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Book Of Mormon Geography


Cold Steel

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I've read Phyllis Olive's responses to questions regarding her theories that the Book of Mormon lands were in New York state and the Great Lakes region. I don't find them at all convincing, but I understand that many people do, including a fair number of general authorities.

I'm very interested in Book of Mormon geography and wonder if anything recent has come to light? I'm also interested in the location of the Hill Cumorah and have seen a number of fascinating candidates. Frankly, though, I can't see the New York Hill Cumorah being the one described in the Book of Mormon.

So far, I've found Lawrence Poulsen's work to be very intriging. I feel that Olive is trying to shove square blocks into round holes.

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I've read Phyllis Olive's responses to questions regarding her theories that the Book of Mormon lands were in New York state and the Great Lakes region. I don't find them at all convincing, but I understand that many people do, including a fair number of general authorities.

I'm very interested in Book of Mormon geography and wonder if anything recent has come to light? I'm also interested in the location of the Hill Cumorah and have seen a number of fascinating candidates. Frankly, though, I can't see the New York Hill Cumorah being the one described in the Book of Mormon.

So far, I've found Lawrence Poulsen's work to be very intriging. I feel that Olive is trying to shove square blocks into round holes.

I have both of the good sister's volumes -- also the previous work of Elder Delbert W. Curtis --

and Curtis' ultra-rate videos on the mound-builders and Great Lakes geography.

The FARMers were not overly kind in their old review of Curtis -- I hope Olive gets better press.

Maybe I should post a couple of Curtis clips on U-Tube????

d'Unk

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John Clark reviewed several Great Lakes setting theories here:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.ph...view&id=420

FWIW, I think my essay in RBBM 7:2 on paradigm debate in LDS studies is indirectly useful, since all such debates involve the same issues. It helps to pay attention to the way different proponents value, or devalue key bits of information.

Sorenson's Mormon's Map also strikes me as essential by providing an internal map.

I'm personally very impressed with Poulson's method of identifying the Sidon: comparing the textual characteristics of the Book of Mormon river with a 3D map of North and South America. For my money, no discussion of Book of Mormon geography is worth considering unless it considers that bit of information.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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If you are able to accept imaginitive proposals of changes to the geography that might have happened at the death of Christ and at the same time ignore the geoligical record of past events in the Americas and the fact that the text of the BofM shows that Mormon, 400 years later, is still be able to identify the pre Christ locations, then Olive's theories may have some merit. Otherwise, it matters not who, including GAs, accept her theory or not. Although I do not accept many of the proposals for Bof M geography, they all have information that is worthy of consideration as we compare them to the text, the only final authority, and develop our own concept of the geography of the BofM culture.

We are taught to study the scripture on our own, not to just accept the results of others with no attempt to critically examine the validity of their conclusions.

Larry P

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John Clark reviewed several Great Lakes setting theories here:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.ph...view&id=420

FWIW, I think my essay in RBBM 7:2 on paradigm debate in LDS studies is indirectly useful, since all such debates involve the same issues. It helps to pay attention to the way different proponents value, or devalue key bits of information.

Sorenson's Mormon's Map also strikes me as essential by providing an internal map.

I'm personally very impressed with Poulson's method of identifying the Sidon: comparing the textual characteristics of the Book of Mormon river with a 3D map of North and South America. For my money, no discussion of Book of Mormon geography is worth considering unless it considers that bit of information.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

And I think it is worthwhile to ponder just what the headwaters of Sidon were, and how a Nephite

might travel over (or above, or around) such headwaters.

This was my major dispute with Vernal Holley, when he first postulated that the Sidon was the

Genesee in western New York state. I am equally unimpressed with Ms. Olive's identification of

Buffalo Creek as the Sidon (LLofBM p. 146-147). There she also struggles with the problem of

the headwaters -- but her explanations are not convincing to me.

Before he passed away, Vernal Holley was pondering the possibility that the Niagara River was the

Sidon -- (see also Delbert W. Curtis, Byron Marchant, etc.).

My thoughts are, that a "Sidon" joining the "Sea West" to the "Sea Wast" allows for a headwaters

in the Sea West, and for an important (but relatively short) river that empties into the Sea East.

Holly and Curtis looked for the river's mouth in the Sea East, but Olive has it in the Sea West --

or in Lake Erie, rather than Lake Ontario -- (a mistake, I think).

UD

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John Clark reviewed several Great Lakes setting theories here:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.ph...view&id=420

A LIMITED Great Lakes setting?

How disgraceful....

We came a long way to water down our expectations about BoM.

When I was fresh member we were proudly proclaiming White Man's Ascent to Americas through QuetzalCoatl.

Do they think the history will fade with us old-timers?

It is sad, very sad....

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UD,

IIRC you mentoned working with Holley on some of his work. Is that right?

Phaedrus

Yes -- he lived about five miles from me for several years. We used to get together

nearly every weekend before I went overseas. I only met with him a couple of

times after that.

He had an absolutely huge collection of Mormon-related materials. He was sort of

my "library" for books and old periodicals I could not afford.

I still have several of his unpublished manuscripts and a few unsold copies of

his little book. I may put the stuff up for sale at e-bay someday -- dunno.

UD

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We are taught to study the scripture on our own, not to just accept the results of others with no attempt to critically examine the validity of their conclusions.

Quite right, but after reading your comprehensive work it's difficult not to be influenced. Apart from you and John Warr, who I'm also impressed with, not very many people are putting such a gargantuan effort into it. Although I haven't signed on to anyone's ideas totally, the exchange of those ideas makes for some fascinating reading. I don't know much about Warr, but he's comfortable enough with his own views to question John Clark's ideas. Again, while he may not sink the Tehuantepec theory, the flow of information keeps the topic hopping.

By the way, is there a "top" candidate for the Hill Cumorah now? Someone here awhile back was putting it somewhat to the north of Cerro Vigia (Lookout Hill), which I believe is where Clark puts it.

cerro_vigia.jpg

Is this the real Hill Cumorah?

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Quite right, but after reading your comprehensive work it's difficult not to be influenced. Apart from you and John Warr, who I'm also impressed with, not very many people are putting such a gargantuan effort into it. Although I haven't signed on to anyone's ideas totally, the exchange of those ideas makes for some fascinating reading. I don't know much about Warr, but he's comfortable enough with his own views to question John Clark's ideas. Again, while he may not sink the Tehuantepec theory, the flow of information keeps the topic hopping.

By the way, is there a "top" candidate for the Hill Cumorah now? Someone here awhile back was putting it somewhat to the north of Cerro Vigia (Lookout Hill), which I believe is where Clark puts it.

I think it is a lot further north some where around the area between Tepetzintla and the Texas border. The recent work at Tamtoc has shown the presence of advanced cultures similar to the Olmecs residing in this area at about the time of the Jaredites. The Book of Ether locates the Hill Ramah on or near an eastern seashore. The BofM text locates Cumorah north of the Narrow neck. The only seashore that meets both restrictions is the eastern seashore of the Gulf of Mexico in the northern part of the state of Veracruz and the state of Tamoulipas south of Brownsville.

I favor Tepetzintla as a good candidate for either the Hill Ramah or the Hill Shim. Palmer and some others have suggested that the word shim survived in the Mayan language as the word ixim which means corn. Tepetzintla is a nahuatl word meaning Cerro de Maiz or in English Corn Hil. This would tie Tepetzintla to the Hill Shim and Cumorah would then have to be somewhere further north. Maybe all the way to New York :P allthough I seriously doubt that it was any further north than the Texas border.

Larry P

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I think it is a lot further north...

Any response to my earlier statement -- as to what geographical situation would correspond to

the BoM's River Sidon, and the "head" of the Sidon?

Leaving aside all discussion of WHERE the Sidon is, can we at least establish its relative size and

length, in comparison to other rivers --- its geographical position within the "Land of Promise"

(or its realtionship to the Land of the First Inheritance)?

Can we determine which direction the river flows -- its final destination -- its angle of descent --

its rate of flow -- its appromiximate capacity and depth?

By doing all of this, can we at least rule out certain rivers in the Americas as not "fitting" it's description?

I think this is an important topic --- hills may look pretty much, one like another -- but rivers have

more physical characteristics for us to examine and ponder.

By the way, I earlier mentioned Byron Marchant -- here's one of his imaginative maps -- the Sidon

is the Niagara, connecting lakes Erie and Ontario in this depiction:

marchan1.jpg

UD

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Any response to my earlier statement -- as to what geographical situation would correspond to

the BoM's River Sidon, and the "head" of the Sidon?

Leaving aside all discussion of WHERE the Sidon is, can we at least establish its relative size and

length, in comparison to other rivers --- its geographical position within the "Land of Promise"

(or its realtionship to the Land of the First Inheritance)?

Can we determine which direction the river flows -- its final destination -- its angle of descent --

its rate of flow -- its appromiximate capacity and depth?

By doing all of this, can we at least rule out certain rivers in the Americas as not "fitting" it's description?

I think this is an important topic --- hills may look pretty much, one like another -- but rivers have

more physical characteristics for us to examine and ponder.

Unc

I agree that rivers are a better geographic feature to anchor on. Besides there is more information about the river Sidon than any single hill or range of hills.

"Mormon's Map" in Alma 22 places the "head" of the river Sidon in a narrow strio of wilderness running from a sea to the east toward a sea to the west. It also places the city of Zarahemla to the north of that narrow strip. As others have pointed out "head" can mean source in addition to origen. With either meaning the source of the river was south of Zarahemla and therefore the river must have run at least at one point to the north in order to pass by or through the land of Zarahemla. A given rivers source is generally believed to always be upriver from the portion referred by the river's name. We have no information from the text to indicate which direction it flowed after passing Zarahemla nor to which sea it emptied into other than the statement that bodies cast into the river were carried out to sea. Its rate of flow would have to be reasonably fast and there could be no intermediate small lakes between Zarahemla and the place where it emptied into the sea.

The 'Head" was a fair distance from the city of Zarahemla as indicated by the travel time for the movement of various armies. This would suggest a reasonably long portion of the river with the name Sidon and even longer if tributaries and or source rivers are included.

The possibility that its head was confused with that of another river's head that resulted in Limhi's search party being lost in the wilderness between the land of Nephi-Lehi and Zarahemla suggests that it did not flow through the Land of first inheritance.

1. fast flow.

2. reasonably long.

3 flows northward for at least the portion passing through or by the land of Zarahemla.

4 final destination the sea but Which one?

5 depth deep enough to perform baptisms.

6. capacity ?

7. angle of descent ?

8. probably did not flow through the land of first inheritence. This does not preclude its flow to the west sea, the presumed location for the land of first inheritence. Its mouth could be further north, possibly nearer the narrow neck.

Larry P

UD

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Unc

I agree that rivers are a better geographic feature to anchor on. Besides there is more information about the river Sidon than any single hill or range of hills.

"Mormon's Map" in Alma 22 places the "head" of the river Sidon in a narrow strio of wilderness running from a sea to the east toward a sea to the west. It also places the city of Zarahemla to the north of that narrow strip. As others have pointed out "head" can mean source in addition to origen. With either meaning the source of the river was south of Zarahemla and therefore the river must have run at least at one point to the north in order to pass by or through the land of Zarahemla. A given rivers source is generally believed to always be upriver from the portion referred by the river's name. We have no information from the text to indicate which direction it flowed after passing Zarahemla nor to which sea it emptied into other than the statement that bodies cast into the river were carried out to sea. Its rate of flow would have to be reasonably fast and there could be no intermediate small lakes between Zarahemla and the place where it emptied into the sea.

The 'Head" was a fair distance from the city of Zarahemla as indicated by the travel time for the movement of various armies. This would suggest a reasonably long portion of the river with the name Sidon and even longer if tributaries and or source rivers are included.

The possibility that its head was confused with that of another river's head that resulted in Limhi's search party being lost in the wilderness between the land of Nephi-Lehi and Zarahemla suggests that it did not flow through the Land of first inheritance.

1. fast flow.

2. reasonably long.

3 flows northward for at least the portion passing through or by the land of Zarahemla.

4 final destination the sea but Which one?

5 depth deep enough to perform baptisms.

6. capacity ?

7. angle of descent ?

8. probably did not flow through the land of first inheritence. This does not preclude its flow to the west sea, the presumed location for the land of first inheritence. Its mouth could be further north, possibly nearer the narrow neck.

Larry P

Thank you --- I still think that we will learn something important by better fathoming what

the situation (and events) associated with "the head" might entail.

UD

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Thank you --- I still think that we will learn something important by better fathoming what

the situation (and events) associated with "the head" might entail.

UD

Unc

It is good to see you back posting on MA&D. I hope your health is better and continues to improve.

I agree. There are a number of events described in the BofM that mention the "head" and the geography in the head's location. They should all be correlated and fit the model. I find Warr's model somewhat deficient in this regard.

I agree that "the head" is not as clear a description as one would like. However, I think it is important to realize that in Joseph Smith's day the source of a river or stream was an important concept because it often determined water rights down river. We either do not concern ourselves with this type of problem or leave it up to the government and or politicians. Years ago, I was involved in a dispute with Mexico over water rights to the Colorado river in California and the quality of water that should be delivered downstream from the source which was located in the US. I acted as a translator for the US Salinity Lab that was involved in checking the water quality.

The 1828 Webster gives the following two definitions for "head" used as a noun with reference to a river or stream. It is used as a noun in the BofM and meanings based on its use as a verb should be used with caution.

18. The principal source of a stream; as the head of the Nile.

30. The part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea; as the head of a bay, gulf or creek.

In light of the importance of water rights in an agrarian community such as that of Joseph Smith and possibly also that of the BofM culture, I find it hard to accept any other definition that tries to define it differently in order to justify a favorite theory about BofM geography.

I am always concerned about the tendency of people to interpret the BofM in terms of our modern,global, geocentric, map oriented culture instead of what was probably a local, agrarian, anthrocentric, sunrise oriented, culture in the BofM.

Larry P

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If scholars are fairly comfortable in identifying, even for the sake of argument, that the Olmecs and Jaredites are directly related, wouldn't it be fairly easy to locate the "land northward"? Cultural boundaries can be important in determining other crucial areas like that pesky "narrow neck of land." which is the holy grail of BOM geography.

My big question: Is the Tehuantepec model the only viable model or are there other competitors?

It's a fascinating topic and I find myself enjoying the various theories, even the ones I don't buy. My only experience with maps, alas, is with AAA.

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