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Bom Geography Theory Survey


BoM Geography Theories  

59 members have voted

  1. 1. For those of you who believe in the historicity (to one degree or another) of the Book of Mormon, where do you think it took place?

    • Mesoamerica (Sorenson/Gardner models)
      29
    • North America
      12
    • Agnostic/No opinion
      16
    • Other
      2


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I'm curious if there are any alternatives to the Sorenson Mesoamerica model that have any traction right now. Those of you who accept Book of Mormon historicity to some degree or another, where do you think it happened?

 

 

Edited by OGHoosier
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Sorry, @Hamba Tuhan just informed me this topic was closed to comments. That was not my intention. Feel free to comment if you feel so inclined.

For my part I put myself down in the agnostic category. Mesoamerica just seems kind of off - I think it's mostly the scale of the proposed geographies that bothers me. I've read Mormon's Codex but it's about a decade old now and I'm not sure how well it's kept up. That's in part because this field of archaeology is hard to keep up with, access to literature beyond Wikipedia is hard to come by and always quite technical. 

I've come to the partial conclusion (based on the imperative of divine hiddenness - no smoking guns) that the geography of the Book of Mormon is probably off by design, which feels weird but also seems necessary. It kind of helps, kind of doesn't that Brian Stubbs' linguistic data (which I find impressive) are in northwestern Mexico, so it seems like it should be around there somewhere.  

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26 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Sorry, @Hamba Tuhan just informed me this topic was closed to comments. That was not my intention. Feel free to comment if you feel so inclined.

Hey, you fixed it!

Quote

For my part I put myself down in the agnostic category. Mesoamerica just seems kind of off ...

I'm with you. For very personal reasons, I believe that the Book of Mormon prophets were real people. But I've never seen a proposed geography that I found convincing.

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2 hours ago, Brant Gardner said:

For those who spend time with the Sorenson model, I suspect that a disappointment is that it can't match the sites in the Peten

Honestly, that's kind of a plus for me. I don't take the Nephites for big edifice-builders, Noah's palace is viewed as an extravagance and I don't think it's even made of stone. But I do feel nervous ascribing Nephite presence to areas with established monumental traditions that precede their arrival. In principle I buy the argument that we don't know what Nephite iconography would have looked like, and I can see Nephites adopting common motifs from the surrounding area as either an aesthetic choice or some kind of syncretism. The kingdom of Judah was not known for maintaining a unique monumental tradition. That said, whenever I see a big fancy site I kind of shrink away from it, mostly because I'm not confident that the Lehites could just take over already established sites.

Take Kaminaljuyu for instance. Pretty much every model has it as the city of Nephi. Now, I'm open to the Nephites setting up shop somewhere around the lake in a sort of Nephite chiefdom, integrating with the locals, feuding with the Lamanite colony, until eventually Mosiah I and company have to leave and basically reform Nephite society along the Grijalva. But I don't think the Nephites could just walk into Kaminaljuyu and take it over. And I'm not sure how Zarahemla could effectively rule the Grijalva Valley with Chiapas de Corzo right there between them and La Venta. I suppose that since Santa Rosa is flooded, we'll never know if it was big enough to overpower Chiapas de Corzo or not, but it seems odd that such an established city would be within the political dominion of relative upstarts. 

Then again, the archaeology of that area is not very advanced, and probably never will be thanks to the dam, so maybe I'm just not factoring in enough unknowns.

Edited by OGHoosier
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37 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Hey, you fixed it!

I'm with you. For very personal reasons, I believe that the Book of Mormon prophets were real people. But I've never seen a proposed geography that I found convincing.

Yeah, I'm pretty much the same way. I've toyed with the idea that God just translated the Lehites to another world (Lehite Valinor) with a pristine geography after they set sail and then warped one of Hagoth's lost boats back to our world's Americas, but that seems too weird even for me. Then again, I worship a Man who was dead for three days and rose again and then sent an angel to tell a teenager to dig some gold plates out of a hill and translate them using a rock so maybe I should stop worrying and embrace the weird. Though there's still Stubbs' data to account for. 

So for now I believe the Book of Mormon prophets by and large were real people, but I'm not sure how many "creative liberties" the Lord and Joseph took with the translation and its geography. Kind of an uncomfortable thing for me to contemplate, but it is what it is. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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3 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Then again, I worship a Man who was dead for three days and rose again and then sent an angel to tell a teenager to dig some gold plates out of a hill and translate them using a rock so maybe I should stop worrying and embrace the weird.

Yep!

FWIW, I'm open to the possibility that we have the wrong hemisphere at minimum.

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25 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

FWIW, I'm open to the possibility that we have the wrong hemisphere at minimum.

Spooky emphasis. I like the way you think.

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I voted Mesoamerican, but I'm not fussed about strict borders of what is currently used to define the Mesoamerican region, or where within the region it is. For example I'd be ok with the region of a Book of Mormon lands coverage map extending out into Mexico or further north, or using the Baja peninsula, or extending down into South America etc. Essentially as long as there is water on the sides, land to the north and south, and some mountainous area (which could even just be big hills), I'm not particularly fussed with whether exactly it is. Though we don't read about frostbite, so I'm willing to take a guess that it isn't Alaska.

I'm more interested in where each location is relative to the others, so the various conceptual maps are good enough for me.

Edited by JustAnAustralian
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13 minutes ago, JustAnAustralian said:

I'm more interested in where each location is relative to the others, so the various conceptual maps are good enough for me.

I've checked out the Pate 2002 model (archived here) and I don't subscribe to it, but it did get me questioning a lot of the commonly accepted definitions of the major landmarks. I've tried to forget the hourglass-map and look at the text without that preconception, and I have found in the process that Mormon is insufferably vague. Keeping all the landmarks in my head is impossible. I'm chalking it up to another example of the Book of Mormon intentionally defying grand unified theories.  

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It seems to me that world history is full of civilizations that were built on top of previous civilizations , often several times in a millenium. If the Jaredites were around for a thousand years before being destroyed they would have had time to build many large structures which the Nephite could have taken over or built upon. I note that IIRC there is an area in Mexico where Catholic churches were built on the foundations of previous native temples. 

 I look at the large stone heads found in Mexico and i don't see much resemblance to the native populations. They appear more Asian or African to me. All kinds of peoples have had the ability to traverse oceans in the distant past. 

Lidar has revealed vast areas in the Amazon and elsewhere that were populated by people numbering upwards of 100s of thousands, and yet they are all gone.

Kaminaljuyu is surrounded by Guatemala City and unless one is specifically looking for it, would pass by on the city bus daily. There are hundreds of " mounds" in Guatemala that have never been touch by archeologists so I reserve judgment about what is actually known about much of Mesoamerica.

Sorry, I am rambling , but if Moroni deposited the plates in NY, I doubt he walked across the Bering strait to get there . I vote the geography is somewhere north of Panama and south of Canada. 

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Rather than "other", it would be good to add the hemispheric model, adhered to by the early brethren and most through the 1970's, and by many still.  The other models are new to the game.

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14 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Yeah, I'm pretty much the same way. I've toyed with the idea that God just translated the Lehites to another world (Lehite Valinor) with a pristine geography after they set sail and then warped one of Hagoth's lost boats back to our world's Americas, but that seems too weird even for me. Then again, I worship a Man who was dead for three days and rose again and then sent an angel to tell a teenager to dig some gold plates out of a hill and translate them using a rock so maybe I should stop worrying and embrace the weird. Though there's still Stubbs' data to account for. 

So for now I believe the Book of Mormon prophets by and large were real people, but I'm not sure how many "creative liberties" the Lord and Joseph took with the translation and its geography. Kind of an uncomfortable thing for me to contemplate, but it is what it is. 

How about a category for "the same place the prodigal son lived".  😉

Few people know that his father Exon, was actually born a Nephite who didn't like camping, and he found a canoe left over by the Jaredites and made a sail and followed the rising sun/son- symbolism, you know- east across the Atlantic.

Because Exon knew about the coming of Jesus, from Nephite teaching,  Exon became one of Jesus' first followers, so Exon dealt with his son as Jesus taught, and later, Jesus, retold the historical truth, as the infallible and literal bible tells us, in Jesus' own words!!

Few know about this because they haven't read the Book of Bukovitch, written by one of my distant relatives, and found in Zakopane Poland in 1942, scratched on titanium plates in Bukovitch's own grave, after a bombing during WWII

It is believed that the plates were made by aliens who were impressed at the advanced spiritual nature of Polish culture, in the 2nd century.

Self publishing was not as well developed then.

You guys just follow the wrong scholars, that's the problem 

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2 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

I'm not particularly fussed about horses and chariots, and iron and metals partially because of the inherent ambiguity of the language (chariot means "riding thing" steel had a meaning "to harden" even before steel alloy was being produced, which is why the word was a applied to the that alloy, and because I have googled "Olmec iron" and also cattle derives from chattel, which mean "posessions", and Ammon's "flocks" are never identified as any particular animal), and the very limited times and places where the words appear, but also because I think the rise and fall of civilizations in the right place at the right time strikes me as more significant set of findings, given the limited time and focused attention of current archeology. 

Here's an interesting: 1- site and 2: article exactly about this point.

https://www.thetorah.com/article/ezekiels-vision-of-god-and-the-chariot

 

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21 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

I'm curious if there are any alternatives to the Sorenson Mesoamerica model that have any traction right now. Those of you who accept Book of Mormon historicity to some degree or another, where do you think it happened?

 

 

There is the North America Great Lakes area. I have heard of some pretty wild ones like the Baja peninsula and even the country of Japan. 

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

There is the North America Great Lakes area. I have heard of some pretty wild ones like the Baja peninsula and even the country of Japan. 

I was raised about 100 miles from Palmyra, and folk magic was still a big thing there.

My father hired a dowser to dig a well and it worked.

But of course that was about 200 yards from a branch of the Erie Canal.....  ;)

 

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2 hours ago, JustAnAustralian said:

We also have a poster on MDDB proposing a Malay Peninsula location

My vote goes for the geography that was known as Kamarah (see below) with its historical founder having the same name as the founder of the eastern cities in the Land of Zarahemla. (see here). All dating to the Book of Mormon time period between 600 BC and 420 AD.

A historical Maroni in a historical Kamarah vs the Book of Mormon's Moroni (Joseph spelled it Maroni) in Cumorah. It's an astonishing coincidence.

yqzB3Yu.png
And still can't find a BOM expert willing to chime in on why this geography fits John Clark's Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies so well. 

Kb4RGCqPIy.png

Edited by Zosimus
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19 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Sorenson himself accepted criticism of the distance across the narrow neck, and recognized that the key passages do not actually specify from the East Sea to the West Sea, but rather from one to an unspecified point.  Plus, I was very impressed by Poulson's use of a computerized search of a 3D map of North and South America for candidates that match the text description of the Sidon, and found exactly one candidate that fit, the Grijalva.   I am very impressed by Poulson's reading the story of Limhi's explorers, showing that the descriptions and distances and findings in the story make sense if one realizes that they followed the wrong river, the Usimacinta to an Olmec site that was abandoned at the time they would have seen it and that they could have thereby both missed Zarahemla and found a site that they could have taken for Zarahemla.   The story does not make sense in any other location. 

The thought that the Nephites controlled the entire isthmus has been a sticking point for me thus far. I would like to find Poulsen's map but I can't seem to since his website is down and FAIR only has his compass overlaid on Google Maps.

I will also note that you can chalk another fruitful point up for the paradigm though. My big concern was Chiapa de Corzo, a pretty good-sized Zoque city situated right on the Sidon astride the route up to the Olmec heartland. It seemed to me implausible that such a city, established for hundreds of years at that point and rich through trade, would be subjected to the control of the Nephites. However it appears that I missed this part sitting right there on the Wikipedia page: 

Quote

Starting around 100 BCE, during its Guanacaste phase, Chiapa de Corzo played the role of the regional capital. The city was linked with other areas across the Maya Lowlands, Maya Highlands, Pacific Coast, and Oaxaca. This is the time when the first hieroglyphic writing appeared on flat stamps, pottery vessels, stelae, and building panels.[12]

Maya pottery types began to be included in elite burials, although utilitarian ceramics retained traditional patterns.[13] This has suggested to some researchers, that the Maya culture to the east exerted influence or even control over Chiapa de Corzo, although there seems to be a waning of that Maya influence in the first centuries CE.[14] It was during this time that the ancient platform mounds were covered with limestone and stucco.

Corresponds pretty neatly to the rise of Zarahemla as a power, and the ability to lead them to regional hegemony might have helped bolster Mosiah I's claim to the dual throne of Nephi and Mulek. I also suspect that the "regional capital" designation is given because there are no more prominent sites to be found in the Grijalva Valley (since the considerable majority of the sites on Poulsen's NWF map have been underwater since the mid-70s.) I note that Sorenson's correlations in Mormon's Codex seem to be holding up alright when it comes to Chiapa de Corzo, though I doubt the locals would allow a Nephite renaming of their city, so I can't be too confident in his correlation of the city with Sidom. 

As an aside, I note that the Mosian dynasty rejected slavery within Zarahemla itself (Mosiah 2:29, 29:40) and this increased cost of human labor may have motivated them to a) build less fancy buildings and thus leave an archaeological footprint which would not represent their actual power and b) use wheeled technology which would otherwise not catch on. I've posted excerpts from academic papers elsewhere arguing that Mayans had the wheel but chose not to use it because human labor was cheap and plentiful and its use honored the gods and reinforced the social hierarchy - concerns which would not motivate the Mosian prophet-kings. This wouldn't explain why Lamoni had chariots though  - maybe he was experimenting or had killed too many of his servants (Alma 18:6) for them to meet his logistical needs.

If that were the case then I might expect some form of wheel or disk to be a Christian symbol, along with the flying fiery serpent nehushtan. 

Hmmm, perhaps I judged the model too harshly. 

Edit: I'd also note that Mosiah 29:32 reads "And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty..." implying that not everybody in the land of Zarahemla was of his people, which verbiage I had never before noticed.

Edited by OGHoosier
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3 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

. I would like to find Poulsen's map but I can't seem to since his website is down and FAIR only has his compass overlaid on Google Maps.

Any chance it is available at the Wayback Machine?

https://web.archive.org/web/20160311092149/http://bomgeography.poulsenll.org/

If you can’t get to the specific page it was on, I am seeing if someone at FAIR has it.

Edited by Calm
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15 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

I'm not particularly fussed about horses and chariots, and iron and metals partially because of the inherent ambiguity of the language (chariot means "riding thing"

Speaking of chariot riding things (rekab in Hebrew), Maragret Barker reminds us that the Sons of Rechab, "would have been priests devoted to the heavenly chariot throne, and when the temple ‘reformers’ had wanted them to abandon their traditions, they refused. They left Jerusalem for another place.." (source) Where was that "other place"? It was a peninsula known to Arab geographers as Rahma or Kamarah. For reference, check out the "Walking of Zosima to Rahmanam" in the Slavic apocrypha, 

In other words, a group of chariot-riding priests were led by God to a peninsula alternatively named in Arabic geographies as Rahma and Kamarah (corresponding with Ramah and Cumorah as names of the BOM hill) in the 6th century BC. The historical founder of that civilization was named Maroni (see previous post).

If these correspondences were found in Mesoamerica, imagine the excitement.

13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Here's an interesting: 1- site and 2: article exactly about this point.

https://www.thetorah.com/article/ezekiels-vision-of-god-and-the-chariot

Exactly, chariot = rekab -> merkabah mysticism. The Lehites were Rechabites, according to Hugh Nibley. (source

XoUnVZ8.png

The Slavic apocrypha informs us that God took the Rechabites to Rahman (a kingdom on the Malay Peninsula), and the Malay Peninsula aligns with the Book of Mormon geography. Can you feel that BOM geography paradigm bending yet?

Edited by Zosimus
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On 11/1/2022 at 5:30 PM, OGHoosier said:

I'm curious if there are any alternatives to the Sorenson Mesoamerica model that have any traction right now. Those of you who accept Book of Mormon historicity to some degree or another, where do you think it happened?

 

 

In our efforts to find the actual place where the Book of Mormon took place it would be hard for us to know exactly what the lands looked like back at that time based on current maps, since the whole face of the land changed at the time of Christ's crucifixion:

3 Nephi 8

"And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward.
But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth; 
And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.
And the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough.
And many great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned, and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate."

 All these changes to the earth could make it near impossible to determine the exact place it all happened. 

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