My First Scoop!

I’ve 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  In discussing the post with Ralph Olsen, the author of this theory, he has given me permission to post his unpublished manuscript!  Ralph is looking for a sort of “peer review”, where people give honest feedback about how the article could be improved.  He would also like to further promote the theory.  So, feel free to download it here Olsen_Complete_Manuscript_sm, and post your comments, questions, thoughts, or concerns here.  (Please be patient!   The document is about 300 pages long, and nearly 20 MB in size, so it will take some time.)

Check out this map, and a few other links!


Here are a few Wikipedia links you might find interesting as well, the Malay Theory, and info about other theories.

32 comments on “My First Scoop!

  1. I just couldn’t invest the time to read a 300 page document unless the “trailer” (the map and the Wiki) convinced me that there was something really worth the effort. What I find are glaring questions instead.

    I find the lack of a place for Sumatra to be a glaring omission in connecting the Malay Peninsula with Book of Mormon geography. The theory’s proponents seem to make much of EVENTUAL crossing of the Pacific and Indian Oceans to get to America and Madagascar. I find it incredible that a society that writes about a Penisula in such detail that the map can suggest specific place correlations with Nephite cities never mentions a major island as large as the peninsula’s “land southward” just 100 miles or less away, not to mention the rest of Indonesia.

    Second, the degree of correlation in place names is itself pretty shaky. The Book of Mormon and Malayan names names appear no closer to each other than one could expect to find by looking for similar names in a US road atlas. From discussion in previous posts, I was expecting much more than the map delivered.

    Third, the most prominent topographic feature (what geologically MAKES Malay a peninsula in the first place) is that of the north-south mountain range that forms the highland spine down the center. That means that the expansion of the original landings will produce an east-west split in land holdings and cultures, rather than a north-south split of territory as the Book of Mormon describes.

    I’m afraid that the trailer doesn’t convince me to stick around for the movie.

  2. Sumatra and the land north of the peninsula are mentioned by Dr. Olsen. ie. Lammeula is a city in Sumatra that is mentioned and nearby there is an island Andaman (Adam-ondi-ahman). North of the Malay Peninsula is a town Sai-rai (Sariah is Lehi’s wife). Another town is named Sami (Nephi’s little brother was Sam). There is also a place called Canaaines (Canaan?) and a little farther north is an Leh (similar to Lehi).
    The scientists tell us that people left from Malaysia about 400 AD (time of the last battles) and left with plants, animals, musical instruments, and beliefs and landed in Madasgar and named a town Moroni (can’t get closer than that), the island Comoros (Cumorah?) etc.

    In the land southward the mountains are right along the west coast. There is a range of hills (narrow strip of wilderness) that extends from west to east in the middle of the peninsula. There is a river that runs north.

    With passage of time, names tend to change in pronunciation and in spelling, particularly if writing is not a common practice. But some sounds are usually
    retained. The Bible dictionary provides examples of changes which occurred in the Middle East in ancient times. They include the following:
    Idumea became Edom.
    Megiddo became Armageddon.
    Edrei became Edra’al.
    Ephraim may have become Ophrah.
    Gallia or Gaul became Falatia.
    Gaulanitis became Golan.
    Yavnah or Javneh was also known as Jamnia.
    Jebus or Salem became Jerusalem.
    Japho became Joppa.
    Kidron was also called Cedron.
    Arba became Hebron.
    Paran was also called El-paran.
    Sidon was also called Zion.
    Thessalonica became Saloniki.
    Ur became Mugheir.*

    * Similar changes have occurred in Poland for example.
    Thus, Gdansk, Breslau, and Szczecin were formerly Danzig, Wroclaw, and Stettin, respectively.

    Nephites lived in the Land of Promise for about 1,000 years and Jaredites for possibly 3,000 years. It seems highly unlikely that they lived in Mesoamerica since not
    even one identifying name has been found there (compared to the many which have been found in Southeast Asia).
    Of interest is the fact that Nephites and Mulekites had trouble communicating after about 300 years being separated in the Land of Promise. Hopefully you’ll keep this name changing in mind in considering the following sections. No name has been found in Central America in a reasonable location which matches Book of Mormon places.

    NAMES AND PLACES. Many names in appropriate places have been found in ancient Israel. Biblical names in
    the proper locations help significantly in authenticating Biblical accounts. In a comparable situation, many should have been found in the Land of Promise. Yet,
    Larson reports that not even one has been found in Central America (Larsen, S (1996) Quest for the Gold Plates. Free Thinker Press, SLC, UT, p. 211). Names from the Malay area are provided for your consideration. Please note that all are located in reasonable locations! (refer to the map & –others in the book–as you read the following. And check the scriptural references)

    PILAH (Nephi?). After Landing near the southwestern end of the peninsula, the Nephites walked inland (along the Muar River?) to an upland valley (2 Ne 5:5-8) (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 55). Pilah is located there in an upland river valley.

    MALIM (Mormon?). Within a few days walking time from Pilah, there is a Malim and a large lake (Waters of Mormon?) (Msh 18:4; Alma 5:3) (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 53).

    MARAN (Moroni?). A garrison city of Moroni was built south of Zarahemla land ‘by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites’ (Alma 50:13). Clark suggests that the ‘line’ could be a river (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 31) and that ‘swampy lagoon estuary’ separated Moroni from the east sea (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 34). Mala provides an excellent setting. The large Pahang River runs east for about 75 miles and through swampland as it nears the sea.

    KUANTAN (Morianton?). A city north and east of Maran on the eastern seashore (Alma 50:25; 51:26). After
    overcoming the fortified city of Moroni, Amalickiah led the Lamanite forces northward, taking other cities including Morianton (Alma 51:26). The location matches the Book of Mormon account.

    MULEK (Puteh?). The forces of Amalickiah continued northward, taking possession of other cities including Mulek (Alma 51:26). But he did not take the city of Bountiful (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 32) which lay farther north. Note that the cities are aligned correctly on the Malay Peninsula and are a reasonable distance apart! See Alma 57:24-25, for example.

    BAHARU (Bountiful?). Bountiful was located about 1.5 day’s travel time north of Mulek (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 33); a plain lay between the two cities. It was the northernmost, and most critical, fortification of the eastern border of the Nephite territory (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 28). Being located at the southern end of the narrow neck of land, it restricted Lamanite access to the Land Northward. Being near the mouth of the Sidon River, it played a key role in preventing Nephites from getting ‘boxed in’ the inland valley (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 28-29).

    TANAH MERAH (Zarahemla?). Upstream from the city of Bountiful and in the capital part of the land, Zarahemla is located on the west side of the Sidon River (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 44). Tanah Merah provides a good
    match for Book of Mormon accounts.

    KELANTAN RIVER (Sidon?). A river orginating in the narrow strip of mountain wilderness (the Cameron
    Highlands?) a n d f l o w i n g due north into a North Sea
    (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 44). T h e
    Kelantan provides a b e t t e r m a t c h than the
    alternative G r i j a l v a River of Mesoamerica which turns about 90 degrees clockwise as it nears the proposed East (?) Sea.

    MARANG (Moroni?). Nephite armies went eastward from Zarahemla to Moroni (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 34) (Alma 62:18-24). The Malay Peninsula provides a Marang east of Zarahemla on the eastern seacoast. This
    may be the Moroni which sank into the sea (a tsunami?) at the time of the crucifixion (3 Ne 8:9). With no sea east of Zarahemla and no r e a s o n a b l e
    candidate for Moroni, Meso provides no match at all.

    TAHAN (Manti?). The city of Manti was upstream (south) from Zarahemla and located between two principal tributaries of the Sidon River (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 44). Manti was located in the narrow strip of wilderness which extended from the Sea West to the
    Sea East. Tahan matches the Manti accounts very well.

    TAPAH (Antiparah?). A high mountain range Hermounts) paralleled the West Coast of much of the Land Southward (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 44). West of Manti and near the narrow strip of wilderness, a city of
    Antiparah was located. It was appropriately near one of the few traversible passes (eastwest) through Hermounts.

    RAMAN (Laman?). Lamanites were usually in control of the narrow strip of coast land west of Hermounts (Clark, J. (1989) A Key for evaluating Nephite Geography. FARMS., Provo, UT, p. 44, 49, 61). In making raids on Nephite possessions in the land of Zarahemla, they sometimes went around the north end of this high mountain range (ibid.). Just north of the proposed Hermounts in Malaysia there is a city of Raman.

    LENYA (Lemuel?). In the final battles, Lamanites and Nephites fought in the southern end of the Land Northward (southern Burma in Mala). Lamanites were
    victorious (Morm 6). A city of Lenya (Lemuel?) is located there.

    MARANG (Moroni?). Prior to the final battles of annihilation, many Nephites migrated to the Land Northward (Morm 6:2-5). At the southern border of
    Burma near the inlet of the West Sea there is a city of Marang (Moroni?). Cumorah was in the southern end of the Land Northward.

    MANORON (Moron?). Jaredites had an important city of Moron near the southern end of the Land Northward (Eth 7:6). In southern Burma today there is a city of Manoron (Moron?). Finding the city in the right location helps authenticate Mala. It also provides strong evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and for Joseph Smith being a genuine Prophet. No rational New Englander would concoct a name of Moron
    in an account he was claiming to be genuine history.

    TENASSERIM (Teancum?). The city of Tenasserim is well enough located in southern Burma to be the Jaredite city of Teancum (Morm 4:3-5). It is only a few miles
    north of Manoron and near the western seashore

    HILL MAW (Hill Ramah?). A few miles east of Manoron and near an eastern seashore there is a 4,000 foot high hill named Hill Maw! Nephites called it Hill Cumorah (Morm 6:4). Mormon hid all sacred records in the hill except for a few which he gave to his son, Moroni (Morm 6:6). If found, these records could be the
    most important archaeological find in the history of mankind. They could prove the Book of Mormon
    is true. They could prove that Joseph Smith was
    a genuine prophet. I’ve done enough translating to know that no matter how hard you try, some of your own beliefs end up in the translation. Joseph clearly thought that the events occurred in America. With his own bias in mind, the fact that the Malay Peninsula
    matches the Book of Mormon accounts so perfectly, clearly indicates that the Book of Mormon accounts are correct. They would help prove that Jesus is a
    resurrected being. They would help prove that God lives.

  3. I’m sorry to make you work so hard, but your own examples of changes in names make my point for me. The similarities you cite between BofM and Malay names, simply because they have occasional common sounding sylables, when compared with the changes in names for places we KNOW are the same demonstrate that the correlation is random.

    And a mention of one such name as evidence of an island comparable in size to the entire Nephite/Jaredite theatre is entirely unconvincing. There’s a reason Singapore is where it is.

    The Book of Mormon has an internal “heft” to it stronger than the external evidences matching it to particular historical cultures. I believe in its historicity — but you are swallowing holes in the Malay theory (“matches perfectly???”) I think you’d choke on when argued for MesoAmerica.

  4. Firetag,

    I’m sorry you didn’t like the trailer. I know the Wikipedia site is a work in progress, so I hope you don’t hold that against Ralph. As I mentioned before, he’s not technologically savvy, so the Wikipedia site is lacking, but it is a start for people who want to know a little more. I expect that Wikipedia will have better footnotes referencing Olsen’s theory better in the future. (Wikipedia is an interesting place, but it is not the final authority.)

    As for the Malay map, Sorenson takes similar liberties of trying to place cities in Mesoamerica, as does Phyllis Olive in the Great Lakes region, so I don’t think Ralph is any different there. Check out this link which shows other proposed maps.

    I will agree with you that the linguistic links Olsen makes need some better evidence. Just because something sounds similar (which is highly subjective) doesn’t make it so. I’ve mentioned that to Ralph before, and he agrees that a linguistics expert is needed to address this area better.

    Not being a geology expert, your 3rd point is an interesting one. I wonder what Ralph has to say about that. I do recall being curious why Burma and Thailand split the peninsula. If there is a natural mountain boundary, that makes a lot of sense.

    I’ve never claimed to be an expert in Malay geography, so forgive me for not understanding the significance of Sumatra. Can you explain this to me better?

  5. MH:

    I am very much an agnostic on the location of any Book of Mormon city according to the MesoAmerican ruins. Certain general locations there make sense geographically, but identifying them with any particular city is a stretch I don’t think most BofM scholars today are willing to make even if they believe the BofM to be historical. I will leave that to the scholars to debate, and you LDS don’t need any CofChrist amateur summarizing that research.

    As for the geology, the Malay peninsula is basically the uplifted western spine of a large continental shelf extending underwater to the east. Even today mountains and ocean lanes drive military campaigns (as in Afghanistan). In times before you could fly over them and assault river positions from the rear, rivers served the same function. Imagine how the settlement history of the US would have been different without the presence of the Appalachians!

    The Nephites were an inland power; their narrow neck of land is small relative to the total area and their coastal areas are relatively undeveloped until mid-to-late in their history. Otherwise Hagoth’s colonization would not be remarkable; coastal commerce, and naval maneuvers would have been an essential part of Nephite-Lamanite wars or peaceful coexistence as soon as their armies grew large enough to worry about maintaining their warriors in the field for more than quick raids. Coastal commerce would be especially important along the Malay peninsula, when it would have been far easier to move around the peninsula along the coast than to move across the mountains. You simply don’t have an inland power developing along the length of that peninsula; cultures there are going to be tied together along the coast.

    This is related to the problem of Sumatra. If you look on a world map that shows the lands surrounding the Malay peninsula, you’ll see that a culture arriving there from the west should no more write a 1000 year history that covers the land north and south of the “narrow neck” and have (at most) a vague reference to an island like Sumatra than you could write a 1000 year history of Roman Italy and not have the Romans note the existence of Sicily.


    I apologize if it sounds like I’m not giving this theory a fair hearing. You obviously love it and have worked hard on it. I’m a physicist, and I know that when things that you’ve worked hard on and think are important get put out for comment and critique, the comments hurt. I’ve had that happen to me before and expect it again until I no longer can generate ideas.

    But it is the exposure that helps generate truth, and it does no good to rest our faith on anything that can’t withstand the process. Nevertheless, I’ll try to better remember that discussionss of religious truth are inherently more personal than discussions of technology, and forgive me when I wander into conference panel discussion manners.

  6. Firetag,

    Thanks for the insights. I don’t have much to add–I’m hoping Ralph stops by to address your issues.

  7. For anyone interested in a lively discussion of this topic, it is being vigorously debated over at Mormon Matters. Check out http://mormonmatters.org/2009/04/20/unconventional-book-of-mormon-geography-theories/

  8. I just found a discussion at Times and Seasons from 2004.


  9. The Times and Seasons discussion is good. It strikes me that we may be thinking about “why” backwards. If I accept the Bible as true, and understand the culture in which it took place, I better understand the deeper meanings of the Bible. If I accept the Book of Mormon as true, AND UNDERSTAND THE CULTURES IN WHICH IT TOOK PLACE, I better understand the deeper meanings of the Book of Mormon.

  10. Firetag–well said. That is the biggest reason I want to learn BoM geography.

  11. An early review after a few chapters of Atlantis finally found by Aryos Santos:

    This book seems to be a collection of sort of hard to follow papers. As such, it seems a little disconnected and repetitive at the same time.

    Some of the connections made are based on appeals to conventional wisdom or curious internet websites or forced linguistic analyses. So, you’ve got that.

    Still, the whole picture seems very plausible:
    That during the Ice Age the islands of Indonesia were a fertile continent (lower sea levels exposed sea floor there). The rest of the world was mostly desert or ice (with the exception of some savannah).

    Supposedly, homo sapiens is a million+ years old. So, why has civilization only developed as of 11,000 years?

    The author says it developed in Indonesia ages ago, and the explosion of ancient Krakatoa caused an instant flooding followed by a series of events that ended the ice age (and led to further disasters in the rest of the world). The people of this civilization fled and spread basic agricultural techiniques, domestic animals, and religion/culture/alphabet etc., to the corners of the earth.

    The author connects words and traditions of cultures from the Aztecs to the Celts to ancient Greece and Hindu tradition and finds many parallels specifically concerning the origin of their respective cultures. He argues that a civilization that developed agriculture would laud itself for the discovery and so forth. However, most traditions cite a precursor that gave the knowledge.

    He associates the literal geographic location of the Indonesian islands as being referred to by all these cultures as Eden/Hell/Paradise Lost/Islands of the Blest/Land of the Dead and so forth. The location has all the riches and spices and so forth cited by the legends.

    Oh, there are undersea ancient river beds for rivers that flowed from near the location of the Mt. Atlas (Krakatoa) in each of the four cardinal directions.

    Well, that’s about it so far. He talks a lot about archetypes: Hercules/Atlas, Virgin Mother/Son, the fall of man, etc. He tries to explain them through this supposedly literal common cultural event.

    In any case, despite holes significant, the theory seems very plausible just from a geographic and geological perspective.

    Adding in gospel tradition, couldn’t this place be the cite of Eden/Adam-ondi-ahman/Cain’s City of Enoch/Enoch’s City of Zion/Noah’s flood?

    Seems very likely.

    So, the ‘specialness’ of the place seems established. Thus, sending the Jaredites and Lehites there would be consistent with it as a promised land.

    In fact, the only missing link is what the role of the American continent is. It seems plausible that the Nephites could have migrate from Polynesia to part of America.

    Plus, you have to reconcile that 2 Nephi discusses the Lehite promised land as free from other nations. Perhaps that means the mean empires of the Near-Orient?

    Well, according to Prof. Santos (author of book), the Indonesian islands were sort of taboo in the ancient world. In fact, he supposes that the esoteric mystery traditions of the ancient world both named the specific place as the islands of the blessed and alternatively forbad revealing this to the profane masses (as a remnant of the wishes of the original colonizing ‘Atlanteans’)

    So if the ancient world somehow knew the place was the sacred Paradise lost, and avoided the place, why not send the righteous remnant of israel there?

    The ironic thing is that America was discovered as the ‘West Indies’ – a land of plenty named after the originally sought-after, possibly more plentiful ‘East Indies’. So, because the Jacob 5 parable lists the Lehite lands as the best in the garden, why not Malaysia??

    So, who knows? Lots of holes here, but fascinating!

  12. Hi MH,

    Very fascinating stuff. FYI, the link to the 300 pg document doesn’t seem to be working–instead my computer keeps downloading only 640k of a pdf file that won’t open because it’s “corrupt”. my guess is it is downloading just the first 640k and stopping. could you please verify that the link is working on your end? I’ve tried both IE and firefox.


  13. Rob, thanks for letting me know. It was working earlier today, but it’s not anymore. I’ll look into this and let you know when it is fixed.

  14. Ok, Rob, I just tested it and it appears to be working now. I’m not sure what the problem was…

  15. Is the PDF still available to download? I’d like to read it…

  16. I changed my website host, and the link is currently broken, but I’ll see if I can get it fixed in the next few days.

  17. Sorry it took so long to fix, but the link now works.

  18. very interesting theory, i never knew that malay peninsular will be some sorts of important for some peoples far away from here…
    as a malay, i knew that our heritage here have develop more than 8000 years, but for some reason, malays unlike chinese, we didnt documented our history, but i’ve read somewhere that malays history were mention in a various places, like those egypt, babylon, by plato , chinese, indians and etc, still i’m not an expert in this kind of thing..by the way, its nice to know about those places like Maran, Pilah, Marang, Tanah Merah, Kelantan and etc2 in the mormon point of view kind of theory…

  19. I hope all the theory of penisular of malay is of a great importance for some people or books or the probability of the status of the lost tribe will fade away. For centuries the people here have flourish in our own way and enjoy the bliss of not being important. But to be suddenly highlighted as important as the promised land, I feel somehow uncomfortable. There are lunatic and fanatical people out there. Some with genuine trait of genetic while some are not and trying to be the people mentioned in the book. This land has be a place of peace, quiet and prosperous since the last imperialism era. If this is the promised land, people from around the world will flock here and state their claim whether true claim or false claim. So what do we get? Another palestine. So no! I think this piece of land is not the promised land plus there is no great biblical history based in here. No story of moses, isaac, jesus and even muhammad. This is just a remote peninsular and group of islands with its dwellings minding their own matters. If we are living in the Lord of the Ring world, well this shire with hobbits living here.

  20. plus it is hot and sweaty to live here. Easy to be smelly and need regular bath, at least 2 times a day. I had been a little overweight before and the smell is worst. With global warming getting worst, the heat is burning. The last 3-4 days was terrible as heat winds blow from north east and we were fried. I got fever for just staying outside in the sun. heat stroke. Imagine that. Perhaps with global weather changes, the suitability and comfortability of a so-called promised land shift to other place with more favorable temperature. Maybe?

  21. There’s one place i found in Kelantan which has a quite strange name as a local Malay, at least strage to me. The place is: Banggol Judah; location map is here:


    What I know, the name “JUDAH” normally refers to the Greatest Jewish Kingdom in Jew history, Kingdom Of Judah.

  22. Yes I agree with you Nazim. As a Malay, I feel uncomfortable with the idea that Malaysia is probably The Promised Land. I just like the way it is now, not being important.@Nazim

  23. Have not read everything very carefully. But is not the Book of Mormon only a third of the plates Joseph Smith translated?
    Do not know if this is of interest.

  24. Very good. I am Malay. and… i am impressed!

  25. as a Malay, i dont want this land and all of Nusantara to be claim as a promise land, just let it be.. most of people here is Muslim and practising Islam as a way of life..

  26. I know about this teory and i respect ur research, if malays is a lost tribe its still not effecting us at all.. The mormon believers must be very upset to know the truth that this so call promising land is prodominant by muslim malay not practising jewish at all..

  27. You may want to check out my post on the Lost 10 Tribes. Simcha Jacobovici believes many of these lost tribes have converted to Islam. He also references Malay. See http://www.mormonheretic.org/2008/04/19/have-the-lost-10-tribes-been-found/

  28. I think Meso theory is more reliable.. Malay teory is just useless, most of malay here think Mormon theory of promising land is in malay peninsula is a great hoax. Nobody will believe that.. Just let Nusantara to be nusantara, no great biblical epic history happen here. Suddenly Nusantara bombared with useless teory, Atlantis here, Lemuria is here, Land of Punt is here, Sunda shelf is an Atlantis before sunk. Useless. If malay is a Lost Tribe just let it lost. We have another great mission to accomplish before the end of time..

  29. “We have another great mission to accomplish before the end of time”… if you believe in that (i.e., you are indirectly indicating that Imam Mahdi to be from Malay race) then you must also believe that Malays have Bani Israel blood since Imam Mahdi is believed to come from the lineage of Isaac (Nabi Ishaq) and Ismael (Nabi Ismail). @Nusantara

  30. The Malay hypothesis is very plausible. The real problem is that so many of us are overly pre-conditioned to the Americas hypothesis. The challenges with the Malay hypothesis pale in comparison to its strengths. It is foolish not to give it careful and serious consideration.

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