Book of Mormon Maps

By: Mormon Heretic
September 26, 2011

It’s been quite some time since I blogged about Book of Mormon geography theories.  KC Kern runs a website called Book of Mormon Online, and has recently updated his website with satellite images with Google maps of some of the theories.  (Click here.)  I always post stuff on my blog first, but there have been quite some heated comments with some imaginative maps at Mormon Matters (where I used to blog), such as the Malay Theory, the Baja Theory, Peru,  and the Great Lakes Theory.  KC has added the Sri Lanka Theory, as well as Rodney Meldrum’s Heartland Theory and the more conventional Central American Theory. I’m also impressed that he has Lehi’s route in the Arabian Peninsula (which seems to have more credibility than some of the other theories.)

The maps are pretty cool.  What do you think?

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20 Responses to Book of Mormon Maps

  1. Dan on September 26, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    hmmm, Sri Lanka could work, except that the southern tip of India isn’t really a land of desolation. Also, we have Indian historical records going back thousands of years. They kept pretty good records. We’d have known about this already.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lanka

    Fascinatingly their “ancient” history does begin around 543BC, with some guy coming with 700 of his followers and establishing rule. Problem is that that rule lasted for 2400 years, until the British came…

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  2. hm on September 26, 2011 at 6:35 AM

    how could you justify a sri lanka theory when every prophet has confirmed a US / South america model

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  3. Dan on September 26, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    how has “every prophet” confirmed a US/South American model?

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  4. Jared on September 26, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    MH-

    Thanks for the link. Looks like a great site for Book of Mormon research.

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  5. mapman on September 26, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    What I think:

    It is basically certain that the locations on the map of Arabia of Lehi’s route are correct.

    The Mexico map is the most likely to be correct. Mesoamerica is the only area of the Americas that fits the text of the Book of Mormon, and actually fits it very well. The Book of Mormon is so self consistent in its geography and fits this area so perfectly that it really is impressive.

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  6. Mormon Heretic on September 26, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    I know very little about Sri Lanka. KC actually got that theory from a comment left by someone at my blog. The narrow neck of land is really interesting–it is now under water due to a hurricane within the past century. As far as elephants and things in the BoM, it holds a bit more interest for me, but I don’t know about any of the other items. Dan, thanks for the info about Sri Lanka.

    hm, except for Joseph Smith, no prophet has made a definitive statement on geography, and the official church stance is one of nuetrality on any of these theories. Certainly the Central American theory seems to be the most widely accepted, but the church and its prophets have no position on any of these theories.

    Jared, I agree. KC has done some excellent work, and I am impressed with the amount of work he has put together.

    Mapman, I agree. The Arabian map seems to be the best of the bunch, and I think there are some really plausible locations (Nahom, Nephi’s harbor).

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  7. dpc on September 26, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    The problem with any BOM location theory not on the American continent is that you have to take into account the words of Moroni in the testimony of Joseph Smith in the Introduction of the Book of Mormon (i.e. “an account of the former inhabitants of this continent”)

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  8. NewlyHousewife on September 26, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Are missionaries now discouraged from using the catch phrase “Did you know Jesus came to America?” (Or ‘the Americas’) with could-be-investigators?

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  9. jmb275 on September 26, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Re MH

    hm, except for Joseph Smith, no prophet has made a definitive statement on geography, and the official church stance is one of nuetrality on any of these theories.

    Well, sort of, but it’s just a mental gymnastics game. In October’s Ensign, it states

    Although we don’t base our faith on physical evidence, there is linguistic, historical, and archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. For example, the idea of writing on metal plates was once ridiculed, but in recent years numerous examples of sacred writings on metal plates—some hidden in stone boxes—have been found.

    So I agree there is no official position on which geography is right. So in that sense they’re neutral, but they’re hardly neutral in declaring that there is in fact physical evidence, and it doesn’t seem to me to stretch credulity to at least narrow down what they’re driving at since I think the main stir in “metal plates in hidden stone box” finding has come out of Central/South America. They’re trying to present a strong case for physical evidence but do it as ambiguously as possible to maintain that neutrality.

    Feels like a Catch-22 to me.

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  10. Jones on September 26, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    jmb275,

    Ironically, this plates-in-a-box stuff which is cited as evidence for the BoM has come out of the Old World. More specifically, Burma: the “Land Northward” of the Malay theory.

    http://www.mormonfortress.com/boxmetal.html

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  11. Jeremy on September 26, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Sorry, Sri Lanka BoM Theory folks, but this narrow neck of land is already taken by the Hindus.

    The Ramayana describes how Lord Rama rescued his wife Sita, who was kidnapped by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. After discovering the location of Ravana’s fortress, Rama leads an army of Monkeys to attack it. In order to traverse the water separating Ravana’s fortress from the mainland, the monkeys build a bridge by inscribing Rama’s name on rocks and throwing them in the water. The inscribed rocks “float.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam's_Bridge

    There have been efforts to dredge a path for cargo ships through this area; they have been opposed by some literalists who insist that the geological formation is literally the result of Rama’s quest and should not be disturbed.

    Here’s the Living Scriptures depiction: http://youtu.be/AIx72UokEYg

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  12. Mormon Heretic on September 26, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    jmb,

    Your statement from the Ensign only says that there is evidence–it doesn’t say where the evidence is. I fully acknowledge that most church members (and GA’s) think it happened SOMEWHERE in the Americas, but that’s as far as they’ll go. I’d be shocked if they endorsed any theory, be it Sorenson’s Meso theory, or Meldrum’s Heartland theory.

    I know that Rodney Meldrum and Ralph Olsen have approached GA’s in support of their theories. Meldrum even has some former GA’s (such as Bruce Porter) that are actively “campaigning” for Meldrum’s Heartland theory. But I’m sure that most support Sorenson’s Meso theory.

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  13. Mormon Heretic on September 26, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    dpc,

    The issue you raise is an important one. Previously I blogged,

    Joseph Smith History 1:34 “[Moroni] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.”

    a. Olsen’s argument emphasizes it differently, instead emphasizing “and the source from whence they sprang.” He says the Source is the Malay Peninsula, and that is how to overcome this apparent discrepancy. I can see his point, but I know that is not a traditional understanding of that scripture, and I’m not sure I buy it.

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  14. prometheus on September 26, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    That is a really nifty site. I will be spending some time on it this week, as I am able to.

    Myself, I think Ralph Olson’s arguments are pretty convincing. It neatly answers a lot of questions, fits the archaeology better, and leaves only the interpretation of a few prophecies to be re-looked at.

    Thanks for posting this MH.

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  15. Rob on September 26, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    By default the church leadership has always endorsed South America(SA) as the location of Book Of Mormon history. They have rarely said anything to the contrary. Thousands of members over the years have made pilgrimages to the SA ruins. Many led by some BYU professor or seminary teacher. Did the church ever say chill your jets were not so sure about this? On my mission we had a film strip about the B of M that directly showed SA ruins and talks about how the construction is that of the old world and its relation to the B of M. it also showed small metal plates excavated in SA. This was a church video not something we created. Everyone in the church knows that the underlying assumption is that Lamanites + B of M = SA. For good measure throw Pacific Islanders in for good measure as Lamanites. Those assumptions got there somehow. No church leader seems to be in any hurry to change it. The only thing that seems to be helping them distance themselves from one location and saying it’s not SA but only North American(NA) Indians is genetic testing to disprove SA. Sadly also NA Indians also. I might add the church has gotten a lot mileage presenting to the people of SA as being Lamanites and here is your “ history book” please join our church.

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  16. Tim on September 27, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    I’m surprised at how many of the maps show the land of Bountiful on the north side of the narrow neck of land.

    “Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful, … there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.” (Alma 22:31 – 32)

    “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward…” (Alma 52:9)

    I’m also surprised at how many maps fail to place Bountiful to the east, by the sea.

    “…the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore. … And it came to pass that they marched to the borders of the land Bountiful…” (Alma 51:26 – 28)

    “And it came to pass that Teancum made preparations to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, … he abandoned his designs and returned again to the city Bountiful…” (Alma 52:17)

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  17. [...] to a marvelous map site called Book of Mormon Online assembled by KC Kern for the various theories here. KC has also recently explored one of these theories in depth in a series at W&T [...]

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  18. Sean on May 11, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Interesting theories. I don’t know if we’ll figure it out in this life, but if we do, that will be really cool. In my spare time, I’ve always thought it was fun to think about stuff like this; the actual geographic settings for the Book of Mormon, the science of biblical happenings, etc. Not exactly necessary, but very fun to think about.

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  19. dean on June 4, 2013 at 6:28 AM

    how about the malay theory everyone? ralph a.olsen says mormon events is likely happens in malay peninsula..all the evidence were seems truth..also malay race was the mysterious race ever on earth

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  20. d on July 9, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    The Malay theory is very plausible. I have studied the theory in careful detail as well as the criticisms of it. The strengths of the theory dramatically outweigh its potential weaknesses. I would put it at the top of the list of leading candidate sites for the Book of Mormon geography. People are reluctant to give the Malay theory a fair analysis because of their pre-conditioning to an American continent setting.

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