Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Alma 53-54

(October 28, 2014)
                There is a lot in these two chapters, but I found my mind focused on geography of all things.  The geography of the Book of Mormon is wonderfully consistent, and the things that don’t seem to make sense tend to support the Mesoamerican limited geographical model (full disclaimer: I don’t presume to know exactly where the Book of Mormon events took place, but whether they happened in Mesoamerica or the Midwest or Baja, the only thing that I can say with certainty is that the book is historical).

                For example, there is the line in Alma 53:6 that Mulek was the strongest hold of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi.  This has long been pointed to as ‘proof’ that the Book of Mormon is not true, because we know that Mulek is in the east wilderness by the seashore.  First, of course, even if the phrase ‘land of Nephi’ is incorrect, that does not disprove the Book of Mormon – I have tried diligently to make my journal accurate over the course of several decades, but I have to imagine that I have carelessly including similar (and more substantial) blunders than this.  

                But my current thinking is that it is describing the Lamanites rather than the city of Mulek.  As I read the grammar (difficult to do, since the original had no punctuation), I believe that land of Nephi modifies the Lamanites rather than the city of Mulek – differentiating the source of these Lamanites (Lamanites in the land of Nephi) from the secondary group of Lamanites which invaded the south to fight Helaman.

                But for geographical insights, there is little more interesting than a three word description of the secondary Lamanite incursion – by the “west sea, south.”  That makes no sense – is it west or is it south? – but the Mesoamerican model assigns the west sea to be what was west of the land of their first inheritance.  As geography reaches the land of Zarahemla, that west sea is on the south and the east sea is to the north.  Thus ‘west sea, south’ perfectly describes where the action takes place relative to the prior battles Mormon was describing (by the east sea, north).

                None of this, of course, really matters all that much (the Book of Mormon is true regardless of whether we understand its geography, and no non-believer will be convinced otherwise by these things), but it does provide some comfort to those of us who have received a spiritual witness of the truth of these things.

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