The Legend of the Lost Book of Gold (Part 3 of 4)

by: KC Kern

October 18, 2011

Foreword

This is part 3 of a 4 part series.  Context for this post is provided in part 1 and part 2.

Moroni and Cumorah

Two CumorahsOften the first protest directed at the Malay Hypothesis is the issue of Cumorah, New York, and the irreconcilable distances and settings it would require to get the plates from Asia to New York. Proponents of the Tehuantepec (and other) limited geography theories have long made the case that the hill in New York never was the Hill Cumorah referenced in the Book of Mormon, and was named “Cumorah” ex post facto by exuberant early latter-day saints.52 Furthermore, a careful reading of Mormon 6:6 indicates that the plates of Mormon—the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated—were never buried in the hill Cumorah at all; quite the opposite: the source materials (large plates of Nephi, etc) were buried in Cumorah, and Mormon gave to Moroni the few remaining plates from Mormon to complete. The deposit location and ultimate fate of these plates—which would have included the plates of Mormon—is never mentioned in the Book of Mormon text, other than that they were “sealed up.” John Sorenson, an advocate of the Tehuantepec model, suggests that Moroni made the trip from Mexico to New York in the 21 years between Mormon 8:6 and Moroni 10:1, and left them in the hill where Joseph Smith found them centuries later.

Dr. Olsen provides a speculative narrative for the fate and travels of Moroni that, if true, would provide a fascinating interpretation of existing external evidence.53 His conjecture proposes that Moroni, in hopes of evading the Lamanite warriors, traveled northward into what would now be Burma. Perhaps he found others—Nephite exiles, peaceful Lamanites, or completely separate groups—and told them of his father’s work, of the Nephite chronicles, and of the prophecies of restoration he had written in his book of gold. These stories may have persisted in the region until they came to be adopted into folklore of the Karen people who would later arrive into Burma from southern China around 500 A.D.54

Moroni, ComorosEventually Moroni, perhaps led by God as Nephi was, might have been compelled to set sail into the Bay of Bengal. Archaeological and DNA evidence suggests that between 200 BC and 500 AD, migrations were occurring between Southeast Asia and the east African islands of Madagascar.55 Additionally, linguistic evidence indicates that Malagasy (the language of Madagascar) is related to the Malayo-Polynesian family of languages,56 thus providing even more evidence of migration to Madagascar from the Malay Archipelago.57 Moroni may have been among these migrants after his escape from Cumorah. Incidentally, just off the northwestern coast of Madagascar lies a tiny country named “Comoros”—with a capital known as “Moroni”.58

After some time in Comoros, perhaps with others, or perhaps alone, Moroni may have again set sail, this time on a more ambitious journey, one that may have taken him around the Cape of Good Hope, through the Atlantic, across the equator, and landed him on the east coast of America, where he could have been led to bury the plates in the hill where Joseph Smith eventually would obtain them.

Moroni's Travels

A transoceanic trip of this magnitude may seem impossible, but it is no more incredulous than the alternative stories of Lehites, Mulekites and Jaredites crossing comparable distances to arrive in America. The primary difference between the two would be centuries of seafaring experience and knowhow to Moroni’s advantage. Note that this route is very similar to the transatlantic Lehite route required by the Heartland geography theory, the plausibility of which was recently bolstered by the experience of the 2010 Phoenician Ship Expedition.59

Alternatively, the relocation of the plates of Mormon into the New York hill could have been instigated by any number of divinely-aided means, from the resurrected Moroni posthumously moving them, to the Three Nephites helping out somehow, to any other number of miraculous means akin to those that are inextricable from the contents of Book of Mormon and the narrative of its coming forth.

Authoritative Statements

Spencer Kimball and the IndiansOne of the major objections to the Malay Hypothesis, and to any other non-American placement of Book of Mormon geography, is that countless LDS Church leaders and authorities have asserted that the American continent is the Book of Mormon’s promised land, that America is where the Book of Mormon lands are “supposed” to be, and that the testimony of Jesus furnished by the Book of Mormon belongs to the New World. Church leaders have indicated that the hill in upstate New York is in very fact the Hill Ramah/Cumorah of the Book of Mormon’s great last battles.60 The introduction of the official Church edition states unequivocally that it is a “record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.”61 Apostles have identified those of native American descent as Lamanites.62 Thomas Marsh explained how Moroni was hunted down and killed by a band of Indians.63 Joseph Smith told Zion’s Camp that a skeleton found in Illinois was once none other than “Zelph, the white Lamanite,” in addition to having related to his family “the most amusing recitals that could be imagined” describing “the ancient inhabitants of this continent,” presumably referring to the civilizations described in the Book of Mormon.64

The key to properly facing all these issues—and this cannot be emphasized enough—is understanding that these issues are external to the Book of Mormon text itself. The Church has assured its members that all speakers or authors, regardless of their priesthood or leadership positions, are responsible for and accountable to their own statements,65 and that their statements should be weighed against the standard works to assess their credibility.66 The Malay Hypothesis does not purport to be a proposal to accommodate past leaders’ statements or mainstream assumptions about the Book of Mormon. Rather, it purports to be a model in which to consider the text per se, and makes no appeal to extratextual sources to construct its model. Readers and students who uphold a sacrosanct relationship between the contents Book of Mormon and the statements or beliefs of modern religious authorities will understandably feel compelled to discredit the Malay Hypothesis and all other non-traditional theories.

Don Vincenzo di FrancescaThe story of Vincenzo Di Francesca, who discovered and accepted the Book of Mormon virtually in a vacuum—with no institutional strings attached—provides a real instance in which we can consider how the Book of Mormon can be received completely on its own terms.67 To Di Francesca’s independent reading of the Book of Mormon text, without any preface, tradition, or institutional history to frame the Book of Mormon text, all of these problematic statements would be complete non-issues. The degree to which readers consider the text of the Book of Mormon wedded to the environment and organization from which it came forth will largely determine the extent of their reluctance or eagerness to consider the viability of non-American geography models for the Book of Mormon.

The one external statement that probably carries the most weight in this matter is one that is included in nearly all official explanations of the origins of the Book of Mormon and is said to have come from the mouth of Moroni himself, who, in resurrected form, told Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon contains an “account of the former inhabitants of this continent.”

The source of this statement is a manuscript written by James Mulholland at the dictation of Joseph Smith in 1838.68 Incidentally, this same manuscript—and even the same paragraph—misidentifies the angel Moroni as “Nephi,” and is marked with an asterisk stating that it is “evidently a clerical error.” This error was perpetuated in the Nauvoo periodical Times and Seasons 69 and the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price 70 before it was corrected to “Moroni.”

Joseph Smith Papers

There is no direct evidence to indicate that the words “of this continent” are likewise erroneous, but the clear presence of neighboring errors should encourage some caution in using this statement as a non-negotiable hinge attaching the Book of Mormon lands to the Americas.

Assuming that Mulholland’s transcript is nevertheless correct, Dr. Olsen emphasizes Moroni’s words which immediately follow the reference to America: “the former inhabitants of this continent and the source from whence they sprang.” Traditional readings of these words assume the “source from whence they sprang” to be Jerusalem and Mesopotamia, but taken in another light, this could very well be understood as Asia and the Pacific, which not only corresponds more closely with current scientific consensus regarding the origins of early American migrants, but is also compatible with the Malay Hypothesis’ considerations of multiple lands of promise, and the continual scattering and expansion of Nephite and Lamanite people from their previous lands of promise.

Zion and The Promised Land

New York Cumorah and traditional LDS notions aside, there are some issues that are grounded in the Book of Mormon text that would challenge any non-American setting for the Book of Mormon. These issues are the prophecies that seem to indicate that the United States of America is central to the latter-day promised land, the modern Zion, and the New Jerusalem.

The Book of Mormon communicates that Lehi would be led to “a land of promise” that is “choice above all other lands;”71 that “a man among the Gentiles,”72 presumably Christopher Columbus, would reach the “seed of [Nephi’s] brethren, who were in the promised land;” that “this land… shall be kept from all other nations;”73 that “this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles,” with “no kings upon the land;”74 that “they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people;”75 and that “a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land.”76

Prohecies and PromisesThese passages are often cited by those promoting ethnocentric interpretations designating the United States exclusively as the “choice land.” Rodney Meldrum and his FIRM Foundation have gone to great lengths to conclude that the Book of Mormon’s references to any promised land point unambiguously to the United States of America.77 Meldrum further cites 2 Nephi 1:5 to demonstrate that the land Lehi arrived upon was the “land of promise” which he had “obtained.” However, a closer inspection of this verse shows that Lehi stated that his family “obtained a land of promise.”78 The use of this indefinite article is significant in light of the aforementioned plurality of promised lands noted in the Book of Mormon.

Furthermore, uncompromisingly strict interpretations of these passages disqualifies even the United States as the land of promise. If the “man among the Gentiles” is in fact Columbus, the “promised land” designation would have to extend to the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands.79 Also, the United States was ultimately not “kept from all other nations.”80 African slaves—Gentiles in their own right—would most certainly not describe their relocation to America as becoming “a free people”81 in “a land of liberty”—a land which, parenthetically, was ruled by European kings for centuries prior to 1776.82 And, despite the current construction of an LDS temple not even ten miles from the Temple Lot in Independence Missouri,83 a “New Jerusalem” is still conspicuously absent from the United States.

There are, of course, suitable rebuttals for each of these counterpoints. These rebuttals do, however, require the introduction of a more liberal, allegorical, or broad interpretation of the prophecies in the Book of Mormon. Defenders of Mesoamerican geography models have long advocated generalized explanations for these passages, considering the history of suffering and oppression of the countries in the most immediate regions they propose for the Book of Mormon setting.84 The degree to which liberal interpretations are applied to these prophetic statements will largely be influenced by the presuppositions and confirmation bias of the interpreter. Preferences for the promised land being within the the political boundaries of the United States, or covering all of North America, or the greater Americas, or a wide array of promised lands ranging from Israel, through Asia, into the Pacific and the Americas, can all be accommodated through creative readings, American traditions and references to “this land” notwithstanding.

Historically speaking, Latter-day saints are actually quite accustomed to reinventing their definition of Zion. The latter-day gathering of Israel has at various times been focused around Kirtland, Missouri, Illinois, Utah, and even the symbol of “stakes” of Zion’s tent, coupled with the metaphor: “this is Zion—the pure in heart.”85 Despite what Meldrum might insist on, the prophecies regarding the promised lands and their direct corollaries to the United States, while certainly ingrained firmly in the latter-day zeitgeist, are not unambiguously substantiated by an objective reading of the Book of Mormon text.

Who Are the Lamanites?Nephi’s prophecies about “his seed” in contrast to “the seed of his brethren” are also problematic to traditional readings. These statements are generally understood to be the future Nephites and Lamanites, and their latter-day remnants. The first obstacle to this notion is that Nephi’s “brethren” would have also included Jacob and Joseph, who’s early descendants were collectively referred to as “Nephites.”86 The other problem is that during the Zionist utopia described in 4th Nephi, there were no distinctions based on lineage, and the entire population was unified.87 The Nephite and Lamanite factions that emerge after that period distinguish themselves by belief and demeanor, not by blood heritage.88 This further necessitates liberal interpretations of who the modern Lamanites are relative to Laman and Lemuel as well as to the Lamanite people described in the pages leading up to 4th Nephi.

Fitting these prophecies into the Malay Hypothesis does admittedly require unconventional reinterpretations of the text along with a vast departure from traditional teachings. But to its advantage, it does allow for the possibility of many promised lands throughout the earth, and does not necessarily exclude America from these promises. Again, The degree to which these interpretations are determined to be plausible will be largely influenced by the cultural expectations and presuppositions of the reader.

To Be Continued…

Stay tuned for the remaining post, in which the following topics will be addressed:

  • Part IV
    • Concluding Observations
    • Ancient evidence for the Book of Mormon
    • Epilogue to the Legend of the Lost Book of Gold

Footnotes

  1. Sorenson, John L. An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1985. 44.
  2. Olsen, Ralph. The Malay Peninsula as the Setting for the Book of Mormon. Unpublished manuscript, 1995. 160-161
  3. Mirante, Edith T. “Burma—Frontier Minorities in Arms.” Cultural Survival Quarterly 11:4 (1987).
  4. Dahl, Otto Chr. Migration from Kalimantan to Madagascar. Oslo, Norway: Norwegian University [sic] P, 1991.
  5. Hurles, Matthew E.; Sykes, Bryan C.; Jobling, Mark A.; Forster, Peter. “The Dual Origin of the Malagasy in Island Southeast Asia and East Africa: Evidence from Maternal and Paternal Lineages”. American Society of Human Genetics. Vol 76:5. May 2005. 894-901
  6. Bellwood, Peter S., James J. Fox, and D. T. Tryon. The Austronesians: historical and comparative perspectives. Canberra: Dept. of Anthropology as part of the Comparative Austronesian Project, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, 1995. 83.
  7. See Alma 8:7
  8. See Helaman 3:14 for a reference to shipping and building of ships as a major Nephite enterprise through the chronicles of the Book of Mormon. See also: Meldrum, Rodney. “Update on the Phoenicia Ship Expedition.” 9 Jun 2010. The FIRM Foundation. Accessed Sept. 2011 <http://www.firmlds.com/feature.php?id=15>.
  9. Pratt, Orson. Journal of Discourses. Vol. 14. 331
  10. Smith, Joseph. The Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981.
  11. Kimball, Spencer W. “Of Royal Blood.” Ensign Jun. 1971.
  12. Evans, Charles D. LDS Church Archives. Quoted in Peterson, H. Donl. Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2000. 77.
  13. Godfrey, Kenneth W. “The Zelph Story.” BYU Studies 29:2 (1989): 31-56.; see also Godfrey, Kenneth W. “What is The Significance of Zelph in the Study of Book of Mormon Geography?.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8:2 (1999): 74-75. See also: Smith, Lucy M. Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith. Liverpool: Published for O. Pratt by S.W. Richards, 1853. 36-173.
  14. “Approaching Mormon Doctrine.” Official Newsroom of the Church. 4 May 2007. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Accessed Sept. 2011 <http://newsroom.lds.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine>.
  15. Smith, Joseph Fielding. Doctrines of Salvation. Vol.3. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954. 203-04
  1. Di Francisca, Vincenzo. “I Will Not Burn the Book.” Ensign Jan. 1988.
  2. ”History, 1839–1856, Volume A-1, Page 5” The Joseph Smith Papers. Salt Lake City, UT: Church Historian’s Press. 2008
  3. Times and Seasons. Vol 3 (1841):753
  4. Smith, Joseph. The Pearl of Great Price. Liverpool: F.D. Richards, 1851. 41.
  5. 1 Nephi 2:20
  6. 1 Nephi 13: 12–15
  7. 2 Nephi 1:9
  8. 2 Nephi 10:10
  9. 3 Nephi 21:4
  10. Ether 13: 1–6
  11. Porter, Bruce H., and Rod Meldrum. Prophecies & Promises: The Book of Mormon and the United States of America. New York: Digital Legend P and Pub., 2009.
  12. 2 Nephi 1:5
  13. Williams, Eric Eustace. From Columbus to Castro: the history of the Caribbean, 1492-1969. New York: Vintage Books, 1984.
  14. Jennings, Francis. The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest. Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture by the University of North Carolina P, 1975.
  15. Buell, Tonya. Slavery in America: a Primary Source History of the Intolerable Practice of Slavery. New York: Rosen Central Primary Source, 2004.
  16. Osgood, Herbert L. The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century. Vol. 3. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1904.
  17. “Temple Announced for Greater Kansas City Area.” Official Newsroom of the Church. 4 Oct. 2008. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Accessed Sept. 2011. <http://newsroom.lds.org/additional-resource/temple-announced-for-greater-kansas-city-area>. Distance measured with Google Maps.
  18. Ashcroft, Bill. Post-Colonial Transformation. London: Routledge, 2001. 114-16.
  19. Doctrine and Covenants 97:21
  20. Jacob 1:13–14
  21. 4 Nephi 1:17
  22. 4 Nephi 1:36–38

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26 Responses to The Legend of the Lost Book of Gold (Part 3 of 4)

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 19, 2011 at 7:06 AM

    Traditional readings of these words assume the “source from whence they sprang” to be Jerusalem and Mesopotamia, but taken in another light, this could very well be understood as Asia and the Pacific, which not only corresponds more closely with current scientific consensus regarding the origins of early American migrants, but is also compatible with the Malay Hypothesis’ considerations of multiple lands of promise, and the continual scattering and expansion of Nephite and Lamanite people from their previous lands of promise.

    I like that point.

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  2. hawkgrrrl on October 19, 2011 at 7:06 AM

    To me, the starting point has to be throwing out whatever is extratextual. Until we do that, we can’t really examine what the text says. So, to me, that strengthens this theory.

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  3. Ray on October 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    “The key to properly facing all these issues—and this cannot be emphasized enough—is understanding that these issues are external to the Book of Mormon text itself.”

    I’ve said for a long time that our biggest hurdle to understanding the Book of Mormon is to eliminate ALL things that are not in the book itself and to study ONLY what it actually says. In general, we understand this book SO poorly – and I am open to anything that tries to focus strictly on the text itself and parse for possible meanings, even if they fly in the face of traditional assumptions.

    The simplest example of this is the issue of transporting the plates over great distances. As I’ve said, and as you note, according to the book itself, Moronit had multiple decades to go from where the final battle occurred to where he buried the plates. There is nowhere in the world that is beyond consideration, if the only consideration is distance traveled.

    I’m not saying I accept the Malay Theory as accurate, but I certainly like the possibilities it raises and the openness to new possibilities it encourages. I also think there is WAY too much that makes sense (including the place names) to reject it reflexively.

    I’m looking forward to the final installment.

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  4. Mormon Heretic on October 19, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    KC, fantastic post. I think you’ve laid out well all of the common objections to the theory.

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  5. prometheus on October 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    It is interesting to really focus on what the text is actually saying rather than what we think it is saying. Three decades of reading and I had never noticed the source-from-whence-they-sprang bit, or the multiple lands of promise mentioned.

    I also find it interesting to note how much of our familiarity with history colors our interpretations. We know the story of colonization, so we map Nephi’s prophecies onto that story. Perhaps there are other stories that fit the mold. I am curious (though I haven’t had the time) to dig into the history of the Malaysian peninsula and see what there is to see.

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  6. stephen m (ethesis) at the apple store on October 20, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    I very much agree with Ray … which was the whole point of my deconstruction posts years ago …

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  7. Tim on October 21, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Some information external to the BofM is at least worth considering. For example, Gideon referred to “the back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city” of Nephi. If there’s a back side of the city, there must be a front side. Back and front were ancient Semitic references to the directions West and East, respectively. Knowing this can help in producing a map of the area surrounding the city of Nephi. The city of Shilom (which the Nephites traveled around while escaping into the wilderness) would be to the west of the city of Nephi.

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  8. Ralph on October 22, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Sincere Thanks to KC Kern and others for helping to make the Malay Hypothesis better known. Hopefully additional thought will occur. Arguments for additional emphasis include: coast hugging journeys, more reasonable distances, peninsular setting, north to south orientation, narrow neck of land, predominantly east and west seas, east west highland across the land southward, destructive east winds (typhoons?), an important river running north, mining, metallurgy, metals, metal swords, wheeled vehicles, beasts of burden, Old World animals, Old World plants, Old World behavior & rituals, a native black population at the southern end of the peninsula (Semangs), about 15 place names similar to BofM names, violent volcanic explosions, a setting to accomodate migration west to Madagascar and east to islands of the Pacific (the uninhabited quarter) and then finally Aztecs came to America about 800 AD (long after BofM events). Aztecs language had many similarities to Hebrew.

    Venomous snakes (cobras) that chased people

    Stephen, that is a very good statement, I agree.

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  9. Ralph on October 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Venomous snakes (Dusky Hamadryad), silk and linens, leprosy, dragons, inscribed metal plates, Hebrew writing, beliefs and practices, all help promote the Malay Theory.
    An additional 40 arguments favoring the Malay Hypothesis are being prepared for consideration. I don’t know of ANY arguments which clearly favor an American site over the Malay Peninsula site. Those favoring MesoAmerica base their conviction, to large extent, upon statements of early Mormons who were convinced that the Hill Cumorah was in New York. Sorry, but they were apparently mistaken. Finding the Land of Promise would make Mormonism far more promising to many skeptics.

    Thanks hawkgrrl. I don’t like to throw out anything. I think both can either strengthen or weaken a theory. If the BofM is the most accurate book we have, we ought to be able to interpret each word literally.

    Ray: All of the BofM theories (except eastern US ones that were written starting with where the supposed Hill Cumorah is) have a problem with how the plates made it to New York. AT least the Malay Theory has scientific evidence that peoples left Malaysia about 400 AD and sailed to Magascar. With 1000 years of sailing experience (since the Nephites first trip) sailing from Madascar to New york should have been quite feasible.
    How would they transport 200? lbs of gold plates from MesoAmerica to New York with no beasts of burden, no wheels, no carts, no chariots….

    I agree. Good statement by Mormon Heretic.

    Promethus: Most people think of the Land of Promise as being the United States. Meso is not the USA. MesoAmerica is not a most choice land, they are not prosperous, they aren’t well known for safety, etc. Part of Thailand is the north part of the Malaysian Peninsula. In my opinion, the Malay Peninsula matches the accounts better than does Meso America. ‘Thailand’ means ‘Land of the ‘Free’ It has never been ruled by a European country. It has very valuable deposits of many precious minerals, etc…

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  10. Voni on October 22, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    Stephen: The BofM hardly says anything about the area around Palestine. So Ralph’s theory is that “the source from whence they sprang” is talking about Malaysia area…instead. Remember Joseph only was allowed to translate the first third of the golden plates and then they were taken from him. Perhaps the other 2/3 is more about the migration to other lands of promise and landing in America…
    Some are getting excited that the Aztecs have writing that is similar (about 1000 similarities) to Hebrew… but the Aztecs came to America about 800 AD. That is too late for the Meso theory, and perfect for the Malay Theory.

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  11. Ray on October 22, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Thanks for your comments, Ralph. This really is a fascinating topic, and the similarities you mention are WAY too numerous to discount reflexively.

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  12. Ray on October 22, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Oh, and as far as the transportation of the plates is concerned, a strong man could transport 200 pounds around the world easily – if he had multiple decades to do so. I think that issue is a non-starter for ANY theory, no matter the location – which means it certainly doens’t weaken the Malay Theory in any way whatsoever.

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  13. FireTag on October 22, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    “violent volcanic explosions”

    I continue to stress the point that VIOLENCE of an eruption isn’t the issue — it is being proximate enough to the locations to produce death and destruction as the BofM describes from some causes while not producing even stronger effects elsewhere in the BofM lands that the Book would hardly ignore. A big volcanic eruption from the subduction zone SW of Sumatra, which happens quite frequently IS NOT EQUAL to a volcano in Malay — and THERE ARE HAVE BEEN NO VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS IN MALAY IN 10,000 YEARS.

    “With 1000 years of sailing experience (since the Nephites first trip) sailing from Madagascar to New York should have been quite feasible.”

    Yet again, the BofM ignores such sailing experience. Nephites and Lamanites spend 1000 years trudging inland and NEVER travel around the edge of the coast? They NEVER develop Navies? They NEVER focus on that huge island chain just over the horizon — so that the culture becomes about two lands separated by a narrow neck of water?

    Sometimes the clue is that the dog DOESN’T bark. The BofM isn’t telling us the Nephites lived in a land that was NARROW to the North and South. It’s telling us that for most of their history, there was no place to the east and west that was both accessible and worth going. That’s not true of Malay.

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  14. Ray on October 22, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    “It’s telling us that for most of their history, there was no place to the east and west that was both accessible and worth going.”

    or that they were tied historically to the land of their original “inheritance” (their “land of promise”) and stayed to fight for it rather than leave – even to their ultimate destruction. That has happened all throughout recorded history – and there are two accounts of people who left the main civilization’s cultural government center and weren’t heard of again – one to a land northward (mode of travel not specified) and one in boats.

    Also, the record we have is assumed by most readers to include all the descendants of three main groups: the Lehites (Nephites and Lamanites), the Mulekites and the Jaredites. However, it’s mathematically impossible that the book actually includes all the relevant details to understand who actually is included in the narrative and who isn’t included from among their descendants. Two examples, just to illustrate what I mean:

    1) Even though the Nephites joined with the Mulekites, who were “more numerous” than the Nephites, the Lamanites still greatly outnumbered the newly combined group. It seems obvious that the Lamanites also joined with a larger group – like the black-skinned people in the Malay Theory, which would solve completely the race issue that gets discussed ad nauseum. It’s pretty obvious demographically that the situation after Christ’s visit where there were no “-ites” because everyone was mixed together and not distinguished by race was preceded by a time when the “-ites” weren’t as clearly defined genetically as the book implies.

    2) The Book of Ether, when read carefully, can’t describe all of the descendants of the original group that sailed to a new land. The population figures after thousands of years just don’t measure up – and the narrative itself focuses solely on the people who lived in the “capital region” of the “kingdom” and were loyal to one competing family faction or another. It is not just possible but probable that there were many, many descendants who wandered from the central region and established civilizations of their own – and it is more than just likely that they would not have been involved at all in the final destruction at the end of the Book of Ether.

    So . . .

    Even if the “ruling classes” described in the Book of Mormon comprised the entire population that stayed near the capitals, it is not a stretch at all to believe that others would have taken advantage of other lands to settle – and there are those two instances where the departing groups would have been large enough to warrant mention in the records of the rulers.

    There are no indications of advanced civilizations being built and destroyed in the Meso region during that time period, but there are such records in the Malay region – and many other possibilities.

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  15. Ray on October 22, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    “violent volcanic explosions”

    Where does the Book of Mormon say this happened, Ralph and FireTag? It’s a common assumption, but where does it say so in the text itself? The exact quotes from 3 Nephi 8, for the land southward and northward, respectively, are:

    5 And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.

    6 And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder.

    7 And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land.

    and

    12 But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth;

    Volcanic eruptions are mentioned where?

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  16. Ralph on October 23, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Ray: Please remember that he was not just carrying plates. He would have had to carry many essentials for survival (food, water, weapons, clothing, bedding, coat). I think you have more confidence in the guy than I do. The guys I grew up with in Sanpete County could carry 100 lb. sacks of wheat for a short period of time and distance. I don’t think I knew anyone who could lift 200 lbs for very far.

    I agree that there is no certainty that the destruction was caused by volcanic explosions. One of the main reasons I thought it might have been, was the fact that there were three days of darkness. So I thought it was likely caused by huge amounts of ash/dust in the atmosphere, but it could have been a huge storm that caused the darkness. But whatever the cause, the Malay area could accommodate the comments in the Book of Mormon better than MesoAmerica.

    Firetag: If the darkness was caused by ash from a volcano, it would not have had to be one in Malaysia, but could have been from some neighboring country. You mention Sumatra, which is 20 miles away. If it had a violent volcanic event that was heard in Australia, it would certainly have produced plenty of ash to blacken the skies in Malaysia.

    One of my favorite topics is BofM people migrating (small groups at a time) east to islands in the Pacific. It is a certainty that they did have ships. I emphasize them migrating to the west to Madagascar and to Sumatra. I emphasize they head east to the uninhabited quarter of islands in the Pacific and on to America. They do far more sailing in my theory than the other theory.

    The BofM tells of Hagoth building ships. There is an inlet of the sea on the west side of Malaysia (not Meso) in the approximate location. People left from there in ships he built.

    Palestine was located adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. I can’t remember a single time that the Bible mentions people sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, let alone migrating. That doesn’t mean the Bible is incorrect.

    Saying the Nephites wouldn’t have gone east or west
    “there was no place to the east and west that was both accessible and worth going.”

    In both theories they landed on the west coast, so there were no lands west, because they landed on the coast… According to the Meso model there was a huge amount of land to the east. Are you saying that it was not worth going east into the jungle? Then why did they go so far north through the jungle?

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  17. Tim on October 23, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Something to consider: there are plenty of reasonable arguments which have been published concluding that the weight of the plates was about 60 pounds.

    As for the groups of people mentioned in the BofM, in addition to the Jaredites, Nephites, Lamanites and Mulekites, I sometimes wonder if the “friends of Jared and the friends of the brother of Jared” were descendants of Ham and that’s why they were numbered separately (Ether 6:16). Perhaps they survived the destruction of the Jaredites because they weren’t involved. Perhaps they became Lamanites by association and are the “principle ancestors” of the Native Americans. Just something to consider.

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  18. BOMG on October 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    @KC Curtain, such completely, indecipherable and yet quite comical nonsense. You have sipped on the Islamic State theory for far too long to bring anything but utter nonsense to the subject.

    The Cumorah and fulfilled land prophecy sidesteps makes you greatest skirter since Ferguson.

    @hawkgirl, I must say, whatever your motive here is unflattering to the Book of Mormon. Had you extracted land prophecies and noted WHERE they were fulfilled, i.e. burial place of the plates, where they would be found, where they would speak from the ground, etc., you would recant that statement and exclaim, “by the text alone (meaning land prophecies) I see that the plates could only come forth on the land where Book of Mormon people lived, prayed and obtained promises for her future inhabitants.”

    Likewise, in 1828 we have this:

    47 And I said unto them, that it should be GRATED UNTO THEM according to their faith in their prayers; 48 Yea, and this was their faith—that MY GOSPEL, which I gave unto them that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren the Lamanites, and also all that had become Lamanites because of their dissensions. 49 Now, this is not all—their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made KNOWN ALSO if it were possible that other nations should POSSESS THIS LAND (HELLO???); 50 And thus they did leave A BLESSING UPON THIS LAND (HELLO???) in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in THIS GOSPEL, in THIS LAND (HELLO) might have eternal life; (D&C 10, date Summer 1828)

    This is so plain to understand.

    @Ray, stop pointing the finger at others, YOU IGNORE what the text says. Extract the fulfilled land prophecies and see how Moroni’s time is nothing but a witness that he protected the plates by staying nearby, and lived day-by-day, moment-by-moment, hiding in the land HE KNEW and the Lamanites did not.

    @Ralph, “I don’t know of ANY arguments which clearly favor an American site over the Malay Peninsula site.”

    You drank the coolaid of the Mesotheorists for too long and are mixing your own with their ingredients and are putting the cart before the horse and espousing a model in an Islamic State.

    UNTIL YOU STEP FOOT ON THE LAND IN THIS MODEL STOP ENDORSING IT. If you can’t help yourself and must continue the nonsense, put a disclaimer at the top of your book and/or web site stating you’ve never see it at Mormon’s viewpoint, i.e. eye level.

    Btw, ancient Book of Mormon lands were never ruled by a European nation. They were sold by the natives to white Gentiles as prophesied they would, and those Gentiles did NOT have a king, but infact, were CHRISTIANS, Jesus was the KING, I.E. IT WAS NOT AN ISLAMIC STATE.

    @Ralph, “Please remember that he was not just carrying plates. He would have had to carry many essentials for survival (food, water, weapons, clothing, bedding, coat).”

    Don’t get ahead of yourself, apply that logic to the final battle:

    a. Did Moroni risk dying by going into battle? Yes, he was at the front of his army of 10k.

    b. Did Mormon risk dying by going into battle? Yes, he was also at the front of his army of 10k.

    c. Did Mormon or Moroni know of the prophecies that their people would be destroyed? Yes, they did not expect to live through the battle.

    d. Knowing their fate was sealed, did Mormon secure the gold plates in the Hill Cumorah for Joe to find, or was Moroni carrying them into the battle at the head of his 10k, risking their capture and destruction?

    @Ralph, “I emphasize they head east to the uninhabited quarter of islands in the Pacific and on to America. ”

    Wrong, they had many battles along the Sea East and if they had boats there, they no doubt would have utilized them to flee or attack the enemy.

    Book of Mormon lands were “hidden,” in other words they did not bordered the Great Deep they crossed.

    Also, your model is void of a LAND NORTHWARD surrounded by FOUR SEAS.

    You are also MISSING THE SEA NORTH AND SOUTH. Malay cannot be BoM lands, not even close.

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  19. Tim on October 24, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Descendants of Ham are assumed to be both Mongoloid and Negroid, so I guess I should qualify my earlier statement that the friends of Jared and his brother might have been Mongoloid-descendants of Ham.

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  20. Ray on October 24, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Everyone, please don’t feed the troll. It’s beyond painful at this point.

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  21. Ray on October 24, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Ralph, it is verifiable in many historic accounts that people carried packs FAR heavier than 200 lbs. for great distances at a time. That is the high-end estimate of weight Moroni might have had to carry, so, as a large and mighty man, it is possible that he carried a pack consisting of what is recorded and necessary many thousands of miles over such a long period of time – especially since much of the travel could have been by boat.

    Again, this bolsters your theory – since it makes distance traveled completely irrelevant.

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  22. Ray on October 24, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Also, the Book of Ether tells of a civilization that is radically different than that of the rest of the Book of Mormon. It fits very well into the Asiatic steppe culture, and that would solve the basic DNA issue almost completely.

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  23. BOMG on October 24, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Answer the questions Ray, oh that’s right, you don’t know your one hand from the other cause your cursed. (D&C 84:54)

    For future readers please note that title of “troll” here means “stop showing my biases.”

    Also note that the ring leaders here have endorsed an Islamic State model that is the epitome of the anti-Christ when it comes to Book of Mormon geography.

    What kind of arrogance erases with the sleight of hand authoritative statements by Cowdery (Book of Mormon and angel witness), Whitmer (Book of Mormon and angel witness), Joe (Book of Mormon and angel witness), Church Canon, Lucy Smith, Parley P. Pratt (apostle), Orson Pratt(apostle), Brigham Young (prophet), George Albert Smith(prophet), James Talmage(apostle), Anthony Ivins(apostle), Mark Peterson(apostle), Joseph Fielding Smith(prophet), Widstoe(apostle), McConkie(apostle), Romney(apostle), etc.

    Putting aside their spiritual and ecclesiastical status, what kind of arrogance would assume a better mind on the matter than ALL OF THEM?

    Dear reader, if you haven’t laughed or puked your guts out by now for their flagrant display of cognitive dissonance, always discard anyone who:

    a. Never extracted the Internal Geography and don’t have an Internal Geography Map to show for it.

    b. Never set foot on the land they propose, let alone walked from the West to the East Sea like the Nephites did.

    c. Who are ignorant of fulfilled land prophecies and haven’t a clue where we are in the prophetic timetable.

    d. Who can’t state why they are interested in the field Book of Mormon geography, or WHY they are obsessed with it.

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  24. The Other Clark on October 30, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    #17, the Bible has a large number of boat stories, including Noah, Jonah and the voyages of Paul. BUT, the Bible Dictionary points out that the hebrews were not a seafaring people, and for the most part feared the sea. …Which may explain why navies weren’t developed by the Lehite descendants?

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  25. Tim on October 31, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    #24 I’m puzzled. Are you sure it’s #17 which you wanted to reference?

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  26. Mormon Heretic » Malay Revisited on November 5, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    [...] a god called Y’wa.  Part 2 discusses the actual theory in more depth.  Part 3 discusses common objections to the theory, and Part 4 gives a conclusion to the series.  If you haven’t read the series, please check [...]

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