Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Mapping Book of Mormon lands
When we examine Book of Mormon directions, we find a pattern that fits amazingly well with the Mesoamerican understanding of directions. Poulsen points out that there are 378 Book of Mormon references to direction. Nineteen percent of those references denote east or eastward directions, 16 percent west or westward, while 39 percent reference north or northward directions and 27 percent south or southward.
Other than the slight under sampling of south notations (which is likely based on the fact that the south was mostly Lamanite territory and would likely demand fewer references in a book written by Nephites) the percentages match what we should expect to find in a Mesoamerican directional concept.
When we overlay the Mesoamerican directional concept on Central American we find that the upper part of the Isthmus of Tehunatepec really is in the north, while the lower part is really in the south. Plus, we find that there are seas north, east, south and west, and that the Nephites are surrounded by water like “an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
Understanding the way that the ancient Mesoamericans understood directions not only strengthens the theory that Book of Mormon events took place in Central America, but it also supports the claim that the Nephite scripture is based on an authentic ancient text.
Michael R. Ash is on the management team for FAIR (the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research FAIRLDS.org) and is the author of "Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One's Testimony In the Face of Criticism and Doubt" (ShakenFaithSyndrome.com) and "Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith" (OfFaithandReason.com). Michael's column, "Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith," appears Mondays on MormonTimes.com.
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