August 7, 2008

Larry Poulsen: Convergences in Book of Mormon Geography

The fact that a map of Palestine shows a road to Emmaus says nothing about whether Jesus really appeared to disciples there. But when we read about it we can believe they were real people in a real place. This concept applies to the Book of Mormon. Still, as Poulsen said, "It would be nice to have a map." The Church has stated there is no revealed authority on the location of the Book of Mormon geography. John Sorenson and others have given a reasonable idea, however. Poulsen differs in his interpretation but still posits a Mesoamerican limited geography theory.

During evening conversations, Joseph would give amusing recitals about the inhabitants of the continent, Lucy Mack Smith explained in her history. Poulsen emphasized that JS's family was very interested in the BoM.

Members of the Church began seeing everything published about the pre-Columbian history as evidence for, while the critics saw it all as evidence against.

May 1834 Zelph story.
Used by many to support a N. American geography. BYU Studies 29:2 article shows that the incident is much more complex, there were various opinions on what was said, but every one agreed that it was proof of the BoM.

John L. Stevens published a book called Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chipas, and Yucatan. Berheisel sent JS a copy of the book. JS then said he read the volumes with the greatest interest and said it was very good. John Taylor proposed that many of the locations in the book were those in the BoM.

He does not want to discuss the various models, but merely show some of the convergences between ancient cultural concepts including geography and the Book of Mormon.

William G. Dever: When two sources converge they create a "dictum."

Convergence between geography and the Book of Mormon story is a neccessary factor in understanding particular aspects of the book, such as in the exploration, warfare, etc.

Directional Concepts

Directions=Current/Map oriented=Ancient view
Up and down=north and sounth=up hill and down hill
East=East on map=Where sun rises
West=West on a map=Where sun sets
North=North on map=to suns right
South=South on map=to suns left
Quarters of land=based on latitude and longitude=

Poulsen showed a 3-d view of geography in the mind of Mesoamericans, and also placed a compass of our concept over that of a Mesoamerican concept showing the narrow concept of east compared to our own concept of east, for example.

There are 378 directional references in the Book of Mormon. The majority of them relate to north and south.

Poulsen shows 3 interesting "convergences" in the Book of Mormon text that fit well with his geography model. I will post some pictures in the future, with the information.

1. Limhi's search party
2. Destruction of Ammonihah
3. Amlicite battle

Remainder and maps forthcoming. 

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