Ok, for those who follow my blog (both of you 🙂 ), you’ll notice that I have an interest in Book of Mormon Geography. While I am open to many theories, so far the only one that has generated any interest is a theory placing the Book of Mormon lands in the New York area. The website is found at http://www.bookofmormongeography.info/, and is self-titled, “True Book of Mormon Geography.”
My first disclaimers are that I am certainly no expert on the subject of Book of Mormon geography, so I may come to good or bad conclusions. I will say that I study the subject more than the average person, and I am familiar with the various theories. We discussed them here, if you would like to review them.
Here are some of the major categories that the website has:
- West Sea
- Land Northward
- Sea North
- Land Southward
- Narrow Passage
- East Sea
- Land Southward
- Narrow Passage
- East Sea
- Rodney Meldrum
First, I noticed that BOMC (or whomever is in charge of the site) has been updating it. The bolded topics are the ones I printed out a few months ago. I will endeavor to stay updated with him/her.
I have had some interesting conversations with BOMC, who is representing the site. I would like to give an impartial analysis of the information he/she presents, over the course of the next few months. We have had some spirited discussions (sometimes heated), but I would like BOMC to know first of all, that I greatly admire his research, as well as his fortitude in putting his opinions on the internet.
For my first post on the topic, I would like to be somewhat biased, and state the things that I admire. While I don’t agree with everything on the site, I want to put forth some of the positive things I like, so as to not appear overly antagonistic. I also do this so that BOMC knows that I really am trying to be impartial, as I fear that he/she thinks that I have poor opinions of the site. While I know that the negative things will probably draw many more comments, let it be said that I do like many things in his/her theory. (BOMC, please let me know if you are a he or a she, so I can use the proper pronoun.) 🙂
Things I like:
- BOMC starts with the premise that since Joseph found the plates in New York, then the Book of Mormon lands must be nearby. While this idea was probably very popular in Joseph Smith’s day, the research of many has generally discounted this idea. I think this is a logical conclusion, and needs to be explored to see the validity.
- BOMC says the seas mentioned in the Book of Mormon refer to some of the Great Lakes. While many may question this premise at first blush, it is evident that the Great Lakes are much larger than the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, etc, so this is actually a plausible option. It is definitely worth an in-depth look at this theory.
- BOMC makes many references to Moroni saying that the Book of Mormon is a record of the people of this continent, and that the prophecies in the BM about the Gentiles being a great nation, which scatters the Lamanites, do not really refer to Mexico or other nations. While I see that there are other interpretations of these scriptures, I tend to agree that BOMC’s interpretation is probably the most logical conclusion.
So, with that brief introduction, I plan to post more on this topic in the coming weeks and months. I do want to let everyone know that I will be out of town for the next few days, and probably won’t have easy access to internet, so please be patient for me to respond.
This theory has been told before and it is known as the limited Great Lakes Geography theory.
I personally do not believe that the Book of Mormon lands happened anywhere on Earth, but I am pretty convinced that Joseph Smith had that area in mind when he wrote the Book of Mormon.
It would make sense if you look at it from Joseph Smith’s perspective. “The land Northward” would be Canada, from the perspective of a New Yorker. The great lakes would be “the sea east” and the “sea west” and there is a stretch of land between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario that is only 30 miles, which would be a day and a half’s journey.
The “narrow neck of land” that is placed in Mesoamerica by LDS scholars is over 120 miles, so it would be a stretch to say that it is a day and a half’s journey. (They stretch it out by saying it would be a day and a half’s journey on horseback, even though horses are really deer, or something)
Joseph Smith always taught that the hill Cumorah that he found the plates was the same one as mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The place for the hill Cumorah was in Ramah, which was in “the land northward” So we have a contradiction right there, I believe that Joseph made a mistake, because once again it would require 2 hill Cumorahs, one in Palmyra, NY and one in Canada. Joseph Smith always taught that the one in Palmyra, NY is the same one as mentioned in the BoM.
The other problem with the theory is there is really no evidence of civilizations living in this area during the time period of the Book of Mormon.
About a year ago, I posted on the great lakes limited geography theory, and you might find it interesting.
Thanks for the info. You’ve definitely done some great research on this topic. I’ll have to check your archives some more.
I did want to make a few clarifications. BOMC has posted here before, and takes GREAT exception to Canada being included in his theory. So, while his theory is definitely related to the Great Lakes Theory, he has some twists on the theory.
For one thing, (and I plan on addressing this more fully in future posts), the 30 mile narrow neck of land between Lake Ontario and Erie that you referenced is not the same as BOMC’s. There is an obvious problem with locating it there, as it faces East-West as opposed to North-South. BOMC has a version that is North-South, and includes an ancient Lake Tonawanda (now dried up.)
As for Joseph claiming 1 Cumorah: Sorensen has well-documented that Joseph claimed Lehi landed in Chile, then the Yucatan, and New York. So some will use this evidence to claim that Joseph made conflicting statements, and therefore a false prophet. To me, he did make conflicting statements, but this only shows Joseph was human, and really didn’t know where the Book of Mormon lands were. He was hoping these were true, but God didn’t show him everything.
It sounds like you are following a line of logic that the Book of Mormon is made up. While I certainly find the info on your website interesting, I am not yet as skeptical as you are of its origins. Perhaps I will at a later date, but at this time, I prefer to remain a believer.
I guess my main reason for doing this is that it seems to me that the Bible is full of stories that are just as unbelievable–maybe more so. Note the talking donkey to Balaam, a flood covering the entire earth, men living 900 years, giants in the land like Goliath, comparisons between Samson and Hercules, Jesus and Caesar. There are many who dismiss these stories as fables. Perhaps some are, perhaps they are not. But just because there are stories that Caesar was born by a virgin, walked on water, turned water to wine, does that mean that Jesus was a fraud because the same things were said about him? Yes, these are interesting coincidences, just as you illustrate with the place names. But remember this: Lehi is mentioned in the book of Judges, when Samson killed all those Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. (Lehi means jawbone.) So, did Joseph get the name from Lehi (Book of Judges), or Lehigh, PA?
Regardless, there does seem to be evidence that some of the stories of the Bible are true: Philistine temples have been found resembling the one felled by Samson. Now this doesn’t prove that Samson was a real person, or that the story happened, but it shows that it could be true. And to me this is where faith fills in the gaps between evidence and gospel…
And it makes studying the gospel much more palatable, despite all the possible problems with either the Bible or the Book of Mormon. To me, the problems are more interesting to study….
I think that a part of it has to do with the way we were raised. I was raised with a 100% literal interpretation of scripture. My parents always taught me that everything was literal, with the exception of the parables, and if it didn’t happen then the whole thing is wrong.
I now see the flaws with that argument, but you can see where I am coming from and why I was only set up for failure.
For me, I see the similar problems with the bible and it makes me question all of religion.