Scriptural Geography is Important

BY T.F. STERN

I’ve been reading essays and books which claim to have insight regarding the geography associated with the Book of Mormon.  I’m well aware of the Church’s policy which basically says, “You’re on your own in figuring out where all these events happened; but be assured they happened somewhere between Canada and the southern tip of South America”.

But what about the Hill Cumorah, the location in up-state New York where Joseph Smith Jr. was directed by the Angel Moroni to find the sacred plates containing the Book of Mormon?  Yes, the Church has agreed that the Hill Cumorah, the one where the plates were recovered; that specific location is known…but as to other locations, “You’re on your own in figuring out where all these events happened; but be assured they happened somewhere between Canada and the southern tip of South America”.

This is a real shame.  If you’re keeping up with some of the intellectual type folks, then not even the Hill Cumorah’s location is a certainty.  To the contrary, some folks would have us believe the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. must have been mistaken, the Hill Cumorah must be somewhere in Central or South America.  These same intellectuals have made it a point to discredit or remove references Joseph Smith Jr. made as to actual locations in North America where the Book of Mormon might have taken place.

Having read statements given by Joseph Smith Jr. as to his ‘feelings’ while visiting many sites in North America it would seem the Church actually does have relevant information; but has chosen not to validate the words of the Prophet.  It doesn’t make sense to me, and probably many others, why the leaders of the Church, those with the Keys of Authority to speak for the entire Church…why wouldn’t they want to make a bold statement as pertains to the geography associated with the Book of Mormon? 

I watched the movie,  Exodus , the other night and the topic of biblical geography was put front and center.  There in the Middle East is a piece of land which is sacred to Christians, Jews and Moslems, enough that they are willing to die proving it belongs to them, and them alone.

The movie showed a panoramic view of Israel as the lead character pointed out various locations, “Over there is Mt. Tabor…”, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley where the prophetess Deborah summoned 10,000 men under the leadership of Barack.  This army then defeated the Canaanites and took control of the valley.  Mt. Tabor is claimed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It’s a real location, one that you and I can visit, walk upon and touch.

That biblical geography happened in a moment while the movie progressed and yet, to the viewer, made an indelible mark, a vicarious link to important events of the past.  There, in the rocks of Israel, now as in the past, individuals sorted out their faith in God; but that ground exists, not as some imagined location in the Middle East to be determined among an infinite possibility of locations.

I have some history books in my personal library; gifts from over the years.  One of my favorites, The Declaration of Independence, The Story Behind America’s Founding Document and the Men Who Created It.  The compiler/author, Rod Gragg, included a teaser on the cover of the book, one which captured my attention, “A Museum In A Book”.

While turning the pages, pages which contain an accurate and concise rendering of historical facts leading up to the creation of this phenomenal document, the reader is treated to small recreations of artifacts which are carefully displayed within clear envelopes.  These ‘artifacts’ are photocopies of actual documents, images and illustrations which can be held and examined, as if they were the actual documents, images and illustrations made during that time period.

When we can handle a piece of history, never mind that it’s a recreation of the original, our minds are more able to grasp the importance of history.

My trip to Nauvoo last year was more than a site seeing adventure.  It was a chance to stand where others of my faith stood; but beyond that…wasn’t the site of Nauvoo just across the Mississippi River from where Zarahemla was supposed to have been in the Book of Mormon? 

I believe it to be so; but isn’t it time for the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to respectfully ask the Lord for permission to disclose the exact locations that are found within the text of the Book of Mormon? 


t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.