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.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

BYU's fantasy map moved

BYU map showing that
Cumorah is definitely not in New York
Because I've mentioned it a few times and provided links, readers should know that the BYU fantasy map of Book of Mormon geography has been moved to this site:


You can still see the old site here:


The map itself hasn't changed. It still teaches students that the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah, including President Oliver Cowdery, and Joseph Smith's own mother, close associates, and successors, as well as members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

Notice how they've changed the description of their map. The new description is an improvement in the sense that they have stopped claiming their fantasy map "matches" the text "as closely as possible." 

However, they are still putting their finger on the scale of "neutrality" by teaching students that the Hill Cumorah cannot be in New York as the prophets have taught.


New (July 2022)

The Church and BYU stay neutral in questions of exactly where the Book of Mormon took place. The Lord could have removed all questions regarding the exact locations of these events but he did not. For that reason, our design team has chosen to develop an internal map that shows relational directions and approximate distances that match the approximately 550 geography descriptions in the text as closely as possible. These are artistic renditions.

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.

Notice also the distinction between "any one particular geographical model" and their outright repudiation of the New York Cumorah. This is a euphemism, of course. A "model" is a framework for the overall geography. 

The prophets have always taught that we don't know where Book of Mormon events took place, with the exception of the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6. That makes sense because other than Cumorah, there are numerous ways to interpret the text and the extrinsic evidence; i.e., multiple working hypotheses.

Even when we accept the New York Cumorah, there are multiple working hypotheses about the rest of the locations mentioned in the text.

Although people have a variety of interpretations regarding geography, the New York Cumorah was well established as a fact if you read authentic documents from Church history. It wasn't until L.E. Hills published a map in 1917 that scholars began teaching that there must be "two Cumorahs."

By now, "two Cumorahs" is the de facto standard because it is being taught throughout the Church.

L.E. Hills 1917 map

L.E. Hills book

Cumorah detail from L.E. Hills

Cumorah detail from BYU's map

Sorenson/Welch map moving Cumorah
a little east from the L.E. Hills map

Cumorah detail from CES map

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