columbus sailed only the width of the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas, a distance of about 5,400 miles, Brandley's suggested course for the Mulekites covered about 8,800 miles just to the mouth of the Mississippi River, then another 400 miles or more up the river—a total distance of over 9,200 miles. It seems unlikely that with all that land in sight from the Bahamas to the mouth of the Mississippi, that the Mulekties would have sailed another 400 miles up an unknown river to settle.
However, Brandley would have us believe that after sighting land in the West Indies, the Mulekites traveled another 1800 miles to the mouth of the Mississippi River, then another 400 miles up river to this area today called Poverty Point—about 16 miles from the River. All this while, almost 2400 miles, they were often in sight of land and could see the forests, game, and numerous easy beach landing sites—but no! Brandley says they continued on!
Brandley’s location for the city of Zarahemla is a location today called Poverty Point which, according to archaeologists, comprises several earthworks and mounds built between 1650 and 700 B.C. by a group of Native Americans of the Poverty Point culture. The culture extended 100 miles across the Mississippi Delta. The original purposes of Poverty Point have not been determined, although they have proposed various possibilities including that it was: 1) a settlement, 2) a trading center, or 3) a ceremonial religious complex.
Whatever was its original use and intention, there is agreement on the fact that Poverty Point was settled and built between 1650 B.C. and 700 B.C. The problem, that even Brandley acknowledges, is that the site’s development and use ended about 120 years before the Mulekites left Jerusalem!
There are numerous other problems associated with a Zarahemla on the Mississippi River, such as the highlands to the south—they do not exist in Brandley’s model. Or a narrow strip of wilderness separating the Land of Zarahemla from the Land of Nephi where the head of the River Sidon was located—these do not exist in Brandley’s model. And the Land of Nephi being to the south of the Narrow Strip of Wilderness, which was south of the Land of Zarahemla—this does not exist in Brandley’s map.
In fact, Mormon tells us that the head of the River Sidon is somewhere along the narrow strip of wilderness that runs from the East Sea to the West Sea, and that it separates the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla; however, Brandley’s Narrow Strip of Wilderness separates the Land of Zarahemla from the Gulf of Mexico (Brandley’s West Sea), which is contrary to Mormon’s description. Also, his narrow strip is actually east of his Land of Nephi.
One must wonder if Brandley has ever actually read the Book of Mormon!

And lastly, it should be noted that the Mississippi River flows southward, which would have been against any sailing ship moving upriver. This flow would almost overcome any forward movement from the wind (see previous posts on this subject), making any upriver journey extremely slow and difficult, not to mention the depth of the Mississippi River for a deep ocean vessel. Not until the paddle wheel and steam engines was the Mississippi River ever conquered upriver. Before that, shipping on the river was with keelboats or barge boats that made it upriver by cordel--rope pulleys--or by poling, even as late as the 18th century.
(See the next post, “Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part VI,” to see more how Brandley’s map is ridiculously absent of any matches to the actual scriptural record)