Friday, September 13, 2013

Slanted Land of Promise Book Reviews – Part III

Continuing with the last post on the FARMS review of Art Kocherhans’ book, “Lehi’s Isle of Promise,” showing the self-serving nature of such reviews and their tendency toward self-absorbed and self-advancing results. The first comment was discussed in the first post, additional points covered in the last post, and more points are covered below:
2) Finally, there is the insistence that the Amazon Valley and much of the rest of South America was under water until the crucifixion. Kocherhans writes, ‘The only thing I can see that needs to be worked out is the time element of the uplift of the land mass, and I'm voting for the Book of Mormon time’ (p. 143). The illogic of this statement is symbolic of the author's whole mind-set. The Book of Mormon says nothing of South America being inundated until a point only 2000 years ago; Kocherhans does.”
First of all, Kocherhans does not say the Book of Mormon said that South America was submerged before the crucifixion—he says it was. Obviously, the Book of Mormon does not go into great detail about the destruction in 3 Nephi, except to assure us that the Lord caused the destruction of cities and people because they were evil. To even suggest that the Book of Mormon says nothing about South America is a foolish and disingenuous comment. We all know that the Book of Mormon does not name any land by a name known to us today. As an example, the Book of Mormon does not mention the Western Hemisphere or the New World—both names of land we know today that the Nephites occupied. Nor does the Book of Mormon mention the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean, one of which was the sea over which the Lehi colony traveled in Nephi’s ship. Nor does the work mention Oman, Salalah, or the Arabian Sea, or any other name we would know, though these were areas the Nephites traveled.
The point is, Fleugel’s comment is both misleading and disingenuous!
3) Fleugel goes on in his review, “Although [Kocherhans] makes repeated statements to the effect that he wishes the scripture to speak for itself, it is his own preconceived notions of how the world should work that make for a book of no real scholarly value.” It is a sad thing when a reviewer of a book makes so little effort to either understand or report what the author of that work said or the point he was making.
Art Kocherhans was stating that South America, east of what is now the Andes, was once under water. This fact is well known to almost all researchers and especially to the scientists who have dealt with the forming of the Western Hemisphere. Drawings of such a fact can be found in almost all books covering the formation of this hemisphere (see our earlier post, The Rising of South America, September 2012). Kocherhans’ comment, and a valid one, is that understanding this fact and its affect on the Land of Promise location is dependent upon one’s view of the history of the world. If one believes in this world being 4.55 billion years old, as many scientists hypothesize, then the time South America was partly under water does not fit the Book of Mormon time frame; however, if one believes that the world is only about 13,000 years old, and that man has been on the earth about 6,000 years, as the scriptures so plainly tell us, then the time frame of South America being partly underwater fits the Nephite time frame (see Length of Time for the Earth, post September 25, 2012).
It is hard to imagine that a reviewer of the book could not understand that very simple point!
In addition, it is not that Kocherhans’ book is not scholarly—it is that Fleugel’s review lacks the scholarly expertise a person should possess and use when reviewing someone else’s work. Fleugel continues: “Readers should take a warning from such books and realize that certain assumptions about the history of the earth should not be read back into the standard works, even when employed with the best of intention.” However, the problem lies not in Kocherhans’ work—it is as valid a point of the Land of Promise location as any work written on Mesoamerica or, for that matter, on any location claimed to be the Land of Promise. The problem lies in Mesoamericanists who think their model is correct to the point that they discredit any and all work in opposition to their beliefs.
Now, let’s take this criticism regarding the Amazon valley and South America. We have written extensively here about this point, and it should be noted once again, that there is no question that the Amazon Valley and most of South America east of the present-day Andes was once underwater. The issue is not whether it was underwater, but when as stated above. The fact is, that scientists have actually named the sea areas that were east of the present-day Andes (Pebasian Sea, Paranense Sea, Paranan Sea, and the Amazon Sea, including the Tethy and Amazon arms—which, of course, are all extensions of the Atlantic Ocean), and described in some detail the formation, location, and affect these seas had on the rest of the land mass, which included the Andean Belt west to the Pacific Ocean, the Guiana Shield, Purus Arch Uplift, Brazilian Shield, Chaco Foredeep, and the Benni Foredrop (see our 8-part Series on this issue starting in early September last year). 
Until the 20th Century, the inhabitants of western South America (colored area) considered this area an “island” since it was bordered on the south, east, and north by nearly impassable mountains and jungles, and to the west was the ocean. In fact, the people of Chile actually referred to and called their land an "island" (the "Island of Chile")
It might also be mentioned that while the Land of Promise was an island in the first 600 years of the Nephite occupation, the events at the time of the crucifixion, which raised the Andes Mountains up to their present height, a cessation of mentioning both the East Sea and those cities along the shore in the Land Southward occurs. Yet, prior to that time, the East Sea is mentioned more 25 times. Might not this have been because the East Sea ceased to exist after the crucifixion and was replaced by, from the Nephite point of view, the Andes Mountains “whose height is great” as Samuel the Lamanite called them, which effectively would have kept the Land of Promise an “island” as far as penetration over those mountains was concerned.
4) Again, Fleugel states: “The exact dimensions of the land mass they occupied were probably never known to the Nephites.” While it is likely that the exact dimensions were not know to Nephi or Jacob, unless they had been given a vision of it, it is certainly not true that the size of their land was unknown to the Nephites overall. Obviously, they occupied the Land of Promise from sea to sea (Helaman 3:8), they knew the distance of the Land of Nephi (Alma 22:27), and from there to the narrow neck of land, and the Land of Desolation beyond (Alma 22:30). They knew about the travels northward of Mosiah’s expedition (Mosiah 8:8), and about the people who had once lived there (Alma 46:22). They knew about the large bodies of water far to the north in the Land Northward (Alma 50:29), and that the Sidon River flowed to the sea (Alma 44:22). In short, they were involved in building of ships and in the shipping business (Helaman 3:10, 14), which obviously suggests an overall knowledge of both the seas and lands they sailed upon and around.
It is difficult to understand why anyone would suggest the Nephites did not understand their land, its size, etc. It would seem that Fleugel’s comment is not only misleading, but disingenuous—for it is obviously intended to show that Kocherhans’ book is inaccurate in a misleading way. This is the way a critic evaluates—not one who is reviewing something to help others better understand what has been written.
(See the next post, “Slanted Land of Promise Book Reviews – Part IV,” for additional points of Fleugel’s comments, and more information on the FARMS review that is far from accurate, and quite self-serving)

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