Category Archives: Joseph Smith

No Nephite Books?

There is a fairly popular paper floating around the Internet. It is attributed to Dr. John L. Sorenson *. The paper is titled ”A Whole Bunch of Reasons Why Book of Mormon Geography could not Have Included North America.” It lists 37 things that, in the opinion of the author, prove that North America is not the land of the Book of Mormon.

Now and then we will take one of these 37 points and discuss it here on Joseph Knew. In this article we will discuss point number 15 which says there is no evidence of Nephite “books” in North America. It reads:

  • At least the Nephites are said to have possessed “many” books covering many subjects. No ancient North American books at all are evidenced.

Joseph-Knew-old-Book-of-MormonWe at Joseph Knew can think of at least one Nephite book found in North America. It’s a fairly well know chronicle called the Book of Mormon. It has a companion book, which is not yet in print; it  goes by the working title the Sealed Two Thirds. This Nephite record, or “book” was deposited by Moroni in the Hill Cumorah in New York, North America.

We understand that there are those who believe that there were two Cumorahs, one in Mexico where Moroni hid the plates and a hill in New York where Moroni re-hid them after retrieving them from the Mexico hill and carrying them to New York. We at Joseph Knew believe there was only one Cumorah, and it was in New York. For information on why we support the one hill theory,  please see this article.

Cumorah was not the only hill in Book of Mormon times to contain Nephite records.

“And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon.

“And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;

“Therefore, when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people.” (Mormon 1:1-3)

“And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord.” (Mormon 4:23)

The book we have today known as the Book of Mormon is an abridgment of many records like those Ammaron compiled and hid. The Book of Ether is also an ancient record which was hidden and then became part of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-CowderyThere are many accounts recorded of the Hill Cumorah containing many Nephite records. Not only did the hill contain records in the days of Moroni, but in the 1800s as well. Oliver Cowdery, who is mentioned in several accounts, said of the Hill Cumorah:

“In my estimation, certain places are dearer to me for what they now contain than for what they have contained.” (Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, October 1835, 2:196; emphasis in the original)

Oliver was with Joseph Smith when the plates were returned to the hill after the translation was completed.

Brigham Young recorded:

“Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates . . . When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large spacious room . . . They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under the table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19:37-39)

Joseph-Knew---Heber-C-Kimball-from-LDS-Church-ArchivesHeber C. Kimball, speaking of Joseph Smith and others inside a cave in the hill Cumorah, said:

“There were books piled up on tables, books upon books. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments. . . . Joseph Smith said the cave contained tons of choice treasures and records.” (Hebrew C. Kimball, Journal of Discourse 4:105)

Brigham Young recorded hearing Heber C. Kimball talk about Joseph, Joseph Smith Sr., and Oliver Cowdery “walking into the hill Cumorah and seeing records upon records piled upon table[s,] they walked from cell to cell and saw records that were piled up . . .” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 5 May, 1867, Family and Church History Department Archives)

If one uses the argument that no Nephite records have been found in North America and therefore, the Book of Mormon did not take place in North America, one must apply that same logic to Central and South America. Where are the Nephite records that have been found there? We have the Book of Mormon which came from a Nephite book in North America and that is one more record than has been found in Guatemala.

Joseph-Knew-Hill-Cumorah-about-1830We have the testimony of many people that there were Nephite books in North America. It’s true that first hand accounts are the best and most trusted accounts. However, second hand accounts from trusted sources such as Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and many others can be valuable as well.

Because such records were hid up by prophets of the Lord, it stands to reason that such records have not been found. Such records will remain hidden until the Lord wants them revealed. In an interview in 1877, David Whitmer  said that even if science proved the records were there in the hill, no one would be able to obtain them until the Lord desired it. **

We have witnesses testifying that there were many Nephite books in Cumorah and we have the definitive Nephite book, the Book of Mormon, found in North America.

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* Dr. Sorenson is an emeritus professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He has done great research in Central America and proposes that area as the land of the Book of Mormon.

** The 1877 interview with David Whitmer was for a book called Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon by Edward Stevenson.

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Additional Information:

For more on Cumorah’s Cave we recommended Cameron Packer’s article.

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Lamanites in North America

Joseph-Knew-Oliver-CowderyIn September 1830 the second general conference of the church was held in Fayette, New York. At the time there were only 62 members of the church. At that conference the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph, commanded Oliver Cowdery to, “go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them”. (D&C 8:8) This was the first official church mission. Three others, Ziba Peterson, Parley P. Pratt and Peter Whitmer were called to accompany Oliver. Pratt recorded their missionary activities in his autobiography.

“After travelling for some days we called on an Indian nation at or near Buffalo; and spent part of a day with them, instructing them in the knowledge of the record of their forefathers. We were kindly received, and much interest was manifested by them on hearing this news.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 47)

Joseph-Knew-Parley-P-PrattThe missionaries traveled from the Buffalo area to Ohio where they met and taught other Lamanites. While there, they baptized Frederick G. Williams who joined them in their missionary efforts into Missouri. It was here that Cowdery, Pratt and Williams met with the Delawares and the Shawnees. The chief of the Delawares, who had taken the Christian name Anderson, was open and receptive. In a letter to Joseph Smith, Cowdery wrote:

“The principal chief says he believes every word of the Book and there are many more in the Nation who believe and we understand there are many among the Shawnees who also believe & we trust that when the Lord shall open our way we shall have glorious times.”

Joseph-Knew-Joseph_Preaching_to_the_Indians_by_C.C.A._ChristensenJoseph Smith saw the Native Americans in a different light than was popular in America at the time. It’s reasonable to assume his view came from the Book of Mormon, which did not portray them as savages, untamed by civilized society. Joseph knew from the Book of Mormon that the Lamanites were a noble people, equal in stature to any people on earth. Joseph’s view of the Lamanites was no doubt reinforced in November 1831 when, at a special conference of the elders of the church, he received a revelation, which would become the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord reveals his intention and desire to make the gospel known “unto all flesh,” because he is “no respecter of persons.” (D&C 1:34,35)

The US government did not share this view of Native Americans. In 1830, the same year the Lord sent his first missionaries out to share the gospel with the Lamanites, the US congress passed the Indian Removal Act. This gave the US President power to order the removal of any and all Native Americans to the western territories. By moving the savages out of the east, it opened the way for civilized society to expand.

The attitudes of the Latter-day Saints toward the Native Americans served as kindling for the anti-Mormon fires that were smoldering in Missouri. Oliver Cowdery taught the Delawares that the land should be “held in common with the palefaces”. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 55) Such teaching could not have set well with landowners.

Joseph traveled to share the gospel with the Lamanites. He also welcomed them into Nauvoo.

When the Lord commanded Joseph to send missionaries among the Lamanites, Joseph did not send them to Central or South America. He sent them into North America. However, Joseph’s understanding of who the Native Americans were did not begin with the translation of the Book of Mormon. As a seventeen year old he was taught by Moroni “concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, 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”. (The Wentworth Letter)

Joseph knew that the Native Americans were descended from Joseph of Egypt, and those missionaries who shared the gospel with them understood that fact. After his first mission to the Lamanites, Parley P. Pratt expressed his hope that “at some future day, when the servants of God go forth with power to the remnant of Joseph, some precious seed will be found growing in their hearts, which [was] sown by us in that early day”. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, page 57) During Moroni’s first appearance to Joseph Smith, Moroni said he had been “sent to bring the joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled”. That first mission to the Lamanites in 1830 was helping to fulfill that covenant.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

When using portions of this article, please credit: JosephKnew.com

If you have comments or questions, we would like to hear them. Just click on leave a comment below.

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REPUBLISHED — Some of the earliest research into the lands of the Book of Mormon

“Geography of the Book of Mormon”

ThisIsTheMarketPlace.com

 

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A new documentary about Willard and Rebecca Bean is now available. “Love Unfeigned” is a three-part DVD.

The Biography of Willard Bean chronicles his youth, his mission in the Southern States, his acting and political experiences in New York City, and his successful boxing career. — (17 minutes)

The Biography of Rebecca Bean tells of her family’s conversion in Denmark, her growing up in Richfield, Utah and her sacred experiences living in the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra, NY. (26 minutes) 

Love Unfeigned celebrates the 100-year legacy of Willard and Rebecca’s influence in Palmyra, NY. It includes interviews with Bean family members, local Palmyra residents and Book of Mormon scholars. The DVD includes never before seen photos from the Bean family collection. (60 minutes)

To order your copy, visit “This is the MarketPlace”.

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Image credits: Joseph Smith preaching to the Laminates by CCA Christensen

Photos of Oliver Cowdery and Orson Pratt by unknown photographers (in the public domain)

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They Wrote the Book

On September 21, 1823 the Book of Mormon Prophet Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith. It could be said that at that moment Joseph entered a School of the Prophets. His knowledge of the Book of Mormon, its lands, its people, its customs, practices, and wars, did not begin when he started translating the plates. It started when he met Moroni, the keeper of the plates.

John Wentworth
John Wentworth

In March 1842, at the request of John Wentworth, editor of the newspaper, the Chicago Democrat, Joseph penned a history of the church up to that point. He described that first visit of Moroni and included:

“I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origins, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me.” (emphases added)

In her history, Joseph’s mother Lucy Mack Smith tells how his understanding of Book of Mormon people and events grew after that first visit from Moroni.

“From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same.”

Lucy Mack Smith
Lucy Mack Smith

Describing those evening conversations she wrote:

“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 traveling, 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.” (emphases added)

Between that first visit in 1823 and 1827 when Joseph received the plates, Moroni visited the prophet at least twenty times. He was also instructed by other heavenly “teachers”. Again, from the Wentworth letter:

“After having received many visits from the angels of God unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22nd of September, A.D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.”

Before Joseph received the plates he had a good understanding of the people of the Book of Mormon, as Lucy Mack Smith put it, the inhabitants “of this continent”.

"The Hill Cumorah" by C.C.A Christensen
“The Hill Cumorah” by C.C.A Christensen

After that first visit from Moroni, during which he saw in a vision, the hill in which the plates were buried, Joseph began referring to that hill as Cumorah. This was not a name he received from the Book of Mormon. It was the name of the hill he received from the very person who showed him the hill. Moroni, who had buried the plates in the hill himself called the hill Cumorah.

From these writings, the Wentworth letter (penned by Joseph Smith himself), and his mother’s autobiography, we learn what Joseph knew about the Book of Mormon lands and people.

He saw them. He knew what they looked like. He knew how they dressed.

He spoke with them. He received firsthand, eye-witness accounts of their lives.

He knew where they came from. He knew they were descendants of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

He knew where they lived. He saw their cities and buildings.

He saw their progress. He saw their civilizations, their laws and government.

He knew whom and how they worshiped. He saw their righteousness.

He knew what became of them. He saw their wars, and iniquities.

We have an expression we use when we want to identify someone as an expert in a given field. We say, He wrote the book on that subject. The person didn’t literally write the book about the subject, but he or she knows more than pretty much anyone else about it. Joseph Smith knew the lands of the Book of Mormon and he received much of his understanding from the people who lived there. He was taught by Moroni, who literally wrote the book. He met and talked with Nephi, who literally wrote the book. Joseph knew the lands and history of the Book of Mormon.

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Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

Joseph Smith Knew

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of their religion. Although knowing where Book of Mormon events took place is not essential for a testimony, knowing where the Land Bountiful was may help bring 3 Nephi alive and can even strengthen a testimony.

For decades Latter-day Saint archeologists, researchers and historians have searched for evidence of Book of Mormon lands. Long before formally organized and well-funded groups began their search, Joseph Smith taught that the events found in the Book of Mormon took place in North America. In her personal history his mother Lucy Mack Smith recorded that Joseph often entertained his family with “amusing recitals” of the early inhabitants of North America. He described their wars, their weapons, their clothing, and their lands. He saw their day and knew them and their lands.

The land directly across the river from Nauvoo was called, by command of the Lord, Zarahemla. (Doctrine and Covenants 125:3) Joseph knew this was not “New Zarahemla”, but was the Zarahemla from the Book of Mormon.

When the Lord commanded Joseph to send missionaries into the “borders of the Lamanites”, he identified that land as Missouri in North America. (Doctrine and Covenants 54:8) *

JosephKnew.com will present historical records, prophetic statements, and early and current research surrounding the Book of Mormon in North America. We will present the facts so you can draw your own conclusions.

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

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Additional Information:

For more information about the Book of Mormon in North America, we recommend Rod Meldrum’s book:

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* For more information about early “Lamanite Missions” listen to this episode of Past Impressions on the Mormon Channel.