Thursday, August 2, 2012

Direct Criticisms Answered-Part I

Peter Covino in his True Book of Mormon Geography website, writes critically: 

“Importantly, DowDell refuses to acknowledge that the land in his model is not hidden and his Internal Map fails to show the Great Deep which did not border Book of Mormon lands.”

It seems that if someone is going to criticize another’s work, they at least ought to connect their criticism with the scriptural record for each point of critique. While Covino does not do this, nor does he provide any place for a rebuttal comment, let me respond to this criticism here on my own blog. Of the two points above:

1. Not hidden. First of all, the word “hidden” appears only twice in the entire Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 3:5; Mosiah 8:17) and neither occurrence has anything to do with the Land of Promise being hidden. In addition, while the words “hid” and “hide” are used several times, they are never used in relation to the Land of Promise being hidden from anyone.

Secondly, Lehi tells his children and grandchildren about the Land of Promise, “Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever. And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:7-8).
Typical of the Hebrew/Jewish act of the patriarch blessing his children, which Lehi was doing when he said these words

This means, of course, that other nations will not know of the Land of Promise—it shall be “kept from the knowledge of other nations.”
And true to His word, the Lord kept from the knowledge of other nations the entire Western Hemisphere. People in Europe, Asia, and the islands of the sea had no knowledge of this entire hemisphere. As late as the 15th century, it was believed that nothing but ocean lay between the Europe and Japan and China.

Of course, it could be argued that to keep something from the knowledge of others is to hide it or keep it hidden; however, the word “hidden” conveys that something could not be found even if one searched for it—and this is not the meaning of Lehi’s comment. The Western Hemisphere, or Land of Promise, was not “hidden from others,” it was simply unknown, therefore, no one was looking for it. Thus, the land was not “hidden,” i.e., unable to be located or found, but simply “unknown.” Therefore, until the Spirit prompted Columbus to believe he could reach the Spice Islands (Indonesia), Cathay (Japan), and China, by sailing westward across the Atlantic Ocean, no one had ever before attempted to find a way to cross the ocean simply because they had no reason to do so.

The point is, of course, the Lord did not “hide” the Land of Promise, he simply kept it from being known by other nations, thus His promise to Lehi was kept and the land remained undiscovered by others until the Lord prompted Europeans (other nations) to come looking for it.

Thus, Covino’s criticism of “DowDell refuses to acknowledge that the land in his model is not hidden is of no value. The land, as I have pointed out here and in this blog numerous times, was kept unknown to other nations as Lehi was promised.

2. Great Deep. “his Internal Map fails to show the Great Deep which did not border Book of Mormon lands.”

Nowhere in scripture does it suggest that the Land of Promise did not border on the waters of the Great Deep. The words are not mentioned in 1 Nephi at all, and only twice in 2 Nephi, the first Nephi is lamenting about his weaknesses in the flesh, and acknowledges that God hath been his support and had “led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep” (2 Nephi 4:20), and in the second, he is praising God: “Art thou not he who hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?” (2 Nephi 8:10).  Also mention once in Helaman as a praising of God, “if he say unto the waters of the great deep -- Be thou dried up -- it is done” (Helaman 12:16).

It is in Ether where the crossing of the great deep is mentioned on three occasions: “I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?” (Ether 2:25). Note that in this reference, the Lord refers to the "Great Deep" and the "Sea" as being the same. Keep this in mind when we discuss Jacob's comment later on.

The Great Deep is also mentioned in: “He remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the great deep into the promised land” (Ether 7:27); “Hath he not read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep?” (Ether 8:9)

As can be seen, in none of the three statements does it suggest one way or the other that the Land of Promise was adjacent to the Great Deep. What is acknowledged, is that both Nephi and the Lord, and Ether/Shule and the daughter of Jared, stated that the Jaredites and the Lehi Colony were brought across the Great Deep to the Land of Promise. Covino can argue all he wants that the Great Deep did not border Book of Mormon Lands, but he hasn’t a leg to stand on based upon the scriptural record! He is merely stating his opinion, and then using that opinion as the basis of criticizing those who do  not agree with him! That is certainly not acceptable journalism.

On the other hand, Jacob tells us exactly where the Land of Promise was located in specific terms relative to the Great Deep/Ocean/Sea, when he said, “for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea. Thus it should be stated that the Land of Promise was not only adjacent to the Great Deep, but settled within it! When the Lord, himself, refers to the "Great Deep" and the "Sea" as being the same, then Jacob's comment should place the Land of Promise "isle" in the Great Deep!
Jacob describes an island in the middle of the sea as their Land of Promise. This depiction shows an island surrounded by water in the midst of the sea

And lest there be any attempt to change the meaning of the term “Great Deep” from the term Ocean (or Sea), the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, the term Ocean is also rendered the “Great Source or Great Deep.” The Ocean is also called the “Sea” or “Great Sea.” And the word “Sea” is defined as the “Ocean.” Also, the term “Seashore,” which is mentioned numerous times in the scriptural record, is defined as “the land that lies adjacent to the ocean.” This was the language of New England at the time Joseph Smith was translating the Plates, and should be considered the language known to Joseph as well as all the people of that time of that area.

(See the next post, “Direct Criticisms Answered-Part II,” for more unwarranted and indefensible criticisms of this blog)

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