The Reverse Parallel Simulation Model
prepared by Don R. Hender
In science when to reproduce the real thing to study is not possible a simulation model is made from which such logical conclusions may be made. Often the simulated model is some what reduced in size, but large enough to determine like or similar results as would, could and/or should be expected from the real thing. There is one such 'grand experiment' in Mormon History which, though it has a number of stated purposes, one such purpose is of 'proving the Nephite Book of Mormon history'. I suspect that this is a relatively 'new take' upon such purposes of Zion's Camp being currently considered, for I am not aware of any who has so presented this asspect of the Zion's camp purpose though stated as such by Joseph Smith himself in a letter to his wife Emma Smith. A particularly relevent quote from that 1834 letter follows as also quoted in the text entitled 'Book of Mormon Reference Companion':
"The whole of our journey . . . wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls and their bones, as proof of its divine authenticity . . . all serves to pass away time unnoticed" ~ Writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 324
Joseph Smith truely considered that Zion's camp was traveling across lands of the Nephites, that the burial mounds they found contained Nephite remains, and that such to him and those of Zion's Camp was proof of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. A party to this more generalized conclusion, a very particular sequence of events was also being re-enacted on a smaller scale and in reverse but parallel simulative model. Joseph may not have ever considered this particular aspect, but according to the traditional view of Nephite history, Mormon and the retreating nation of the Nephite people would have also marched upon this vary course. Their's would have been generally from west to east, while Zion's Camp and its various components was generally from east to west.
Mormon's ten year retreat from the Nephite lands in Central America to the traditional hill of Cumorah would have towards its end included a march from the drainage river valleys of the North American plains to the land of Cumorah of New York. The march of Zions Camp would have been from the 'Ohio eastern fringe of that land of Cumorah' to just such drainage river valleys in eastern and western Missouri. So from a scientific position Zion's March was a smaller simulation model of a portion of Mormon's proposed march, only in reverse, over the last nearly 900 miles of that 'reverse parallel' march. In early May, 1834 several independent bands left Kirtland, Ohio to gather and join or rondezvous with Joseph Smith at New Portage, not disimilar from Mormon having to send out word to gather to the surounding Nephites. Hyrum Smith would also be collecting another group to rondezvous further along the route to Independence, Missouri from Pontiac Michigan as shown by the inserted map. Of course Mormon's efforts to collect all surrounding remaining Nephite's to battle would have been on a grander scale, but this is just a 'scrientific scaled down model in reverse direction'. By May 24th Zion's Camp crossed the Wabash and entered into Illinois. By June 5/6 they were crossing the Mississippi River over to Missouri. That Zion's Camp was utilizing in place ferry boat service to do so is true, but there is nothing that would prohibit the Nephite inhabitants of these lands from having some such means of crossing such rivers already in place also. By June 19th Zion's Camp was in place near Fishing River where the Missourians attacked but were driven off by that violent hailstorm provided by the hand of God against them. Finally Zion's camp disbanded on June 25th, not having to fight any great last battle but the 'scaled down parallel reverse simulation' was complete showning that in less than two month's time an 'army' could be gathered to a rondezvous location to war over such a great distance of about a 1,000 miles. This Mormon could have down from the time of agreement with the Lamanite King to gather the Nephites to the final battle location of the land of Cumorah.
Thus as a part of that last march forward and toward the land of Cumorah, Mormon would have sent out messengers whose purpose was to gather in from the remaining Nephite land holdings all who would rally to the Nephite nation's defense at Cumorah against the invading Lamanites armies. Was such a task feasible and could it be accomplished within but a few month's portion of the last year of the Nephite's retreat to that final great battleground? On a lesser limited scale the Lord had commanded Joseph Smith to do approximately the same in a reverse parallel from east to west. Joseph Smith was to gather in an 'army' to the land of Missouri from the dispursed communities of the membership of the Church to the defense of the Lord's people to be fought at Missouri.
Mormon's gathering was to that one last great battle which would mark the end of the Nephite civilization. Joseph Smith's gathering, though it might have appeared to have been to just such a battle per the existence of Mormonism, was wrought by the Lord NOT to an engagement of extinction, but to a testing of the dedication of the Lord's priesthood. Mormon's army would fight against the Lamanites to their own end and final extinction. The saints of Zion's Camp would be protected by the hand of God at Fishing River to be preserved to be formed as a beginning to the foundational beginnings of the restoration of God's Israel.
Though not will published and taught, the march of Zions Camp was not just that chief division which marched with Joseph Smith. There was the Hyrum Smith division which began its recruitments in Michigan from which they would also march to unite with Joseph's main party. And there were also other little known such groups and recruitments as well from the community of the Lord's people. That such a march of a 900-1000 miles could occur and draw from the various communities of the saints within a limited space of time was so proven. In the space of a couple of months, May and June, was Joseph's main party able to journey the 900 miles from Portage, Ohio to near Independence Missouri. And the other recruited parties were also so timely collected.
Could Mormon have performed just such a task over the space of a few months from the river valleys to Cumorah on that massively larger scale of an entire nation? Undoubtedly he could and did. Was that final gathering of the remaining Nephite nation any less epic in accomplishment than that of Zions Camp? Indeed not. Other such 'epic' distance accomplishments are put in a few months time were also historically being so accomplished, such as the many crossings of the Mormon migration to Salt Lake City, that to doubt that Mormon's efforts in working with the Nephite nation to be less 'epic' in distances seems foolish.
The Tecumseh Confederacy formation is just such another evidenced venture. From the deep southern states of early America Tecumseh sought to recruit to his cause of fighting with the Canadian forces against 'America' and such as Big Warior of the Creek(Muscogee) nation and many others to his cause which was to be fought upon the northern borders of America and the southern borders of Canada. As stated, the removal of the saints to the Salt Lake Valley would be but a summer season's travel distance per each company to travel during only a fractional part of a year's time. Even the Trail of Tears march of the Indians in that fateful winter season from the deep south to the land of Indian Territory lasted for but a few months, a fractional part of a year for that evacuation. And for he whole of the distance that Mormon would have traveled over about 10 years, Lewis and Clarke did in less than two, some 4,000 miles round trip to the west coast and back.
Could not Mormon's Nephite nation over a 10 year period of continual retreat have covered such distances? Of course! Was not this one of the proofs of Zions Camp? In a 'reverse parallel simulated model' Zions Camp authenticates just such as being possible. Was or is Mormon's 10 year retreat and defense of the Nephite nation to be merely kept within a size of the single state of Utah when many such occurances and models of parallel establish that it well could be and was more 'epic' in its actual history even down to the last gathering by Mormon of the remaining Nephites in but a few months of that last year unto Cumorah of that 10 year retreat from Central America to the land of Cumorah? Mormon's last 10 year attempted, but failed attempt, was 'epic' in its size and grandure, not just a day and a half journey for a Nephite from the narrow neck of land. (see: Distances People Will Travel)
Mormon had first as but a youth defended and delivered the whole of the national lands of Zarahemla south of the narrow neck. He had twice defended and delivered the southern national lands of the Nephites north of the narrow neck as a part of the Shem defense and then the limited regional Desolation defense. And while Mormon's greatest effort was over that last 10 year period which included from Desolation to Boaz and thence to the failed Jordan defense and from there to that last year's final negotiation to gather the remaining Nephites within the latter end of that final year to their national extinction loss at Cumorah; Mormon's effort because of the wickedness of the Nephites was a necessary but a vain effort of a failed Nephite nation. On the other hand, Joseph Smith's Zion Camp effort was successful, proving a people worthy to be supported not only by God's defense but to carry on the great latter day restoration of the gospel to the world.
Today's Era and Dilemma
Today we live in an era of 'modern Book of Mormon scholars', the likes of whom tend to belittle such as Joseph Smith's 'visions of the past being opened to his understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty' of Zelph the white Lamanite warrior (Hitory of the Church Volume 2, p. 79-80 & Discourses of the prophet Joseph Smith, p. 266-267). The revelation concerning Zelph is one of those 'unrecorded' or non-cannonized revelations thought it is in the History of the Church. That account is critizied by some Book of Mormon scholars as not acceptable to them per their 'Meso-american' geography of the Book of Mormon, for as accounted in the History of the Church, it places the Nephite and Lamanite wars, at least the latter end of them, square in the midst of Illinios of North America, which favors greatly the Hill Cumorah location of New York being the one and only Hill of Cumorah. That their Meso-american theory will not tolerate. The map here show the location of the Zelph incident and the thrust of this conversation concerning Zelph is better referenced upon another one of my pages.