On Book of Mormon Geography

I spent quite some time this summer looking at problems with the Book of Mormon. There are certainly some that are difficult to explain, and for me personally, I find it to be not as internally consistent as we claim (this can be used as proof it is made up or proof of multiple authorship, so it’s not a terribly compelling argument for me anymore) nor is it as consistent with D&C as I’d wish (more challenging for me). The King James wording is … odd. The translation process as described by others (Joseph said it wasn’t for us to know how it was translated)… weird.

This said, those who would use Book of Mormon geography to try and disprove it are making a serious error, in my opinion. There is only one area where we know for sure the Lehites lived and traveled: the Sinai peninsula. The work done there corresponds with the Book of Mormon. This isn’t proof — Joseph Smith may have used some sort of atlas or something — but it can not be denied that the one place where we the Book of Mormon story is said to have taken place matches.

Had Joseph been sophisticated enough to use an atlas to fudge that bit, why wouldn’t he have done so for the rest of the geography in the text? Did he foresee that others would become obsessed with the actual location of BoM sites and gambled the sites in North America are too close, but no one would actually go to the Sinai to test his story claims? Were maps of the Americas too poor to use? Did he use a bad one to base his BoM geography on?

When folks try to locate the America sites, has the geography changed so much that using the text is useless? When the group moved north after the snake invasion, have the geography hounds taken that into account? BoM area is so small — about he size of the state of Idaho — is it too small to disprove the existence of horses or barley or whatever? How does the small geographic area affect the DNA evidence?

Yes, there are lots of questions. As I said, showing that the Sinai sites match up is not proof of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, but it’s not a negative mark, either. For me, arguing that the text matches or doesn’t relate to a location we can’t identify is absurd. For me, geography and even DNA/horses/cement are just not compelling enough to damn the Book of Mormon outright. Nor is Sinai enough to completely historicize it, but as I say, it doesn’t hurt.

Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I keep up with three cars, two kids, one husband, and I live on 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where we look after an elderly relative. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs as I pursue a graduate degree. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.