It is wonderfully fortunate that there are millions of us members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have firm testimonies that The Book of Mormon is a book sent to us by God. It has been canonized, which means that it has been officially accepted by the General Authorities and members as being a true book of scripture, “another testament of Jesus Christ,” and it is numbered among the four “Standard Works” which form the foundation and basis for our Church’s doctrines and beliefs.  The Book of Mormon has blessed the lives of millions of Latter-day Saints, and their belief in its truthfulness and validity is a keystone to their personal “testimonies.”

Joseph Smith Jr.’s Essential Role in Bringing Forth the Book

As active and faithful Latter-day Saints, we also accept as truth the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, including his account of the repeated visits of an angel, Moroni, who told him of a book inscribed on metal plates that were buried in a hill near Manchester, New York—several miles from his home. The record of Moroni’s repeated appearances to young Joseph, in which his heavenly visitor told him where the plates were located and guided him to uncover them and eventually extract them and translate them, has also been canonized, and now is identified as Joseph Smith-History, 1:46-60.

Erroneous Attempts to Identify the Book of Mormon’s Geographical Locations

When The Book of Mormon began to be circulated, many attempted to identify the geographical locations of actual Book of Mormon lands and events. Soon it was a situation of many people choosing particular locales and then futilely cramming the book’s descriptions into those locations—like “hammering round pegs into square holes.”  Numerous assorted places in both North and South America have been proposed. 

US Great Lakes, or Central American Areas?

During the last several decades, opinions concerning Book of Mormon geography locations have centered on two viewpoints: that the Book of Mormon happenings mainly took place in (1) the northern United States, primarily in the US Great Lakes areas, or (2) in southern Mexico and Guatemala. 

The “Two Cumorahs” Solution? 

During the recent half-century, the concept of “two Cumorahs has arisen: that (1) the actual Book of Mormon events took place in Central America (southern Mexico and Guatemala), but (2) the Book of Mormon’s gold plates were somehow transferred from southern Mexico to a small hill near Manchester, New York. There, young Joseph Smith Jr., guided by a resurrected angel, Moroni, unearthed them. 

A New Evidences Approach: Examining Areas’ Actual Geographical Characteristics

But as I examine the “evidences” being cited to support many assorted views, I’ve realized that the most significant evidences for determining where or where not things took place don’t lie in the often-cited “he saids,” but in actual geographical realities. So, in support of the Central American-area scholars, I’m presenting several powerful specific geography-based insights over the next few weeks that I believe show the ancient Book of Mormon happenings—comparing their scriptural settings with their necessary present-day geographies and histories.