Question: Has the Church ever promoted a Limited Geography model for the Book of Mormon?

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Question: Has the Church ever promoted a Limited Geography model for the Book of Mormon?

The Church produced materials showing a limited geography for the Book of Mormon in the 1970s and 1980s

Three frames from the Church-produced filmstrip "Ancient America Speaks." This filmstrip was used by missionaries in the late 1970s and early 80s. It clearly showed a Limited Geography for Book of Mormon lands with the "narrow neck" being the Isthmus of Panama.

Has the Church ever promoted a Limited Geography model for the Book of Mormon? The answer to that question is yes. The Church filmstrip "Ancient America Speaks" was heavily used by missionaries in the 1970s. It included a map which indicated that Nephite and Lamanite lands were distinct and separated by the Isthmus of Panama.

In September and October of 1984, the official Church magazine the Ensign printed a two-part series which outlined the limited geography model for the Book of Mormon. The articles were called "Digging into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and Its Scripture" and were written by Latter-day Saint anthropologist John L. Sorenson. Sorenson notes:

Many Latter-day Saints have not had access to sources which communicate how recent research has changed our understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient document. Many also are unaware of some rather surprising new discoveries supporting the Book of Mormon which have been brought about by the advanced methods of science. The purpose of this article and the one to follow is to sketch a few vivid examples of changes in how some Latter-day Saint scholars view the Book of Mormon in the light of new theories and discoveries about the past. These articles are not intended to be an expression of official Church teachings, but on the basis of my own research and study, I have thought this new information to be worth consideration. [1]

Notes

  1. John L. Sorenson, "Digging into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and Its Scripture" (Part 1), Ensign (September 1984) off-site