I continue to be amazed at how many Church members have never heard of Letter VII, or even of Oliver Cowdery’s clear statement about the Hill Cumorah. I’ve done several presentations lately and the only people in the audience who have heard of these things are the ones who have read my blog or books.
I’m hoping in 2017 that everyone in every Gospel Doctrine class brings up Letter VII in class. Same with seminary and Institute and BYU students. It is inexcusable that this oft-reprinted and quoted teaching has been blacklisted.
Even when people do find out about it, some scholars and educators continue trying to tell people not to believe it, as I discussed here: http://www.lettervii.com/2017/01/why-some-people-reject-letter-vii.html
Here’s an example. H. Donl Peterson wrote a book titled Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. In it, he quotes often from Oliver Cowdery’s letters. He includes much of Letter VI in Appendix A. But he never tells the reader what Oliver Cowdery said about Cumorah in Letter VII.
He even gives Oliver’s description of the hill Cumorah in Letter VIII (p. 100), but avoids the description in Letter VII. In fact, Brother Peterson quotes the Letter VII paragraph directly preceding the description of Cumorah! (page 100). He stops before this passage from Letter VII:
I must now give you some description of the place where, and the manner in which these records were deposited.
You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N. Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four, or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is, because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country. To a person acquainted with this road, a description would be unnecessary, as it is the largest and rises the highest of any on that route. The north end rises quite sudden until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may say an elevation higher than at the south a short distance, say half or three fourths of a mile. As you pass toward Canandaigua it lessens gradually until the surface assumes its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying that this is the highest hill for some distance round, and I am certain that its appearance, as it rises so suddenly from a plain on the north, must attract the notice of the traveller as he passes by.
At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.
It’s a stark omission.
No wonder members of the Church don’t know about the New York setting for the Hill Cumorah.
Brother Peterson does include some of the quotations about Joseph returning the plates to the repository in Cumorah, but he offers no comment on them.
Strangely, Brother Peterson mentions the 1829 trip from Harmony to Fayette, but he doesn’t comment on the messenger’s statement that he was going to Cumorah and so didn’t need a ride to Fayette (page 121-123). That’s been the common practice in Church-related books I’ve read. If they mention it at all, they don’t try to explain this incident.
But don’t worry, I have an awesome explanation.