A South American Setting for Book of Mormon

Mormon Heretic book of mormon, geography, Mormon 42 Comments

A few weeks ago, we had quite a discussion on the Malay Theory.  While I heartily acknowledge that Mesoamerica is the most widely believed setting, there are many other theories out there.

A little more than 10 years ago, I was vacationing in Hawaii with a few friends.  While there, we attended a small branch and became good friends with one of the members there.  The member invited us over for family home evening, and introduced us to the idea that the Book of Mormon happened in South America.  I had never heard of this before, and became quite intrigued.

He showed me a video produced by Arthur Kocherhans, who produced several videos supporting this theory.  While the interviews are very canned, they do present some really interesting information.  I guess one of the biggest things to consider is that proponents of the theory claim that much of the South American continent was under water.  They note that the rain forests are below sea level even today, and that the Amazon River was so wide that it covered much of the continent.  They also note that no human ruins have been found in this area.

from the cover of Venice Priddis book

from the cover of Venice Priddis book

There have been several people who have promoted this theory (or variations of it.)  The map to the left comes from the cover of Venice Priddis book titled, The Book and the Map.  I believe the first person to propose such a theory was Birrell in 1948.  Arthur Kocherhans book is Lehi’s Isle of Promise.  I was surprised that George Potter also is a proponent of this theory.  George has done some excellent work and may have located Nephi’s harbor in Khor Rhori, Yemen.  I just got an email newsletter saying George was going to move his studies from the Middle East to South America.  I attended a fireside by George about 2 years ago and was quite impressed with his scholarship.  George maintains a website at the Nephi Project where he details his archaeological research.  You can sign up for a free email newsletter, and he has a few books and videos for purchase.

Pros of the theory:

Proponents of this theory proclaim several reasons why they like this theory.

  1. Joseph Smith is reported to have said that Lehi landed 30 degrees south of the Equator
  2. The climate is more similar to a Mediterranean climate than Mesoamerica.  They note that Nephi claims to have brought seeds that would grow here, but not Meso.
  3. It has a real narrow neck of land, unlike Meso
  4. Potter recently claimed on his website that Hebrew DNA and iron were found here.  However, I believe the Jewish DNA claims could be related to Spanish settlers, not natives.  Also the iron ore was used for body paint, rather than swords.  Still, it is a potentially important find.

Cons of the Theory

  1. Sorenson claims that it unlikely that the land changed dramatically just 2000 years ago.  Perhaps the Amazon River was this wide, but was it this wide just 2000 years ago?
  2. Generally DNA evidence is weak for all American settings for the Book of Mormon
  3. Elephants, silks, and metal swords do not seem to exist here.

I have previously highlighted a Great Lakes Theory, and the Malay Theory.  How do you think it compares?

Comments

comments

Comments 42

  1. Interesting.

    So the yellow is land and the blue is water. Upon first glance, I thought it was the other way around. But that wouldn’t make sense because of the Andes. This particular rendition also doesn’t make sense because if you look at the bottom, the whole of Patagonia is left out! Those mountains, while spectacular and fairly young, are not THAT young! 🙂 The Patagonias go all the way down to Antarctica.

    Also the Incas WERE around at the time of the Nephite accounts, and there is absolutely nothing that I am aware of in their history that indicates such dramatic shifting of the lands.

    I’m not sold on this. I stick with the mesoamerican.

  2. Of the theories I’ve seen, I’d have to say Meldrum’s theory seems to fit a bit better but I’d have to look at the evidence more closely. I’d like to hear any other comparisons MH might have between Potter’s findings and Meldrum’s. Meldrum’s seems to have newer, more corroborating DNA information as far as haplogroup X.

    For some reason, I’ve always found the mesoamerican area to seem unlikely.

  3. Dan, Yes, there certainly are some pros and cons to the theory. Potter seems to find the Incas might be related to the Lamanites, as you mentioned, and some of the cities seem to date to the BoM period. But the Amazon River doesn’t seem to follow the north-south area of the map. It is more east-west–see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_river

    Rick M, I just attended one of Meldrum’s presentations this past week. IMO, he cherry picks much of Joseph Smith’s statements on the BoM, and he isn’t heavily into the science, but rather the prophecy about the Lamanites. Clearly, Joseph believed in a hemispheric model, but if you listen to Meldrum’s presentation, he completely ignores much of the quotes that Smith said regarding South and Central America. Also, the Hopewell people don’t seem to be a very good fit for the Lamanites. The Hopewell were practically stone age technologically, and don’t seem to have the wheel, steel swords, or great cities mentioned in the BoM. I’ve also heard that Meldrum’s DNA is 20 years old, and that newer tests have discounted his findings. I’m not a DNA expert, but that is what I have heard.

    I do like to look at other theories too. Mesoamerica has strengths, but also weaknesses.

  4. MH,

    My other big problem with this model is that, while making the Amazon River be so huge, you still have too much land in the Peruvian Andes for what takes place in Book of Mormon geography. The distances between cities and lands in the Book of Mormon are not that great. Whereas getting across these mountainous terrains in this model would surely take a long time. Mormon describes that getting from one sea to the other in BoM geography took mere days for a runner. That would require some flat lands. The Andes are not flat. Getting across them requires more than just days.

    My main reason for backing the Mesoamerican model is that the geography is about the right size. Remember, north to south, South America is probably 7000 miles!

    And look, compare Peru and Guatemala in terms of size. Peru’s total square kilometers is 1,285,200 according to the CIA world factbook. Guatemala’s square kilometers is 108,890. Peru is TEN TIMES as big as Guatemala. When you show a map like the one you show there in your piece, it is quite deceptive because it doesn’t give perspective. In your map, the “narrow neck of land” is probably the same size as Guatemala! That would be a couple hundred miles across. 1. That’s not very “narrow.” 2. A runner would not be able to do that in mere days. Furthermore, I don’t get the impression from my understanding of geography in the Book of Mormon that the events of the Book of Mormon take place in a highly mountainous region. Peru has among the highest mountains in South America.

  5. They note that the rain forests are below sea level even today

    Umm, no they’re not. The rain forest is drained by either the Amazon or the Orinoco both of which still flow downhill.

  6. Just to add to Last Lemming’s post, use Google Earth and “fly over” much of the Amazon River area. Most of it is between 100 to 300 feet in altitude. The river doesn’t flow very fast toward the Atlantic, but it is for the most part downhill. The river is at an altitude of 236 feet at Leticia, Columbia, the first instance the river enters into Brazil. It is truly amazing how wide an area stays at just that altitude.

  7. No real time to consider much today, so just a quick question:

    Are there areas in this theory that would fit the Limited Geography Model? Iow, what is the possibility that it was South American, but in a limited area?

  8. as dan mentions, there are some significant geographical features which need to be considered with this model, as well as all models. a mountain range would certainly impede travel. I think that priddis and kocherhans don’t take that into consideration in their models. I know priddis talks about charles darwin finding sea shells on mountain ranges, and she makes the case that this indicates the mountains must have been under water and raised up at Christ’s crucufixion. however my concern with this line of reasoning is that I don’t believe the geology supports this very short time frame.

    Lgt usually refers to sorensen’s theory, but I believe most bom geographers believe in a much more limited area than joseph smith or early mormon leaders first thought, so yes it is an lgt on south, rather than central america. I am curious about potter’s map, because I haven’t seen it and I wonder how different it is from priddis and kocherhans map. potter’s discovery of iron ore and dna claims deserve more study, so I don’t want to completely discount this possibility, though it does seem that priddis and kocherhans model has some significant flaws.

  9. Elephants, silks, and metal swords do not seem to exist here.

    Isn’t this a downside to any New World setting of the BoM stories, not just this particular theory?

  10. yes, kari that is a big problem with all new world theories which is why I am curious about unconventional theories like malay which don’t have the same problems as american theories.

  11. MH,
    One reason I am skeptical of the Malay theory is the number of “on this continent” type quotes that surround the prophet Joseph Smith. I find it hard to believe that he was wrong on all of these inspirations. That, of course is a matter of faith and not strictly science.

    When I watched Meldrum’s presentation I thought he presented a case for the cities and temples of those (Hopewell) people. They, of course would be made of wood as is stated in the BoM and therefore would be less likely to last multigenerationally even if made from the native hardwood that grows in that area.

  12. Yes, Rick, that is certainly a big hurdle for Malay. However, if you like Meldrum’s “follow the science” idea, then I think the science is much stronger in Malay than in other places. I think that if we found some BoM artifacts anywhere in the world, then that is more reliable than anything Smith said. Smith said lots of things about the BoM, but when you listen to Meldrum, he only quotes Smith to back up Meldrum’s theory, and fails to point out things Smith said that contradict Meldrum’s theory.

    The BoM people’s used wood and cement. Surely some cement should remain from the Hopewell peoples. I just think that the Hopewell are technologically deficient. Silk, swords, cement, elephants, even the wheel are all lacking for the Hopewell. They were good at building mounds, but these mounds are not full or corpses mentioned in the BoM. Here’s a passage about wood and cement use.

    Hel. 3: 7, 9, 11
    7 And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.
    • • •
    9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.
    • • •
    11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.

  13. Are you expecting cement as it is mixed today? I wouldn’t. I also look at that first statement and think of the vast forests of Central and South America. The Malay area doesn’t strike me as an area that was devoid of trees either. I realize it doesn’t take long for trees to grow but the jungles would have been there for quite some time as they are also known to have existed during the time before Columbus. That was one of the reasons Columbus set out, to find a new path to the far east. Wood, in my opinion, would have been plentiful. And even though there are only a couple of instances of climate being mentioned, Malay is equatorial and therefore would probably lack in the distinct seasons told of in the BoM. I can’t really see the Malay theory as very convincing, geographically. I would say the mesoamerican theory would be a better fit than the Malay. Just my opinion.

  14. My observation is that if Malay is discussed more on this thread than South America, the S.America theory probably doesn’t ring true in most people’s ears.

    Good discussion points.

  15. rick, did you notice the scripture above saying there was little timber? the land desolation wasn’t a jungle. sorensen’s theory says it was quite tropical. there are no seasons in meso either.

    I never said the cement was the same as today, but we have found plenty of ancient building materials of all kinds , even wood.

  16. MH,

    Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that meso is also equatorial and lacks the climate that would render distinct seasons. Even so, the meso seems to be more like the BoM lands than those of the Malay theory principally due to geography but both are equatorial. Meldrum’s theory is in a more temperate climate and the geography fits as the chrological events take place. I understand and acknowledge your concerns about the technology of the Hopewell peoples. More than likely, the whole truth will not be known until all is revealed at Christ’s coming. Meldrum’s methods may not be as scientific as most would like to see but to me they seem a better fit.

    And unlike FARMS, I am not ready to totally disregard the Zelph incident merely because it was not written in Joseph’s own hand when it was taken from the accounts of more than one witness from Zion’s Camp.

    BTW, I wasn’t arguing in favor of the mesoamerican theory earlier. I was merely stating I thought it showed more merit than the Malay theory due to geography.

  17. Hmmm… I haven’t read Preddis or Kocherhans, so forgive me if I repeat. In any case, here are some additional thoughts:

    PRO
    The “Gate of the Sun” at Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, is a (1) temple site that (2) matches the dimensions of Solomon’s Temple, (3) has symbols appropriate for our understanding of temples, and (4) has a tank similar to a baptismal font. It dates to between 500 and 600 BC, about right for Nephi’s temple, and is in the “land southward”
    An apocryphal story claims Pres. Kimball said this site was a Nephite temple, but have never tracked down the source.

    Curloms and Cumoms as Llamas and Alpacas?

    The west coast location, large stone buildings, and others are also good fits.

    CONS
    No “narrow neck of land,” No “river Sidon” flowing N-S, an abundance of timber, and a lack of evidence of major culture during the BoM time period.

  18. (Tried to post this late last night but the site was down or something.)

    I’m not sure whether Malay would have the seismic activity to support the earthquake claims in the BoM either. Meldrum’s theory supports that as well with the New Madrid faultline. In 1811 and 1812 there were four earthquakes in the 7.8 to 8.1 range with epicenters in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas. These were strong enough to change the course of the Mississippi River and were felt as far away as Boston and New York. I believe the South American theory brings this line of thought into play in the Amazon narrowing to a river. I may be mistaken about that though.

  19. Rick,

    I think Sorenson has done some outstanding work in the BoM geography realm. Of course Sorenson has his own problems as well. Most alternative geographers note that Sorenson’s narrow neck of land is not narrow at all, he takes great liberty with directions of north-south, and east-west to make his theory fit, his swords are made out of wood and obsidian, rather than steel (the BoM says the steel swords rusted, wood and obsidian don’t rust), he doesn’t have elephants, silks or other things mentioned, etc.

    I’m not here to say Malay is perfect, but it fixes all the above problems with Sorenson, and the DNA, while not confirmed, seems a better match than Native American DNA, the customs fit in well with Nibley’s observations that the BoM peoples acted in an “Oriental” manner, there are elephants, silks, steel swords, chariots, etc. Now I’m not an earthquake expert, so I don’t know if it has siesmic activity. Somebody on my blog posted an idea from a PhD that the lost island of Atlantis may be in the South China Sea, near Malay. Perhaps there is some scientific evidence for siesmic activity–I have no idea because I haven’t studied it that deeply yet. But it seems to me that earthquakes are all over the world. I keep hearing that Salt Lake City lies on an earthquake fault, but there hasn’t been a major earthquake in over 100 years, despite claims that it is “2nd to San Andreas”. I also lived in NH, and heard that it lies on a fault “2nd to San Andreas”. They can’t both be correct. Suffice it to say, I think earthquakes happen everywhere, and are highly unpredictable.

    Clark,

    Thanks for the info–I haven’t heard of that before. It seems to me that Bolivia would be part of the Amazon River, so I doubt that Kocherhans and Priddis would support that location because they appear to claim it to be under water (I did an eyeball test, so I could be wrong.) If it wasn’t under water, then that seems to put another nail in their coffin. It sounds very interesting–do you have a source for this?

  20. Clark,

    I’d be interested in the data on the Gate of the Sun info you posted. Do you know if it is online?

  21. I happened upon this website. I haven’t verified anything on it yet but found it interesting concerning elephants in the Americas.

    http://www.2s2.com/chapmanresearch/elephant.html

    I particularly found the elephant pipe, the drawings of the Michigan mound builders, and the Precolumbian entries interesting.

    http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf068/sf068b07.htm

    I can’t tell about this site. The data is old and I would wonder about its validity but the claims are interesting.

  22. Post
    Author

    I just got an email newsletter from George Potter. Here’s some info about upcoming presentations.

    Upcoming Presentations
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Salt Lake Jordan North Stake

    4000 West about 3900 South, Salt Lake City, Utah

    7:00 PM, June 28th, George Potter: Lehi’s Trail

    Driving directions: from I-15 or I-215. take the 3500 So Exit west to 4000 west. Turn Left (south). The Church is about 4 blocks south. It is called the light house church because of the steeple. It is located on the west side of the street.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Parkland, Calgary Stake Center

    14540 Parkland Blvd S.E. Calgary

    7:00 PM, July 4, George Potter: Lehi’s Trail

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Garland, Utah Stake Center

    140 West Factory, Garland, Utah 84312.

    7:00 PM, July 12, George Potter: Peru-The Land of the Book of Mormon

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I’d really like to attend the Garland presentation, but it is quite far away from me. I’ve heard a similar one to his “Lehi’s trail” and it was excellent. He is also giving away a free DVD about Peru with any purchase, so I may take him up on that. Here’s a couple other interesting things from his newsletter.

    Featured article: “A Language with Semitic Roots in the Americas,” by George Potter
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Click Here For: A Language with Semitic Roots in the Americas

    Oman Tours with George Potter
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If you want to see the real land of Bountiful, consider taking a once-in-a-lifetime tour to Nephi’s Harbor with Book of Mormon explorer George Potter. With George’s research shifting to Peru, this might be the last time he takes a group to Salalah, Oman to see Nephi’s Harbor, the Land Bountiful, the place where the Jaredites left for the Americas, and many other significant Book of Mormon and Bible sites. The trip is planned through Oman Tours and is scheduled for 19-25 September 2009.

  23. Re: Comment # 20 The Gate of the Sun is at a site more than 12,000 feet above sea level, so I don’t think it was underwater–although I just did a goggle search which returned some intersinting evidence….I don’t know how to post links, or I’d give them to you directly. Do your own seach of “Tiahanaco” or “Tiwanaku” and “Gate of the Sun,” which will verify most of the facts. (You’ll also find a few new-age sites explaining that the site was built by aliens…)

  24. I have this Venice Priddis book and a book by Cecil Georg Le Poidevin that proposes a similar theory. Book of Mormon geography is a minor hobby of mine.

    I think that the disadvantage of this theory is that you have to reject all scientific thought in general to believe that this happened. (You can just as easily argue successfully that the world is flat as you can argue a great sea existed in South America just 2,000 years ago.)

    The one advantage this theory has is that the text itself describes sweeping changes in the areas of land and sea, so as fantastic as it seems, it may be less of a modernist misreading of the text as written than the various (and equally fantastic) Tehauntepec theories.

  25. Post
    Author
  26. No, I haven’t followed that. I think that all modernist readings focusing on data we know today (pre-Colombian archaeology, Arabian geography, DNA) take you away from the true context of the text, which is early 19th century America. Likewise, if you want to really know about Noah, it doesn’t help you to scour Mt. Ararat. To understand Genesis, you need to look at the context in which the text and its underlying components were composed. The context of the Noah story is found in the history of the 6th and 5th century kingdom of Judah, rather than in the archaeology of 2300+ b.c.

  27. John:

    I’ve taken awhile to respond to your comment because the discussions going on at Saint’s Herald have been more urgent, but I’d like to respond now if I can.

    I think you can say that the Book of Mormon’s content lies in the 19th Century only once you have resolved the historicity issue. The model we’ve built for study of the Bible focuses on a period of time in the Mid East because we can CONFIDENTLY say that earlier times surface there only as fragments of oral traditions reinterpreted in later eras.

    While it is tempting to apply a similar model to study the Book of Mormon, I think that would be highly premature. I would rather call the Book a scientific anomaly, the existence of which provokes my interest as a scientist as much as a believer in the RLDS/CofChrist tradition.

    I will readily admit that the best theories of a historical setting for the Nephites and Jaredites (IMO, MesoAmerica) do not well explain what we know about the BofM. And there are certainly numerous “19th Century contents” in the Book that would be inexplicable under NORMAL historical processes (i.e., in which we assume God isn’t involved in directing all of history in the first place!). But that really tests the Book against a straw man — what the Book readily asserts that it is NOT!

    Instead the Book asserts that God is a whisper away, inspiring with an eye to the future as well as to the problems of the present. If you need Wesleyism in the 19th Century so people will listen to the message written in the 4th Century, God can arrange that. If you need treasure hunting in the 19th Century or tales of lost tribes to spark interest in a new religious movement, God can arrange that, and so on. The assertions about Meso may be wrong — that gets settled by what gets found in Meso — but they are internally consistent as a theory explaining events in the 19th Century.

    A SCIENTIFIC treatment of the Book as a 19th Century work of fiction must also subject itself to potential falsification — it doesn’t get to simply default to “what else could it be” because it would stop being a scientific treatment in that case.

    For example, if the Book of Mormon is 19th Century fiction produced by human knowledge available at that time, at minimum scientific experts of the time should have been capable of producing it so that it APPEARS TO BE FICTION.

    I hate to deminish 19th Century scientists and writers, but IMO the entire Dartmouth faculty wouldn’t have produced anything like the Book of Mormon if they had been working openly to do so. The science has changed too much over the past two centuries, in ways highly educated writers of the 19th Century would never imagine science could become involved — geology, military science, oceanography (just to name some areas in my own professional background) and many other disciplines — for the fiction produced by the faculty to hold up.

    The criticism here by Orson Scott Card is particularly relevant, because he’s one of the acknowledged world-class experts (with the Hugos to prove it) in faking realistic fiction about another culture.

    So what I think we have is something with two possible theories (at least), neither of which explain the phenomena very well. That’s why I say it’s still an anomaly.

  28. John,

    I will also point out that there is also growing evidence that David was a historical character, and may date to the 10th or 11th century, according to William Dever of the University of Arizona. Now this may merely shift your timeline from the Bible back from the 5th century to the 10th century BC, I have also found some interesting archealogy pertaining to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (possibly the topic for a future post.) So, I don’t know that we can firmly establish the Bible is a creation of 5th century BC writers, any more than we can say the BoM is the work of the 19th century.

  29. MH (28): I used Noah, Adam, and Genesis as examples because these stories are clearly in the realm of epic scripture, rather than historic scripture. I believe that the Biblical David is almost entirely a literary creation in terms of his personality and deeds; in other words, no historical figure did the things that later writers were inspired to write about and ascribe to David. However, that conclusion does not preclude the possibility that there was a historic leader (of some sort) named “David.” Achilles and Agamemnon may well have been historic figures, but by the time the stories of the Iliad were composed almost nothing of the historical figures would have been remembered, save for their names. I see the Biblical King David vs. the historic David as analogous to the legendary King Arthur vs. the historic Arthur.

    Firetag (27): We don’t usually apply the word “fiction” to scripture. By using the term fiction, I think you’re equating scripture with historicity, even though most history is not considered scripture, and little of the scriptures relate to actual historical events. The four arbitrarily canonized gospels of the New Testament do not remotely describe the life of the historical Jesus. They are almost entirely “fiction,” if you want to use that term. For me, scripture is not history and history is not scripture. For me, scripture is not history and history is not scripture, and I think we regularly treat the Book of Mormon differently from other works of scripture when we focus exclusively on the issue of its historicity.

    You’re very right that take on the Book of Mormon includes the perspective that it is a 19th-century document that does not describe actual historical events. That conclusion has been demonstrated to my satisfaction and I don’t need to review the evidence at length here. If you have the opposite conclusion, then we can amicably disagree; the last thing I want to do is attack your faith.

    As far as the contemporary Dartmouth faculty goes, I think they would have produced a book that had a significantly more sophisticated understanding of the Bible and Judaism. But I think that they would have still produced a book that was replete with anachronisms (albeit different anachronisms than those in our Book of Mormon), because it essentially impossible for people to take themselves completely outside of their own context and put themselves utterly within a different context. Regardless of their scientific capacity, I do doubt that the early 19th century faculty of Dartmouth would have produced a book as inspired and inspiring as the Book of Mormon has proved itself to be.

  30. John:

    I was particularly referring to the concept of “sacred fiction” as Jan Schipps coined the term. Others have placed varying emphases on how much of the term should be sacred and how much fiction — with theories (that MH has boasted about on this board) ranging up to outright hoax.

  31. Yes, I am aware of some of these epic stories of the Bible, and how some people discount them as historical. I am of the opinion that Noah was probably a localized flood. Perhaps there is a ship on Mt Ararat–some of the tabloids seem to have photos of it. 🙂

    FireTag, some people probably think I boast about my posts. 🙂 I thought my Malay post blew up pretty big, but this one on leaving the church is probably going to eclipse Malay. John, did you check out Malay? Do you think it has better/worse/similar possibilities than S America, Great Lakes or Meso?

  32. Firetag (31): I love Jan dearly, but I’d argue the same point with her. I don’t think the word “fiction” is helpful when talking about scripture. I think it’s only a hop and a skip away from the next word you mention, “hoax.” Was the author of the Book of Deuteronomy perpetrating a hoax? You can make that technical case, certainly. However, if people imagine that the only opposite of scriptural literalism is fiction, I believe they are more likely to cling to a faulty black-and-white picture of a world that is actually filled with gray nuance.

    MH (32): I think the Malay theory represents precisely the same exercise as the Tehuantepec theory. Because the Book of Mormon is not related to ancient history, all modernist attempts to understand it as actual ancient history are the same. When you insert totally alien information, such as 21st century understandings of the ancient Maya (or Malayans for that matter), you are creating something completely new. You have divorced the text from its actual context and are looking at it through an unrelated lense. The result is an original reading, but also a distorted reading. This is not necessarily a bad exercise, but it is not necessarily a useful exercise.

  33. I think El Mirador’s in El Peten time scale fits in perfectly with the rise and fall of the Nephites, Lamanites. I haven’t studied this extensively but the timing fits perfectly. Any further comments on this.

  34. google El Mirador and check the Wikepedia article on El Mirador. It’s a Mayan site in the Yucatan peninsula the dates from about 600 BC to 150 BC. This is Meso-America. There should be further links in the article. Don’t know how accurate Wikipedia always is but I’ve seen the dating elsewhere and found it intriguing. I noticed immediately that it fit in the Nephite time range.

  35. Firetag[27]

    I had to read your response to John, on June 9, 3 times – which shows how slow I am.
    Permit me to paraphrase a bit. Were you saying that God provided people according to their needs in order that they might believe the message of the BofM?

    MH

    I saw that mormonheritic.org was shut down soon after my response to you. I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I’m new at this form of communication.

  36. I’ve read the book by Priddis and consider it one of the best on Book of Mormon geography. The South American theory seems to fit better than any other. Some of the greatest discoveries in the Book of Mormon’s favor have been made in recent years; i.e. the discovery of the Norte Chico cities in northern Peru. They are 1,000 years before anything in mesoamerica–truly Jaredite era. One of the book’s biggest criticisms was the notion that ancient Americans worked with iron–and finally an ancient iron mine has been discovered, not in mesoamerica, but in Peru, near Nasca. Oh, and by the way…one comment here was completely wrong–the Incas came later than the Book of Mormon time period. Look to much older civilizations in South America–not the Inca.

  37. I first read Priddis about 25 years ago. One of the biggest supports in favor of it is that all of the Nephite migrations from the first landing go Northward, and some for many days. This includes Nephi’s original escape from his brothers (2 Nephi 5) to the Land of Nephi, the later Northward movement to Zarahemla, the later Northward movement up the Jaredite lands North of the narrow neck, and the Northward voyages beyond the Jaredite lands.

    If they landed in Chile, this all makes sense. The long desert between Chile and Peru was the first migration. From Lake Titicaca up to Northern Peru the second. Up into Ecuador, the third. And the voyages up into Central America and Mexico. With some lost at sea ending up in Polynesia.

  38. The single most compelling argument for any location is that the Land of Nephi would be a land of freedom. Where in South America do you find that? Where in Malay? Where in Central America? The ONLY place that fits is North America, and yes, there is DNA evidence among the Great Lakes tribes.

  39. I realize these posts are a little old, but I’ll throw in my two cents. I read Sorenson’s book years ago and then about a half dozen others on mesoamerica. While much seemed to make sense, some things like the 90 degree change in direction just never seemed right with me in spite of Sorenson’s explanation. A couple years ago I was rereading Potter’s work on Lehi’s journey along the Red Sea and down to Salalah. I read everyone else’s work on this theory that I could and found it to be most compelling. I knew that Potter had recently declared that he felt Peru is where Lehi’s family went to, but I found many of his arguments to be illogical. I’ve written him several times with questions and came away unfunfilled in his answers (although I greatly respect him and his work on Lehi’s trail). I then decided to see if anyone else supported Peru as the promised land and came across the work of Del Dowdell. His website is nephicode.com. He has over 2,000 blog entries and has written 4 extremely comprehensive books. He supports a landing sight in northern Chile, with movement into Peru and Equador and Hagoth’s ships going north into mesoamerica and settling that land. I began at his first blog entry and read forward carefully scrutining every word. I’ve loved the journey and been amazed at how logical and thorough he is. And yes, he explains the rising of the Andes mountains how South America used to be largely under water. This is the part I had the hardest time with originally, but have studied it carefully and am comfortable with it. Here’s a challenge I asked myself: When Samuel prophesies that at the death of Christ valleys shall becomes mountains whose height is great– which moutains formed in 33 AD? If not the Andes where? Helaman 14:3. called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great. I’ll leave it at this for now, but if encourage anyone interested to check out nephicode.com; the work done there is truly impressive and I believe it to properly identify the lands of the Book of Mormon.

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