Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Real Book of Mormon Geography

The Book of Mormon is supposed to be a history of real people living in a real place. For the first 150 years of Mormonism's existence, everyone thought it was a story about a people who left the Middle East and came to South or Central America, and who fought wars clear up into New York state where their history was hidden in a hillside, inscribed on gold plates. Joseph Smith, in 1830, translated those plates, he said, by "the gift and power of God," into English from "Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics." Or so the story goes.

However, one needs to look no further than New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to find the setting of the Book of Mormon. Whoever pieced the Book of Mormon together had a land in mind which was very similar to the Northeast United States and Southeast Canada.

The "proposed map," constructed from internal comparisons in the Book of Mormon.

A map of the Pennsylvania / New York area during Joseph Smith's time.

Throughout the Book of Mormon we read of such features as "The Narrow Neck of Land" which was a days and a half's journey (roughly 30 miles) separating two great seas. We read much of the Hill Onidah, the Hill Ramah, and the city of the City of Angola—all place names in the land of Joseph Smith's youth. We read, in the Book of Mormon of the Land of Desolation named for a warrior named Teancum who helped General Moroni fight in the Land of Desolation. In Smith's era, an Indian Chief named Tecumseh fought and died near the narrow neck of land helping the British in the War of 1812. Today the Canadian city Techumseh (near the narrow neck of land) is named after him. We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas. There are more than two dozen Book of Mormon names that are the same as or nearly the same as modern geographical locations. See below.

Items on the left of = are/were actual places in Joseph Smith's time. Items on the right of = are places in the Book of Mormon. * Canadian locations are marked with an asterisk (*) and appear in the Book of Mormon as lying in "The Land Northward"

*Agathe, Saint = Ogath
Alma = Alma, Valley of
Angola = Angola
Antrim = Antum
Antioch = Anti-Anti
Boaz = Boaz
*Conner = Comner
*Ephrem, Saint = Ephraim, Hill
Hellam = Helam
Jacobsburg = Jacobugath
Jerusalem = Jerusalem
Jordan = Jordan
Kishkiminetas = Kishkumen
Lehigh = Lehi
Mantua = Manti
Monroe = Moroni
Minoa = Minon
*Moraviantown = Morianton
*Morin = Moron
Noah Lakes = Noah, Land of
Oneida = Onidah
Oneida Castle = Onidah, Hill
Omer = Omner
*Rama = Ramah
*Ripple Lake = Ripliancum, Waters of
Sodom = Sidom
Shiloh = Shilom
Land of Midian = Land of Midian
*Tecumseh/Tenecum = Teancum

Vernal Holley originally published these maps and findings in his book Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look in the early 1980's.

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