Category Archives: Mesoamerica

What We Know . . . So Far

As far as we can tell, no one has yet been able to prove that something does not, or did not exist. Yet, that is often an argument used by anti-Mormons in their attempt to disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Years ago the idea that there are elephants mentioned in the Book of Mormon was proof the book was a fabrication. But now it’s becoming more and more accepted that there were elephants roaming the promised land. Skeptics have had to shift their attention to the mention of horses in the Book of Mormon. And now the argument that horses were not in North America before the Spanish arrived is springing leaks.

When the Winter Olympic games were held in Salt Lake City in 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked by a reporter if he had a comment about DNA research that seemed to disprove the Book of Mormon. He simply responded that all the information wasn’t in yet. Today DNA is proving a connection between the Middle East and Native Americans.

For decades the big bang theory has been the accepted origin of our universe. Now physicists in Egypt and Canada have made a strong argument that there was no beginning to the universe. It has always existed. This is just another example of a faith-based belief that has been scoffed at by science, and is now becoming self-evident.

More and more, theories placing Book of Mormon events in Mesoamerica and South America are giving way to the heartland of America as Book of Mormon lands. Geographic evidences that have become overgrown by forests, or deliberately destroyed, are coming to light and are being connected to people and places of the Book of Mormon.

Although, as President Hinckley said, not all of the evidence is in yet, a lot of evidence is in, and that evidence is confirming what early church leaders knew, the Heartland of America is the land of the Book of Mormon.

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The Promised Land

Where is the Promised Land?

If you were to ask 100 Mormons, “Where is the Promised land?” It’s a pretty safe bet that at least 95 of them would say America is the Promised Land. But it’s interesting that if you asked those same 100 people, “Where did the events in the Book of Mormon take place?” the majority would probably say it all happened in Central America . . . and maybe South America.

It’s not possible for America to be the Promised Land and yet NOT be the land of the Book of Mormon. When writers of the Book of Mormon wrote about the Promised Land, they were talking about the land they were living in at the time. Therefore, if we believe America is the Promised Land, then those writers were living in America.

Joseph-Knew-Book-of-EtherArriving in the Promised Land

“And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 6:12 italics added)

Looking at this scripture in the book of Ether, it is clear that the Jaredites landed in the Promised Land. If we accept America as the Promised Land, then we accept that they landed in America. Now, if one believes that the events described later in Ether took place in Central America, the only logical explanation is that the Jaredites landed in America, bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, shed tears of joy for the Lord’s mercies in bringing them there, and packed up and moved to another land.

The same logic must also be applied to the events involving the Nephites and the Lamanites.

“And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.” (1 Nephi 18:23 italics added)

If Central America is the land of the Nephites and Lamanites, then they landed, pitched their tents, called it the Promised Land, packed up their tents and moved to Central America.

Either America is the Promised Land spoken of in the Book of Mormon or it isn’t.

Joseph-Knew-3-NephiChrist in the Promised Land

When the resurrected Christ visited the Nephites it was in this land. It was in North America that he reaffirmed the covenant he made with their father Jacob. He miraculously provided bread and wine to the multitude and said:

“And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” (3 Nephi 20:22 italics added)

Those 100 Mormons will confirm that the New Jerusalem will be in this land of America. In the above scripture Christ says that the New Jerusalem with be in “this land”, the land in which he is standing at the time. He wasn’t standing in Central America and talking about this land up north. He was standing in America and talking to the Nephites about their land, North America.

In January 2012, Elder L. Tom Perry delivered a devotional address at Brigham Young University-Idaho. The address, The Tradition of Light and Testimony, was reprinted in the December 2012 edition of the Ensign magazine. In that address, Elder Perry said:

“The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon—a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United States of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the establishment of the United States.”

Elder Perry is reaffirming what Christ said about this land.

Joseph-Knew-Moroni-Monument-AutumnProphets troughout history have known what Elder Perry knew. When Moroni was finishing his record concerning the destruction of his people, he said:

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

“And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—

“And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.” (Ether 13:4-6 italics added)

When we consider statements from ancient prophets, modern-day prophets, and the Lord himself, it’s clear that America, the land of the restoration, is the Promised Land.

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Book of Mormon Geography — Early Research

Joseph-Knew-Willard-and-Rebecca-Bean-Wedding-PhotoOne-hundred years ago this month (February 2015) newlyweds Willard and Rebecca Bean moved into the Joseph Smith home near Palmyra, New York. President Joseph F. Smith had called and set them apart as missionaries. Their assignments were to

1. Make Friends

2. Farm the land

3. Preach the gospel

4. Baptize converts

5. Organize a branch of the church

They were set apart to serve for five years with a parenthetical “or more” attached to the call. Assignment number one, make friends, took nearly a decade. Before leaving their field of labor, they accomplished everything they were asked to do. The “or more” seemed prophetic when their mission stretched into nearly 25 years. They arrived in Palmyra as newlyweds and returned to Utah as grandparents.

More details about their extraordinary mission will be available this year when several books, including Willard’s autobiography, will be published.

Joseph-Knew-Willard-Bean-Geography-of-the-Book-of-Mormon-BookAs if making friends, farming the land, preaching the gospel, baptizing converts and organizing a branch of the church were not enough to keep him busy, Willard did some of the most detailed research into Book of Mormon geography that had been done up to that point in the church. With his co-author Cecil McGavin, he published the book “The Geography of the Book of Mormon”.

Wayne May, creator and publisher of Ancient American magazine, credits Willard Bean’s research with sparking his own interest in Book of Mormon lands in North America.

In this short video, Wayne talks with Lori Bean Henderson, a granddaughter of Willard and Rebecca. (4:13)

Watch for more information about Willard and Rebecca Bean here on Joseph Knew. We will keep you up to date on the publication of Willard’s books.

Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

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

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CastleGate-Nedia---Geography-of-the-Book-of-Mormon

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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DVD front JPG for other usesA 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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 Ancient-American-cover

Wayne May’s Ancient American magazine is available here.

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The 1909 Book of Mormon Convention

Joseph-Knew-Brigham-Young-AcademyOn Saturday and Sunday, May 22-23, 1909 a convention was held at College Hall on the campus of Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah. The subject of the convention was The Book of Mormon. Lecture topics ranged from the proper pronunciation of Book of Mormon Names to the Location of Zarahemla and the River Sidon. Because the Book of Mormon is not a book about geography, there are many differing opinions about where cities were or where things took place. It was no different in 1909 at the convention. The Deseret News reported that throughout the two days President Joseph F. Smith had to remind those in attendance to calm down when debates got a little heated.

Joseph-Knew-Joseph-F-SmithIn his opening remarks, President Smith introduced their objective. He said the purpose of the convention was to consider the Book of Mormon and the people to whom it gave a history, and the lands to which it refers. The convention was not organized to discuss the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. That, he said, had been accepted when we accepted the divine mission of Joseph Smith and the testimony of the witnesses to the book.

President Smith reminded those attending the convention that where things took place in the Book of Mormon was certainly of interest; it was not of vital importance. He advised against placing the same level of importance on Book of Mormon geography as on gospel principles.

From the lectures that were presented at that Book of Mormon convention, it is clear that not only has there always been great interest in Book of Mormon geography, but there have also been great debates between the various schools of thought.

Joseph-Knew-James-E-TalmageElder James E. Talmage, who studied chemistry and geology at Lehigh University and Johns Hopkins University, presented what he called Internal Evidence of the Book of Mormon. His lecture dealt with the various writing styles found in the book, which he and others believed confirmed the idea that the book was written by several different people in different places and at different times.

Lectures were presented arguing that the city of Zarahemla was located in various places from Venezuala to Honduras to North America.

Proposals were given for the River Sidon being in Central America, South America and North America.

Joseph-Knew-BH-RobertsElder B. H. Roberts took issue with those at the convention who believed the destruction and changes in the land at the time of the crucifixion were minimal. Elder Orson F. Whitney, who had served as assistant Church Historian from 1899 to 1906 concurred with Roberts and presented evidence of great destruction.

It seems the only thing that everyone could agree on was a pronunciation guideline for Book of Mormon names. That information was shared by Elder Charles W. Penrose and, on motion of Professor J. B. Keeler, was adopted by the committee. That pronunciation guide can be found at the end of this article.

At the conclusion of the convention, President Joseph F. Smith again cautioned those in attendance to avoid making the geography of the Book of Mormon of equal importance with the doctrine contained in the book.

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. More important than knowing where the resurrected Christ visited with the Nephites is knowing who Jesus Christ was, what he taught, and what his resurrection means for each of us.

Although we at Joseph Knew believe that North America was the Promised Land where Lehi and his family disembarked, and although we believe there was only one Cumorah where both the Jaredites and the Nephites perished, we will always be respectful of other opinions. We may strongly disagree with another viewpoint, and we may present evidence and facts that contradict that viewpoint, but that does not mean we don’t respect the view and the thought and research that went into it. We believe it is through mutual respect and the sharing of ideas that we can gain greater understanding of the Book of Mormon, its lands and people.

The goal at Joseph Knew is, as President Joseph F. Smith told conventioneers in 1909, to consider the Book of Mormon and the people to whom it gives a history, and the lands to which it refers. We are not here to discuss the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. That was accepted when we accepted the divine mission of Joseph Smith and the testimony of the witnesses to the book.

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Joseph-Knew-Book-of-Mormon-Pronunciation-Guide

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Two Cumorahs?

If one subscribes to the theory that events in the Book of Mormon took place in Central and/or South America, then one automatically subscribes to the theory that there were two Hill Cumorahs. One in Central America where the great finals battles took place, and another some 5,000 miles away in New York to where Moroni traveled for the sole purpose of depositing the plates.

In his April, 1953 General Conference address, Apostle Mark E. Peterson said:

“I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central America and the other one up in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates.”

There are two common arguments Mesoamerica proponents present:

The hill in New York is too small.

In the sixth chapter of Mormon, Mormon describes the battle which took place in the “land of Cumorah”. In verses 11-14 he lists 13 leaders whose ten thousands had fallen. In the next verse he mentions ten other un-named leaders, each with ten thousand. Some proponents of a Mesoamerica Cumorah argue that the Hill in New York is too small to support a battle between 230,000 people and their enemies.

Mormon does not say the battle took place on the hill. He only says they pitched their tents around the hill. The only mention of being on the hill is in verse 11 when he climbs to the top of the hill, “when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps”. It was from the top of the hill he viewed the carnage below him around the hill. This might suggest the hill was so small that Mormon had to wait for the Lamanites to leave the area, and “return to their camps”, before he could climb to the top without being seen.

Nothing in the text indicates that the battle took place on the hill or even adjacent to the hill where the Nephites pitched their tents. But even if the fighting did take place right next to the hill, there is plenty of room for 230,000 people and their enemies to do battle. Today 8,000 chairs are set up in one small space at the northwest corner of the hill for the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant.

The Climate in North America is wrong.

Some proponents of Mesoamerica argue that because there is no mention of Book of Mormon people experiencing snow, Upstate New York is ruled out as a possible location for the final battle. It’s cold in the Rochester and Buffalo areas, and the Book of Mormon writers don’t mention experiencing snow or even winter. Therefore, there must have been no winter.

Although the words winter, spring, summer and autumn are not mentioned, we do know there were seasons.

“And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate—“ (Alma 46:40)

We also know that temperatures varied.

“And it came to pass that when the night had come, Teancum and his servant stole forth and went out by night, and went into the camp of Amalickiah; and behold, sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day.” (Alma 51:33)

This single verse in Alma and the fact that the Lamanites came to battle wearing nothing but a loin cloth have caused many to believe Book of Mormon lands must have been tropical.

In July, 1609 French explorer Samuel de Champlain joined a war party at the borders of Vermont and New York. Below is his sketch depicting the Mohawk warriors doing battle completely naked. Clearly it was warm enough to do battle dressed in little or nothing at all.

JosephKnew-Samuel-de-Champlain-sketch

One might agree that July in New York could be loincloth weather, but if, as the Book of Mormon tells us, the battle took place on the last day of the Nephite year it would be too cold for such clothing, or lack of it.

The question we need to ask is whether or not the Nephites used the Gregorian calendar we use today. Because they were Jews who came to the Promised Land in 600 BC, it is logical they would not be using the Gregorian calendar. The book of 3 Nephi gives us insight into how their calendar was laid out.

Speaking of the great storm and destruction that accompanied the death of Christ, it reads:

“And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.” (3 Nephi 8:5)

We know that Christ died in April on our calendar. That establishes our April as the first month of the Nephite calendar. If the battle took place the last day of the Nephite year, that puts it some time in April. Looking at recorded temperatures for mid April in Upstate New York of the past 100 years, we find that temperatures in the 80s are not uncommon.

Arguments for the New York Hill

Some argue that Moroni’s reference to the New York hill as Cumorah was a typonym in the same way the people in the British colonies of North America named locations after places in their homeland, examples being New York, New Jersey, New England. Other examples of naming places in honor of someplace else are Bethlehem, PA or Bethesda, MA. There is an important difference here with the Hill Cumorah. British colonists knew that New York was not the same place as York in England. Joseph Smith believed the Hill in New York to be the Hill Cumorah from the Book of Mormon and Moroni never corrected that assumption.

Another good argument is that it is a hill. Unlike Cerro el Vigia, one proposed hill in Mexico, the New York hill rises 220-230 feet from base to top. Cerro el Vidia stands 2,700 feet from base to top. A “hill” of 2,700 feet is a mountain and surely would have been described as such by Mormon.

The “land of Cumorah”, is described as “a land of many waters, rivers and fountains”. The area around the Hill Cumorah certainly fits that description. New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio are home to nearly 400 lakes including the Great Lakes.

In their 1949 book, “The Geography of the Book of Mormon”, Willard Bean and E. Cecil McGavin propose the Finger Lakes area of New York as the Land of Many Waters. Below is an image from their book. We have added a red dot to indicate where the Hill Cumorah is located on this map.

JosephKnew-Land-of-Many-Waters-with-red-dot

 

There are many strong arguments for the hill in New York being the Hill Cumorah, but the strongest of these arguments is that Moroni himself said it was.

Copyright © 2014 by Energy Media Works LLC

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

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Additional information:

For more information about the Nephite calendar, see Rod Meldrum’s book, “The Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland”.

For more information about Moroni and the Hill Cumorah, see the Joseph Knew article “They Wrote the Book”.

For information about the evidence of wars in the Great Lakes area, see the Joseph Knew article “Giants in the Land”.

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Cumorah photo, 1907 by George Edward Anderson