Agree / Agree-to-Disagree by topic

A great suggestion came in that I organize the chart by topic, so here goes. Now for each section, the agreed-upon points are listed along with the points where we agree to disagree. As before, anyone who has ideas to improve the chart can let me know and I’ll fix it. This is intended to be an accurate representation, not a critique of either, or any, proposed geography. I also realize there are variations among proponents of every theory, so this is necessarily a summary, not a detailed analysis.

I hope this chart will help clarify the issues for everyone who is interested in the geography and historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon message
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
1. The most important aspect of the Book of Mormon is its message.
Agree
Agree
2. The Book of Mormon is an inspired translation of an actual ancient record of actual people who lived in the real world.
Agree
Agree
3. The ultimate objective of our research/writing is to motivate people to read the Book of Mormon and strengthen their faith in Christ as a result.
Agree
Agree
4. Another objective of our research/writing is to help people better understand the text of the book by understanding its setting, culture and context.
Agree
Agree
                                                                                                                            

Church Position
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
5. The Church has no official position on where Book of Mormon events took place.
Agree
Agree
6. As an Apostle and Church Historian, Joseph Fielding Smith said the two-Cumorah theory caused members to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. He reiterated this when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve in the 1950s in his book Doctrines of Salvation.
Agree
Agree
7. Joseph Fielding Smith’s comments on the two-Cumorah theory
Joseph Fielding Smith’s criticisms of the two-Cumorah theory are invalid because he did not know much about Mesoamerica and because 50 years ago, someone heard a BYU professor say Pres. Smith told him he could teach whatever he wanted about Cumorah.
Joseph Fielding Smith’s criticisms of the two-Cumorah theory are valid, have caused and continue to cause members to become confused and disturbed in their faith of the Book of Mormon.
8. Modern prophets/apostles have identified Lamanites in Latin America
These statements corroborate the Mesoamerican setting.
These statements are not limited to Mesoamerica and reflect post-Book of Mormon migrations (Mayans moving north after 800 AD, intermarrying, and then returning to Mesoamerica and south from there).
                                                                                                                             

Hill Cumorah
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
9. In Letter VII, Oliver Cowdery identified the valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York as the location of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites.
Agree
Agree
10. Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII
Oliver Cowdery was speculating and was factually wrong about the New York location of the Hill Cumorah.
Oliver Cowdery stated a fact about the New York Cumorah based on his own experience in Mormon’s repository as related to Brigham Young and others.
11. Joseph Smith instructed his scribes to copy Oliver’s letters, including Letter VII, into his journal as part of his life story.
Agree
Agree
12. Joseph Smith gave permission to Benjamin Winchester to republish Oliver’s letters, including Letter VII, in his newspaper called the Gospel Reflector
Agree
Agree
13. Don Carlos republished Oliver’s letters, including Letter VII, in the 1842 Church newspaper called the Times and Seasons (T&S).
Agree
Agree
14. Joseph Smith originally obtained the plates from a stone box Moroni constructed out of stone and cement in the Hill Cumorah in New York.
Agree
Agree
15. Lucy Mack Smith wrote ““Stop, father, stop,” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord. As I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel met me and said that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to be brought forth. (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1853).
Agree
Agree
16. Brigham Young said Oliver told him that he (Oliver) and Joseph had made at least two visits to a room in the Hill Cumorah in New York that contained piles of records and ancient Nephite artifacts.
Agree
Agree
17. Mormon said he buried all the Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah (Morm. 6:6), the scene of the final battles of the Nephites, except he kept out the plates he gave to his son Moroni to finish the record.
Agree
Agree
18. Location of the Hill Cumorah
The hill in New York had nothing to do with ancient Nephites or Jaredites (apart from Moroni traveling to the area). The real Hill Cumorah which contains Mormon’s repository of records and was the scene of the final battles is elsewhere.
The hill in New York is the actual Hill Cumorah/Ramah where both the Nephites and the Jaredites were destroyed.  It also contained Mormon’s repository of the Nephite records.
19. Two-Cumorah theory described
There are two Cumorahs. The one in New York where Joseph Smith found the plates was just the place where Moroni buried his record. Unknown early Mormons gave this hill the name Cumorah and Joseph Smith later adopted this tradition. The real Cumorah where Mormon deposited the Nephite records is the scene of the final battles and it is in Mesoamerica.
There is only one Cumorah and it is in New York.
20. D&C 128:20 reads, “And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed,” followed by references to other events that took place in New York.
Agree
Agree
21. D&C 128 meaning
Joseph was either embracing a folk tradition started by an unknown member or was paying homage to the real Cumorah in Mexico.
Joseph was referring to the hill in New York that was referred to as Cumorah by Moroni.

Church History: Joseph’s knowledge
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
22. Joseph Smith obtained the plates from Moroni from the hill near his house now called Cumorah
Agree
Agree
23. Joseph’s mother wrote that “During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.”
Agree
Agree
24. In the Wentworth letter, Joseph wrote that I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country [America] and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was [also] made known unto me; I was also told where were deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent.
Agree
Agree
25. Joseph Smith’s knowledge
Joseph did not leave a first-hand record of a revelation about Book of Mormon geography, so he had no revelation or inspiration regarding Book of Mormon geography
Joseph Smith knew where the Book of Mormon events took place because Moroni had shown him, as mentioned in the Wentworth letter and by his mother Lucy.
26. “Plains of the Nephites” (Joseph’s letter to Emma refers to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois as the “plains of the Nephites”)
Joseph speculated about a location not specifically mentioned in the text (“the plains of the Nephites”).
Because of what Moroni showed him, Joseph recognized the plains referred to in the text of the Book of Mormon; i.e., “meet them upon the plains between the two cities” (Alma 52:20); “pitch their tents in the plains of Nephihah” (Alma 62:18) and “battle against them, upon the plains” (Alma 62:19).
27. Zelph
Zelph was a warrior killed in Illinois who was known to some of Lehi’s descendants who migrated northward from Mesoamerica into the Hinterland (areas not covered by the text)
Zelph was a warrior in the final battles of the Nephites, killed in Illinois between Zarahemla and Cumorah.
28. Statements recorded by Wilford Woodruff and Martha Coray and attributed to Joseph Smith say that Zion is all of North and South America
These statement mean Lehi’s descendants filled the hemisphere, but BoM took place in a limited geography (Mesoamerica)
These statements originally meant Northern and Southern states, but Zion is anywhere the pure in heart live. Winchester’s wing concept of the continents of North and South America was adopted by Hyrum Smith and successors, then applied retroactively (Wilford Woodruff, Martha Coray)
29. 1830-31 Mission to the Lamanites (D&C 28, 30 and 32)
Early Mormons believed the American Indians were Lamanites, but the term actually refers to all indigenous people in the Americas.
These verses referred specifically to those tribes they visited (and other culturally connected tribes) in New York, Ohio and Missouri, showing these tribes were the descendants of the Lamanites.
                                                                                                                            

Church History: Bernhisel and Stephens’ books
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
30. On Sept. 9, 1841, Dr. Bernhisel gave Wilford Woodruff a copy of the Stephens’ popular archaeology books about Central America to give to Joseph Smith
Agree
Agree
31. On Nov. 5, 1841, Wilford Woodruff wrote a letter to Dr. Bernhisel that is not extant.
Agree
Agree
32. A thank-you letter dated Nov. 16, 1841, was sent to Bernhisel on Joseph Smith’s behalf. No one knows who wrote the letter because the handwriting remains unidentified and no journals mention it.
Agree
Agree
33. Significance of Bernhisel letter.
Because the Bernhisel letter was written on behalf of Joseph Smith, he dictated it or knew of and approved its contents.
Joseph often had others write on his behalf. The Bernhisel letter was drafted by Wilford Woodruff and written out by an unknown person with legible penmanship. Joseph probably asked Woodruff to write the letter but never saw it and never read the Stephens books.
                                                                                                                            

Church history: Times and Seasons
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
34. A series of editorials were published in the T&S during 1842 that linked the Book of Mormon to archaeological findings in North and Central America. They cited the Stephens books and archaeology books by Josiah Priest. All were published either anonymously or over the signature of Ed. for Editor.
Agree
Agree
35. From February 15 through October 15, 1842, the boilerplate of the T&S said the paper was edited, printed, and published by Joseph Smith.
Agree
Agree
36. Anonymous T&S article, Sept/Oct 1842
The articles linking the Book of Mormon to Central America were written, or at least approved by, Joseph Smith
The articles linking the Book of Mormon to Central America were not written, approved of, or even seen by Joseph Smith prior to publication
37. T&S Editor
Joseph was a hands-on editor of the T&S
Joseph was a nominal editor only. The paper was actually edited by William Smith and/or W.W. Phelps.
38. 1842 Wentworth letter statement that the “Lamanites are Indians in this country.”
This refers to all indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere.
Joseph was writing from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Mr. Wentworth who lived in Chicago, Illinois. Joseph’s statement refers to the Native American Indians in Illinois and what was then the United States.
                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                            

Book of Mormon geography
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
39. The geography passages in the Book of Mormon are subject to a variety of interpretations.
Agree
Agree
40. To date, apart from Moroni’s stone box and the plates and other objects Joseph Smith possessed and showed to the Witnesses, no artifact or archaeological site that can be directly linked to the Book of Mormon has been found anywhere.
Agree
Agree
41. Cultural characteristics can be discerned from the text.
Agree
Agree
42. The land of Zarahemla is north of the land of Nephi and lower in elevation than the land of Nephi.
Agree
Agree
43. The New Jerusalem Ether wrote about is located in Jackson County, Missouri.
Agree
Agree
44. Book of Mormon overall geography
The text describes an overall hourglass shape.
The text does not describe an overall hourglass shape. Instead, Cumorah is a pin in the map in New York and Zarahemla is a pin in the map in Iowa.
45. Setting in Central America vs. North America
The description in the text best fits someplace in Central America, including Guatemala and Mexico.
The description in the text best fits North America, from Florida to New York and west to Missouri and Iowa.
46. Location of Zarahemla
Zarahemla is located somewhere in Mexico or Guatemala; D&C 125:3 does not refer to the Nephite Zarahemla
Zarahemla is located across from Nauvoo as indicated by D&C 125:3 (near Montrose Iowa)
47. River Sidon
Because the land of Nephi is south of the land of Zarahemla and people travel down to the land of Zarahemla from Nephi, and because the river Sidon flows past the city of Zarahemla, the River Sidon flows north. Sidon is the Umacita or Grijalva river in Mesoamerica
Because the land of Nephi is south of the land of Zarahemla and people travel down to the land of Zarahemla from Nephi, the river between the two lands flows North. This is the Tennessee River, unnamed in the text. The text says that the river Sidon flows past the city of Zarahemla and along the land of Zarahemla, but not that it goes to the land of Nephi. These descriptions fits the Iowa location; Sidon is the upper Mississippi River.
48. Western Hemisphere setting
Although Joseph merely speculated about BoM geography, he knew it took place somewhere in the Western Hemisphere
Joseph knew by revelation that the Book of Mormon took place in the Western Hemisphere because he identified the plains of the Nephites, identified the western tribes of Indians as Lamanites, etc.
                                                                                                                            

Archaeology and Anthropology
Mesoamerica
Moroni’s America
49. Mayan civilization collapsed around 800 A.D. and Mayans migrated to North America, where they lived for several hundred years before returning to Central America.
Agree
Agree
50. The Newark Ohio earthworks are the largest earthworks in the world and demonstrate knowledge of astronomy and geometry.
Agree
Agree
51. There were a million ancient mounds in North America before the Europeans arrived.
Agree
Agree
52. There are two million skeletons buried in mounds in Illinois alone.
Agree
Agree
53. Cultural elements in the text
The text describes an ancient Mesoamerican culture. Towers in the text refer to massive stone pyramids. Horses may be tapirs. The Nephites sacrificed agouti or other large rodents.
The text describes an ancient North American culture. Towers in the text refer to wooden towers. Horses are horses. The Nephites strictly observed the Law of Moses, including species.
54. Correspondences in Central America between BoM and ancient cultures
Many correspondences suggest the BoM took place in Central America, including Mayan banners, pyramids, stone temples, warfare, symbols of the tree of life, state-level society, etc.
These correspondences are typical of most cultures and, to the extent they are unique to BoM, they reflect culture brought to Central America from North America when the Mayans returned after 900 AD.
55. Jaredites
The Jaredites lived in Central America and were destroyed at the Hill Cumorah (Ramah) in Mexico
The Jaredites likely expanded throughout the western hemisphere and only those who lived in “this north country” were Ether’s ancestors who were discussed in the Book of Ether and were destroyed at Cumorah
56. Presence of ancient writing
The text requires the presence of ancient writing systems, which are found only in Mesoamerica
The text excludes the presence of ancient writing systems because Lamanites destroyed any records they could find, which is why Mormon had to hide the plates.
57. Archaeological evidence in North America between BoM and ancient cultures
The archaeology in North America during BoM times shows a tribal level society, but BoM describes a state-level society
The archaeology shows a primarily tribal level society but also a long-lost state-level society with monumental architecture, just as BoM describes
58. DNA evidence
All known DNA in Mesoamerican is Asian in origin, but DNA evidence is inconclusive; cannot prove or disprove the Book of Mormon.
Only northeastern (Great Lakes) Indian tribes have DNA other than Asian; dating of X2 haplotype (Middle-Eastern) remains an open issue because scientists currently say the X2 haplotype appeared in the Great Lakes region thousands of years before Lehi.
59. Promised land covenant
Promised land and covenant land includes entire Western hemisphere
Promised land and covenant land refers to the United States 
60. Uto-Aztecan languages have Hebrew and Egyptian influence
These language influences show transoceanic interaction with Indians in western U.S. and Mexico.
These language influences show transoceanic interaction with Indians in western U.S. and Mexico, but not on Mayans. In addition, Algonquin (Great Lakes Indians) languages also have Hebrew and Egyptian influence.

Source: Book of Mormon Concensus

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