BOOK OF MORMON
Let's read more about Book of Mormon Geography.
CES LETTER CLAIM
The first map is the “proposed map,” constructed from internal comparisons in the Book of Mormon.
CES Letter, Page 13
Vernal Holley's maps are a VERY weak attempt to tie them to Book of Mormon lands. Even Jeremy Runnells admits this.
Holley's theories are only one of many and have been discredited due to their many inconsistencies with the Book of Mormon descriptions.
Multiple errors in the the maps printed in The CES Letter can be identified.
They place Jacobugath, site of "King Jacob's" dissenters far in the land southward, when the Book of Mormon has it far in the land northward (3 Nephi 7:9-12; see also 3 Nephi 9:9).
They place the land of first inheritance [land of Lehi-Nephi] on the eastern coast of the United States, while the Book of Mormon is clear that Lehi and his group landed on the western coast.
The City of Morianton should be by the eastern seashore, near the city of Lehi (Alma 50:25); Holley places it near the "sea west," not the sea east.
"Ramah" is the Jaredite name for the Hill Cumorah (Ether 15:11). Yet, The CES Letter places it in Ontario, not anywhere near New York and the hill where Joseph retrieved the plates.
"Kishkumen" is mentioned only in 3 Nephi 9:10; there is not enough information to place it on a map. Yet, it is included based on the correlation which the author of The CES Letter wishes to prove.
"Shurr" is a Jaredite name mentioned in only one place (Ether 14:28). Shurr should be near the eastern seashore (Ether 14:26), but it is nowhere near the map's "sea east."
For a more detailed analysis of the problems with the maps in The CES Letter, click here.
CES LETTER CLAIM
We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas.
CES Letter, Page 14
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)."
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 CLAIM
Vernal Holley List
|MODERN GEOGRAPHIC PLACE||BOOK OF MORMON NAME|
|Alma||Alma, Valley of|
|Antioch (far better known as a Biblical location)||Ani-Anti|
|Boaz (far better known as a Biblical location)||Boaz|
|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|
|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 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|
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?
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.
CES LETTER CLAIM
Off the eastern coast of Mozambique in Africa is an island country called “Comoros.” Prior to its French occupation in 1841, the islands were known by its Arabic name, “Camora.” There is an 1808 map of Africa that refers to the islands as “Camora.”
In fact, the uniform spelling for Hill Cumorah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon is spelled “Camorah.”
CES Letter, Page __
The allegation that Joseph Smith read of Captain Kidd, learned of “Comora” and “Moroni,” and implemented those names in the Book of Mormon is poorly reasoned and poorly documented.
Pomeroy Tucker claimed Joseph was an avid reader and had access to numerous “dime novels” about pirates and Captain Kidd. Dime novels did not appear until the 1860s. Multiple observations from Tucker’s writings verify that he was highly biased and unreliable.
Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, recalled that he was "much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of the children." There is no reliable evidence Joseph Smith ever read a book that mentioned Captain Kidd.
The primary published source for stories about Captain Kidd was Charles Johnson's 1724 book A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates. However, a computerized search of it fails to identify the words Moroni, Cumorah, Comora, Camora, Comoros, Camorah, or Comorah. Alleging that learning about Captain Kidd would automatically expose a reader to the words Comoros, Comora, or Moroni is unsupported.
The map provided in The CES Letter contains hundreds of place names. “Comoros,” a remote little island off the coast of Africa, is found on the map in small print, but “Moroni” is not.
The largest town on Comoros was named “Moroni” or “Mūrūnī” in Arabic. The name would only have been included on a regional map, which were nonexistent or much rarer in upstate New York in the 1820s.
There is no evidence that Joseph ever saw a map of Africa, let alone a map with such detailed names of islands and towns.
If Joseph Smith were to borrow or plagiarize names from a map like the 1808 African map shown in The CES Letter, it is strange that only one of hundreds was used.
CES LETTER CLAIM
Joseph ... had learned to read comprehensively ... [reading] works of fiction and records of criminality, such for instance as would be classed with the ‘dime novels’ of the present day. The stories of Stephen Buroughs and Captain Kidd, and the like, presented the highest charms for his expanding mental perceptions
Some apologists say that Tucker’s Mormonism: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress is “anti- Mormon” and thus anything in the book cannot be trusted. If this is true, why then did LDS scholar and Church History compiler B.H. Roberts quote Tucker for background information on Joseph Smith? Also, FairMormon has an article in which they quote Tucker’s book 4 times as support for Joseph, and they even refer to Tucker as an “eyewitness” to Joseph and his family. Is Tucker’s peripheral information only useful and accurate when it shows Joseph and the Church in a positive and favorable light?
We are sorry to observe, even in this enlightened age, so prevalent a disposition to credit the accounts of the marvellous. Even the frightful stories of money being hid under the surface of the earth, and enchanted by the Devil or Robert Kidd [Captain Kidd], are received by many of our respectable fellow citizens as truths.
Notice that this is considered “prevalent” and “received by many of our respectable fellow citizens as truths.” The above contemporary newspaper quote from Palmyra, New York, in 1825 was not tainted by any desire to damage Joseph Smith. This article provides a snapshot of the worldview of 1825 New England.
The Hill Cumorah and Moroni have absolutely nothing to do with Camora and Moroni from Captain Kidd stories? Stories that Joseph and his treasure hunting family, friends, and community were familiar with? The original 1830 Book of Mormon just happens to have the uniform “Camorah” spelling? This is all just a mere coincidence?
CES Letter, Page __
Pomeroy Tucker was highly biased, making claims beyond what his experience and informants could actually document.
The CES Letter quotes an 1867 publication by Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, rise, and progress of Mormonism, saying that because the author was born in 1802, “He is considered to be a contemporary source.” This is untrue since it was not printed until twenty-three years after the Prophet’s death and decades more after the described activities occurred.
To justify using this source, The CES Letter explains: “FairMormon has an article where they quoted Tucker 4 times from his book as support for Joseph and even referred to Tucker as an ‘eye witness’ to Joseph and his family.” This is deceptive because the author, Craig Ray, in his article: "Joseph Smith's History Confirmed," references Tucker four times only to establish a timeline for event in the 1810s. None of his other claims are treated as credible and multiple observations indicated he was highly biased and not reliable.
For example, Tucker wrote that Joseph Smith’s polygamous “children could not be enumerated with any degree of accuracy.” (Pomeroy Tucker, The Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism [New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1867], 171). While two or three children can be documented having been born to the Prophet’s plural wives (click here), no person even remotely associated with the Latter-day Saints during the latter periods could have accurately made any such estimate. This statement demonstrates that Tucker was capable of over-the-top allegations that were devoid of any connection to reality.
Undeniably, Pomeroy Tucker was an antagonistic author. While his claims should not be dismissed out of hand, a secondary source indicating the Joseph Smith knew about Captain Kidd would be sought by sincere scholars seeking to document the Prophet’s early life's experiences.
The idea that learning about Captain Kidd might have impacted Joseph Smith's involvement with the Book of Mormon might make sense to individuals who have not read it, but the complexity of the Book of Mormon inherently argues against such simplistic "sound bite" analyses.