long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

4th of July


Ether 2:12

In Ether 2, Moroni inserted a long comment about the land in which he lived. This was the land "in this north country" where some of the Jaredites lived. This is the land "preserved for a righteous people."

Some people think it doesn't matter where this land is. That's fine with me. Some think Moroni is speaking of a small desolate desert area, or a small impoverished jungle area, or other places on other continents. All fine with me.

In my opinion, though. it does matter, and Moroni is referring to what I call Moroni's America.

Ether 2: 

And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.
 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.
 10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
 11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
 12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
 13 And now I proceed with my record;


  1. Before I even think of considering the Mesoamerican model, I need to know why I should should be expected to redefine the words North, South, East and West? Before I even think of considering the Great Lakes model, I need to know why I should be expected to redefine the word Sea to mean a fresh water lake? A properly brought up 14 year old would not fall for that crap.

    1. First, while I agree that the need to redefine the cardinal directions raises significant challenges to Sorensen's model (and variants), his is not the only Mesoamerican model. You might look into Kirk Magleby's or Mark Wright's models. In both you'll find that the cardinal directions are the cardinal directions.

      Second, you don't need to "redefine" the word sea for it to mean freshwater lake. The "Sea of Galilee," a freshwater lake, plays a fairly significant role in the Gospels.

      "But," you might say, "the New Testament wasn't written in English; it's a translation." To which I'd say, "Isn't that also true of the Book of Mormon?"

      For a freshwater lake to be among the possible definitions of "sea," you only need to recognize that the Book of Mormon was translated into English from a language closely approximating Hebrew (see Mormon 9:32-33). The most likely underlying Hebrew word translated as "sea" in the Book of Mormon is YaM, which generally means a (relatively) enclosed body of standing water.

      What YaM does not seem to mean, at least during the Old Testament era, is open ocean. That would be "TeHoM" (the underlying word for "great deep").

  2. The reasons are many to believe it happened in the US area. How about the Law of Moses? They lived it strictly, and couldn't do that down there in Central and South America. Joseph made it clear. There has been much confusion, but the need for understanding is important now. They didn't live in that large of an area! The Hill Cumorah is in NY, duh! Jk. Learn all of the evidences, they are really compelling!

  3. I didn't mean to say that you're not cool, just what you said wasn't cool. My bad! I don't think it's becoming of a president of some organization that means well. You gotta realize people get to choose, and they get to have opinions, and they understand something different even when reading the same scholarly stuff as that you read.

  4. Nice to have you, Doug. I started this blog to generate discussion and interest. I want more people to read the Book of Mormon and study it, and I hope the geography debates give people another reason to do that.

    For readers here, I think BMAF is great. I've attended their conferences, and I know a lot of their people, all of whom are delightful. I'm happy to discuss things with them any time. I really mean this. The metaphorical "wars" about geography issues are over because everyone gets along, even when we agree to disagree about different perspectives and interpretations.

    Here is the BMAF mission statement: "Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican document."

    That mission statement explains everything BMAF does.

    Once I realized BMAF is a club for Mesoamerican advocates, I've put their material in perspective. Let's say someone formed a group whose mission statement was "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Cambodian document." They would produce all kinds of "correspondences" with ancient cultures in Cambodia. After all, if Joseph was speculating, there is no principled rationale for limiting the Book of Lands to the Americas.

    One requirement to join the Mesoamerican club is to put on the Mesoamerican lenses, so that you see Mesoamerica in the text. I've discussed this at length. That's not a criticism, but a simple observation that is apparent to everyone who reads the BMAF material.

    Here, for example, Doug makes a common logical fallacy of appeal to authority. Then he claims Heartlanders are discouraged from reading the "scholarly" material. He doesn't realize that hundreds of posts on this very blog specifically address material published by "BYU, FARMS, BofM Central, BMAF and many more." I've read it all, and I've always encouraged people to read what those groups publish. Unlike those groups, I don't suppress anything.

    In fact, I'm fine with people believing in the Mesoamerican setting, or Baja, or Chile, or Cambodia, wherever. All I'm doing on this blog is explaining why I think the way I do. People are free to agree or disagree.

    My point about Letter VII, for example, is not that everyone has to accept it, but that those who reject it need to take responsibility for rejecting it and not simply pretend it doesn't exist, that Joseph had nothing to do with it, that it wasn't ubiquitous and universally accepted when Joseph was alive, etc.

    In my view, more information is better than less. The groups Dave mentioned--BYU, FARMS, BofM Central, BMAF and many more--have long represented a monolithic point of view. I hope that's changing. In the meantime, on this blog, I offer a different perspective.

    I've sent traffic to all of those sites. I particularly respect Book of Mormon Central, which is making an effort to more closely adhere to the Church's official policy of neutrality.

    Anyone interested should go to BMAF.org and read their material. Decide for yourself how scholarly it is, how open-minded, and how historically accurate. I've done that, and long-time readers here know what I think.

  5. Typo alert. The sentence above should read: After all, if Joseph was speculating, there is no principled rationale for limiting the Book of Mormon Lands to the Americas.

  6. Two things, Doug.

    First: "Why do you insist that 'this land' is only a section of the now USA? It seems clear to me that Joseph considered all the Americas (North, Central, South) as the promised land."

    Wow! A straw man and a non-sequitur. I didn't realize BMAF embraced a hemispheric model to Book of Mormon geography. Because that's what his post is about, right? Where the Book of Mormon took place.

    I think most "Heartlanders" look at the Hopewell era and culture, and Jonathan seems no exception. Looking at his map, it appears he incorporates a fair amount of Upper Canada and even gets down a little into Mexico. Granted, I think Jonathan probably believes that the core Nephite lands were (by and large) within the borders of the current United States, but that probably has something to do with 1 Nephi 13, or 3 Nephi 21, or the very passage he quoted in his original post. Or maybe D&C 128:20. Or maybe 3 Nephi 21:23-24 with Ether 13:2-4 and D&C 84:2-4.

    A better question in my mind is why your reflexive rejection of the possibility that (the bulk of) the Book of Mormon could have occurred within the borders of the United States?

  7. Second: "Your claim that we are being untrue to our dear prophet Joseph is, frankly, insulting."

    This feels like a straw-man again. No one has accused BMAF, et al., of being "untrue to our dear prophet." You've been accused of contorting language in order to ignore his statements relevant to the setting of the Book of Mormon, or just dismissing them as "personal speculation."

    Do you deny that characterization? I mean, I'm pretty sure you've written that Joseph Smith was just taking stabs in the dark on Book of Mormon geography and, "Believe it or not, I don't think JS knew the BofM very well." Frankly, I find your comment mystifying -- I believe Joseph Smith was tutored by one of the principle authors of the Book of Mormon (Moroni) over the course of several years, and that he had interactions with other writers as well, and that if ever there was anyone who could be considered an expert on the Book of Mormon, it was him. Don't you see at least a *little* hubris in the conclusion that Joseph didn't know the Book of Mormon very well; but *we* do.