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.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

No-wise # 431 - if you tell a lie often enough

No-wise #431 is maybe my favorite No-wise so far. As a compilation of the "best of" the sophistry that Book of Mormon Central (BOMC) has been perpetrating for years, it is an awesome display of confirmation bias.

No-wise graphic focusing on Central America to promote
the corporate goal of Book of Mormon Central America
This No-wise is part of the pattern of deception that we continue to see. BOMC typically quotes from anti-Mormon references while omitting the teachings of the prophets, and this No-wise is a prime example.

You can see it here:

It has been republished throughout the citation cartel.

When people told me about this No-wise, I was out of the country and didn't have time to look at it. Now that I have, I'm reminded of a well-known quotation:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State [i.e., the M2C citation cartel] can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels

In this case, the truth is the greatest enemy of M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) which BOMC promotes by teaching that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. To persuade people to accept M2C, BOMC intentionally deceives members of the Church with material such as No-wise #431.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but BOMC has used these tactics since its inception. That's why we call them Book of Mormon Central America (BOMCA).

BTW, remember that whenever you read a BOMCA No-wise, it is designed to fulfill the goal of their corporate owner BMAF:

Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex,

They are expressly, by their own admission, not interested in pursuing the truth. Instead, they are completely dedicated to pursuing the M2C agenda.

I've offered to do a quick peer review of BOMCA's material before they release it, but for some reason they've rejected my offer. Instead, I'll illustrate what my peer review would have looked like for this No-wise. These comments reflect solely my own opinion.

The original text of the No-wise is in black, with my comments in red and my emphasis in bold. Some of the more detailed points I put in my own footnotes, designated by capital letters (e.g., nA.). It's easy to go to the footnotes by searching the page in your browser for the capital letter with an "n" before it and a period after it.

The Know

Readers of the Book of Mormon may wonder, at times, where in the Americas the events described took place. [The "Americas" is a term used by the revisionist historians to promote M2C. If you do a search in the Joseph Smith Papers for the term "Americas," you get 13 results. All of them are in the notes written by the revisionist historians who are helping the citation cartel promote M2C. In other posts I've shown how the revisionist historians are deceiving Church members by replacing what Moroni actually told Joseph (he referred to "this country" and "this continent," as well as Cumorah) by instead teaching that Moroni referred vaguely to "the Americas."]
Were the Nephites and Lamanites spread throughout both North and South America or did Book of Mormon events occur within a more confined area? nA. Where did Lehi’s ship land? Where were famous Book of Mormon cities, like Zarahemla and Bountiful, or the epic battlefields of the Nephites and Lamanites, such as Cumorah?
Interest in answering these questions began almost immediately after the Book of Mormon was published. [According to Joseph Smith,nB. Moroni instructed him about these questions even before he got the plates. Joseph's mother verified that Moroni told Joseph these things, including the name and location of Cumorah, long before he got the plates. M2C intellectuals don't want people to know this because they insist Joseph was too ignorant to know anything about Book of Mormon locations, so he had to learn from a travel book (see below) and eventually be corrected by the latter-day intellectuals at BYU/CES.] 
Only months later, a group of missionaries, including Oliver Cowdery, were apparently telling people in Ohio that Lehi “landed on the coast of Chile.”1 
[This is a delightful reference that illustrates the way BOMC tries to sow confusion. The No-wise cites a facsimile of the article that's difficult to read, but you can find it here: http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/OH/miscohio.htm#111830. Just search the page for "Chili" and you'll see the reference. Notice that this newspaper account is highly critical and mocks the missionaries. It claims these missionaries told people someone stole some of their plates of gold (an apparent misunderstanding of the lost 116 pages). The article doesn't say which of the missionaries taught about "Chili" but Parley P. Pratt and his brother Orson did later say that, which I addressed here. Pratt clearly delineated between the speculative nature of the Chile landing and the certain location of Cumorah in New York.
More important is what BOMC doesn't tell readers. Parley P. Pratt recorded Elder Cowdery's speech to the Lamanites during this same mission to Ohio. Elder Cowdery taught that "This Book, which contained these things, 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 P.P. Pratt p 56-61, online here.)
Whenever you read material published by the M2C citation cartel, you will see examples of them quoting from anti-Mormon references while omitting the teachings of the prophets that contradict M2C.]
A couple of years later, W. W. Phelps linked the land of Desolation to the mid-western United States, ranging from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains.2 The next year, Phelps got a hold of reports about ancient ruins in Guatemala with stones “cemented by mortar,” and argued that this find was “good testimony in favor of the Book of Mormon,” specifically the account in Helaman 3:3–11.3
[M2C intellectuals cite Phelps almost as often as they cite early anti-Mormon literature because Phelps wrote a lot of speculative material linking the Book of Mormon to Central America. He was helping to edit the 1842 Times and Seasons in Nauvoo, a topic we'll discuss below. But he was never called as an apostle or prophet. If we stick with the words of the prophets, we avoid the confusion that enables M2C because the prophets have consistently and repeatedly made two points clear: (1) Cumorah is in New York and (ii) we don't know for sure where the other events took place.]
Clearly, for early Latter-day Saints, events in the Book of Mormon were believed to have spanned the entire Western Hemisphere. 
[Rhetoricians use "clearly" to fool readers into thinking their point is actually clear, but look at how this sentence is worded. It uses the passive voice with an indefinite "early LDS" so it cannot be falsified. Available writings show that some early LDS believed the Book of Mormon took place throughout the hemisphere, but that was not a universal belief, as demonstrated by the disparity between the theories of Lehi landing in Chile and him landing in Panama.]
Any and all ancient or pre-Columbian ruins and artifacts found throughout North, Central, and South America (known as a "hemispheric" geography approach) were quickly accepted as evidence of Book of Mormon peoples. [Again, this is a broad generalization that reflects the expressed opinions of a handful of writers, including whoever wrote anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons.]
Even Joseph Smith was not above the fray. ["Fray" is an ideal characterization of the way the M2C intellectuals like to frame the discussion. A "fray" is "a usually disorderly or protracted fight, struggle, or dispute." M2C intellectuals frame the questions this way because it enables them to (i) cast doubt on the teachings of the prophets and (ii) portray themselves as the only ones "qualified for the ministry" of resolving the "dispute." Those of us who accept the teachings of the prophets think Joseph was well above the fray. He was perfectly consistent and confident. He never once linked the Book of Mormon to anyplace other than North America, and everything he said or wrote put the Book of Mormon in North America, with Cumorah in New York, as we'll see below.]
In a letter to Emma while marching with Zion’s camp in 1834, Joseph Smith described their travels as “wandering over the plains of the Nephites” and “picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity.”4
[Note what this excerpt omits. Here is the full quotation: "wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity." Joseph was not merely picking up bones as proof; he was recounting the history of the Book of Mormon while crossing Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Every person who participated on Zion's Camp who ever wrote about Cumorah affirmed that it was in New York. No one ever questioned that key point.
In nC. below, I examine the spin in footnote 4. The Joseph Smith Papers have devolved into part of the M2C citation cartel, and this note is a good example.]
Years later, Joseph Smith received a book on Central American ruins as a gift. In a letter thanking the giver, he stated that it “corresponds with & supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon.”5 
[Joseph purportedly wrote this letter just a few days after purportedly receiving these two volumes of travel books that are over 600 pages long. The letter is not in Joseph's handwriting; it is not even signed by him. Apart from this letter, there is no evidence that Joseph ever read or cared about these books. I think the historical evidence demonstrates that Wilford Woodruff composed the letter. Woodruff wrote about reading these travel books during his 1841 trip from New York, where he got them, to Nauvoo. I've explained all of this in detail on several blog posts and in Chapter 7 of my book, The Editors: Joseph, William and Don Carlos Smith. Before BOMC refused to publish my rebuttals to their criticisms of my work, I donated an early version of Chapter 7, which you can read in their archive here:  https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/1841-bernhisel-letter-joseph%E2%80%99s-or-wilford%E2%80%99s
The M2C dogma that Joseph Smith read these two travel books within a few days and relied on them to change his mind from what Moroni had taught him about the Nephites is laughable on its face, but that's what the M2C intellectuals want people to believe. The evidence of Wilford Woodruff's authorship is overwheming. As Woodruff noted a few months later, Joseph barely had time to sign his name to important documents prepared  by others. In this case, Joseph didn't even bother to sign his name to a purportedly personal letter.
Footnote 5 goes to an article in the Interpreter, a charter member of the M2C citation cartel. I've discussed all of this in considerable detail on my blog that peer reviews Interpreter articles. For example, see here: http://interpreterpeerreviews.blogspot.com/2015/10/ropers-bernhisel-argument-trifecta-of.html.
You can see much more detail on this by searching for "Bernhisel" on that blog.]
In 1842, while Joseph Smith was the editor, the Times and Seasons published several articles highlighting ruins in Central America as evidence for the Book of Mormon.6 
[Note 6 is awesome. I've addressed all of these references in detail in my blogs and books, which you can see by searching for key words on the blogs. Here's an example: 
The issue boils down to whether Joseph Smith wrote anonymous, speculative articles. Everyone agrees that the boilerplate at the end of the Times and Seasons during much of 1842 said that the paper was printed, edited and published by Joseph Smith. Everyone also agrees that Joseph did not spend his time in the print shop setting type and operating the printing press. IOW, he was not literally the printer. He was the nominal printer; i.e., the printer in name only. Likewise, he was merely the nominal editor. There is zero historical evidence that he actually did any editing of the newspaper. To the contrary, there are specific times when he didn't even know what the paper contained until after it was printed, which I've documented in my blogs and books about Nauvoo (The Lost City of Zarahemla, Brought to Light, and The Editors). This historical evidence is available for anyone to see, but the M2C intellectuals ignore it completely because it contradicts their narrative. 
Basically, I think William Smith was the acting editor of the Times and Seasons. Everyone acknowledges he was editing and publishing the Wasp from the same print shop and that the two papers shared editorial content. I think William published the anonymous editorials he got from Benjamin Winchester partly because Winchester had been silenced and partly because William and W.W. Phelps also edited those anonymous editorials. I think Joseph had nothing to do with them and resigned after the infamous (and anonymous) "Zarahemla" article was published in October 1842 because he realized these things could be attributed to him so long as his name was on the paper. There's a lot more involved, which I've explained in detail for anyone to see.]
Like his peers, the Prophet evidently believed that all ancient ruins and artifacts spanning across the American continents were evidence of Book of Mormon lands and peoples.
[Truly awesome rhetoric. First, who was a "peer" of Joseph Smith when it came to the Book of Mormon? The only possible peer was President Cowdery, who was present for most of the translation, who handled the plates, who entered Mormon's depository of Nephite records, and who received all the Priesthood keys together with Joseph Smith. And yet, the M2C intellectuals adamantly reject what President Cowdery taught (Letter VII and elsewhere). 
The M2C intellectuals claim they know what Joseph "evidently believed" based on these anonymous articles that made claims even the M2C intellectuals reject (such as the claim that Zarahemla was in Quirigua and that the post-classic Mayan ruins were built by Nephites). In fact, all the statements that can be directly attributed to Joseph, or that were specifically endorsed by him, point to North America and the New York Cumorah. M2C survives only by characterizing Joseph as an ignorant speculator who misled the Church, a characterization that I completely reject on principle and also because it is not supported by actual evidence.]
Although most early Latter-day Saints had a hemispheric understanding of Book of Mormon geography, there was no universally accepted model of Book of Mormon lands, and different opinions persisted about several topics. For example, while the idea that Lehi landed in Chile would grow to become a widespread tradition in the Church,7 under Joseph Smith’s editorship, the Times and Seasons stated that Lehi “landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien,” that is, just south of Panama.8 In 1842, Parley P. Pratt seemed to place Desolation in Central America, contrary to Phelps earlier identification.9
[This reflects the two things that the prophets have consistently and repeatedly taught; i.e., (i) that Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) is in New York and (ii) we don't know for sure where the other events took place.]
Careful analysis of early writings on Book of Mormon geography reveals a diversity of ideas and opinions on the location of nearly every Book of Mormon place.10 [Except Cumorah, which the M2C intellectuals won't tell you.]
By 1890, President George Q. Cannon noted there were several different and conflicting Book of Mormon geographies in circulation, and “no two of them … agree on all points.” President Cannon then made clear that the First Presidency did not endorse any of these maps because, “The word of the Lord or the translation of other ancient records is required to clear up many points now so obscure.”11 
[President Cannon's 1890 comment is correct and consistent with all the teachings of the prophets. But so are the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, which is a separate issue. In fact, President Cannon's fellow counselor in the First Presidency, Joseph F. Smith, republished Letter VII in the Improvement Era in 1899, which you can see here: http://www.lettervii.com/2016/10/letter-vii-in-improvement-era.html
This is yet another example of the consistent teachings of the prophets that (i) Cumorah is in New York and (ii) we don't know where the other events took place. M2C intellectuals keep confusing people by conflating these two separate points. I've explained this in more detail here: 

The Why

The number of maps has only grown over the course of the 20th and into the 21st century as many have continued to propose various models.12 While questions of geography are far from settled, our understanding of the book’s physical setting has improved thanks to the increasingly more rigorous work of many scholars interested in questions of Book of Mormon geography. For example, today most proposals focus only on a specific area or region of the American continent, because more careful study has made it clear that the scope of Book of Mormon lands must be limited.13
[This is a striking claim. Those of us who accept what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, Zelph, and Joseph's letter to Emma think Joseph Smith himself limited the lands of the Book of Mormon to North America; specifically, the territory of the United States circa 1842. It was the early speculators and latter-day intellectuals who concocted the hemispheric and M2C geographies.]
But through all of this the Church has continued to maintain a stance of neutrality, as expressed by President Cannon in 1890.14 
[See how the M2C intellectuals try to cause confusion about Cumorah? Here they don't even acknowledge President Smith's republication of Letter VII in 1899.]
Even the location of the final Nephite and Jaredite battles has been considered uncertain.15 
[We knew they would cite the phony fax as soon as we saw the title of this No-wise. This fax was plagiarized from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article on Cumorah written by David Palmer, who cites his own book to cast doubt on the teachings of the prophets. It is not only circular reasoning, but it is deceptive and unscholarly to create doctrine this way. I've addressed all of this in detail here 
Nothing said on the topic by Church leaders, past or present—Joseph Smith included—is recognized as revelation. As apostle John A. Widtsoe said, “As far as can be learned, Joseph Smith, translator of the book, did not say where, on the American continent, Book of Mormon activities occurred.”16
[This gets to the fundamental point made by the M2C intellectuals. Notice how they refer here to "revelation." They reject what the prophets have consistently and repeatedly taught, including in General Conference, so long as the prophets have not specifically claimed a revelation. If that's the standard, then why do we bother with General Conference, the handbook of instructions, etc? The intellectuals claim that anything taught by the prophets that disagrees with their M2C dogma is merely the opinion of men. Of this point, President Benson taught, The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man...
The M2C intellectuals claim to be the authorities on the Book of Mormon. Some of them have told me that we should follow them, not the prophets, on these issues. They've told me that when the Brethren have questions about the Book of Mormon, they call the people at Book of Mormon Central for answers.
Before you choose the intellectuals over the prophets, consider carefully what the prophets have actually taught. You should start with Letter VII and then consider this post:
For me, when the prophets speak in General Conference and specifically testify and witness that their teachings are true, I accept their teachings. But if you're an M2C intellectual, you reject their teachings as mere opinions. 
In fact, the M2C intellectuals look down on the prophets because they don't have the academic credentials that the intellectuals claim gives them the authority to determine what Joseph Smith thought, and to determine that the prophets are wrong. 
Even while remaining officially neutral, however, several Church leaders have encouraged appropriate and diligent study of the topic, even recommending how to properly study it out. 
[Coming from Book of Mormon Central America, this statement drips with irony. BOMCA refuses to allow alternative viewpoints--including those of the prophets--on their web site. This No-wise itself is a perfect example of quoting anti-Mormon sources and omitting what the prophets have taught. 
To study something means to assess all the facts and evidence, using sound reasoning, considering multiple perspectives and interpretations. That is the antithesis of BOMCA's approach. Instead, they carefully select evidence that supports their corporate mission of framing the Book of Mormon as a Mayan text and suppress contrary evidence. They refuse to allow even a dialog about alternative ideas. In my view, their approach is intentionally deceitful and should be called out at every opportunity.]
President Cannon, for instance, wrote, “there can be no harm result from the study of the geography of this continent at the time it was settled by Nephites, drawing all the information possible from the record which has been translated for our benefit.”17 Elder James E. Talmage said:
The fact is, the Book of Mormon does not give us precise and definite information whereby we can locate those places with certainty. I encourage and recommend all possible investigation, comparison and research in this matter. The more thinkers, investigators, workers we have in the field the better; but our brethren who devote themselves to that kind of research should remember that they must speak with caution and not declare as demonstrated truths points that are not really proved.18
Ultimately, as several leaders have stressed, while the subject is of interest and has value, readers should not let it distract them from true purpose of the Book of Mormon. Elder Russell M. Nelson explained that he has “read much that has been written about” the Book of Mormon, including studies of “its language structure or its records of weapons, geography, animal life, techniques of buildings, or systems of weights and measures.” Yet, “Interesting as these matters may be, study of the Book of Mormon is most rewarding when one focuses on its primary purpose—to testify of Jesus Christ.”19
[All LDS believers heartily agree with President Nelson's statement here. The reason we love the Book of Mormon is because it teaches about Christ.
But the quotation is a non sequitur to this article, which seeks to persuade people to disbelieve the prophets. 
The Title Page itself says the Book of Mormon is intended to convince people that Jesus is the Christ. That purpose is thwarted when we have M2C intellectuals openly repudiating the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. 
President Cowdery and Joseph Smith thought it was important to establish the New York Cumorah as a fact to counter the anti-Mormon claims that the book was fiction. Now the M2C intellectuals use those same anti-Mormon sources to counter the claims of the prophets.]

Further Reading

Matthew Roper, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations,” FARMS Review 16, no. 2 (2004): 225–275.
John E. Clark, “Book of Mormon Geography,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:176–179.
John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, rev. ed. (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1992).

  • 1.The Golden Bible, or, Campbellism Improved,” Observer and Telegraph (Hudson, Ohio), November 18, 1830, spelling modernized.
  • 2.W. W. Phelps, “The Far West,” The Evening and the Morning Star 1, no. 5, October 1832.
  • 3.W. W. Phelps, “Discovery of Ancient Ruins in Central America,” The Evening and the Morning Star, 1, no. 9, February 1833; spelling and capitalization altered.
  • 4.Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, June 4, 1834, pp. 57–58, online at josephsmithpapers.org. Many historians believe this is alluding to the Zelph incident. For more information, see Book of Mormon Central, “Who Was Zelph? (Helaman 6:6),” KnoWhy 336 (July 7, 2017).
  • 5.Joseph Smith to John M. Berhnisel, November 16, 1841, online at josephsmithpapers.org. See Matthew Roper, “John Bernhisel’s Gift to a Prophet: Incidents of Travel in Central America and the Book of Mormon,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 16 (2015): 207–253.
  • 6.Traits of the Mosaic History, Found among the Azteca Nations,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 16, June 15, 1842, 818–820; “American Antiquities,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 18, July 15, 1842, 858–860; “Extract from Stephens’ ‘Incidents of Travel in Central America’,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 22, September 15, 1842, 911–915; “Facts are Stubborn Things,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 22, September 15, 1842, 921–922; “Zarahemla,” Times and Seasons 3, no. 23, October 1, 1842, 927–928. Motivated by geographical theories which are contradicted by these articles, some have tried to distance Joseph Smith from their authorship and publication. Both historical and statistical analysis, however, strongly support Joseph’s involvement with these articles. See Matthew Roper, “Joseph Smith, Revelation, and Book of Mormon Geography,” FARMS Review 22, no. 2 (2010): 70–83; Matthew Roper, Paul J. Fields, Atul Nepal, “Joseph Smith, the Times and Seasons, and Central American Ruins,” Journal of Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 22, no. 2 (2013): 84–97; Neal Rappleye, “‘War of Words and Tumult of Opinions’: the Battle for Joseph Smith’s Words in Book of Mormon Geography,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 11 (2014): 37–95; Matthew Roper, “Joseph Smith, Central American Ruins, and the Book of Mormon,” in Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World, ed. Lincoln Blumell, Matthew J. Grey, and Andrew H. Hedges (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, 2015), 141–162; Matthew Roper, Paul Fields, and Larry Bassist, “Zarahemla Revisited: Neville’s Newest Novel,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 17 (2016): 13–61.
  • 7.The popularity of this tradition was largely due to Orson Pratt and Fredrick G. Williams. Orson Pratt was heard teaching that Lehi “came across the water into South America” as early as 1832. See B. Stokely, “The Orators of Mormon,” Catholic Telegraph 1, April 14, 1832. Pratt’s views on Book of Mormon geography became widespread and influential with the release of the 1879 edition of the Book of Mormon, which included footnotes, written by Pratt, making external correlations to Book of Mormon places. In a footnote to the phrase “we did arrive to the promised land” in 1 Nephi 18:23, Pratt noted, “believed to be on the coast of Chile, S. America” (spelling modernized). See Joseph Smith Jr., trans., The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon (Liverpool, Eng.: William Budge, 1879), 47. Fredrick G. Williams copied a highly specific statement that Lehi landed “in Chile thirty degrees south Latitude” (spelling modernized), which later was believed to be a revelation from Joseph Smith. The actual origins of the statement, however, are murky and unclear. See Fredrick G. Williams III, “Did Lehi Land in Chile? An Assessment of the Frederick G. Williams Statement,” FARMS Preliminary Report (1988); Frederick G. Williams, “Did Lehi Land in Chile?,” in Reexploring the Book of Mormon: A Decade of New Research, ed. John W. Welch (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 57–61.
  • 8.Facts are Stubborn Things,” Times and Seasons, 3, no. 22, September 15, 1842, 922.
  • 9.Parley P. Pratt, “Ruins in Central America,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 2, no. 11, March 1842, 161–165.
  • 10.Matthew Roper, “Limited Geography and the Book of Mormon: Historical Antecedents and Early Interpretations,” FARMS Review 16, no. 2 (2004): 225–275, esp. pp. 254–255.
  • 11.George Q. Cannon, “Editorial Thoughts: The Book of Mormon Geography,” Juvenile Instructor 25, no. 1 (1890): 18.
  • 12.For comparison of 60 different proposals, see John L. Sorenson, The Geography of the Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1992), 37–206.
  • 13.See John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Map (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), 55–81. Already in 1903, some were disputing proposals for Book of Mormon geography on the grounds that “students could not reconcile the statements as to time consumed in traveling from one place to another with Zarahemla being at the point claimed by him.” See “Book of Mormon Students Meet: Interesting Convention Held in Provo Saturday and Sunday,” Deseret Evening News, May 25, 1903; reprinted in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 22, no. 2 (2013): 109. In 1909, B. H. Roberts suggested, “the physical description relative to the contour of the lands occupied by the Jaredites and Nephites … can be found between Mexico and Yucatan with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec between,” but ultimately continued to promote a hemispheric view. B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News, 1909), 3:502–503. Even in the 19th century, there was precedent for limiting the scope of Book of Mormon geography. See Roper, “Limited Geography,” 242–255, 260–265.
  • 14.See Roper, “Limited Geography,” 255–260; “Is there a revealed Book of Mormon geography?” FairMormon AnswersWiki, online at fairmormon.org.
  • 15.In a Fax sent from the office of the First Presidency, April 23, 1993, F. Michael Watson—then secretary to the First Presidency, said, “While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.” See “Did the First Presidency identify the New York ‘Hill Cumorah’ as the site of the Nephite final battles?” FairMormon AnswersWiki, online at fairmormon.org. Elder John A. Widtsoe, of the Quorum of the Twelve and President Harold B. Lee also considered the location of the final Nephite battles an open question. See John A. Widtsoe, “Evidences and Reconciliations: Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?,” Improvement Era 53, no. 7 (July 1950): 547; Harold B. Lee, “Loyalty,” address to religious educators, 8 July 1966; in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Church Educational System and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982), 65; quoted online at fairmormon.org. See also David A. Palmer, “Cumorah,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:346–347; Rex C. Reeve Jr., “Cumorah, Hill” in Book of Mormon Reference Companion, ed. Dennis L. Largey (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2003), 222–224.
  • 16.Widtsoe, “Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?,” 547.
  • 17.Cannon, “Book of Mormon Geography,” 19.
  • 18.James E. Talmage, Conference Report, April 1929, 44. Also consider Widtsoe, “Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?,” 547: “Students must depend, chiefly, upon existing natural monuments, such as mountains, rivers, lakes, or ocean beaches, and try to identify them with similar places mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Ruins of early cities are also used as clues by the investigator. Usually, an ideal map is drawn based upon geographical facts mentioned in the book. Then a search is made for existing areas complying with the map. 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.”
  • 19.Russell M. Nelson, “A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, November 1999, online at lds.org.

nA. This is clever sophistry because it presents a false choice. On its face, the question seems to contrast the hemispheric vs limited geography models, which is fine, but that's not really what it says. There are statements from Church leaders that place descendants of Lehi throughout the hemisphere, which M2C'ers use to confuse people about what the prophets have actually said about Cumorah. The question of the location of the descendants of the Nephites and Lamanites (and Jaredites) is entirely separate from the question of where the events took place.

nB. In describing Moroni's first visit, Joseph wrote, "I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country [America] and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was [also] made known unto me; I was also told where were deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent." See the Wentworth letter, here: 

nC. Comments on footnote 4.

 4. Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, June 4, 1834, pp. 57–58, online at josephsmithpapers.org. Many historians believe this is alluding to the Zelph incident. For more information, see Book of Mormon Central, “Who Was Zelph? (Helaman 6:6),” KnoWhy 336 (July 7, 2017).

We don't know who the unidentified "many historians" are, as if the number of them makes a difference anyway, but how could Joseph have been alluding to the Zelph incident when he wrote of wandering over the plains? Zelph was one event, but Joseph wrote of recounting occasionally (i.e., more than once) the history of the Book of Mormon. We can infer that these "many historians" are the revisionist M2C historians at the Joseph Smith Papers because they have inserted a note to Joseph's letter to Emma. Note 14 reads:
On 3 June, the Camp of Israel passed through the vicinity of what is now Valley City, Illinois, where several members of the camp climbed a large mound. At the top, they uncovered the skeletal remains of an individual JS reportedly identified as Zelph, a “white Lamanite.” Archeologists [sic] have since identified the mound as Naples–Russell Mound #8 and have classified it as a Hopewell burial mound of the Middle Woodland period of the North American pre-Columbian era (roughly 50 BC to AD 250). (Godfrey, “The Zelph Story,” 31, 34; Farnsworth, “Lamanitish Arrows,” 25–48.) 
The Joseph Smith Papers have devolved into part of the M2C citation cartel, and this note is a good example. They cite Godfrey's article, which, because it was published by BYU Studies, predictably promotes M2C by portraying Joseph as a confused speculator who misled the Church until the latter-day intellectuals rescued the Church by promoting M2C. E.g., Godfrey wrote, "evidently Joseph Smiths views on this matter were open to further knowledge. Thus in 1834 when Zelph was found Joseph believed that the portion of America over which they had just traveled was the plains of the Nephites and that their bones were proof of the Book of Mormon's authenticity. By 1842 he evidently believed that the events in most of Nephite history took place in Central America."
Those of us who accept the teachings of the prophets reject the M2C narrative about Joseph Smith being confused and learning about the Book of Mormon from a travel book, but our views are never acknowledged, let alone explained, by the M2C citation cartel. For example, Donald Q. Cannon wrote "Zelph Revisited" nC., a reference omitted from the Joseph Smith Papers and BOMCA. Brother Cannon concluded, "The journal accounts of Joseph Smith's activities and his letter indicate that he believed that Book of Mormon history, or at least a part of it, transpired in North America. What does one do with such a prophetic statement? Some have dismissed it as a joke or playful exercise of Joseph's imagination. 19 Others have chosen to emphasize discrepancies and possible contradictions in the source accounts, thereby discrediting what Joseph Smith said. 20
It seems to me that either approach carries heavy risks. When one chooses to state that Joseph Smith can't be taken seriously on p.109] this issue, the door is opened to question his statements on other issues. Where does it stop? Does the First Vision, with the discrepancies in the primary source accounts, also come under the doubt and skepticism applied here to Zelph? Why can't we simply take Joseph Smith at his word?"
Donald Q. Cannon, "Zelph Revisited," Regional Studies in the Latter-day Saint Church History: Illinois, edited by H. Dean Garret (Provo, Utah: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University (1995): 57-109. Available online at gospel link, here: http://www.gospelink.com/library/document/29393?highlight=1

BTW, I previously addressed No-wise #336 here: http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2017/07/fun-with-zelph.html. A BOMCA employee, Zander, posted a typical comment there, to which I responded.]

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