Interlude – Book of Mormon chiastic geography

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In Moroni’s America, Pocket Edition, I discussed some of the parallels between the Book of Mormon and modern Church History. I think the history is chiastic. Consider this summary of several points of parallelism.

I like to say that if you’ve been on a Church history tour, you’ve been on a Book of Mormon tour–although you probably didn’t realize it.

1. The gospel was restored to the exact place where it had last existed on Earth–western New York.

2. Moroni revealed the plates at the same place where he and his father wrote and sealed them (Moroni in his stone box, Mormon in the records repository, both in the Hill Cumorah in New York).

3. Moroni translated the Book of Ether in the same area and with the same instruments that Joseph translated the plates.

4. Moroni and Mormon saw the three Nephites in the same place where they helped Joseph, David Whitmer, etc.

5. The First Vision took place in the same area where the Lord last appeared to man, Moroni.

6. The first latter-day temple was built in Ohio, where the last temple mentioned in the Book of Mormon existed (in Bountiful), and possibly on the exact same location in Kirtland.

7. The war chapters in the Book of Mormon took place on the plains of the Nephites, which Joseph Smith identified as he crossed Ohio, Indiana and Illinois on Zion’s Camp.

8. Mosiah escaped from their enemies in the land of Nephi and went to the land of Zarahemla where they built a city, just as the Saints escaped their enemies in Missouri and went to the land of Zarahemla where they built a city (Nauvoo, across from Zarahemla- D&C 125).

9. Ether prophesied of the New Jerusalem to be established on “this land,” and Joseph Smith identified the New Jerusalem in Missouri.

The next section is a quotation from chapter 35.
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The restoration started at Cumorah because that’s where Moroni hid the plates in the stone box so Joseph Smith could obtain them. It is fitting that the restoration of the Gospel occurred in the same place where the Gospel last existed on Earth.

The apostolic authority in the world of the New Testament was lost to apostasy in the early centuries after Christ’s death. Priesthood authority endured in the lands of the Book of Mormon until the death of Moroni around 421 A.D.

There are many parallels between Book of Mormon sites and Church history sites. Moroni, writing in “this north country” near Joseph Smith’s home between Palmyra and Cumorah, wrote that he had seen Jesus and talked with him face to face. Joseph’s first vision, when Jesus talked with him face to face, took place in the same area. Perhaps Moroni, too, met the Lord in the Sacred Grove?

The first temple of this dispensation was built in Ohio. The Lord personally accepted the temple, appearing to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  Centuries earlier, the Lord appeared to the Nephites at a temple in the land Bountiful—modern day Ohio. Could the Kirtland temple be built where that ancient Nephite temple once stood?

The Nephite civilization degenerated and died out as the Nephites retreated eastward from Zarahemla to Cumorah. The restored Church grew and developed as it moved westward from the Cumorah area to Nauvoo.

Zion’s Camp retraced the military campaigns of Captain Moroni and other Nephite warriors. Joseph and Hyrum Smith are buried in a Nephite (Hopewell) cemetery in Nauvoo.
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When Moroni abridged the writings of Ether, he spent an entire chapter covering Ether’s prophecies (Ether 13). It’s interesting that he concludes his summary with a chiastic thought:

12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first.

Then he says he was forbidden to write more. Maybe because we, the recipients of his writing, would have enough difficulty accepting what he wrote?

He explained how the people rejected the words of Ether, and we wonder how they could have been so foolish and hard hearted. But maybe it’s not so surprising after all.

Ether 13:4 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; [think about how scholars reject the Biblical account of the creation of Adam, which Moroni refers to in Moroni 10:3] and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land [think about how scholars reject a literal flood] it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;

3 And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.

4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the aJerusalem from whence bLehi should come…
6 And that a aNew Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of bJoseph, for which things there has been a ctype.
7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land…
12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first.
13 And I was about to write more, but I am forbidden;

Source: Book of Mormon Wars

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