Where did the Book of Mormon take place? There are probably more theories out there than you know. I’m going to share a Zoom presentation I gave May 10, 2021 to a Community of Christ group. In part 1, we’ll talk about internal maps, the Middle East, and an African Theory of the Book of Mormon.
GT: I thought we could kind of start out a little bit with Middle Eastern geography. Most of this comes from a film put out by, mainly by BYU, called Journey of Faith. I’ve got the DVD there. They seem to think that the Frankincense Trail seems to be the likely route that Lehi and his family proposed. I’ve got a link there, if you want to watch that. It’s pretty good. It’s definitely a well-done video. There’s a link there. What proponents would call a bull’s eye, is where in First Nephi 16:34, “And it came to pass that Ishmael died and was buried in a place which was called Nahom.” So, basically, that’s one of the best spots that we have for Book of Mormon geography, and it talks about it. There are several quotes in there that this Nahom is on the Frankincense Trail. I might go out of order here, I wanted to show a little bit on the map here. On that left map, you can see, basically, they left Jerusalem headed mostly south, down to the wadi, well, actually, where it crosses–that word Timna there, they kind of crossed that river there, and they’re on the western side of the Red Sea. That’s where they probably joined up with the Frankincense Trail.
GT: If you look at the middle map there, you can see that the Frankincense Trail goes into the Sinai Peninsula, but that’s really where Lehi and his family probably joined that, into Arabia and then took a left turn there on that third map, at the bottom there and headed [west.] There are a few different sites there for different potential harbors for Nephi’s harbor. Of course, in the interest of giving all perspectives–of course not everybody believes Nahom is a bull’s eye. John Hamer left a comment and said, “It should come as no surprise or no shock to us that Nahum, which is spelled with a U instead of an O, a Hebrew prophet in the Bible has a Semitic name. It should, therefore, come as no shock that there are places in Semitic speaking countries that share that name, or at least the consonants N, H, M.” Of course, Hebrew, a lot of times, leaves out a lot of the vowels.
GT: John says, “When I first wrote about Nahum on a board, I did a quick test. I said to myself, ‘they speak Arabic in Iraq. Let’s see if there’s a Nahum in Iraq, and a quick Google search picked up a place called Nahum in the Mason province, immediately south of Al Amarah.’ In other words, the Book of Mormon had said that Lehi and his party traveled past Babylon, there was another potential Nahum bull’s eye, waiting in Mesopotamia. Another Google search shows that historically there was a town called Nahem, in Lebanon, halfway between Tyre and Acre. If Joseph Smith had sent Lehi to America via Phoenicia, there would have been another bull’s eye!”
GT: So, he basically goes on to say “[NHM] is not really a bull’s eye. He questions whether it’s even noteworthy, given that the entire volume of a large Semitic country in which to find a Semitic route. There’s a Nihm in Arabia, which is not precisely matched to the Nahom, but, the three letters match. Not everybody is convinced. In Journey of Faith, this is, of course, where Ishmael died and was buried in the place of Nahom on the Frankincense Trail. So, that’s the most likely route and probably the best archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. There are a couple of possible ports in Yemen.
GT: I would first start off with a very different theory, the African theory by Embaye Melekin. This is kind of an interesting theory. Obviously, it’s not in the Americas. I will say this, we did see, if Nephi, left Yemen, it would be a lot easier to go to Eritrea or Ethiopia than any of the other places. It kind of has that advantage of being a relatively short trip. You can see Eritrea is on the border of the Red Sea. So, you’re kind of still staying within the Middle Eastern model. So, Melekin has written a couple of books, The African Bible. This one on top, I think, is the first edition. The one on the bottom is the second edition. I looked on Amazon, the top one was like $800. I don’t think anybody’s going to be buying that one. I think it’s basically the same book. They’ve just got two different covers. But, he basically thinks that the Book of Mormon took place in Africa. He says the Sabeans are the Nephites, and the Agazians are the Lamanites. He kind of also believes that the Bible took place in Africa. He definitely seems to have an African bias there. You can actually preview the book. I’ve got a Google link here you can read.
GT: He’s got another book called 80 Reasons Why the Book of Mormon is an African Bible. From what I understand, he’s just kind of read the Book of Mormon on his own. He’s not a member of any Restorationist church, but he believes it is the word of God.
Have you heard of the African Theory? What are your thoughts of Nahom and Nephi’s harbor?
We’re continuing our series on Book of Mormon geography theories. This time we’ll hit Malay, Baja, and New York geography theories.
GT: The next theory that’s definitely different is the Malay theory by Dr. Ralph Olsen. Ralph passed away about five years ago, unfortunately. I actually spoke with Ralph before he passed away. This is a really fun theory. I know a lot of people will look at this theory and say, “Asia? Southeast Asia? How can this be?” But, one of the nice things about this is, number one, you’ve got a north/south orientation on a peninsula here. So, it kind of matches Mormon’s Map that we mentioned a few slides ago with Dr. [Sorensen]. The word Thailand means land of the free. We talk about the Book of Mormon being–or in the Book of Mormon, it mentions that America will be, or the Promised Land; I shouldn’t say America. It never says America. The Promised Land is a land of liberty. This area has never been colonized by any of the Western powers, so that could be a case where you could say, “Oh, I did not know Thailand means land of the free,” but that’s kind of interesting.
GT: K.C. Kern did a four part review of this theory on Wheat and Tares [blog]. I’ve got a link there, if you’d like to see. So, this could include modern day Thailand, Malaysia and Burma. I’ve actually got an interview with K.C. coming up in about a month, and we’re going to go into a lot more detail than I’m going in this presentation. But, the thing that I like about this is a lot of the anachronisms that the Book of Mormon critics complain about [including] gold, horses, elephants, that sort of thing, disappear completely with this theory. So wheat, barley, has been used in the right time period. Dr. Olsen’s first manuscript is called The Malay Peninsula. I’ve actually got it on my website. Voni Rivas is Ralph’s daughter. She’s on the call here tonight. She gave me permission to put this on my website. So, if you’re interested, this is a kind of the free version of the book here. You can purchase the book there, but the free version is now on my website. That link there. The website is down right now. Voni is trying to get it back up.
GT: The Baja theory: I interviewed David Rosenvall, him and his dad. His dad was a geographer. I think he was at BYU, if I remember right. You can see his website there. http://achoiceland.com. I’ve got the interviews. I interviewed him a while back. He basically believes the Baja Peninsula [theory,] which is, of course, just below Southern California, and across the bay there from mainland Mexico. Once again, it has a north/south orientation. So, that seems to be a benefit. It’s got a similar climate to the Mediterranean, a lot of times. Nephi says that they took seeds with them, and the seeds grew. They probably wouldn’t grow very well in New York. But, being a Mediterranean climate, theoretically, these seeds would have grown. David also says this is compatible with the Mesoamerican theory. He says that maybe they started in Baja and then perhaps migrated over to mainland Mexico. The peninsula matches, the distances match. He says there are no anachronisms. I take a little bit of issue with that. I’ll talk about that in just a moment.
GT: The Book of Mormon and early church leaders said the Book of Mormon was about the inhabitants of this continent. So, that would be another advantage there. One of the things that David has done is he says that there are some similarities between Uto-Aztecan language and Semitic languages, and so they’ve done some research on there. I think we need to get some more on that. But he thinks that there are elements of Semitic languages in Aztec languages.
GT: Some of the cons: the biggest is that he said that there are no anachronisms. One of the claims is the elephants, horses, plants are found here. The problem is the elephants, and the horses are found in the La Brea Tar Pits, which are in the Baja Peninsula. But the carbon dating dates those to the last Ice Age, which is 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. So, yes, there were elephants. There were horses. But we haven’t found anything that dates to the time of Lehi. So, that’s one of the problems. But, yes, there have been some things found in the La Brea Tar Pits.
GT: Another theory that’s kind of a fun theory is kind of this New York/Great Lakes theory. The one that I’m familiar with, is, can be found at http://Bookofmormongeography.org. With this theory, it’s kind of a limited geography theory in the fact that, basically, it that takes place among the Great Lakes. You can see between the lakes [a narrow neck of land.] Those lakes could be called seas. The Dead Sea in Israel is much smaller than the Great Lakes. So, if you refer to the Great Lakes as seas, you could argue that. You’ve got lots of places for narrow necks of land there.
GT: This is the one theory that I’m most familiar with. There were some reviews done on a website called Mormonheretic.org, and these were done back in 2008, so they’re a little bit dated. The website has definitely changed since then. My impression is the guy, and I wish I knew who it was that runs [bookofmormongeography.org.] He’s not a scholar at all. If you challenge him on anything, he gets really, really defensive. But being in New York/Great Lakes, one of the things about the Book of Mormon is it never mentioned snow or cold. I can’t imagine, especially being around the Great Lakes, there would have been a lot of snowstorms and even a lot of cold. I know everybody likes to say the Hill Cumorah is in New York. You would think that they would have mentioned a snowstorm in the Book of Mormon. So, Sorenson and most other people think that it was more of a tropical climate. So, that’s another problem with the Great Lakes theory. As far as pros, it’s not a north/south peninsula, but it has several candidates for a narrow neck of land. The lakes could be reasonably construed as seas. Limited geography is more appropriate than say, a hemispheric model.
What are your thoughts on Malay, Great Lakes, and Baja theories?
We’re into part 3 of our look at Book of Mormon geography theories. This time, we’ll cover 3 of the more popular theories: South America, the Heartland, and Mesoamerica.
GT: I will tell you what. This was one of the first Book of Mormon geography models that I had ever heard. About 20 years ago, my girlfriend, at the time, who is now my wife, we went on a trip to Hawaii. We went to a branch in Hawaii and the branch president was a big proponent of this model. It was kind of funny, because he was really a big fan of Venice Priddis. George Potter has kind of some variations on this model, as well. His website is http://nephiproject.com. There’s another guy by the name of Del Dowdell at http://nephicode.blogspot.com. I don’t want to say all three of these theories are the same, but they’re, as far as locationally, they’re very similar. The idea is the Incas were the Lehites or the Lamanites and Nephites. I know that Venice Priddis spent a lot of time, similar with the Baja theory. They brought seeds and the seeds grew in the Americas.
GT: The problem with Venice’s map here is that this was true about 18 million years ago. So, your timeline is a bit off. Of course, I’ve got a link to the Smithsonian Magazine there. So, that’s a big problem, being off 18 million years. So, it’s kind of hard to argue that that’s what the land was like when Lehi landed here. So, some pros of the South American theory, if you believe that the Amazon Basin River was flooded, then you do have a north/south Peninsula. It’s at the wrong time period, though. It’s got a similar climate to the Mediterranean. The peninsula matches. The distances are an okay match. Church leaders actually embrace North and South America as land of the Nephites.
GT: The Heartland theory, I don’t know if Jonathan Neville is here. He’ll probably correct me on a few things. I know that Meldrum, May and Neville kind of all have slightly different takes on this theory, but this is the one that I found. It kind of gives you an idea of where Zarahemla, Lehi and Nephi–places are, Cumorah. One of the benefits of this theory is, this is kind of where Joseph Smith grew up. He was familiar with the legends of the Indians or the Native Americans. So, you can see that a lot of this would have been incorporated with Joseph Smith’s thinking. Once again, this looks like a really large section of area. I don’t think it fits the limited geography theory. Whether you believe Sorenson or not, you’ve got to say a lot of the work he’s done on distances, makes a lot of sense. So, this seems a bit more spread out than it probably should be. We’re talking thousands of miles, when we probably should be in the hundreds of miles as far as differences.
GT: Once again, it’s not a north/south peninsula. It has several candidates for your narrow neck of land. Mississippi or Missouri rivers are plausible for a river Sidon. Lakes could be reasonably construed as seas. It’s very near the Hill Cumorah, so you’ve got your one Cumorah theory. I know Rod has spent a lot of time, and I’m going to talk about this in a couple of slides here, claiming that he solved the Middle East problem with the X lineage. He’s going to call that a pro. I’m actually going to call that a con, but I left it in the pros here for now.
GT: The Mound Builder culture likely influenced Joseph Smith. Cons: you’ve got the elephants, horses, plants problem. The Mound Builders just don’t have the technology to build a temple like unto Solomon. There were no chariots. There were no wheeled vehicles. Technologically, the Mound Builders were more kind of Stone Age technologically. It seems unlikely that the Book of Mormon never mentioned snow. The climate doesn’t seem to match, especially when you’re getting into the Great Lakes region. It seems to me, I’m speaking on my behalf and so people may question this. But I’m going to say, it seems like Rod loves to mix science with religion. He will use a lot of quotes from early church leaders that support his theory and then he will ignore some of the other ones. I know there’s a quote where Joseph Smith said–the South American proponents say that Lehi landed at 30 degrees south latitude and Rod just kind of ignores that completely. Sorenson basically says that Joseph didn’t know everything and so [you can discount the Hemispheric Model.]
GT: Moving on to Mesoamerican theory. This is Dr. Sorensen’s theory. Like I said, this probably has the most scholars behind it. You’ve got Sorensen’s map on the top. There are other variations like Garth Norman. I’m trying to get Garth on my podcast. He has a different candidate for the River Sidon and he takes a few issues, but basically, the overall map is pretty similar. You can see you’ve got the land Bountiful, land Desolation. Once again, as we look at this, if this is your narrow neck of land, it’s more of an east/west orientation than north/south. So, that’s a little bit of a problem. I know Sorenson puts a lot in the Yucatan Peninsula as well. Sorenson has a couple of books. You can purchase them there, the bottom one there, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon is probably the most scholarly one.
GT: You’ve got Brant Gardner’s review. Brant’s a big fan of the Mesoamerican theory. I would say that the majority of people that believe in a literal Book of Mormon probably support this theory the most. BYU also put out another DVD. It’s also called Journey of Faith: the New World. So, it talks mostly about the Central American theory/Mesoamerican theory. The pros: it’s supported by most scholars. It’s the best researched. All other limited geography theories depend on Sorensen’s work. Your distances match. He seems to have identified the old Olmec and the Maya as the–the Olmec are the Jaredites and the Maya are the Lamanites and Nephites. Sorenson has identified pre-Columbian contact. Some of the cons: it’s more of an east/west orientation rather than north/south. The Yucatan Peninsula is not really that narrow. The DNA doesn’t match. Once again, how did the plates get to New York? Sorenson proposes a two Cumorah theory, where the last battle took place in Central America and then Moroni had 30 years to get it to New York. So in 30 years, you can move anything. Still has a problem with elephants, horses, plants, etc. All of the American theories suffer from that.
 Unfortunately, Garth Norman and John Sorensen both passed away in December 2021.
 Mormon’s Codex is available at https://amzn.to/3eNGxPA
What is your favorite theory & why? Did you know there were so many theories?
Interesting, I’ve never heard of or paid much attention to some of the Asian or African theories described here. I remember hearing about a Delaware theory and thinking “Obviously “ that’s not where it happened. Lol. I served my mission in Guatemala City and in rural villages and so I’ve always been partial to Central America geography theories.
The motto of my mission was “The mission where Jesus walked.” In the early 90s many local members thought Guatemala City was the site where Zarahemla stood. One pday my companion and I stuck a fistful of US dollars in our pockets and we tried to bribe a security guard to let us in a recently discovered ruin in the heart of Guatemala City. The ruins supposedly extended several stories underground. In hindsight I’m glad he did not let us pass because it may have been structurally unsafe.
I used to really get into the theories and bought several books after my mission. My faith has since changed and I don’t view the BoM as historical and haven’t spend much brain bandwidth on the topic recently.
There is no shortage of Book of Mormon geography theories. What there is a shortage of is BoM evidence, anything that would allow an objective or at least reasonable person to reject some of the geography theories. In the absence of evidence, any theory can be kicked around. I can say the Nephites came from Jupiter, then reply to your obvious doubt, “Hey, absence of evidence only means we haven’t found it yet.” I’m sure I could dig up some ancient Mayan astronomical chart that prominently notes Jupiter in the night sky (it is the second brightest planet in the sky, after all), which is about as convincing for my Jupiter hypothesis as the NHM evidence is. Getting from Jupiter to the Americas is only slightly more implausible than hopping on a raft off the coast of Yemen and ending up (alive) somewhere on the coast of the Americas (99.9999% impossible versus 100% impossible).
I don’t mean to be disrespectful or patronizing to any of my fellow readers here. But honestly I find it kind of tragic that so many hours of study and analysis have been conducted on a subject that is most likely fictional. Certainly more likely than any of the given theories.
All that intellectual firepower essentially wasted. It’s the same for all the sincere mildly curious folks who have taken Church history trips. The world is so full of beautiful and fascinating places to see and yet some want to see for themselves evidence of the BOM in Central America. Oh well…we can all agree on the concept of free agency.
I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is historical so I don’t have much interest in any theory about where its supposed events may have taken place. I consider BofM geography to be just a hobby for those who are into that sort of thing, and its fine for people to pursue it on their own time. But I have a problem when it shows up in official Church settings, for instance, when an overzealous Sunday School teacher or seminary teacher pushes his or her pet geography theories as indisputable fact. I don’t have the freedom to express my own views of a fictional Book of Mormon in church, and that restriction should extend likewise to those who push pseudoscientific claims of knowing exactly where in the world its pivotal events occurred. The LDS Church itself does not take a position on BofM geography/locations, and Pres. Nelson has hinted at it being not historical (that the book’s value is in its narratives and lessons, not whether or not it actually happened).
Rick, do you have a sense of what percentage of CofC members don’t believe the Book of Mormon as historical? You didn’t present that as an option, so I’m wondering if a historical BofM is considered sacrosanct for CofC members as it is for us Brighamites. I don’t have any estimates, but I’m sure there are many, many active LDS members who are comfortable with the idea of the BofM being a work of 19th century fiction, but would never dare say so out loud.
Jack do you have a reference for the Nelson hint/quote? It would be great comfort to my non-believing soul.
Jack Hughes: I don’t have any numbers or percentages in mind, but it’s probably safe to assume a significant majority of CofC members consider the BoM a work of 19thC fiction. There are, of course, a few folks still in the church who dabble in archaeology, etc. Most left for Restoration groups (and elsewhere) in the 1980s & 1990s, however.
In my own congregation we sometimes use a relevant BoM scripture passage in worship but never anything more than that.
I sometimes think the “not quite official” approach is: Ignore it long enough and it’ll go away.
I suppose different people could read different things into Pres. Nelson’s remarks here, but it does seem like a deliberate attempt to reign in the use of the BofM as literal history, and perhaps shut down the shady LDS-oriented tour operators in Central America. Baby steps.
“All that intellectual firepower essentially wasted.”
Is it though? I don’t know if it’s still the case, but my understanding is that for years and years Mormons were disproportionately represented in “Who’s Who in Science.” I’ve sometimes wondered why this is. For one, we believe the glory of God is intelligence, so gaining it is somewhat of a religious mandate. I also think the teaching that the Holy Ghost can help us learn ALL truths, not just spiritual ones, has aided that. Knowing we’re all brothers and sisters I think fuels that intellectual drive to improve humanity as well. If anything, I feel Mormonism provides unique ammunition for intellectual firepower and a greater expansion or spread of the volley. One still might be able to pursue these things while still dedicating as much or more time and skill to other noble pursuits as any nonmember could. That’s been my impression anyway.
For my own part, I treat geography as a minor hobby. I’m partial to the Heartland model, but my pursuit of knowledge is curious enough that that hobby often leads to other interests more “grounded” in mainstream science, so I think of it as a win-win. I hear others speak of academic subjects with insight and passion they might not have had had it not been for some of these hobbies and initial interests, so in that sense, I still don’t see it as a waste.
That brings up another point though. I know of few, if any, who can or care to look at the geography as little more than a hobby. They don’t have the money for it to go deeper, and few are willing to provide it. You can argue that the lack of evidence is discouraging the money, but I think you could also argue the lack of money discourages proper seeking of the evidence. And since I’m content with a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, despite the fun the hobby provides, I imagine there are plenty of potential benefactors who are content as well.
All interesting theories. I had heard of most of them.
“I suppose different people could read different things into Pres. Nelson’s remarks here, but it does seem like a deliberate attempt to reign in the use of the BofM as literal history, and perhaps shut down the shady LDS-oriented tour operators in Central America. Baby steps.”
This is a second hand account from Elder Cook shared during a recent (1/9/22) address to the youth:
“My wife, Mary, and I had the great privilege of accompanying President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy, to South America in August of 2019. I loved the way President Nelson introduced the Book of Mormon to the president of one country we visited. President Nelson gifted him a leather-bound copy of the Book of Mormon with the country’s president’s name embossed on the cover. When President Nelson handed the book to him, he explained that the Book of Mormon is a thousand-year history of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. President Nelson noted that because it was a history, it was not like a book where there was a beginning and an end that would be read from cover to cover. ”
From the 27:20 mark of this video
Oops. I misquoted Cook in the text. He said, “a thousand-year history of some of the ancient inhabitants,” not, “a thousand-year history of the ancient inhabitants.”
Here’s my problem w/ Book of Mormon “history”: while Moroni was parading around with his Title of Liberty, the indigenous natives were doing the REAL work: placating Cthulhu by throwing beautiful young virgins into the f-ing volcano. Why don’t they get any credit?
I think there is no chance that Nelson doesn’t think the BoM is historical or that the official Church is walking back from historicity. I understand why people read that quote in that way but I think that’s reading way too much into it.
Nelson doesn’t believe in evolution and thinks Jesus is coming any day now. He’s extremely literal. Maybe there is an attempt somewhere to make space for alternative views of historicity so that we can all get along, but I actually doubt even that.
Rick, to answer your questions, yes, I had heard of all of these, though I had heard almost nothing of the East African theory other than its existence. I honestly don’t have a favorite, mainly because I don’t have even a hope that there is even a kernel of truth to the stories depicted in the Book of Mormon. While I know more than just a few people believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, at this point, the question feels to me a bit like asking what my favorite theory is about where Conan the Barbarian’s homeland of Cimmeria is likely located. As an aside, Robert E. Howard’s short stories may not stand up to the Book of Mormon in terms of spiritual lessons to tell, but boy could he write some vivid prose.
The most generous GA statement I am aware of was Elder Holland’s comments as part of his interview in connection with the PBS series “The Mormons,” first aired around 2006. Quoted below, he is essentially saying Book of Mormon historicity is a foundational claim that the Church will never compromise, but individual members who doubt or reject that position are still welcome (or at least that they won’t be immediately shunned or exed). I suspect Elder Holland’s views have hardened since those comments. Here’s a link to an edited transcript of that interview, posts at PBS.org:
Here are the particular comments from that interview on the extent to which those who do not affirm (or who have doubts about) the historicity of the BoM are still welcome in the Church. The ellipses are in the edited transcript that was published.
Question: “[You say] there are stark choices in beliefs about the origins of the book. Explain why there’s no middle way.”
Response by Elder Holland: “… If someone can find something in the Book of Mormon, anything that they love or respond to or find dear, I applaud that and say more power to you. That’s what I find, too. And that should not in any way discount somebody’s liking a passage here or a passage there or the whole idea of the book, but not agreeing to its origin, its divinity. …
“I think you’d be as aware as I am that that we have many people who are members of the church who do not have some burning conviction as to its origins, who have some other feeling about it that is not as committed to foundational statements and the premises of Mormonism. But we’re not going to invite somebody out of the church over that any more than we would anything else about degrees of belief or steps of hope or steps of conviction. … We would say: “This is the way I see it, and this is the faith I have; this is the foundation on which I’m going forward. If I can help you work toward that I’d be glad to, but I don’t love you less; I don’t distance you more; I don’t say you’re unacceptable to me as a person or even as a Latter-day Saint if you can’t make that step or move to the beat of that drum.” … We really don’t want to sound smug. We don’t want to seem uncompromising and insensitive.
“… There are some things we can’t give away. There are some foundational stones. If you don’t have those, you don’t have anything. So the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, those are pretty basic things. …”
I few years ago at SM, the high council speaker was Peruvian. Since I volunteer in Peru, I wanted to talk to him about possible projects. After the meeting, we talked for a few minutes. All the high councilman wanted to talk about was his brother’s Peruvian BoM tour. Really? I guess we all have to earn a living. But the Church should discourage these activities. I don’t think there is much evidence of a South American BoM geography. And that’s putting it charitably.
The Church should discontinue funding of any of archaeological work being done to prove the legitimacy of an historical BoM. There are much higher priorities in the world today.
I’m don’t think the Church funds any archaeological work related to Book of Mormon and hasn’t done anything in decades.
I have a friend who used to be in my ward (Spanish ward). He knows I’m not a full believer. Anyhow, I visited him and his wife in December and he told me of a recent trip of his to southern Mexico to several ancient Mayan ruins with his family. In his recount, he scoffed at many Mormon “archaeologists” profiting from Mormon tour groups to these sites since the dates of the sites didn’t match Book of Mormon times. He stopped short of dismissing the BOM as non-historical, but I could sense some skepticism there.
I see more and more believing Mormons resigning themselves to the position of “we don’t know” on Book of Mormon geography. Of course they deploy that position against doubters in the sense of “well, if there is so much we don’t know, then you can’t assert that you know that it isn’t true.” Not realizing that the argument doesn’t quite work that way. For to be unsure of something usually communicates doubt and lack of willingness to commit.
One time I had an exchange with a believer who challenged me to name any kings of king lists in the Americas between 600BCE and 400CE. He was trying to show me how little we know about the Olmecs and other pre-Columbian civilizations during that time period. I countered by saying that the absence of king lists and genealogies makes the Book of Mormon appear even more suspicious for it lists dozens and dozens of names of kings and leaders during a period in which, as far as current evidence shows, pre-Columbian Americans didn’t record the names of their political leaders.
The existence of such a plethora of geography theories is a testament to the evidencelessness of the Book of Mormon. I mean it is not like we have that many theories about where the events of the Bible took place. I find it curious how invested apologists are in the plausibility of pre-Columbian Pacific Ocean crossings but completely ignore the plausibility of Indian Ocean crossings circa 600BCE, let alone the plausibility of Indian plus Pacific Ocean crossings.
Rick, how about the ongoing work in Arabia?
To my knowledge, none of that is Church sponsored, especially George Potter’s work. Journey of Faith is more old FARMS, type work, which is tangentially Church supported but most of those donations (to my knowledge) are wealthy Church donors, not specifically tithing funds of the Church.
Rick, they are funds that the Church leaders indirectly control. Sort of like the funds used on Prop 8 and to purchase Hoffman documents. Without some sort of leadership support, they wouldn’t happen. It’s like a slush fund or discretionary account. Those moneys could be easily diverted to a more noble cause.
It’s always easy to spend other people’s money. 😉
Clearly George Potter and the FIRM foundation are self-funded and have no ties to the Church funds. Interpreter/old FARMS is a bit more gray area there, but it seems to me Church leaders aren’t funding archaeology digs since Thomas Ferguson in the 1950s.
It has been a number of years since I heard this this thought. I cannot remember the name of the scholar who expressed the idea that, while he was was talking about the Old Testament, could also be applied to the Book of Mormon. His thought was that much of the history in the OT will never be proven via modern scientific means, the real history we should be looking at is the history of the between a people and their God.
Book of Mormon-Keystone scripture of the LDS religion.
Years and Years of research and digging to find the location of a vast civilization led by Prophets of God, however no concrete evidence found anywhere.
15 men who claim to be Prophets, Seers and Revelaters, but who obviously have no communication with the almighty to solve this dilemma.
If the BOM is not historical then all those faith promoting stories of Nephi, Alma, Mormon and Moroni are just……………..I guess 19th century fan fiction.
The Bible, as compiled by the early Christians (some would argue the Orthodox and/or Catholic churches), depends on church tradition for its authority as canon (leaving aside the question of the apocrypha/deuterocanon) and trust in the Hebrews who kept the texts before that. Ultimately that’s no different from what the LDS use as their claims for the BoM, it’s just a matter of whose claims the texts hinge on. Whether a certain city is a known spot on a map matters to some people, and to others it proves nothing about what happened or what God may have done there.
Modern faith in the Book of Mormon as a historical record of Hebrews in the New World lives or dies solely on whether you believe Joseph’s statements of what it is. Everything else is a justification of whether one believes it.
I love all the people 👎ing Rick without posting any evidence to to contrary.
I found it an interesting read but mainly out of curiosity. Same for the comments. The biggest thorn in the heel is that there is not a shred of DNA evidence. Without that I think the question is moot. Who would have thought in the 1800s that we’d have that bit of science?
And the suggestion that some folk are ok with the idea that the BoM isn’t necessarily history but still valuable doesn’t cut it for me as the BoM was foundational along with the Restoration.