Unconventional Book of Mormon Geography Theories

Mormon Hereticbook of mormon, geography, historicity, lamanites, mormon 342 Comments

It’s been over a year since someone posted something on Book of Mormon geography, so I think it’s about time.  Most of you believe that the Book of Mormon occurred in Central America, right?  Well it turns out there are over 100 theories.  Check out this big list, which is incomplete.

In 1991, John Sorenson 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 book, and grouped the theories into basic categories.

(1)   Internal Theories. Any scholar should create a map before trying to locate it in the real world.

(2)   Hemispheric Models. Mormons originally thought that the Book of Mormon peoples covered the entire North and South America.

(3)   Central America Models. The bulk of “Mormon approved” scholars support this general group of theories.

(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.

(5)   The Great Lakes Theories. Since the golden plates were found in NY, the BOM lands must be nearby.  The Narrow Neck is near the Great Lakes.

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.  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.”

(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, and the Malay Peninsula is a better description of the Narrow Neck of Land.

So, what if the Book of Mormon is true, but we’re digging in the wrong place?  I decided to look at one of the radically different geography theories-the Malay theory.  I discovered it in the footnotes of the Wikipedia article on Archaeology and the Book of Mormon.  The theory even has its own section here, as well as a Wikipedia article.  If you look in the footnotes, you’ll see a link to a Sunstone article written by Ralph Olsen.  (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 had chariots, iron, silk, etc

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

(5)    The shorter 4000 mile oceanic travel makes more sense than a 16000 mile journey.  Even the FAIR produced DVD called Journey of Faith, (which shows many Old World evidences of the Book of Mormon), indicates Nephi would have hugged the coastline, and the path goes right by the Malay Peninsula.

(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 traveled eastward and populated the Pacific Islands (such as Hawaii, Tonga, etc),

b.      Scholarly consensus indicates that Native Americans came from Asia, and came along one of two routes.  (1) the Bering Strait, or (2) they hopped across the Pacific Islands (such as Hawaii, Tonga, etc), before arriving in the Americas.  Olsen’s migratory theory seems to be backed up by more scientists.

(7)    DNA evidence seems to be better.  While not endorsing the Malay Theory, Simon Southerton even 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.”

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 maintains 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 traveled 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 encourages people to critique his work, so if you have problems with his theories, be kind, but please express them.  I told him I was going to post on his theory, and he may or may not stop by.  (He is not technologically savvy.)

My biggest problems with the theory are:

(1)    How did the plates get to New York?  Olsen admits that he doesn’t know.  But he also points out that Sorenson doesn’t adequately explain how the 200 lb plates moved from Guatemala 3,000 miles north to NY without a wheeled vehicle.

(2) 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 this scripture 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.

For those of you who want more information, the longer version of this post can be found here.  And if you really want to see this theory, Ralph Olsen has given me permission to make his unpublished manuscript available.  It can be found here. Patience is a virtue…It’s 300 pages and 20 MB is size!

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

UPDATE 4/27/2009.  Sorenson’s proposed Oceanic Journey.

Comments 342

  1. Malay?

    Well the biggest problem is the very last one. Moroni doesn’t say at all that he traveled to a distant land to deposit the plates. He, in fact, very much states that he is now all on his own in the same land as the Lamanites. That is surely a long journey for Moroni to make all on his own with a 200 lb set of gold plates that he must keep hidden and protected. He still has to get to upstate New York. And from Malaysia, without airplanes or cars, that is a very very long trip for one man to take, on his own, carrying such heavy weight, and trying not to be seen by anyone. For comparison, consider how long it took for Nephi’s group to go from near Jerusalem to Bountiful, in modern day Oman. That took what, eight years? And that was barely 1000 miles.

    I guess it depends on which one you find more incredible.

    1. A group of people create a boat and cross the Indian and Pacific Oceans to get to their promised land.

    2. An individual journeys by himself from Malay to New York while staying hidden from anyone carrying 200 lb of gold.

    I don’t know about you, but the first one makes more sense to me. It also makes more sense having Moroni take 20 years to get to upstate New York trying to stay hidden in a land of enemies with 200 lb of gold while journeying from Central America to upstate New York. I can see that journey taking 20 years. I can’t see it from Malay. That is REALLY far away.

    I still lean on the Yucatan Penninsula as the preferred spot for the events of the Book of Mormon to take place.

    1. “And from Malaysia, without airplanes or cars, that is a very very long trip for one man to take, on his own, carrying such heavy weight, and trying not to be seen by anyone…”

      I was speechless to read “The Raja Bahrin Story” This is a modern version of Autobiography of a Malay father who had sailed ’empty-handed’ly by boat to Melbourne some years ago….

      Please have a read.

    2. “An individual journeys by himself from Malay to New York while staying hidden from anyone carrying 200 lb of gold.”

      …. What a chemist says about gold? How many part of the world is covered with gold? 5 in how many billion square feet of area? Please surf to conform. And we saw in the old map that was sketched from hearsay this world “Golden Chernose” ..(something like that) which is referred to Peninsular Malaysia.

      It is interesting to think.

    3. “That is REALLY far away…”

      R.A Jairazbhoy.

      Have you heard his name? A brilliant man who bring the light that the first to discover American continent is not Christopher Colombus but ancient Egyptian men? Do surf for his books in Amazon.com

      His name is in Tertius Chandler’s list of 40 geniuses that does not enter university.

    4. Dan, it is only a naive connection an un-experienced one like the novice me made. I am proud if you take my suggested reading material to be read.


  2. Well, I like anything that gets us thinking about something other than Mesoamerica. It’s not that I’m anti-Mesoamerican theories, per se, but the attitude of FARMS and others has always come across to me as dismissive of everything else, which means that if we ARE digging in the wrong place, we’d never know it. I think we should be looking everywhere, if only because that kind of openness will lead us to discover things that we’ve never suspected.

    Has anyone proposed Florida? I didn’t notice anything on the big list, but it seems to have the north-south property of Malay (with a little imagination and an alteration of the coastline circa AD 34).

  3. Dan,

    Once Moroni left the battle field, there would be no reason to remain hidden. While we read about Lehi’s journey of 8 years in the wilderness, we often think that he was alone. However, most scholars believe that Lehi interacted with local Arabs in order to get water and supplies. (His sons were guilty of the murder of Laban, but the Arabs would have not known that–therefore there was no reason to conceal their identities on the long 8 year journey.) Even though other people aren’t mentioned in Lehi’s journey doesn’t mean they were alone. The same reasoning applies to Moroni–there would have been no need to conceal himself after he was out of the battlefield.

    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.

    Couldn’t Moroni be able to go pretty much anywhere in the world in 35 years (with the Lord’s help)?

    Neal, I don’t believe anyone has proposed Florida (yet). I will say that Rodney Meldrum believes Nephi landed in the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans, and that the groups traveled up the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys, and ended up near the Great Lakes.

  4. Neal: One of the comments on a recent FAIR blog post suggests Florida. It has a narrow neck of land, and a river that flows south to north. But I have not seen any detailed arguments for it.

    Could somebody explain to me what Wikipedia meant when they called some models “mormon approved”. I thought the official stance was the unknown/ it doesn’t matter model.

  5. I believe the Meso-American theory because it is the only one that has the technological advances explained in the Book of Mormon around the time of narrative events. To me, that is a huge consideration because of how vague the geographic descriptions are. By the way, the gold plates have been credibly (and by eye witnesses) described as between 60 to 80 pounds and not 200 lbs. They weren’t a chunk of gold brick.

  6. Morgan,

    I was not aware of a Florida theory. Do you have a link? Also, which wikipedia link are you referring to? Th LDS church has no official position on geography, as you said.


    I have looked into the Great Lakes Theories, but the 2 main problems I have with them are: (1) the Indian tribes of the area are too primitive to be the organized cities that the BoM mentions–technologically, they were practically stone age, (2) I can’t imagine anyone wearing just a loin cloth around Lake Michigan in winter–climatologically, it is a big stretch.


    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.

    There were no wheeled vehicles either in the Americas (North, Central, or South), yet the BoM talks about chariots.

    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.

  7. I’ve always liked the African theory, it is the most twilightzone out of the bunch. I enjoy reading about it the same way I enjoy reading about Sasquatch and alien abductions.

    1. yes i agree but the whole book of morman was from solamon spoldings book that was taken and then joe added to it  but its all a morman lye

  8. The plates were not 200 lbs. Contemporary witnesses in Joseph’s day estimated them at 40-60 lbs. The idea of “200 lbs” comes from assuming a block of solid gold.

    So, a wheeled vehicle is hardly likely to be required in any case. 🙂

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  10. Here is the link I was referring. Steve Danderson mentions it just a little ways down in relation to one person advocating a Mississippi model.


    The wikipedia link I was referring to was the “big list”. In mentioning the Mesoamerica models it calls them “mormon approved”. Judging from the comments here and other places I think alot of different models are “Mormon approved.”

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  12. lol. Oops, I guess the joke was on me then. Maybe I have heard so many wild theories I had no problem with entertaining the idea of Florida, since I don’t think it is any more outrageous than Malay or Africa models.

    1. well its as good as the rest..because the book of morman is a fraud by the morman church..its all aout money

  13. I am the original author of the geography sections of This Land Zarahemla and the Nephite Nation.Rod Meldrum’s theory is based off my original theory, though he will not admit it. But of course, some elements of my original theory was based off other things that I can’t entirely take credit for. But others were my own innovations. Anybody that knows me knows that I have retracted that book, all accept for Cumorah in New York, while the co-author Wayne May continues to publish it, because he was also the publisher that owns the book. May and Meldrum are teamed up now, and I have nothing to do with them.

    And that I’m now an advocate for the Mesoamerican theory all accept for the New York Cumorah. And who knows what my opinion will be next week or next year. I’m trying my best to follow the evidence as I see it now, though I admit that I have an emotional tie to the New York Cumorah. But I let go of all the rest of the stuff I had an emotional tie to that didn’t fit the evidence.

    The Maylay theory doesn’t account for the exceedingly great distance in the Book of Mormon. Nor does it account for the statements in the D&C and Pearl of Great Price that place the Book of Mormon in the Americas.

    I now believe that that a New York Cumorah cannot be proven to the FARMS types. Its not that plausible arguments cant be made for a Cumorah in New York. Its not a conspiracy. Its just a bunch of people that now have an ideology. But its also an honest ideology where these men believe that they have followed the best evidence. I don’t believe they have followed the best evidence, but oh well.

    I have changed my mind about trying to prove these people wrong in my writings. I am now seeking to have a rational argument for the New York Cumorah for my own sake, and my audience will be people that are open to the idea. I’m tired of fighting the other ideology. It just makes me angry to try to fight it, and I’m tired of being angry about it.

    But suffice it to say, Book of Mormon Geography is the worst subject to write about in the Church. And sometimes I wonder why I care about it. I guess I might be obsessed to get it right.

  14. Wait, we can believe in angels coming back to earth and giving people ancient records buried in a hill, but a wormhole between a cave in upstate NY and one in Malay is out of the question? Are there no sci-fi fans theorizing about BOM geography?

  15. I want a concrete and rational Book of Mormon that makes sense in the real world. Not a scifi fantasy. I guess I didn’t appreciate the humor in that statement if humor was intended. This is serious business for me, something that I take very seriously.

    1. well you ott to save your money because joe smith was a con man and a lyer and he and parly pratt  and the rest of the crooks made it all up,look how rich the lds church is by keeping the lies going…

  16. Fascinating, all of it. A Florida theory would be interesting, and I like this Malay theory. I think I like it because, more than anything, I really hate it when people call American/Central American Indians “Lamanites”. It just seems ignorant to me, and I don’t think that I would want to be called a Lamanite if I were American Indian and a new convert to the church or just learning about the church. I mean, the Lamanites ended up as the bad guys in the end.

    I’ll be the one to say that I don’t think we’re likely to find out for sure anytime soon (at least not through traditional scholarship, and I don’t see the Church making a statement). As far as the plates being deposited in Cumorah: 1) after death, Moroni was resurrected; 2) Moroni was charged with guarding the golden plates. As a resurrected being and “angel”, is it not possible that he could have somehow, over some 1400 years (I think I have my dates right?), found a way to get them from just about anywhere in the world to upstate NY? Without a full and complete understanding of how resurrection and being an angel works I can’t explain the actual physical process (teleportation? magic? – kidding), I think that if you believe in those concepts then it’s fully plausible that Moroni could somehow have moved the plates in the period between the end of the Book of Mormon and the early 1800s. I’m probably not the only person to think of this (I hope).

    And I’m not a Book of Mormon history scholar in any way.

  17. I’m inclined to ascribe to the possibility/probability that Joseph Smith didn’t “translate” everything from the gold plates perfectly. There are numerous disclaimers made in the Book of Mormon about the frailties of men in using language to communicate the things of God (Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni all lament their failings and limitations; and its on the title page!). I don’t take much stock in arguments about horses, chariots, swords, and the like because it is possible that Joseph Smith simply used an English word where no satisfactory translation sufficed. JS could have also simply erred in his translation in places. We’ll never be able to know for certain. Using Occam’s Razor, which is more likely: 1) that every word in the Book of Mormon was translated exactly as God intentioned (despite constant official editing since its publication in 1830), or 2) that the sermons, stories, and consequent historical cues interspersed could conceivably contain errors?

    Accepting the possibility/probability that not everything written in our Book of Mormon was translated correctly, I see the Meso-American locus for BoM events as most plausible, and I’m willing to pass over concerns over tangential historical, geographical, or anthropological details. If the Book of Mormon really contains historical accounts of people who actually lived and worshiped the God of Israel in a distant promised land, I’m more interested in archeological and anthropological evidences of the effects of knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ six centuries before he appeared on the Earth, which should spill over (as it does in our modern cultures) in monumental architecture and artistic expression.

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    The Maylay theory doesn’t account for the exceedingly great distance in the Book of Mormon. Nor does it account for the statements in the D&C and Pearl of Great Price that place the Book of Mormon in the Americas.

    What exceedingly great distance are you referring to?

    As for statements in the D&C, and PoGP, I agree with you–that is a weakness, but Olsen has tried to slant his theory as “the sources from whence they sprang.”

  19. J.Ro, If you’re into magic woo woo BS, go right ahead and theorize like that. I’m a skeptic of all things supernatural. My God is not a supernatural God, but is a human being. My Bible is a Bible of archaeology with real artifacts and real sites. And my Book of Mormon is a record of a fallen people who really died and really wrote on tablets of gold, and really stuck that record in a hill regardless of where they were buried. Maylay is too much, because it asks too much. Too much nonsense attached to it. If we are going to get to the core, we are going to do it with rationality. Not because prophets said so. Not because someone waived a magic wand over plates. Not because there was a stargate in the hill cumorah to Mexico or to Malaysia. Lets pull our heads out of the clouds and get down to business. Let’s all be rational.

    1. And why exactly why does it matter where the Book of Mormon lands are located, any more than which Jerusalem burial site was where Christ was Resurrected? If it made any difference it would have been revealed. It is interesting, I guess, to speculate to give people something to occupy their time, but since we will not find out the answer in this life – why bother?

  20. Heretic, I’m talking about the exceedingly great distance demanded by the text between the narrow Neck of Land and the large bodies of water to the North, to which Cumorah is tied in the text of the Book of Mormon. This reading of the internal geography is traditional, but FARMS types won’t acknowledge its plausibility. If you guys are those types, I guess I have nothing to say to you, as I now refuse to argue that point anymore.

  21. Ed, if you can rationally, and scientifically if you like, explain everything in the New Testament to me, then you’ve got my ear. (The NT because it’s at least more widely accepted than the BoM.) Personally, I know for sure that we don’t know everything there is to know about anything. If that makes sense. Basic physics taught me that. Because of that, I think it’s entirely reasonable to say that there are things that happen(ed) that we just can’t explain away with what we know now. You probably disagree, if I’m reading into your comments correctly.

  22. J.Ro,

    I don’t have to explain anything to anybody, only to say that beneath all phenomena, there is no magic. Priesthood is the powers of heaven, not magic. Moroni came down in a pillar of light and fire, but that is not magic. That is the power of heaven manifest, which is just as real as photons bouncing off your retina. It is electromagnetic in nature, and there is no such thing as immaterial matter. All that said, we need not say there had to be any kind of miracle or intervention in anything when it is not required, and furthermore, we need only assume that a miracle using natural law happened to part the red sea, or things like that. And with those, it was natural law. I don’t need to prove a thing of faith to you. On the other hand, if we say the Book of Mormon is historical and real, then we need to get down and dirty with the rational fact that it means that you can dig a hole, and the artifacts you dig up are from real people that lived back then. And if you can figure out the geography, you know that the hole you dug had something to do with those people, and what you dug out of it was made by either them, or people that had dealings with them.

    So I don’t need to prove anything to you. I just need to say that the Book of Mormon and the New Testament are things that happened in the real world. And modern labels are attached to the Book of Mormon Cultures. For example, Maya = Lehite + any number of others that mixed with them.

  23. Post


    It seems you have some strong feelings for this subject. I’m all for debating merits, and I’m not trying to say this theory is the greatest, but it does solve many problems that Mesoamerica has. How the plates got to the Americas is a great question, and Olsen speculates that Moroni could have traveled by boat to the Americas. If we all believe that Nephi traveled to the Americas in less than a year, why is it implausible that Moroni couldn’t travel to the Americas in the 35 years after Mormon buried the plates? How is this any more implausible than Noah’s ark (or is Noah’s ark implausible too)?

    As for SteveS’ Occams razor argument, it seems to me that Malay is a land which has seas in all directions (including north), and I think the anachronisms about elephants, horses, chariots, swords are much more easily explained in Asia than Mesoamerica. As such, Occam’s razor seems much more in favor of an Asian settlement, than American one, even if it seems implausible to many.

    I will also note that there are people in the Malay peninsula claiming to have jewish ancestry, as I mentioned in my post about Simcha Jacobovici. I believe there is a genome project to verify this claim, and it is supposed to be completed within the next 5-10 years. So I ask, if Jewish DNA is found in Malay, is this theory really that implausible? Some of you may have heard about the Lemba tribe in Africa have claimed Jewish ancestry. Sure enough, DNA has validated that claim.

  24. Heretic,

    I’m for rationality, and the Maylay has elements of irrationality to it. That’s all I have to say. I’m a skeptic, and I’m looking for real answers, and anybody that even considers the Maylay explanation has elements of irrationality in their thought process. I can see that I need to get out of this conversation, that I’m once again getting too emotional about proving points to people. Have a great day.

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  26. Heretic: Any proposition going against the idea that Book of Mormon lands are not somewhere between the Arctic Ocean and the tip of South America in the Americas is irrational to the core, because it denies the central premise that it is an American book. And among those that propose various things for America, there are varying degrees of rationality.

    The Maylay peninsula thing makes the Book of Mormon into a fable. You might as well be saying that the Book of Mormon is ahistorical and be done, if you are willing to consider that, which I truly believe is the real thing behind the Maylay proposition anyway.

  27. Post


    I assume you’re quite familiar with Sorenson. Sorenson has basically said that Joseph didn’t really know where the BoM lands are. There is the quote from the Clayton diary where Joseph is reported to have said that Lehi landed 30 degrees south of the equator in what is now modern-day Chile. Joseph also embraced claims on the Yucatan Peninsula. The story of Zelph is in Missouri. Joseph believed in a Hemispheric model, not a limited model.

    So, Sorenson basically says “look at the evidence”, because Joseph didn’t know. Sorenson has gone to great lengths to figure out distances, and much of this work makes sense. But Sorenson’s narrow neck is not narrow, nor is it north-south. So while he brings considerably weight to the topic, he basically says that Joseph didn’t know where the BoM lands are.

    I ask you that if the Sword of Laban, palace of King Noah, and Title of Liberty were found convincingly in Malay, would that make the BoM ahistorical, or historical?

  28. I don’t particularly care what Sorenson ever said about anything, nor do I care what Joseph Smith believed. Joseph Smith also believed in Moonmen, and I don’t put stock in anything that any prophet ever said about Geography. I only care what the Book of Mormon text says. And I only care what the D&C & PofGP say about its historicity and location.

    And I’d have to question your sword of Laban and palace of King Noah, whether they are archaeological frauds or if they are misidentified. Again, what is the evidence, and on whose terms will it be called evidence? Sorenson ignores evidence in the text for his ideological readings of the text. You have your favorite sacred cow too so it seems. And so do I, I suppose. I don’t see any fruit coming out of furthering this.

  29. Post


    I’m for exploring other theories too. I’ve already devoted 5 parts to a Great Lakes Theory on my blog (see here), and I plan a future post on South American models too. I’m geographically agnostic. I think this theory has flaws (language, how plates got to NY, to name a few). I have no sacred cows. My question to you is a hypothetical one–what if these artifacts are found in the future? What if they were at least as convincing as Nahom, and the candidates for Nephi’s harbor (Khor Rhori, and Wadi Sayq/Khor Kharfot) in Yemen?

  30. Science is self corrective, and so is the gospel as more is revealed. Hypothetical stuff is for people that want to look into a crystal ball to divine something, and don’t want to have to deal with evidence as we have it in the present. Go look at my book from 2002, and I can show you some real convincing place names that led me astray. I thought I had found real golden nuggets. Niagara = Narrow Neck of land, Mississippi = Fish River = Tsydon (in Hebrew). Toronto = Bountiful. And these I can prove from Indian place-name dictionaries. Guess what. They are transplants from Mesoamerican settlers to the great lakes region that named things after places they were familiar with. Go figure. But this fact was enough to throw me when I didn’t know any better. And now you want me to comment on those, having no idea why they are what they are. Place name games are like finding racecars and dragons in the clouds, or like the face on Mars.

  31. Ed, while I am not a “proponent” of the Malay theory, I need to say a few things – just to try to position the overall discussion in a way that is true to the Book of Mormon itself:

    1) MH mentioned this, but Moroni getting to New York isn’t an issue no matter where the history actually occurred. The man had 35 years to get to wherever he had to go. In 35 years, he could have crawled with two broken legs around the world. Distance simply ain’t an issue, especially if the land was broken up and changed dramatically at time of the crucifixion of Jesus.

    2) If we are willing to judge the record based ONLY on what it actually says, all kinds of possibilities emerge. For example, the quote Olsen uses to counter the Meso-America claim:

    “[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.”

    If we start from scratch, with no prior assumptions, it is perfectly reasonable to read that quote as meaning the book gives an account of the people who populated the Americas previous to Joseph Smith (generically called Native Americans) and the original people from whom those people were descended. That reading sounds stretched to our ears simply because we have assumed otherwise for so long – but the actual text speaks constantly of Nephites and Lamanites who left the originally settled land and traveled generally eastward. It isn’t a stretch at all to believe that “Lehites” might have been populating the Americas for centuries during the time of the Book of Mormon and for centuries afterward. It fits the overall statements in the Book of Mormon quite nicely, actually – although it isn’t proven by the account in any way.

    3) You speak of “rationality” – but then you turn around and discount without any attempt at explanation the fact that Malay (or other possibilities) actually are FAR more rational when it comes to many of the apparent anachronisms if Meso-America is the location. That simply isn’t fair, and it isn’t rational. If many of the “textual problems” are solved with another location, that location deserves serious consideration.

    4) The early members of the Church, including Joseph himself, seemed to have all kinds of incorrect assumptions about the Book of Mormon – largely because they didn’t “study” it much as a historical text or “proof text”. They used it as a witness of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith – as a religious record, not to understand the history within it. If, in fact, the civilization descended from Lehi lived primarily elsewhere, but many of them migrated eventually to the Americas – and if, to the people recording the main record, “the Americas” were unknown as anything other than “the isles of the sea” (which is no stretch at all, since even much later Europeans originally thought exactly like that), the insurmountable obstacles pretty much disappear, imo.

    Again, I am not claiming the Malay theory is correct. I just think it can’t be dismissed by any of the reasons I’ve heard thus far – especially when Moroni had 35 years to get where he ended up burying the plates. Physical distance fades into insignificance when so much time is available – and when going somewhere away from his native civilization (where he no longer would have been hunted) would have allowed him to live in peace and relative comfort for much of that time if he had chosen to do so.

  32. Post


    My reason for adding the hypothesis question in the first place was because you said the intent of Malay was to show the BoM is ahistorical. This is a fallacy on your part.

    So, if these artifacts were found in Malay, they would not only prove the BoM is historical, but that the Malay geography is correct. Now I’m not claiming Malay is correct–just pointing out the fallacy of your previous reasoning. Sorry you got lost in the logic.

  33. Ed: “I only care what the Book of Mormon text says.”

    That’s the problem, though: we don’t have the Book of Mormon text, only a translation of it by a prophet (the same prophet whose statements about geography you discount. As much as we want it to be, the English version of the Book of Mormon is not a primary source, just as the KJV or Vulgate is not used to explore the original authors’ writings.

    So it really comes down to how literally we interpret the text that we do have. It sounds like you place a lot of stock in the literality of the BoM, while MH’s opinion is not as clear. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either perspective, imo, as long as it doesn’t force us into a dogmatic position, the defense of which becomes more and more impassioned and desperate.

    Fascinating discussion today, though. Cheers, all.

  34. Post

    Ed, I wish you could discuss this less emotionally, but I understand. I wish you well. Come back in a month and read this conversation again, and I hope you will understand what Ray and I are saying. And when I do a post on South America, please come back and visit again. 🙂

  35. So how do we reconcile the Malay theory with multiple BOM references to the “land or promise,” the land “choice above all other lands?” Is Malay that land? How does it jibe with the 1 Ne 13 account of gentile colonization and christianization and battles with the motherland? How do the Jaredites fit into the narrative?

  36. Post


    I’ve never heard about anything about Florida before, but if anyone has–I’d be interested to study it!


    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.”

  37. Thailand means “Land of the Free”: and it also means “Land of Thai [food]”. OK, so I threw in the food part, but if the Nephites and Lamanites duked it out over in S.E. Asia, at least they made delicious food while doing it.

    In fact, that could be one of the biggest evidences against the Malay peninsula revisionist theory: if they lived out their lives there, why no mention of the delicious, spicy food? 🙂

  38. Just so this is on the record, and in case Ed returns, I am NOT a “Malayer” – and I said so directly and clearly in my comment. I HATE being pigeon-holed by things I DON’T say.

    Ed, I also wish you could read this less emotionally, since you totally dismissed my sincere comment without even attempting to answer it. My comment applied to ANY theory other than the Meso-American one – NOT as a claim that the Malay theory is correct. I tried to make that crystal clear, and, frankly, having re-read my comment, I think I did a good job doing so.

    WMP, I agree 100% that the Manifest Destiny understanding of the early saints and the explicit references to American history are the biggest issue with a theory that positions the record outside of the Americas. However, as I said in my first comment, if we start from scratch and deal solely with the actual words of the Book of Mormon, it’s not all that difficult to construct very reasonable responses to those questions – especially if we accept the idea that there were Lehite and Jaredite descendants scattered over the isles of the sea over time.

    The Book of Mormon makes it clear that Nephi, Mormon and Moroni ALL of them saw revelations extending into the future and including our time. It is clear that ALL of them saw the events that led to the Restoration in the United States. It is clear that ALL of them knew Joseph would live in North America – that their account would need to end up in what would become known as “New York”. It also is clear that ALL of them knew the people reading the text initially would be “Americans”. IF, and again I repeat, IF many of their own descendants had migrated to the Americas and the isle of the Pacific Ocean by the time the record was revealed to Joseph, then the Americas would be included in the “lands of promise” kept hidden from the rest of the world in order to facilitate the Restoration of the Gospel.

    I need to repeat again that I am NOT a proponent of the Malay theory. I find it fascinating and worth examining for five main reasons:

    1) It addresses the anachronism issue extremely well.

    2) It is very easy to justify geographically and demographically, including the language, place name and genealogy factors. (Also, un-discussed thus far, there are some interesting examples of languages in the general area – like Japanese – that are modern equivalents of the structure of Reformed Egyptian described in the Book of Mormon.)

    3) The Book of Mormon speaks of multiple lands of promise, with the unifying factor being “the isles of the sea” – and the Americas classify as “the isles of the sea” from every “ancient” perspective.

    4) It is quite easy to reconcile the Manifest Destiny question, once the possibility is accepted, in a way that is not inconsistent with the text itself.

    5) I believe there are SERIOUS problems with the Meso-America theory.

    I feel the same way about ANY other theories that have reasonable foundations. I think any such theory deserves serious consideration, simply because I don’t believe the text of the book itself provides enough information to say conclusively one way or another.

  39. SteveS’s point is valid. Issues with historicity could be due to mistranslation (the process is pretty sketchy as described) or JS infusing his own understanding into the text.

    And I just have to say that J.Ro and I have a valid point, too – sci-fi is only “fantasy” until it’s reality. In the 1960s, people scoffed at those tiny little communicators Spock and Kirk used, but now they are way bigger than many of our cell phones, which were modeled after the communicators used on the show. Science fiction is the exploration of scientific ideas within fiction, but if they have no basis in scientific theory, they are not sci-fi. To state that some things are rational, natural law and priesthood power (resurrection, being swallowed by a fish, a talking donkey for crying out loud) and other things are irrational fantasy (wormhole between Malay and upstate NY or something similar) is just selection bias. I suppose the three Nephites could have transported the plates from Malay to NY, had almost 2 millenia to do it, and would have still had time to meet up with John the Revelator for a nice lunch. Yeah, that’s far more rational than my wormhole idea. Obviously I’m the ahistorical nut job.

    Oh, and FWIW, I was totally unaware of the Malay theory prior to now, so I’m no “Malayer” either, if such a thing exists. But it does have some interesting aspects. Personally, I think it’s cool to explore the different possibilities. If nothing else, it keeps our minds open and our thinking fresh and only draws us closer to the text.

  40. “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.”

    That is fascinating.

    #43 – Steve, yeah, you’d think they would have passed on a recipe or two. Jello is fine in a pinch, but really . . .

  41. If Moroni can pop in and out from another dimension, or from wherever he came from, to Joseph Smith’s bedroom, then I have no problem with him bringing the plates to Hill Cumorah from anywhere else in space and time. I’m totally for another planet in our universe or else another universe entirely. Words like horses, swords, etc. were used to describe whatever were the closest analogs to those things in the society and ecosystem of the Nephites wherever they may have been.

    To me it is always misguided to look for scientific proof of spiritual truths. The spirit confirms that it’s true. So what can science add or take away from that? The answer is “Nothing”.

  42. Ray, I can’t do anything sometimes without getting emotional because I have an anxiety disorder and I have to back out sometimes. I will think about answering things a bit more tomorrow if this thing is still going.

  43. Ed (if you’re still around),

    Okay, magic was probably the wrong word to mention (in jest, I should point out). I think that we may be thinking the same thing, but I got you on the defensive too quickly. You talk about “natural law”; if we’re understanding this the same, everything that happens, miracle or not, is through natural laws which God has set up. Am I correct that this is what you’re talking about? If it is, are you of the opinion/belief that we know everything there is to know about natural law? That is what I was trying to point out. Miracles don’t occur right and left, but they do occur. And as far as I am aware we don’t know how all miracles occur. I think there’s a solid chance that they may be completely natural in a natural law sense. But God didn’t give us a knowledge about everything, did he? So when I talk about the possibility of just about anything related to *this Book of Mormon geography matter*, please understand a few things to keep in mind with anything I say on the topic:
    1) It’s just speculation. Hopefully it’s not been taken seriously enough to completely ruin something. I don’t think it has. But I also don’t think that being speculation means that it’s completely ludicrous. Also, notice I never mentioned anything about stargates.
    2) I really don’t mean to offend. I can see that this is a much more serious and personal matter to you than it is to me. Sorry if you feel I’ve disrespected your view.
    3) I find it an interesting but not essential topic to investigate. I don’t put that much stock in any theory about this that I’ve read. Just like you don’t need to prove your faith to me, I don’t need geographic evidence to believe what the book says (to be clear: I’m not saying you do need geographic evidence). I just find it interesting and I feel that merits the opportunity to involve myself in a casual discussion (that’s what it seemed to be at the beginning).
    4) Without a complete knowledge of the workings of God’s natural law, I sincerely think that any serious attempt to “prove” the Book of Mormon real will be met with disappointment. You are welcome to civilly disagree.

  44. “sci-fi is only “fantasy” until it’s reality”

    Well-stated, Hawkgrrl! Excellent way to put it. I think there are a lot of things that are possible, even likely, that we as a society scoff at.

  45. Ray, I’ll give this one more shot because I’m a sucker for getting sucked back in I guess. Is it rational to say that Salt Lake City is New Mexico because they both have buildings? No. The Maylay thing is irrational precisely because it fits so well. And that’s why Malayers and those who are open minded about it (ok you aint a maylayer, but you are talking as if you think it is plausible somehow) overlook the most important piece, and that is that it is only on the other side of the planet from where its supposed to be. No small obstacle. And no, this isn’t just about a reading that we didn’t read right. This is because we DID read it right for all those years. Just because Mesoamerica isn’t perfect in your conception, it has the least amount of problems for any place in the Americas. That is the key. Every place else is MORE of a stretch, even if Mesoamerica is a stretch. And I tell you it is not a stretch. It has “THIS IS THE PLACE” plastered all over it. It has a real urban society, something that no place else in the Americas have for the right time period. The question of Cumorah is different than the question of where the urban society was. Cumorah was simply on the fringes of the cultural influence. We are looking for an urban society in the Americas, not in the Malay peninsula. And there is only one place in America that answers that description, and it is Mesoamerica.

    J.Ro, we are closer to agreeing than I thought. On the other hand, the book of Mormon has been proven by real evidence. The only ambiguity lies in the fact that those that see those evidences will never agree on the identification of them. For those that are believers, Mayan culture is Book of Mormon Culture. It is the only Culture that is book of Mormon culture. Great Lakes culture is Maya culture transplanted, which is why Cumorah is there.

  46. Ed, could you provide some of the evidence you claim (some reputable links that present it, maybe)? Like I said, this isn’t my passion and I’m not here to start an argument, but I would be interested in your proof. MH presented some potential evidence for the Malay theory, I’d like to see what you’re comparing it to. And I promise I won’t come back and give a word of argument about it. Just a matter of curiosity.

  47. Ed – you seem to know a lot about the MesoAmerican LG theory. Having been to the Yucatan, I agree that there are cultural markers that seem to fit. However, it’s not quite a smoking gun either. My question to you would be how you personally account for the missing items: chariots/wheels, swords, horses, elephants? Do you subscribe to the SteveS mistranslation theory, or do you think these items will yet be found or do you have some other way to explain these things? For me, I am always struck by the absence of wheel technology. The wheel seems pretty basic & universal. Hmmm.

  48. Hawkgrrrl,

    People tend to focus too much on what hasn’t been found versus what has been found, and discount what has been found as if it is of no consequence. Its a miracle that what has been found has been found. Not long ago, people were saying how they would never find cement. Now there is cement that is recognized to be all over. You will never have a perfect dataset. And you will never find a perfect dataset in the Bible lands either. There are plenty of missing evidences there, such as evidence of an exodus, lack of evidence in the red sea of a passage. The fall of Jericho doesn’t date right. Not long ago, people were doubting that David was real until they found evidence of him. They swore there was no city of David in Jerusalem and now they found it. Don’t get so hung up on things that haven’t been dug up, and look at what is before your eyes.

  49. Ed, just so this is even more crystal clear:

    If I had to posit a location at gun point, I would posit South America and Central America – not Malaysia. I also would posit that the Jaredite heritage validates the most recent DNA testing as decent evidence for the Book of Mormon – and, in fact, DNA issues might be the very reason God insisted that the book of Ether be included in the record. I mean that.

    However, what I’m saying is that the assumption that the central record occurred in the Americas is just that – an assumption. I think it’s a solid one, but I am open to other reasonable possibilities simply because the Book of Mormon itself doesn’t have enough evidence to state anything conclusively, imo – and since I believe that, I believe no theory should be dismissed out of hand when a reasonable explanation can be articulated. I’m no expert on the Malay theory, but what I have read is interesting and reasonable to me. What I want are reasoned rebuttals, not, “We all know it really was Meso-America.” No, we don’t.

    Also, I agree totally that there is lots of GREAT, objective evidence for the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, the vast majority of it relates to the account of the Old World travels and, ironically, the Jaredites. I think those aspects actually bolster the authenticity even more than the difficulty pinpointing the Lehite groups, since those are the elements that would have been the most outside of the information available to Joseph and his associates.

    Finally, I believe STRONGLY that there is NOTHING that is totally objective and intellectual. EVERYTHING is emotional to someone, and we need to honor that in our discussions. I didn’t mean anything in my comments to be dismissive, condescending, ridiculing or combative in any way.

  50. Ed – “Don’t get so hung up on things that haven’t been dug up, and look at what is before your eyes.” I’m not hung up on anything. I just wanted to know your assessment as someone who has studied the MesoAmerican LG theory more closely. Sounds like your opinion is that evidence will continue to turn up to support that theory. I don’t have a personal stake in any of the theories over another (although the hemispheric one really does seem passé). Thanks for clarifying your stance.

  51. Post


    Let’s remember what the Book of Mormon says, and what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say “Lehi landed in [NY, or Guatemala, or Peru, or Chile, or Malay, or any other place].” It says they arrived in the “Promised Land”. Well, if Nephi had only been more specific, we wouldn’t have 100 competing theories.

    Now, why does everyone believe that Nephi landed in the Americas? Because Joseph Smith made statements to that effect. Now, Joseph Smith obviously believed in a Hemispheric Model. Now, everyone who disagrees with the Hemispheric Model has to discount what Joseph said, including you–a proponet of Mesoamerica. So, if one can discount the Hemispheric model as scientifically deficient, then one should be open to all other possibilities, including Florida, Africa, Malay, Mesoamerica, Great Lakes, or any other possible locations. Ed, have you ever heard or studied of this theory before? I guess the thing I find troubling is that you seem to dismiss without having a single reference to why it is unsound. Perhaps it is unsound, but please provide specifics.

    Now, I had not heard that cement has been found in Mesoamerica. This is a significant find. Can you provide a link so I can learn more about it? (For the record, I don’t claim to be an expert in this topic, but just a student who enjoys the subject.)

  52. Malaya???

    To start with, how does one reconcile Moroni’s statement to Joseph Smith, delivered in the north east corner of North America:

    “He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent” (JS-H 1:34).

    Moroni was certainly in a position to know.


  53. You guys have had way too much fun without me!

    I just wanted to throw my two cents worth in here.

    MH post #32- “What if they were at least as convincing as Nahom…”

    Just for the record, Nahom is not very impressive to me as good evidence for the authenticity of the BoM. It may be good evidence to show that someone helped JS write the book, but not evidence of its historicity.

    One last point, if we’re employing Occam’s razor here, the best evidence I’ve seen puts it in the Great Lakes area with JS writing this as 19th century inspired fiction using the geography he was familiar with. That answers all the problems with geography, anthropology, linguistics, metals, and alike and seems far more reasonable. But then again, who really uses logic and evidence to decide religious beliefs????

    Please continue with the discussion… 🙂

  54. #59 – Theodore, please read the post and comments before asking questions that are addressed in both places. Hit and run comments that appear to be totally disconnected from everything else simply are annoying.

    Ed, I honestly don’t know how to respond, so I’m bowing out of a personal discussion with you. I’ve tried every way imaginable to say I don’t know the answer and want constructive input, and instead I get what amounts to a condescending pat on the head. I’m sorry you see my input that way, since I truly and sincerely was hoping for a stimulating conversation. When we finally see clearly, you can say, “I told you so” – and I will respond, “Yes, you did – and I told you so, as well.” Frankly, at that time, I doubt either of us will care that much about the exact location.

  55. MH–

    I admit I’m not a huge fan of this subject. But it can be fun.

    I didn’t realize there were more than a hundred theories. That alone was worth the read. It confirms my idea that we as fallen beings get distracted by trivial matters to the exclusion of the weightier ones.

    There is one point that I wonder about in your post. The gold plates tipping the scales at 200 lbs seems to be more than even a husky farmer from the 1800 could handle with one hand, or even two, while running. If I recall correctly, isn’t there statements by those who lifted the plates saying they weighted in at 40 to 60 lbs?

  56. Sort of off topic, but here’s a question anyway. The early Mormons, including Joseph Smith seem to make America the home of Lamanites. Oliver Cowdrey, and I believe Hyrum Smith, were sent on missions to the local (N. American) indians in fullfilment of Book of Mormon promises to the Lamanites. Lastly, on my mission I was literally chewed out by a member following a discussion he accompanied me on, because I ignorantly told the investigator that Moroni buried the plates in Cummorah (N.Y.) where Joseph Smith eventually unearthed them. He actually posited Hawkgrrrl’s theory that the plates had been in one way or another “transported” from Costa Rica, though he didn’t say wormhole.

    Here is my challenge, and I realize that this only my logic. If God had the gumption to “transport” the plates, why would he have gone through all of the effort to relocate them in a hill as though they had been buried there anciently in some form of cement. Why wouldn’t he have just had Moroni meet him on the hill, where he would then be presented with the plates? Why the pretense? Because of this I have a hard time accepting any theory which does not allow for Moroni to have buried the plates where Joseph Smith is claimed to have found them.

    Perhaps a second question. I have searched, but I am not aware of any research surrounding the hill cummorah, particularly locating the cement box where the plates are said to have been buried. While such evidence if found could certainly be debatable, I have never understood why on the tours we can’t go to the big rock and look into the hole. Does anybody have any information regarding this?

  57. It ain’t there, Cowboy. The explanations range from, “That would be too easy,” to, “That proves it’s all a hoax” – and include everything in between.

    Fwiw, I just don’t accept the grand deception required for God to have inspired delusions for Joseph OR created a fake resting place for the plates. I think the plates and other artifacts were real, and I think Moroni carried them (40-80 lbs.) to their eventual resting place at some point – but I have no idea when. It could have been in 421 AD; he could have moved them or repositioned them in the late 1700’s. I don’t know, and I really don’t care when it comes down to it.

  58. Post


    I tried to address your question in the original post (see 2a). Also, we’ve been hashing that exact question in comments #3, 26, 34, with some interesting speculations in 18 and 21.)


    You do like to rain on a parade, don’t you? :p But, you do bring up a good point. Any good scientist should also look at the possibility of the BoM as fiction. Regarding Nahom, have you seen my post? I thought there was some pretty interesting work if you’d like to look at it.

  59. This is a technical question heretic: How do you embed links in the text? I have to go old school in my blog posts because I cannot figure out how to make a word link to previous research. That makes it rather difficult to refer to previous research without bogging down my blog posts. If your willing to indulge me, maybe you can message me with somme instructions. Thanks.

  60. Post


    Regarding the weight of the plates, I don’t know. I was quoting Olsen when I said that. Perhaps someone can provide a reference to tell us better. However, Joseph did tell of other plates, so I don’t know that Moroni only had one set of plates.

    Cowboy, my comment 3 gives Sorenson’s Two Cumorah theory, so your mission message is in line with Sorenson. As for the pretense, Rough Stone Rolling discusses Joseph’s treasure digging and makes the case that treasure seeking was the method Joseph and his father used to understand spiritual things. In Bushman’s words, Joseph Sr wouldn’t have believed Jr except for an angel story.

    The whole treasure digging is an important part of the story. Joseph was part of a group that agreed to split any treasure found 12 ways. When Joseph didn’t share the golden plates, his friends tried to steal them. Perhaps they dug up the hill looking for treasure, destroying a stone box in the process just as grave robbers in Egypt plundered the pyramids. Obviously a stone box wouldn’t be easy to locate if it still exists. It’s not like we can use a metal detector to find it.

  61. MH,
    I wrote most of this post on another thread so please read it with the idea of my reaction to Nahom as evidence rather than a rebuttal to your paper on the subject. (I did read it.) Had Nahom been discovered in the 20th century instead of the 18th century as Daniel Peterson seems to imply, the evidence would carry a little more weight. The fact of the matter is, Nahom was documented on maps at least 80 years prior to the BoM publication and as anyone knows that works with maps, map makers tend to copy other maps. I don’t know if JS had access to one of the more expensive maps of Arabia or not, but good maps had it on there as well as Carsten Niebuhr’s writing about Arabia describing the area were Bountiful could have been. So your argument now has to be that JS didn’t have access to a good map of the area. I believe he had help from someone to write the book which opens all kinds of possibilities as to who else may have had a good map. Dartmouth University had the D’Anville map as well as the Niebuhr map and writings translated into English as early as 1804. (If you read below, you can see who were students at that school.)

    Even the best evidence for the historicity of the BoM, according to Terryl Given’s (Nahom), is not near as convincing in light of the facts documented interestingly enough by FARMS. Several articles written by FARMS verify how many people knew about Nahom in the 1700’s. According to FARMS, the better maps of the Arabian Peninsula had the location of NHM pinpointed.

    “Of course, not all maps of Arabia between the years 1751 and 1814 recorded the location of Nahom. In fact, it is generally found only on the finest and most expensive maps created by the best cartographers and published by the finest printers. In my searches I found countless maps of Arabia with no reference to Nahom or anything like it. Thus, it is somewhat amazing that the first modern map of the Arabian Peninsula, created by D’Anville in 1751, did record the location of this often ignored or unrecognized district. Furthermore, that same map inspired the Danes to send an expedition to the region to fill in the missing information, and the only survivor was the cartographer, Carsten Niebuhr. Not only did he engrave a place called Nahom on his map but he also gave us more details of the area in his journal. These two maps and the ones that followed all give testimony to Lehi’s epic journey almost two thousand years earlier.” (http://farms.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=17&num=1&id=464)

    Let me take you back to the assertion of the Joker’s word print study. They worked to show that Rigdon/Spaulding most likely wrote the BoM. I know we went round and round about how valid this study was and I don’t want to ride that marry-go-round again. Dartmouth University had many of these good maps in its library at the time that Spaulding, Rigdon, and Ethan Smith attended there. Both Spaulding and Smith wrote about people coming from the old world to the new. It’s fair to conclude that they would have done some research into writing their books and therefore the inclusion of “Nahom” and for that matter “Bountiful” is not remarkable if one concludes that one or both of these men contributed to the BoM either willingly or unknowingly.

    If that’s the best evidence for the BoM, then there is no evidence at all that can’t be explained scientifically. Even if we assume that JS wrote the book without help, the fact that this area was know and written about in several books about Arabia (see FARMS) means there is a real possibility that he could have gotten his hands on the information.

  62. I enjoyed some of your comments. Thank you for your interest in the Malay Theory. In the introduction to the Book of Mormon it says it is the most nearly correct book on earth. So when I read that in the Land of Promise they had horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, elephants, mining, metallurgy, metal tools, metal weapons, silk, linen, leoprosy, flocks, herds, grape vineyards, wine presses, an abundance of grape wine, Hebrew writing, wheels, chariots, barley, wheat, gold plates, and many others too numerous to mention… we should be able to conclude that Joseph Smith translated these correctly with Divine intervention. That means that the Land of Promise should have them in it. None of the Meso American Hypotheses have them to support them. This was a problem to me so I began looking elsewhere. Much to my amazement the Malay Hypothesis provides a setting for all of these items and many more plus many more important avantages… including a much more feasible voyage from the Middle East, a peninsular setting, a north/south orientation, a genuine narrow neck of land,other topography which matches extremely well with Book of Mormon accounts.

  63. In the Malay Theory, I also propose that people from the Malay area migrated eastward across the Pacific Ocean (the uninhabited quarter). American Hypotheses incorrectly propose that the Polynesians migrated westward. The small groups from the Malay area landed in many places in the Americas. So please note that the Malay Hypothesis does NOT rule out America being a Land of Promise. The amount of attention paid to transporting the plates to NY is amazing to me. There have been “100 Hypotheses” proposed and EVERY ONE of them (except “one”) (and there is almost nothing else to support that Hypothesis) has no way of explaining how the plates got there. I have a way to propose how they got there but Sorenson has no better idea. So I don’t understand the negativity against the Malay Hypothesis with regard to the plates arriving in NY.

  64. Post

    Morgan, I’ll try to answer your question the best I can for hyperlinks. I’m going to add put these characters on separate lines to that they are recognized as text rather than computer code, so put all these on the same line. To start a hyperlink in a comment you need the first special character which is a carat, so here’s how it goes

    everything you type here will be blue hyperlink

    I hope that is understandable. If not, just email me at mormon heretic at gmail dot com and I can send you and easy text file. (I’m sure others have the same question.)

  65. Post

    sorry Morgan, everything I typed got confused for a hyperlink–just send me an email, and I’ll send you a text file.


    So you’re saying that 3rd grade educated Joseph Smith is hanging out in the Dartmouth Library looking at maps of Arabia, yet he didn’t know that Jerusalem had a wall around the city? How did he do this with all the farm work and treasure digging he was doing? Isn’t Dartmouth in NH, not Vermont or New York?

    As for the Spaulding Manuscript, I just read a book on Sidney Rigdon that went into great detail discrediting the Spaulding Manuscript theory. Perhaps I will check the book out of the library again and put a post up. Rigdon as the author of the Book of Mormon was thoroughly discredited. I’ll start working on that post, and we can discuss that theory–it is off topic here.

  66. I must admit that I’m not cued up on BoM geography scholarship, but has anyone ever speculated that the plates were deposited in the NY hill Cumorah _after_ Moroni’s natural life? After all, JS reportedly gave the plates to Moroni after having finished translating them, and it was Moroni that showed them to the 3 witnesses. If the plates don’t exist anywhere on Earth at the present, could they also have been “taken up” and deposited in NY so that JS could find them? This would clear up any difficulties of transporting plates over long distances (either from Central or South America, or the Malay Peninsula or Africa or whereever.

    I admit it seems silly to have an angelic Moroni bury the plates in a concrete box in a hillside rather than simply handing them to JS for translation, but perhaps the scenario helped the money-digger Smiths accept the historicity of the plates because they were acquired in patterns they had expected to find historic treasures.

  67. Don’t you think it is rather odd that there are numerous articles super thrilled about the NHM they found on a rock… but a theory that has MANY similarities to the Book of Mormon is immediately dismissed or ignored? I wonder why so many say such dismissive things about a theory it is obvious they have not read. Many of the things discussed above are explained with scientific references, or references to the scriptures, or references to others who are trying to find where Book of Mormon events have taken place. Dr Olsen isn’t just making a fantasy story. He is trying to prove the Book of Mormon is true. Since he is a scientist (and graduated from BYU– Salutatorian & has a Masters & Doctorate from Cornell University in Chemistry… he understands scientific resarch) he believes that any theory that has even one problem should be revisited. He has found 220 reasons that Mala works and Meso doesn’t. That is overwhelming evidence. As someone said, Just because Joseph had a preconceived notion that the BofM happened in the Americas… doesn’t make it so. He was a man and had his own opinions. Even Sorenson doesn’t believe in the Hemispheric Model. Sorenson admits he hasn’t found evidence. The Beauty of the Mala Hypothesis is that it works in so many ways and ties so many scientific evidences together. Please download his original manuscript (1995) and read it and then comment more! Ray & MH & others had some great comments, but some comments show that people have read the word “Malay” and thought it abhorant and would not read more because, of course, it happened in America, Joseph said so. Remember… Joseph had his own opinions, they weren’t always from God’s mouth. Moroni did not bury his plates in the Hill Cumorah, Mormon did (Mormon 6:6). Moroni left with his. Amazingly, Dr Olsen found that a group of people left Malaysia about 400 AD (time of the last battles) and traveled with plants, animals, beliefs, musical instruments… and landed in Madagascar. They named a town Moroni, island Comoros(Cumorah?) and another town Morondava… It is easy for one to imagine that Moroni left from there in a boat with a bunch of gold plates and sailed to NY… (and perhaps a group of them landed there and that is the Eastern American group some talk of?????? who knows??? That is easier for me to believe than Moroni carried heavy gold plates and food & “a sleeping bag?” etc… and traveled all across the USA with no beasts of burden, wheels, or carts…) It seems like I say the same stuff over & over. Please read MH’s other blog & links he has provided. Thanks to those of you that tried to discuss the theory. I realize that you aren’t claiming it as your own……yet. 🙂

  68. Let’s please hold off rehashing the authorship question in this thread. I really like the idea, however, of MH doing a post explicitly about that topic.

  69. MH,

    In fairness to the discussion, neither you nor I know how educated JS was with a school teacher for a father and a family that deeply valued knowledge. By the way, I think Emma’s statement about JS not knowing about the wall around Jerusalem says more about Emma’s gullibility than it does about Joseph’s actual knowledge. Come-on, this was a family that studied the bible almost fanatically. To be honest, I’m surprised you stooped to this kind of defense, your better than that my friend.

    Whether you buy into the idea of Rigdon helping with the BoM or not, is not relevant to the discussion. The fact is, Nahom was known and written about. The fact that JS put it in the BoM shows that either he or someone helping him, had access to a good map. You can say he didn’t know, but that’s just your opinion, not evidence for the historicity of the BoM. Perhaps you should do a google search on D’Anville and Niebuhr. I think you’ll find that their work was used lots of places. Not just at Dartmouth…

    On a more positive note, I think you should write about the Rigdon/Spaulding connection. It’s only a theory after all; you and I both like to think we’re smarter than the average apologist. I would just hope you would apply the same scrutiny to the historicity of the BoM as you use to dismiss Rigdon as a possible source for it.

  70. Thanks Morgan. You are right about the dominant perception. It is so hard to get past that. The average Mormon sees the word Malay and won’t even read the theory because it is so ridiculous that anyone would even dare suggest a place outside of America. The people that don’t like Mormons don’t like the Malay Theory because it is trying to prove the BofM is true. It is so hard to get anyone to read about it. It takes someone who is willing to think “outside the box” (as all the famous inventors, scientists, etc… that were willing to put two things together in a different way or think of something in a way different from an accepted theory) Just think how much trouble Galileo was in when he even dared to suggest that the earth was not flat (as a certain church insisted: “the Bible says “four corners of the earth” The earth is flat. How could it be round if there are 4 corners?!!” In those days it was very brave to suggest a theory that was not the accepted knowledge. Actually I think Dr Olsen is very brave also to try to promote his theory. Imagine the frustration and …. It is a good thing we aren’t living during the Inquisition.

  71. MH:

    Wow! You really got a popular discussion going here by expanding your blog posts from your own site. I’ve immensely enjoyed reading the above discussion, and hope people will link to the original discussions on your site as well, since I don’t want to retype the discussion we had there. Excellent work on your part and excellent discussion from all of the posters here.

  72. What a fascinating discussion group. My first blog post…here goes:

    Clearly many prophets including Moroni whose dad abridged records knew that in the Last Days a prophet named Joseph would receive the plates (2 Ne 3:7).

    If that is the case, and Moroni had 35 years of travel time, he could very well have been instructed to go to New York from great distances so the plates could be found by the latter-day Joseph as prophesied.

    In that line of thinking, Malay isn’t a stretch logically. It is only a stretch in that it goes against what I’ve been taught my whole mormon life about the book being about ancient inhabitants of the Americas. I would think some church leader, prophet or apostle, would have corrected that part of the title page by now if it was really off the mark.

  73. If Joseph was 14 + and thought the BofM happened in America… Then it is even more amazing that so many things seem to match in Malasia/Burma/Thailand! To me that gives me shivvers thinking about Joseph actually translating the gold plates to match a historical setting (that wasnt researched by him, wasn’t something he could have learned about from his parents or teachers… because he if it was something he learned he would have been trying to think of some things that matched America if he was faking it.) If Mala turns out to be right. It Proves Joseph was a prophet, there is a God, Moroni gave Joseph the plates….etc etc etc. …Why would a New Englander name a place Moron?

    Joseph also would not have been able to know of Moroni in the Madagascar area. From what I have read, it was not on maps at that time (1800s). He certainly would not have known that people went there from a land with similar place names & geographical features (to the BofM)… 400AD… you get my drift… Even if there was a way for him to figure that out… He thought it was America that was the main Land of Promise…

    Remember, Joseph did not get to translate all of the gold plates… some were taken from him. Where/What did it talk about in the rest? Perhaps ?????

  74. Post

    SteveS, I’m not aware of any scholarship claiming the plates were transported (except of Hawkgrrrl and J.Ro.) 🙂 That’s an interesting idea, but I think it would be easier to put the transport idea in the realm of miracle than science based on current scholarship and JSH at present.

    Doug, I have about 12 ideas for posts right now, all requiring some research, but I’ll try to get to the authorship issue soon so we can tangle later on that. In the mean time, you might find my 5 posts on Sidney Rigdon interesting. Part 4 is the juiciest, dealing with polygamy. Part 5 was my favorite, dealing with Sidney’s attempts at organizing a church and ordaining women to the Melchizedek priesthood (claiming Emma Smith was the 1st), so I encourage you to read those. I’ve already written about 8000 words on Sidney, and didn’t take time to address the Solomon Spaulding manuscript, but I promise to devote that post to you. Here’s part 1 if you’re interested (mostly on JST). The book I read doesn’t really portray Joseph or Sidney in a flattering light.

  75. Voni,
    I agree there is much to the book that makes it incredible to think a young farm boy could have made it all up and thought up more names and places and details than even Shakespeare could have done.

    However, it seems to me that there was detail about building ships to come to the promised lands, and the zealots who built ships to go explore other islands never to be heard of again … but no mention of Moroni or others building a ship to go bury the plates in a new bountiful land.

  76. KG McB: If one of the Prophets wasn’t praying for an answer for that, then it might not have come to him… (A Prophet prayed about the Black issue & got an answer to change things) They did change the wording in the beginning of the BofM recently –that fits perfectly with the Malay Theory.

    If your great grandfather tells your grandfather something, and he tells it to your father, and he tells it to you… And Your great grandfather was sure his information was true because someone told him that was very honest and reliable… But it turned out to be slightly off ???… No one did anything wrong… There was just a misunderstanding and it was passed on down the generations. All of the men believed it was true. What if something in your experience or some new discovery was made and it turned out to be off slighly? Your grandfathers are still good, honest, righteous men…

    A friends mom’s mom’s college roomate always licked the margarine wrapper when she took it off the butter. She was asked why… She said, “‘Cause my Mom did it.” So she was asked to ask her mom. It turned out that they did it in the Depression because margarine was so scarce. . . So why still do it?

  77. Hapi,
    I guess that is possible, but if they were astute enough to make this change:

    Title page: (both versions)
    1830: “…by Joseph Smith, jr., author and proprietor”
    Today: “translated by Joseph Smith, jr.”

    I would think they would also come to see the claim of ancient Americans are contained in the book, if unfounded, would also need an update and to change that. That is a much bigger doctrinal point than if Joseph’s title in the credits is correct or not.

    Maybe not, but I would think so. My point is that it is regularly taught to missionaries and from missionaries to the masses and someone would have picked up that it should no longer be taught that way if it was incorrect.

    As a missionary, I was told not to teach or make reference to blacks are descendants of Cain, even though prior apostles taught that, because we don’t have any evidence of such.

    As we more and more knowledge and revelation is given to understand the words of God, we increase our knowledge on these matters, we don’t just teach things because that is what we’ve been told by our fathers. We build and learn and seek the truth and a perfect knowledge of things.

  78. Post
  79. “SteveS, I’m not aware of any scholarship claiming the plates were transported (except of Hawkgrrrl and J.Ro.)”

    Scholars indeed! Someday we will show you all… Who will be shaking their head in disbelief then?! 😉

    MH, in your point: 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.” Did this ever really get addressed in this discussion? I just went back through this whole discussion and can’t seem to find much of an answer to the question. This is probably my biggest hang-up on this theory; I can’t see why Moroni would lie about who the book was about. Did I miss something in all this back and forth?

  80. J.Ro,
    I don’t think you missed anything, or else I missed it too. That seems pretty cut and dry from Moroni’s mouth. It isn’t that Malay is inconceivable to me, only that it is against the doctrine of the church, from everything I’ve read.

  81. “Did I miss something in all this back and forth?”

    Yes, J.Ro. 🙂

    MH addressed it briefly at the end of the post. Olsen talks about it openly. I also talked about it in #34-2).

  82. In Olsen’s theory he emphasizes, “and the source from whence they sprang” That usually gets left off. It is probably why Joseph assumed? it “all” happened in America… The BofM doesn’t talk much about the Middle east… so perhaps the point is that they Sprang from there and then traveled to Malaysia (a land of promise) (they were to be scattered to ALL their lands of promise–plural) then Sprang to the uninhabited quarter (where man had not been & would be kept from knowledge of man –and was not known of for a long time–European Explorers finally found & did not know about. Didn’t someone just talk about they even thought America was an island too?) and they went on to America… one group (?) landed in Chile, one in Peru, one in Guatemala (etc…) Things have been found there (helps Mala) but they are the wrong time period for MESO. (see other posts & book) and so Nephites landed in a variety of places… so America is a land of Promise too (plural). And there are an ancient group of Nephites that landed here (there were already a lot here from NE Asia that came over 20,000 years ago (Bering Strait)

    Some people just can’t handle that USA isn’t the Land of Promise… Liberty… in the BofM… so Malay can’t be right… But USA isn’t in MESO either. (see reference to Thailand before)

    If there are small pockets of Nephites around America… it is possible that they have the correct DNA & they haven’t been tested yet (that is not part of Olsen’s theory…as far as i know… i just threw it out…) Who knows everything? I don’t.

    Of course they tell folks when there is a change… (ie blacks & priesthood) but what if they haven’t figured it out yet? or thought to pray about it yet or??? Did everyone notice the little article in SLC paper telling about the recent wording change? Perhaps people in “you name country” haven’t heard it yet.

    The recent wording change was something about …instead of saying ‘they are the inhabitants of this continent…’ it says ‘they are AMONG the inhabitants…’ Who remembers the exact statement & where it is? I have to get up for work in 3 hours. Best wishes.

  83. Voni, the original Introduction was not part of the original translation. It was added when the book was published to explain the book to others.

    The original wording was:

    “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.”

    The new wording is:

    “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”

    I have no problem with the original wording IF it meant the principle (meaning “most important”) ancestors, but that’s not what was meant when the Introduction was written. The new wording reflects everything we’ve come to understand over the last few decades, especially when the Limited Geography model is considered – and when the destruction of the Jaredite nation isn’t interpreted to mean the death of ALL the descendants of the Jaredites.

    If the Jaredites originated in Northeast Asia (as Nibley believed, and which I personally think is plausible) and splintered widely (as all long-lasting peoples eventually do), it is easy to see how there also could have been many of them who ended up scattered all throughout the Americas – escaping the final destruction of the nation, just as many “Nephites” escaped the final destruction of their nation. Given how much longer the central Jaredite society/nation lasted (perhaps 3000 years), that would mean the dominant Native American DNA should be from Northeast Asia, which is what the main research indicates now. If the Lehite populations also ended up migrating to the Americas after mixing with existing Malaysian (or other) populations (and the idea of mixing with indigenous populations fits the demographic population comparisons within the Book of Mormon extremely well), then that would further establish Asian ancestry as the “primary” ancestry.

    Finally, we now absolutely NO idea what the genetic heritage of Lehi’s family was except that Lehi and Ishmael were of Manasseh and Ephraim. Iow, what was their maternal ancestry, through Sariah and Ishmael’s wife? We simply have no clue. What we do know is that they didn’t consider themselves Jews, so their mothers probably weren’t Jewish – and most of the DNA research of which I have heard and which I have read looks for and identifies mitochondrial (maternal) DNA. We have NO idea what the mitochondrial DNA would be for the people of the Book of Mormon, except for the Mulekites.

    My point? When we limit what we assert to nothing but what is written, we know FAR less than we generally assume.

  84. Ray says:

    “Ed, I honestly don’t know how to respond, so I’m bowing out of a personal discussion with you. I’ve tried every way imaginable to say I don’t know the answer and want constructive input, and instead I get what amounts to a condescending pat on the head.”

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound condescending, but I do have strong feelings too. This is why I hate when I get sucked into these things, because I end up making myself sound bad and people not liking me.

  85. Heretic,

    You say: “Ed, have you ever heard or studied of this theory before? I guess the thing I find troubling is that you seem to dismiss without having a single reference to why it is unsound. Perhaps it is unsound, but please provide specifics.”

    I just said plenty of times that the references placing the Book of Mormon in the Americas, and that the Book of Mormon places the ancient inhabitants mentioned in the book in America, by Moroni’s own mouth. I sit here scratching my head how this does not absolutely make what you are saying irrational. And here I go again, and you guys won’t like it that I called it that. I feel strongly that you guys are saying irrational things about it not being in America. I’m sorry if you don’t like the fact that I have an absolute and unbending dogmatism on that point. But it is an absolute dogmatism on that point nevertheless, and I won’t budge on that point. You are being irrational to assume there is any possibility that it is outside of America. Various possibilities and plausible things exist in America as settings. But outside of America, it is simply IMPOSSIBLE. That isn’t meant to be condescending. That is a fact. You can’t get around these absolutely plain statements.

  86. Ed, show me ONE single reference from the Book of Mormon using the word “America.” I need chapter and verse.

    SteveS (#19), Hawkgrrrl and others pointed to the concept of mistranslation by Joseph, and I want to make an argument against mistranslation.

    I’m inclined to ascribe to the possibility/probability that Joseph Smith didn’t “translate” everything from the gold plates perfectly. There are numerous disclaimers made in the Book of Mormon about the frailties of men in using language to communicate the things of God

    While I agree this is a good and useful tool in all scripture study, I want to show where I think it breaks down. If we look specifically at sheep in the BoM, specifically the story of Ammon guarding sheep, and assume that “sheep” is a mistranslation on the part of Joseph, we must assume that Ammon was guarding some sort of livestock.

    Now Meso proponents love to point out that mountain goats were indigenous to America, and could well substitute for sheep. However, the Native Americans never had flocks of Mountain goats. In fact, they didn’t have flocks of anything. So, this opens up a whole can of worms that people like Doug G exploit, and say, “see, it’s fiction.”

    On the other hand, Ammon’s story fits in very well with the Old World. Sheep were herded in Malay, dating back to the proper time, and one doesn’t have to go through all sorts of contortions to make the scripture work. It also kills the fiction argument of Doug, by providing a much more reasonable explanation.

  87. MH, you are being silly. I tire of this nonsensical battle. Any truly reasonable person would not belabor this particular point. You know that there is nothing in the Book of Mormon that says “America” any more than the names Joseph Smith and Martin Harris are mentioned in Isaiah 29 about the prophecy of Charles Anthon and the sealed book.


    12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and awrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land. (1 nephi 13:12)

    Pilgrims/United States:

    15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the bland for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.
    16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was awith them.
    17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
    18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.
    19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. (1 Nephi 13:15-19)


    12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and awrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land. (1 nephi 13:12)

    Pilgrims/United States:

    15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and aobtain the bland for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and cbeautiful, like unto my people before they were dslain.
    16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was awith them.
    17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
    18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together aagainst them to battle.
    19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were adelivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.

    THIS FRACKING CONTINENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    JS-H 1: 34:
    34 He said there was a abook deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of THE FORMER INHABITANTS OF THIS CONTINENT, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the bfulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

    MY WORD THIS IS FRICKING ABSURD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  88. MH, Ive decided I really am done now. You are impossible. This has gone far beyond the level of absurdity I’ve ever seen in an online conversation I’ve had.

  89. While I don’t want to echo Ed Goble’s tenor, I do agree with his points. It has been clearly taught that The Book of Mormon takes place somewhere in the America’s. Joseph Smith, down to current Prophets have made these points. They have referenced the Lamanites while speaking in conferences throughout South America. They have sanctioned film productions which seem to tie the Lamanites to the Mayans. We have early missions to the Lamanites throughout North America. We have Zelph, who was a commander in the last great battle of the Lamanite army. Brigham Young taught that Moroni visited Manti Utah. In order to win the anthropological/archaeological argument surrounding anachronisms and other inconsitencies within The Book of Mormon, you will have to lose modern revelation debate by discounting what the Prophets say, have said, vs. what they know.

  90. MH, the level of irrationality and absurdity manifested in this pushed me to get real irritated at you, and I can’t imagine why you can’t see how. If I were conspiracy theory prone, I would say that you are feigning your open mindedness towards the idea of the Malay thing. That’s almost how I feel about you. I am to the point almost where I think you aren’t truly open to what you are arguing and that you are just doing it to try to show the absurdity of the historicity of the Book of Mormon to you, that you are putting on a show. I truly believe that the originator of the Malay proposition does not believe in Book of Mormon historicity.

  91. Post


    I agree with everything you said in 99. Joseph Smith also believed in a Hemispheric Model, which Ed rejects. If we are going to believe everything Joseph said, then we can only be open to the Hemispheric model, and all other models (Meso, Great Lakes, Malay) are bogus.

    So, if we’re willing to throw out the Hemispheric Model, we really need to look at ALL the alternatives. As Ed pointed out with his list of scriptures, we (Latter-Day Saints) have always interpreted those scriptures to mean America. Certainly Joseph Smith did. But if we’re willing to toss the Hemispheric theory by the wayside, does ANYONE believe that Guatemala or Mexico is the Land of the Gentiles? Is Mexico/Guatemala the Promised Land? They don’t seem to fit Ed’s scriptures either, unless we assume that Spain is the Motherland, instead of Britain.

    Ed, I know you have an anxiety disorder as you stated in 48, so I don’t want to provoke you any more. But I PROMISE to do a post on South American models. I’m sure you will take great issue with that theory as well, but I am open to them all. (Look at that–I’ve promised 2 more posts–one to Ed and Doug G now.)

  92. Post


    I want to make one other point. I don’t have the exact reference now, but regarding your statement, “you will have to lose modern revelation debate by discounting what the Prophets say”, I just want to point out that is exactly what Sorenson does. I’ll get the quote when I get home, but paraphrasing Sorenson, he says basically, forget what the church leaders said. Joseph said lots of contradictory things on BoM geography. Church leaders don’t know, and they freely admit that they don’t know where the BoM took place.

    I was talking to Voni on the phone last night. She gave Pres Monson a copy of the theory. The “thank you” letter she received specifically says that church leaders have no position on BoM geography. Perhaps she will quote the letter here.

  93. “Is Mexico/Guatemala the Promised Land? They don’t seem to fit Ed’s scriptures either, unless we assume that Spain is the Motherland, instead of Britain.”

    Didn’t Columbus finance his voyage through Spain?

    On a serious note I see your point about considering all alternatives. For what it is worth I am real interested on your forthcoming Book of Mormon authorship post.

  94. I’m late to the discussion, and haven’t taken the time to read through all 101 comments, but I have a few things to throw out.

    1. According to the Book of Mormon, Mormon’s plates were not buried in the Hill Cumorah. (See Mormon 6:6)
    2. Moroni ‘hid [them] up unto the Lord,’ but does not say where. (http://bookofmormononline.net/downfall/136)
    3. Joseph Smith never called the hill near his home “Cumorah.” (JS-H 1: 51)

    There is no need to shoehorn Moroni into New York. Hundreds of years took place in between, and it is not unreasonable that some other people (3 Nephites?) did the heavy lifting to get them from Mesoamerica/Malaysia where they needed to be in the 1820s.

    4. The Book of Mormon itself makes no claim to be an ‘American’ book. Granted, this idea was injected into the theology early on by the angel Moroni’s quote and the words of countless leaders and prophets, but the Book of Mormon itself simply does not. The closest thing it comes to it is the prophesy of Colombus, which occurs during Nephi’s vision, where he sees his posterity. Olsen does claim that the posterity of Nephi did in fact end up in America. ( via landbridge migration) The ‘land of liberty’ idea seems to jive well with America, until we realize that Thailand also means ‘land of the free.’

    I’m not advocating the Malay theory as true, but I find any discussion of BOM Geography very counterproductive if we’re imposing long-standing assumptions on the text when in fact the text makes no such claims.

  95. Yes, the Cumorah thing always bothered me. I didn’t know why people call the hill that the plates were found in “Cumorah.” It didn’t make sense to me. The Hill Cumorah Pageant, etc.

  96. I’ve read at least half a dozen books dealing with BOM geography, and it seems that prophetic statements always get downplayed in favor of archeology, etc. For me, this riddle requires further light and knowledge or it will forever remain unanswered. So, what do the prophets say?
    1) #96 documents a good number of verses referring to a western hemisphere location, and specifically, a U.S. location

    2) This position is backed up by Mark E. Peterson’s “The Great Prologue” and numerous church manuals

    3) Joseph Smith seemed to favor a U.S. model as #99 noted:His record of Zion’s Camp in History of the Church contains many references to “crossing the plains of the Nephites”, finding Zelph’s skeleton, a Nephite altar in Adam-Ondi-Ahman, etc. Having spoken with many BOM prophets personally, I give his opinion the most weight. HIs “missionaries to the Lamanites” were all American Indians. (Note that he did send others to Asia (Hosea Stout to Hong Kong) and South Africa, but these were not “Lamanite Missions”)

    4) Brigham Young and all of his successors favored a Western Hemisphere model. As #99 noted B.Y. claimed Moroni dedicated the Manti temple grounds. He also claimed the Gadianton Robbers roamed the Wasatch mountains.

    5) In Jesus the Christ, Talmage claims the Temple in Bountiful was in present day Venezuela…

    6) Everyone from “Lamanite Generation” at BYU to Pres. Kimball talking about Lamanites “Blossoming as a Rose” seems to favor an american model.

    7)Lastly, the “promised land” has always been understood to be America. You’d have a hard time convincing me that inhabitants of Malaysia or Africa have prospered in the last 3 centuries.

    And regarding Post #56, David Whitmer says the stone box washed out of the hill Comorah and was lying at it’s base sometime in the 1870’s. I’ll find a source and post again if anyone cares.

  97. Post
  98. I would be VERY interested in hearing that as well.

    I was stumped by an investigator on my mission who asked me where the stone box was. I wish I could now see the look on my face then.

  99. “And regarding Post #56, David Whitmer says the stone box washed out of the hill Comorah and was lying at it’s base sometime in the 1870’s. I’ll find a source and post again if anyone cares.”

    I care, and would be interested in researching based on any leads you can provide. BTW, I was not aware of BY’s comments about the Gadianton Robbers roaming along the Wasatch Mountains. Is that source easily referenceable as well?



  100. Cowboy, As John Clark points out “Es Usted Norteamericano” (Are you North-American)? O sea (in other words), there was no border between the United States in Mexico in book of Mormon times, and these are artificial dividing lines in our day. It is a common mistake of Limited Great Lakes theorists to interpret the scriptures for the pilgrims, Columbus, etc., Gringo-Centrically, or in other words, United States Centric. After all, Columbus landed in the Carribean, and the Spanish went south. As for what anybody said, the Prophets are all speculating from the beginning of time, and it isn’t worth quoting from any general authority on geography, with the exception of when they say that no geography is revealed.

    Thats why its so critical that we use the Book of Mormon text and other scriptural texts and dispense with all else.

  101. Early leaders speculated on LOTS of things, and we pick and choose which ones we want to continue to believe and which ones we want to release.

    I really need to make one point again about Olsen’s theory that keeps getting overlooked here, especially since not everyone reads all the commments on a thread this long:

    He says clearly that the text itself supports MANY migrations from the original land of settlement, and he is correct. It’s obvious from the Book of Mormon text that dissenters left the Nephite group constantly – and we have absolutely no idea what was happening within the Lamanite group. The Book of Alma talks about multiple, large voyages to other lands. The point is that Olsen’s theory allows for LOTS of Lehites (and Jaredites) to have reached the Americas over the course of multiple millennia – and he states clearly that the Book of Mormon speaks of multiple lands of promise.

    When it comes down to it, the only thing that really is different when it comes to population patterns between the classic view and the Malay theory is the order of the migrations. Iow, the classic view posits that the BofM people started (after the initial sea voyage) somewhere in the Americas and ended up spreading westward to populate the isles of the sea, while the Malay theory posits that the BofM people started (after the initial sea voyage) in Malaysia and ended up spreading eastward to populate the isles of the sea – which, in their view, would have included the Americas, since even much later Europeans viewed them as islands.

    Again, we are discussing more the ORDER of the overall migration than the end result of the overall migration – and that gets lost in the arguing over the designation of America as the land of promise. Even those who espouse the Meso or continental theories expand the promised land designation beyond the United States – and the Malay theory doesn’t deny that status to the US. It incorporates it and accepts it as legitimate.

    Iow, the Malay theory as articulated by its actual author does NOT have the problems being attributed to it here in this thread – and that’s important to understand. Arguing about America’s designation as the land of promise and land of the Lamanites is pointless, when the actual Malay theory allows for that to be perfectly true.

  102. Thats why its so critical that we use the Book of Mormon text and other scriptural texts and dispense with all else.

    #110 – Ed, we agree totally on that point.

  103. Excellent points Ray why would it all have to be in America. Part who landedin America would work too. The more I hear about this Malay thing the more logical it sounds.

  104. Cowboy – “We have Zelph, who was a commander in the last great battle of the Lamanite army.” I’m sorry, but seriously, I did not think anyone took this story seriously anymore. Were you fooling?

  105. Ray: re 111

    Ed needs some support here, so I’m going to make some points I made previously on MH’s original discussion threads on this topic, and speak specifically to the migration theories.

    Most of the dissenters can’t possibly be identified with migrations to America, because the first thing they usually do is stir up the Lamanites to reinvade the Nephite lands they left. One of the whole points of the Malay idea is to avoid 10,000 plus mile crossings in favor of shorter crossings. If I don’t believe in trans-Pacific crossings without island hopping, why reintroduce them back into my theory later? In fact, if you allow coast hugging and stopping for resupply, it’s easier to go around Africa and then ride the equarorial trades west to the Carribean in the first place.

    My other criticisms of Malay are more specialized and no one has mentioned them in this thread. Mormon is a general as well as a prophet. Most of the geographical information he gives about the Nephite and Lamanite lands come in the context of the military role, not primarily the prophetic one. Note that these points have to do with the INTERNAL consistency of the book.

    The Malay peninsula is totally unsuited for the campaigns he describes. He commands an inland power that depends on interior lines of communications to keep from being overwhelmed by a numerically superior enemy.

    He NEVER describes naval actions as militarily important because the Nephites don’t have any coastal area behind them worth defending until they begin to build eastern coastal cities mid-way through their history — and that means there is no physical way for the Lamanites to flank Nephite defenses by sailing around the coast of a peninsula and maintaining a supply line short enough to keep an army in the field attacking places like Zarahemla.

    Indeed, the significance of the missionary journeys to the Zoramites lies in part because they occupy the eastern edge of the Nephite strategic defenses; their defection opens a supplyable base for assault on the Nephite heartlands, leading to the need for strongholds in the east.

    In Malay development has to occur along the coast first, the way it did in the 13 American colonies. and defense lines can always be flanked by coastal navies. Coastal commerce will be so common Hagoth’s ship building wouldn’t be worth noting.

    The records NEVER describe having enough chariots to commit them to battle although such weapons were the “heavy armor” of Eurasia. In Alma, they are used only for VIP transport and possibly important military couriers (some messengers move suspiciously faster than the armies they report about). In the years before the Crucificion, when the Nephites adopt a scorched-earth withdrawal to Zarahemla, the chariots are pulled behind the fortifications and the horses to pull them are considered more valuable as additional food than weapons systems.

    That’s good for Meso, but bad for Malay, because VIP transport can fall under the archeological radar, but large numbers of chariots (cited as evidence for Malay) mean they were used on the battlefield in contradiction to the internal logic of the BofM.

    If you want more along these lines Ed, look at MH’s own site for the discussion comments.

  106. Hawkgrrrl:

    I am going to try and be diplomatic about this. The Zelph account is one of the most ridiculous stories extant regarding Joseph Smith’s claims to prophecy. I think every Mormon finds themselves staring at their feet the first time they hear this story, because it just sounds absurd. On another post at one time I compared the Zelph account to the movie “Big Fish”, which if you’ve seen then the comparison needs no explanation. I personally think this account calls into question Joseph Smith’s claims in a serious way.

    The above notwithstanding, I don’t think we can separate The Book of Mormon geography claims from the claims about it from it’s translator. The book itself is said to be the product of a revelation, ie divine translation. How can we then with confidence accept that the book is in any way an accurate revelation if we will so quickly dismiss all other revelations on the book by it’s supposed author/translator? This is one of the biggest cases of throwing the baby out with the bath water that I can think of. This is where the Zelph account comes in. Regardless of how we would like to dismiss Joseph Smith’s musing’s on specific geography related issues regarding The Book of Mormon as just speculation, we cannot dismiss the clear revelatory nature of the Zelph account. You cannot question the Zelph account without adding a few wrinkles to all of Joseph Smith’s revelations. If you undermind Zelph, you ultimately challenge The Book of Mormon. That was my point earlier, (#99) I don’t think it is wise strategy for a members of a Church that ultimately and foundationally hinges on revelation, particular regarding a sacred book that’s sole existence is credited to revelation, to abandon that revelation in favor of scientific compatability.

  107. Cowboy,

    I would say the the Zelph account cast much more doubt on the D&C than the BoM.

    If anything, Joseph own ignorance of the very work he produced strengthens the case that was a translator, not an author.

    The Zelph issue is sticky, but the doubts it raises are not about the Book of Mormon.

  108. “If I don’t believe in trans-Pacific crossings without island hopping, why reintroduce them back into my theory later?”

    Just to say it again, the actual theory is based on island hopping – as is the Meso theory, only in reverse.

    Also, I never said all or even most dissenters left and sailed elsewhere. I meant that there was so much dissent and departure occurring that we can’t say with any degree of confidence that we know of most of it – since everyone said they were focusing tightly on the central civilization and what impacted it, and that they weren’t recording even 1/100th of the actual events in their history.

  109. I have long wondered what might be written in the two thirds of the Book of Mormon that were not translated and are still sealed. We are told that we will receive them when we are spiritually (and/or physically) prepared to receive them. I am very fasinated with the comment by Moroni, “and the source from whence they sprang”. To me it is the key to the answer! The sealed 2/3 of the Book of Mormon could contain the story of how Moroni left the Maylay Peninsula and traveled through all kinds of adventures and finally ended up in New York! Maybe something happened and he had to run for his life and he took the plates with him to keep them safe from the Lamanites, left the land with some other people he found who had a ship and eventually ended up in New York State in America!!! It could say anything!!! If something like that happened, the Book of Mormon is still about the inhabitants of this continent AND THE SOURCE FROM WHENCE THEY SPRANG!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am so excited to read the discussion on this!!! I think the Maylay Theory is incredible because it has actual evidence found on this earth to support it instead of just some made up guesses where no evidence has been found. It is awesome! I want to learn more!!!!

  110. I think I should reiterate one more time that I am not trying to convert anyone to the Malay theory. I’m just doing what I tend to do – being a parser and asking that the theory be evaluated for what it actually proposes. Therefore, I am kind of acting as a “defender” – in that I am trying to make sure incorrect assumptions about it aren’t perpetuated as the heart of it.

    That disclaimer isn’t necessary for most, but I just thought I should make it clear.

  111. Firetag brings up some interesting points regarding Malay’s military history. As I said before, I’m not expert in this area, just a student. I noticed that Morgan Deane, who commented very early, has a Masters Degree in Military History, and I was curious if he might try to weigh in on Firetag’s comments. (Morgan, you need to add a .com onto your website so that when people click on your name, they don’t get a “page not found” error.) Morgan’s website is http://mormonwar.blogspot.com, and apparently he is versed in Asian warfare. From his website it says,

    I have presented papers on Napoleonic warfare and published papers about Asian and Book of Mormon Warfare. My research interests include the above topics, the American Civil War, the application of military theory, ancient warfare, and medieval warfare.

    Kay brings up an excellent point. Perhaps in the other 2/3 of the plates there is a record of how the plates arrived in NY. I know Ralph Olsen has speculated on this point. (Kay, I’ve got plenty of links to learn more, so indulge!)

  112. Amos:

    To be honest I am a bit confused by your conclusions.

    I am not sure how you come to the conclusion that the Zelph account calls into question the D&C, without calling into question The Book of Mormon. If we challenge Joseph Smith’s credibility as a Prophet, doesn’t that challenge all of his Prophetic claims. I would agree that the Zelph account indirectly challenges the divinity of the D&C, but not in lieu of The Book of Mormon. If there was some compelling forsenic data which gave credibility to The Book of Mormon then I might see your point, but whereas that is not the case I fail to see it that way. Am I missing something? (sincerely)

    I am also struggling to reconcile how Joseph Smith’s ignorance about the work he translated, as it relates to the Zelph account, makes him more credible?

  113. Re: “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.”

    Does Thai have any kind of event(s) in it’s history that would support the idea of Christian Gentiles coming over and kicking their descendant’s trash? Because that’s what the BoM says should happen.

    Re: “He 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.”

    Jerusalem is obviously the “source.” If it’s Thai then we’ve got one source followed by another.

    I agree with Ed–that Meso-America correlates better than any other geography–and that most reasons for arguing against it boil down to unknowns rather than facts that don’t fit.

    FireTag: Great comment(115).

  114. Does Thai have any kind of event(s) in it’s history that would support the idea of Christian Gentiles coming over and kicking their descendant’s trash? Because that’s what the BoM says should happen.

    Only if those descendants to whom it refers still lived there. Again, the actual theory doesn’t posit that.

  115. Thanks for the nod heretic. Its nice to know somebody actually reads my blog. I feel like I am in a very small abandoned corner of the blogosphere sometimes. Anyways, this post on naval warfare in the Book of Mormon is from a couple weeks ago:

    And it touches on many salient points made by firetag.

    My research papers on Asian warfare has dealt with Chinese Naval theory in the middle ages and the Sino-Japanese Korean War(1592-1598). Other topics studied during for school have been mostly East or Inner Asian topics. These subjects unfortunately dont make me quite as qualified to comment on Malaysian warfare. I can speak in generalities and educated deductions though. Fire tag is right that there is no mention of costal defense in the Book of Mormon. Although Sorenson mentions a principle that the Nephites would enjoy the higher climates more and abandon their costal areas fairly quickly. Based on the map above it seems the river Sidon could still support the strategic concepts I described on my post. Nephite power would be easier to control downstream than it would upstream. And Bountiful being an important entry way to the Ocean and a gate for an upriver strike (read: easier, faster, more deadly) at Zarahemla would help explain the fascination with that city and the narrow neck of land. And the city themselves could be the costal fortifications. Chinese ships were often nothing more than floating siege towers, and their cities operated as vital choke points. Moroni also mentions many “forts” and “places of resort” that they made, these could be the poor man’s costal defense against possible flanks. And many the Lamanite Kings were just strategically bankrupt, and it seems from the map that the city of Nephi (the Lamanite Capital) was on a river flowing the OPPOSITE direction of Nephite lands. So an invansion may have been more hassle by sailing south, then around, then trying to have an ancient D-Day, than simply moving rapidly to the North.

    The militarized trading missions I discussed would also carry more weight. The Chinese had treasure fleets that ranged across the Pacific during the Early Ming Dynasty, the Nephites after Hagoth could have had a more primitive version. Remember that Lehi left to preach and teach in the distant lands “north” for over seven years (Helaman 7:1), which was longer than Alma’s mission around the vicinity of Zarahemla (Alma 5-about 13). Based on the map the garrison city of Moroni was also placed at a (probable) vital river crossing. Again that matches my tentative thesis.

    I disagree with firetag’s conclusion that naval warfare never happened or was unimportant. I think it was unimportant, because many ancient societies never thought in terms of naval AND land warfare. They simply thought about warfare, and naval matters, were always thought of supplemental. Medieval Chinese historians always thought of Navies as adjuncts to the land forces, or just land battles that happen to float. Mormons love affair with Captain Moroni absorbed much of the direct discussion of warfare. I don’t know enough about ancient chariot warfare to comment either way. I do agree that Chariots were not used in combat. The argument for naval matters are inferred from many parts of the text. Chariot warfare is not. So I agree there. I would love to have some books reccomended on Malaysian warfare. Because the point on chariots is the most damaging point for the Malaysian theory so far. So far the only way to “explain” it would be that the type of wealth and lands neccessary to support chariot armies did not exsist in the Nephite government. The Nephites abhored ostentatioius displays of wealth, their kings were very humble (“I myself did labor with mine own hands”), and they presumably did not have the high number of rich landowners to support a Chariot force.

    Anyway, thanks for mentioning me in the discussion. These are just ideas I am throwing out. But overall I don’t think that military considerations are that damaging to the Malay theory. Chariots yes, naval warfare and defenses no. In fact,I think naval warfare strenthens the theory. Thoughts? Opinions?

  116. #91 (there were already a lot here from NE Asia that came over 20,000 years ago (Bering Strait)

    When I wrote this, I meant there were already a lot of people in America at least 20,000 yrs ago (not Jaredites or Nephites– the time doesn’t match) So the land was not uninhabited

  117. #121 Therefore, I am kind of acting as a “defender” – in that I am trying to make sure incorrect assumptions about it aren’t perpetuated as the heart of it.

    Thanks Ray.

    I think that ANY Prophet is a MAN first. Everything out of his mouth is not from God. Sometimes he gives his opinions. If he has an opinion on something… and comments on it, it might just mean that he didn’t think to pray to God to find out if it is right. (on any topic from what to eat, who to visit, or where ????)

    #126 Very interesting and I want to know more… I wonder what Ralph would say. I’ll be heading to your blogspot. Do you talk of such things there?

  118. Cowboy – I agree with you about Zelph. It’s one of those oddball things that is not really reconcilable. A deal breaker even for some. Personally, I think it was evidence that he was desperate to provide something concrete to the early church members in that moment, something that was faith promoting. But it was wishful thinking at best. Even JS said some revelations were real and some weren’t. That seems a shaky foundation to put stock in, but I suppose that’s the way it is.

  119. Morgan:

    Great posts. Great blog. Now I want to go away and read everything you wrote. And the most important point I want to make here is that the military mindset of the major compiler of the records delivered to us needs to be factored into our reading of the BofM. That perspective tends to be neglected because ministers (especially in my own “progressive” Restoration denomination) do not like to think “theologically” about any aspect of violence. Their longing is to end it.

    But that can lead to a misinterpretation of the theology of the Book, or an unwarranted downgrading of its ability to transform and judge our modern belief systems.

    I second MH. I really appreciate having someone with far more expertise than I have weigh in.

    My last question here: Asian concepts of warfare are obviously applicable to the Malay Peninsula if the area has nothing to do with the BofM. (I believe the theory of conventional non-Mormon historians is that Malay was settled from the North.) But if the land is being peopled from the Mid-East (Jerusalem or the Tower of Babel), then wouldn’t we expect them to import the concepts of war that prevailed in those regions (e.g., the Egyptian) or to have to invent their own from scratch based on the geography as they discovered it?

  120. Following along with Firetag’s question, since I don’t have the drive to try to figure it out on my own:

    The Book of Mormon talks a lot about hills, valleys and rivers related to war. Would this impact the possibility of using chariots in warfare? It seems at first blush to me that the more restrictive the terrain, the less advantageous chariots would be.

  121. Firetag,

    Before Morgan gets to your question, I want to make one thing abundantly clear. Olsen believes that there were people pre-existing on Malay. So when you say, the theory of conventional non-Mormon historians is that Malay was settled from the North, so does Olsen. So, just as Sorenson proposes that there were pre-existing people and the Nephites were a small minority in Mesoamerica, the Malay theory has the same supposition.

    So, Asian, as well as Egyptian/Israeli military strategies could be at work here. I don’t know that Morgan can deduce which strategies are more prevalent in the BoM, but I suspect, as you do, that Asian strategies would probably prevail due to the pre-existing Asian peoples there.

  122. I have always wondered with the Geography Theory’s and others why the prophet doesn’t just clear up some of the major disputes by revelation. It would certainly stop a zillion hours of combined speculation by the members and allow them to get to other more pressing things.

    The Geography theory is one of many issues about which the Church has no official position. As President J. Reuben Clark taught under assignment from the First Presidency:

    ” Here we must have in mind—must know—that only the President of the Church, the Presiding High Priest, is sustained as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the Church, and he alone has the right to receive revelations for the Church, either new or amendatory, or to give authoritative interpretations of scriptures that shall be binding on the Church….

    When any man, except the President of the Church, undertakes to proclaim one unsettled doctrine, as among two or more doctrines in dispute, as the settled doctrine of the Church, we may know that he is not “moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” unless he is acting under the direction and by the authority of the President. “

  123. James, I honestly don’t understand your point. Nobody here is claiming to “settle” the issue for the whole church.

    Are you saying nobody should do research and try to figure it out? If so, I just don’t understand why. Can you explain a bit more why you think so?

  124. Ed #96 I don’t understand how you interpret that to be anything about Columbus. Besides, Columbus did not land in the United States. (see someone else’s comment above)

    Why is your comment about Pilgrims in any way connected with Pilgrims? It could just as easily be about people in Malaysia. IT DOESN’T mention ANYTHING about North America!

    The Malay theory also mentions people that used to inhabit America… but they stopped off in Malay first.

    History has been filled with peple that are just too stubborn to think of anything in a different way. We are lucky that there have been some intelligent people, that can think on their own, to help us discover new things to help humanity and not willing to just sit and accept what they were told. There is nothing wrong with discussing various theories. What is important is to figure out which ones fit the best… Which ones have the most evidences that match instead of ones that have to be twisted to sort of relate. Proofs for a theory that could fit any of the theories do not make ONE of them right.

    KM has a good point about 2/3 of the Book of Mormon being untranslated. All sorts of Moroni (& others he was with) travels to get to America and what they found when they got there could easily be in the part that God thought we weren’t ready to receive. In the mean time the Malay theory explains that Nephites were landing in small groups in America (by way of the Pacific islands)… and the book of mormon does talk about people in the americas AND the sources from whence they sprang.

    MH and Ray and Voni , thanks so much for pointing out things that others seem to not have read about Malay. I want to read more.

  125. Sorry Ray I should have given more detail. The point I am trying to make is their is so much speculation that could be stopped if the prophet or apostles said that if you read the FARM of FAIR version on the Mesoamerica geography theory this is what we believe as a church now.

    You don’t have to speculate any more many of us and even some of the brethren thought it was the Hemispheric Model but we now know its not the case because it has been revealed for sure its the Mesoamerica model. So make sure your all familiar with it and forget the rest.

    They could instruct us all read to Armand Mauss FAIR on the race issue and say we use to believe in the Cane theory pre-existence but we don’t any more this is our official stand and belief now please read it and forget the rest. (If I brought it up in Sunday School99% of my ward would think Armand Mauss’s version is Heresy)

    When I explain to my wife that when FAIR and especially FARM write something it has the brethren s approval. She doesn’t buy it!! If it was really approved we would be told about it in conference is her view.

    I think if the Brethren said in Conference what you read in FAIR and FARM is church approved and we believe it and have approved it and this is what we unequivocally believe through prayer and confirmation as prophet seers and revelators. It would cut Mormon Matters and other Mormon Blogs traffic possibly by half.

    If the church came out and said FAIRs version Mormons and Mason Greg Kerney is what we believe as a church – Joseph Smith was a Mason used the Mason ceremony as a template for the temple ceremony.So make sure your all familiar with it and forget the rest

    We totally agree with Darius Gray and Armand Mauss on blacks and the priesthood.So make sure your all familiar with it and forget the rest.

    And went through the major issues below in a concise simple laymen’s version it would stop a lot unnecessary speculation.

    Blacks and the priesthood
    Peep Stones and Treasure Digging
    Blacks and the Priesthood
    Multiple First Visions
    Book of Mormon
    Book of Abraham
    Mason/Temple Ceremony
    Brigham Young
    Mark Hofman

  126. Sorry, James, but I think you are misunderstanding FAIR and FARMS, and the nature and mission of scholarship. Although these organizations have benefited from affiliation with Church-sponsored institutions (i.e. BYU), the Church doesn’t accept all research flowing out of BYU as gospel truth. Scholarship in disciplines such as history, anthropology, religious studies, etc. isn’t about “proving” or “discovering the truth” about one thing and discounting all other perspectives. Scholars in these disciplines, however, acknowledge the limits of making final decisions about the way things are or were based on incomplete, contradictory, or ambiguous historical or artifactual evidences. For this reason, although we may _think_ we understand all those things on your list of major issues better than we ever have in the past, I doubt anyone is ready to definitively state a final word on any of them at the institutional level. The Spirit might bear witness of “truth”, but it will always be subjected to ones’ unique set of personal experiences, knowledge, and biases.

    To help illustrate my point, let’s use a hypothetical situation. Suppose leaders of the Church in the 1940s felt that they had sufficient knowledge of “truth” about (not) giving priesthood to Blacks based on “doctrines” about their ancestral ties to Cain, Ham, or some other distant relative, as well as “doctrines” about less valiant spirits in the PME. They also decided to take stock in Brigham Young and others’ insistence that the curse upon Blacks meant that they were to be subservient to other races. Let’s suppose that the Brethren felt strongly enough that the multitude of statements made by modern prophets and apostles (presumably guided by the Spirit) all led them to definitively state that Blacks cannot, and _should_ never receive the priesthood. Where would we be today? Exactly where we’re at, because largely, this is what happened. Gratefully, the persistence of racial prejudice against Blacks by general authorities was limited to personal perspectives, and not a matter of official Church position. Had it been so, we would probably still be trying to reconcile a definitive statement about something for which common sense, scholarship, and public sentiment have rejected as offensive, discriminatory, inequitably, even hateful. Has the _doctrine_ of the Church changed? Absolutely. What do you do about doctrinal changes for a Church that professes unchanging principles and absolute truth? I think the Church learned its lesson about controversial issues, and wisely tries not to make any definitive statement which they may one day may need to recant.

    I suppose you could say that the Spirit would never tell the brethren to make a statement that wasn’t true. Interesting thought. But it cuts both ways, doesn’t it? Why would the Spirit, then, encourage them to make definitive statements about Blacks and the priesthood, peep stones and treasure digging, polygamy, multiple first visions, BoM and Book of Abraham historicity, etc., when evidences and perspectives about these issues remain divided, inconclusive, or subject to continual debate among scholars? Just because FAIR or FARMS thinks they have it right, and just because the Church funds their operations, doesn’t mean that they ARE right–new evidence may arise that bolsters or questions their position at any time.

  127. Thanks Firetag! I feel like my corner is not going to be as abandoned anymore. I knew at least a few people would be interested if they stubled across it. I think their would be some Near East influences as far as warfare goes. I have not explored those as much because everything coming out of FARMS and FAIR concerning my discipline takes a Near East approach. (but they do Near East+ Meso, not Near East+Asian so I think I have a new original research project) Also, I do not have that much expertise in that area. I have tried expanding my field but it is slow going because of all the other projects I have going on.

    I have tried to use Asain comparisons to add some needed breadth to our comparisons. From a methodology standpoint, if you just compare two areas (near east/ Mesoamerica) you may miss out on a better “bulls eye”. So you must compare more than one region to see if A (our geography model) is closer to B (the Near East or whatever) than it is to C (Asia or whatever). Rather than A is like B, which can be used by the “Joseph Smith made it up” crowd as well. You end up having a confusing set of ideas trying to study a hybrid book (Near East + Meso or Asain) at the same time you defend it from other comparisons that lead to fantasy conclusions.

    So I try to examine the warfare from a variety of different angles to see what the internal message or internal consistency is first. I have not widened my scope in trying place my studies to any particular geography. I have sometimes used Sorenson as a default mainly because he is “in the lead” right now. Although as Mormon scholars should know, many scholars thinking one thing or having an orthodoxy does not make it true and should not prevent a study of other ideas. Its rather hypocritical to tell the 95% percent of historians that the Book of Mormon historicity is true, even as 95% of Book of Mormon Scholars try to tell the Malay people to go away and they are off their rocker. (I’m not sure if anybody is doing that, but there does seem to be some resistance to the idea on this blog) I do enjoy placing my ideas on a map, and it seems many of the principles I discussed are packaged for a wide variety of maps. (to paraphrase Richard G. Scotts definition of principle)

    Anyways, I am kind of rambling right now. If you need my particular skill set on anything else let me know. And thanks for your interest in my blog.

  128. James:

    Allow me to second SteveS response to you. It would be a public relations nightmare if the Church were to begin making absolute statements under Prophetic knowledge, which later turned out to be wrong. The priesthood ban is a perfect example here, as well as the Adam-God theory. Church history is full of examples of teachings such as , Zelph (we’ve been over this one), moon-men, polygamy (we have a current policy here, but the doctrine is totally undefined at this point, particularly for a Church’s who’s primary branding campaing is centered on Eternal Families), blood atonement, etc. Most of these issues are best addressed from a PR perspective, by just sidestepping them as the uneducated utterances of well intentioned men. Some few others, again the Priesthood ban/Adam God, are damaging enough to the Church’s image and world wide efforts that they cannot go unaddressed. It is a very delicate process to recant anything said by a Church President, and cannot happen too frequently without serving to the detriment of our doctrines on Prophets and revelation. They have learned the hard lessons of the past, so today they have chosen to play it safe by adopting a common corporate PR strategy where the official position is “no official position”.

  129. I agree with Cowboy in 141. (Now I feel bad for not finding that Sorenson quote I promised.) But James, please review my comment in 102.

  130. Ray: You are right about the use of chariots being restricted by terrain. Mountains, forests, cities, jungles, and swamps are infantry territory. Plains and cultivated fields are APC and armor territory. Same principle applied back when the armor was chariots or warcarts. However, the open areas do not have to be extensive; the physical limits of horse stamina guarantee that.

    But the point here is that if chariots aren’t useful (whether because of terrain, a lack of large numbers of wheels, or the lack of large numbers of horses, etc.) they aren’t built, and if they aren’t built in large numbers, you can’t find records of them 2000+ years later. The BofM pictures chariots in a way that says we should have difficulty in discovering evidence of them if can do so at all. Olsen’s theory notes that Malay clearly had and used them, and that is NOT a favorable point for his theory.

  131. 139 Steve S

    Steve S
    Please don’t take what I saying as flippant but really imagine your self as a bishop with integrity trying to answer a very concerned members question for example Brother Jones on Black and the priesthood or anything else. (By the way Steve I’m sure you never would )
    Mr Jones I am going to refer you to FAIR and FARM but let me put in a proviso first.

    Although these organizations have benefited from affiliation with Church-sponsored institutions (i.e. BYU), the Church doesn’t accept all research flowing out of BYU as gospel truth. Scholarship in disciplines such as history, anthropology, religious studies, etc. isn’t about “proving” or “discovering the truth” about one thing and discounting all other perspectives. Scholars in these disciplines, however, acknowledge the limits of making final decisions about the way things are or were based on incomplete, contradictory, or ambiguous historical or artifactual evidences.
    Brother Jones we may _think_ we understand all those things on your list of major issues better than we ever have in the past, I doubt the Brethren or BYU are ready to definitively state a final word on any of them at the institutional level.The Spirit might bear witness of “truth”, but it will always be subjected to ones’ unique set of personal experiences, knowledge, and biases.

    Brother Jones response

    “ But bishop isn’t Pres Monson a conduit to our Heavenly Father isn’t he capable of telling his prophet the truth and letting us know in uncertain term so we can stop speculating on these things that are so troubling. Aren’t his unique set of personal experiences, knowledge, and biases pleasing enough to God to get revelation? You said we can’t rely on all research flowing out of BYU as gospel truth but surely their must be some we can rely on.
    Bishop Steve response
    “I will answer your question in a minute but for now To help illustrate my point, let’s use a hypothetical situation. Suppose leaders of the Church in the 1940s felt that they had sufficient knowledge of “truth” about (not) giving priesthood to Blacks based on “doctrines” about their ancestral ties to Cain, Ham, or some other distant relative, as well as “doctrines” about less valiant spirits in the PME. They also decided to take stock in Brigham Young and others’ insistence that the curse upon Blacks meant that they were to be subservient to other races. Let’s suppose that the Brethren felt strongly enough that the multitude of statements made by modern prophets and apostles (presumably guided by the Spirit) all led them to definitively state that Blacks cannot, and _should_ never receive the priesthood. Where would we be today? Exactly where we’re at, because largely, this is what happened.

    Brother Jones

    “Sorry to interrupt Bishop Steve I can see your point why they sat on the fence and didn’t give a definitive answer but I thought this church was run by God through his prophets are you saying God sits on the fence on issues and is afraid to commit him self. I guess I have a child like view of God how naïve of me. Sorry for interrupting

    Bishop Steve

    “No problem anyway gratefully, the persistence of racial prejudice against Blacks by general authorities was limited to personal perspectives, and not a matter of official Church position. Had it been so, we would probably still be trying to reconcile a definitive statement about something for which common sense, scholarship, and public sentiment have rejected as offensive, discriminatory, inequitably, even hateful. Has the _doctrine_ of the Church changed? Absolutely. What do you do about doctrinal changes for a Church that professes unchanging principles and absolute truth? I think the Church learned its lesson about controversial issues, and wisely tries not to make any definitive statement which they may one day may need to recant.

    Brother Jones

    Thanks Bishop I think I get it. Gods appointed general authorities with bigoted personal perspective and even though God tried his hardest to tell them they were wrong his power wouldn’t reach these men he appointed. The doctrine has changed and its good we don’t take sides on anything important because if you do and your wrong you can’t easily go back later and say your wrong. Its for us just to be evasive and not Stand for Anything just in case we want to change our mind later on.

    Bishop Steve

    I suppose you could say that the Spirit would never tell the brethren to make a statement that wasn’t true. Interesting thought. But it cuts both ways, doesn’t it? Why would the Spirit, then, encourage them to make definitive statements about Blacks and the priesthood, peep stones and treasure digging, polygamy, multiple first visions, BoM and Book of Abraham historicity, etc., when evidences and perspectives about these issues remain divided, inconclusive, or subject to continual debate among scholars? Just because FAIR or FARMS thinks they have it right, and just because the Church funds their operations, doesn’t mean that they ARE right–new evidence may arise that bolsters or questions their position at any time.

    Brother Jones

    Thank Bishop at least your honest and candid. I hope you don’t mind me paraphrasing your last paragraph. So God won’t tell the prophet anything about these major concerns a lot of us have just in case he gets it wrong because of his personal experiences, knowledge, and biases. God let scholars debate it out and the Prophet really relies on them and since they don’t feel its conclusive than the prophet can’t get an answer.

    So if we have questions we can go to FAIR and FARM and fill a bit better because we know the church must like them or they wouldn’t be giving them our tithing . But were still not quite sure if their answers are correct and the Prophet isn’t sure yet either or doesn’t feel these issues are important enough right now for us to get answers on. He does believe it’s important enough for us to fund them in the mean time until that day.

  132. James, you are talking of someone who wants someone else to tell him all the answers. You are talking of someone who wants to be commanded in all things. You are talking of someone who doesn’t want to exercise any faith – who wants to “know” everything because someone else told him everything.

    You are talking of someone who wants to follow Lucifer’s plan on earth.

    Why should the Church bow to that approach? I run from it – as fast as I can.

  133. 145 Ray

    I am talking of someone who was in my Ward who has been a bishop twice and a very close friend who have left because and his wife couldn’t get answers that they wanted with all their hearts and minds

    I am talking of someone who was in my Ward who was this Bishops Father in law and has been on numerous bishoprics and has served an 18 month temple mission and his wife who has been one of our wards best relief society presidents.

    I am talking of someone who did an excessive amount of research and is an intelligent professor would be highly offended about your point of him wanting to know everything because someone else told him everything.

    I am talking of two wonderful couples who wouldn’t feel your love kindness and understanding to be told they are followers of Lucifer’s plan on earth just because they wanted someone to tell tell them the answers to their question with the faith of a child

  134. James:

    Why stop there, let’s flip the coin for you.

    Brother Jones: President Monson, could you please help us settle this BoM geography debate.

    President Monson: No problem Brother Jones, I’m glad someone finally asked, let me just ask the Lord.

    Brother Jones, I have asked the Lord and now have an answer. The correct answer is the great lakes theory is the correct one. Well, that solves that, I’ll get Church HQ to begin drafting a proclomation right away.

    15 years later.

    Modern science has revealed today that local tribes in North America have absolutely no genetic correlation to any hebrew culture. We have also discovered a cave which scholars are calling the North American Qumran. In it they found records showing how 20,000 years ago their people got here while chasing some wild goats accross the bering strait, and whats more every ancient artifact in America now has some correlation to these completely non-hebrew first Americans. This news comes as a surpise to the Mormons, who just 15 years ago issued a proclomation which is now completely and utterly falsified.

    Of course this is a bit facetious, but I am sure you get the point.

  135. James, I am going to be absolutely blunt here. Please pardon me in doing so.

    All I had to work from is your comment. In that comment, you essentially ask for “The Church” (President Monson, in the exact example) to provide the answer to every question a member might have. Your scenario equaled a revocation of my responsibility to figure out things on my own in faith by requiring the Prophet to give me conclusive answers so I will know completely once and for all.

    That’s the only info I had, based on your words.

    Your second comment is totally different than your first comment. Your third paragraph speaks of someone wanting to know – which fits me perfectly. I WANT TO KNOW, and I want to know everything. There’s a difference, however, that is critical.

    I realize I can’t know everything, and I realize part of this journey is to continue in faith as I learn line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept. I would NEVER leave this church or any other simply because someone else can’t give me the answers I want – and that’s the ONLY qualification you listed in your comments. You are saying that the ONLY reason these people left is because someone else couldn’t give them the answers they wanted – and I’m saying that nobody alive on this earth can give me all the answers I want. This church gives me more of those answers in a way that resonates with me than any other, but “The Church” can’t answer all my questions. It just can’t – and to expect someone else to give me all my answers so I no longer have to struggle to understand is, im my mind, the absolute antithesis of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a very real way, it is Lucifer’s plan.

    The heart of the Father’s plan as we understand it is that there MUST needs be opposition in ALL things – that we MUST see through our glasses, darkly and prophecy ONLY in part. Remove that barrier, and we are left with, “I will bring everyone back to thy presence, but they won’t have grown to become like thee.”

    Bottom line:

    I simply can’t expect anyone else to give my all the answers I desire – and I hope the people you mention in your last comment would agree with me on that. It’s one thing to imply that they wanted someone else to give them all the answers (as you implied); it’s a totally different thing to say that they couldn’t accept the answers they were given, like, “We don’t know yet.” Based on your second comment, I think it’s MUCH more likely that they didn’t like the answers they were given (that they wanted specific answers and weren’t willing to accept anything else), not that they wanted to be told what to believe – as your first comment implied.

    That’s a totally different scenario, and my response means nothing in that new situation.

    To relate it to this thread, there’s a difference between saying, “Tell me exactly where the events of the Book of Mormon took place or I’m leaving,” and, “I want you to tell me the events of the Book of Mormon took place in (fill in the blank) location – and I’ll leave if you disagree or can’t confirm that.” The first says, “I want AN AUTHORITATIVE answer.” The second says, “I want an authoritative answer WITH WHICH I AGREE.” Those are two very difference stances – and I have no way at all of knowing if the people you describe took either of those positions – or if they simply got a nonsensical, narrow-minded, dismissive, condescending response.

    I don’t know. My response was based purely off of your words in the original comment.

  136. I find the trend this thread has taken to be facinating coming from inside the Restoration but outside the LDS. I trace my priesthood authority back to the same 1830 dispensation and church organization as yours, yet our denominations have large doctrinal differences, which says that some legitimate priesthood authority failed to hear the Spirit correctly somewhere.

    Yet, I’m reading here a debate in which some feel that discovering and correcting error invalidates the prophet’s actions BEFORE the error occurred.

    Is it possible to instead see a prophet as gifted beyond others to receive from the Spirit by both calling and struggle, without giving him a blank check of infallibility? After all, if JS had thought prophets couldn’t stumble seriously, why did he put provisions for the leading quorums to correct him into the basic stucture of the church?

  137. One more thing about getting “an answer” from the Church:

    It seems obvious to me that the Lord didn’t give exact revelation to ascertain explicitly where the events took place. If we demand the Prophet tell us what God simply has not revealed, we risk placing demands on God and imposing our will on Him and the Prophet.

    I simply can’t accept that as a legitimate complaint – that God won’t tell his prophets everything. It simply goes against absolutely everything we have in all of our scriptures.

  138. Firetag–You nailed it! I think far too many people view prophets as infallible, fortune tellers. I think they are men, inspired by God, and subject to the same frailties as you and me. Yet, most members don’t want to follow someone like you and me, and seemed threatened by the fact that a prophet, such as Joseph Smith, could make contradictory statements (such as BoM geography.)

    It’s much more pleasant to think that a prophet like Joseph never makes a mistake, so that one never has to exercise faith to determine if what Joseph (or Monson) said. Even Joseph told us we must study things out in our minds–but many of us would rather not take the effort to study–it’s easier for the prophet to tell us how to think.

  139. I might add that if we simply rely on the prophet for all advice, then we fail to exercise our free-agency, and make the prophet accountable for our mistakes, instead of making ourselves accountable for our own mistakes.

  140. Hi James.

    I thought your comments about FAIR and FARMS were an effort to engage their scholarship into the making of Church position on doctrinal and practical issues. I responded according to my understanding of how real scholarship works in social scientific and humanistic disciplines.

    But your comment revealed that your real concern was for pastoral counseling for touchy issues for which the Church has no official responses. That’s a different realm entirely, and one that doesn’t easily understand the mores and modicums of scholarly discourse. I recognize that the average LDS member isn’t going to be interested in scholarly inquiry, its rules and methods, nor in its inability to make final, definitive conclusions about matters of history, philosophy, religious doctrine, etc. Most people think that scholars spend their lives discovering “facts” or “truth” about the world around them, and when they appeal to scholarly authority to answer a question, they expect the scholar to be able to draw upon a wealth of “knowledge” and “facts” to give a satisfactory answer. Normal people don’t realize that most scholars are mostly interested in moving _toward_ a more accurate assessment or description of historical events, artifacts, or ideas using ever-more precise instruments, but not really seeking to write the final word on any subject. And many normal members of most congregations don’t realize that even general consensus among scholars on any particular subject can rapidly change given further evidences.

    In the LDS context, couple the general perception of scholarly work and a perception that the leaders of a particular faith are privy to the Spirit for making definitive statements of truth and it seems natural to join the two together. Faithful scholarship can inform priesthood leadership in accessing the Spirit to discover the truth about blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, blood atonement, etc. Using this model, the leaders and Mormon scholars should be done solving all the hairy doctrinal and practical issues faced by the Church in no time, right?

    Of course, it doesn’t work that way. And a bishop should know that, and be ready to tell members with questions that sometimes the Lord hasn’t revealed the whats, wheres, whens, whys, and hows about every aspect of his Gospel or his Church organization. A bishop can and should point members to scholarly work that seeks greater understanding about the troubling issues at hand, but shouldn’t seek to imply trust that the scholars should have “proof” or finality to their conclusions. A bishop can and should point members to statements made by church leaders in conference talks, books, etc., but also be willing and able to help the member distinguish information from those sources as personal opinions that might be accurate, but for which the Church has no final, definitive stance. Adam and Eve, too, had to patiently wait for further light and knowledge from the Lord.

    In the end, people with questions that cannot be answered have a choice to make: are they going to maintain their faith in basic Gospel principles and in the saving power of Gospel ordinances _despite_ concerns and insufficient knowledge about troubling doctrine or historical events, or are they going to reject that faith and look elsewhere for answers. A bishop who strives with all his heart (and a RS president or trusted lady friend; don’t want to leave out the women!) to inspire faith and exhort to build that faith might feel anguish for the individual who decides that he or she can no longer continue down the same path, but the bishop (or other confidante) should feel no remorse in not being able to provide definitive answers to questions for which there exist none.

  141. #3 MH said: “Once Moroni left the battle field, there would be no reason to remain hidden.”

    Who said he left the battle field? After 15 years, he was still there:

    6 Behold, four hundred years have passed away since the coming of our Lord and Savior.
    7 And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites.
    8 And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of THIS LAND is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war. (Mormon 8)


    #3 MH said: “While we read about Lehi’s journey of 8 years in the wilderness, we often think that he was alone.”

    The fact they did not cook their food and required the use of the Liahona is proof they did anything but follow trade routes. The time required to cross the Arabian peninsula is not justified by an eight year journey. Now if they did a loop over to Lebanon, which was truly rich in wood and ore, that would account for their time and the need for the Liahona. (See Duane Aston and “The Other Side of Cumorah” for more details.)

    #18 J. Ro said: “As far as the plates being deposited in Cumorah: after death, Moroni was RESURRECTED”

    Moroni was not resurrected, neither was Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. We all must wait for the trump to sound, when all will come forth in the first resurrection.

    It is possible however that God would not allow the last righteous Nephite to be killed and took him, thus becoming a TRANSLATED being. This would have allowed him to minister the plates. (Nephi on the other hand was resurrected.)

    #34 Ray said: “Moroni getting to New York isn’t an issue no matter where the history actually occurred. The man had 35 years to get to wherever he had to go. In 35 years, he could have crawled with two broken legs around the world. Distance simply ain’t an issue, especially if the land was broken up and changed dramatically at time of the crucifixion of Jesus.”

    What does the land being broken up four hundred years before the fact have to do with this? The perimeter of the land did not change. The “hiddenness” of their lands did not change, which has no bearing on the fact that Moroni was still around after 15 years, and stayed around another twenty reading, writing, and translating the writings of Ether and whatever else is on the sealed portion.

  142. Post


    I suggest you read my post on Nahom which quotes BYU and Middle Eastern scholars saying the family of Lehi were not alone. Here’s a few excerpts.

    Kent Brown, professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU. “I believe that it took them about a year to go from their first base camp down to Nahom. The reason is because that’s when Nephi mentions the birth of the first children. As I read the text of the book of Mormon, I suspect that Ishmael was already ill, or had been experiencing ill health, and that was one of the reasons why the family stopped from time to time to rest, to gather themselves, gather strength and then move on.”

    Yusuf Abdullah, Former Director of General Organization of Antiquities, Republic of Yemen, “During the frankincense trade journey, I suppose that quite a number of people will die, because it was a hard journey definitely. It wasn’t an easy journey. And when they die, they will carry it [the body] to the nearest place possible.

    Abdu Othman Ghaleb, Professor of Archeaology, Sana’a University, Republic of Yemen, “I am sitting in Nahom burial ground that was discovered in 1994. The people who pass through this area and die, they will bring to the burial and buried here. Whether they were Yemenis or foreigners from the north, from Mediterranean or from someplace else.”

    Abdullah, “They [the graves] are like small hives or small graves, mounds.”

    Ghaleb, “And this area, what is the burial ground, is belong to the tribe of Nahom.”

    Brown, “They’d have buried Ishmael here, to great mourning. One of the reasons the people felt to mourn is because he was an Israelite, and to be buried away from his home was something of a loss.”

    Brown, “It’s certain that this place had a name before they arrived, because Nephi very carefully writes the passive, the place which was called Nahom.”

    Ghaleb, “This is the area of Nahom, this is the land of Nahom, and also the area of the tribe of Nahom.”

    Apparently Nahom was named after a Tribe of the same name. Lehi and Ishmael’s family were not alone.

  143. Post


    You’ve completely taken Ray’s comment #34 out of context. Read it again. It references that Moroni lived 35 years after Mormon buried the plates. Moroni didn’t bury the plates for at least 35 years (several comments have referenced this.) What did he do the 20 years after the scripture you mentioned? Nobody knows, but certainly he could have gone quite a few places in 20-35 years.

    Was Moroni resurrected? Well, nobody knows, because I don’t believe the “shake hands test” in the D&C was around in 1827. It is quite possible he was resurrected, but really it is silly to quibble on this issue. Even if he was not resurrected, what’s your point?

  144. Regarding Nahom, it may or may not be a hit. Depending on where you believe Lehi’s family landed consider its weight. Were they alone? There was time for ten divorces before they left. 🙂

    You failed to acknowledge my refute to your assumption that Moroni “left the battlefield” and that he had “no reason to remain.”

    Will you acknowledge he was still around for at least 15 years?

    So you’re Ray then? Well, answer my refute for the land being changed having zero affect on where Moroni went. Next, answer my refute that Moroni stayed around the last twenty years because he was actively reading, writing, and translating the record of Ether.

    While you’re at it, explain where Moroni obtained more plates to write on.


    Why is the resurrection of Moroni important? I thought you were in the loop on that. Can someone explain that to MH/Ray.

  145. #158 – I gave in to my naturally sarcastic self and submitted a blunt response. I’m repenting of that now and modifying my comment radically. Here is the edited version:

    If you aren’t going to read my comments carefully and in context of the entire discussion, I’m not going to engage you. It’s just frustrating and unproductive.

    Please go back and read the context of my comment about the land being broken up. Then, if you still don’t understand, ask me politely to elaborate. I’m just not going to engage sarcasm any more. I’m tired of it.

    Also, your “refutes” are nothing more than assumptions and suppositions – since there’s NOTHING in the actual text that says one way or another. I’m not playing that game.

  146. “Ed #96 I don’t understand how you interpret that to be anything about Columbus. Besides, Columbus did not land in the United States. (see someone else’s comment above)”

    I don’t see how you didn’t see that Ed said that Columbus did not land in the United States. That is the traditional interpretation of that scripture, that it was Columbus.

  147. Leonides,

    Ok, so Moroni was in the battlefield 15 years later….and the following 20 years and the other 2/3 of the plates say what about Moroni’s whereabouts?

    It does seem like you’re here to simply pick fights, so fine, you win. You haven’t added anything substantive to the conversation. Thanks for playing.

    Aboz, yes it is a traditional understanding of scripture. I think we’re just saying there are nontraditional views that should be considered as well.

  148. #106: There are quite a few quite complimentary comments about the Land of Promise that the Nephites occupied. It was to be free, was to be prosperous, it was to have no oppressive leadership,
    In my opinion, I would rate Guatemala lowest of any country on the planet. The people there have been conquored, oppressed, they are very poor, mistreated, starving…
    So the argument that the Nephite Land of Promise was one of the best countries on the planet is not true if you claim MESO.
    It works with MALA

    Columbus never did land in Meso America or North America at all. He only landed in the West Indies & Northeast South America

    #117 In talking about Zelph, you forget that Joseph also talks about Palenque, and says it is a Nephite city. Archaeologists report that Palenque was not built until 600AD? which is long after Book of Mormon times. So sometimes Joseph was speaking as an inspired person and sometimes as a mere mortal –like the rest of us.

    #126 In one of Nibleys books he writes about Oriental warfare being similar in many ways to warfare in the Book of Mormon. He mentions some similarities between warfare and chess where the a main objective is to capture the king. They recruit people in the surrounding areas just like people in Asia did. This can help explain why there were so many in the final battles. The King was not beheaded … He was put in prison and put to work. Nibley was so impressed by the similarities that he thought that the Jaredites spent a lot of time in the Orient. He makes other points too…

    #132 Firetag : We arent saying there were no people on the Malay peninsula prior to the time the BofM people got there. There were people–Asians –there and the Nephites learned from them. Here is an example of indigenous people on the Malay Peninsula. There were black people there (in the southern end of the Malay Peninsula)called Semangs. When Laman and Lemuel left the Nephites and went into the wilderness they apparently intermarried with the Semangs and that is why they became black. That also explains why the Lamanites became more numerous that the Nephites. It might also be noted that the Jaredites did not become black and they were just as wicked as the Lamanites but there was no black population in Burma to cause it to become so.

    #143 The point about chariots is not that they were used for war. It is important to note that the wheel was not used in MESO. It wasn’t in their art, or for any cart to transport anything, etc. One reason for doubting they had wheels in MESO is they had no animals to pull a wheeled vehicle. If they have looked and looked and looked for decades for wheels… and haven’t found ANY in MESO…then it seems reasonable to conclude they did not have the wheel.

    I haven’t had a chance to get back for a couple of days and only had time to read “some” more of the posts. Does anyone have a question they would like to ask me (even if it wasn’t covered in the book) about the Malay Theory?

  149. Ray, acknowledge the fact it says Moroni was still there 15 years later. [I understood the land comment, and made a point attacking any theorists whose models only work if large areas of land were removed, i.e. Gulf of Mexico.

    Neither you nor Heretic are acknowledging the evidence which says Moroni stayed around. Where did Moroni get the additonal plates?

  150. Leonides, I acknowledge you. You are straining at gnats. Find something substantive, like geology, linguistics, or something else to pick at. Find something like Firetag found. That was a great comment.

  151. Re #160 If that is the traditional translation… about Columbus??? What is your point?
    Columbus actually did NOT land in the United States or in MESO. He actually landed in W. Indies, etc, (see above)

    The scripture does not mention Columbus. It could be about anyone. Who said it was about Columbus and who repeaated it believed they knew and they repeated itand who repeaated it believed they knew and they repeated itand who repeaated it believed they knew and they repeated itand who repeaated it believed they knew and they repeated itand who repeaated it believed they knew and they repeated it arghhhhhhhh

  152. It is common knowledge that Columbus discovered America, it is celebrated in our schools every year. Do you really wish to scrutinize this and mock historians, LDS and others, just to justify alternate models?

  153. Ray, acknowledge the fact it says Moroni was still there 15 years later.

    Leonides, that was slightly less condescending, although it still was unnecessary.

    I didn’t “acknowlege” it, because MH already did – and because it really is irrelevant to what I’ve been saying. For crying out loud, that’s not the point either of us has made in any comment. We have absolutely no idea exactly where Moroni was at the end of the 15 years – except that he still appears to have been in the general “land” of the final battle and just that by that time the killing of the original survivors appears to have been completed.

    I will try to say this as simply and directly as possible:

    We have absolutely no idea where he got the extra material for the plates – or even if he had to find any.

    The Book of Moroni might have been written bit-by-bit as he made more pages, or it could have been written in one great writing session, or it could have been written on pages he created while hiding during the first 15 years, or he might have seen the aftermath in a vision or been told of it by the risen Lord (given his previous accounts of visions and visitations), ad infinitum. We don’t know the answer to your question – and we certainly can’t state almost anything about the last 35 years of his life authoritatively as fact.

    We have absolutely no idea how long he remained in the general vicinity of the final battle.

    We don’t know when he left to bury the plates (assuming he traveled to New York from somewhere else to do so) – and how he traveled there – and if he met anyone or lived with any other peoples or was alone the whole time for any of the next decades (since his statement of remaining alone to “write the sad tale of the destruction of my people” appears in Mormon 8, NOT toward the end of his own Book of Moroni that was buried 21 years later) – and if he married and had a family with someone else (ok, that is a bit extreme and unlikely, but we just don’t know) – etc.

    All I’m saying is we “KNOW” far less than what you are implying, so I prefer to remain open to alternatives that might be reasonable. At the very least, I believe we need to recognize that ALL current theories have some sticky issues that need to be resolved before we can say authoritatively that we “know” where they were located. I like to contemplate the Malay theory because I find it intriguing – and most of my comments have been to address straw man arguments that people who have not read the actual theory put forth, sincerely not understanding that they are arguments that have been addressed in the actual theory as expounded by Olsen.

    Does that help you understand my comments a little better?

  154. It is common knowledge that Columbus discovered America,

    Leonides, this is exactly why I am frustrated.

    It is NOT common knowledge among historians that Columbus discovered “America”. In fact, if you are defining “America” as North America, Columbus did NOT discover it. It was discovered by plenty of seafaring Europeans long before Columbus – and Columbus didn’t land there. If you are defining “America” very broadly as “the American Hemisphere”, and defining “discovered” very narrowly as “found by an explorer who was on an official journey financed by a European nation so many Europeans realized there was a vast landmass between Europe and India”, perhaps you could construct it in such a way to make Columbus its discoverer. I’m not going to spend time on World History 101 in this thread, but I’ve been a history teacher, and I would fail any papers written by any of my students that stated what you just stated.

    Columbus didn’t discover America in ANY substantive way, no matter what most people assume.

    However, that does NOT mean that the prophecies in the Book of Mormon can’t be about Columbus and the American Revolution, even if the Malay theory is accurate. That is addressed directly in the theory itself, and it also is addressed generally in previous comments. It’s not a death-knoll to the theory, as it’s addressed in the theory itself.

  155. Right, but what is the “death-knoll” are the 30+ prophecies associated with Book of Mormon lands. Instead of giving a slight nod to those promises, why not help kill those theories that disregard them, starting with the ridiculous Malay theory – no offense.

  156. Leonides, sincere question:

    Have you read the link in the original post and the actual theory as proposed by Brother Olsen?

    His theory doesn’t “disregard them”.

  157. 154 Steve S

    Thanks for your response. I understand where your coming from as I have been on bishoprics and a high councilman. But I also understand where members are coming from as well and many feel frustated in reading FARM and FAIR documents that are long confusing overly complex which doesn’t help some one in a crisis of faith.

    They believe naively that this church is run by revelation and these issues are huge and festering and have been around far too long. Their views are if it is a church run by revelation give it to us!! Don’t flog us off on some scholars best guess. If were able to get revelation on Blacks and The Priesthood “Than bring it on with the rest” lets at least clear up the major issues. Other wise were going to round and round for ages. Some will decide a scholars answer just doesn’t cut it.

    Even a bishop can’t confidently help someone in a ward who has issues on Blacks and The Priesthood. They could refer them to Armand Mauss Race Issues FAIR. But once they read that
    they may look at the prophetic mantle differently and it could be a snowball effect. Older preisthood members veiw FARM and FAIR as cutting edge stuff you can’t trust until a prophet or apostle gives their stamp of approval on it.

    Once you feel informed on issues even believing the FARM and FAIR documents you feel like your lying by omission not to speak up. But you also feel like a heretic when you do.

    On a ward level In priesthood many members still believe in Mark E Petersons biggeted BYU speech. We showed to a sister in our ward over here and she could see nothing wrong with it.

  158. Cowboy is your point that revelation stopped with Joseph Smith who could tell us about Zelph the book of Abraham and Adam and Eve. And now we have to higher guys like Thomas Ferguson
    http://www.lds-mormon.com/ferg.shtml to try and find stuff.

    15 years later.

    Modern science has revealed today that local tribes in North America have absolutely no genetic correlation to any hebrew culture. We have also discovered a cave which scholars are calling the North American Qumran. In it they found records showing how 20,000 years ago their people got here while chasing some wild goats accross the bering strait, and whats more every ancient artifact in America now has some correlation to these completely non-hebrew first Americans. This news comes as a surpise to the Mormons, who just 15 years ago issued a proclomation which is now completely and utterly falsified.

  159. What I read was an attempt by Ed #96 to talk some sense into you two/three by quoting verses you still choose to ignore.

    Are you really that dense, or do you just like people to think you are to lead them along?

    Tell you what, you reply to the verses Ed cited in post 96 and how they were fulfilled in ANY other nation (details) and I’ll post another ten you won’t be able to touch with a ten foot pole outside of America.

  160. Normally it is important to read something BEFORE one criticizes it. I have had people come in to complain about a wide variety of books in my library. Usually, when I ask them what they think is wrong with it, it turns out that they haven’t read it. So I politely ask them to read it and find the part that they object about. At the same time I find a copy of the book and read it to to see if I can figure out what they object to. How can one discuss it if you have no knowledge of it? They have always decided that the book wasn’t bad. Someone told them it was bad so they believed them. They were embarressed they didn’t read it in the first place BEFORE complaining about it.

    One woman came in and insisted that I take ALL of the Berenstein Bears books out of the library (My kids and I love those books)! Isn’t it a good thing that we have the right to read what we want to in this country!?

    I had a man come into my library soon after I got the job there, and ask me if I had a Bible. I said, I’m not sure, probably, let’s go look. We went over to the shelf where one would be found, and we didn’t have one. He said, “It’s a good thing you DON’T HAVE ONE in here!”

    Ray, I appreciate you so much. Thanks for having so much patience.

  161. By the way. The reason the lady didn’t like the Berenstein Bear Books was because “They put the father in a bad light.” They didn’t espouse the view she wanted. So she thought the rest of the people shouldn’t enjoy the books. Go get one and read it if you haven’t. They help kids have self-esteem, they are very funny, etc etc. We need more positive things going on in this world.

  162. #172 – BOMC, three things:

    1) We have addressed every passage Ed cited in #96. All of them. Multiple times. I’m done if that’s the best anyone can do.

    2) I’m going to cap lock and bold this, since it needs to be said – given the tone of your comment. YOU DON’T EVEN AGREE THAT THE MESO THEORY IS RIGHT!! Your linked site says you believe the Book of Mormon took place in New York and that the Indians of the Iroquois Nation are the descendants of the Lamanites.

    How in the world can you blast us for being willing to consider and try to rationally discuss an alternate theory when yours is every bit as “fringe” within the overall Mormon community as the Malay theory? I’m not saying you are wrong. As I’ve said over and over and over again, I don’t know. It simply is highly ironic that someone in your situation would come here for the first time and deride people who are trying to be open to alternate theories.

    3) You aren’t a member of the LDS Church. You reject the entire group of LDS researchers and archaeologists as being illegitimate and acting without any authority of God in the first place. At least be open about that on a Mormon-themed blog, instead of pretending to support Ed and his theory. That type of false presentation is bad form, plain and simple. Given your stated view of the LDS Church, your position is even more “non-LDS-mainstream” than the Malay theory.

    This is a sincere offer:

    If you would like your own theory discussed openly and broadly, how about politely asking MH if he would be willing to do for you what he did for Bro. Olsen – read your theory and write a post about it here? Isn’t that type of request better than calling us all idiots and laughing at us for being willing to do what you are doing – considering alternative theories?

  163. Ray, AMEN!!!!!!!!!

    For those who don’t know, BOMC believes the LDS church is false, and he has his own Great Lakes Theory which has some MAJOR flaws. I did a 5 part post on his theory, and his best answer was “you didn’t read the theory and all the footnotes.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Puhleez.

    Here is a link to the series I already did on BOMC.


  164. Ralph:

    I certainly agree that the “blackness” of the Lamanites came about through the rapid intermarriage with the preexisting population in any scenario. The question is how different a population has to appear to a culture so attuned to purity (as faithful Jews) to qualify as “cursed”. My suspicion is that people who wouldn’t interact with Babylonians or Egyptions without feeling unclean would have described any more primitive people born much south of the Arctic Circle pretty much in the same terms. (Notice that in Heleman’s period, converting Lamanites become fair — and there was no time for genetics to reverse course in a couple of years.)

    The point regarding horses, wheels, and chariots is more subtle. Givens, Chapter 5 Ref 103 cites how many horses (and other animals) can exist in cultures we know have them without evidence remaining centuries later. He also notes that there ARE a small number of findings of pre-Columbian horse remains. So, as in many scientific measurements, the statement “did not exist” should really be qualified as “did not exist above easily detectable limits.”

    This describes what matches the internal use of the BofM chariots — a population of a dying horse species, too near the edge of extinction to be maintained or bred by any but kings and high nobles, and not available in quantities to be used for much besides “Air Force One”.

  165. So all of you are going to trash on BOMC because he isn’t LDS and his model you think is flawed. AD HOMENEIM TO THE MAX! Yet he has common sense ENOUGH to know it is in America, something you don’t seem to have at all.

  166. Aboz, all I have asked for is constructive input instead of saying we haven’t addressed what we have addressed already.

    Let me repeat clearly:

    I’m NOT “trashing” BOMC because he’s not Mormon. I don’t give a large rodent’s hindquarters what religion he is when it comes to this discussion. I’m calling him a hypocrite – plain and simple. He came here AFTER MH had written five posts about his own theory on MH’s own blog and castigated us for discussing a fringe theory. He came here pretending to support Ed and his theory (and implying concern for the dominant theory in the Church), but in reality he has his own theory that is every bit as “fringe” as what we are discussing here. That’s duplicitous hypocrisy, and that’s what I said. His failure to disclose his disdain for Mormon theories and efforts is a main part of his hypocrisy, so I mentioned it – in that context.

  167. Its clear enough that he came here supporting Ed’s general proposition that these scriptures place the Book of Mormon somewhere in America. That’s what I read in Ed’s post. Ed’s general proposition is applicable to all of the America’s, regardless of where the Book of Mormon took place, and I think Ed would agree that that was what his intent was. Ed wasn’t talking about Mesoamerica in particular when he was applying the scriptures to all of the Americas, that it had to be somewhere, as he said, between the Arctic Circle and the tip of South America, from what I read. Ed believes the Land Southward was in Mesoamerica, but he was more concerned that it had to be in America somewhere, and therefore the Maylay proposition is impossible, and according to him, also “irrational.” Therefore, you are indeed applying Ad Homeneim to Mr. BOMC, because Mr. BOMC is also supportive in general of the idea that it was in America somewhere. You are the one misreading what was stated both by Ed and BOMC, and applying an ugly fallacy to BOMC’s words, by finding fault with his theory and his background. Just because he believes it is in NY doesn’t mean anything for the general consensus between Ed and BOMC that it took place in America somewhere. His disdain for Mormon theories aside, he can see the obvious interpretation of those scriptures which you continually deny, and that you insist on using some sort of relativism to explain away. So I have to say that the fault is on your part entirely.

  168. he can see the obvious interpretation of those scriptures which you continually deny

    I’m done. I’ve said over and over and over again that those passages probably point to the Americas – and that Bro. Olsen’s own theory says they might, as well – and allows for that. I’ve even said multiple times that I personally think the Meso theory is the best one. I’m tired of repeating the same thing and getting the same falsely accusing response. That issue has been answered – in a way that agrees with those who are criticizing us here. This is just going in circles, and it’s totally pointless.

    So I have to say that the fault is on your part entirely.

    Fine. We’re done.

  169. I’m sorry Ray, but I don’t think we are done, since there was some misunderstanding on my part. I didn’t realize that was what you were saying about Mesoamerica. Fine, I admit that I didn’t read everything you were saying closely enough.

    On the other hand, my critique of your responses to BOMC still apply in that you were manifesting a fallacious thing trashing on him.

    I don’t understand your defense of the Maylay thing if you are a proponent of Mesoamerica, because the Maylay thing DOES NOT support the literal reading of those scriptures at all. So in reality, you are on some weird middle ground still saying that somehow the Malay thing can be read into those scriptures. Since you are still saying that there is some way to read Malaysia into those scriptures, I say you are wrong, regardless of your belief in Mesoamerica. There is no middle ground here.

    Now that I have clearly stated myself with a better understanding of my position, and my saying that you are still wrong, we can be done if you want. But I think you should still respond to this new response.

  170. I have gone the rounds with BOMC. While I am open to a Great Lakes Theory (such as Meldrum’s), I find BOMC has a tremendously thin skin, and his scholarship is poor. Let me demonstrate by asking BOMC some questions regarding his theory.

    BOMC claims that Lake Tonowanda is the South Sea. Lake Tonowanda has been extinct for 10,000 years, and clearly doesn’t fit within the BoM time period (even the Jaredites date back only to 2500 BC). BOMC, how do you explain this discrepancy? (I’ll answer that in the next paragraph for him.)

    BOMC claims that elephants existed in NY, and uses a prehistoric elephant to make his case. The problem is, the elephant is only thousands of years off of the Jaredite period. To justify this, he trashes the theory of evolution and carbon dating. Well, he can do that, but he’s not going to win any friends in the scientific community. BOMC, why is carbon dating and evolution all wrong?

    Once again, I think the Great Lakes theories are interesting to study, but BOMC’s lack of scholarship is so apparent, I wouldn’t put any stock into any of his opinions. I’m sorry if my last comment sounded poorly toward him, but my patience with him is always rewarded with “you didn’t read the theory”, and I’ve had it with him. Feel free to check out his theory. It is one of the worst examples of “scholarship” I have ever seen.

  171. Was Moroni resurrected?

    Joseph Smith said he was. Mormon Doctrine and the Encyclopedia of Mormonism say so too. Not that I think it matters much if he was.

  172. Firetag,

    “My suspicion is that people who wouldn’t interact with Babylonians or Egyptians without feeling unclean

    I will disagree with this assumption. If we are to look at Lehi and his family, we need to read closely the book of Jeremiah, Isaiah, and those other contemporaries. From reading the Bible, we learn that the prophets are the ones constantly calling the Jews to repentance–it seems they constantly engaged in idol worship, and many other “unclean” acts that Jeremiah and others condemned. While Nephi would have followed Jeremiah, even his followers soon fell away as early as Jacob. Certainly Laman and Lemuel didn’t care about being “unclean” in the Jewish sense.

    As for these pre-columbian horse remains, I can’t state authoritatively, but I believe they also date to the improper time period (just as BOMC’s elephant.) If you have a link to the contrary, please let me know. (Givens book is on my “to read” list, so if he has covered that issue, I am not yet aware of it.)

  173. Aboz, please go back and read what I’ve said about my position in this discussion (most directly comment #121) and Olsen’s position on island-hopping migration to the Americas that would make the prophecies relevant to the Americas – as well as my statement that I think it’s the weakest part of the theory but there are reasons I think it’s worth considering (comment #44). MH also said at the end of his post (conclusion 2a) that he thinks this is the biggest weakness in the theory.

    Frankly, I reacted to both Ed and BOMC the way I did for the same reason: They came here guns blazing, throwing extreme insults at us without even trying to read the post and thread carefully and understand where MH and I were coming from. They spewed all kinds of charges at us that simply didn’t fit what we actually were saying, and they wouldn’t respond to our attempts to explain what we were saying. We said multiple times that we simply were trying to make sure Olsen’s actual theory was being discussed, not assumptions or caricatures of it. Ed and BOMC ignored that completely and just kept firing away with their insults. Their entire approach essentially was, “This is the way it is. You’re stupid. Answer me (although you already have). I don’t have to answer you.”

    That’s frustrating.

  174. Aboz,

    Do you really think people who barge into a discussion and say things like “talk some sense into you” and “Are you really that dense?” — much less people who do that while misunderstanding what the people they’re talking to have been saying all along — deserve better responses than BOMC got from Ray?

  175. How does calling something irrational equate to an insult? How does making a statement of one’s opinion of your opinion equate to an insult? Where did he call you a name? You’ve lost me there Ray. As far as I can tell, there was some provocation going on, and then you say the guy insulted you? Seems like he got pretty frustrated with you and MH long before you got frustrated, and he seemed to indicate that he was being provoked, or thats what he thought.

  176. I will leave it to you to read Givens on the horses since his reference list is too deep and specialized to get to from outside a university library. The basic point is that populations of animals shrink to the point of invisibility in the archeological record before they go extinct — today we discover examples of species we had thought to be extinct once or twice a decade.

    Prophets can’t get too far ahead of their culture. I think Nephi was still pretty culturally bound to Judaism. Indeed, I would argue that the overwhelming theme of the books before King Ben has to do with a people cut off from the religious body on which they had understood the covenant to rest TRYING TO ASSURE THEMSELVES THAT GOD STILL HAS A PLACE IN THE COVENANT FOR THEIR SEED.

    Laman and Lemuel would, of course, probably be happy to go swimming in the local gene pool just to offend everything Lehi and Nephi stood for. But if it was offensive, I think the purity taboo was probably present in Nephi’s thinking to begin with. It must have been strong in Jewish culture before the captivity for Judea to survive Babylon at all.

    At least the notion that 6th Century BC Jews were culturally racist has a lot less theological problems than the notion God was racist. (Remember my wierd sense of humor, MH!)

  177. Re #63, #67 etc. re: the stone box

    I can’t Google a testimony, but I can Google a quote from Sidney Rigdon regarding the fate of the stone box. It’s fourth- or fifth-hand, but it’s on the Internet, so it must be true.

    The Chicago Times Interviews David Whitmer August 1875 S.L. Herald, 12 Aug 1875 in Ebbie Richardson, “David Whitmer,” pp.158
    “Three times he has been at the Hill Cumorah and seen the casket that contained the tablets and seerstone. Eventually the casket has been washed down to the foot of the hill, but it was to be seen when he last visited the historic place.”

  178. Aboz regarding your statement in 189, let me respond in Ed’s language, substituting your name instead of mine. see 100.

    “[Aboz], the level of irrationality and absurdity manifested in this pushed me to get real irritated at you, and I can’t imagine why you can’t see how. If I were conspiracy theory prone, I would say that you are feigning your open mindedness towards [Ed and BOMC’s comments]. That’s almost how I feel about you. I am to the point almost where I think you aren’t truly open to what you are arguing and that you are just doing it to try to show the absurdity of [Ed and BOMC’s comments], that you are putting on a show. I truly believe that.”

    BOMC’s language: see 172,

    “Are you really that dense, or do you just like people to think you are to lead them along?”

    You honestly can’t see anything offensive there?

  179. Post


    That’s certainly a valid point, but most of the mistaken extinct animals are over a relatively short time, like 100 years, not 1000-3000 years (at least that I am aware of.)

    “At least the notion that 6th Century BC Jews were culturally racist has a lot less theological problems than the notion God was racist.”

    There is much truth to that statement, whether it was meant in jest or not.

  180. You idiots need to find a better way to manage your low self image, other than whining like a bunch of babies just because someone tries to politely show you how absolutely stupid your ideas are.

    How hypersensitive do you have to be to get offended at any of this.

  181. Post

    Good one Cowboy! Perfect demonstration. You got me. (I’ve been trying to hide my low self-esteem, but drats, you figured me out. I guess I’ll go hide under a rock now.)

    Now, anybody want to say something about the theory, or has this conversation run its course? Does anyone want to look at BOMC’s? Certainly that’s an unconventional theory, and fits within the scope of unconventional theories. Cowboy, care to tackle Lake Tonowanda?

  182. Stuuu-Puuud

    Can you here the crescendo on Stuuu and the decrescendo on Puuud.

    It sounds like you actually had much more to say on Tonowanda than I do. For what it is worth, I was glad to hear you challenge to weak dismisall on carbon dating. For some that actually seems like a reasonable defense to espousing incompatable theories.

    Sorry, I don’t really have anything of value to add. Just so as not to be misunderstood, I was joking in the my last comment.

  183. Since MH threw a softball across the plate I thought I would point people to a blog post I wrote that could be a chapter from Olsen’s manuscript. He already has a good chapter about “old world” links, and I thought it was awesome that he mentioned King Noah. Because without reading his manuscript I wrote about the description of King Noah being very similar to a Chinese description of a “bad emperor”.

    On a final note, I wrote about all these comparisons to Chinese history and the Book of Mormon because it was two subjects I knew, not because I thought there was any connection beyond universal principles of good generalship/strategy. But after reading his thesis and based on my research I am thinking his model is at least equal to the Mesoamerican one.

  184. MH, it sounds like you provoked the guy to anger to me and he was reacting in anger. Probably if the guy had been out to dinner with your wife and his wife, face to face, you two would have never treated each other that way, and it was only in reaction. His initial statements don’t sound like his intent was to offend, but say you were being irrational. How then would you propose that he should tell you that your idea is irrational? I say your idea is irrational to even say it is possible. Yeah, I know. You said you don’t believe in anything in particular. That isn’t my point. I say it is irrational that you even think it is possible. How then do you propose I should say this to you? Is that offensive? Then tell me how it should be said.

  185. MH #193 There is at least one example I can think of off the top of my head where a fish thought to be extinct geologic ages ago still turns up in fishing nets occasionally in deep waters.

    Think any archeologist from 4000 AD could tell that pandas exist today in North America — since they are only preserved by governments in zoos? I’m suggesting horses’ status in Mayan America was closer to that in mumbers than in plow pulling numbers. Horses are only explicitly shown in use by kings in the Book of Mormon.

  186. You’ll forgive me for injecting this, but this battle has had casualties. Not that I’m upset with it, you’ve all been instrumental in adding validity to what I stated post #60. You’ve done a reasonably good job of showing the very problematic nature with all of the theories presented with your attacks. In truth, to believe any of them requires you to ignore, attribute other meanings to prophetic statements, or assume that the most of the church’s prophets have spoken as men, not prophets. (Even when they claimed they were speaking for God, such as in the D&C.)

    The only reasonable conclusion is… we’re dealing with fiction. It might be more advantageous for some of you smart people to put your heads together and figure out how JS pulled it off instead of trying to put a square peg in a round hole…

    Ok, just ignore that man in the booth … 🙂

  187. Aboz, you’ve been pretty reasonable with disagreement, as have most. See comment #48–Ed has an anxiety disorder, so I’m sure that’s why he got emotional. As you’ll notice with BOMC, he won’t address a single weakness in his theory, but sure loves to point fingers at others’ theories. It’s fine to disagree, and Aboz, you’ve done well. But as Ray said earlier, some guys come in with guns blazing, and they are the ones I have a real problem with, not so much you.

    I can understand why people think Malay is irrational–I certainly did when I first heard of it. However, when you read it, you have to admit that it fixes many problems with Meso by creating new problems of its own–namely correlation with accepted interpretations of scripture. I understand this, and I understand it is a weakness. In my original post, I said, “I’m not sure I buy it.” But I think it is important to think outside the box, which this particular theory does extremely well. It challenges modern mormons in ways similar to the challenges in 1830 when Joseph Smith challenged Christianity with his “gold bible.” For modern mormons to dismiss it without merit as the christians did in Joseph’s day is quite ironic.

    Yes, Doug, it is possible that the BoM is fiction, as you like to point out. Your point does have validity, and some people will conclude as you do. I’m at the library right now checking out my Sidney Rigdon book, so we can address the Solomon Spaulding manuscript so I hope to have that post ready in the next week or two. Perhaps the BoM is fiction, but there are probably better theories than the Spaulding Manuscript theory, which keeps getting recycled. So, stay tuned…

  188. Morgan, I’ll have to check out the link–thanks for sharing! I know that Nibley has made many BoM connections with oriental beliefs. While Nibley never considered anything but the Americas as the setting for the BoM, it is quite interesting to see if his points mesh with a Malay setting. I know Olsen has quoted Nibley extensively in his manuscript.

    Yes Firetag, I almost mentioned that fish in my previous comment. I think the seas are much easier to “hide” an extinct species under the sea than on land. Anyway, you definitely have a valid point there. Nevertheless, archaeology in the Americas clearly discounts that horses were used by anyone, including kings. Perhaps a discovery will change our mind, but current research does not bode well for the pre-columbian horses being used by BoM peoples.

    And Adam–thanks for the David Whitmer reference!

  189. Raish and John Sorenson reviewed hundreds of articles and made an exhaustive search in the literature for evidence connecting the Orient with the Americas. They have found many evidences including tangible objects indicating connection with South East Asia and Western America. They wanted to to find information indicating voyages across the Pacific Ocean. Most of them turned out to be from Southeast Asia. Inadvertantly they provided a large amount of evidence supporting the Mala Hypothesis. And really Each one of the items provides a good argument for the Mala Hypothesis. (PreColumbian Contact with the Americas Across the Oceans)

    PS And please note they traveled eastward–not westward across the Pacific.

  190. MH, I got emotional because I think anyone would get emotional from exasperation where you were demanding that I provide you with references when you already knew what they were. We have seen Ray also get emotional lately. That’s why I was questioning why in the world you would ask for such things when you already knew what scriptures said what. I know you are a very studied person. I know you know the arguments for the various scriptures, and that you are no fool. That’s why I interpreted it as a provocation. On the other hand, as long as I can pull myself away from this kind of stuff, before I get real irritated I’m usually fine. But Ray and you sucked me back in, or rather, I admit that I gave in and got sucked in. And the fact that you are also a very studied person is why I question why in the world you even consider this an option. It isn’t an option. It is a twisting of the scriptures far beyond what is reasonable according to common sense. Cowboy cracks me up, but his point is valid. Why is it that you got so offended when you know that I was provoked? Indeed, I chose to be provoked, but the fact remains I was provoked, and that is how I interpreted it. My disorder aside. I think other people can see why I interpreted it as a provocation.

  191. Post


    I think you present the traditional understanding of scripture well. I’m sorry for dragging you back in–I was just responding to Aboz who apparently didn’t read all the comments. I didn’t intend to provoke you, and don’t want to do so now. My purpose here is to challenge beliefs, present different ideas, and help us all learn new things. I can understand your emotional response, but hope we can all do a better job of maintaining our composure. It’s fine to disagree, but let’s do so agreeably.

    I will post something on the South American Theories soon, and I hope you will participate as well. I am quite certain you will find that theory unsettling as well. Just as with Malay, there are things I like, and things I don’t like about South American models. While I don’t anticipate the fireworks we’ve had here, it will also challenge some assumptions about the BoM.

    There is a reason I picked the moniker Mormon Heretic–to challenge long held beliefs, and look at things from a different perspective. My purpose is not to destroy faith, but to examine it more closely, and from unconventional angles. On my blog, this is what I said about myself.

    I am active in the LDS church. This is a place to talk about the “meat” of the gospel and not just the “milk.” I want to be able to ask thoughtful (some might say provocative) questions, and not worry about damaging someone else’s faith or testimony. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and welcome those of you who can fill in some answers for me regardless of your religious affiliation. This blog will hopefully be a thoughtful and respectful forum.”

    Notice that provocative and provoke share the same base word. I want to challenge us to really think about our faith, which we so rarely do. Often church worship is rote repetition. My purpose isn’t to pick fights, but challenge assumptions, and think about our church in different ways. I find that working through these challenges can increase our faith, but not everyone sees things the way I do.

  192. Ed, They were NOT trying to provoke you. They were giving you an opportunity to show why your theory was better. I’m sure they assumed that you had read the Mala theory. The proof you gave them worked for both theories. When they tried to explain that to you, you went wild. . . It was obvious to all that have read Olsen’s theory that you had NOT read it. Ray and MH VERY PATIENTLY kept repeating their explanations and even suggested you read the Mala theory. Suggestion: It helps to win an argument IF YOU HAVE READ ABOUT BOTH SIDES so you can show ways they are different.

    Ralph Olsen has been seriously researching on Book of Mormon geography for at least 18 years in the university library AND in the scriptures. He studies and studies the scriptures and prays alot about the whole thing. (He has studied Clark and Washburns maps, Sorenson’s writings…etc etc etc…) Sometimes he wakes up in the night with an idea and jots it down. In the morning he goes to the university library to research it . . . (ie. that’s how he found Hill Mah)

    His second book is a more concise version of the first with all the additional things he had found since the first book (you can download above) so it would be easier to read for the average reader. He recently told me he has found 40 more items since. He would love to have others show where there is a weakness or strength. So far no one has found any specific fact that did not work. Others have shared their expertise to make him realize other ways to research.

    Dr Ralph Olsen is NOT trying to undermine anything about the church. He is a member in good standing. He is trying to PROVE the Book of Mormon is TRUE!

  193. In my neighbourhood we call this a good “Bitch fight” 🙂

    RE: “Besides, Columbus did not land in the United States”, off course, he found the real “America” not the USofA, plus his name was Christoffa Corombo, or Cristobal Colon his legal name, why change it?

    But seriously Olsen is a bit confused, he’s got Florida mixed up with the Malay peninsula! you see the democratic Miami was Zarahemla and the crazy Georgia/Alabama, the Jaredits who fought themselves…………….

    Hey, this could be “Carlos’s Theory of limited geography” … Florida!! and the short neck, it was simply flooded that year 🙂

  194. Post
  195. Well, scholarly treatment of this issue would certainly require a Wikipedia entry!

    As: #7 The Florida Theory

    And: “The noted Mormon Matters scholar Carlitos discovered in April 2009 that Florida was the actual place of residence of Nephi …..” etc.

    Manuscript? how much u paying?

  196. Post
  197. “I’m sure they assumed that you had read the Mala theory. The proof you gave them worked for both theories.”

    Uh, no it didn’t. This source from whence they sprang nonsense doesnt work for Malasia at all. That is Jerusalem, and cannot be read for Malaysia rationally. Show me the DNA. Oh wait. thats right. Rod Meldrum already tried that one, and FAIR ripped that one apart.

  198. Ed.
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain this AGAIN.

    According to BOTH theories (MALA and MESO) the groups left from the Jerusalem area. If MesoAmerica was the destination, Lehi (wealthy man) could have purchased a ship near Jerusalem and taken a far shorter and more feasible voyage to America via the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Instead, the Lehites walked south and east. Lehi could either use his money or lose it. If the book is supposed to be about the the area they came from along the way to America… it didn’t talk about Jerusalem hardly at all… but it does talk about a Land of Promise (Malay). One of the many Lands of Promise that they were to be spread to (early saints named multiple places Land of Promise also) Joseph only translated a third of the plates. Perhaps they get to America in the next part. When Moroni told Joseph that the plates talk of the history of the inhabitants of this continent and the source from whence they sprang, I don’t think he knew that Joseph wasn’t going to get to translate the whole thing.

    The Lehites trudged laboriously through the deserts of Arabia for eight years (1 Ne 17:4). The trek was dangerous (e.g from marauders), stressful, exhausting and highly aggravating to some, particularly Laman and Lemuel. Wouldn’t an Atlantic voyage have been stressful enough and far less divisive? Then every step of the tortuous way through Arabia took them farther from America and closer to the Malay Peninsula. The account specifically states that they journeyed TOWARDS the Land of Promise (1 Ne 5:22).

    The Jaredites walked to Nimrod at the source of the Tigris River (Eth 2:1). They built heavy log barges for floating the river. On the river they ‘did cross many waters.’ (Eth 2:6), including a large lake (look at Bible map of the Middle East). They came to the great sea which divided the land (Persian Gulf?) (Eth 2:13). So they too traveled south and east away from America and toward the Malay Peninsula.

    South of Asia there is an ocean which extends from Arabia to the Malay Peninsula. Joseph Smith is quoted as saying, “Lehi went down to the Red Sea to the great southern ocean and crossed over to this land. (the Land of Promise. He doesn’t mention a country name) Coupled ocean currents (gyres) extend along the southern coast of Asia as far east as the Malay Peninsula (Encyclopedia Britannica (1998), Vol. 20, p. 180). The gyres are wind driven and change direction in accord with seasonal winds. The Jaredite barges were sometimes submerged (Eth 6:7) so they could have had no sails. As their only means of propulsion, other than rowing, they could have drifted to the Malay Peninsula –but not from there eastward across the Pacific: there are NO suitable currents in the Pacific.

    In order for eight Jaredite barges to avoid becoming separated and lost, they would have had to go ashore each night. Frequent landings would also have been required to obtain requisite food, feed, and potable water. A continuous coast line extends from southern Arabia to the Malay Peninsula but not to America. Can you imagine how they could take enough water in gourds for themselves and animals clear across the Pacific? I can’t either.

    An account by Coon provides information about the abilities of experienced sailors under the best of conditions during Book of Mormon times (Coon, C.S. (1984) The Story of Man. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., p. 258). Ships in the Aegean Sea in about 700 B.C. sailed close to shore. They navigated by landfalls (hence had very limited navigational skills). They hugged the coast and beached their boats each night. To sail across the Aegean Sea (150 miles or less) was considered to be a ‘great feat!’ It was attempted only in the finest summer weather. Steering was done with an oar. For comparison, the Jaredite voyage may have occurred as early as 3,000 B.C.. And the Lehite voyage about 600 B.C.. As landlubbers, they probably had even less navigational skill. With livestock and families aboard they would have been required to go ashore frequently for supplies.

    The gyres of the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal are wind-driven and average about one mile per hour (Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 180). The distance from the Persian Gulf to the Malay Peninsula is about 4,000 miles. Taking into account the time lost in going ashore and back each night, the Jaredites would have been very fortunate (no delays, e.g.) to go as far as the Malay Peninsula in their reported 344 day voyage (Eth 6:11).

    The Lehites built a boat on the southern coast of Arabia. They had no prior experience. They loaded it with animals and with families. They sailed to the land of promise in “many days” (not weeks or months) (1 Ne 18:23). They reported having had no problems at all (other than one storm). They had no navigational expertise at all and yet did not get lost. The accounts indicate a short voyage from southern Arabia, along the southern coast of Asia, to a promised land within a reasonable distance (for example: the Malay Peninsula).

    For comparison, consider the voyage of Magellan (In way more advanced times) across much of the Pacific. He had three ships which had been built by craftsmen. The crews were experienced sailors. They had no animals or family members on board to tend. They had excellent navigational skills. They ran out of food and potable water. They had fatal sicknesses. Some, including Magellan, were killed in fighting islanders. The voyage as far as the Philippines took four months (many weeks) (Encyclopedia Britannica (1995) Vol 18, p. 733). Only one of the ships was seaworthy enough to continue the voyage on past the Philippines. The two accounts (of Lehi and of Magellan) provide convincing evidence, in my opinion, that Lehi did not cross the Pacific Ocean. He apparently stopped at a land much closer to southern Arabia (i.e. the Malay Peninsula).

    In Science, experimentation is used to check rival hypotheses. Skeptics of the
    Malay Hypotheses are encouraged to try to float from the Persian Gulf to America on log barges under conditions comparable to those experienced by the Jaredites. Both intuition and evidence have a crucial role to play in the quest for truth.

    The Jaredites were to go to a ‘quarter’ where man had never been (Eth 2:5). At the time (about 3,000 B.C.), both North and South America had been inhabited for many thousands of years (at least 20,000). So America is ruled out as the initial Land of Promise. The Malay Peninsula is located on the periphery of the Pacific ‘quarter’ and Mala proposes that Book of Mormon people ‘hived off’ the peninsula to go to some of the idyllic isles of Polynesia. Many of the islands were uninhabited during Book of Mormon times. So Mala provides an appropriate setting for the crucial account.

    In traditional American hypotheses, the Amerindians are descendants of the Book of Mormon Lamanites (Intro to BofM). This is a devastating problem for advocates because the evidence of science, including DNA evidence, clearly indicates that most Amerindians are descendants of people who crossed the Bering Strait from northeast Asia (Southerton, S.G. (2004) Losing a Lost Tribe. Signature Books, SLC, UT, p. 92). Mala is quite compatible with the evidence because it proposes that only a few Book of Mormon people migrated from island to island and then finally to America.

    The Promised Land was to be kept from the knowledge of other nations (2 Ne 1:8). The great diversity of languages in America provides assurance that other ‘nations’ had been present for thousands of years. By including Polynesia in the concept of ‘Promised Land’, Mala can accomodate the scripture. Many islands had been unknown to others until after European explorers arrived after 1500 A.D.

    After enough time to do a little exploring, the Lehites realized that they had landed on a peninsula (Alma 22:32). Their Land of Promise was nearly surrounded by water and was connected by a narrow neck of land to a mainland. The Malay Peninsula provides an excellent setting. Guatemala fails. America has no suitable peninsula to match the accounts.

    The peninsula described in Alma 22:32 was clearly oriented north-south with principal lands appropriately named Land Northward and Land Southward. The Malay Peninsula matches the account very well. In Mesoamerica, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec extends east-west. It couldn’t be oriented worse.

    In order for Book of Mormon lands to fit on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec at all, Sorenson has to assume that the term ‘north’ does not really mean ‘north’. He skews directions about 60 degrees counter-clockwise. This allows him to propose that the Land of Promise extended diagonally across Tehuantepec. Yet the Lehites had a compass (1 Ne 18:12; 18:21; Alma 37:38; 37:43-45), and they knew they were going precisely south-southeast when they were travelling along the Red Seacoast (1 Ne 16:13). The Malay Hypothesis accommodates Book of Mormon directions very well.

    The gold plates were inscribed with ‘reformed Egyptian’ (glyphs?) in order to conserve space (Morm 9:32). Under divine guidance, they were translated into English for us. The Book of Mormon is claimed to be the most correct of all books (Intro. To BofM). An appealing feature of Mala is that it allows us to read the Book of Mormon literally. As indicated in Section 15, advocates of Meso propose changing the meanings of the terms (e.g. ‘north’) as a means for having their account match their preconceived notions.

    Across the mid-section of the Land Southward there was a narrow mountain range which extended from West Sea to the East Sea (Alma 22:27). The Malay Peninsula has the Cameron Highlands which match the account very well. Guatemala has no suitable strip. It’s one sea is located much more south than west and it has no east sea at all.

    The Book of Mormon describes their journey to the Land of Promise and tells of groups of people hiving off to go on to other lands of promise. The MALA theory works very well with science also because then people left there and populated the ilsands of the Pacific and finally groups landed also in America. That is why little things have been found in America in scattered locations that do not fit with MESO or the proper time. That is why DNA evidence doesn’t match in MESO. That is why animals, plants etc do not match in MESO…..etc…

    It works so perfectly, if you honestly think about it, you get goose bumps and wonder why the preconceived notion has held everyone back for so long. The only thing I can think of is that it isn’t quite the right time yet.
    Thanks for reading.

  199. Ed,

    If you’re going to comment on Malay, at least read the theory, so we don’t have to go over the same issues continually. Please. It’s really tiring that we continually have to restate the theory.

  200. As you folks don’t seem to want to let this go, I present Joseph Fielding Smith’s own rebuttal to the Malay theory. I’ve seen the arguments about not believing some of JS revelations and I understand why many have taken that view, but if we accept that some of what he said was made up, how do you determine what was real? More to the point, how does being a prophet help if the pope has as good a track record in getting God’s messages as he does? But then again, I don’t accept many of JS “revelations” either… Ok, so I guess we’re brothers after all…

    Perhaps this matter could rest at this point, but the question of the territory now embraced within the United States having been in possession of Nephites and Lamanites before the death of Mormon, carries some weight in the determining of this matter. In the light of revelation it is absurd for anyone to maintain that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess this northern land. While Zion’s camp was marching on the way to Jackson County [Missouri], near the bank of the Illinois River [in Illinois] they came to a mound containing the skeleton of a man. The history of this incident is as follows:

    “The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thickset man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or at least, in part—one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.”

    Elder Heber C. Kimball who was present recorded the following in his journal:

    “While on our way we felt anxious to know who the person was who had been killed by that arrow. It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle, in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. This caused us to rejoice much, to think that God was so mindful of us as to show these things to his servant. Brother Joseph had inquired of the Lord, and it was made known in a vision.”

    In the face of this evidence coming from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, we cannot say that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess the territory of the United States and that the Hill Cumorah is in Central America. Neither can we say that the great struggle which resulted in the destruction of the Nephites took place in Central America. If Zelph, a righteous man, was fighting under a great prophet-general in the last battles between the Nephites and Lamanites; if that great prophet-general was known from the Rocky Mountains to “the Hill Cumorah or eastern sea,” then some of those battles, and evidently the final battles did take place within the borders of what is now the United States.

    There were no righteous prophets, save the Three Nephites, after the death of Moroni, and we learn that Zelph was slain during one of these battles during the great last struggle between the Nephites and Lamanites and was buried near the Illinois River.

    In the Book of Mormon story the Lamanites were constantly crowding the Nephites back towards the north and east. If the battles in which Zelph took part were fought in the country traversed by the Zion’s Camp, then we have every reason to believe from what is written in the Book of Mormon, that the Nephites were forced farther and farther to the north and east until they found themselves in the land of Ripliancum, which both Ether and Mormon declare to us was the land of Ramah or Cumorah, a land of “many waters,” which “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.”

    This being true, what would be more natural then that Moroni, like his father Mormon, would deposit the plates in the land where the battles came to an end and the Nephites were destroyed? This Moroni says he did, and from all the evidence in the Book of Mormon, augmented by the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, these final battles took place in the territory known as the United States and in the neighborhood of the Great Lakes and hills of Western New York. And here Moroni found the resting place for the sacred instruments which had been committed to his care. (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith. Compiled by Bruce R. McConkie. 3 vols. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1954-56, p.238-240.)

  201. Thankyou for the precise quotes Doug. However Heretic and a few others have already pointed out that the biggest hurdle to the theory comes from having to re interpret many scriptures and comments that have been made over the years. However, I don’t think it is that big of a hurdle since those that advocate limited geogrpahy models have to do the same anyway. It seems we accept the fact that Joseph Smith could be wrong in regards to hemispheric model in arguing for a Mesoamerican model. It should not be that hard to argue with the same general points for another model.

    In short, many Mormons have already accepted the fact that Prophets have been wrong in geographic statements. It won’t be difficult to say they were wrong again. It will be difficult to overcome the established orthodoxy among Mormon scholars.

    On another point, why is Florida usually mentioned as a joke? Its no more “out there” than the Malay theory, the mental gymnastics required for Sorensons model (west is north, horse is tapir etc.), the shoe horned evidence for the Great Lakes model or even believing the historicity of the Book of Mormon. I am not qualified to create my own model regarding Florida but I would be willing to listen to scholars who can make a case. (unlike many people on here for the Malay theory)

    And thankyou for summarizing the thesis Voni. But my rule is: if you are too lazy to take a link, you are probably not going to contribute to the discussion anyway. It shows a closemind, one that cannot think critically, and for people who demand to have their minority views listened to (concerning the historicity of the BoM) its rather hypocritical to dismiss a geographic model as “nonsense” without even reading it first. I admit I was really skeptical at first, but after reading it and seeing the model’s strength I believe it is just as viable as the Mesoamerican models. (Maybe I am biased since I have done so much research into Asian warfare, but I think that just makes me better equiped to comment on it)

    Anyways, thanks all for your time, I wish my blog got this kind of traffic and (mostly) stimulating debate.

  202. Heretic.

    The evidence PLEASE…. You don’t even have scriptures to back up the proposition. NO DNA anythying. Stop telling me that I need to read something that I understand already. What makes you think that I don’t understand what you hare saying? Lets see, we are to number 218 now? You are spewing stuff out of thin air without the least bit of evidence to back up your idea. But you don’t even believe in it anyway, and just say its a possibility. You spew a bunch of stuff to make it look somehow possible. But that stuff isn’t evidence of your proposition. Its evidence that you just try to show that its possible that it happened. Stop trying to force the evidence to fit. The evidence doesn’t work. The scriptural evidence, coupled with imperfect archaeological data only fits the Americas.

  203. Whoops sorry. I just realized that in my momentary dyslexia, I thought I was talking to Heretic, but it is actually Voni that wrote that last thing that my reply was meant for. Sorry, but my point still stands. I guess I get so used to talking to Heretic on here.

  204. The Prophets are men. When they pray on specific topics they can receive revelation if God chooses to answer them. It may not be in the way they want to hear it. They may not understand the answer. But it is more likely that they will understand than the rest of us. That being the case, they are –most of the time– mortals like the rest of us. If they have a preconceived notion they may give opinions that do not come from God.

    When translating the Book of Mormon with the help of the Urim and Thummim, Joseph Smith had more of a chance of translating the plates correctly than any translators of scripture in the past. We have been told that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book that we have.

    To me that means I should believe the Book of Mormon more than something a man says that may or may not that day be from God. I imagine that Joseph Fielding Smith believed that all of the Americas were the Promised Land. People he believed had said that before him. They also believed what they said. But in current days Book of Mormon Scholars think that it couldn’t have happened in such a large area. If that is true, then it is very unlikely that Zelph would be wandering around in the midwestern United States. The account doesn’t match the geography.

    If you want to believe what you just sited, you need to come up with a hypothesis that fits your story.

    Joseph Smith said things that turned out to be incorrect like : ‘The American Indians are descendants of the Lamanites.’ DNA evidence clearly indicates that most American Indians are NOT descendants of the Middle Easterners.
    I think because Moroni mentioned the ‘inhabitants of this continent,’ and Joseph only got to translate one third of the plates, and didn’t know the whole story, he assumed that Moroni was talking about American Indians… when perhaps that wasn’t the correct message? When Moroni said it, he did not know that Joseph was not going to get to translate all the plates.

    Hence, Joseph Smith believed the American Indians were Lamanites (he assumed it, he was not told it in the words that are written). But DNA tell us they are not.

    Joseph Smith also said the city of Palenque in Mexico was a Nephite City, but archaeologists tell us that it wasn’t built until 600 AD (so there is no way that could fit with the MESO theory, but it could with the MALA theory) So if MALA turns out to be true Joseph could be right. If MESO turns out to be true, then Joseph was wrong.

    We don’t want the church to fall apart just because of a few things a Prophet said, as a man instead of a prophet. Brigham Young said there were men on the moon. The Prophets aren’t always perfect. I bet President Monson might exagerate when he is saying nice things to bolster the self esteem of those around him. He is a very kind, considerate, thoughtful man. Those things he says are kindness from him not from God.

  205. Here’s the problem with the argument that perhaps Joseph Smith was wrong. Read Doug G.’s quote from Joseph Fielding Smith, who was quoting History of the Church, I think (# 216). Then read the Quote from Heber C. Kimball. It’s not like the Brethren inadvertantly unearthed an ancient corpse while trying to dig a latrine, and then began speculating about the possibilities of whether “Zelph” had ties to The Book of Mormon peoples. Joseph inquired of Lord, and recieved a rather specific revelation. This revelation included the following data points;

    the mans name – Zelph
    his role in society as it relates to a specific Book of Mormon event – A warrior and a chieftan
    his nationality – a white lamanite
    the time period in which he lived – The last great struggle between the Nephites and the Lamanites
    His spiritual orientation – a man of God
    The names of his contemporaries, including their reputation – The Prophet Onandagus, known from Cummorah to the Rocky Mtns.
    His relative body size – A large, thick set man
    An apparent curse- How a thigh bone was broken from an injury many years prior
    Cause of Death – this was obvious, I will concede

    If you dismiss this revelation as wishful thinking, or whatever, you ultimately challenge Joseph Smith as a Prophet. I know I have said this before, but it does not make any sense to discredit some of Joseph Smith’s revelatons in order to try and bring legitimacy to his most prominent visions, ie The Book of Mormon. You may debate this, but when it comes to Prophets and revelation, I’m afraid that it’s a package deal. If not, then frankly a Prophet isn’t good for anything.

  206. Morgan,

    I think the problem here is Joseph Smith is not speculating on geography. He’s claiming to know by revelation about Zelph and others are bearing testimony about the experience. You know, the whole “I felt by the power of the spirit”, thing. So in espousing this theory, you’re actually doing two things. First, you’re admitting that the whole Zelph thing was just a figment of JS imagination, and second, that those who felt their “bosoms burn within them” were deceived by the same spirit we all count on to confirm faith and testimony.

    If you can make that kind of a leap (and I actually admire folks who can) your well on your way to being truly opened minded about evidence. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room in the church for heretics and non-believers…

    Best of luck with your pursuit, I actually appreciate the fact that thinking people are willing to look at the problems with the LGT and hemisphere models and try to figure out another alternative as opposed to the poor apologetics used to justify each.

    Fwiw, if you folks actually find something like a sign buried in Malay saying “Welcome to Zarahemla Population XXXX”, I’ll be the first guy in the bishop’s office next week asking for my temple recommend back! That is unless Ray gets to him first and convinces him to hold a different kind of meeting for me…

  207. “then some of those battles.. did take place within the borders of what is now the United States”

    See, even Joseph Fielding Smith agree with me! Florida’s where they first landed and then walked off from there. It’s actually viable to walk from Florida across to the Rocky Mtns. If Columbus came across the Atlantic, why not Lehi?

    So its settled then? Carlitos’ Florida theory is the only one which makes sense.

    Its Florida, only Florida, remember Florida Theory

    Now “Show me the DNA.” can’t because they all died and those Lamamites who lived on had changed their race or colour of skin so therefore miraculously changed their DNA, or evolved their DNA…All settled now children?

  208. Post


    You guys continually show that you don’t read the comments. We’ve discussed Zelph in comments 30, 99, 106, 114, 116, 118, 123, 131, 141, 162, 172, and of course your comment 216.

    We’ve discussed Joseph Smith’s understanding of geography as being a hemispheric model in 30, 57, 58, 74, 101, 106, 138, 168, 217, and of course your 223.

    Why do we keep on this merry-go-round?

  209. “Why do we keep on this merry-go-round?”

    Because this is the thread that never ends. It goes on and on my friend. Some people started commenting on it, not knowing what it was – and they’ll continue commenting forever just because this is the thread that never ends . . .

  210. Let me see if I can break ranks here for a moment. If you set aside the fact that the Malay theory completely throws modern revelation, including Joseph Smith, to the dogs, and nobody seems willing to completely embrace it, and that there is absolutely no positive evidence for it other than it makes elephants plausible, then yeah the Malay theory is pretty reasonable.

  211. MH and Ray,

    I did read the comments; I just thought it would be helpful for folks to be able to read what they so easily were dismissing. I don’t recall anyone more than just referencing the information and I think there is value in actually seeing it. You may disagree of course; my comment was mostly just quoting directly from Doctrines of Salvation. I thought it brought something to the discussion…

    Please ignore my inputs as you’ve obviously already considered my points and dismissed it. Jeezz’s take a pill man…

  212. Post

    Cowboy, here is the long promised quote from Sorenson, which could be construed as “completely throw[ing] modern revelation, including Joseph Smith, to the dogs.”

    The following quote is from the book The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book“, by John Sorenson, page 210, which talks about how to systematically evaluate BoM geography. (I will bold some parts I find particularly important.)

    “If we are to progress in this task, we must chop away and burn the conceptual underbrush that has afflicted the effort in the past. We must stop asking, as many do, what have the Brethren said about this in the past? It is clear enough (see Appendix A) that none of them knew the answer (which is what some of them have said often enough). And equally we must stop asking, what civilization known to the archaeologists must the Nephites have participated in? This is completely irrelevant at the present stage of study.

    Where we must begin is with the words of Mormon and his associates who kept the original records. From their words we must derive every scrap of meaning; I assume that their knowledge of geography was so integral and holistic that meanings are tucked into their records at a level below intention. We must sift for these. We cannot omit any of them, for crucial clues may occur in or between words or lines where we had not seen them before.

    To summarize, the following steps are necessary, in no other set of steps nor any other order for accomplishing them can solve our problem:

    1. Purge our minds as far as possible of preconceptions about where the Book of Mormon lands were.

    2. Analyze as freshly and completely as possible every geographical fact and sound inference which the texts require or make likely.

    3. Realizing that in fact we cannot completely rid ourselves of preconceptions or make inferences without some factual or logical errors, we should guard against hidden biases or errors by displaying for examination by other students as much of our mental processing as we are able. This requires writing out our work in detail; only written communication permits the careful examination by others that such work demands. (The resulting volume of writing may seem tedious to those not sufficiently motivated by the task.)

    4. Mutual criticism (again ideally in writing) is essential to reveal points where different students can agree or where they need to improve their thinking or information. This criticism need not be uncharitable, although truth must be the ultimate standard.

    5. By this repetitive process all should move toward consensus. However, the end result may be a conclusion that the text does not provide enough information, as read at this time, to come to full consensus on a single-text based model. That can only be learned by trying.

    6. So far as a single model emerges from this effort, then one-half–the prerequisite half–of the equation has been prepared. Only after this has happened can a definitive search for external correlations be carried out. Until then anything said about external geography, archaeology, linguistics or the like for any location in America can only be prejudicial to the suspension of opinion that we ought to maintain.

    Doug, your quote about Zelph is a good add to the discussion (though I felt it had been addressed already.) Sorry for my exasperation.

  213. This thread never ends because you tell somebody that you disagree and they have no foundation, and they repeat to you the same thing again as if you don’t know what they said, as if somehow that means that you are a retard and didn’t read what they said.

  214. Post
  215. #226 was an attempt at a joke, a play on a song my kids sing to drive each other nuts. I should have added a 🙂

    Sorry, Doug. It wasn’t directed at you; it was a joke. The timing was bad, so I understand why you thought what you did. It really was just a joke – and the real target, frankly, was Ed. I have a hard time with his going ballistic and calling people names whenever anyone just wants to have a civil conversation.

  216. Ed, calling us idiots is one thing. Using a term like “a retard” is HIGHLY offensive. It was used regularly decades ago, but it is a disgusting term in this day and age. I would never use it about myself or others, and, as a close relative of someone who grew up being called “a retard” by others I won’t allow that type of pejorative to be used here. Call me whatever you will for that, but I won’t allow that type of insult to stand, no matter its usage.

    Please understand.

  217. Follow-up on my comment WAY back on #96. Thanks Adam E. for the David Whitmer quote (#192). The Gadiantons in the Wasatch was a theme repeded several times in the early 1860’s Journal of Discourses Vol. 8 p. 338 (Originally printed in the Deseret News, March 20, 1861.) Heber C Kimball on the same topic is Vol. 8 pg 256-258.

    While the topic of geography has been discussed ad naseum, I think one more principle may be germane: The Law of Witnesses. When two or three prophets testify to the same point, to me the Word is established.
    When scholars begin the search by tossing out all spiritual insights (see quote in #229 for example) I become very skeptical of any conclusions reached. The answer to this question will eventually be revealed, but the answer will come by study AND BY FAITH. If we disregard the prophets and their revelations, what does it profit us to know where the Book of Mormon took place?

  218. Oh, the exact quote, to save you the trouble is:

    “There are scores of evil spirits here, spirits of the old Gadianton robbers, some of whom inhabited these mountains and used to go into the south and afflict the Nephites. There are millions of these spirits in the mountains, and they are ready to make us covetous, if they can; they are ready to lead astray every man and woman that wishes to be a Latter-day Saint.” –Brigham Young

  219. When two or three prophets testify to the same point, to me the Word is established.

    Clark, the problem with that concept is that there are MANY questions and issues where multiple prophets and apostles have disagreed with each other. In those cases, which “two or three” do you pick over the others?

    The most relevant verse, imo, says, “the voice (singular) of my servants (plural)” is the same as the Lord’s voice – not “the voice of some of my servants”. I take that to mean the united voice of the 15 living apostles – and that simple doesn’t exist (and never has) with regard to this issue.

  220. Post


    Would you like me to start listing Joseph Smith’s statements on geography? Doug’s comment on Zelph will suffice for the Missouri area, the Hill Cumorah in New York will suffice for the final battle, and in my original post, Joseph claimed that Lehi landed in Chile. Clearly, if we are to believe Joseph’s thinking as authoritative, then we should throw out all theories, except the Hemispheric Model. Is that what you are supporting–the Hemispheric Model?

  221. Pingback: Debunking the Spaulding Manuscript Theory — Mormon Heretic

  222. Ray, read the context carefully of my statement again, and you will see that I was saying that it is YOU people that are treating ME like [offensive word deleted] telling me that I don’t know the basics of YOUR theory that you are arguing for. I didn’t call you people [offensive word deleted]. I said you are treating ME like [offensive word deleted].

  223. Here Ray. Let me deconstruct for you my statement, and put emphasis on it so you can pay attention, AND I WILL DECONSTRUCT THE CONTEXT IN CAPTIALS FOR YOU:

    “This thread never ends because you (MEANING ME) tell somebody (MEANING YOU PEOPLE) that you disagree (MEANING THAT I DISAGREE WITH YOU) and they have no foundation (MEANING THAT I HAVE TOLD YOU THAT YOUR THEORY HAS NO FOUNDATION), and they repeat to you the same thing again as if you don’t know what they said (YOU CONTINUALLY TELL ME THAT I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR THEORY AND THAT I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS ABOUT), as if somehow that means that you are [offensive word deleted] (AS IF SOMEHOW THIS MEANS THAT YOU ARE TREATING ME LIKE [offensive word deleted] AS IF I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE MAYLAY THEORY) and didn’t read what they said (AS IF I HAVEN’T READ ANYTHING ABOUT THE MAYLAY THEORY OR ANYTHING YOU PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN AFTER OVER 200 POSTS. I DIDN’T CALL YOU PEOPLE [offensive word deleted]. I SAID YOU ARE TREATING ME LIKE [offensive word deleted], AND THAT IS WHAT I FIND OFFENSIVE).”

  224. Hey Ray, MH, email me at helaman3000@yahoo.com, and perhaps we can talk on the phone and I will prove to you by my own voice over the phone that I know the basics of the Maylay theory as far as I need to know them to be able to tell you here or over the phone with my own voice that it has no foundation, and that I don’t need to read all the way through 200 pages of nothing to know that it has no foundation. Hey, do you want to get together for lunch if you are in Utah, and I can tell that to your face? And we can discuss face to face how much I don’t know about this theory?

  225. Thanks to those who realize that the Land of Promise has not been convincingly located. Thanks to those who commented favorably about the MALAY Hypothesis. And Thanks to critics: you helped convince me that arguments against the hypothesis are few in number and not very decisive.

  226. Hey you guys, read Ed’s thing carefully, and it is absolutely clear what he was saying. He said he felt like you people were treating him like [offensive word deleted] not giving him credit enough to know what he was talking about. Ray, it wasn’t fair for you to say that Ed was calling you that pejorative. Any reasonable person can see Ed’s intent there. You didn’t read his post carefully enough. I, frankly, feel that you guys are not giving him credit enough to know that your theory is without foundation. I for one can see that the Maylay theory is without foundation. Are you going to tell me that I don’t know enough about it to in order to judge it?

  227. Post

    Can’t we all just get along?

    Really. Enough of the name calling. I get that Ed and Ray and myself are frustrated. Let’s give it a rest. In the words of Sorenson, “criticism need not be uncharitable.” I can’t understand why the word “retard” needs to be used here, no matter what the context is. It is simply inappropriate, under any context. We are not talking about psychology here.

    Ed, I ask you to just drop it. You obviously feel provoked again, and you are the one using inappropriate language. I will censor any more inappropriate comments from this point forward. “Retard” is not appropriate, no matter what you feel.

  228. Let me make this as blunt as I can put it, and then I will drop it:

    I HATE THAT WORD NO MATTER HOW IT’S USED. Period. I don’t need anyone to deconstruct my comment, since I never said Ed called me that. I fully understand EXACTLY what he meant. I simply HATE THAT WORD NO MATTER HOW IT IS USED, so I asked Ed not to use it – “no matter the context”. I even said I would not call MYSELF or others that word – since I understood PERFECTLY what he meant. I said I would not allow that word to be used – plainly and clearly.

    He ignored my request. He used it again (repeatedly), as did Aboz, despite my very sincere request not to use it – and he defended its use simply because he was not calling anyone else that word. It is a loathsome pejorative – flat-out disgusting and ugly and vile. It should die the same death as racial slurs and other reprehensible identifiers. I said I would delete it, and I have – although I left it alone in the original comment. (I left it alone in MH’s comment, since he is the author of this post and simply was repeating my request that it not be used.)

    I will ask one more time:

    PLEASE DON’T USE IT, no matter the context. It is HIGHLY offensive on its face. Period. I will delete its use in any further comments. Period.

    Now, having said that, let’s all take a breath. I know how to read; you know how to read; let’s try communicating as adults. Please.

  229. I agree with Ray.

    And I agree with MH. There is no need for any name calling no matter how one feels.

    I understood that Ray was not saying you were calling him that in the first place.

  230. The Malay theory Does have a foundation of 200+ reasons why it physically works and Meso doesn’t. Even one thing should cause one to wonder about Meso. How can you say it is without foundation? I believe it has more things right with it than any other theory. It is worth more inquiry.

  231. Its not like I swore, or started calling you people names. You people are really just something else. I mean, you really really are pieces of work.

  232. Post


    For the sake of fairness, if “one thing should cause one to wonder about Meso”, then “one thing should cause one to wonder about Malay”. Certainly no theory is without flaws.

  233. Post
  234. “Its not like I swore, or started calling you people names.”

    You are right, Ed, you did MUCH worse – and I’m not going to respond further. It’s not worth it – and if you honestly don’t understand why, there’s no point in trying to say it again.

  235. Ok Ray, I told you people that what you are defending is nonsense. Anger ensued because you are stubborn and so am I. AND??????????????????

  236. Post
  237. They are listed. See (3) in the original post. The main purpose of this post was to let people know of other, non-mainstream theories, and to emphasize one that is the least mainstream (although the African one could give the Malay theory a run for the money.)

  238. MH, I read the list before posting. 1) None of the above and 2) Historical Fiction were not listed. When trying to make a historical claim, theology will overtly trespass into scientific study. The golden rule in science is follow the evidence to a conclusion, not vice versa. Therefore without salient archeological or historical data which can withstand the scrutiny of peer reviewed criticism, items # 1 & 2 are the most probable events explaining BOM geography.

  239. JTJ,

    That might be a reasonable scientific statement, but it’s not a solid historical / sociological statement. Try finding “salient archeological or historical data” for much of what we believe is factual about the early Middle Ages – or about the life of Jesus – or about so many other things for which all we have are written records or oral traditions. “None of the above” and “Historical Fiction” aren’t always the most probable. They just aren’t.

    We make educated guesses all the time in social studies – and lots of stuff gets pursued and eventually proven for little reason other than someone believed it before there was solid evidence.

  240. MH, You are right, there are still things not figured out about Malay. There is a point that some on this blog consider to be the most glaring point of all (sources/Joseph) (which I consider a strength), yet some of the same people mentioned that Sorenson, and others, said that ‘we should not consider the opinions of the Prophets because even they have insisted that they do not know where Book of Mormon events too place. ‘

    To me (you see I am just telling you my opinion–not calling names or telling you what you should think), if various theories have various numbers of proven points, shouldn’t we look more into the ones with the most?

  241. What is wrong with 300 posts? It is a great thing for MH to have written the post with so much (the most?) interest on MormonMatters. Congratulations.

  242. JTJ,

    I’ve got a post scheduled for a few weeks from now addressing the Spaulding Theory, which will address a theory of the “fiction” category you listed. So, I urge you to check that out.

  243. Voni,

    If the comments go into another round of name calling, or re-covering Zelph, or re-covering early church leaders statements merry-go-round, I’ll personally ask Ray to shut down the comments. We really don’t need to cover those topics again, as I don’t think we’ll cover any new ground. JTJ brings up a good point to consider, which has only been emphasized by Doug, but his point is more in the realm of “authorship” rather than “geography.” As such, I don’t mind briefly answering Doug and JTJ, and I’ve already promised a new post in that direction to more fully address one of the most significant theories regarding authorship that (like the geography theories) has significant weaknesses too.

  244. I personally think that shutting it down would give us all an opportunity to cool down, and let those of us that are “stubborn” re-think about the commandment to love thy neighbor.

  245. Ray,
    Your comment only bolsters the argument for two options. Right now, you are starting with a conclusion and working backwards trying to find evidence to support the conclusion. The evidence doesn’t suggest Israelite migrations in North or South America. Is there any non-LDS scholar or historian who is even investigating literal BOM claims? I would be interested in reading it.

  246. Disqualifying a an argument based on a person is an Ad hominem fallcay. That I discuss here: http://mormonwar.blogspot.com/2009/03/ad-hominem-in-mormon-studies.html

    I have to agree with Ray. I have read scholars that dispute somebody named “Sun Tzu” ever exsisted. Yet I can find entire sections at Barnes and Noble dedicated to military theory based on his writings. Thus having doubtful historicity does not stop one from using that particular book to make a particular historical argument. Lets acknowledge their is doubt concerning the historicity of book. Given that, where did the events happen? It is an appropriate question that scholars (mormon or otherwise) are allowed to answer.

  247. JTJ,

    There are plenty of people who believe in a Big Bang, or Evolution, but evidence is less than convincing for a consensus you are trying to suggest. Even if one believes in Big Bang or Evolution, certainly there are flaws (or at least elements lacking solid evidence) to question the theories. Certainly, you’ll find argument for and against these propositions. This topic is no different.

  248. Morgan, I’m not presenting an argument based on a fallacy of authority (Ad Hominem would be an attack on your, or an authorities, character). I am asking for the existing evidence from scholars who do not have a conflicting interest. We have in essence begged the question that the BOM is historical fact, and moved onto how to interpret existing evidence in the light of a forgone conclusion. People do this with the Bible all day long and we look at them with skepticism, why can’t we apply the same logic and standards to LDS works? So the question remains, what work out there from reputable scholars provides evidence of Israelite migrations in N & S America? I genuinely would like to read it.

  249. While scholars do not always agree with one another, it is still an uphill battle that the only scholars arguing for Israelite origin of the American Indians, on any scale, are those whose religion hangs on that very fact. Some third party support for Book of Mormon claims could go a long way in lending credibility to our beliefs. In other words, I would be interested seeing if there is any good non-LDS scholarly support for our claims as well.

  250. JTJ,

    I would love for someone like William Dever to analyze the Book of Mormon. The problem is bigger than the problems with the Bible. At least with the Bible, we know that the Israel, Iraq, Turkey, etc are the basic areas of the Bible lands, while we don’t have a single fixed New World reference. Of course, the first one to find it, will greatly advance their cause.

    I really like William Dever. He states where he thinks the Bible is archaeologically sound, where it is plausible, and where it breaks down. He is more of a middle of the road scholar, disappointing both Bible skeptics and believers. It would be nice to get someone like that, but how does one get a scholar interested when so little archeological information is currently known? People have been trying to find Mt Sinai for over 1000 years, while BoM study is barely 100 years old.

  251. Frankly, I don’t think there are many objective, non-LDS scholars who care enough to try – especially since there’s not enough info in the book itself to know where to look and for what mitochondrial DNA to search. (see comment #92) Iow, while such scholars might be able to reject certain assumptions and theories, it’s going to be almost impossible to disprove the actual book – especially since primary ancestry might have had absolutely nothing to do with who survived and didn’t by the end of the book.

  252. John Sorenson has compiled a multi volume bibliography of trans oceanic contact. According to a review I found quickly there are over 5,000 citations given with 120 for Hebrew/Semitic contact. (I found it here: http://www.farmsresearch.com/publications/review/?vol=3&num=1&id=68) I don’t know how many of those are from non mormon scholars though.

    Here is a pretty good summary of Mormon’s interaction with non mormnons and “acceptance” of the Book of Mormon in scholarly circles. http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2001_Scholarship_in_Mormonism_and_Mormonism_in_Scholarship.html

    Cowboy may choke on his nachos when I say this but he is right. It does make it harder when only mormons are the one writing about it. But as heretic said, we can’t really make anybody study it. I would love for some military historians to look at it, but for now we have to be content with doing our best, and hope that we will gain more traction in the academic community.

  253. JTJ and Cowboy,

    Certainly you bring up some valid points–a non-Mormon scholar would go a long way towards adding credibility. While not directly related to this post, I will tell you I heard a presentation from a Mormon by the name of George Potter. He runs a website at http://www.nephiproject.com which is primarily interested in Old World BoM archaeology. Potter has done some impressive work in Yemen, trying to locate Nephi’s harbor. I know his work is disputed by the Aston’s, but both groups have found some good candidates for the Land Bountiful in Yemen. (Potter proposes Khor Kori, while Aston proposes Wadi Sayyaq.)

    At any rate, Potter does have some non-Mormon scholars on his team. I remember Potter telling a story of a non-Mormon, while smoking a cigar, explaining the River Laman to the others in the group. I will try to see if I can contact George so I can better document this conversation. But suffice it to say that Potter thinks he has some good candidates for Old World BoM geography matches.

    (Incidentally, Potter and Aston both have some impressive BoM geography in Arabia and Yemen. Potter supports a Chilean/Peruvian New World model–I’m not sure about Aston’s New World preferences,. But their Old World geography has much agreement. Even their proposed locations for Nephi’s harbor are located relatively close in proximity.)

  254. MH,
    There is evidence for evolution and the big bang. Good enough for evolution to be taken out of the “theory” discussion, and probably the big bang as well (Even the most regarded evangelical minds accept, and even argue for the big bang, as evidence in a deity). We can argue those merits all day long, it’s an easy topic, however, the point of my argument is that there is contrary historical and archeological evidence, and non LDS scholars are not even considering BOM ancestry claims. Therefore the most probable of BOM geography theories is none of the above or historical fiction. Once good evidence is introduced and vetted through peer review criticism, then we can consider some alternatives.

  255. Post

    Yes, JTJ, I’m not disagreeing with your points, just stating that there are still things in the theories not well understood. For example, there is no “missing link” found for evolution. I think many of the proponents fail to acknowledge or highlight weaknesses in evolution, just as geography proponents fail to recognize or highlight their weaknesses. (I don’t want to turn this into an evolution/big bang debate.)

    Anyway, I’m just curious what you think of some of the Old World evidence for BoM? Have you studied it at all?

  256. Mormon Heretic,
    Just to touch on the evolution analogy you referenced. The “missing link” argument has been thoroughly washed out in favor of evolution. There are multiple examples of undisputed transitional fossils supporting the modern synthesis theory. For a really good presentation, see Ken Millers report of his expert testimony at the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVRsWAjvQSg

    With respect to Old World evidence for the BOM, yes I have listened to several presentations, and read several articles. The hill to climb for LDS scholars is not as steep, although the evidence they present seems to be a bit anecdotal.

  257. Post


    Fair enough. I’ll have to check out the youtube link.

    To address the idea that there are no non-mormons scholars of the Book of Mormon, I want to highly recommend Morgan’s 2nd link in comment 271. While it is not directly related to BoM geography, there are some very interesting references from non-mormon scholars. There are several examples, but the comment below is one toward the top of the article.

    “In 1966 a little-known critic of the LDS Church wrote a series of inflammatory letters designed to elicit negative comments about the Book of Abraham from prominent Near Eastern scholars. In his response, William F. Albright of Johns Hopkins University expressed doubts that Joseph Smith could have learned Egyptian from any early nineteenth century sources. Explaining that he was a Protestant and hence not a believer in the Book of Mormon, he observed, “It is all the more surprising that there are two Egyptian names, Paanch [Paanchi] and Pahor(an) which appear in the Book of Mormon in close connection with a reference to the original language being ‘Reformed Egyptian.'” Puzzled at the existence of such names in a book published by Joseph Smith in 1830, Albright vaguely suggested that the young Mormon leader was some kind of “religious genius”10 and defended the honesty of Joseph Smith and the good name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have to believe that these comments reflect the fact that Albright was more than superficially acquainted with the Book of Mormon, even if he was not a believer.”

  258. Post

    Here is another quote from the article that addressed historicity of the BoM. (Thanks Morgan!!!)

    In 1981, while serving as chair of the annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures and Allied Fields, I invited Raphael Patai of Princeton University to speak at the symposium on the subject of his book The Hebrew Goddess (1968), in which he suggested that at least some Jews in ancient times believed God was married. Patai expressed surprise that Latter-day Saints should be interested in the topic, and when I explained our concepts of God and eternal marriage, he asked that I send him some materials, which I did. His presentation at the symposium was well received, and Patai later returned to Provo for other presentations.

    In some of his subsequent books, Patai drew on the Book of Mormon. For example, in The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book, a note to the story of thirteenth-century French alchemist Nicolas Flamel reads, “The idea that sacred texts were originally inscribed on metal tablets recurs in the Mormon belief that the Book of Mormon came down inscribed on gold tablets. Important documents were in fact inscribed on metal tablets and preserved in stone or marble boxes in Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc.”18 The note references an article by LDS scholar H. Curtis Wright in a book published by FARMS19 (and to which Patai and other non-LDS scholars contributed), and he thanked one of the editors of that book, John M. Lundquist, for bringing this information to his attention.

    Patai credited Lundquist for breaking the “writer’s block” that enabled him to complete his book The Children of Noah: Jewish Seafaring in Ancient Times, published by Princeton University in 1998. In the Preface, Patai wrote:

    Then, in the late 1980s, I was asked by my friend Dr. John M. Lundquist, head of the Oriental Division of the New York Public Library, to contribute a paper to the Festschrift he, together with Dr. Stephen D. Ricks of Brigham Young University, planned to publish in honor of the eightieth birthday of Hugh W. Nibley. Thinking about what would be most suitable for a collection of essays in honor of an outstanding Mormon scholar, and knowing that according to the traditions of the Mormons their ancestors [sic] sailed to America from the Land of Israel about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, I felt that a paper discussing some aspect of Jewish seafaring in ancient times would be most appropriate. So I went back to the seafaring typescript, and reworked the chapter that dealt with Rabbinic legal provisions related to seafaring. It was published in volume one of the Nibley Festschrift in 1990, and is reprinted here in a slightly changed format as Chapter 10.20

    Referring to the first sailors to leave the Mediterranean Sea and enter the Atlantic Ocean, Patai wrote:

    This daring feet of striking out into unknown waters is dwarfed by what the Mormon tradition attributes to a group of Jews who lived in the days of King Zedekiah in Jerusalem, that is, in the early sixth century BCE (the same time in which the Phocaean skippers were supposed to have sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar). According to Mormon tradition, their venture into unknown waters took place in the year 589 BCE, that is, three years before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and it was thanks to this extraordinary feat that the American continent was populated by a remnant of biblical Israel.

    In friendly response to my request, Dr. John M. Lundquist has summarized for this volume the Mormon version of the origins of the Mormons [sic] from sixty[sic]-century BCE Palestine, at which period, according to the Mormon tradition [sic], the biblical Hebrews had a highly developed seafaring trade (see Appendix).21

    The appendix by Lundquist is entitled “Biblical Seafaring and the Book of Mormon,” and the volume’s title page attributes the authorship to “Raphael Patai With Contributions by James Hornell and John M. Lundquist.” Counting references in Lundquist’s appendix, Patai’s book mentions seven books published by FARMS and Deseret Book, of which five are about the Book of Mormon.

  259. I’ll confine myself to a couple of points on Voni’s oceanography here, in the following context. We all are embedding our assumptions about testing geography in a larger assumption about HOW we expect God to act.

    JTJ seems (correct me if I’m wrong) to advocate a God-as-last-resort version of Occam’s razor in which the Divine is considered only when “rational” explanation fails. Voni is more “God is mildly involved”; God can and does get them across the Indian Ocean, but getting them across the Pacific without island hopping over centuries is too hard, even though God gives them a compass and presumably doesn’t have to guess what they need to pack in supplies to get them across. At the other extreme are those who assume Nephi could have built an aircraft carrier if he’d only had the faith of the Brother of Jared.

    The same problem occurs when we try to evaluate geographic theories in light of the “clear” text of the Book of Mormon. Clarity depends critically about assumptions about how the translation process would work and how the English words would therefore relate to BofMormon glyphs.

    Sometimes, we think we’re debating geography when we are really debating differing assumptions about how God worked (or should work). So we should try to assume the same thing about how God works in comparing the Meso and Malay models, and I’ll use the oceanography as an example.

    Let me assume the same capabilities for navigation and supply Voni uses for Malay and apply to Meso: exit from Yemen by ship, hugging the land and stopping frequently for resupply (without the Book mentioning it) travel by various groups across long spaces without it being mentioned.

    While Voni describes the overall Indian Ocean and Pacific currents correctly, there are a couple of important omissions. First, the reason sea travel in the Indian Ocean between Arabia and Asia is so easy is the monsoon, which reverses the prevailing current and permits seasonal TWO-way trade between the centers. Sea trade is much more hazardous if you can only go one-way and have to travel all the way around the Indian Ocean to get back to your starting point.

    There is another feature of the circulation that’s relevant, because the shore hugging of Voni’s argument requires that currents within the first 100 miles or so from the coast are what matters if the Nephits are going to get anywhere each day. Rotational effects of the earth produce strong boundary currents along the western shores of the ocean basins that are much faster than the general gyres. The Gulf Stream is the western boundary current for the North Atlantic, and there is a corresponding western boundary current that runs southward along the coast of Africa. It doesn’t reverse seasonally, which makes it useless for two-way travel, but — wait — God was taking Lehi on a one-way trip.

    On the other side of the tip of Africa, the currents run northward along the coast to the equator where (as Voni’s model allows) the Nephites can do a complete resupply before racing across the Atlantic on the easterlies (in this scenario that compass remains actually useful for something important when you can no longer follow the coast) to wherever God tells you to land. Then the only gap you’ve got to cross before your presence shows up in the archeological record on the Pacific Coast of MesoAmerica is basically the width of Meso — at this point a piece of cake compared to the trips to get the plates to New York in either meso or Malay.

    Again, my point here is not to argue for an Atlantic landing, it is to argue for recognizing how our assumptions about HOW God is involved in the process we’re evaluating can bias our model evaluations.

  260. Firetag, Think of it as a list of things that are most probable. Take the flood as an analogy of probability. The geologic strata provides no evidence for a global deluge, however there is historical evidence for local flood myths. Assuming a metaphysical explanation of a historical event vs. a naturalistic is the least probable of occurrences. I’m splitting hairs between “last resort” and “probability”, but you generally get the point.

    Mormon Heretic, I hope this is not the extent of outside sources 🙂

  261. Actually Morgan, I did choke, but not on my nacho’s or your compliment. I just mixed Pepsi with Vernors, and let me be the first to say, bad idea! In seriousness, thanks for the credit.

    I think the best approach for studying BoM geography is to focus on the Old World. There we at least have some form of geographic reference that is workable. If one could discover Nephi’s port, projecting their landing in the Land of Promise, wherever that may be, could actually have a legitimate scientific basis. If I wanted to try and find Zarahemla, I think I would start in Jerusalem.

  262. Firetag,

    Excellent analysis! It seems to me that Dr Olsen is open to either an Atlantic or Pacific crossing. Sorensen definitely advocates a Pacific crossing, and I’ll see if I can post something from Sorenson indicating a Pacific crossing. Sorenson also mentions the monsoons, as you did, and he also believes that Nephi stopped many times on the ocean journey for supplies, stating that it would have been too difficult to carry fresh water the entire way to Meso. (I’ll try to get Sorenson’s map–it goes right by Malay on the way to Guatemala.)

    JTJ, that was a sampling, not a full-course. It was merely to show that some non-Mormons do take the BoM more seriously than some commenters implied. I liked the quote that Joseph “was a religious genius” too.

    Cowboy, certainly the Old World geography for the BoM is of much better quality.

  263. JTJ:

    I fully understand occam’s razor and the secular arguments that “God is unnecessary”; I’m a physicist, after all.

    But we do live in a reality in which the existence of those things we call “impersonal” and those things we call “personal” are both observable facts. We have no experimental evidence as scientists that allows us to distinguish the relative mixtures of the personal or impersonal in reality — even less judge their importance in the “scheme of things”. The Enlightenment brought with it a CULTURAL mindset that placed impersonal aspects of reality as more fundamental than personal, but one can certainly imagine cultures that would have not made such a distinction. (Notice that if it is the impersonal that is vitally important, it is ironic that it apparently lets the personal decide about things like importance.) Personal aspects of reality are not external to what we observe, so Occam’s razor does not really apply. You can’t do a probability analysis on a sample of one.

    We have no basis to say what structures of life and consciousness reality has conjured up that dwarf what we can imagine. My personal belief is that we’ve only begun to plumb the wonderous discoveries awaiting us, and we will see that what we call the physical and what we call the spiritual really are “inseperably connected”.

    If that sounds unscientific, please remember that I come from a scientific discipline in which one famous practitioner is said to have chided another, “Your ideas are crazy, sir, but probably not crazy enough!”


    Please read my post again. Part of my point is that one of the largest motivations for Dr. Olsen’s theory, the difficulty of a Pacific voyage necessitating a different location for BofM events, is not answered by Malay alone. By assuming the same oceanographic and logistical capabilities Olsen assumes, and allowing even shorter travel gaps in the record, You can get the Nephites to the Pacific coast of Meso-America without ever passing Malay. Therefore, this particular motivation for the Malay theory is actually an assumption about HOW God works, not WHERE He did it.

  264. Post


    I thought you might be interested in what Sorenson has to say. I got this information from a DVD called “Journey of Faith”, and it can be found at the FAIR website. It is 1.5 hours long, and covers Old world Geography, except for the last 10-15 minutes, which talks about how Nephi traveled to the New World (which Sorenson believes is Guatemala.)

    While I understand there are many routes, as you stated, Sorenson specifically mentions Thailand and Malaysia in Nephi’s route, and also mentions the monsoons you mentioned. The other expert quoted here is Kelly DeVries, Professor of History of Technology, Loyola College in Maryland.

    Sorenson, “When they left the Arabian Peninsula, the land Bountiful, if they followed the course that later Arab sailors followed, they would have gone virtually straight east across the Indian Ocean. That required going in the season of the monsoon, when winds from the south were veering toward the Indian peninsula.”

    DeVries, “Nephi no doubt kept close to shore when he could. This was not something that was just tradition among shippers. This was used for safety and also used for resupply purposes.”

    Sorenson, “They would have come to the strait along Sri Lanka. Then you go in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean over to Thailand, and Malaysian Peninsula.”

    I also added a map of Sorenson’s route at the bottom of the Original post. Check it out.

  265. Post

    Someone mentioned that they didn’t believe that Nephi stopped the boat between the Old World and the New World. Well, Sorenson and DeVries disagree with that notion. I’d just like to quote a little more of the DVD, and finish Sorenson’s quote so that I don’t get accused of taking it out of context.

    William J Hamblin, Prof of Middle Eastern History, “The biggest problem they would have faced in the oceanic journey was probably water supply.”

    Sorenson, “Did they stop along the way? Surely. Why go without water when you can go ashore and get it, and also give the kids a run ashore on the sand. They may well have fished, of course. You’d expect them to fish on the way. Fish is a very nourishing food and a lot of water in it. They might get some water from tropical storms, but that would be unreliable.”

    Devries, “Ships did not move fast. They didn’t need to move fast. But they did need to resupply. Speed and time are modern concepts. Again, Nephi didn’t need to hurry. He wasn’t being pressured to do this. The voyage could have taken quite a long time. The distance is long, and it’s made even longer by going along the coastline, and not in a straight line. But the necessity for speed was simply not there.”

    Sorenson, “The place where the westerly winds caused by El Nino would be south of the Equator, at least mostly. Hawaii is too far north. Fiji, a possibility. New Caledonia, a good possibility, to the south of Fiji, and over to southern Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, or some of the associated islands. Those are likely.”

    Devries, “And then he has to make a jump to the New World. And that would have been the most frightening part. That’s where the bravery, and that’s where the seamanship comes in. There’s no island to seek refuge.”

    Sorenson, “I think he landed on the coast of Guatemala, possibly El Salvador, but I can’t come any closer than that.”

  266. Post

    I have one other point regarding Olsen, but he would be better to address this point than I would. Olsen has found a settlement on the island of Madagascar named Moroni. (Madagascar is just off the coast of Africa. Click the Sorenson map in the original post for the location of Madagascar.) Olsen believes Moroni may have ended up in Madagascar after the final battle. Perhaps it is likely that Moroni, or someone later, traveled around the Horn of Africa, and ended up in the East Coast of the Americas, such as New York to bury the plates. I know this is speculation, but it does follow the Atlantic route referenced by Firetag as well. Of course, he could have also followed the El Nino winds that Sorenson proposes to the Central America area.

  267. Firetag,
    Nice Ad Hominem, very subtle, however, I’m not invoking Occam’s razor for a miraculous event. My argument is not that “God is unnecessary”, nor am I arguing the definitions or measurement of personal or impersonal. What I am arguing is a miraculous or unrepeatable event has no probability, and I can list a dozen fabricated stories based on repeatable natural laws and they are all more probable than one that has no probability. They can be convoluted and complex, defying Occam’s logic, and yet they are still more probable than a miraculous event. Therefore the option which remains the most probable is not one presented in the theories above, or we have a work of historical fiction.

  268. What I am arguing is a miraculous or unrepeatable event has no probability.

    If I am reading you correctly, JTJ, you are saying that:

    The core claims of religion (all of them that deal with extra-mortal existence and/or the miraculous) are baseless and fictional. You’ve described the conflict between faith and knowledge – and dismissed faith as a valid concept. You’ve also limited the probability of everything to what WE can reproduce – which is interesting as a scientific claim, to say the least.

    Frankly, the sentence I quoted above has almost NO bearing on the probability of the account in the Book of Mormon being valid IF it had not been produced in the manner in which Joseph claimed to produce it. If he had claimed to discover the exact same record in the exact same way but had it translated by a well-known and accepted linguist who understood a language Joseph obviously did not, the discovery might be brushed aside as lucky or coincidental, but the record itself would not be considered “miraculous” or “impossible” (lacking any probability) – even if the actual civilization described could not be verified objectively. After all, such accounts are legion within the accepted canon of historical writings. There are all kinds of historical records that contain all kinds of concurrently unprovable and/or seemingly anachronistic information, for example, which, sometimes years later, are validated by subsequent discoveries.

    So, you seem to be saying nothing more than, “Since the translation process is ‘miraculous’ in nature, it simply has no probability; therefore, it is fictional in nature.”

    I understand your argument; I just don’t buy it personally, since I have many “miraculous” experiences that this reasoning would term to be “lacking probability” and “fictional”. I agree totally that it being fictional is a very real, large statistical probability; I simply disagree that it being historically accurate has no probability. My own experience with the miraculous and humanly-unrepeatable simply says otherwise.

  269. Yes, I must agree with Ray. JTJ, “no probability” is quite a statement. Perhaps you mean “infinitesimally small probability, very close to 0”, but to argue no probability is a pretty big assumption, especially if you are a scientist. Just as we agree that we could be wrong, you should be able to recognize that you could be wrong as well.

    There have been plenty of people proven wrong about a “no probability” event happening.

  270. MH,one of the amazing things I’ve encountered the longer I live is the number of things that have happened that would just not make good fiction because they appear impossible enough not to make probable fiction.

    Good point.

  271. JTJ:

    Looking back at my last post, I’ll plead not guilty to the ad hominem charge, but will cop a plea to the lesser charge of defensiveness in protecting my own scientific credentials. Sorry.

    The comment about ideas not being crazy enough is not directed at you. While something of an urban legend in the physics community, it’s a real idea that physicists working on the theoretical forefront of the deepest questions do try to keep constantly in mind. Physicists know just enough to know that reality is far different than we imagined it to be just a couple of decades ago, even if we do not yet know what will replace those models. That applies whether we talk about the cosmos at large, the structure of spacetime at the smallest scales, or the nature of our own human minds. We have a great deal yet to discover on both the scientific and theological/philosophical fronts.

    My own working theory of the miraculous assumes the nature of the Lawgiver has to be revealed through the universal operation of the Law, not through its violations. So, even if miracles exist in the sense of an exception to natural law (and not simply as a manifestation of laws we don’t yet comprehend), they must be rare to be considered miracles, and their very rarity means that they tell us less about God than the “normal” operation of the laws themselves. In other words, I don’t see it as a question of God OR natural law; I see it as a God whose very nature is orderly and lawlike — even in the expression of His personal, compassionate aspects.

    I fully expect there will eventually develop a theory that unifies the realms we normally regard as “spiritual” and “physical” in the same sense I expect a theory to eventually unify quantum mechanics, general relativity, and thermodynamics/information theory.


    Thanks for the map addition. But, you know, seeing it, I’m really going to have to consider the Atlantic crossing more seriously. That last leg of the Pacific crossing looks a lot harder (whenever made) way to get to Western Guatamala than a land crossing from the Atlantic Coast.

  272. Post


    You’re welcome. When we really think about it, how did Columbus resupply (especially water) on his voyages? I’m not aware of islands along the way in the Atlantic either.

  273. MH, Mormon Heretic & Ray,
    Gentlemen, you cannot apply a theological argument (your position) to a historical argument (my position). Miracles, by their very definition defy natural laws. Historians cannot rely upon events that defy natural laws unless they want to be laughed off the stage. Miraculous events are a theological argument. Consider Honi the circledrawer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honi_the_Circledrawer as an example. How would a historian analyze the records declaring that Honi was the cause of rainfall? Would they ascribe it to a miraculous event, which they cannot repeat or vindicate, or would they point to the hydrologic cycle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_cycle as the most probable explanation? Seriously, this is non-overlapping magisteria 101. From the National Academy of Science in 1999 “Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each.”

    PS, Ray, no more straw men, if I do a poor job explaining my position, call me on it. No need to set up a position I didn’t take and knock it down.

  274. JTJ,

    This is where I need to quote Rabbi Moses Maimonides (he lived 1135 – 1204). The following quote comes from a book titled, “DNA and Tradition: The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews“, by Rabbi Yaakov Kleiman.

    “Although writing more than 700 years ago, [Rabbi Moses] Nachmanides’ message is even more clear and relevant today. 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.

  275. MH, thanks for the quote. I appreciate the opinion, but it is, nonetheless still a quote of someone’s opinion. (not that that’s a bad thing per se, it’s just not evidence for a better argument). I think another way to illustrate the historical perspective is to reference Ehrmans approach in his debate against William Lane Craig. If you can set aside the issue being debated and look at his approach to analyzing historical accuracy, it may better illustrate my position. The video can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhT4IENSwac

  276. JTJ, I prefaced my comment by saying,

    If I am reading you correctly, JTJ, you are saying that

    You said,

    “If I do a poor job explaining my position, call me on it.”

    That’s what I tried to do. Don’t dismiss the entire thing by calling it a straw man, just because I didn’t phrase it as a question. It was meant that way – as a sincere comment about how I read your comment. If that reading is wrong, fine; explain why. If not, fine; explain why it doesn’t matter.

  277. Ray,
    Your comment
    “The core claims of religion (all of them that deal with extra-mortal existence and/or the miraculous) are baseless and fictional. You’ve described the conflict between faith and knowledge – and dismissed faith as a valid concept. You’ve also limited the probability of everything to what WE can reproduce – which is interesting as a scientific claim, to say the least.”

    My comment

    “you cannot apply a theological argument (your position) to a historical argument (my position). Miracles, by their very definition defy natural laws. Historians cannot rely upon events that defy natural laws unless they want to be laughed off the stage. Miraculous events are a theological argument.”

    Did this not clarify my position?

  278. JTJ,

    Tell you what. The issue you raise is kind of off-topic for the subject of this post. Can I offer a new post to more fully address the theology/history debate? I promise to check your youtube links and post something where the issues you raise are better addressed. I really like to listen to Ehrmann–I find his insights on the Bible are very interesting. (I keep promising topics–my Spaulding topic is set to go for Monday.) Anyway, I’ll address it as soon as I can.

    I was hoping to have this post hit 300 comments, so thanks for pushing it over the top! 🙂

  279. Pingback: Debunking the Spaulding Theory at Mormon Matters

  280. You asked foar other theories. I have one for you. I read “No Man Knows My History” and was highly disappointed tht it did not even mention what I am about to bring to your attention.

    Joseph Smith and the Iroquois

    Among the indigenous peoples of America is a story of a pale prophet who visited from the Great Lakes all the way to the South Sea Islands. One such similar story is among the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois.. they called him The Peacemaker although no description is given of him. The ancient history takes place in what is now New York State.

    This Peacemaker came to power during a time of great sorrow for the people. War was everywhere. The people were so fearful that they were afraid to leave their stockaded villages to even find food. No one could be trusted. Cannibalism was part of the Ancient cult of the Snake Priests of the Mound Builders, and these priests, because of supernatural powers, Ruled in Fear. Everyone had lost loved ones, and all hearts were on the ground in sorrow. The last Little Ice Age had also depleted the hunting grounds so that Humans were now the easiest of prey. Having been conditioned toward this by Snake Priests of the Old Ways, Cannibalism became common.

    The Peacemaker befriended a woman, The Great Peace Woman of the Antiwandarronks (Neutral Hurons). In her village, he saw something different. He saw Peace through Negotiations. He saw abundance through agriculture. The Corn Clan Yagowaneh and her women had acres of corn, beans, squash potatoes, and orchards. And they had parleyed this into a relatively stable Peace so that the Great Peace Woman had become a councilor to as many as 14 Nations.

    She became the first to accept the Peacemaker’s message of Peace and so he made women the proprietors of the Great Law.. and renamed her “Mother of Nations”. She left her homeland and village at Tonawanda, and took up residence at a place known as Ganondagan in Seneca territory.. Here she presided over the Peace, and her name Jikohnsaseh became the office for all presiding head clan mothers who followed in her footsteps. Her word was Law. The last known Jikohnsaseh was Caroline Parker, sister of the notable Ely Parker, Last Grand Sachem of the Seneca. The office has not been filled since then which was the early 1800’s.

    The Peacemakers taught Love one another, Peace, Justice, and Reason. They set up a government that greeted the European Boat People. This government had complete individual freedom while at the same time, created a society of no poor, no orphans, and no jails. It created a two part house to govern, and it used diplomacy to spread its influence. And they practiced looking forward to the Seventh Generation and the impact their today decisions would make on all future generations that would arrive. The Peacemakers taught compassion, creating condolence ceremonies for the healing of the people after great loss.

    Now in 1830, a religious phenomena started just 15 miles from the House of Peace, Ganondagan. A young man named Joseph Smith was acquainted with the Iroquois in his vicinity. He helped to forge at least three of the treaties with the Seneca Indians. Here in this friendship, Joe learned of this prophet called the Peacemaker among the Indians there, and he learned many other things from the Indians that he began to teach and share with his wife in the attic of their log home. Before long other women were coming to hear what Joe had learned. This was the beginning of the church’s Relief Society, an organization for women as Joseph shared what he had learned from the local Indians. However two of the women were married to preachers Oliver Cowdry and Martin Harris respectively. With the Religious Fervor of the times and Common Theories that the Indians were the lost tribe of Israel, before long, these teachings took hold of them and they realized a new religion if they only combined the Indian stories of the Peacemaker Prophet with the religious fervor that was going on at that time… And so they wrote a book based on the story of the Peacemaker but in similar linguistics of the Bible. Just who is the exact author is up for speculations. Supposedly Joe wrote it at 40 pages a day, a phenomenal accomplishment IF he truly had no help from others or from Spirit.

    The story of the Peacemaker is true and many of the stories in what would be come known as the Book of Mormon are similar to Haudenosaunee stories and could easily be based on the oral history of the Haudenosaunee. In 1830, the idea of the internet, and DNA had not occurred to them that their fraud could one day be discovered.

    The book they wrote had some serious fallacies but to those who know nothing about Indian ways, they would not be privy. They wrote about Indians domesticating horses, cattle, sheep and elephants, when in truth none of these animals made an appearance on this continent until the Europeans arrived. It is a total fabrication. Native Peoples did not domesticate animals. Other than lamas in the mountains of Peru, there is no record of domestic animals in the sense of Euro tradition. Native Peoples fenced in their homes, not the animals.

    There is much discussion about the Book of Mormon Geography however. Joe receives his plates from Hill Commorah, a mound in upstate NY. Supposedly, Moroni witnesses the demise of his people and so finishes up the writings before burying them in the ground for safe keeping. The assumption HAS to be made that the ending history takes place right at the present day Hill Cummorah,,,, which presents problematic scientific proof for a number of reasons including that supposedly this is where great battles ensued and much of the history is right there in Joe’s back yard. Supposedly, the civilizations wiped themselves out.

    And yet among the present day Iroquois is the legend of the Peacemaker, a man of Peace, born of a virgin.. who brought Peace to the warring nations. Could these people be the descendants of the Book of Mormon… or is the Book of Mormon a novel written by the inspiration of stories from the history of the living legacy of the Peacemaker????? Each will have to decide.

    In the Book of Mormon, women are a matter of support for the men, there being no woman of valiancy. The book is about the men with women as mere supporting actors of the tale keeping women in 18th Century appropriate custody of Male Supremacy. Even the Bible did better than this with many stories of women who are the central figures with names like Esther, Rachel, Abigail, Mary. Perhaps Joe is not totally to blame for this oversight, as undoubtedly he listened to the stories told by men, and had no chance to hear the Keepings of the Women.

    In the 1800’s all male ethnographers and anthropologists made the same mistake. And for all that was written, chauvinism kept any from asking the women for their stories, and because the Keepings are held separate, men adjusted the story to leave the Women’s Keepings out. Therefore male oriented versions became the “truth” which fit perfectly into the White Male Domination of the times… Remember that it took 150 years AFTER our Constitution was ratified for American Women to gain rights that Native Women had held since the beginning of time.

    Let’s take a look at the teachings left by the Peacemaker to the Haudenosaunee and compare. I would think they should be similar if not exact. The Native American had perfected oral history to science something they were instructed to do by the Peacemaker and told to hide up their records when the Turtle Men (Spanish) began to appear, for these Turtles would destroy their Keepings. So the history says they had records and hid them… this fits.

    Haudenosaunee had created a society where all were taken care of. Joe tried to institute their ways by commanding that the Law of Consecration was necessary to enter Heaven. This Law was for the well being of the Saints where all money and physical wealth was given to the Church so that new converts could be taken care of and the missionary effort could push forward. This Law of Consecration was based on the Teachings of the Corn Clan Mother which he saw evident in the living legacy of the Peacemakers, The Haudenosaunee.

    The Haudenosaunee are a Matriarchal Society and has been since before the Peacemaker set up the Great Laws. This matriarchal rule is set up in the Haudenosaunee Origin Stories. This Prophet recognized women as the Proprietors of the Law. Women owned the political and spiritual positions, choosing the men to lead for the people to sustain. (All leaders of the Church must be sustained.) And the women removed them if they proved unworthy. (the priesthood removes if leader is unworthy.) Women were the sole deciders on War or Peace. Only they could declare war. Only they could veto war. Women owned their own bodies. No Haudenosaunee man would think of abusing or raping a woman and often stepped between white men who were beating their women. Women ran the economics of the villages. It was women who negotiated prices for products. It was the women who negotiated proper treaties. Treaties without them are bogus. In fact, of the three Seneca Treaties Joe was a witness to, the first was signed by Caroline Parker, Head Clan Mother of the People. It was women who owned the homes. It was women who were the lineage line for children. It was women who were recognized as the most powerful healers. Women!! WOMEN!!!

    Compare that with Mormonism… Women hold no such place. Women must even wait at the veil of Heaven for a man to pull her through. If the Book of Mormon were true, should it not follow the same teachings the Peacemaker gave to the People anciently? I would think so.

    Modern day information tells us that in the time of Jesus, it was Mary Magdalene who was the leader of Christ’s Church, not Peter. And it tells us also that there were women Apostles. Where ever Jesus went Women were made equal with the men. They enjoyed a higher status than other women. It is consistent. Then the Catholic Church took women out of the equation, and all reformation followed suit with 1500 years of degradation, denial, and burning at the stake ensueing any woman foolish enough not to subjugate herself. A mentality brought from Europe. A mentality that pervaded the 19th Century even to our day, as women are abused, raped, violated, unprecedented even on Reservations.

    But there is still more:

    JS wrote of steel swords, none of which have ever been found, nor anything made of steel. They wrote of two massive battles where as many as 250,000 were killed…entire nations; first the Jaredites and then the Nephites wiped out… with no one left to bury the dead! And yet no skeletons nor even one of the 500,000 steel swords or even any evidence at all of major battles can be found on Hill Cummorah (or anywhere else in the “New World”) when battles in the Old World, even minor skirmishes have left battle marks and artifacts yet today. In fact Hill Cummorah is little more than a knoll in JS back yard, while 15 miles away where real battles were fought, Ganondagan commands a view of the valley

    They contrived a civilization that expanded hugely in just 30 years to include labors in economics that there just could not be enough people to actually function in so many job opportunities ….unless they drafted inhabitants already here into their work force. In 30 years there could not have been enough wealth or labor to build a temple the size of Solomon’s in the old world.. The logistics are totally against it.unless indigenous inhabitants joined with them.

    And they have propagated the story of the Indians being the descendants of Nephi and Laman, … descendants of Israel… New technology known as DNA testing has brought forth the information that 94% of the Indians came from the land bridge, while 6% do have other DNA but none of it from Israelites as of yet. I hear the Church is investing heavily in DNA science, and I hear they have found pockets of a different lineage. They hope someday to compare it to the DNA of Joseph of Egypt. Remember they took the body of Joseph home with them when they left Egypt. It is their hope to prove this linkage. I hear the Reformed Sanhedrin has issued a proclamation for the children of Rachel to come home. That would be Joseph and Ben. But even if DNA might some day prove Joseph’s descendants, it still would not prove the Book of Mormon. Many Jews believe in the return of the 12 tribes. They had to go somewhere. The future America could easily be one of the places.

    Add to this that the Haudenosaunee have a neumatic divise called a “Condlence Cane”. This divice records all the original founders of the Great Law, that came to gehter under one roof.. and in the center over the house of Onondaga, is a symbol that looks like a seven candle stick. Possibly a Menorah. No one seems to know or are telling if they do know what this represents.

    Joseph took a true story of the Haudenosaunee and put his own twist on it… just put “proof of Book of Mormon Archeology” into google and see all the Mormon sites trying to provide proof they can not find… Besides a lot more info than I have listed here. It is quite a situation for Mormon archeologists. They can not find one shred of proof for their Faith. Much of what they point to does NOT support the Book of Mormon if you realize that this info existed PRIOR to JS and he simple learned about it from the Native Americans that he lived among.

    Yes a Great Teacher (Messiah) came here. Yes he taught the people. Yes he left a legacy here on this continent…and yes there were light skinned (X DNA) and dark skinned people here on this continent. Both lived in the area of Joe Smith’s home but these truths do not support the Book of Mormon. The truths were here first and these truths inspired the fraud that has been perpetrated on the world.

  281. I’ve been reading a book about the ‘true’ location of Atlantis. (See http://www.atlan.org)

    The idea is that the Indonesian islands during the Ice Age were a continent because of lower sea level. There’s a pretty compelling argument that this was the location of all the traditional (Egyptian, Greek, Celtic, Hindu) understandings of the lands of the civilization destroyed by the flood, paradise lost.

    So, that gives the Malaysian location a little more ‘big picture’ relevance if adam-ondi-ahman was really there.

    But there are a lot of assumptions and holes and things. Still, worth checking out.

  282. I’d like to comment on the theory that the gold plates weighed some 200 lbs., more than Joseph Smith did. Having been in the Army and gone on several “outings” I can testify that the standard load of 80 lbs. is almost more than most people can carry on a back pack: even then it takes quite a bit of physical conditioning…it’s certainly not something they have you do your first week of training. Secondly, how could Joseph have fought of two different attackers while carrying more than his own weight? Not too likely. And didn’t his wife say that she “hefted” them while cleaning, and didn’t other family members hide them or also move them a little? Again,probably not 200 lbs. I think the answer lies in examining the plates themselves. They were about the “thickness of common tin”. Back in Joseph’s day tin was produced in a factory by rolling it out, not handmade as was Nephi’s set of plates. Having done a little blacksmithing, I can testify that making thin metal by hand is really difficult and invariably results in something that is slightly wrinkled, buckled, distorted or corrugated. While Joseph gives us a fairly good description of the size of the plates, he says nothing of the condition of each individual plate…smooth and flat, polished and shiny, or slightly wrinkled? When stacking such distorted plates together, the high points on each plate establishes the spacing between them. It would take very little distortion on each plate to make something that would make quite a lot of space between them. While they would still be heavy, there could easily have been fewer plates than most people estimate. And fewer plates fitting into Joseph’s dimensions would still be heavy, but a lot less that 200 lbs, more likely 50 or 60 lbs. That would be something that Emma could heft, and that could still be carried while struggling with someone. And as far as Moroni carrying them to New York, he certainly couldn’t need something wheeled to carry a 50-60 lb load. As any member of the military knows, it is possible to carry that much on a backpack, or for that matter on a travois.

  283. Mormon Heretic

    yes, there is cement and even concrete in Mesoamerica…check out a book called Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas by Von Hagen. He quotes the Spanish soldiers as being amazed at the great cement cities, the roads. etc. I remember reading several books some 40 years ago on BoM archeology, and there are literally 100’s of findings that indicate that the Americas would seem to fit the geography of the BoM. By the way, is there a great road system and cement buildings in Malaysia?

  284. I didn’t realize this was getting hits again. Neawesee, you’ve gone into great detail about the Iroquois. I was introduced to this idea by BOMC. While he believes that the Book of Mormon took place in the Great Lakes area, he knows that the Iroquois weren’t there until 1000 AD, which is too late for the BoM time period. Obviously, the Iroquois are not a match, and the DNA evidence is lacking anyway.

    theGregory, I’ll have to check out the book. Are you sure the cement dates to the BoM period? Even if cement was found, it has to be properly dated. Just as the Iroquois date to the wrong time period, I am wondering about this cement. If it dates to the proper time period, then that is a wonderful thing for proponents of Meso.

  285. Neawesee

    well of course no skeletons were found. I lived in Tombstone, Az while stationed at Ft. Huachuca in the Army, and have seen bones disappear in just a few weeks. I now live in SW Utah and have watched entire cow skeletons fall apart in just three or four years, what with the mice, squirrels, and coyotes working on them. I’ve also butchered deer one year, leaving bones,etc. and found absolutely nothing there the next year. And all these examples are in areas of very little rain. Imagine how long it would take for bodies to disappear in an area of more rain and wildlife than the US Southwest!

    And steel? In a wet environment? Have you looked at our steel bridges almost anywhere in the US? Even here in southern Utah, they are starting to go already after being around not even 50 years! I can tell you’ve probably never done any blacksmithing, have you? It’s a constant struggle to keep steel from reverting back to it’s natural form…iron dust. And while Nephi says he made steel swords for his people, I don’t remember anything that says they were in common use for everyone a thousand years later. So what’s the big deal about not finding steel anywhere in central or south America.

    And why would the plates have to be buried near where the final battles took place? 35 years is a long time to get anywhere, as has been mentioned above.

  286. Boy, Heretic, Steve Marsh was right: You DO generate comments! 😉

    If I may, I am the guy who postulated a Florida setting on the FAIR Blog: http://www.fairblog.org/2009/03/31/a-look-at-meldrums-revised-dvda-look-at-meldrums-revised-dvd/


    While the Florida theory isn’t a joke, neither is it a full-blown, serious theory (I am not an advocate at this time). Rather, it was a “run it up the flagpole and see who salutes” kind of thing. I must admit, though, the more I look at it, the more a Florida setting seems apt.

    What I did was to take the geographic texts in the Book of Mormon, and look to where they might apply. For one thing, having grown up in the Great Lakes region, I can tell you that there are several problems: 1. It lacks a northward-flowing river, 2. There is no “Land Southward” that is “nearly surrounded by water”–to me, the Mississippi (or Wabash), Ohio, and Susquehannah Rivers simply do not qualify as “seas,” and 3. The climate is WAY too cold. We are told in the Book of Mormon that the Lamanites wore loincloths during the first month of the year–the same month that Jesus Christ was crucified. That would be late March to early April. While high temperatures average in the 80’s in July, NOAA also tells us that the last freeze in northern Indiana (Meldrum’s narrow neck) is in the middle of May. See http://cdo.ncdc.noaa.gov/climatenormals/clim60/states/Clim_IN_01.pdf. Moreover, average highs and lows for South Bend during that period is 47 and 28, respectively, for March, and 59 and 38, respectively, for April. See http://www.crh.noaa.gov/iwx/CLI/SBN/normals/normssbn.php.

    Of all the developed theoretical settings, Mesoamerica seems best, but it, too has problems–namely the lack of an acceptable “Land Southward”–depending on how tightly the phrase “nearly surrounded by water” is defined.

    As for the Maylay peninsula, the narrow neck is right, the peninsula is right, and the climate is right. However, I am unaware of any northward-flowing river, and I have similar problems that Ed Gobel and others have regarding Moroni building a sea-worthy ship (while evading Lamanites!) and travelling to the northeastern USA. I can imagine Lehi and family doing it–especially since they were isolated in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula, but for one man–on the run–well, that is a harder sell. 😉

  287. Post

    Steve, thanks for stopping by. I think your first link is broken. If I’m not mistaken, it should be http://www.fairblog.org/2009/03/31/a-look-at-meldrums-revised-dvd/

    I’ve always said that my biggest problem with the Malay theory is “how did the plates get to NY?” We’ve batted some ideas around here, and I agree that none of them are very scientific. It seems to me that while we read the BoM and assume Lehi and family had no help, but the FAIR DVD, “Journey of Faith” discounts that idea pretty heavily. Potter also makes the claim that Khor Rhori is an ancient shipbuilding harbor, and that Nephi may have received help and guidance for shipbuilding from the locals there. So, I think a reasonable case could be made that Moroni wasn’t entirely alone in his travels.

    Has anyone at FAIR done a review of the Malay Theory? I’d be really interested to read it.

  288. Hi Heretic!

    I don’t know of any reviews by FAIR. Perhaps you can develop it more thoroughly.

    Frankly, the only reason we got involved in possible Book of Mormon geographies is because Rod Meldrum had blurred pseudo-revelation with pseudo-scholarship in an attempt to undermine REAL revelation and scholarship.

    My own contribution was comparing and contrasting Rod Meldrum’s approach with that of Theodore Brandley–who is “playing by the rules.”

    I’m not sure that we’ll ever find out definitive Book of Mormon geography, but if we do, I suspect that it will be NOT QUITE what everyone suspects! 😉

  289. Thanks Steve. I know Olsen has submitted his review to FARMS and been given the run-around. I am curious about it. I agree about that Meldrum “had blurred pseudo-revelation with pseudo-scholarship in an attempt to undermine REAL revelation and scholarship.” I was intrigued when I first learned of his theory, but not so much when I went to his latest meeting.

    Do you know anyone at FARMS who might be willing to look at Malay? I’ve studied it more than most, but I don’t consider myself a scholar of this sort of information.

  290. Post
  291. The most unconventional geography plan has been published since 1986 and you have never covered it. It is the only book which relies soley upon prophetic statements and only the Book of Mormon. It is the definitive version, the only one without numerous discrepancies and not in diametric opposition to prophetic statements.

  292. Ralph has been trying to get someone at FARMS to review his theory since he first sent his book to them in ’94 or ’95. He didn’t say much about his theory at first to give the church time to check it out. He didn’t want someone to go over there & find gold plates and make them “disappear.” Don’t you think that it is strange that no one at FARMS has said anything about the theory in 15 years?! All the other theories have had them jump into the picture and point out their flaws. Perhaps that is proof that the Malay theory has no flaws. Read and study it for yourself and you will see that everything matches. Just because Joseph was of the opinion that Moroni said that it happened in America (remember he was a teenager) (and conveniently missed the “AND THE SOURCE FROM WHENCE THEY SPRANG”) (and remember that other things Joseph Smith said about BofM locations was discovered to be wrong)doesn’t mean it was. Perhaps he was meant to misinterpret what was said by Moroni so that the rest of the plates won’t be found before the Lord’s time. Perhaps that helps PROVE that there is a God and that Joseph Smith is a Prophet! If Joseph assumed Moroni meant America (remember he thought “All of America”) or if he was making it all up pertaining to America… then why does everything match Malaysia so well? If he was making it up, he wouldn’t have made distances ot mountains or rivers or town names etc… match Malaysia. That proves he is a Prophet because he was translating something, as written, not making it up.

  293. Greetings from a Malagasy (Madagascar) LDS! I’m sure many of you who defend the Mesoamerican theory live in America… but for us not American, and even before being aware of the Malay hypothesis, we thought that the Lehites settling in America didn’t quite make sense (I’m a scientist). Many inconsistencies… How I stumbled on this Malay theory was after a trip to Greece and pondering about the remark of Paul on circumcision. Then thinking that in Madagascar, all males are being circumcised…. even those of Malay origin (other races that blended over the centuries are Malays, Arabs, Abyssinians and African Bantus). Now Question… Are Malagasy (those from Madagascar) of semitic origin for practicing the circumcision like the Jews? Does it come from the Malays? Do Malays have semitic origin? And of course the island Comoros, which capital is Moroni is just too striking a coicidence… 
    For many of us in the Old World, the Malay theory really hits Home! 

  294. Joseph Smith- History 1:34 “He 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. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;”

    I hope this helps in clearing up the confusion on this matter. It should be settled once and for all that the Book of Mormon took place in Ancient America.

  295. In Kelantan we have Kampung Banggol Judah. Banggol means something like Hill. Judah? I don’t know. Judah refer to Jeddah of Saudi Arabia or something else. In old manuscript of Ibn Battuta there he did mention this Banggol Judah. Here In Kelantan the sultan carry ‘Petra’ instead of ‘Putra’at the end of the name. ‘Petra’ sounds a very old thing that relate to something as old as ‘Petra’ in Jordan. Other sultans in other state don’t use ‘Petra’.

    I am just 34 and I still searching for the answer. We have here Pantai Sabak. I remember the word Sabak that state in Qur’an the story of Balqis from Kingdom of Sabak and King Solomon.

    Hmmm…ways to go….

    Ok. This is an interesting website by Ralph Olsen. By the way I am also a chemistry graduate.

  296. i am Malay…..i could not believe how malay had same genetic with jews….anything you say….we are not jews…..because we are Malay….n…im proud to be Malay…Malay will ruled the world

  297. Im Malay….i doesnt think that malay is the jews or lost tribes that everyone discussing it…malay is came from peninsula from early…we have came from malay peninsula not mediterranean or from europe…just that n i hope everyone in here to respect malay people

  298. I found this thread to be fascinating. Keep an eye out for the forthcoming book, The North America Model for the Book of Mormon, From Jerusalem to Cumorah. As indicated in the book and in the lectures noted in the website, it it time to unravel the geography of the Book of Mormon that has been hidden in plain sight since 1830.

  299. well, this is really interesting,ironically Malay hates Israel so much and here come ridiculous theory that Malay are their lost tribe.I beg to differ!I would like to request DNA test if mine (malay blood) have Caucasian in it.

    1. The Malay geography has been updated to include the genetic and linguistic research around Oppenheimer’s Sundaland theory. There is strong linguistic and genetic evidence that the remnant of the Lamanites went from east to west, following the migratory patterns already established by linguists and geneticists. The linguistic/genetic division between the Austronesians and the Austroasians is right at the point Ralph Olsen identified as the border between the Lamanites and the Nephites. You can see this here:


      This could also be the Biblical line of division (Genesis 10) following the flooding of Sunda, where the sons of Eber (Hebrew) were divided. Peleg (Western Hebrews) went west to babylon and Joktan (Eastern Hebrews) went east to the hills of Asia, disappearing from the record.

      The Book of Ether is the record of the sons of Joktan, Jared (Jareh) and Moriancumer (Ophir). The first kingdom in Southeast Asia was founded by a foreign merchant who was given a “divine bow” and told by God to board a ship to the land. He became the first Khemara King of Funan, which eventually became known as Zhenla.

      Spencer Kimball acknowledged that the Austronesian inhabitants of the isles of the sea were Lamanites. Orson Pratt extended this to the islands of the Indian Ocean. Josephus identified the lands of Ophir (Jared’s brother) as the Aurea Chersonese (Golden Island) which has been known historically as the Malay Peninsula.

  300. All of these ideas are speculation. Seeing as how there’s no definitive physical evidence, all theories are as unlikely as all other theories. Perhaps the prophet could provide THE answer and put this to rest , so that saints may worship at holy places, and not hopeful places.

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