Mormon's Internal Map Defined

by Don R. Hender*

Contents & Preface

     The conceptual abstract musings of merely reading printed words upon pages do not always take on such added sense of reality as when a concrete physical setting is added to those abstractions. As many have pointed out, one of the best means for internalizing 'history' is to know and understand the 'historical setting' within which that history takes place. Mormon in his abridged work has so attempted to give a relevant historical setting, an 'internal mapping' of the Book of Momorn lands as far as is needed to frame the action of the Book of Mormon within. The end of the twenty second chapter of the book of Alma is one such attempt. And there are further items, 'hints' if you will, which add to that concrete picture of the Book of Mormon lands. To not use these would defeat putting reality to the book. And indeed to so study them is but to enhance the events, happenings and stories of the Book of Mormon; aiding it into higher realms of understanding and reality. While it may be given that no such direct application of thoses descriptions found in the text may align with any particular present day geography, for the scheme of things are ever changing, particularly due to the tremendous destructions at the death of Christ; it is still highly useful to so develop a totally consistent mapping of the Book of Mormon lands to match that which is so presented in the text itself.

Part 1 - Alma 22, General Layout

Part 2 - Bountiful & The Narrows

Part 3 - Zarahemla: City-Province-Nation

Part 4 - Nephi, The Nation of

Part 5 - Land Northward

Part 6 - Cumorah & Ramah

Part 7 - Miscellaneous

Part 8 - Summary


A purely 'Internal Map' of the Book of Mormon Geography is one that is totally derived from within the pages of the Book of Mormon. No other source or reference is to be used but what is contained in the Book of Mormon itself. While developing an 'Internal Map,' if the developer does reference or quote from a source out side of the scripture, that is a violation of what an internally generated mapping is proposed to be. Even the suggestion of a site match with a known actual location is an impropriety that should not be done during the generation and presentation of an internally mapped geography to the Book of Mormon. To do so not only introduces and suggests a bias upon the part of the developer. It further implies that all the time the 'Internal Map' was being developed, the developer continually had in mind an outside the text locality that was trying to be met all during the process of the attempt to develop a purely internal mapping. Such is hypocritical methodology. When someone states they have taken an independent and objected frame of reference, all the while subjectively generating their assessment to fit a preconceived notion, fills objectivity with personal opinion and prejudice.

To some extent, we all have a certain preconception and prejudice about just about everything we come in contact with. That is an unavoidable circumstance. But to purposefully let that predisposed position become the driving objective of what is supposed to be an objective attempt at generating an 'Internally' derived mapping of the Book of Mormon lands is an out and out falsification.

One may ask, 'Can a person who has a certain prior opinion or belief perform a truly objective internal study?' I believe it can honestly be done within human limits. In so doing a conscience effort needs to be undertaken to avoid bring in external references and source, including the obvious statements of personal opinion in the matter. If such where not the case, then there would be no objective studies completed about anything on any level about any subject. And study and research would come to a complete end.

I myself have a certain slant of belief on the geography of the Book of Mormon. What that is, has no place being presented within the confines of this work under the label of being an 'Internally Derived Map.' If, as I have entitled this work to be taken strictly from Mormon, his words in the Book of Mormon to general an 'Internal Map,' then in all honesty I need to do just that and no more. This work, under the title 'Mormon's Internal Map Defined,' will be just that. It will be derived from the words of the Book of Mormon and not the words from other sources including those of my own attempting to prescribe a fit to any known localities.

On the other hand. Since I do have my own opinions and beliefs, I will and have also presented them extensively within these pages. And while I will be referring to this 'Internally Generated Map,' in correlating such result to how they fit what I belief, I will not do the opposite. I will not within the confines of this 'Internal Mapping' refer to anything outside the pages of the Book of Mormon itself. In other words, only the words of Mormon will be used from the Book of Mormon in generating this mapping. How successful I will have been is more than likely going to be a number of subjective opinions on the basis of who ever reviews this particular thesis.

Often others do and have made such claims of performing 'objective' mappings but it needs to be recognized that in most cases that just isn't the facts of the matter. Often outside positions are introduced which warp any pretended objectivity into obvious subjective statements, conclusions, and presentations. In short, I will do all I can to make this presentation of 'Mormon's Internal Map' be directly from what Mormon has compiled and written within the pages of the Book of Mormon and nothing beyond that. I promise 'Mormon's words' and none other to be the basis of this compilation under this title.

Why Bother to Build an Internal Map?

Many have been already produced. Why not just adapt or adopt someone elses? So now the question, 'Why bother to build an Internal Map?' If I already believe I know where the Book of Mormon lands are, then why need I bother with an objective attempt, 'which ignores what I know,' just to generate a mapping from the Book of Mormon all by itself? If there are any who think it not a needful progression to establish an 'Internally Assessed Map' to the Book of Mormon, let me ask them some questions. Have you imagined up unto yourself a mapping without first searching the scriptures objectively to learn what you might from them? Do you even understand and know if what you think matches precisely what the Book of Mormon says or not? Have you not read and re-read the scriptures letting their knowledge build line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, letting them cross referecne, explain and clarify themselves? If not the you do not understand all that is in the Book of Mormon which can be assessed to structure an objective framework to the map of the Book of Mormon. You have not done your homework. I can think of a number of reasons why every Book of Mormon scholar who attempts a mapping of the lands of the Book of Mormon needs to put themself through the disipline of builing an objective internal model . Personally I will benefit from the exercise. It will, if done properly, school me in what the Book of Mormon itself says and what it does not say. But beyond that, What?

First, It is my proposed hypothesis, that the Book of Mormon is its own primary 'authorized map' or officially acceptable source of facts upon which to base a map of the Book of Mormon. This is due in part to the fact that the church has officially not published a revealed map. The Book of Mormon contains the only truly acceptable set of facts regarding the geography of the Book of Mormon. The Church sanctions and authorizes the Book of Mormon as scripture, the Word of God. Thus it is officially acceptible by the church.

It is important to first consider the Book of Mormon's own model of its own map, and to do so objectively from the information accessed solely from the Book of Mormon relative to what it will support. If the basic Book of Mormon mapping will not support a proposed Book of Mormon mapping model, then what do you have? Thus, to ascertain what the Book of Mormon itself states without any other source being considered is an initial starting point even for those who may later overlay that map onto known locations of today. And if such a mapping does not agree with the Book of Mormon, then it can hardly be considered to be a correct mapping of the Book of Mormon. Building an Internally supportable map, objectively obtained, seems to be a most logical first step in anyone's endeavor to build a true and accurate Book of Mormon geographical map. Today, anything outside of the Book of Mormon is a thesis proposal or theoretical model.

Officially, the only recognizable authoritative statements concerning a mapped model of the Book of Mormon lands can come from the pages of the Book of Mormon. The Church has not received or revealed any prescribed map of the Book of Mormon. There may be statements and supported sites alluded to, but there is no officially supplied detailed mapping of the Book of Mormon Lands or their where about. Thus only what the Book itself says is considered to be sanctioned as scripture and the word of God on the matter of the Book of Mormon geography.

Second, There is no precisely matching map today. It is generally accepted from the catastrophic descriptions of the destruction at the death of Christ that the land mappings of hundreds of years ago may well not be the same today. Cities where swallowed up in the sea and the earth, mountains rose while others sunk and the earth was to be seen in seams ever after. Thus to subjectively force a map of today on to the map of yesterday may likely disservice the functionality, truth and reality of what the map of yesterday was without first building the map objectively from the internal information available. The only true starting place of mapping the Book of Mormon is from within the pages of the Book of Mormon in an unspoild manner of objective internal mapping which considers only that contained in the book itself. what I think I know needs to be tested because not even the Church will officially sanction any existing Book of Mormon geography mapping. A test would be to solley base a map upon the words of the Book of Mormon objectively and see just how other mappings, including my own, stack up.

Thirdly, It is necessary to build on a sure foundation . And the only 'sure' foundation that is sanctioned and authorized is the Book of Mormon and what it says, since revelation from the proper source has been removed from consideration. When building, it is always best to lay a good, firm, solid foundation for your structure to rest upon, else with the eventual floods and earthquakes, your building will easily tumble having all the inherent weakness of a faulty foundation. If one builds a geography to the Book of Mormon without having objectively assessed an internally supportable mapping upon which one can safely build, then one runs the risk and likelihood that their structure will be under cut from below with the very words of the Book of Mormon upon which it was supposedly built.

To build a Book of Mormon geography by making it become what one subjectively thinks it 'ought to be' runs the to be expected danger of making it what it is not. Thus it would seem that a primary and necessary exercise is for one to first establish what the Book of Mormon will internally support by building an internally objective mapping of the Book of Mormon lands. If preconceived notions, conventions, preferences and traditions take precedence in establishing what the Book of Mormon map 'ought' to be, you have just set up the situation of the 'tail wagging the dog.'

To avoid all false biases based on information from outside sources, a controlled exercise such as first objectively mapping the Book of Mormon from internal information only should be undertaken by all scholarly efforts to ascertain the geography of the Book of Momron. This is almost a mandatory exercise for every serious Book of Mormon scholar to perform. If they have failed to do so, one must ask why have they not? Does their preconception over rule what the Book itself actually states? An example of this type of thing might be the idea that Lehi landed at the 30 degree sight on the west coast of Chili. Does the Book of Mormon say that? Science has always supported such with the known trade winds and ocean currents that have shown that such a site is not only reasonable and logical, but almost preferred. Not until recently had science began to understand the workings of El Nino, which virtually in effect open up just about any west coast landing sites along the west coasts of America as being possible in an El Nino year. So what does the Book say despite all the outside 'hoopla?' That is what a purely 'Internally' generated mapping is directed at. "What does the Book say?

(Side Note: By the way, an interesting little side light, though it doesn't really apply, is that the ancient Hawaiians believed that the 'winds and tides' would change when one of their ancients would die. And this changing of the winds and tides would make it possible for the ancestors to return back to their 'homelands' when set out to sea in their death barge. A romantic note, but that changing of the ocean tides and winds comes with the event of an El Nino which favors a return from Hawaii to the western shores of America from which many LDS faithful believe the Polynesians have descended. But that has nothing to do with mapping the mainland for the Book of Mormon.)

Lastly, Credibility comes to mind. If you do not know and understand what the Book of Mormon says, that is you have ignored what it says, while putting forth your own thesis of the Book of Mormon Geography, you have just lost credibility. Conforming to the fact of the matter, rather than forcing a distortion of the facts to conform to a preconception derived outside of the pages of the Book of Mormon is not prone to building credibility. When the Book of Mormon says one thing and you manipulate it to say another, that is not be credible.

A through knowledge of an 'Internally Generated Objective Map' is required to know and understand the facts as they are stated in the Book of Mormon. It is that part of building a geography of the Book of Mormon that must be done first. It is your homework. If you have not done your homework by first building a supportable internal mapping and based your subjective map on that, then your subjective map of preference is not credible and will easily be found contradictory to what the Book of Mormon actually says. And no amount of manipulative wrangling, though how deceptive, will ever change the facts that the Book of Mormon just does not support what you want it to support.

In Summary. An objective Book of Mormon generated internal map is the only set of known facts or standard model with which any other theorized model of a Book of Mormon geographical map can objectively be compared to and measured by. If one is not familiar with the known facts and has assessed what they will support, then they have no solid basis for building a proposed mapping of the Book of Mormon lands.

One can hardly build a sound test or set of objective criteria for mapping the Book of Mormon if one has not first derived a basic model of the Book of Mormon taken exclusively and objectively from internal information from the book without any enterferring bias, preconception, or preference. I have seen certain criteria set out by Book of Mormon theorist which 'they' will accept for an approved,acceptable mapping of the Book of Mormon which they state 'must' or 'should' be met. Some have even set forth a rating or grading scale according to what extent 'they' will accept any 'credible' mapping of the Book of Mormon according to 'them.' The sad underlying fact of these so called sets of criteria, is that they are not objectively obtained or supportable solely from the information from the Book of Mormon alone. They may state that they are, but in reality they are quite subjectively devised and bias, being based more on outside sources of information than any true exclusive, limited reliance on the Book of Mormon, only the Book of Mormon, nothing else but the Book of Mormon, the whole Book of Mormon. And what is not subjectively bent to their preconception of what the Book of Mormon must be from these outside influences, is diverted by word and translation manipulations, restating what the book says rather than taking the book at its face value of what it does say. It changes word, not just objectively defining the word from a none biased source such as a dictionary of thesaurus to help further perception, but actually exchanging none related word definitions of their liking and preference of what they think it should say rather than flatly a accepting what it does say. While a defining of a word or use of a synonym may give added insight, as not everyone's concept from a single word is the same, to blatantly and out and out redefine words from none objective sources and out and out replacement of words without any relationship of meaning is not acceptable in an objectively obtained internal mapping of the Book of Mormon lands. For example, a 'narrow neck of land' and an 'isthmus' is not such a manipulation but the mere objective restatement of the same idea using another word which might add insight and meaning to the minds of some that migh t not otherwise be grasped. Such is acceptable. But to change a word from one none related word to another is nothing more than manipulation and redefining and retranslating. An example would be if the Book of Mormon uses the word 'long,' it is manipulative and subjective to one's own perception and opinion to change the word to being 'hot.' 'Long' and 'hot' are two none related words and convey different meanings. If the word is changed in the reading of the text, it changes the meaning of the text. That is a subjective manipulation and is not acceptable in obtaining or accessing by criteria the acceptability of a Book of Mormon map.

I have seen many 'internal' mappings. Some have been done honestly and some not. Some have taken in consideration extensive wholesale information from the Book of Mormon and made substancial offerings. Others hardly seem to have read the Book or worse have sellected only that which fits their purpose. Many have either inadvertantly or even purposefully intermingled personal opinion and bias in there derived 'internal map.' Even the honest effort ones are not totally comparable. Yet I've seen more truth in an honest map which has been internally derived, than numerous prescribed mappings that 'know' where the lands are and force the book to fit a mapped location of our modern era. My hope is not that my internally mapped effort will or will not match those of others. My hope is that mine will be honest and based solely on the Book of Mormon and what it contains. I may read a sentence different and get something out of it that someone else may not. But I would hope that it is an honest reading and not one that forces a conclusion based on some preconceptions. Like most, I have my preconceptions. This is an effort to surpress them, and let the Book speak in and of itself.


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(REV. 9-27-11)