Those that show Cumorah in New York, and those that don’t.
I see this as a clear binary choice.
For me, any map that doesn’t put Cumorah in New York is not useful or even relevant. But I emphasize, that’s because I think knowing the real-world setting is important. If you don’t think it’s important–and again, I emphasize that’s a perfectly reasonable and faithful approach–then you can find value in non-New York maps.
To me, without that pin in the map and all that goes along with it (Letter VII, etc.), it makes no difference what you do with the geography. Whether you create an abstract map, or a map in Baja, Central America, Peru, Thailand, or anywhere else, every non-New York based map rejects what Oliver Cowdery wrote (and what Joseph endorsed).
But that’s just how I see it. It’s not a universal truth and it’s certainly not official or endorsed by anyone who matters.
At the risk of over-repetition, others have different opinions and I’m perfectly fine with that.
I’ve always emphasized that the spiritual message of the Book of Mormon is, without question, the main purpose for the book. If you’re not drawing spiritual strength and insights from the scriptures and deepening your faith in God, you should work on that before you focus on historicity and geography.
That’s a given for me.
But that takes faith, and not everyone has faith. What do we do for people who don’t have faith?
“And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).
Except for punctuation, the same words are repeated in D&C 109:7. It is also interesting that the same admonition is extended to those who attend the temple. (D&C 109:14).
Those who have faith to accept the scriptures as the word of God have a spiritual gift, which is wonderful. But those who “have not faith” need to do some study to create a foundation for faith. That study may include issues of historicity and geography that often are an impediment to faith.
In our culture, people want visual references. In that sense, an abstract map can be helpful for people who want to understand the text because they accept the divine authenticity of the scriptures on faith. Such a map can help them focus on the teachings of the Book of Mormon without getting bogged down into confusing passages about geography and chronology.
But people who don’t have faith, or who are interested in the historicity and geography because of their faith, also are visually oriented. They want a map that makes sense in the real world, and also fits the descriptions in the text. That describes my interest and the purpose for this blog.
Consequently, to the extent I objected to abstract maps in general, I should have qualified my objection. For those who have faith and are not troubled by or interested in historicity and geography, abstract maps can be helpful tools to understand the text more easily. Such maps can be a useful introduction for those who are new to the Book of Mormon. I still think there is a serious problem of imprinting a particular geography–even an abstract one–but if the people involved accept the scripture on faith alone, they may never care about the real-world geography, so a mental abstract map is no problem.
But I don’t think many of those people are reading this blog anyway.
There are also many people who are attached to a particular geography and want to keep that idea in mind regardless of other ideas. And that’s fine with me, as well. I’m not asking you to change your mind. I’m not even asking you to read this blog, actually.
I’m not writing this blog for everyone; I write for those who, like me, think it matters where the Book of Mormon took place, and those who want to explore the evidence from Church history, the text, and the various sciences. My focus here is on real-world historicity and geography, following the evidence wherever it leads. I think it makes a big difference where the Book of Mormon took place, for the reasons I’ve documented in all these posts. Others don’t think it matters, and that’s fine.Maps in Moroni’s America. (Continued Below)
Continued from above
I think the text describes the North American setting, with Cumorah in New York. I think this setting reconciles everything Joseph taught, as well as the statements by Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer. It makes sense out of the promises and prophecies. It fits the archaeology, anthropology, geography, and geology.
That’s why, to me, an abstract map is useless.
But that’s just how I see it.
I emphasize, one more time, that I’m not being critical of those who prefer abstract or other maps. My criticisms are focused on factual and logical errors that I’ve come across as I’ve studied these issues. I don’t expect everyone, or even most people, to see things my way or to agree with me.
And certainly, if what you believe takes you into the Book of Mormon and brings you closer to God, don’t stop or change course just because of anything I write.
But if you are interested in the real-world setting (for some, this is because of your faith while for others it is because you don’t have faith), then I welcome you here and hope you find, as I have, greater meaning in the Book of Mormon because of its setting in Moroni’s America. Jonathan Neville
Our friends at Works of Joseph have available 140 maps on CD for just $9. You can download or print all of them. www.worksofjoseph.com/store Above and below are some examples.
Below is more detail about the above North American map of the Book of Mormon
- NARROW PASS: Land between Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron (St. Clair River), and/or Land between Lake St Clair and Lake Erie (Detroit River), and/or E-W pass between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario near Niagara Falls, and/or E-W pass south of Lake Erie and north of the Continental Divide along the Allegheny River near the Narrow Passage. A- Mormon 3:5 (Near Buffalo, NY) B- Alma 50:34. (Line Desolation near Lake Michigan and Scioto River) C- Alma 52:9 (Line Bountiful near Lake Michigan)
- NARROW PASSAGE: Begins on the south side of Lake Erie at Irving NY, following the Cattaraugus Creek south through Zoar Valley to Cattaraugus, NY. Here the divide cuts through and so you continue at the source of Little Valley Creek ending at Salamanca, NY on the Allegheny River. All land south of the Allegheny is the land south. Irving, NY to Salamanca, NY is a day’s journey for a Nephite of 44 miles. Mormon 2:29
- NARROW NECK: Lake Michigan lower east side following Lake Michigan’s coast N-S between the St Lawrence Continental Divide and Lake Michigan. Alma 63:5
- NARROW NECK OF LAND: Lake Erie and Lake Ontario which are the seas that divide the land at Hamilton, OT and Buffalo, NY. Buffalo, NY is the “great city” mentioned in Ether 10:20. In Central America the Isthmus between the Gulf and Pacific is 140 miles and the “land divides the sea”, unlike what Ether says that the “sea divides the land, which is what Lake Erie does.
- NARROW STRIP OF WILDERNESS: Allegheny River, Ohio River, Mississippi River, and Missouri Rivers. This is the main east-west border between the Nephites and Lamanites from about Adam-Ondi-Ahman to Hill Cumorah. Alma 22:27 These rivers act as a fence with a gate or gap at the Small Neck of Land, which is why the land north and south were each nearly covered by water.
- SMALL NECK OF LAND: Allegheny, Susquehanna, and Genesee river sources or gaps (Triple Divide) Only 6 miles between each of these 3 river sources due to the 2 Continental Divides crossing at this point. This was an old Iroquois resting and protection point called the Forbidden Path. Alma 22:32
- LINE BETWEEN/LINE FORTIFIED: Journey for a Nephite from the “Great City” at Buffalo, NY in a line from Buffalo Creek, to the Cazenovia Creek, to Buttermilk Creek. Here the divide separates the creeks at the source of Great Valley Creek which flows to Kill Buck, NY on the Allegheny River. Any land south of the Allegheny is the land south. (66 miles or about a day and a half for a Nephite from Buffalo, NY to Kill Buck NY). A- Line Fortified Helaman 4:7 B- Line Between Alma 50:11
- LINE DESOLATION/BOUNTIFUL: From the source of the Scioto River in Ohio, draw a straight line to the tip of Lake Michigan near Michigan City, Indiana. The Scioto River source follows briefly the St. Lawrence Continental Divide which then continues north to Lake Michigan. That divide goes rapidly north by the Narrow Neck until it goes southward around the tip of Lake Michigan. 3 Nephi 3:23