Question: How well does the geography of the Old World match the Book of Mormon?

Table of Contents

Question: How well does the geography of the Old World match the Book of Mormon?

A discussion of the Arabian, or Old World, geography of the Book of Mormon enjoys many advantages over discussion of New World matters

A discussion of the Arabian, or Old World, geography of the Book of Mormon enjoys many advantages over discussion of New World matters. Chief among these is the fact that we know we certainty where the story begins—in Old World Jerusalem.

The details of Lehi's desert travels had been extracted from the text by the 1970s.[1] It is important to note how early these models were developed; current-day critics sometimes charge that LDS scholars have "retrofitted" their models to accommodate chance discoveries like "Nahom," but this is false.[2]

There is simply no way that Joseph could have obtained enough information about Arabia to fabricate more than a minute fraction of the voyage described in First Nephi

By describing in such precise detail a fertile Arabian coastal location, as well as the route to get there from Jerusalem (complete with directions and even a place-name en route), Joseph Smith put his prophetic credibility very much on the line. Could this young, untraveled farmer in rural New York somehow have known about a fertile site on the coast of Arabia? Could a map or some writing other than the Nephite record have been a source for him? The answer is a clear no. Long after the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon, maps of Arabia continued to show the eastern coastline and interior as unknown, unexplored territory. In fact, until the advent of satellite mapping in recent decades, even quite modern maps have misplaced toponyms and ignored or distorted major features of the terrain.[3]

There is simply no way that Joseph could have obtained enough information about Arabia to fabricate more than a minute fraction of the travels described in First Nephi.

Notes

  1. See Lynn M. Hilton and Hope Hilton, In Search of Lehi's Trail (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976). ISBN 0877476306. Also published in Ensign 6 (September 1976): off-site and (October 1976): off-site.
  2. On-line resource which explores Jerald and Sandra Tanner's efforts to dismiss Book of Mormon old world geography "hits" is available here.
  3. Warren P. Aston and Michaela Knoth Aston, In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi's Journey across Arabia to Bountiful (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994), 29. ISBN 0875798470