Open Response From Robert (Bob) Cornuke to Gordon Franz
Open Response from Mr. Robert (Bob) Cornuke to Mr. Gordon Franz’s Open Letter
Dear Mr. Franz:
I have responded to you (Mr. Gordon Franz) on numerous occasions in the past, but have been hesitant to do so in response to your open letter, dated March 1, 2002. My hesitation is not because I feel ill-equipped to offer a solid response to your questions. On the contrary I am confident that the information I have previous provided and the information available from the BASE Institute website (www.baseinstitute.org) establish a compelling response addressing your concerns about the validity of
the real Mt. Sinai being Jabal al Lawz and being located in Saudi Arabia.
My caution in responding is rooted in the concern that you have misrepresented what I have communicated to you in the past. Your methods have been noted by many in the scholastic community as straying far beyond the lines of honest debate and sadly entering the realm of factual manipulation and personal attacks. It is a solemn responsibility to call into questions one’s motives and integrity, yet by your own words, Mr. Franz, you have placed a transparent indictment over your real agenda.
In Paragraph #3 of your open letter, you state, "When the first article came out, we offered you the t;/em>opportunity to respond to my article with a concise, well-reasoned, and well documented article for a future issue of Bible and Spade. As of today, you have not responded to our invitation." That statement is false.
Mr. Ken Durham, who was employed by the BASE Institute, sent a 22-page response to you, prepared by Mr. Durham, and myself on September 7, 2001. You are well aware of Mr. Durham's credentials, that he was employed by the BASE Institute and that he was representing the BASE Institute and myself.
Numerous emails and phone conversations clearly made representation that Mr. Durham was sending this information on my behalf. BASE Institute’s detailed response addressed your issues and it is categorically untrue that no correspondence was sent, as you assert in your open letter.
In Paragraph #4 of your open letter, you make the distinct statement, "...You have never answered a single question. Each time that you responded to my letters you had creative excuses for not answering my questions." That statement is patently false. As stated above, we have sent detailed responses to you.
This fact is clearly noted by you in a letter to me dated December 20, 2000, when you wrote, "Thank you [Mr. Cornuke] for your email of December 6. It was waiting for me when I returned from my trip to Dallas, a week and a half ago on Wednesday night." In another letter to Dr. Roy Knuteson; who has been an advisor for the BASE Institute, and Mr. Ken Durham, who was in personal correspondence with you representing the BASE Institute, you make the following statement to these gentlemen:"Thank you for your emails of December 29, 2000 regarding my article “Is Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia?” My apologies for not responding to you sooner, but I was out of the country . . . " Mr. Franz, you have been given more personal attention from the BASE Institute than anyone in the entire 10-year history of our organization and I am at odds as to why you would falsely claim that we have not responded.
In Paragraph #6 of your open letter you state, "Your silence speaks volumes. I am more convinced than ever that there is no credible, historical, geographical, archeological, or Biblical evidence that Mt. Sinai is at Jabal al Lawz." Your first statement is misleading when you wrote: “Your silence speaks volumes.”
Your inference is that I have not responded to you, which is false. We have spent literally hundreds of hours compiling responses to you thinking you were interested in a fair evaluation of our data, but to the contrary, you have manipulated our data to promote yourself. A troubling assessment by most who have read your vitriolic assertions.
The second part of your statement asserts: “I am more convinced than ever that there is no crediblehistorical, geographical, archeological, or Biblical evidence that Mt. Sinai is at Jabal al Lawz.” It is unfortunate that your views are so narrow that you are unwilling to honestly examine and evaluate the CREDIBLE historical, geographical, archeological and Biblical evidence that Jabal al-Lawz might be Mount Sinai. Several scholars and earnest researchers endorse the Jabal al Lawz site in northwest Saudi Arabia as the most likely site for Mount Sinai. Some comments from these notable individuals are as follows:
“A great many scholars are now coming around to the notion that Sinai is in fact in northern Arabia.”
Frank Moore Cross, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, The Associated Press Saturday, February 19, 2000, The Sun Herald, Mississippi “A reasonable guess, according to Cross, for the identity of Mt. Sinai is Jabal al Lawz, the highest peak in northwest Arabia...The tradition that Mt. Sinai was the highest mountain near Madian may point to Jabal al Lawz because it is clearly the peak that dominates the entire region.”
Bible Review Magazine, Volume XVI, April 2000
“Mt. Sinai – in Arabia?” Allen Kerkeslager, Bible Review, April 2000
“Jabal al Lawz [may also be] the most convincing option for identifying the Mt. Sinai of biblical tradition...Philo provides a probable witness from the Roman period to the Alexandrian tradition of locating Mt. Sinai in northwestern Arabia...Biblical and post-biblical evidence consistently suggests that most Israelite traditions identified Sinai with some location in northwestern Arabia east of the Red Sea rather than anywhere in the Sinai peninsula...Demetrius the Chronographer, who probably lived in Alexandria in the late 3rd Century located Mt. Sinai in northwestern Arabia near the city of Madyan.
Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, by Dr. Allen Kerkeslager
“I believe what has been found is quite likely the Mount Sinai. The circumstantial evidence for Jabal al Lawz as Mount Sinai is quite convincing.”
Dr. Robert Stewart, Ph.D., Professor of New Geneva Theological Center
“...the visible evidence is quite overwhelming that the location of the true Mount Sinai has been discovered [in] Saudi Arabia.”
Dr. Roy E. Knuteson, Professor of Biblical Archaeology
“Jabal al Lawz is the most likely site for Mount Sinai.”
--Hershel Shanks, Editor, Bible Archeology Review
“The evidence points to northwest Saudi Arabia as the location of the actual Mt. Sinai.”
Dr. Dean McKenzie, Professor Emeritus, University of Oregon
“You will be pleased to find that you have some good solid evidence for your views –‘Mt. Sinai in Arabia.’ ...a Jewish tradition dating to at least 250 BCE that ultimately identified Mt. Sinai with the highest mountain near ancient Madyan, which is the modern town of Al-Bad. The most likely candidate, I have concluded, is Jabal al Lawz. As far as I know, this is currently the most elaborate scholarly treatment of the evidence that would support an identification of Mt. Sinai with Jabal al Lawz.”
Allen Kerkeslager, Ph.D., Saint Joseph’s, Philadelphia’s Jesuit University.
Charles Whittaker, who has done in-depth, comprehensive work on the location of Mt. Sinai, has recently completed his doctoral dissertation on the subject. His findings are compelling and his comments recapping this work on the issues are as follows:
“For the past two years, I have been doing intense research regarding the Biblical significance of the Saudi Arabian mountain, Jabal al Lawz. The conclusion of my dissertation it that it is significant because I believe it is the best candidate for the Mt. Sinai/Horab of the Old Testament. I have labored to be objective in my study while considering the arguments of those who oppose this theory. There is an overwhelming amount of historical evidence that favors Saudi Arabia as a viable location for the mountain. I attempt to present a comprehensive study of the issue, researching the views of ancient scholars, geographers, historians, and scientists as well as the latest information coming out of Saudi Arabia on the site. The Saudi Deputy Ministry of Antiquities and Museums published a work late in 2002 called Al-Bid’ History and Archeology, which includes a site survey and excavation of the environs of Jabal al Lawz. My paper addresses these finding also. There is much debate on this issue, as you know; however, there is a growing number in the scholarly community who have begun to see Jabal al Lawz as the best candidate for Mt. Sinai.”
Not only does your open letter demonstrate your attacking nature, but your past actions illuminate the troubling history of your prior conduct; for example, you have contacted various venues where I was to participate as a seminar speaker to warn them of my coming (i.e., your letter dated May 15, 2001, to Mr. Brannon Howse of the American Family Policy Institute). Mr. Howse stated that he was “appalled at your tactic” of contacting him, and wondered “how a man who identified himself as a Christian brother would do such a thing.” I must say that I agree with Mr. Howse insofar as you have crossed the line of reasonable debate when you take it upon yourself to anoint yourself as the 'keeper of truth,' and one who holds the right to hamper free speech in an open forum.
In your open letter you provide 16 questions. The first, regarding Kadesh Barnea. You quote me as saying,"I don’t know" when asked, “Where do you place Kadesh Barnea?” You make the rash statement that “I don't know” is not an acceptable answer. In the very first question, you already belittle an honest answer to you. The simple truth is the vast majority of Bible scholars, Bible encyclopedias and Bible dictionaries agree that Kadesh Barnea cannot be dogmatically established where it has been traditionally placed. Because you have taken a rigid position, my honest answer is mocked.
Mr. Franz, you have repeatedly asserted that you do not use ad hominem attacks against me. This statement is also false. In a recent email, you and I received from a Christian leader after he had read your printed material concerning me and search for Mt. Sinai is as follows:
“I am appalled at the way Mr. Gordon Franz twists the facts and deliberately misinterprets statements...I am dismayed by the lack of respect you [Franz] have shown for these two men and the scholars who support them. It is interesting to note that you refer to Saudi archaeogists with greater respect than these two explorers who seek truth about the Bible, not the treasures to which you falsely attribute their motivation. Who has the most to lose if Jabal al Lawz proves to be the true Mt. Sinai, and the artifacts prove genuine? The followers of Mohammad will be shown to have followed a false god. You contribute to these “scholars” alleged credibility while sacrificing Bob Cornuke’s and Larry Williams’ credibility in what seems to be an effort to put your theories in the fore.”
God calls us in Ephesians to “...get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other as in Christ God forgave you...”
Mr. Franz, repeatedly people have viewed your personal attacks against me as violating this verse. Nothing, however, illustrates this point more clearly than your own words in your personal correspondence to others and me.
The following correspondence was sent after I spoke at a large Christian conference. A person attending that conference named “Cheryl” emailed me the following, she also sent this email to you:
“I have just spent time exploring the net and was stunned to find a link to a scathing criticism of your Sinai expedition by Gordon Franz. I expect to hear disagreement among scientists, but this goes far beyond that and left me somewhat reluctant to further share all I had heard. I am a trusting soul, and at such a gathering expect that a major criteria for being there would be impeccable and respected methodology. How am I to know who is and who is not generally respected among the Christian scientific community? I have drawn no conclusions about the matter, I have no basis for doing so! I can’t hope to research it and figure it out. I feel as if my balloon just got deflated after a great weekend. I am not disturbed that Franz disagrees with you; but his disagreement goes far beyond that; the tone is one of denouncement. You cannot imagine how discouraging this is for me to be researching these issues for a discipleship class and come across something like this going on between two believers engaged in the same work for the same cause...”
Mr. Franz, this was a perfect opportunity for you to share the love of Christ with this woman. However, in your response to her, you inferred that I was not a believer. This is a deplorable. What is your basis for questioning my salvation? I have repeatedly shared Christ as my personal savior. Mr. Franz, in your letter back to Cheryl, you stated (your letter dated September 5, 2002): “I can say this though, I would not want to be in his [Bob Cornuke’s] shoes at the Judgment Seat of Christ. If he is a believer, he will have to give an account to the Lord for what he has done . . .” You went on to critique my research as“fiction.” I have gone to painstaking lengths to make the Bible interesting and write books about the truths in the Bible. I am not a scholar, nor have I ever presented myself as such. I am an ex-police investigator and use those skills to research the Bible. You close in your letter to Cheryl by saying, “My suggestion to Mr. Cornuke would be to continue writing Christian fiction!”
My response to Cheryl included the following:
Please do not put your faith in what I say, or in what Mr. Franz says. Rather, know that God’s word is truth; and know, too, that God will honor your own inquiry into its pages to discover the truth. As you will see from the responses (I think a word is missing “we”) will be posting on our website, the Bible ultimately answers the never-ending contentions of negative theologians and scholars. That, however, will probably never silence them. I’m sorry that you are discouraged by this issue. I was hoping my talk at the conference would encourage fellow believers in the trustworthiness of the Bible. Fortunately, the location of historical Mt. Sinai is not a test of salvation, nor it is intended to be the basis for congenial fellowship. In spite of Mr. Franz’s contentious tone, we believe there is room in the love of Christ to allow all believers the freedom of their own opinions.
You have also referred to me in the past as a “treasure hunter,” along with questioning my salvation, and other demeaning accusations. Based on your prior actions I can only guess that to again answer the 16 questions in your open letter will only result in the same vitriolic responses as the original answers provided to you by Mr. Durham and myself in the previously mentioned 22-page response. Whether you agree or don't agree with our findings, you cannot honestly make the statement that we haven't been responsive.
Because you marginalize and characterize in your correspondence to others, and me I am left with no alternative but to avoid any further dialogue with someone who belittles the earnest efforts of a ministry that has reached the unsaved in a unique way. I would direct you to our website where most of your questions are addressed in detail in our 70,000 word response; www.baseinstitute.org. I would also direct you to the website of Charles Whittaker, whose doctoral dissertation is on the subject of the true Mt. Sinai; his website provides a wealth of information in support of Jabal al-Lawz as Mount Sinai;www.newprovidencebc.com. As you will see from Mr. Whittaker’s website he does not always agree with my findings or yours; however, he is a fair and unbiased researcher who has done a remarkable job. I hope in your review of his work, my work, and anyone else's work on Mt. Sinai, that you refrain from your past tactics.
I forgive you for your actions, and pray God’s grace upon you and yours.