Many scholars both inside and outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have tried to verify the historical accuracy of the BOM by archaeological means and up to just recently have been unsuccessful.
LDS Scholar Dee F. Green wrote in 1969 "The first myth we need to eliminate is that BOM archaeology exists. Titles on books full of archaeological half-truths, dilletantes on the peripheries of American Archaeology calling themselves Book of Mormon archaeologists do not insure that BOM archaeology really exists. If one is to study BOM archaeology, then one must have a corpus of data with which to deal. WE do not. The BOM is really there so one can have BOM studies, and archaelogy is really there so one can study archaeology. But the two are not wed. At least they are not wed in reality since no BOM location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful (nor any other location for that matter) were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed." (Quote from Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought) in 1969. How things are changing! Potter has located what Lehi referred to as the Valley of Lemuel and the River Laman in NW Arabia. He has located Shazer and the probable trail (Frankincense Trail) Lehi and his family traveled on to get to Bountiful, and finally he and Richard Wellington have identified the most probable location of Bountiful itself (in Khor Rori, Oman, on the southern Arabian Peninsula coastline). Now comes the hard part: identifying the direction in which Nephi sailed from Bountiful (East (Island hopping to the West coast of South America in Peru or Chile or West around the Cape of Good hope in S. Africa, hugging the African coasts until they sailed off across the Atlantic to reach Florida or wherever. This info may never be known with 100% certainty but at least the first two book of Nephi have been located and checked against the record in the BOM.
Is that enough to silence the critics and turn the heads of the cynics. I doubt it.
|Potter has located what Lehi referred to as the Valley of Lemuel and the River Laman in NW Arabia. He has located Shazer and the probable trail (Frankincense Trail) Lehi and his family traveled on to get to Bountiful, and finally he and Richard Wellington have identified the most probable location of Bountiful itself (in Khor Rori, Oman, on the southern Arabian Peninsula coastline|
To me the best way to verify if the B. of Mormon is true is to read it and pray about it. As you have pointed out that will may not work with people who require physical evidence.
The archaelogical research related to the B. of Mormon's georgraphy greatly intrest me. I have read FARMS and a book on the subject. I left the book in Honduras with an investigator during my mission.
I began helping George Potter with his research in Saudi Arabia after I began attending Sacrament meetings etc in Saudi Arabia in 1998 (after I had been baptized and received the PH. He and I hit it off pretty well and have a lot of interests in common - especially history. I accompanied him and Tim Sedor (the videographer) on their trips to the Valley of Lemuel in Arabia. Before I became a member, I had already lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for the Institute of Public Administration, A Saudi Government Research, Consulting and Civil Service Training Institute for 9 years - so I was pretty familiar with Arabic customs and culture. Before I was baptized into the church, I had already read the BOM and felt a testimony of its correctness and truthfulness through the spirit. I had never before though met anyone who was using 1Nephi 2 Nephi as a guide to a 'safe haven' canyon in a remote part of NW Arabia. The spirit directed me to do what I could to help and I continue to do so. The work seems very important in that it can strenghten the testimonies of those who need more physical, geographic evidence of locales mentioned in the BOM. I had served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan for two years and done quite a bit of 'roughing it' in the wilderness in that country so this seemed quite natural to me. The Nephi Project Website contains the bulk of our findings and one can get a pretty good idea of the directions of our inquiry on the discussion board there. I must say the case for the Potter-Wellington Frankincense Trade Route theory is very compelling. Potter's Jaredite theory is equally compelling. FAARMS has already published our findings in its Journal of BOM Studies and we seem to be garnering quite a lot of moral support from Kent Brown and Hugh Nibley there. There's much more work to do - the bulk of this research has been in Arabia - including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Egypt. Many people have assisted us (members and non-members). George is busy completing his and Richard Wellington's book on the findings. This should be available in August, 2003. The videos we have produced are already available in the Deseret Bookstores in certain parts of the USA. If you would like to further your interest in this subject, I recommend you visit the Nephi Project Website and read what you can. There are some interesting articles, maps etc.
This is getting too long. I'll post again sometime. Thanks for your interest.
I find this type of work totally fascinating.
Congrats for your efforts and your work. I'm sure it will benefit many. 8)
[quote]Titles on books full of archaeological half-truths, dilletantes on the peripheries of American Archaeology calling themselves Book of Mormon archaeologists do not insure that BOM archaeology really exists[/quote]
So they are liars? Or are they over zealous to the point that they become sloppy in their approach to giving temporal evidence?
"I take in my hand the Book of Mormon. I read its words. I have read Joseph Smith's explanation of how it came to be. To the unbelieving it is a story difficult to accept, and critics for generations have worn out their lives writing books intended to refute that story and to offer other explanations than the one given by Joseph the Prophet. But to the open-minded, this critical writing has only stimulated them to dig deeper; and the more deeply they dig, the greater the accumulation of evidence for the validity of Joseph Smith's story. Still, as has been demonstrated for a hundred and fifty years, the truth of the Book of Mormon will not be determined by literary analysis or by scientific research, although these continue to be reassuring. The truth about the origins of the Book of Mormon will be determined today and tomorrow, as it has been throughout the yesterdays, by reading the book in a spirit of reverence and respect and prayer."
"Praise to the Man," Ensign, Aug. 1983, 4
The Children of Lehi: DNA and the Book of Mormon
by D. Jeffrey Meldrum
Over the last several years there has been a flurry of articles and reports about how DNA studies have refuted the claimed historicity of the Book of Mormon. In his 2003 FAIR Conference presentation, Meldrum addressed a number of the arguments being raised by anti-Mormon critics related to DNA and the Book of Mormon.
Meldrum points out that the internal claims of the Book of Mormon text cannot be refuted using current DNA studies, despite the desire of critics to press such studies into service. The Book of Mormon text deals with the ideas of a covenant people being a blessing to genetically unrelated peoples and cultures, and allows for a genetic impact by the immigrant Israelites that would not be detectable today. Meldrum concludes by asserting, "Ultimately we are impressed by the realization that the fundamental question of the veracity of the claims of the Book of Mormon lies beyond the ken of modern DNA
Read the article: https://www.fairlds.org/pubs/conf/2003MelJ.html