Wednesday, May 2, 2012

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

Continuing with Covino's free download of so-called "Facts" that he claims are inarguable proofs of his map and theory, the first 13 and part of this last, Fact #14, were covered in previous posts. Below is the continuing part of his final "fact":

Fact #14 (cont): "The Narrow Neck is not the same as a passage according to the church priesthood manual from the 1960s written by Hugh Nibley and published as church doctrine wherein it says "...we cannot identify the narrow passage...with the Isthmus of Panama. To call [it]...a narrow passage is of course out of the question." Without this version of the geography in this book, this description cannot be found or made to work and still have all other facts listed above also work. And ships are launched into the west sea to go north at the narrow neck."

Response: First of all, Hugh Nibley has never published anything that is Church Doctrine. Nibley was a very brilliant man, who spoke seven languages, and has written extensively, of which some of his statements have appeared over time in official church publications--but they are not church doctrine. Often, as in the case cited above, they are included as a comment of possible explanation. Secondly, Hugh Nibley is correct in stating "we cannot identify the narrow passage with the Isthmus of Panama," which runs between 100 miles wide at the widest, and about 40 miles wide at its narrowest (at the Panama Canal) and nowhere is there an area where a passage exists running north and south. Obviously, Nibley is quite correct in adding, "To call [it] a narrow passage is of course out of the question."

However, this does not mean that the "narrow passage," stated twice in Alma, is not part of the "narrow" or "small" neck of land, stated three times in the scriptural record. Only that it was not in  Panama. Covino's comment, "The Narrow Neck is not the same as a passage according to the church priesthood manual from the 1960s with a statement by Hugh Nibley," is both misleading and disingenuous in his context. The issue of Nibley's was it was not located in Panama, not that the two physical descriptions were not associated with one another.

Fact #14 (cont): "The most important feature is that it is where the WATER divides the LAND and not where the LAND divides the WATER. It is important to note that the land (not city) of Bountiful, the land of Desolation, the West and East Sea all meet at this narrow neck and it is as wide as a day and a half's journey by horse, and it is where a passage is to go north and south."

Response:First of all, we need to understand words. Water dividing land (actually, the scriptural word is Sea), is not the same as where the water separates the land. The word "divide" known during Joseph Smith's time was defined as:"To part a thing into two or more pieces, to keep apart by a partition or by an imaginary line or limit, to part." The word "separate" was defined as: "to disunite, by breaking, cutting, or splitting; to disconnect, to make a space between as in the Atlantic separates Europe from America." Consequently, we see that divide is to place a partition between, while separate is to place a separate body between. The following illustration makes this clear:

Narrow Necks: Left: The water (or Sea) divide the two lands; Right: The water separates the two lands

Also, it is ludicrous for Covino to suggest that "it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite by horse..." This was NOT a horseback ride and there is nothing in scripture to suggest it was. But for Covino, a horseback ride makes it more possible to cross it very wide "narrow neck" of 160 miles.

As has been covered in these posts many times over the years, for Mormon's description of this land and its distances to be considered by a future reader (to whom Mormon was writing), this distance must be clearly understood in a future time. Very few people ride horses today, but men have walked since Mormon's time and will do so as long as time is measured. The only value of a measurement is in a normal method of transportation--walking.

Secondly, there is no way to determine that the mention of Bountiful as being separate from the city of Bountiful. Nor do we have any scriptural backing that the City of Bountiful is not located near the Narrow Neck of Land. Yet, their map shows the distance from the City of Bountiful to their Narrow Neck of Land to be 800 miles as the crow flies, and 500 miles more to the narrow neck of land.

1) Land of Bountiful; 2) Land of Nephi; 3) East Sea. There is no way for "which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful" according to this map

It should also be kept in mind that "the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea" (Alma 22:23), makes little sense looking at their map--it would be like saying, "The United States was inhabited from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico." Also the statement, "We will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance. And behold, we will set our armies between the land of Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon" (Alma 27:22-23) would be impossible in their map, since the Land of Bountiful does not join or is even near the Land of Nephi.

(See the next post, "Did the Land of Promise Span Two Continents? Part XVII," for more of Covino's rationale about his map and two continent theory, and the continuation of this post regarding his Fact #14 and its inaccurate interpretation of the scriptural record)

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