A Radically Different Book of Mormon Geography Theory

In the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Nazi’s are looking for the Lost Ark of the Covenant.  They have an image of a map burned into the hand of a Nazi scientist, so they think they know where the Ark is.  However, there is a critical piece of information missing which is found on the other side of the medallion, which only Indiana Jones has.  Indiana exclaims, “They’re digging in the wrong place!”

Book of Mormon geography is one of my favorite topics, and it’s been a while since I talked about it.  Wouldn’t it be cool to find some archaeological evidence?  There are over 100 theories concerning Book of Mormon geography.  Since they can’t all be correct, obviously, some scientists are digging in the wrong place.  Let’s review some of the theories again.

In 1991, John Sorensen of BYU, the “dean” of Book of Mormon geography, created a book called “The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book“.  (It is hard to find because it has no ISBN #, but can be purchased at the BYU Bookstore as well as some bookstores specializing on obscure Mormon books.)  I reviewed the theories.  I grouped them into basic categories, and discovered a 7th category when Last Lemming posted a comment at my blog about an African theory.  Here they are:

(1)   Internal Theories. These are maps which just read the BOM and ignore where they might have occurred, but try to figure out rough distances, and major landmarks that the true map must exhibit. This is a good starting point for “real-world” maps to compare themselves to.  Any scholar should probably start here first.

(2)   Hemispheric Models. Mormons originally thought that the Book of Mormon peoples covered the entire North and South America. Most serious scholars now doubt this, but many church members probably still believe this today.

(3)   Central America Models. The bulk of “mormon approved” scholars support this general theory. While there are disagreements about where the “narrow neck of land” exists, such as Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, etc, these theories can be lumped into this category.  This is the theory that is most accepted by Mormon Scholars.

(4)   South America Models. Joseph Smith is reported to have said that Lehi landed 30 degrees South of the equator, in what would be modern day Chile. There are several theories that try to confirm this, and most people who support this group of theories believe that most of South America was under water, and that the continent rose up during the major earthquakes mentioned in the BOM during Christ’s crucifixion in the Old World.

(5)   The Great Lakes Theories. This proposes that since the golden plates were found in NY, the BOM lands must be nearby, and proposes that the Great Lakes were the Sea East, West, etc.  This theory has recently received a boost from people like Rodney Meldrum, and is making some inroads into Mormon thought.

The book is now close to 20 years old.  Since it was published, a flood of new theories have been created.  The following 2 theories are some of the most radical.

(6) The African Theory by Embaye Melekin.  The link to this theory on my blog no longer works, but Michael Ash wrote a review of this theory in 2001.  Melekin claims that his book titled, “Manifestations mysteries revealed,” has proven “beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Book of Mormon is an African book and about Africans. . . . My book will change the church and the belief of the Mormons drastically.” Well Melekin didn’t change Ash’s opinion, and I don’t give this theory much credence.

(7) The Malay Theory. This theory says it would have been much easier for Nephi to travel a 4000 mile journey to the Malay Peninsula than a 16000 mile journey in open seas to the Americas. The author notes better language similarities, better DNA evidence, and other evidences to support his ideas, while clearly noting that he is not sure how the plates got to NY.

One need only look Wikipedia to see the common problems with all the American theories.  (Important note-look at the top of the article-there are many messages at the top of the article stating that the findings in the entry are highly disputed, so use that information as you will.)  Here’s a brief listing of problems with theories 2-5.  Archaeological evidence has failed to produce many of the following animals and plants existed during the Book of Mormon period:

  • Horses
  • Elephants
  • Cattle and cows
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Swine
  • Barley and wheat

Additionally, Native Americans were much more primitive than is mentioned in the Book of Mormon-there were no chariots, or even wheeled vehicles in the Americas, and iron was not used for weapons.  Iron ore has been discovered in Peru, but its purpose was primarily for body paint.  Here are some other problems:

  • Chariots or wheeled vehicles
  • Steel and iron
  • Metal swords, which had “rusted”
  • Cimiters
  • System of exchange based on measures of precious metals
  • Silk
  • Knowledge of Hebrew and Egyptian languages

DNA seems to be another problem.  I did a post last July on a book I read called “DNA and Tradition:  The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews“, by Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman.  Jewish DNA has been a relatively important topic in the scientific community, and a gene has been discovered, called the Cohen gene which seems to date back to the time of Aaron and Moses.  This Cohen gene theoretically represents the Levite tribe, of which Moses and Aaron were a part of.  Medically, the Cohen gene has been linked to neurological problems.  In my talk with Ann (What’s the difference between Arabs and Persians?), she acknowledged that Jews do carry some unique genetic traits.

So, lest anyone think I’m advocating the position that the Book of Mormon is archaeologically unsound, let’s look at the Bible for a minute. I did a post which tries to show the good and bad news of Biblical Archaeology.  There is no evidence that Jews existed prior to about 700 BC.  That means that there is no archaeological evidence of Moses, Saul, Joseph, Adam, Eve, Job, Abraham, Noah, and everyone who pre-dates 700 BC.  Some scholars go so far as to claim that the Exodus never happened.  There is an inscription about David in the Tel Dan stele, which seems to indicate that a King David may have existed, but scholars are split as to the veracity of this claim.  There is even a lack of contemporary evidence that Christ existed, though the writings after his crucifixion certainly add a significant amount of credible evidence that Christ probably existed.  Either way, science will never be able to prove he was resurrected, which is a fundamental tenet of all Christianity.

So my point is that the Bible and the Book of Mormon’s primary value are in their religious and spiritual validity, not necessarily scientific validity.  Certainly the Bible has more archaeological evidence than the Book of Mormon, but there are many archaeological questions for both books.

Does lack of evidence prove these people did not exist?  No, we are only a discovery away from proving the skeptics wrong.  Can a spiritual person still be a scientist?  Yes, according to Maimonides, a rabbi who wrote 700 years ago.  A quote from DNA and Tradition:  The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews says,

“His writings directed the person of faith to realize that there is much more hidden than revealed, both in the traditional Biblical writings and also in the natural world.  Our challenge is to continually study and investigate both realms, with the realization that apparent conflicts are merely artifacts of temporary incomplete understanding in one or both realms.  This avoidance of intellectual pride, allows the person of traditional religious faith to work comfortably within the framework of rigorous scientific hypothesis and empiricism.  This is also in keeping with the rationalist approach in Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed.”

So, what if the Book of Mormon is true, but like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark, we’re “digging in the wrong place?”  I decided to look at one of the radically different geography theories-the Malay theory by Ralph Olsen.  I discovered it in the footnotes of the Wikipedia article on Archaeology and the Book of Mormon.  He even has his own section here.  The footnotes list a link to a Sunstone article he did.  (You must open the attachment with the free Adobe Reader.)

In the Sunstone article, he lists his mailing address, so I wrote him a letter.  Ralph Olsen is a retired chemistry professor at Montana State University, with research interests in plants, soils, and microbes.  I asked him why he picked Malay as a possible Book of Mormon location, and he cited several reasons:

(1)    The peninsula is North-south, unlike Sorenson’s east-west orientation

(2)    The problems with animals go away.  Elephants, sheep, horses, etc. all date to the proper time period

(3)    The civilization dates to the proper time period, and has had chariots, iron, silk, etc

(4)    There was a dark-skinned people pre-existing on the peninsula.  If they intermarried with the Lamanites, (while the Nephites did not intermarry) that would explain the “dark and loathsome” comment in the Book of Mormon

(5)    The oceanic travel makes more sense

(6) Alma 63: 5 And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an aexceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land bBountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the cnarrow neck which led into the land northward.

a.       Traditional Mormon scholars seem to support the idea that Hagoth travelled eastward and populated the Pacific Islands (such as Hawaii, Tonga, etc),

b.      Scholarly consensus indicates that Native Americans came from Asia, hopped across the Pacific Islands (such as Hawaii, Tonga, etc), before arriving in the Americas.  Olsen’s theory seems to be backed up by more scientists

(7)    DNA evidence seems to be better.  I blogged previously about the 12 Tribes of Israel.  As we know from the Book of Mormon, Nephi and Lehi were from the tribe of Manasseh.  Unrelated to this theory, a Jewish documentary filmmaker named Simcha Jacobovici has made the claim that the tribe of Manasseh may be located in the Malay Peninsula in his film “Quest for the Lost Tribes”, which I blogged about previously.

a.       While not endorsing the Malay Theory, Simon Southerton commented on my blog that “I’m not aware of any DNA evidence from South East Asia linking populations there with the Middle East. South East Asia has been heavily populated for tens of thousands of years, with large civilizations. It is possible that Jewish sailors colonized parts of Asia though.”

I know Southerton gets a lot of flak from FARMS and FAIR for his DNA studies.  I know Rodney Meldrum is making some claims that Cohen DNA has been found in the Americas.  However, Southerton says that Meldrum’s work is based on old genetic tests, and is no longer valid.  Southerton’s rebuttal is found here.

Unrelated to this theory, a Jewish documentary filmmaker named Simcha Jacobovici has made the claim that the tribe of Manasseh may be located in the Malay Peninsula in his film “Quest for the Lost Tribes”, which I blogged about previously.  Jacobovici mentions that when Babylon invaded Israel and scattered them in 600 BC, that some of the tribes were taken across land to Malay.  This could seemingly explain how the Mulekites got there, and why the Nephites (who travelled by boat) couldn’t understand them.

There is also a legend in Malay stating that some shipwrecked Jewish people landed there, possibly indicating the Nephites landing there. As we know from the Book of Mormon, Nephi and Lehi were from the tribe of Manasseh.  Jacobovici states in his film that some of the local citizens in Malay claim to be from the Tribe of Manasseh.

Olsen has written a short book called “A More Promising Land of Promise”, which is available for purchase on his own website.  He also sent me a much longer, unpublished manuscript, which goes into further detail, than his published book.  He encourages people to critique his work, so if you have problems with his theories, be kind, but please express them.  My biggest problems with the theory are:

(1)    How did the plates get to New York?  Olsen admits that he doesn’t know-possibly a miracle?  But he also points out that Sorensen doesn’t adequately explain how the 200 lb plates moved from Guatemala 3000 miles north to NY without a wheeled vehicle.

(2)    If the Book of Mormon lands are in Asia, then Joseph’s account that the Book of Mormon contains a record of the inhabitants of the American continent, then Malay is clearly not.  Joseph Smith History 1:34 “[Moroni] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.”

a.       Olsen’s argument emphasizes it differently, instead emphasizing “and the source from whence they sprang.” He says the Source is the Malay Peninsula, and that is how to overcome this apparent discrepancy. I can see his point, but I know that is not a traditional understanding of that scripture, and I’m not sure I buy it.

So, what do you think?  Do you have any other major problems with the theory?  Is there anything you like about the theory?

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150 comments on “A Radically Different Book of Mormon Geography Theory

  1. I remember reading about the Malay theory a few years ago. My own reading of the BofM (which is often quite different from traditional readings) leaves me completely convinced that the BofM is an account recorded by real historical persons. The work by FARMS and others in the Americas leaves me doubting whether those people lived in the Americas (on the other hand I think work done with the BofM and the Near East is quite good and interesting). Because of this, I think that BofM models outside of the Western hemisphere need to be explored.

    I’m open to the idea that perhaps JS never physically had any plates, but was somehow able to dictate a record buried elsewhere… though the narrative surrounding the plates in NY are pretty convincing themselves at times.

  2. Why do people come up with crazy theories like this? Just to be different and prove that they can come up with their own ideas? The only way that the Malay theory could possibly be true is if the all of the events of the BoM occurred in Malay and then Moroni took the plates and buried them in upstate New York. But that is impossible because the BoM maintains geographical continuity. Mormon and Moroni claim that the plates were hidden in the hill Cumorah which is the site of the final battle between the Lamanites and the Nephites. This hill may be the only geographical location that we can definitively identify from the BoM but it is clear that that location is in upstate New York and the final battle occurred around that same location. Since that is the only identifiable location in the BoM, and since that location is not recorded until the very end of the BoM, one must work backward in the BoM to identify the possible location of other locales mentioned. I think it can be reasonably assumed that other locations would not have been unreasonably far from Cumorah which would place most if not all of the BoM geography on the North American continent and most likely around the Great Lakes region. Even though we cannot definitively identify any other location from the BoM, this small bit of historical evidence alone would disprove any theory that places BoM geography outside of this region.

    It is also impossible to take any archeological evidence and say, “this looks like proof that some event from the BoM occurred here.” That is nothing more than coincidence that the archeological evidence is similar to the historical evidence in the BoM. Since historical evidence is all we really have (plus the location of the resting place of the plates the general area of the final battle) that is all we can really use to determine the geography of the BoM. Any theories that come from outside of this evidence have no credibility.

  3. This post points out problems with the Book of Mormon being set in Mezoamerica, but the arguments ignore a lot of evidence:

    Horses: In the BoM, horses are NEVER described as being ridden. The Baird’s Tapir, a relative of the horse (and called “jungle horse” by the Mayans) fits this description better.

    Chariots: These do not necessarily have to have wheels to be a chariot. A chariot can be defined as a container for carrying things.

    Metal: There is plenty of metal in Mezoamerican culture, I’ve seen it with my own eyes in museums while on my mission. To say it didn’t exist in ancient America is naive.

    Steel: Steel by modern definition is much different than steel of Nephi’s time. Modern techniques are able to refine metal much more than they could have dreamed of doing. Laban’s steel sword could been a made with very “fine” iron and still be considered steel.

    Barley: Biologist Howard Stutz has found three types of wild barley native to America. To say it never existed is a simply untrue.

    Silk: Several examples here as well. The ceiba tree produces a pod with silk.

    Elephants: Gomphotheres, a relative of the elephant, were around when the Jaredites were in America. Look it up on wikipedia.

    Sheep: There are several native species of sheep in America. (Big-horned sheep anyone?)

  4. CF,

    Alma 18:9-10

    9 And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.

    This certainly sounds like the horses were domesticated. I don’t know how the chariot would function without wheels and with a horse.

    Mosiah 8:11

    11 And again, they have brought swords, the hilts thereof have perished, and the blades thereof were cankered with rust;

    There is not a single shred of evidence that Native Americans used swords out of metal. On the contrary, they have been shown to use wooden clubs, with tips of obsidian rock. While sharp, obsidian certainly won’t rust. Sorensen has claimed these wooden/obsidian weapons meet the definition of swords, but since obsidian doesn’t rust, it doesn’t seem to fit the criteria in Mosiah.

    Sheep and goats were never domesticated in the Americas, yet the story of Ammon shows the Lamanites were guarding sheep.

  5. Narrator,

    I’m always surprised when someone has heard of this theory, as it is not very well known. I think your explanation makes a lot of sense.


    I freely admit it that this is an unusual theory. But after personally talking with Ralph, he was quite dissatisfied with the current batch of theories. He well understands people will consider his theories crazy, but there are some pretty serious flaws in the current theories, and his main attempt was to find something that fit better with current science. I admit that I first thought his ideas were crazy, but to the settlers in New York and Ohio, Joseph’s talk of golden plates was crazy as well.

    Your comment about the Hill Cumorah is not supported by John Sorenson, who is considered the expert of Book of Mormon geography. Sorenson supports a two Cumorah theory. As you mentioned, the Book of Mormon says the final battle took place at Cumorah, so there should be artifacts of bones, swords, cimiters, and other weapons of war in NY. However, there are not any artifacts. Let me quote from Sorensen’s book, “An Ancient American Setting For the Book of Mormon” page 44:

    Two Cumorahs?

    A question many readers will have been asking themselves is a sound and necessary one: how did Joseph Smith obtain the gold plates in upstate New York if the final battleground of the Nephites was in Mesoamerica?

    …We have no definitive answer, but we can construct a plausible picture. Mormon reports that he buried all the records in his custody at the Hill Cumorah of the final battle except for certain key golden plates (Mormon 6:6). Those from which Joseph Smith translated, he entrusted to his son Moroni. As late as 35 years afterward, Moroni was still adding to those records (Moroni 10:1). He never does tell us where he intended to deposit them, nor where he was when he sealed those records (Moroni 10:34). The most obvious way to get the plates to New York state would have been for somebody to carry them there. Moroni could have done so himself during those final, lonely decades.

    One final question for you. If archaeologists one day discovered a sword inscribed “Sword of Laban” dating to 600 BC in the Malay Peninsula, would you still chalk that up to coincidence?

    Finally, please understand that I don’t have an official “favorite” geography theory. I like to study them all, as they all have strengths and weaknesses, including this theory. But I find it fascinating as well. If this theory proves out to be correct, then it should strengthen one’s testimony in the Book of Mormon, because we may be able to put this book on similar footing as the Bible (from an archaeological standpoint.)

  6. Mormon put his plates in the Hill Cumorah at the time of the last battles. Moroni left with his portion. At the time of the last battles (400 AD) Dr Olsen found that a small group of people left Malaysia and traveled to Madasgar. (scientific evidence) They brought plants, animals, beliefs, etc that have been linked to that time and at that time they named a town Moroni & an island Comoros (Cumorah?) and another town Morondava… The thing about the Malay theory is that Dr Olsen found scientific evidence for ALL of his points. Other theories are filled with speculation.

    DB, yes, if you read the Mala Theory you will find that Dr Olsen thinks that ALL of the things in the BofM happened in Malaysia and then people left there periodically and then landed on various spots in the Americas (which explains the little things found in Peru & Chile & Guatemala that do not match the BofM timetable) Remember that Joseph did not get to translate all of the plates, they were taken from him (perhaps the untranslated part taken- talked more of things happening in the Americas?). The BofM talks about LandS of promise. Moroni said the BofM is history of the American people AND THE SOURCES FROM WHENCE THEY SPRANG. It doesn’t really talk of the Middle east, so talking about Malaysia makes perfect sense for “where they sprang” on their way to America…

    Moroni did not say that the hill in NY was Cumorah (it was named that later). He said the plates were in a hill nearby… Moroni did not put his plates in Hill Cumorah. Mormon did (Morm 6:6). There is a hill in Malaysia currently named Hill Maw in the correct location to match BofM events & geographical things mentioned. If the final battles happened in NY, why have NO arrowheads or weapons of any kind been found there? The final battle was in a place where they had scimitars etc–in Malaysia… on the hill where Mormon put his plates and gave some to Moroni who LEFT with them. The hill in NY is NOT Hill Cumorah or Hill Ramah… It is the hill that Moroni put them in AFTER he left the “last battles” area.

    CF: They had no chariots OR containers to carry things and no horses or any other beasts of burden to carry or pull anything (not plows either). They had gold & silver in Meso America… but nothing like what would be used for weapons or swords or wheels or plows or… No one said barley never exsisted. It was never fields of grain or a crop or grown by ancient Americans. It was a clump here or there. Anyone can write anything on wikipedia. Elephants were not in America. Big Horn sheep were not in MesoAmerican area.

    MH: I couldn’t have put it better myself! Excellent points! Excellent examples.

  7. VR,

    Thanks for stopping by. It’s nice to have a proponent of the Malay Theory comment.

  8. Here is a more succinct website addressing strengths of the Malay Theory.


  9. Facinating post. I look forward to seeing and discussing writings on this topic frequently. But, for a few days, I must render unto the IRS that which belongs to the IRS!

  10. This was a fascinating post, MH. I wish I had something to add, but I think I need to digest it all as it’s mostly new for me. I don’t recall ever reading about the Malay theory before, but it’s very interesting and gives me, someone who never really considered that the BofM could have taken place anywhere else but North/Central/or South America, some real food for thought.

    Great post!

  11. OK No more taxes tonight, and time for one quick comment. I would think the Malay theory would be very interesting to BofM research if for no other reason than as an independent control group. It would permit evaluations of how significant any correlation of the Book with civilizations of its claimed era could be.

    Logically, Nephites might conceivably be either in Mesoamerica or Malay, but not both places. So the civilization that correlates less well with the Book of Mormon sets a lower bound on what a random correlation looks like and helps tell whether the other society’s correlation is significant.

    That’s probably more useful than comparing either society to Joseph Smith’s 19th century America.

  12. The Malay Hypothesis allows for Nephites in both places. It has an inlet of the sea in the right location for Hagoth to build his ships and people left regularly… In the Malay theory the Nephites traveled in many trips off to the uninhabited quarter (Pacific Islands) and then on to Hawaii and to the Americas… That is why some of the things (like chickens, gourds, other things… have been scientifically found to have travelled east across the Pacific… and why some things that might relate to the “Nephites” have been found in Chile, Peru, Guatemala, etc… They do not match the BofM timetable, but they do match the Malay theory and it also allows for there to be Lands of Promise also in America… I believe you will find that the BofM talks about LandS of Promise. It allows for Joseph to talk about a Nephite here or there in the Americas, because some made it here…. in a variety of trips. To me it makes much more sense for Moroni (or even one of his ancestors) to have sailed with the plates to NY… than for him to carry such heavy things all the way to NY from MesoAmerica. I also worry that if Mormon’s plates are still buried in the Hill Mah in Malaysia… that they may be found by a treasure seeker. Perhaps that is why we have been let to believe they are in NY… so no one can find them?

  13. In the introduction to the BofM it says that the BofM is the most correct book ever written. Several Church Presidents have said that the BofM was written for our time. Joseph Smith was a country boy. The BofM talks about many well known animals including, horses, cows, sheep, goats, swine, elephants, cattle, asses, etc. BofM scholars, having found no evidence for any of these animals in the Americas during BofM times, propose that these common names refer to different animals that were present in the Americas (eg. they suggest a horse was a deer, swine were peccaries) . This is unreasonable if the BofM is the most accurate book and Joseph Smith was a farm boy. Now, if Joseph Smith made serious mistakes on things like common animal names, how can we have any confidence in his ability to translate more esoteric terms? Jesus, as a Master Teacher, when speaking to the people in the Land of Promise would have referred to things they were familiar with. In Jesus sermons He mentioned many animals and plants (swine, sheep, wheat, lions, sheaves of grain, groves, horses, hens & chicks) that were not present in the Americas. For instance: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” Why would he talk to them about sheep if they didn’t have them or know what they were? You would think he would talk to them about something that existed in America at that time.

  14. Firetag,

    Sorenson has a sample test in the back of his book which I mentioned above (see Obscure Mormon Books above.) I think I’ll try to use his criteria to test his own, as well as other theories, including the Malay theory. (It sounds like a great idea for another post.)

    Also, recently Mormon Times published an article about how to properly test geography theories. I do wonder if some of these tests are self-serving–they seem to always want to show that Mesoamerica is the best, but they didn’t bother to mention Malay. The link to this other test can be found here. Nevertheless, I think they bring up some valid points–especially the point that ancient American cultures were less advanced in North America than in Central America in BoM times.

  15. VR,

    I think that is a real interesting aspect of Malay–that it can sort of fit in with other theories. However, if all the events happened in Malay, then obviously many of the artifacts won’t be found here.


    Thanks for checking in!!! I think that you make a very important point. Mesoamerican theorists (like CF above, as well as Sorenson) really don’t use common definitions of terms in order to make their theory fit. It’s kind of like a square peg in a round hole–it just doesn’t work very well.

  16. I don’t really find many of the “mistakes” about animals and plants to be “mistakes” at all. Rather, it seems to me to be evidence of validity.

    In his book “By the Hand of Mormon”, Givens discusses notions of how the English BofM was produced from the plates according to the preponderance of the first-hand accounts. He argues for a word-related translation by Joseph of whatever Mormon actually wrote, whatever the means. (perhaps even a visual analogue of speaking in tongues?)

    Given that type of process, Joseph would simply write that Nephites ate barley or raised sheep because Mormon thought they ate barley and raised sheep. And Mormon thought they ate barley and raised sheep because the same symbol that had once represented a crop or animal from the Mideast had meant some Mesoamerican staple or herd animal for hundreds of years.

    A historial Nephite migration would have to work that way, quite apart from any religious connotations. Few foodstuffs brought from the Mideast are going to thrive in the drastically different ecosystem of Mesoamerica, and when they do, we aren’t going to notice them anymore than we do any other species common to both hemispheres.

    So the ones that don’t thrive have to be replaced with something native, but when that happens, YOU DON’T THROW AWAY A PERFECTLY GOOD SYMBOL which no longer has a referent in your new environment, especially when you have to carve it on metal or stone and explain to all the existing speakers what the new symbol means.

    Sound strained? Well, what’s a sea cow? Think how “lamp” takes on different meanings if we talk about Aladdin, a whaling ship, a coal miner, or Thomas Edison.

    The same thing happens in every “space colony” imagined by science fiction writers. It’s how human minds act when their environment abruptly changes.

    Horses and “cimiters” are far more interesting, but I’ll save that for a military discussion.

  17. Some people are so desperate to make their theory acceptable that they resort to extreme measures to make it seem plausible. In science we don’t work that way. We accept the words as they are written in the dictionary instead of changing them to support some theory. If there is a theory that everything matches, it is more plausible than one which has to change some or all terms.

    MH: You are correct. the artifacts are not found in MesoAmerica. But many artifacts have been found in Malaysia (eg. the following are either in Malay or the area: sheep, horses, goats, elephants, cows, cattle, pigs, scimitars, chariots, wheels, mines, metallurgy, metals, barley, silk, money, Hebrew writing, metal plates with rings, Biblical beliefs, place names that are similar to Book of Mormon names, narrow neck of land, peninsula, directions, east & west sea, topography, etc, etc –read the book) I don’t know of a single bit of tangible evidence they have found in MesoAmerica. The proof is overwhelmingly in favor of Malay theory.

    Firetag: I have no idea how you can use the discrepancy in terms as a way to validate.
    Mormon was there. Wouldn’t he know what they ate?

    Polynesians took things to the islands of the Pacific. Some of them traveled on to the Americas (ie chickens). Scientists have found where they came from and that they arrived in America. There is no other way the chickens could have evolved separately. There is an area (Arracan) in Burma where a very unique chicken type originated. The exact same chicken with very unique coloring (& the way the feathers were arranged) has been found in Chile. The name of that area in Chile is named Arauco. It would be very unlikely for a chicken to exist in both places, let alone have a similar place name. Scientists do know what items originated in what hemisphere.

    China had silk and was trading with Zhenla in BofM times. Malaysia is close enough to be trading with China and has a city, “Tana Merah,” that is in the location which matches Book of Mormon Zarahemla. Silk is made from a particular silkworm. It was not in the Americas. They had silky fibers, but it was not silk. Spiderwebs are kind of silky, but they are not silk.

    Leprosy was mentioned in the BofM. There was no leprosy in MesoAmerica.

    These are things that were known in the Old World, but not the New World. It is being a little dishonest to pretend it is something else or make excuses for it not being there.

    King Noah had vineyards and a way to process wine. There were no vineyards in MesoAmerica. There were a few wild grapes here or there but not vineyards. They made an alcoholic beverage out of Maguey (Agave) That plant is one of the most important plants they had in Central America. They used it for food, clothing, construction, it had spines they used for needles… It was an extremely important plant that isn’t even mentioned in the BofM.

    Bison were used for clothing, dance, drums, blankets, they almost worshipped bison. They aren’t even mentioned in the BofM.

  18. When the Polynesians (the best natural navigators ever on earth) landed in Hawaii they were almost starved & had no more water. If they had had to travel another day they wouldn’t have made it. They had only traveled about 2000 miles. For us to pretend that untrained city folks from Jerusalem sailed for 12000–16000 miles across the ocean without mishap is absurd.

  19. I love this theory because of how it challenges us. Ultimately it may not be right, but I do feel like it is superior to any other theory out there. The geography fits, the sociology fits, and the etymology fits. That is more than most of these other options, where we end up with trying to tag civilizations (Maya, Olmec, Toltec, etc) with Nephite and Lamanite to get it to fit.

  20. Let me try again. How does Mormon know that what he’s eating isn’t barley, if that’s the word everyone around him calls what he’s eating?

    If he’s actually eating something that does thrive in this hemisphere, he’s going to use a glyph for a common, no longer available food like “barley”.

    Why would you expect Nephites to make up a special glyph meaning “some plant that sort of tastes like barley but I’m not sure exactly since the barley seed we brought from home rotted in all the heat and rain here the first month after we landed.”

    So the records buried by Moroni say “barley” and Joseph translates them “barley” and there wasn’t a barley plant in any field in Mesoamerica.

    I fearlessly predict that if an American astronaut makes it to Alpha Centauri, the first flying thing he sees that’s about one-three feet large will be an “eagle”. No matter if the alien DNA tells us later its structures are more closely related to reptiles..

  21. I can’t add much of substance, but I do want to make two points:

    1) The early church members and leaders (even Joseph himself) didn’t use the Book of Mormon much as a study text. It was used as a prophetic proof text, primarily. It’s no wonder they really didn’t understand the content and context much; that wasn’t very important to them.

    Frankly, that’s a part of my testimony of its validity, since Joseph would have understood it MUCH better if he had been the author in a classic sense. However, I believe that also has led to all kinds of misconceptions and mistaken assumptions about what it actually says in the pages themselves.

    2) Perhaps the best example of this is the whole “plates had to be buried in NY” or “how could Moroni have moved the plates from their original location to NY (especially if it was thousands of miles away)” argument. Think about the following:

    The final battle is said to have occurred somewhere around 385AD, with the hunting down and killing of the survivors happening somewhere between then and 421AD. Let me repeat that differently. There is a 36 YEAR PERIOD between the great and final battle of Mormon 6 and the closing of the record in Moroni 10.

    In 36 YEARS, Moroni could have taken the record absolutely ANYWHERE in the world from WHEREVER he was at the time of the final battle without breaking much of a sweat, figuratively speaking. When you really think of it, there probably is no other more reasonable explanation as to why it took 36 YEARS for him to bury the record than that he was traveling half-way around the world to do so – especially if he has to stop somewhere along the route and record his final messages as he found additional material to make extra pages.

    The evidence for the beginning of the book in the Old World is quite good, while the evidence for the Malaysia theory also is quite good – once the assumptions are set aside and everything is examined afresh.

    Finally, parsing the words of JSH 1:34 (“the source from whence they sprang”) does NO violence whatsoever to the Malaysia theory and, as has been said, makes the DNA evidence almost a moot point. It also makes Nibley’s belief that the Jaredites originated in the Northeast Asian steppes much more plausible as to a common settling place for all three populations – the Jaredites, the Mulekites and the Lehites. (and adding the Jaredties as a possible ancestor group of the peoples of the American continents only makes the DNA evidence that much stronger, if they actually were from Northeast Asia)

    I don’t endorse or promulgate the Malaysia theory, but I don’t discount it one bit. It fits the actual claims of the book very well, and, as others have said, it solves LOTS of issues with the MesoAmerican theory.

  22. Oh, and one more thing to consider about the Malaysia theory that I find mind-blowingly fascinating:

    There is a dying population of “Native Japanese” called the Ainu that have been pushed up to the north island of Hokkaido. They are considered by most historians to be the original inhabitants of the Japanese islands. They are a light-skinned, hairy people. Nobody really knows their origins, but the assumptions are a Russian or other “Caucasian” origin.

    To reach Japan from Malaysia, one would have to embark by sea and travel “to the land northward”.

  23. One more fascinating article, given the discussion of barley, begins with this quote:
    Origins of the Ainu
    by Gary Crawford

    The ringing telephone broke the evening silence. It was the fall of 1983, and my research partner, Professor Masakazu Yoshizaki, was calling from Japan.

    “Gary, I have some news,” Yoshi said. “We have a few grains of barley from a site on the Hokkaido University campus. I think you should come and look at them.”


  24. If I may play referee between Firetag and VR for a few minutes, let me say that you both have valid points, and I think there are some places where the logic breaks down too.

    Firetag, your point about language usage is well taken. Lamp can mean different things, depending on context as you said: “Aladdin, a whaling ship, a coal miner, or Thomas Edison.” I think it is important to look at alternative definitions to see if we may have missed something. For example in the Bible, we look at the word “perfect”, but a Greek text emphasizing “complete” might be a better definition, so I think this is a valuable tool to use. Certainly Givens has a valid point.

    On the other hand, the Book of Mormon does have some words which we just don’t know. Mosiah 11 talks about ziff, which is some sort of metal. Ether 9:19 says, “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms. Your lamp analogy completely breaks down here, because we have no idea what cureloms and cumoms are, but we know they must be useful for man. Sorenson, Olsen, and others have speculated what this might be.

    Horses, asses, and elephants were commonly used in Asia as modes of transportation, plowing fields, etc. One would expect cureloms and cumoms to be used similarly. There is absolutely no evidence of horses, asses, or elephants used in this manner in the Americas. Sorenson speculates American Bison might be a curelom and/or cumom, but that doesn’t seem to fit the context of scripture.

    On the other hand, Olsen has noted that water buffalo are used as utility beasts to plow fields, among other things. It seems that an Asian setting more closely fits the scriptural definition than Meso setting.

    Let me address some of VR’s points. Regarding artifacts, I was talking more about objects than animals. For example, as I mentioned above, the Tel Dan Stele (a stone artifact with writing) indicates the Syrians defeated the House of David. This is evidence outside the Bible to corroborate David’s existence. If a Stele was found with Nephi’s name (or any other BoM character) in Malay, this would give a tremendous boost too your theory. Nothing like that has been found to date.

    Regarding languages, I think Sorenson does make an excellent point. To this point, Olsen doesn’t have any linguistic experts to corroborate that Hill Maw might be Hill Cumorah, or Hill Ramah. I am not a linguistics expert, and to this point, I would say such comparisons are more circumstantial evidence than hard evidence. If an expert in linguistics were to make such a link, then the Malay Theory would be greatly bolstered, and I think that would be a nice feather in your cap to be able to tout such a claim.

    From what I can tell, there are no real language similarities between Native American languages and Egyptian, Aramaic, or whatever language Nephi spoke, which I view as a strike against Sorensen. However, Sorenson does deserve credit for talking about the issue, and trying to get some linguistic experts on his side. He has found some tenuous linkages, but I do not find them compelling. I have made this suggestion to Ralph, and he seemed quite receptive to the idea, but I believe he is still looking for a linguistics expert.

  25. Beau, I agree. This theory certainly does challenge everything we know about the BoM. Had you heard of it before?

    Ray, thanks for the info and links. That book I read, DNA and Tradition by Rabbi Kleiman did talk about Tribes of Israel being in the Orient, and I believe he said Japan as well. I can’t remember what his final verdict was about the Ainu on DNA evidence–I’ll have to check again. (He also discussed the BoM, but said the evidence didn’t corroborate the Americas as having any Jewish DNA. I also got a chuckle when he misspelled “Mormans” on more than one occasion.)

    Additionally, the DVD by Simcha Jacobovici Searching for the Lost Tribes seemed to believe that some Jewish tribes had settled in China, as well as India. I don’t recall anything about Japan, but it is interesting to look at.

  26. Dr Olsen suggests that the Ainu support his theory. His book talks about it : “Ainus migrated to northern Japan in ancient times. These white people migrated as Ainoids (now Ainus) from Malaysia to Japan…Their beliefs, appearance, behavior, language, etc. suggest that they may have been Book of Mormon people.”

    Olsen also talks of ziff: “The BofM refers to ziff possibly as a metal or ornament (Msh 11:3, 8). Of great interest, therefore, is the report by Yorgason that the term ziff in Arabic refers to a curved sword somewhat like a scimitar. (Old World) It is used as a weapon and an ornament. As an untutored boy, Joseph Smith is not likely to have known of Ziff. The account provides excellent support of his translation abilities and for the genuineness of the Book of Mormon and the Land of Promise being in the Old World.

  27. Some “artifacts” discussed in Olsens book:
    Parchesi was a game played by Hindus of Southeast Asia. It was also played by ancient Aztecs in America who called it Patollli. By proposing that BofM peoples lived in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years, Mala can accomodate the evidence. In a nonstop voyage described by Meso , there is no way to account for the transfer of the game to America.

    Palenque. Jopseph Smith identified Palenque Mexico as a Nephite city. The earliest Palenque buildings were constructed about 600 AD. This creates a serious problem for MesoAmerican theory because the Nephites were annihilated in 385 AD. The Malay theory works because the annihilation occured on the Malay peninsula and Nephites had hived off from there and were reachingthe eastern Pacific about 600 AD.

    The unusual Chacmool figures have parallels in India, Southeast Asia, Polynesia and Central America. The Chacmool figure is too unique to have been created independently. A link between those sites as proposed in Mala is indicated.

    Similar stone axes, atlatl hooks, shell discs, decorations on metal, & ear pendants are found in Indochina and Ecuador. Unlike Mala, Meso proposes no contact between BofM peoples & either Southeast Asia or Ecuador.

    Mideast writing in the Burma area was derived from Aramic and Phoenican. Semitic letters are found on plates held together with rings. (similar to those described by Joseph Smith) No Mideast script has been found in MesoAmerica.


  28. There is another group of peoples near Mala called the Karens with astonishing cultural affinities with the Jews. Nibley has noted that their history may parallel Lehi’s in more ways than one. The Karens had a city named Sami (Nephite Sam?), a nearby province is called Canaines (Canaan?). Another province Sai-rai (after Lehi’s wife Sariah?) Farther north there is a city of Leh (Lehi?). They did not believe all the words of God (brass plates?) so they separated. They had many similar beliefs: God was called Y’wa. He is perfect and eternal. They knew the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden. They knew of Moses striking a rock to get water. Their forefathers had lost a book long ago (Nephite record?) and they had been expecting a white brother to return with it. . .

  29. Re: MH 25. The points about the unknown words is something I had considered mentioning, and should have taken the time to do so.

    The translation theory Givens defends suggests that the translator gets the word the writer used. The spectacles or seer stones or U&T aren’t equipped with a thesaurus feature. So there will occasionally be no reference left in the translator’s world to the concept of the writer, and some symbol for the original untranslatable word gets passed from Jaredite record to the Nephites, and then, similarly untranslated from Mormon to Joseph.

    I think the more important point I’m making is that our “null hypothesis” really has to be well-defined so that we aren’t thinking we’re testing a theory of location when we’re actually testing a theory of translation that is independent of location, or mistaking positive evidence for negative.

    For example, I don’t want to find a lot of evidence of chariots or horses in any proposed location for the BofM, because if there were a lot of them around, I have to explain why Mormon and the first Moroni were really military idiots in how they failed to use them the way military forces across the old world used them for millenia. And Mormon may not have known barley from broccoli, but worrying about the historical location of the BofM is futile if Mormon acts like a military idiot. Because then he’s a fictional character, not a real general, and the events depicted are, at best, sacred fiction.

  30. VR, while the points you bring up are intriguiging, and add some credibility to the Malay theory, they are not artifacts. For example, Parcheesi is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon, therefore it’s relevance to this discussion is tenuous at best.

    Yes, it is corroborating evidence of your theory, but it is not an artifact in the same sense of the Tel Dan Stele. When I say artifact, I mean some physical object with a strong tie to the Book of Mormon. For example, the Liahona, Sword of Laban, King Noah’s palace, Moroni’s Title of Liberty–these are the sorts of objects that would be considered “artifacts”. Yes Chacmool figures are parallels, but should not be considered true artifacts.

  31. Firetag
    “I don’t want to find a lot of evidence of chariots or horses in any proposed location for the BofM, because if there were a lot of them around, I have to explain why Mormon and the first Moroni were really military idiots in how they failed to use them the way military forces across the old world used them for millenia.

    I find this logic quite strange. I don’t care if Mormon and Moroni were military idiots. The more important thing is to find an artifact. Heck, Joseph Smith was a financial idiot, but that doesn’t diminish his role as a prophet, or make him fictitious. I am not following your logic here at all. Any why do you have to explain their military strategy? Even if you are a military general, you don’t have to explain any of Mormon’s military tactics unless you choose too, and neither do I.

    Having said all that, I think the Malay Theory is a much simpler explanation than Givens gives. Usually the simplest explanation is the better explanation. (It’s not always true, but in most cases, it is.) Frankly, I think Mormon would not have called broccholi as barley, and your characterization of Mormon as an idiot is quite tasteless.

  32. MH: You keep drawing me into teases of what I really intend for a long post in my own under-construction blog, where I could make my point more fully. But “line upon line”…

    Mormon is a prophet. He is also a General. Those two facts are incontestable to the internal “truth” of the Book.

    The items he chooses to notice and the items he chooses not to notice — when they are not quoted sermons by someone else — are clearly influenced by the second role as general as much as the first role as prophet. Sometimes more so.

    He really likes the first Moroni, enough to give his son the same name. He spends more time talking about Moroni’s battle tactics in a single campaign than he spends talking about the entire economic system as it existed over a thousand years. Once you realize that, even the selection of missionary journeys discussed in detail versus those only mildly passed over start to take on a new meaning. They had military and strategic significance as well as spiritual significance to him, so that’s where he drew his examples to teach spiritual lessons.

    Therefore, if chariots or horses are common in his society, the absense of their employment as decisive elements in battles he describes speaks to a lack of INTERNAL coherence to the document. I find that to be a more serious issue than correlating the document to EXTERNAL societies.

    To the contrary, the internal consistency of how a military man would behave given the geography, terrain, and technical capabilities available in Mayan times — the fact that Mormon is clearly NOT an idiot when Joseph Smith showed little military capability (sorry you didn’t get my humor) is to me one of the stronger evidences of the Book’s authenticity.

    And looking at a map of the Malay hypothesis, one of the first things I’m going to want to understand is why Mormon wasn’t an Admiral under that theory.

  33. Back to comment #4 –

    That’s pretty funny. If archeologists ever found an ancient sword in the Malay Peninsula with “Sword of Laban” inscribed on it, I wouldn’t call it a coincidence, I’d call it a fake. But I’m not an archeologist and not that familiar with ancient artifacts; maybe it was common for people around 600 bc to label their swords with “Sword of {insert name}”. Anyway, your point is well taken. If an artifact is found in Malay that could have come from no one else but from someone in the BoM, then that might persuade me to change my personal belief. However, I don’t think that is likely to happen just like I don’t that it is likely that any artifact will ever be found in the Americas that can only be attributed to a single person mentioned in the BoM. Generally, only historical records have evidence like that so if more historical records are found in Malay then I might change my thinking as well.

    I also find it hard to believe that Moroni would have described the BoM as an “account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang” if he was the only one from the BoM to have traveled to and inhabited this continent. It’s a very odd statement that doesn’t make much sense in that context. It’s really too much of a stretch for me to believe that what he really meant was that it is an account of the former inhabitants of another continent, which is the source from whence he sprang.

  34. Firetag, I guess I’ll have to learn your sense of humor better. It didn’t come across as funny to me at all. But jokes are welcome! 🙂

    Yes, internal and external evidences are two different points. I’m focusing more on the external evidences than the internal ones here, but if you put something on a blog, be sure to let me know. I’ll be interested to read it.

    DB, you may want to check out my post on Nahom, which is found in Yemen. There is some really good archaeology work there, and it seems to corroborate the path Lehi probably followed when they left Jerusalem. There are some really good matches for Old World geography. While I don’t know if it is strong enough to be called “evidence”, I would love to find something similar in the New World, whether it be in Malay, Meso, NY, or Chile, it does not matter to me. Such a find in a New World Geography will lend great credence to who ever can claim such a find.

    I agree with you that Olsen’s interpretation is a stretch, but as Firetag said about “lamps”, it is important to consider other possibilities. On the one hand, Olsen is applying this stretch to his theory, but Sorenson is applying some stretches to his interpretations of swords, chariots, or horses for Meso, so both camps will use the same technique as a means to help their theory.

  35. Olsen’s theory is less of a “stretch” than the Meso theory. He has found many scientific evidences that support his theory. Meso has not. If Sorenson had found just one place name that was similar, there would have been shouting from the roof tops!

    DB: Did you read what I have written? Moroni is NOT the only Nephite to reach the shores of America. Many groups of Nephites left in Hagoth’s ships, and most likely others, and traveled to the uninhabited quarter (unknown to the world) –the Pacific islands are still called the Pacific quarter… and as scientific evidence shows… settled in the islands and then moved further east… One (or more?) group landed in Peru –we have found evidences there of their landing that is too late for BofM times, other group (s) landed in Chile (evidences not matching BofM times), in Guatemala –Which is in the MesoAmerican area (but evidences not in the BofM time period)… etc. It is comforting to know that ALL of the Nephites were not annihilated because they left before the last battles. A scientifically proven group of people (assumably with Moroni) left Malaysia about the time of the last battles–and traveled to Madagascar and named a town Moroni (see above). Olsen believes it is more likely that Moroni sailed from there to deposit his plates in NY than someone having to carry such heavy things from Meso America (with no beasts of burden, no wheels). He hasn’t found proof of that yet though so he didn’t put it in his book. He recently told me that he has found 40 more arguments since he wrote this more current book.

    Joseph Smith talked about BofM lands being all of North & South America. He didn’t know eveything. He was a man most of the time and a Prophet when he had been talking with God and was told specific things.

    The church says that location is not important but faith is. But why then have they been spending millions of dollars to find location evidences?

    Anything said about the Meso theory is assumed to be right. If anything is said against it it assumed to be wrong. It makes it hard to compare theories. In order to make progress in the quest for truth, we need some open mindedness. Most people hear the word Malay and don’t even bother to read any more. They don’t give the evidences a chance because they are so biased by what they have always heard before. It is too hard to think outside the box. Galileo (and other famous scientists) had the same problem. ie. The world is flat! the Bible mentions the four corners of the earth… so how could it be round? It has to be flat. Infallible people said it was flat because they heard others before them say it was flat…

  36. What do you mean “a stretch.” What do you think I’m stretching?

  37. VR,

    “Anything said about the Meso theory is assumed to be right. If anything is said against it it assumed to be wrong.

    As I have demonstrated will in this post, there are many problems with Meso. Please don’t exaggerate. I know you are heavily invested in Malay, but you need to demonstrate more open-mindedness too. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Sorenson, certainly he deserves much credit for the work he has done. He should be credited where he is right, and I have noted many places I disagree with him.

    Ralph, as I said above,

    Joseph Smith History 1:34 “[Moroni] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.”

    a. Olsen’s argument emphasizes it differently, instead emphasizing “and the source from whence they sprang.” He says the Source is the Malay Peninsula, and that is how to overcome this apparent discrepancy. I can see his point, but I know that is not a traditional understanding of that scripture…”

    Certainly you can understand that people do not understand or emphasize this scripture the same way you do. With the overwhelming number of Mormons believing the BoM occurred on the American continent, surely you should be able to see why most people would believe the BoM lands are here, and would see your interpretation as stretching the common understanding of that scripture.

  38. […] 4.       a radically different book of mormon geography theory […]

  39. The biggest hurdle for the Malay theory, imo, is the whole Manifest Destiny aspect of the BofM – the promised land designation. I don’t see any way short of finding physical artifacts that the vast majority of the church is going to accept anything but an American Hemisphere location, even if it can be reconciled theoretically by talking of “ultimate end location” versus “original civilization location”.

  40. When I mentioned the “people that think up excuses for everything negative said about Meso” I was mostly referring to the general church population that can’t think any way but what they are told.

    Sorenson has dedicated his life to searching in Central America for proof of the Book of Mormon. I admire him for that. But just because he has been searching doesn’t mean it is proven.

    Dr. Olsen spent thousands of hours reading Sorensen’s books and articles relating to his theory. Ralph sent him a book and Sorensen refused to even read it. FARMS (& others in similar positions) were sent books in 1995 and the other book more recently and multiple people have promised Dr. Olsen, for years now, that they would read, review, and/or comment on his theory. They haven’t yet.

    Just remember that if your Bishop tells you something– it doesn’t make it true. I believe he would believe it is true especially if someone before him (ie. his Bishop) told him it was true… and someone before that told him it was true etc… For example, Joseph Smith said the BofM lands were North and South America. Many good Bishops told their members that. Even the experts, Mormon scholars (ie. Sorenson/FARMS etc) have decided that can’t be true.

    In order for Dr. Olsen to show his theory could be true he needs to show it matches the scriptures. You shouldn’t hold that against him.

  41. As I sit here, these are things I can think of match the scriptures (that do not work with the Meso theory). And many important things found in Central America are not found in the BofM.
    Here is some tangible evidence that indicates that the Malay Peninsula is a reasonable place for the Land of Promise:
    It is a peninsula
    It has the right directions
    It has a narrow neck of land
    It has east and west seas
    It had many horses, asses, cattle, goats, swine, cows, silk, linen, metal plates, Hebrew inscriptions, tillage agriculture, mines, metallurgy, metal tools, metal weapons, wheels, chariots, wheeled vehicles, carts, swords, leoprosy, plants from the middle east, metal coins, many place names that are similar, the right lateritic soil to make cement, flimsy construction instead of huge stone construction (there is no mention of stone in the BofM), ziff, Hebrew script, a snake that chases it’s prey (American snakes do not do that), vineyards, wine presses, abundance of wine, barley, stone plates with metal rings, elephants, dragons…

    Remember only the first part of the BofM was translated. In the BofM it talks about LANDS of Promise. I believe there are LandS of Promise in America. (and elsewhere).

  42. Ray, I agree. I will point out a reference that Ralph told me that is very interesting. Thailand means “Land of the Free”, which certainly makes an interesting reference to the “land of liberty” spoken of in the Book of Mormon.

    I just decided to verify this, and here is what it says in Wikipedia on Thailand.

    “The word Thai (ไทย) is not, as commonly believed, derived from the word Tai (ไท) meaning “free” in the Thai language; it is, however, the name of an ethnic group from the central plains (the Thai people).[citation needed] A famous Thai scholar argued that Tai (ไท) simply means “people” or “human being” since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word “Tai” was used instead of the usual Thai word “khon” (คน) for people.[6] The phrase “Land of the free” is derived from the fact that the Thai are proud of the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonized by a European power.”

    I will also add that Burma and Thailand share the “land northward”, while Malaysia is the “land southward.”

  43. […] been pleasantly surprised at the number of positive responses of the Malay Theory in my previous post.  In discussing the post with Ralph Olsen, the author of this theory, he has given me permission […]

  44. Book of Mormon lands are easily found by respecting its promises and learning how they were fulfilled.

    Consider connecting the spiritual dots first, of the promises tied to the land, then everything else will fall into place.

    We have approached the geography from that angle. Please visit http://www.bookofmormongeography.info

    Regarding Malay, that is simple, it suffers the same fate as Mesoamerican models; the same fate as Meldrum, May, Olive, and Aston; it lacks a Land Northward surrounded by four bodies of water.

  45. BOMC,

    Welcome back. I thought you’d forgotten me when I started asking questions you found too uncomfortable to answer. (I got really tired of “you didn’t read the website.” Well, “you didn’t answer my questions” either.)

    I already did a review of your site, now it is Malay’s turn. If you want to answer the questions I already posed, without getting offended, I’d be happy to address your website again. Please post your answers to the appropriate blogs posts below–this post is dedicated to Malay, not BOMC.

    Please don’t threadjack to your site–I gave you ample “air time” and you decided to get offended last year. For those who want to know more about what I think of your theory, check out the following links:

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Part 5

  46. BOMC
    I have just been looking around on your web site and agree with some of the things you said to Meldrum… I will read more of your site if you will read more about the Malay Theory. There is a North, South, East and West sea due to an irregularity in the peninsula. When the Nephites moved northward, they occupied the land extending to all four seas. If you look carefully at the peninsula, about halfway up, there is an irregularity in the narrow neck where there is a sea N, S, E, & W. In eastern America, calling the great lakes –“seas” is a stretch.

  47. 1. You do not have a Land Northward completely surrounded by four bodies of water.

    2. You have not answered how the prophecies of the Gentiles possessing BoM lands and becoming a great
    nation have been fulfilled. (I respect the time and energy you have put into learning these things.)



  48. Let me quote you and your friends favorite reply, to everything I wrote about your theory.

    (1) “You didn’t read the theory.” It does talk about being surrounded completely by water. (2) If you read the comments above, that issue has been addressed as well.

  49. Then why don’t you show that on the map you so conveniently came upon one.

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