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Book of Mormon geography statements


livy111us

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Someone has done an excellent job at gathering statements on Book of Mormon geography in Joseph Smiths lifetime. I have yet to see anything so comprehensive on the subject. There are statements by Joseph Smith, the Twelve, other leaders, missionaries, common members, and even critics. There is an obvious shift in the 1840's to support a Mesoamerican setting for The Book of Mormon, many using Stephens and Catherwoods work.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Geography/Statements/Nineteenth_century

Here is a sample from 1841

Nineteenth Century: Statements during Joseph Smith's lifetime

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What I find most interesting about the first 150 years of geography statements is how little evidence they contain of systematic Book of Mormon. study. Indeed, they provide direct evidence that there had been no systematic Book of Mormon analysis on this question until the Washburn's book on internal geographic statements in 1938.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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I agree Kevin, Most early (very early) members and geography enthusiast seemed to look at a map see the little part of land down by Panama and instantly came to the conclusion that that is the narrow neck and everything up or North would be the land north and everything below would be the land southward. Hence a hemispheric model.

Until late 19th century and early 20th century when the text of the Book of Mormon was actually used is when the "aha" moments started to come about. That in itself opened up floodgates of information most for the best. This still can coincide with many of the quotes spoken by the early leaders.

If one studies the many quotes on geography it is plain to see the level of excitement not just with Joseph Smith but many others were raised up many levels once Stephens book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan. Perhaps that is even understated, once Stephens book went through the hands of Joseph and others Joesph was incredibly excited and never looked to a great lakes model after that.

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I also believe that most early LDS taught/believed in a Hemispheric geography. Any connection they could find, whether credible or not, in plains Indians, Central American cultures, and even South American cultures, was used as evidence for The Book of Mormon. I don't think they made a distinction between Book of Mormon peoples and any Native Indian.

I believe the point is that *no* limited geography theorist can claim that Joseph Smith or the early saints only taught their geography. Anyone doing that is not being honest, or is uneducated on the subject.

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What I find most interesting about the first 150 years of geography statements is how little evidence they contain of systematic Book of Mormon. study. Indeed, they provide direct evidence that there had been no systematic Book of Mormon analysis on this question until the Washburn's book on internal geographic statements in 1938.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

Had early Church leaders done "systematic study" of the Book of Mormon text, do you think they would have called the hill in New York something other than "Cumorah"?

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Had early Church leaders done "systematic study" of the Book of Mormon text, do you think they would have called the hill in New York something other than "Cumorah"?

I don't know. I think Cumorah is appropriate after all we name many things after places that mean a lot to us. Jordon, Bountiful, Manti, Moroni etc

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Had early Church leaders done "systematic study" of the Book of Mormon text, do you think they would have called the hill in New York something other than "Cumorah"?

Whatever name they applied, they'd have noticed the relationships in the text that rule out the New York hill as being the same one in the text. That is the main thing. We manage to keep the three different Nephis in the text straight. No one says, "Hey, Jacob says that Nephi died, and yet here he is preaching from a tower in Helaman. Isn't that contradiction?" The occurrence of the names have a context that includes progeny, descent, and passage of time. We manage to keep the Old World and New World Jerusalem straight. No one says, "How did the Nephites fit the city of Jerusalem onto their boat and carry it to this other location?" The framework in which we read is as important as the labels we apply.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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