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.

Friday, June 28, 2024

The BYU Fantasy map again

Everyone's favorite Come Follow Me podcaster, Tyler Griffin, is still using his fantasy map to teach the Book of Mormon.

Tyler is awesome. He's a great guy, a PhD in Instructional Technology, the Associate Dean of Religious Education at BYU, a faithful Latter-day Saint, exemplary in every way. I like him and I respect his dedication and effectiveness as an educator.

But he keeps teaching the Book of Mormon as if it was fiction.

Tyler works with Scripture Central (aka Book of Mormon Central). They released this video on Instagram this week:


Naturally, it attracted critical comments. But what else does Tyler and Scripture Central expect when they adhere to a fictional map and don't accommodate alternative interpretations, contrary to their own purported standards?

In the Fall 2019 issue of BYU Religious Education Review, Tyler explained his rationale for creating and promoting this map. "To not promote anyone's personal theories regarding exact locations of Book of Mormon events, VirtualScriptures.org includes a geography-neutral Book of Mormon map. It is intentionally not linked to any modern maps of the Americas. Our map is a relational one, based on details found only within the text itself."

That is a commendable aspiration. It would be great if it was true. But the map is hardly "geography-neutral." It depicts "details" that are not found within the text, but are merely interpretations promoted by the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs (M2C) theorists.

Which is exactly what we have come to expect from Scripture Central, which has always adhered to M2C as an inviolable and sacrosanct bedrock foundation. Until this year, M2C was even embedded in its corporate logo.

The most obvious of the M2C interpretations Tyler uses that are not found in the text include the claims that 

(i) the terms "land northward" and "land southward" are proper nouns, not relative terms; 

(ii) the "narrow neck of land" is an isthmus connecting large land masses (i.e., Central America) and not ordinary riparian features as the term was used in Joseph Smith's era (such as by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), and  

(iii) the Hill Cumorah/Ramah is not in New York, contrary to the well-documented teachings of the prophets over the years, including President Oliver Cowdery's declaration that the New York Cumorah/Ramah is a fact (Letter VII).

Tyler went on to say that "It is intended that readers will be able to take our internal map and stretch it, compress it, and modify it to fit whatever model they prefer for their own study purposes."

In the first place, the map is a fixed image. No one can "take" it and modify it. In fact, because I do computer modeling, I once asked Tyler for the file he used to create the map so I could actually modify his map. He refused.

In the second place, nowhere has Tyler offered or used an alternative map that reflects alternative interpretations of the "details found only within the text itself." He could easily teach from a variety of "relational" maps that depict interpretations other than the M2C interpretation. He could use his M2C-inspired map in one podcast, then another "neutral" map inspired by the NY Cumorah in another podcast.

But he won't.

We can all see that instead of offering a variety of possible interpretations of the text that fit a variety of real-world settings, Tyler and Scripture Central have been using this fictional map to imprint the M2C-inspired interpretation of the Book of Mormon on the minds of thousands of BYU students and all the viewers of their podcasts and other presentations.

This is what leads people to infer Tyler and Scripture Central are using their fantasy map as a not-so-subliminal ruse to teach M2C. 

The reality that Scripture Central is not neutral is evident from its Spanish page, where Scripture Central explicitly teaches its M2C real-world map. Most English-speaking Latter-day Saints don't realize what's going on.


For English-speaking audiences, Tyler and Scripture Central pretend to be "neutral." But for Spanish-speaking audiences, they drop the charade and come right out to teach M2C.


There's another, more fundamental problem. While teaching M2C through the ruse of this fantasy map, Tyler and Scripture Central are imposing an obviously fictional setting that equates the Book of Mormon to a fantasy world such as Lord of the Rings.

Teaching a fictional setting could hardly be the intention of the Church's position of neutrality regarding the setting of the Book of Mormon.

[Clarification: I agree with and support the Church's position of neutrality because there are innumerable sites that correspond to the text, including thousands lost to development and other destruction, because the directions and distances described in the text are vague as we would expect in an ancient text, and because the only specific, unambiguous setting taught by the prophets is the Hill Cumorah/Ramah in New York. Everything beyond Cumorah is subject to further study and analysis.]

You can see the fantasy map here:


There they explain the rationale this way:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not officially endorse any one particular geographical model for where the events in The Book of Mormon transpired in the New World. For that reason, we have designed and prepared this artistic rendering in such a way that you can get a basic idea of approximate directions and theoretical relationships between various geographical features mentioned in the stories.

If the Church does not endorse any one particular geographical model, why does Tyler and Book of Mormon Central? 

Particularly when their one model is a fictional fantasy land?

To actually reflect the Church's rational neutrality position, Tyler and Scripture Central would employ a variety of "relational" maps that at least depict the variety of rational interpretations of the text instead of adhering only to the M2C-inspired interpretation.

Even better, they could teach a variety of maps that corroborate and support, instead of repudiate, the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah/Ramah.


Finally, look how Tyler's fantasy map depicts Cumorah.

Compare that with the M2C maps developed by L.E. Hills in 1917 and later by John Sorenson/BYU Studies and CES. We can all see they are based on the same interpretation of the text that repudiates the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah/Ramah.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Audio books now available

For many years, people have asked for audio versions of my books. I recorded one of the shorter books but never got around to editing the recording.

Now we're happy to announce that audio versions are being released.


In addition, I've been updating some of the books with new material. I updated The Rational Restoration in May 2024, for example. 

New material and updates are often posted on mobom.org as well.


From time to time I also post new material on my other blogs, such as these:




Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Intertextuality: Alma 15

This is the last of the intertextuality posts on this blog. Additional examples will continue to be found at mobom.org.


By now, readers can see the point. You can take pretty much any chapter from the Book of Mormon (or D&C or PGP) and see that the nonbiblical language has intertextuality with Jonathan Edwards and other Christian authors.

This intertextuality is evidence that Joseph translated the plates, as he always said. 

Joseph explained from the beginning, in his own handwriting, that he had an "intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations."

"the all importent concerns of for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations."


Despite this evidence that corroborates what Joseph and Oliver always said, there will be many who continue to promote the SITH (stone-in-the-hat) narrative invented by Jonathan Hadley and promoted by Mormonism Unvailed, David Whitmer, and even, arguably Emma Smith shortly before she died. 

Modern SITH promoters include John Dehlin, CES Letter, our friends at the Interpreter and Scripture Central, and many others. 

Which is all fine. People can believe whatever they want.

We just want people to make informed decision.


Annotation of Alma 15

Alma 15 is a good example because it shows that a high percentage of Book of Mormon language is also KJV language. Few of the KJV words/phrases are not also found in Edwards, including the so-called "blended" passages.

The blue Book of Mormon words/phrases in the annotation are nonbiblical and also not found in Edwards. In some cases noted below, the nonbiblical language is close to Edwards (e.g., plural instead of singular). There are several examples in the Book of Mormon of paraphrased or misquoted passages from the KJV that are identical to paraphrased or misquoted KJV passages in Edwards' works.

The red words/phrases are nonbiblical Book of Mormon wording that are also found in Edwards' works.

Naturally, Edwards is not the only person who ever used this nonbiblical Book of Mormon terminology. English is a common language or we couldn't understand one another. But the ready availability of Edwards' works in Palmyra during Joseph's youth indicates that Edwards was a possible source for Joseph's vocabulary that he used when translating the plates.

Bold = KJV 

Blue = nonbiblical BofM/D&C w/o JE 

Red = nonbiblical BofM/D&C and JE 


Chapter 15

Alma and Amulek go to Sidom and establish a church—Alma heals Zeezrom, who joins the Church—Many are baptized, and the Church prospers—Alma and Amulek go to Zarahemla. About 81 B.C.

1 And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek were commanded to depart out of that city; and they departed, and came out even into the land of Sidom; and behold, there they found all the people who had departed out of the land of Ammonihah, who had been cast out and stoned[1], because they believed[2] in the words of Alma.

2 And they related[3] unto them all that had happened[4] unto their wives and children, and also concerning themselves[5], and of their power of deliverance.

3 And also Zeezrom lay sick[6] at Sidom, with a burning fever[7], which was caused by the great tribulations[8] of his mind on account of[9] his wickedness, for he supposed that[10] Alma and Amulek were no more[11]; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity[12]. And this great sin[13], and his many other sins[14], did harrow up[15] his mind until it did become exceedingly sore[16], having no deliverance[17]; therefore he began to be scorched[18] with a burning heat[19].

4 Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began[20] to take courage[21]; and he sent a message immediately[22] unto them, desiring them[23] to come unto him.

5 And it came to pass that they went immediately[24], obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low[25] with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand[26], and besought[27] them that they would heal him[28].

6 And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ[29] unto salvation[30]?

7 And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.

8 And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ[31] thou canst be healed.

9 And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words.

10 And then Alma cried unto the Lord[32], saying: O Lord our God[33], have mercy on[34] this man[35], and heal him[36] according to his faith[37] which is in Christ[38].

11 And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet[39], and began to walk[40]; and this was done to the great astonishment[41] of all the people; and the knowledge of this[42] went forth throughout all the land[43] of Sidom.

12 And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth[44] to preach unto the people[45].

13 And Alma established a church[46] in the land of Sidom, and consecrated priests and teachers[47] in the land, to baptize unto the Lord whosoever were desirous to be[48] baptized.

14 And it came to pass that they were many[49]; for they did flock in[50] from all the region round about Sidom, and were baptized.

15 But as to the people[51] that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted[52] and a stiffnecked[53] people; and they repented not[54] of their sins, ascribing[55] all the power[56] of Alma and Amulek to the devil[57]; for they were of the profession[58] of Nehor, and did not believe[59] in the repentance of their sins[60].

16 And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken[61] all his gold, and silver, and his precious things[62], which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected[63] by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred;

17 Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing a great check[64], yea, seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts[65], and began to humble themselves before God[66], and began to assemble themselves[67] together[68] at their sanctuaries[69] to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan[70], and from death, and from destruction—

18 Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him[71] in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.

19 And thus ended the tenth year of the reign of the [72]judges over the people of Nephi.

(Alma 15–15:19)


[1] BM (2)

[2] OT (1) NT (1) BM (1) JE (5)

[3] BM (2) PGP (7) JE (736)

[4] OT (1) BM (5)

[5] BM (1) JE (23)

[6] NT (2) BM (1) JE (2)

[7] BM (2) JE (3) JE: “betaking myself to my bed, I lay in a burning fever” “lay in a burning fever till night”

[8] BM (1) PGP (2) JE (2)

[9] BM (10) JE (236)

[10] NT (3) BM (20) DC (1) JE (297)

[11] BM (3) JE (33)

[12] OT (22) NT (1) BM (2) JE (46)

[13] OT (4) BM (1) JE (74)

[14] BM (1) JE (5)

[15] BM (5)

[16] BM (15) Note: “full of pain and exceeding sore” JE (1)

[17] BM (2) JE (6)

[18] NT (3) BM (1) JE (30)

[19] OT (1) NT (1) BM (1) JE (35) JE: “they were scorched.. Matt. 13:6… because of the burning heat

[20] BM (2) JE (2) JE: “his heart began to be renewed”

[21] BM (6) JE (8)

[22] BM (1)

[23] BM (2) JE (8)

[24] NT (1) BM (1) JE (4)

[25] OT (4) BM (1) JE (71)

[26] OT (5) NT (2) BM (12) JE (10)

[27] OT (11) NT (33) BM (2) JE (41)

[28] NT (1) BM (1) JE (1)

[29] NT (1) BM (2) JE (8)

[30] NT (5) BM (6) DC (3) JE (33)

[31] BM (3) JE (43)

[32] OT (29) BM (5) PGP (6) JE (5)

[33] OT (9) BM (1) JE (3)

[34] OT (7) NT (12) BM (8) DC (1) JE (83)

[35] “have mercy on this man” BM (1)

[36] OT (2) NT (2) BM (3) DC (1) JE (11)

[37] BM (2)

[38] NT (7) BM (8) JE (13) Note: NT is always “in Christ Jesus.” BM usually “in Christ” without Jesus. JE usually follows NT but does both.

[39] BM (1) NT: “he leaped and walked” Acts 14:10

[40] BM (1) JE (1)

[41] NT (1) BM (5) JE (2)

[42] BM (3) DC (2) PGP (1) JE (17)

[43] OT (18) NT (1) BM (32) PGP (1) JE (5)

[44] OT (2) NT (1) BM (10) DC (2) PGP (4) JE (4)

[45] NT (1) BM (10) JE (1)

[46] BM (3) Note: “establish a church” BM (3) DC (1) JE (2)

[47] BM (2)

[48] BM (4) JE (2)

[49] OT (1) BM (3) JE (6)

[50] BM (1) Note: in this sense. Other uses of “flock in” OT (4) BM (1) JE (10)

[51] BM (1) JE (1)

[52] “Hardhearted” OT (1) JE (14)  “hard-hearted” BM (3) Note:

[53] OT (8) NT (1) BM (20) DC (1) JE (37)

[54] OT (2) NT (6) BM (10) PGP (1) JE (18)

[55] BM (1) JE (29)

[56] OT (1) NT (2) BM (2) JE (30)

[57] NT (1) BM (5) JE (88)

[58] BM (3) JE (36)

[59] OT (2) NT (2) BM (11) DC (1) JE (46)

[60] BM (2) JE (4)

[61] BM (1) JE (5)

[62] OT (12) BM (23) DC (2) JE (49)

[63] BM (1) JE (8)

[64] BM (1) JE (2) JE: “this great check put to the building of it”

[65] BM (10) DC (1) JE (7)

[66] BM (3) DC (1) JE (5)

[67] OT (2) BM (12) DC (3) JE (4)

[68] “assemble themselves together” BM (12) DC (2)

[69] OT (5) BM (8) JE (1)

[70] BM (1) JE (1)

[71] BM (2) DC (2)

[72] OT (1) BM (104) JE (27)