Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Slanted Land of Promise Book Reviews – Part I

Someone recently forwarded to me the FARMS (The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies—now part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, and part of BYU since 1997) review of a book written several years ago by Art Kocherhans called “Lehi’s Isle of Promise.” The reason for discussing this review now is simply to show how those who have their mind made up to a particular location and model for the Land of Promise cannot look at another location with any degree of neutrality.
One would think that if a person or organization is truly going to review books written about the location of the Land of Promise, that they would seriously review the book on its merits—not on their prejudicial view of a singular location that is, in their mind, beyond reproach!
The review of Kocherhans’ book was conducted by James H. Fleugel in 1991 as a FARMS Review of Books, Vol 3, Issue 1, pp 96-100. Before commenting about Fleugel’s overall narrow view, let us list the reason and purpose of the former FARMS reviewing process (now known as Mormon Studies Review). According to their own published reason: “The principal purpose of the FARMS Review is to help serious readers make informed choices and judgments about books published, primarily on the Book of Mormon. The evaluations are intended to encourage reliable scholarship on the Book of Mormon and the other ancient scriptures. Reviews are written by invitation.”
However, it seems hardly encouraging to someone writing a book to have his review so slanted toward a comparison with an incorrect concept—Kocherhans book was written about a location that FARMS is totally opposed to, that is, South America.
As an example, one of Fleugel’s comments of Kocherhans’ book is, “it ultimately leaves its own arguments incomplete, since it takes insufficient account of the best scholarship in the field.” And what is that “best scholarship in the field”? Fleugel goes on to say, “Rejecting John L. Sorenson's views on Nephite and Jaredite cohabitation with other peoples” is one, which is completely and totally a Mesoamericanist belief, since that model fosters such interaction with other people despite the fact that there is not one mention, suggestion or inference in the entire scriptural record of 531 pages to indicate there was any other people in the Land of Promise.
Actually, there are several comments to suggest just the opposite—that the Land of Promise was kept in reserve and promised to Lehi and his descendants alone. Lehi said to his family shortly before his death: “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 1:8), and “inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves” (2 Nephi 1:9), and finally, “if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them. Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (2 Nephi 1:10-11).
From 1492, the Western Hemisphere has been flooded with immigrants from all countries of the world; however, before that time, we have very few documented settlements in the Americas from Europe, Asia or the islands of the Sea other than the Book of Mormon
Since the rejection of the Lord by the Nephites took place around 350-385 A.D. (Mormon 2:15), and other nations were brought to the Land of Promise commencing in 1492 A.D., it can hardly be said that there were other peoples in the Land of Promise other than those mentioned in the scriptural record; therefore, Fleugel’s comment is both unwarranted and unnecessarily harsh and condemning. Yet, having said this, it is the Mesoamerican Theorists’ claim, beginning with John L. Sorenson to the present within FARMS, including Fleugel’s review, to object to any theory, no matter how accurately stated, that does not agree with the Mesoamerican model.
So let’s take another look at Fleugel’s comment where he wrote: “Rejecting John L. Sorenson's views on Nephite and Jaredite cohabitation with other peoples.” That is, Fleugel disparages Kocherhans’ book because it does not agree with Sorenson and Mesoamericanist’s views that there were other people in the Land of Promise besides the Jaredites and Nephites (including Mulekites and Lamanites). So let’s look at the time frame involved:
1. Ether tells us that the Land of Promise was kept in reserve after the Flood for those the Lord would lead to it (Ether 13:2);
2. The Flood occurred, according to Genesis and Moses in 2344 B.C. (Genesis 6:5-32);
3. The Jaredites were led to this land shortly after the Flood—Nimrod was Noah’s great grandson (Noah-Ham-Cush-Nimrod: Genesis 10:1, 6, 8). It was Nimrod who built the Tower, which Tower was being built during the time of Jared and his Brother, and when the Lord confounded the Language of those building the Tower, Jared and his Brother were led away from Babylon (Mesopotamia) and became the Jaredites. Within about six or seven years of leaving, they arrived in the Land of Promise. Thus, Jared and his brother would have been great grandsons or 2nd great grandsons of Noah—the 3rd or 4th generation after the Flood;
The Jaredites left Babylon sometime around 2100 to 2000 B.C., about 200 to 300 years after the Great Flood. They were in the Land of Promise for about 1500 years, before they were destroyed to the last man
4. In all the time the Jaredites were in the Land of Promise (about 1500 years), there is not a single mention of anyone else in the Land of Promise—at this time, the Jaredites spread over all the face of the land (Ether 10:4), fought battles in the far north to the Sea (Ether 15:8), and far to the east to the Sea (Ether 9:3), and to the south near the narrow neck of land (Ether 7:5; 10:20), which should suggest that they were all over the Land Northward in the Land of Promise, and yet never mentioned one single individual that was not Jaredite.
In addition, when the final battle was being set in motion and the opposing generals, Coriantumr and Shiz, “did gather together all the people upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether” (Ether 15:12), which was an event that took four years to accomplish “that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive” (Ether 15:14), until “they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children—both men women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war—they did march forth one against another to battle” (Ether 15:15).
Now one might think, under these extreme circumstances, that if there were other people in the land around them, especially if they interacted (cohabitated) with them, that they would have made every effort to enlist these other people into their armies—yet not one word on the subject! This should suggest, even to the most ardent Mesoamericanist, that the Jaredites did not “cohabitate (coexist) with other peoples”;
5. All the Jaredites were killed off in this final battle (Ether 15:15-32). It should be noted that the Lord sent Ether out to verify that the words of the Lord had been fulfilled. And what were the words of the lord? That every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr,” (Ether 13:20) which Ether verified (Ether 15:33). And Coriantumr, as the last Jaredite, lived long enough to see another people inherit the land (Omni 1:21).
So when exactly did these other people that Fleugel refers to reach the Land of Promise? Surely, if there were any there, they would have been a righteous people, at least at first, since the Lord brought them. And where were they hiding that the Jaredites, which filled up the entire land, did not see or encounter them? And if the Jaredites coexisted with them, where is there any suggestion in the scriptural record to lead one to accept such an idea? Since there is no possible answer to any of these questions, why would we accept any thought such people were there? Obviously, when you put the foxes in charge of the hen house, the result is less than admirable. And when you put FARMS in charge of reviewing books written that FARMS doesn’t agree with, the result is also less than admirable.
(See the next post, “Slanted Land of Promise Book Reviews – Part II,” for more information on the FARMS review that is far from accurate, and quite self-serving)

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