Saturday, March 3, 2018

That Troublesome Island of Jacob – Part I

Ivan Andreyevich Krylov, an early dramatist and journalist who became Russia’s best known author of fables and probably the most satirical of all Russian authors, wrote a fable entitled The Inquisitive Man, a character who goes to a museum and notices all sorts of tiny things, but fails to notice an elephant. The phrase became proverbial, and Fyodor Dostoevsky followed this with a novel called Demons, in which he wrote “Belinsky was just like Krylov’s Inquisitive Man, who didn’t notice the elephant in the museum.”    This became a saying about having a problem “that is so big you just can’t ignore it,” as “a problem equal to having an elephant in the living room—its so big you just can’t ignore it.” Thus, the phrase, “the Elephant in the Room,” became synonymous with not acknowledging the existence of something of major importance.
The Elephant in the Room, is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious problem or groupthink that no one wants to discuss or even acknowledge exists

We have written about “scientific” elephants in the living room before, which metaphorical idiom is an obvious truth that is going unaddressed, not only for the Age of the Earth, including evolution, but for numerous statements in the scriptural record that Theorists refuse to acknowledge.
    One of these is found not long after Nephi settled in a location away from his older brothers after the Lord told him to flee their place of landing and first inheritance.
In a conference held in the Temple that the Nephites built like unto Solomon’s, Jacob, after his calling by Nephi as a teacher and a priest to the Nephites, is called upon to speak to the gathering during the closing hour of the first day’s meeting and opening the second day. In this setting, he addresses the discomfort the Nephites have for being led away from Jerusalem, a land Israelites (Jews in our day) have always felt belonged to them and in which would be found their heritage and connection to God, and their protection and salvation. The Nephites, being thousands of miles away from that homeland, had arrived at a point where they felt they might have been forgotten by the Lord, and therefore lost their landed inheritance, God’s protection and salvation.
    To this Jacob offers a lengthy and intelligent response, at one point saying:
    “Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God. And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, 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” (2 Nephi 10:19-20, emphasis added).
The elephant in the room, or the knowledge and understanding of Jacobs statement that the Nephites landed on an island in the midst of the sea (2 Nephi 10:20) has been completely ignored by almost every Theorist who has ventured an opinion of the location of the Land of Promise
Thus, we see how Theorists notice all sorts of minutia about how they reference an area of important to substantiate their models of the Land of Promise, but fail to see the grand “island” on which the land rested and the Nephites lived as Jacob so clearly stated.
    The Oxford English Dictionary, gives the first recorded use of the phrase, as a simile, as The New York Times on June 20, 1959: "Financing schools has become a problem about equal to having an elephant in the room. To repeat, “it's so big you just can't ignore it," and Jacob’s island is so big of an issue regarding the location of the Land of Promise and reference point regarding finding the Jaredite and Nephite lands, that no Land of Promise writer can ignore it—yet they all do!
    The term, of course, refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue which is obvious to everyone who knows about the situation, but which is deliberately ignored because to do otherwise would cause great embarrassment, sadness, or trigger arguments or is simply taboo. The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.
    It is, to each one of them, an elephant in the room. It is as though it is simply not there. Oh, it takes up space, everyone knows it, but nearly everyone simply ignores its presence. From Hugh Nibley to John L. Sorenson, to today’s writers regarding the Land of Promise, it is ignored by one and all.
    Thus, the elephant, though present and taking up space and occupies a prominent position, is simply ignored!
    To some, this “island” base of the Nephites is not in the room at all, yet, when reading the scriptural reference Jacob makes, not just the singular statement, but with all its implications and its obvious references to traveling to the Land of Promise, it should be right up there in the overall discussion of the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon. It is amazing, however, that every writer who has an opinion about the Land of Promise and promotes their particular viewpoint simply ignores the issue entirely.
    Not only is it ignored, but when someone wants to point it out, they have all sorts of ideas of how to ignore is implications. As an example, we have received numerous comments over the years, especially when we write about the island, some of which we have answered, others have just piled up. Take for instance:
1. It seems probable that neither Jacob, nor anyone else by Jacob's time, had made an actual circumnavigation of their entire Island. One piece of evidence is that they had no knowledge of the Jaredites or Mulekites at the time of Jacob.
    Response: It is definite that Nephi never wrote about it, and Jacob gives no defense as to how he had knowledge of it, yet he does give us a clue. In vs 18 he says “thus saith our God,” in vs 19 “I will consecrate this land unto thy seed,” “for it is a choice land, saith God unto me,” “I will have all men that dwell here worship me, saith God.” In vs 20, we find, “see that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things.” Obviously, Jacob is telling us that God spoke to him and gave him information about the land upon which they then dwelt. Certainly in that conversation, or information, God could have told Jacob they were on an island.
    In addition, we have Nephi’s acceptance of this information, for following Jacob’s comments, Nephi writes in the record where he recorded Jacob’s words: “And now, Jacob spake many more things to my people at that time; nevertheless only these things have I caused to be written, for the things which I have written sufficeth me” (2 Nephi 11:1, emphasis added).
    This becomes doubly important when we recall that much earlier, during a life-altering vision Nephi had similar to his father’s vision, he wrote: “And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Look, and behold thy seed, and also the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea” (1 Nephi 12:1). This was before the crucifixion, when the land was still an island, and Nephi writes about seeing numerous wars and many generations pass away (1 Nephi 12:2-3), and then in vs 4, he witnesses the destruction that occurred during the crucifixion of the Savior.
    The point is, Nephi saw the Land of Promise and many generations and millions of people scattered upon it over a great length of time. When he wrote what Jacob said on the plates, he obviously knew, from his own visionary observation that what Jacob said was a fact.
(See the next post, “That Troublesome Island of Jacob – Part II,” for more information regarding the island that gives Mesoamerican, Great Lakes and other theorists so much trouble and forces them to try and find some other answer to Jacob’s statement than how it is interpreted by the majority of people)


  1. As much as I am convinced in the Andes model for Book of Mormon lands, I realize that those that reject it will say the "elephant in the living room" of this model is the issue of the Amazon basin being under water before the time of Christ. Now we have two elephants in our living room.

    1. Yep. I can tell somebody that the Land of Promise was an island, but following up with, "So, it was obviously in the Andes," makes them scratch their heads and say, "Wait. What? That isn't an Island."

      My saying that the Amazon Basin was underwater before Christ is, in their eyes, as big of a stretch as saying that the Nephites had a different form of indicating cardinal directions, or that the Lord made it so Nephi could sail up the Mississippi. All scenarios seem like stretches to push the Promised Land into a desired location. There are increasing evidences of the Amazon Basin being submerged, but they aren't general knowledge, and the scientific timeline is far from what would fit the Nephite or Jaredite civilizations.

      So in my mind, presenting the idea requires a big step back to ask, "Do you accept the worldwide flood as fact?" Because if you do, then you already acknowledge the scientific timeline for almost everything geological as being false. After all, if the scientific community can completely miss and ignore the colossal effects of a global flood, then they certainly can mess up the timing and evidence of a young Amazon Basin and the rising of the Andes to a higher elevation only 2000 years ago.

    2. Excellent Todd! Exactly right. The problem I see in the LDS community is they simply do not believe in Noah's flood or any kind of catastrophism. This is a result of indoctrination from BYU. Their science departments accept only Darwinian evolution and old earth dogma.

      The Evang. Christians are far ahead of the Church in that regard. At least they accept the bible as their model for the creation of the earth. Very unfortunate for the LDS folks.

      As a result the South American model is a hard sell to most indoctrinated LDS folks.

    3. OK, how about this. I'll start compiling a list of what we SHOULD see if the Amazon Basin was underwater just over 2000 years ago when the Andes pushed up to drain the basin. Please add to it, if you wish. Or correct any incorrect assumptions. It's just a start, for fun...

      -- Any trapped seawater that no longer has drainage to the ocean would create inland salt water lakes or evaporate to create huge salt deposits (salt flats). While any area that has drainage to the ocean would be left with fresh water bodies over time.

      -- The newly exposed basin would be uninhabitable for a time, but then reveal itself as a “new land” on which native settlement could be possible. Thus ancient culture in the basin should be evident, dating only AFTER the change in terrain (nothing before).

      -- Change of climate: Not only would the change in topography cause a change in climate and weather patterns, but the growth of new plant life itself in a warm, tropical climate, would in time cause the rainfall to intensify due to increased transpiration. This would speed up the cycle of growth and proliferation of plant life.

      -- Plant life could be expected to eventually overwhelm any new settlement on the "new land" (covering roads, buildings, etc.). Any civilization might be expected to be overrun by nature in time as once barren land is covered by the new tropical growth.

      -- There should be abundant signs of ocean sediment and fossils native to ocean life in the Amazon basin.

      -- We might expect to find displaced animal species who either go extinct due to an inability to adapt to the dramatic change in their environment. Or, they would adapt and still appear "out of place" for their particular species.


    4. Add to the list: There should be no trees in the Amazon basin older than the cataclysm.

  2. Amazon River has no delta. One of the largest rivers in the world doesn't have one.

    1. iterry, this is a very important thing that should be looked at very closely. I have seen this matter "explained away" in articles, but I would like to see hard science on the matter. This item alone could prove the Amazon river as it is today is only about 2000 years old.

      It appears that the Orinoco river, with its huge delta, was the main drainage of the Amazon basin previously.

  3. Todd: See an upcoming post slated for March 25, "How Old Are the Trees in the Amazon Rain Forest" about this.