Monday, May 16, 2022

Cumorah circa 2022

Last year, plans to change the infrastructure at the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York, were announced. By now they've done much of the restoration work at the Hill Cumorah, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

One significant development is the new historical marker, which clearly establishes that in D&C 128:20 ("Glad tidings from Cumorah!"), Joseph Smith was referring to the Hill Cumorah in New York.

While this should be obvious from the context of D&C 128, some M2C* scholars have been trying to persuade people that Joseph was referring to a hill in Mesoamerica, or that he had inexplicably adopted a false tradition about the hill in New York being the actual Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6.

Those familiar with Church history, however, know that Joseph learned the name of the hill Cumorah from Moroni the first time they met, as his mother Lucy Mack Smith related.

"the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place remove the Grass and moss and you will find a large flat stone pry that up and you will find the record under it laying on 4 pillars of cement— then the angel left him"

And, of course, we can all read right in Joseph's own history that it is a fact that the hill in New York is the scene of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites, as Joseph's contemporaries and successors reaffirmed many times.

The changes to the site make it more natural. Most importantly, no longer will they construct a ridiculous Mayan temple in western New York! (They used to build one for the pageant.)

So far, the historical markers still omit the relevant information about Cumorah that anyone can read in the Joseph Smith Papers. We can hope that, eventually, visitors to the Hill Cumorah in New York will be fully informed about actual Church history.

Of course, people are free to reject Church history and the related teachings of the prophets about Cumorah, but how does it help people understand Church history to simply omit and censor this history?

Seems like another big lost opportunity to be open and honest about our history. 

Latter-day Saints can make informed decisions when they learn from the "best books" (such as Joseph's own history and related authentic documents from Church history, as well as the teachings of the prophets) instead of relying on the speculations of M2C scholars.

*M2C means the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory promoted by Book of Mormon Central, FAIRLDS, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, etc. This is the theory that Joseph, Oliver, and all the other prophets who taught that Cumorah was in New York actually misled the Church because (according to the M2C scholars) the "real" Cumorah is in southern Mexico.

For those who wonder about the location of the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6, here's a logical chart to go through:


Mark Burris sent me a few photos, as well as links to some videos.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Mormon Book Reviews giveaway

The excellent Mormon Book Reviews channel on youtube is doing a book giveaway contest tonight. 

This is an awesome channel for many reasons, and a contest is yet another reason to watch!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Book of Mormon online update

If you aren't familiar with it yet, there's an excellent website that features all known editions of the Book of Mormon, here:

I've referred to this site for many years. It is undergoing updates and it seems to work better than ever.

It includes a helpful index of people and places. For example, here is the entry for Cumorah:

One thing I really like about this site is the effort to present multiple working hypotheses about geography. At the Cumorah page, for example, you can see various interpretations including settings in Sri Lanka, Mesoamerica, New York, Heartland, etc.

(click to enlarge)

Users of this site need to be aware that Book of Mormon Central (BMC) funded some of the development. BMC aggressively teaches M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) as the only acceptable geography setting. In its Spanish version, BMC promotes specific M2C geography to its audience, directly contradicting what it tells its English donors about neutrality.

While this site is far more useful and informative than BMC because it makes efforts to follow the Church's position of neutrality about Book of Mormon geography, it unfortunately includes the so-called "Internal" map developed by M2C promoters that is based on their M2C beliefs. This subliminal grooming leads unsuspecting viewers toward the Mesoamerican model. 

(click to enlarge)

An odd omission from the site: there is no discussion of Church history regarding the origins or translation of the Book of Mormon. Maybe that's a future development, but I hope they include references to the original documents in the Joseph Smith Papers instead of the theories of scholars such as the so-called "Internal map." 

There are other odd omissions that, presumably, are merely oversights that will be corrected during development. 

For example, for the Hill Shim, the map omits locations for the New York and Heartland scenarios.

(click to enlarge)

This omission could lead unsuspecting users to conclude that Heartland models do not account for the Hill Shim. 

Hopefully such omissions will be corrected in updates.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Real vs Rumor series

On my historical blog, I'm posting a series on Keith A. Erekson's book, Real vs. Rumor. It's an important book because Erekson, the Director of the Church History Library, effectively explains the challenges of historical research.

Unfortunately, in some instances he perpetuates rumors because of the prevailing traditions. 

We can use the book and Erekson's examples to help us all be more careful in our historical research and analysis.

The series will be posted here:

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Discussion of Letter VII on (Museum of the Book of Mormon) has a discussion of Letter VII here:

When he wrote Letter VII, Oliver Cowdery was Assistant President of the Church. Joseph Smith referred to him as President Cowdery because, as Assistant President, he was a member of the First Presidency and senior to the First and Second Counselors.

Letter VII is President Oliver Cowdery's explanation of not only the fact of the location of the Hill Cumorah described in Mormon 6:6, but also the number of Jaredites and Nephites/Lamanites who died there (far fewer than often assumed). President Cowdery explained that Joseph helped him write these letters. 

Letter VII excerpt (click to enlarge)


"At about one mile west [of the Hill Cumorah in New York] rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed."