Jump to content
Duncan

Statement on Book of Mormon geography

Recommended Posts

On 2/10/2019 at 5:21 AM, cdowis said:

The early Nephites may have, with their limited view, seen mesoamerica as an "island", but I cannot agree to use that term with our expanded  view of their location as being  part of a continent.

Anyway, Lehi and his family landed in the Americas.  This is my view and I'm sticking with it.   And you have given us  a plausible confirmation on my theory  on the connection regarding "Moroni" and "Cumorah".  So, option 1.

Every islander I know has once described the Americas as islands. Perhaps they do not mean too, and i am sure they know the difference, but it happens daily.

 

Edited by Anijen
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
11 hours ago, Anijen said:

Every islander I know has once described the Americas as islands. Perhaps they do not mean too, and i am sure they know the difference, but it happens daily.

The internal Book of Mormon geography is seen as an island or a peninsula because Mormon states that the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla "were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward". (Alma 22:32) 

It's hard to identify any place on the American continent that fits this description.

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

The internal Book of Mormon geography is seen as an island or a peninsula because Mormon states that the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla "were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward". (Alma 22:32) 

It's hard to identify any place on the American continent that fits this description.

Look at a map of mesoamerica, and make note of the  expansion to the "land northward".  For the Nephites it coulod be  considered "nearly" an island.

I don't think the Book of Mormon mentions "the sea northward".

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/4/2019 at 7:15 PM, Brant Gardner said:

Full stop for a moment. Why should we believe that Joseph had a clear idea of Book of Mormon geography? He never said he did. All of his actions suggest that he was willing to take information from different sources if it might support the Book of Mormon. If we are to posit that Joseph knew precisely where it took place, do we then suggest that he neglected to tell anyone, and that all of the subsequent apostles (and especially those who became Prophet for the Church later) forgot what Joseph said? 

Are we really willing to say that Joseph kept this from everyone, and that subsequent leaders of the Church are mislead when they say there is no Church position? Must we really suggest that everyone intentionally ignored Joseph's teaching and then forgot them entirely? 

I find that very had to believe, given that there were people who had known Joseph who lived into (or at least almost into) the time when the Church started saying that there was no revealed geography.

As for a Book of Mormon geography being based on a theory that Joseph didn't know what he was talking about, that is an incorrect statement. A more clear statement would be that Book of Mormon geography is allowed to be a subject of speculation because Joseph didn't reveal the location. He knew what he was talking about--but he didn't talk about a defined Book of Mormon geography. 

You ignore Oliver Cowdery’s Eight Letters, which are now on JosephSmithPapers because Joseph Smith had them included as part of his personal history.

Bottom of page 68 to 69.

Letter IV: “He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, ..”

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/68

Written and deposited. It was not written in Mesoamerica.

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/4/2019 at 9:07 PM, Brant Gardner said:

Please give me the verse in the Book of Mormon that describes the plains of the Nephites so I can use it to anchor a geography of the text.

Not brilliant logic, but history. That is what happened. The most economical reading of Joseph was that he saw all of the Americas as a possible Book of Mormon land. When he found better evidence of civilization in Central America, he adopted it. Since he had never received revelation, and had never dictated the location, there was no reason not to. Certainly the Times and Seasons articles are quite clear that the Central American ruins were exciting--and even postulated that Quirigua was Zarahemla. Now, I know that the authorship of those are disputed, but what cannot be disputed is that Joseph made no attempt to correct it, and no apostle or subsequent prophet ever attempted to contradict them (or to confirm them--the Church has no official statement).

We are back to the issue of Joseph knowing the geography. I have laid out the fact that there is zero evidence that he knew. What are you telling me contrary to that? Sarcasm, but that doesn't really help. You indicate that Joseph saw Book of Mormon land in the US. Of course. That doesn't, and didn't, preclude him from seeing them elsewhere as well. Look at Orson Pratt's geography. Orson knew Joseph, and it would be reasonable that Joseph's ideas would be similar to Orson--maybe Orson got them from him (I really don't know). However, the fact remains that there is no evidence that Joseph had prophetic knowledge of Book of Mormon geography. If he did, then we have to explain how everyone who knew him forgot what he said.

It would help if you could at least accurately portray the ideas you disagree with. Joseph never identified any people as Nephites--and pretty much all Native Americans, regardless of their location, as Lamanites. I do agree that there was a time when LDS rhetoric was not sufficiently precise, and there were many who suggested that the Nephites became the Maya (though that really isn't clear in Sorenson's writings, I don't know where you derived that idea). It is more precise to say that they participated in Maya culture. It is much like saying that members of the Church in the United States are Americans. That is basically true, but very clearly not all Americans are members of the Church.

Again, you’ve ignored Letters I-VIII on JosephSmithPapers.

Letter VII

At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/90

The Church does have an official position on Book of Mormon geography, the location of the final battles being in New York at the Hill Cumorah. 

The Church does not have an official position on other locations of The Book of Mormon.

You conflate the two to claim the Hill Cumorah is in Mexico or thereabouts.

Joseph Smith also noted in the Wentworth Letter “the remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.”

The Wentworth Letter was based on Pratt’s pamphlet were Pratt speculated on a hemispheric model.

Joseph Smith corrected it to “this country” when he wrote the Wentworth Letter.

Wentworth Letter 1842:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/church-history-1-march-1842/1

Orson Pratt 1840:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/appendix-orson-pratt-an-interesting-account-of-several-remarkable-visions-1840/1

“this country” is also mentioned in Letter IV as coming from the Angel Moroni:

He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/68

The Prophet Joseph Smith was not speculating. He was told by an Angel of God.

I apologize for the font size changes in my post. It’s difficult to keep them the same size, as I’m flat on my back in bed using my iPad, which is how simple and effortless this topic is.

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Burnside said:

I apologize for the font size changes in my post. It’s difficult to keep them the same size, as I’m flat on my back in bed using my iPad, which is how simple and effortless this topic is.

Simple and effortless, if only the geography proposed in these papers and letters matched the descriptions in the Book of Mormon.

They do not match at all, making this a very complicated topic.

Share this post


Link to post
13 hours ago, Burnside said:

You ignore Oliver Cowdery’s Eight Letters, which are now on JosephSmithPapers because Joseph Smith had them included as part of his personal history.

Bottom of page 68 to 69.

Letter IV: “He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, ..”

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/68

Written and deposited. It was not written in Mesoamerica.

I'm really not ignoring anything. Oliver is a second-hand witness. The one person who could have settled this completely, Joseph, did not (until a decade or more later). No matter what Oliver said, you have to deal with the two essential facts: 1) Joseph didn't make the claim, and adopted it only after it was in common usage, and 2) no leader of the church after Joseph ever suggested that the Book of Mormon lands had been located.

There is no question that Joseph retrieved the plates from a hill that later came to be known as Cumorah. It appears historically likely that Oliver was the one to make that association, just as W.W. Phelps was responsible for the shift from seer stone/interpreters to urim and thummin. It is also quite clear that Oliver believed that the NY Cumorah was the Book of Mormon Cumorah, so it is unsurprising that anything he said would reflect that belief. Since we are dealing with second-hand information at best, and filtered through Oliver's understanding, his statement makes sense--without making it true.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
13 hours ago, Burnside said:

Again, you’ve ignored Letters I-VIII on JosephSmithPapers.

Letter VII

At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/90

The Church does have an official position on Book of Mormon geography, the location of the final battles being in New York at the Hill Cumorah. 

The Church does not have an official position on other locations of The Book of Mormon.

You conflate the two to claim the Hill Cumorah is in Mexico or thereabouts.

Joseph Smith also noted in the Wentworth Letter “the remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.”

The Wentworth Letter was based on Pratt’s pamphlet were Pratt speculated on a hemispheric model.

Joseph Smith corrected it to “this country” when he wrote the Wentworth Letter.

Wentworth Letter 1842:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/church-history-1-march-1842/1

Orson Pratt 1840:

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/appendix-orson-pratt-an-interesting-account-of-several-remarkable-visions-1840/1

“this country” is also mentioned in Letter IV as coming from the Angel Moroni:

He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/68

The Prophet Joseph Smith was not speculating. He was told by an Angel of God.

I apologize for the font size changes in my post. It’s difficult to keep them the same size, as I’m flat on my back in bed using my iPad, which is how simple and effortless this topic is.

The history of what early Saints believed is an interesting study. Joseph is one of those early Saints who also attempted to see the Book of Mormon in a real-world geography, and appears to have been open to lots off possibilities. Joseph himself was quite clear that not everything he ever said was prophetic, and pulling out statements without understanding the historical implications of them cannot make them a prophetic declaration. For example, we have the Wentworth Letter, which relies on Pratt's pamphlet. There is a change. Who made it? Joseph certainly wouldn't have copied it himself, since he had scribes to the writing any time he could. What evidence do we have that we have a prophetic change and not a copying error--even if we assume that Joseph is the source? 

If you are going to use history to make your case, it is imperative that you include the whole history and not only those small pieces that fit your thesis.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×