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.
We 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.
There 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)
“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.
We 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.
For more on Cumorah’s Cave we recommended Cameron Packer’s article.
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