Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Book of Mormon geography in one chart

People often ask for a simple explanation of Book of Mormon geography. 

Here's a summary of the entire debate in one graphic. Those who accept the Book of Mormon as an actual history of real people also accept one of these two assumptions. Then they rationalize their choice (confirm their biases) accordingly. 

It's very simple.

Of course, it's not only Oliver Cowdery who was wrong or correct. The New York Cumorah has been taught by every prophet/apostle who has addressed the topic of Cumorah. But Oliver takes the blame/credit for putting it into print (even though historical evidence shows Joseph taught it even before he got the plates, which he means he learned about Cumorah from Moroni.)

Book of Mormon Central (BMC) and the rest of the M2C citation cartel assume Oliver was wrong, and everything they produce flows from their obsession with offering evidence to oppose what Oliver taught. Their employees and followers amplify the message. 

BMC employees know perfectly well that M2C is based on the assumption the prophets were wrong and have misled the Church. You can see them on the Internet trying try to justify their position. As good employees, they promote the BMC message and pretend their M2C theory is "evidence driven." Some of them may actually believe that, but everyone outside their M2C bubble recognizes bias confirmation when we see it. Not only because M2C repudiates the prophets, but because M2C relies on a series of logical and factual fallacies. 

Many of the followers of M2C don't (yet) realize that their beliefs are based on this simple assumption, but more and more are learning the facts.

Those of us who assume Oliver was correct offer equivalent evidence to support what Oliver has taught. 

We think it's more useful to find and share evidence that corroborates what the prophets have taught than to find and share evidence that repudiates what the prophets have taught.

The question about Book of Mormon geography boils down to this: Which assumption do you accept?

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Awesome JSP comparison site for different editions

There's an excellent resource in the Joseph Smith Papers for anyone who wants to compare different editions of the Book of Mormon, including the Original and Printer's Manuscripts. 


The links to the Original Manuscript are not live yet because the physical book was published recently, but if you get the book you can find the references.

Eventually they will put the Original Manuscript material online so everyone can see it.

This is the type of resource that makes the Joseph Smith Papers so invaluable. Great work!


The next step, hopefully, will be translating this material so people who don't read English can appreciate it. That will be a long ways in the future.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Original Manuscript - Joseph Smith Papers

Yesterday I purchased Volume 5 of the Revelations and Translations series of the Joseph Smith Papers. It focuses on the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon.

Apparently they have only printed around 1,400 copies. If you're in Salt Lake City, they have them at the main Deseret Bookstore downtown.

It's a beautiful book. When I wrote A Man that Can Translate, Infinite Goodness, and Between these Hills, I had to rely on Royal Skousen's excellent transcript of the Original Manuscript. Now the same information is available for everyone to see right on the facsimiles of the extant pages of the Original Manuscript.

But there is a big problem with this book.

It is full-on M2C. [M2C = Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory]

This is no surprise, given that the editors are Royal Skousen and Robin Scott Jensen, both of whom are devoted members of the M2C citation cartel, but how can a purportedly accurate and comprehensive volume on the Original Manuscript completely censor Cumorah from the story of the Book of Mormon?

Such revisionist history is inexcusable.

This is a huge disappointment that will continue to mislead faithful Latter-day Saints and serious scholars for generations.

While the JSP editors could correct the content for the web page, these printed volumes obviously cannot be changed. And, based on past experience, the JSP editors have not been inclined to correct such errors anyway. After all, they have deliberated about the content of these books for a long time.


Here's the first sentence in the Introduction:

In the earliest hours of 22 September 1827, Joseph Smith left his parents' home in Manchester, New York, with his wife Emma and traveled a few miles to a nearby hill.1

Note 1. Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 105.

You can see the cited page in Lucy's History here: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1845/112

The earlier version of Lucy's history is here: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/60

The passage says nothing about where Joseph and Emma went that night, let alone that they "traveled a few miles to a nearby hill." An accurate footnote would be placed after "Emma" in this sentence. Instead, the editors misleadingly put it after "nearby hill."

Why would careful editors commit such an obvious error? Perhaps the answer has to do with where we get the information about the "nearby hill" this sentence refers to. 

The phrase "nearby hill" appears nowhere in Lucy's histories, but she did explain the hill was 3 miles from their home and between their home and Manchester. Her explanation supports the idea that the "hill" was "nearby," but the JSP editors never quote or cite these passages because in them, Lucy explicitly identified the hill as Cumorah.

Our M2C scholars cannot tolerate the idea that Latter-day Saints might read the actual history about Cumorah. The JSP editors collaborate with the M2C scholars to accommodate M2C by cleverly employing terminology that is not in the historical record and avoiding quotations of (or even citations to) the actual record.

Just as they censored the New York Cumorah from the Saints books, they're censoring it even from the Joseph Smith Papers. 


Lucy described the proximity of the hill in the passage that the M2C scholars refuse to quote or cite, but we can all read it right in Lucy's own history when she related what Moroni told Joseph during his first visit:

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


We see from Lucy's account that Cumorah was only 3 miles from the Smith home, which can reasonably be described as "nearby." But others might think "nearby" connotes a distance much less than 3 miles. Why use the ambiguous term "nearby" when we have an actual historical account of the distance? And why not cite Lucy's specific statement instead of citing a passage that doesn't even mention the hill? 

If you go to that link, you'll see that the JSP editors have lined this passage out of the transcript, even though we can all see it is not lined out on the original manuscript. An accurate transcript could show the blue marks that the editors apparently assumed were equivalent to a line-out. Instead, they imposed their editorial line-out.

Another passage from Lucy about the "hill" shows its proximity to the home, but the JSP editors never quote or cite this one, either. 

Lucy related that one day in early 1827, Joseph went to Manchester on an errand. He was late coming home. He explained that he had received a severe chastisement. His father became angry and wanted to know which of the neighbors was involved. Joseph replied (and Lucy put this in quotations):

“Stop, father, Stop.” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord— as I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to <​be​> brought forth...


We see from Lucy's account that Joseph and his family already knew the name of the hill before he even translated the plates, and that the hill was located between Manchester and the family home. This account corroborates what Moroni told Joseph; i.e., that the hill Cumorah was 3 miles from the Smith home. 

Again, we have to ask the JSP editors omit these informative, relevant and authentic historical accounts instead of presenting their own theories as fact.


The second sentence is just as disingenuous. 

He later recounted that while at the hill, he unearthed a set of "plates of gold," whose existence had been revealed to him four years earlier by an angel.

If you search the Joseph Smith Papers for the phrase "plates of gold," you get 12 results.


Not one of these mentions a hill: 

He told me also of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited. 

After being warned several times, he went to the spot and found the record engraved on leaves or plates of gold fastened together by rings passing through one edge of all the leaves

he revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester Ontario County N. Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni his fathers the servants of the living God

he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham

He told me also of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited. He said to me the Indians were the literal decendants of Abraham.

To learn the plates were deposited in a hill, we have to go to Lucy Mack Smith, but the JSP editors won't tell readers that because Lucy explained the hill was called Cumorah by Moroni himself. Instead, they refer to the hill and quote "plates of gold" as if the same source provided both elements.

To be sure, Lucy's 1845 history includes an insertion from the 1842 Times and Seasons that refers to a hill of considerable size "Convenient to the village of Manchester..." But "convenient" does not mean "nearby." We rely on Lucy's accounts, as well as Letter VII, to learn that the hill was actually nearby. But the JSP editors won't explain their sources to their readers.

Readers should also know that the 1842 Times and Seasons account was composed by Joseph's scribes several years after Letter VII had already established that the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is the same hill where Joseph found the plates. Letter VII was republished in the 1841 Times and Seasons as well so that readers of the 1842 Times and Seasons already knew the hill that was "convenient to the village of Manchester" was named Cumorah anciently.

Because of this misdirection by the JSP editors, even "engaged learners" who read this volume 5 of the Joseph Smith Papers are kept in the dark about all of this actual history.


Later on this same page, we read, "Within two and a half years of obtaining them, he had produced a manuscript and published the Book of Mormon an account of ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere."

This is outrageous revisionist history that should have no place in a historical volume. When the editors engage in editorializing instead of presenting accurate history, they should clearly explain what (and why) they are doing.

"Western hemisphere" is a modern construct. It has been applied to Church history to obfuscate the actual accounts and to accommodate the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. 

If you search the Joseph Smith Papers for the term "western hemisphere," you'll see that there are zero historical documents related to the Book of Mormon that use this term.


Instead, we find the JSP editors editorializing:

Moroni, Smith was to learn, was the last in a long line of prophets in the Western Hemisphere who had written their story, just as the prophets in Palestine had written the Bible.

In his description of the Book of Mormon, Orson Pratt superimposed his understanding of Book of Mormon geography onto the Western Hemisphere by placing the Nephites in South America and the Jaredites in North America.

The actual history, which the JSP editors never quote or cite out of deference to M2C, is far more specific:

I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came... The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. 


See also https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/latter-day-saints-1844/3

He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham.... He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.


As faithful Latter-day Saints, we should be able to rely on the JSP editors to give us accurate Church history, not their revisionist opinions dressed up as facts.


There are additional examples of this historical revisionism in this volume 5, just as there have been in other volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers.

We have to wonder what it will take to root out M2C from Church history. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

M2C and coming clean

Yesterday the Wall St. Journal published an article titled "The Media Stonewalls on the Steele Dossier: News companies are even more reluctant than other businesses to come clean about their misbehavior."


The article pointed out how media people do not hold themselves to the same standard to which they hold others. Excerpt:

‘Why don’t they just fess up and say they’re sorry?” That is the question journalists have asked about the corporate and institutional clients of my crisis-management business. It’s a question media companies should be asking themselves amid the implosion of the Steele dossier. Here we are, a few weeks after the dossier was discredited, and no one has paid a price.

Having had media companies as clients, I’ve found that when they’re under fire, they behave no differently from chemical or drug companies. Why? Because they don’t see coming clean as being in their self-interest.

Among other things, the truth can tarnish the brand and jam them up in court. So they often deny, stonewall, close ranks, and attack their critics. Two things media companies have that other businesses don’t is the ability to deliver news instantly and the mantle of moral authority.

The crisis confronting the news media post-dossier is rooted in disinformation....

The reluctance to correct course is often justified with the logic: Well, our hearts were in the right place...


We see a similar situation with the M2C citation cartel, consisting of Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, FairLatterdaySaints, and, until recently, BYU Studies.

The people in the M2C citation cartel all know they have been promoting M2C while censoring and attacking alternative faithful interpretations of the Book of Mormon.  

However, like the media companies that pushed the fake Steele dossier and the Russian collusion hoax for years, the M2C citation cartel does not see coming clean as being in their self-interest.

Also like the media companies, they know the truth can tarnish their brands. Imagine having taught and promoted M2C for decades and then having to confess that you had deliberately suppressed the truth about what the prophets had taught about the New York Cumorah? Their brand--their self-appointed expertise about the Book of Mormon--would be tarnished for a long, long time.

As the article said, the M2C citation cartel instead denies, stonewalls, closes ranks, and attacks their critics. 

Because of their privileged positions at BYU, primarily, the M2C citation cartel controls LDS intellectual life and has the "mantle of moral authority." They even claim they've been hired by the prophets to guide the Latter-day Saints, so that criticism of their theories constitutes criticism of Church leaders.


Every Latter-day Saint seeks to be an "engaged learner" and not a "lazy learner." We don't want someone to tell us what to think. We want to study the scriptures ourselves, along with the teachings of the prophets. 

Unless we're lazy, we don't allow the credentialed class to promote their own theories, especially when they tell us that the prophets are wrong.