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Authority: Beginnings to 1920


 

Alan C. Miner

February 8, 2005

 

 

A Chronology of LDS Thought on Book of Mormon Geography of the New World

 

 Statements by Church Authorities

 

1921 -----> 1980

 

 

Copyright 2003 by Alan C. Miner. All rights reserved

 

 

Significant Books, "Articles," & Events

[Significant Theoretical or Illustrated Models, or Illustrations Related to Book of Mormon Geography]

Notes*

 

 

YEAR1            PERSON                  PRIMARY SOURCE2

 

 

 

Note 1: The mark ^ after the year is purely a research tool indicating that a copy of the article or book is on file in the author's personal library.

 

Note 2: The year (listed on the left) for the event or quote is not always the same as the date of the primary source (listed on the right) from which the information was taken. If the source information (the later publication of the information) was significant, in and of itself, to the later time period in which it came forth, there will also be a separate listing for that later year. When appropriate, additional sources will be listed.

 

 

1921      Willard Young            "Notes on Geographical References in the Book of Mormon", n.d. (post-1920)

                       LDS Church Historical Dept., MS 5094 4.

 

     Note* This is a typescript from an item from the Church Historical Department (MS 5094 4). The title is, "Notes on Book of Mormon geography" [n.d.]. At the top of page 1 we find, "Note in the corner says @(Locations made on Map of Honduras of 1854 by E. G. Squier.)" Also on the lower half of page 1 we find "Ms. p. 2" implying that this was copied from another manuscript. On the last page there is a note which reads, "There is no trace of a date on this material, but obviously it is post 1920 for he refers to that edition."

     This is a valuable document because it represents the only known details of Willard Young's Book of Mormon geography, which in itself represented the first LDS attempt at a Limited Mesoamerican perspective.

 

     The notes are as follows:

     The sea mentioned on page 39 (of 1920 edition), v. 8, is located in the preceding pp. of the Book.

     P. 40, v. 23, 25. Bay of Fonseca is 13 deg. no. and 87-88 deg. west. Nephi and some of his brothers went north to the Goascoran River. Lehi died in the Gulf Region. Nephi et al followed up the river over the divide and made settlements on the lands just north of the river. Names of some of these settlements are the same as they are in the BM.

     Almost immed. Laman followed. The name "Tamble" on map corresponds with Samuel in the BM and "Lamani" for Laman. Here they built temples. The ruins are there now, in the city of Nephi, near the Hill Congoca. The City of Tegreciagalpa (sic) is present capital.--inhabited by the Lamanites-

     Land of Manti is the valley of the Sulaco River The land of Nephi is in the upper Humuya R. valley. City of Nephi was the first settlement after they crossed the divide in the head waters of the Humuya, then they went north.

     The whole story of the Book of Mormon is in the area of 91/2 deg. west of Washington to 12 deg. west of Washington, and from 13 deg. to 16 deg. north. A number of references are made to a valley with a lake in the center. This lake is Yojoa Taulebe. At the death of the Savior there were three days of darkness with great commotion, many cities buried in the water. There is only one city mentioned in the Book of M. that was buried in the water, but this lake was made at that time--slide came off mountain forming a dam which caused the River Blanco to rise. Three cities were covered with water and one city on the northern coast of Lean (sic) where many cities were buried in earth.

     The land of Jershon on the BM is not on any map but this land north of the Congrehoy Mtns in the headwaters of the streams that run north into the ocean on the coast of Lean is the land of Jershon. It is from 100 to 110 west and from 150 to 160 north. The Yojoa Taulebe Lake valley is the land of Jerusalem. The River Culamapa is referred to in the BM as: (blank)

     The River Sidon in the BM corresponds to the River Ulua on the map. Zarahemla in the BM is the land of Sula on the map. The River Chamelicon is just east of a mtn range which is the one in the BM reserved for hunting, so that the line between the land northward and the l. southward is a little west of the mountains. Everything on the north and west belongs to the Jaredites. The line of travel from the lands southward to the lands northward follows right along the ocean. The land northward belongs to the Jaredites and the land southward to the people of Lehi.

     The early Nephite lands were in the SW quarter of 100 to 110 west and 140 to 150 north. It seems that the Lamanites got over there as much as the others did. The main civilization (implied, of the Nephites) followed up and down the River Humuya and branched out on either side. At no time after they crossed the divide did they come back onto the southern drainage leading into the Pac. Ocean.

 

   Ms. p. 2:

 

     The beasts referred to on p. 40, v. 25, were brought over by the Jaredites.

     P. 150, v. 8. The land which was covered with bones of men and beasts is the land north in the vicinity of Chiquimula, or the Hill Cumorah, in the upper part of the Motagua River.

     P. 179, v. 19. Helam corresponds to Ylama near the River Blanco.

     The land of Gideon mentioned on p. 199, v. 20, is the Culamapa River land.

     The River Sidon on p. 200, v. 27, is the River Humuya.

     P. 253, v. 27. East of the mouth of the River Sidon is called the sea east and west of this river is the sea west.

     The land Bountiful referred to on p. 254, v. 29, is located on the map as being the land immed. west of the River Chamelicon, including the lower valley of the Motagua.

     The city of Zarahemla is near the junction of the rivers Blanco, Humuya and Santiago. All the land north of that to the Bay of Honduras and east of the mountains, from 110 to 100 latitude and 15-60 long. is the land of Zarahemla.

     P. 277, v. 4. The Hill Onidah is in the vicinity of Coma Agua on the map.

     Lehi landed in the Bay of Fonseca and his son Nephi soon went north up the R. Goascoran. In the BM. after mentioning the place of landing there is not any reference whatever to a single descendant of Lehi going south of the summit between the Atlantic Ocean of the Bay of Hond. to the Pacific Ocean.

     P. 322, v. 13. The city of Moroni was buried in the ocean at the time of the death of the Savior. It was near the outlet of the River Lean on the Bay of Honduras.

     P. 327, v. 2, the city Mulek is west of the mouth of the River Chamelicon.

 

  Ms. page 3.

 

     P. 328, v. 9. The narrow pass is a little west of 110 long. and a little south of 160 latitude on the seashore.

     P. 358, v. 5. Hagoth, taking his course northward, went into the Gulf of Honduras near the mouth of the Ulua. then northward sailing between the northeast corner of Ukatan (sic) and the Island of Cuba, and landing in Florida, probably Pensacola harbor. After landing, he and his party gradually spread northward, some going up the Atlantic coast, east of the Alleghany Mnts but most going up the great valley of the Mississippi. It is probable that the descendants of these people were the mound builders of the Mississippi River.

     The Zicaue Indians are the Nephite Indians. The Poyas Indians are named for Pahoran in the Book of Mormon.

 

  Ms. page 4:

 

     Vapor of darkness at time of crucifixion, reference to the volcanos of fire and water near Guatemala. The prevailing winds would blow it in this direction.

     P. 421, v. 1. "round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful;" This is in Queriqua (sic). There are temples there now. It is one of the greatest places in Cen. Amer. In the land Bountiful. There are other ruins down the valley which it might be.

     P. 462, v. 17. Jashon city. This city is Jacinto on the map.

     P. 463, v. 20. Shem in land northward is the land of Chiquimula.

     Teancum is Tenedores on the map.

     City Jordan is Qualan on the map.

     Land of Cumorah is Chiquimula. The land of many waters, rivers, and fountains, See map of Guatemala. Notice all the water in the land of Chiquimula.

 

  Ms. page 5:

 

     Book of Ether. P. 490, v. 23. In reign of Shule there came prophets among the people. There are some ruins in Querigua of a fine building, possibly a school for the training of prophets. They would go south and west from the school to get up to this land, up river. Later on there were many such schools established.

     Akish. Place on the map called Achiote for Akish.

     Hill Shim is about seven miles from the city of Chiquimula.

     Ablom is Boom on the map.

     P. 495, v. 23. "and did build many mighty cities," one of these is Palenque.

     P. 495, v. 26. "And the people had spread again over all the face of the land." This means all the face of the land where they have been, in lower Mexico.

     P. 495, v. 31. "towards the land southward," Embraces the great plain of Sula in the lower portion of the River Ulua.

     P. 496, v. 35. fruit in the north countries. This is Chiquimula valley.

     P. 496, v. 6. "And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne" Refers to ruins at Copan, about 15 or 20 miles away, where the brother of Jared lived and died.

     P. 496, v. 8. "his descendants were driven out of the land." Down into what is now San Salvador, and they have remained there every since.

     P. 497, v. 20. great city by the narrow neck of land. This is the Bay of Amatique. The narrow neck of land is that peninsula called Cape Three Points.

     v. 21. whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants. This is the valley of the Motagua.

 

  Ms P. "2" (actually 6: Maybe 2 on Jaredites)

 

     498, v. 23. Cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore. This at Copan. These people are the Mayas.

     Etc. land of Corihor. This is Quirigua. Waters of Ripliancum = River Motagua. "The Jaredites are the Nahuas who built the city of Mixico." (sic) They were there at the time the Nephites were, but never met. We have in the Church quite generally a notion that all the Indians of North and South America are descendants of Lehi. We call them all the Lamanties. Now I want to give you what my idea of the Lamanites is.

     See Alma, Chapter 63, v. 4-6. These people are the forefathers of the American Indians, including those in Canada, United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America. We have a habit of talking of them as though they were all descendants of Lehi, and they are not. These people that are now in Central America are the descendants of jared. They are Jaredites. all of these Nahuas are Jaredites. All of these Mayas are jaredites. The people that are of Israel are these people shown on the Linguistic Map. The people described as Lamanites and Nephites in the Book of Mormon are undoubtedly of the House of Israel. The people that we call Mayas in Yucatan and Central America and Mexico and those that we call Nahuas in these same countries are all descendants of Jared.

     What are the people in the United States? What is their descent? Of whom did they come? What are the people in South America? Of whom did they come? Are they Jaredites or of the House of Israel? They sailed out of the Bay of Amatique, or Honduras Bay, and took their course northward. It does not say where they landed or what became of them.

     If they went northward they would land in the upper part of Florida, or perhaps in Alabama. I assume that Jared made several trips. There was a civilization which has many things resembling the things we have been studying, known as the Mound Builders. It is not likely that the people who went northward would land anywhere in Mexico. They might get over into Texas and from there could get as far west as Colorado and Utah.

     Can you tell me how any of these Mayas would get into this country? These people in Mexico, Arizona, southern California? Almost surely the Indians in the middle states are Lamanites. There are many Mayan names in Cuba. Several of these names are similar to the names of Yucatan. What are the people in Coasta Rica? They are called Chimcham. It is a mixture of Indian tribes. There is no Mayan or Nahua blood. All Lamanites. So into South America.

 

 

Appends a chart (profile) of civilization from Spinden.

 

(There is no trace of a date on this material, but obviously it is post 1920 for he refers to that edition.)

 

     Note* What I would like to stress here (as is noted in the lengthy quote of the article below) is that as far as I can tell, Willard Young was not considered some "radical" Mormon, or "prodigal" son. On the contrary, "As the first native Utahn to become an important officer in the Army, and the first to attain national eminence as an engineer and educator, Colonel Young helped to establish the heritage of achievement, of broad and helpful service, and of honor and faithfulness that Latter-day Saints seek to emulate." His influence in the study of Book of Mormon geography was definitely felt. Leonard Arrington writes:

     A common object of humor among visitors to Mormon Country in the nineteenth century was the large number of children. Many travellers' accounts contain a version of the story of Brigham Young's encounter with a ragged street urchin:

     "Who's child are you, Sonny?"

     "I'm Brigham Young's little boy. Please sir, do you know where I can find him?"

 

     In her portrait of her father, Susa Young Gates denies this view, stating that he relationship of Brigham Young to each of his fifty-six children was both intimate and affectionate. This, despite his heavy responsibilities in connection with the political, economic, and religious affairs of the Church and territory. A study of the correspondence of Brigham Young with one of his children, Willard Young, confirms this view, and reveals, in addition, that the President was not only a master colonizer, but also a master letter writer. The career of Willard Young also demonstrates the potential leadership among the young people reared in the Church in Utah Territory in the last half of the nineteenth century.

     Willard Young was born in Salt Lake City on April 30, 1852. He was the third child (and only son) of Clarissa Ross Young, and the thirtieth child of Brigham Young. His mother died when he was but six years of age, so he was reared by his "aunties" in the large Brigham Young household in the Lion House. . . . Willard . . . was "the best scholar and strongest boy" at the Deseret University (forerunner of the University of Utah) in Salt Lake City. When word was received from the Secretary of War in May, 1871, that a vacancy existed at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and that William H. Hooper, Utah's delegate to Congress, had the privilege of naming a candidate, President John R. Park of the university suggested Willard. . . . Already an elder, having been ordained at he age of sixteen, Willard was set apart under the hands of the First Presidency to go to West Point, with [a] blessing. . . . As the first native Utahn to enter West Point, he attracted nation-wide attention. This was particularly true because his father was an almost mythical symbol of qualities both good and bad. . . . For the four years, out of forty-three students . . . he was fourth in his class. Upon graduation he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers--one of four in his class receiving this appointment. While at West Point he courted and married Harriet Hooper, daughter of the Congressional Delegate who had appointed him to the Academy. Harriet is described as having been "really beautiful, graceful, and cultured, as measured by the highest standards of New England's social '400.'"

 

     According to the article, Willard fulfilled numerous engineering assignments, which took him to many places, but in particular, to Panama and to Niagara Falls. Thus he would have become acquainted with the culture and terrain of both Central America and Western New York. He was asked by the First Presidency in 1891 to become the first principal of the Brigham Young Academy in Salt Lake City, which he accepted. In 1906, after a stint in the Spanish-American war, Colonel Young was called once more by the First Presidency of the Church--this time to become the President of the Latter-day Saints University in Salt lake City. He served nine years in this capacity (1906-1915), after which he acted as counselor to the president of the Logan Temple. After returning to service during World War I, he returned to Salt Lake City and was a member of the Church Board of Education, and of the Ensign Stake High Council. He died in Salt Lake City in 1936, at the age of 84. At the time he was the oldest living son of Brigham Young.

 

 

Source: Leonard J. Arrington, "Willard Young: The Prophet's Son at West Point," in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Vol. IV, No. 4, Winter 1969, pp. 37-46

 

 

[Pre-1920      Theoretical Model      Willard Young      LIMITED CENTRAL AMERICA]

L.S.=Honduras / N.N.=East. end of Guatemala / L.N.=Guatemala-->Chiapas / H.C.= near Jalapa, Guatemala      

Source: See Janne M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, 1927. Sjodahl indicates that Young was among four persons who in 1921 presented their opinions at "what appears to be a quasi-official meeting at Church headquarters on the question of geography." Information listed in John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 221

Note* The real contribution of Young was to deal with the external scene in real world terms instead of just a map. He knew and talked about the topography, climate, vegetation and travel conditions in tropical America in a more concrete way as he had worked in Panama.

 

     

 

1921      B. H. Roberts      Janne M. Sjodahl, Diary, archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus

                 Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. See also ^B. H. Roberts, New

                 Witnesses for God, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909), 3:503.

 

     Note* Davis Bitton reports the existence in the LDS archives of a diary of Janne M. Sjodahl covering the years 1920-22. Bitton reported in his synopsis of the diary about the 1921 meeting and the participants. Unfortunately the Sjodahl diary is unavailable for use (according to James L. Kimball, Jr., an archivist) due to the diary's present unorganized condition. (Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1977, item no. 2243). Thus it is very difficult to confirm the quotes below. However, what follows comes from personal notes in possession of Dennis Davis, Ogden, Utah, who was allowed to see the diary and take notes.

 

     Janne Sjodahl writes the following in his diary for January 21, 1921:

     Attended meeting by the Book of Mormon committee consisting of George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney, James E. Talmage, Anthony W. Ivins, Joseph Fielding Smith and Melvin J. Ballard, held in the Church Office Building, fourth floor, beginning at 2 p.m. The object of the meeting was to give certain brethren an opportunity to state their views regarding the Geography of the Book of Mormon.

     Elder Joel Ricks of Logan made the first address. He began his construction of a Book of Mormon map by assuming that the narrow neck mentioned in that record is the Isthmus of Panama and that the land south, Lehi is South America and the land north, Mulek, North America. He told of his explorations in the northern parts of South America and especially the country through which the Magdalena river flows, and expressed his conviction that Zarahemla was located there.

     The meeting was continued. Col. Willard young made his statement. He read from the Book of Mormon such passages as he thought incompatible with the theory held by Elder Ricks. He thought the difficulties of the problem would be best solved by assuming that Zarahemla was located in Honduras in Central America. The Jaredites and Mulekites may, he said, have landed on the east coast of that country, and the Nephites on the west coast . . .

     Elder B. H. Roberts told of former attempts to clear up the difficulties connected with Book of Mormon geography, and said the conclusion had always been reached that we do not possess sufficient data upon which to base a theory of great value.

                                               Janne Mattson Sjodahl

                                               Diary Entry, Jan. 21, 22, 1921

                                               LDS Church Archives (?)

                                               Ms d 1315, Box 1

 

     We also find the following concerning B. H. Roberts:

     On January 22, 1921, at a meeting of a Book of Mormon committee originally organized to review material relative the a new edition of the Book of Mormon, Elder B H. Roberts said that if it were possible to set aside one of Joseph Smith's uncanonized revelations designating the coast of Chile in South America as the place of Lehi's landing, "it would be easier to reply to adverse critics of the Book of Mormon." Otherwise, "[th]he enormous distances to travel present serious difficulty." (Janne M. Sjodahl, diary, archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Sasints, Salt Lake City, Utah.)

 

Source: Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe eds., "Editors" Introduction," in American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002, p. viii.

 

(See the notation for 1909; also 1938)

 

     Note* While the Lehi's Travels information was delivered to the Church in 1865 in the papers of Frederick G. Williams, the statement was also found by Joseph F. Smith in the papers of John Bernhisel that were turned over to the Church Historians' office in 1879. Since Joseph F. Smtih was intimately associated with thw Quorum of the Twelve, all that information had a good chance of being passed to at least some members of the Quorum. In 1882 the Lehi's Travels statement was first published to the Church in general when it appeared in the Compendium, written in part by Franklin D. Richards, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Unfortunately it was introduced with the added phrase, "Revelation to Joseph the Seer."

     Appparently in his historical studies as Church Historian, B. H. Roberts had discovered this addition, and thus made the tentative statement above in 1921 concerning Lehi's landing place not being "canonized" and it's implications in regards to the broader context of Book of Mormon geography. Yet one must not read too much into these statements by B. H. Roberts, for although Roberts saw the flaws in the early Brethren with respect to their actions within the Church, he also held these individuals and their traditions in great esteem. It is one thing for B. H. Roberts to propose setting aside the information in the Lehi's Travels statement as "uncanonized revelation." It is quite another thing for him to throw out the geographical implications completely, simply for the fact that it would have been very difficult for him in 1921 to go contrary to statements made by many of the early Brethren on Book of Mormon geography, whether he felt that such information was "canonized" or not.

     For further discussion and perspective on this topic, see Volume 1 on Lehi's journey, in the notations for 1836, 1865 and 1879; see also Robert's comments on the New York Hill Cumorah in volume 2 on geographical statements, in the notation for 1928.

 

     Note* In order to better understand the impact of what B. H. Roberts was proposing, I will quote from an essay by Sterling McMurrin:

     It was here in the domain of knowledge and reason that Roberts was the preeminent leader of the Mormons, committed to the vindication of Mormonism for the defense and edification of the Saints and a warning tot he world. [p. xv]

     As Mormonism's most competent historian and leading theologian, as well as the most aggressive exponent and capable disputant in its leadership, Roberts quite naturally, and certainly very effectively, filled the role of chief defender of the faith. This, of course, entailed the defense of the Book of Mormon, the claims of its origin, the historical reliability of its narrative, its sometimes strange theology, and the necessity of its coming forth in the "last dispensation." To this task he devoted much of his energy in his earlier years, producing numerous articles and eventually two substantial and, for the Mormons, landmark volumes in its support. (volumes 2 & 3, of New Witnesses for God) [p. xvi]

     In the closing passages of his New Witness for God, Roberts acknowledged that not all the difficulties and objections to the Book of Mormon had been removed. But, he wore, "a little more time, a little more research, a little more certain knowledge, which such research will bring forth, will undoubtedly result in the ascertainment of facts that will supply the data necessary for a complete and satisfactory solution of fall the difficulties which objectors now emphasize, and on which they claim a verdict against the Book of Mormon." (vol. 3:559) [p. xvii]

     In an address, "Higher Criticism and the Book of Mormon," published in the Improvement Era for June and July 1911, he said, "the Book of Mormon must submit to every test, literary criticism with the rest. Indeed, it must submit to every analysis and examination. It must submit to historical tests, to the tests of archeological research and also to the higher criticism." [p. xxiv]

 

     Source: ^Sterling McMurrin, "Brigham H. Roberts: A Biographical Essay," in B. H. Roberts, Studies                        of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed., ed. Brigham D. Madsen (Salt Lake City:Signature Books, 1992)

 

 

1921      B. H. Roberts            "Letter from B. H. Roberts to Heber J. Grant aned Counsellors, the Quorum of

                        the Twelve Apostles, and the First Council of the Seventy," Salt Lake City,

                        Utah, Dec. 29, 1921.

 

     In August of 1921, James Talmage received a letter from a young member named William. E. Riter. Riter, a 20-year old botany student at Utah State Agricultural College in Logan had been studying the Book of Mormon during a summer project with James Couch, a 33-year old non-Mormon chemist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture who had been conducting research at the USDA station in Salina, Utah. Mr. Couch had proposed a number of questions that the young Riter couldn't answer regarding the culture portrayed in the Book of Mormon, so he forwarded some of them to Elder Talmage. One of the questions asked why there was so much diversity in Indian languages if they were all descendants of the Lamanites. Talmage forwarded the letter to B. H. Roberts in a normal fashion. Roberts, in turn, solicited the help of Apostle Richard R. Lyman, and Lyman wrote to George W. Middleton, a nationally recognnized physician with an avocation for geology and Ralph V. Chamberlin, a biologist who was then at Harvard University. In November of 1921, Middleton wrote a letter back to Elder Lyman with some proposed responses to Couch's original questions. On December 3, 1921, Chamberlin wrote his letter of response to Elder Lyman. On the 20th of December, Willliam Riter wrote another letter to B. H. Roberts again inquiring about the questions he had submitted to Dr. Talmage in September. On Decemberf 28, 1921, B. H. Roberts wrote a note to Riter explaining that while he had investigated the problems somewhat, he had not yet reached any conclusions. In truth, Roberts had had a difficult time answering the letter to his own satisfaction. On December 29, 1921 Roberts wrote a letter to Present Heber J. Grant, his counselors, the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Council of the Seventy introducing a 141-pages of typewritten notes and commentary which Roberts had compiled on Couch's questions under the title, "Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study." His hope was that all the Brethren would become familiar with these problems and in finding the answers to them. He writes:

 

Dear Brethren----

     Early in the month of November, Elder James E. Talmage referred to me for consideration and answer, the letters that here follow and that will be self-explanatory:

     I very gladly undertook the task of considering the question here propounded, and hope to find the answers that would be satisfactory. With some branches of the field of inquiry I was more or less familiar, having devoted some attention to them while writing my Book of Mormon treatise under the title New Witnesses for God; and while known that some parts of my treatment of Book of Mormon problems in that work had not been altogether as convincing as I would Like to have seen them, I still believed that reasonable explanations could be made that would keep us in advantageous possession of the field. As I proceeded with my recent investigations, however, and more especially in the, to me, new field of language problems, I found the difficulties more serious than I had thought for; and the more I investigated the more difficult I found the formulation of an answer to Mr. Couch's inquiries to be. I therefore included not to undertake an answer to his questions on my own account, but decided to make a study of all the problems he submitted--somewhat enlarging upon them as I proceeded--and then submit the result of my investigations to all of your who are addressed at the head of this communication, that from the greater learning of the individual members of the Quorum of the Twelve, or from the collective wisdom of all the brethren addressed, or from the inspiration of the Lord as it may be received through the appointed channels of the priesthood of his Church, we might find such a solution of the problems presented in the accompanying correspondence, as will maintain the reasonableness for the faith of all in the Nephite scriptures, as well the faith of those who with us accept it now, and are assured of its essential truth, as those who are investigating its truth and its message.

     I trust I am not manifesting an over anxiety in presenting to you so extensive an inquiry as this paper proposes--141 type written pages-- but I assure you that I am most thoroughly convinced of the necessity of all the brethren herein addressed becoming familiar with these Book of Mormon problems, and finding the answer for them, as it is a matter that will concern the faith of the Youth of the Church now as also in the future, as well as such casual inquirers as may come to us from the outside world.

     All of which is respectfully submitted,

 

           (B. H. Roberts)

 

 

 

     Note* It is interesting that with this cover letter of December 29, 1921, and the 141-page manuscript, B. H. Roberts included a hand-written note referring to the "Discourse by President Brigham Young," which was delivered at Farmington, Utah on June 17, 1877 and which included the Cave Story. (See the 1877 notation) As to just what this might imply is very difficult to ascertain. Elder Roberts seemed to always support the New York Hill Cumorah as the scene of the final battles. Yet perhaps, in his quest to be balanced to all perspectives, he was including the Cave Story as "Authoritative" support for the LDS position of a Hemispheric Model. It is certain that Roberts was acquainted with internal and external arguments against the Hemispheric Model in his 1920 meetings (see the 1920 notation).

     Roberts also refers in the above letter to the previous documentation which had been listed in his New Witnesses for God, (3 vols. Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1909). What is significant, however, is that within volume 3 of this work is found a disclaimer for the Lehi's Travels statement being considered as a revelation (see the 1909 notation). This would weaken the Authoritative view regarding the location of Lehi's landing, something that was also most probably noted in the 1920 Geography Committee meetings.

     So one might ask, Were the northern boundaries and the southern boundaries of the Hemispheric Model being discussed by Roberts in his presentation discussion? Was B. H. Roberts planning to include in his arguments to the Brethren regarding the difficult questions he had received regarding languages and culture, the possible advantages of a Limited Mesoamerican Model approach in answering these questions? With what I have found in the written records of the time, I would have to answer, No! In his 1922 "Book of Mormon Study" (see notation) Roberts finds ample authoritative support on the Lehi's Travels statement from Parley P. Pratt. In a 1928 conference speech, Roberts also reaffirms his convictions that the New York Hill was the scene of the final battles. (see notation)

 

 

1922^            B. H. Roberts Presents his 141-Page Report on "Book of Mormon Difficulties A Study" to Top

           Church Officials, January 4-5, 1922.

 

     In two long sessions on January 4-5, 1922, B. H. Roberts was allowed to present before the Brethren his response to the scholarly difficult-to-answer questions regarding the cultural and geographical background of the Book of Mormon which had been ask by Mr. Couch and which had been included in a letter to James E. Talmage by William Riter. He also sought their help in answering those questions.

 

     Even though Roberts did not publish these papers (they would not be published for another six decades ), the Brethren were put on notice that there were some Book of Mormon geographical and cultural questions that could be a concern at that time.

     One of the cultural questions that Roberts dealt with has interesting implications to Book of Mormon culture and geography because it reveals the traditional cultural views of the time within the Church regarding the populating of the American continent. By the turn of the twentieth century, archaeology had identified the ancestors of native Indians as nomadic hunters who crossed the Bering Strait during an ice age approximately 15,000 years ago, long before the Jaredite and Lehite migrations from Israel described in the Book of Mormon. Roberts outlined the problems in view of the traditional Mormon perspective: (The following is taken from B. H. Roberts, "Book of Mormon Difficulties A Study," in Studies of the Book of Mormon, edited by Brigham D. Madsen, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992)

     It has been assumed quite generally by writers in support of the Book of Mormon hitherto that there was wanting a reasonable accounting for the American race, and more especially an accounting for the monuments of civilization in the midst of which the native races lived when discovered by Europeans, and for which their status of mixed barbarism and semi-civilization appeared inadequate to account. It was this apparent inadequacy on the part of native races to account for themselves or what was about them which led to the development of the several theories about their origin, their European, or Asiatic, or Polynesian, or "Lost Tribes" theory of origin.

     This felt need of finding foreign sources of origin for the native races and their culture, however, appears to have passed, at least to a very great extent; and the more satisfied do authorities become that both the origin of the native races and of their "civilization" may be accounted for on other grounds than that of a recent--that is to say, within historic times--immigration into America, with an attendant Old World civilization, such as is assumed by nearly all the theories of foreign origin, and more especially by the "Lost Tribes" theory; and the Book of Mormon account of race origin, or race culture, and the final loss of said civilization by the destruction of the people who founded it.

     Let us have in our consciousness the Book of Mormon statement of origin. I say "statement of origin," because to those who accept the Book of Mormon as of divine origin, it gives more than a theory of origin--it tells of the origin of American peoples.

     Previous to the departure of Jared's colony from the dispersion at Babel to the American continent as to a promised land--"a land choice above all other lands"--the Book of Mormon postulates those lands as uninhabited. It may be questioned if the command of the Lord to Jared's colony to go into an uninhabited land--"yea, into that quarter where there never had man been"--had reference to their ultimate destination in the land of promise, the American continents, or to some land en route, into which they immediately passed. But let that be as it may, when the Jaredites came to America the Book of Mormon account of them assumes throughout that there were no other inhabitants in all that land. Throughout their long occupancy of the land--about sixteen hundred years from their arrival of few years after their departure from Babel to the coming of Lehi's colony, early in the sixth century B.C.--there is no mention or assumption of their coming in contact with any other people, or of their being any other people in all the land. They are sole possessors of it. Here they lived and developed their peculiar culture uninfluenced by contact with other people, either by reason of finding primitive inhabitants in the land, or by reason of infusion of other people among them.

     From those who have given attention to the Book of Mormon account of the Jaredites it is assumed that their seat of Government and center of civilization was in Central America; that their movements in occupying the land from first to last were confined to the North continent. That they became very numerous may be assumed from the record of Ether, since in their last great battles, which exterminated the race, "two millions of mighty men" were slain, "and also their wives and children." If even a conservative estimate of the population be made from this basis, it would bring their number to from ten to fifteen millions. Their civilization, according to the Book of Mormon account of it, was of a very high order. Not a civilization of the stone age new or old, but an iron age of civilization far advanced, as witness the following descriptions [quotes from the Book of Ether follow]. . . . [pp. 116-117]

 

     The Nephite occupancy of the continents in succession to the Jaredites also assumes the presence of no other people upon the land except the Jaredites, and the second colony--Mulek's--which left Jerusalem shortly after Lehi's departure. it was Mulek's colony which met the last and only survivor of the Jaredites.

     These are the only peoples that occupied the American continents, up to 420 A.D., according to the Book of Mormon; they speak of no other with whom they came in contact, or who immigrated into the land during their occupancy of it. If there was any infusion of other peoples into the American continents, such infusion, so far as the Book of Mormon is concerned, must have been subsequent to 420 A.D. Moreover, Lehi, in his day, declared it be wisdom that the land to which he had been brought should be kept "as yet from the knowledge of other nations, for many nations would over run the land," that there would be no place for an inheritance and therefore Lehi obtained a promise that only those whom the Lord should bring should come into the land, and that they "should be kept form all other nations that they may possess this land unto themselves" (2 Nephi 1:8,9). [p. 119] . . .

 

     The question before us is, can this Book of Mormon account for the origin of the American peoples, and of such a culture as the Book of Mormon postulates among them be maintained against other theories of origin and of cultural postulates.

     Whatever the view of our recent authorities may be upon American archaeology in relation to the origin of the American Indians, they are pretty well agreed that the occupancy of the continents by them is of great antiquity. [p. 122]

 

     Can we assert from any well grounded facts known to us or established by any authority that there is a connection between the American and some of the Old World languages, and especially with the Hebrew, as would seem to be required by the Book of Mormon facts?

     In the present status of the case it seems to me that only one of four possible course are open to us to follow; and each of them has its special and formidable difficulties, and for that reason I present them in the form of questions.

     (1) Can we answer that the Nephites and the people of Mulek--really constituting one people--occupied a very much more restricted area of the American continents than has heretofore been supposed, and that this fact (assumed here for the argument) would leave the rest of the continents--by far the greater part of them say--to be inhabited by other races, speaking other tongues, developing other cultures, and making, though absolutely unknown to Book of Mormon people, other histories? This might account for the diversity of tongues found int he New World, and give a reason for the lack of linguistic unity among them.

     To this answer there would be the objection that if such other races or tribes existed then the Book of Mormon is silent about them. Neither the people of Mulek nor the people of Lehi or after they were combined, nor any of their descendants ever came in contact with any such people, so far as any Book of Mormon account of it is concerned. As for the Jaredites they are out of the reckoning in this matter, as we have already seen, since their language and their culture, as active factors, perished with their extinction. Any beyond them, so far as a more ancient possession of the American continents is concerned, by precious inhabitants, we are barred probably by the Book of Ether statement that the people of Jared were to go "into that quarter where there had never man been," and nowhere is there any statement or intimation in the Book of Mormon that the people of Jared ever came in contact with any other people upon the land of America, save for the contact of the last survivor of the race with the people of Mulek, which does not affect at all the matters here under discussion.

     Then could the people of Mulek and of Lehi, being such a people as they are represented to be in the Book of Mormon--part of the time numbering millions and occupying the land at least from Yucatan to Cumorah, and this during a period of at least a thousand years--could such a people, I repeat, live and move and have their being in the land of America and not come in contact with other races and tribes of men, if such existed in the New World within Book of Mormon times? To make this seem possible the area occupied by the Nephites and Lamanites would have to be extremely limited, much more limited, I fear, than the Book of Mormon would admit or our assuming.

     (2) Can we answer that the period of a thousand years--from the destruction of the Nephites, 400 A.D., to the coming of the Europeans--is a sufficient length of time to allow of many--say enough--infusions of immigrants from other lands, from Europe, Asia, Africa, or Polynesia, to account for the diversity of language stocks and dialects in all the New World? If this is to be the answer where is the clear-cut, indubitable evidence of such infusion of other races with their languages and their culture within such time limits? All authorities could be quoted against such an assumption. For while nearly all authorities upon American Archaeology concede the possibility of such immigrations--except the few earlier writers who stand for Hebrew origin or infusion--they all insist that such infusions must have been so few in number, and so slight in their influence as to leave no trace of their presence upon American languages or culture.

     (3) . . . can we say to them, despite the seeming facts as set forth by those who are accepted as authorities upon American Antiquities, Ethnology, and philology--notwithstanding their testimony and their conclusions that there are many distinct language stocks among the American Indians to produce which, together with the may dialects in each would require thousand of years--more time than is allowed for such development in the Book of Mormon--since the time when all the people spoke one tongue, . . . [Do] we place our revealed truths in the Book of Mormon against the alleged facts resulting from the investigations of Ethnologists and Philologists and the deductions of their science, and calmly await the vindication we feel sure that time will bring to the Book of Mormon.

     Much could be said for the boldness and perhaps for the honesty of such an answer, but is the reasonableness or wisdom of such an answer equally apparent? It certainly would have no effect upon the educated class throughout the world. It would only excite ridicule and contempt in them. It would be the answer of fanatics prompted by, and only possible because of ignorance, they would say.

     What would be the effect of such an answer upon the minds of our youth? Our youth, already so willing to follow, in so many other branches of learning the deductions of the sciences in their high school and college courses.

     (4) Is silence the best answer? Is silence possible in such a questioning age as ours--such an age of free inquiry? May the questions propounded to us be ignored? Would not silence be looked upon as a confession of inability to make an effective answer? Would not silence be a confession of defeat?

     Is there any other answer to the questions propounded to us than some one of the four here proposed and briefly discussed? If so I shall hail it with very great satisfaction, especially if it is free form the serious difficulties that seem to attach to each of the answers above presented. [pp. 92-94]

 

     But what is required is that evidence shall be produced that will give us an empty America 3,000 years B.C., into which a colony from the Euphrates Valley (supposedly) may come and there establish a race and an empire . . . with a highly developed language of that period; then, after an existence of about sixteen or eighteen hundred years shall pass away, become extinct in fact, as a race and as a nation; this about 600 B.C., leaving the American continents again without human inhabitants.

     Then into these second time empty American continents--empty of human population--we want the evidence of the coming of two small colonies about 600 B.C., which shall be the ancestors of all native American races as we know them; possessing as did the former race--domestic animals, the horse, ass and cow; with an iron and steel culture; and a highly developed written literature, the national Hebrew literature in fact. . . .

     Once more we face our problems--how shall we answer the questions that arise from these considerations of American archeology?

     Can we successfully overturn the evidences presented by archaeologists for the great antiquity of man in America, and his continuous occupancy of it, and the fact of his stone age culture, not an iron and steel culture? Can we successfully maintain the Book of Mormon's comparatively recent advent of man in America and the existence of his iron and steel and domestic animal, and written language stage of culture against the deductions of our late American writers upon these themes? If we cannot, what is to be the effect of it all upon the minds of our youth? What is to be our general standing before the enlightened opinion of mankind? Is silence to be our answer? Again will occur to thoughtful minds the difficulties attendant upon silence. In the last analysis of things silence would be acknowledgement of defeat. Silence in an age of free inquiry is impossible. An appeal to the old writers is of little value. The recent accepted authoritative writers leave us, so far as I can at present see, no ground of appeal or defense--the new knowledge seems to be against us. To stand up and say to the modern world we place our revealed truth against all the evidence and deductions of your science, and await the vindication of new evidence yet to be discovered, is heroic; but is it, and will it be convincing? Most humbly, but also most anxiously, I await the further development of knowledge that will make it possible for us to give a reasonable answer to those who question us concerning the matters herein discussed.

     But of course, in the meantime there may have occurred to your more enlightened minds a solution to all these problems that will cause all our difficulties to disappear. Most humbly I pray it may be so, and I shall be happy to give that enlightenment welcome. [pp. 142-143]

     

     On February 6, 1922, Roberts would write a more expanded letter of reply to Mr. Riter, and Riter would answer with a letter of thanks on February 27, 1921. In March, Roberts wrote another letter to President Grant (but never mailed it) in which he outlined the details of a another paper he was working on entitled, "A Book of Mormon Study" in which he examined literature related to the ideas of the Book of Mormon that was available in the years prior to 1830.

 

 

Sources: ^Terryl L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 106-112; B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed., ed. Brigham D. Madsen (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992, pp. 92-94, 116-117, 119, 122, 142-143. See also ^George D. Smith, ""B. H. Roberts: Book of Mormon Apologist and Skeptic," in Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe eds., American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002, pp. 123-156.

 

 

1922^      B. H. Roberts            Letter to Heber J. Grant, January 9, 1922, in B. H. Roberts, Studies

                       of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed., ed. Brigham D. Madsen (Salt Lake City:

                       Signature Books, 1992), 47-48.

 

     Note* The following week (January 9, 1922) B. H. Roberts wrote a follow-up letter to President Grant in which he said: "I was very greatly disappointed over the net results of the discussion. There was so much said that was utterly irrelevant, and so little said if anything at all that was helpful in the matters at issue that I came away from the conference quite disappointed." Years later, Roberts was even said to have lamented that these difficulties were more-or-less answered by the Brethren with only "faithful testimonies." Yet to the reader, looking back at the situation, Roberts' disappointment should hardly be a considered a surprise, considering the fact that the Brethren would have had, at the most just a couple of days to prepare during a busy Holiday season. We must assume that with all their other scheduled obligations and commitments, the Brethren did well just to appear for this hastily called presentation by Elder Roberts. Even for those Brethren who had an interest in the external evidences of the Book of Mormon, one would have to wonder as to just how much pertinent literature on the subject would have been readily available to them given the time limit between (1) Roberts' letter to President Grant; (2) President Grant's letter or memo to the Brethren; and (3) Their actual reading of President Grant's memo or letter during the Holiday season; and (4) the actual Presentation on January 4th.

     The letter is as follows:

 

     Jan. 9, 1922

 

     Dear Brother: ---

     At the close of your remarks following the long day's conference had on the Book of Mormon problems, I arose to make some remarks in relation to what I had listened to throughout the day. But realizing that the hour was late and that everybody was tired, I desisted and concluded to let matters go. Thinking of it since, however, and of the probability of a record being made of the hearing I concluded that I would not like that record to be made without having included in it my impressions of what was said and the suggestions that were made--hence this note which I limit to the very briefest space that will express my view in relation to the results of our consultation.

     Permit me to say, then, but in the utmost good will and profound respect for everybody else's opinion, that I was very greatly disappointed over the net results of the discussion. There was so much said that was utterly irrelevant, and so little said, if anything at all, that was helpful in the matters at issue that I came away from the conference quite disappointed. All the facts and arguments that were proposed, outside of the matter of linguistics, I had already made the utmost use of in the third volume of my New Witness for God [3:407-561] as may be determined by reference to the part dealing with "Objections to the Book of Mormon."

     While on the difficulties of linguistics nothing was said that could result to our advantage at all or stand the analysis of enlightened criticism. You perhaps may think differently because of what was said by President Ivins. [see note below] Referring to that I shall make bold to say, though I trust without giving offense, for that is farthest from my purpose, that what he said, so far as it had any bearing upon the problems before us was most disappointing of all, because I had come to believe from what I had heard of him, that he has so specialized in the Book of Mormon and literature bearing upon it, that one could confidently expect something like substantial help from his contribution of comment. It was this perhaps that made his contribution so disappointing. . . .

 

 

     Note* Brigham D. Madsen notes the following in regard to Anthony W. Ivins:

     Anthony W. Ivins was born September 16, 1852, at Toms River, Ocean County, New Jersey, and came to Utah with his parents in 1853. He moved with his parents to St. George, Utah, where he became one of the prominent civic and Church leaders. In 1875-76 he served an L.D.S. mission to New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico; he later worked as a missionary among the Navajo and Pueblo Indians; and in 1895 he was placed in charge of the Mormon Church interests in Mexico as president of the Juarez Stake. He was appointed a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles on October 6, 1907, became a Second Counsellor to President Grant, and was appointed First Counsellor on May 28, 1925. . . . (Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 3:750-52.)

 

 

1922^      B. H. Roberts            Letter to William E. Riter, February 6, 1922, in B. H. Roberts, Studies

                       of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed., ed. Brigham D. Madsen (Salt Lake City:

                       Signature Books, 1992), 53-54.

 

           On December 28, 1921, B. H. Roberts wrote a letter to William Riter acknowledging the fact that he had "been engaged upon an investigation of the problems involved during the past several weeks, but have not yet reached conclusions that serve as a basis upon which to formulate my answer." He further said that he expected to "continue to give attention to the subject and as soon as may be will make answer to the matter submitted to me." On February 6, 1922, after meetings with the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency, Roberts wrote the following to William E. Riter:

     Moreover, there is also the possibility that other peoples may have inhabited parts of the great continents of America, contemporaneously with the peoples spoken of by the Book of Mormon, though candor compels me to say that nothing to that effect appears in the Book of Mormon. A number of our Book of Mormon students, however, are inclined to believe that Book of Mormon peoples were restricted to much narrower limits in their habitat on the American continents, than have generally been allowed; and that they were not in South America at all.

     If this be true, it might allow of other great stretches of the continents to be inhabited by other peoples, with other cultures and languages, which would still further tend to solve the difficulties of the Book of Mormon in regard to the existence of the great diversity of language stocks among the American race.

 

     Note* According to Terryl L. Givens, B. H. Roberts considered, but never could embrace, a model in which Book of Mormon peoples occupied limited or already inhabited lands. (Terryl L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 277.)

 

 

1922^      B. H. Roberts            "A Book of Mormon Study" , in B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of

                        Mormon, 2nd ed., ed. Brigham D. Madsen (Salt Lake City: Signature

                        Books, 1992)

 

     Brigham D. Madsen writes the following:

     The discussions during the two days of meetings were so unsatisfactory and disquieting to Roberts that he wrote a letter to President Grant just four days later, on January 9, 1922, expressing his disappointment about the irrelevancy of the comments expressed but promised to continue his investigations, fully away that Couch's [Riter's] questions had been inadequately answered. In response, Grant allowed Roberts some time in the council meeting of January 26, 1922, for a further exposition of his report of "Book of Mormon Difficulties." Furthermore, on three other occasions extending from February 2 to May 25, 1922, Roberts met in some evening sessions in a private home with Grant's councilor, Anthony W. Ivins, and with Apostles Talmage and John A. Widtsoe to "consider external evidences of the genuineness of the Book of Mormon" and to approve a letter of reply to Couch. There is no evidence of Roberts's reaction to these meetings. (note 59)

     But not quite two months before his death, Roberts did discuss the episode of his meeting with the Church authorities as recorded in the Personal Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, former dean of the Graduate School at Brigham Young University and a missionary under Roberts in the Eastern States Mission. Lloyd wrote on August 7, 1933, that he had spent three and a half hours with his former mission president and that "the conversation then drifted to the Book of Mormon and this surprising story he related to me." Lloyd then recounted Roberts's explanation of the background of Riter's request for answers to the Book of Mormon problems and how Roberts had been assigned the task of answering the questions:

     Roberts went to work and investigated it from every angle but could not answer it satisfactorily to himself. At his request Pres. Grant called a meeting of the Twelve Apostles and Bro. Roberts presented the matter, told them frankly that he was stumped and ask for their aide [sic] in the explanation. In answer, they merely one by one stood up and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. George Albert Smith in tears testified that his faith in the Book had not been shaken by the question. Pres. Ivins, the man most likely to be able to answer a question on that subject was unable to produce the solution. No answer was available. Bro. Roberts could not criticize them for not being able to answer it or to assist him, but said that in a Church which claimed continuous revelation, a crisis had arisen where revelation was necessary. After the meeting he wrote Pres. Grant expressing his disappointment at the failure and especially at the failure of Pres. Ivins to contribute to the problem. It was mentioned at the meeting by Bro. Roberts that there were other Book of Mormon problems that needed special attention. Richard R. Lyman spoke up and asked if they were things that would help our prestige and when Bro. Roberts answered no, he said then why discuss them. This attitude was too much for the historically minded Roberts. There was however a committee appointed to study this problem, consisting of Bros. Talmage, Ballard, Roberts and one other Apostle. They met and looked vacantly at one another, but none seemed to know what to do about it. Finally, Bro. Roberts mentioned that he had at least attempted an answer and he had it in his drawer. That it was an answer that would satisfy people that didn't think, but a very inadequate answer to a thinking man. They asked him to read it and after hearing it, they adopted it by vote and said that was about the best they could do. After this Bro. Roberts made a special Book of Mormon study. . . .

 

     In March of 1922, B. H. Roberts wrote a cover-letter to go with his additional studies on the matter of Book of Mormon geography and culture and entitled the manuscript, "A Book of Mormon Study." However, at the time he did not send the letter (later post-dated), nor the manuscript. In an October 24, 1927 letter to Elder Richard Lyman, Roberts elucidates the issue of why he didn't send the letter or submit the manuscript. The pertinent parts of the two letters follow:

 

1922      B. H. Roberts      "Letter to Heber J. Grant, Council, and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,"

                       Salt Lake City, Utah, March 15th, 1922.

 

Dear Brethren:

     You will perhaps remember that during the hearing on "Problems of the Book of Mormon" reported toyour Council January, 1922, I stated in my remarks that there were other problems which I thought should be considered in addition to those submitted in my report. Brother R. Lyman asked if they would help solve the problelms already presented, or if they would increase our difficulties. My answere was that they would very greatly increase our difficultiles, on which he replied, "Then I do not know why we should consider them." My answer was, however, that it was my intention to go on with the consideration to the last analysis. Accordingly, since the matter was already so far under my hand, I continued my studies, and submit herewith the record of theml. I do not say my conclusions, for they are undrawn.

     In writing out this my report to you of those studies ["A Book of Mormon Study"], I have written it fromt he viewpoint of an open mind, investigating the facts of the Book of Mormon origin and authorship. Let me say once and for all, so as to avoid what might otherwise call for repeated explanation, taht what is herein set forth does not represent any conclusions of mine. This report herewith submitted is what it piurports to be, namely a "study of Book okf Mormon origins," for the information of those who ought to know everything about it pro et con, as well that which has been porduced against it, and that which may be produced agtainst it. I am taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakable int he Book of Mormon, and therefodre we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it.

     While searching for the ansnwers to the questions of Mr. Couch, submitted thorugh Mr. William E. Riter, I came in contact with the material here used, and concluded that while the subject was fresh in my mind to make it of record for those who wshould be its students and know on what ground the Book of Mormon may be questioned, as wella s taht which supports its authenticitya ndits truth.

     If it is impossible for the General Authorities to consider this whole matter together, then, I submit that it might be referred tot he committee you appointed to consider with me the answers to be given Mr. Couch, namesly, Elders Ivins, Talmage, and Widtsoe, with a request that they report on the same. I am very sure that you will find the material herewith submitted of intense interest, and it may be of very great importance wince it represesnts what may be used by some opponent in criticism of the Book of Mormon.

     It is not necessary for me to suggest that maintenance of the truth of the Book oif Mormon is absolutely essential to the integrity of the whole Mormon movement, for it is inconceivable that the Book of Mromon shoudl be untrue in its origin or charactr and the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saitns be a true Chruch.

     All which is respectfully submitted.

                                         Very truly your brother,

 

                                               (B. H. Roberts)

      

 

1927      B. H. Roberts            "Letter to Richard R. Lyman, October 24, 1927.

 

     Dear Brother Lyman:

     You perhaps will reacall our conversation of a few days ago in relation to the inquiry we had before the Council of the Twelve Apostles on some problems associated witht he Book okf Mormon, just rpevious to my commencing my mission in the Eastern States, and how I reminded you taht on the former occassion here alluded to I announced that what I had presented did not constitute all our B. of Mm. porblmes, that there were others. You then asked, "Well, will these hellp solve our present problems or will it incerase our difficultlies?" to which I replied, "It would very greatly increase our problems." At which you said ( and I thought rather lightly) "Well, I don't see why we should bother with them then." To this I answereed that I should go on with my studies nevertheless. And the other day i told you, if you remember, that I had continued my investigations and had drawn up a somewhat lengthy report fo the First Presidency and the Council fo the Twelve. Then came my call to the Eastern States and the matter was dropped, gbut my report was drawn up nevertheless together with a letter that I had intended should accompany it, but int he hurry of getting awaya nd the impossibility at that time of having my report considered, I dropped the matter, and have not yet decided whether I shalll present that report to the First Presidency or not. . . .

 

 

     Continued:

 

     Wesley P. Lloyd continues from what was quoted above previous to the two letters:

     . . . the First Presidency on May 29, immediately after the Book of Mormon confrontation, told him [B. H. Roberts] he "might select any mission within the United States as a field of Labor" as a mission president or he might even consider accepting the editorial direction of the Church newspaper, the Deseret News. There was no hesitation on the part of Roberts, who chose to go to New York City as head of the Eastern States Mission covering the northeastern section of the United States. . . . A further inducement, as reported in his autobiography, was that "it had the attraction of including within it the territory of the early activities of the Church--Vermont--the birthplace of the Prophet; New York--the early scenes of the Prophet's life, the first vision and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the Hill Cumorah; . . . which naturally would endear this section of the country to the mind and heart of Elder Roberts." As soon as he was located in New York and as he traveled around the mission, he began researching and gathering materials to satisfy himself about the origins of the Church and especially the Book of Mormon. . . . When President Roberts . . . departed the mission for Utah in the spring of 1927, he left a statement of his convictions: "concerning my own testimony of the truth of these things I can say that time the impressions of my youth deeper makes, as streams their channels deeper wear." (note 64) [pp. 22-26]

     

 

     The following are some of the more pertinent interpretations on Book of Mormon geography and culture from B. H. Roberts' "A Book of Mormon Study":

     In the first place there is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an undeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency. For example, there is the story of Lehi's departure from Jerusalem with his small colony; its landing in America; and its early movements in the land of promise. Let us note a few of its difficulties:

     The first part of the journey is a three days' travel from Jerusalem to "near the shores of the Red Sea" (1 Nephi 2:4-6). It may be thought a small matter, but the nearest point from Jerusalem to the Red Sea is about one hundred and seventy miles, and even if allowance is made for some change in the Red Sea's extension northward, in ancient times, the distance could scarcely be covered in three days.

     The manner of the colony's traveling appears to have been on foot, carrying their "tents and provisions" with them. If they were helped in this three days' journey by the use of domestic animals common to the country and in general use at the time--the ass, the ox, the camel, the horse--singularly enough, no mention is made of the fact. Neither at the beginning of the trek nor at any time through their eight years' journey in the wilderness of Arabia, until coming to the shores of the Arabian Sea, nor at the time of embarking on the sea for the journey to the promised land, is there any mention made of the use of domestic animals. It is always, when making their several removals towards the land of promise, "and we did take our tents and depart into the wilderness," etc. In the second removal, after leaving Jerusalem, however, it is said that they "did gather together whatsoever things they should carry into the wilderness, and all the remainder of our provisions which the Lord had given unto us, and we did take seed of every kind, that we might carry into the wilderness." But how this was conveyed, by beasts of burden, or on the backs of the people, nothing is said.

     At this point it may be well to note that Lehi's colony was a very small one. All told it could not have numbered more than thirty souls and part of these were children of tender age, and several were people well advanced in life, so that the amount of "provisions," "seeds of every kind" together with their "tents," that they could carry in this journey could not be very considerable without the use of beasts of burden. Yet if they were employed no mention is made of that fact, and the general impression of the story is that they were without beasts of burden in their whole eight years' journey. No mention is made of such animals, either of taking them along or leaving them behind when beginning the sea voyage; but as soon as they arrive "to the promised land" (I quote the first edition of the Book of Mormon), they speak of finding "beasts in the forests of every kind." And then proceed to enumerate the domestic animals, "the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals which were for the use of man" (1 Nephi 18:25). And all this without reference to how they got there in the wilderness of the New World; and how they happened to be domesticated, and already for the use of the New Colonists (cf. 2 Nephi 5:11)!

     Lehi's colony, it must be remembered, came to an empty America, so far as human inhabitants were concerned--according to the Book of Mormon accounting of things. And if it should be urged that the Jaredite people had previously possessed the land, and the claim made that these domestic animals found by Lehi's colony were left in the continent by that people, then it should be remembered that the Nephtie people never came in contact with the Jaredite race, that the latter was annihilated to the last man somewhere in the North Continent, while the Nephites , according to the general belief, landed in South America, in Chile about thirty degrees south latitude--[An alleged revelation to Joseph Smith on the subject of the course of Lehi's travels from Jerusalem to America says: "they traveled nearly a south, southeast direction, until they came to the nineteenth degree of north latitude; then, nearly east to the sea of Arabia, then sailed in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chile, thirty degrees south latitude" (Richards & Little, Compendium , Art., "Gems from the History of Joseph Smith," p. 289).

     There is some ground for doubting if this item is a revelation (see this writer's New Witness for God, 3:501-3); but the compendium statement has the support of a very similar passage in the writings of Orson Pratt (see Pratt's Works, edition of 1851, l"Remarkable visions," p. 7). And these two passages may be said to represent the views of the Mormon People.] and from three to four thousand miles south of any lands occupied by the Jaredites! So that the likelihood of the domestic animals found by the Nephties in the j"forests" of South America, having come from previously owned Jaredite stock, is exceedingly remote. Besides there is the problem of any domestic animals left over from the Jaredite occupancy--the length of time considered since these were under the control of man--the problem of their having become utterly wild--thoroughly undomesticated; where as these animals found by the Nephites in South America are spoken of in such fashion as to lead one to think they were at once available for use (cf. 1 Nephi 18:25; and 2 Nephi 5:11). [pp. 251-253; 257-258]

 

 

     Note* Upon checking a xerox copy of the original manuscript, I found that what appears above in brackets was not within brackets at all but within parenthesis. Thus the information contained above in brackets (or parenthesis) was a product of B. H. Roberts and not an editorial insertion by Brigham Madsen. This is significant here because Roberts notes the Compendium as a source for the Lehi's Travels statement, but does NOT mention anything about the manuscripts of John Bernhisel. The Bernhisel manuscript would have been known to at least Joseph F. Smith while he worked in the Church Historian's Office because it was submited to that office in the year 1879 (see the 1879 and 1845 notations in vol. 1-Lehi' Travels).

     Rather than mentioning the Bernhisel manuscript, Roberts turns to Orson Pratt ("Remarkable Visions"--see the 1840 notation) for his support. Yet although Pratt associates Chile and South America with Lehi's landing, he says nothing about "thirty degrees south lattitude," which was a prominent part of the Lehi's Travels statement. Was B. H. Roberts not informed by Joseph F. Smith? Did neither B. H. Roberts nor Joseph F. Smith (both of whom worked in the Church Historian's Office) consider the Bernhisel note on Lehi's Travels as a secondary proof? That seems to be the case. This leads me to question the validity of the Bernhisel note.

 

     In the wilderness journey of the Jaredite colony are represented as carrying with them "their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female of every kind," also "fowls of the air"; and they did also prepare a vessel in which they did carry with them the "fish of the waters," and "deseret," which interpreted means "honey bee," and thus they did carry with them "swarms of honey bees"; and seeds of every kind" (Ether 2:1-3). all this, under fair presumption, to be taken to the distant promised land, and hence carried on the ocean voyage. And although some of these things are not specifically enumerated as being taken along when "they got aboard of their vessels or barges," yet enough are enumerated to make it fair presumption that all these things above named were also taken "aboard," and that they were "gathered" for that purpose. Speaking of the colony embarking, it is written:

"And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast, or animal, or fowl that they should carry with them. And it came to pass that when they had done all these things, they got aboard of their vessels or bares, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God" (Ether 6:4)

 

     Speaking in the reign of Emer, the fourth of the kings of the Jaredites, an enumeration is made of the things that enter into Jaredite culture, all manner of fruit and grain; of silks, and fine linen; of gold and silver and precious things; also all manner of cattle, oxen, cows, sheep, swine and goats, "and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man. . . . They also had horses and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants, and cureloms, and cumoms" (Ether 9:17-19).

     There can be no doubt but what under the terms of their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast, or animal or fowl that they should carry with them, that are said to have been loaded on to the barges, and for which also they carried food, was included the well known domestic animals named above. But did they also bring int he barges elephants, and the animals with the curious names of "cureloms" and "cumoms," said to be so "useful unto man"--apparently even more useful than oxen or horses, since their usefulness is so emphasized--did they transport these from the Old World to the New?

     The trouble with bringing these animals--as well as "the flocks and herds, and whatsoever east or animal or fowl they should bring with them"--and which they surely did load onto the barges--is that it very greatly increases the difficulties of the migration of this colony. It is emphasized that the eight barges "were small"; that "they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl" (Ether 2:16). The only suggestion of their size is very indefinite--"the length thereof was the length of a tree"; but the length of what tree? Nothing is said of the width, so we know nothing definitely of the barges save that they were small, and in addition to provisions, including of course water for all the animals brought over in the small barges, there are about one hundred colonists--estimated.

     Added to the difficulty of the smallness of the barges for such a company of human souls and these animals, seeds and provisions and water for all is the duration of the voyage. "Three hundred and forty and four days" were they upon the water (Ether 6:11)! Only twenty-one days short of a whole year! Now, if the "elephants" and "cureloms" and "cumoms"--evidently animals somewhat of the same type as the elephants--are included in the list of animals brought over in the barges, and there is no reason for excluding them, then it is quite clear that the problems of conveying such a colony, in such vessels, and occupying such a length of time--is very greatly increased. And under all the circumstances is it much to be wondered at if intelligent people to whom the Book of Mormon is presented for consideration, should ask: "Do we have here a great historical document, or only a wonder tale, told by an undeveloped mind, living in a period and in an environment where the miraculous in 'history' is accepted without limitations and is supposed to account for all inconsistencies and lapses that challenge human credulity in the thought and in the easy philosophy that all things are possible with God? [pp. 257-258]

 

 

     Note* The following articles and books are pertinent to the discussion of B. H. Roberts' views on Book of Mormon geography:

 

     1820      Janne Sjodahl Diary

     1822      James E. Talmage Journals (Harold B. Lee Library, Special Collections, Provo: B.Y.U. )

     1820-2      Anthony Ivins Papers

     1822      Franklin D. Richards Papers      

     1979      Truman Madsen      "(article o B. H. Roberts), Provo: Brigham Young University Studies,

                              Vol. 19, No. 4, Summer, 1979.

     1983      Truman Madsen      (article on B. H. Roberts) Ensign, December, 1983.

     19??      John Welch            "Answers to B. H. Roberts' Question," 59 pages

     1985      John W. Welch            "Did B. H. Roberts Lose Faith in the Book of Mormon?" Provo:

           Truman Madsen      FARMS, 1985.

     1985      John Welch            "New B. H. Roberts Book Lacks Insight of His Testimony," (Review

                             of books on B. H. Roberts) Church Section, Deseret news,

                              December 15, 1985.

     1986      John Welch            "B. H. Roberts: Seeker After Truth", March 1986 Ensign

     1986      Brigham D. Madsen      "Reply to John W. Welch and Truman G. Madsen," March,1986.

           Sterling M. McMurrin

     1992      Brigham D. Madsen      B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed., ed. Brigham

                              D. Madsen. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992, pp. 92-94, 116

                             -117, 119, 122, 142-143.

     1992      Sterling McMurrin,      "Brigham H. Roberts: A Biographical Essay," in B. H. Roberts, Studies

                             of the Book of Mormon, 2nd ed., ed. Brigham D. Madsen. Salt Lake

                              City:Signature Books, 1992.

      2002      Terryl L. Givens       By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a

                              New World Religion, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 106

                             -112

     2002      George D. Smith,      "B. H. Roberts: Book of Mormon Apologist and Skeptic," in Dan Vogel

                              and Brent Lee Metcalfe eds., American Apocrypha: Essays on the

                              Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002, pp. 123

                             -156.

 

 

 

1922      George F. Richards            Conference Report, October 1922, p. 81.      

 

     In the October Conference of 1922, Apostle Geroge F. Richards said the following:

     Afterwards, Mulek, with a colony from Jerusalem came to this country. These colonies were located in the southern part of North America, in Central America, and in the northern part of South America. And all this land, as well as that into which they migrated to the north and to the south was designated by the Lord as the land of promise.

 

 

1922      Jeremiah A. Gunsolley            "More Comment on Book of Mormon Geography," in Saints Herald

                             69, Nov. 15, 1922, pp. 1074-1076.

 

     Jeremiah Gunsolley comments on Book of Mormon geography combining the Hemispheric ideas generated from the 1894 RLDS Committee (see the 1898 notation) and the Limited Mesoamerican ideas of Louis Hills (see the 1917 notation)

 

     [p. 1074] North America = land northward, South America = land southward

           day's journey for a Jew 24 miles = 33 English miles (neck) "There is . . . a difference of opinion as the the location of the narrow neck"

           How could such a numerous people osccupy less tahtn both continents

 

 

1923^      James E. Talmage            Letter to Jean R. Driggs, February 23, 1923

 

Dear Brother Driggs:

 

     For your letter of February 17th, with enclosure of list of Book of Mormon passages bearing on the subject of Book of Mormon geography, please accept my thanks. As you say President Grant has already informed you, he handed me the extra copy of your paper together with the map that you sent him. It is very pleasing to know that you are turning your careful attention to this very important subject; and I hope that an examination of the data you present will disclose consistent facts, as you feel assured that your study has already demonstrated such to yourself.

     I shall hope for an early opportunity of reading your paper, examining the references and map, and otherwise considering the whole subject; though, it is but fair to say to you, that just now I have so many manuscripts awaiting my examination that I do not know when I shall have opportunity to give your presentation the attention it deserves.

     The more capable workers we have in this field the better. Somewhat over a year ago a committee of the Council of Twelve sat for days listening to the presentation of the subject of Book of Mormon geography by several of our brethren who have given particular study to the subject, and we found that their views differed as widely as the continents. It was there and then decided that until we have clearer knowledge in this matter, the Church could not authorize or approve the issuance of any map, chart, or text, purporting to set forth demonstrated facts relating to Book of Mormon lands. . . .

     I trust that you will continue in your work of research and investigation, and I pray that you may be divinely assisted in this worthy undertaking.

                       With best wishes for your continued welfare, I remain

 

                       Very truly your brother in the gospel

 

                                   (Signed J. E. Talmage)

 

 

1923^      Rey L. Pratt            Conference Reports, April 1923, Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of

                        Latter-day Saints, p. 39

 

     B. H. Roberts' cautionary tone concerning archaelogical evidences of the Book of Mormon was contrasted in 1923 by the words of Elder Rey Pratt, who had just returned from presiding over the Mexican missions. In the April General Conference of 1923 he said:

     I wish to bear to you my testimony also concerning that great volume of scripture which I am sometimes led to believe we do not appreciate, namely the Book of Mormon, which is a record, brethren and sisters, that was written by prophets inspired of the Lord, and it came forth in this day and age in which we live by the inspiration of the Lord. It contains the truth of the everlasting gospel. Not one single thing recorded in that great volume has ever been controverted by any discovery of any nature whatsoever that has been made since it was brought out in the world. It has been my good fortune to travel somewhat in fields rich in archaeology in this country and I bear you my testimony that not one spade of earth has been overturned that has revealed a single thing except what is corroborative of the Book of Mormon and its being a divine record.

 

 

1923      B. H. Roberts            (Missionary Conference at the New York Hill, September 21-23, 1923)

 

     According to Cameron Packer, in 1923 B. H. Roberts, then serving as both a member of the First Council of Seventy and the Eastern States Mission President, organized a mission conference that would include meetings in the Sacred Grove and on the Hill Cumorah on 21-23 September 1923, one hundred years after Joseph had first visited the hill. In preparation for the events at Cumorah, a flagpole was erected on its summit. A Rochester newspaper reported that despite rainy weather:

     The flagraising [sic] at sunrise was carried out as planned, and after the Stars and Stripes and the purple and blue flag bearing the ancient names of Mormon Hill--Ramah and Cumorah--had been raised, the stalwart young elders of the church, most of them former service men, stood at attention and pledged their allegiance again to their country's flag.

 

Source: ^Cameron J. Packer, A Study of the Hill Cumorah: A Significant Latter-day Saint Landmark in Western New York, (Thesis) Religious Education, Brigham Young University, December 2002, pp. 90-91. Packer's footnote for the Rochester newspaper quote reads: Miscellaneous newspaper article found in the King's Daughter's Free Library (Palmyra, New York), File Cabinet containing historic sites files. See also, Albert L. Zobell, Jr. "Lest We Forget: Early Cumorah Pageants," The Improvement Era 71, no. 6, June 1968, 25.

 

 

1923            Joseph Fielding. Smith            Address at the First General Confnerence of the Eastern

                                    States Mission, Near Palmyra, September 21, 1923.

 

     Joseph Fielding Smith was attending the first general conference of the Eastern States Mission, convened at the Joseph Smith Farm near Palmyra on September 21, 1923--the one hundredth anniversary of the appearance of Moroni to Joseph Smith--when he said the following:

     As I stood upon the summit of the Hill Cumorah, in the midst of a vast multitude, only a few of whom belonged to the Church, I tried to picture the scenes of former days. Here were assembled vast armies filled with bitterness and bent on destruction. I thought of the great promises the Lord had made through his prophets concerning those who should possess this choice land, and how those promises were not fulfilled because the people violated his commandments. Here a people perished because of their extreme wickedness. There is something in the destiny of things that would cause a repetition of this terrible scene on the same spot many centuries later. I reflected and wondered if this unhappy time would ever come when another still mightier people would incur the wrath of God because of wickedness and likewise perish. If so, would this same spot witness their destruction? (See 1866 notation--Heber C. Kimball prophecy)

 

 

Source: ^Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 242.

 

[Illustration: "Hill Cumorah," a view of its northern summit, 1920. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society. Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, Vol 3, 2000, p. 63]

 

 

     Note* See the 1940 Cumorahs "Gold Bible" notation. See also the 1941 Church News article concerning the Centennial Celebration.

 

 

1923^      Hyrum M. Smith                  Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Salt Lake City: The

       Janne M. Sjodahl                  Deseret News Press, 1923, 1932. Reprinted in 1950, 1951,

                                   1960, 1961, 1962, 1971, 1978.

 

     In the preface to the Original Edition, we find the following:

     Before laying aside the pen, I may be permitted to express my grateful acknowledgment of the services rendered by Elder Orson F. Whitney and Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, of the Council of the Twelve, who, together with Elder Hyrum M. Smith, carefully read the manuscript of this Commentary before it was given to the printer; also to Elder George F. Richards, of the Council of the Twelve and President of the European mission, and to Elders John E. Cottam, George F. Richards, Jr., and Junius F. Wells, fellow-laborers int he British mission, for most valuable assistance.

           Liverpool, May 1, 1919.            J. M. Sjodahl.

 

 

     In the preface to the 1950 Revised Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, we find the following:

     While laboring in the European Missions, Elder Hyrum M. Smith, of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Janne M. Sjodahl, were impressed very fervently with the desire to prepare a commentary dealing with the revelations given by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith. In their odd moments, when not otherwise engaged, during the years 1913-1916, these brethren carried on a careful research and study and prepared this volume which has met with popular favor.

     For a number of years the commentary has been out of circulation, and because of the increasing demand for it, the First Presidency instructed the Publication Committee to take the matter in hand and revise the volume ready for a re-printing. This the committee has done and after many months of labor has fulfilled the assignment. . . .

                                               The Publication Committee [1950]

     Joseph Fielding Smith

                                                     Harold B. Lee

                                                     Marion G. Romney

 

     Within this Commentary are two sections which contain comments pertinent to Book of Mormon geography.

     (1.) The first has to do with Section 9. This section is a revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, to Oliver Cowdery, at Harmony, Pennsylvania in April, 1829. Oliver had attempted to translate without success. Verse 1-2 are as follows:

     1. Behold, I say unto you, my son, that because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me, and did commence again to write for my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., even so I would that ye should continue until you have finished this record, which I have entrusted unto him.

     2. And then, behold, other records have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate. . . .

 

     In a verse note on the bottom of the page we find the following:

     2. Other records] Other Nephite records. Oliver Cowdery, if he had remained faithful, would have had the privilege of assisting in their translation. He, however, was outside the Church, because of transgression, for eleven years, and although he was again received in full fellowship, some of the blessings he had lost could not be recovered.

 

     Then in a related "General Notes" on a page which follows we find the following:

     "Other records" are referred to in the 2nd paragraph of this Section. On that subject President Brigham Young makes the following statement: [The "Cave Story" is then recited as it appears in the 1877 notation-- which is a discourse by Brigham Young delivered at a Special Conference held at Farmington, Utah on June 17,1877.]

 

     Note* That such a story would be included in the 1923 edition is significant; that such a story would be upheld by Apostles in the publication committee of the Revised Edition is also significant.

 

     (2.) The second has to do with Section 84, a revelation on Priesthood. Verse 42 reads: " . . . and even I [the Lord] have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you." In a comment on this verse we find the following:

     42. I have given * ** * charge concerning you] Note that the Lord in conferring the Priesthood upon the Elders present when this Revelation wa given, assured them that angels had been appointed to guard them. The first Christians believed in guardian angels. . . .

     The following anecdote, which was told by David Whitmer to Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith in 1878, may be retold here: [The David Whitmer story of meeting an angel "going to Cumorah" --see the 1878 notation-- is then recited.]

 

     Note* This story, like the Cave Story, reinforces the New York Hill Cumorah as a repository of the Nephite records. Since the last edition of the book would be published in 1978 by Deseret Book, these stories (reviewed by Apostles) would add authoritative weight to a New York Hill Cumorah viewpoint.

 

 

 

1924^      Louis Edward Hills      New Light on American Archaeology, Independence, MO: Lambert

                       Moon, 1924.

 

     This book is extremely significant in the evolution of thinking on Book of Mormon geography. It represents the culmination of years of teaching and three previous books on the subject. The works of Louis Hills represent the earliest detailed ideas regarding a limited Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon. While George Ottinger (year) made a few remarks and speculations, and Willard Young ( ) presented a map, we have no significant details regarding their thinking. Louis Hills should be regarded as the Father of the Limited Mesoamerican setting for Book of Mormon geography. The following represents his more detailed approach:

 

     INTRODUCTION

 

     . . . I decided to do my research work from the raw material as much as possible, or to try to gather facts from the translations of ancient records and traditions that were handed down by the natives for many centuries; using ruins of cities, temples, pyramids, and fortifications as corroborative evidence, especially in establishing geographical locations.

     I soon discovered the ancient records and traditions gave little or no chronology, thus leaving the student with little or no knowledge of the centuries in which occurred the historical events described. This, no doubt, was the cause of many scholars rejecting the fragments of native history as of no value, and to their classifying them as myths.

     The great historian, H. H. Bancroft, says, "The traditional history of the ancient Americans would assume importance if the events narrated could be otherwise ascertained." . . .

     The date, 580 B.C., found in the ruins at Copan, Honduras, Central America, which was used by Doctor H. J. Spinden of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, in which he says the Mayan calendar functioned from 580 B.C., to 1561 A.D., about 2,000 years, when the Mayan books and records were destroyed by the Spaniards. Doctor Spinden says the calendar was devised by some unknown mathematical and astronomical genius.

     This is a valuable help, as it gives us a date to start from, and the caves discovered near Copan point to the location of Chicomoztoc, or Tulan Zuiva, the Seven Caves, the primitive home of the ancient Americans, as located there; called by the Aztecs, "Aztlan." The ruins at Copan, western Honduras. . . .

 

           PREFACE

 

     This book was compiled from a series of lectures delivered by L. E. Hills, hence the occasional personal comments. Mr. Hills spent years of study and research pertaining to the history, traditions, geography and archaeology of Mexico and Central America. Books of value came into his hands in remarkable ways. . . .

 

Chapter 1: [pp. 6-->]

     . . . Another statement is found in 2 Kings 1931:

     For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of Mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall do this.

 

     . . . In looking at the plan of the City of Jerusalem, you will discover one corner in that city called "Mount Zion." There you will see printed "the palaces of the kings." Mulek was the son of the king, Zedekiah. No doubt Mulek's associates in that colony came from Mount Zion also. . . .

 

     Moroni was commanded to hide the twenty-four plates again int he earth, after he had made an abridgment of them. Mormon had already hidden the Nephite plates in the Hill Culmorah, after he had made an abridgment of them. Thus Moroni carried the abridgments of both records to New York State.

 

Chapter 2:

Large and Mighty Men, From Tower of Babel [pp. 20-->]

 

     . . . I Secured a book at the time of the death of a prominent man in Independence (it came from his library), which is known as "The Geography of the Bible," by Coleman. It is quite authentic and very good. . . . [According to that book] There is an ancient Chaldaic work which Alexander the Great caused to be translated, which came from the royal library of Nineveh (p. 51, Ibid.):

     From the gods, who inhabited the earth in the first ages, there sprang a race of giants of immense size, and of the strongest bodily frame; full of insolent daring, they formed the ambitious design to build a lofty tower (Babel), but while they were employed int he erection, a dreadful tempest, raised by the gods, destroyed the huge edifice and scattered . . .

 

     We read in Deuteronomy 3:11-13 and 9:2 of giants; at the time the Israelites went into Palestine Hebron was a city of giants. (Num. 13:33, Joshua 15:13).

     In associating the evidence from the Bible and from European histories concerning the building of the Tower of Babel by giants, with what we have in the Book of Mormon, saying the Jaredites were large and mighty men, we turn to ancient American history and go back to the primitive people who inhabited America, and, according to the ancient records and traditions, we find that the first people, the first inhabitants, are called "Quinames" int he Indian language, the meaning of which is "giants." We will read in Native Races, vol. 5, page 198 what the Indian records say about who the first inhabitants of Mexico were:

     The Quinames, traditionally assigned as the first inhabitants of nearly every part of the country, have been the subject of much discussion among the Spanish writers. . . . Most . . . writers of this class accept more or less literally the tradition of the giants who were the first dwellers in the land, deeming the discovery of the bones of a large race of people, in various localities, corroborative authority.

 

     You will notice here that in this statement it says the first inhabitants of Mexico were Quinames, or giants.

     Native Races, Vol. 5, page 209

     At the end of the first age of the world, as we are told by Ixtlilxochitl, the earth was visited by a flood which covered the most lofty mountains, after the repeopling of the earth by the descendants of a few families who escaped destruction, at the building of a tower, and the confusion of tongues, and consequent scattering of the population--for all these things were found in the native traditions as we are informed--seven families speaking the same language kept together in their wanderings for many years; after crossing broad lands and seas, enduring great hardships, they reached Tamoanchan or Huehue Tlapallan.

 

     The footnote reads:

     The date of the arrival (of this primitive colony) in Huehue Tlapallan is given by Ixtlilxochitl as 520 years after the flood.

 

     . . . Please observe the history as it is read from the Book of Mormon 715:7-11 [Book of Ether] . . . This is surely a remarkable agreement between the Book of Mormon, and the ancient Indian records, translated by Ixtlilxochitll. If we had no other evidence, that of itself ought to make people take notice. . . . So we learn from this tradition that the primitive colony of the ancient Americans came from the Tower of Babel, and were giants. The Book of Mormon says they were large and mighty men. . . .

     For the corroborative evidences of giants once living in Mexico, I will make only a brief reference to Mexican history. While many references could be made, two, perhaps, will be sufficient. We will read from vol. 4, Bancroft's Native Races, page 547:

     Villa Senor y Sanches, one of the early Spanish writers, names Tula as one of the many localities where giants' bones have been found.

 

     Notice! In Tula, just north of the Valley of Mexico, is one of the many places where the bones of the giants have been found. On page 598, read again:

     The entrance to the cave was at the foot of a hill, and within were seated around the walls over a thousand mummies, "dressed in fine blankets made of the fibers of lechuguilla, with sandals, made of a species of liana . . . Another traveler heard of several of these caves, and that the remains found were of gigantic size.

 

Archaeology [pp. 26-->]

     In vol. 5, Native Races, page 147, we read of a historian who was a direct descendant of the Nephites, "Ixtlilxochitl"--Ist-lil-zock-e-te. Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl was a grandson of the last king of Tezcuco, from whom he inherited all that was saved of the records in the public archives. His works are more extensive than those of any other writer, covering the whole of Nahua history. there is a line or two in the footnote I would like to have read.

     He was the subject of much criticism, favorable and otherwise. The verdict of most authors seems to be that he wrote honestly, compiling from authentic documents in his possession.

 

     . . . Ixtlilxochitl, was the man who translated the document telling of the first people coming from the Tower of Babel. He translated ancient records he inherited, that tell us there were seven families that came across the sea from the Tower of Babel and that they came in seven vessels or barges or barques, one for each family; the one for animals not mentioned; making eight vessels in all. Besides this written archaeology translated by Ixtlilxochitl, there are a great number of other records that have been found and carried away that have been partially translated or worked out. There are some in Berlin, and some in the Vatican, and several in the archives of the government in Madrid, Spain. Copies of the most of these have been secured and are to be found in one of the greatest of archaeological works ever compiled in this country, that which is known as "Lord Kingsborough's Works." One set of his volumes, sold recently for twenty-four hundred dollars, so you can see from that what the words of this man are thought to be worth.

 

 

 

     . . . And while I have only broken new ground, there is now opening before us the most gigantic opportunity for students to study intensively the Book of Mormon and archaeological finds. What has already been found is marvelous, and there seems to be no limit to it. . . .

     Desire Charnay, in his "Ancient Cities of the New World," page 425, says that in traveling in this country he saw ruins everywhere, and that it would take a lifetime to visit all of the ruins in the northern part of Guatemala. . . .

     Just recently scientist have found a date by which to reckon time. In the Kansas City Journal-Post of February 24, 1924, there was an article telling of a date found in Copan, Honduras, that was 613 B.C. or 580 B.C., according to our chronology. This date was found in the ruins of the temple standing on the banks of the Copan River. . . .

     This same article also says they found dates in Tikal, in northern Guatemala, and at Palenque, in Chiapas. These dates coming to light and various other evidences from different sources, may be the hand of God moving to bring to light evidences at this particular time, for a purpose. I believe we are going to have evidences to establish the credibility of the Book of Mormon beyond anything we have had, or hoped for in the past.

 

Chapter 3: [pp. 34-->]

     . . . I refer again to the statement made in Acts 17:24-26, that God created the world and all things therein; and made of one blood all nations of men. . . .

     Let us reflect. If god created all nations of men and determined the bounds and times of their habitations, it is reasonable to believe that he would reveal himself to the people upon this American Continent.

 

     In the Indian traditions we read in vol. 1, Native Races, page 670, a very short statement concerning the first inhabitants of Mexico, but it answers our purpose at this time: "The Quinames, or giants are mentioned as the first inhabitants of Mexico." That gives us this knowledge. It shows where the Jaredites settled, where they lived. They were the first inhabitants of Mexico. In Native Races, vol. 5, read page 138 concerning the three great traditions which were universal throughout America:

     Three traditions are especially prevalent in some form in nearly every section of America; that of a deluge, of an aboriginal migration, and of giants that dwelt upon the earth at some time in the remote past.

 

     Those three traditions all agree with the Book of Mormon, that the first or primitive people came to America from the Tower of Babel and that they were giants. Then there is one great universal tradition among al the tribes of a migration from a happy land, from a place where everything seems to have been in abundance, where they were contented. This was a Nephite migration from the land of Nephi or Aztlan.

 

Migrations of the Jaredites: [pp. 38-->]

 

     . . . I want to read a statement made by one of the early writers, who came to America shortly after the conquest, and who gathered at first hand the traditions of the primitive people, the ancient Americans. He soon mastered the different dialects of the Nahuan language in Mexico and gathered together a vast amount of knowledge concerning the ancient traditions. This man was Sahagun. He came from Spain and landed in America in 1529. In Native Races, vol. 5, p. 189, please notice what this man says about the first inhabitants of America:

     Countless years ago the first settlers arrived in New Spain. Coming in ships by sea they approached a northern prot, and because they disembarked there it was called Panutla, or Panoaia, "place where they arrived who came by sea," now corruptly called Pantlan (Panuco).

 

     . . . In this statement Sahagun tells us that the first inhabitants came in ships (in the plural) and that they disembarked at Panuco. We will read another statement in connection with that which comes from another source entirely. It comes from the Mayas, or the Lamanties. (Native Races, vol. 3, p. 270):

     According to the Quiche traditions, the primitive portion of the Nahuas (the Jaredites) were in the distant east beyond immense seas and lands . . . They sailed in seven barques or ships. . . . It was at Panuco, near Tampico, that those stranger disembarked.

 

     The ancient record translated by Ixtlilxochitl, in speaking of the seven families from the tower of Babel, says that they crossed broad lands and seas. Here is says "immense seas and lands." (Native Races, vol. 5, p. 209.)

 

     . . . When we read in the Book of Mormon of the coming of the Jaredites from the tower of Babel, and that there were seven families [above], I believe such was the case, because the Almighty directed the Jaredites to bring with them animals, two of a kind of the various kinds. (Ether ) God commanded them to bring animals. So we believe that there was one bare that was provided for the animals alone, because they brought not only animals, but beasts, possibly elephants and mastodons; young ones, small in size, no doubt. They used them for beasts of burden before they left Asia, and they were beasts of burden after they reached America, as the record says. (Ether p. 737:21) Evidences have been found which should convince anyone that elephants and mastodons were being used as beasts of burden in Mexico.

     The bones of a mastodon were found among the cedar piling used in building a causeway into Lake Tezcuco, which would indicate that the lake was much larger anciently than it is now, and showing that the land at Chapingo, in the Valley of Mexico, was a part of the lake at one time. (Native Races, vol. 4, p. 527)

     In following the migrations of the colony that landed at Panuco, referred to by Torquemada, Native Races, vol. 3, p. 258, footnote, it agrees with the history of the Jaredites as given in the Book of Ether. You will notice that Mr. Bancroft in dealing with this same tradition given by Torquemada starts out by saying, "I condense as follows." . . . The passages by Torquemada referred to I condensed as follows:

     Certain people came by way of Panuco. . . . From Panuco they passed on to Tula. . . . They passed on to Cholula. . . . In Cholula these people remained and multiplied and sent colonies to people Upper and Lower Mizteca and the Zapotecan country; and these people, it is said, raised the grand edifices whose remains are still to be seen at Mictlan.

 

     Let us examine that closely. A colony came from the north (it was east) to Panuco. They came from Panuco to Tula, and from tula they moved on to Cholula. Cholula was first called Nehor, and tula was where the city of Moron was located. Their migration was southward until they came to Tula, near which there are the remains of two ancient ruins, one very much older than the other. One was a communal residence . . . built by the first Nephite tribe to return to Mexico, who were called Toltecs. In 648 A.D. they built this city which is now in ruins near Tula. The other ruins with Babylonian evidences are also near the city of tula. The bones of giants have been found there. (Native Races, vol. 4, p. 547)

     Tula is one of the many places in Mexico where the bones of giants have been found. These people moved on to Cholula, which was southward, the traditions say, then on down by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, to Mictlan or Mitla, showing the general direction, which was southward, traveled by the Jaredites after they landed.

     (Native Races, vol. 3, p. 67): The Mexicans round Cholula had a special legend, connecting the escape of a remnant from the great deluge with the often mentioned story of the origin of the people. The country around Cholula, according to Pedro de los Reos, was inhabited by giants. . . . When the waters were assuaged, one of the giants, Xelhua, surnamed the Architect, went to Cholula and began to build an artificial mountain as a monument and a memorial.

 

     (Campbell's Guide to Mexico, p. 238): The date of the building of the pyramid of Cholula is unknown. Even before the Aztecs came to the plain of Cholula the great pyramid was there in the midst and the people told them the legend of it: That it was built by a race of giants descended from the two survivors of the great deluge.

 

     The two survivors here referred to were Jared and his brother, no doubt. (Book of Mormon, 715:7)      The Book of Mormon refers to Jared and his brother and it was descendants of these two that built this great pyramid at Cholula. That pyramid today covers forty-two acres. This great pyramid was built as a memorial. Does the Jaredite history show this? On page 730:45, Book of Mormon, we read: . . . [Shule] went to the Hill Ephraim, and there secured iron and made implements of war, and made war on his brother Corihor and was successful and retook the city of Nehor, which had become the capital city of the Jaredites. First Moron was the capital, and later on it was Nehor. The 47th verse tells something of what happened when Shule returned the kingdom to his father:

     And now because of the thing which Shule had done, his father bestowed upon him the kingdom; therefore he began to reign in the stead of his father.

 

     It would be good reasoning to conclude that the name of the city of Nehor was changed to the city of Shule, now Cholula, named after this great and mighty king; and on the next page, 731, verse 66, we read another statement which is, I think, significant:

     And there were no more wars in the days of Shule; and he remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the great deep into the promised land; wherefore he did execute judgment in righteousness all his days.

 

     This does not tell us in what way he remembered the great things that the Lord had done for his fathers in bringing them across the deep; but that word remembered means something. But when we take the Indian tradition which says that a giant built the pyramid at Cholula as a monument and memorial, and learn that Shule was a large and mighty man, and the statement that Shule remembered the things which the Lord had done, we have pretty good evidence that Shule built that pyramid as a memorial to God for bringing his fathers across the sea to the promised land. He built a memorial, a monument in the city of Shule, called Cholula at the present time, as these traditions bear out that opinion (Read also Native Races vol. 5, p. 200)

 

The Jaredites Moved Southward: [pp. 44-->]

 

     . . . According to the Indians, the Jaredites crossed the ocean in a raft composed of eight barges fastened together. This is known and recorded int he Indian traditions, as follows:

     Veytia, besides his own, (ancient Indian records), had access to Botturini's valuable collection of Mexican manuscripts, so that he was well acquainted with American antiquities) . . . Veytia says, "After the destruction of the Babylonian Tower the Lord scattered the sons of men upon the face of all the earth." According to him, they crossed Tartary (Turkey) and entered America by means of large flat canoes, and square rafts, the former are described and called acalli, "Water houses," in their manuscripts. directing their course southward (from where they landed), they built their first capital, Tlapallan; (other writers say Tula, Mexico) These quotations were taken from "Ancient Cities of the New World," by Desire Charney, pages 78, 79. Think a moment; the Jaredites sailed together, and all landed at the same time; they brought with them animals that had to be cared for and fed. There is no question but what the Indian records are correct; that these eight barges were fastened together with great trees or timbers [see illustration below]

 

[1924Illustration: A Raft of the Jaredite Barges. Louis Edward Hills, New Light on American Archaeology, Independence, MO: Lambert Moon, 1924, p. 45]

 

 

     . . . (Book of Mormon. P. 719:56: "For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea." (A whale not whales) On the next page it says that they went forth upon the land and multiplied and spread. all landed at the same time and same place.

     And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep . . . . and they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants, and cureloms, and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants, and cureloms, and cumoms. (Ether )

 

     Here we have the statement that the animals were brought with them, and that they brought elephants, etc. It is quite clear to my mind when they find that the mastodon was used more than the elephant as a beat of burden, that this beast was called either the curelom or the cumom. Possibly this was the three branches of the elephant family, the elephant, the mastodon, and the mammoth. The remains of all these beasts have been found in America, and especially in Mexico.

     Again, within the last few years there have been found in Los Angeles, or right close to Los Angeles, California, in asphalt pits, the remains of elephants, mastodons, and mammoths. . . . Thousands of their bones have been found in the pits. Not animals only, for the bones of a man were found int he asphalt.

     God is bringing to light, if we may say so, evidences from a great many sources establishing the truth of the Book of Mormon claims. The oil in the asphalt pits preserved the bones and now many of them are standing in the Museum of History, Science, and Art in Los Angeles, representing many of the animals described in the Book of Mormon.

 

A General Movement Southward to the Narrow Neck of Land, or the Isthmus: [pp. 48-->]

 

     . . . Why did the Jaredites move southward? The animals fled into the land southward, and the people followed them tot he narrow neck of land, that they might get food, and King Lib became a great hunter in the land southward, yet lived just over the line in the land northward. No doubt the palaces, in ruins at Mitla, Mexico, were built by King Lib, while he was hunting in the land southward.

     And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land. And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game.

 

     There now stands by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec the ruins of a great city twelve miles long; and at Mitla are ruined palaces. Lib moved down by the narrow neck of land and became a mighty hunter in the land southward. His people were compelled to move down there in order to get food. There they built a great city by the Tehuantepec River which was the boundary line at this place between the lands Desolation and Bountiful. (see Book of Mormon, 388: 75-77) . . . At the present time there is a tribe of Indians int he Isthmus of Tehuantepec who do nothing but hunt.

     In following now the general course of the primitive people from Panuco, the place where they landed, all the traditions support the Book of Mormon in its teachings that their migrations were southward until they reached the narrow neck of land. That is quite clear and plain, and I say that by associating the Indian traditions and Indian records with the Book of Mormon we get a knowledge of geography that fits perfectly with the Book of Mormon. Other traditions in this locality add tot he Jaredite history as given by the Nephties.

     Here is a statement that tells where the last of the Jaredites were found by the Olmecs or Muleks. This is found in vol. 5, page 197, of Native Races:

     Our knowledge of the Olmec history subsequent to their first appearance, is confined to a few events which occurred in Puebla. Here chiefly on the Rio Atoyac near Puebla de los Angeles and Cholula, they found the Quinames, or giants. These Quinames, as Ixtlilxochitl states, were survivors of the great destruction which closed the second age of the world.

 

     Coriantumr, last of the Jaredites, was discovered between Puebla and Cholula, on the banks of the Rio Atoyac. The last of the giants was found by the Olmecs soon after they landed, as they records say in the beginning of their history. . . . (Book of Mormon, 202:37, 39)

     And Coraintumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. And his first parents came out from the tower . . . and the severity of the Lord fell upon them, according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward.

 

     The "land northward" is the land Desolation. Their bones were scattered here. the part of the Mulekite colony that remained where they first landed went inland and found Coriantumr on the banks of the Rio Atoyac between Cholula and Puebla. That would be but natural, because Cholula was the capital city. . . .

 

 

1924^      B. H. Roberts            "Destruction of Ancient Nations in America," in the Improvement Era, February

                        1924, pp.

 

 

     Note* This message of Elder Roberts was read by LeRoi C. Snow at the Smith Farm meeting, Cumorah Conference, September 23, 1923 (see notation above).

 

     The Book of Mormon Message to the Gentile Nations Occupying the Land

     By B. H. Roberts, of the First Council of Seventy and President of the Eastern States Mission.

 

     Two nations, with two distinct civilizations, occupied America in ancient times, and both had been destroyed before the arrival of the Europeans who came toward the close of the fifteenth century.

     The colony which developed into the first nation came direct from the Euphrates Valley--from the Tower of Babel, at the time of the confusion of languages. They were known as the Jaredites . . . Under divine direction this colony departed from Babel northward, and thence were led through Asia, eastwardly, until they came to the shore of the great sea--the Pacific Ocean--" which divided the lands." Here they remained four years; and then by divine commandment constructed eight barges in which to cross the mighty ocean to a land of promise . . . The colony is generally supposed to have landed on the western coast of North America, probably south of the Gulf of California.

     This colony finally so multiplied that it became a mighty people, one of the greatest nations of antiquity, with a population spread over a great part of eastern North America--including Central America, Mexico, thence northward to the great lakes, and from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic. Their numbers, according to the record, must have exceeded ten millions of people.

     The Jaredites had a varied experience; peace and war; famine, pestilence, revolutions,; the usual ebb and flow of prosperity and adversity they experienced; wealth, corruption; then decline and barbarism, and finally destruction, up to utter extinction of the nation and race. This last calamity overtook them about six hundred years B.C., in the region of the Hill Cumorah, called by them Ramah, and about the time of the landing of the second colony upon the shores of America,viz.,

 

     The Nephites were a colony that came direct from Jerusalem, made up of families who were descendants of the Patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob. They were led by their prophets and seers to the land of America, where they also expanded into a nation. Internal strifes early separated them into two main divisions, known as Nephites and Lamanites. . . [The Nephites] were overwhelmed and destroyed by the barbarous Lamanites, also about the Hill Cumorah. After the Lamanites, already degenerated into anarchy, lived on in a state of barbarism, resolved into the tribal relations obtaining when discovered by Europeans near the close of the fifteenth century. . . .

 

     Note* The perspective taken here by Elder Roberts is very interesting in light of the studies he had just recently completed concerning those scholarly opinions of the time which opposed the Book of Mormon archaeological and cultural scenario for the time period of history which it covered in the Americas. --See the notations for 1922

 

 

1925^      J. M. Sjodahl            "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon," in The Latter-day Saints' Millennial

                       Star, No. 9, Vol. 87, February 26, 1925, pp. 132-34.

 

     Sjodahl writes:

     With regard to the present Indians, modern research has come to the conclusion:

     (1) That they are one race.

     Dr. Brinton includes even the Esquimaux in this classification. His observation is that the entire race is "singularly uniform in its physical traits, and individuals taken from any part of the continent could easily be mistaken for inhabitants of numerous other parts." He further argues that the culture of the native Americans strongly attests the ethnic unity of the race, and this, he says, applies equally to the ruins and relics of its vanished nations as to the institutions of existing tribes.

     The psychic identity of the American Indians, Dr. Brinton further points out, is illustrated in their languages, which, notwithstanding their diversity in lexicography and surface morphology, are strikingly alike in their logical substructure, or what Humboldt calls their "inner form." This unity is, finally, indicated by their social institutions, their arts, myths, traditions and religious rites. Is not the unity of the Indian race the teaching of the Book of Mormon?

     (2) That "the primitive lines of emigration, so far as they relate to North America, were probably from the south to the north; nor is there wanting historical evidences of such a movement." I quote this from Dr. Foster, Prehistorical Races of the United States, p. 380. Later movements were from the north to the south. . . .

     (3) That whatever the origin of the Indian civilisation and whatever modifications it may have had, due to either internal or external causes, it still retains unmistakable marks of its relationship with the civilisations of Asia and Egypt, and especially the Semitic branch of the eastern culture.

     This is my own conclusion based on Indian myths and traditions and numerous words of Hebrew and Egyptian origin, as disclosed by modern research.

 

 

1926            The Church Institutes of Religion Are Established

 

 

 

 

 

1926^      John Orval Ellsworth      "A Land of Many Waters," Improvement Era 30 (December 1926):

                       pp. 180-181

 

     Dr. J. O. Ellsworth writes:

     A familiar sight to the Prophet Joseph Smith was the accompanying photograph of the setting sun in "A Land of Many Waters."

     As I sat, I pondered: What a glorious sight! If only those hills, those waters, those woods could speak! Did the rippling waves so sparkle one hundred years ago, when along yonder hill the prophet of the living God made many trips to and from Colesville, Harmony, Fayette, and hill Cumorah, carrying the record of a lost civilization? Those same hills 1,500 years ago were the hunting grounds and last camp of Mormon and his Nephite army. There, too, the vanquished Jaredites made their last stand.

     The picture shows Lake Cayuga, one of the many glacial lakes of central and northern New York, which I think are spoken of in the Book of Mormon as "A land of many waters." The north end of Cayuga is six miles east of the Peter Whitmer farm where the Church was organized, and is only thirty miles southeast of the Hill Cumorah.

     Mormon and Moroni, in the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon and in the latter's personal instructions to Joseph Smith, in my estimation, unquestionably identifies this portion of New York state. "And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the Hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers and fountains." (Morm: 6:4.)

     The early history of the Nephites tells that King Limhi sent forty three of his men to find their friends at Zarahemla. "They were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla, but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters; having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, etc, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind; having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel." (Mosiah 8:8)

     A knowledge of the fertility and natural resources of the land to the north is evidenced in the advice of the leader of the opposing forces of the armies of Moroni, the great Nephite general: "Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward." (Alma 50:29)

     Again I think there is reference to the same country when we read that many left "Zarahemla and went forth into the land northward, to inherit the land. And they did travel to an exceeding great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water, and many rivers." (Helaman 3:3-4)

           Stilwater, Oklahoma

 

 

 

1927^      Orson F. Whitney      "Some Historical and Prophetic Phases of the Book of Mormon," in

                       the Improvement Era, Vol. 30, No. 11, September 1927, pp. . See also A

                       Book of Mormon Treasury: Selections from the Pages of the Improvement

                       Era , Salt Lake City:Bookcraft, 1959, p. 217;

 

     Orson F. Whitney writes:

     In the summer of 1914, it fell to my lot to visit some of the scenes made memorable by the early experiences of the Latter-day Saints. One object of surpassing interest was the Hill Cumorah, called "Mormon Hill" by the inhabitants of the region in which it is situated-namely, western New York state about midway between the towns of Palmyra and Manchester. . . . I bore a letter of introduction to a prominent citizen of Palmyra, Mr. P. T. Sexton, a wealthy lawyer and banker who owned the Hill Cumorah and the old printing office in which the Book of Mormon went to press. . . .

     At the close of a very pleasant interview with Mr. Sexton, he called for his car and directed the chauffeur to take me to the Hill Cumorah "and wherever else Mr. Whitney would like to go." This commission was faithfully executed.

     Two and a half miles south of Palmyra, we halted at the Smith Farm (then as now the property of the Church) and entered the Sacred Grove, the scene of the Prophet Joseph's First Vision. I also stepped inside the house, a comparatively new structure built upon the site of a humbler dwelling in which the youthful seer had his earliest interviews with the Angel Moroni. We then sped on to "Mormon Hill."

        Before leaving my home among the towering mountains I had been told by friends who had seen the famous hill that it would disappoint me, being not much of a hill, after all. But I felt no disappointment on beholding it. Cumorah is not a mountain but it certainly is a hill, and the most considerable one in that beautiful rolling country. It is of the variety known as a glacial drumlin, the highest part being a bold bluff facing north rising abruptly from a lane, and gradually receding southward until lost in the more level plain beyond. I would say that the Hill Cumorah about equals in height the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, exclusive of the towers. . . .

     On the west side, a little below the hilltop and overlooking the road running toward manchester, grew a rosebush, planted by some unknown hand to mark the spot where the stone box was taken out one hundred years ago containing the record plates of the Book of Mormon.

 

 

     Note* Orson F. Whitney was ordained an apostle on April 9, 1906 at the age of 50.

 

 

 

 

1927^      Janne Sjodahl            "Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography," The Improvement Era,

(geog)                        30, September 1927, 974-87, 1002.

 

     Note* The details on Book of Mormon geography included in this article would be published in book form the same year (see notation below). "A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography" would become Chapter 17.

 

     Bruce A. Van Orden writes that in 1921, Janne Sjodahl met in what appears to be a quasi-official meeting at Church headquarters on the question of geography. Joel Ricks and Colonel Willard young presented their individual feelings at the meeting. Sjodahl recorded these theories together with another one by Stuart Bagley as well as Reynolds's theory in The Improvement Era in 1927 ("Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography," The Improvement Era, 30, September 1927, 974-87, 1002) and in his book An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon published the same year (see pp. 418ff.).

     Sjodahl agreed with Reynolds on the landing place of Lehi. But from there their points of view diverge. Sjodahl used another alleged statement of Joseph Smith to place Zarahemla in Central America. The narrow neck of land then became the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico. The land of Nephi was part of the greater land of Lehi and was in South America. The land of Zarahemla was identified with the ancient Mayan empire in southern Mexico and the United States were Mulek or Desolation. The hill Cumorah was in New York State. Sjodahl used a "great amount of archaeological and ethnological material concerning the American Indians" to arrive at his conclusions which identified certain cities and areas. Sjodahl broke new ground in Book of Mormon scholarship by stating that not all American Indians are descendants of Lehi or Mulek and their companions, but that there were probably many other immigrants to America besides those reported in the Book of Mormon.

 

Source: Bruce A. Van Orden, "George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl on Book of Mormon Geography" in The Ensign, August 1981,

 

 

 

1927^      J. M. Sjodahl      An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon,SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927

(geog)

 

     Sjodahl's 1927 book is significant for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because Sjodahl was privy to the discussions of the 1820-21 Church committee responsible for reviewing the evidence on Book of Mormon geography. Thus Sjodahl's writings can be considered as perhaps a distillation of the ideas expressed in those meetings. The second reason is that Sjodahl's writings represented a paradigm shift in Book of Mormon geographical theory to a Modified Hemispheric Theory. In this approach, previous authoritative statements regarding Lehi's landing in Chile and the New York Hill Cumorah were supported, but the Narrow Neck was extended northward to reach the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to accommodate the rich traditions and antiquities located in Central America. In other words, Sjodahl combined both the "authoritative" power of the Hemispheric Theory and the archaeological and traditional history power of a Central American Theory

 

     In Chapter 1 Sjodahl goes back to various authoritative statements regarding the New York Hill Cumorah and writes the following:

     The Hill Cumorah

     The Hill Cumorah is situated in western New York, between the villages of Palmyra and Canandaigua, about four miles from the former. It is celebrated as the ancient depository of the sacred gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. Cumorah was the name by which the hill was designated in the days of he Prophet Moroni, who deposited the plates about four hundred and twenty years after the birth of Christ. The Prophet Mormon, the father of Moroni, had been entrusted with all the sacred records of his forefathers, engraved on metalic plates. New plates were made by Mormon on which he wrote, from the more ancient books, an abridged history of the nation, incorporating therewith many revelations, prophecies, the Gospel, etc.

     These new plates were given to Moroni to finish the history, and all the ancient plates, Mormon deposited in Cumroah, about three hundred and eighty-four years after Christ. When Moroni, about thirty-six years after, mae the deposit of the book entrusted to him, he was, without doubt, inspired to select a department of the hill separate from the great sacred depository of the numerous volumes hid up by his father. The particular place in the hill, where Moroni secreted the book, was revealed, by the angel, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, to whom the volume was delivered in September, A.D. 1827. But the grand repository of all the numerous records of the ancient nations of the western continent, was located in another department of the hill, and its contents under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of Zion.

     The hill Cumorah, with the surrounding vicinity, is distinguished as the great battlefield on which, and near which, two powerful nations were concentrated with all their forces, men, women and children, and fought till hundreds of thousands on both sides were hewn down, and left to molder upon the ground. Both armies were Israelites; both had become awfully corrupt, having apostatized from God: the Nephites, as a nation, became extinct: the Lamanites alone were left. This happened, according to their faithful records, near the close of the fourth century of the Christian era. The American Indians are the remnants of the once powerful nation of Lamanites.

     The Hill Cumorah is remarkable also as being the hill on which and around which, a still more ancient nation perished, called Jaredites: this unparalleled destruction is recorded in the Book of Ether; and happen about six centuries before Christ. The Jaredites colonized America from the Tower of Babel. After about sixteen centuries, during which they became exceedingly numerous, they, through their terrible wars, destroyed themselves. The hill Cumorah, by them, was called Ramah. Millions fought millions, until the Hill Ramah, and the land round about, was soaked with blood, and their carcasses left in countless numbers unburied, to moulder aback to Mother Earth.--Orson Pratt, Mill[ennial] Star, Vol. 28, p. 417.

 

     Oliver Cowdery, in his address to the Delaware Indians on the Book of Mormon, in 1831, said, in part: "this book . . . was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him, Cumorah, which hill is now in the state of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario County."--Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 59

 

     By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah (It is printed Camorah which is an error). In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites--once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt. A few had fled to the south, who were hunted down by the victorious party, and all who would not deny the Savior and his religion, were put to death. Mormon, himself, according to the record of his son Moroni, was also slain."--Messenger and Advocate, July, 1835, p. 158.

     Cumorah is Ramah. Oliver Cowdery, further says:

     This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah; by it, or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents. Coriantumr was the last king of the Jaredites. The opposing army were to the west, and in this same valley, and near by, from day to day, did that mighty race spill their blood . . . In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellowmen."--Ibid, p. 159

 

     It has been stated that there is no evidence near Cumorah of fierce battles in the past. That statement is completely answered in the following letter from Sister Susa Young Gates to the author:

     In 1901 Elder Claude Taylor and myself visited the Hill Cumorah and had an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Samson who then owned the Hill and the farm adjoining. Mr. Samson was the brother of Admiral Samson, but he was very prejudiced against the Mormon people. However, we spent some time talking with him.

     Outside the farmhouse Elder Taylor and myself noted several bushel baskets filled with arrow heads and I asked Mrs. Samson what they were. She said they had just begun to plow up the hill Culmorah and around the hill to plant some crops, and they turned up these arrow heads by the basket full. I asked her what she did with them. She replied that she sold them to tourists who passed by. I inquired the price of them, and she replied, "Twenty-five cents." I purchased two and when I returned home I gave one to President Joseph F. Smith. The other one I have kept and it is still in my possession. This seems good evidence of the wars which have been fought around this historical hill.

 

     [Note* I have yet to find a published source or date for this letter from Susa Young Gates to Janne Sjodahl. The only published article I can find on Susa Young Gates' 1901 visit to the New York hill is found in the Young Woman's Journal, Vol. XII., No. 1, January, 1901, pp. 18-26. Although many details are given in this article, no mention is made of any arrow heads.]

 

     David Whitmer Hears the Name Cumorah for the First Time. In the year 1887, David Whitmer told Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith the following incident:

     When I was returning to Fayette, with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old fashioned, wooden spring seat, and Joseph behind us--when traveling along in a clear, open space, a very pleasant, nice-looking, old man suddenly appeared by the side of the wagon, and saluted us with, "Good morning, it is very warm," at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride, if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, "No, I am going to Cumorah." This name was something new to me. I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked around inquiringly at Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again.

 

     Whitmer described his appearance, and added: "It was the messenger who had the plates [of the Book of Mormon], who had taken them from Joseph just prior to starting from Harmony."--Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, p. 209.

 

     On the last couple of pages in Chapter 1 we find the following concerning the New York Hill:

     "What became of the Book of Mormon plates," is a question sometimes asked. Brigham Young, at a special conference at Farmington, June 17, 1877, on which occasion the Davis stake was organized, said:

     When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there the hill opened and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the sunlight or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates probably than many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: "this sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ! --Jour. of Dis., Vol. 19, p 38.

 

     President Young, in the same discourse, said he had this from Oliver Cowdery himself, and from others familiar with the incident related. "Don Carlos Smith," he says, was a "witness to these things." He also mentions Samuel and Hyrum Smith.

 

     Chapter 4 (geog)

     Jaredites

 

     Settlements in the Land of Promise. . . . Orson Pratt was of the opinion that "the [Jaredite] colony, . . . landed on the western coast of Mexico, and extended their settlements over all the North American portion of the continent, where they dwelt until about six centuries before Christ, when, because of wickedness, they were all destroyed." (Mill. Star, Vol. 38, p. 693)

 

     [Sjodahl proceeds to tell the Jaredite story using only internal (textual) references.]

 

     . . . The opposing armies then took up strong positions near the hill Ramah. . . . The outcome of that battle was that both armies were annihilated. (Eth. 15:15-323) Shiz was slain. Coriantumr escaped and eventually reached the country of Zarahemla. (Omni 1:21)

 

     All Jaredites not Slain. The general understanding, I believe, is that the entire jaredite race was exterminated in this sanguinary battle, with the exception of Coriantumr. It is, of course, possible that the narrative is to be so understood, but the probability is that the prophet only refers to the annihilation of the two armies and the end of the monarchial form of government.

 

     Chapter 6

 

     Another Manti. In 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others, found it best, on account of apostasy and bitterness, to leave Kirtland and go to Far West, Mo., where the Saints were endeavoring to establish themselves. On September 25, they passed through Huntsville, Randolph Co., and the prophet is said to have told the brethren that that place, where a stake of Zion had been established, was "the ancient site of the city of Manti." (Andrew Jenson, Hist. Rec., p. 601) Whether "the ancient site of Manti" refers to the Manti in the Book of Mormon is a question that has been debated. Some prefer to regard it as a reference to a later City of Manti, built by descendants of Nephi in Missouri. (Sjodahl notes here: "That many of the descendants of Lehi, both Nephites and Lamanites, found their way to North America is beyond doubt.")

 

     At the very end of Chapter 6 we find the following:

     Zarahemla. . . . That Bountiful and Zarahemla refer to the same country seems to be clear from these passages: "Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful," (Alma 22:31) "The land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla." (Ether 9:31) That the two countries were identical only in part, however, may be inferred from this reference to the two countries: "And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land of Desolation." (3 Ne. 3:23) From which it appears that the two countries were adjacent, but that Zarahemla did not extend as far as the boundary line between Desolation and the land on the southward, but that Bountiful did. My impression is that practically the entire Central America was called Bountiful, and that a great part of the country along the Atlantic was known among the Nephites as Zarahemla, while the Pacific coast was more particularly the land of Nephi, after the people had been driven from their first inheritance into the land Bountiful. As has been stated on page 130, many of the descendants of Lehi, both Nephites and Lamanties found their way to North America. As an illustration of this fact the following incident may be referred to.

     It happened during the trek of Zion's Camp to Missouri in 1834. On June 2, that year, the Prophet, accompanied by some of the brethren, ascended a high mound. On the top of this mound they found what appeared to be the remains of three altars and some human bones. On removing the earth to the depth of a foot, they came upon a skeleton, almost entire. It had an arrow between the ribs. Brigham Young retained the arrow, and parts of the skeleton were carried to Clay county.

     While the brethren were together, the Spirit of the Lord enlightened the understanding of the Prophet Joseph, and he declared that the remains were the skeleton of a "white Lamanite," a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet, Onandagus, who was known from the hill Cumorah, or eastern sea, to the Rocky Mountains. The name of the warrior was Zelph. (Andrew Jenson, Hist. Rec., p. 581) (Alma 22:33)

 

     Chapter 7

 

     Luumil Ahau. This, according to le Plongeon, is Maya for "The King's Country." (Queen Moo, p. XIV) Bishop Landa reads the glyph representing that name, Yaxkin, which is the name of the seventh month of the Maya calendar, and translates it, "the vigorous sun." If, however, Dr. Plongeon says, we interpret the symbol phonetically, it gives us, "the country of the king, which is surrounded by water;" or, "the kingdom in the water." IT is the name, he says, in the Troano manuscript, for the Maya kingdom.

     It might be remembered in this connection that Jacob, the brother of Nephi, shortly after the exodus from the first settlement in the Land of Lehi, in his teachings, told his brethren that they were upon an "isle of the sea" (2 Ne. 10:20), referring, possibly, to South America; and also that there were other "isles of the sea," which were "inhabited by our brethren," because the Lord had led others away from the house of Israel, "according to his will and pleasure." If he alluded to the Mulekites, among others, which he may have seen in his prophetic vision, he may well have referred to Central America as one of the other isles, where the Maya kingdom at one time flourished. In the Book of Alma (22:32) the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla are said to be "nearly surrounded by water," there being, as I understand it, a "narrow neck of land" at each extremity. (Alma 22:32; 50:34)

     According to Dr. Augustus le Plongeon, long, long ago the land of the Mayas had attained to a high degree of culture in arts and sciences. The Mayas were mighty navigators, whose ships traveled the seas, and they became known as such. . . .Mr. le Plongeon's theory is that the Mayas, like the British of today, had colonies all over the world, and that traces of their culture are still found in many parts of the world. This agrees with the thought expressed by Elder George Reynolds, that America, during the reign of the Jaredites was not cut off from the rest of the world, as it was later, after the colonization by Lehi. But this is, of course, only a theory which has yet to be proved, or disproved.

 

     Chapter 12

 

     As the Peruvians, as far as known, had no written records, our scholars have only tradition to guide them in their search for historical facts beyond a century and a half before the conquest. There are certain ornaments on artifacts of pre-Incan origin, which seem to suggest writing of some kind. Such are the figures on the gateway at Tiahuanacu, the ornamentation on vases from various coast sites, certain carvings on rocks and ont he "breast plate" described by Sir Clements Markhan. And Montesinos asserts that in the reign of Toca Corca Apui Capac, the fortieth Peruvian king, "there were letters and characters on parchment and on the leaves of trees, until all this was lost for a period of four hundred years."

     Undoubtedly, this is what Montesinos had been told, and there is nothing incredible in the tradition. But at the time of the conquest the only records the Peruvians had were the quipus. These consisted of strings of different lengths and colors, with artistically tied knots, each with a meaning of its own. This contrivance served many purposes admirably--more so than we, with our elaborate system of writing can imagine--but as historical records the strings were not satisfactory. The early history of the Peruvians, aside from the light shed upon it by the Book of Mormon, is lost in myths, legends, and conjectures.

 

     Chapter 16

     In a Cave. In the Book of Ether it is noted that the prophet of that name and the Jaredite dispensation, towards the end of his life, took refuge in a cave, where he finished his records, while in the daytime he watched the progress of the devastating battle that raged in the vicinity. (Ether 13:13,14,18,22)

     Caves in America. In this country, caves were frequently used for burial places in the early days of history. Caves have been found in Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, California, Durango and in Chihuahau, Mexico, and in Peru and many other places, from which mummies, or human bones have been removed. The walls of some caves in California are covered with drawings of men and strange animals. In other caves stone arrow-points, and vases resembling Egyptian pottery have been found. It may have been such a burial cave that served the Prophet Ether for refuge.

     Other caves were inhabited. In Pulaski county, Mo., such a dwelling has been discovered. It contained several human skeletons, surrounded by bones of deer, bears, mud-turtles and wild turkeys. Shelter cave, near Elyria, Loraine Co., Ohio, is another such remarkable habitation. Human bones, mixed with those of the bear, wolf, elk, rabbit, and squirrel, have been found here. It is supposed the occupants perished by the fall of part of the roof.

     In Pennsylvania, about 80 miles from Philadelphia, on the face of a cliff by the Susquehanna river, a cave has been found, containing human remains and arrow-points of various shapes and stages of manufacture; also so-called tomahawks, knives, turtle bones, shells, fragments of pottery, a pipe, and pestle and some pigments.

     Other caves have been explored in Kentucky, in New York, near Saratoga, and many other places. The cave dwellers were hunters and agriculturists. . . .

     Very little is known concerning these people, but it is quite possible that the Jaredites, or some of them, during the long period of war and anarchy that preceded the final struggle, resorted to caves as shelter against enemies, just as the Prophet Ether did. The country was also, later, filled with lawless bands, who, in all probability used caves as hiding places and convenient bases of operation. Some of them, it is thought, were inhabited about 2,000 years ago.

 

     Chapter Seventeen

     A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography

 

     The main key to Book of Mormon geography is Alma 22:27-34. That passage was penned for the special purpose of furnishing important information on that subject, as far as knowledge concerning countries, rivers, cities, etc., can be conveyed without drawings or maps.

     Difficult to Understand. There is, perhaps, no passage in the Book of Mormon more difficult to read understandingly. Judging from my own experience, I have no doubt that many have perused it again and again without being able to form a clear conception of the picture presented. . . .

     A Maya map. Maps made at the time of Alma would, possibly, have been still more unintelligible to us. To illustrate: Dr. Augustus le Plongeon tells us that the old Maya empire is drawn, in the Troano manuscript, as a tree, the trunk of which, representing Central America, springs out of a calabash, meaning "the south," and with a single branch, representing Yucatan, while the Caribbean sea appears as an animal resembling a deer. Such was, if the learned doctor is not mistaken, a very anceint American map. If similar drawings had appeared in the Book of Mormon, they would have been of little help to us.

 

[Illustration: A Maya map showing the peninsula of Yucatan and surroundings, according to Augustus le Plongeon, in Queen Moo. J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 408]

 

 

     [Note* J. M. Sjodahl now summarizes (1) the Reynolds 1880 model, yet he grants it is only one of a number of "theories," and then he includes (2) Joel Ricks of Logan, Utah; (3) Col. Willard Young; (4) Stuart Bagley and (5) himself.]

 

A Well Known [TRADITIONAL HEMISPHERIC] Theory [by Elder George Reynolds]:

     The best known theory concerning the geography of the Book of Mormon is that represented by the late George Reynolds in his "Story of the Book of Mormon." According to this theory . . . the Jaredites went in a northerly direction from the Valley of Nimrod as far as the Caspian Sea, which they crossed; then, turning eastward, they journeyed along the Central Asia plateau; thence to the Pacific seaboard, most probably on the coast of China. . . . Finally, they crossed the Ocean. The voyage lasted 344 days. "It is generally understood," Elder Reynolds points out, "that the place where they landed was south of the Gulf of California, north of the Isthmus of Panama." After a history of about sixteen hundred years, the Jaredites were all slain at the battle of Ramah, later called Cumorah, in the state of New York, except the king, Coriantumr, and the prophet-historian, Ether.

     According to the same theory, Lehi and his little flock journeyed across the peninsula of Arabia to its eastern coast. . . . and crossed the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and after an eventful voyage they landed at a point near where the city of Valparaiso now is situated, in Chile. From here they gradually spread northward, and after a history extending over almost a thousand years, the Nephites were exterminated at the hill Cumorah, in the State of New York.

     According to the same theory, the attendants who had charge of the young prince of Judah, Mulek, the son of Zedekiah, were brought across the great waters and landed in the southern portion of North America. Here they remained for some years, and then they went southward to the place where they were discovered by Mosiah and his followers, about 200 years before our era.

     To those who hold this theory, the entire North America is, in the Book of Mormon, called "Mulek," because the Lord brought Mulek into the land. South America is, for a similar reason, called "Lehi," because this great colonist landed there. Zarahemla, where Mosiah found the Mulekites, is located in the northern part of South America, as one grand division of the Land of Lehi, the Land of Nephi being the other.

 

This [Hemispheric] Theory Modified [by Elder Joel Ricks]:

     According to Elder Joel Ricks . . . the Jaredites landed on the west coast of Central America and established themselves in Honduras, where they built their capital [Note* This is an incorrect statement. In the 1904 Bulletin, Ricks actually has the Jaredites coming west from Babel, crossing over the Atlantic to the Gulf of Honduras and landing on the west coast of Yucatan. In his 1940 manuscript, the concept remains unchanged]. From there they spread out over all Central America, Mexico, and the greater portion of what is now the United States.

     According to Elder Ricks, the colony of Lehi landed on the western coast of South America, in northern Chile, and built up the civilizations in the high valleys of the Andes. About 200 years B.C., Nephites moved from the districts about Quito into the valleys opening to the Caribbean, where they came upon the Mulekites, with whom they amalgamated and founded the kingdom of Zarahemla. Five hundred years later [this is incorrect--see the 1940 manuscript] they pushed northward and gradually filled Central America, Mexico, and the greater portion of what is now the United States.

     The Mulekite colony landed on the northern coast of South America, near the mouth of the Magdalena river. They occupied the entire valley and the plains westward toward the Isthmus, and here they were joined by the Nephites under Mosiah. . . .

 

[Illustration: Relief Map Showing Portion of Central America with Location of Principal Ancient Ruins. J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, 3-page insert between pp. 412-413]

 

     Elder Ricks has the advantage of having personally explored some of the ruins remaining from the ancient civilizations of our country and studied the topography of the localities about which he writes.

 

The Central American Theory (by Willard Young) [LIMITED MESOAMERICA]:

     A theory, of more recent date, holds that the geographical scene of the history of the Book of Mormon is confined to a comparatively small area of Central America, viz., Guatemala, British Honduras, part of Yucatan, and Salvador. In this area, it is thought, the Jaredites, the Mulekites and the followers of Lehi, all established their first colonies . . .

     According to this theory, which has been forcefully advocated by Colonel Willard Young, after years of study of the Book of Mormon and standard works on American archaeology, the Jaredites, in their barges, came through the Dardanelles into the Mediterranean, passed through the straits of Gibraltar, crossed the Atlantic, and, finally landed on the east coast of Central America, in the Bay of Honduras. All of the lands and cities mentioned in the Book of Ether are, Colonel Young holds, located in Honduras and Guatemala--mostly in Guatemala. The land of Moron is in the upper valley of the Copan River, in Honduras and Guatemala. . . . The hill Shim is between Jalapa and Chiquimula. . . . The hill Ramah is the hill between the cities of Chiquimula and Jocatan.

     Lehi and his colony, according to Colonel Young, left the Gulf of Persia and crossed the Indian and the Pacific Oceans and landed on the shore of Salvador in Central America. The land of Nephi is the upper valley of the Humuya River in Honduras. The land of Zarahemla is on the west side of the Ulua River in Honduras. The land southward is Honduras, San Salvador and Nicaragua. The land northward is Guatemala, British Honduras, Yucatan and Chiapas. . . . The hill Cumorah (Ramah) is between the cities of Jalapa and Chiquimula in Guatemala. The River Sidon is the Ulua River. The land Bountiful is on both sides of the Ulua River near the Gulf of Honduras.

     Mulek and his colony, Colonel Young believes, came out of the Mediterranean Sea, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and landed on the northern shore of Honduras near the mouth of the Ulua River. The city of Zarahemla is at or near the present city of San Pedro Sula.

 

[1927      Theoretical Model      Willard Young      LIMITED CENTRAL AMERICA]

L.S.=Honduras / N.N.=East. end of Guatemala / L.N.=Guatemala-->Chiapas / H.C.= near Jalapa, Guatemala      

Source: See Janne M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, 1927. Sjodahl indicates that Young was among four persons who in 1921 presented their opinions at "what appears to be a quasi-official meeting at Church headquarters on the question of geography." Information listed in John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 221

 

Another theory of Book of Mormon Geography [by Elder Stuart Bagley]:

     Elder Stuart Bagley . . . states that according to his belief the colony of Jared journeyed westward from the land of their nativity in Babylonia until they came to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where they built barges and sailed in an almost due west direction to the coast of Tunis in northern Africa. . . . the wanderers were led through the wilderness of Algiers to the coast of Morocco, near the western extremity of he Atlas range of mountains. The colony constructed their eight barges on the Moroccan coast, the high mount Shelem being one of the peaks of the Atlas mountains. . . .the ocean drift currents carried them across the Atlantic to the shores of Yucatan. . . . the length of time required to complete such a journey has been calculated and found to agree very remarkably with the statement of the Book of Mormon that three hundred and four and forty days was necessary.

     After the Jaredites are safely landed in Central America we can best forget them so far as the Nephite geography is concerned, Elder Bagley remarks. It is believed, he continues, that the ruins of Uxmal in western Yucatan are the remains of the city of Nephi. . . . Zarahemla is about three hundred miles south of Nephi on the Rio Chixoy, which is the right fork of the Usumacinta river. The Sea West is the Gulf of Mexico; the Sea East the Gulf of Honduras, while the East Sea includes them both and the West Sea is the Pacific ocean. The Usumacinta river is the Sidon.

     The land Bountiful is in Chiapas; the city Bountiful being Palenque. . . . Tehuantepec is the Narrow Neck of a day and a half's journey and it is believed that it was narrower in former times by forty or fifty miles. . . . Desolation is north of the isthmus of Tehuantepec and includes all of Mexico north and west of the high divide. The line of fortifications erected by Nephi was not a continuous wall like the Great Wall of China but rather a system of fortified cities and forts extending from the Gulf of Honduras on the east, in a southwesterly direction to the Pacific Ocean. And from the same Gulf of Honduras in a northwesterly direction to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

     

[1927      Charles Stuart Bagley      LIMITED HEMISPHERIC]

L.S.=Yucatan & Guatemala / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuantepec / L.N.= Note Specified / H.C.= N.Y.      

Sources: J.M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, 1927. The fact that Sjodahl felt the need to summarize Bagley's theory indicates that it had not been previously published. See also Bagley's "A New Approach to the Geography of the Book of Mormon," in Papers of the Fourteenth Annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures, ed. by Forrest R. Hauck, pp. 70-86, Provo: BYU Dept. of Extension Publications, 1963. See also two unpublished manuscripts by Bagley: "The Limhi Expedition," and "A Textual Geography of the Book of Mormon," both dated 1985, copies in FARMS archives.

 

 

     Difficult, but not Impossible. In view of the many differing opinions concerning this subject, an endeavor to find the correct one might be thought fruitless. But it should not be, since the divine promise, "Seek, and ye shall find," never fails. But in the search for truth, it often happens that preconceived ideas muist be given up. We may have to sell all we have in order to obtain one pearl of great price.

 

 

Material for a Theory [Janne Sjodahl now proposes his MODIFIED HEMISPHERIC Theory]:

     In trying to form a consistent theory on Book of Mormon geography, we have as material, in the first place, [1] the statements in the Book, itself. These are the foundation and the substance. Nothing that contradicts any of them can be admitted. [2] Then we have certain statements concerning the subject, which can be traced back to some of the first leaders of the Church, who were the associates of the Prophet Joseph himself, and these cannot be set aside lightly, even if they are regarded as mere individual opinions; for even an opinion on a Book of Mormon question, expressed by one who, undoubtedly, had it from the Prophet himself, must be of more weight than, for instance, my opinion, if it differs from theirs. This is, I suppose, a self-evident proposition.

     I refer now especially to the positive statements by Frederick G. Williams, and Orson Pratt concerning the landing of Lehi south of the Isthmus of Darien, and the just as positive assertion in the Times and Seasons, which was edited by the Prophet Joseph, to the effect that the city of Zarahemla stood in Central America, where also the boundary line between Bountiful and Desolation was drawn. (Times and Seasons, Oct. 1, 1842) Such statements, it seems to me, cannot consistently be set aside for the sake of any theory. [3] In the third place, we have now a great amount of archaeological and ethnological material concerning the American Indians, most of whom, if not all, are the descendants of the Jaredites, the Nephites, the Lamanties and the Mulekites. Much of this material is as yet only theory, but some of it must be accepted as fact, and our theories concerning the geography of the Book of Mormon must have room for such facts. For truth is truth, wherever found, and, while it is true that the Book of Mormon furnishes the solution of many problems that puzzle archaeologists, it is equally true, that archaeology helps us to understand some obscure passages in the Book of Mormon.

 

[1927      Janne M. Sjodahl      MODIFIED HEMISPHERIC]

Lehi's Landing = South America / N.N.= Isth. of Tehuan. / H.C.= N.Y.      

Source: J.M. Sjodahl, "Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography," in Improvement Era 30 (September 1927), pp. 974-87. Also An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, 1927, p. 420

 

     The Important Question.

     If this is admitted, the question arises: Is it possible to form a theory in which all this material can be united? I believe it is. Let me explain, however, that I do not claim to have been able to form such an infallible theory myself. Others may find flaws in my reasoning, which I, myself, do not happen to see. The key here offered is, therefore, by way of suggestion rather than assertion. But even a suggestion may have its value.

 

     The Key Word.

     The passage, which may be called the key word to the whole subject is as follows:

     [Alma 22:27-34 is then quoted in full without any special bolding or italics] . . .

     The following are some of the outstanding features of Alma 22:27-34:

 

     The Land of Nephi.

     There are two lands of Nephi. [See map below] Both are mentioned in verse 28.

 

     [Alma 22:28: "Now, the more idle part of the Lamanties lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi [in Bountiful--Central America]; yea and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore [in Bountiful-Central America], and on the west in the land of Nephi [in the Land of Lehi--South America], in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore."]

 

      One is "in the place of their father's first inheritance." This is also called Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 7:1), or, as we should say, Nephi in the land of Lehi. The other is Nephi in the land of Bountiful, which might be termed the Bountiful-Nephi; which the Nephites had colonized (v. 33) even "from the east"--the eastern boundary-- "unto the West Sea," and which, on that account was called the land of Nephi, on the same principle that parts of America have been called "New England," "New Spain," "Nova Scotia," etc. The Nephites were anxious to retain in remembrance the name of their great ancestor (2 Ne. 5:8), and to them, therefore, wherever Nephites settled was "the Land of Nephi."

     Concerning the Land of Nephi, in Lehi, we read (v. 27):

     (1) It was bordering "even to the sea, on the east and on the west."

 

     It must have had a coast line on both the Atlantic and the Pacific side, possibly on the Gulf of Darien on the east and the Gulf of Panama on the west.

     (2) It was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a "narrow strip of wilderness," (v. 27)

 

     The "wilderness" was the Land Bountiful, as we learn in v. 31 This important discovery is not conjecture. The text says clearly: "It [Bountiful] being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals." The land of Nephi, then, in Lehi, was separated from Zarahemla, not by the entire country Bountiful but, by a "narrow strip" of it. Now we read on:

     (3) [This narrow strip] "ran from the sea east even to the sea west and round about on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west."

 

     That is to say, as I read it, the "wilderness," or the narrow strip of wilderness, began on the border line of Lehi-Nephi (which country occupied an area from the sea east even to the sea west) and then ran round about the sea shore (on the narrow strip), and then continued clear up to the borders of the wilderness which was north by the land of Zarahemla, through Manti, by the head of the river Sidon. "And thus," the inspired author says, "were the Lamanties and Nephites divided," referring to Nephites who had come to Zarahemla and adjacent countries, and others who had colonized the southern parts of Bountiful (v. 33) They [the Nephites in Zarahemla] were literally separated, by the narrow isthmus that connects South America with Central America, from the body of the Lamanites in South America. This is perfectly intelligible, if we understand that the land Bountiful was Central America, between the Isthmus of Darien and Tehuantepec, as the article in the Times and Seasons seems to imply.

 

[Illustrated Map: A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography. (The Land of Nephi). J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 420]

 

     Bountiful. [See illustration below]

     We have already seen that this country was called "the wilderness" (Alma 22:31; comp. Alma 2:36,37) Its eastern extremity was the "narrow strip of wilderness," which adjoined the land of Lehi-Nephi. On the opposite extremity--

     (1) It "bordered upon the land which they called Desolation," the land on the northward, and was, therefore, in reference to the land Desolation, the land on the southward. (v. 31)

     (2) The boundary line between the two countries, Desolaltion and Bountiful, was drawn from some point east to the West Sea and is said to have been "only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite." Just how long this distance in modern measurement was we have no means of knowing. The Peruvians, and also the Mexicans, had trained couriers. Those of Peru, it is claimed, were able to convey messages from Cuzco to Lima, a distance of nearly four hundred miles, in three days, or two hundred miles in a day and a half. But that result was obtained by relay runners. Each Chasqui, or courier, ran a league and a half and then passed the message on to one who was waiting. It is not impossible that the Nephites had some such institution, and that a day's journey was the regular distance covered by such messengers. Be this as it may, the probability is that the Isthmus Tehuantepec is indicated as the point where the boundary line between Desolation and Bountiful was drawn. That isthmus, from the bay of Campeche to Tehuantepec, is only about 125 miles in width, I believe. The distance could easily be covered by couriers in the time mentioned. If, on the other hand, the Nephites measured distances in "hours," as some modern peoples do, and if about three and a half miles was an "hour," then 36 hours would represent 126 miles.

     (3) The land Bountiful, or, as it is called, the "Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla," lying side by side, Nephi on the Pacific and Zarahemla on the Atlantic (Alma 50:7,8), was "nearly surrounded by water;" Tehuantepec being at one extremity and "a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward" on the other. (v. 32) The context seems to require this interpretation, since the intention of the author is to show that the two countries, Zarahemla and Nephi, exclusive of Desolation in the north and Lehi-Nephi in the south, formed, very nearly, an island.

     Curiously enough, the Indians, at the time of the advent of Columbus, still called the Isthmus of Darien the "narrow place." As he was proceeding southward along the Mosquito coast, he heard of the Pacific Ocean, and was told by Indians that if he continued his course, he would soon come to a "narrow place" between the two seas. They were not ignorant of the geography of their country.

     (4) The geographical configuration of the American continents explains what follows in the Book of Alma. The Nephites, we are told, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, to prevent them from overrunning the land northward, Desolation, or to cut off the natural retreat of the Nephites, if defeated, into that country. (v. 33,34)

 

[Illustrated Map: A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography. (Bountiful). J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 420]

 

     The Narrow Pass. [See illlustration below]

     A ridge of hills, rising to a height of 730 feet, bends in a semi-circle around the bay of Tehuantepec, in places approaching the coast to within 15 or 20 miles. . . . The ridge is broken by the Chivela pass, which leads from the north to the south or vice versa. If my conclusions are correct, the "narrow pass" where the people of Morianton were intercepted in their northward trek (Alma 50:34) must be looked for in this region. Here also Teancum, by order of Moroni, constructed fortifications against the Lamanites (Alma 52:9). Here, again, Moronihah, when the Lamanites had taken possession of Zarahemla, raised a line of fortifications the length of which was "a day's journey for a Nephite." And here the Nephites began preparations for the final struggle (Mormon 3:5) It was here that Hagoth built his ships (Alma 63:5), possibly at the mouth of the Tehuantepec river, about 55, B.C.

[1927      Illustrated Map: A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography. (The Narrow Pass). J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 420]

 

 

     Zarahemla.

     Concerning this country, which occupies one of the most prominent positions in Book of Mromon history, the following information is given [See illustration below]:

     (1) It was situated "southward" in relation to the lands of the Jaredites. (Ether 9:31)

     (2) It was colonized by the Mulekites, who came from Jerusalem (Omni 1:15; Hel. 6:10; 8:21) and landed in the country called Desolation (Alma 22:30), and Mulek (Hel. 6:10), whence they proceeded "up into the south wilderness," known as Bountiful. (Alma 22:31)

     (3) It was divided from the land of Nephi in Lehi by a narrow strip of wilderness (Panama?), but, together with the land of Nephi in Bountiful it formed almost an island. (Alma 22:32)

     (4) It was also separated from the land of Nephi in Bountiful by a strip of wilderness running "west and north beyond the borders of the land," (Alma 2:36,37; 22:27)

     (5) It was discovered by Mosiah (Omni 1:12,13), and his advent in Zarahemla marks an epoch in the Book of Mormon history, for from that time the main scenes of the great drama are laid in, as I believe, Central and North America, instead of the southern continent.

     (6) It was north of the colonies founded by the Lamanites in the land of Nephi in Bountiful, for Moroni drove them out of the eastern part of the land of Nephi into their own lands, south of Zarahemla, and this land of Nephi "did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west." (Alma 50:7,8)

     (7) He [Moroni] then fortified the line between Lamanties and Nephites, the former occupying the land of Nephi and the latter Zarahemla, building forts all the way from the West Sea (Alma 50:11), possibly as far as the lakes Managua and Nicaragua, which, with the San Juan river would form a natural obstacle to the progress of invading hordes.

     (8) In the year 17 A.D., the northern extremity of Zarahemla and Bountiful, near the boundary line of Desolation, was appointed, by Lachoneus, to be a gathering place for a determined defense against the Lamanites, who were constantly crowding the Nephites northward. For many years the opposing forces fought with varying success, until the year 26 A.D., when peace was established and the Nephites returned to their own lands. (3 Ne. 6:1-3)

 

     "The Country, of the King" Surrounded by Water. Finally, it should be added, for what it is worth, that in the Troano manuscript there is a remarkable glyph, [see previous illustration above] which Dr. Agusutus le Plongeon says, if read phonetically, means "The Country of the King, Surrounded by Water." The upper circle, he informs us, stands for Ahau, "king," and the lower, for Luumil, a country in the water; while the feather, the symbol of royalty, indicates that that is the name of the ocuntry. And this "Country of the King, Surrounded by Water" is, he tells us, the old Maya domain in Central America. But, from the Book of Mormon we know that Zarahemla was inhabited by followers of Mulek, the scion of the house of Judah. It was, therefore, pre-eminently "the country of the king." It was also, as we have seen, "nearly surrounded by water." It appears, then, that we have, in the Book of Mormon a geographical name identical with one in the Troano manuscript, and the inference is natural that both stand for the same portion of Central America.

     From some passages in the Book of Mormon we gather that Nephi, in Lehi, was separated from Zarahemla by a considerable distance. Limhi's expedition was "lost in the wilderness" and missed the country entirely (Mosiahi 21:25), which could hardly have happened on a short distance. The expedition of Mosiah, consisting of sixteen strong men, wandered forty days in the wilderness, after they had left the land of Zarahemla and then they reached Shilom, in Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 7:4; comp. Alma 17:9) Just how long distance sixteen strong men would cover in forty days is a matter of conjecture. [Some examples are then given] . . . At that rate the expedition of Mosiah should have covered a distance of about 888 miles in forty days.

 

     Sidon. [Not detailed in map but is illustrated below]

     (1) The river Sidon ran by the land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:15), an expression which seems to indicate that its course was near a border rather than in the center of the country. The valley of Gideon was on the east bank and the city of Zarahemla was on the west. (Alma 6:7; 2:26,27) The land of Manti was south of Gideon (Alma 16:6; 22:27) Through the borders of Manti ran the narrow strip of wilderness or barren hills that separated Zarahemla from the land of Nephi along the entire length of the two countries, from east to west. The land of Minon was above the land of Zarahemla, "in the course of the land of Nephi" (Alma 2:24) that is to say, in the mountains to the south of Zarahemla.

     (2) A tremendous battle was fought on the banks of Sidon, about 75 B.C., between Nephites under Moroni, and Lamanites under Zerahemnah. (Alma 43:16-34)

     (3) Three years later, Moroni cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the west wilderness by a line of fortifications between Zarahemla and the land of Nephi (in Bountiful), "from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon." (Alma 50:11)

     (4) Here, in the year 322 A.D., the final struggle between Nephites and Lamanites began. (Morm. 1:10)

 

     From all this [a major river in Central America running northward with its head in a "narrow strip of wilderness" or barren hills] it appears to me that we must identify Zarahemla with the ancient Maya "empire" of which Mr. Bancroft (Native Races, Vol. 5, p. 231) says:

     Throughout several centuries preceding the Christian era, and perhaps one or two centuries following, there flourished in Central America the great Maya empire of the Chanes, Culhuas, or Serpents, known to its foes as Xibalba, with its center in Chiapas at or near Palenque, and with several allied capitals in the surrounding region.

 

     If this conclusion is correct, the land of Zarahemla occupied the Atlantic slope of Central America, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mosquito coast on the Caribbean Gulf. The city of Zarahemla may have been about where the ruins of Palenque are found, and the immediate region around the city was also known as Zarahemla. The river Sidon may then be identified with the Usumacinta river.

 

[1927      Illustrated Map: A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography. (Sidon). J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 420]

 

     [The Narrow Strip of Wilderness]

     The immense distances [between the west end and the east end of the narrow strip of wilderness] are no obstacle to the accceptance of this view, for it is known as a fact that the so-called Maya "empire" at one time "extended over the greater part of Central America. (Nadaillac, Pre-Historic America, p. 263)

     The domain of the Incas, Nadaillac estimates at 3,000 miles by 400, (Nadaillac, Pre-Historic America, p. 388) with a population of eight million soulsl. And of the mound builders of North America he says, to prove that hey had widely extended commerce: "Beneath the same mounds we find the copper of Lake Cuperior, the mica of the Alleghanies, the obsidian of mexico, and the pearls and shells of the Gulf. (Ibid. p. 183)

     The entire distance between Tehuantepec and South America is about 1500 miles. If travelers could make almost 900 miles in forty days, the could certainly make an occasional trip across the narrow strip that separated their country from the land of Nephi, in Lehi.

 

[1927      Illustrated Map: A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography. (The Narrow Strip of Wilderness). J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 420]

 

     Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites.

     [Land of First Inheritance] The suggestions here offered assume that Lehi landed in South America some distance south of the Isthmus and that he proceeded to the Titicaca basin in Bolivia and the valley of Cuzco, in Peru, where he died. [See illustration below]

 

[1927      Illustrated Map: A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography. (Land of First Inheritance). J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 420]

 

     Shortly afterwards, Nephi and his faithful followers separated themselves from their brethren and, after having journeyed "in the wilderness for the space of many days," established themselves first in Ecuador, and then colonized the lofty table lands of Colombia, in what they called the Land of Nephi. (2 Ne 5:2-9)

 

[1927      Illustrated Map: A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography. (Progressive Location of the Land of Nephi]. J. M. Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 420]

 

     For some time they lived in peace here, but as the years passed, both they and the Lamanites multiplied and were scattered "upon much of the face of the land," (Jarom 1:5-8), and wherever the two factions came in contact with each other conflilcts arose. At first the Nephites defended themselves successfully, but the outcome was that many of them perished. (Omni 1:5)

     Some time between the years 279 and 130, B.C., Mosiah, with a considerable following, emigrated from the Land of Nephi, in Lehi; and, after a long journey through the wilderness--the Isthmus of Panama--reached the land of Zarahemla. (Omni 1:13-15)

     Other Nephites followed a somewhat different route and founded settlements on the Pacific side of Central America. This part of the promised land was known as Bountiful (Alma 22:33), and when the Nephites settled there they called their settlelments in it the Land of Nephi, as they had named their portion of the land of their father's first inheritance in South America. (Alma 22:28)

     A number of Lamanites also went into Central America. They were "the more idle part" of them. As soon as the Lamanites in Central America were strong enough, numerically, the old struggle began again, and the Nephites were gradually driven northward.

     Many Lamanites and Nephites must have remained in South America and Central America while the struggle was continued in the northern continent. Concerning their history, no record is preserved in the Book of Mormon. And then, after the massacre around Cumorah, many of the conquerors and survivors, without doubt, gradually worked their way southward towards the lands of their fathers. Nothing is said in the Book of Mormon of their exploits, except that they continued to war among themselves (Mormon. 8:6-10) until the whole face of the land was one continual round of murder and bloodshed, causing a state of savagery, ignorance, and error. But in the D&C we learn that among the now existing Indians are not only Lamanites, but also Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites, to whom the Book of Mormon is a message of salvation. (D&C 3:16-19; 10:48) The Book of Mormon record closes in the year 421 A.D., or thereabouts. The history of the vast multitudes not directly included in the Book of Mormon record, although contemporary with the compilers of that volume, as well as the history of the millions who lived on the American continents after the close of the Book of Mormon record until the Spanish conquest, must be read in the mounds and cliff dwellings, the ruined pueblos, temples, and forts, and other remains of past civilizations that are found all over the American continents, and in the traditions that have been preserved.

 

 

     Note* I believe that quietly many "authoritative" Book of Mormon students started adapting to Sjodahl's argument because the Sjodahl theory was not as radical as that of Young or Bagley; that is, because Sjodahl's theory alleviated the requirement of vast distances in travel (a problem mentioned by B. H. Roberts) while still maintaining New York as the scene of the final battles and Lehi's landing in South America. Evidence of this shift to modified hemispheric theory will be seen in the latter-part of the 1930's with the publication of Layton's internal map and the arguments behind it's construction.

 

 

1927      B. H. Roberts            "(Talk)" in Conference Report, October 1927, pp. 22-23

 

     Only three weeks ago, about now, I had the pleasure of standing upon the summit of the Hill Cumorah in company with President Grant. Being there upon the height of land, which so splendidly commands a view of the whole surrounding country, I could not refrain from recalling the time when Moroni stood upon the crown of that hill with the evidence of the ruins of the civilization of his people about him.

 

Source: ^Truman G. Madsen and John W. Welch, Did B. H. Roberts Lose Faith in the Book of Mormon? FARMS, 1985, p. 20

 

1928            Acquisition of the New York Hill Cumorah by the LDS Church

 

     The Church acquired the site of the hill Cumorah in New York state as a prelude to the upcoming centennial celebration of both the Church's beginnings and the first printing of the Book of Mormon.

     George Albert Smith purchased the Joseph Smith farm from W. A. Chapman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1907. Chapman asked to stay on the farm until he could find another place to live. He lived there until 1914. President Joseph F. Smith was looking for someone to move his family to Palmyra and live on the farm. At a conference held in Richfield, UT in 1915, Willard Bean came in the side door and President Smith called out, "Will Willard Bean come to the stand? Willard, I have a mission for you. After the service I'll tell you about it."

     Willard was called to move to Palmyra "for a few years" to purchase property of historical significance to the Church. When he arrived in Palmyra, a committee of three men invited Willard and his family to move out or to suffer the consequences. Willard said that he had come in peace, but that he was willing to fight one, or all three, or the whole town if necessary. Willard and his family were in Palmyra over 24 years.

     Willard was able, with the help of the Lord, to purchase the Hill Cumorah and the Martin Harris and Peter Whitmer farms.

     Willard and his family came to a hostile land, but when they left, the whole town turned out to wish them well

     Source: ^"Willard Bean: Palmyra's 'Fighting Parson,' in the Ensign, June 1985, Vicki Bean Zimmerman.

 

     Note* Willard was a scholar, a man of learning, with a lot of time on his hands. He spent some of that time researching the history of western New York. E. Cecil McGavin compiled some of his notes into a book, Book of Mormon Geography (See the notation for 1948; see also T. Michael Smith's history of the Hill Cumorah--1991 notation).

 

 

1928^            B. H. Roberts            "Ramah--Cumorah in the Land of Ripliancum," in Deseret News

                             Church Section, 3 March 1928, p. 8.

 

     This article appears as follows:

     Ramah-Cumorah in the Land of Ripliancum: A Jaredite-Nephite Historical Landmark Identified with Western New York and the Region of the Great Lakes," Written for the Deseret News by B. H. Roberts.

     Map Shows Western New York: The Region of the Land of Cumorah and of Ramah; the Land of "Ripliancum," Large Waters,--To Exceed All." Below is a Photograph Reproduction of the Hill Cumorah with Its Landscape Foreground, and the Statue of the Angel Moroni on the East Center Tower of the Salt Lake Temple.

 

     The recent purchase of the Hill Cumorah by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints awakens wide spread interest in the sacred depository of the record called the Book of Mormon. . . .

     First as to "Ramah," Moroni, speaking of the approaching great battle in the civil war among the Jaredites and the gathering together of the hosts of that nation under the leadership of Shule and Coriantumr respectively: "And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah, and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord which were sacred." (Ether Chap. 15) It seems in the battles preceding this about the Hill Ramah where Mormon had hidden the records that the Jaredite armies had been maneuvering northward about the waters called by them--the Jaredites--"Ripliancum, which by interpretation is large, or to exceed all." Then after this region of the large waters, which exceed all, Coriantumr and his forces retreated southward until they came to this Hill Ramah, where they made their last stand and around which the Jaredites perished early in the fifth century B.C. This is about all that is said of Ramah in the record of the Jaredites.

     Now we take up "Cumorah" and find much made of it in the sixth chapter of the Book of Mormon . . . It is to be noted that this description of Mormon's as to the land of Cumorah being a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains is in strict accordance with the description of Ramah as the land of many waters, "Ripliancum, which by interpretation is large or to exceed all." . . .

     It is urged by some that this hill in which Mormon deposited these many records of the Nephites was not necessarily located up in what we now call the western part of New York, and where Joseph Smith directed by Moroni, found the single collection of plates known as the Book of Mormon. It is held that Moroni in his peregrinations after the death of his father and the destruction of his people in his effort to keep out of the hands of his enemies the Lamanites, might have wandered far away from the hill Ramah-Cumorah and that possibly Ramah-Cumorah may have been in some part of Central America, where topographical conditions may be found which would correspond with the description of this place given in the Book of Mormon. Strangely enough there is little that the Prophet Joseph Smith has left on record that speaks of this Hill Cumorah where he found the Book of Mormon under the direction of Moroni. And this only in an esctatic[sic] review of early events in the Church: "And again what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah. Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets--the Book to be revealed. (Doc. and Cov. sec 128:20)

     But while this direct testimony from the Prophet himself is lacking, it is not lacking from those who are competent to speak on the subject--and who did speak of it and who published their statements, and one of these in the life time of the prophet, Oliver Cowdery, close associate with Joseph Smith in bringing forth the Book of Mormon, and his chief amanuensis in the translation of it, declares this hill from which the Book of Mormon was taken to be the Hill Cumorah, the place where Mormon deposited "all the records in his possession, except his abridgment from the plates of Nephi which he gave to his son; and also emphatically declares it to be the scene of the destruction of both the Jaredite and Nephite people. This statement Oliver published in the Church organ at the time, called the "Saints Messenger and Advocate," Kirtland, Ohio, 1835. There are nine letters published under the title of "Early Scenes and Incidents in the Church." These letters were reproduced in the Improvement Era, Vol. II, 1898-9.

 

     [QUOTE FROM 1835 ARTICLE BY OLIVER COWDERY--see 1835 notation]

 

     The importance of this statement lies in the fact that it is made by the second elder of the Church, when it was organized; he was Joseph Smith's amanuensis in the translation of Mormon's record. It is written and published in the life time of the Prophet Joseph Smith, with his knowledge and approval; It is published in the Saints Messenger and Advocate, the organ of the Church at that time, 1835; and it is inconceivable that the Prophet Joseph would permit the publication of such an article identifying this hill where he found the record called the Book of Mormon with the hill called Ramah by the Jaredites, and Cumorah by the Nephites, and the scene of the successive battles which destroyed both of these nations in the region; and also identifying it with the hill in which Mormon deposited "all of the Nephite records" which had been given into his custody--if it did not state the truth.

     A testimony also comes from David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the truth of the Book of Mormon. When Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery found it necessary to move from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Fayette, New York, David Whitmer drove them from Harmony to the home of his father in Fayette. Before starting on this journey Moroni came to the Prophet and took possession of the plates in order to insure their safety in transit to the Whitmer home. On the way the three brethren, Joseph, Oliver and David overtook Moroni carrying the plates. (see note#1) Joseph suggested to David that he ask the "stranger" to ride. David stopped his team and invited him to ride, if by chance he would be going in their direction. "No," said the one addressed, very pleasantly, "I am going to Cumorah." "This name was somewhat new to me," says David, "and I did not know what 'Cumorah' meant." They all gazed at him and at each other. When David looked around again, after turning to Joseph for instruction or information, the man had disappeared. "It was the Messenger (Moroni) who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting form Harmony." says David Whitmer in closing the story of the incident. (See Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith's report of an interview with David Whitmer. Millennial Star, Vol,. 40, pp. 769-774. The report bears date of September 17, 1878.

     Another circumstance which verifies all that is here said about this hill in western New York from which Joseph Smith obtained the Book of Mormon, being identical with Ramah-Cumorah of the Book of Mormon, is the fact of agreement between the description in the Book of Mormon of the Hill Ramah-Cumorah and the region round about, and the topography of western New York. It is a region of "many waters"--"Ripliancum" by interpretation "large, or to exceed all"; and here in western New York, immediately to the north of Cumorah, is Lake Ontario; to the west and northwest are Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior--the greatest group of fresh water lakes in the world, while immediately to the south of Cumorah are the noted "finger lakes" of New York, beginning on the east side of the region is the lake bearing the modern name of Otisco; and moving westward the following named lakes: Skaneateles Lake, Owasco Lake, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake--with its elongation, Keuka Lake; Canadaigua Lake and a number of others westward in the same line. All these, and beside them numerous streams and rivers throughout the whole region.

     The identification both in the recorded facts of the Book of Mormon about the Hill Ramah-Cumorah and the physical characteristics of this region of western New York--extending westward to include the whole great five lake basin--"Rippliancum[sic]"--"to exceed all"--is sufficient to eliminate all doubt about the hill recently purchased by the Church, being the very site of the destruction of both the Jaredite and the Nephite people, also the place where Mormon deposited the great collection of sacred records which had been entrusted to him and where later his son Moroni kept concealed the gold plates of the Book of Mormon.

     And now, behold, how fortunate it is that the Church has possessed herself of so many of the sacred places connected with the coming forth of the new dispensation of the gospel in these last days. . . . The Smith farm near Palmyra, New York . . . Scant three miles away is the Hill Cumorah, surrounded by several hundred acres of farm lands including the whole of the hill Ramah-Cumorah, the sacred depository of Jaredite and Nephite records, including the Book of Mormon gold plates given to Joseph Smith to translate for the enlightenment of the world and also the site of the destruction of the two great peoples of ancient America--the Jaredites and Nephites.

     Eastward less than a score of miles is the old "Peter Whitmer Farm," in Fayette township near the present prosperous town of Waterloo, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on the sixth of April, 1830, with its six charter members, an event soon to be a century old. The Carthage prison . . . How complete is the circle of sacred places, now in possession of the Church, connected with the life and mission of the prophet of the new dispensation! The Saints should be thankful for possession of these sacred places.

 

     Note#1 See the notation on 1829 and 1878.

 

 

1928^            Jean Driggs            The Palestine of America, SLC: n.p., March 16, 1928

 

     In 1928 Jean Driggs finally published his writings in a pamphlet called "The Palestine of America." It consisted of three plates of maps with eight typewritten pages. After reading the material, it is apparent that he conveyed sound scriptural reasoning on the limited extent of Book of Mormon geography to the Church by at least 1928, and as early as 1923 to James E. Talmage (see notation). The following is a selected summary of Drigg's reasoning on the limited extent of Book of Mormon lands as well as for a hill Cumorah within those limited lands.

       On page 5, Driggs discusses the proximity of Bountiful and Desolation, and then relates it with the 21 day journey of Limhi's men:

     "And it (Bountiful) bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing. And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, it being the wilderness which is filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind, a part of which had come from the land northward for food." --Alma 22:30-31. "And it came to pass that their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents toward the land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla, * * * there were many of them which did perish by the way; nevertheless, there were some which fled into the land southward." --Ether 9:31-32. "I (Limhi) caused that forty and three of my people should take a journey into the wilderness, that thereby they might find the land of Zarahemla, that we might appeal unto our brethren to deliver us out of bondage. And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla, but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with the ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel. And for a testimony that the things they have said are true, the have brought 24 plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold."--Mosiah 8:7-9. [He also quoted Mosiah 22:25-27 concerning the Limhi party.]

     This Limhi was the grandson of Zeniff, who, with a company of Nephites left Zarahemla to inherit the land of Nephi. In three generations it is not likely that their conception of the distance between Nephi and Zarahemla would be so uncertain that they would travel from Central America up into the state of New York and think they had found a land; which, as above noted [Mosiah 24:17-25, which was quoted on the previous page discussion], was a 21 days' journey for people driving their flocks. It is more reasonable to consider the land of many waters, rivers, and fountains as being just north of the land of Desolation, or a part of the land of Desolation, which in this treatment would be considered to be within the limits of Central America and probably in Guatemala.

 

     On page 6, Driggs quotes from Vol. 2 of the "New Witness for God," by B. H. Roberts, pp. 199-200 [see the notation for 1909] in which Roberts writes concerning the probable limited extent of Nephite/Lamanite lands (as opposed to all of South America and North America). Drigg's highlights the phrase: "as now known to us, the extent of country occupied was but a very small part of the continent."

     On pages 7-8, Driggs writes:

     The following passages from the Book of Ether support the idea that the home lands of the Jaredites were near the narrow pass that led into the land southward, and that this was the seat of the Jaredite empire, even to the final battle at the Hill Ramah. "And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and CAME OVER AND PASSED BY THE HILL OF SHIM, AND CAME OVER BY THE PLACE WHERE THE NEPHITES WERE DESTROYED, (Cumorah) and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family."--Ether 9:3. "And it came to pass that Nimrah gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land and came over and dwelt with Omer." "And there began to be a war between the sons of Akish which lasted for the space of many years, yea, unto the destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom, yea, even all, save it were thirty souls and they who fled with the house of Omer. Wherefore Omer was restored again to the land of his inheritance."--Ether 9:13-14. "The land from which Omer departed, the scene of the wars and the land of his inheritance, to which he was restored is the land of Moron, which was near the land of Desolation of the Nephites. "And when he (Corihor) had gathered together an army he came up unto the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, and took him captive. * * * NOW THE LAND OF MORON, WHERE THE KING DWELT WAS NEAR THE LAND WHICH IS CALLED DESOLATION BY THE NEPHITES." This is substantial evidence that the land of Moron, the land of Desolation, the seashore to the east, the hill Shim and the hill Cumorah are all comparatively close to each other, in a section corresponding to Central America, certainly not so remote as the state of New York, approximately three thousand miles to the north.

     In the 14th and 15th, chapters of Ether the closing battles of the Jaredites are described. They are fighting in the land of Moron, the plains of Agosh, the wilderness of Akish, and in the east, by the seashore, and finally by the hill Ramah, where later the Nephite records were buried by Mormon, and the Nephites destroyed. Ether hid the Jaredite record, after the destruction of his race. Ether 15:33: * * * And he went forth and beheld that the words of the Lord had all been fulfilled; and he finished his record * * * and he hid them in a manner that the people of Limhi did find them."

     The first eight chapters of the writings of Mormon are so full of action that they should be read and studied as they are written; a few special references are given to emphasize the idea that the movements north of the narrow pass were but comparatively short distances. The time interval between the time the Nephites were fighting at the narrow pass until they were destroyed at Cumorah would not permit such extensive migrations as would bring the final scene to the state of New York.--Mormon 1:10. "And it came to pass that the war began to be among them in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon." It will be noted that this is the beginning of the final series of wars that ended at Cumorah some 60 years later. For fifty years, starting A.D. 325 and until A.D. 375 the Nephites and Lamanites are fighting, at intervals, back and forth across the narrow pass, sometimes in the land southward and sometimes in the land northward, with no decisive advantage on either side. For nearly a thousand years these people had been living in these same lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, Bountiful and Desolation. For 50 years they are fighting on approximately the same battle grounds.--Mormon 4:15-16. From the 375th year they are forced to yield ground, holding as best they can the strategic points until Mormon asks for time to gather his people to Cumorah. During this last period, between the year 375 and 380 Mormon goes to the hill Shim and obtains all the Nephite records.--Mormon 5:23. After completing his writings on the plates of Nephi, Mormon hides all the sacred records except the plates of Nephi (which he gives unto Moroni), in the hill Cumorah and when 384 years had passed away,--ten or eleven years after they had been fighting at the narrow pass,--the final battle is waged. Moroni writes in the records in the 420th year--Mormon 8:6. He writes again when more than 420 years have passed away--Moroni 10:1. This gives an interval of approximately 35 years since his father and associates were killed, at the battle of Cumorah. He is wandering wherever he can, for the safety of his own life.--Moroni 1:3. What is more natural than that he would take his course northward, to avoid his enemies; and, under the directing power of God, would be led to deposit his precious record where it was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Moroni may have named the hill in New York, where he hid the plates, the hill Cumorah. It fits the description of the original hill Cumorah, or Ramah, where the closing battles were fought. The hill in New York retains its importance as the place where the plates were revealed from which the Book of Mormon was translated, but the writer sees no reason for the continued assertions to the effect that the great battles were fought in that portion of the American continent. The Book of Mormon is one of the four standard works of the church. The 8th Article of Faith establishes our stand to the effect that, "we believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." Therefore, if there be seeming contradictions between what men have said and the correct interpretation of the Book of Mormon, the latter record must be considered as correct.

     It is the sincere desire of the writer that this brief treatment of the home lands of the Book of Mormon will increase the study and stimulate an interest in the sacred record, a fuller knowledge of the location of the lands serving only to better acquaint the reader with the vital portions of the book, pertaining to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Jean R. Driggs, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 16, 1928)

 

     Note* Thomas Stuart Ferguson writes: "Norman C. Pierce, in the little Book entitled "Another Cumorah, Another Joseph, published in 1954, places Nephi near Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Zarahemla on the westerly side of the Ulua River (which is his "Sidon"--as it was to Colonel Young long before 1954). Pierce places Cumorah in southeastern Guatemala. Although Pierce published his book in 1954, he had it all figured out and on a relief map in 1923. (His map was drawn for him by Jean R. Driggs in 1923, who acknowledged receiving help from Col. Willard Young.) ( Response to the 1974 "Symposium of Book of Mormon Geography")

 

[1928      Illustrated Model      Jean R. Driggs      LIMITED CENTRAL AMERICA]

L.S=South of Motagua River / N.N=Bay of Honduras / L.N.=North to Isthmus of Tehuantepec / H.C.=In eastern Guatemala      

Source: Jean Russell Driggs, The Palestine of America, 1928.

 

 

1928^            President Anthony W. Ivins      Conference Report, April 1928, First Day-Morning Session 23.

                                    ^Reprinted as "Cumorah-A Mute Witness of Epochal Events,"

                                    in The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, No. 19, Vol. 90, May

                                    10, 1928, pp. 289-295. ^Reprinted also as "The Hill

                                    Cumorah," Improvement Era 31, June 1928, pp. 674-681.

 

     In the April Conference of 1928, President Anthony W. Ivins, first counselor in the First Presidency, said the following:

     Reference has been made by the President of the acquisition of the Church of the spot of ground in the state of New York known as the hill Cumorah. It appears to me to be an event of such importance that I desire to devote the short time which is at my disposal this morning to a discussion of that subject. There have been some differences of opinion in regard to it, and in order that I might be correct in the statements which I make, I have this morning finished a short manuscript which I would like to read--the first time, I believe, in my experience, that I have ever addressed a congregation in this manner, and I do it for the purpose stated.

     The purchase of this hill, which President Grant has announced, is an event of more than ordinary importance to the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The memories of the remote past which cluster round this sacred spot . . . make the acquisition of this hill almost an epochal accomplishment in the history of the Church. . . .

[Ivins then quotes a number of Book of Mormon passages relating to the hill Cumorah] . . .

     The passages which I have quoted from the Book of Mormon and the more extended discussion of this subject by Elder B. H. Roberts, which was published in the Deseret News of March 3 definitely establish the following facts. That the hill Cumorah, and the hill Ramah are identical. That it was around this hill that the armies of both the Jaredites and Nephites fought their great last battles. That it was in this hill that Mormon deposited all the sacred records which had been entrusted to his care by Ammaron except the abridgment which he made from the plates of Nephi, which were delivered in the hands of his son, Moroni. We know positively that it was in this hill that Moroni deposited the abridgment made by his father, and his own abridgment of the record of the Jaredites, and it was from this hill that Joseph Smith obtained possession of them. . . .

     All of these incidents to which I have referred, my brethren and sisters, are very closely associated with this particular spot in the state of New York. Therefore I feel, as I said in the beginning of my remarks, that the acquisition of that spot of ground is more than an incident in the history of the Church; it is an epoch . . . We know that all of these records, all the sacred records of the Nephite people, were deposited by Mormon in that hill. That incident alone is sufficient to make it the sacred and hallowed spot that it is to us. I thank God that, in a way which seems to have been providential, it has come into the possession of the Church.

 

     Note* For the references to "Cumorah," see the notations for 1823, 1827, 1829, 1831, 1834, 1835, 1842, 1853.

 

     Note* It is interesting here that President Ivins appears to associate "very closely" the hill Cumorah (Ramah) in the Book of Mormon with the New York hill. Yet in 1929 he would admonish members of the Church on the subject of Book of Mormon geography that "there has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question." Apparently there was a difference between Book of Mormon geography in general and the location of the hill Cumorah. See the 1929 notation.

 

 

1928^      Willard W. Bean            "Change of Sentiment," by Willard W. Bean, Caretaker of Cumorah,

(geog)                               Improvement Era, 1928, Vol. XXXi, June, 1928 No. 8

 

     In the city of Palmyra, New York, included in the recent purchase by the Church. This deal included the north end of the hill Cumorah, once owned by Admiral William T. Sampson, consisting of 170 acres; the Bennett farm consisting of 220 acres, taking in the south end of the hill; the Tripp farm joining on the east, consisting of 92 acres . . . This gives us a total acreage of 818 acres of land where "Mormonism" had its beginning. The sentiment has so far changed that there is scarcely more than a faint echo of the former prejudice. . . .

     A number from our village who have been west, and stopped off at Salt Lake City, are very warm in their praise of the city and the treatment they received while there. Personally, we have plenty of friends, and are now trying to make friends for Joseph Smith and the revealed gospel that made him what he was. The change is most noticeable. It is no longer "Joe Smith's old home", but the Joseph Smith Farm. It is no longer "Mormon hill where Joe Smith dug up the Golden (or 'Mormon') Bible", but Cumorah Hill or Mt. Cumorah.

 

 

1928^      Jesse Alvin Washburn            Chronology Chart: Bible and Book of Mormon Events, Provo, UT: n.p.,

                              1928.

 

     Washburn writes: "This work is an attempt to suggest the relationship, in point of time, at least, between the events of the bible and Book of Mormon hisotry and other important world happenings." He then presents a long fold-out chronological chart plus some maps. One map shows the possible journey of the Jaredites from Babel to the Mediterranean Sea. (see below) Another shows the possible routes of the Jaredites and Nephites to the Americas. The Jaredites are traced through the Mediterranean across the Atlantic Ocean. The Nephites are traced across the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and then there are two possible routes illustrated with question marks: one to Central America and one to South America. (see below)

 

     Note* In 1937 this booklet would be republished under the title From Edten to Diahman: Chronology Chart and with dual authorhsip: Jesse A Washburn and J. Niles Washburn on the cover, but with only J. A. Washburn attributed to the Chronology Chart. It would not contain the separate maps as in the 1928 version. Rather a map of much reduced size would be inserted within the chronology chart. It is interesting, however that iin this reduced-size map the Jaredites are now given two possible routes: one through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic Ocean, and the other across Asias and the Pacific Ocean to Central America. The Nephites are illustrated as coming the Central America with no alternative option of going to South America. This is signficant because it represents the Washburn's evolution in their analysis of the internal Book of Mormon geography.

 

[1928      Map: Important Events from Babel to Babylonian Cap. Jesse A. Washburn, Chronology Chart: Bible and Book of Mormon Events, Provo, UT: n.p., 1928.]

  

[1928      Map: From the Jaredites to Modern Times Map III.. Jesse A. Washburn, Chronology Chart: Bible and Book of Mormon Events, Provo, UT: n.p., 1928.]

 

 

1928^      J. F. Gunsolley                  "A Great City on the Narrow Neck," in Saints Herald 75 (24 October

                              1928): pp. 1229-

 

     J. F. Gunsolley cites the discovery of the ruins of a great city about 60 miles from Isthmus of Panama, said to be the oldest known on the American continent. It may be a Jaredite city built by the narrow neck of land. He writes:

     Readers of the Herald will be interested in the discovery of the ruins of a great city on the Isthmus of Panama about sixty to one hundred miles west of the Panama Canal. These ruins were discovered in 1924 by A. Hyatt Verrill, of the Museum of American Indians, Heye Foundation, of New York City. The account of this discovery was published in the Kansas City Journal, beginning October 23, 1927, and continuing in each issue for one week.

     Mr. Verrill says:

     Remains of a civilization estimated to be 10,000 years old--far antedating anything hitherto discovered on this hemisphere have been discovered on the Isthmus of Panama. Stone monuments, sculptured idols, wonderful polychrome pottery, and the ruins of a vast temple, all dating from the dim past before the Mayas, the Incas, and the Aztecs had risen to power, have been unearthed under thick layers of volcanic ash, showing an advanced stage of development and civilization that will require an entire reconstruction of preconceived theories of the progress of man in America. . . .

 

THE COPY OF THIS ARTICLE STOPS HERE--GET FULL ARTICLE!

 

 

1929^      President Anthony W. Ivins      Conference Report, April 1929, Morning Meeting, p. 16

 

     . . . We thank the Lord for the rain and snow. We thank him for clouds, as we do for sunshine, and know that as long as we continue to put our trust in him he will watch over and protect us. The mantle which is drawn about us through the influence of the Gospel of Christ will protect us from the storms of the world, just as this comfortable building does this morning from the storms which are raging without. . . .

     There is a great deal of talk about the geography of the Book of Mormon. Where was the land of Zarahemla? Where was the City of Zarahemla? and other geographic matters. It does not make any difference to us. There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question. So the Church says we are just waiting until we discover the truth. All kinds of theories have been advanced. I have talked with at least half a dozen men that have found the very place where the City of Zarahemla stood, and notwithstanding the fact that they profess to be Book of Mormon students, they vary a thousand miles apart in the places they have located. We do not offer any definite solution. As you study the Book of Mormon keep these things in mind and do not make definite statements concerning things that have not been proven in advance to be true.

 

     Note* See the Ivins notation for 1928.

 

 

1929      John Henry Evans            Message and Characters of the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: n.p.,

                              1929

 

     On page 56 we find the following:

     It is generally suppposed that Lehi's colony landed on the coast of South America, near where the city of Valparaiso, Chile, now stands. From this place they spread out over the land until the descendants of Lehi occupied the entire South Ameircan continent, and later the North American continent.

 

     "Zarahemla was in Colombia; the Magdalena River is the Sidon, etc." (pp. 118-119)      

 

Source: ^Weldon and Butterworth, Book of Mormon Claims and Evidences, vol 3, p. 187.

 

 

1930's            Beginnings of Serious Mesoamerican Archaeological Work

 

     The 1930's brought the beginning of serious archaeological excavation work in Mexico and Central America. Silvanus Morely, father of Archaeology of Yucatan, excavated the Classic ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal.

 

 

1930^      Joseph Smith, Jr.            "An Analysis of the Book of Mormon" ("Wentworth Letter") March 1,

                              1842 in B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of

                              Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret

                              News Press, 1930), 1:167.

 

     The Prophet Joseph Smith's own summary of the contents of the Book of Mormon is doubtless the very best that can be made, in a brief statement, and for that reason it is here quoted from his letter to Mar. John Wentworth of the Chicago Democrat, 1842:

     In this important and interesting book, the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian Era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. . . .

 

Summary of External Evidences.

      . . . The testimony of American antiquities is appealed to by those who accept the claims of the book as genuine. The testimony is summarized as follows: . . .

     2. The monuments of this civilization are found where the Book of Mormon requires them to be located. . . .

     4. The chief center of this ancient American civilization, and its oldest and most enduring monuments, are in Central America, where the Book of Mormon locates its oldest race of people, and where civilization longest prevailed; and it is also the center from which civilization, beyond question, extended northward into Mexico, and into the Mississippi and Ohio valleys--another thing required by the Book of Mormon accounting for things. (note* In making the above summary of external evidence up to this point, Latter-day Saint writers are not unnaware of the fact that there are some works on American antiquities whose conclusions would not be in harmony with this summary; but they insist that the preponderance of evidence and also the weight of authorities are in favor of these conclusions.)

 

     Note* B. H. Roberts makes a significant summary statement relative to Book of Mormon geography: that "The chief center of this ancient American civilization, and its oldest and most enduring monuments, are in Central America, where the Book of Mormon locates its oldest race of people, and where civilization longest prevailed; and it is also the center from which civilization, beyond question, extended northward into Mexico, and into the Mississippi and Ohio valleys--another thing required by the Book of Mormon accounting for things."

     If in interpreting the above data, the "chief center" was Jaredite, of which Moron was the capital at the first and at the last, then the Jaredite civilization was centered in Central America (not northern Mexico or the United States). If the "chief center" was Nephite, of which the two major chief centers were the city of Nephi and the city of Zarahemla--both in the Land Southward, then this would require the narrow neck of land to be northward of Central America--the apparent candidate being the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. As to why the Jaredites (or Nephites) were "required" to expand "into the Mississippi and Ohio valleys," Joseph does not elaborate.

 

 

1930      Council of the Twelve            Council of the Twelve to Heber J. Grant, May 15, 1930. Clawson

                              Papers, Church Historians Office.

 

     Students of the culture and geography of the Book of Mormon should not be surprised when concepts of geology (related to the age of the earth--time of formation of mountains, land masses, isthmuses, lakes, etc.), evolution (related to the age and origins of man on the American hemisphere), anthropology, biology, etc. are brought into the discussion. Thus it should not be surprising at all that Church policies and directives related to these subjects (especially evolution) in the past might have had an effect on the teaching or study of the various theories regarding Book of Mormon geography. With this in mind I would like to quote from an article by Richard Sherlock. He writes the following:

     In the mid-1920's B. H. Roberts, General Authority and President of the Eastern States Mission, began preliminary work on a book-length manuscript. . . . After his return to Salt Lake in 1927, Roberts developed his notes into an imposing manuscript. Intended originally as a study course for Seventies throughout the Church, it almost immediately became a storm center of controversy. (note 1) As a result, the book, viewed by Roberts as his most important contribution to the Church, remains unpublished to this day. (note 2)

     The scope of The Truth, The Way, The Life is more sweeping than anything from a previous Mormon hand, with the possible exception of the works of Orson Pratt. Roberts did not just expound one or several gospel principles or ideas from Joseph Smith; rather, he undertook nothing less than a comprehensive, coherent account of the whole cosmic context of human existence--from the intelligence of God, through the organization of the universe, the creation of man and the development of life on earth, to the role of Christ.

     In this process he was sometimes pedantically recitative of simple gospel principles. More often than not, however, he was boldly speculative in an attempt to put the known pieces of the puzzle together into a unified account. This speculative boldness is the work's chief merit; it was also the basis of extremely hostile reactions from some of Roberts' fellow General Authorities. . . . The hottest issue was evolution. . . .

     . . . The manuscript was first reviewed by a reading committee of the Council of the Twelve who drew up a "list of points of doctrine in question." . . . After the report of the reading committee, the full Council reviewed the matter and reached virtually the same conclusions in its own report to the First Presidency. The Council report, however, also stressed a more basic theme:

     It is the duty of the General Authorities of the Church to safeguard and protect the membership of the Church from the introduction of controversial subjects and false doctrines which tend to create factions and otherwise disturb the faith of the Latter-Day Saints. There is so much of vital importance revealed and which we can present with clear and convincing presentation and which the world does not possess that we, the committee see no reason for the introduction of questions which are speculative to say the least: more especially so when such teachings appear to be in conflict with the revelations of the Lord.

 

Source: ^Richard Sherlock, "We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation of the Discussion:' The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair," in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. XIII, No. 1, Spring 1980, pp. 63-78

 

 

1930^      LDS Church            Book of Mormon Sunday School Lessons for the Church of Jesus Christ of

                        Latter-day Saints, Published monthly by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                        Board, printed at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1930

 

     Vol. 3, No. 7 Part 3 Lesson 26 July, 1930

     The Divinity of the Book of Mormon

     America--"The Land of Promise, Choice Above All Other Lands"

 

      . . . Citizens of Canada, the central American republics, and those of South America, are equally American because they too are, in the universal sense American. . . . And from the religious consideration of the Latter-day Saints this whole land is given a title of unity, viz: "The Land of Zion."

 

 

1931^            First Presidency Directive, Typescript copy in the possession of Duane Jeffrey, 7 pp. Xerox

            copy in my possession.

 

     Students of the culture and geography of the Book of Mormon should not be surprised when concepts of geology (related to the age of the earth--time of formation of mountains, land masses, isthmuses, lakes, etc.), evolution (related to the age and origins of man on the American hemisphere), anthropology, biology, etc. are brought into the discussion. Thus it should not be surprising at all that Church policies and directives related to these subjects (especially evolution) in the past might have had an effect on the teaching or study of the various theories regarding Book of Mormon geography and culture. With this in mind I would like to quote from an article by Duane E. Jeffrey. He writes the following concerning the aftermath of Roberts' manuscript review by the Twelve (see 1930 notation):

     [In 1930] The relatively young apostle, Joseph Fielding Smith, delivered a lecture to the Genealogical Conference on April 5. In his characteristic style, he enthusiastically delivered himself of his thoughts on the creation of man, acknowledging that "The Lord has not seen fit to tell us definitely just how Adam came for we are not ready to receive that truth." But he also spelled out very clearly a disbelief in "pre-Adamites," peoples of any sort upon the earth before Adam, declaring that ". . . the doctrine of 'pre-Adamites' is not a doctrine of the Church, and is not advocated nor countenanced in the Church." Furthermore,

     . . . There was no death in the earth before the fall of Adam. . . . All life in the sea, the air, on the earth, was without death. Animals were not dying. Things were not changing as we find them changing in this mortal existence, for mortality had not come. . . . ("Faith Leads to a Fulness of Truth and Righteousness," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, 21:145-158, October 1930)

 

     Shortly after the publication of the speech, these concepts became a bone of contention: Brigham H. Roberts, the long-standing apologist of the Church, directly challenged the legitimacy of the remarks, in a letter to the First Presidency. Both Roberts and Smith were given opportunity to present their positions, both orally and in writing, to the Twelve and the Presidency. Roberts developed his ideas primarily from scripture, from science, and from Apostle Orson Hyde and President Brigham Young. Smith also used scripture, but leaned heavily on the Adam teachings of Orson Pratt, and on paragraph 13 of the 1909 statement of the First Presidency. This last item comprised his major piece of evidence.

     At last, convinced that continuation of the discussion would be fruitless, the First Presidency issued a seven-page directive to the other general authorities, reviewing in detail the entire discussion as described and then stating:

     . . . The statement made by Elder Smith that the existence of pre-Adamites is not a doctrine of the Church is true. It is just as true that the statement: "There were not pre-Adamites upon the earth," is not a doctrine of the Church. Neither side of the controversy has been accepted as a doctrine at all.

     Both parties make the scripture and the statements of men who have been prominent in the affairs of the Church the basis of their contention; neither has produced definite proof in support of his views.

     . . . Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the people of the world. Leave Geology, Biology, Archaeology and Anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church. . . .

 

Source: ^Duane E. Jeffrey, "Seers, Savants and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface," in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. VIII, Nos. 3/4, 1973, pp. 63-64.

 

     Note* Richard Sherlock writes:

      It might have been expected that he April decision would have firmly ended all discussion on this topic. Yet six months alter the issue again surfaced even more acrimoniously. The key figure this time was Apostle James Talmage . . . Talmage touched off this second phase of the controversy with a carefully worded talk in the Tabernacle on August 9, 1931. Entitled "The Earth and Man," the address was more of a summary statement on a number of issues relating to evolutionary thought . . .

     In direct contradiction to Elder Smith, Talmage [a trained geologist] asserted that the evidence of geology was God's record, not Satan's deception. . . . On September 29 a crucial, seven-hour meeting was held on the matter during which Talmage reported that there was "revealed a very strong feeling on the part of a minority of the Brethren against giving public sanction to the views of geologists as set forth in the address." He further related some surprise at the strength of this feeling: "The insistence on the part of three of our brethren--really to the effect that all geologists and all geology are wrong in matters relating to the sequence of life on earth--has been surprising." (note 50) . . .

     With the death of Roberts and Talmage in 1933, the controversy over the manuscript and the subject of evolution in general subsided. The depression directed the energies of the leadership elsewhere. . . . After World War II evolutionary theory became well entrenched in Mormon academic circles. . . .

     The anti-scientific position, however, was never completely abandoned. As in the original B. H. Roberts controversy, Joseph fielding Smith remained the champion of this cause. At the suggestion of other literalist Authorities he published the strongly anti-evolutionary Man: His Origin and Destiny in 1954. [see 1954 notations] While this work was disavowed by President McKay as "unauthorized" and no statement of church doctrine, Smith's basic assertions have attained considerable stature. This has been in part through their emphatic and unqualified presentation in the unofficial but highly regarded and widely used compendium by Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine. That the final chapter in this controversy has yet to be written is evidenced by the recent publication of distinctly anti-evolutionary concepts in officially sanctioned works. While no official change has taken place in the position of the First Presidency since the Roberts/Smith/Talmage encounter, one finds, for example, that the "Bible dictionary" in the new, Mormon edition of the King James Version of the Bible asserts without qualification that "Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on the earth for any forms of life before the fall of Adam" (see the entry on "death," citing 2 Nephi 2:22 and Moses 6:48).

 

Source: ^Richard Sherlock, "We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation of the Discussion:' The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair," in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. XIII, No. 1, Spring 1980, pp. 63-78

 

     Note*      In a letter by the senior James Talmage (a trained geologist) to his son, Sterling Talmage (also a trained geologist), he writes about the confrontation with Joseph Fielding Smith, who opposed the idea of any life whatsoever existing on earth before the fall of Adam. He writes:

May 21, 1931

 

 

Dr. Sterling B. Talmage

Department of Geology

New Mexico School of Mines

Socorro, N. M.

 

Dear Sterling:

  

     . . . But the reason for this excursion into a by-field lies in the fact that Elder B. H. Roberts . . . had begun to intimate that the belief in Pre-Adamites is well founded. . . . [I] was bold enough to point out that according to a tradition in the Church based on good authority as having risen from a declaration made by the Prophet Joseph Smith, a certain pile of stones at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Spring Hill, Mo., is really part of the altar on which Adam offered sacrifices, and that I had personally efanined those stones and found them to be fossiliferous, so that if those stones be part of the first altar, Adam built it of stones containing corpses, and therefore death must have prevailed in the earth before Adam's time. And again, the stratified hill--Spring Hill itself--carries many fossiliferous beds, including a coal seam.

     What appeared to threaten a serious disruption between and among certain brethren has been so far composed as to stop further discussion for the present, and this by a decision presented by the First Presidency and sustained by all the General Authorities of the Church, to the effect that of course positive declaration of the existence of Pre-Adamite races is no part of the doctrine of the Church, and that positive declarations that there were no Pre-Adamic races upon the earth is likewise no doctrine of the Church. It is advised that the matter be not agitated as discussion resulting therefrom would likely be rather destructive than constructive. I have stated plainly that every reputable geologist realized that there must have been Pre-Adamic races on the earth, if it be so that the Fall (which marks the beginning of Adamic history) occurred only 5, 931 years ago, which appears to be the time of the beginning of the Adamic race according to the corrected Usher chronology, which is sustained by latter-day revelation--check with D. and C., sec. 107:42-53. . . .

 

Source: FIND

 

     Note* Doctrine and Covenants 107:42-53 gives a priesthood chronology from Adam down to Noah along with the ages of the various descendants when they were ordained--thus apparently allowing a comparison by Talmage to the Usher chronology composed in part using the chronology of the ages from Adam to Noah listed in Genesis, chapter 5. Moreover in the book of Moses, chapter 6 we find the same chronology of ages for Adam's posterity down to Noah as given in Genesis 5.

     

     Note* The debate regarding a "literalist" interpretation of scripture and a subsequent "question of priority" regarding the teaching of evolution (and Book of Mormon geography) would surface again resulting in more substantial directives and addresses to the Church Educational System--see the notations for 1938, 1954.

 

 

1932^      J. W. A. Bailey            "Where Hill Cumorah is Located." in Saints Herald 79 (18 May 1932): p. 478.

     (RLDS)

 

     References from Book of Mormon by J. W. A. Bailey

 

1. In the land of Desolation--in a land of many waters. (693:69; 701:5; 488:30,34,35; 548:3,4)

2. In the Valley of Mexico, Anahuac, "Country by the waters." (Native Races, volume 2, pages 87,88)

3. Where the Jaredites lived. (729:43; 757:82,83)

     4. Where the Jaredites fought their last battle. (757:83; 759:103-108)

5. Where Mormon fought his last battle. (693:69; 701:3-8; 735:4)

6. Where Mormon hid all the records except the few plates he gave Moroni. (701:8)

7. Near where Ether hid the twenty-four gold plates. (751:15; 759:103-108)

8. In the land where Mulek first landed. (387:74)

9. Where Limhi discovered Ether's record. (714:2; 759:108; 232:61-66; 270:166-169)

10. Where Coriantumr was discovered. (202:37-39)

11. Was called Desolation because of the great destruction of the people. (549:6; 202:39; 232:62; 270:167-169; 387:74-77)

12. It was located just north of the Narrow Pass. (488:30,34,35; 540:5,6,; 693:69; 704:2)

13. The land Desolation was on the West Sea by the Narrow Pass. (540:6; 488:35; 501:61; 502:78; 757:80, Pacific Ocean)

14. The land south (Yucatan) was nearly surrounded by water. (388:77; 549:8)

 

     All the great records: The brass plates, the twenty-four gold plates, and others, are still in Hill Cumorah in Mexico. (701:8)

 

 

1934      Altered Reprint*                  The History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

     Joseph Fielding Smith (Hist.)            Reprinted again in 1948      

 

     According to John Sorenson, the original publication of The History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was edited by B. H. Roberts and appeared in 1904 (see 1904 notation). After the death of Roberts in 1933, the new Church historian, Joseph Fielding Smith, reprinted the series with a significant change in a key statement regarding the geography of Book of Mormon events. The History's treatment of the Zelph incident, which took place during the march of Zion's Camp in 1834 (see 1834 notation) was changed. Under Smith's direction, previously excised portions of the story were put back in, and they have remained to the present. The effect of these changes were compounded by the fact that the Zelph incident was written in a "false" first person style when originally published. Because of the reprinted History for over half a century virtually all LDS readers of it have thought that Joseph positively said that Zelph fought in Illinois as part of the fourth century A.D. retreat of the Nephites to the New York hill Cumorah. The fact is that we cannot be sure what he said about Zelph in detail (see Godfrey 1989).

     In a Church News article of 1938 (see 1938 notation), historian Smith said that this was "the correct" reading without commenting on the basis. It is clear enough that his motive was to protect the reputation of his great-uncle, Joseph Smith, as a prophet, and he strongly opposed any who implied that Joseph did not know the answer to the geography question or had been in error in regard to it. Thus the late 1930's members of the Church were under strong pressure to stay with the traditional view on geography as expressed by the History and Elder Smith's article.

 

Source: ^John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, Part 1. A History of ideas: The Geography of Book of Mormon Events in Latter-day Thought." Provo: FARMS, 1990, pp. 33-34).

 

 

 

1934^      J. M. Sjodahl            "New Book of Mormon Evidences," in Millennial Star 96, May 17, 1934,

                       pp. 305-307.

 

     J. M. Sjodahl comments on the historical and archaeological connections between the prehistoric Indians of Northern Chihuahua and the Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico. Then he says the following about general geography of the Book of Mormon (and implying a connection between the above locations according to a Hemispheric theory perspective):

     To students of the Book of Mormon the importance of correct knowledge of the connection between the occupants of the "Narrow Neck of Land" [Chihuahua] and those of the North [Arizona] and the South is apparent. It is this connection that scientific research is gradually establishing.

     By and by the scientific evidence for the Book of Mormon will be as complete as that for the Bible, and more so. . . . (Deseret News, April 21, 1934)

 

 

 

1934^      LDS Church            Book of Mormon Sunday School Lessons for the Church of Jesus Christ of

                        Latter-day Saints, Published quarterly by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                        Board, printed at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1934

 

     Vol. 7, No. 1 First Quarter January to March, 1934

     Second Sunday, February 11, 1934

     Lesson 6. In America Three thousand Six Hundred years Before Columbus

 

     The Jaredites

 

     The Jaredites were a populous race who inhabited portions of Ancient America prior to the Nephites. When Lehi and his family landed in the New World, this older race, after rising to great heights, had been destroyed leaving the ruins of their civilization to be discovered by the Nephites. . . .

     Now the Jaredites were a colony who left the Old World at the time of the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel. . . . Across the broad Pacific the barges were wafted. Little is said of the voyages which must have consumed months. Finally the promised land was reached, the colony probably landing somewhere on the west coast of America. From there they spread over the land in time becoming a numerous and prosperous people. Great cities they built, the vestiges of which are seen today, for these Jaredites were skilled in masonry. . . .

     A brief record of their wars appears in the Book of Ether and need not be repeated here. Sufficient to say the last great battle between the opposing factions was fought around the Hill Ramah (Cumorah of the Nephites) and on that field a whole race was blotted out. One soul, Coriantumr the king, alone survived the slaughter. . . .

     The history of this people covered many centuries. Picture if you can a small body of people becoming a mighty nation occupying an entire continent; and then being wiped out completely. . . . (pp. 13-15)

 

 

     Second Sunday, December 9, 1934

     Lesson 40. The Final Chapter

 

      . . . Swept northward the contending forces battled on with relentless fury. Reaching the region surrounding what is now known as the Hill Cumorah (in Western New York) the already exhausted armies grimly prepared for the last, gigantic struggle, a clash that was to "decide the destiny of half the world." . . .

     Anticipating the great destruction of the final conflict, Mormon took the precaution to hide all the sacred records, except a short or "abridged" account written by himself, in the Hill Cumorah. This "abridgment" he placed in the hands of Moroni . . .

 

 

1935            Heber J. Grant            Dedicatory Prayer, Angel Moroni Monument

 

     Interestingly, President Heber J. Grant in the dedicatory prayer for the Angel Moroni Monument in 1935 made no mention of the Hill Cumorah being the same one as in the Book of Mormon, although he did mention in the prayer many external evidences of the Book of Mormon.

 

Source: ^Bruce A. Van Orden, "The Debate of the Hill Cumorah," August 1971, p. 9.

 

     Note* The first official Bureau of Information at the Hill Cumorah was completed in 1936. According to the Church News, September 4, 1937, p. 2, this building was intended to represent Mayan architecture, which was "in keeping with the ancient American history as related in the Book of Mormon." (see photo below)

 

[Illustration: Figure 33. ca. 1936 photograph of the first Hill Cumorah Bureau of Information, Palmyra Bean Packer Collection. Cameron J. Packer, A Study of the Hill Cumorah: A Significant Latter-day Saint Landmark in Western New York, (Masters Thesis) Religious Education, Brigham Young University, December 2002, p. 125.]

 

 

 

1935^      W. Cleon Skousen            "Letter written by W. Cleon Skousen, an Archeologist," to

                                    Ernest L. English, Santa Monica, California, Feb. 4, 1935

                                    transcribed and sent to M. Wells Jakeman, Archaeology

                                    Dept., BYU. by R. P. Gardner

 

Ernest L. English

. . .

Santa Monica, Calif

 

     Dear Rotarian:

     I was delighted to receive your interesting letter regarding the subject of my remarks to your club last Friday, and it will be a pleasure to give you any information that I can. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with your club and am happy to know that the members were interested int he subject which was discussed..

     The inquiry which you make regarding the Book of Mormon is a commendable one and I will be pleased to mention the part which it has played in assisting the Government to unravel the problem of our American aborigines. The Book of Mormon was first brought tot he attention of the Smithsonian Institute by James N. Fairchild, a New York Editor. At first the account was not taken seriously because nothing was known at that time which could possibly substantiate the account given in the record. It was recognized that it contained many excellent philosophical assertions but apparently was not regarded as having any historical value until about 1885. Dr. Rice and several members of the Institute had gone into Mexico with an expedition and found what seemed to be evidence of a highly civilized race. The New York "Observer" under date of Feb. 5, 1885 mentions the similarity between the new findings and certain passages found in the Book of Mormon.

     Work was slow, however, and it was 1920 before the Smithsonian Institute officially recognized the Book of Mormon as a record of any value. All discoveries up to this time were found to fit the Book of Mormon account and so heads of the Archeological department decided to make an effort to discover some of the larger cities described by the Book of Mormon record. All members of the Department were required to study the account and make rough maps of the various populated centers. When I visited the Smithsonian Institute library in 1933, I noticed that there were over thirty copies of the Book of Mormon on file.

     During the last fifteen years, the Institute has made remarkable strides in its investigation of the American Indians, and it is true that the Book of Mormon has been the guide to almost all the major discoveries. When Col. Lindberg flew to South America five years ago, he was able to sight a great many heretofore undiscovered cities which the archeologists at the Institute had mapped out according to the locations described in the Book of Mormon. This record is now quoted by the members of the Institute as an authority and is recognized by all advanced students in the field.

     . . .

     So far as I know the authorities of the Smithsonian Institute have never advanced any remarks either denying or favoring the explanation given by the Mormons for the origin of their record. The Institute workers feel that they have proven the account to be valuable data, however, regardless of its origin.

     I trustr that these sketchy answers may meet with your approval and perhaps clarify the problems which you mentiolned. If at any time I may be of further service to you, I shall be happy to assist in any way possible.

 

Please accept my kindest regards,

                                   Very cordially yours,

                                          W. Cleon Skousen

 

                                               [R. G. Gardner      I.P.]

 

 

1935^      W. Cleon Skousen            "Letter written by W. Cleon Skousen, an Archeologist," to Mr.

                              Hampton Price, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 3, 1935, transcribed and

                              sent to M. Wells Jakeman, Archaeology Dept., BYU.

 

Mr. Hampton Price

      . . .

 

Dear Mr. Price:

     Upon arrival home today from the coast, I was given your letter of April 30 requesting a copy of the speech which I gave before the Santa Monica Rotary Club recently. You mentioned that you desired the information by Saturday so I shall endeavor to get this reply on the plane which leaves Los Angeles tonight.

     First of all, I am sorry that I cannot send you the talk in its complete content since it would have all the data related to the subject which I discussed. It has never been published except as quotations and summaries in the press, and therefore I am unable to send anything but a brief outline of the subject material.

     The talk was entitled the "Ghost City of the Anahuacans" and dealt with some of my experiences in the excavated areas of Old Mexico. The City mentioned in the title was built about 1800 years ago and was occupied by a highly civilized race about 387 A.D. Among the petrrified skeleton remains were found accuratelyl carved teeth, broken leg bones wieth silver paltges screwed on over the fracture, granaries containing living seeds of corn and evidences of omany other cultural accomploishmlents. These inhabitants were probably from the South and were fleeing from some enemy.

     It seems that their stay in the city was only temporary wince all their time had apparently been spent in obtaining and storing food rather than in rebuilding the town. All skeletons demonstrated the massacre which they had been fleeing must have attacked the city unawares.

     The discovery of this ghost City has been as a challenge to modern archeologists and amazing strides have been made in the last five years. The proof for the evidence which I am going to outline here are, in all probability, obtainable form the Smithsonian Institution Washington D.C. This organization has been responsible for many new discoveries although they may not be ready, as yet, to disclose it. The facts are down, however, and will soon be subject to universal discussion.

     By way of preface, let me say that the Smithsonian Institute has three guides in making its investigations. The first has been the mythology and stories of the modern Indian tribes, then a few tablets that have been discovered in the lake region and Arizonia [sic] which have been translated into English. Finally the Institute uses an asserted history called the Book of Mormon which you are no doubt acquainted with and have probably read. The American people incidentally are very interested in American archeological discoveries and there may be some splendid source material for you right there in Salt Lake.

     In the light of these records the research has progressed very rapidly and formed the material for my talk which I will finish in outline form.

     1. The aborigines of the American continent arrived between 600 and 700 B.C.

       a. They probably came by boat and settled in the mountains of South America.

       b. They were originally white but probably had an intermixture of dark blood which occasionally cropped out to form a dark race of people who seem to have violently opposed the white group.

       c. Our discoveries are still incomplete but reveal the fact that the white race were highly civilized and cultured.

     2. Geological disturbances about 50 A.D. almost depopulated the continent, although the two tribes seemed to have increased rapidly and extended from Alaska to Argentine [sic] by 300 A.D.

     3. Civil war apparently broke out between the two races, and the white race as wiped out except for a small tribe which has been found within the last year on an island off the coast of Chile.

  a. The white race seems to have been driven North and East which accounts for the circumstances in the Ghost City of Anahuacan.

  b. The last stand seems to have been made somewhere near the Great Lakes where numerous evidences are being unearthed.

 

     Undoubtedly the coming year will reveal many interesting things. I hope this very incomplete outline may be of some assistasnce, and iif I can be of further aid to you, I will be happy to do so.

 

With very best wishes, I remain

     sincerely

W. C. Skousen

 

 

1935^      Francis W. Kirkham      "Answering an Important Question: Did Joseph Smith Obtain the Information

                        in the Book of Mormon about the Origin of the People Who Once Lived in

                        America from Books Published before 1830?" Deseret News Church Section

                        (16 March 1935): pp. 2, 6, 8.

 

     In this interesting article Dr. Kirkham gives the results of important research into books printed before 1830 that declare the American Indians to be the Lost Tribes of Israel and gives some interesting conclusions as to whether or not Joseph Smith could have been influenced by them in writing the Book of Mormon.

 

     . . . During the past century, information regarding the American aborigines has been greatly increased. We now know the center of American ancient civilization was in Central America and students among the Latter-day Saints now trace descriptions in the Book of Mormon to that section of our continent. For example, attempts have been made to designate on present maps, the land of Zarahemla, the land Bountiful, the land northward, the land southward, the narrow neck of land, the Hill Ramah or Cumorah, and many cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon as existing in South and Central America and in Mexico. It appears that little reference is made in the Book of Mormon to North America north of the Rio Grande river, where lived the American Indians known to the early members of the Church.

     Such descriptions of the American Indians as were published before 1830 that may have come to the attention of Joseph Smith had to do with Indians living in the United States and mainly those living not farther west than the Mississippi River.

     So far then as the Book of Mormon describes South and Central American lands and peoples it should be most difficult to trace any influence to publications extant before 1830 in western New York, for in this connection it is to be remembered that before 1830 the writings of the early Spanish priests about Mexico, Central and South America were still hidden in Spanish libraries. In all probability, therefore, such translations as were available in English would not have been known to an unlearned youth in western New York not yet 24 years of age who was obliged to work at farm labor to support his wife and family.

 

     Note* This article represents a scholarly change in the usual LDS approach to Indian origins. It provides some answers to the questions that B. H. Roberts had asked in his studies of 1922.

 

 

1935      The Angel Moroni Monument Is Placed on the Hill in New York

 

     Rand Packer writes:

     On July 2, 1935, the form of Moroni again reappeared on the crest of Cumorah, this time never to leave. Standing on a monument of Georgia granite, Moroni was unveiled as four trumpets sounded the hymn "An Angel from on High."

     The crowning testimony of the angel's visit to the hill was the work of the talented Norwegian sculptor Torlief S. Knaphus. He made seven different sketches of the proposed statue of Moroni as he searched for a worthy representation of the last Nephite prophet. Then, before presenting the Church leaders with his sketches, Mr. Knaphus said he spent an evening of quiet solitude on Ensign Peak praying for the Lord's forgiveness and desiring to know which of the sketches was acceptable to the Lord. Mr. Knaphus related that a finger of light surrounded with brightness pointed to a particular sketch. A voice instructed him that that was the correct sketch. When the sculptor inquired how he should confront the Brethren with this choice (inasmuch as they were the ones making the decision) he was instructed that they would choose the one the Lord had chosen. The Brethren did choose the specified sketch. When Brother Knaphus shared this experience with Willard and Rebecca Bean in New York, Sister Bean inquired if it had been Moroni who guided his choice and gave him instruction as to the proper sketch. Brother Knaphus's reply: "That's my secret." (Fireside talk by Rebecca Bean recorded on tape in Palmyra Bean Packer Collection, Provo Utah)

 

Source: ^Rand Hugh Packer, "History of Four Mormon Landmarks in Western New York: The Joseph Smith Farm, Hill Cumorah, The Martin Harris Farm, and the Peter Whitmer, Sr., Farm," Masters Thesis, Brigham Young University Department of Church History and Doctrine, August 1975, pp. 31-32

 

 

1936      Illustrated Model      O. U. Bean      HEMISPHERIC]

L.S. = South America (extent not exactly specified) / N.N. = Panama / L. N. = Panama north / H.C. = New York / Sidon = East & West Branch of Magdalena /

Progression of final battles: Land of Joshua = near Quiraguay / Land of Antum = near Copan / Hill Shim = near "Chichin-Itza" / Battleground of Agosh = near Mexico City / Waters of Ripliancum = Mississippi / Hill Cumorah = New York

Source: O. U. Bean, Class Instructor; Map: "Land of Zarahemla, Book of Mormon and How To Study It," Draughting by John Jongkindt, 1936.

 

 

 

1937^      J. A. Washburn            From Babel to Cumorah: A Story of the Book of Mormon,

     J. N. Washburn            Provo, Utah: New Era Publishing Co., 1937. Second edition

                              1938

 

     In the Preface to the Second Edition we find the following:

     The first impression of From Babel to Cumorah was sold out in a few months, to the surprise and satisfaction of the authors. Owing to the fact that a considerable demand exists for the book, the authors feel justified in offering this second edition with the hope that these new copies may reach an ever-widening group of readers and a larger field of usefulness.

     The new book is slightly enlarged over the first because of the addition of one chapter [ch. 28--The Olive Tree Puzzle] and an appendix. It is improved in other respects as well. . . . [p. V]

 

     Introduction [VI-VII]

     . . . From Babel to Cumorah in its first form was written early in the 1920's by J. A. Washburn, Principal of the Provo L. D. S. Seminary. During the years that have passed since then, it has undergone a number of changes and has come under a joint authorship.

     The book is an attempt to bring together brief narratives of the Bible and Book of Mormon. . . .

     Geography as presented herein is suggestive merely and is by no means intended to be definite. The subject is quite controversial. There are many opinions regarding it. All cannot be right, but most of them may be wrong. The subject is treated more extensively in another volume by the authors. The title of the new book is The History and Geography of the Book of Mormon. [Actually this "new book" would be published in 1939 under the title An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography] . . .

     The authors acknowledge a debt of gratitude to all who have given their support in the preparation of this book. Special thanks are due to Mrs. Elsie C. Carroll, William T. Tew, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, A. S. Kienki, and E. Cecil McGavin for reading the manuscript and giving their encouragement. . . .      --The authors, J. A. Washburn, J. N. Washburn

 

     Destruction Near [p. 35]

     We are now nearing the end of the Jaredites in America. During the 1,600 years since the little colony left the Tower of Babel the people have grown into a mighty nation. They have built imposing cities, the ruins of which still exist to tell of their marvelous civilization. Their end is a pathetic one, for we shall see them entirely swept away as a people.

     Three men were prominent in the last struggles. Coriantumr and Shiz were the last generals of the two opposing armies, and Ether, the son of Coriantor, was the last of the prophets.

     When Ether went among the Jaredites and warned them of the awful destructions just ahead unless they repented, they cast him out of their cities, and he took refuge in a cave in the mountains. There he lived for several years, completing the Jaredite history and preaching to the people as often as he could find an opportunity.

 

     End of a Nation [pp. 38-41]

     The armies have met near the hill Ramah. . . . What a ghastly sight! Can you imagine a whole nation of people fighting until all are killed but one man, and until the face of the whole land is covered with the dead? Even the great World War was not so bad as that. Every word of Ether's prophecy had come true, for Coriantumr was indeed alone. The Jaredites had been swept off the land. . . .

     We shall see later that Coriantumr lived to see the coming of the Mulekites and was buried by them. The historian declares that all the Jaredites were destroyed. If some remained in distant parts, Coriantumr did not find them, and they were not mentioned by Ether. . . .

     After the battle Ether finished the records and put them in a place where they were found many years later by the people of Limhi.

 

 

     Parting of the Ways [p. 81]

     Nephi, being warned in a dream, took Zoram and Sam and their families, and Jacob, Joseph, and their sisters and departed into the wilderness. After many days they stopped at a place they called Nephi.

 

     The Mulekites [pp. 97-99]

     The Lord commanded Mosiah to take those who would go and depart into the wilderness. Which way they went, or how far they traveled the history does not tell, but they were led by the Lord until they came to a splendid city inhabited by a people whom they had never seen nor heard of before. These people proved to be the descendants of the colony of Mulek of whom we read . . .

 

     Because of the difficulty we sometimes have in keeping clear in our minds the colonies and records of the Book of Mormon, I offer the following brief review. . .

     The Jaredites: The Jaredites, you will remember, came from the Tower of Babel about 2,200 B.C. they probably crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed at some place on the eastern coast of America. They existed for 1,600 years and were finally annihilated as a nation about 600 B.C.

     The Nephites: The Nephites set out from Jerusalem in the year 600 B.C., just about the time the Jaredites were being wiped out and also about the same time that Jerusalem was being set upon by Nebuchadnezzar in the siege that was to cause the downfall of the city. They probably came by way of the Pacific Ocean, arriving on the western coast of America at no great distance from the original home of the Jaredites. Up to this point in the story they have lived in three separate places, the place of the landing or first inheritance, where Lehi died, and from which they separated from the Lamanites; the second home, Nephi, which later became known as Lehi-Nephi, where the first temple was built and where Nephi died; and the third home, Zarahemla, the city of the Mulekites, discovered by Mosiah I and his refugees from Lehi-Nephi.

     3. The Mulekites: The third group of people that came to America consisted of the Mulekites, now also properly called the Zarahemlaites, whom we have just seen discovered by Mosiah and his friends. Mulek, for whom the colony was named, was the son of Zedekiah, king of the Jews, who was taken captive to Babylon. We know these people came from Jerusalem, but we do not know which way they traveled to this land. Neither do we know where they first reached shore nor the manner in which they came. It appears fairly certain, however, that the homes of all three peoples were very close together.      

 

 

[1938      Map: Possible Journeys of Book of Mormon Peoples. J. A. Washburn, J. N. Washburn, From Babel to Cumorah: A Story of the Book of Mormon, Second edition: Provo, Utah: New Era Publishing Co., 1938, p. 99]

 

 

     Prophecy Fulfilled [pp. 111-112]

     Now, before Ammon came, King Limhi had sent forty-three men to find Zarahemla and bring help to deliver his people from the bondage of the Lamanites. These men were lost in the wilderness and wandered about for many days. They did not find Zarahemla, but they did find a land whose people had been destroyed. It was covered with the bones of men and beasts and with ruined buildings of all kinds. For a testimony as to what they found they brought back . . . twenty-four gold plates bearing writing which they could not read.

     Of course, you have already guessed what land it was they had discovered. It was the battlefield of the Jaredites around the hill Ramah. The bones were the remains of the Jaredites who were destroyed in the days of Coriantumr and Ether.

     Limhi's people were not long in getting away from the land of Lehi-Nephi.

 

     By the Waters of Mormon [p. 116]

     This is as good a point as any at which to digress for a moment. I shall not attempt to locate the lands of the Book of Mormon peoples. A few suggestions will be in order, however.

     The first important point to be considered is that these lands could not have been very far apart. Forty days were required by Ammon and his friends to make the trip from Zarahemla to Nephi. But they were lost and certainly spent some time in wandering around. When Alma's colony made the journey in the opposite direction, twenty-one days were necessary, in laps of eight, one, and twelve days. It must be remembered also that Alma's people had their children, their flocks and herds, their grain, and in all probability other household effects. It is almost certain that they traveled over exceedingly rough country. It was in the same section in which the Lamanite army became lost. Furthermore, there were no roads. They could not have traveled very fast. How far do you think they went? What was the distance from Nephi to Zarahemla?

     Now, how far were these lands from the home of the Jaredites?

     We have seen that Limhi sent forty-three men to find Zarahemla, but they found the land of the Jaredites instead and brought back with them the Jaredite records as proof. We do not know how long these men were gone, but it was probably not very long. How far apart do you think Nephi, Zarahemla, and the home of the Jaredites were?

     It is not known how far it was from the landing place of the Nephites, the land of their first inheritance, to Nephi, but the Nephites in the latter place and the Lamanites in the former were constantly at war with each other, so the distance could not have been great because travel was of necessity slow.

     This question of distance as well as other important matters of geography is discussed fully in the new book.

 

     The End of the War [pp. 174-175]

     In the thirty-seventh year of the judges, about fifty-six years before the birth of Christ, a colony of 5,400 men with their wives and children migrated from Zarahemla into the land northward. In that same year an adventurer named Hagoth built a large ship on the borders of the land of Bountiful, near the land of Desolation. He launched his craft, provisioned and loaded with colonists, into the west sea at the point where the narrow neck of land led into the land northward. Other ships, also built by Hagoth, and likewise equipped with provisions and people, sailed into the west sea and started northward. Only one of them, the first to leave, ever returned. It came back for another load after which it sailed away and was never heard of again.

     It is interesting to note that if all these things took place in Central America, there would have been two east seas and two west seas. [see illustration below] Into which of these west seas did Hagoth launch his ships? There are sharp differences of opinion. If it was into the Pacific, the last ship may have drifted into the Trade Winds and North Equatorial Current and landed on one of the Pacific Islands. If it was into the Gulf of Mexico, the voyagers would have reached land somewhere in North America. This is all granting that the topography of Central America is the same today as it was then, a thing that may not be true.

 

 

[1938      Map: Note the Many Directions of Seas in These Countries. J. A. Washburn, J. N. Washburn, From Babel to Cumorah: A Story of the Book of Mormon, Second edition: Provo, Utah: New Era Publishing Co., 1938, p. 175]

 

 

     Desolation [p. 180]

     I note too that the people spread over the whole land from sea to sea. I wonder what this means. Look at the map on page 175; you will notice that there are seas in all directions in Central America. Were the people living there? For a full and detailed discussion of this matter of geography the reader should see the new book by the present authors.

 

     Cumorah [pp. 232-234]

     It had been just 1,000 years since the Jaredites fought their last battle around the hill Ramah. Their bleached bones and rusting weapons you remember were discovered by the same company that found the twenty-four gold plates--the scouts sent out by King Limhi from Nephi. The Jaredites had spent four years gathering their armies and preparing for the struggle that brought extinction to their race.

     And now for four years the Lamanites and Nephites have also gathered their warriors and weapons around the very same hill for a conflict that totally destroyed the Nephites. The hill was now called Cumorah. It is the place where Mormon buried the sacred records, except the ones given to his son Moroni. Here is the story of that unspeakable disaster: . . .

     Two marvelous ancient American civilizations--those of the Jaredites and the Nephites--through wickedness came to their end at the hill Cumorah. . . .

 

     Conclusion [p. 240]

     Another matter should claim a moment's notice. So much as been said, and is now being said, about the location of the hill Cumorah that we offer the following comment.

     Moroni tells us that he hid up the records in the earth. He did not say where he hid them. His father had concealed all the sacred records in the hill Cumorah where the last battle was fought. Mormon might have put the gold plates in the same place, or he might have put them elsewhere. The thing that appears fairly evident is that the hill Cumorah was near the first homes of the three peoples, the Jaredites, Nephites, and Mulekites, wherever that was. If we could locate these places, we would not be far from the hill Ramah, or Cumorah.

     It makes no real difference whether at that time they were deposited in the Cumorah in New York or a Cumorah somewhere else. The thing that is important is that it was from the Cumorah in New York State that Joseph Smith took them. That is a sacred place and will ever remain so.

     Jordan River in Utah is Jordan River to us though it is not the Jordan of which the Bible tells. The transfer of names is a very logical commonplace thing. Look at any map of North America, and you will find any number of cities and counties named for places in Europe.

     It is thinkable, therefore, that the hill Cumorah in New York is a namesake of another Cumorah, probably in Central America, the possible home of the peoples of the Book of Mormon. But this question in no way affects the divinity of the record.

 

 

1937      The Hill Cumorah Pageant Begins to Be Staged at the New York Hill: "America's Witness for Christ"

 

     Terryl Givens writes:

     Around the turn of the century, a play with a popular run in the Salt Lake Valley was "Corianton," based on the wayward son of Book of Mormon prophet Alma. Written originally by B. H. Roberts, then adapted by Orestes Bean for the stage, it even had a run on Broadway. . . . B. H. Roberts [also] planned and wrote an elaborate centennial [1927] commemoration of Joseph Smith's first view of the golden plates at Hill Cumorah in upstate New York . . . . Soon thereafter, the church acquired the hill and environs, and before long the spectacle described by Roberts was being reenacted annually on a grand scale. The first performance of "America's Witness for Christ" took place in 1937, and within ten years annual attendance would surpass 100,000. [Truman G. Madsen, "B. H. Roberts and the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies 19.4 (summer 1979):435. Also B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1957), 6:524-26. Also Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1985), 168.]

 

Source: ^Terryl L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon, Oxford: University Press, 2002, p. 244.

 

 

Rand Packer writes:

     Most of nature's edifices are closed books concerning their past. Not so with a common drumlin in western New York. Annually (with exception of the war years) since 1937 Cumorah has trumpeted its message to hundreds of thousands, reconstructing through drama and music the message it guarded for 1,400 years.

     Like most great things, the pageant developed from humble beginnings. Most likely it received its initial impetus on July 24, 1917, when members and missionaries participated in a gathering and social at the Joseph Smith farm and the Sacred Grove.

     Thereafter, periodic gatherings, mostly of missionaries, assembled at the Hill Cumorah. An extensive missionary effort in 1923 enacted by the Eastern States Mission president, B H. Roberts, called for the missionaries to migrate to Cumorah, preaching the gospel as they went. With a vast array of pennants and slogans they climaxed their conference at meetings or "episodes" beside the Hill Cumorah in the Sacred Grove. Prominent throughout the program were flags among which was a Cumorah-Ramah flag to honor the two Book of Mormon nations. Half of the flag was colored light blue with gold letters spelling out Cumorah. The other half of the flag was colored deep purple with the word Ramah spelled in gold letters. This event was attended by approximately a thousand non-Mormons. . . . As the pageant fever increased, President Don B. Colton of the Eastern States Mission asked Oliver R. Smith and Meryl Dunn Jones, missionaries, to prepare yet another pageant script. They entitled their production "Truth From the Earth," and with a cast of seventy members presented it on July 25, 1936, to an audience of 5,000 people. The audience sat on the hillside of Cumorah and watched the Restoration message unfold at the foot of the hill. Cumorah's first pageant was history.

     Following the first pageant, President Colton organized a committee consisting of Roscoe Grover, Dr. H. Wayne Driggs, and Ira J. Markham and authorized them to publicize the Eastern States Mission. Thus, one of their tasks was to improve the publicity value of the Hill Cumorah. And their immediate recommendation was to have a yearly pageant at the Hill Cumorah. This recommendation became their responsibility: they were assigned to write, prepare, and present the yearly pageant. Professor Eastmond, who had long "dreamed" of presenting a pageant at the hill, supplied the costumes from Brigham Young University, and Dr. Driggs entitled the production "America's Witness for Christ." Dr. Harold I. Hansen, then a new missionary in the Eastern States, was selected to train the missionaries who would present the pageant. Using a cast of 123, Dr. Hansen presented the pageant to over 10,000 people as a preliminary to what has become a colossal drama resounding through the summer air of July each year.

     Since that first production (with the exception of the World War II years), Dr. Hansen has produced each pageant. On special leave from BYU each summer, he has made the Hill Cumorah Pageant his life.

 

Source: ^Rand Hugh Packer, "History of Four Mormon Landmarks in Western New York: The Joseph Smith Farm, Hill Cumorah, The Martin Harris Farm, and the Peter Whitmer, Sr., Farm," Masters Thesis, Brigham Young University Department of Church History and Doctrine, August 1975, pp. 35-38

 

 

 

     Note* This pageant brought tremendous attention to the Church, but it also authoritatively reinforced the idea that the final battles of the Nephites were fought around this hill. The Church would not ease away from this geographical scenario for another 53 years (see the letter to Al Shumate--1990).

 

 

1937^      Josiah E. Hickman            The Romance of the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City, Utah: The

                              Deseret News Press, 1937

 

     On page 42 we find the following:

     Jaredite Colony Landed on West Coast of America-- The Babylonian or Jaredite fleet landed probably somewhere on the west coast of what is now Central America, Mexico, or the southern part of California. . . . Sustaining this record now comes scientific evidence, a significant portion of which is cited in this and following chapters. According to Dr. Herbert J. Spinden, the beginning of cultural civilization on this continent came into being on the high lands of Mexico and Central America about two thousand years before Christ. (Science News Letter, No. 740, p. 381, (June 15, 1935) . . .

     These first colonists, the Jaredites, multiplied rapidly: gradually their civilization extended northward from that "narrow neck of land" on the south which "separated the lands north from the land south," and on to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic seaboard. They seem to have occupied all the land north of the narrow neck (Panama). To quote: "Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which (centuries later) is called Desolation by the Nephites." (Ether 7:6) It seems, therefore, that the land of Desolation lay north of that narrow neck of land which the historian said was a day and a half's journey from east to west. (Al. 22:30-33; Hel. 4:7) The city Moroni, that might be called the capital of the nation--for that was where the king dwelt--must have become very large. This was a city of note within three or four generations after the first Jaredites landed on this continent."(Ether 7:5, 17)

 

     On page 43 he writes of the Mulekites:

     . . . when the Mulekites, who left Jerusalem about 589 B.C., landed on the coast of Central America they found that land covered with ruined cities and bleaching bones. However, Coriantumr, king of the Jaredites, having survived his otherwise extinct race had probably wandered back from the scenes of their final stand (present New York State), over the desolate trails of a once teeming nation, southward to their first great city of Moron. Finding none of his people he may have continued on into or possibly through the Isthmus . . .

 

[Note* In this Hemispheric view, apparently Hickman did not find it necessary to correlate the Limhi expedition's finding of bones with the location of the final battle area--the battles apparently wiping out everyone all the way from Central America to New York.]

 

     The scene of ruin was so gruesome that the Mulekites moved "up south" to what is presumed to be the northern part of South America, known by them as Zarahemla. Later they were discovered by the Nephite nation, then under the leadership of Mosiah. . . . the Nephites, moving northward from South America, built all over this once revolting land [of Desolation].

 

 

     From page 50:

     Cocle' May be the Ruins of the City of Moron:-- Probably one of the most marvelous discoveries yet made was by A. Hyatt Verrill and Dr. Saville of the Heye Foundation of the American Indian, New York City. They unearthed a ruined city in Panama, north of the supposedly "narrow neck of land," spoken of by the Jaredites and Nephites, and between the Pacific Coast and the range of low mountains on the east called the Cordilleras. The ruins are called Cocle', so named from the Cocle' Indians of that region.

 

 

     On page 63 we find the following:

     . . . Hard pressed by the Lamanites the fleeing Nephites, so some students believe, made their final stand in what is now New York State. All were destroyed except a few who, seeing that all was lost, fled to the enemy's forces. Even the Redskins had lost probably the greater part of their number.

     The closing years of this fratricidal war are dated about four hundred twenty A.D. It was then that the historian and prophet Moroni, believing himself to be the only Nephite survivor who had not joined the enemy, buried in a hill the abridged history of his ancestors and that of the Jaredite nation. The hill, the scene of the last Nephite encampment, was called Cumorah (now in Wayne County, New York). Here the record remained until a boy's faith broke the seals and read the story of antiquity. . . .

 

 

1938^      Inez Kinney            "Yucatan: 'The Land of Pheasant and the Deer,' " in Saints Herald 85

     (RLDS)            (29 January 1938): pp. 137-140, 146.

 

     In an article dealing with archaeological and historical evidence and supplemented with multiple photographs about her personal visit to Yucatan, Inez Kinney begins with the following:

     Driven by an urge to gaze upon the visible evidences of the ancient American civilizations, I "went forth" on a pilgrimage that was to take me into the strongholds of three pre-Columbian peoples--Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites. The names by which the world knows these nations are, Archaic, Toltec or Old Empire, and Mayan or New Empire.

 

 

1938^            George Q. Cannon            The Instructor 73, 4 (April, 1938), pp. 159-160. Reprinted

                                   from Juvenile Instructor, January 1, 1890

 

     This editorial article voices strong objection to the introduction and circulation of maps that attempt to depict the geography of the Book of Mormon. (see the 1890 notation for the complete text)

 

     Note* The fact that the editorial staff of The Instructor would choose to reprint Elder George Q. Cannon's words from the Juvenile Instructor (1890) citing objections to "the introduction and circulation of maps that attempt to depict the geography of the Book of Mormon" is quite interesting in light of the 1908 editorial in the September 1, 1908 issue of Juvenile Instructor in which a map prepared by Joel Ricks was introduced to the Church membership with the following statement:

     The map is prepared by Joel Ricks. Elder Ricks spent considerable time in South America for the sole purpose of locating Nephite historical points. The map is, therefore, prepared by one who has made a special study of Book of Mormon geography. And the map comes endorsed. That is, it is published with the approval and sanction of the presidency of the Church. Of course, the map is not correct in every detail. Indeed such a thing is impossible without special revelation. But this map of Bro. Ricks' is suggestive and helpful. We cannot see how the Book of Mormon can now be sucessfully [sic] studied without it.

 

     However, from subsequent letters between Joel Ricks and Anthony Ivins, it becomes apparent that there were problems with studying Book of Mormon geography, even with a more sophisticated map. The Church committee members of 1921 certainly were interested in Book of Mormon geography because they had multiple theories presented to them, and had organized discussions which followed in 1922, even after the new Book of Mormon edition was published. So while they might have found fault with every theory presented to them for some reason or another, they still apparently found the study worthwhile, especially with individuals that actually did some scientific research and traveled to the various sites. What became apparent, however, was that even among those who had studied and visited the same proposed lands of North America, Central America, and South America, opinions on specific locations of Book of Mormon sites varied, sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles. Yet what might have troubled Church officials most was the belief by some individuals that the Church not only could declare their particular map to be "suggestive and helpful," but "definitely" correct. And that this official Church refusal generated animosities.

     This renewed action of the Church against the circulation of Book of Mormon maps can be seen as an extension of J. Reuben Clark's "Charted Course" speech given to Church educators, which would be delivered in this same year (1938-see notation). According to the "Charted Course" philosophy, scripitural and authoritative historical statements (such as those regarding the location of the Hill Cumorah -the site of the final battles- as being in New York) were acceptable as doctrine, while ideas that involved the reasoning of men (like the development of a detailed Book of Mormon map according to archaeological data, Native histories, and cultural data-something which favored the Limited Mesoamerican theories) were considered non-acceptable.

 

 

1938^            George D. Pyper      Statement of Book of Mormon Geography, appended to Frederick J.

                             Pack, "Route Traveled by Lehi and His Company," The Instructor,

                             Vol. 73, no. 4, April 1938, p. 160.

 

     In the Instructor of 1938, following a reprinting of the 1890 statement by George Q. Cannon (see notation above), a letter is printed which is signed, "Frederick J. Pack, Chairman, Gospel Doctrine Committee." It concerns the statement in the 1882 Richards and Little Compendium supposedly revealing the route followed by Lehi. (see notation for 1882) Pack notes that the 1857 English edition of the Compendium lacked the Lehi statement, but American editions beginning with 1882 have included it. After quoting the Lehi's Travels statement he says the following:

     This statement has gained wide acceptance throughout the Church, and has even been copied by various writers. Its authenticity, however, is subject to grave doubt, as witness the following: The only known source of authority is a single sheet of manuscript presented to the Church Historian's office, in 1864, by Ezra G. Williams, son of Frederick G. Williams, at one time counselor to Joseph Smith in the First Presidency. . . . it lays no claim to being a revelation, neither does it mention the name of the Prophet as its author. Thus the following caption, as it appears in the Compendium, "Lehi's Travels--Revelation to Joseph the Seer," is not present in the original manuscript.

     In summary, the most that can be said with certainty of the manuscript statement is that it bears good evidence of having been written by the hand of Frederick G. Williams. He himself, however, gives no indication of the identity of its author; neither does he claim it to be of divine origin.

     The Church has issued no information concerning the route followed by Lehi and his company. Until this is done, teachers of the Gospel Doctrine department should refrain from expressing definite opinions.

                             Frederick J. Pack

                       Chairman Gospel Doctrine Committee

 

     (See the notation for 1882; see the B.H. Roberts comments of 1909)

 

     Note* Immediately following the Pack letter is this note:

     (Note. The present associate editor [George D. Pyper] of The Instructor was one day in the office of the late President Joseph F. Smith [who died in 1918] when some brethren were asking him to approve a map showing the exact landing place of Lehi and his company. President Smith declined to officially approve of the map, saying that the Lord had not yet revealed it, and that if it were officially approved and afterwards found to be in error, it would affect the faith of the people.--Asst. Editor)

 

     Note* Apparently such worries did not apply to the location of the Hill Cumorah-the site of the final battles-being in New York--See the Ivins 1928 notation.

 

 

1938^      LDS Church            Book of Mormon Sunday School Lessons for the Church of Jesus Christ of

                        Latter-day Saints, Published yearly by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                        Board, printed at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1938

 

     Gospel Topics.

     Latter-day Saints believe that the American Continents are lands chosen by God for the carrying out of His purposes. We are taught that the Garden of Eden was located in North America and that Adam and the patriarchs down to Noah lived here. It was to the Americas that the Jaredites were led by the Power of the Lord. . . . (p. 17)

 

     

1938^            Lynn C. Layton            The Improvement Era 41, July 1938:394-95, 439

 

     In 1938 Lynn C. Layton drew the first published "internal" model of Book of Mormon geography. This was the first time in eleven years that the Improvement Era had published a piece on the geography of Book of Mormon events. This article was preceded by the following editorial:

     Many individual members of the Church, in private capacity, have expressed their views and their theories concerning the Book of Mormon geography. Here is another view--representing merely the personal beliefs of one student of the subject and not necessarily representing the views of the Church or its members generally. But this presentation is unique in that it does not attempt to place the scene of action on the present-day map, but merely indicates the relative positions of one place with respect to another, as inferred from a study of the text itself.

 

     Together with some logical scriptural arguments Layton says the following:

     After several years of study the author is convinced that the Book of Mormon contains sufficient information for the student to construct a map of Zarahemla and its surrounding lands. As the River Sidon played such an important part in the history of the Nephites, even until the days of Mormon, and was one great physical feature of the land which remained unchanged during this period, it will, if located, form a sort of base meridian for the construction of a map. . . .

     Now we are presented with a unique situation: The Sidon running from south to north ends in a sea. The narrow strip of wilderness divides the Land of Nephi from Zarahemla, or the Nephite lands, and also runs from sea to sea, running east and west. If you will note this forms a T, with the Sidon as the stem and the Land of Nephi as the top bar. From this T and the east and west sea shores we can locate many of the ancient lands. The Land of Zarahemla was near the Sidon . . .

     These verses establish the fact that Zarahemla was in the center of the Nephite lands, also that the city Bountiful was north of Zarahemla. . . .

     It would be impossible to place more of the lands in an article of this length, but with the use of the accompanying chart and the text of the Book of Mormon many more may be located with surprising accuracy. Perhaps if all the requirements of the text are considered, the Book of Mormon student may locate the Land of Zarahemla on the present-day map.

 

     Note* While Layton's "internal" map supposedly represented only internal reasoning, it certainly was not the first attempt to coordinate such internal reasoning. In some previous external maps, internal reasoning had almost exclusively been used, but the resultant map was overlayed on an existing map of the American continent, thus making an external map. Layton's internal map was rudimentary yet basically sound, however it was lacking any positioning for the hill Cumorah and had no scale reference to judge relative distance. This might have been a reason why the Era chose to publish it rather than the internal map which had been developed by the Washburns during the latter half of the 1930's. Significantly, the Washburn's map, which had been shown to Church authorities at least by 1938, had the hill Cumorah located close to the narrow neck (a location untenable with the Hemispheric theory. (see the Washburn notation for 1939)

 

     Note* The Layton's would publish an external model in the early 1940's--see notation.

 

[1938      Illustrated Model      Lynn C. Layton      INTERNAL (Hemispheric or Modified Hemispheric--H.C. not shown)]      

Source: Lynn C. Layton, "An 'Ideal' Book of Mormon Geography, Improvement Era 41 (July 1938):394-395. (see 1940)

 

 

1938^            J. Reuben Clark      "The Charted Course of the Church in Education" in the Improvement

                              Era, September, 1938, pp. 520-521, 570-573. See also "L.D.S.

                              Church Educational System and Philosophy, August 8, 1938" in

                              James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The

                              Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965-75),

                              6:44-58.

 

     Note* In an introduction for this article in Messages of the First Presidency, James R. Clark writes that this address was delivered, on behalf of the First Presidency, to the Summer Institute of Seminary, Institute, and Church School teachers at Aspen Grove in Provo Canyon, Utah. The text appeared in full in the Deseret News Church Section (see "1938-August 8-Deseret News, Church Section, August 13, 1938") It also appeared in the September 1938 Improvement Era. It also was extracted for use in Lesson 18 of the Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study, 1969-70. Clark also notes:

     This document was the underpinning of the instructions of the First Presidency as they inaugurated a new Church Commissioner of Education in 1970 and of the charge to Dallin H. Oaks as the new president of Brigham Young University in 1971. Boyd K. Packer, member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University, in a talk given April 10, 1974 [see notation] at the retirement of the Dean of the College of Religious Instruction of Brigham Young University, referred to this document in these words:

We have, I am sure, all read this document. But some of us have not read it enough. President Clark was a prophet, seer, and revelator. there is not the slightest question but that exceptional inspiration attended the preparation of his message. There is a clarity and power in his words, unusual even for him. I know you have read it before, some of you many times, but I assign you to read it again. read it carefully and ponder it. For by applying the definition the Lord himself gave, this instruction may comfortably be referred to as scripture. ("Seek Learning Even By Study and Also By Faith," p. 4)

 

     No document, perhaps, in recent L.D.S. Church history, and in particular in the history of "Mormon" education and educational philosophy, has had wider distribution or wider discussion than this message. It should be said, as a matter of historical record, that there were "Mormon" educators then and have been over the years who found it difficult to agree with all that was said in this message. There have been many others for whom this message has been an educational compass. After clearly outlining guidelines for L.D.S. education, the First Presidency said:

     "The First Presidency earnestly solicits the wholehearted help and cooperation of all you men and women who, from your work on the firing line, know so well the greatness of the problem which faces us and which so vitally and intimately affects the spiritual health and the salvation of our youth, as also the future welfare of the whole Church. We need you, the Church needs you, the Lord needs you. Restrain not yourselves, nor withhold your helping hand.

      

     Note* Excerpts of this talk were also reprinted in the Ensign, September, 2002, pp. 54-61.

 

     Note* What follows below are some pertinent ideas put forth in this talk which were to have a tremendous impact on the study and teaching of Book of Mormon geography and culture in any Seminary class, Institute class, BYU religion class, Gospel Doctrine class, or any official course of instruction in the Church:

 

     . . . I thought you would excuse me if I invoked and in a way used this same procedure to restate some of the more outstanding and essential fundamentals underlying our Church school education. The following are to me those fundamentals.

     The Church is the organized Priesthood of God, the Priesthood can exist without the Church, but the Church cannot exist without the Priesthood. This mission of the Church is first, to teach, encourage, assist and protect the individual member in his striving to live the perfect life, temporally and spiritually, as laid down in the Gospel, as laid down in the Gospel, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect," said the Master.

     Secondly, the Church is to maintain, teach, encourage, and protect, temporally and spiritually, the membership as a group in its living of the Gospel;

     Thirdly,; the Church is militantly to proclaim the truth, calling upon all men to repent, and to live in obedience to the Gospel, 'for every knee must bow and every tongue confess."

     In all this there are for the Church and for each and all of its members, two prime things which may not be overlooked, forgotten, blinked, shaded, or discarded: First: That Jesus Christ is the Son of God . . . . . The second of the two things to which we must all give full faith is: That the Father and the Son actually and in truth and very deed appeared to the Prophet Joseph in a vision in the woods; that other heavenly visions followed to Joseph and to others; . . . that the Book of Mormon is just what it professes to be . . .

     . . . The youth of the Church, your students, are in great majority sound in thought and in spirit. The problem primarily is to keep them sound, not to convert them. The youth of the Church are hungry for things of the spirit; they are eager to learn the Gospel, and they want it straight, undiluted. They want to know about the fundamentals I have just set out about our beliefs; they want to gain testimonies of their truth; they are not now doubters but inquirers, seekers after truth. k Doubt must not be planted in their hearts. great is the burden and the condemnation of any teacher who sows doubt in a trusting soul. . . . These students crave the faith their fathers and mothers have; they want it in its simplitcity and purity. . . .

     . . . These students are prepared to believe and understand that all these things are matters of faith, not to be explained or understood by any process of human reason, and probably not by any experiment of known physical science. . . .

     . . . The successful seminary or institute teacher must also possess another of the rare and valuable elements of character- a twin brother of moral courage and often mistaken for it- I mean intellectual courage, - the courage to affirm principles, beliefs, and faith that may not always be considered as harmonizing with such knowledge- scientific or otherwise- as the teacher or his educational colleagues may believe they possess. Not unknown are cases where men of presumed faith, holding responsible positions, have felt that . . . they must either modify or explain away their faith or destructively dilute it, or even pretend to cast it away. Such are hypocrites to their colleagues and to their co-religionists. . . .

     . . . For any Latter-day Saint psychologist, chemist, physicist, geologist, archeologist, or any other scientist to explain away or misinterpret, or evade or elude, or most of all, to repudiate or to deny, the great fundamental doctrines of the Church in which he professes to believe, is to give the lie to his intellect, to lose his self-respect, to bring sorrow to his friends, to break the hearts and bring shame to his parents, to besmirch the Church and its members, and to forfeit the respect and honor of those whom he has sought, by his course, to win as friends and helpers.

     I prayerfully hope there may not be any such among the teachers of the Church school system, but if there are any such, high or low, they must travel the same route as the teacher without the testimony. sham and pretext and evasion and hypocrisy have, and can have, no place in the Church school system, or in the character building and spiritual growth of our youth. . . .

     . . . I wish to mention another thing that has happened in other lines, as a caution against the same thing happening in the Church educational system. On more than one occasion our Church members have gone to other places for special training in particular lines; they have had the training which was supposedly the last word, the most modern view, the ne-plus-ultra of up-to-dateness; then they have brought it back and dosed it upon us without any thought as to whether we needed it or not. I refrain from mentioning well-known and I believe, well-recognized instances of this sort of thing. I do not wish to wound any feelings. . . .

     . . . You teachers have a great mission . . . How brilliant will be your crown of glory, with each soul saved an encrusted jewel thereon. But to get this blessing and to be so crowned, you must, I say once more, you must teach the Gospel. You have no other function and no other reason for your presence in a Church school system. You do have an interest in matters purely cultural and in matters of purely secular knowledge; but, I repeat again for emphasis, your chief interest, your essential and all but sole duty, is to teach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as that has been revealed in these latter days. You are to teach this Gospel using as your sources and authorities the Standard Works of the Church, and the words of those whom God has called to lead His people in these last days. You are not, whether high or low, to intrude into your work your own peculiar philosophy, no matter what its source or how pleasing or rational it seems to you to be. to do so would be to have as many different churches as we have seminaries-and that is chaos.

     You are not, whether high or low, to change the doctrines of the Church or to modify them, as they are declared by and in the Standard Works of the Church and by those whose authority it is to declare the mind and will of the Lord to the Church. The Lord has declared he is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." . . .

     You are not to teach the philosophies of the world, ancient or modern, pagan or Christian, for this is the field of the public schools. Your sole field is the Gospel, and that is boundless in its own sphere.

 

 

     Note*      According to John Sorenson, in this landmark 1938 speech to Church educators, President J. Reuben Clark limited options in thinking new thoughts. In it he called for retrenchment against liberal social, economic and political ideas that had crept into some Seminary and Institute classrooms. He insisted that all instruction must be gospel related and doctrinally based. That emphasis has continued in the schools to the present with the result that only limited reference is made to information or insights from secular sources. Church teachers who might have had a tendency to pursue geographical study of the Book of Mormon were pulled up short in 1938 and discouraged from public expression of such interests and the policy continues still. ( John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, Part 1. A History of ideas: The Geography of Book of Mormon Events in Latter-day Thought." Provo: FARMS, 1990, pp. 34-35.)

 

 

1938^            Elder Joseph Fielding Smith      "Where Is The Hill Cumorah," Church Section, The Deseret

                                   News, September 10, 1938, pp. 1, 6.

 

     Note* Perhaps the article that most expresses the ramifications of the ideas set forth in the above 1938 article by J. Reuben Clark is an article by Joseph Fielding Smith within this same year of 1938. He uses authoritative quotes and scripture (just as outlined above) to attack those who might have any notions of Book of Mormon geography counter to the traditional New York Hill Cumorah as the site of the final battles for the Jaredites and Nephites. Perhaps without realizing it (or possibly so), this Church Historian, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, future President of the Twelve, and future President of the Church would expound his own "Answers to Gospel Questions," "Doctrines of Salvation," and "Essentials of Church History," to be quoted and cited for decades to come. How could any teacher in the Church Educational System go counter to Smith's ideas? For in order to do so they would have to interpret scripture and authoritative statements in a different way. How could they propose any kind of Book of Mormon map other than the Hemispheric map? They would have to introduce historical accounts, archaeological information, and cultural ideas based on the reasoning of men--something not within the priority of Church education. What would eventually surface would be the "internal map," a map put together only from the Book of Mormon verses themselves, and designed not to correlate with any real geographical location. (see the 1938 Layton notation and the 1964 Ludlow notation). Meanwhile, while seeming to avoid Book of Mormon geographical ambiguity (or "doubt") CES manuals would use authoritative statements; yet many of these statements reinforced a Hemispheric view of Book of Mormon geography. (see the notations for 1979, 1989)

 

     The article is as follows:      

     Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the borders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico--the isthmus of Tehuantepec probably being the "narrow neck" of land spoken of in the Book of Mormon rather than the isthmus of Panama.

     This theory is founded upon the assumption that it was impossible for the colony of Lehi's to multiply and fill the hemisphere within the limits of 1,000 years, or from the coming of Lehi from Jerusalem to the time of the destruction of the Nephites at the Hill Cumorah. Moreover, they claim that the story in the Book of Mormon of the migrations, building of cities, and the wars and contentions, preclude the possibility of the people spreading over great distances such as we find within the borders of North and South America.

     Rapid Increase: If we are willing to accept the Bible record, which is confirmed by the Doctrine and Covenants, the entire civilization of the earth was destroyed in the flood except Noah and his family. Moreover, this destruction took place less than five thousand years ago, and today the population of the earth, notwithstanding wars and destructions, is estimated at some two billion souls. The population of Europe, based upon the best records available, is vastly increased over that at the time of the discovery of America; yet upon this hemisphere are to be found hundreds of millions of people, descendants of European and Asiatic ancestors who knew nothing of this land before the discovery by Columbus. The rapid increase of posterity is known to every genealogist who has traced the record of the early settlers in this western country.

     This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case.

     Gives Reasons: It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Ramah. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, "by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all." Mormon adds: "And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains, and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites."

     It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, it must be recognized that while the Prophet Joseph Smith is not on record definitely, so far as we have learned, declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon, yet the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the Spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history. The first reference of this kind is found in the Messenger and Advocate, a paper published by the Church in 1834-5. In a brief history of the rise of the Church prepared by Oliver Cowdery, he makes reference to this particular spot in the following words:

     "By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites--once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt. A few had fled to the south, who were hunted down by the victorious party, and all who would not deny the Savior and his religion, were put to death, Mormon himself, according to the record of his son Moroni, was also slain.

     "But a long time previous to this national disaster it appears from his own account, he foresaw approaching destruction. In fact, if he persued [sic] the records of his fathers, which were in his possession, he could have learned that such would be the case. Alma who lived before the coming of the Messiah prophesied this. He, however, by divine appointment, abridged from those records, in his own style and language, a short account of the more important and prominent items, from the days of Lehi to his own time, after which he deposited, as he says, on this 529th page, all the records in this same hill, Cumorah, and after gave his small record to his son Moroni, who, as appears from the same, finished, after witnessing the extinction of his people as a nation. . . . .

     "This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah; by it, or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents. Coriantumr was the last king of the Jaredites. The opposing army were to the west, and in this same valley, and near by, from day to day, did that mighty race spill their blood . . . In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellowmen."--Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, pp. 58-59.

     "In this vale lie comingled, in one mass of ruin, the ashes of thousands, and in this vale was destined to consume the fair forms and vigorous systems of tens of thousands of the human race--blood mixed with blood, flesh with flesh, bones with bones, and dust with dust."--Messenger and Advocate, July, 1835.

     Personal Supervision: The quibbler might say that this statement from Oliver Cowdery [denoting the hill in New York as the Hill Cumorah] is merely the opinion of Oliver Cowdery and not the expression of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It should be remembered that these letters in which these statements are made were written at the Prophet's request and under his personal supervision. Surely, under these circumstances, he would not have permitted an error of this kind to creep into the record without correction. At the commencement of these historical letters is found the following:

     "That our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction it is proper to inform our patrons, that our Brother J. Smith Jr., has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensable. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative, well worth the examination and perusal of the Saints." Messenger and Advocate--p. 13.

     Later, during the Nauvoo period of the Church, and again under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, these same letters by Oliver Cowdery, were republished in the Times and Seasons, without any thought of correction had this description of the Hill Cumorah been an error.

     Another Testimony: Another testimony of interest is that of David Whitmer given to Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith in September 1878, when they paid him a visit at his home in Richmond. To these brethren he said: "When I was returning to Fayette, with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old-fashioned, wooden spring sea, and Joseph behind us--when traveling along in a clear open space, a very pleasant, nice-looking, old man suddenly appeared by the side of the wagon, and saluted us with, "Good morning, it is very warm," at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride, if he was going our way; but he said very pleasantly, "No, I am going to Cumorah." This name was something new to me. I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked around inquiringly at Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again."

     Joseph F. Smith asked: "Did you notice his appearance?"

     David Whitmer: "I should think I did. He was, I should think about five feet eight or nine inches tall and heavy set. . . . his hair and beard were white, like Brother Pratt's but his beard was not so heavy. I also remember that he had on his back a sort of knapsack with something in shaped like a book."

     Who can read the words of Joseph Smith as recorded in Section 128 of the Doctrine and Covenants and not feel that he had reference to the Hill Cumorah in western New York?

     "And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets--the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca County, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book!"

     While in this statement it is not positively declared that the Hill Cumorah is the place where the plates were obtained, yet the implication that such is the case, is overwhelming. Moroni declaring from Cumorah the book to be revealed!

     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 he Nephites and Lamanites did not possess this northern land. While Zion's Camp was marching on the way to Jackson County, near the bank of the Illinois River 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 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 before us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms and subsequently the vision 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 thick set man and a man of God. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus who was known from the 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 a great struggle with the Lamanites.--D. H. C. 2:79-80

     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 the arrow. It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle in the last destruction among the Lamonites [sic], 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.--Times and Seasons 6:788.

     The following is also taken from the history of the travels of the Kirtland Camp:

     Quotes Prophet: "The camp passed through Huntsville, in Randolph County, which has been appointed as one of the stakes of Zion, and is the ancient site of the City of Manti and pitched tents at Dark Creek, Salt Licks, seventeen miles. It was reported to the camp that one hundred and ten men had volunteered from Randolph and gone to Far West to settle difficulties--Manuscript History, Sept. 25, 1839, Page 929, Book B-1.

     The following account of the same event is taken from the daily journal of the Kirtland Camp, and was written by Samuel D Tyler:

     "Sept. 25, 1838. We passed through Huntsville, Co., seat Randolph Co. pop. 450, and three miles further we bought 32 bu. of corn off one of the brethren who resides in the place. There are several of the brethren round about here and this is the ancient site of the City of Manti, which is spoken of in the Book of Mormon and this is appointed one of the Stakes of Zion."

     Testimonies: 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 Atlantic coast, 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 Nephties 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 Ramah or Cumorah, a land of "many waters," "by interpretation large, or to exceed all." This being true, what would be more natural than that Morni [sic] like his father Mormon, would deposit the plates in the lang [sic] 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 neghborhood [sic] 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.

 

     Note* This article would be reprinted almost intact in the Church News, Saturday, February 27, 1954, pp. 2-3 under the title, "Where is the Hill Cumorah?: Book of Mormon Establishes Location of Historic Region. By Joseph Fielding Smith, President of the Council of the Twelve." The articles are exactly the same except for the column headings being different and one important change. The 1938 article has the phrase: "Moreover, it must be recognized that while the Prophet Joseph Smith is not on record definitely, so far as we have learned, declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon." In the 1954 article this phrase will be changed to read: "Moreover, the Prophet Joseph Smith is on record definitely, so far as we have learned, declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon."

     The article will also also appear in a somewhat expanded form in Joseph Fielding Smith's 1956 Doctrines of Salvation vol. 3, pp. 232-243.

 

     Note* For its time, most of Smith's reasoning was sound (i.e. "It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the Spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact."). However, part of Smith's reasoning was faulty: The Limited Mesoamerican Theory was not based on the assumption that it was impossible for the colony of Lehi's to multiply and fill the hemisphere within the limits of 1,000 years, though the idea of everyone in the hemisphere being involved in the affairs of the Nephites and Lamanites is quite a stretch. Rather, the limited Mesoamerican theory as proposed by Driggs' internal analysis in 1928 and the Washburns's internal analysis culminating in 1939 focused on the feasibility of what the Book of Mormon actually said. Taking the Limhi Expedition for example, their analyses brought forward the idea that in three generations it was not likely that the Limhi Expedition's conception of the distance between Nephi and Zarahemla would be so uncertain that they would travel from South America (the location of Nephi) up into the state of New York (in a land of "many waters". . ."covered with the bones of men"--i.e. the site of the final destruction of the Jaredites--i.e. the hill Ramah which was also called the hill Cumorah--i.e. the land of Desolation) and think that they had found Zarahemla. Especially when Alma and his group needed only a little more than 21 days to travel that distance driving flocks. Additionally, the land of Moron, the site of the Jaredite throne from beginning to end was near the land Desolation, yet the land Desolation bordered on the land Bountiful, and was separated from such by a small neck of land. (see Drigg's notation for 1928 and the Washburn notes of 1939)

 

 

1938            "Itzan Society" Organized

 

     In 1938 Wells Jakeman, along with law student Thomas Stuart Ferguson and Franklin S. Harris, Jr., were instrumental in organizing "The Itzan Society," dedicated to studying the archaeological and cultural background of the Book of Mormon in the Americas, especially in Yucatan and Mexico.

 

     Note* See the 1946 notation for more details.

 

 

1938^      Harrison R. Merrill      "Mexico and the Book of Mormon," in Deseret News Church Section

                       (8, 15, 22, 29 October, 19 November, 1938): pp. 4, 5, 2, 2,.

 

     Suggests that much of the Book of Mormon activity took place in Mexico, speaks concerning Book of Mormon geography, archaeology, ancient races of Mexico, and traditions of the Mexican Indians.

 

(Article is in Geog.IO file)

Source: Donald W. Parry, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 303.

 

 

1938^      William E. Berrett, Milton R. Hunter            A Guide to the Study of the Book of Mormon,

     Roy A. Welker, H. Alvah Fitzgerald            Published by The Department of Education of

                                         the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,

                                         Deseret News Press, 1938

 

     Acknowledgments: This course of study has been prepared at the request of Dr. Franklin L. West, Church Commissioner of Education. Grateful acknowledgment is here given to Dr. West and to Dr. M. Lynn Bennion for their kindly encouragement and timely criticisms. The committee is indebted to Joseph Fielding Smith and Charles A. Callis of the Council of Twelve, who offered many fine suggestions, and who carefully read and approved the entire manuscript. Appreciation is extended to Dr. Francis W. Kirkham, whose many suggestions enhanced the value of the text, and to all others who in any way assisted the committee.

(October, 1938, W.E. Berrett, M.R. Hunter, R.A. Welker, H.A. Fitzgerald)

 

     Preface: Although the Book of Mormon has been in the Church from its beginning, more than a century ago, and has repeatedly constituted a course of study for various Church classes, there has been of late a growing feeling that many of its finest values have remained unappreciated. This has been largely true because no course of study has been written, specifically designed to bring out the contribution of the book to social and religious thought, especially on a level suitable for college and other advanced classes. This course of study is designed to supply in some measure the growing need for an advanced course in the Book of Mormon . . . there has been no attempt in this course of study to bring students to an appreciation of the Book of Mormon outside the book itself, but rather to lead them into the original book . . . (The Committee)

 

     In Unit III, "External Evidences of the Book of Mormon, we find the following on pages 42-53:

     Note 2: Contemporaneous Literature: "There was no secrecy about the fact that Joseph Smith had received the plates and was engaged in the translation of them. . . . He had reported his visit to the Hill Cumorah to see the plates. He did not hesitate to tell his friends and neighbors of the work in which he was engaged. . . .

 

     Note 4: Geographical Considerations: (Part A). . . The book itself contains no map. It does not definitely locate on the American continents any land, hill, city, or river mentioned in its pages. Joseph Smith did not attempt a map and only a few isolated and fragmentary statements have come to us from early Church leaders on the subject. A difference of opinion exists as to whether these statements are conclusive evidences of geography or whether they represent only individual interpretations. (see George Q. Cannon, "Book of Mormon Geography," Juvenile Instructor, Jan 1. 1890, and April, 1938.) However, several maps on the subject have been made and published. Others will no doubt follow. They have been prepared after sincere and diligent study. With the same references in the volume from which to draw, these maps differ radically in area and location, in some cases to the extent of thousands of miles. Perhaps this is the best concrete evidence to prove how really limited and indefinite is the geographical evidence in the book.

     None of these maps or theories of geography have been authorized or accepted by the Church up to the present time. They represent only the personal opinions of the authors. Present editions of the Book of Mormon contain no footnotes or references to geographical locations.

     The first serious attempt to work out the geography of the Book of Mormon was made by George Reynolds. His two publications, "A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon" (1892) and "The Story of the Book of Mormon," outline his ideas as to where important Book of Mormon lands, rivers, cities and hills were located. Maps of the Americas which indicated these places were published and widely circulated. According to this theory, the most southern area mentioned in the record was near Valparaiso in Chili where the Lehi colony was supposed to have landed. The northern point was the Hill Cumorah in New York. Consequently the intermediate territory would be known and occupied by these people. Several other well-known publications advocate this same general concept of area but differ greatly in the location of subdivisions. They include "Helps to the Study of the Book of Mormon," by Joel Ricks, and "An Introduction to the Story of the Book of Mormon," by J. M. Sjodahl.

     Other investigators working independently have challenged the theories just described. They include Colonel Willard Young, Jesse A. Washburn and Dr. Wells Jakeman. In many respects their conclusions differ widely. A general tendency is noticeable, however, to greatly reduce the area actually occupied and mentioned in Book of Mormon history. Central America, therefore, becomes increasingly important in the total picture.

     Pivotal points of discussion for these groups have been the landing places of the three colonies, the location of the narrow neck of land, and the site of the Hill Ramah or Cumorah which are mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

     In the face of these conflicting opinions, the reader will recognize that careful personal investigations should precede his conclusions and that no one is justified in representing any one theory as the official explanation of the Church. In fact a decision on the subject is not necessary in order to obtain and enjoy the true spiritual values of the Book. Additional information which is sought and given in a spirit of service may help solve this puzzling problem.

 

     (Part B) Note* This is a reprint from The Instructor, April, 1938 on Lehi's route and landing site as found in the Compendium of 1882 and its apparent uncertainty. (see the 1938 notation)

 

     Note 6: Anthropology and the Book of Mormon: The subject of the American Indian naturally has a special interest for those who believe in the Book of Mormon. Indian ancestry, at least in part, is attributed by the Nephite record to the Lamanites. However, the Book of Mormon deals only with the history and expansion of three small colonies which came to America and it does not deny or disprove the possibility of other immigrations, which probably would be unknown to its writers. Jewish origin may represent only a part of the total ancestry of the American Indian today.

     A parallel is found in the Bible writings which mentions only a small portion of the Old World geographical bridge of ancient civilizations. The Hebrew writers mentioned other lands and people only when they came in contact with them. . . .

     "Few if any scientists now believe that America was the cradle of the human race, or that its inhabitants rose and multiplied in complete independence of man in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia." (Diamond Jenness, American Aborigines, Toronto, 1932, Preface)

     Most of these authorities are of the opinion that some elements of Indian ancestry have inhabited this continent since several millenniums before Christ. Without any assumption of closing the subject, we may say that the Book of Mormon does not deny such possibilities.

     Wild speculation on the origin of this new-found race followed the discovery of Columbus. The number and volume of early writings is remarkable. Garcia's "Origin de los Indios" which was published at Valencia in 1607 alone listed 1700 authors on the subject of the American Indians. The earliest exclusively American catalogue in 1713 has 1600 entries in chronological order.

     Credit for the origin of the Indian had been advanced before 1850 for practically all ancient and modern countries. The popular major theories of origin included Atlantis, Israelitish, Mongoloid, Mediterranean, Western European, and Polynesian. Israelitish origin was especially advocated. Volumes of literature supported these claims. Practically all of the theories were backed by traditional stories and similarities in dress, religion, customs, language and architecture. Among the most prolific writers were Garcia, 1607; Nicaloa, 1669; Robertson, 1777; Clavigero, 1806; Kingsborough, 1830-1835; all of whom advocated different origins. . . .

     Conscious of the multiple claims of the past, anthropologists are carefully analyzing this material and studying the Indian today for reliable evidences of origin. . . . With this heritage of voluminous literature concerning the American Indian before us, we are stimulated to seek an explanation for the multiple and contradictory claims of origin.

     First, early writers possessed no generally accepted criteria or guiding rules for determining whether or not similarities between the Indian and Old World groups were or were not good evidences of origin. . . .

     Second, scholars have noted that many early observers were prone to claim but one outside origin for all the inhabitants of America, even though they were acquainted with only a small percent of these people. Consequently, similarities between local groups of Old and New World peoples were presented as proof of total Indian origin. With genuine respect and appreciation for this rich heritage, we still face the necessity of re-evaluating many conclusions drawn by its authors. . . .

     Looking to the future, scientists do not anticipate immediate or simple answers to many questions pertaining to the origin and antiquity of the Indian. The outlook of archaeologists and anthropologists is epitomized in the words of Wissler:

     How came the Indian here? Who were his ancestors? What knowledge and habits did he bring with him? What has he accomplished of his own initiative and how did he achieve it? Such questions of origin look simple and innocent enough, but my dear Reader, here are problems whose final solution shall surely put the intellect of man and his scientific methods to ta supreme test. (Clark Wisler, The American Indian, New York, 1922.)

 

     Note* It seems strange that such an unbiased and open approach to teaching Book of Mormon geography would be validated by Joseph Fielding Smith on the one hand, while at the same time his scathing denunciation of the two-Cumorah theory would be published in the Church News (see the September 1938 notation), not to mention Mark E. Petersen's 1953 Conference address (see notation) and the reprinting of Joseph Fielding Smith's 1938 article in the February 27th, 1954 Church News. It also seems strange that this open approach to Book of Mormon geography did not seem to continue in the CES, as all further manuals alluded only to a New York hill Cumorah, and a hemispheric geographical setting. As to how widely this manual was circulated among educators at the time has not been verified.

 

 

1939^      M. Wells Jakeman      Historical Geography of the Book of Mormon, Manuscript, Berkeley, California,

                        No date (continually in revision from 1939).

 

     V. Garth Norman, Research director, AAF, writes the following note dated October 2002:

     This unpublished manuscript dates to the late 1930's following Dr. Jakeman's Ph.D. studies at the University of California, Berkeley. It is of interest to examine his initial analysis of Book of Mormon geography with the Narrow Neck of Land at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the Land Southward located in southern Mesoamerica and Central America as part of the evolution of research on the subject. The Land Northward stretches to Cumorah in New York. One map of Mesoamerica with some detail is with the manuscript. This is labeled Map No. 34, indicating that separate maps were constructed for the different time periods involved in the Book of Mormon record. These other maps are unknown, except for a sketch map of the Jaredite record that stretches across North America. Subsequent study, including Thomas Stewart Ferguson's Two Cumorah's (1947), resulted in Jakeman confining the Land Northward of the record and the location of Cumorah to Mexico. It is known that Jakeman's ongoing and revised geography study with a Mesoamerican correlation was being prepared for publication in the early 1950's, but it was never made public. The whereabouts of that manuscript is at present unknown. To view this paper in perspective of evolving thinking, Dr. Jakeman's later paper on the subject issued in 1951 and reprinted with slight revisions in 1963 is attached.

 

 

[1939      1946 Illustrated Model. LIMITED MESOAMERICA

L.S.=Honduras & El Salvador / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuan. / L.N.=N. of Tehuan. to Valley of Mexico / H.C.=Valley of Mexico / Sid. R.=Usumacinta

Sources: M. Wells Jakeman, "The Book of Mormon Civilizations: their Origin, and Their Development in Space and Time," in Progress in Archaeology: An Anthology, comp. and ed. Ross T. Christensen, pp. 81-88; see University Archaeological Society Special Publication no. 4, Provo; see also Discovering the Past, Provo:BYU, 1954, pp. 81-84 (Summarized in Paul R. Cheesman, These Ancient Americans, SLC: Deseret Book, 1974, pp. 164-166. See also Ross T. Christensen, "The River of Nephi: An Archaeological Commentary on an Old Diary Entry," in Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology 158 (December 1984), pp. 1-8, who discusses a statement attributed to Joseph Smith (1844) equating "the river of Copan" with "the river of Nephi." Christensen notes that this agrees well with Jakeman's placement of the city of Nephi on a classroom map which the latter prepared and used at BYU in the 1950's. [Map & information taken from John L. Sorenson, A Source Book]

 

[1939      1950 Theoretical Map. LIMITED MESOAMERICA M. Wells Jakeman, Historical Geography of the Book of Mormon, Manuscript, Berkeley, California, No date (continually in revision from 1939)]

 

 

1939^      J. N. Washburn            An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography,

                             Provo: New Era Publishing Co., 1939,

 

     J. N. Washburn spent many years analyzing the text of the Book of Mormon in order to formulate the ideas that he put into his books. In 1939 he published An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography, which was a more detailed explanation of the geographical reasoning contained in his 1937-8 book, From Babel to Cumorah. The following represents that expansion.

 

     From Moriancumer to the Promised Land [pp. 10-21]

      . . . in view of these considerations it seems safe to assume, for the present at least, that the Jaredites made their landing at some point on the eastern coast of Central America or Mexico. . . .

 

     Jaredite History to the Closing Years [pp. 22-38]

     . . . It is almost certain that Moron was the landing place of the Jaredites in the new world, the place of their first inheritance. This is the view of the writers of this book. . . . A quotation from the pen of that great thinker and writer, Elder B. H. Roberts, will suffice to express the views of practically all, if not all, writers with respect to this matter . . .:

     It is evident that the land of Moron, north of Desolation, was the chief center of Jaredite civilizattion, and the principal seat of government fromt he time of their first landing in Amrica . . . to the last civil war which ended in the destruction of the nation in the sixth century B.C. The evidence of the foregoing statement is seen in the fact that Moron is the land of their first inheritance and also that nearly all their great civil wars thorughout their national existence, down to, and including the last, raged in and about Moron except the last great battles of the last war whcih were fought about the hill Rmaah, the Cumorah of the Nephties. This fixes the center of jaredite Civilization for a period of some sixteen centureis in Central America.(New Witness for God, vol. II, pp. 140-5)

 

 

     . . . "And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out fo the land: Wherefore Omer deaprted out of theland with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the palce where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was caslled Ablom." (Ether 9:3)

 

     Everyone will recognize at once the problem that is presented by the foregoing statement. If King Omer, in fleeing eastward, from Mormon, the capital of their first inheritance, passed by the palce where the Nephites were destroyed, where was all this takilng place? All students of the Book of Mormon agree that at that tilme the jaredites were still in their old homeland. No one has ever supposed, so far as the represent writers know, that they moved northward until hundreds of years later.

     Can such a view be supported by other fracts iln the record--the view that the Jaredites were then in theland of their first ilnheritance and that the Nephties,; consequently, were destroyed in taht land? Is such a view in harmony witht he rest of the tesxt? This is indeed an intriguing thought, and it demandds the earnest consideration of all thoughtful students of the Book of Mormon. . . .

 

     During the reign of Lib a gredat city was built at the narrow neck of land which separated theland southward from theland northward. The land southward was full of game, and the land northwardd was full of inhabitants. (Ether 10:20-21)

 

     The present writers belive taht the land at the narrow neck, whereever it was, was the land of Bountiful, and the reasons for this view will in due time be given. But the land south of the narrow neck was the Nephite land of Zarahemla (Ether 9:31) The land northward was, of course, the home of the Jaredites and included thelands of Mroon, Heth, Nehor, and many others. It, or part of it, was later nown to the Nephties as Desolation.

 

     The Last Struggle [pp. 39-43]

     With respect tot he size of thelands of the Jaredites, does it not appear fairly evident that the territoroy occupied by them was relatively small? to the time of Ether and Coriantumr there seems to be nothing that would suggest any migration whatever. In one instance a movement to the southward is mentioned.

     There is always the possibility that there was an imiperceptible movement or progress to the north year after year that escaped the notice of the historians, or of which they took no notice. But there is nothing, seemingly,; in the record to give the impression that such was the case. And subsequent developments make such a view practically out of the question. It seems very evident that the Jaredites, at leaslt to the time of the last bitter war, lived in a comparatively small palce in close proximity to thel place of thier first landing. This is discussed fully in later chapters. . . .

     And now we come to one of the most significant passages in the wh ole book to the student of geography: "And he (Gilead) came forth to theland of Moron, and palced himself upon the throne of Coriantumr." (Ether 14:6)

     Was this not beyond any question the same Moron of which we have heard so muich? The cross refernce makes this very clear. It wwas the capitqal of the first Jaredite king, and it was likewise the capital of the laslt! Thus for 1,600 years the Jaredites remained in the very place in which they began as a nation.

     What shall be said, then, of the view of many readers of the Book of Mormon that there ws an extendsive migration or transfer of lpeople from one land to antaoher thousands of miles distant? The first and last kings ruled in the sasmle place! . . .

     The army of Coriantumr, after travelihng soutward made camp at the hill Ramah. "And," says Moroni, "it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the recors unto the Lord, which were sacred." (Ether 15:11)

     According to the statemetn of Mormon (Mormon 6:6) it was in the hill Cumorah that he hid the records. The hill Ciumorah of the Nephties was thus the hill Ramah of the Jaredites.

     This demands the aptient consideration of every thoughtful student of the Book of Mormon!

     The hilll Ramah, if wwe have followed the story carefully and intnerpreted the facts correctly was very near the original home of the Jaredites, but south of it. . . .

 

     The Jaredites had reached the twilight of their career. For four years, whilie yet encamped at the hill Ramah, the opposing armies recruited until leveryone in theland had come to one standard or the other. Then "they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and jconquered not." (Ether 15:15)

     From his place of safety in a cave Ether watched the lfateful contest, recording in detail the events he saw. From day to day he followed the struggle so clsoelly that he was able to give the actual number of men left on each side toward the end. His is the testimony of an eye witness.

     At the end of the sixth day only Coriantumr was left allive of the comabatants (Ether 15:16-35) These events took palce near and at the hill Ramah, apparetnly, as will be shown int he next chapter, in the homeland of the Jaredites. . . .

     In closing this chapter the authors desire once more to call attention to the fact that there appears to be not a lline leading to the conclusion that the Jajredites marched away from their old home. No one supposes that they left it till toward the end of taheir existnece. Where is the evidence that they migrated during the last ten or twelve years? The only direction mentioned in the movements was southward. They fled southward from Ripliancum, the great water, to Ogath and jRamah. (Ether 15:1-11)

 

 

     Size of Jaredite Lands [pp. 44-51]

     The first item will be a abrief review of the principal movements of the Jaredites in the new world.

     It is accepted for the purposes of the present study that they began their national life on the eastern coast of Central America or Mexico. In all probability their first home was Mormon. The first division among them took some to theland of Nehor. . . . Nehor, Ephraim, Heth, Shim, and Ablom are associaated witht he reeigns of the first four kings of the jaredites, and all are mentioned as in clsoe lproximity to Moron. (Ether 7:4,9; 8:2; 9:3) The others are given in connection with the last eight or nine years of the nation's existence. And they too are associated with Moron in a manner that leaves little doubt as to their having been near the landing place of the Jaredites or a part of it. (Ether 13:28-29; 14:3,6,11,14-15,28) And in this connection it is worthy of note that the east seashore was easily and quickly accessible from these points, both in the first instnadce and in the last. (Ether 9:3; 14:12-13,26) Does this offer good reason to believe that the Jaredites landed on the eastern coast? how else could the eastern seashore have been so near their first home, theland of Moron?

     The foregoing facts also seem to suggest that the people lived and died in a relatively restricted area.

 

     Was Moron on the Seashore?

     An incidental problem claims our attention for a moment. If Moron was the landilng place, how could Omer flee many days eastward from it? And how could he have passed two hills--Shim and Cumorah? Here is a suggestion. The jaredites need not have landed on the shore of the ocean, or stopped permanently there. They might easily have gone some distance inland, either folllowing the course of a large stream or overland.

 

     The Day-and-a-Half's Journey.

     The conclusion that the main activiites of the Jaredites were confined to a comparatively small palce is in part confirmied by other facts. . . . "And now, it was onlyl the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and theland Desolation, from the east sea to the west." (Alma 22:32) This is in complete agreement with another text, Helaman 4:7 . . . Attention has already been called to this narnrow country in the story of ther jaredites. "And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the palce where the sea divides theland. . . . "(Ether 10:20-21) No one can read the history of the Jaredites without being conscious of the nearness of the people to the narrow neck of land.

 

     Ramah and Cumorah.

     . . . In his flight to the east seashroe from Moron, OMer traveled many days and passed the hill Shim and the palcel where the Nephties lwlelre later edeestroyed. One can hardly help wonderikng how Omer traveled from Mormon, thel anding palce of his peole,; the thousands of miles to the eastern part of the United sStastes in "many days," or whether, indeed, he did make that long journey. If he did make such a journey, why did he do it? And where is the reason in the record to belive taht he did? This would all be easilyl explained, of course, if there were evidence that hte aJareidties landed on the eastern coast of northern United States, but no one suggests this.

 

     The Matter of Northward Journeys.

     In Ether 14:15 we read: "And Coriantumr had takekn al the people with him as he fled before Lib in that quarter of theland whither he fled." THis is sometimes interpreted to mean that Coriantumr took all the people and fled northward toward or into what is now the United States.

     That such is not the intent seems to be clear from this declaration: "Wherefore, they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might receive all the strength whwich it was possible that they migtht receive." (Ether 15:14)

     This gathering, of course, took place after the one mentioned above, and this was after the southward flight, (Ether 15:10) It was the last gathering of the people. But the fact that they had to be gathered at that time shows, does it not, that they had not been gathered before? They did not march after this gathering begtan but rremained in the same palce. They were then at hte hill Ramah, the hill that was between Moron and Ablom by the seasore, Moron, the captical city of the land of their first inheritance. . . .

     Does all this show that the Jaredites of the record lived in a relatiavely small lalnd? Or, if it be admitted that they scattered over a large country, did they not return tot he original home to die? Is there anything here to lead to the conclusion that they traveled thousands of miles as a people only to die in another land? Can such a acontention be made to fit into the scheme apaprently provided in the Book of Mormon?

 

     Ether in the Cave.

     Tehre is yet much to be said.

     The apparently obscure and littele-regarded positioni of Ether during thelast struggles of his people is very pertinent. It seems to confimr the view that no change in territory stook pacle at laeast during hte last twelve eyars.

     In the early years of lCoriantumr's reign Ether preached repentance to the Jaredites. His exhortations ahd such power that the peole drove him from their midst.

     Verse 13 of chapter 13 reports the important fact that Ether hid himself in the cavity of a rock "by day, and by night whe went forth viewing the things which syhould come upon thel people." Verse 14 repeats this fundamental statement and adds the remenodously significatn detail that while he lived in the cavity of the rock, he "mad eht remainder of this record." "This record," of course, was the jareidte history on the twenty-four goldpaltelsw found by the peo;le of Limhi, the record translated by Mosiah II and abridged by Moroni.

     Verse 18 mentioins Ether's first year in the cave. Verse 24 contains a refernce to a fourth year. Two more years elapsed according to verse 31. Chapter 14, verse 7, tells of two more; verse 11, of one; and chapter 15, verse 14, of four.

     This period of from eleven to thirteen years covered the careerts fo Coriaintumr's unnamed enemies, of Shared, Gilead, Lib, and Shiz, all the enemies of lCoriantumr. Our first-hadn knowledge of all the things that happened comes from Ether who viewed themla s an eye witness.

     At no time, therefore, did the war take the participants more than a short distance from the vicinity of the cave, or Ether could not have gone out and returned in safelty before dday. All the lmovements of the contending armies were sufficiently restricted and clsoe enough that the prophet coiuld observe them at night and then return tot he comparative safety of the cave.

     The language seems clearly to indicaste that Ether was int he same cave all the time, a perios of about twelve years. If, of ocourse, this was not the case, it might ahve some bvearing on the conclusions. It muist be remembered, however, taht it was probablay int he cave to which eTher fled at first that he finsihed the record. (Ether 13:14) . . .

     Yet, however convincing the foregoing appears to be, we must not forget that the Book of Ether is tremendously shortened fromt he roiginal. Much ilnformation that we should like, and that would be very hellpful, has been withheld. Perhaps it has been withheld for a good reason; who shall say? . . .

      

     Location of Jaredite Lands [pp. 52-64]

 

[1939      Illustration: Land of the Jaredites. J. N. Washburn, An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography, Provo: New Era Publishing Co., 1939, p. 52]

 

     . . . Though we anticipage just a litte, it is perfectly safe to say at this point that the land called by the Nephties Desolation was the homeland of the Jaredites, or part of it. The land of the Mulekties, on the other hand, was Zarahemla. But Desolation and Zarahemla joined at the narrow neck of land [Alma 22:30--32], and it is quite clear that the boundary line was never very stable nor clearly drawn. Thus a small extent of the territory lying at or near the narrow neck of land was perhaps alternately in Desolation and Zarahemla. . . .

     It will be remembered taht Ether made a prophecy to Coraintumr that . . . if he would not repent, he alone would survive to see the coming of another people to possess hisland. (Ether 13:20-21) And that was but the repetition of a prediction that had been made before the days of lEther (Ether 11:20-21) The burden of these messages was that in the event of the destruftion of the jareidtes antoher people would come to possess theland, either the land in a general way or in a particular sense the exact land of the Jaredties. As it happened, both developmetns took place.

     . . . Omni 1:21 records the fulfillmlent of the prophecies. The Mulekites came to the same land in which the jaredites hadd dwelt, at least in a genral way though it seems that their klaprticular home was immediately adjacent to that of the Jareidtes with no very distinct boundary between.

     It was in taht land of Coriantumr that he Jaredites had been destroyed, for their bones lay scattered in the land northward, (Omni 1:21) meaning, of course, Desolation. It was doubtless there that Ether's record was found by Limhi's men (Mosiah 8:7-9) It was there that they found the ruins of buildings of every kind and of weapoinws of war. It was there that the stone ws discovered on which was written the story of Coriantumlr. (Omni 1:20)

     Where was that land? This is a question taht demands a thoughtful answer.

     According t the writings of Alma (22:30-32) it was immeditaely north of the narrow neck of land.

     Is this not both strange and internestingi?

     Where was the narrow neck of land? An entire chapter is devoted to this subject near the end of the present volulme, but a few comments may well be given here regarding it.

     For many years it has been the invariable practice of those who have written or spoken on this matter to assume taht the narrow neck of land has refernce to the Isthmus of Panama or some other similar palce in Central America. Recently other locations ahve been suggested. The oint is that no one seems to know. How lmany palces are there in the western world that could qualify as narroiw necks of land?

     The authros frankly confess that they do not know where the narrow neck of land was locasted. They have their view and feel that their reasons are sound for entertaining such views. They desire, however, to make one further observation by wasy of caution. It is not necessary simply to discover a narrow neck of land. It is necessary to find a palce that fills this requirement and that also meets with a mujltiltude of other tests. The narrow neck of land was assocaiated in a very difintie manner with other physical features and points of geography all or most of which must be found in their proper setting when at lastl the truth is known. Does it not appear to obe the height of folly to attempt to build a geographcial sturcture on a single passage or even a number of themwithout takilng into conwsideration the whole bod of facts?

     Alma palcels the land Desolation, part or all of the homeland of the Jaredites, just north of the narrow neckl of land, and the whole story of the Book of Mromon appears to be in agreement. So far as the writers know, there is not a statement in the record to the contrary.

     If, then, the Mulekites landed at the narrow neck of land, and if they found Coriantumr in his own land, as they would have had to do if the proohecies were to meet with fulfillment, does ti not seem that all the events int he history of the Jaredites took palce there? Is this not in harmony with the story of that people as we have follwoed it to date? Elder B. H. Roberts palced theland of the Jaredites in Central America (New Witness for God, vol. II, pp. 140-145)

 

     [Note* Although B. H. Roberts was a Church authority who had produced extensive and reasoned writings on the geography of the Book of Mormon (see the notation for 1905) it seems odd that Washburn would use B. H. Roberts for support here because although Roberts supported Central America as the principal land of the Jaredites, he also supported the New York Hill Cumorah/Ramah as the site of the final battles of the Jaredites.]

 

     Where were those buildings?

     [The twenty-four gold plates--the record of Ether] were among the ruins of buildings of every kind, for the forty-three scouts found the gbvuildings. (Mosiah 8:8) Where are such buildings to bne found today? . . .

     Could hundreds of millions of people--to use the estimate of some--or even millions, as there must surely have been, have moved even their persons and some food the three or four thousand miels--assuming alwaasys that the original home was in Central Ameica as most students have assumed--built buildings of every kind sufficiently substantial to last for centureisa, and fight to their utter extinction, all in the period of four years, the period almost universally agreed upon as the correct onen?

     The actual journey would have required at least a year. . . . And how would they have traveled? did they all go together, their differnces forgotten by common consent, peaceful oby agreement, only to break out in open hostitlity upon arriving at their destinatioin? Or did noe faction travel ahead of the other?

 

     Coraintumr and the Mulekiltes Again.

     [Assuming a New York Hil Cumrorah/RAmah] Here, then is the problem: If, as many find, it is imipossible to think that the forty-three Limihi scouts went beyhond Central lAmeiaca or Mexico to find the twenty-four gold paltes, the record of the jaredites, how shall we harmonize this with the certain fact that hte Nephite record was foundin New Yorkj State? Does it not seem that one record was moved inasmuch as both peoples were destroyed in the same palce? It would be interesting int he extreme to find out whether Coriantumr moved the jaredite history south or Moroni, the Nephite history north. Many very thoughtful Latter-day Saitns are conscious of a challenge here.

 

     . . . the authors wish here to call attention to antoher fact that will need explanation and for which at the prestn time they have no very satisfaactory answer.

     If amny, or all, of the events discussed to date occurred in Central America and Mexico, as there is muchl lreason to belive, where the vegietation is so rank and fat-growing, how shall we account for the fact that more than five-hundred eyars after the destrcution of the Jaredites, about 46 B.C., theland of DFesolation was still desolate of timber? (Heloaman 3) Would not trees grwo in that length of time anywhere on the western hemisphere?

 

     Size of Jaredite Population [pp. 65-73]

     The writers do not presume to say that all the Jaredties in the western world were destroyed at Ramah, or lived in Moron and surrounding lands and cities. There may have been many in other parats of theland, to the far north and the far south. These may not have gathered to the central palce at the time of the destruction. They may have had governments of their own in other localities. The present treatise deals only with those who lived and dided in the permanent homeland of the naiton. There might well have been many millions elsewhere.

 

     History and Geography of the Mulekites [pp. 74-82]

     The Mulekites represtn the meeting of all three peoples. They are the link between the Jaaredites and the Nephites. Coming as they did, shortly after the destruction of the Jaredites, they found Coriantumr and the ruins of the Jaredite civilization, and later they merged with the Nephites. Apparently all were in relatively the same land. . . .

     We have no information whatever as to the way and manner in which the Mulekites came to the new world. What little is known directly about them comes from the meager record of Omni. From the study of the Nephites, however, much can bve determined with some degree of certainty.

     If the city of Mulek was the one established by them, as is altogehter possible, its location becomes of greatest importance. But of this we cannot be sure; it might have been farther north that the Mulekites landed. [the city of Mulek was] on the eastern coast of the land of the Nephties very near the land of the Jaredites. . . .

     . . . Be it remembered, the Mulekites almost certainly found Coraintumr in his own land, among the bones of his people. (Omni 1:20-22)

     The stone of which mention has been made was probablyl lelngraved by Coriantumr since it haed th story of ghe daeath of his people and the sotry of his life. It was found and brought to King Mosiah of Zaraheemla. Does not all this tend to show that the lands of the Jaredites and Mulekites were very close to each other?

     But we need not slpeculate. Withi respect to theland of the Mulekties there is one very explicit statement in the record, explicit enven though subject to some uncertainty in interpretation.

     The historian, in Alma 22:30 has this to say:

     And it (Bountiful] bordered upont heland which they [the Nephites] called Desolation, it being so far northwaard that it calme into theland which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was disciovered by the peole of lZarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.

 

     Verwse 32 of the samle chapter points out that it was on the line between these lands Desolation and Bountiful that it was a day-and-a-halfl's journey for a Nephite from sea to sea. Thus they were without question at some point in the western hemisphere at which the distance between the oceans was negligible, provided always taht sea here means the ocean, a thing of fwhiach we cannot be altogether sure. That was where the jaredites landed and were destroyed; that was where the Mulekites landed and found Coriantrumr, in fulfillment of Ether's prophecy; that was wherre the Mulekites came to possess the land of the Jaredites. . . .

     [The place of their first landing] was so near the place of the jaredites that they found Coriantumr, the last jaredite, in the land in which his people had been destoryed. . . . If, then, we know where the Jaredites landed, we know also the palce of the landing of the Mulekites because they were in a very real sense the same.

     Does it not appear beyond controversy that botht he jaredits and Mulekites landed in the western world at the point at which the land was narrowest? Is it not apparent that their lands were very near each other if not actuallly the same? If Coriantumr was found in the place of the destruction, and taht was in the same land in which the jaredites landed in the new world, is it not celar that Zarrahemla, the capital of the Mulekites (and Nephties) appears to ahve been near the palce where the jaredites were destroyed? If the Nephites were destroyed in the same palce, does it not seem that they closed their existence near the place where pthey had lived for a thousand years? And does it not appear that all these things occurred at or near the narrow neck of land where the oceans were so close to each other? . . .

     King Limhi, a Nephite, living in Nephi, theland of the Lamanties, where the Nephites had formerly lived, sent out a company of forty-three men to find Zarrahemla from which his grandfather Zeniff had come. [Mosaih 21:25-27 and Mosiah 8:7-9 are then quoted] . . .

     Limhi's scouts left the land of Nephi, the southern most of thelands of the Book okf Mormon and found the place in which the Jajredites were destroyed, the northernmost land of the Book of Mormon. How long were they gone? They were lost "many days" and still returned to Nephi. We do not know the duration of "many days,," but is it not a matter fro grave doiubt wthat those men traveled thousands of miles on that excursion while being lost? They were doubtless at the time in Central Amaeiaca or Mexico, or so most, if not all, students believe. Buit where did they go in "many days" of wandering to find the palce where the jaredites were destroyed? This is a very intriguing question.

     Where is, or was, theland of many wwaters? There are other refernecens that make mention of it. (Alma 50:29; helaman 3:3-4; Mormon 6:4; Ether 15:8) If Limhi's scouts did not travel thousands of miles to find the dead civilizlation of the Jarjedites, where did they find theland of many rivers, lakes, and fountains? Does the answer to this apparent enigma lie in stil-uncharted fields of study? Or might it have been Mexico, so bountifully supplied with lakes? . . .

     To conclude: Ether finsihed his record after the alst battle of his people and hid "it in a manner that the people of Limhi did find it." This record, of course, was made in theland of the destruction, the place in which Ether followed night by night with such detail the struggle of the opposing forces. It was made while he yet lived in the cave to which he had fled in the early dyears of Coriantumr's reign while the peole were admittedly in the land of their inheritance. And there Limhi's men found it. We cannot help wondering if they made a journey into the eastern part of the great northern continent and back in those "many days." Does this not present a problem that all sincere readers of the Book of Mormon will have to ansnwer? . . .

     Antoher fact calls for attention in this connection. When the forty-three men found the land of the jaredites, they discovered that it was "covered with ruins of buildings of every king." (Mosiah 8:8) This raises antoher interesting problem. There seems to have been a very general agreement among the men who haved written in explanatioin of the Book of Mormon that the Jaredites lived in or near their first home, probably in Central Ameirca, or Mexico, until four years before the end of their nation. At that time they are supposeds to have maded a tremendous migrtation to a hitherto unknown country where they fought their last battle. We are faced at once with the perplexing question: How did they rear "buildings of every kind:" that would endure for hundreds of years at the same time that they were either fighting or travelingN? For four eyars is all they ahd for both apparently. The authors confess that they are unable to explain. Rather they find it more conssitent with the rest of the record to think that the people made no such migration at all.

 

     Relationships Between Nephi and Zarahemla [pp. 104-112]

 

 

 

 

     From the Landing to the Second Alma [pp. 92-97]

     The purpose of this chapter is to determine whether the places mentionedc in the sotory of the Nephites and Lamanties suggest a geographical set-up with cities and landds, distances, directions, etc., that are defintie. . . .

 

     In the process of summarizing 2 Nephi 1-5, Washburn writes:

     This journey by Nephi and his followers from the firstd home (Ishmael beyond any reasonable doubt, as will appeasr later) to Nephi was the only movment of the main body of the Nephites until the time of Mosiah I who led a few north to Zarahemla. From that time forth there appears to ahve beedn no rooting lkup of Nephite civilization. . . .

     Nothing whatever is told about the place Nehi beyond the fact already given, but the abundance of raw materials suggests a mountainous region.

     How far Nephi was from the first home at no time appears certain. By indirection we may arrive at a fairly good idea of the distance. Nephi himself gives a good suggestion. In 2 Nephi 5:34 we read: "And it sufficeth me to say that forty years had passed away, and we had already had wars and contentions with our brethren."

     Another reference throws very great light uon this problem of the distance fromt he first home, the landing place, tot he second, Nephi. Special attention is called to Alma 25:13:

     And it came to pass that when the Lamanties saw that they could not overpower the Nephites they returned again to their own land; and many of them came over to dwell in the land of Ishmael and the land of Nephi, and did join themselves to the people of God, who were the peole of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

 

     Early writers, and some recent ones, had the Nephites arriving far down the coast of South America. It is almost beyond dispute that the landing place was known as Ishmael. This matter is discussed at some length in chapter 13.

     After thelanding and the subsequent dispute between Nephi and laman and Lemuel, Nephi and his few followers, as we have just seen, left the first home and went into the wilderness where they established a new home, Nephi. One well-known map shows the course of that flight from about thirty or thirty-two degrees south latitude to northern South America, more than one thousaned miles!

     Yet Alma explicityly declares that when the Lamanteis warriors returned from an invasion against the Nephties in Zarahemla, part of them went to Ishmael andpart to Nephi. How could this have happened if the palces were one thousand miles of mountainous country apart.

     Had the two plaes been widely seaprated there would have been neither opportunity nor necessity for wars and contentions.

     Another incidetn is very contincing--Alma 18:9. On one occasion, it will be recalled, King Lamoni was invited to a feast in Nephi, a feast given by his father. Lamoni lived in Ishmael, the landing palce. He gave orders for his horses to be hitched to the chariot for the journey. Is it liekly that Lamanoi contemplated a trip across half the length of south America? . . .

     It was Amaleki, adding tot he brief recordo f Omni, who wrote that one Mosiah, living at Nephi, was told by the Lord to take such as would go with him and depart into the wilderness for safety. (Omni 12)

     Neither the date of this occurrence nor the number of people involved int he migration is given. . . . They traveled in the wildlerness for a time and discovered Zarahemla. (Omni 13-14) Zarahemla was the capital of the mulekites . . . Thus for nearly four hundnred years the Mulekites and Nephites existed in the new world, side gby side, almost within a stone's throw of each other, so to slpeak, als we shall see in a later chapter, and had no contacts or communication with each other, and no knowledge of each other, so far as we are able to determine fromt he record.

     Naturally Mosiah and his peole left many freineds and relatives in Nephi about whom, and their homes and lands, they would cherish tender memoires and entertain some concern. It is not surprising, therfore, that a group lateer returned to Nephi from Zarahemla to enquire into the welfare of those friends and relatives. Zeniff was the leader of this company. [Mosiah 9-23 is summarized]

 

     Nephi and Zarahemla [pp. 98-103]

     The expresseion, "the land of Nephi," has two meansings in the Book of Mormon. In some instanceds it refers to the whole land of the Lamanties, comprising all thier caities and smaller lands . . . Another unit is meant, the city of nephi, or the city and theland immediately akdjacent to it, as a subdivision of the whole land. [numerous examples are given---none out of the ordinary] . . .

     In many instances it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether the writer had in mind the large land or the small one, and perhaps often it makes no difference. It is only in connection with the four landing countries and two cities that such uncertainty can arise. There were only four large lands to be confused with slmall ones, Nephi, Zarahemla, Boutnfiul, and Desolation. . . .

     It has been suggested that there may have been two cities named Nehil, one far down the coast of South America where we have always supposed the Nephites landed, and one farther north, corresponding to the city of Nephi discussed here. The exact reason for this view is not altogether clear. It has probably arisen fromt he necessity of transferring the Nephties from South America to Central America. Two Nephis would fit into this pattern. Nor in logic is this objectionable. The transffer of names is universal. If the Nephites spread over most of the western world, as we may safely assume they did, we should not be surprised to find in their outlying districts names very common to the original homeland.

     The present authors have no particular fault to find with this idea of two Nephis except ot urge that they do not find it in the Book of Mormon as they read it. They feel that it arises from expediency rather than from the record.

 

     

 

 

 

. Although his analysis in this book was almost entirely internal, Washburn made some interesting cultural comments regarding the traditional North America-Panama-South American model. In regards to the traditional narrow neck of land at Panama he writes:

     Is it not altogether likely that the limited distances of Central America have given us who are unacquainted with the country a wrong idea of the time required to traverse it? Should we be surprised to learn that it is no small matter to cross the Isthmus of Panama? In times past many have found to their dismay that a few miles could easily constitute a journey of no mean proportions. . . Writing of Panama, Harold Rugg (A History of American Civilization, p. 47) says, in connection with the Spaniards: "It is a difficult trip of 45 miles through the tropical forests, those dark forests of high trees festooned so thickly with vines and creepers. Even with the ax the Spaniards can hardly break through."

     Another illustration from William Robertson (History of America, p. 203) is more to the point. He tells that in 1513 Balboa landed on the east coast of Darien. He had 190 men and one thousand Indians to carry his provisions. But he found that his progress was impeded by many obstacles. There were, of course, human enemies. But whereas the guide had represented to Balboa that the isthmus could be crossed in six days, the company spent more than twenty-five. Thus they made little more than two miles a day. [pp. 110-111]

 

     Another comment by Washburn deals with the idea that the setting of the Book of Mormon extended into the United States all the way to New York:

     One phase of the problem merits a special comment. If, as suggested above, the Mound Builders were related to some of the peoples of the Book of Mormon, how shall we account for the fact that whereas their friends in the homelands [of Mexico & Central America] left the world magnificent monuments and buildings in imperishable stone, they [the Mound Builders] have bequeathed to posterity nothing more than some mounds of dirt? Might it not with good reason be urged that such great differences in their works argue against any close relationship between them? [p. 211]

 

     Commenting on the distance Alma and his group had to travel with "their flocks," between the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla, Washburn writes:

     In 1636, writes a historian, "the Little River settlements were re-inforced by the coming of the entire church congregation from Dorchester, Winterton, and Newton, which settled separately at Windsor, Weatherfield, and Hartford. The Newton (or Cambridge) congregation was under the leadership of its ministers Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone. They marched through the wilderness, driving their hogs and cattle along in true pioneer fashion. Arriving at the Connecticut, after having spent a fortnight in going the one hundred miles, they settled around the Dutch fort." (Chittwood, History of Colonial America)

     These people made about seven miles a day, and Alma and his people could have done no better. Indeed, it is altogether likely that the Nephite colony made the slower progress in view of the nature of the country through which it had to move. From this it appears that the distance between the two capital cities could probably not have exceeded one hundred to three hundred miles. This was not the era of roads. The "Mormon" Pioneers averaged about eleven miles a day. Yet, even here the authors desire that these figures be taken only as suggestions. [pp. 106-107]

 

     III. Where Was the Narrow neck of Land? [p. 198]

     Where was the narrow neck of land? Have the readers of the Book of Mormon in the past been righit in assumning that the present Isthlmus of Panama is the place?

     The present writers doubt this very seriously. They fell confident that the narrow neck of land was farther north. One of the foremost authoorities in the Church placed it at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and a number of other students have agreed with this.* [see note below] The present writers have no objection thought this is the result of a feeling rather than any definite evidence. But, then, is there any proof that the Isthmus of pan;ama was the narrow neck of the Book of Mormon? There is none.

     For want of something better the writers tentatively accept the view that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec was the narrow neck. It might perhaps as well have been the Isthmus of Honduras. As suggested above, there is litte that will lead to certainty.

     However, the rejection of the Isthmus of panama is not based entirely uon a guess. There is good reason to believe fromt heinformation of the text itself, that it could not have been the location in question. . . .

 

[Note* If the Washburns are implying that B. H. Roberts officially endorsed the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, they have no basis for their speculations. While Roberts brought up the possibility, he did not endorse it. Another possibility is Elder Ivins, who accompanied the 1900 BYU Cluff expedition.]

 

 

     Washburn writes: 'It is commonly supposed among the Latter-day Saints that some of the Pacific islands were peopled by the Nephites, presumably by Hagoth, but the historian of the Book of Mormon tells nothing of this. [p. 201]

 

 

     Conclusions [pp. 207-209]

     . . . Certain conclusions have been presented here, but all are tentative and subject to revision or absolute rejection as new light and furth4er study render theml untenable. . . .

     1. The Book of Mormon does contain sufficient information to warrant the establihsing of a pattern of geography.

     2. Geography of the book of Mormn should be found in the book itself so far as that is possible.

     3. The whole record must be taken into consideration in the making of usch a pattern. No single statement will contain sufficicnet information when used alone. . . .

     5. The langaugge of the record may oftentimes be miread or misunderstood by us int he light of our experience and our moodern civilization . . .

     6. There were in some instances a large land and a small land of the sasme name as the city in them. confusion on this point has been widespread and has resulted iln many errors.

     7. There seems to be no evidecne in the record t justify the universal belief among our people that the Jaredites and Nephties moved their entire civilizations more than four thousand miles from the original homes to northeastern United States. it apepars that where they lived, there also they died.

     8. The authors feel that the greatest contribution of theeir work is the contention that the lands and peoples of the ancient Americans [the homelands of the Jaredites, Nephites, and Mulekites contained within the narrative of the Book of Mormon] were limited in extent.

     Of greatest and most immediate interest to all members of the Church, if conclusions 7 and 8 abovce are based upon good evidecne, is the question how the sacred records from which the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon were found in New York State if the last battle of the Nephties was fought somewhere else . . .

     How and when were [the plates] moved from one palce to the other?

     The authors do not consider it their responsibility to answer this question even if it requries an answer, yet they are sincerely interested in the answer. . . .

     The writers think it perhaps more likely that Mrooni moved the paltes, if at all, sometime during the fourteen centueis that elapsed after thelast battle and befoe the coming of the Propeht Joseph. during parft of that time a resurrected being he could easily have made the transfer. That the resurrected Moroni did handle and have custody of the paltes we know from the history of the Church.

     May we not, then, say for the present that our sacred hill Cumorah in New York is a namesake of another once-bloodstained and no less appointed palce in the homeland of the Jaredites and Nephites? Such at least is the trend of much of the thinking of today.

 

     A Final Word [pp. 210-213]

     It has not been in [the authors'] hearts to engender doubt nor to raise disturbing questions in the midsn of any. The last thing they want is argument and controversy. Their purpose has been two-fold: To determine what an unprejudiced study of the Book of Mormon would yield with regard tot he matters set forth herein, and to bring into the clear something that would act as a point of departure for further studya nd encourage a more widespread and critical reading of the record. surely no one should fear the result of such study if it be sincere, and if truth be the aim. The record will vindicate itself. . . . Students will err in interpretations and conclusions, but int he end, truth will prevail.

     The writers are not unmindful, as they have repeatedly asserted, of the great and grave questions raised by the evidecnes all about us of ancient civilizations throughout this country. . . . Who were these peole? Whence came they? How long ago did they flourish in this land? What caused thier eventual downfall? . . . Were they associated in any way witht he peoples of the Book of Mormon? Might they have been those who lived before the Flood? . . .

     The authors are as interested in these qauestions as anyone. They sincerely trust that nothing in the rpesent volume will be construed as an attempt toa rgue agaisnt the possibility that the poepls of the Book of Mormon covered the western world. Their onlyl oint is that the recodd istself does not tell about these things. it is limimted to a relatively small area. As already shown, multiltudes of Nephties moved away fromt he homeslands, and after that the story does not follow them. . . .

 

     

 

 

     According to John Sorenson, the Washburns' book represented by far the most detailed and careful study of geography to that time, but it was concerned with the internal map. As to external correlations, J.A. Washburn in a 1940 thesis at BYU concluded, without elaboration, "Central America appears best suited to the requirements of the text." Yet, the Washburns refused to be drawn into an argument about externals, so their detailed internal treatment stood on its own. They demonstrated convincingly that the scale of a map of Book of Mormon events was restricted by the text itself to a few hundred miles in extent. While Layton had got the internal basic relationships down, he paid little attention to scale. The Washburns, on the other hand, were the first to put all the major scriptural pieces together on a fairly consistent internal map, and then they added a scale of miles. Unfortunately, the Washburns were caught in a time period when the Church had just renewed emphasis on traditional ideas, specifically the hill Cumorah in New York. Their ideas were also overshadowed by the Depression and World War II. (The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: Source Book, FARMS, 1990, Part 1. "A History of Ideas," pp. 35-36)

 

     Note* In a 1975 letter, J. N. Washburn wrote about the climate of the Church at this time regarding Book of Mormon geography:

     In 1939, after many years of careful and earnest study, my father, the late esteemed writer and seminary teacher, J. A. Washburn, and I published our An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography (see notation for 1939). This work was confined strictly to the inside of the text. It was "Book-of-Mormon" geography. At no time did either of us feel qualified, or have any particular urge, to go into so-called external evidences, to attempt such a thing as a "correlation." I still do not have the background in travel for such an assignment, for which reason I am deeply interested in and envious of those who have been more fortunate or had more courage.

     In our book father and I were forced to five conclusions which came as a surprise to nearly everyone, including ourselves. Up to the time of the beginning of that study we had gone along passively with the rest of the members of the Church in our attitude toward all this. If I remember correctly, we were preceded and sparked by a small but significant work, The Palestine of Ancient America. The name of the author I can't now recall with certainty though it runs in my mind that it was Colonel Willard Young [Actually it was Jean Driggs--see the notation for 1923]. My own copy disappeared long ago, nor have I been able to find another, not even in the B.Y.U. Library. This is unfortunate; it was far too good a contribution to be thus relegated to obscurity.

     Father and I, reacting to the soundness of that little folder, prompted by its suggestions, provoked by its implications, took up the challenge which precipitated us into one of the most important projects of our lives. I doubt that there is anything of consequence that could be added to the geography of the Book of Mormon. It remained, and still remains, to find a geography for the Book of Mormon. To that endeavor I can add little.

     For fifteen years we delved intensively and exhaustively into the record, in the end putting our findings into black and white. The result was surprising to say the least, and one would have had to be among those present at that time to feel the impact. By "those present" I mean all who were interested in this subject and keeping up with what was being said.

     Perhaps I should add that all the time the leading Brethren knew exactly what we were doing, indeed supervised much of our study. How wide its influence was I have no way of knowing, but in some places I think it was epochal.

     I can give an idea of the reaction of many. I offered a copy of the "geography" for sale to a member of a Stake High Council in Idaho, a very good man. He put his hands in front of his face (if I remember rightly, he recoiled a step) and expostulated, "I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. It would destroy my faith." . . .

     Thus I have been in this thing a long time, and deeply, which is why I may have such pronounced, even entrenched, views. However, nothing that I know, think, believe, or hope is of any consequence if it is not true. I simply would like to know what is. I shall gladly accept anything that is right. (signed, J. N. Washburn)

 

 Source: 1975, J.N. Washburn, "Response Letter to the Book of Mormon Geography Symposium of 1974.")

 

[1939      Illustrated Model      Washburn & Washburn      INTERNAL (Limited Mesoamerica)]

L.S.= Central America / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuantepec / L.N.=N. of Tehuantepec a few hundred miles / H.C.=Near the Narrow Neck / Sidon R.=not specified

Sources: J.A. Washburn and J.N. Washburn, An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography, Provo: New Era, 1939. Jesse A. Washburn, Masters Thesis, BYU, 1940. J. Nile, the son, in later publications continued presenting the model without further external correlations, although with increased internal detail. See Book of Mormon Guidebook (Where They Went and How They Got There--with Sundry Related Matters), n.p., 1968; see Book of Mormon Lands and Times, Bountiful: Horizon Pub., 1974; see The Miracle of the Book of Mormon, Orem, 1984. [Map & information taken from John L. Sorenson, A Source Book]

  

 

 

 

1939^      J. M. Sjodahl      "The Jaredite Lands," in Improvement Era 42 (June 1939): pp. 336-337, 370-371.

 

     This "summary and interpretation of the little known record of a little known people" was given by J. M. Sjodahl "of the Church Historian's Office." Among other things he writes:

     . . . But the two sons of Joktan, Jared and his brother, must have reached a very advanced age before they realized that their work was nearly finished. They were, perhaps, nearing the end of their second century. I venture this supposition on the strength of Genesis 11:11026, where the age of each of the ancestors of Abraham is given. Peleg, the brother of Joktan, lived 239 years. . . . It is a reasonable conclusion that the two sons of Joktan, Jared and his brother reached at least the average age of the mentioned descendants of Peleg, the brother of Joktan, or about 214 years. . . .

     Jared and his brother, at the end of their long career, must, therefore, have had their capital probably far from the coast. If, as some have held, the landing place was somewhere "south of the gulf of California and north of the Isthmus of Panama,," such moves, either north or south, would have been feasible. . . .

     [The Land of Nehor] is the first American land, or country, which is mentioned by name in the book of Ether (7:4). . . . The name of the country, supposing it to be a Semitic word, may give a clue, at least to the direction in which to look for it. "Nahar" is the Hebrew for river. As a verb it is used metaphorically (Jer. 31:12; 51:44; Micah 1:4) for the "flowing together" of nations into one place. "Nehor," the Jaredite form of the word, almost certainly has the same meaning as the Hebrew "nahar," a river, or a place, a land, by a river; a country into which people are "flowing." "Nehor" is said to be Egyptian for the Nile. to the Hebrews and other Semites "nahar" was the Euphrates. The country between the Missouri and the Mississippi may well have reminded the Jaredites of Mesopotamia; the Mississippi may well have been the Nahar, or Nehor of the Old Country to them. . . .

     The king dwelt [in the land of Moron] (Ether 7:5, 6, 17) . . . The literal meaning of the word "Moron" supposing "marana," meaning "our Lord" (1 Corinthians 16:22) to be its Aramaean kindred, would also be "our Lord." Applied to a country it would mean "A Land of Our Lord." It had, undoubtedly been dedicated to His service. Compare Ether 2:12, where it is expressly stated that nations living in this promised land are under obligation to serve "the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ," in return for the blessing of liberty. . . .

     If, as is probable, Moron was in a southwestern direction from Nehor, the Land by the River, and north of Desolation, it would include in its area what is now known as Missouri, and consequently, Jackson County, where Independence is located. It would also embrace Adam-ondi-Ahman, about fifty miles north of Jackson county, an area made sacred during the time of Adam, and which is again to attain to extraordinary prominence int he kingdom of God, when the "Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel, the prophet." (doctrine and Covenants 116) Orson Pratt says Adam-ondi-Ahman means, "The Valley of God" Journal of discourses, vol. 16, p. 48), almost the same as Moron. (Rad also D & C. 107:53-57) . . .

     Adam-ondi-Ahman as, undoubtedly, dedicated to the Lord by our great progenitor himself, during the Adamic dispensation, before the flood Moron, in all probability the same land as that in which Adam-ondi-Ahman was situated, was similarly dedicated by the brother of Jared, during the dispensation of Noah, after the deluge. Such a dedication is a covenant between God and man, similar to the covenant of God with Abraham concerning Palestine. But, as far as God is concerned, a covenant stands forever. It is everlasting, even if it is temporarily set aside by the other part. That, I believe, is the reason for the selection by the Lord of Missouri as a land of promise, the place for the New Jerusalem, the place for the City of Zion.

  

 

 

1939^      LDS Church            Book of Mormon Sunday School Lessons for the Church of Jesus Christ of

                        Latter-day Saints, Published by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                        Board, printed at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1939

 

     Lesson 39 He Who Sins

     Second Sunday, November 12, 1939

 

     Text: Mormon 1-3

     Supplemental Material:

     6. In this lesson we learn of a definite movement of both the Lamanites and the Nephites toward the North. Though, as has been pointed out in previous lessons, we have no certain knowledge as to the exact locations of the Nephites and Lamanites on the American Continents during any part of their 1000 years of existence, we do know that the final battles of the conflict described in today's lesson were fought on and around the Hill Cumorah which is located in what is now known as the western part of the state of New York. The retreat of the Nephites and the invasion of the Lamanites in these final battles was in the direction of that hill, which was destined to preserve the records of these peoples through the centuries into modern times. (p. 112)

     

     Lesson 40 An Unprotected People

     Third Sunday, November 19, 1939

 

     Text: Mormon 4-6

 

     3. The Nephites gathered at and around the Hill Cumorah for their final stand in defense of their lives. Mormon was growing old so he hid in the hill all of the records which had been entrusted to him except a few that he gave to his son Moroni.

 

 

 

 

 

1939^      Genet Bingham Dee      A Voice From the Dust: SLC: The Deseret News Press, 1939.

 

     In 1939, Genet Dee wrote a narrative commentary of the Book of Mormon including cultural illustrations--written "particularly to the youth." In regard to Book of Mormon geography, the following included quote is pertinent:

 

     Cumorah, the Last Stand of the Nephites

     [385 years after the Birth of Christ]

 

     ["Many thousands of ancient mounds have been identified throughout the eastern part of the United States, from Texas to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. Their forms and functions vary greatly, and include pyramid-temples, fortifications, burial tumuli and effigy mounds. The pyramids, maize cultivation, ceramic styles and artistic motifs of the Mound Culture point strongly to their introduction from the advanced Maya-Toltec centers of eastern Mexico, as the result either of ethnic movements or of trade."--Dr. M. Wells Jakeman, The Itzan Society.

 

     Might this not indicate the colonization or migration of the Nephites and Lamanites to the east and northeast of the "Land Northward", even to the Hill Cumorah in western New York, where the Nephites made their final stand against the Lamanites?] (p. 792)

 

[1939      Illustration: The Hill Cumorah. Genet Bingham Dee, A Voice From the Dust, SLC: The Deseret News Press, 1939, p. 798]

 

     Note* This book was used with the 1940 Sunday School Manual (see notation). See also the notation for 1946.

 

 

1939-43      Matthew Stirling Publishes Archaeological Reports of Veracruz, Tabasco (La Venta) & Izapa

 

 

1940      ??            Whence Came the Red Man? Independence, MO: Herald House, 1940.

 

     A 13-page pamphlet that describes the provenance of the Indians. It describes how Lehi left Jerusalem to come to America. The RLDS church is the church that brings the Book of Mormon to the Indians.

 

Source: Brian Dickman, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 573.

 

 

 

1940^                        "Where Are the Hills Ramah and Cumorah?" in The Instructor, vol. 75, no. 1,

                        January 1940, p. 8.

 

     In the Messengter and Advocate, a Church periodical published in Kirtland, Ohio [1835], there appeared a series of articles under the title, "Faith of the Church." They were written by Oliver Cowdery, but prepared in colaboration with the Prophet. . . . Then appears, under date of July, 1835, an article from which this excerpt is made [What follows is the text from the 1835 article detailing the fact that the New York hill is the site of the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites.--see the 1835 notation for the full script]

 

 

 

1940^      LDS Church            Book of Mormon Sunday School Lessons for the Church of Jesus Christ of

                        Latter-day Saints, Published yearly by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                        Board, printed at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1940

 

     Vol. 13 Lessons for 1940

 

     . . . Sister Janet Bingham Dee has prepared a book in which the Book of Mormon is so arranged with suitable comments, that it is made much more attractive and interesting to read, especially for younger readers.

     We urgently suggest that you get a copy of this book, and use it in connection with this course. The title is "A Voice from the Dust, a Sacred History of Ancient Americans."

 

(Note* There is no mention of Alma 22 geography in this manual, however, the verses are contained in "A Voice from the Dust." Also, a picture and comments concerning the New York Hill Cumorah are contained in "A Voice from the Dust." Also there are many illustrations that reflect an ignorance regarding ancient American culture in "A Voice from the Dust." )

 

 

1940      Jesse A. Washburn      "A Study of the Geography of the Book of Mormon as Found within

                       the Record Itself," M.S. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1940.

 

 

     By the time 1940 rolled around, J. N. Washburn had already published his 241-page From Babel to Cumorah (First edition 1937; revised Second edition 1938), and his 213-page An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography (1939), which was a more detailed explanation of the geographical reasoning contained in his 1937-8 book. Washburn's 100-page 1940 Masters thesis does not represent the detailed reasoning he brought forth in 1939. Furthermore, his conclusions, although reworded, are essentially those found in his 1939 book. Perhaps in submitting this thesis before BYU Religion professors, he not only wanted to be recognized academically for his many years of study, but he also sought validation for his scriptural reasoning and maybe a tiny bit revenge for the adverse attitude and commentary that had come his way. For many years he had been teaching in the Church Educational System, and for many years he had been sharing his geographical ideas concerning the Book of Mormon with high Church officials. However, those ideas had been openly and directly attacked by a 1938 Joseph Fielding Smith article in the Church News (see notation) denouncing any ideas contrary to a New York Hill Cumorah. Additionally, Washburn's scriptural approach--to more fully understand the Book of Mormon by trying to understand the geographical and cultural background--had been stripped of any significant priority in CES or Church classrooms because of an 1838 speech ("The Charted Course") given by J. Reuben Clark (see notation).

     The following represent a some pertinent comments and a few subtle differences from previous publications.

 

     Preliminary Considerations [pp. 1-6]

     . . . Until a few decades ago it was deemed sacrilege to quesstion dogmatic interpretations and decisions of the Biblie handned down from the past. No one presumed to question or critically analyze the text. But conditions have cahnged. The scientific age crept along. Scholars refused to accept these dogmatic opinoins and decisions fromt he past.

     For more than a hundred years learned men in all lands have preceeded to analyze the Bible. They have turned it in-side-out. There is not a paragraph or word nowleft that has not come up fro critical examination.

     True, some have exaggerated---made unjust decisions, and even ridiculed. Buit from it all the Bible ahs emerged more firmly established. We know it better as the word of God than did the people in thimes past.

     So the Book of Mormon must be put side by side with the Bible. It is destined to underngo the same critical examination as the Bible, and why not? To date only certain aspects of it have been examined. A few persons can trace the narrative step by step; its theological doctrines are well understood; a superficial study of colonies and records has been made, and we are well acquainted with its principal characters. But there are many problems connected witht he text that wold be worthy subjects for thesis investigation.

     There is a natural and growoing feeling among church memgbers that with increased time and oopportunities for lstudy we should be makilng some definite informational contributions about the Book of Mormon. Such studies may, and undoubtedly will tend to show that many conclusions of the past were made without a background of sufficient information.

     The author has no fear of the outcome of such studies. Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon wil no doubt vindicate its clalims.

     Thus, this present study of the geography of the Book of Mormon, as indicated by the text itself has been done without fear of criticism which the author is sure will follow. Every step will, and should be contested and errors herein eliminated.

     Geography as applied to any country or people includes such a wide range of related subjects that but a limited number can be treated here, mainly because of the meagerness of information in the Book of Mormon.

     On most phases of the subject the text has a limited amount of information. Only in a genral way can anyone determine boundaries and lands. With our present knowledge we cannot with certainty locate a single city of the Book of Mormon in the new world. Lcoal divisions of the lands can be but approximated, and, as suggested above, even the location of thelands themselves is subject to serious debate. On only one point do students seem to agree to any extent, that the lands between the two great continents of the western hemisiphere were the principal homelands of thea ncient Americans. . . .

     The purpose of the study, then, has been to determine whether the information within the Book of Mormon kitself is sufficient to justify definite conclusions on the lmatter at issue, and to discover whether the record is consistent with itself on the numerous details of travels, lands, cities, peoples, etc.

     While the author has an acquaintance in a genral way with the existing limited body of writintg on the subject of geography of the Book of Mormon . . . He has tried to appraoch the fascinating task, if task it may be called, with no preconceived notions; with only the desire to find where the truth lies so far as it mlay be ascertained. Those who read these pages will be no more surprised at many findings and conclusions than the writer himself has been. Many points have arisien which are not easily understood or explained, and there are some matters at which no attempt at explanation is made at all here. . . .

     The method of study ahs been to read and compare all the statements in the record havingv any bearing on the subject. No attempt has been made to build a set-up of geography on a few so-called "key" passages. . . .

     The author here expresses his gratitude to Doctors Sidney B. Sperry (see note A below), Amos N. Merrill, Russell Swensen, and Professor Guy C. Wilson fo the Brigham Young University for helpful suggestions and criticismis in this project.

 

     Note A* It should be stated, in all fairness, that Dr. Sperry is of the opinion that no discussison of Book of Mormon geography is complete without taking into consideration the various statements made by the prophet Joseph Smith regarding Book of Mormon peoples and locations.

 

     [Note* It should also be noted that Dr. Sperry would ultimately switch his thinking as regards Book of Mormon geography from a Hemispheric perpsective to a more Limited perspective (see the Sperry notations for 1964 and 1968)]

 

     

     On page ( ) Washburn writes: "There appears to be nothing in the Book of Mormon to loppose this conclusion that Moron, the landing place of the Jaredites, was in Central America or near it."

 

     [Note* While Elder Roberts maintained his belief in the New York Hill Cumorah, Washburn would continue to present evidence for a location of the Hill Cumorah near the narrow neck of land.]

 

 

     Conclusions [pp. 99-100]

     Conclusions #1-4 and #8 are essentially the same as found in Washburn's 1939 book. However the following conclusions are slightly (and maybe significantly) different:

     5. There seems to be an abundance of information to warrant the belief that where the colonists landed, there they lived and died [Note* this has been changed from "there is no evidence in the record to justify the universal belief among our people that the Jaredites and Nephties moved their entire civilizations more than four thousand miels form the orginal homes to northeastern United States."

     6. There is much reason to believe taht the Jaredites and Mulekties landed on the east coast of the American continent and the Nephties, on the west. Theri landing palces could not have been very far apart.

     7. The land now known as Central Ameica appears best suited to the requirements of the text of all the parts of the wewstern hiemisphere as the central or permanent homes of the ancient Americans.

 

 

 

1940's?      Delamar R. Fairbanks            For Students of the Book of Mormon Only, N.p., n.d.

 

     Maintains that it is possible to identify geographical locations of the Book of Mormon. Asserts that the "Land of Nephi was . . . in the southern half of Costa Rica, between the 9th and 10th north degree parallel, south of the great wilderness. Bountiful . . . was very close to [the] 11o north parallel."

 

Source: Brian Dickman, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 143.

 

 

 

1940^      Joel E. Ricks      The Geography of the Book of Mormon, Logan: n.p., 1940

 

     Ricks notes that his purpose in writing this text is to "emphasize the geographic references in the [Book of Mormon], and to . . . identify those locations in the light of modern geography." Ricks concludes that the Book of Mormon events covered both the North and South American continents, basing these ideas on the supposition that Panama is the "narrow neck of land." Several maps are included.

 

Source: A Guide to Publications on the Book of Mormon: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, Edited by Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, and Sandra A. Thorne. Provo: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996, p. 242.

 

     (See the notations for 1904, 1906, 1908, 1940)

 

 

1940^      Joel Ricks      Book of Mormon Geography, (Manuscript) Logan, Utah, 1940

 

     (see the notation for 1904)

 

[1940      Illustrated Model      Joel Ricks      HEMISPHERIC]

     Page #1      Page #2      Page #3      Page #4

     Source: Joel Ricks, Book of Mormon Geography, Manuscript, Logan, Utah, 1940

 

 

1940^      Joel Ricks            The Nephites in Story, Joel Ricks, 1940.

 

 

1940^      Lynn C. and H. J. Layton      Book of Mormon Lands, n.p., n.d., abt. 1940

 

     Although the Layton model of 1938 was considered "internal," it represented the beginning of a subtle shift in thought from a hemispheric concept to a limited hemispheric concept. While such ideas were not made fully clear in the 1938 article, a later article is more revealing. In this undated article (1940?) called "Book of Mormon Lands" by Lynn C. & H. J. Layton (located in Special Collections at the B.Y.U. HBL Library) we find the following excerpts:

     Many years of study on the geography of the land of the Nephites has brought conviction that the early Maya nation was the same as the Nephite nation . . . Joseph Smith, the Prophet, held that the kingdom of the Nephites grew and flourished in what we now know as Central America. What of the archaeology of this country? . . . B. H. Roberts, in volume two of New Witnesses for God, page 382, quotes from The Prehistoric World, or Vanished Races, by E. A. Allen (1885), as follows: "In the Central American Region of the western continent are found ruins of what are pronounced by all scholars to be the highest civilization, and the most ancient in time, of any in the New World." . . .      Modern authors still recognize the valley of the Usamacinta [sic] as the great river of the Maya. It is referred to as "The Old Man River" of the Mayans. J. Leslie Mitchell in The Conquest of the Maya, says: "In ancient times the main mode of communications through this region must have been the rivers--principally the Usamacinta, along the course of which are strewn some of the most remarkable ruins of the antique civilization." Since the river Sidon was the only river mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon, and since there are ample references in the book to furnish us a certain knowledge of its direction of flow, it should not be too difficult to locate it upon our present map. . . Most other rivers are eliminated at once by the fact that the Sidon was in the southern half of the Western Hemisphere. Many others are eliminated when we consider the additional fact that he Sidon flowed from south to north. In fact, this reduces the rivers which need to be considered to the two which have been most generally mentioned in writings upon the subject; namely, the Usamacinta in Central America and the Magdalena in South America.

     The Sidon was so situated that military campaigns were not too difficult around its headwaters. Moroni led his armies from Jershon, east of Zarahemla, which was near the east sea coast (Alma 27:22), over to ambush the Lamanites near the head of the Sidon River. (Alma 43:22-25). Had the [Magdalena been the Sidon] the east sea would have been the Atlantic Ocean, and Moroni would have been compelled to travel from somewhere near the mouth of the Amazon River to the head of the Magdalena in his epochal journey. The difficulties presented in such an undertaking make its accomplishment incredible. The Usamacinta, however, presents no such difficulties. . . . In addition to the facts, there is a paucity of data on archaeological research in the valley of the Magdalena which suggests that there are no notable ruins there. The 14th edition of he Encyclopedia Britannica has no mention at all of any ruins in that valley, while it devotes considerable space to the remarkable ruins of the Usamacinta Valley. . . .

     There has grown up a school of thought, however, that also places the Hill Cumorah in Central America, and attempts to show that the Nephite culture did not spread as far north as the Great Lakes. There can be no doubt that the Prophet Joseph knew that the last great battles of the Nephites against the Lamanites were fought in the north-eastern part of the United States. . . . To argue, as some have, that this event [the Zelph incident] took place after the death of Mormon, does not conform to the known facts. As to the actual location of the Hill Cumorah, the excellent article written by Joseph Fielding Smith in the Church Edition of the Deseret News, Sept. 10, 1938, answers that most fully. Anyone who regards it as having been other than in what we know as Western New York, overlooks the facts. . . .

     Some have contended that the distance from Central America to New York is too great for Mormon to have retreated during the closing days of the Nephite nation. All that is needed to refute such a claim is to consider the conquests of Jenghiz Kahn, Alexander the Great and others. . . . As the Prophet has said: "Facts are stubborn things."

 

[1940      Theoretical Model      Lynn C. & H. J. Layton      LIMITED CONTINENTAL]

L.S.=Mesoamerica S. of Isth. of Tehuan. / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuan. / L.N.=N. of Isth. of Tehuan. / H.C.=New York / Sid. R.=Usumacinta / Nephi=Copan

Source: Lynn C. and H. J. Layton, Book of Mormon Lands, n.p., n.d. 1940. Information listed in John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 119.

 

 

1940^      E. Cecil McGavin            Cumorahs "Gold Bible," Salt Lake City: The Deseret News Press,

                              1940.

 

     This would be the first book by E. Cecil McGavin in defense of a New York Hill Cumorah as the site of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites. In the chapter of the book that deals with Book of Mormon geography McGavin would draw heavily from the unpublished writings of Willard Bean, the long-time LDS resident of Palmyra who had helped negotiate the purchase of the New York Hill. Although the setting is supposed to be fictitious, it seems to draw its inspiration from the 1923 Centennial Celebration (see the notations for 1923, 1941) of which Willard Bean was a major participant. It is interesting that on pages 114-116 we find the following: "More than a decade ago a local paper said of such a pilgrimage as this one which we now enjoy":

     Hundreds of Mormons made up the pilgrimage to Palmyra last week to observe the centennial anniversary of the finding of the golden plates by Joseph Smith, later to be translated into what is now commonly called the Book of Mormon. Rain and disagreeable weather was encountered at every turn until the Sunday afternoon service at Mormon Hill when hundreds of people from this village and surrounding sections, representing all walks in life and all creeds, joined with the visiting Mormons in services which could not have failed in arousing a feeling of respect for the belief. The hundreds of visiting missionaries and members of the Church left a most satisfying impression upon the natives of this section, who met them more than halfway and offered them this hospitality of their homes during the three day session. The services will long linger in the memory of local people, also Heber J. Grant, president of the Church; Drs. Talmage and B. H. Roberts comprising a trio of well informed men and capable of putting fine thought in beautiful words.

     Inclement weather greeted the opening service at the Joseph Smith farm Friday evening and rain continued to fall Sunday morning. In spite of this the missionaries and elders paid a visit to Mount Cumorah and upon a new flag pole and with impressive services unfurled an American flag and hoisted it to the top with the Cumorah Ramah flag of blue beneath the Stars and Strips. Owing to the weather, services at the Hill were not held on Saturday, the meetings being transferred tot he tenth at the Smith farm. Sunday dawned bright and clear and long before two o'clock hundreds of people had reached the summit of Mormon Hill and awaited the coming of speakers and visitors. President Grant delivered the sermon and in the course of his remarks made a strong plea for Mormonism and outlined its objects. The singing of the hymns was very impressive and rendered in a delightful melody. (The Palmyra Courier, Sept. 27, 1923)

 

     Concerning the centennial celebration here a local paper published the following:

     Today is the centennial of the organization of the Mormon Church. . . .

     Two years ago the Mormon Church also acquired by purchase Mormon Hill--its ancient Hill Cumorah--near Palmyra. Included in the hill and adjoining area purchased from the estate of the late Pliny T. Sexton is some 800 acres. (The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April 6, 1930)

     It is also interesting that on page 2, a veiled reference is made to the presence of Joseph Fielding Smith-- "After a long song service and a humble prayer by one of the Elders whose grandfather was a brother to Joseph Smith . . ." Why would McGavin choose to create a character such as this? Could it be coincidental that Joseph Fielding Smith was one of the leading defenders of the New York Hill Cumorah among Church authorities? (see the 1938 notation) It should be noted that most of the arguments consist of historical commentary concerning the early inhabitants of New York. No attempt is made to justify the location of the Hill Cumorah in New York by internal analysis of the Book of Mormon text itself.

     The following are pertinent excerpts from the book:

     Foreword

     The incidents narrated in the following pages are purely fictitious, except as historical and factual information is introduced. The author assumes full responsibility for the plan, any resemblance to living persons being not only coincidental, but likely uncomplimentary.

     In the summer of 1939 the President of the Eastern States Mission is represented as calling all the missionaries in that field to assemble at Palmyra for an extensive study of the Book of Mormon and the problems involved in presenting its message to the public. This body of missionaries gathered to "the land of many waters" to spend the last week in July. They called their solemn class "The School of the Prophets."

     The Mission President had spent months in preparing for this period of instruction and discussion. He had made special preparation on the problems the missionaries had raised and sought to arrange each lecture and discussion so that it would fit into the natural setting where each meeting was to be held. . . .

 

     On the Magic Hill [pp. 40-49

     . . . After a brief rest at the Cottage they went to the hill Cumorah for the afternoon class of "the School of the Prophets."

     After a devotional period beside the monument erected to the memory of Moroni, an inspiration which would long remain with them, the guide at the Bureau of Information told them many facts about the magic hill and its significance. Among the most impressive statements of his lecture were these:

     Historians for many years have told us that this holy hill is the very heart of an ancient battlefield. From the "Scrapbook" of Brother Willard Bean I have copied numerous reports from newspapers, magazines and books which tell these facts which we have known from another source. These drumlins were all fortified in the long ago. The first farmers in this "land of many waters" plowed up arrow and spear points by the thousands. Skeletons of men, women and children were found by the hundreds, strewn about the surface of this land, a token of their destruction in battle. For miles about here the top soil was white with the decayed bones of an early people.

     Cumorah-land consists of about fifty drumlin or glacial hills, ranging in length from one to four miles, and from one rod at the north to thirty rods at the south where it fades away. Among those "hogback" hills are the famous "Finger Lakes" and many small pools and streams. These hills and lakes all have the same north and south trend; the hills having been ricked up and the lakes gullied out by a receding glacier.

     Before reading what prominent students of the subject have said about his being the heart of an ancient battlefield I must read a few verses from the Book of Mormon:

     And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tenets round about the hill Culmroah; and it was in the land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites . . .

     And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.

     And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war. (Mormon 6:6, 8-9)

 

     From Elder Bean's "Scrapbook" I shall read a few striking quotations, merely a sample from the extensive material he has compiled on the subject. In the Documentary History of New York we read of this very region, "Many of the hills have ancient barricades and fortifications built of trees, some short lengths showing unmistakable evidence of having been felled and logged with sharp cutting tools."

     From the same source I read another paragraph:

     Judging from the position of these forts, generally in close proximity to water, and other circumstances not less conclusive, imply a defensive origin. The unequivocal traces of long occupancy found within many of them, would further imply that they were fortified towns and villages permanently occupied. In respect to date, nothing positive can be affirmed. Many of them are now covered with heavy forests. I have seen trees from two to four feet in diameter standing upon the embankments and in the trenches, which would indicate that the date of their origin would be some centuries ago.

 

     From Frontenac's report to the king of France we read a description of this very country when the French were struggling to get a foothold in the heart of America:

     At Sandy Creek we found another formidable fort on an eminence. The trenches were eight and ten feet wide. Iron implements were also dug up here. By whom were these forts wrought? Not be the natives, surely. If the natives ever had the art of working iron, it is not probable that they would lose an art so useful. Further, no native Indian tribe could build such regular and well planned works for self defense. Again, this fort at Sandy Creek which is cut out of rock could not have been the work of native tribes. It is far too stupendous for untaught savages to effect; and it is very doubtful if it could have been done without the use of powder.

 

     McGavin continues his arguments by having the guide draw from Willard Bean's "Scrapbook" --using quotes from Josiah Priest's Antiquities, Squire's Antiquities of New York, Turner's Pioneer History of New York, Aboriginal Monuments of New York, and Governor DeWitt Clinton's lecture before the Historical Society of New York, in 1812. He then has the guide saying the following:

     Cumorah as the heart of an ancient battlefield is verified by the scientists. This is the highest point of elevation in this region, for which reason Moroni now holds a red globe in his raised hand--a danger signal to airplane pilots. This metal Moroni looks down upon a scene where the Nephites gathered for their final battle. yes, we are on holy ground when we tread this magic hill.

 

     A quote is then presented from the Wayne Sentinel, July 24, 1829 concerning "the mysterious people who once roamed these verdant hills and fruitful valleys."

     I have an interesting extract from the Messenger and Advocate," explained Elder Kimberly, which confirms my former conviction that this is the location of the Nephite Cumorah and that this country was the scene of the great battle in which the Nephties were annihilated. Though this article was not written by Joseph Smith it was done under his direct supervision, Oliver Cowdery actually writing it. I wish to read two paragraphs from this article:

     [See the Messenger and Advocate notation for 1835]

 

     "This sacred hill," the President began, "became the repository of the record about the people who perished in this region.

     Enough people here believed that report that they spent much time digging into this the king of the drumlins in search of gold plates. Many small groups sought for treasure in this place after the Book of Mormon had been published. A large engineering company from Rochester was employed to dig deep trenches and bore long tunnels into this graceful hill in an effort to find the plates of metal such as Joseph Smith said he found.

     My father visited this place in 1880 and found the surface of the hill scarred with deep ditches, holes and tunnels. The tall grass concealed the smaller holes. He fell into one and nearly broke his leg as he was climbing toward the top of this hill. j Many years passed before all the marks of treasure-seeking had been obliterated.

 

     Note* See the additional 1941 publications by E. Cecil McGavin and Willard Bean. See also the 1975 Masters Thesis by Rand Packer dealing with the historical aspects of the New York Hill Cumorah in which he also quotes from unpublished manuscript material from Willard Bean.

 

 

1941^      LDS Church            Senior Department Sunday School Lessons for the Church of Jesus Christ of

                        Latter-day Saints, Published yearly by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                        Board, printed at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1941

 

     On pages 52-54 we find the following:

 

     19

     Preparing the "Book of Mormon" for Translation

 

     Mormon's Part in the Preparation

        . . . When Mormon was sixteen years old, he was made general of the Nephite armies (2:1-3) Later his travels took him to the Hill Shim where the records were hidden. . . . Later he went to the Hill Shim and took all the records which Ammaron had hid there (Mormon 4:23) and deposited them in the Hill Cumorah; except the abridgment which he had made of the Large Plates of Nephi;, (5:9) the twenty-four Gold Plates, and the Small Plates of Nephi. These he gave to his son Moroni and buried in Cumorah all other records and books we have mentioned above. (Mormon 6:5-6) . . .

 

     Moroni's Part in the Preparation of the Records

      . . . Moroni does not say what he would do with the records, but it is evident that he buried them in the Hill Cumorah in New York State, from which Joseph Smith received them.

 

     Problems

      . . . 3. Which records were buried in the Hill Cumorah? Be sure about it.

 

 

1941^      A. L. Zobell, Sr.            "Jaredite Barges," in the Improvement Era, April, 1941, pp. 211, 252.

                               See also A Book of Mormon Treasury, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft,

                              1959 (1976), pp. 167-69.

 

     After discussing the design of the barges, A. L. Zobell writes:

     It is easy to believe that boats of this size would be buried many times in the sea, for they were small, probably not more than a hundred feet long, with a cargo of between seventy and ninety tons, negotiating the Pacific Ocean with waves, at times, over fifty feet high.

     Their mode of travel from the shores of Asia was in barges "upon the waters," and their motivated power was furnished by "furious winds." Quite probably their route was in the Japan Current, which travels from east to west at a rate of between twelve and twenty-one miles per day, and if the Pacific is about seven thousand miles across, the "three hundred and forty and four days" that they were upon the water would be pretty well consumed. They disembarked near the land called Desolation by the Nephties, "it being the place of their first landing."

 

 

 

1941^            Thomas Stuart Ferguson            "Some Important Book of Mormon Questions" in The

                                          Improvement Era 44, September 1941: 528, 569-71.

 

     In this article, Ferguson deals with the problem of the geographical area encompassed by the events described in the Book of Mormon. After discussing the North America-Panama-South America model and the Middle America-Tehuantepec model, and also using a map prepared by Wells Jakeman, he concludes that the peoples of the Book of Mormon occupied a limited area in Mesoamerica and that the "narrow neck of land" was the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

 

 

1941^      E. Cecil McGavin and Willard W. Bean            "Cumorah-Land, An Ancient Battlefield," in The

                                         Improvement Era 44, September 1941, 526, 571-72.

 

     McGavin and Bean explain their point of view concerning the identity of the New York Hill Cumorah as an ancient battlefield:

     In the midst of many theories respecting Book of Mormon geography, we should hesitate to say that Cumorah-land was not the scene of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites. The Book of Mormon emphasizes the fact that Cumorah was the heart of an ancient battlefield, and modern discovery verifies the assertion. We glean a few extracts from the Book of Mormon which related to this subject. [Mormon 6:2,4,6 are quoted]

     Impressed with these declarations, Oliver Cowdery wrote in the Messenger and Advocate (July, 1835, p. 158) concerning Cumorah. [M & A is then quoted --see 1935 notation]. . . "This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah: by it, or around it, the famous army of Coriantumr pitched their tents."

     This material from the pen of Oliver Cowdery was written under the personal supervision of the Prophet Joseph Smith and may safely be regarded as an expression of his convictions on this subject.

     Perhaps there is no place in America which so perfectly fits the description of Cumorah-land as does western New York--a land of many waters, the heart of an ancient battlefield. Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Owasco, Otsico, Canandaigua, Keuka, and many smaller lakes, together with many streams and fountains make this indeed the land of many waters.

     Many authorities have verified the accounts related in the Book of Mormon. In 1812, Governor DeWitt Clinton said before the Historical Society of New York:

     A great part of our country was inhabited by populous nations who had made considerable advances in civilization . . . In the course of time discord and war broke out compelling them to construct numerous and extensive works for protection, and these fortifications are the only remaining monuments of these ancient and exterminated nations. . . . There are vast ancient fortifications at Pompey, Onandaga, Manlius, Scipio: several between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake: three near Canandaigua, many along Ridge Road between Rochester and Buffalo, in fact scattered everywhere. All of which surpass the skill and engineering ability of the Indians. Their antiquity is unquestioned; trees, even the last of many growths, all indicate that the fortifications are many hundreds of years old. . . .

 

     [Other published commentary are then quoted --see McGavin's previously published book, "Cumorah's "Gold Bible, 1940, pp. 42-47 for the same quotes]

 

     Squire's Antiquities of New York (p. 71), says of the burial pit only twelve miles from the Hill Cumorah:

     . . . Besides the various earthworks above described, there are a number of other interesting objects of antiquarian interests in this country. Among them might be mentioned the bone-pits or deposits of human bones. . . . The bone pits which occur in western New York are of various sizes, but usually contain a large number of skeletons. One of these pits, discovered and opened up in Niagara country, was estimated to have contained several thousand individuals. . .

 

     The geography of the Book of Mormon is so uncertain and indefinite that we cannot safely locate many cities or places; yet Cumorah is so faithfully described in the Book of Mormon and by the modern students of the region, that it seems we need not search for it in Mexico or Yucatan. No place has been found in the south which is comparable with Cumorah-land as the heart of an ancient battlefield in the land of many waters.

 

     Note* There appears an "Editor's Note" at the beginning of the article above. It reads as follows:

     Speculation concerning Book of Mormon geography is always of interest to the Latter-day Saints-although not vital to an understanding of the book or a testimony of its divine authenticity. Here presented, as the opinion of the authors and authorities quoted by them, is a point of view concerning the identity of the hill Cumorah. There are contrary opinions extant, and all the studied views of conscientious scholars are of interest and value until such time as the subject may be authoritatively closed.

 

(See the notation for 1948)

 

     Note* Cecil McGavin had a regular broadcast on KSL about various aspects of the Book of Mormon--see articles in the Church News, 1941.

 

 

1941^      W. W. Bean            "Ancient Battlefields Puzzle U.S. Historians: Ruins Found in New York Tell of

                        Carnage," in Deseret News Church Section, August 16, 1941, pp. 4, 5.

 

     In this article the accounts of the final battles of the Nephites are compared with historical reports of the state of New York. W. W. Bean writes:

     An entire nation was slaughtered in the trenches and hill fortifications of eastern North America. Today mounds are uncovered disclosing masses of moulding skeletons, plows turn up the skulls of those who died on unnamed battlefields. Archaeologists and historians are puzzled.

     Who were these ancient people who built forts and cities in western New York State and later were destroyed? Who was their conqueror?

     During the years I lived on the Joseph Smith Farm near Palmyra and the Hill Cumorah I made extensive studies of the aborigines of that area--from early settlers, historians, archaeologists and other "experts" I pieced together a story almost as amazing as that told about Cumorah land in the Book of Mormon. But while the learned men have failed to arrive at any conclusion as to who these people were and where they went after their civilization was destroyed, Latter-day Saints may read the following verses in the Book of Mormon and draw interesting parallels to the accounts and explanations one hears in New York where the battlefields have been discovered. [Helaman 3:3-17 is then quoted]

     It will be seen by Mormon's brief resume of what happened to the Nephites from the time they came up until their destruction as a nation, in "Cumorah land", that they had inhabited the entire continent from Gulf of Mexico on the south to the Great Lakes on the north. . . .

     It is quite evident that Mormon had a reason for making a request of King Aaron of the Lamanites, for wishing to assemble the Nephites in Cumorah land. If he had not actually been there, he at least was familiar with Coriantumr's description of the country and the destruction of his people and also had the 24 gold plates giving a more extended account of the final battles which took place in the land of Cumorah, known by the Jaredites as Ramah. He therefore, knew that it was not only a "land of many waters" but many drumlin, or hogback hills with springs gushing from their bases forming streams, rivers and lakes. He also knew that Coriantumr's powerful Jaredite army had spent four years in fortifying strategic hills in Ramah-Cumorah land, and that possibly some of the Jaredite forts could be reconstructed and used by his Nephite army. We must remember that the Nephites are in the northland. . . .

     There are three sparkling springs that emerge from the base of the Hill Cumorah [in New York]. Mormon, with his staff and ten thousand troops, pitched their tents around this hill and used it as a signal or lookout base. . . .

     From the "Aboriginal Monuments of New York":

     There are more than 1,000 sites in Ontario, Livingston, Genesee and Monroe Counties. Nearly 500 sites charted in Monroe County alone. In Genesee County are over 100 fortified hilltops and strongholds, and a similar number of burial sites, and nearly 50 true mounds. It thus appears that long before the coming of the white man, this region was settled by active and vigorous peoples. Their villages were along the rivers, creeks and lakes. Their camps upon the hills, their fortifications in strategic places difficult of assault. There is not an area of like size in the United States where evidences of aboriginal occupation are so numerous."

 

 

     McGavin continues his historical arguments by quoting from Governor DeWitt Clinton's lecture before the Historical Society of New York, in 1811, and three instances from O. Turner's Pioneer History of New York.

 

 

 

1941      LeRoi C. Snow            "Pictures Tell Story of Centennial Celebration At Hill Cumorah,"

(geog)                         Church News, The Deseret News, Saturday, November 15, 1941, pp. 4-5

 

     In commemoration of he time when Joseph Smith first saw the plates of the Book of Mormon a great Centennial Celebration was held at Cumorah, the Farm and the Sacred Grove beginning September 21, 1923. It continued for four days.

 

[1941      Illustration. 1923 Centennial Celebration--Prayer on the summit of Hill Cumorah during the Centennial Celebration. President Grant, wearing dark hat, stood near the center of the massed flags. Others present were missionaries, members and friends. LeRoi C. Snow, "Pictures Tell Story of Centennial Celebration At Hill Cumorah," Church News, The Deseret News, Saturday, November 15, 1941, p. 5]

 

     Brigham H. Roberts, President of the Eastern States Mission spent several months preparing for this important event. Pres. Heber J. Grant, others far and near and thousands of non-members gathered here. At the very beginning of the program President Roberts became seriously ill and much of the responsibility of carrying out the program under President Grant's direction fell upon me as Secretary of the Mission.

     It was during this pilgrimage to the Hill Culmorah that I met and was impressed by the man who owned the sacred mound as well as the first proof sheets of the Book of Mormon. [see illustration of Pliny Sexton below] The Church was later able to buy the Hill Cumorah from the estate of this pioneer banker at a price much lower than that asked when he was alive.

     The hill property was obtained farm by farm and when the Church finally became possessor, a beautiful monument was erected with smooth roadways leading to the summit of Cumorah.

 

     We had about 200 pennants or streamers made with the words Cumorah--September 21-24, 1923. [see illustration below] These we distributed among all the missionaries in the Eastern States Mission and they were worn as shown in the above picture, for several weeks before the centennial program held on these dates at the Joseph Smith Farm, the Sacred Grove and Hill Culmroah. During the time the Elders walked and distributed tracts from their various fields of labor int he mission, all arriving at the same time the morning of the beginning of the program. It was a very impressive experience.

 

[1941      Illustration. 1923 Centennial Celebration--"Cumorah" Pennants -- LeRoi C. Snow, "Pictures Tell Story of Centennial Celebration At Hill Cumorah," Church News, The Deseret News, Saturday, November 15, 1941, p. 4]

 

     Ply Titus Sexton died Sept 5, 1924, less than a year after I took this picture in his bank. He is holding the firs printed, perfect, uncut pages, the printer's proof, of the Book of Mormon which he received from Mr. John Gilbert, in payment of a $500 debt. . . .

     He left an estate valued at more than $2,000,000 including "Mormon Hill" (Hill Cumorah), six miles south of Palmyra, N. Y.

     He considered the "Hill" worth $100,000 but would not sell it although the Church, and others, made a number of attempts to buy it. It is said that one reason for not selling is because he had heard there might be other sacred, golden record plates hidden in the hill.

     The executors of Mr. Sexton's will were authorized "to dispose as they see fit of property not specifically mentioned in the will." "Mormon Hill" was not mentioned in the will and it was bought by the Church in 1928. . . .

 

[1941      Illustration. Pliny Titus Sexton-1923 LeRoi C. Snow, "Pictures Tell Story of Centennial Celebration At Hill Cumorah," Church News, The Deseret News, Saturday, November 15, 1941, p. 4]

 

     Note* See the notation for 1923.

 

 

 

 

1941^      J. Golden Kimball (abt. Heber C. Kimball)      N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High, SLC:

                                          Bookcraft, 1941, p. 52.

 

     J. Golden Kimball is quoted as saying the following:

     "Heber C. Kimball said it was revealed to him that the last great destruction of the wicked would be on the lakes near the Hill Cumorah."

 

 

 

1942^      Sylvia McKeage      The Golden Age of Nephite History: An Introductory Study of the Book of

     C. B. Woodstock       Mormon. Vols. 1-4 (Adult Elective Course) Church School Literature of the

     (RLDS)             Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Independence,

                        Missouri: Herald Publishing House. First Published, January, 1942.

                        Revised Edition, January, 1946.

 

     This series of manuals does not attempt an advanced study of the Book of Mormon. It approaches the Book of Mormon story somewhat from an "internal" perspective, yet it does have some cultural, historical and archaeological notes. The "tower" in the Book of Mormon is assumed to be the Tower of Babel, and the date when Jared left is put at 2200 B.C. It is interesting, however that in the discussion concerning the Hill Cumorah, any references to New York are carefully worded with no definitive statement as to location but with an implication. In Vol. 4, p. 18 we find that "Mormon tells of the last great battle that was fought between the Nephites and the Lamanites. This battle was fought at a place called Cumorah . . . " This is internal information from the Book of Mormon. Previous to this, on page 43 however, we find the following in a section discussing the Joseph Smith story of obtaining the plates:

     We learn from the Doctrine and Covenants that this angel was Moroni:

     And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfillment of the prophets--the book to be revealed.--Section 110:20.

 

     . . . Accordingly he [Joseph] left the field and says he went immediately to the place pointed out in the vision. "Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, stands a hill of considerable size . . .

Thus there is an implication here that the Hill Cumorah, the site of the last great battle, is located in New York.

 

 

 

1943^      Joseph L. Wirthlin      Conference Report, April 1943.

 

     . . . Historians, men of science, and doctors of religion over a period of one hundred thirteen years have made a most critical analysis of the Book of Mormon, failing to find inconsistencies or contradictions in the doctrines of Jesus Christ, in history or geography. In fact, research work in Central and South America accumulated since the martyrdom of the Prophet sustains the Book of Mormon as to its origin.

 

 

1943^      Inez Kinney      "Book of Mormon Geography: An Answer to the Central American Landing

                 Contention," in Saints Herald 90 (15 May 1943): pp. 620-623.

 

     In opposition to those proposing a Central American setting for the Book of Mormon (especially Louis Hills), Inez Kinney argues that legends and evidences point to the fact that Lehi's colony landed in South America. She analyzes historical accounts of the ancient inhabitants of America in conjunction with Book of Mormon accounts and real geography and archaelogical ruins.

 

 

1943^      M. Wells Jakeman      "The Time Perspective in Ancient Mexico and Central America,"

                       in Improvement Era 46 (August 1943): pp. 470-471, 504-505.

 

     In the study of ancient civilizations in Mexico and Central America two facets should be considered--important geographical locations and the chronological factor. This article is interested in the latter concern, discussing the sequential relationship of civilizations in a given area, and the "absolute chronology" as measured by the Western calendar.

 

Source: Daniel B. McKinlay, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 227.

 

 

1943^      Joel E. Ricks      Whence Came the Mayas, SLC: n.p., 1943.

 

     Uses archaeological, geographical, scriptural, and historical information to theorize that the Mayan culture was related to the cultures of the Nephites and Jaredites. Desires to prove that advanced civilizations lived on the American continent before the arrival of Columbus.

 

Source: Anita C. Wells, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 412.

 

 

1944, 1836span      Mariano Veytia            Historia Antigua, 1836

 

     David Palmer writes:

     One of the most important histories of Mexico was written by Mariano Veytia. Born in Puebla, Mexico, in 1720, he passed the bar exam at the age of seventeen and was sent to Spain, where he successfully settled some business matters in the king's courts. During his stay in Spain he made fast friends with [Lorenzo] Boturini, who gave him considerable instruction in American history. . . .

     Lorenzo Boturini Benaduci (1702-1750) was an Italian nobleman who spent eight years in Mexico. His friendship with the Indians allowed him to gather a large collection of codices and other materials, but because he took up a public collection for a coronation ceremony for the Lady of Guadalupe without permission of the Council of the Indies, the clerics impounded his museum and put him in jail. Later, he was put on a ship bound for Spain and was fortunate to arrive alive because the ship was captured by British pirates. In about 1746 he was given permission to publish, but was never given access to his own materials during the writing of the book. Any references to the writings of Ixtlilxochitl which had been in his library, had to come from memory. His book has many errors and has not attracted much attention. It is quite rare now, and apparently has not been reprinted in Spanish or translated into English. . . .

     [Veytia], after serving as mayor of Ona for three years, decided to travel through Europe visiting royal courts. In all these travels he spent time studying ancient artifacts and history. After his parents died, he returned to Puebla and served as the primary confidant in America of the King of Spain. By virtue of his personal prestige and influence, he had access to practically any manuscript on any subject available in Mexico. His most important acquisition was the museum of Boturini which contained the writings of Ixtlilxochitl in manuscript form, as well as many codices, old maps, and other antiquities. Some of these have been lost since that time. Although Clavijero and Veytia wrote at about the same time, they apparently never met, and unfortunately were never able to compare notes.

     Veytia chose, in contrast to Clavijero, to give substantial emphasis to the earliest period of Mexican history. He relied heavily on the manuscript of ixtlilxochitl, correcting errors made by Ixtlilxochitl in converting Aztec dates to their Christian equivalents, and used many other primary sources, some of which have since been lost or destroyed. Some correspondences between the history of Veytia nd the Book of Mormon include notice of a universal flood, the sun standing still for a full day, calamities during the time of the Jaredite calendar change, journeys across seas, an eclipse, great earthquakes in 34 A.D., and the appearance of a white, bearded god shortly thereafter.

     After the death of Veytia in 1788, his manuscript was ignored for over thirty-two years. In 1820 a man named Orteaga decided to publish it, but unnamed difficulties prevented his doing so until 1836. It was not republished until 1944.

 

Source: David A. Palmer, "A Survey of Pre-1830 Historical Sources Relating to the Book of Mormon," reprinted from BYU Studies 17, 1 (1976): 102-104.

 

 

1944^      LDS Church            Second Intermediate Department: Sunday School Lessons, Church of Jesus

                        Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret Sunday School Union Board, printed at

                        Salt Lake City, Utah, 1944

 

     On page 54 we find the following:

     The first group came to America many hundreds of years ago. Their story begins back with the Tower of Babel, spoken of in the Bible. . . . When they left the Tower of Babel they did not know where they were going, but they had faith . . . You see, they were going to a new land, a land from which the animals and the plants had been destroyed in the great flood which had come in the time of Noah. . . .

 

     On pages 121-123 we find the following:

      . . . Soon the Lamanites were after them [the Nephites] again, and they drove them as chaff in the wind. They were finally driven as far as the district around the Hill Cumorah.

     In this historic place, the same place where the last battles of the Jaredites were fought, the final great struggle took place. . . .

 

     Moroni, then buried the sacred record in the Hill Cumorah, and died--the last of the Nephites. After that, the Lamanties went down and down until they were only degraded red men--miserable savages.

     Meanwhile, the sacred record lay in the Hill Cumorah for fourteen long centuries, until the time of Joseph Smith. Then, as you will remember, Joseph prayed to the Lord one evening. . . . into his room came a heavenly messenger, clothed in white. . . . He introduced himself as Moroni, the same Moroni who had hidden the Nephite record in the Hill Cumorah. He told Joseph of the record and of many more things. The Hill Cumorah was not far from Joseph's home, and when Moroni spoke of it he immediately recognized it. . . .

 

     Note* The above ideas also appear (1956, 1957) in Leaders of the Scriptures by Marion G. Merkley and Gordon B. Hinckley: Second Intermediate Department: Sunday School Lessons, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Published by the Deseret Sunday School Union Board, (Copyright 1945 by Milton Bennion for the Deseret Sunday School Union, Third (revised) Edition, Printed by The Deseret New Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, pages 47, 115-117.

 

 

1944      C. F. Steele            "Moroni . . . The Solitary Scribe," in the Improvement Era, September, 1944,

 

     Visitors to the Hill Cumorah are often struck with the beauty of the monument and the beauty of the hill in its eminence from the surrounding countryside. Many miss the luxuriant beauty of the flowers that seasonally blossom in abundance on the hill. This unusual photograph of the Hill Cumorah was taken by Frances Neff.

 

     . . .

 

     In a cavern man-made for refuge,

     In Cumorah's sheltered side, a log is blazing;

     The flames cast furtive lights about the strange retreat,

     Revealing a stone of bulk and smoothness

     And seated there a figure lost in thought

     And writing with a deftness born of tutored hand,

     He pauses, his eyes turn from his task toward

     The leaping flames. These luminate a face

     Of sorrow fathomless, noble of profile, yet furrowed

     By some mighty tragedy. His eyes flash as they pierce

     The half-darkness of the cave, then soften as they

     Turn aloft for light.

 

     Who is this man of grief, secreted and alone,

     This man of princely brown?

     Alas, 'tis he, sole remnant of his race--

     Moroni, the solitary scribe;

      . . .

 

     This is Moroni, hidden from the prowling Lamanites

     Who seek his life. Their hosts have triumphed

     On the battlefield and Nephite legions,

     Men of all degree, bowmen, spearsmen, swordsmen,

     Captains, all, now lie uncounted where they died,

     . . .

 

     Forth from the cavern steals the weary scribe

     Bearing the precious plates.

     He scans the waking world, then hastens

     To a sturdy cavity of stone

     Wherein are placed the plates of gold,

     The sword of Laban, and the shield,

     The Thummim of the seers, the gift of God

     There to repose until God's voice

     Shall call them forth.

 

     Note* The implication here seems to be that there was a cave in or near the hill where the gold plates were placed in the stone box.

 

 

1944^      Ariel L. Crowley      "Lehi's River Laman," The Improvement Era, January 1944, pp. 14-15, 56-61.

 

     According to Ariel Crowley, the terms "borders near the shore of the Red Sea" and "borders which are nearer the Red Sea" are significant to Lehi's direction of travel. The same applies to the term "fountain" which Nephi may have used in the sense of a feeder to the Red Sea. Crowley points to the Great Bitter Lake at the tip of the Suez gulf as the "fountain" and believes that the River Laman which emptied into it may have been the ancient river canal of Pharaoh Necho that was begun around 610 B.C. This man-made river flowed from the Nile to the Great bitter Lake and "thence by natural shallows enough for light boats" into the Red Sea. (see map below) It also exhibited distinct levels back from the sea bed as described by Dr. W. M. Flinders Petrie, in his account of the Serabit Expedition of 1905 embodied in his Researches in Sinai.

 

     Note* This view was referred to by Eldin Ricks in his Book of Mormon Commentary, vol. 1, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1951, pp. 44-45.      

 

[1944      Illustrated Map            Lehi's Travel Route]

     Source: Ariel L. Crowley, "Lehi's River Laman," The Improvement Era, January 1944, p. 14.

 

 

1945      Orson Pratt      Orson Pratt's Works on the Doctrines of the Gospel, (Liverpool, England,

                 1848-1851) reprinted Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1945, p. 22.

 

     "in the interior wilds of Central America, in the very region where the ancient cities described in the Book of Mormon were said to exist."

 

 

1945      Marion G. Merkley            Leaders of the Scriptures, Second Intermediate Department Course of

     Gordon B. Hinckley             Study For the Sunday Schools of the Church of Jesus Christ of

                              Latter-day Saints. Published by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                              Board, (Copyright 1945 by Milton Bennion for the Deseret Sunday

                              School Union, Third (revised) Edition, Printed by The Deseret New

                              Press, Salt Lake City, Utah,

 

     On page vi we find a Bibliography for the Book of Mormon with the following books listed, all with a Traditional Hemispheric perspective:

     Dee, Genet Bingham, A Voice from the Dust, published by the author, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1939 [see notation]

     Reynolds, George, Dictionary of the Book of Mormon, Deseret Sunday School Union, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1910 [see the 1891 notation]

     Reynolds, George, Story of the Book of Mormon, Henry C. Etten & Co., Chicago, 1888. [see notation]

 

 

     On page 47 we find the following:

     The first group came to America many hundreds of years ago. Their story begins back with the Tower of Babel, spoken of in the Bible. . . . When they left the Tower of Babel they did not know where they were going, but they had faith . . . You see, they were going to a new land, a land from which the animals and the plants had been destroyed in the great flood which had come in the time of Noah. . . .

 

     On pages 115-117 we find the following:

      . . . Soon the Lamanites were after them [the Nephites] again, and they drove them as chaff in the wind. They were finally driven as far as the district around the Hill Cumorah.

     In this historic place, the same place where the last battles of the Jaredites were fought, the final great struggle took place. . . .

 

     Moroni, then buried the sacred record in the Hill Cumorah, and died--the last of the Nephites. After that, the Lamanties went down and down until they were only degraded red men--miserable savages.

     Meanwhile, the sacred record lay in the Hill Cumorah for fourteen long centuries, until the time of Joseph Smith. Then, as you will remember, Joseph prayed to the Lord one evening. . . . into his room came a heavenly messenger, clothed in white. . . . He introduced himself as Moroni, the same Moroni who had hidden the Nephite record in the Hill Cumorah. He told Joseph of the record and of many more things. The Hill Cumorah was not far from Joseph's home, and when Moroni spoke of it he immediately recognized it. . . .

   

 

1945      Paul M. Hanson      Jesus Christ among the Ancient Americans, Independence, MO:

     (RLDS)            Herald House, 1945. Reprinted 1947 & 1959.

 

     Submits archaeological, anthropological, and historical evidence to validate the Book of Mormon. Topics include Israelite origin of Native Americans, native American myths, Quetzalcoatl . . .

 

Source: Cie J. Christian, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 183.

 

 

1945^      abt. John Fetzer      "Brief History of John Fetzer" by daughter Elizabeth Fetzer Bates; also "The

     (Temple Architect)      Idaho Falls Temple" by Delbert V. Groberg; Emil B. Fetzer, Architect, Personal

                       Correspondence, July 1, 2002

 

     Elizabeth Fetzer Bates, John Fetzer Sr.'s daughter recalls the following (much of which was told at the dedication of the Idaho Falls Temple in 1945):

     In 1937, Church President Heber J. Grant asked Father John to be a member of the Church Board of Temple Architects. Originally the responsibility was for both the Idaho Falls Temple and the Los Angeles Temple but with the coming of World War II the committee focused only on the Idaho Falls Temple. With this responsibility heavy on his mind, he had a dream one night in which he saw an ancient Nephite type temple. In the following days, in association with his son, Henry P. Fetzer, architect, they design[ed] the exterior appearance of the Temple in accordance with the inspiration of his dream. This design was approved by the Temple Architectural group members after solemn prayer. The design was then submitted to the First Presidency. President Heber J. Grant and his Counselors approved this design for the Idaho Falls Temple. However, the construction was delayed because of World War II. The temple was dedicated in 1945 by President George Albert Smith. Many years later, the United Fruit Company uncovered a temple in Guatemala, Central America, that had many similarities to the Idaho Falls Temple.

 

 

1946      Archaeological Reports on Kaminaljuyu Published by Carnegie Institute

 

 

1946            The Department of Archaeology (BYU) Is Organized

 

     According to John Sorenson, in 1946 Elder John A. Widtsoe, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of the Church, organized the Department of Archaeology at Brigham Young University. Dr. Wells Jakeman, a 1939 recipient of a Ph.D. in archaeology from the University of California at Berkeley, was appointed as the chairman. While at Berkeley, Jakeman worked on the geography and history of the peoples of Yucatan just before the Spaniards arrived. Jakeman saw in the "chronicles" (native traditions recorded after the conquest) many parallels to the Book of Mormon. In 1938 Jakeman, along with law student Thomas Stuart Ferguson and Franklin S. Harris, Jr., were instrumental in organizing "The Itzan Society," dedicated to doing research and publishing on the same areas that Jakeman had studied while at Berkeley. Through the war years only a few of their plans came to pass and when Jakeman came to the BYU faculty in 1946 the organization evaporated.

     To Jakeman, Book of Mormon archaeology was a branch of conventional archaeology waiting to be born and nurtured and he saw himself in a unique position. He encouraged studies of the Book of Mormon by a variety of persons and approaches. Jakeman continued to serve as chairman until 1965. His primary contributions were: (1) the many students which he influenced academically; (2) the settling, for many people, of the basic "where?" of the geography of Book of Mormon events (those who studied systematically with him ended up with no question but that the entire story took place in Mesoamerica and related significantly to what can be learned from the native Mesoamerican traditions; (3) the proposition that the ultimate test for correlating the Book of Mormon in space and time with one particular set of sites and localities would involve comprehensive study of the ancient world, not just geography; ultimately traditions, archaeology, physical anthropology and linguistics had to combine. He was the first student of the geography of Book of Mormon events to gain professional standing as an "archaeologist" and to see that geography must connect with cultural contexts through meticulous scholarship.

 

Source: John L. Sorenson, "A History of Ideas: The Geography of Book of Mormon Events in Latter-day Saint Thought," in The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, F.A.R.M.S. 1990, pp. 36-40; See also Joseph L. Allen, Exploring, p. 187.

 

 

1946^      Dr. Franklin S. Harris Jr.            "Book of Mormon--Message and Evidences: Origin of the

                                    American Indians," in Church News, August 17, 1946, p. 10

 

     Where did the Book of Mormon peoples live? The Nephites always referred to their homeland as "the land of Jerusalem," but in America, of course, they did not use any of the modern geographical terms. The geography in the book is perfectly self-consistent, but it makes no correlation with modern map names. Geography is incidental in the book. George Q. Cannon in 1890 said (Juvenile Instructor, 25, 18-19) "without further information" a map with a correlation of the Book of Mormon geography with modern geography could not be relied on. And the late President Anthony W. Ivins in 1929 (Conference Reports, April, 1929, pp. 15-16) said:

"There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles the question. So the Church says we are just waiting until we discover the truth. All kinds of theories have been advanced."

 

     The Book of Mormon then is not suitable, at present, for an explorer's guide in looking for cities, either by the Smithsonian Institution, or other organizations until we have more information for the ruins to make a correlation possible.

 

     Note* See the 1950 Skousen notation.

 

1947      The Annual Symposium on Archaeology of the Scriptures begins at B.Y.U.

 

     The Annual Symposium of the Archaeology of the Scriptures was instituted in 1947 and was held almost every year (with the exception of 1955, 1959, and 1962). It was regularly co-sponsored by the Brigham Young University Department of Archaeology, assisted by the Office of Special Courses and Conferences of the University's Adult Education and Extension Services, and the Campus Chapter of the University Archaeological Society.

 

 

1947^      Thomas Stuart Ferguson            Cumorah-Where? Independence, MO: Zion's, 1947

 

     In 1947, Thomas Stuart Ferguson wrote a 78-page booklet, Cumorah-Where?. Ferguson had became an avid enthusiast of Book of Mormon studies in relation to archaeology. He made his first of 25 trips to Mexico in 1946. Like Jakeman, Ferguson favored the Mesoamerica or "Limited Tehuantepec" theory.      In this book Ferguson looks at the conflicting theories that the original Hill Cumorah was in New York or in Mesoamerica and concludes that it was in Mesoamerica. [A Guide, pp. 79-80]

  

[1947      Theoretical Model      Thomas S. Ferguson      LIMITED MESOAMERICA]

L.S.=Mesoamerica S. of Tehuan. / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuan. / L.N. =N. of Tehuan. to Valley of Mexico / H.C.=Veracruz

Source: Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Cumorah--Where?, Oakland, 1947.

 

 

 1947            John A. Widtsoe            Preface to Cumorah Where? (Thomas Stuart Ferguson,

                                   Oakland, California

 

     "Out of the studies of faithful Latter-day Saints may yet come a unity of opinion concerning Book of Mormon geography."

 

 

 

1947^      Leland H. Monson            Life in Ancient America: A Study of the Book of Mormon. Advanced

                              Senior Department Course of Study for the Sunday Schools of the

                              Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints., Published by the

                              Deseret Sunday School Union, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1947.

 

     Chapter 45

     Mormon

     In chapter 45, in an outline on the life of Mormon, we find the following:

     VI. The Lamanites, from this time forth, overpowered the Nephites.

           A. Mormon again led the people.

B. The final battle of near annihilation of the Nephites was fought on Hill Cumorah.      (p. 85)

 

     On page 87 we find an illustration (see below) from a painting by J. Leo Fairbanks with the caption below it reading, "Moroni Hides the Records in the Hill Cumorah."

 

 

     Note* This manual would be used multiple times by the Sunday School: 1949, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965. When used in Course 15, the "Teacher's Supplement" (copyright 1946) listed the following bibliography (p. 69):

     Reynolds, George. A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake: Deseret Book Co., 1910. Pp. 231-234.

     Roberts, B. H. "Analysis of the Book of Mormon," New Witnesses for God. Salt Lake: Deseret News, 1911. III, pp. 134-138.

 

     Both of the above books supported a New York Hill Cumorah.

 

 

[1947      Illustration: Moroni Hides the Records in the Hill Cumorah," by J. Leo Fairbanks. 1947      Leland H. Monson, Life in Ancient America: A Study of the Book of Mormon. Advanced Senior Department Course of Study for the Sunday Schools of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints., Published by the Deseret Sunday School Union, Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 87]

 

 

 

 

1947^      Sidney B. Sperry            Our Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City, Utah: Sevens & Wallis, Inc.

 

     On pages 1-8 we find the following:

     . . . Let us, first of all, turn to Mormon 6:5, 6 where Moroni's father, Mormon, relates the following:

     And when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land Cumorah. . . . therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the Hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.

 

     It will be noted from our perusal of this interesting statement that in or about the year A.D. 385 most of the important Nephite records were hidden in the Hill Cumorah. It is not necessary to resort to President Brigham Young's familiar statement (Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 32f. [see the June 1877 notation]) to discover that the Hill Cumorah housed a whole library of records. The sacred text itself so states. Moreover, we observe that the only records not deposited in the Hill Cumorah were a few entrusted to Moroni, which we may safely presume were those found by Joseph Smith centuries later. . . .

     It seems incredible that the holder of the keys of the stick of Ephraim [Moroni] (see D&C 27:5) never wrote a line on the plates of the Book of Mormon entrusted to him until sixteen years after the last great battle at Cumorah, but such seems to be the fact. . . . Moroni indeed had "few things to write for as we continue reading through Mormon 8 we suddenly discover that he formally ends at verse 13. . . . Having finished his history--as he supposed--Mormon proceeded to write the first paragraph of the title page of the Book of Mormon as we now have it. . . . The guardian of the sacred record now proceeded to hide it in the cement box he had prepared for the purpose on the side of the Hill Cumorah. His work accomplished, Moroni wandered alone over this continent for how long a period we know not, except that his journeys, as will be shown presently took place between the years A.D. 401 and A.D. 421. [Sperry then tells of Moroni's visit to the Manti temple area]

     Whatever the facts may be in this respect, we can only conclude that there came a day when the lonely wanderer determined to return to the Hill Cumorah and its sacred records. . . .

     After his arrival at the Hill Cumorah, Moroni doubtless scouted the immediate neighborhood to make sure no prowling Lamanites would disturb his labors. In the blackness of night he ascended the Hill, removed the rock over the sacred record chest, took out the gold plates, replaced the rock, and withdrew with his precious burden.

     In a quiet place--logical considerations would seem to demand the sacred library in the Hill (Mormon 6:6; Ether 1:1,2)--Moroni resumed his literary labors from the point at which he had left off years before, namely, Mormon 8:13. . . .

     Let us examine Ether 1:1,2:

     And now I, Moroni, proceed to give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country. And I take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the Book of Ether.

 

     There is more to this statement than at first meets the eye. If we take Moroni's words at their face value, we are driven to the conclusion that he had to find his way into the record room of the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6), for there were deposited the twenty-four plates called the Book of Ether. Moreover, it would be a quiet and safe place in which to write. . . .

     There is also the possibility that Moroni had a copy of the Jaredite scripture in a convenient portable form commonly used by the Nephites. If such were the situation he could have made the abridgment at convenient times while dodging his enemies, without entering the Hill Cumorah at all. Moroni 1:3 seems to lend itself to such a view: "I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life." . . .

     It was the year A.D. 421. Moroni had wandered the American continent alone and friendless for thirty-six years. Now he had completed his literary labors begun in the year A.D. 401. He ascended the Hill Cumorah with his precious gold records, which he placed once more in the cement box prepared for them. Then he carefully replaced the heavy stone over the box and covered it with soil, grass , and shrubs to conceal its presence.

 

 

 

 

1947^      Orrin G. Wilde            Landmarks of Ancient America, N.p., 1947.

 

     A 26-page non-dogmatic pamphlet on Book of Mormon geography. Guesses where locations are in relation to American continent.

 

Source: Daniel B. McKinlay, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 579.

 

1947      Illustrated Model      Orrin G. Wilde            MODIFIED HEMISPHERIC]

     L.S. = South of Panama? / N.N. = Panama / L.N. = Panama northward / H.C. = New York

     But:      1. The Nephites may have called all South America the land of Nephi

           2. The Nephties may have called all of North America the land of Zarahemla.

     City of Zarahemla = Central America near the west coast

     Sidon River = not specified

     Source: Orrin G. Wilde, Landmarks of Ancient American People, n.p., 1947.

 

 

1947^      Florence Pierce      Story of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Deseret News Press, 1947.

 

     Pierce tells chronologically the story of the Book of Mormon with added explanations and correlating archaeological evidence of the events that occurred. Photographs are included from various site and findings in Mexico that correspond to Book of Mormon history.

 

Source: Christina W. Broberg, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 373.

 

 

1947^      Paul M. Hanson            Jesus Christ Among the Ancient Americans, Independence, MO, 1947

     (RLDS)

 

     Paul M. Hanson was a member of The Council of Twelve Apostles of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The inside cover reads as follows:

     Paul M. Hanson first developed an interest in America's past history when he was a boy, reading books and studying pictures of American antiquities. In 1915, when he was a missionary in Australia, he borrowed some maps from a friend, and pointing his finger to Guatemala and Honduras in Central America, he said, "some day I hope to visit these places and when I do, I'll send you a post card." This promise he later fulfilled.

     He became a world traveler in missionary work, visiting many countries, including Australia three times, several times to the British Isles and Continental Europe, two visits to Palestine, Asia Minor, Egypt, Mexico, and Central America.

     It was in 1927, while in charge of the European Mission, he seriously began collecting material in the field of American archaeology, in which he had been interested since 1893, with a view to later publication.

     In his search for material he found the richest sources in the British Museum and Library, museums of Berlin, Paris, Cairo, the National Museum of Mexico City, the Peabody Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Chicago Museum of Natural History (Field Museum), the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.

     In his research, he consulted some of the recognized leaders in the field of archaeology who generously gave to him of their time and experience.

     Mr. Hanson's personal library contains over three hundred carefully selected volumes, many pictures and other material relating to this subject.

     His book is an achievement of scholarship which will render a valuable service in this field.

 

 

     On page 149-150 Paul Hanson writes:

     Respecting the landing places of these colonies in the New World, reasoning from the details given in the Book of Mormon bearing on their migration, such as their places of departure, travels, direction followed, topography of the country in which they settled, and taking into consideration ocean currents and trade winds, it is generally assumed by students of Book of Mormon geography that the Jaredites and the third colony landed on the eastern shore of Central America, and the Nephites in the southern part of the western coast of Central America, or on the coast of South America, in northern Chile. Those holding that the Nephites landed on the west coast of South America believe they were founders of the civilization in the highlands of the Andes, later pushing into what is now Central America. (see Appendix, Note XX)

 

     In the Appendix, Note XX, pages 204-207 we find the following:

     Some students offer the theory that the Isthmus of Panama may have been the "small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward"; this would place the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla, that lay southward of the small neck of land, in the northwestern part of South America, which would mean that they were not "nearly surrounded by water."

     The description of the narrow neck of land as being "the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite," does not make clear to us the length of the land. We do not know whether or not such "a day and a half's journey" was a unit of measurement, and if it was, its length. It is not stated under what conditions a Nephite would cover the distance.

     There are several prominent isthmuses in Central America: such as of Panama, Nicaragua, and Tehuantepec. The cataclysmic changes in the earth that occurred at the crucifixion of Christ may have widened or narrowed certain of these narrow passages.

     Turn to a map of Central America and the southern part of Mexico, and there it will be found that much of the area is nearly surrounded by water; also there will be found a region that appears to be embraced in the statement, "they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south, to the sea north, from the sea west, to the sea east."

     Central America and the southern part of Mexico appear to meet, as does no other part of the Western Continent, the requirements of the description of the lands considered. From what has been presented, it would appear that the leading events chronicled in the Book of Mormon occurred in Middle America--a large area compared with Palestine, about one hundred forty miles long, twenty three miles wide in the north and eighty miles wide in the south, where most of the events took place related in the Bible.

     The Nephites in their final struggle with the Lamanites, from A.D. 380 for four years were engaged in gathering to one place in preparation for war. This obviously could not have been a gathering to one place from the vast expanse of North, Central, and South America. It is evident from what has been presented bearing on the lands of the Book of Mormon, that the peoples whose histories it relates did not occupy the greater part of the Western Continent.

 

 

1948^      Cecil McGavin and Willard Bean      "Cumorah Land and the Spade," in Church News, Oct. 27,

                                    1948, p. 3.

 

     McGavin and Bean write the following:

     For more than a hundred years the western part of the state of New York has been of intense interest to the Latter-day Saints. It was there the Church was organized. It was there the Hill Cumorah is located. It was there the Book of Mormon was published.

     Recent publications revealing the work of archeologists in the western part of New York bring to life some interesting facts having to do with the great wars that were fought by the Nephites and Lamanites and also by the Jaredites in the vicinity of the Hill Cumorah.

     Archaeological evidence seem to indicate that no region on the American continent bears more tell-tale tokens of ancient warfare than do the drumlin hills in western New York.

     The archaeologists have counted about 250 hills in western New York that were fortified in ancient times for a defensive warfare in which the defenders were thought to have been exterminated.

     Let us consider a few quotations from a vast array of similar testimony from the patient research of half a hundred scientists who have told us the place where the Jaredites and Nephites were exterminated . . . [They then cite a number of scientists]

     Yes, ancient nations perished in Cumorah-land, the "land of many waters."

     Not only was western New York an area of many hills on which fortifications were placed, but it was also evidently in ancient times a region of many waters, much vegetation and much wild life.

     Studies that have recently been made indicate that this is the case. Studies also show that many of the lakes of today were much larger in ancient times because they have left their marks upon the hillsides. Also there is evidence that many lakes which existed anciently have apparently dried up today. There is also evidence that the Great Lakes covered a vastly larger area than they do today and that they truly were almost like seas in the area that they covered. . . .

     It is significant that both the Jaredites and the Nephties selected that choice region as the place where they would fight their final battles, (Ether 15:11) and that each nation spent four years in assembling their scattered forces from the far flung horizons of that vast area before they commenced their final wars.

     No place on the American continent was so richly endowed by nature for defensive warfare as that rich land that lay o the threshold of the Great Lakes. In the dense forests and along the countless streams and lakes abounded animals and fowls in countless number and variety. Interspersed among the few hundred hill, of which Cumorah is typical, were enough bodies of water to sustain the defenders and hinder the progress of the enemy as their invading armies followed the paths of the foe as they pushed forward. The Great Lakes to the north protected the defenders rear, while the Finger Lakes would narrow the front on which the enemy could approach and would hinder the mobilization of his forces.

     For years farmers have turned up evidences of ancient warfare in the vicinity of the Hill Cumorah. Our own missionaries and other people who have visited there have themselves found such evidences, in great profusion.

 

 

1948^      E. Cecil McGavin and Willard W. Bean            Book of Mormon Geography,

                                         SLC: Bookcraft, 1948

                                         

     This book argues that the Hill Cumorah and the Hill Ramah as geographical locations in the Book of Mormon were located in upstate New York. It therefore challenges the theory that the Hill Cumorah was located somewhere in Latin America. In the preface we find the following:

     In recent years there has been a tendency among certain students of the Book of Mormon to orientate Book of Mormon cultures far to the south. Many students of the subject are convinced that the three colonies that came to America had their existence in Central America and Mexico. They are thought to have lived within a radius of a few hundred miles of Zarahemla, never pushing northward many miles, certainly not thrusting out their branches as far north as the Great Lakes along our Canadian border. . . .

     Most students who accept this theory do not consider the Hill Cumorah in western New York as the hill where the gold plates were originally deposited, nor the area immediately south of the Great Lakes as the site of the Jaredite and Nephite battlefields. This theory leads to the assumption that Moroni buried the gold pates in a hill in Middle America known as Cumorah. After Joseph Smith's family moved to Palmyra, New York, it is thought that the Angel Moroni took the plates from the Hill Cumorah in Central America and deposited them in the largest hill near the Smith homestead in western New York. . . .

     The following pages are a plea in defense of the old theory--the interpretation of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Orson Pratt, and a countless number of the Authorities of the Church. It is our humble opinion that there is no occasion to fling aside the old interpretation and accept the new, thus restricting the Book of Mormon races to the restricted confines of Central America.

 

     To their credit, Cecil McGavin and Willard Bean, more than any previous writers, use a vast amount of historical and cultural quotes gleaned from a variety of authors in order to support the New York Hill Cumorah as the site of the final Jaredite and Nephite battles. In doing so, they also support the traditional Hemispheric Theory of Book of Mormon geography. Their numerous arguments concerning the ancient culture and history of the western New York area are persuasive, yet their footnotes lack the necessary dates on the various books and articles cited in order to confirm their current validity (there is no bibliography and the dates that are listed for some of the sources are from the early 1800's--1812, 1825, etc.). As most recent students of Book of Mormon geography have not been exposed to such a defense of the New York Hill Cumorah, and because some Authorities of the Church were defending the New York Hill Cumorah tenaciously at this time period, I have taken the liberty to record a number of their arguments in the endnote which follows. ( )

 

     Note* The "archaeological" information referred to in the text by McGavin and Bean was very questionable. (See the 1991 Symposium notation and the 1996 Clark notation countering the archaeological claims of the Limited Great Lakes Model proponents.)

 

 

1948^      Mark E. Petersen      E. Cecil McGavin and Willard W. Bean, Book of Mormon Geography, SLC:

                       Bookcraft, 1948, Preface

 

     In the Preface to McGavin and Bean's Book of Mormon Geography, which was a defense primarily of the New York Hill Cumorah and incidentally of the traditional Hemispheric Model, we find the following:

     We are indebted to Elder Mark E. Petersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve, for reading the manuscript and encouraging us to hasten its publication. He wrote these lines after reading it:

I greatly enjoyed my perusal of your manuscript, and was very much impressed with the array of information you have gathered together from archaeological and other sources to prove your points. I recall that many of our people who have made studies in the region of the Hill Cumorah in western New York are convinced that the Nephites and Lamanites fought their last battles there because of the discovery of so many evidences of an ancient battle in that region. I am glad for anything that strengthens the faith of our people, and I believe that this new book will do that, particularly with respect to their attitude toward the Book of Mormon. I hope many people will read it and enjoy it as I did.

 

(See the notation for 1941)

 

 

1948^      Levi Edgar Young            E. Cecil McGavin and Willard W. Bean, Book of Mormon Geography,

                             SLC: Bookcraft, 1948, Foreword

 

     In the Foreword to McGavin and Bean's Book of Mormon Geography, which was a defense primarily of the New York Hill Cumorah and incidentally of the traditional Hemispheric Model, we find the following written by Levi Edgar Young:

     Many quotations are given from such writers as E. G. Squire, Antiquities of New York, Christopher Morgan, Documentary History of New York, Joseph Priest, American Antiquities, and reference is made to Frontenac, the French explorer to the early part of the seventeenth century, who describes the many remains of fortifications that had been left in the country of the Great Lakes. This is an interesting point for many French Jesuit priests wrote extensively of their travels in the western wilderness, which meant lower eastern Canada and the Great Lakes district. One of the Jesuits describes a sacred mound where the Indians met for sacred worship of the Great Spirit. This, a student of the subject might consider, was the Hill Cumorah.

 

Secondary Source: John K. Child, "Book of Mormon Geography," Graduate Religion 622, Dr. Daniel Ludlow, August 16, 1965, p. 19.

 

 

1948^            Verla Birrell                  Book of Mormon Guidebook, SLC: Stevens and Wallis, 1948

 

     Verla Birrell writes in the Preface:

     The reader may approach the study of the Book of Mormon from one of many angles: there is the story proper which recounts the history of certain ancient peoples on the Western Hemisphere; . . . there is a large collection of scientific data, concerning architecture, archaeology, geography, etc., which is to be found incidentally included along with the history of the ancient peoples; and finally, there is a wealth of religious teaching, the content of which constitutes the most important single contribution of the Book of Mormon. . . . The reader will soon discover that the Book of Mormon contains a great store of information which is unique and which is sufficiently challenging as to attract the attention and to enlist the consideration of the serious research student. A plan is suggested here that . . . the best way to approach a comprehensive study of it is to concentrate upon one of its many phases.

 

     Birrell then proceeds to categorize the many internal aspects of the Book of Mormon in a thorough internal manner not done before. She lists her categories as follows: Prophecies; The Ancient Records; Topography; Major Migrations; Minor Migrations; Governmental, Judicial, and Political Customs of the Ancient People; Military Customs, Social Customs and Various Other Customs of the Ancient People; The Language, Writing, Knowledge, and Science of the Ancient Americans; Types of Human, Animal, and Plant Life; Archaeology; Religious Tradition; Religious Doctrines; Religious Practices; Religious Leaders; Traditions of the Devil and of "Hell"; The House of Israel; Appendix A-The Origin of the Book of Mormon; Appendix B-Statements by the Author; Appendix C.-The Geography of the Book of Mormon Lands; Appendix D-A Correlation Survey.

     In the last "Correlation Survey," Birrell correlates her limited geographical setting for the Book of Mormon with the western part of South America (see model below). She also maps out the proposed routes across the sea and the general landing sites for the party of Lehi, the Mulekites and the Jaredites (see maps below). It is interesting that she has two options for Lehi crossing Arabia, and she also has Lehi sailing down the east side of Africa before turning eastward across the Pacific. It is also worthy of note that she has the Jaredites traveling westward through the Mediterranean Sea and crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

 

[1948      Illustrated Map      Verla Birrell      Suggested Route of Lehi's Party between the "Old Word" and the Western Hemisphere]

Source: Verla Birrell, Book of Mormon Guidebook, SLC: Stevens and Wallis, 1948, pp. 62-63.

 

[1948      Illustrated Map      Verla Birrell      Suggested Routes of the Jaredites]

Source: Verla Birrell, Book of Mormon Guidebook, SLC: Stevens and Wallis, 1948, pp. 60-61

 

[1948      Illustrated Model      Verla Birrell      INTERNAL--Limited Western South America influence]

     Page #1      Page #2      Page #3

Note* Her chart 28 offers three models, each a variant on a basic Andean theme:

L.S.=from Ecuador to Peru / N.N.= Andean Passes at 3 various locations / L.N.=Ecuador to Colombia / H.C.-3 different hills in Ecuador

Source: Verla Birrell, Book of Mormon Guidebook, SLC: Stevens and Wallis, 1948

 

 

1948      Verneil W. Simmons      "Lest We Forget the Lamanite," in Saints Herald 95 (25 September 1948):

                       pp. 924-28, 936.

 

     The gentile members of the Church must remember that the Book of Mormon was written for the Lamanites also. Emphasizes the need to find where and who these people are by using Book of Mormon geographical passages. Finds that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec most clearly fits the description. The Hill Cumorah was the location of the final battles.

 

Source: Jeanette W. Miller, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 451.

 

 

CHECK GEOG2.IO

 

[1948      Illustrated Model      Verneil W. Simmons      INTERNAL-Mesoamerican influence]

L.S.=Southern Mesoamerica / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuan. / L.N. Mesoamerica N. of Isth. of Tehuan. / H.C.=Veracruz inland / Sid. R.=Usumacinta

Source: Verneil W. Simmons, "Lest We Forget the Lamanite," in Saints' Herald, September 25, 1948. Also Peoples, Places and Prophecies: A Study of the Book of Mormon, 1977.

 

 

1949      Bruce Warren            "Book of Mormon Geography and Modern Archaeology," Unpublished Paper

 

     In a 45-page paper for Winter Quarter (Jan - March, 1949) Bruce Warren became one of the earliest (if not the first) to propose Kaminaljuyu as the site for the city of Nephi as part of a limited Mesoamerican theory: "There are two sites in the Highlands that up to date appear to be old enough and [appear] to meet certain requirements for the City of Nephi. One site is Kaminaljuyu which has traits that are among the earliest in the area. Copan has the same discovered traits . . . "

 

     Note* GET COPY from Bruce

 

1949                  University Archaeological Society (UAS) Founded

 

     The University Archaeological Society (UAS) was founded in Provo, Utah on the BYU campus on April 18, 1949, as a result of suggestions by Dr. John A. Widtsoe, a long-time advocate of its field of study among Latter-day Saints. Final arrangements were authorized at a previous meeting of December 17, presided over by Dr. Widtsoe of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University, President of BYU Howard S. McDonald and Dr. Francis W. Kirkham. Also present were Dr. Wells Jakeman and Dr. Sidney B. Sperry. The Society was created as an adjunct or affiliate of the Department of Archaeology and was considered to be a continuation of the old Itzan Society founded at Los Angeles, California, in 1938. Its purpose was to assist the Department in its task of research and publication, particularly in the archaeology of the scriptures They used Department people, facilities and supplies to further research and publications. Wells Jakeman became the first chairman, succeeded by Ross Christensen.

     Jakeman was allowed to teach classes on Book of Mormon Archaeology (see map below), but when the College of Religious Instruction was formed in 1959, the administration at BYU asked that all religion credit be in that college.

     An incident occurred in which a woman donated about 2000 dollars to UAS however it was kept by BYU officials for a time. When confronted, they turned the money over to UAS but revised policy such that money went to BYU first and then they had the power to give it to any departments. They also advised that UAS be separated from BYU, so in 1961 SEHA was formed in place of UAS and registered as a non-profit organization through the State of Utah rather than being part of BYU. SEHA continued to operate on campus with support from Professor Ross Christensen. In about 1965 BYU decided to consolidate the anthropology program and the archaeology program, resulting in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, for which Merlin Meyers became chairman. This encompassed the previous Department of Archaeology. Meyers was not fond of the science of Archaeology; moreover he viewed Book of Mormon archaeology as a hindrance to his academic affiliation with other universities. In 1971 John Sorenson replaced Meyers as head of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, and within two years the department had become merely "Anthropology." Sorenson had been a student under Wells Jakeman but found that Jakeman tended to be dogmatic. As Sorenson developed differing viewpoints, he tended to separate himself from both Jakeman and also SEHA which Jakeman and Christensen were leading. In 1979 the Department of Anthropology was slated to move into the new Kimball Tower, but there was no separate space for the SEHA in the new quarters allotted. Moreover, Professor Christensen, who was the faculty person concerned at that time with the SEHA, was being given a medical early retirement. Dean Martin Hickman, the dean over the College of Social Sciences of which the Anthropology department was a part, decided that SEHA, not being officially a part of BYU, should be housed independently. As a courtesy, the university provided space in an edge-of-campus house down by the Physical Plant. In 1980 FARMS came to BYU with John Welch and approached Sorenson to be a part of it. SEHA still prospered, however, with the support of Ross Christensen and BYU students. In about 1981-2 the house was demolished, however, and Christensen died. All the SEHA material was moved to the home of assistant professor of archaeology Bruce Warren in Orem. Without continued University financial or student support, SEHA projects declined. In 1988 SEHA affiliated itself with Ancient America Foundation, led by Rick Hauck and T. Michael Smith. AAF had been founded in 1982 by a group of people interested in the professional study of archaeology and the Book of Mormon. They had produced newsletters, technical papers, held periodic public seminars, and made repeated research trips to Mesoamerica.

 

Source: A conversation with Bruce Warren, April 10, 2002. Also written communication from John Sorenson, April 16, 2002, and T. Michael Smith, Sept. 4, 2002.

 

     Note* Starting in 1950, the UAS would publish a series of newsletters under the name "Newsletter and Proceedings of the S. E. H. A." A list of selected articles that dealt with Book of Mormon Geography are contained in the endnote which follows. ( )

 

 

1949^      Paul M. Hanson            In the Land of the Feathered Serpent, Independence, Missouri: Herald

     (RLDS)                  House, 1949.

 

     At the time of the publication of this book, Paul M. Hanson was President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In the Introduction, Israel A. Smith, President of the Church wrote the following: "Apostle Hanson has placed in our hands an effective "sword of truth, . . ." On pages 53-54 we find the following:

     The landing place in America of Lehi and his colony is of importance in determining and locating the landing places of the other two colonies that came to America. The foregoing views set forth of the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and to the east of the isthmus being the origin of distribution of the higher civilizations of Middle America, appear to be in accord with precise descriptions in the Book of Mormon of the lands wherein civilization was developed and wars occurred between the Nephites and Lamanites" preceding and following the beginning of the Christian Era."

     Where Lehi landed became known as the "land of Nephi," which ran "in a straight course from the east sea to the west," (485: 8) to the north of the land of Nephi, separated by a "narrow strip of wilderness" was the "land of Zarahemla;" (485: 7; 387: 68) the "land Bountiful," extending "from the east unto the west sea" joined the land of Zarahemla on the north; (545: 25; 546: 30,31) and the land called Bountiful "bordered upon the land which they called Desolation," which lay northward, there "being a small neck of land between the land northward, and the land southward." (387: 73,74; 388: 77)

     The position of these Book of Mormon lands described in detail, moving from the south northward, should be carefully noted; land of Nephi, narrow strip of wilderness, Zarahemla, Bountiful, a small neck of land, Desolation. We read:

"Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful; . . . And now it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful, and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla, were nearly surrounded by water; there being a small neck of land between the land northward, and the land southward." (388: 75,76)

 

     With the multiplying and spreading of the people from the land southward to the land northward, they "began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south, to the sea north, from the sea west, to the sea east." (n. 10)

     Central America appears to meet the requirements of the foregoing descriptions. In the opinion of the author, where Lehi landed was in Central America, on the Pacific side, in the region of Guatemala and El Salvador.

     Around the "narrow neck of land," which appears to have been the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, great cities were built and contending armies reached decisions. The isthmus was not always as wide as at present. The land is known to be gradually encroaching on the ocean. How rapidly the widening has been going on through the centuries is not known.

 

 

 

 

1950      Roy A. Cheville      "Overviews of the Book of Mormon," in Gospel Quarterly Review 52

                       (January-March 1950): pp. 3-70

 

     A lesson manual for young Book of Mormon students, consisting of thirteen lessons on the Book of Mormon and a variety of maps at the end. Lessons address the nature of the Book of Mormon, its coming forth, religion and government of the Nephites, and other topics.

 

Source: Lisa S. Dickman, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 89.

 

 

1950^      Milton R. Hunter & Thomas Stuart Ferguson      Ancient America and the Book of Mormon,

                                         Oakland, CA: Kolob Book, 1950.

 

     Thomas Stuart Ferguson became a driving force in Mesoamerican archaeology and the Book of Mormon. In 1950, he and Milton R. Hunter, a member of the Quorum of Seventy, published the book Ancient America and the Book of Mormon. In this book they made a comparison between the Book of Mormon and Spanish, Mexican, and Guatemalan native historical sources such as The Works of Ixtlilxochitl, The Popol Vuh, and The Lords of Totonicapan.

      In a somewhat similar perspective as that of Louis Hills (see the notation of 1917), they have the party of Lehi landing on the Pacific coast of Central America, while the Jaredites and Mulekites are both seen as coming across the Atlantic Ocean and landing in the Veracruz area of Mexico on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

[1950      Theoretical Model      Ferguson & Hunter      INTERNAL-Mesoamerican influence]

L.S.=Mesoamerica S. of Isth. of Tehuan. / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuan. / L.N.=N. of Isth. of Tehuan. to Valley of Mexico / H.C.=Tuxtla Mountains of southern Veracruz / Sid. R.=Usumacinta

Source: Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, Oakland:Kolob Book, 1950, pp. 36-37.

 

 

1950^            Editor            "Let Us Teach Facts," Church Section, Deseret News, Wednesday,

                       July 5, 1950, p. 16

 

     The Great Mission of the Church is to save human souls in the fold of Christ. Unless we direct our efforts in this way we lose sight of the main purpose of our existence as a Church and as a people.

     There are some who teach in our organizations who feel that they are at liberty to make of our classes public forums, in which any type of subject may be discussed. They lose sight of the fact that the only reason we have classes in Sunday School or priesthood meeting or any of the other meetings of our Church is for the education of our people in the authorized doctrines of the Church, so that those doctrines may be clearly understood in order that the people may be converted to them and live them and thus work out their salvation in the earth. . . .

     Teachers who turn their classes into public forums are recreant in their duty, as are they who refuse to follow the outlined course of study for their classes. . . .

     Some have the idea that any new kind of doctrine which smacks of the sensational should be brought to the classes and aired there, and there are some who actually advocate some of these things as facts. They take for doctrine the philosophies and teachings of men. Latter-day Saints who are well-informed know that man-made doctrines cannot save. They know that the Church does not teach that the ten lost tribes have been found and classified. The Church does not teach that Jesus and Odin of the North are one and the same person.

     The Church does not teach that the Christian Church was set up in England by Joseph of Arimathea, and that it has been carrying on as the true Christian Church ever since that day.

     The Church does not teach that the second coming of Christ will take place in 1953. The Church is not advocating the various interpretations that men produce pertaining to the great pyramid in Egypt.

     The Church does not endorse the various views, philosophies and theories pertaining to the Book of Mormon geography that are being circulated among us. The Church does not advocate the extreme notions pertaining to the Word of Wisdom that some groups recently organized have been advocating. The Church does not believe that it is a violation of the Word of Wisdom, for instance, to eat butter or drink milk, or use other animal products. The Church does not teach that at the present time we should be practicing the United Order. . . .

     Latter-Day Saints must accept sound doctrine. Those who advocate unsound doctrine do an injury to the people whom they teach. Instead of strengthening their faith they weaken it. Although they might appeal to curiosity they fail by these teachings to appeal to the real spiritual character of the individual.

     The true doctrines of the Church are clear, They are plainly set forth. We should teach them and not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine that comes along.

 

     Note* It is noteworthy that in an official paper of the LDS Church, the Church News, Book of Mormon geography was painted in the same manner with "extreme notions" and unsound "doctrine," while at the same time the remarks of Joseph Fielding Smith regarding the veracity of the New York Hill Cumorah as the site of the final Jaredite and Nephite battles would be proudly displayed (see the 1938 and the 1954 notations), and Mark E. Petersen would defend the New York hill Cumorah site from the pulpit in the 1953 General Conference.

 

 

1950^            John A. Widtsoe      "Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?" Improvement Era, 53

                              7 (July), 1950, pp. 547, 596-597

 

     The actual geographical locations of Book of Mormon events and places have always intrigued students of the book. Several volumes and many articles on the subject have been published. The various writers so far have failed to agree. . . . An earnest, honest search is being continued by enthusiastic Book of Mormon students. . . . All such studies are legitimate, but the conclusions drawn from them, though they may be correct, must at the best be held as intelligent conjectures.

     As far as can be learned, the Prophet Joseph Smith, translator of the book, did not say where, on the American continent, Book of Mormon activities occurred. Perhaps he did not know. However, certain facts and traditions of varying reliability are used as foundation guides by students of Book of Mormon geography.

     First, it is known by revelation that Adam, the father of the human race, lived in or near the territory now known as the state of Missouri. This has no bearing on Book of Mormon geography, since it deals with a period long before the coming of Book of Mormon people to America.

      Second, on the journey into northwestern Missouri, led by the Prophet, the skeleton of a large man was uncovered near the Illinois River. Joseph Smith said it was the remains of a white Lamanite named Zelph, a leader among this people. This is not of much value in Book of Mormon geographical studies, since Zelph probably dated from a later time when Nephites and Lamanites had been somewhat dispersed and had wandered over the country.

     Third . . . There is a controversy [also] about the Hill Cumorah--not about the location where the Book of Mormon plates were found, but whether it is the hill under that name near which Nephite events took place. A name, says one, may be applied to more than one hill; and plates containing the records of a people, sacred things, could be moved from place to place by divine help.

     Fourth, a statement in the Compendium has been very generally accepted by the Church. This book, published in 1882, dealing with the doctrines of the gospel, was compiled by Franklin D. Richards and James A. Little. Elder Richards was a member of the Council of the Twelve, and James A. Little a prominent and trusted elder in the Church. In the book is a section devoted to "Gems from the History of the Prophet Joseph Smith." The last of these "gems" reads as follows:

Lehi's Travels.--Revelation to Joseph the Seer. The course that Lehi and his company traveled from Jerusalem to the place of their destination: They traveled nearly a south, southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of north latitude; then nearly east to the sea of Arabia, then sailed in a southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America, in Chile, thirty degrees, south latitude."

 

     This, if correctly quoted would be another fixed, certain point in the study of Book of Mormon geography. Curiously enough, however, this statement is not found in the history of Joseph. . . . It came into the possession of the Church Historian as a gift from Ezra G. Williams, son of Frederick G. Williams, in 1864, twenty years after the Prophet's death, and was not published until thirty-eight years after the Prophet's death.

     Fifth, a statement from the days of Joseph Smith, seldom quoted, bears on this subject [of Book of Mormon geography]. In the Times and Seasons, 1842 Zarahemla, a great Book of Mormon city, is partly identified with the ruins of Quirigua, spoken of in Stephens' great book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. . . . The interesting fact in this connection is that the Prophet Joseph Smith at this time was editor of the Times and Seasons, and had announced his full editorial responsibility for the paper. This seems to give the subjoined article an authority it might not otherwise possess.

 

     Note* In a reprint of this article in his book Evidences and Reconciliations, (edited by G. Homer Durham, 3:93-98, 3 vols. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951) Widtsoe adds to the above information about the Times and Seasons article by saying that it "offers the only solid Church authoritative base upon which one may pursue a study of Book of Mormon geography. Out of diligent, prayerful study, we may be led to a better understanding of times and places in the history of the people who move across the pages of the divinely given Book of Mormon." This article also appears in A Book of Mormon Treasury, 127-30. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1959, 1976.

 

(see the notations for 1842 and 1886)

 

 

1950^            Editor            "Speculation," Church Section, Deseret News, Wednesday,

                       December 20, 1950, p. 16

 

     Does it matter to you or your eternal salvation whether or not the Ten Lost Tribes have been found, indexed and catalogued?

     Does it make any difference in the degree of salvation you attain whether the city of Zarahemla was in South America, North America, or on an isthmus in Central America?

     Is it going to affect your faith in the eternal outcome of things, whether a generation is 20 years, 200 years, or 50 years plus three months, two weeks, three days and 11 hours in length?

     Does it make any difference in your attitude toward the Church whether you eat meat products or not?

     Does it shatter your faith if you find out that some of the stalwarts in the Church do not happen to subscribe to the latest "craze" about the lethal effects of white sugar and white flour? . . .

     Your first inclination will be to answer these questions in the negative. But on the second thought, you will agree that when people advocate speculative theories with respect to Church doctrines, they actually do harm, and at times confuse some people to the point where they do not know good doctrine from bad.

     It seems peculiar that speculative persons are not willing to accept the doctrines of the Church without endeavoring to embellish them. It seems strange, too, that such persons do not realize that in thus embellishing the doctrines of the Church, and adding some of their own, they are advocating doctrines of men, and that man-made doctrines bring condemnation from the Lord.

     Jesus told of the blind leading the blind, and both falling into the ditch. Persons who add their private notions to the doctrines of the gospel are just that blind--and most of all they are blind to the necessity of keeping the doctrines of the Church pure and simple. When they teach these private notions, they mislead people, disturb their faith, and make some of them at least question the legitimate doctrines in which they should have complete trust.

     No man has any right to change the word of God, nor to add to it. That can only be done by revelation. Yet, some persons, contrary to the position of the Church, will teach that the Lost Tribes have been found, for instance; . . . they teach confusing, uninspired notions about Book of Mormon geography. Some teach extreme notions about the Word of Wisdom, saying that we break the revealed word if we eat meat or meat products, white sugar or white flour.

     Such things are man-made notions which in no way, shape nor manner can be declared truthfully to be Church doctrine. Setting up new doctrine in this way is dangerous and wrong. It may lead to many other extremes. . . .

     Speculation in doctrine leads only to confusion and doubt. Speculation does not save. Neither does it convert. Then why speculate? Our work is to help bring to pass the eternal life of man. The pure unembellished truth is required to do that.

 

     Note* One might ask here, What would lead this editor to put ideas about Book of Mormon geography in the category of challenging "doctrine." What "confusing, uninspired notions about Book of Mormon geography" were being taught? Was there an established "doctrine" of the Church concerning Book of Mormon geography? Was it (1) The open attitude espoused by Widtsoe (see the 1950 notation) in which "All such studies are legitimate, but the conclusions drawn from them, though they may be correct, must at the best be held as intelligent conjectures"?, or (2) the unconditional "traditional" position represented by Joseph Fielding Smith (see the 1938, 1950 & 1954 notations)?

     

 

1950      Joseph Fielding Smith            Essentials in Church History, Copyright, 1950, George Albert Smith,

                             Trustee-in-Trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

                             Printed by Deseret News Press in the United States of America.

 

     In 1950, Joseph Fielding Smith, a member of the Council of the Twelve, and Church Historian, would publish his Essentials in Church History which would continue to be published in multiple editions for the Church in the years to come (at least 21 editions by the year 1966 from which I am extracting this information). In the Preface we find that this book fulfilled "the need of a history of the Church in one volume that can be used for general reading, and at the same time meet the requirements of a textbook in the priesthood quorums, Church schools and auxiliary organizations." On page 55, under the title "The Hill Cumorah," he writes Joseph Smith's historical account of finding the plates: "Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario country, New York, stands a hill of considerable size . . . ." He also includes a photograph of the hill in New York with the title "Hill Cumorah." On pages 56-56 he writes: "As Joseph Smith journeyed to the Hill Cumorah on that memorable first visit, he was beset by many conflicting emotions. . . ." He had no difficultly in locating the spot where the records were hidden." At the end of this sentence is a footnote which reads:

     The following description of Cumorah is from the pen of Oliver Cowdery.

     You are acquainted with the mail road from Paalmyra, Wayne County, to Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, . . . you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. . . . "--Messenger and Advocate, 1834, page 158.

 

     Note* Unlike Joseph Fielding Smith's 1938 article in a Church magazine ("Where Is The Hill Cumorah," Church Section, The Deseret News, September 10, 1938, pp. 1, 6), this book was officially copyrighted by the Church. Thus while the Church was officially discouraging any Book of Mormon geographical speculation, here they were sanctioning the location of the Hill Cumorah as being in New York. This gives added emphasis to President Anthony W. Ivins' Conference address in 1928 (Conference Report, April 1928, First Day-Morning Session 23) in which he declared from the pulpit that the hill Cumorah and the hill Ramah "are very closely associated with this particular spot in the state of New York."

 

 

1950^      Hyrum M. Smith                  Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Salt Lake City:

       Janne M. Sjodahl                  Deseret Book Co. Reprinted in 1951,

                                   1960, 1961, 1962, 1971, 1978.

 

     Note* This is a reprint of a 1923 edition--see the 1923 notation for details.

 

 

1950^      Walter M. Stout      Landing Places of Book of Mormon Colonies, N.p., 1950.

 

     Provides hypothetical maps and tries to establish Book of Mormon geographical connections.

 

Source: Daniel B. McKinlay, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 504.

 

 

1950^      Walter M. Stout      Harmony in Book of Mormon Geography, Las Vegas: Chief Litho, 1950.

 

     In this 32-page booklet (illustrated with two maps), Walter Stout attempts to outline a geographical setting for the Book of Mormon mainly in Costa Rica. The comments are all referenced with endnotes to scriptural passages in the Book of Mormon. The following are comments that are more pertinent to his theory:

     Preface

     This work is the outgrowth of the Book of Mormon class of 1948 in Boulder City, Nevada . . . When we came to Alma 22:27-34, I became curious to find where in the Book of Mormon the people traveled to New York. (I always thought they did because the Plates were found there.) After reading the Book of Mormon through twice, and the books of Alma, Helaman, Third Nephi, and Mormon, several times, I decided they did not get there; . . .

     How I settled on Costa Rica is a long story. I had drawn an imaginary map, harmonizing fifty or more points, and spent many weeks trying to fit it into some country. I tried Colombia, on the Magdalena River; Panama, Spanish Honduras, on the Ulua River, Guatemala, and Southern Mexico, on the Rio Usumacinta River, and tried to fit the Isthmus of Tehuantepic into it, but this country is all backwards. The Book of Mormon does not describe it. . . .

     I was discouraged and about to give up. Then one night I went to a show where they March of Time had something to do with Central America, and I was attracted to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They resembled my imaginary map. I went to work on it, and right away it began to fit. . . .

     My motive in writing this book is to present my points of harmony (context and country), and let the reader decide if I am right or wrong. . . . First, I want to quote from Cumorah Where? by Thomas Stuart Ferguson . . . "geography has always been important to the understanding of history. It is important to the Book of Mormon student." (p. 2)

 

 

[1950      Map: Plate (A) showing locations of cities. Walter M. Stout, Harmony in Book of Mormon Geography, Las Vegas: Chief Litho, 1950, pp. 4-5]

 

 

[1950      Map: Plate (B) showing location of mountains. Walter M. Stout, Harmony in Book of Mormon Geography, Las Vegas: Chief Litho, 1950, pp. 6-7]

 

     Foreword

     The land of Zarahemla was divinely selected, standing as it were between bondage and freedom, surrounded by nature's fortifications. On the South and West was a high jungle in which people were easily lost. This was a great protection from the Lamanties. High mountains were also on the North in which was the famous narrow pass. On the East was the sea. . . .

     . . . Mormon and Moroni . . . gave us (by various interpolations about all the geography we have in the Book of Mormon. They consist of about six interpolations, two major and four minor ones. The two major ones are: First, Alma 22:27-35. Second, Helaman 3:3-17, a total of 24 verses. The four minor ones are by Moroni as follows: Ether 7:6, 9:3 and 31, and 15:11, a total of four verses, making a grand total of 28 verses . . . There are fragments of geography throughout the Book of Mormon but these six interpolations hold the keys to their solution.

 

     Introduction

     Mormon's first Interpolation: Alma 22:27-35

     Beginning at the land southward, which is the land of Nephi, the whole land, with a sea on the east and one on the west, extends northwest until it reaches the sea on the north. there is no south sea until it reaches the extreme northwest, where the land turns west, converting the west sea into a south sea.

     I want to explain that the directions northwest and southeast are written Northward and Southward in the Book of Mormon.

     The land seems to widen as it extends northward as indicated by the following cross section: "And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west." "--And thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward."

     This small neck of land is a little misleading because it is not the boundary line between the two lands in question. Yet it is nearby. Mormon could not say, "there was a small neck of land between Nephi and Zarahemla." So the division had to be between the land northward and southward, which was the general direction of the land.

     The boundary line is a little farther north following the range of mountains which he calls, "the narrow strip of wilderness running from the sea east to the sea west." It makes a slight turn at the head of River Sidon and runs northwest, giving the land of Nephi a panhandle along the west sea, between the sea and the boundary line,a nd west of Zarahemla. . . .

     Our next cross section is north of the city of Zarahemla in the land of Bountiful at or near the famous narrow pass, "And there they did fortify against the Lamanties from the west sea even unto the east, it being a day's journey for a Nephite on the line which they had fortified--."

     The next is a little farther north, also a little wider. It is on the boundary line between Bountiful and Desolation: "And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea."

     At this point the land suddenly widens as indicated by Alma 63:5. "And-Hagoth--went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward." This narrow neck which is west of the main land on said boundary line could be nothing but an extension showing that the land suddenly widened at this point making a peninsula or a narrow neck leading into the land northward. The peninsula of Nicoya answers this description. It seems to be wider at the south end than at the middle which could be called a narrow neck and an ideal harbor for Hagoth to launch his ship.

 

     Mormon's Second Interpolation: Helaman 3:3-17

     . . . It is my opinion that these people operated along the west coast, shipping their timber and other goods from Bountiful (where Hagoth launched his ship) northward to a point nearest the lake [Nicaragua], transporting them over land to the lake, using it for a distributing point to all the surrounding country, which would be "from west to east." On up the coast they could make the Gulf of Fonseca a distributing point, "from the sea south to the sea north." . . .

     North of Zarahemla in the land of Desolation, the jaredite records describe a point where the army reached the east sea and went from there to the great waters of Ripliancum. The distance was not very far because the armies only made one stop from the east sea to the lake [Nicaragua], which would indicate that the lake was in the western part of the land. . . .

 

     Chapter 1: Explanation of the map

     The narrow strip of wilderness is a high, abrupt, narrow range of mountains extending east from the head of the river Sidon to the sea. [see Plate B] It was called the south, also the east wilderness. I call it the mysterious wilderness. It is a continuation of the west wilderness. The two of them make the boundary line between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. The land Bountiful is the north and northwest part of Zarahemla. The west wilderness,a long the panhandle of the land of Nephi, was sometimes called Bountiful. The land of Zarahemla included all the land between Nephi and the land of Desolation. The name Bountiful disappears after the coming of the Savior. The small square south of Bountiful, on the east sea, is the land of Jershon, which was given to the converted Lamanties and Zoramites. The short line between the land of Jershon and the narrow strip of wilderness is the land of Antionum, possessed by the apostate Zoramites.

     The Narrow Pass was in the land of Bountiful, near the land of Desolation. There seems to be two of them, one on the west and the one on the east. . . .

     Traveling through any of this land is slow and very difficult, it being a dense jungle. The high mountains were called wilderness and always remain so while much of the unexplored land was called wilderness until it was settled, such as the city of Nephi.

 

     Chapter 2: Key tot he Map

     Mormon's First Major Interpolation: Alma 22:27-35

     . . . With the geography in mind, Mormon has described this boundary line three different ways in order to unmistakably convey the true lay of the land. He first describe the overall picture form sea to sea, but he range of mountains (which is the boundary line) makes a slight turn at the head of the river Sidon, which goes round about giving the land of Nephi a panhandle between the west sea and the west wilderness, reaching the fartherest point north in the land of Nephi where it contacts Bountiful at the Gulf of Nicoya. . . .

     Mormon's interpolations deal with past, present and future events. . . .

     Lehi landed south of Zarahemla ont he west coast where the cities of Lehi-Nephi are located, just below the panhandle. (See Helaman 6:10) The name Lehi was finally dropped and Nephi became the capital city of the Lamanites.

 

     Chapter 3: Location of Cities

     . . . The west side of Costa Rica is higher than the east, so down would be east. Ishmael, where Ammon went was nearby, while Jerusalem, where Aaron went, was away joining the borders of Mormon, which in turn was in the borders of the city of Nephi. It is always up going to Nephi so it must be on the west. . . . Jerusalem was near Helam . . .

     Lehi-Nephi, Shilom, and Shemlon I located from Noah's tower. Shilom is joining Nephi. Shemlon is beyond it. What direction? are they north? No, there is a resort north. Are they south? No, their own farm lands were south. So I placed them east. . . .

 

     Chapter 4

     Harmony in Book of Mormon Geography

 

     Due to the high cost of printing, I am making an abridgment of my first manuscript by cutting out many quotations and minor details . . .

     Beginning with the flight of Nephi: How far did they travel in "many days"? In what direction? "And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east to the west."

     From this we may conclude they traveled east. If Lehi landed on the west, how far did they travel?

     "--(Mosiah) was desirous to know concerning the people who went up the dwell it the land of Lehi-nephi; or the city of Lehi-Nephi."

     This combination of Lehi-nephi shows the two cities had run together due to increased population, and the Nephites were within the future city limits after a flight of many days.

     "And I (Zeniff) went in unto the King and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom"--

     "And we did inherit the land of our fathers for the space of twenty and two years."

     The land of Lehi-Nephi and Shilom was the land of their fathers: Lehi landed on the west coast. Nephi fled many days and settled the city of Nephi. Noah, the son of Zeniff, built a high tower in the city of Nephi. From it he could overlook all of them insomuch that he could detect the movements of the people. Thus we se the flight of Nephi was no farther than Noah could see from the top of a high tower.

     Alma 22:29 "--There were many Lamanties on the east by the seashore whither the Nephties had driven them."

     . . . We found that nephi was east of Lehi. Then how could the Nephites drive the Lamanties east? The Nephites never drove the Lamlanties in any direction until they were reinforced by the Mulekites, about 130 B.C. or about 400 years after Lehi landed, and they had lived int hat country, (which was nearly surrounded by water) 400 years. Nephi had made his flight east and the two cities had run together, and yet they had not reached the east sea until the Nephites drove them there.

     I suppose they invaded Zarahemla nd the nephites drove them along the seashore around the end of the narrow strip of wilderness. . . .

 

     Chapter 5: The Narrow Strip of Wilderness

     There is something mysterious about this wilderness. The Nephites, Lamanites and the Mulekites lived by it 400 years and never ventured over to see what was on the other side. . . .

     Again the wilderness was shrouded in mystery. King Limhi sent out a searching party to find Zarahemla but they failed. Then Ammon found and delivered the people of Limhi. Again that mysterious door was opened to admit them and closed behind them, and the mystery was on the wilderness again. The Lamantie army tried to follow them but were lost! Yes, lost in a land nearly surrounded by water where they were born and raised. . . .

     Alma was led into Zarahemla shortly after King Limhi. . . . But the mystery was on the wilderness. Even the priests of King Noah were lost and had to get Alma to show them the way the Nephi. . . .

     Thus we see the mystery was not int he distance. It was in the hand of the Lord.

 

 

     Chapter 6: The Gathering of Israel

     How far-reaching is the "Gathering of Israel"? . . .

     The Lord has chosen Israel as a delegation to represent the world. He will instruct them and they will instruct the world. It is only reasonable to suppose that He wanted them in a small area. In the few years of His ministry, the Savior could not travel over a very large territory; neither could His apostles. They could not handle a world-wide Kingdom with their mode of travel. . . .

     The destruction was mostly in the north and south, leaving eh center where Christ appeared unmolested. The Savior appeared in Bountiful in the center of the land.

 

     Chapter 7: General Locations

     Mormon's Second Interpolation: Helaman 3:3-17

     The first criticism of my Map comes from the fact that Zarahemla is not in the land where today most of the ancient ruins are found which are Yucatan, Guatemala, Spanish Honduras and Southern Mexico. . . .

     Let us consider these northern migrations.

     First, they contacted a land of bones where there had been great destruction.

     Second, large bodies of water and many rivers. the land was called desolate because of these bones and no timber. Here the people became expert in the working of cement.

     Third, they came to the sea north from the sea south and to the east from the sea west. This is the first mention of a sea in direction other than east or west, showing the land northward to be wider. It would have to make a turn in order to get a south and north sea. . . .

     The people are shipping timber into this country northward; they are beginning to spread over all the face of the earth (land). What would be the logical way to get this timber into this country? Notice how near Lake Nicaragua is to the west coast. Would it not be a wise idea to transport this timber to the lake via: the west coast and float it to all points surrounding the lake. Also to ship it on up the coast north to some river or bay, at the most convenient point for distribution, "from the sea south to the sea" north . . .

     Here is a quotation from Dewey Farnsworth, p. 148, he is quoting T. W. F. Gunn, p. 186 which reads: "The ancient Maya city of Copan situated in the north of the present Republic of Spanish Honduras, close to the Guatemalan frontier, is the southernmost, and one of the oldest and longest occupied cities of the Maya old empire, which flourished approximately from the first century B/C to the sixth century A.D."

     This seems to harmonize very well with Helaman 3:3-11 and also my map. But it would not harmonize if I put Zarahemla north of the largest bodies of water, especially as far north as Ulua, or the Usumacinta rivers, where nothing will harmonize except the river is running north; and they are too far north, and probably too big for river Sidon. How could na army cross either of them with an army in hot pursuit? Or go an exceeding great distance northward and contact large bodies of water and many rivers? . . .

     There is another point to consider concerning the use of cement, they only used it int he north where they had no timber, that is, until the coming of Christ.

     There was an abundance of timber around Bountiful. They used it for buildings, fortifications, and shipped it north. It would naturally decay while the cement int he north is still standing. This is another reason for not finding cement around Zarahemla.

 

     Chapter 8: A Small Neck of Land

     Plate (B)

     Alma 22:32 "And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward."

     A question arises: Is this small neck of land between Zarahemla and Nephi? Or, are they in a round body with a small neck of land northward, joining them to a larger body? I think we should let the Book of Mormon answer the question as near as possible. First, the land northward is not an isthmus, it contains large bodies of water and many rivers.

     The countries in question are Zarahemla and Nephi. No period appears to indicate a change of thought, let alone a change of country. A small neck of land would naturally divide any land and the lay of the land would determine the direction in which they would be divided. This land was divided northward and southward which is ample proof that the land lies northward and southward.

     Other points to consider are: The isthmus of Panama is along neck of land. It does not seem to answer this description. It doesn't have an east and west sea, neither does the isthmus of Tehuantepec.

     The only one answering all the descriptions is in Costa Rica. The quotation is a little misleading, because the small neck of land is not the boundary line between the two lands in question. It sounds like it was,so it must be near by. The division could not be described any other way. A narrow neck would run straight across while the boundary line definitely makes a turn to allow for the panhandle to the land of Nephi.

     There is another narrow neck, (of land) which is a little confusing, where Hagoth built his ship,--"on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward."

     This is the northwest corner of Bountiful, at the junction of it and the land of Desolation. Is it an isthmus? if so, what does it join? It does not join Bountiful and Desolation, it is west of them, leading into the land northward. It would have to parallel the coast of Bountiful because the ship was launched by it; the ship hasn't sailed yet, it is only launched.

     There is no isthmus between Bountiful and Desolation. They parallel each other "from the sea east to the west sea." It is wider here than it is farther southward. (see cross-section) also plate (B).

     This narrow neck jetting out into the water, west of the main land on said boundary line, leading into the land northward, could be nothing but an extension showing the land northward suddenly widened at this point creating a loose end, or a peninsula, which forms the gulf where Hagoth launched his ship.

 

     A Small Neck of Land

     Moroni's Interpolation

     Let us check it from the north going south, beginning with Ether 10:20. King Lib goes south to hunt: "They built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land." This was in a land where the serpents had been but were now removed. to locate this place we must find where the serpents had been. King Lib came from Mormon, which was near the land of Desolation. It would have to be north of it, because Bountiful is south.

     The serpents drove the animals southward toward the land "which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla."

     There they hedged up the way that the people could not pass. This narrow neck of land was in the vicinity of Zarahemla. Could it be an Isthmus? If so what does it join? It doesn't join anything, it is divided from the main land by the sea. l It is also a loose end or a peninsula forming a gulf and seems to harmonize with Alma 63:5.

     This would also be the logical place for the serpents to hedge up the way so the people could not follow after the animals. The land narrows nearly one third its width at this point and the narrow pass which led into the land northward was just a little east of this point between Bountiful and Desolation.

     The Nephties found domestic animals when they landed, (about 100 miles south of this point) The serpents must have taken them from the Jaredites and gave them to the Nephties. The Jaredites took animals with them.

 

     Chapter 9: An Expedition Northward [Morianton]

      . . . There are several points to consider.

     First,--With such a hurried preparation, could the destination of those emigrants be very far away?

     Second,--Their destination was the bodies of water in the land northward, which is the same bodies of water where Mormon gathered his people in A.D. 385, which of course is in the very heart of the land of Desolation. The emigrants had reached the south borders of said land before the army stopped them.

     Third,-- . . . There is a big difference in heading a band of emigrants than pursuing an army. Teancum had the narrow pass to contend with and could not get around them until they reached the open country of Desolation beyond the narrow pass. It seem s that he pushed them west to the sea and cornered them in this narrow place with a sea on the west and on the east, which naturally would be a narrow strip of land, located west, ont he boundary line of Desolation, where hagoth built his ship.

 

     Chapter 10: Ramah-Cumorah and the Land of Bones

     Mormon and Moroni's Interpolations

     It is impossible to separate the hill Ramah-Cumorah from the land of bones and no timber. We have evidence to prove that the land of bones and bodies of water (where Mormon lived and died) was very accessible to Zarahemla. The land of Desolation, their next door neighbor, was named in honor of the great destruction caused by the former inhabitants of the land.

     The Jaredites went south to this land, while the Nephites went north. How far south the Jaredites went, or how far north the Nephites went, we do not know, but we do know the Nephties were gathered out of that land in one year. "In the latter end of the (seventeenth) year the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth--to gather in his people." Zarahemla and Bountiful was the central gathering place: They had armed themselves by the latter end of the eighteenth year, when the robbers came and took over the deserted lands of the people. All this happened in one year. . . .

     After the robbers were destroyed, they returned to their lands, were settled and laws were established in a year's time.

     A few points worth checking are, first--the Judge lived in Zarahemla all the time; second--the people were no farther north of Zarahemla and Bountiful than they were south; third--these people lived in the same land where the Jaredites were destroyed, fourth--the Nephites were destroyed on the same hill which was Ramah-Cumorah. Now I want to ask: How far north was Cumorah? Can it be as far as New York?

     Moroni's Interpolation

     . . .l (King Omer) traveled many days and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephties were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to the place called Ablom, by the seashore." . . .

     The King would have to go on the west side of the lake [Nicaragua] or travel by boat which seems the more logical way because he passed by Shim and Cumorah and went eastward to the sea. If we call eastward southeast, he probably sailed by each of these places and on down the San Juan river to the sea. This would put the hills Shim and Cumorah near the south end of the lake, which seems about right to me.

 

     Chapter 11: The Hill Shim

     . . . Shem is north of the hill Shim which is a little west of the hill Ramah-Cumorah. If they [the Nephites in the final battles] were in New York we must be well up into Canada, because . . . these expeditions would have to cover more than a thousand miles. Mormon left Zarahemla in 327 A.D. and went north to Angola in one stampede, then to Joshua on the west seashore. In 330 they had gathered in all their people and defeated the enemy. So far they have traveled northward only one stampede, this march west is a detour; in 344 they are still in Joshua, in 345 they stampeded to Jashon, which is near the hill Shim. Now they are two stampedes northward of Zarahemla and are at the hill Shim. In this same year (345) they went north to the city of Shim and by the end of the year they had fortified the city and again they did gather in their people. Is this city as far north as New York or is it on up into Canada? if so, they went there from the west coast in less than a year and from Zarahemla in two stampedes. I think they had paved high-ways all the way and bridges over all the rivers.

 

     Chapter 12: Moving the Plates

     . . . Mormon knew that destruction awaited the Nephites; when they fled to Boaz, he saws the "Hand writing on the wall" and decided to join the army and lead them to the plates again.

     But the way west by Angola and Joshua was blocked by the Lamanites so he devised a scheme to make them accessible to the east side of the land; So he sneaked out of the back door one night and slipped up to New York to the hill Shim, picked up a half ton of Gold and Brass plates, put them under his arm and ran over and hid them in the Hill Cumroah. Next day he reported for duty at the army.--Why did he do?

     "And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanties were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord."

 

     Chapter 13: A Summary

     . . . Mormon asked permission to gather into the land. He doesn't mention any direction, but to gather into a land would indicate a central location not too far distant. The Lamanties gave Mormon permission to gather into that land. I imagine they would get a little uneasy, if he took off for New York. This land was within the limits of their own stamping ground. The Governor of that land lived in Zarahemla so it was not very far away.

 

     Chapter 14: Antiques

     We all agree on what happened at Cumorah regardless of where it is. The Nephties were destroyed, and the Lamanites scattered, or for the moment let us assume they were. . . .

     This must have been the beginning of their scattering over the two continents of North and South America. . . .

     If the Lamanites began to scatter at the destruction of the Nephites, it would substantiate many Archaeological theories such as: Gregory Mason in "Columbus came late. pp. 74-75. From Dewey Farnsworth p. 83., "We saw in last chapter that Americans were one race. . . . that all the more noteworthy instances of the flowering of civilization in our two continents occurred within a fairly compact are; and that, finally there is reason to believe American culture originated within the same area."

     If my theory is correct, this would be the natural results. The B.C. Lamanties never were north of Zarahemla; they never did reach the land of cement buildings. Besides, they were not capable of building such buildings as we find there today. On the other hand, the righteous people of the first two centuries A.D. would hardly build such huge, superstitious, hideous [structures to] hideous gods as the feathered serpents they are finding today. yet civilization reached its highest perfection during these two centuries. The Lamanites of the third and fourth centuries were just as far advanced in art and science as the Nephites. The divisions among them were only political. They were the same race, same color and same in every way, except in superstition.

     These divisions began to creep in at the beginning of the third century when they broke away form the true church. this would make Central America a gathering place, until the destruction of the Nephites; then this superstitious civilization suddenly spread over both continents.

     This would unify architecture, and account for the sameness that exists in both North and South America. Following, is a quotation from Alexander W. Bradford's "American Antiquities p. 196," from "Farnsworth" p. 81. "It cannot be denied, that in South America the progress of civilization may be traced from north to south, and in North America in the contrary direction."

 

     Footnote. Reference D.H.C. Vol 2, page 79. A skeleton which was found on the west bank of the Illinois River in Missouri was identified by the prophetic vision of Joseph Smith to be a white Lamanite by the name of Zelph, who had participated in the last great struggle between the Lamanites and Nephties. He was known as a great warrior form the rockies to the eastern states.

     This would fit into my theories very well, and the following points may be deducted.

     first--the A.D. Lamanites were a white race until after the destruction of the Nephites.

     Second--The Lamanites were scattered shortly after the destruction of the Nephites.

 

 

[1950      Illustrated Model      Walter M. Stout      LIMITED COSTA RICA-NICARAGUA]

L.S.=Costa Rica / N.N. Base of Nicoya peninsula / L.N.=Nicaragua / H.C.=At southeast end of Lake Nicaragua / Sid. R.=unnamed

Source: Walter M. Stout, Landing Places of Book of Mormon Colonies, n.p., n.d. ('copyright 1950" on map]. Also Book of Mormon Practical Geography, Upland, California, 1970. Also A Synopsis of the Book of Mormon Practical Geography, Upland, California, 1972.

 

 

1950      Olive McFate Wilkins            From Cumorah's Lonely Hill: An Epic Poem of the Book of Mormon.

                               Salt Lake City, Utah: The Deseret New Press, 1950.

 

     Although as the title implies, this book is basically the Book of Mormon story in poetic verse, those verses along with a picture of the New York Hill Cumorah opposite the title page imply a Hemispheric perspective. On pages 170-171 we find the following:

Knowing this, my last struggle," said Mormon,

"Because I was now growing old,

I was anxious to save all the records--

They must not get out of my hold.

     "If they should fall to Lamanite clutches,

     Destruction would almost be sure,

     So I made this from gold plates of Nephi,

     That others may be hid secure.

     In a secret place in hill Cumorah,

     I buried all trusted to me;

     I will give this to my son Moroni,

     Who'll keep it in his custody.

 

[1950      The Hill Cumorah. Olive McFate Wilkins, From Cumorah's Lonely Hill: An Epic Poem of the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Deseret New Press, 1950, opposite title page.]

 

 

1951      BYU Travel Study tours begin

 

     BYU Travel Study tours began in the early 1950's. The early tours were predominantly focused on Church history sites in the eastern United States (the New York Hill Cumorah being a key part), even though some tours went to Mexico and others went to South America on generalized Book of Mormon programs. The real impact of tours to Mesoamerica in regards to the understanding of Book of Mormon geography would not be realized until the 1980's when various scholarly material on Book of Mormon geography began to appear in print.

 

     (see the notation for the 1980's)

 

 

1951^      Paul M. Hanson      "Book of Mormon Geography," Saint's Herald, January 8, 1959

     (RLDS)            Reprinted with maps in Recent Developments vol. 1, 1984, pp. 77-80.

 

     In a landmark article for RLDS members, Paul M. Hanson, an apostle in the RLDS Church supported the ideas behind the approach of Louis Hill's Limited Mesoamerican approach to Book of Mormon geography while pointing out some of the faults of the Hemispheric theory. He writes:

     New evidence concerning the geography of the Book of Mormon suggests that maps prepared by the archaeological committee selected by the [RLDS] church in 1894 should be clarified. [see the 1894 Committee map below] The effect of the committee's contribution was far-reaching and resulted in a general stimulation of interest in the Book of Mormon, but it should be clearly understood that there was no freezing of thought or research on the subject by the church. The canon of writings on Book of Mormon geography was not declared closed. The church was wise in anticipating facts the future might disclose, for in dealing with American archaeology one enters an inexhaustible and difficult field. The committee doubtlessly was pleased that the church did not officially endorse the maps as correct. There has been no official endorsement by the church of any interpretation of Book of Mormon geography.

     A rapidly growing body of students today believe the landing place of Lehi and his colony, one of the three groups divinely led to America, was in Central America [see the 1980 map below] not on the coast of Chile in South America as indicated on the maps prepared by the committee. . . .

     J. A. Washburn and J. N. Washburn, of the Mormon church, whom I consider high among the best writers on Book of Mormon geography, say:

     Where was the narrow neck of land? Have the readers of the Book of Mormon in the past been right in assuming that the present Isthmus of Panama is the place? The present writers doubt this very seriously. They feel confident that the narrow neck of land was farther north. One of the foremost authorities in the church placed it at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and a number of other students have agreed with this. The present writers have no objection though this is the result of a feeling rather than any definite evidence. But, then, is there any proof that the Isthmus of Panama was the narrow neck of the Book of Mormon? There is none.

 

     . . . Locating the "narrow neck of land" at the Isthmus of Panama leads to trouble. This isthmus is over four hundred miles in length. We read that because of a "great dearth upon the land" and the inhabitants' flocks fleeing before poisonous serpents "towards the land southward, which was called by the Nephites, Zarahemla," the people went into the "land southward to hunt food for the people of the land." (Ether 4:35,66) This would mean going the whole distance through a humid, tropical area for food, and returning with it. And animals went from the land northward into the land southward "for food." (Alma 13:75) Did animals also travel four hundred miles for food?

     The Isthmus of Panama is narrower than the isthmus of Tehuantepec, but it does not follow from this that the choice should go to the Isthmus of Panama as the narrow neck separating the land northward from the land southward. . . . It should be observed that the text does not say the "narrow neck of land" separating the land northward from the land southward was the "distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite"; it says the "line"--boundary line--between Bountiful which was part of the land southward that bordered on the narrow neck of land, and Desolation, the land northward, was the distance stated. And the text does not state that the "line" extended from the east sea to the west sea, but "from the east to the west sea." . . .

     One can envisage the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as the "narrow neck of land," Mexico as the "land northward," Central America as the "land southward," and the people spreading out "from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east."

     Miguel Covarrubias says of this area:

     Powerful arts and impressive techniques were developed there together with an inner drive to erect monumental cities and colossal sculptures . . . A great and mysterious race of artists seems to have lived since early times on the Isthmus (of Tehuantepec), partly around Los Tuxtlas and the Coatzacoalcos River Basin. . . . archaeologists now agree that these artistic masterpieces date back to the beginning of the Christian Era. Appearing suddenly out of nowhere in a state of full development, they constitute a culture that seems to have been the root, the mother culture from which the later and better known (Maya, Totonac, Zapotec, etc.) cultures sprang. (Mexico South: The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, pp. xxv, 79-80)

 

. . . The committee on its maps locates the place of the final battle resulting in the destruction of the Nephite civilization in Cumorah, New York. This location is challenged by many students of Book of Mormon geography. Because the plates of the Book of Mormon were found there, that dos not establish that the last great battle of the Nephites was fought there. The hill Cumorah where the battle was fought was "in a land of many waters, rivers and fountains." This region appears to be located by the seashore slightly northward of the narrow pass. Here [at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec] is an intricate system of lagoons, lakes and great rivers meeting the requirements of the record in the Book of Mormon. The evidence [also] does not support the theory of two large armies going the immense distance from the land southward to New York to fight what proved to be the destruction of the Nephite civilization.

 

[Illustrated Map: A Rendition of the Book of Mormon geography map prepared by the Committee on Archaeology in 1894.

Source: Paul M. Hanson, "Book of Mormon Geography," Saint's Herald, January 8, 1959. Reprinted with maps in Recent Developments vol. 1, 1984, p. 77]

 

[Illustrated Map: The 1980 Book of Mormon geography map.

Source: Paul M. Hanson, "Book of Mormon Geography," Saint's Herald, January 8, 1959. Reprinted with maps in Recent Developments vol. 1, 1984, p. 77.]      

 

(see the notation for 1917)

 

 

 

1951^      William E. Berrett            Teaching of the Book of Mormon (1950), Gospel Doctrine Department

                              Course of Study for the Sunday Schools of the Church of Jesus

                              Christ of Latter-day Saints. Published by the Deseret Sunday School

                              Union Board, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1951

 

     Introduction

     Although the Book of Mormon has been in the Church for more than a century and has been used repeatedly as a course of study, many of its finest teachings have been neglected and have remained unappreciated by the majority of the members. This has been true chiefly because in most courses of study on the book the greater part of the time has been devoted to the historical matter pertaining to the translation of the records, the general story of the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations, and evidences of the divine nature of the account. This type of treatment has generally left little class time for a detailed study of the Book of Mormon's contributions to specific phases of religious philosophy.

     This course of study is designed to strike directly at the problems of religion and life upon which the Book of Mormon has contributions. . . . ---William E. Berrett

 

     Note* This manual also appears in 1954.

 

 

1951-1952            Hugh Nibley, Ph.D.            "The World of the Jaredites" Improvement Era,

                                          (7-part series) Sept. 1951--March 1952.

 

     In this seven-part series, Dr. Hugh Nibley proposed that the Jaredites migrated from the Mesopotamia region eastward through Asia before embarking on their journey across the Pacific Ocean (see maps below). He wrote extensively concerning the cultural clues implied in the text of the Book of Mormon.

 

[1952      Illustrated Maps            The Way Out. The Way Across]

Source: Hugh Nibley, Ph.D., "The World of the Jaredites" Improvement Era, (7-part series) Sept. 1951--March 1952.

 

 

1952^            Hugh Nibley, Ph.D            Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites

                                   Salt Lake City: Bookcraft

 

     Hugh Nibley was and is considered one of the foremost LDS scholars of his time. His opinion has always been held in high regard. Consider the following introduction to Nibley's book by John A. Widtsoe:

     The study of the Jaredites, of Lehi in the desert, and of Mulek covers a territory of historical research not formerly invaded by modern scholars. The book could not have been written except with vast acquaintance with sources of historical learning. . . . Evidences for the Book of Mormon are increasing every day. For this reason this book, which becomes a powerful witness of the Book of Mormon, becomes also doubly precious to the leaders of the latter-day faith. Dr. Nibley and the publishers should be congratulated upon bringing the articles which ran originally in The Improvement Era [Jan. 1950-Oct.1950 and Sept. 1951-Feb. 1952] into book form. . . .      

 

     Thus Nibley's ideas were disseminated to the Church readership and became a standard for study and teaching for many years. This book would even be reprinted in 1988 by F.A.R.M.S. The great importance of this book, although it lacked the illustrated maps of the Improvement Era articles, was that it theoretically painted a general picture of Lehi's travels through the Arabian desert and the Jaredites' travel through Asia. It also reinforced the idea that the Frederick G. Williams' statement that Lehi turned east at the nineteenth degree parallel was officially accepted by the Church as "a Revelation to Joseph the Seer" (see the notations for 1836, 1882). The following comments are worthy of note:

     After traveling a vast distance in a south-southeasterly direction, the party struck off almost due eastward through the worst desert of all, where they "did wade through much affliction," to emerge in a state of almost complete exhaustion into a totally unexpected paradise by the sea. There is such a paradise in the Qara Mountains on the southern coast of Arabia. To reach it by moving "nearly eastward" from the Red Sea coast, one would have to turn east on the nineteenth parallel. In The Improvement Era for September 1950 [actually Oct. 1950] the present writer published a map in which his main concern was to make Lehi reach the sea in the forested sector of the Hadhramaut, and no other consideration dictated this sketching of the map. He foolishly overlooked the fact that Dr. John A Widtsoe had published in the Era some months previously what purports to be a "Revelation to Joseph the Seer," in which it is stated that Lehi's party "traveled nearly a south, southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of north latitude; then nearly east to the sea of Arabia." (Widtsoe, "Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?' IE 53, 1950, p. 547) By an interesting coincidence, the route shown in the author's map turned east exactly at the nineteenth parallel. This correlation of data from two totally different sources is a strong indication that both are correct. The only other possible route would have been down the western shore of the Red sea from Necho's canal, and on such a course one cannot turn eastward until passing the tenth parallel, and then it is not the Arabian Sea that one finds but the Indian Ocean. Along with this, certain other rigorous conditions must be fulfilled which can only be met on the south coast of Arabia. [pp. 109-110]

(see the notations for 1836, 1882, 1950)

 

     Nibley also has this to say concerning the New York hill Cumorah:

     Since the Jaredite kings with their migratory armies were constantly on the move in the best Asiatic manner, is there any reason why they should not have covered Asiatic distances? Then why all the fuss about Cumorah? From the Narrow Neck of Land to New York state is a distance that staggers us, but for Juji or Timur it would be a milk-run. Because we think of journeys in terms of hours or days at the most, we are liable to forget that people who never stop moving think of space not in terms of time but of stages, and that when it is broken down into stages the longest route on earth becomes negotiable even to the most primitive means of transportation--in a word, distance is no object. A glance at the map will show that the vast extent of territory covered by the Jaredites is really rather moderate by Asiatic standards. . . .

     When King Omer was overthrown by his son Jared he had to travel "many days" before he was beyond the reach of the usurper who had seized a kingdom that was "spread upon all the face of the land." (Ether 9:3: 7:11) In fact he fled as far as he possibly could, from Central America to the Great Lakes and New England coast regions, which were to become the classic hiding and fighting grounds of the latest Jaredites. It is here that we must seek the bones and burial mounds of the Jaredites, but not their cities. (pages 226-227)

 

     In Appendix II, under the title, "How Far to Cumorah?" Nibley writes:

     To Mr. Eugene L. Roberts and Mrs. Eldon Reed Cluff in their fascinating book Benjamin Cluff (Provo, 1947, ms.) we are indebted for valuable chapters (7 through 12) on the Brigham Young Academy Expedition to South and Central America. In those pages the reader may find a clear answer to the question: What geographical barriers would definitely bar an army from passing from Central America to the north country? The answer is--none.      

     On April 17, 1900 a troop of twenty-five men with mules and wagons left Provo, Utah, with the purpose of seeking information casting light on the Book of Mormon in lands to the south. Upon reaching the Mexican border the expedition was disbanded (August 12, 1900) by order of the General Authorities--not because it had reached impassable terrain but because of the expense involved in a large-scale operation. Proceeding into Mexico with a reduced force of nine men and without wagons, the party found far easier and pleasanter going . . . they were able to make eighteen to twenty miles a day. Even the terribly rugged Sierra Madre Mountains were crossed in three weeks. Since the object of the expedition was to gather information, it moved very slowly. Each of the nine men was a specialist and each was allowed to do a thorough job. . . . Nowhere is the jungle described as an impenetrable barrier: There were always trails and ancient roads to follow. Swollen streams seem to have presented the only serious obstacles to travel, yet they were all successfully crossed, and had the party not been unwise enough to attempt Central America during the rainy season, they could have been avoided almost entirely. . . .

     Yet even with all these things to slow them to a crawl, the party reached the first "Narrow Neck of Land" on February 16, 1901, less than ten months after leaving Provo. Fully four of these months had been spent in Utah and Arizona, while more than a month more had been wasted in negotiations on the Mexican border. The second "Narrow neck" was reached April 13, 1901, less than a year from Provo, and the narrowest neck of all was entered but two weeks later--it was a revolution that delayed arrival at Panama City until the fall of the year. . . .

     In Panama City they were joined by other members of the expedition (so far were they from being downhearted), and then some of the men took the mules across the isthmus to Colon in only three days, though they had only "uncertain and indefinite trails" to follow. From Colon the party went to Colombia by boat--solely because of Indian troubles, and not because of geographical obstacles, for the worst of the jungles and streams were already behind them. In Bogota the expedition finally came to an end not because the country had become impassible, but because the Colombian government advised them against proceeding further . . . [thus] we find that the actual time on the road is to be measured rather in weeks than in months. . . .

     The B. Y. Academy Expedition occasionally ran across ancient roads some of which they took to be Nephite. Needless to say, such jungle ways would have been in infinitely better repair in the days of old. The marching of armies would in a very short time establish a system of clearly marked and easily traveled strategic roads, and these would improve from year to year after each campaign. Tough native troops, adequately supplied with every means of accomplishing rapid forced marches, could easily pass from the Narrow Neck of Land to the North Country in a matter of days. In World War II, the Japanese demonstrated that the "impenetrable jungles" of Malaya, on which British strategy relied very heavily, were simply a myth. As Professor Spears points out in his book Deserts on the March, there are no "impenetrable jungles" in nature. According to the famous military maxim of Suvorov, "where a deer can go, a man can go, and where a man can go, an army can go." It has been proved time and again.

     The remarkable journey of the B. Y. A. Expedition, made more than fifty years ago by a very poorly equipped company during the rainy season through territories of hostile Indians and revolutionaries, proves that Jaredite armies could easily have followed the old established pattern of making yearly raids of continental scope. (pp. 270-272)

(See the notation for 1900 and 1939)

 

 

[1950-s      Illustrated Model (27 Maps)      J. Karl Wood?            INTERNAL-Book of Alma only]

Source: Tom Tyler, who obtained them as a student from Alice Bragg, an early morning seminary teacher in Southern California. The graphics of these maps were later improved upon. (As per information communicated to John Sorenson by Tom Tyler in a letter dated February 14, 1991)

 

 

1952            The Historical Recollections of Gaspar Antonio Chi, M. Wells Jakeman, trans., Provo,

           Utah: Brigham Young University Department of Archaeology, 1952.

 

 

1952            New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF) Established

 

     Thomas Stuart Ferguson had a great desire to carry out professional archaeological work in Mesoamerica. He had remarked to the non-Mormon Alfred V. Kidder of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. in 1951: "Let the evidence from the ground speak for itself and let the chips fall where they may." In April of that year Ferguson and Kidder formally presented a plan to the Church for "proposed explorations and excavations in the Tehuantepec area" and asked that the Church provide financial support to the amount of $150,000. But the plan was rejected. In spite of his disappointment, Ferguson began to raise funds privately and in October 1952 he organized the New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF) with himself as president (serving from 1952 to 1961), Kidder as the first vice-president, Milton R. Hunter as another vice-president. Board members included church leaders John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve and Hunter, and the advisory panel of prominent non-Mormon scholars included Alfred V. Kidder, Gordon F. Ekholm (of the American Museum of Natural History), and Gordon R. Willey (of Harvard). Concerning the purpose of the NWAF Kidder wrote the following:

     The purpose of the Foundation is to carry on explorations and excavations to add to knowledge of Mesoamerican archaeology and to test the several theories as to the origin of the high civilizations of the Americas: 1) That they were autochthonous; 2) That, as set forth in the Book of Mormon, they were derived from ancient Israel; 3) That their rise was due to stimuli from some Asiatic source.

     Mr. Ferguson is an advocate of the second of these theories; Dr. Ekholm . . . views with some favor the third; I feel that, although the problem is still unsolved, these civilizations were essentially the product of native American Indian creativeness. So all shades of opinion are represented!

 

     In 1953 Ferguson appealed to Church leaders and was granted $15,000 with the condition that "no publicity whatever in any way or at any time" be given to this private donation." No money was granted for 1954, however in March 1955 Ferguson received a commitment from the Church for $200,000, enough for four seasons of archaeological excavations.

     After Church funding ran out in 1959, Ferguson was assured that NWAF would continue to receive funds through Brigham Young University. In June 1960 a delegation of Church officials went to Mexico to observe the NWAF operations. Subsequently in 1961 Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve was designated as chairman of the new Book of Mormon Archaeology Committee (essentially taking over control of NWAF). The organization became known as BYU-NWAF. Emphasis was placed on academically oriented archaeological research in Mexico and Guatemala without inference to the Book of Mormon. Ferguson was relegated to the role of secretary, which role he retained until his death in 1983.

     The following is a quote of a letter to Thomas Stuart Ferguson from Joseph Anderson, secretary to the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dated 18 January 1952:

     Indeed, the Brethren feel that careful exploratory work may very well develop faith-promoting corroborative evidence of the historical value of the Book of Mormon. [But] The Brethren feel that it may be that no discovery will be made which shall establish the historical value of the Book of Mormon.

 

     Quote from a letter to Thomas Stuart Ferguson dated 17 April 1953 from J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Second Counselor in the First Presidency: "We, of course, wish you the fullest success in your efforts to discover something that will help to coordinate American Archaeology with the Book of Mormon"

 

(Sources: Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America. Provo: Book of Mormon Research Foundation, 1987, Appendix A: "History of the New World Archaeological Foundation," pp. 247-283. Also Stan Larson, "The Odyssey of Thomas Stuart Ferguson" in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, ( ), pp. 58-66.)

 

 

1952            LDS Church Has the Map of New York Officially Changed to Read "Hill Cumorah"

 

Source: See Regional Studies, 1992.

 

 

1952      John A. Widtsoe            In a Sunlit Land, pp. 94-97      

 

     The value of coming to an understanding of Book of Mormon geography and culture was expressed in 1952 by Dr. John A. Widtsoe, who said the following about the role of BYU in world educational leadership:

     It [BYU] should set up academic units to study, assemble, investigate, teach and publish . . . [in] the following fields . . .: (1) wise and successful government . . .' (2) happy family life . . .; (3) health producing nutrition . . .; [and] (4) American archaeology to substantiate the claims of the Book of Mormon . . .      

     The four [fields] enumerated are of special importance . . .[They] have the right to be heard and taught in terms of man's accumulated knowledge and the Lord's revelations. The world is pleading for such guidance in these and other matters within the possession of the Church.

     Such deliberate organization and effort would enable the BYU to give service of tremendous value to mankind. Gradually, fearless, intelligent, well organized teaching of these subjects will not only win general academic acclaim but also the respect and praise from people everywhere of any faith, land or station. The consequent blessing to our own people would be incalculable. . . . BYU must become earth's greatest university. (In a Sunlit Land, pp. 94-97)

 

 

1952      Ross T. Christensen            "Present Status of Book of Mormon Archeology," Millennial

                             Star, vol. 114, #9, Part I., Sept. 1952, p. 210.

 

     Ross T. Christensen explained why the Mesoamerican Theory is preferred over the Hemispheric theory:

     If the Isthmus of Panama is the "narrow neck of land," then Colombia in northwestern South American must be the central Nephite region, or the Zarahemla-Bountiful land of the Book of Mormon and must contain evidences of advanced civilization. But on the other hand if the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico is the "narrow neck of land," then northern Guatemela, Tabasco, and Chiapas--not Colombia--must contain the Bountiful-Zarahemla land and present these evidences.

     The types of ancient culture revealed by archaeology in Guatemala, Tabasco, and Chiapas on the one hand and in Colombia on the other, definitely favor the Tehuantepec theory. The prehistoric cultures of Colombia do not fit into the picture required by the Book of Mormon; they are not of the right kind; they are not the sort of thing that one would expect from reading the Book. For one thing, they are highly provincialized cultures of limited distribution.

     Much greater civilizational heights were achieved in Guatemala, Tabasco, and Chiapas. In all of Colombia there hardly exists such a thing as a standing ruin, but in Chiapas and surrounding areas there exist many great cities of stone and other materials. In Mesoameica the statigraphic depth is much greater than in Colombia; that is to say, there are many more archaeological levels, suggesting a much greater antiquity. In fact, not until about 1950 did there exist published information on any stratified site in Columbia, that is, on any site that contained one layer deposited on top of another. But in Mesoamerica many stratified sites have long been known.

     The early civilizations in Mesoamerica date back to the centuries before the time of Christ, while one of them in the Valley of Mexico aand nearby goes back as far as 1500 or 2000 B.C. In Columbia, on the contrary, the oldest known civilizations date back only to three or four centuries before the coming of the Spaniards, with the possible exception of San Augustin.

 

 

1952      M. Wells Jakeman      "Volcanoes in the Book of Mormon," in UAS Newsletter 8

                       (25 November 1952).

 

     Theorizes that the cataclysm in 3 Nephi resulted from a volcano (or several volcanoes) that are located near the central part of the narrow neck of land.

 

Source: Daniel B. McKinlay, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 228.

 

 

1952      John L. Sorenson      "Evidences of Culture Contacts between Polynesia and the Americas,"

                       M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1952.

 

     Language and cultural traits of Polynesia and the Americas are compared under scores of headings. The abundant parallels indicate voyages as explanations but lack of geographical and chronological clustering leaves the picture unclear, and provides no good evidence for the LDS Hagoth-Polynesian supposition.

 

Source: John L. Sorenson, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 483.

 

 

1953^            Mark E. Petersen            LDS Conference Reports, Sunday afternoon, April 5, 1953

 

     I do not believe that the classrooms or the pulpits of our Church are for laboratory purposes in which to experiment with new doctrines and speculative notions. They are exclusively for the use of those who are willing to convert men and women and boys and girls to the truth. . . .

     I do not believe we should give credence to the highly speculative theories about Book of Mormon geography.

     I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central America and the other one up in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates.

     I do not believe we can be good Latter-day Saints and question the integrity of Joseph Smith.

     I do not believe we can be good Latter-day Saints and question the testimony of the eleven witnesses of the Book of Mormon.

     I do not believe you have a testimony of the truth if you question the accuracy of the translation of the Book of Mormon.

 

     Note* According to the reasoning of Elder Petersen, it was apparently easier for the Lord to have a whole Nephite nation move thousands of miles northward to New York in the midst of final battles so that "poor" Joseph wouldn't have to make the trip to Central America.

 

     Note* In 2001, John Heinerman would write the following concerning Elder Petersen's remarks in defense of the New York Hill Cumorah:

     Let [the] statement of Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, given in General conference on Sunday afternoon April 5th, 1953 in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, forever put to rest the "two Cumorahs" silliness and limited Book of Mormon geography notion. . . .

     Elder Petersen's condemnation of such fanciful thinking came as divine inspiration during a Church General Conference. No one, not even the prophet then, President David O. McKay, felt inclined to set him "straight" afterwards or to disapprove any of these remarks. President Harold B. Lee had it right when he declared at the close of the 143rd Annual General Conference of the Church on April 8th, 1973:

     If you want to know what the Lord has for this people at the present time, I would admonish you to get and read the discourses that have been delivered at this conference; for what these brethren have spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost is the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation" (See Conference Report, April 1973, p. 176).

 

     Elder Petersen's severe rebuke of the "two Cumorahs" falsehood, backed up by President Lee's own declaration that ALL General Conference talks are inspired of God, is the wooden stake of truth driven through the heart of this theoretical vampire! (John Heinerman, Hidden Treasures of Ancient American Cultures, Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort Inc., 2001, p. 51)

     

 

1953^      M. Lynn Bennion            History of the Restored Church (Revised Third Edition--1945). Course

     J. A. Washburn             Number 12. For the Sunday Schools of the Church of Jesus Christ of

                              Latter-day Saints. Published by the Deseret Sunday School Union

                              Board. Printed by The Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, Utah,

                              1953

     On page 14 we find the following:

     "This he did according to agreement September 22, 1827. On that date Joseph met Moroni at the Hill Cumorah and received from him the gold plates . . . "

 

 

     Note* Revised in 1960, and printed again in 1962, this manual for Course 11 and Course 12 also was used in 1957, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967.

 

 

 

 

1953      Dewey Farnsworth      Book of Mormon Evidences in Ancient America. Salt Lake City:

                       Deseret Book, 1953.

 

     Abundantly illustrated with photos of archaeological findings from ancient America, this large 176-page book attempts to provide archaeological and historical support for a hemispheric view of Book of Mormon geography.

     On page 30 Dewey Farnsworth writes the following:

     ALONG WITH MOST OF THE WRITERS OF OUR BELIEF IN THE LAST 100 YEARS

     I ALSO AGREE TO A SOUTH AMERICAN LANDING OF LEHI.

 

     "When we read in the Book of Mormon that Jared and his brother came on to this continent from the confusion and scattering at the Tower, and lived here more than a thousand years, and covered the whole continent from sea to sea, with towns and cities; and that Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 267.)

     I am one of those who believe that President Joseph Fielding Smith is a prophet of God and I do not feel that he would have published this in his book, entitled Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, if he had not felt that it was Joseph Smith's words. So Joseph Smith believed that Lehi landed south of Darien or in South America. This belief is shared by almost all of the members of the Church with whom I have come in contact.

 

     On page 31 Farnsworth has the following heading:

     "FROM SOUTH TO TIAHUANACO

     TO ME THIS WAS NEPHI'S FIRST LAND AFTER HE LEFT HIS BROTHERS IN THE SOUTH"

 

     On pages 172-173 we find two full pages of "Summary and Conclusions" written by Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. Among his comments we find the following pertinent thoughts:

     Book of Mormon students are in disagreement on the possible landing places of the Jaredites and Nephites on the American continents. Evidences are presented [in this book] to show that the Jaredites landed in Central America and the Nephites on the west coast of South America. The Prophet Joseph Smith claimed that the Nephites landed on the west coast of South America "a little south of the Isthmus of Darien."

     A vast amount of evidence is quoted and assembled [in this book] from modern archaeological findings and writings which corroborates the account given in the Book of Mormon of a people or peoples that inhabited these Americas from about 2000 B.C. to approximately 400 A.D.

     These findings are grouped together under several headings. Archaeological findings have been grouped with parallel accounts of Book of Mormon history and Book of Mormon Teachings.

 

[1953      Illustrated Model      Dewey Farnsworth            Hemispheric Theory]

Source: Dewey Farnsworth, Book of Mormon Evidences in Ancient America. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1953.

Caption: My views harmonize with teachings of Mormon Church writers as to the location of Book of Mormon lands. The impressive thing to me is that archaeologists find great building periods did exist in these marked locations that parallel Book of Mormon accounts. If we allow the Nephites 500 years to travel northward through South America it clears the archaeologists' questions as to the beginning of the "Old Empire" culture.

 

 

1954^      Joseph Fielding Smith      "Where is the Hill Cumorah?: Book of Mormon Establishes Location of

                             Historic Region," Church News, February 27th, 1954, pp. 2-3.

 

     In this article in the Church News "By Joseph Fielding Smith, President of the Council of the Twelve," Elder Smith denounces "this modernistic theory" of two Cumorahs, which he complains has done nothing but create "confusion and disturb[ance] in [the] faith in the Book of Mormon" of "some members of the Church." This article is almost an exact reprint from the 1938 Church News article by Smith with the exception of one statement. In this article Smith states that "The Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon. In the 1838 article Smith stated: "Moreover it must be recognized that while the Prophet Joseph Smith is not on record definitely, so far as we have learned, declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon." The impact of this change, combined with the fact that Joseph Fielding Smith was President of the Council of the Twelve and was presenting his article in the official Church News gave the ideas presented in this article tremendous weight as they went out to the general Church members.

 

     (See the notations for 1938, 1956)

 

 

1954^      Norman C. Pierce      Another Cumorah, Another Joseph. SLC: Norman Pierce, 1954

 

     In his book Another Cumorah, Another Joseph, Norman Pierce makes an extensive rebuttal to the Hemispheric Theory and makes a case for a Limited Mesoamerica model--which he represents with a number of maps, among which is a special relief map prepared by Jean R. Driggs. In a special note, Drigg's informs the reader that his map was drawn from information from an extensive list of scientific, military, industrial and official state maps. Driggs also notes valuable information obtained from a number of books and periodicals which he lists. Driggs then says the following:

     The author desires to express his appreciation of the assistance and helpful suggestions given by Col. Willard Young, A. S. Kienkie, J. Fred Evans, Dr. Chas. H. Dunn, Robert L. Woodward and Hon. Don B. Colton, through whose influence the Bureau of American Republics extended their hearty cooperation in supplying maps and data used in the construction of this relief map.

 

     Thus Norman Pierce's limited Mesoamerican reasoning was apparently derived, at least in part, from the teachings of Jean Driggs (see the notation for 1927), who apparently was influenced by Willard Young (see the pre-1920 notation).

 

     Note* Because Willard Young represented the first LDS scholar to propose a limited Mesoamerican setting for the geography of the Book of Mormon, and because I lack the writings of Willard Young at the present time, I have chosen to include in the endnote which follows a number of excerpts from Pierce's book, in hopes of giving the reader some insights not only into Pierce's thinking, but perhaps into the thinking of Young and Driggs. ( )

 

1954      Illustrated Model      Norman C. Pierce      LIMITED SOUTHERN MESOAMERICA]

     Page #1      Page #2

L.S.=Honduras and Costa Rica / N.N.=between Lake Izabal-Rio Dulce and Bay of Honduras / L.N.=Yucatan Peninsula / H.C.=Lake Izabal area / Sid. R. = Ulua River

Source: Norman C. Pierce, Another Cumorah, Another Joseph, n.p., 1954

 

 

 

1954      Joseph Fielding Smith Addresses the CES Summer Training Session

 

 

     The controversy between Roberts, Talmage and Smith directly relating to evolution but indirectly relating to a literalist interpretation of scripture that had been stirred up in 1930-31 would once again come to light in 1954. It is interesting to note that Roberts and Talmage died in 1933, and Widtsoe died in 1952, thus leaving Joseph Fielding Smith without any major antagonists. According to an article by Duane Jeffrey, their deaths "marked an end of an era." He writes:

     Apostle Smith began an open exposition of his views on April 22, 1953, in a speech at Brigham Young University entitled "The Origin of Man." His speech to the June 1953 MIA Conference continued the same theme: scriptural literalism on scientific matters, coupled with a virtually complete disregard for scientific data. A rapid though minor updating of his book manuscript followed, and it was apparently again submitted for publication. Though it was not approved, he pushed ahead with its publication, and by mid-1954 it was made available tot he public under the title: Man His Origin and Destiny.

     The work marks a milestone. For the first time in Mormon history, and capping a full half-century of publication of Mormon books on science and religion, Mormonism had a book that was openly antagonistic to much of science. The long-standing concern of past Church presidents was quickly realized: the book was hailed by many as an authoritative Church statement that immediately locked Mormonism into direct confrontation with science, and sparked a wave of religious fundamentalism that shows little sign of abatement. . . .

     Apostle Smith vigorously presented his basic thesis to the Seminary and Institute teachers of the Church, assembled in their periodic summer training session at Brigham Young University, on June 28, 1954.

 

Source: ^Duane E. Jeffrey, "Seers, Savants and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface," in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. VIII, Nos. 3/4, 1973, pp. 65-66.

 

 

 

 

1954^      President J. Reuben Clark      "When Are Church Leader's Words Entitled to Claim of

                             Scripture?, Church News, Saturday, July 31, 1954.

 

     On Wednesday, July 7, 1954, President J. Reuben Clark Jr., delivered a lecture before the summer session of Seminary and Institute Teachers at the Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. The full text of this lecture was printed in the Church News on Saturday, July 31, 1954. Although this lecture was not directly about Book of Mormon geography, it contains some very pertinent thoughts concerning how one might approach authoritative comments on the subject. Some excerpts are as follows:

     When are the Writings and Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Being Scripture? I assume the scripture behind this question is the declaration of the Lord in a revelation given through Joseph primarily to Orson Hyde, Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and William E. Mc'Lellin, who were to engage in missionary work. After addressing a word first to Orson Hyde, the Lord continued: "And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood,whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth--"And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation" (D&C 68:2-4)

 

     . . . The question is, how shall we know when the things they have spoken were said as they were "moved upon by the Holly Ghost?"

     I have given some thought to this question, and the answer thereto so far as I can determine, is: We can tell when the speakers are "moved upon by the Holy Ghost" only when we, ourselves, are "moved upon by the Holy Ghost."

     In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak.

     We might here profitably repeat what Brother Brigham preached. He said: . . . "I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not" (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 9, p. 150.) . . .

     There have been rare occasions when even the President of the Church in his preaching and teaching has not been "moved upon by the Holy Ghost." You will recall the Prophet Joseph declared that a prophet is not always a prophet [unless he is acting as such--DHC, Vol. V, p. 265]. To this point runs a simple story my father told me as a boy, I do not know on what authority, but it illustrates the point. His story was that during the excitement incident to the coming of Johnson's Army, Brother Brigham preached to the people in a morning meeting a sermon vibrant with defiance to the approaching army, and declaring an intention to oppose and drive them back. In the afternoon meeting he arose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address, the tempo of which was the opposite from the morning talk.

     I do not know if this ever happened, but I say it illustrates a principle--that even the President of the Church, himself, may not always be "moved upon by the Holy Ghost," when he addresses the people. This has happened about matters of doctrine (usually of a highly speculative character) where subsequent Presidents of the Church and the peoples themselves have felt that in declaring the doctrine, the announcer was not "moved upon by the Holy Ghost." . . .

     One lesson is--We do not tell the Lord how to do things. He frames his own plans, draws his own blueprints, shapes his own course, conceives his own strategy, moves and acts as in his infinite knowledge and wisdom he determines. When lack-faiths and doubters and skeptics begin to map out the plans, methods, and procedures they would demand that God follow, they would do well to remember God's power, wisdom, knowledge, and authority. . . .

     I have tried to suggest the meaning of the scripture which says that what the Priesthood says when "moved upon by the Holy ghost," is itself scripture. I have tried to indicate my own thought as to some of the limitations which attend the exercise of this principle, both as to those who are entitled to have their words taken as scripture, and also as to the doctrines that might fall from the lips of those not possessing the special gift and endowment. I have spoken under the direction of the Holy ghost, for a prophet is not always a prophet. I noted that the Apostles of the Primitive church had their differences, that in our own Church, leaders have differed in view from the first. I have observed that the Lord has his own ways of communicating his mind and will to his prophets, uninfluenced by the thoughts or views of men as to his proper procedure . . .

     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.

 

 

1954      M. Wells Jakeman            Discovering the Past, 1954, p. 84. [p. 7]

 

     "This 'Tehuantepec' area is therefore now accepted by nearly all students of the geography of the Book of Mormon as the area of that account, at least on the basis of agreement in physical geography."

 

 

 

1954      Wells Jakeman            "Archaeology Symposium Abstracts," U.A.S. Newsletter, Num. 22, BYU,

                       Provo, Utah: The University Archaeological Society, ed. Ross T.

                       Christensen, August 23, 1954, 22.0, pp. 1-7

 

     The following are abstracts by Dr. M. Wells Jakeman of the lectures given by him at the Society's Eighth Annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures, June 21-24.

     The Book of Mormon Civilizations in Space and Time: No record of the past offers a more exciting challenge to the archaeologist, and to other students of human history, than does the Book of Mormon account of the early history of the New World. This account, if true, solves at one stroke one of the major problems of archaeology--that of the origin of the ancient civilizations of the New World: it explains these civilizations, not as the result of independent development in America out of primitive hunting cultures, as generally held, but as the work of civilized White colonists from the Old World. . . . Its truth or authenticity, moreover, can definitely be determined by scientific means; i.e. by comparing its history and civilizations of ancient America with the history and civilizations of this continent as independently established by modern archaeological research. . . . The Book of Mormon must not, of course, be held responsible for developments in ancient America outside the area and period of its civilizations. But on the other hand, it must meet completely the test of archaeological comparison in this area and period. Here, this test will be decisive. Of these two main space and time aspects of the Book of Mormon civilizations basic to the comparative archaeological test, their spatial aspect or area of development presents the more difficult problem.

     The most popular view among readers of the Book of Mormon as to this area is what may be termed the "general New World identification" or "Panama theory," in which the entire American continent is considered the area of development of the Book of Mormon civilizations, with the main "land northward" division of the Book of Mormon area all North America, the main "land southward" division all South America, and the connecting isthmus or "narrow neck of land" the Isthmus of Panama.

     In view of certain internal requirements of the Record, a more recent theory restricts the area to the middle part only of the New World, identifying the "land northward" with central and southern Mexico, the "land southward" with Central America, and the connecting "narrow neck of land" with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. (The identification of the "land southward" division with Central instead of South America, in this "Tehuantepec" theory, is in agreement with a statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith--i.e. the one who brought forth the Book of Mormon--that the city of Zarahemla, which was in the "land southward," was located in Central America. This "Tehuantepec" theory is also strongly supported by the evidence of modern archaeology, as will be brought out in the following lecture.

 

     Progress of Archaeology in Book of Mormon Lands: . . . In 1841, 11 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, the existence of the more ancient "Maya empire" of Central America was brought to light, in the books of John L. Stephens describing his explorations of 1839 in Guatemala, Honduras, Chiapas, and Yucatan. More recent work in the Maya area by trained archaeologists, beginning with the first expedition of Alfred P. Maudslay in 1881, has defined the place of the remarkable Maya civilization in the history of Mesoamerica: this was the chief "classic" culture of the area . . .

     It was not until 1910 that the existence of advanced cultures in Mesoamerica before the "classic" or before 400 AD--i.e. dating to the actual period of the Book of Mormon--was archaeologically established. Since that year, and especially since 1928 to the present day, excavations at various sites have revealed two main stages of advanced "pre-classic" or "archaic" development in the area. The first or earlier, which may be termed for convenience the "Early Pre-Classic" or "Lower Archaic," seems to have occurred mainly in Mexico . . . where it appears to date back, ont he evidence of radio-activity measurements, to as early as the second millennium BC (perhaps even--in its undiscovered center--to the third millennium). It was at least at the advanced-farming level: maize agriculture, textiles, good pottery, and house-building were all present. It is of interest to note that many of the clay figurings typical of this culture show the wearing of orientallike turbans. The origin of this civilization remains a mystery. It appears suddenly in Mexico, already fully developed in its earliest discovered phase. No trace of a primitive-farming stage, representing the antecedents of this civilization, has ever come to light in Mesoamerica. This suggest, of course that it may have been introduced into the area already fully developed, from some outside, original center as yet unknown.

     The second or later "pre-classic" stage, which may be termed the "Late Pre-Classic" or "Upper Archaic" civilization, seems on the basis of present evidence to have been a fully urban culture, with large masonry constructions, city-life (small temple-cities), and hieroglyphic writing (metal-lurgy, however, not yet established for this period). A remarkable series of discoveries at sites in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region--i.e. very probably the "narrow neck of land" region of the Book of Mormon--beginning in 1939, has greatly amplified our knowledge of this unexpectedly advanced "Late Pre-Classic" civilization. This is a distinctive style of religious art dating to this period, which has been termed "Olmec" . . .[Sculptures] indicate that the "Late Pre-Classic" civilization was strongly religion-centered or theocratic in character . . . Inscribed dates on "Olmec" antiquities indicate that this second civilization had its beginnings--as yet undiscovered--some centuries before the birth of Christ, probably in northern Central America, from where it spread into southern and central Mexico by the time of Christ. Its origin, like that of the first civilization, remains unsolved.

     A study of the civilizations of this archaeological "Pre-Classic" or "Archaic" period of Mesoamerica will reveal that definite correspondence wit the civilizations of the Book of Mormon, in both (1) area, (2) time or period, (3) number and order, and (4) characteristics, has already begun to emerge.

 

     The City of Bountiful Found: After listing a number of requirements of the general land Bountiful from the Book of Mormon and correlating this area archaeologically and from native histories to the lands close to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Jakeman says the following concerning the location of a possible City of Bountiful:

     Such a site was, in fact, explored in 1948 by an expedition under the direction of the speaker: the ancient ruined city now called "Aguacatal," which was found to correspond generally, in all the above three respects, to the city of Bountiful, or Place of Abundance . . . For an account of this expedition and further details on this ruined city of "Aguacatal," with photographic illustrations including a view of the wall, see the speaker's report, "An Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Xicalango Area of Western Campeche, Mexico," in the Bulletin of the University Archaeological Society, No. 3, August, 1952, pp. 16-44. . . .

 

     Recent Explorations in the Region of Zarahemla: This is a report of the BYU Middle American expedition of 1954 (illustrated) in which Wells Jakeman, accompanied by Jose Davila, a UAS member of Puebla, Mexico, conducted a general archaeological tour of northern Central America, the "land southward" region, finishing with an exploration of the lowland region and valley of the Usumacinta River which "is consequently to be identified with the river Sidon of the Book of Mormon, along or near which some of the most important cities of the Book of Mormon were situated, comprising the central part of the land of Zarahemla, or country of the Nephites."

 

 

1954^      J. Karl Wood            "27 Maps describing various travels and activities in the Book of Alma." from

                        the files of Thomas L. Tyler, CES Zone Administrator.

 

 

1955^            LeGrand Richards            April 1955 Conference Reports, p. 123

 

     The Book of Mormon not only tells us the history of the people, and what they did, but it also gives unto us the words of their prophets, and not only that, it also tells us that this is a land choice above all other lands. Upon this land shall be built the New Jerusalem of the Lord our God, and they will not likely find that recorded in any relics they find down in those mounds in South and Central America, many of which I have recently seen.

     I was thrilled by Hunter's testimony of these records that parallel the records of the Book of Mormon. I have never seen this in print, but I heard President Callis make this statement: that after the Book of Mormon came forth the Prophet Joseph was terribly worried about what the world would say, and he said, "O Lord, what will the world say?" And the answer came back, "Fear not, I will cause the earth to testify of the truth of these things" and from that day until now, and only the Lord knows what is yet ahead, external evidences have been brought forth of the divinity of that book.

 

 

1955-59      $200,000 Granted by the LDS Church to the NWAF

 

     (See the notation for 1952)

 

 

 

1955^      G. Reynolds and J. Sjodahl            Commentary on the Book of Mormon (7 vols), SLC: Deseret

     (Philip C. Reynolds comp.)            Book, 1955. See GospeLink

 

     This multivolume work contains verse-by-verse commentary on the Book of Mormon. The text of the Book of Mormon is included. In the forward to Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Philip C. Reynolds wrote this concerning Book of Mormon geography:

     The writers of the sacred record gave little space and did not make much of an effort to describe, in so many words, the physical features of the regions, wherein took place, the events they recorded. . . . It is folly to associate oneself with any peculiar notion and say of some particular ruin, "This is Zarahemla" or "There is the land of Bountiful." Such ventures in thought are merely guesses, and such speculation leads to confusion. . . . [If] the time comes, or that it is expedient for the saints to have this information, it will come to them through the regularly established source, the prophet, seer, and revelator, the Presiding High Priest of the Church and no one else.

 

     However, in order to gain perspective on this statement, one must understand that this commentary was prepared many years earlier. Although compiled and published in 1955 by Philip Reynolds, George Reynolds had actually prepared his voluminous notes on the Book of Mormon at least 45 years previous to this date as he died in 1909. Janne Sjodahl died in 1939. Thus Philip Reynolds' words on Book of Mormon geography in the preface were apparently derived from writings nearly five decades old. With this in mind, it is interesting to note the following geographical comments:

     Following the sea shore, Lehi and his company, after "the space of many days," must have come to some place not very far from the present Medina, one of the sacred cities of Islam.[Vol. 1, p. 166]

     From Jerusalem to Nahom, the course of the company of Lehi had been in a south-easterly direction. They had perhaps followed the mountain chain which runs parallel with the Sea. At Nahom, the direction was changed to "nearly eastward." They must have found a convenient mountain pass leading to the interior of the country. [Vol. 1, p. 173]

     The Landing Place. The question, Where did Lehi land? is discussed in, "An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon," pp. 92-95 and 411-432 [see the notation for 1927]. Several views are given.

     If we accept the commonly held view, which has been stated by Elder George Reynolds, among others, that the landing place was on the coast of Chile, at about 30 degrees south latitude, we may suppose that Lehi and his colony embarked somewhere on the coast of the present sultanate of Oman in Arabia, and that their course was set nearly southeasterly. At first they might have encountered adverse trade winds and perhaps turbulent sea, but as they reached the 30th parallel the trade wind would have been favorable for a course south of Australia, between that continent and Tasmania, and then north of New Zealand toward the coast of Chile. The nearest harbor in the northward path of the trade wind would be the place where Coquimbo now is located, not far from Valparaiso. [Vol. 1, p. 193]

 

     There is also a most interesting comment regarding the city of Manti. It reads as follows:

            . . . there was a Land of Manti, on the head waters of the river Sidon (Alma 16:6, 7) and a city of the same name (Alma 57:22). The name is very ancient. . . . In this country there was at one time, in South America, the Manta Indians, on the coast north of the Gulf of Guayaquil. In Stanford's Compendium of Geography and Travel, the Mantas are referred to as an extinct Quito race of ten tribes. There was also a city of Manti and a district of the same name, as in the Book of Mormon.

           In 1836 [1838], the Prophet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others, found it best, on account of apostasy and bitterness, to leave Kirtland and go to Far West, Mo., where the Saints were endeavoring to establish themselves. On September 25, they passed through Huntsville, Randolph Co., and the Prophet is said to have told the brethren that that place, where a stake of Zion had been established, was "the ancient site of the city of Manti." (Andrew Jenson, Hist. Rec., p. 601) Whether "the ancient site of Manti" refers to the Manti in the Book of Mormon is a question that has been debated. Some prefer to regard it as a reference to a later City of Manti, built by descendants of Nephi in Missouri. In either case, the information is both important and interesting. [Vol. 2: p. 334]

 

(See the notation for 1838)

 

 

1955      John Keith Pope            Launching the Lehi, San Francisco: Academy Phototype Service,

                              1955.

 

     Pope foretells an expeditioin that will sail on a raft without food or water from Saudi Arabia to Guatemala, manned by a crew of five or six persons. The purpose of the trip is to show that a voyage such as the one that brought Lehi and his family to America is possible.

 

[L.M.]

 

 

 

 

1955?      Asa Kienke?            Map: Location of Book of Mormon Cities

 

     In the papers and journals of Asa Kienke, donated to B.Y.U, there is a well-illustrated Book of Mormon geographical map demonstrating a Limited Mesoamerican model with the land of Nephi in Guatemala, Zarahemla situated at Altar de Sacrificious, Bountiful near Tikal, Desolation near Uaxactun, and Cumorah at the southern end of the Yucatan Peninsula. Whether this model was a result of the works of Asa Kienke is unknown at present. There were no other papers which would lead one to think that Asa created such a model. When he was a member of the 1900 Benjamin Cluff Expedition, his notes gave a Hemispheric perspective.

 

 

 

 

1956      Ross T. Christensen      "Did Book-of-Mormon Peoples Reach Peru?" University Archaeological

                       Society 1956 Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures

 

     In a July 7, 1960 issue of the U.A.S. Newsletter (Num. 67), the editor Ross T. Christensen includes one of his previously delivered lectures. This lecture is noteworthy because among other things, it enumerates some of the archaeological reasons why South America is not a viable candidate for the "land southward." He writes:

     At the Society's 1956 Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures, the present editor delivered a lecture entitled, "Did Book-of-Mormon Peoples Reach Peru?" Although the following version has been condensed and revised, the original message is preserved essentially unmodified. . . .

     In 1950 the lecturer carried out archaeological investigations in western South America as a Pan-American Fellow (Newsletter, 1.41, 33.5; UAS Bulletin, No. 2, pp. 36-53, No. 5, pp. 30-54). His doctoral dissertation, entitled, "An Archaeological Study of the Illescas-Jubones Coast of Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador," was completed in 1956, shortly before the present paper was read at the symposium (Newsletter 35.53). . . .

     Reasons for Preferring the Tehuantepec Theory: Let me recapitulate my reasons for preferring the "Tehuantepec" theory of Book of Mormon geography to the "Panama" theory. If the Isthmus of Panama is the "narrow neck of land," then Colombia in northwestern South America must be the central Nephite region, or the Zarahemla-Bountiful land of the Book of Mormon and must contain evidences of advanced civilization. But on the other hand if the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico is the "narrow neck of land," then northern Guatemala, Tabasco, and Chiapas--not Colombia--must contain the Bountiful-Zarahemla land and present these evidences.

     The types of ancient culture revealed by archaeology in Guatemala, Tabasco and Chiapas on the one hand and in Colombia on the other, definitely favor the Tehuantepec theory. The prehistoric cultures of Colombia do not fit into the picture required by the Book of Mormon; they are not of the right kind; they are not the sort of thing that one would expect from reading the Book. For one thing, they are highly provincialized cultures of limited distribution.

     Much greater civilizational heights were achieved in Guatemala, Tabasco, and Chiapas. In all of Colombia there hardly exists such a thing as a standing ruin, but in Chiapas and surrounding areas there exist many great cities of stone and other materials. In Mesoamerica, the stratigraphic depth is much greater than in Colombia; that is to say, there are many more archaeological levels, suggesting a much greater antiquity. In fact, not until about 1950 did there exist published information on any stratified site in Colombia, that is, on any site that contained one layer deposited on top of another. But in Mesoamerica many stratified sites have long been known.

     The early civilizations in Mesoamerica date back to the centuries before the time of Christ, while one of them in the Valley of Mexico and nearby goes back as far as 1500 or 2000 BC. In Colombia, on the contrary, the oldest known civilizations date back only to three or four centuries before the coming of the Spaniards, with the possible exception of San Augustin.

     The terrain of Tehuantepec fits the requirements of the "narrow neck of land" much more satisfactorily than does that of Panama. It is relatively flat. In flying over this country in an east-west direction one observes how the terrain flattens out into an open, park-like country. The mountains on either side give way abruptly, leaving a nearly level isthmus, which could easily have been traversed, fortified, and defended. The Isthmus of Panama, however, presents a very difficult terrain: dense jungle superimposed upon a rugged mountain range extending the entire length of the republic.

     There is, to be sure, one apparent disadvantage in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec: it seems too wide to be the "narrow neck of land." There may be a good explanation for that, however, for the Coatzacoalcos and other rivers of this isthmus must have unloaded enormous deposits of silt over the past 1500 years, without reasonable doubt widening it beyond what it was in Book of Mormon times. It must have been much narrower, then.

     Another important point is the location of the ruins. If South America was the "land southward" then the center of high civilization, that is, the heartland of the Nephites, must have been in Colombia. I have already mentioned that there is hardly a standing ruin in that country. In South America there does exist, to be sure, an area of ancient high civilization in which there are many standing ruins: Peru. But alas it lies far to the south of Colombia, or in other words in the very heart of what must have been Lamanite country, following the Panama theory. Why should these remains of high civilization be found in Lamanite country, when it is plain from the record that the more advanced people was the Nephites?

     This introduces still another difficulty: In Colombia something is lacking which is found very commonly in Mesoamerica, that is, early traditionary histories (later written in European characters as the "Chronicles"). These reveal a history-mindedness on the part of ancient Mesoamericans which is lacking in ancient Colombia and Panama but reappears, curiously in Peru. . . .

     Now let us examine some external evidences bearing on the question of whether Book of Mormon peoples from Mesoamerica reached Peru. . . . Some authorities have proposed that certain languages of Peru are similar to and have a common origin with certain Mesoamerican tongues. . . . As to culture traits or customs, there are a number of obvious similarities between Mesoamerica and the Central Andes. For example , the subsistence patterns of the two areas were similar in many respects. They were both based on intensive agriculture. Heavy populations, made possible by such agriculture, were involved in both cases. In both cases, irrigation was practiced wherever it was appropriate. . . . The social organization of the Central Andean and Mesoamerican areas was similar at many points. . . .It is . . . clear . . . that there is some sort of historical connection between the ceramics of Mesoamerica and those of the Central Andes and presumable therefore between the ancient peoples of the two areas. Architecture is another interesting point of comparison. . . . There are also a number of arbitrary comparisons between the two areas in the field of religion. . . . And now a word as to the route and means of the migrations from Mesoamerica to the Central Andean area of South America: They undoubtedly took place by means of seagoing craft [which] sailed along the western or Pacific coast of the intervening territory. I much prefer this view to the theory that the contact was by land; the overland theory seems very difficult to me.

 

[Illustrated Map: Mesoamerica and the Central Andes. Arrow shows migration route of proposed theory of Andean origins. Map by Maridean Smith. Source: Ross T. Christensen, "Did the Book of Mormon People Reach Peru? in U.A.S. Newsletter, Num. 67, BYU, Provo: The University Archaeological Society, July 7, 1960, p. 1]

 

 

1955      Ross T. Christensen      "A Tour and Brief Description of Some of the Ancient Ruined Cities of

                       Central and Southern Mexico or 'Land Northward' of the Book of

                       Mormon," in U.A.S. Newsletter 28 (10 August 1955): pp. 3-5.

                       Also in Progress in Archaeology: An Anthology, pp. 149-152.

 

     Reports on a tour taken by several members of the BYU archaeological department. The archaeologists speculate on the possible connection between Book of Mormon cities and those visited--Teotihuacan, Copilco, Cuicuilco, Cholula, Mitla, and Monte Alban. Many significant parallels were observed.

 

Source: Jeanette W. Miller, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 94.

 

 

1955^      A. H. Christensen      Little Known Facts, Volume 2, Denver, CO: n.p., 1955

 

     Provides brief facts and statements regarding Book of Mormon geography. Deals with the location of the last battle, the location of the Hill Cumorah, the Nephite wilderness, and other geographical items.

 

Source: Donald W. Parry, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 91.

 

 

1956^            Joseph Fielding Smith            Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, Bookcraft, 1956, pp. 232-243

 

     With the exception of the column headings, this is essentially a reprint of the article that appeared in the Church News, Saturday, February 27, 1954 (see the 1938 & 1954 notations). However, at the end of his discussion, Joseph Fielding Smith gives some personal feelings:

 

     Impressions At Cumorah

 

     Lord Led Prophet's Family to Cumorah-Land. As I stood upon these sacred places I had peculiar feelings which I cannot describe. I always do have such feelings; I have visited the Hill Cumorah and the Sacred Grove on other occasions. . . .

     Cumorah Once Site of Carnage and Destruction. As I stood upon the summit of the Hill Cumorah, in the midst of a vast multitude, only a few of whom belonged to the Church, I tried to picture the scenes of former days. Here were assembled vast armies filled with bitterness and bent on destruction. I thought of the great promises the Lord had made through his prophets concerning those who should possess this choice land, and how those promises were not fulfilled because the people violated his commandments. Here a people perished because of their extreme wickedness. There must be something in the destiny of things that would cause a repetition of this terrible scene on the same spot many centuries later. I reflected and wondered if this unhappy time would ever come when another still mightier people would incur the wrath of God because of wickedness and likewise perish. If so, would this same spot witness their destruction? I thought of the prophets, Ether, Mormon, Moroni, and tried to realize the sadness of their feelings as they witnessed the mad onrushing of their peoples to annihilation.

     Importance of Cumorah Unknown to World. We sang the song, prepared for this celebration, Zion-land, and I entered heartily, sincerely, into the spirit of the song. . . . Here it was that Moroni, commanded by the Lord, hid up the sacred records of his people. Here it was 1,400 years later, that he, then a resurrected being, came to Joseph Smith and committed these same records to the young man's care. At the time of the Prophet first visit to the hill, it was covered with trees; today (1923) it is stripped and bare, save for the grass which grows abundantly. This former scene of strife and bloodshed, where two nations perished, later the sacred repository of ancient records, today is the abode of peaceful cattle, reclining and chewing the cud. . . .

 

     Note* Although Joseph Fielding Smith's arguments in this article are strictly authoritarian (i.e. dependent totally upon previous statements of Church leaders) ending with personal feelings, he was at that time President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Thus his writings had tremendous influence. However, much study and research had taken place since the printing of the first article in 1938 regarding the culture and geography of the American continent. Additionally a detailed internal analysis of the Book of Mormon geographical and cultural verses had also been put forth. All this research tended to point away from the traditional statements which Joseph Fielding Smith was attempting to stand behind in order to support a New York Hill Cumorah. Smith ignored this research completely. Smith also referred readers to the Zelph incident in the History of the Church as authoritative proof of the traditional ideas regarding Book of Mormon geography. However what Smith left unnoticed was the fact that in 1933, Joseph Fielding Smith himself as the new Church Historian had republished this History. And he had edited the Zelph Incident to make it appear that Joseph Smith had positively declared that Zelph was part of the final retreat of the Nephites to the New York Hill Cumorah.

 

 

1956      Joseph Fielding Smith            Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, Bookcraft, 1956, pp. 232-243

 

     It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks or balances, by which we measure every man's doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.

 

 

1957^      Hugh Nibley      An Approach to the Book of Mormon: Course of Study for the Melchizedek

                 Priesthood Quorums of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1957.

                 Published by The Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ

                 of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1957, pp. 362-365.

 

     In the Preface, written by Joseph Fielding Smith, we are told that this book by Hugh Nibley "will appeal to every sincere student and should be studied by every member of the Church." On pages 362-365 under the heading of "The Way to Cumorah" we find the following:

     It is often claimed that it is quite unthinkable that the Nephites could have met a military threat in Central America by fleeing to western New York. Such hasty pronouncements are typical of much Book of Mormon criticism, building impetuous conclusions on first impressions and never bothering to find out what the Book of Mormon says actually happened. Any schoolboy of another generation, raised on Xenophon and Caesar, would brush such objections aside with a laugh--apparently these self-appointed archaeologists have no idea of what ancient armies and nations could do and did in the way of marching and retreating. But what does Mormon tell us? That Operation Cumorah was only the culminating phase of many years of desperate shifts and devices to escape a steadily growing Lamanite pressure. The movement that ended at Cumorah was not a single project but the last of innumerable and agonizing hops and setbacks, a bungling, a piecemeal process of retreat that lasted for two generations. In the histories of the tribes many a nation, after being uprooted from its homeland, wandered thousands of miles in desperate search of escape and survival, fighting all the way, only to be eventually exterminated in some last great epic battle. We need only think of the tragic fate of the Visigoths, Burgundians, or any number of Celtic or Asiatic nations (including the Torguts in our own day) to realize that there is nothing incredible or even improbable about the last days of the Nephites. The Kirghiz, almost the same size as the Nephite nations, migrated just as fast and as far as the Nephties in attempting to escape their Chinese oppressors through the years--and they never knew just where they were going next. The strategy of survival is a strategy of expedience in which a move cannot be planned far ahead. You move when and where you must. Chief Joseph, trying to escape the U. S. Army, took his people over 3,000 miles, always into the most remote and inaccessible regions possible. For the same reason the Nephites found themselves moving into uninviting regions--their motive was flight; they left their homes with great reluctance, they did not want to go anywhere, but they had to get away (Mormon 5:5). As long as a relentless hereditary foe pursued them, they had to keep moving. And the enemy was not to be appeased, as we see in the brutal and systematically thorough mopping-up operations which went right on after the Nephite nation had been destroyed in battle (Mormon 8:2).

     Once one gets a mobile situation such as we have in the Book of Mormon from 375 A.D. on, distance takes on a wholly new aspect--the dimensions of mobile warfare (as against that of prepared lines) are unlimited. The battalions of Napoleon within the short space of fifteen years fought on the plains of Italy, on the banks of the Nile, in the high Swiss Alps, at the gates of Copenhagen and Vienna, all over the rocky uplands of Spain, and across the Russian steppes to Moscow. And many a trooper, present at all these operations, covered all that distance (except, of course, for the trip to Egypt) on foot. Yet over 2,000 years earlier Alexander performed far swifter and longer marches through hostile and unknown regions many of which remained unexplored and unknown to western man down to our down day. There is no reason for supposing that ancient people could not walk or ride just as far as moderns. On the contrary, they constantly negotiated distances on foot that would appall us. There were Indians with Lewis and Clark who knew the continent all the way from the lower Mississippi to Puget Sound--why should the Nephites have been any less informed than they? Movement of the Nephites along the Gulf Coast to the Mississippi and hence up the valley to the eastern headwaters would be an ordinary, even a typical, performance by ancient standards.

 

     Note* Among the questions that quorum members were invited to respond to at the close of this lesson "in order to bring boldly to the front significant points in the lesson" we find the following:

     8. Why does Central America seem so far away to us?

     9. How far is far? Why is it best to avoid speculation on Book of Mormon geography?

     10. What difference does it make whether the Hill Cumorah is in Central America or in New York state?

     

 

[1957      Hugh Nibley      Illustrated Map      Book of Mormon Study Maps: Lehi's Travels in the Old World]

Source: Prepared by Dr. Hugh Nibley and Audio Visual Center, Brigham Young University, 1957.

 

     

1957      J.M. Sjodahl      A Suggested Key to Book of Mormon Geography, SLC: Deseret Book, 1957

 

     A large map of the North and South American continents marked with names of cities, rivers, and locations that are found in the Book of Mormon text. [A Guide, p. 269]

 

     Note* See the 1927 notation

 

 

1957^      George Reynolds            Book of Mormon Geography: The Lands of the Nephites and      

     Janne Sjodahl                  Jaredites. Ed. & Arr. by Philip C. Reynolds, SLC: Deseret Book, 1957

 

     This is a reprint by Philip Reynolds of much of George Reynolds' material from the 1980's, which in theory subscribed to a hemispheric model (South America / Panama / North America). The material was close to 70 years old. (see the notation for 1888)

 

 

1957^      George Reynolds      Complete Concordance of the Book of Mormon      SLC: Deseret Book, 1957

     Ed. & Arr. by Philip C. Reynolds

 

     This is a reprint by Philip Reynolds of George Reynolds' Concordance material from 1904. Although certain references implied a hemispheric model (South America / Panama / North America), the work continued to be the concordance reference for dedicated students of the Book of Mormon until the age of computers. The following are references to New World geography:

     BOUNTIFUL (Land of)

     The most northerly Nephite division of the Ssouth American continent. It extended on the north to the Isthmus of Panama, where it was bounded by the land of Desolation. [100]

 

     CUMORAH

     A hill and the district immediately surrounding it in Ontario County, State of New York. It was known as Ramah to the Jaredites. In its vicinity both the Jaredite and the Nephite races were destroyed in battle. Within its bosom the sacred records of the latter race were concealed. [p. 161]

 

     NEPHI, Land of

     The greater portion of South America, named after Nephi, the son of Lehi. It was inahbited by the Nephites until about B.C. 200 and from that time to the days of Christ by the Lamanites. [493]

 

     SIDON, River

     The most important river in Nephite History; known to-day as the Magdalena. It runs northward through the United States of Colombia and empties into the Caribbean Sea. [p. 633]

 

     ZARAHEMLA, Land of

     As there were two lands of Nephi, the greater and the lesser, so, for exactly the same reasons, there were two lands of Zarahemla; the one occupying the whole of South Ameriaca, from the great wilderness which formed its southern border, northward to the land Bountiful; the other the district immediately surrounding the capital city, which bore the same name. [848]

 

(see the notation for 1900)

 

 

 

 

1957^      Rulon S. Howells      The Mormon Story: A Pictorial Account of Mormonism, SLC: Bookcraft, 1957.

 

     In this book Rulon Howells notes in the Preface:

     To combine historical events with their locations on maps and to supplement with available pictures, it helps one to gain a more accurate and lasting impression of this fascinating people, whose church's real name is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." In telling Joseph's story he uses Joseph's own words as follows: "Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood." (p. 21) He then illustrates that hill with the photos listed below.

 

[1957      Photograph: The Hill Cumorah many years ago. Rulon S. Howells, The Mormon Story: A Pictorial Account of Mormonism, SLC: Bookcraft, 1957, p. 14]

 

[1957      Photograph: The Hill Cumorah as it looks today. Rulon S. Howells, The Mormon Story: A Pictorial Account of Mormonism, SLC: Bookcraft, 1957, p. 15]

 

     In telling the story of the Book of Mormon, Howells illustrates the journeys and the civilizations with a map (see below). On this map he writes on either side of a line with arrows coming across the Pacific to the western coast of South America: "A small group of people came from Babylon to the Americas about 2200 B.C. Another small group came from Palestine to the Americas about 590 B.C." He then writes below:

     The Jaradites-The first nation destroyed themselves long before the other two nations developed, but they left their records. The Nephite and Lamantie nations destroyed each other, ending in the eastern part of North America where they had compiled their history by engraving it in their language of hieroglyphics on gold plates. A few dark skinned Lamanites survived. Many of the American Indians are their descendants. . . .

 

     Corresponding to the location of Palmyra, New York he has a picture of a battle and gold plates, with the following notation: "The Gold Plates, bound with three large rings, were left here by the last of the ancient Nephite people, during the war of destruction! 421 A.D."

     

 

[1957      Illustration: Where the Book of Mormon Story Took Place. Rulon S. Howells, The Mormon Story: A Pictorial Account of Mormonism, SLC: Bookcraft, 1957, p. 24]

 

 

 

 

1957      Ross T. Christensen      "Mormon Archaeology," in New World Antiquity 4 (July 1957): pp. 105-106

 

     Basic explanation of LDS beliefs and Book of Mormon migrations. Book of Mormon archaeologists need to correlate textual descriptions with New World archaeological sites and configurations.

 

Source: Anita C. Wells, in Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, Sandra A. Thorne, A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography. Provo, UT: Research Press, 1996, p. 92

 

 

 

1958^      Thomas Stuart Ferguson            One Fold and One Shepherd, San Francisco, California:

                                    Books of California, 1958.

 

     [Introd.] The number one problem of New World archaeology is--who were the people responsible for the great and advanced civilizations of Central America and Mexico dating back to the centuries from 3000 B.C. to 400 A.D.? I propose a hypothetical answer to that problem--that Central America and Mexico received their very early high civilization from Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C. and from two small groups of Israelites who made it across the ocean in the sixth century B.C. In other words, I suggest that high civilization was transferred or "diffused" to ancient Middle America by early transoceanic voyagers from Bible lands who "discovered" the New World hundreds of years before Columbus.

 

     [p. 341] The first big step int he execution of the plan was the migration of the Jaredites from Iraq to Mexico about 2800 B.C.

 

     [pp. 254-255] The Catholic padre, Bernardino de Sahagun, who arrived in Mexico only ten years behind Cortez, makes it quite clear that this very early migration by sea into Mexico was no Spanish concept misappropriated by the Mexicans. He gives the landing place, fixing it with precision and credits the data to native tradition . . . :

     Concerning the origin of these peoples [of Mexico], the report the old men give is that they came by sea from the north [that is, down the Gulf Coast of Mexico], and it is true that they came in some wooden boats but it is not known how the boats were hewn, but it is conjectured by a report found among all these natives that they came from seven caves, and that these seven caves are the seven ships or galleys in which the first settlers of this land came . . . The people first came from the direction of Florida [indicating an Atlantic crossing], and came coasting along the coast disembarking int he Port of Panuco which means "place where those arrived who crossed the water." This people came in search of the terrestrial paradise (Introduction to Book 1) [See map below]

 

     Sahagun returns to discuss the first settlers of Mexico in Book 9 of his immense works:

     Countless years ago the first settlers arrived in these parts of New Spain which is almost another world, and they came in ships by sea approaching this northern port, [the Book of Mormon refers to the landfall as "the land northward"]; and because they disembarked there it was called Panutla, or Panoavan, "place where they arrived who came by sea," now corruptly called Panuco. And from this port they began to travel along the coast, beholding the snowy sierras and the volcanoes [doubtless Popocatepetl, Ixtaccihuatl and Orizaba] until they reached the province of Guatemala, being guided by a priest who himself was guided by their God, with whom he continually took counsel respecting what he ought to do. (Book 9, Section 12)

 

[1958      Map:Jaredite Era: Ancient cities, towns or settlements which are known (with the help of radiocarbon dates) to have been occupied during Jaredite era (2800 B.C.-600 B.C.) designated in the Book of Mormon. Thomas Stuart Ferguson, One Fold and One Shepherd, San Francisco, California: Books of California, 1958, p. 267]

 

     [p. 230] The Book of Mormon states that "in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah" (about 597 B.C. ) representatives of three families departed from Jerusalem pursuant to personal direction from the Lord. They proceeded into the Arabian peninsula going southward along the borders of the Red Sea. After eight years of great hardship in Arabia, during which they traveled much of the three-thousand mile length of Arabia, and its entire width, arrived at what is now known as the land of Oman.

 

     [pp. 26-27] Obviously, when our hypothetical boat set sail form the Persian Gulf for the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and--finally--America, the Old Testament narrative came to a halt at that point for those making the great journey. It can be safely concluded that the date of the departure from the Near East was approximately the date of the Babylonian captivity. When was that? The Babylonian army of Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel in 587 B.C., during he reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah. Jerusalem was taken after a siege and burned to the ground. This began the period of Babylonian captivity. Thus, according to the Totonicapan document, the migration to Central America took place early in the sixth century before Christ.

     Archaeologists have established beyond question that there was high culture in Guatemala in the sixth century B.C.! . . .

     The Miraflores culture of highland Guatemala begins about the sixth century before Christ. A period of long occupation followed, spanning several centuries and continuing until close to the time of Christ. In describing the Miraflores culture in his 1957 book, Indian Art of Mexico and Central America, which appeared shortly after the author's death, the Mexican artist and archaeologist Miguel Covarrubius, states that the findings indicate that suddenly a highly civilized people arrived and settled ont he site and feverishly undertook a vast program of building.

     The Miraflores cultures was characterized by religious and civic architecture, including platforms and pyramids surfaced with plaster, and fine ceramics. Many of the ceramics were highly polished. At Kaminaljuyu alone are 200 early architectural structures dating to the Miraflores epoch following 600 B.C. Edwin Shook states that manifestations of this civilization are evident in great number along the coast of Guatemala and the neighboring coasts of Chiapas Mexico--"greater in this region than perhaps anywhere else in Meso-America."

 

[1958      Map: Nephite Era: Ancient cities, towns or settlements which are known (with the help of radiocarbon dates) to have been occupied during at least part of the Nephite-Mulekite-Lamanite era (587 B.C.-421 A.D. designated in the Book of Mormon. Thomas Stuart Ferguson, One Fold and One Shepherd, San Francisco, California: Books of California, 1958, p. 268]

 

     [pp. 314-315] In Mormon's summary of early events int he history of his nation, he reports on the discovery of this region of lakes and streams where many earlier inhabitants from Babel had previously lived for over 2,000 years. This is Olmec country, or early Pre-Classic territory, to use the archaeological terms, or Jaredite country, to use a Book-of-Mormon term. The geography and archaeology of the Valley of Mexico meet all the requirements of the documentary sources. There are three regions of many waters in Mexico, north of Tehuantepec: (1) the Alvarado area southwest of the city of Vera Cruz; (2) the Tampico area; (3) the Valley of Mexico. Since the region was inland (Ether 9:3), the first tow are eliminated, leaving the Valley of Mexico as the likely choice. Ixtlilxochitl refers to the central New World homeland of the people from the Great Tower as "these northern lands." The Book of Mormon refers to it as "the land northward." The discovery of the area was made in 121 b.C. by an exploring party of forty-three Nephties scouts who had come from the highlands of Guatemala (my geography) searching for the Nephtie-Mulekite center, Zarahemla (Potonchan), which was very probably in Chiapas. . . .

 

     [p. 252] In the writer's personal reconstruction of the geography of the Book of Mormon, the city built at the narrow neck of land, "by the place where the sea divides the land," could be the archaeological site known today as LaVenta, on the Gulf-of-Mexico side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec-Mexico's narrow-neck-of-land.

     The mountain of Oaxaca, on the westerly side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the mountains of Chiapas on the easterly side of the Isthmus almost meet. It is about 15 miles across the pass (which runs north and south, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico for about 115 miles). The references in the Book of Mormon to "a day's journey" and "a day and a half" could refer tot he travel time across the pass laterally, it being 15 miles wide.

 

     [p. 313] The terms of the important treaty, wrote Mormon, "in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided," gave to the Nephites the land northward from the narrow passage [which I take to be the north-south pass at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec between the mountains of Oaxaca and the mountains of Chiapas. The pass runs due north-south from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.] Under the terms of the treaty Mormon's people were to occupy the former homeland of the Jaredites. According to the Book of Mormon, these early Sumerian people, the Jaredites had been destroyed previously in the region to the north.

 

     [p. 315] The treaty awarded Mormon-Matzin and his people that part of Mexico from Tehuantepec northward, including the Valley of Mexico. The enemy retained the balance of Middle America, from Tehuantepec southward, as I view the geography.

 

 

     Note* Interestingly, in his 1978 book, The World of the Book of Mormon (p.29), Paul Cheesman cites a different placement of the narrow pass by Ferguson, yet the page he cites for the information (p. 183) does not contain anything about a narrow pass. Also, the bibliography cites One Fold land One Shepherd as being published in 1953 rather than 1958. Nevertheless, here is what is attributed to Ferguson by Cheesman:

     NARROW PASS: "At the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, adjacent to anceint Huehuc-Tlopallan (ancient Bountiful-land), is a narrow pass meeting all the requirements of the pass referred to by the Nephite historians. It is on the Gulf of Mexico side of Tehuantepec. One of the writers studied and photographed it from a Cub airplane in 1948. It runs by the sea for about seventy miles in a general north-westerly-southeasterly direction. The seashore pass is between the gulf on one hand and the high Tuxtla Mountains on the other. The pass is but a few yards wide in some places. The dense vegetation that covers the mountains extends to the narrow beach which constitutes the pass."

 

 

1958            Riley Dixon                  Just One Cumorah, S.L.C.: Bookcraft, 1958

 

     In 1958, Riley Dixon produced an extensive defense of the Modified Hemispheric theory. This theory, unlike the traditional model of Pratt, Reynolds, Ricks and Roberts, had the lands of Central America as a long narrow neck extending from Panama to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. These Central America lands also contained the land of Bountiful. Although Dixon was not the first to propose the Modified Hemispheric Theory (see the 1927 Sjodahl notations), his book contains so many perspectives on this theory not generally accessed by the more recent Book of Mormon geography students that I have chosen to include a number of excerpts in the endnotes which follows. ( ) ( )

 

     One example of Dixon's authoritative perspective is worthy of note here:

     What purpose do these students of the alleged "advanced thought" hope to accomplish? In the first place, it is not within the province of lay or priesthood members to give new information to the Church. This right is reserved only for the prophets of God, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the approval of the Council of the Twelve, as a product of divine revelation. It is a sacred privilege, one not to be infringed upon by other men. None of the prophets of God from the beginning of the Church has announced such a theory, nor any of the members of the Council of the Twelve suggested such an hypothesis. The Book of mormon is written in simple language, so everyone may understand. Ideas should not be read into this sacred book which are not there. It should be as it is. (p. 13)

 

[1958      Theoretical Model      Riley Dixon      MODIFIED HEMISPHERIC]

L.S.=S. of Panama / N.N.=Panama / L.N.=N. of Panama / H.C.=New York

Source: Riley Dixon, Just One Cumorah SLC, 1958. Information listed in John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 66

 

 

1958            Bruce R. McConkie            "American Indians" in Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City:

                                   Bookcraft, 1958, pp. [32-33]

 

     In Bruce R. McConkie's comments on the origins of the American Indians, he reflects traditional concepts that the Jaredites and Lehites had overwhelmingly dominated the hemispheric landscape and were the chief ancestor of the Indians, with incidental mixes occurring before the coming of Columbus:

     When Columbus discovered America, the native inhabitants, the American Indians as they were soon to be designated, were a people of mixed blood and origin. Chiefly they were Lamanites, but such remnants of the Nephite nation as had not been destroyed had, of course, mingled with the Lamanites. (1 Ne. 13:30; 2 Ne. 3:1-3; 9:53; Alma 45:13-14; D&C 3:16-19) Thus the Indians were Jews by nationality (D&C 57:4), their forefathers having come out from Jerusalem, from the kingdom of Judah (2 Ne. 33:8-10). Thus also they were of the House of Israel. . . . The American Indians, however, as Columbus found them also had other blood than that of Israel in their veins. It is possible that isolated remnants of the Jaredites may have lived through the period of destruction in which millions of their fellows perished. It is quite apparent that groups of orientals found their way over the Bering Strait and gradually moved southward to mix with the Indian peoples. We have records of a colony of Scandinavians attempting to set up a settlement in America some 500 years before Columbus. There are archeological indications that an unspecified number of groups of people probably found their way from the old to the new world in pre Columbian times. Out of all these groups would have come the American Indians as they were discovered in the 15th century.

 

(See the notation for 1966, 1981)

 

 

1958            Bruce R. McConkie            "Cumorah" in Mormon Doctrine

 

(See the notation for 1966)

 

 

1958      NWAF Excavates Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas, Mexico & Makes Plaster Cast of Stela 5 at Izapa

  

     Beginning in 1958, the NWAF made an extensive excavation of the ruins at Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas, Mexico.

     In 1953, Wells Jakeman wrote a 4-part series of articles for the UAS Bulletin concerning the correlation of Stela 5 at Izapa with Lehi's dream of the Tree-of-Life in the Book of Mormon. This created sufficient interest in this stela such that in 1958 a plaster cast was made of Stela 5 by Ross Christensen, Carl H. Jones, Welby Ricks, and Alfred Bush. Wells Jakeman also published a book on Stela 5 in 1958. (For further details see Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, chapter 9.)

 

 

1959            The College of Religious Instruction at BYU Is Organized

 

     In January of 1959, the College of Religious Instruction was organized at BYU. In the previous Division of Religion, they had sought more attention for their work. The Division of Religion, which in the beginning had five faculty members (not all of whom taught courses in religion exclusively), had grown to twenty-eight members. They petitioned the Board of Education for college status.

     With the establishment of the College of Religious Instruction came the responsibility to offer doctorates in several areas. In 1966 it became fully accredited. The question of whether or not graduate degrees in religion should be granted, however, continued to be a subject of discussion. On May 3, 1972, the Board of Education decided that no doctor's degrees would be awarded by the College of Religious Instruction and that courses of study leading to the master's degree in religion were to be discouraged. The College of Religious Instruction was eventually dissolved in 1974. (See the notation for 1974)

 

 

1959            BYU Studies organized and first issue published

 

     On January 15, 1959, the first issue of BYU Studies was published. As editor for the next eight years, Clinton F Larson would have an assistant editor and would be assisted by eleven other scholars from various departments from BYU. Charles D. Tate Jr., editor from 1967 to 1983 would note that "BYU Studies was distinctively to be a journal in which faithful Latter-day Saint scholars could publish articles that explored the correlation of their secular studies and their religious convictions. He also would note that "the Brethren never did exercise any control over BYU Studies while I was the editor. I can only assume it was the same with those editors before and after me. The question was less one of censorship; it was more a question of good taste." However Edward A. Geary, editor from 1983-1991, would remark that "editors cannot help but be influenced by knowing that a copy of every issue of BYU Studies goes to each member of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the Quorums of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric." Tate notes that "the issue that was most instrumental in establishing BYU Studies as a valuable scholarly historical journal was the spring 1969 issue on the origins of the Church in New York. The articles in that issue showed that when scholars do their homework they find that Joseph Smith was telling the truth about what was happening around him historically. John Welch would note that "'forty years later, BYU Studies still strives to "publish articles that openly reflect a Latter-day Saint point of view and are obviously relevant to subjects of general interest to Latter-day Saints, while conforming to high scholarly standards.'"

 

Sources: Clinton F. Larson, "The Founding Vision of BYU Studies, 1959-1967," Charles D. Tate Jr., "BYU Studies from 1967 to 1983," Edward A. Geary, "Confessions of a Chameleon, 1983-1991," and John W. Welch, "Off on the Right Foot," in BYU Studies, vol. 38, Number 1, 1999, pp. 9-20.

 

     Note* A list of selected articles concerning Book of Mormon geography published by BYU Studies can be found in the following endnote ().

 

 

 

 

1959^      Daniel H. Ludlow            "Increasing Your Testimony Through Book of Mormon Studies,"

                             in Brigham Young University Lecture Series: Book of Mormon

                              Institute, Provo, Utah: Extension Publications, Adult Education and

                              Extension Services, 1959, pp. 17-22.

 

     At the time of these remarks, Daniel H. Ludlow was "Chairman of Department of Bible and Modern Scripture" at BYU (p. ii) He says the following:

     . . . It seems to me that the first thing we have to recognize about the Book of Mormon is that there are some things concerning this book that we must accept by faith. The Book of Mormon, however, does lend itself to scientific proof in certain areas, and I guess we are mostly concerned today in the institute with finding out what some of these proofs are and how we might use some of them.

     I think we should recognize, however, that we should not make claims concerning the Book of Mormon in areas which cannot be proven. In other words, I think we weaken our case a great deal if we claim more than we can prove. . . .

     . . . One reason for this is the fact that the Book of Mormon itself is an abridgment, and in some instances a very concise and short abridgement. I lam sure there could be certain hypotheses set up concerning United States history, for example, which could not be proven by a document of two and one-quarter pages in length that had been written on United States history since the time of the Constitution down until 1959. yet, that is what we expect the Book of Mormon to do, because those of you who have studied this book know that approximately two thousand years of Jaredite history are covered in thirty-one pages and this is abridged in about the same ratio as though you should write a history of the United States since the time of the Constitution in two and one-quarter pages. . . .

     . . . even though I admit that some of these proofs are coming forth, and I accept them and personally am glad for them, I am concerned with one major question. Why are we seeking these proofs? Why are we as members of the Church concerned with proving the Book of Mormon? I hope it is not primarily to convert other people to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Now you might think this is a strange statement, I hope this is a by-product of these investigations, but I hope that primarily we are not seeking for proofs of the Book of Mormon in order to convert other people to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. This smacks too much of the use of signs, and I do not believe that our Savior or anyone else concerned with the gospel plan of salvation would want to have signs replace faith. . . . I think the place of the sign or the proof is to develop faith that is already present, not to replace faith. "These signs shall follow them that believe." (Mark 16:17 and Mormon 9:24) . . .

     As Brother Christensen indicated in the talk immediately before luncheon, for a long time the archaeologists and others have held to the Bering Strait theory--that the progenitors of the American Indians came from the Far East, that they came across the Bering Strait and on down. Then the latter-day Saints come along and say, "No, this is not true. The progenitors of the American Indians came from the Near East. And they came by boat."

     Well, the fact is, I believe both of us are right. I do not think it is an either/or situation. I think most of the brethren here at the front table would agree with me on this. . . .

     I think that as Latter-day Saints we have asked for some of the criticism that we have received concerning some of the claims that we have made for the Book of Mormon. All of our claims cannot be right. When you get three different claims concerning something related tot the Book of Mormon, and these claims do not agree, then all of them cannot be right. That does not mean that even any of them are right. . . .

     Yesterday afternoon I was preparing some material for my Book of Mormon sections for next quarter, when we go into the books of Mosiah and Alma. I was interested in the geography of the Book of Mormon. I pulled down three commentaries and books on the Book of Mormon, and read three theories of Book of Mormon geography. In the books, they were even stated as more than theories. Two of the three books even had maps. One of them showed the Book of Mormon lands entirely in South America. One of them showed the Book of Mormon lands entirely in Central America. One of them showed the Book of Mormon lands in Central America and the rest in North America. Now, not all three of these can be right. Therefore, it seems to me that in these areas where we are not one hundred per cent sure, it would be best not to make the claim, rather than later on have to retract that claim.

     Also, as long as I have started this line of thought, I am going to make one other point. It seems to me we should be willing to share the evidences we do have with others and let them evaluate these evidences. In other words, if we have discovered something that is of real value, then I think we should be willing to produce this evidence and let it be searched and investigated by others. If it will not withstand the searchlight of thorough investigation, then I do not think we ought to teach this thing.

 

 

1959^      John L. Sorenson            "Anthropological Approaches of the Book of Mormon," in

                             Brigham Young University Lecture Series: Book of Mormon Institute,

                              Provo, Utah: Extension Publications, Adult Education and Extension

                              Services, 1959, pp. 25-36

 

     In introducing this topic, I would like to draw attention to some of the limitations that I see on the kind of research that has been done on the Book of Mormon in the past. We have been, for the most part, seeking proof. We have wanted to prove the Book of Mormon. . . .

     Let me put it this way--proof is subjective. What constitutes proof for you or for myself is so subjective that it could be personal revelation and others, lacking that experience or knowledge would not accept what was proof to me. . . . To many of us, the proof is now sufficient. To others who do not now believe, a little bit more proof may be sufficient. Still others would deny the sun if they were looking at it. There can simply never be final proof. . . .

     I would make the point, then, that general confirmation of a pattern will probably go further, and will certainly be easier and more reliable for us, that specific confirmation or concrete details or historical incidents. It is my personal conviction that we will never be able to get the information--that the evidence is simply not still available to us--to demonstrate specific historical events: when Lehi and Nephi landed or at what particular spot; at what particular spot the Savior came to the people at Bountiful. I do not believe that we have the information preserved for us so that we can get to these particularities.

     On the other hand if we look at the general pattern, we can find confirmation, and practically speaking the only confirmation. . . .

     I believe that our most fruitful approach to the Book of Mormon, in historical terms at least, is to try to reconstruct what this ancient way of life was, to complete the picture. How did people live? What was it like to be a Nephite? What went on? How did people operate? how did their society operate? What did they do every day? Anthropologists speak of a way of life, a pattern of living, as a culture. Now the culture of the Nephties in Zarahemla two thousand years ago was very distinct from ours. If we can reconstruct the picture, I believe that we can more effectively turn our hearts to those fathers, understanding them as people, not just as ghosts, neither just as bones, but as bones with the flesh on, real living, vivid people, who lived, who did not just exist. . . .

 

     Sorenson goes on to list and discuss the means that we have available to reconstruct this anceint way of life:

     Historical records

     Archaeological materials

     Linguistic relationships

     Ethnology--the study of cultures

     Physical anthropology--the biological characteristics of a people

     Comparative biology-where plants came from

     Physical geography-circumstances of their physical environment

 

     He then continues:

     Now, we have to make an assumption. We cannot compare with the scripture the historical-cultural information from all over the Western Hemisphere; there is too much that varies in this. So I make the assumption, and I think it is a sound one, that if we think of these events as taking place in the area of the highest civilization--which was not Peru and not North America but southern Mexico and northern Central America--that the circumstances which we can find from these lines of evidence in that area will shed light on what was happening to the Book of Mormon peoples.

 

 

 

 

1959^      Fletcher B. Hammond      Geography of the Book of Mormon, SLC: Utah Printing Company, 1959;

                             Reprinted in 1964

 

     Hammond presents information to support the idea that the Book of Mormon lands are located in Central America or Mexico. He suggests that a Hill Cumorah was located both in Palmyra New York and in Central America. A number of maps and diagrams are presented. [A Guide, p. 96]

     Hammond utilized only internal Book of Mormon maps with no actual geographical setting.

 

[1959      Illustrated Model (Multiple Maps)      Fletcher Hammond       INTERNAL-Mesoamerica influence]

Source: Fletcher Hammond, Geography of the Book of Mormon, 1959.

 

 

     Hammond writes that the 1904 first edition of the B.H. Roberts' edited History of the Church in seven volumes had the account [A-1] as Richards had left it. In 1934 and 1948, however, under the direction of Joseph Fielding Smith who became Church historian, Benson's version [A-2] was substituted for that of Richards version [A-1] and explicit references to the Hill Cumorah and the Nephites were reintroduced. That phrasing has continued to the present in all reprintings.

     In 1957, Preston Nibley, assistant Church historian, authorized Fletcher Hammond to announce that the 1904 edition was correct:

     President Nibley, assistant Church historian, and I, on August 29, 1957, carefully examined a microfilm copy of the original pen-and-ink entry of the Zelph incident in the Prophet's journal, and Brother Nibley has authorized me to say that the 1904 edition of the Documentary History of the Church Vol. II at pages 79 and 80 correctly reports the "Zelph" incident; and that the part of the 1934 (and the 1948) edition of the same history which differs from it is erroneous. That is to say that the Prophet Joseph did not say: "Onandagus who was known from the hill Cumorah, or, eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains"; but he did say: "Onandagus, who was known from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains"; he did not say Zelph was killed "during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and the Nephites"; but he did say Zelph was killed in a battle . . . during a great struggle with the Lamanites." (Geography of the Book of Mormon, by Fletcher B. Hammond pp. 102-103)

 

     (See also Kenneth W. Godfrey, "The Zelph Story," F.A.R.M.S., 1989; also Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 352-353. Palmer 1981:77)

 

 

 

1960^      Ross T. Christensen      "Fallacious Notions Concerning Book of Mormon Archaeology," in UAS

                       Newsletter, Num. 64, B. Y. U. , Provo, Utah: The University

                       Archaeological Society, January 30, 1960, 64.02, pp. 2-4

     Christensen notes:

     The following paper was writen by the editor of this Newsletter after he had completed the master's degree in archaeology at AYU and while attending the university of Arizona continuing his doctoral study in anthroplogy. It was read in 1951 at the Soceity's Fifth Annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures (Newsletter, 4.8) and again in 1952 at the 29th annual BYU Leadership Week. In the light of developments whiwch have taken place since then, a rereading of the jpaper seems particularly worthwhile. . . . The present version has been slightly revised, but in no ocase has the essential meaning been modified.

     The Problem.

  

INCLUDE

 

     In a very interesting article, Ross Christensen confronts the notions of his day with regard to the study (and teaching) of Book of Mormon geography and culture:

     Now, before going any further, it seems necessary to comment on certain ideas which I feel sure are based on misconceptions of the true situation. William E. Berrett once stated that he was quite willing to defend the Book of Mormon but that he was equally unwilling to defend everything that had been said about the Book of Mormon. My aversion is toward certain notions which have grown up centering around the concept of "proof."

     In the first place, the statement that the Book of Mormon has already been proved by archaeology is misleading. The truth of the matter is that we are only now beginning to see even the outlines of the archaeological time-periods which could compare with those of the Book of Mormon. How, then, can the matter have been settled once and for all? That such an idea could exist indicates the ignorance of many of our people with regard to what is going on in the historical and anthropological sciences. . . . As for the notion that the Book of Mormon has already been proved by archaeology, I must say with Shakespeare, "Lay not that flattering unction to your soul!" (Hamlet III:4).

     There are others, more sophisticated, who say that the Book of Mormon, because of its very nature can never be proved by archaeology: it deals with miraculous events such as healings, prophecies, visions, and transoceanic migrations under divine guidance. While this is true, yet it also tells of populous cities and of the occupation of vast territories by advanced civilizations (cf. Newsletter 40). Many intimate glimpses into the material cultures of peoples totaling millions are given in its 522 pages. It is unthinkable that such civilizations might not have left behind material remains by means of which the authenticity of the Book can be thoroughly tested by the science of archaeology.

     There are other persons, still more sophisticated, who hold that the record can never be disproved by New World archaeology. ". . . The Book of Mormon," according to one of them, "is immune to attack from the West," the idea being that it is essentially an Old World scripture, the proof or disproof of which lies in Old World philological and historical studies, and that, since we simply do not know the New World geography of the Book, ". . . no findings can be taken as unequivocal evidence against it" (Hugh Nibley, in Improvement Era, Vol. 51, p. 202 ff., 1948). If we do not find the evidence in the place where our study has led us to expect it, it surely lies hidden in some part of the Americas.

     The author of this assertion, incidentally, has been of great service in pointing out a fruitful field of study in the Old World backgrounds of the Book of Mormon. Nevertheless, I respectfully disagree with his opinion that no amount of negative evidence in the New World can disprove its claims. It is entirely possible that we shall some day have a thorough knowledge of the archaeological history of the entire New World, and if our search nowhere turns up materials that can be fitted into the Book of Mormon picture of extensive civilizations of Near Eastern origin, then that record stands disproved. In a word, I am fully confident that the nature of the Book is such that a definitive archaeological test can be applied to it.

     There are still other Latter-day Saints who announce that it does not make any difference to them whether we prove or disprove the Book of Mormon by archaeology--that their faith is so firm that it does not matter to them one way or the other what the archaeologist discovers. They imply that it is vain or meaningless to study this science in connection with their scripture, for it can add nothing to what they already know. While I agree that the Book holds within itself a testimony of its own validity sufficient for the satisfaction of those who already believe in it, this fact in no wise makes a correlated study of archaeology either vain or meaningless; for although such study may not add to our certainty of its truthfulness, it has high promise of helping us to understand what we are reading. "With all thy getting, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7). Surely no Latter-day Saint, however strong his testimony, can claim a sufficient understanding of the culture, or customs, of those ancient peoples to make the Book fully comprehensible to him.

     "But," someone says, "it is the doctrine and the dealings of God, not the customs of the people, that interest me." I agree that the doctrine is of greater importance than the customs, for it is by a knowledge of the doctrine that we attain salvation; but I hold that it is not possible fully to understand the one without the other. The greater our knowledge of the customs of the Book of Mormon peoples, the greater our understanding of their doctrinal or religious teachings. . . .

     Some even hold that we have no need of studying the historical setting, that the only importance of the book lies in its doctrine. Are we to understand from this that it makes no difference whether the historical events recounted in the Book of Mormon actually happened?--that its historical framework may be merely a convenient literary vehicle which Joseph Smith used to convey religious teachings to the people? Let me say that it makes a great deal of difference whether the events recounted actually happened! If the Book's history is fallacious, its doctrine cannot be genuine. On the other hand, if the historical content proves to be correct, by inference, it is impossible that the doctrine could be incorrect. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16) . . .

     "I'm not interested in archaeology," someone says, "because nothing it could ever find would affect my faith." Maybe so, but what about the faith of our brother? ". . . As all have not faith . . ." we are counselled to teach and edify one another (Doctrine and Covenants 109:7). Shall we not do everything in our power to strengthen him? What about our young people, who, in response to our teachings about enlightenment, are students in the various universities in large numbers? . . .

     "But," someone insists, "the Lord intends that we shall accept the Book of Mormon on the basis of faith." Latter-day Saints also believe in anointing with consecrated oil to effect healing by faith. Does anyone say, because of our belief in the power of the Priesthood, that we do not accept the services of the physician? Not at all! We utilize both the power of the Priesthood and the wisdom of science, on the rationale that we are entitled to divine help only when we are doing everything we can to help ourselves.

     And what about those who are not of our faith? Is it not our duty to present the Gospel to them in the best light of which we are capable? . . . It is true that the Holy Ghost will guide the prayerful missionary in the things he should say, but it is too much to expect the Spirit always to cover up for our neglect, to supply that which we lack merely because we have not had the industry to get it for ourselves.

 

 

 

1960^      John L. Sorenson      "Letter" to Bruce W. Warren, 15 July 1960

 

     In July, 1960 Bruce W. Warren sent John L. Sorenson a letter containing archaeological research information from Southern Mexico. The letter also contained a map and a good amount of information [which unfortunately I don't have at present] proposing a Book of Mormon geography model (see Warren's map below). In Sorenson's letter he not only critique's Warren's model, but gives insights into his own ideas which he has mapped out (see map below?--GET FROM SORENSON). He writes:

Dear Bruce,

     Thanks for your letter and enclosures. I don't have time to, but took it anyway, to review geography of BM when I read your piece. I've pointed out on it several things I think ruin it, though it is ingenious. . . . Now that I have reread big chunks and looked over maps anew I feel more confident than ever that I've got it! Sounds familiar, I know. Watch now though.

     Omer's trip can't begin to catch Moron, shim, Cumorah and your Ablom in order, it seems to me. And how can the movements between Manti and Zar. possibly work out if you have the Lacandon desierto in-between. See the enclosed map though. The red line is Gates' estimate of boundary of Maya speakers 1000-1500 AD. Let's equate Maya with Lamantie not as to Lang. origin (anymore than Aramaic or Turkish in O.W.) I believe this correlation can be made. Note where wars always start--either at Chiapas-Guate. border or along plateau just east of Sidon river, or by extension, on down around Comalcalco--equals ca. Moroni. The hatched area will qualify as a narrow strip of wilderness I'm confident. Note the picture of Nephite land of Zarahemla (big sense) projecting into Maya-Lamanite territory with pressured necessary at margins to maintain boundaries. Alma 62:30-35, espec. latter, requires the whole east coast to be restricted, to about two days' travel as I see it. (vss. 30-35 all take place in one day). Bountiful can't be anything but next door to the pass. Just today it dawned on me that we must cut down more in size and not make it less. I believe now that "north countries" means Mexico north of isthmus but "land northward", you'll note, in every case comes out "better" (my judgment) if restricted only to Veracruz. I think the Nephites were limited in possession to that area and none of the retreats got into the mountains--Oaxaca is out of it Nephite-wise. That means the narrow pass can be clarified. It has to be just "north" of Bout. yet to come to the city of Desolation one comes "down" out of the pass. I am convinced now that it is where this map shows it--the route over the ridge into the San Juan river valley which leads north. See how Limhi's party could have confused that area with Zarahemla-Chiapas--same orientation same general appearance. They fall right into old ruins and battlegrounds (I may have Cumorah too far north, suspect it is outlier of Tuxtlas, where Lamanite commander would feel he had Nephites trapped. Why did Nephites go south into land southward when escaping from Cumorah? Lands, friends, language bearers were that way. Plenty of hills to west to hide in, but those were not "Nephite" territory--those were other people--Zapotec, etc., descendants of jaredites and perhaps others. The highlands of central Mexico just don't get into the Nephite picture at all. Note too the concern to stop Morianton an group because of fear of allying with Bountiful--makes sense this way. I think Mormon and retreating Nephites could have gone as far as Tierra Blanca area or farther--to Jalapa even, in retreats, but got to come to Cumorah for final battle because Lamantie commander had extended supply lines (they did not live completely off the land as several passages indicates) and though he'd have them trapped at Tuxtlas anyway. No, Bruce, Limhi's party just didn't get to V. of Mexico, not in my book. Note how neatly this pulls various archaeological and linguistic correlations into line if Nephites in L. North. stuck to Veracruz. Note too that in Wolf's "Sons" book he reconstructs language changes on maps from Swadesh and sees Totonac spread from Zoque homeland north to present home ca. 350 A.D. Why not Zoque-Tot., etc. as Mulekite language (the dominant one of L. of Zara. surely (?). Gideon is the route where one goes to Nephi (see sons of Mos. meeting Alma there on way back home, etc.) which points to Amatenango area. Note too how normal it is for Lamanite armies or Nephite dissenters to begin flights from this salient--the logical way to Guatemala. What's wrong with Manti right up where I have it? All. 58:23-24 show relatively close connection of Manti to Zara.

     I looked over Fletcher Hammond's BM Geography book the other day. He pulls some bloopers and is naive on many things, but it is pretty good in general. But I note he thinks there have to be two Aarons in order to connect Alma's departure from Ammonihah to Aaron and Aaron's being adjacent to Nephihah. Only solution to this problem is of course to shorten up the east coast and get Ammonihah closer to Aaron as I've done.

     Bruce, on Zarahemla being east of river, the main criticism there must be when the Nephties chase Amlicites from Hill Amnihu to Gideon, then hurry "out" of Gideon (elsewhere it is "down" from Gideon to Z.) to intercept Lam. and Amlicites before they get to Zara. by traveling down the river. If Z. is not ont he west bank why do the Nephites try so desperately to cross the river there and then--why not go down east of river to Z. and shut the door? Also by having Usumacinta as Sidon you have to have Gideon east of it, which leads to absurdity considering relations of Gideon to Zara.

     Another consideration is that "lands" have to have real topographical sense. I believe the key to the east coast cities' locations may be in that. I suspect that just about all the decent "islands" of land among the swamps of Tabasco are covered by one or another of the lands mentioned in Alma. Note too sites near Paraiso (see Moroni on my map) reported both sunk in lagoon and also (acc. to Berlin) being washed away by sea. Sounds about right for Moroni. Jakeman's placement of Moroni and Bountiful is completely ruled out by Al. 51:25-26 and Al. 62:25, 32, etc. If you insist on putting Bountiful where you have it the B. of M. is sunk to keep the chronicles afloat!

     I'm not very happy with the messy Jaredites though. I decided today that they, like the Nephites, were limited to the east coast (Gareth wanted to do this, mostly, some years ago. Of course I mean the historically-recorded, Book of Ether Jaredites, not all the descendants). But How about Moron's being "Up" so many times. In one of the battles, someone comes "up" against Morn and dries out Lib and chases him to the seashore--pretty hard to do just in Veracruz. To me Ablom seem s certain between Alvarado and Coatzacoalcos, but that is mostly because I feel confident of Cumorah, Limhi party, etc. Moron in Mixtec might work. Note Wolf's reconstruction of glottochronology has "Oto-Zapotecan" and Macro-Mayan taking over scene ca. 4000 B.C. (give or take some--I prefer a much later date at that range.) The better bet to me is Macro-Mayan as jaredite--that accounts for calendar, etc. and Mayan language among "Lamanites" and also secret orders, etc., See what I mean through all that wordage? Lib's city was built ca. 12-1300 B.C. by the chronology I have worked out. If anything, that date is high? La Venta would make an inviting Lib's city but is it too late? San Lorenzo might be it instead, or some other, of course.

     I've checked this thing against the text in dozens of places. Not only does it fit each one where any detail is given, it actually builds its own new pictures. I realize yo are reluctant to accept redefinition of the directions involved, but here is one place the chronicles can serve, maybe" East is you know where there. North. Etc. Well, happy geographical dreams. . . .

                             H. la vista,

                             John

 

[1960      Map: Limited Mesoamerican Model. Bruce W. Warren, 1960]

 

[1960      Map: Limited Mesoamerican Model. John L. Sorenson, 1960]      FIND!!!

 

 

 

 

[1960      Illustrated Model      Gareth W. Lowe      LIMITED MESOAMERICA]

Sidon = Ulua River / Zarahemla = Ulua River Valley, Honduras / L.N. = northward from the Motagua River / H.C. = southern Belize

Source: Gareth Lowe: Personal communication, 19 July 1960, to J. L. Sorenson, together with a 15 August 1960 personal communication to Bruce W. Warren. (copy in possession of John Sorenson).

 

 

[1960      Illustrated Model      Gareth W. Lowe      LIMITED MESOAMERICA]

Land of Nephi = Elsalvador and Honduras / Sidon = Usumacinta River / Zarahemla middle Usumacinta (implied) / N.N. = possibly the strip of coastal dunes along the Tabasco coast / H.C. = Not specified (Tuxtla mountains implied)

Source: Gareth Lowe: Personal communication, 5 Oct. 1960, to Bruce W. Warren. (copy in possession of John Sorenson).

 

 

 

1960^                  Deseret Sunday School Union Board, Leaders of the Scriptures, Copyright 1960,

                  Printed by Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1960.

 

     In Chapter 46, "Mormon, The Righteous Commander: we have the following:

     Soon the Lamanites were after them again, and they drove them as chaff in the wind. They were finally driven as far as the district around the Hill Cumorah.

     In this historic place, the same place where the last battles of the Jaredites were fought, the final great struggle took place. (p. 139)

 

     In Chapter 47, "Moroni, The Last of the Nephites" we read:

     Moroni then buried the sacred record in the Hill Cumorah, and died--the last of the Nephites. . . Meanwhile, the sacred record lay in the Hill Cumorah for fourteen long centuries, until the time of Joseph Smith. . . .

     He introduced himself as Moroni, the same Moroni who had hidden the Nephite record in the Hill Cumorah. He told Joseph of the record and of many more things. The Hill Cumorah was not far from Joseph's home, and when Moroni spoke of it he immediately recognized it. . . .

 

     Note* Without any qualifying statements, a New York Hill Cumorah is implied here for the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites.

 

 

 

1960^      Joseph E. Vincent      "Book of Mormon Lands," Compiled and drawn by Joseph E. Vincent.

                       Distributed by GEMAC Corp., Montrose, California, 1960.

 

     This map was originally printed by mimeograph at the Mission Home in Mexico City about 1956 or 57, and has been revised several times since then. The compiler wishes to acknowledge his thanks to the author of Hammond's Geography of the Book of Mormon for some of his revisions have been made to correspond with that book which was published a few years later than the original map. For several years the staff of the Department of Archaeology of B.Y.U. has been excavating near Aguacatal, on the River Usumacinta which it feels is possibly the same as the River Sidon of the Book of Mormon. The New World Archaeological Foundation, however, has been excavating at Chiapa de Corzo on the River Grijalva, which it feels is the River Sidon. As a starting point for his map, the compiler located his River Sidon approximately half way between the two rivers just mentioned, and from this point, plotted the other points, bending the land area slightly to conform in a general way to the outline of southern Mexico. . . . The map does not locate any spots specifically. Hammond, in his geography does about the same thing, but instead of trying to make the land conform with known lands, leaves his land area in a "roundish" irregular mass. The compiler of this map felt that it was better to give his readers a shape with which they were already familiar rather than use an irregular shape which would mean little to them. At the same time it was felt that this conformity with the present terrain would give the readers a better idea of where the events most likely took place. Except for this one difference, Hammond's map and this one are substantially the same.

 

(See also the Vincent notation for 1963, and the 1959 Hammond notation.)

 

[1960      Illustrated Model      Joseph E. Vincent      LIMITED MESOAMERICA]

L.S.=Southern & eastern Mesoamerica / N.N.=Isth. of Tehuan. / L.N.=N. of Isth. of Tehuan. to just beyond Valley of Mexico / H.C.=Valley of Mexico / Sid. R.=Unclear (Grijalva or Usumacinta)

Source: Joseph E. Vincent, Book of Mormon Lands, Mentone, California, 1960. Also "Some Views on Book of Mormon Geography," Papers of the Fourteenth Annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures, edited by Forrest R. Hauck, pp. 61-69, BYU Dept. of Extension Publications: Provo, Utah, 1963.

 

[1960      Theoretical Map      Bruce Warren      LIMITED MESOAMERICAN

Note* Warren begins formulating maps which would eventually culminate in the published map appearing in his 1987 publication. (see 1987)

 

 

1960^      Alma P. and Clea M. Burton      "The Hill Cumorah and Ancient Records," in Stories from

                             Mormon History, SLC: Deseret Book, 1960, pp. 87-116.

 

     In the Foreword the Burtons writes:

      Finding an incident, experience, story, or event to enhance a speech or a lesson for a class is not always an easy matter. . . . The compilers of this work have found, over a period of many years, that the items included in this book have been extremely useful in making preparation for Church assignments.

 

     Chapter three is titled "The Hill Cumorah and Ancient Records." These stories (which have all been recorded previously--see notations) are listed. Some pertinent ones are as follows:

The Hill Cumorah by Brigham Young (p. 89) Source: Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, pp. 36-39. [see the 1877 notation] This is the Cave Story.

 

A Room in the Hill Cumorah by Edward Stevenson (p. 92) Source: Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, p. 14. [see the 1870-71 and 1893 notations] This is also a Cave Story

 

Fortifications at the Hill Cumorah by Heber C. Kimball Source: Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 41. [see the 1888 notation] This story talks about the final battles and specifically identifies the Hill Cumorah in New York.

 

Battles fought at the Hill Cumorah By Oliver Cowdery Source: Oliver Cowdery, Messenger and Advocate, 1834-1835. Reprinted in