This video goes through a wide potpourri of Book of Mormon evidences which have not been discussed on prior videos.
Okay, this video is on Book of Mormon evidences. And it kind of reminds me of when I did the video on Ancient Temple Rites Restored. I said I felt like I was going to explode. That’s how I feel right now. There’s so much stuff here to cover. It’s fascinating. So, it’s a potpourri of lots of different things here. And I’m going for breadth on this. I’m going to kind of go pretty quick through a lot of things. So, adjust the playback speed if you want to slow it down a little bit, but I just wanted to give you lots of interesting facts and tidbits along the way of things that have been discovered and lots of great stuff.
So, I’ve already done a number of videos, evidences videos on the Book of Mormon, the Match It video, that’s my number one favorite video of the actual production of the Book of Mormon itself. Miracle upon miracle. So, then I also did one on LIDAR, fascinating recent technology discoveries and go check that one out. It’s poor production quality back then, but a really fascinating video.
I did the metal plates discovered video. I did chiasmus and then we did the one on sound prints, not word prints, sound prints of names compared to JRR Tolkien, the recent research study that was done, fascinating video too.
So, I thought it’d be important to start with this quote from Elder Maxwell. He said, “It is the author’s opinion that all the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, will remain in the realm of faith. Science will not be able to prove or disprove holy writ. However, enough plausible evidence will come forth to prevent scoffers from having a field day, but not enough to remove the requirement of faith. Believers must be patient during such unfolding.”
And if you think about it, the fact that the Lord took the gold plates back tells us a lot. And the fact that He didn’t give us the location of the Book of Mormon longitude and latitude. He could have revealed that to Joseph. Joseph could have told the people. It’s still lots of speculation. I’m going to get into that in this video.
So, also, I wanted to just mention some resources. So, Book of Mormon Central online, absolutely phenomenal. That’d be my number one spot. It’s just crazy the volume that they’re putting out there and the research. From a book perspective, this is by far number one by miles. I love it. A Case for the Book of Mormon, recently released, General Authority, Elder Tad Callister. This would be my top book recommendation.
Another great one I love, Michael Ash, Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith, much on the Book of Mormon in there. I’ve got nine other books sitting over here that I’m going to mention as I go through the video at the right spot, but I wanted to start out with those.
Okay, I want to start with just absolutely fascinating tidbit here on the Jaredites. So, the Nephites, when Lehi came over, we’re not told how long it took at all. But the Jaredites, we are told how long, 344 days, okay. And it was in barges without sails. So, this is a fascinating thing. So, look at the screen here. You’ll actually find this if you go on here.
This was Lynn and David Rosenvall. They have a website, achoiceland.com. And they’ve done this amazing analysis on the Jaredites. From the record in Ether, you can see on the left-hand side, it talks about from where scholars think the Tower of Babel was. So Ether 2:1 it says, “They went down into the valley, which was northward.” And then they came into this quarter where no man had ever been. Then they traveled and built barges, which they crossed many waters.
And so, you can see the Caspian Sea there. And look at those other bodies of water. That was actually at that time, one big body of water. And it says, look to the right, they shouldn’t stop. They should keep going after they cross the sea. And then if you go all the way over, remember how the brother of Jared ended up on a mountain there when they got to the seashore. So, there is a mountain over there on the edge of China, Mount Shelem in Laoshan there.
And if you go to the next slide here, take a look at this. This is fascinating. They say, if you were to take off from there, now if you had a sail, the Spanish galleons and other sailors, they say this would have been three to four months to get over to the shores of America. So, here, the Rosenvalls did this study of drift rates using the currents. There’s 3 different currents. You have to calculate it. 7250 miles, 3 different currents with different speeds. If you calculate the speed of the current and the mileage, guess what you come up with. I put it down there below. “These 3 drift rates when merged over the full 7250-mile route, calculate to a total ocean drift time of 350 days.” So, 344 days, pretty stunning that Joseph Smith had that in the Book of Mormon.
So, I thought that was an exciting one to start with. Okay, check this out. They have found in the 1980s, an artifact in Jerusalem. If you look on here, “The Book of Mormon tells us one of the King Zedekiah’s sons was named Mulek and he escaped and came to the new world. The Bible says that Zedekiah and his sons were killed by King Nebuchadnezzar II during the Babylonian captivity. There’s no mention of anyone named Mulek in the Bible.” So, we learned separately from the Book of Mormon is there was one that escaped there.
So, “A stamp seal of a royal figure was found in the 1980s by archaeologists digging in Jerusalem. It’s dated to the exact time of Zedekiah. And it’s written in Paleo-Hebrew and it calls the royal figure Malkiyahu, son of the king, which would have been Zedekiah as of that date. One of the shortened Hebrew variants of this name would be Mulek.” That’s pretty cool.
Okay, how about reformed Egyptian. So, if you remember, the critics, I did the metal plates video. The critics love to slam Joseph even talking about writing on metal plates at that time, and now everyone knows it was done back in that day and time, lots of evidences now. And so, now reformed Egyptian is another thing that they scoffed at.
Look at this, Stephen Ricks and John Tvedtnes in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies wrote this. “Non-Latter-day Saint scholars and others have long scoffed at the idea that an Israelite group from Jerusalem should have written in Egyptian and mocked the term ‘reformed Egyptian’ as nonsense. Since Joseph Smith’s time, we have learned a great deal about Egyptian and Israelite records and realized that the Book of Mormon was correct in all respects.”
“Closer to Lehi’s time are Israelite documents from the 9th to 6th centuries BC from which we learned that the Israelites adopted the Egyptian hieratic numerals and mingled them with Hebrew text. More important, however, are Hebrew and Aramaic text languages used by the Jews of Lehi’s time that are written in Egyptian characters. One of these is Papyrus Amherst 63.”
He says, “The use of Egyptian script by Lehi’s descendants now becomes not only plausible, but perfectly reasonable in the light of archaeological discoveries made more than a century after Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.”
Okay, this is a fun one. Take a look at this. Recent pottery shard discovered showing that Sariah can be a female name in Hebrew. There’s a great piece that Neal Rappleye from Book of Mormon Central did on this in Interpreter recently. So Lehi’s wife was named Sariah. This was a very popular male name in Judah in 7th century BC. No evidence this is a female name at that time or in the Hebrew Bible. So, archaeologists found a papyrus dated to the 5th century BC showing Sariah listed as a daughter, but there were key parts missing in the parchment. So, there were still reticence to use it as evidence. And that was a few decades back.
There’s a pottery shard dated to the 5th century BC just discovered. You can see the illustration to the left, that shows clearly Sariah was listed as a “daughter of”. Both findings were from the Jewish community Elephantine, which ties back to Northern Israel. Lehi’s ancestors were also from Northern Israel. Remember? Lehi was from the tribe of Manasseh, so we tie it back to that as well. So, really fascinating.
Okay, so remember Joseph, in the Book of Mormon, the way it’s listed is Lehi’s family come south as they leave there. It says that they came to a river. It was falling into the Red Sea. Well, you go back to the maps of Joseph’s day, nothing like that, doesn’t exist. All right. Well take a look at the screen here. It does exist. We know now. And take a look at the picture right here. Remember, Lehi named it the River Laman and the Valley of Lemuel. You can see the pictures right there. And it’s right in the right spot where it should be. So, kind of fascinating.
Then also, remember as they journeyed along, he said they weren’t to have fire with them. And we now know that one of the big reasons, if you go along this trail, the Frankincense Trail, which they probably followed pretty closely, but were off a bit, maybe for protection, but fires were the way to identify where somebody was. And there were marauders and robbers that would attack and rob along that route. So, it makes total sense now.
And then I love how Nephi’s broken bow. So, Bill Hamblin, who recently passed away, very sad, but he was a great scholar. He talked about the steel composite in bows from Jerusalem that they would have used, would have, in the arid climate in the Arabian desert, would have been stressed and it could have broken. And then what I love is archers talk about this cool little nugget that Joseph wouldn’t have known. A steel bow versus wood bow. So steel bow, you have to have short arrows because it’s tighter, the string tautness versus a wood bow has more flex, so you need a longer arrow.
So, if you look closely at the text, it says that Nephi made new arrows too. So, he couldn’t use his old arrows with the new bow. Okay. Another cool little nugget. I’m sure, again, little evidences.
Okay. One of the most fascinating ones though was the discovery in the late ’90s of this altar. So, if you recall, in the story of where Ishmael dies. It says he didn’t die in Nahom, but it says he was buried in Nahom. So, they’ve actually discovered this altar. And it says where it is, the city is NHM. Okay, now there’s no vowels in Hebrew. So, Nahom is one of the prime candidates of what NHM would stand for and it’s right in the trail where this would have happened there. And it’s dated to the time of Lehi. And it was also a burial place.
Nahom in Hebrew meant to mourn. So, I mean, this is a literal bullseye, just unbelievable and we just discovered it a few decades ago. And remember how Lehi actually said … He said the place which was called Nahom, he was naming these other things and places, not that one. That one was called Nahom, meaning that the name already existed, that Nahom was a place already there and we now know is a very old place. It’s the perfect lineup of everything, bullseye.
Okay. Now, how about Bountiful. This was just mocked and mocked and mocked, the way that Bountiful was described there would be anything like this in the Arabian desert area there. Now, take a look at this. So, Warren Aston in 2015 has this. You can get it on Kindle, Lehi and Sariah in Arabia: The Old World Setting of the Book of Mormon. And he lists, “the journey would have provided reasonable access from the interior to the coast, not a trivial requirement. Bountiful was on the coast, offering a plausible place suitable for camping on the shore and for launching a ship.” He’s got all the references in the Book of Mormon.
“Fertile, with much fruit and honey, possibly game, enough timber to build a durable ship, freshwater year-round to enable a prolonged stay, a nearby mountain described as ‘the mount’, cliffs were available. Nephi’s brothers could threaten to cast him into the sea. Ore and flint were available. The winds and ocean currents there could permit travel out into the ocean.” So, look at that picture, Khor Kharfot at the end of Wadi Sayq, I guess you say in Oman, the leading Bountiful candidate.
And then look at these pictures right here. So, first of all, look at the top left. This is the route that would have been estimated here. And so, down at the bottom, that elbow where they hit Nahom, that was kind of where you would naturally turn. And it says that they went straight east. And if you go straight east until you hit the water, this is what you find. And look at those pictures. You can see why they would have called it Bountiful. So, again, another crazy bullseye.
And in fact, look at this. So, this was in 1982. That’s what I love about this, because we found a lot of things since then. And this is the scholar Eugene England, who wrote this in ’82. Look at it, just the last paragraph, “For Joseph Smith to have so well succeeded in producing over 20 unique details in the description of an ancient travel route that one of the least known areas of the world, all of which have been subsequently verified, requires extraordinary, unreasonable faith in his natural genius or his ability to guess right in direct opposition to the prevailing knowledge of his time.”
“Of course, any particular detail might be coincidental, and I do not claim that such things as distances traveled can be exactly proven, but the piling up of parallel detail after detail with no contradictions is conclusive.” I love that.
Okay, now, moving to the new world. So, we’ve got Nephi talks about Christopher Columbus in 1 Nephi 13 verse 12. That’s who we typically apply it to. And there’s an article that Daniel Peterson wrote in the Ensign, January 2000, called Mounting Evidence for the Book of Mormon. And so, he talks about this passage in referring to Christopher Columbus. He says, “I beheld the Spirit of God that it came down and wrought upon the man.” This is Nephi speaking. “And it went across the waters and came into the promised land unto the seed of my brethren.”
And then he says here, “Many have been accustomed to see in Columbus merely an adventure seeker to open trade routes to the East Indies. But with the recent publication of Columbus’ private Book of Prophecies, we see how accurate the Book of Mormon’s description of him is. He said he was guided by the Holy Spirit and he was eager not only to spread Christianity but to fulfill biblical prophecies. Among his favorite passages were John 10:16, with its reference to other sheep, and the passages of Isaiah concerning the people in the isles of the sea. These are the very passages the Book of Mormon applies to itself.”
And in fact, this is a book that recently just came out, Clark Hinckley, President Gordon B. Hinckley’s son, put this book out. In fact, he just did a class at Education Week, it was fantastic. He keeps doing it. I highly recommend if you go to Education Week, it’s a great one to attend. But that’s one of the interesting new books to mention.
Okay. So, King Benjamin, his discourse followed a pattern of a coronation rite. And this was very interesting. Kevin Christensen wrote this in Meridian Magazine in 2008. And he talks about Nibley, Hugh Nibley, “demonstrated that King Benjamin’s discourse was a coronation rite following a 36-element pattern. Professor Welch summarizes these as,” and he lists all 36.
Then there’s this interesting thing. He says when he was on his mission, he was sharing the Book of Mormon and his investigators that were reading it, they were kind of laughing or saying that they didn’t believe that all these people fell down after Mosiah. I think it’s in Mosiah 5.
But he says here that, look at this where it’s underlined. “Notice that all those attending the ceremony are expected to both fall to the ground, and to make a covenant. The very things that my investigator found troubling when considered in light of his personal modern experience transformed into evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon when considered in light of the ancient context.”
Nibley wrote, “In the writer’s opinion,” Nibley, “this lesson presents the most convincing evidence yet brought forth for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. It’s very likely the reader will be far from sharing this view since the force of the evidence is cumulative and based on extensive comparative studies that cannot fully be presented here.” So, there’s a lot to that.
Okay, how about Coriantumr’s Stone in Omni 1:20, we read about this came to pass in the days of Mosiah that there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it. Okay, so, Book of Mormon Central did this great piece. I’ll just read the underlines here. “Mesoamerica is unique in the Western Hemisphere for its writing systems. Part of that tradition includes inscriptions on stelae or large stones.”
“By 400 BC, stelae typically focused on a king a ruler, depicting him as a warrior, providing a record of his actions and listing off the ruler’s ancestors. These details are broadly consistent with a brief description given in Omni 1:20 through 22.”
“Before the 1960s, most scholars believed the Mesoamerican monuments had no historical content whatsoever, but exclusively depicted and described gods and myths. Yet the Book of Mormon describes a large stone engraved with the history of a king, his battles, his ancestors, and the origins of his ruling lineage. Appreciate how unknown the practice was in Joseph Smith’s own time and the fact that it took 130 to 160 years for linguists and epigraphers to catch up with Amaleki’s description in Omni 1:20 through 22.” So, pretty amazing.
Okay, a few more things from Daniel Peterson’s article in the Ensign, January 2000, Mounting Evidence for the Book of Mormon. He says, “Jershon, for instance, designates a place that was given to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi as a land for an inheritance. In Hebrew, Jershon means a place of inheritance. Joseph would not have known this in the late 1820s.”
After Zemnarihah’s execution in 3 Nephi 4, the tree upon which he had been hanged was ritually chopped down, just as ancient Jewish law required. The allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5 shows a clear knowledge of olive cultivation far beyond what Joseph Smith, growing up in the American Northeast, could have possessed. But it is entirely consistent, in impressive detail, with what we learned from ancient manuals on olive cultivation.”
The account the great destruction in 3 Nephi 8 finds remarkable parallels with what modern seismology and volcanology show about cataclysmic geological events and with historical reports of such catastrophes. Yet Joseph Smith never saw a volcano, never experienced a significant earthquake, nor is it likely he had read any substantial literature on the subject. But the region of Mesoamerica, particularly southern Mexico and Guatemala, where many suggest that much of the Book of Mormon story may have happened, is a place of continuing volcanic and seismic activity.” And just wait, towards the end of the video, I’m going to show you some crazy amazing stuff on this specific thing about the volcanoes.
So, in Tad Callister’s book, A Case For the Book of Mormon, a couple of cool things he points out here, I’ll share. Alma as a male name. He says, “The Book of Mormon refers to two male prophets by the name of Alma. The critics were sure they had caught Joseph Smith in error this time. Alma was considered to be only a female name in Latin and Hebrew, not a male name. As one critic said, ‘Alma is supposed to be a prophet of God and of Jewish ancestry in The Book of Mormon. In Hebrew, Alma means a betrothed virgin maiden, hardly a fitting name for a man.'”
“But then in 1961, through the work of world-renowned archaeologist, Yigael Yadin, the earth again yielded up its treasures, and a deed was found in Jerusalem dating to the early 2nd century AD, during the same time period covered by the Book of Mormon. The deed was signed by Alma ben Yehuda, which means in Hebrew, Alma, the son of Judah. In other words, Alma was a genuine Hebrew male name, just as revealed in the Book of Mormon. What had been a seeming mistake became another witness of the Book of Mormon’s divine authenticity.”
Okay, another nugget in Callister’s book. He says, “The Book of Mormon states that Jesus shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem. This time the critics were certain Joseph Smith had erred. Doesn’t even a child know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem?”
“Once again, the earth yielded up its treasure of truth. In 1887, some Ancient Near Eastern documents dating back to the 14th century BC, known as the Amarna letters, were discovered. Near Eastern scholar D. Kelly Ogden described these texts as follows, mentions the land of Jerusalem several times. And, like Alma, the ancient writer of El Amarna letter 290 even refers to Bethlehem as part of the land of Jerusalem. Joseph was totally vindicated. He was merely translating language common to the usage of the time.”
Okay, this is kind of a fun one. In Alma 49, look at the very end of this page on the bottom right. It talks about arrows, which were thrown, alright, and casting arrows, cast arrows, arrows thrown. This is not how Joseph … Joseph would describe shooting arrows, right? So, arrows thrown. So, we have discovered this tool that was used by ancient Americans called an atlatl, which was a spear or arrow thrower. There’s a picture of it. Kind of cool, neat little thing.
Now, this one blows my mind. So, go to the video I did called Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, Why Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. I described why. So, those are things that are out of place at the time of the Book of Mormon, anyway, there. And I talked about why some of those may still be considered anachronisms, but we’re finding so many now, it’s stunning. The one I do in the video was back to the 1840s, a list that we’ve now found, but I want to show you a crazy one that’s really blown out. And this was just in the FairMormon Conference in 2019. Matt Roper did this.
So, if you look at the page right here, and I’ve got two pages of it, so this first one, the category and this is just to 1966. So, as of 1966, look on the top left, these are the categories relating to anachronisms, related to ancient warfare, metals, animals, Lehi’s wilderness journey, and Israelite culture status. Look on the right. And as of 2019, green means we found it. It’s confirmed. Blue means it’s trending and red still unconfirmed. Okay. You can pause the screen if you want to digest it. Crazy.
Look at the next page. This is the category of ancient records, writing, names, 3 Nephi, and ancient cultural language, again 1966 versus 2019. This is just unbelievable in my opinion. Okay.
Now, let’s roll it all up. Take a look at this. Here’s the summary. This is the slide he flashed in his presentation at the FairMormon Conference. So, out of 205, on all those, 141 confirmed, 26 trending, so 167 total, 38 unconfirmed. So, percentage wise, 81%, 70% confirmed, 81% confirmed or trending, only 19% remain unconfirmed. This is just since 1966.
And then it’s interesting. There’s often a double standard that Christians will condemn Book of Mormon archaeology, not realizing the same applies to Biblical archaeology in a lot of ways. And so, listen to this biblical archaeologist. He says, “In the field history, whether it be the patriarchs or David or anyone else, we are repeatedly told that no extra-biblical occurrences of this or that individual have been found, so their historicity is to be dismissed or treated as doubtful, regardless of all other indications.”
“No such wrong criterion is applied elsewhere, why here? Absence of evidence is not, and should not be confounded with, evidence of absence.” So, I love that. And in fact, if you go watch the video I did on Old Testament issues that unnecessarily challenged faith. There’s some of that in there.
Okay. Now, with regard to some of these anachronisms, I love what Tad Callister shared in his book. He said, “To some extent, these critics unwittingly do Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon a great service. Every time they accuse Joseph of an anachronism, such as metal plates, cement or barley, they strengthen Joseph’s prophetic claim. Why? Because in their dogged certainty that they know the real truth as supported by science, only later to be proven wrong, they have heightened the probability that Joseph could not have known the real truth except through divine means.”
“The fact is that very few of the known archaeological sites in ancient America have been excavated. George Stuart, a leading scholar on the Maya, who worked for National Geographic for almost 40 years, did an interview in 2001 on National Geographic Live. In the course of his interview, he made the following revealing comment, ‘We hardly know anything, really, about the Maya. You know, there’s almost 6000 archaeological sites, and we’ve dug at 40 of them.’ This is less than 1%.”
“Other non-Latter day Saint archaeologists have confirmed these estimates of minimal work done on ancient American sites. Edwin Barnhart wrote, ‘Less than 1% of Mesoamerica has been professionally surveyed.’ And another one says, ‘What percentage of Maya sites have been excavated? Of all of Maya sites that we know to exist, we’ve excavated less than 1% of them. The sites themselves that we’ve done excavation at, we’ve excavated less than 10% of those sites, so of all the remains that we possibly could excavate, we are at 10% of 1%, or in other words, one tenth of 1%.'”
Which by the way is why that LIDAR thing is crazy amazing. Because it’s a way to lift … They went down there, I think, because it was the most extraordinary place of hidden because of the jungles of Guatemala had grown up over all these things, and you can’t really even get to these places, it’s so difficult. And now, all of a sudden, they’re able to x-ray what’s underneath that jungle canopy. And they’re freaking out. They’re comparing these civilizations to Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, 15 to 20 million people, highly civilized. It’s crazy.
I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in just a second. Okay. Now, let’s talk about Book of Mormon geography. So, my heart is having palpitations a little bit in doing this video, in one sense, is there’s, I think, a lot of contention right now on different geographical models there and fighting over these different spots and I’m thinking, I don’t want to be offensive to anyone as a strong opinion one way or the other. I’m actually going to show a way that maybe both can be right even in a sense.
And in fact, look at this, so the Church actually issued a statement in January of 2019 on Book of Mormon geography. Look at what’s underlined here. “Some believe that the history occurred in North America, while others believe that occurred in Central America or South America. Although church members continue to discuss such theories today, the Church’s only position is that the events the Book of Mormon describes took place in the ancient Americas.”
“The Prophet Joseph Smith himself accepted what he felt was evidence of Book of Mormon civilizations in both North America and Central America.” And the saints, up until even the 1950s, really thought of North and South America. That was where everything happened in the Book of Mormon. Peoples were all the peoples that existed in those lands. I’ll talk about that more in a minute.
But I just personally have a preference towards Mesoamerica just looking at the credential scholars and the research coming out of Book of Mormon Central, Interpreter, FairMormon, BYU Maxwell Institute, BYU Studies and they all have the Church’s position is their position that we don’t know. And so, we don’t want to claim to know, still speculation. But there’s a lot of reasons and I’ll get into them as I go through here.
But I think I want to have respect, or we should really have respect for each other. And those that believe it happened in North America, it’s particularly in the Great Lakes area, so, the heartland area and so they’re called Heartlanders. So, I think it’s important. And I’m going to show a way that maybe we can even come together as also viewing maybe both are right in a certain way, a model that we can think of as well. So, I’ll get into that.
But first, I do want to talk about kind of the strengths and weaknesses of each. And this is also a part of a way of doing evidences along the way as well. But my format. I’ll just show you this. This was in the Deseret News in 2010. Michael De Groote did this, Pros, cons of Book of Mormon geography theories.
He says, “Both the Mesoamerican and the heartland Book of Mormon geography theories have their strong points and, shall we say, areas that need further research. Here are a few random strengths and weaknesses from both parties.” So, this is not comprehensive, but these are some key ones that he wanted to point out.
Okay, so geographical correlation. So, Mesoamerican strengths, this is particularly in relation to the Great Lakes or heartland model. So, “geographical correlation, hundreds of different geographic descriptions in the Book of Mormon, such as two seas, a narrow neck of land, a large north-flowing river and so forth, correlate with features of Mesoamerica.” In fact, this Mormon’s Map, John Sorenson, it’s kind of almost fits like a glove if you look at the map down in that Central America, Guatemala, Southern Mexico area.
High levels of civilization. “There is civilization in Mesoamerica and civilization is what the Book of Mormon describes,” says John Sorenson, author of An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. “Civilization, meaning cities, even great cities, large masses of people, large wars, big agricultural base for the economy, temples and towers and so on.” And for me, that’s the big one.
In that LIDAR, the National Geographic in 2018, go watch that. It’s unbelievable. Think about the Book of Mormon people and the descriptions in there with that LIDAR study there.
Writing. So, this is another big one versus what we find in North America. “In Mesoamerica, there are at least 15 types of script or writing. The system of writing that is typical for Mesoamerica is all of the Egyptian style. The only thing that is different about them as the characters.”
Archeology. “Mesoamerica has cities, large urban areas that date to the right time for the Book of Mormon.” And then peoples. “There would have been some remains of Jaredites, of a particular era and scope. There would have been Nephites distinct from, separate from, and opposed to Lamanites. There would have to be Mulekites. And there are matter of fact evidence for all these, for such groups in Mesoamerica.”
Now, a few points I wanted to add on to this. So, if you look at this slide here, it’s kind of a fun one. Dr. John Lund. He’s actually got two really interesting books. Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon: Is This The Place? and Joseph Smith and the Geography of the Book of Mormon. He’s an archaeologist, Latter-day Saint.
He has this. He said, “In 1830, when the Book of Mormon was introduced to the world, the American academic community believed that the ancients in America possessed no written language skills prior to Columbus. Nor did they believe that on the American continent people wrote on gold plates. Both of which are attested to in the Book of Mormon. These are things which we now know that were not known in Joseph Smith’s day. Pre-Columbian Americans did possess written language skills and did indeed write on gold plates.”
“If you attended Harvard, Columbia, or Yale in 1830, you would have read William Robertson’s History of America, and at the time, you would have been taught that there were no pre-Columbian high civilizations in the Americas. Eleven years later in 1841, the revered American historian, George Bancroft, was beating a similar drum and claimed that no high civilization existed in pre-Columbian America. In that same year of 1841,” this was big, “two explorers, John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, published a two-volume series titled, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and the Yucatan.”
“They astounded the academic community around the world with concrete evidence that pre-Columbians did possess a high civilization. Since Stephens and Catherwood’s discoveries, there have been and continue to be indisputable evidences of pre-Columbian hieroglyphic writings.” The Saints freaked out on this. It was amazing. I’m going to show you some quotes from some of the early leaders.
But this became the bestseller in America behind the Bible for 24 years, from 1841 to 1865, the bestseller right behind the Bible. And so, Joseph actually had copies of these. This is what they were, so really fascinating. But it changed everything because they went from being kind of mocked about the descriptions of the Book of Mormon peoples to now all of a sudden being vindicated in a sense.
And so, let me share this from Tad Callister’s book on that. “At the time of Joseph Smith, the ancient inhabitants of the Americas were believed to be a savage, barbaric, and uncivilized people, without trade, commerce, education, or metropolitan cities. In 1834, US historian George Bancroft said of the Native Americans, ‘they were a few scattered tribes of feeble barbarians, destitute of commerce and of political connection.'”
“He was referring not only to existing Native Americans in his day and age, but to the ancient ancestors as well, who presumably existed in similar societies, seemingly without change. This opinion of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas was almost universally held at the time of Joseph Smith.”
“In direct contrast to this view, the Book of Mormon speaks of refined and civilized people, who from time to time were very numerous, built large cities, many cities, were constructing many highways, roads which led from city to city, traded one with another, free intercourse one with another to buy and sell, received great learning, produced many merchants, many lawyers, many officers.”
“Due to this contrast between what the world believed and what the Book of Mormon taught, David Whitmer and others were worried that people would not believe the Book of Mormon. David then shared this comforting and prophetic statement given to him and others, ‘When we were first told to publish our statement, that is The Testimony of the Three Witnesses, we felt sure the people would not believe it, for the Book of Mormon told of a people who were refined and dwelt in large cities, but the Lord told us that He would make it known to the people, and people should discover the ruins of the lost cities and abundant evidence of the truth of what is written in the book.'”
I just think that’s so cool. And I just can’t help but think of LIDAR, waited until 2018, that we really go crazy on that possible implication there. So, okay, now, the peoples, back on the strengths there. If you look at this map, this is on Book of Mormon Central here, and it’s really kind of interesting thing that another Latter-day Saint archaeologist did, Mesoamerican archaeologist, John Clark, prominent, said, “The two-civilization requirement used to be a problem for the Book of Mormon, but it no longer is now that modern archaeology is catching up.”
“While the geography of the Book of Mormon is not known with certainty, the correspondences between the Book of Mormon and cycles of Mesoamerica civilizations are striking. It would be a mistake to assume that the Jaredites are the Olmec and that the Nephites, Lamanites are the Maya. Rather, the consistency in their cycles of civilization suggests that the Jaredite and Nephite history could have unfolded within the broader context of Mesoamerican history. Significantly, the Olmecs were not identified as a real culture until 1942, and archaeologists did not know their true age until 1967.”
So, I think it’s really neat on there. Okay, now, some of the weaknesses of the Mesoamerican. Metals. “Although Sorenson said he had several hundred specimens of smelted metal from the Book of Mormon time periods, he acknowledged that most archaeologists would dismiss them. Linguistics, word evidence, however, finds words for metal that go back to 1000 BC.” So, this is really a problem for archaeology. Remember one tenth of 1% we talked about.
Directions, fits like a map except for this: “The East Sea in the Mesoamerican model is more northeast, not straight east and the West Sea, Pacific Ocean, is southward.” Statements of Joseph Smith. “Although there are some apparent statements from Joseph Smith that some of the Book of Mormon places were in Central America, there is also some dispute that he made those statements.”
Okay, now, I’m going to talk about that. Let me just share this last one, transporting gold plates. “The distance from Mesoamerica to the New York Hill Cumorah is thousands of miles, a long way to carry a heavy package.”
Okay. Now, let me just share with you about the statements of Joseph Smith. This has to do with the Times and Seasons, ran a bunch of stuff on these books when they came out. Everyone was freaking out. These were the Times and Seasons. So, there’s a lot of dispute about well, Joseph was the editor, but maybe didn’t write this. Well, he would have corrected it, right, if it was something he had a problem with.
And to be really straight about this is look at this letter that Joseph wrote to where he got these books. Okay. So, he received these books through Wilford Woodruff, got them from somebody named John Bernhisel. So, he wrote a letter of thanks to John Bernhisel. This is what Joseph Smith said.
“I received your kind present, the books, by the hand of Elder Woodruff, which to me is the more interesting as it unfolds and develops many things that are of great importance to this generation and corresponds with and supports the testimony of the Book of Mormon.” He said, “I’ve read the volumes with the greatest interest and pleasure and must say that of all histories that have been written pertaining to the antiquities of this country, it is the most correct, luminous and comprehensive.” Interesting.
Okay. The next three prophets of the Church. Let me give you a quick quote, Brigham Young, letter to one of his sons. “Sell your Charles Dickens and buy Stephens and Catherwood’s Travels in Central America.” John Taylor, he said this in the Times and Seasons, “We have lately perused with great interest, Stephen’s work on Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. This is a work that ought to be in the hands of every Latter Day Saint; corroborating, as it does the history of the Book of Mormon.”
And then Wilford Woodruff, ” … the remains of some of the Book of Mormon cities built by these peoples have been discovered and written about by such men as Stephens and Catherwood.” So, again, great stuff there.
Now, what about they mentioned Moroni, that would be a long distance to go to the Hill Cumorah up in New York. That’s later what it was called.
So, this is interesting. Look at this picture here. These two different people, Patriarch William McBride and Andrew Hamilton drew maps, according to information they received from Joseph Smith, of Moroni’s travels. These are now in the Church historical department. If you actually look at these maps, and I highlighted just the three key takeaways from this
“The Book of Mormon Land of Bountiful was in Central America, Moroni walked to Palmyra, New York from Central America, and Moroni traveled through the Great Basin area on his way to New York.” You may have heard of the different thoughts about Moroni, dedicating temple sites along the way. This is maybe how that tradition came about. And even Adam on Diammon was a spot there, and Joseph talked about an altar there, Nephitish altar. So, there could be different things that tie into that as well. Interesting.
Okay. Heartland theory strengths. Promised Land. This is a big one. “This is the promised land. The prophecies and promises indicate that the United States has to be at least some part of the Book of Mormon.” Agree there, “because practically every one of these promises in it can only really be applied as the United States,” Rob Meldrum said. “It is a nation above all other nations, and a mighty Gentile nation. Well, what other nation are they talking about here? I don’t think they are talking about Guatemala here.”
Well, okay, I’m going to talk a little bit more. That is a good argument there, but the problem is being it just exclusively only there. There’s some challenging aspects to that. I’ll get into that in a second. Joseph Smith statements. “Several statements throughout his life that indicate that he believed the Book of Mormon events took place in North America.” Well, also South America or I should say Central America.
But you remember the story of Zelph, they found this skeleton bones and he talked about this Zelph and then he talked about the Nephitish alter. He talked about the plains of the Nephites there. And these are areas that they’re actually not terms or anything to do in the Book of Mormon stories there. And so, I’ll talk about that in a minute too as well. Interesting ways to think of this.
And then DNA. “Journal studies of Native American DNA show that the rare X DNA haplogroup is found in the parts of North America, where the heartland theorists say the Book of Mormon took place. Although geneticists’ dating of the DNA does not correlate with Book of Mormon times, the x DNA haplogroup has its origins in the Middle East, not Asia.”
Okay, please be super careful with this one. I’m going to just … Let me share these last two and then I’m going to make a couple of comments about these. So, Archaeology. “North America has sites that date to the right time for the Book of Mormon and that match descriptions of fortifications. And the gold plates were buried in New York.” We know that, right? The set of plates that Joseph had anyway.
Okay, let’s talk about the DNA. So, I did a whole video on this. And the Church has really come out and wants to very strongly point out, in fact, look at this screen for a minute. This was actually in the DNA video that I did, DNA and the Book of Mormon– Untestable, that was the title.
So, look at the Church’s official essay on this, the Gospel Topics Essay, look at the conclusion down at the bottom. “Much as critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon would like to use DNA studies to support their views, the evidence is simply inconclusive. Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples. Even if such information were known, processes such as population bottleneck, genetic drift, and post-Columbian immigration from West Eurasia make it unlikely that their DNA could be detected today.”
And in that video, I talked about we now know from science, there were millions of people here when Lehi came. So, think about Lehi’s small, little tiny group coming into millions of people. Gone. No way. The DNA would have been gone very quickly. And in fact, look at the quote that I share from one of our biggest critics on this. And then I want to elaborate on something he says about it.
So, he agrees. He actually says right here, “In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites entered such a massive native population it would be very, very hard to detect their genes 200, 2000 or even 20,000 years later,” but even 200. “But does such a scenario fit with what the Book of Mormon plainly states or what the prophets have taught for 175 years? Short answer. No.”
Now, that is very interesting. So, think about this. What does the Book of Mormon actually say? He says what the Book of Mormon plainly states, no. Now, the introduction said, the introduction that was written in 1981 said that it talked about the principal ancestors of the American Indians. Well, that’s what everyone thought.
Like I said, no one really started analyzing the distances until the ’50s, they started talking about it. And now, if you really read the text, it’s about a 500-mile by 200-mile space, about the size of Idaho maybe, that the Book of Mormon happened in.
But everyone kind of just had this thought and your mind just goes to the map of the Americas and the narrow neck of land, there it is. North and South America, the narrow neck of land right there. It makes sense.
And now with DNA evidence and all the science, we know there are millions of people that came over way before even the Jaredites. The Jaredites could have brought some Asiatic DNA with them, too. That’s another story. But the point is on here, we have this thought here and it was incorrect. But Joseph didn’t get a revelation of where this took place. And everyone thought it was the entire hemispheric model for the Book of Mormon.
Okay, I left out probably a critical point off. The introduction was not written by Moroni or Mormon. This was not even written by Joseph Smith. This was written by I think might have been Bruce R. McConkie when they did the footnotes and everything in the 1981 edition, so.
So, no. This is not a big deal. But it’s funny, from a critic perspective, the Lord, He never gave a revelation. He never said, and if you read the text, it’s all there. We’re realizing it now very crystal clear there, but it’s kind of funny.
So, from a DNA perspective, you do have to say now, there is a dating issue. And it’s mentioned in that piece here that it says the DNA does not correlate with Book of Mormon times and that is a big, big deal. Be very careful in promoting the DNA in the Great Lakes area. Because the X2a haplotype, if you look at this, critics know this, they hammer hard and it’s on a sandy foundation. That was here thousands and thousands of years before.
In fact, they found it in the Kennewick man, that was like 8, 9000 years ago, discovered around the Columbia River in Washington. So, you can’t say that that it came here from Lehi and there’s other issues with it too. So, if you look at Ugo Perego, who’s a geneticist in the Church, does a lot of work on and presentations on this, he’ll talk a lot about that. Be very careful in talking about the DNA and just know that there are big issues there that are around that.
Okay, heartland weaknesses, the River Sidon. “It makes it abundantly clear that the river Sidon runs from the south to the north,” Sorenson said. “And in Alma 2, Alma and his army wade across the river to fight the invading Lamanites. The river Sidon in the heartland model is considered to be the Mississippi River, which you cannot wade across,” if you’ve ever been there. And also, as you know, it goes from north to south, flows into the Gulf of Mexico. So, it’s pretty tough.
Okay, hills. There are hills in the land of Nephi. Sorenson says it is always described as up in relation to everything else. “Where is the up in the heartland model? Is it the hills of Kentucky?” Sorenson said. And then west sea. “The narrow neck of land has a west side on a West Sea. The border by the West Sea is where the Nephi and Lehi and their party landed. If the West Sea is one of the Great Lakes, Sorenson wonders how Lehi sailed to it from Asia.”
Climate. “Where is the snow in Zarahemla?” Sorenson said. “Where is the snow in the Book of Mormon? Where is the cold in the Book of Mormon? Not a single word that indicates anything other than warmth and even tropical heat.” And then lack of civilization. “The evidence of the type of high civilization described in the Book of Mormon is less prevalent than in Mesoamerica.”
Okay. That’s, again, the LIDAR thing is what’s so amazing about that, and also in contrast to North America. Now, as far as the snow, here’s a great one. Look at this slide. Now, well, actually, let me just show this. So, this is a cool book, Charting the Book of Mormon by Jack and Greg Welch. This was published by FARMS. I think BYU Studies has this now. Anyway, lots of fun, cool visuals and things.
But they’ve got there. So, first of all, John Sorenson in the 2012 FairMormon Conference said, “Would anyone writing a book from the area of Lake Ontario fail to mention snow, ice, or cold even a single time, or tell about military action carried out in exhausting heat at New Year’s?” I think this is a great testimony for Joseph not writing the book by the way.
Now, look at this chart from the Charting the Book of Mormon. This is so cool. These are when military actions happened. So, if you look at that, so Joseph is writing this in his culture, the wars would have been in the summer. But look, all of them happened in the winter, and remember, the heat and New Year’s Day that is talked about, so fascinating there.
Now, I will mention there’s one spot that Nephi mentions the word snow metaphorically, like what is the driven snow or something like that. And he came from Jerusalem where they would have seen snow and been familiar with it. So, keep in mind what Dr. Sorenson is talking about when he’s referencing the snow aspect.
Now, what about that promised land? This is fascinating. So, you think about the text itself, 1 Nephi 13:12 says that this Christopher Columbus went to the people, his people. Look at the slide, on the right hand side, it says “unto the seed of my brother, who were in the promised land.” Okay, we know exactly where Christopher Columbus sailed. Four voyages, look where he landed. There’s the Caribbean Islands, Venezuela, and Central America. That’s it.
So, as far as the promised land goes, North America definitely could be a special land. But if you’re going to say promised land, it’s got to be more big. It’s got to be bigger because of this scripture right here would give us a big idea that the promised land has to be more than just North America.
Okay, now, when Moroni used the term ‘this continent’ to Joseph in talking about things in Joseph’s day, it meant North and South America. In fact, it wasn’t until 1904 in our dictionaries and things that they really have it as North and South America as kind of separate continents in a sense.
I also want to show you too a couple quick quotes. Harold B. Lee said, “Well, if the Lord wanted us to know where it was, or where Zarahemla was, he’d have given us latitude and longitude, don’t you think?” Love that. Wilford Woodruff, “This land, North and South America, is the land of Zion. It is a choice land, the land that was given by promise.” And Orson Hyde talking about no kings on the land and how he interpreted that. And he says, “This land, means both North and South America,” there.
Now, I do want to share a couple nuggets from this article in the Deseret News by Michael Ash, Promised Land not limited to one area. And this was in 2001. He says, “Proponents of a Great Lakes Book of Mormon geographical model often claim that the Book of Mormon prophecies about the promised land apply uniquely to what is now the United States.” He says, “Obviously more than one land of promise, because both Old and New World covenant people had such lands. Thus the Book of Mormon can speak of lands,” plural, “of promise.
“Secondly, the promise was given to the righteous people. The Lord makes covenants with people, not lands. Lands are promised, or better, covenanted, to a people.” Okay. And then he goes on and says, “This land would be a land of liberty, no kings. This sounds like what we have in the United States. No question the Lord’s hand was involved, especially religious freedoms. Such a land was necessary for the restoration of the gospel.”
“However, the phrase ‘this land’ does not necessarily restrict the promised land to the United States. According to the Church-approved Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Zion is synonymous with the promised land. It is interesting, therefore, to note that Joseph Smith claimed that Zion constituted North and South America as well as anywhere the righteous Saints gather.”
Secondly,” he says, “it’s odd to read Jacob 2:10 says there would be no kings in the promised land because his brother Nephi was the king. And there continued to be kings in the promised land for another 400 years.”
“Brant Garner points out that if the comma in verse 11 were removed,” and remember, Joseph didn’t do the punctuation, that was the typesetter, “the verse would make more sense. His point is that no other kings shall stand against the Nephites if they are righteous for their true king is Yahweh who has promised to preserve them.”
And lastly, this is the key. “While we certainly can accept that the Lord has a special plan that involved the freedoms of America, this doesn’t necessarily mandate that the Book of Mormon events took place in Joseph Smith’s immediate vicinity.”
Okay, now tying this together, I wanted to share a really cool way to say, you know what, these both actually could be right in a sense, and I’m going to highly recommend just listen to this. Go to, whichever model you lean towards, watch this presentation at the FairMormon Conference by Mark Wright and there’s a write-up that I’ll link in the Interpreter from this Mesoamerican scholar, Mark Wright, archaeologist, Heartland as Hinterland.
And look at the summary, the abstract. “The best available evidence for the Book of Mormon continues to support a limited Mesoamerican model. However, Alma 63 indicates that there was a massive northward migration in the mid-first century BC. I argue that these north-bound immigrants spread out over the centuries and established settlements that were geographically distant from the core Nephite area, far beyond the scope of the text of the Book of Mormon.”
“I introduce the Hinterland Hypothesis and argue that it can harmonize the Mesoamerican evidence for the Book of Mormon with Joseph Smith’s statements concerning Nephite and Lamanite material culture in North America. Archaeological and anthropological evidence is used to demonstrate that migrations and cultural influence did in fact spread northward from Mesoamerica into North America in pre-Columbian time.”
So, what he, and I’m just going to not read necessarily the whole thing of this, but he talks about Alma 63. And you remember, we often talked about Hagoth going in the ships and we never hear from him again on these people. But the verse even before that talks about 5400 men and their families going north, and we don’t know anything about it. And then even later after the ships, it says more people, there were many people, it says, who went forth into the land northward. And we’re not really told about them after that. So, it’s interesting.
So, look at this page. I just shared some of that and even John Page back who was contemporary with Joseph Smith talked about this a little bit possibly being the way that this all took place. But look at down where it says, “The point is that Alma 63 describes an era of northward movement of migration sometime in the mid-first century BC away from the Nephite core area, and thus outside the scope of Nephite history.”
“My argument is that these Nephite migrants continue to expand northward throughout the centuries, often due to Lamanite pressure from the south. I believe that every statement made by Joseph Smith or his contemporaries concerning Nephites or Lamanites in North America can be accommodated by this”, he calls it, “the Hinterland Hypothesis.”
“I am not arguing for a return to a hemispheric model, North and South America, of Book of Mormon geography. Hemispheric models take specific, named cities in the Book of Mormon and disperse them far and wide across the whole of North and South America. I am very much a proponent of more limited geography, and I believe that the best available evidence places the coordinate narrative in the Book of Mormon squarely in Mesoamerica.”
“The preponderance of evidence always has and always will favor this setting. What I am suggesting is that there were likely countless Nephite and Lamanite settlements spread across the continent, including within the so-called Heartland, whose history is not contained in the Book of Mormon. They are simply external to the text. It does not make them any less Nephite and Lamanite. It just means that their history is not recorded in that book”, which is interesting because Joseph Smith, his comments, like I said, none of the things he talks about were from the Book of Mormon necessarily, stories.
Okay. Now, as far as the migrations, there’s a ton of evidence on this. It’s fascinating. So, I’m not going to read through all this, but I want you to just see the categories. I’m going to read the conclusion. So, Tyler Livingston in the Book of Mormon Archeological Forum online. You can get that and I’ll put the link. He did the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican travels Northward.
Okay, and so, the conclusion, look at this, he says, “The Book of Mormon speaks about northward migrations, yet how would Joseph Smith know that there is evidence of these migrations from Mesoamerica to North America. It also provides an explanation why Joseph Smith placed the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica, while also placing Book of Mormon peoples in the Great Lakes area. Fletcher Hammond correctly noted, ‘It is possible and quite probable that sometime during the Book of Mormon history, some adventurous Nephites and Lamanites settled into what is now the western plains of the US, the Mississippi Valley and as far north as the Great Lakes region.'”
“‘But no account of what they did was important enough for Mormon to include it in the abridgement of the large plates of Nephi.’ Assuming the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, Joseph Smith would have been absolutely correct about Lehites occupying the Great Lakes area since there were Mesoamericans who had migrated to that area.”
Then he goes and shows evidence of all these different things. And so, I will just mention a little bit more about the linguistic aspects. So, this is fascinating. “The Latter-day Saint linguistic Brian Stubbs, a leading expert in Uto-Aztecan language family that anciently covered from Mexico to Utah. The interesting thing about this language family, Brian Stubbs has discovered that it’s been strongly influenced by both Hebrew and Egyptian, the only two Old World languages mentioned in the Book of Mormon.”
He also discovered this language family seems to have originated in Mexico and then was transmitted to North America.” And there was a great review of recent publications he did in the Interpreter on this and I’ll link it to too. They said this is some of the most amazing … He says, “Numerous questions remain that may require lifetimes of further research, but the meticulous foundation Stubbs has laid must not be treated like past amateurish and erroneous efforts over the centuries to find Hebrew in Native American languages. This is a serious scholarly work that rises above the standards typically used to establish authentic language families.”
So, really, it’s going to be some interesting things to watch. And then he mentions DNA. DNA discovered, “DNA links the Hopewell of the Great Lakes area to the people of Mesoamerica.” That’s very cool.
Okay. Another quick couple of areas. Trade routes, flora, corn, archaeology, architecture, you can pause to read all this. It’s really great stuff.
Okay. And then I just wanted to mention Book of Mormon Central. I would say that regardless of what model you like, study the different models. Read the rebuttals to the different models too. Try and just … If you really are concerned and want to study this in depth, but I like what Book of Mormon Central says. They said, look in the middle here, “Our policy is to utilize the most reliable academic scholarship on the Book of Mormon and follow the evidence wherever it might lead. Our process in selecting and highlighting Book of Mormon evidence is based on the following principles:”
“One, in our hierarchy of evidence, the text itself is primary because it is closest to the divine. Number two, follow the evidence regardless of where it leads, doesn’t matter, follow it. Number three, we favor authors with credentials in the areas of interest. And four, we favor formally published works from reputable presses.” So, I thought that was really good.
Now, one last thing from the Church statement and then we’re going to move on. So, “The Church does not take a position on the specific geographical locations of Book of Mormon events in the ancient Americas. Speculation on the geography of the Book of Mormon may mislead instead of enlighten. Such a study can be a distraction from its divine purposes.”
“Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken. However, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories. All parties should strive to avoid contention on these matters.”
That’s a big deal. I was thinking about this, about the freemen and the kingmen and Moroni trying to break down. So, remember, the Lamanites attacked them because they were having contentions within. So, you can look at the screen here. There began to be contentions among the people, contentions and dissensions among the people.
“While Captain Moroni was thus breaking down the wars and contentions among his own people, behold, the Lamanites had come into the land.” And they were not strong enough to defend. And I would say, we should just try and make sure that we’re not looking past the mark and having contention about these things. I think Satan must have a heyday, thinking laughing that if we’re not focusing on the book and the message of the book and fighting about the geography on there, so I think that’s important. And have respect towards each other.
But one thing I would say, as someone who leans towards the Mesoamerica, but saying, hey, we don’t know and I don’t think we’ll know until the Second Coming, is please don’t say, “Well, are you going to believe a Mesoamerican scholar or are you going to believe Joseph Smith?” Because that hurts. I believe Joseph Smith. Okay. I have a strong testimony of Joseph Smith. And that’s a false choice. I don’t think it’s like that. And there’s ways to look at it that bring it all together.
And so, I think just understanding each other’s positions and having respect towards each other I think is going to be the key going forward. And we want to be Zion, one heart one mind, right, on here. And all can admit that we don’t know, right? We’re told and the Church has tried to really point this out lately.
Okay, now, that being said, let me tell you some of my absolute favorite big things and these are in the Mesoamerica area. But this is a big one. It’s the volcano and the volcano is insane. When you look at 3 Nephi 8, the description there is a volcanic eruption. So, take a look at this.
This is from Dr. Lund’s book. He says, “Dr. Jeffrey Curran Wynn, the chief scientist, Volcano Hazards, United States Geographical Survey responsible for 72 scientists at the Cascades Volcano Observatory. Dr. Wynn accepted the challenge to read and comment on the events of the American continent recorded in 3 Nephi 8 in the Book of Mormon. This chapter regards the great destructions at the time of the death of Christ.”
After a long and serious analysis of 3 Nephi 8, Dr. Wynn concluded that the evidence described followed the exact pattern of volcanic eruptions. The pattern is followed in every detail in 3 Nephi 8. The account given in 3 Nephi 8 is a scientific report. All 72 volcanologists at the USGS Volcano Observatory would agree. The sequences of events are extremely accurate.”
“Furthermore, Dr. Wynn explained why Guatemala and Central America were the only reasonable candidates for the events in 3 Nephi 8. The Ring of Fire is a phrase used to describe the chain of volcanoes down in that area.” And if you look on the map, you can see the map there on the right. I’ll show you something else on that in a second.
But I think this is going so long. What I’m going to do is I’m going to let you just pause the screen if you want to see it here. But there was an interview that was done laying out the volcanic pattern and he literally lists 13 things. And it’s right in a row and it’s got all the verses in the Book of Mormon, and it is stunning.
To me, I was floored when I really studied this and read this and compared it to 3 Nephi 8. It is amazing. So, here’s the first one, the first seven there, okay, and cities sinking, I’m going to show you a picture of something. In fact, actually, before we go to the next one, let me just show you this picture.
This is from a lake in Guatemala, next to a volcano, Lake Atitlan. And they actually discovered the city that was buried under the water. And they’ve actually gone in and found pottery from this and it’s dated to the pre-Classic period, which is 600 BC to 250 AD. So, Book of Mormon times, right, on there, so sunken city. So, really fascinating stuff down there.
And then here’s the next one, the pattern, volcanic pattern, face of the land changing and then all these different things as you go along, the thick darkness from the ash. No fire can be started, it’s like dumping dirt on the campfire he says. So anyway, just fascinating, the parallels.
Now, let’s look at the volcanoes. So, here are the ones in North America. East of the Mississippi, okay, Great Lakes area. And I threw Missouri on there because this borders the Mississippi, but if you look here, these volcanoes have all … The problem is there are about 11 here I guess but none of them have been active for millions of years basically. This is just straight off of Wikipedia. So, go to Wikipedia look at the ones from Guatemala. There are many. Eight of them actually erupted within the last 200 years.
And then look at this. This is Mexico, lots of them. They’re again part of this ring of fire and many still active. Look at the one that just erupted in 2020. Look at the height, almost 18,000 feet. It’s the second highest. Look at the name, Popocatepeti. Okay, I want you to note that name as I now share this from Book of Mormon Central.
Okay, Book of Mormon Central ran this piece. It says, “Recent work by Mexican archaeologists now points to a major volcanic disaster in Central Mexico during the spring of the early 1st century AD. Patricia Plunket and Gabriela Urunuela documented a significant eruption of the Popocatepeti Volcano,” that same volcano that just erupted. “And it was an ecological disaster of unprecedented proportions.”
“They argue that the massive eruption was a leading cause of significant demographic changes in the basin of Mexico, resulting in the abandonment of most of the settlements in the south. They estimate as many as 20,000 people may have perished in the disaster, 50,000 relocated. Fire, smoke, lava flows, other phenomena during the eruption had a similar calamitous effect on the eastern side of mountains, where populations were reduced by as much as 30%. 100,000 refugees, accelerated social ideological process already underway.” She says, “One of the largest human catastrophes of the pre-Hispanic period.”
So, now, this is a crazy one. This one from Interpreter, published in Interpreter in 2018, Let There Be a Famine in the Land. “The drought recorded in Helaman 11 is probably the only dated climate-related event in the entire Book of Mormon that could have left a signature detectable over 2000 years after it occurred. Typical methods to detect this kind of event using dendrochronology or sediment ring cores from lake beds, tree rings, et cetera, do not go back far enough in time or are not high enough resolution to detect the event described in Helaman 11.”
“However, over the last 15 to 20 years, various researchers have turned to analyzing stalagmites collected from caves to reproduce the precipitation history of a given area. These analysis methods are now producing results approaching the one-year resolution with a 95% confidence level on the order of a decade.”
So, down below, you’ll see the conclusion. “A drought occurred just over 2000 years ago in Mesoamerica. The drought happened within a few years of when the Book of Mormon account says it should have happened. To the extent that a rough duration of this drought can be measured within the available proxy data and the defined thresholds, they indicate a drought duration of somewhere between 3.2 to 11.4 years, a range that includes the 3 to 3.5 year duration described in the Book of Mormon Helaman 11.”
And then they also mentioned that there was in the North America finding that it was one of the wettest hundred-year periods from stalagmite found in Northern Alabama cave I guess, meaning that at least in that area, there was not a famine, it was just the opposite. It was one of the wettest periods for the hundred-year period.
So, okay 3 Nephi, 11 this is fascinating. This was too fascinating to not share, even though there’s some controversy about when human sacrifice started, mixed things on that.
So, Mark Wright, who’s a PhD anthropologist specializing in Mesoamerica, he spoke at the Temple on Mount Zion Conference, September 2012. And this is fascinating. He said, “The typical method of human sacrifice was to stretch the victim across a stone altar and have his hands and feet held down by four men. A priest would then make a large incision directly below the ribcage using a knife, obsidian, et cetera. While the victim was yet alive, the priest would thrust his hand into the cut and reach up under the ribcage and rip the victim’s still beating heart out.” It’s pretty brutal.
But he’s pointing out, if you remember when Christ came to the people, different than what he did in Jerusalem, He actually had them come and one of the things He had to do was to feel His side. He bade them first to thrust their hands into His side. “Why the difference? To a people steeped in Mesoamerican culture, the sign that a person had been ritually sacrificed would have been an incision on their side.” That’s very fascinating and thinking about that, which leads to two quick things.
I will say, there’s a great series six series, it’s called Second Witness. This is from Brant Gardner, on seeing the Mesoamerican context in the Book of Mormon, very, very fascinating there, and so he goes through a lot. He does talk, you noticed I haven’t talked about Quetzalcoatl, and he says we should probably be a little more careful in saying that that was Jesus Christ. There may be some seeds possibly there. But he says that a lot of it was reading on to the text, what the Spanish fathers did as well and imposing a lot upon what was there. So, he goes on for 50 pages talking about that. But this is really a fascinating one.
And then I want to show you just some highlights from Mormon’s … This is 60 years of archaeology research from the PhD, John Sorenson, absolutely fascinating. What I’m going to recommend is that you watch his presentation at FairMormon in 2012. He did a presentation on basically summarizing this book. And I am actually just going to flash on the screen, since this is going so long, I’m not even going to read the highlighted ones here. I’m dying to read them. So, please pause the screen, at least read the highlighted parts. But this is crazy stuff. Lots of fascinating correlations with Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon.
So, he talks about human biology, okay. Political economy, totally different than Joseph’s time. Society, fascinating. Religion, split the social class structure. Material culture. And he’s got 37 in the book. He did 10 in FairMormon. I just highlighted some really cool ones there. I wish I could read them.
Okay, government, totally different than the Joseph’s world where he lived. They even had these judges, the chief judge and these different ways of doing it. Warfare, very similar, their captains, even sons of captains listed on there, just fascinating correlations.
Just look at this last one, “Mesoamerican war sometimes continued until the victorious commander was able to drink the blood of the enemy leader. A Lamanite leader made that very threat against a Nephite captain.” Ideology and religion, just tons of there. I couldn’t stop highlighting. It’s just so amazing, lots of different things there.
Archaeology and history, so he goes on to different time periods there, even writing back to the Jaredite period. Archaeology and history, okay, different time period there, really fascinating.
Okay, another one, 600 to 1 BC, archaeology and history from 80 to 200. These new patterns of society that came, unranked society. It’s just like we read about the Zion society. It’s kind of interesting. And then 200 to 400 AD right there, dramatic rise in wealth, just like we read in the Book of Mormon too.
Okay, now last two comments, so President Nelson says, “Speaking of the book’s history and geography, President Nelson taught, ‘Interesting as these matters may be,’ this video’s fun, “study of the Book of Mormon is most rewarding when one focuses on its primary purpose to testify of Jesus Christ. By comparison, all other issues are incidental.'”
And then I have to close with President Hinckley because I think this is the punchline really to again bringing it back to what really matters. So, he says, “I can hold the Book of Mormon in my hand. It is real. It has weight and substance that can be physically measured. I can open its pages and read, and it has language both beautiful and uplifting. The ancient record from which it is translated came out of the earth as a voice speaking from the dust.”
“The evidence for its truth, for its validity in a world that is prone to demand evidence, lies not in archaeology or anthropology, though these may be helpful to some. It lies not in word research or historical analysis, though these may be confirmatory. The evidence for its truth and validity lies within the covers of the book itself. The test of its truth lies in reading it. It is a book of God. Reasonable individuals may sincerely question its origin, but those who read it prayerfully may come to know by a power beyond their natural senses that it is true, that it contains the word of God, that it outlines saving truths of the everlasting gospel, that it came forth by the gift and power of God.”
What a great way to end that video I think on that note. I have a very strong testimony that it came from God and it is our tangible witness, so critical, especially in today’s world of the reality that the Restoration occurred. And I share that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
A Case for the Book of Mormon by Tad Callister
Of Faith & Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting Joseph Smith by Michael Ash
Mormon’s Codex Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon (6 volume set) by John Sorenson
Christopher Columbus: A Man Among the Gentiles by Clark Hinckley
Joseph Smith and the Geography of the Book of Mormon by John Lund
Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon, Is This The Place? by John Lund
Charting the Book of Mormon by John and Greg Welch
Understanding the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy
Lehi and Sariah in Arabia: The Old World Setting of the Book of Mormon (Kindle only) by Warren Aston
Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan – John Lloyd Stevens, 1841 (this was the 2 volume book Joseph Smith read (gifted to him by John Bernhisel via Wilford Woodruff)
Mark Wright at 2013 Fairmormon Conference, Hinterland as Heartland (highlighted in the video as a key video to watch): https://www.fairmormon.org/conference…
John Sorenson at 2012 Fairmormon Conference, Reading Mormon’s Codex: List of Evidence of the Book of Mormon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OEnN…
Matt Roper, 2019 Fairmormon Conference, Time Vindicates the Prophets: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference…
Ugo Perego, 2015 Fairmormon Conference, Book of Mormon Genetics: A Reappraisal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlB16…
Brant Gardner, Evidence & Insights to the Book of Mormon Fireside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZEzY…
John Sorenson, Book of Mormon Central Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bJnA…
John Sorenson, Book of Mormon Central Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as7t3…
Book of Mormon Central!!! bookofmormoncentral.com Jeff Lindsay – Book of Mormon Evidences: https://www.jefflindsay.com/BMEvidenc…
Church Statement on Book of Mormon Geography: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/s…
Church Gospel Topics Essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/s…
Deseret News Article on Pros, Cons of Book of Mormon Geography Theories, Michael De Groote: https://www.deseret.com/2010/5/27/203…
Deseret News Article: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: ‘Promised Land’ not limited to one area, Michael Ash: https://www.deseret.com/2011/1/3/2038…
Jaredite travel calculations shared in the video: http://www.achoiceland.com/jaredites/…
Ensign Article, Jan 2000, Daniel Peterson, Mounting Evidence for the Book of Mormon: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/s…
The Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican Travels “Northward”, Tyler Livingston, bamf.org: http://www.bmaf.org/articles/mesoamer…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.