The most fundamental geographical problem associated with Sorenson’s model has to do with issues of directionality. . . . In order for his model to fit the geogrpahy of Mesoamerica, one must assume that the Nephites had a system of directions with cardinal directions skewed “45 degrees or more” off of the usually observed cardinals. . . . In other words, the whole directional card must be shifted more than 60 degrees to the west for this model to fit the geography of the chosen area. Otherwise, as Vogel has pointed out, the land north will be on the west, and the south on the east, and so forth. . . . Making this shift in directions creates its own set of problems, however, because in such a Nephite directional system the sun would come up in the south and set in the north.3
Just as the gods marked the periphery by placing the four sides and corners around the center, the Maya shaman creates a five-part image to sanctify space and open a portal to the Otherworld. Mayanists have adopted the Latin word quincunx for this five-point-plan concept, although the Maya have many ways of expressing it in their own languages. The discerning of the four sides or the four corners and the establishing of their position relative to the center point is what we mean by “centering.” The Yukatek farmers today “center” their fields ritually even before they begin to cut them out of the fallow brushland. They mark off their fields and the units within them with small piles of [Page 124]stones, just as villages mark off their lands from those of neighboring communities with large piles of stones.6
One of the underlying organizational principles of Mesoamerican religion is replication, in which essential patterns of everyday life and the surrounding world are copied and incorporated as models of religious thought and action. Basic features of the social world are often repeated on an increasingly larger scale to encompass the world and the workings of the universe. For example, in the Maya region, the house with its four walls and corner posts could stand for a maize field, the community, and the structure of the cosmos. Grand and abstract concepts are placed in human terms, and conversely, the ordered structure of the universe serves to sanctify and validate human social conventions.7
While the five-part concept defined the understanding of one’s orientation in the cosmos, the actual directional system appears have been built on only a single “direction,” which was the path of the sun throughout the day and throughout the year. Other spatial relationships were made against that defining axis.
A set of studies by the anthropologist Stephen Levinson and his colleagues aim[ed] to show that a language’s spatial terms determine how its speakers use the three dimensions of space to remember the locations of objects. Levinson’s group examined Tzeltal, a language spoken in the Chiapas region of Mexico. . . Tzeltal has no general words for “left” or “right.” The closest it has are terms for the left or right arm or leg, but the terms are rarely used to refer to the left side of an object, table, or room. Instead the Tzeltal speakers describe spatial arrangements relative to the mountain slope that dominates their villages. The spatial vocabulary of Tzeltal includes words that mean “up-the-slope” (which is roughly southward), “down-the-slope” (roughly northward), and “across-the-slope.” These coordinates are used not just when traipsing up and down the mountain but also when on flat terrain or indoors, and even when describing the arrangements of small objects. According to Levinson, Tzeltal speakers say “The spoon is downslope of the teacup,” not “The spoon is on the right of the teacup.”11
Nicholas A. Hopkins, visiting instructor at the Centro de Estudios Mayas, Universidad Nacional Autónima de México, and J. Kathryn Josserand, Research Associate, Pre-Columbian Art Research [Page 130]Institute, found a general agreement in vocabulary for east and west that was related to the path of the sun.14 They noted: “Terms for ‘north’ and ‘south’ are much more elusive. First, there are far fewer reports of these terms. Second, there are no consistent patterns in the nomenclature. Many languages have no recorded terms for ‘north’ and ‘south’, even when ‘east’ and ‘west’ are noted.”15 They concluded:
The extreme chaos of terms for ‘north’ and ‘south’ reinforces the idea that these “directions” are almost irrelevant. Directional orientation is based on the movements of the sun, east to west, and the other two “directions” are of lesser importance. How then, do we derive the system of four directions that is recorded in village barrios regional states, and other matters? The solution seems to be, as Karen Bassie has argued, that ‘east’ and ‘west’ are not directions at all, but are broad quadrants of the sky centered on, but not limited to, the cardinal directions ‘east’ and ‘west’. ‘East’ is the entire section of the horizon where the sun rises during the year, from solstice to solstice and back again. This quadrant is represented in site layout by the E-group complexes found at Uaxactun and elsewhere. ‘West’ is the corresponding quadrant where the sun is observed to set. ‘North’ and ‘south’ are simply the quadrants that lie between these two, that lie ‘at the sides of the sky’, ‘to the right hand’ or ‘to the left’. That is, two defined quadrants imply two others, giving a total of four. The “four corners of the Maya world” are simply the limits of the east-west quadrants, and do not imply four cardinal directions.16
The Hebrews, like most Semitic peoples, oriented themselves by facing east, toward the rising sun. Thus east in Hebrew was simply front (qedem), with south as right (yamîn), north as left (śemôl), and west as rear (achôr) or “sea” (yam). . . .The Egyptians oriented themselves by facing south, toward the source of the Nile. “One of the terms for ‘south’ [in Egyptian] is also a term for ‘face’; the usual word for ‘north’ is probably related to a word which means the ‘back of the head.’” The word for east is the same as for left, and west is the same word as right.18
In the case of Book of Mormon directions, I suggest that Joseph used common vocabulary to express the Book of Mormon system of spatial orientation and that the perception of cardinal directions in the text is the result of the translation rather than the plate text.24 I also suggest that there are sufficient hints in the text to allow a reconstruction of that plate text system. Although we certainly find the words north, south, east, and west in the Book of Mormon, there is an important and very specific phrase that I believe replicates the essential Mesoamerican directional system: “From the east to the west.” Against the background of Mesoamerican directions, it is a reasonable initial hypothesis that this phrase represents plate text terms that indicated the path of the sun. This phrase implying solar movement occurs six times.25 There is a single occurrence of “from the west to the east” in 3 Nephi 1:17 and three related phrases mentioning a sea:
Helaman 3:8 “from the sea west to the sea east”
Helaman 4:7 “from the west sea, even unto the east”
Helaman 11:20 “from the sea west to the sea east”
And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth. (3 Nephi 1:17)And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east. (Helaman 3:8)And thus it did come to pass that the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to build up their waste places, and began to multiply and spread, even until they did cover the whole face of the land, both on the northward and on the southward, from the sea west to the sea east. (Helaman 11:20)
In contrast to the movement implied when using the phrase “from the east to the west,” the common usage for the other two “directions” is “on the north/on the south.”28 There are no instances of “from the north to the south” or “from the south to the north,” except in Helaman 3:8, dealing with the whole earth rather than directions. For example, Alma 46:17: “And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, and the land of liberty.”29
Hopkins and Josserand report that many of the languages they surveyed use terms such as on the left, or on the right to designate south and north.30 Where the Mesoamerican cultures used terms such as on the right/on the left or some other spatial indicator (such as the upslope/downslope of the Tzeltal) the Book of Mormon translation supplies the words north/south. Although the specific word comes from Joseph’s western understanding, the words are couched in phrases that replicate the functional relationships of the Mesoamerican system.
This conception of the Nephite usage of directional terms helps explain a passage that would otherwise be difficult. The flight of the Lamanite/Amlicite army is described in Alma 2:35–37:
And it came to pass that when they had all crossed the river Sidon that the Lamanites and the Amlicites began to flee before them, notwithstanding they were so numerous that they could not be numbered.And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land; and the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them.Yea, they were met on every hand, and slain and driven, until they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts.
I am convinced that the reference to a north sea and a south sea is devoid of any concrete geographical content. All specific references or allusions to Book of Mormon seas are only to the east and west seas. Any geography that tries to accommodate a north and south sea, I think, is doomed to fail. But we cannot dismiss the reference to these seas out of hand. If they are metaphorical, what was the metaphor?
In a world conceptually surrounded by seas, the house of the sun would lie across the sea, or on “the other side of the sea.” Thus Sachse and Christenson explain: “We understand that in the Maya world view all creation involves the underlying concept of birth from a primordial sea in darkness. The world came into being because the earth and the mountains arose from the sea and the sky was lifted up from the water. Creation thus involves ‘dawning.’ ”45 The “other side of the sea” refers metaphorically to an origin in the conceptual east sea, the place of dawning and creation. Thus there was a very strong cultural preference for having a sea east and the parallel sea west. The question is how that conceptual world might have related to the physical seas that the Book of Mormon text requires.
The original Nephite center point was not Zarahemla, but rather the City of Nephi. In Sorenson’s correlation, we have the highland valley of Guatemala as a plausible land of Nephi. From that center, the east sea would be right where several Book of Mormon geographers suggest; off the coast of modern Belize.46 From that original center point, the Nephites would then have had the option of calling the Pacific either the sea west or sea south, since it creates the coastline that would be both south and west of the land of Nephi. Because the definition of Mesoamerican direction system had the sun setting in the sea west, it is logical that they would have selected that designation for what we know as the Pacific Ocean. The interesting combination of the sea west being both west and south helps explain Alma 53:22: “And now it came to pass that Helaman did march at the head of his two thousand stripling soldiers, to the support of the people in the borders of the land on the south by the west sea.” The land south of Zarahemla bordered the west sea, not a south sea even though there was a coastline on the south.
There is another feature of the Book of Mormon that may be plausibly related to an underlying Mesoamerican directional system. The vast majority of the times we see either the word northward or southward in the Book of Mormon, they are descriptive of a place, not of movement. They refer to the land northward and the land southward.48 The term northward only appears three times as a description of motion and southward only twice.49 Eastward occurs three times, always as an indication of direction of travel, and westward does not occur at all.50
The obvious conceptual inversion of Desolation/Bountiful suggests that there is another aspect of Mesoamerican direction systems in play. Prudence M. Rice indicates that each of the four conceptual directions had other attributes:
Among the lowland Maya, this solar basis for naming directions is evident by incorporating, k’in ‘sun’, into the term. East (lak’in) was associated with sunrise, birth, and the color red (chak), while West (chik’in, ochk’in) was associated with sunset, death, and the color black (ek’). By contrast, xaman (North) was associated with “up” (as in the sun at zenith), the Sun God’s “right” side on his journey, heavens, the number 13, the place of ancestors, and the color white (sak). Nojol (South) was associated with “down” or the sun’s nadir, the sun’s “left,” the Underworld, the number 9, night (“death” of the sun and its Underworld journey back to the east), and the color Yellow (k’an).52
The “south” glyph is widely thought to read nohol, the word for “south” in the Yucatecan language, attested also in Chontal and Cholti. The –lo suffix on a “south” glyph written in Naj Tunich cave offers good support for this reading. . . The root of the term is noh, which has the related meanings of “large, great,” “principal,” or “right-side”. . . .The NOH reading seems fitting in the context of the “hand” terms on Tikal’s Marcador. The first glyph of the pair would simply read NOH-K’AB, a widespread and familiar term in Mayan languages for “right hand.”53
Maya epigraphers Stephen Houston, David Stuart, and Karl Taube note: “Consistently the right hand is ‘straight, correct large’ (no or to in Ch’olti’) or ‘fine, pure’ (batz’i k’ob in Colonial Tzotzil) and wikiaq’ab, ‘decorated, adorned’ in K’iche’, while the left hand is not quite obedient and thus, as in Colonial Yukatek, ‘ill behaved, graceless’ (tz’ik) or ‘clumsy like a cloven hoof’ (tz’itz’), and in K’iche’, moxq’ab, ‘crazy hand’.”56 In a spatial relation system that uses the right/left hand designation for the terms we call south and north, it is not surprising at all that the Nephites used a word for ‘left hand/north’ that would have a pejorative association. That was mirrored by the favorable association of ‘right hand/south.’ That the land northward was also associated with a “dead” Jaredite culture simply vindicated the pejorative association. This gives us a very simple explanation for why the land northward is Desolation and land southward is Bountiful. The labels replicate the cultural perception of the spatial relationships based upon one facing the rising sun (and indicate that the Nephite preference was to associate left/north similar to the Mayan languages of Yukatek,57 Chontal, and Cholti).
The combination of the Mesoamerican center and the perception of the quadrants as wedges emanating for that center explain how the Book of Mormon “north” might include a region that our cultural predisposition for cardinal directions would not recognize. Combined with the shifting center points from which directions or spatial relationships may be discussed, we have a culturally appropriate understanding the underlying plate text directions that yielded the English translations of north, south, east, and west. In addition to explaining the spatial terms, it also provides a cultural underpinning for why the land northward was Desolation and the land southward Bountiful. Sorenson’s geographic correlation not only remains the best supported, but what has been a directional conundrum actually provides further indication that the plate text was written in a region steeped in the Mesoamerican understanding of spatial orientation.
- John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985). [↩]
- John L. and Janet F. Hilton, “A Correlation of the Sidon River and the Lands of Manti and Zarahemla with the Southern End of Rio Grijalva (San Miguel),” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 1/1 (1992): 142–62, and Lawrence. L. Poulsen, “The River Sidon,” http://www.poulsenll.org/bom/grijalvasidon.html, have increased the detail of the suggested correlation between the Sidon and the Grijalva River. I have used Sorenson’s geographic and general cultural connections as the underlying model for explaining the correspondence of the actions in the Book of Mormon with Mesoamerican culture and history. See Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2007–08). [↩]
Deanne G. Matheny, “Does the Shoe Fit? A Critique of the Limited Tehuantepec Geography,” in New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, ed. Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), 277. Perhaps the most important criticism of Sorenson’s model has been the variance from cardinal directions. Doug Christensen, post to Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum Group, Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/groups/bmaf.org/permalink/10151035621679242/:
Despite the differences, there is almost unanimous agreement among scholars that Sorensen’s so called “Nephite North” which is required in order to make his model work, unnecessarily muddies the picture. . . .Joseph and Blake Allen recently responded to an inquiry about the Sorenson model. Their answer is typical of the current thinking of most LDS scholars: “We don’t feel that there is any strength to the idea of a rotated map. Sorenson pursued the hourglass concept and then superimposed it on a Mesoamerican map, thereby proposing a shift in Nephite directions from the standard cardinal directions, rotating the map and calling the result by the name of “Nephite north.” This theory has received an abundant amount of negative criticism, as there is no evidence from either the Book of Mormon or Maya culture that hints at a directional shift. The cultural data have been sufficiently impressive that other LDS authors have attempted to retain the basic culture area, but find a way to correlate the geography with the cardinal directions rather than Sorenson’s necessary shift of the Nephite cultural north. See Dee Stoddard, “‘From the East to the West Sea’ An Analysis of John L. Sorenson’s Book of Mormon Directional Statements,” 2009, at http://www.bmaf.org/node/251. [↩]
- John L. Sorenson, “Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe!,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, 6/1 (1994): 305 notes: “This supposed ‘standard scheme’ [cardinal directions] is actually a mental artifact of Western European culture developed largely since the rise of the compass and of science not many centuries ago.” Sorenson’s defense of his understanding of directions is based on appropriate anthropology. The refinement suggested here is the result of a more specific application of the Mesoamerican data. However, an important point of difference is that Sorenson believes that: “Aside from whatever these translated words for directions denoted in relation to the natural world, their use in the language of the Nephites does not seem to show that they paid prime attention to the sun’s rising or setting.” (p. 308) I will examine the evidence that the Nephite terms are based on a prime attention to the path of the sun. [↩]
- David Freidel, Linda Schele and Joy Parker, Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993), 128–29. [↩]
- Mary Miller and Karl Taube, An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya (London: Thames and Hudson, 1993, paperback 1997), 30. [↩]
- Susan Milbrath, Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999), 17, 19. [↩]
- Prudence M. Rice, Maya Political Science. Time, Astronomy, and the Cosmos (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004), 20. [↩]
- “Codex Mendoza” in Antigüedades de México (Mexico: Secretaria de Hacienda y Crédito Público, 1964), 1:7. This initial page shows Tenochtitlan centered in the cosmos. “Codex Fejervary-Mayer,” in Antigüedades de México (Mexico: Secretaria de Hacienda y Crédito Público, 1964), 4:189. This codex opens with a depiction of a deity at the center of the cosmos, depicting not only the center and the quadripartite directions, but also the world trees anchoring the corners of the cosmos. [↩]
- Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (New York: Viking, 2007), 141–42. [↩]
- Nicholas A. Hopkins and J. Kathryn Josserand, “Directions and Partitions in Maya World View,” Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. 2011, http://www.famsi.org/research/hopkins/DirectionalPartitions.pdf, 13. This paper is an expansion of a paper presented March 24, 2001 in the symposium “Four Corners of the Maya World,” 19th Maya Weekend, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. The current publication is posthumous for Dr. Josserand. In it, they explain, “Some languages form the words for ‘north’ and ‘south’ on the basis of local geographical conditions.” (p. 13)They do not collect the Tzeltal terms for north and south. They do collect a ‘down-slope’ meaning for ‘north’ and ‘right-handed’ for Nahuatl, see p. 14. [↩]
- David Stuart, “Glyphs for ‘Right’ and ‘Left’?” January, 2002, 4, available online at http://www.mesoweb.com/stuart/notes/RightLeft.pdf. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 9–11. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 13. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 15–16. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 14, periods as they appear in the original. This is prefeaced with the explaination “The Tojolabal entries are clearly not lexical; the compiler of the dictionary, Carlos Lenkersdorf, is concerned with explaining to Tojolabal speakers the meaning of terms in Spanish (and vice versa) rather than simply listing lexical items.” (p. 13–14). [↩]
- William J. Hamblin, “Directions in Hebrew, Egyptian, and Nephite Language,” in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, ed. John W. Welch (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1992), 183. [↩]
- Francisco Estrada-Belli, The First Maya Civilization: Ritual and Power Before the Classic Period (London and New York: Routledge, 2011), 67. [↩]
- Susan Toby Evans, Ancient Mexico and Central America: Archaeology and Culture History (London and New York: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2004), 237. However, Estrada-Belli, The First Maya Civilization, 67 notes: “The most common orientation of the Triadic Groups is west-facing, although other cardinal orientations are not uncommon, especially at sites where several Triadic Groups are present.” Estrada-Belli also suggests : “While in the sample of Lowland E-Groups analyzed . . . the equinoctial and solsticial target points were generally found not to be the norm, the targeted positions did mark specific 20–day intervals (or multiples of) in relation to the sun’s passage to the zenith, thus underscoring the paramount importance of this solar phenomenon in providing meaningful time-markers in the calendar.” (p. 78 [↩]
- Brigham H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1909), 2:116, brackets mine. [↩]
- Royal Skousen, “Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript,” in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, edited by Noel B. Reynolds (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1997),64–65. A revised version is Royal Skousen, “How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 24. Skousen’s understanding is best represented by his definition of “tight control” in these documents: “Joseph Smith saw specific words written out in English and read them off to the scribe—the accuracy of the resulting text depending on the carefulness of Joseph and his scribe.” [↩]
- Brant A. Gardner, The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2011), 183–95, 227–47. [↩]
Stoddard, “‘From the East to the West Sea’ An Analysis of John L. Sorenson’s Book of Mormon Directional Statements,” is adamant that Book of Mormon directions conform to something similar to our western cardinal directions:
- The directional system of the Nephites has six Nephite cardinal directions: north, northward, south, southward, east, and west.
- “Northward” reflects the general direction of northwest rather than northeast. “Northward” could be either a northwest or a northeast direction by its very nature, but northwest is the correct orientation from an Isthmus of Tehuantepec perspective. Or, as Noah Webster in his 1828 dictionary says about “northward” as an adjective, as in land northward: “Being towards the north, or nearer to the north than to the east and west points.”
- “Southward” reflects the general direction of southeast rather than southwest. “Southward” could be either a southeast or a southwest direction by its very nature, but southeast is the correct orientation from an Isthmus of Tehuantepec perspective. Interestingly, Noah Webster does not show an adjectival definition for “southward” in his 1828 dictionary.
- North, south, east, and west are the directions that readers of the twenty-first century are accustomed to based on compass bearings. When these cardinal directions are viewed from the perspective of a horizontally positioned hourglass that is placed over a map of Mesoamerica, they coincide with the same four cardinal directions employed by Book of Mormon readers of the twenty-first century.
The certainty of these declarations comes from dual assumptions. The first is that the translation must necessarily represent the precise plate meaning that is found in the English words. The second is that the application of modern meaning may therefore accurately interpret textual information. Neither of these propositions can be supported by the data that I have reviewed.
Stoddard’s ideas are influenced by Joseph Lovell Allen and Blake Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed. (Orem, UT: Book of Mormon Tours and Research Institute, 2008), 360–61. [↩]
- Alma 22:27, 29, 32, 33; 50:8; 3 Nephi 20:13. Instances compiled using an electronic search for the terms ‘east’ and ‘west’ and compiling only those with this particular configuration. [↩]
- Another possible counter-indication is 3 Nephi 20:13: “ And then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them.” This verse combines the correct order of east to west with “the face of the earth.” However, this is not a “from the east to the west.” There is a difference in the phrase, and I am suggesting that it is the presence of the from-to construction that is important. [↩]
- The phrase “on the east and on the west” occurs in Mosiah 27:6, but this is also in the context of the “face of the earth.” When it occurs in 22:27, it is a description of “all the regions round about.” Helalman 1:31 uses “on the east, nor on the west” as part of a description of Lamanites who were surrounded. The only context that is not clearly related to “all” or being surrounded, is Alma 50:34: “And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east.” [↩]
- Alma 22:29, 33; 46:17; 3 Nephi 6:2. [↩]
The Book of Mormon can also use on the east or on the west as terms of spatial orientation rather than direction:
Therefore when Zerahemnah saw the men of Lehi on the east of the river Sidon, and the armies of Moroni on the west of the river Sidon, that they were encircled about by the Nephites, they were struck with terror. (Alma 43:53).
And now, behold, the Lamanites could not retreat either way, neither on the north, nor on the south, nor on the east, nor on the west, for they were surrounded on every hand by the Nephites. (Helaman 1:31
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 13–14. [↩]
- This is the only verse indicating the four quarters. However, a phrase indicating that something is “in” a quarter occurs more frequently. See Alma 43:26: 52:10; 56:1; 58:30; 58:35; Ether 2:5; 14:15. [↩]
- Genesis 19:4; Numbers 34:3; Joshua 15:5; 18:14–15; Isaiah 47:15; 56:11; Mark 1:45. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 16: “This concept of quadrants survives even where the directional terms have been lost. In Tenejapa Tzeltal, directional orientation has shifted to ta alan, ‘downhill’ (north) versus ta ajk’ol ‘uphill’ (south). However, these are conceived of as quadrants, separated and opposed to the other quadrants (east and west), both called ta jejch ‘transverse’, ‘to the side’.” [↩]
- Northward, eastward, and southward are all used as directions of travel. There is no occurrence of travel westward, but there is no reason to assume that it wasn’t a possible lexical item. As directions of travel: northward—Alma 52:23; 56:36; 63:6; southward—Alma 17:1; Ether 15:10: eastward—1 Nephi 17:1; Ether 9:3; 14:26. [↩]
- Lawrence L. Poulsen, “The War with the Amlicites,” Book of Mormon Geography http://www.poulsenll.org/bom/amlicites.html, accessed April 2011. [↩]
- Alan Jones, a friend recently returned from a mission in the Philippines described a problem encountered when attempting to explain maps to a Filipino. They had no concept of what it meant and it had to be explained to them that they were seeing as if they were a bird flying above the land. The very concept of our maps was foreign to them. [↩]
- Some of this information is presented in Lawrence L. Poulsen, “Book of Mormon Geography,” paper presented August 2008 at the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research Conference. http://www.fairlds.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2008–Larry-Poulsen.pdf, 9. [↩]
- Many of the concepts presented in this section were worked out in conversation with Lawrence Poulsen, for whose counsel I am grateful. [↩]
- V. Garth Norman, Book of Mormon Geography—Mesoamerican Historic Geography, third edition (ARCON/Ancient America Foundation, 2008). A graphic of the map is available online at: V. Garth Norman, “The Definitive Mesoamerican Book of Mormon Lands Map.” http://www.ancientamerica.org/library/media/HTML/7hvlmli5/book%20of%20mormon%20map.htm, accessed November 16, 2012. Interestingly, Norman has the sea north and the sea east as the Gulf of Mexico. See also E. L. Peay, The Lands of Zarahemla: Nephi’s Land of Promise, 2 vols. (Provo, UT: Cedar Fort, 1994), 2:24, has a sea west, east, and south, but no listing for a sea north. [↩]
- John E. Clark, “Revisiting ‘A Key for evaluating Nephite Geographies,’” Mormon Studies Review 23/1 (2011): 41 [13–43]. [↩]
- Frauke Sachse and Allen J. Christenson, “Tulan and the Other Side of the Sea: Unraveling a Metaphorical Concept from Colonial Guatemalan Highland Sources,” Mesoweb Publications, http://www.mesoweb.com/articles/tulan/Tulan.pdf, 1–2. [↩]
- Sachse and Christenson, “Tulan and the Other Side,”, 25–26. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 7–8. The * at the beginning of the word indicates that it is a reconstruction of an early form and is not actually found in that form in the later data. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 8. [↩]
- Sachse and Christenson, “Tulan and the Other Side,” 2. [↩]
- The verse used to establish this correlation is Alma 22:27, which provides a description of the lands, but from the center point of a Lamanite king in the land of Nephi. Some of those making this correlation based on that passage are: Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon (Orem, UT: S.A. Publishers, 1989), 195; Allen and Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, 393; Norman, Book of Mormon Geography—Mesoamerican Historic Geography Lawrence L. Poulsen, “Lawrence Poulsen’s Book of Mormon Geography,” http://www.poulsenll.org/bom/index.html. While the verse is found in the book of Alma where the action focuses on Zarahemla as the center of Nephite culture, Alma 22:27 is given as part of the missionary journey to the land of Nephi and describes geography from that vantage point. See also Stephen L. Carr, “A Summary of Several Theories of Book of Mormon Lands in Mesoamerica,” http://www.bmaf.org/node/108. Four of the five maps place the sea east off the coast of Belize. [↩]
Nephi as the center: Alma 22:27
Bountiful as the center: Alma 22:32–33; 27:22; 50:34; 52:13; Helaman 4:6–7.
There are two other references I am not listing because the east sea occurs in a context that reads better as a metaphor for ‘the whole world’: Helaman 3:8; 11:20. [↩]
Land northward: Omni 1:22, Alma 22:30–33, 46:22; 50:11, 29, 31, 33–34; 51:30; 52:2, 9; 63:4–5, 7, 9–10; Helaman 3:3, 9–11; 6:6; 7:1–2, 11:20; 3 Nephi 3:24; 4:23; 6:2; 8:12; Mormon 2:29.
Land southward: Alma 22:31,32; Helaman 3:8; 4:8; 5:16; 3 Nephi 3:24; 6:2; 8:11; Mormon 1:6; 2:29; 3:5; 8:2; Ether 9:31–32; 10:19, 21.
Another verse may represent the metaphorical ‘whole world.’ “And thus it did come to pass that the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to build up their waste places, and began to multiply and spread, even until they did cover the whole face of the land, both on the northward and on the southward, from the sea west to the sea east.” (Hel. 11:20). In this case, northward and southward are locations, even though not stated as lands. I hypothesize that this constitutes a generic reference rather than a directional one. [↩]
- Northward motion: Alma 63:6; Mormon 2:20, Ether 1:42 (in the Old World). Southward motion: Alma 17:1; Ether 15:10. [↩]
- Eastward motion: 1 Nephi 17:1; Ether 9:3, 14:26. [↩]
John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting, 41–42, notes the occurrences of northward/southward, but always considers them as indicators of directions rather than as labels as I am suggesting:
A semantic point from the Book of Mormon is important. The Book of Mormon usually refers to the “land northward” and “land southward,” rarely to the “land north” or “land south.” (The latter terms occur only seven times; -ward terms appear 47 times.) The suffix ward, of course, signifies “tending or leading toward.” Gage correctly thought of Guatemala as “southward” from Mexico City, even though technically it was more nearly east. Similarly, if you board a plane in Los Angeles for Caracas, Venezuela, do you not mentally consider your direction southward? After all, your destination is South America; but actually you’ll end up traveling more east than south. Still, southward is correct.
Sorenson appears to want to use –ward as a specific direction rather than as an indicator of direction of travel, or as a name. [↩]
- Rice, Maya Political Science, 20. [↩]
- Stuart, “Glyphs for ‘Right’ and ‘Left’?”, 2. [↩]
- Hopkins and Josserand, “Directions and Partitions,” 14. [↩]
- Stephen Houston, David Stuart, and Karl Taube, The Memory of Bones. Body, Being, and Experience among the Classic Maya (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006), 29. [↩]
- Houston et al., Memory of Bones, 30. [↩]
- Yukatek is the more modern spelling and Yucatec the more traditional. Both terms appear depending upon the preference of the author. I have left the spelling as in the original citations. [↩]
- Sorenson, “Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe!,” 305: “The concept ‘Nephite north’ is not mine, consequently it is not appropriate on a map representing my views.” [↩]