Most LDS scholars agree that the Book of Mormon lands are located somewhere around Mesoamerica. However, as I pointed out in my previous post, there are no specific cities found, only ideas of general regions and landscapes. There is also evidence of civilizations during the same time period, although the culture doesn't closely resemble the descriptions in the Book of Mormon. The other problem is that Joseph Smith said that he recieved the golden plates in upstate New York on a hill called hill Cumorah, which happens to be located just over a mile from where Joseph Smith lived in Palmyra, NY at the time. The hill Cumorah is the only official church location from the Book of Mormon. Descriptions in the Book of Mormon
This would lead me to believe that perhaps all the LDS scholars are looking in the wrong place. If Joseph Smith found the golden plates in upstate New York, it would make sense that other cities and locations are in that area, and not Mesoamerica. For example, I already discussed the difficulty with the '2 Cumorahs' theory, it contradicts what Joseph Smith said. This led me to look closer at the Great Lakes Geography theory. It would make more sense that the Book of Mormon lands would be within close proximity to upstate, NY where Joseph Smith said the golden plates were buried. Afterall, Joseph Smith always said there was only one Cumorah.
In my previous post, I talked about the difficulty that LDS scholars have had in finding physical locations for cities and geographic regions. Anytime anyone tries to place the Book of Mormon geography anywhere in the real world, they(LDS scholars) can't agree on it, they have to skew the descriptions in the Book of Mormon or stretch assumptions, and have to contradict what Joseph Smith and other prophets have said. Perhaps they are looking in the wrong place.
When you look at the area that surrounds Palmyra, NY, (click on the map to enlarge) you notice right away that there are 2 large bodies of water between a narrow neck of land that is only 30 miles wide. There is a land to the north (Canada) and a land to the south (USA). There is also a body of water to the north and the Atlantic Ocean is located in the Southeast. This geography model is known as the Great Lakes Limited geography theory. Although this theory is not very popular, I think it is the most relevant if we are to consider that Joseph Smith found the plates at the hill Cumorah.
The most fascinating thing I discovered was that the names of cities in USA and Canada are very similar to the names mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
Below is the names of actual Cities that I found using Google Earth. These cities did not exist during pre-Colombian times because Native Americans in this area didn't practice the concept of owning land. However, the names of these cities existed during the time of Joesph Smith. (Click on the map to enlarge)
Now, compare the names of cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon below.
Did Joseph Smith simply copy city names from maps of his surrounding area? It is unlikely that he used maps as the sole source of city names. To the right, you can see Lehigh county was well established on an 1823 map of Pennsylvania. However, other cities were not established until decades later. However, those city names were definetly used by people that lived in those areas. So each of the cities mentioned above either existed on maps or by word of mouth in the 1820's. We can place the Book of Mormon city names on the physical map and consider the descriptions in the Book of Mormon to see if they are consistent.
Narrow neck of Land
“...it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey...from the east to the west sea...there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.”
There is a narrow strip of land that is only 30 miles wide between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The lakes and the narrow strip border Canada.
Teancum vs. Tecumseh
The City Teancum in the Book of Mormon is described as being "in the borders by the seashore" Mormon 4:3.
The city Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada is located along the Canadian border by the seashore. (click on the map to enlarge)
Jerusalem, Jacobugath and Kishkumen were Lamanite cities in the Book of Mormon. We can assume they were within reasonable proximity to each other. The city of Alma was named after Alma, who
Jerusalem, OH, Jacobsburg, OH, and Kiskiminetas, PA are within close proximity to each other. Alma, WV is also located nearby. Notice there is a valley between the "Lamanite cities" and the city of Alma. (click on map to enlarge)
Land of Lehi-Nephi and Shilom vs. Lehigh County and Shiloh
In the Book of Mormon, The Land of Lehi-Nephi is described as being close to where Lehi and his family first arrived by boat onto the Americas. It is also safe to assume that in the Book of Mormon, Lehi-Nephi and Shilom were close to each other, because the fortified their walls at the same time. (Mosiah 9:8 ) It also mentions people looking for the land of Lehi-Nephi for 40 days and stumbling across a hill just north of Shilom.
Lehigh County, PA and Shiloh, NJ appear to be within reasonable distance from each other. (Click on Map to Enlarge) Lehigh County is also close to the Atlantic Ocean, a possible landing area of Lehi.
The Jaredite Nation
Ramah, Moron and Ogath are Jaredite cities in the Book of Mormon, and Jaredite cities are all in the "land northward".
Rama, Morin and St. Agathe are cities found in Canada, or the "land northward" from the perspective of a New Yorker in the 1800's.
(click map to enlarge)
An Astonishing Coincidence?
A few years ago, John E. Clark put together an evaluation for the Limited Great Lakes setting. However, he had no mention whatsoever of the similar names, geography, and matching distances. All he says in his nearly 60 page report is that there is no way the Book of Mormon took place near the Great Lakes.
This quote says it all regarding his conclusion as to the Great Lakes as a setting for the Book of Mormon: "None of the geographical correlations is convincing"
It appears to me that by reading this evaluation that John Clark is trying his hardest to try to talk people out of investigating the Great Lakes region. Probably because as they do so, they will discover what I did. Similar names and geographic regions that match exactly with the Book of Mormon.
When I showed the similarity between Mormon cities and actual cities to a good friend of mine, he said that he doesn't believe Joseph Smith copied maps because it would have been TOO OBVIOUS. My friend argued that Joseph Smith would never do something that obvious because how could he think he could get away with it. But that makes you wonder why LDS scholars haven't been able to find a single location for any Book of Mormon city. They have been actively looking for over 50 years. They haven't found a single location, city or artifact that supports the Book of Mormon.
It is reasonable to assume that Joseph Smith used the Great Lakes region as the main source to the geography in the Book of Mormon. There are few contradictions within the Book of Mormon itself as to the geography. It isn't until you try to place it in the real world that you start to have problems.
For example, in the Book of Mormon, the Hill Cumorah is located in Ramah, which should be in the "Land Northward". However, the hill Cumorah in Palmyra, NY as shown in the photo to the left, is south of the Great lakes. The limited Great Lakes theory would still require 2 Cumorahs, contradicting What Joseph Smith said. Perhaps Joseph used the Great Lakes region to create the Book of Mormon, but had the idea of the Hemispheric model, or the traditional model in mind. The paradox facing Joseph Smith's story is that the location of the Hill Cumorah in upstate NY doesn't match any limited geography theory.
Why haven't LDS scholars found a single city or artifact to support the claims of the hisoricity of the Book of Mormon? I will talk about Archaeology and the Book of Mormon in my next blog.
Descriptions in the Book of MormonIt seems reasonable that a New Yorker in the 1800's would consider "The land Northward" Canada. However, before we jump to any conclusions, lets look at all the facts.