Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Did the Land of Promise Span Two Continents? Part IX—Covino’s “Facts”

Continuing with Covino's book we come to his free download of so-called facts that he claims are inarguable. They begin below with our response.

Fact #1: "One of the first things Joseph Smith published when he took over the newspaper was to publish information as to where the Jaredites lived and arrived, northern United States, along with where Lehi landed, current day Southern Panama, T&S 3 (May, June, and Sept., 1842) Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor were also editors of the paper at that time."

Response:  Actually, the reason Joseph Smith took over the publishing of the Times & Seasons was: "In the spring of 1842, in consequence of too many errors appearing in print, the Prophet Joseph Smith took over the editorship [of the Times & Seasons periodical] and announced his personal responsibility for the contents of the paper." Now, with that in mind, Joseph Smith stated, "the Book of Mormon land southward is located in Central America (Middle America), which would be from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec...south to Panama or at least Costa Rica," which, as the prophet pointed out, fits the description in Alma 22:32 as the land that is nearly surrounded by water." (This was the result of his studying a new book by explorer John Lloyd Stevens Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, 1841. (T&S October 1842). Since Joseph turned over the paper to Elder Taylor on November 15, 1842, we can look at his statements during the period from May to November of that year. During the time of his editorship, Joseph made the following comments:

1. The Nephites lived about the narrow neck of land, which now embraces Central America.

2. "Since our Extract was published from Mr Stephens' Incidents of Travel, &c., we have found another important fact relating to the truth of the Book of Mormon. Central America, or situated north of the Isthmus of Darien and once embraced several hundred miles of territory from north to south.--The city of Zarahemla---stood upon this land as will be seen from the following words in the book of Alma: (he then quoted Alma 22:32), then added, "We are not going to declare positively that the ruins of Quirigua are those of Zarahemla, but when the land and the stones, and the books tell the story so plain, we are of the opinion that it would require more proof than the Jews could bring to prove the disciples stole the body of Jesus from the tomb to prove that the ruins of the city in question are not one of those referred to in the Book of Mormon" (T&S vol 3, 22 September 1842).

3. "When we read in the Book of Mormon that Jared and his brother came on to this continent from the confusion and scattering at the Tower, and lived here more than a thousand years, and covered the whole continent from sea to sea, with towns and cities; and that Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien [Isthmus of Panama]..." (T&S vol 3, 22 September 1842)."

Again, as has been previously written about in great detail, the knowledge of Joseph Smith's time was that both North and South America (including Central America) was considered one continent--what we refer to as the Western Hemisphere today. Any statement about "this land" referred to the continent (North, Central and South America).

It should also be noted that there is not one single mention that the Jaredites landed in the United States (or even North America) as Covino claims in his Fact #1. Thus his statement: "where the Jaredites lived and arrived, northern United States, along with where Lehi landed, current day Southern Panama" is both false, and extremely misleading--as is his statement about Lehi landing in Panama. Joseph Smith did not say Lehi landed there. What he said was the Nephites lived in the area from Panama to Guatemala, and that Lehi landed somewhere south of the Isthmus of Darien (Panama). Obviously, we know that Lehi's landing site was south of where the Nephites lived (Land of Zarahemla) and south along the coast of the Land of Nephi, which would place the landing site, according to their map, somewhere in northern South America (probably Colombia)--not in Panama.

The Isthmus of Darien is the old name for the entire country of Panama. So south of Darien would be in at least Colombia, South America, or further south

Fact #2:  "Joseph Smith gives us the only information on the capital of the Jaredite nation in Wisconsin, T&S "Truth will prevail" vol III, No 16, June 15, 1842."

Response:  Using Covino's reference in the Times & Seasons, the only mention of the  Jaredites landing area (after quoting much of Ether, Chapter 1) is found on page 820, as part of the story about the "Traits of the mosaic Hisotry" and two books found among the Aztaeca Nations, one in Mexico and one in Ontario, New York, which covered the coming to America of a people and states: "whilst these records, both of them, sanction the testimony of the scriptures in regard to the flood, the tower of Babel, and the confusion of languages, the tradition and hyeroglyphics [hieroglyphics] of the Zaltees, the Colhuacans, and the Azteca nations, in regard to the confusion of languages and their travels to this land, is so like that contained in the Book of Mormon, that the striking analogy must be seen by every superficial observer."

The book found in Mexico claims "In regard to the confusion of languages it is said of the above nations, that there were "fifteen heads, or chiefs of families, that were permitted to speak the same language." The book found in Ontario county, New York, stated, "Again, those nations of families, embodied themselves together and traveled they knew not where, but at length arrived in the country of Aztalan, of the lake country of America." Thus, two books, one found in Mexico, the other in New York, comment about a group of people after the confusion of tongues arrived in America. The final comment by the editor was: "The coincidence is so striking that further comment is unnecessary."

This can hardly be considered that "Joseph Smith gives us the only information on the capital of the Jaredite nation in Wisconsin."

Such scholarship is disingenuous at best, for it fallaciously tries to impart an attitude and statement of Joseph Smith not stated by him. The fact that he quoted it in the T&S article ought to suggest to the most inexperienced reader that Joseph Smith was showing how references to people mentioned in the Book of Mormon might well have been listed in other works.

(See the next post, "Did the Land of Promise Span Two continents? Part X--Covino's "Facts" for more of the numerous so-called "facts" Covino claims proves his theory and map)

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