Monday, September 15, 2014

OED on Necks of Land

Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language appeared just two years before the Book of Mormon. In the early 1980's as FARMS was beginning its contribution to Mormon scholarship, we were excited to see what we could learn about the meanings of Book of Mormon words and phrases from Webster's classic tome. Thirty years later we now know the earliest English version of the Nephite text has a much closer affinity with the older language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. See the blog article "Early Modern English." The indispensable dictionary for exegesis of Mormon's and Moroni's abridgments can only be the incomparable Oxford English Dictionary commonly called the OED. Textual scholars such as Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack use the OED extensively.

We used the OED to articulate the meanings of the terms "tongue of land," "strip of land," and "isthmus" in the blog article "Romance Languages." We will now plumb the depths of the OED to shed more light on the key Nephite phrases:
  • small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward Alma 22:32.
  • narrow neck which led into the land northward Alma 63:5.
  • by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land Ether 10:20.
Necks of Water
We first note that a "neck" can also refer to a marine feature. Straits, sounds and inlets are sometimes called "necks of water," particularly if they are quite narrow. So the Book of Mormon usage "neck of land" is not redundant given its coastal nature.

Small Necks of Land
The obsolete word "halover" is a variant of "haul over" meaning portage where seafarers had to carry their boats from the ocean over a spit of land before they could launch them again in an inland waterway. Haulover Beach in North Miami, Florida is one place where this word persists. Beginning in 1697 (the Early Modern English era) an English privateer (pirate) and adventurer began publishing memoirs of his voyages and discoveries around the world. Because he was a keen observer and facile wordsmith, William Dampier's writings became very popular. Dampier describes a trip he took in 1676 along the coast of Tabasco. This image is from Captain William Dampier edited by John Masefield, Dampier's Voyages (London: E. Grant Richards, 1906) Vol. 2, pp. 214-5 displayed in Google Books.
Captain William Dampier Voyages (1676)
Dampier's Halover is a coastal sandbar running between the Gulf of Campeche and Laguna Santana aka Laguna Machona and Laguna Redonda. This sandbar is what Dampier called a "small Neck of Land." It is .27 km wide at the point indicated.
Dampier's Small Neck of Land, Tabasco
On modern maps the sandbar is called Barra del Panteon with Barra Tupilco to the east and Barra de Santa Ana to the west. The sense of "haul over" persists on the map above in the Spanish word "arrastradero" which means "portage."

We propose Barra San Marcos on the Pacific coast of Chiapas as the narrow (small) neck of land in the Book of Mormon. It is also a coastal sandbar fronting a series of saltwater lagoons. Barra del Panteon and Barra San Marcos are nearly identical geographic features 270 air kilometers distant from each other in southern Mexico. One was described in Early Modern English as "a small neck of land." Another may be the feature described in an Early Modern English text (the Book of Mormon) as "a small neck of land."

Another Early Modern English usage of the term "small neck of land" comes from the ancient city of Tyre in modern Lebanon. Tyre is on a tiny peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean.
Tyre, Lebanon on a Peninsula .5 km Wide
Anglican clergyman Thomas Fuller published an Early Modern English book entitled The historie of the holy warre (Cambridge: T. Buck, 1639) where he described Tyre "tacked to the continent with a small neck of land."

Between
"Betwixt" is archaic. The sense is "by twin" meaning a third entity (c) in close relationship with two other entities (a & b) where a & b share significant commonalities. So, for instance, in geographic usage a river or plain may lie between two cities. A fence or wall may lie between two farmer's fields. A mountain ridge may lie between two valleys. The word often conveys either a line of movement or communication between a & b, or an obstacle dividing a from b. In Early Modern English, c was adjunct to both a & b, not integral with either of them.

Alma 22:32 and 3 Nephi 3:23 describe the actual border between the land northward (Desolation) and the land southward (Bountiful) as a line. The narrow (small) neck of land was not this line. It was a coastal feature along the west sea in the vicinity of this line. Our correlation of the narrow (small) neck of land with a coastal sandbar fits this scenario nicely. The neck was not the  land northward nor was it the land southward. It was separate from both these lands, but in line with them and a conduit of movement and communication between them.

Narrow
Something is narrow when its breadth or width is small compared with its length. A long lane or street with houses or fields on either side is narrow. Egyptian settlement along the banks of the Nile is narrow. The northern arms of the Red Sea on either side of the Sinai Peninsula are narrow.
Narrow Egyptian Settlement along the Nile, Narrow Arms of the Red Sea
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec as defined by geographers is not narrow. Its width exceeds its length.
Isthmus of Tehuantepec 211 km Long X 216 km Wide
The narrow neck of land as envisioned by John L. Sorenson, V. Garth Norman and many others is not narrow. Its width greatly exceeds its length. In the representation below, the width is 6.75 times greater than the length, the exact opposite of the OED definition of "narrow."
Proposed Narrow Neck of Land 32 km long X 216 km wide
Our proposed narrow neck of land, on the other hand, precisely conforms to the OED definition of "narrow"
Barra San Marcos 52 km Long X 2 km Wide





Romance Languages

It is instructive to see how LDS translators have handled the "neck" passages (Alma 22:32, Alma 63:5 and Ether 10:20) in the Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian versions of the Book of Mormon.
Portuguese Book of Mormon
Spanish
Alma 22:32     pequeña lengua de tierra     (small tongue of land)
Alma 63:5       estrecha lengua de tierra     (narrow tongue of land)
Ether 10:20     estrecha lengua de tierra     (narrow tongue of land)

Portuguese
Alma 22:32     pequena faixa de terra         (small strip of land)
Alma 63:5       estreita faixa de terra           (narrow strip of land)
Ether 10:20     faixa estreita de terra           (narrow strip of land)

French
Alma 22:32     étroite bande de terre           (narrow strip of land)
Alma 63:5       langue étroite                       (narrow tongue)
Ether 10:20     langue étroite de terre          (narrow tongue of land)

Italian
Alma 22:32      stretta lingua di terra           (narrow tongue of land)
Alma 63:5        stretto istmo                         (narrow isthmus)
Ether 10:20      stretta striscia di terra          (narrow strip of land)

"Tongue of land" appears 6 times in this list, "strip of land" 5 times and "isthmus" once.

A "tongue" of land in any language generally means a peninsula projecting out from the mainland, although it is applied occasionally to an isthmus connecting two much larger land masses. The Oxford English Dictionary (online edition) defines the 13a sense of meaning for the word "tongue" as "a narrow strip of land, running out into the sea, or between two branches of a river, or two other lands." The OED entries for the word "strip" imply something long and narrow of uniform breadth. The 1b sense of meaning for the word "strip" is "a long narrow tract of territory, of land, wood, etc.) The OED also includes the curious and now rare English word "lingula" derived from classical Latin whose 3rd sense of meaning is "a small promontory, projection or tongue of land or rock."The OED entry for "isthmus" deriving from Greek through Latin is "a narrow portion of land, enclosed on each side by water, and connecting two larger bodies of land; a neck of land. Other terminology referenced in the OED include "narrow portions of land," "narrow slip of land," and "narrow passage of land."

The point of all this lexical gyration is that the romance language translators of the Book of Mormon tend toward a peninsular rather than an isthmian interpretation of the English term "narrow neck of land." This agrees precisely with the results we obtained by analyzing 115 necks of land known throughout the English-speaking world. See the blog article "Necks of Land." Our proposed Book of Mormon narrow neck of land, the long and slender Barra San Marcos along the Pacific coast of Chiapas, fits comfortably within this range of meaning.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Necks of Land

Now that we know the Lord's language target for the Book of Mormon (see the blog article "Early Modern English") was the Tudor period into the Stuart period (1500's and 1600's), we are prepared to investigate one of the most contentious phrases in the text, the "small neck of land" Alma 22:32 aka "narrow neck" Alma 63:5 aka "narrow neck of land" Ether 10:20. What would English speakers in the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline eras have considered a "neck" of land? How large would a neck of land have been? Would a neck have been surrounded by fresh water, estuarial water, salt water, some combination of waters or no water at all?

Fortunately, we have a great deal of data to work with that will help us answer these questions. During the Tudor and Stuart periods, waves of English colonists founded settlements from Nova Scotia to Georgia and beyond. They originated thousands of place names including hundreds of "necks" of land whose names still appear on modern maps. We will use Google Earth to analyze a statistically significant (though far from exhaustive) sample of 115 necks of land named by English settlers. Our conclusions will help us determine what kind of geographic feature we should be looking for when we try to locate Mormon's and Moroni's "narrow neck" on the modern map.

This article expands and extends the previous series of blog articles "Isthmuses," "Narrow and Small Things," "Another Geographic Neck," "The Narrow (Small) Neck of Land," and "The Narrow Pass and Narrow Passage."

David R. Ransome published an article entitled "Village Tensions in Early Virginia: Sex, Land, and Status at the Neck of Land in the 1620s" in The Historical Journal Vol. 43, No. 2 (June, 2000), Cambridge University Press. That particular neck of land is a meander in the James River downstream from modern Richmond in contemporary Chesterfield County. The famous Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia (Peter Jefferson was Thomas' father) first published in 1751 calls it simply "Neck of Land."
Neck of Land south of the James River settled by the 1620's
The same 1751 map shows at least 2 other necks of land in Virginia. One is Henrico Neck in modern Henrico County.
Henrico Neck north of the James River
The other is Savith (modern Savage) Neck in modern Northampton County on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Savith Neck jutting into Chesapeake Bay
These are the 115 necks of land in our study:

Name Location Type Width (km)
Arbuckle Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 1.80
Bailey Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 0.70
Baylys Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.34
Bell Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.63
Big Neck Brunswick County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 15.74
Boone Neck Brunswick County, NC 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.60
Boston Neck Suffolk County, MA 1 fresh 2 estuary 1.97
Boston Neck Washington County, RI 1 fresh 2 salt 1.40
Bradford Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 0.98
Brickhouse Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.26
Broad Neck (earliest) Anne Arundel County, MD 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.10
Broad Neck Peninsula Anne Arundel County, MD 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 5.93
Broad Neck Lancaster & Northumberland Counties, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 15.94
Broadway Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.64
Broro Neck McIntosh County, GA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.53
Bush Neck Jame City County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 0.37
Cherry Point Neck Northumberland County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.67
Church Neck Northampton County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 0.80
Coles Neck Westmoreland County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 1.98
Copiague Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 0.99
Cove Neck Nassau County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 1.27
Crabtree Neck Hancock County, ME 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 2.24
Craddock Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 2.40
Crane Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 0.78
Curles Neck Henrico County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 2.30
Custis Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.72
Eagle Neck McIntosh County, GA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.41
Eaglehawk Neck Tasmania, Australia 1 salt 2 salt 0.11
East Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 3.00
Eastern Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt  0.18
Eatons Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 1.64
Elk Neck Cecil County, MD 1 salt 2 salt 7.83
Elliotts Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 1.89
Eyrehall Neck Northampton County, VA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.89
Eyreville Neck Northampton County, VA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.92
Finneys Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.67
Glebe Neck Middlesex County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 0.30
Gravel Neck Surry County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 2.77
Great East Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.05
Great Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.22
Great Neck Bristol County, MA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 1.08
Great Neck Essex County, MA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 0.75
Great Neck Nassau County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3.13
Great Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 0.39
Great Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.37
Hacks Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 3.41
Harris Neck McIntosh County, GA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.75
Hog Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.72
Holt Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.41
Horton Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 1.07
Houghs Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.31
Indian Neck Barnstable County, MA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.40
Indiantown Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary  1.96
Johns Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 salt 3 salt 2.76
Jones Neck Chesterfield County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 0.94
Joynes Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.59
Knotts Neck Suffolk, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.23
Little East Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt 0.59
Little Neck Essex County, MA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary  0.31
Little Neck Queens County, NY 1 fresh 2 salt 0.73
Little Neck Suffolk County (north), NY 1 salt 2 salt 0.52
Little Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 0.76
Lloyd Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt  2.36
Long Neck Sussex County, DE 1 estuary 2 estuary  2.10
Lower Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt  0.18
Machodoc Neck Westmoreland County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 1.63
Marlborough Neck Stafford County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 1.48
Mathias Point Neck King George County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 2.47
Middle Neck between Rappahannock & York Rivers, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 19.75
Mill Neck Nassau County, NY 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.36
Milners Neck Suffolk, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 1.64
Mondays Neck Northumberland County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.48
Narrow Neck (earliest) Aukland, New Zealand 1 estuary 2 salt 0.11
Narrow Neck Aukland, New Zealand 1 estuary 2 salt 1.02
Narrow Neck New South Wales, Australia knifepoint mountain ridge 0.85
Narrowneck Queensland, Australia 1 fresh 2 salt 0.09
Newport Neck Worcester County, MD 1 estuary 2 estuary  1.18
Northern Neck between Potomac & Rappahannock Rivers, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 12.01
Occohannock Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 2.90
Old Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.46
Old Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.50
Old Town Neck Northampton County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 1.29
Parker Neck Accomack County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 2.06
Pecatone Neck Westmoreland County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.17
Pine Pole Neck Pender County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 5.51
Porters Neck New Hanover County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 2.55
Quaker Neck Suffolk, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 1.61
Salem Neck Essex County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt` 0.48
Sampawams Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 0.73
Santapogue Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt 0.81
Saquish Neck Plymouth County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 0.13
Savage Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 salt 1.30
Scarborough Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.41
Sconticut Neck Bristol County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 0.33
Scotland Neck Halifax County, NC 1 fresh 2 fresh 8.29
Scotland Neck Surry County, VA 1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt 1.66
Sluitkill Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 2.07
Smith Neck Bristol County, MA 1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 2.92
Smith Neck Isle of Wight County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 0.72
Stodders Neck Plymouth County, MA 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 0.15
Stove Point Neck Middlesex County, VA 1 salt 2 salt 0.19
Strongs Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 0.35
Timber Neck Middlesex County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 1.01
Timber Neck Surry County, VA 1 fresh 2 fresh 0.59
Upper Neck Norfolk County, MA 1 salt 2 salt 0.24
Upshur Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary  0.85
Virginia aka Southern Neck between York & James Rivers, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 8.31
Walnut Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 0.53
Wellington Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 0.97
West Neck Suffolk County (north), NY 1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 2.35
West Neck Suffolk County, NY 1 salt 2 salt 1.16
Weyanoke Neck Charles City County, NY 1 fresh 2 fresh 2.89
Whites Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 1.57
Wilson Neck Northampton County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 2.41
Yeo Neck Accomack County, VA 1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary  1.19
Mean Width 2.00
Median Width 1.18
Minimum Width 0.09
Maximum Width 19.75
Fresh count 80
Estuary count 103
Salt count 109

During the colonial era, English speakers used the word "neck" to identify small to medium-sized peninsulas or land bridges surrounded by any combination of rivers, inlets, tidal basins, bays, sounds or oceans. Some necks in our sample (41/115) have 2 sides terminating in a point such as Crane Neck on Long Island.
Crane Neck, Suffolk County, New York
We classify Crane Neck as type 1 salt 2 salt meaning it has 2 sides, both exposed to salt water. The yellow line on the map above shows the point at which we took our width measurement, .78 km.

Other necks (74/115) have 3 sides such as Gravel Neck jutting into Chesapeake Bay.
Gravel Neck, Surry County, Virginia
We classify Gravel Neck as type 1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt meaning it has 3 sides with the first bounding an estuary and the other two exposed to salt water. Gravel neck is 2.77 km wide at the point indicated.

Most necks in our sample (113/115) are peninsular land forms protruding from a larger land mass such as Eastern Neck near Weymouth, Massachusetts which has Lower Neck protruding from it and Upper Neck protruding from Lower  Neck.
Eastern Neck, Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Two necks in our sample are isthmian land forms bridging two much larger land masses. One of those is Eaglehawk Neck in extreme southern Australia. Eaglehawk Neck, .11 km wide, is the second narrowest neck in our sample.
Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania
The other is Narrowneck Beach on Australia's famed Gold Coast near Brisbane. Narrowneck Beach is a .09 km wide tongue of land between the Pacific Ocean to the east and a small branch of the Nerang River to the west. Narrowneck Beach is the narrowest neck in our sample.
Narrowneck, Queensland
Both examples of isthmian necks are from Australia whose English settlement began in 1788 when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay (modern Sydney) and founded a penal colony.

One of our sample necks is not surrounded by water. Narrow neck near Katoomba, Australia is a cliff-lined sandstone peninsula less than 1 km wide separating Jamison Valley on the east from Magalong Valley on the west.
Narrow Neck, New South Wales shown with 3X vertical exaggeration
The other 114 necks of land in our sample are surrounded by some combination of fresh, estuarial and salt water. We have classified 16 different combinations:

Neck Type Count
1 fresh 2 fresh 9
1 fresh 2 fresh 3 fresh 4
1 fresh 2 estuary 3
1 fresh 2 fresh 3 estuary 8
1 fresh 2 estuary 3 estuary 3
1 fresh 2 salt 3
1 fresh 2 fresh 3 salt 13
1 fresh 2 estuary 3 salt  3
1 fresh 2 salt 3 salt 1
1 estuary 2 estuary 10
1 estuary 2 estuary 3 estuary 9
1 estuary 2 salt 5
1 estuary 2 estuary 3 salt 13
1 estuary 2 salt 3 salt 5
1 salt 2 salt 12
1 salt 2 salt 3 salt 13
Total 114

It is obvious from these counts that our sample tends strongly toward estuarial and salt waters.

Nine of the necks of land in our study carry diminutive names (the words "little" or "narrow") implying small size. As we would expect, the mean width of these nine is significantly smaller (.55 km) than the mean width of the entire sample set (2.0 km).

Thirteen of the necks of land in our study carry augmentative names (the words "big," "broad," "great," or "long) implying large size. As we would expect, the mean width of these thirteen is significantly larger (3.88 km) than the mean width of the entire sample set (2.0 km).

Of course we're interested in any neck of land that includes the word "narrow" in its name. Two examples from Australia are illustrated above. A third is from Devonport Peninsula on Aukland, New Zealand's north shore. Originally this peninsula had a very narrow (.11 km wide) causeway and beach separating its north and south components, with a large mangrove swamp to the west. This small strip of land was called "Narrow Neck. In the 1850's, the swamp was drained and a racetrack constructed. Today the reclaimed land is a golf course, Narrow Neck is an Aukland suburb with about 3,600 inhabitants and a popular urban beach.
Narrow Neck, Aukland. The width measures the causeway before
the swamp was drained and the land to the west reclaimed
Conclusions.
Based on our analysis of 115 geographic features English-speaking colonists called a "neck of land" we answer the three questions posed at the beginning of this article and posit three characteristics we will likely find in the Book of Mormon narrow (small) neck of land.
  1. It will be a peninsula rather than an isthmus. 113/115 of the examples in our study are peninsulas and only 2 are isthmuses.
  2. It will be on the order of 2.0 km wide. Our 115 examples average 2.0 km in width.
  3. It will front salt water and estuarial water. 101/115 examples in our study have an exposure to the sea or an estuary
Correlations.
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec fails 2 of our 3 criteria.
  1. It is an isthmus.
  2. It is 216 km wide.
  3. It fronts both the open ocean and estuaries.
Barra San Marcos near Tonala, Chiapas, our proposed narrow (small) neck of land, fits all 3 criteria beautifully.
Barra San Marcos, Tonala, Chiapas
  1. It is a peninsula.
  2. It is 2.0 km wide.
  3. The seaward side fronts the Pacific Ocean, while the landward side fronts an extensive network of estuarial lagoons.
Furthermore, a number of the necks of land in our study have physical characteristics quite similar  to Barra San Marcos. Examples include:
Bell Neck, Accomack County, Virginia
Bradford Neck, Accomack County, Virginia
Brickhouse Neck, Northampton County, Virginia
Great Neck, Accomack County, Virginia
Harris Neck, McIntosh County, Georgia
Holt Neck, Northampton County, Virginia
Saquish Neck, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Upshur Neck, Accomack County, Virginia 

Early Modern English

Scholars of English demarcate eras in the evolution of the language. The date ranges below reflect the fact that not all scholars agree on the precise beginning and ending points.
  • A.D. 450 was the beginning of Old English which continued until A.D. 1100 - 1170.
  • A.D. 1100 - 1170 was the beginning of Middle English which continued until A.D. 1300.
  • A.D. 1300 was the beginning of Late Middle English which continued until A.D. 1470 - 1500.
  • A.D. 1470 - 1500 was the beginning of Early Modern English which continued until A.D. 1670 - 1700. (Some even put the end of Early Modern English as late as A.D. 1800 e.g. The History of English.)
  • A.D. 1670 - 1700 was the beginning of Modern English aka Late Modern English which has become Earth's lingua franca.
Some milestones along the way:
  • Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales were written in Late Middle English about 1380.
  • The first book in English printed on a printing press appeared in Late Middle English in 1475 in Bruges (now Belgium). The first printing press on English soil began operation in 1476.
  • Between 1590 and 1613 William Shakespeare wrote the 37 plays in his canon in Early Modern English.
  • In 1611 the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible was published in Early Modern English.
  • In 1755 Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language helped standardize the Modern English we use today.
  • The first edition of the monumental Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1928 in ten bound volumes. The most cited work in the OED: various editions of the Bible. The most cited author: William Shakespeare. Shakespeare's most cited play: Hamlet
In 1994 Royal Skousen, Professor of Linguistics and English Language at BYU, published an article entitled "The Original Language of the Book of Mormon: Upstate New York Dialect, King James English, or Hebrew?" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3.1. Based on his meticulous research with the earliest manuscripts of the text, Skousen came to the startling conclusion that the original language of the first edition of the Book of Mormon was Early Modern English.

Four years later, Skousen published another important article entitled "How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7.1 (1998). Skousen argued the Prophet Joseph was not at liberty to articulate ideas in his own vernacular, but rather the translation process was under divine "tight control."

Between 2004 and 2009 Skousen published his important 6 volume Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. They were followed by the seminal The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), the version of the text we now commonly refer to as the "Yale edition." The Yale edition attempts to reconstruct the text as it fell from the lips of the Prophet during the moment of translation. As such, it has quickly become the de facto standard for scholarly analysis of the Book of Mormon.

Through close reading of the Yale Edition and the Oxford English Dictionary, linguist Stanford Carmack has now found significant new evidence supporting Skousen's theses:
  • The language spoken by the Prophet to his scribes during translation was in large degree Early Modern English.
  • The translation process was carefully controlled by a higher power.
Carmack, son of Emeritus General Authority John K. Carmack, received his bachelor's degree in linguistics from Stanford. He then got his J.D. from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature from UC Santa Barbara. He has worked professionally as a technical writer and editor.

His article is entitled "A Look at Some 'Nonstandard' Book of Mormon Grammar" in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture Vol. 11 (2014). Skousen came to his conclusions largely through a painstaking analysis of Book of Mormon vocabulary. Carmack's second witness comes from his study of grammar and syntax.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mormon Christianity

Stephen H. Webb was raised in the Stone-Campbell religious tradition (Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ). As an adult he briefly espoused Lutheranism and then converted to Roman Catholicism. For the last several years, he has been an avid student of Mormonism. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. A theologian and philosopher of religion, he taught at Wabash College for 25 years, retiring in 2012. His penultimate book, Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) has a chapter on Mormonism and Joseph Smith's teachings about divine corporeality and spirit as refined matter. His latest book, Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013) is an insightful look at some of the ways Mormonism extends and enriches traditional Christianity. His next book, co-authored with Alonzo L. Gaskill, is an attempt to begin serious Roman Catholic - Mormon dialogue. Gaskill, raised Greek Orthodox, converted to Mormonism as a young adult and is currently on the BYU religion faculty.

Webb has lectured at BYU on three previous occasions. His lecture today treated some of the themes in Mormon Christianity which for obvious reasons has been well-received in the LDS scholarly community. I found some of his thinking on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon quite stimulating. The words that follow are from my notes of Webb's lecture. Inline scriptural citations are my additions.
  • Joseph Smith as a theologian is both powerful and attractive.
  • Mormons breathe more of the air of Jesus Christ's original church than any other Christians.
  • Mormonism's open canon enhances the New Testament. It does not change the New Testament. Other branches of early Christianity (Gnosticism, Marcionism, Arianism) tried to change the New Testament. The creeds, particularly the Nicene creed, were responses to these heresies.
  • Mormonism's enhancements to the Christian canon are not like chocolate added to milk that changes the nature of the milk. They are like another topping added to a banana split that makes the already attractive dessert even more delicious.
  • Restoration movements in traditional Christianity have typically tried to strip away layers of tradition accumulated over centuries to get back to some idealized simplicity from a previous era. Joseph Smith's restoration is an addition, not a subtraction. The Book of Mormon says many plain and precious things were lost from original Christianity 1 Nephi 13:26-29 and need to be recovered.
  • "Translation" in other Christian traditions today means an attempt by scholars to get back to the the earliest, cleanest and simplest texts of important writings. "Translation" to Joseph Smith meant exegesis, inspired accretions and fuller explications. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, JST, removes very little and adds a great deal to the Biblical text. Joseph Smith's translation of the gold plates produced another testament that adds to both the Old and New Testaments in profound ways. Joseph's translations are not trying to change or simplify or de-mystify the Bible. They affirm and re-establish biblical authority.
  • The King James Version, KJV, is not the most accurate translation of the Bible currently available, but it is almost certainly the most inspired. The KJV translators did what Joseph Smith did - made an ancient text come alive with language their contemporaries found compelling.
  • The Book of Mormon is the last flowering of the King James brilliance.
  • Joseph Smith lived within the Bible more than any other person of his age. The Book of Mormon established his prophetic bona fides but Joseph's worldview was thoroughly biblical.
  • Yet, Joseph's Bible was not the same as the Lutheran, Wesleyan or Calvinist Bible. Joseph denied biblio solitude - the Bible in isolation. For Joseph, the Bible was singular but not alone, supreme but not barren. It was a living, breathing reality that could be made even more glorious through the restoration of ancient texts and ordinances. In an 1833 letter to his Uncle Silas, Joseph said the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient for Abraham and neither was the Bible sufficient for our day.
  • In Joseph's world, the word of God is eternal but translatable. A translator is a mediator reading between scriptural lines. Translation is extrapolation and affirmation.
  • Jews add targumim to the Torah. Catholics add tradition to the Bible. For Catholics, canon and creed work together in a seamless whole. The creeds are criteria. Creeds are extra-canonical scriptures meant to interpret the canon. A creed closes the canon and sets rules for how to read scripture. The Nicene creed expands the Bible.
  • The Book of Mormon far surpasses the Nicene creed in affirming the hermeneutics of the Bible.
  • In the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ is God the Creator Mosiah 3:8, Helaman 14:12. In the Nicene creed, God the Father is the Creator.
  • The Nicene creed omits the Old Testament narrative except for the single gloss on Genesis 1:1. The Book of Mormon fills in the gaps in the Old Testament. Who did Ezekiel see on His throne atop the dome of heaven? Ezekiel 1:26-28? Ezekiel saw Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon makes this wonderfully clear. Old Testament theophanies should be cristophanies. The Book of Mormon is unapologetically christological in Old Testament times. Critics have assailed this as an egregious flaw in the text stemming from Joseph's naivete. It is actually a major strength. The Book of Mormon re-enthrones Jesus Christ pre-incarnation.
  • Putting Jesus in Old Testament theophanies supported the Arian speculations, so the councils put a stop to that with the creeds.
  • The Book of Mormon is a magnificent hermeneutical key to the Bible just as Nephi prophesied it would be 1 Nephi 13:40.
  • For Mormons, the Book of Mormon is a rule of faith, a communal linguistic explication of their worldview.
  • For Protestant fundamentalists, the Bible is one flat book with a single fold - the Old Testament and the New Testament. Catholics see small folds on almost every page with mystical readings and allegories. The Catholic Bible is book-ended with the authority of the Church on one side and the Nicene Creed on the other. Mormons have so many folds in so many different dimensions their Bible is more like a piece of origami art than a flat book.
  • The Book of Mormon is more than a mere supplement to the Bible. It adds to the Bible without damaging it, but in ways that enhance and expand the original. After the Book of Mormon, the Bible is not the same as it was before. It is more profound, more cosmic, more glorious. The truth claims of the Bible are significantly strengthened with the addition of the Book of Mormon. These two books complement each other inside and outside. The Nephites, like Joseph Smith, lived in a world heavily influenced by the Bible.
  • Thought doubles reality because you now have external forces and internal consciousness. The Book of Mormon is like the Bible thinking about itself. The two are intertwined in a productive, virtuous cycle.
  • The five components of the Mormon canon (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants) form a complex piece of 3D art. It is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.
  • Is the Atonement limited by human agency? In the JST, Joseph added that the famous phrase of Jesus on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" Luke 23:34 applied to the Roman soldiers who ignorantly sinned but not necessarily to the Jewish leadership who ordered the crucifixion with malice aforethought. The Book of Mormon explicitly says Christ's Atonement applies to those who ignorantly sin Mosiah 3:11.
  • Webb had high praise for the BYU New Testament Commentary project. He called S. Kent Brown's commentary on the Gospel of Luke "brilliant." He finds the prospect of reading the New Testament in light of the expanded Mormon canon exciting.
  • The uniquely Mormon scriptures are hermeneutical keys to the Bible in living, productive, symbiotic relationships with their host.
  • Webb feels a personal calling to dialogue with Mormons. The conversations have blessed his life in many ways. Mormonism has made him a better Christian, particularly as it has helped him personally reconcile science and revealed religion.
  • The strongest part of the Book of Mormon is its account of Christ's visit to the Americas. This helps us better understand Jesus' history before the incarnation. His post-resurrection ministry is strengthened by His pre-mortal ministry and vice versa.
  • The Jesus of the Book of Mormon is a truly human, truly divine, robustly personal Savior. Jesus is the proclaimer, but He is also the good news. He is the cosmic Jesus.
  • The Savior's ministry in the Americas helps us understand his descent into hell and the appropriate relationship we should have with our dead.Catholic excesses regarding the dead (inherit your father's ill-gotten estate and then pay the Church to get Dad out of purgatory) led to a Protestant repudiation of the Biblical concept of filial piety Leviticus 19:3. Protestants with few exceptions pay scant attention to the Savior's descent into hell. For Joseph Smith, baptism for the dead was one of the most important parts of God's plan for humanity.
  • Orthodox Christian theology is closer to Mormon thought in many ways than Roman Catholicism is. With 300 million adherents, orthodoxy is the 2nd largest branch on the Christian tree. After a century of decline under the Nazis and then the Communists, orthodoxy is back in a big way. But, Orthodox Christians don't dialogue with anyone. Rooted in patristics and an unchanging liturgy, they view any form of compromise as heretical so the entire notion of ecumenical outreach is foreign to them.
  • Mormonism should re-think the apostasy. The Christian body has preserved many wonderful things from the dawn of the era and those things should be celebrated rather than vilified. Mormonism can and should enhance Christianity without denigrating it.
Stephen Webb's Latest Book from Oxford University Press
Parenthetically, the reason so many Mormon titles are being published by Oxford these days may be largely commercial. A typical title from an academic press will sell 1,000 copies. Titles in the Mormon genre will typically sell at least 3,000 copies.

Thanks to BYU Studies, John W. Welch, editor-in-chief, and The Wheatley Institution, Richard N. Williams, founding director, for bringing Stephen H. Webb to Provo.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Imaging Izapa

The 79th Annual Meeting of the SAA, Society for American Archaeology, was held April 23 - 27, 2014 in Austin, Texas. On Sunday, April 27th, one of the sessions was a symposium on digital archaeology. Garth Norman and Jason Jones presented a paper about their work photographing the monuments of Izapa with RTI reflectance transformation imaging. This advanced 3D imaging technique reveals surface information not visible to the naked eye and results in more accurate renderings of plaster, wood or stone carvings than was possible in an earlier era using line drawings and traditional 2D photography. Richard D. Hansen, Director of the Mirador Basin Project, was in attendance and responded favorably to the Norman/Jones presentation.

After SAA wrapped up, they were on the same plane to Guatemala City. Hansen went to his massive project site in the northern Peten, often called the cradle of Maya civilization. Norman and Jones went to Izapa and spent a week imaging more monuments, both in the Soconusco Archaeological Museum in Tapachula and on site. The data gathering phase of the Izapa imaging project, begun in 2010, is now substantially complete.

Jones posted a video (no audio) of some of the stela 5 imagery on YouTube. A video (with audio) of stela 4 imagery explains how RTI works and shows why the technique is so powerful for determining what the original artists actually carved despite weathering over the years that has degraded the surface of the stone.

A team from the Peabody Museum at Harvard is doing very similar work on a large scale with Maya monuments and inscriptions as part of their CMHI Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions archival project.

A team from LSU is using the technique coupled with 3D printing to build plastic replicas of wooden Maya artifacts that have been preserved for centuries in saltwater lagoons and peat bogs, but which deteriorate rapidly when exposed to air.

Interestingly, the LSU underwater Maya project is in Payne's Creek not far from Punta Gorda, Belize and very close to the submerged ruins in the Tiger Mound area we correlate with the drowned city of Moroni 3 Nephi 8:9.

Proposed City of Moroni just offshore Punta Gorda, Belize 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Happy 90th, John Sorenson

Today was not really John L. Sorenson's birthday. He turned 90 on April 8th, 2014. But, today was a large birthday celebration with family and friends. It was a delight to spend a few moments with one of the greatest minds in Mormondom, the dean of LDS Mesoamericanists and the man who has done more than any other to help us understand the relationship between Nephite scripture and ancient American civilizations.

John L. Sorenson during the First NWAF
Field Season, Tabasco,Mexico, 1953
Another Photo of John L. Sorenson during the First NWAF
Field Season near Huimanguillo, Tabasco, Mexico, 1953
John L. Sorenson Lecturing in La Venta Park, Villahermosa, Tabasco
on the First (and Only) FARMS Tour to Mesoamerica, 1984 
Jack Welch, John Sorenson & Kirk Magleby, 1980 - 1985 FARMS Officers,
at John L. Sorenson's 90th Birthday Celebration, May 2, 2014