Through the Arabian Desert to a Bountiful Land: Could Joseph Smith Have Known the Way?

Title

Through the Arabian Desert to a Bountiful Land: Could Joseph Smith Have Known the Way?

Book Title

Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins

Publication Type

Book

Chapter

6

Year of Publication

1982

Authors

England, Eugene (Primary)

Editors

Reynolds, Noel B. (Secondary)

Pagination

143-156

Publisher

Religious Studies Center

City

Provo, UT

Terms of use

Items in the BMC Archive are made publicly available for non-commercial, private use. Inclusion within the BMC Archive does not imply endorsement. Items do not represent the official views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of Book of Mormon Central.

Bibliographic Citation

England, Eugene. "Through the Arabian Desert to a Bountiful Land: Could Joseph Smith Have Known the Way?" In Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, Edited by Reynolds, Noel B. 143-156. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 1982.

Abstract

There is an obvious test for the claim that the Book of Mormon is an ancient document: (1) determine if the details of geography, culture, language, literature, etc., are actually true to the ancient places and peoples it claims to be describing, and then (2) find out if those details could reasonably have been known in 1830 when it was published. In other words, it may have been possible for an early nineteenth-century American who was uncommonly imaginative and coherent in his thinking to produce a reasonable, even captivating, fiction about an emigration of sixth-century B.C. Hebrews across essentially unknown Arabia and the Pacific Ocean and about their development as a culture in America. But if the story claims to be literally true, it must hold up against all the subsequent 150 years of detailed scientific explorations and linguistic study of these areas and cultures. In this essay I will look only at the route taken by the Book of Mormon emigrants from Jerusalem across Arabia to the sea, testing the hypothesis that Joseph Smith, or one of his contemporaries, made up the account of that journey on the basis of information available in the 1820s.

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