Names & Geography in the Book of Mormon

CES Letter Core Question

Did Joseph Smith take the names Teancum and Kishkumen from other places?

We read in the Book of Mormon of the city of Teancum named for a warrior named Teancum who helped General Moroni fight in the Land of Desolation. In Joseph’s era, an Indian Chief named Tecumseh fought and died near the narrow neck of land in helping the British in the War of 1812. Today, the city Tecumseh (near the narrow neck of land) is named after this Chief.

We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas


CES Letter, Page 14

Teancum

Per Mary Ann at Wheatandtares Blog:

"At no point has the word Tenecum been associated with either the historical figure Tecumseh or any locations bearing his name. Tenecum is an old spelling of the island on the Delaware River where Swedish colonists built a fort in 1643. The name was derived by the Lenape name Tin-eek Unk. By Joseph Smith’s time, the standardized spelling Tinicum was used in reference to adjoining townships on the Delaware River in both Bucks County and Delaware County Pennsylvania (see this 1823 gazetteer)."

Kishkumen

This is really stretching here. Kishkiminetas Pennsylvania was over 300 miles away from Joseph Smith and wasn't established until 1876. However, it does show up from a post office guide from 1825.

CES Letter Core Question

"Why are there so many names similar to Book of Mormon names in the region where Joseph Smith lived? Is this all really just a coincidence?"

Vernal Holley List

MODERN GEOGRAPHIC PLACE BOOK OF MORMON NAME
Alma Alma, Valley of
Antrim Antum
Antioch (far better known as a Biblical location) Ani-Anti
Boaz (far better known as a Biblical location) Boaz
Hellam Helam
Jacobsburg Jacobugath
Jerusalem (far better known as a Biblical location) Jerusalem
Jordan (far better known as a Biblical location) Jordan
Kishkiminetas (not found on any 1820s maps of the northeast USA) Kishkumen
Lehigh (far better known as a Biblical location) Lehi
Mantua Manti
Moraviantown (not found on any 1820s maps of the northeast USA) Morianton
Noah Lakes (far better known as a Biblical location) Noah, Land of
Oneida Onidah
Oneida Castle Onidah, Hill
Rama (not found on any 1820s maps of the northeast USA) Ramah
Ripple Lake Ripliancum, Waters of
Sodom (far better known as a Biblical location) Sidom
Shiloh (far better known as a Biblical location) Shilom
Sherbrooke Shurr

Source: Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look, Vernal Holley

Why are there so many names similar to Book of Mormon names in the region where Joseph Smith lived? Is this really all just a coincidence?

UPDATE: Additional information and analysis can be found at cesletter.org/maps

CES Letter, Page 14-15

This is the first of several observations in The CES Letter that present Joseph Smith as a "sponge" who absorbed information from a variety of sources and was thereafter capable of producing the Book of Mormon. Here The CES Letter posits that Joseph borrowed names that he knew or that he had read on maps. However, available historical evidences provide little or no support for the idea that in the years prior to the printing of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith sought information from maps or books or produced texts that might have prepared him to dictate the book length narration. Instead, it appears the Book of Mormon burst forth from his mouth without any evidence that he personally possessed the gifts and experiences that would have allowed its creation from his own mind.

Examining the names in the Book of Mormon reveals many remarkable observations that would not be expected if Joseph Smith simply fabricated them.

The Book of Mormon contains 337 proper names and 21 gentilics (or analogous forms) based on proper names. Included in this count are names that normally would not be called proper, such as kinds of animals. Of these 337 proper names, 188 are unique to the Book of Mormon, while 149 are common to the Book of Mormon and the Bible. If the textual passages common to the Book of Mormon and the Bible are excluded, 53 names occur in both books.

Apart from King James English spellings of biblical names in the Book of Mormon, the letters F, Q, V, W, X, and Y do not appear in transliterated Book of Mormon nouns. The one exception is the /FF/ in ZENIFF and ZIFF. This exception could be explained by an aspirated final /p/.

F only appears singly in one such noun which is familiar from the KJV (LUCIFER), but never begins a proper noun in either Bible or Book of Mormon.

V only appears inside such nouns which are familiar from the KJV (EVE, LEVI).

W only appears inside one such noun which is familiar from the KJV (JEW, JEWS).

Y only appears inside such nouns which are familiar from the KJV (MARY, SYRIA, TIMOTHY).

Q and X do not appear at all, in either the Bible or Book of Mormon.

None of the names that are unique to the Book of Mormon included consonants that do not exist in Hebrew while the stops (plosives) like t or p could be found at the beginnings of names, then they appeared medially or finally after vowels, they were spelled th and ph, respectively.

The Lehite-Mulekite names often show greatest affinity with Semitic languages. For instance, Abish and Abinadi resemble ab, father, names in Hebrew; Alma appears in a Bar Kokhba letter (c. A.D. 130) found in the Judean desert; Mulek could be a diminutive of West Semitic mlk, king; Omni and Limhi appear to have the same morphology as Old Testament Omri and Zimri; Jershon is remarkably close to a noun form of the Hebrew root yrs (see below).

Some Lehite-Mulekite names more closely resemble Egyptian: Ammon, Korihor, Pahoran, and Paanchi.

Jaredite names exhibit no consistently obvious linguistic affinity.

Some Book of Mormon place-names also have good Hebrew etymologies. The city Zarahemla (Omni 1:12, etc.), for example seems to be Hebrew, "seed of compassion." The hill named Cumorah (Mormon 6:2, etc.) is probably Hebrew (*ken:arch) "priesthood," an abstract noun based on the word (korner), "priest."

 Allegations that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon using his own intellect fail to account for these remarkable observations.


See:

Some Notes on Book of Mormon Names

Book of Mormon Onomasticon

Origin of Book of Mormon Names — Stephen Ricks

Origin of Book of Mormon Names (PDF) (2010 FAIR Conference) by Stephen Ricks

Additional Resources:

Book of Mormon Names Attested in Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions –  by John A. Tvedtnes, John Gee, Matthew Roper

What’s in a Name? Book of Mormon Language, Names, and [Metonymic] Naming –  by Gordon C. Thomasson

Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon (PDF) by John A. Tvedtnes

Proper Names in The Book of Mormon, by Stephen Ricks

Notes and Communications: The Hebrew Origin of Some Book of Mormon Place Names –  by Stephen D. Ricks, John A. Tvedtnes

FAIR Issues 55: Do Nephite Names find a “Home” in Middle East, Michael R. Ash, 0:07:54

Faith and Reason 18: Names in The Book of Mormon, Michael R. Ash, 0:16:22

Seeking Agreement on the Meaning of Book of Mormon Names -

The Names Lehi and Sariah—Language and Meaning –  by Jeffrey R. Chadwick