Mr. Vernal Holley published a hypothetical map of BoM lands that intends to demonstrate that Joseph Smith modified the names of towns and areas from his surroundings and incorporated them into the BoM narrative.
In a discussion of this topic on an internet discussion board I examined Holley’s map to find out if it is consistent with internal Book of Mormon geography. An obvious necessity of any proposed Book of Mormon geography is that it be consistent with the internal geographical clues found in the text . My conclusion is that a large portion of Holley’s map is inaccurate according to the BoM text, and also to demonstrate that small number of parallels are statistically insignificant.
Angola and Zarahemla
Holley’s map has Angola and Zarahemla being in in the “Land Southward”, with Angola being further south than Zarahemla. But the text indicates otherwise:
5 And I, Mormon, being a descendant of Nephi, (and my father’s name was Mormon) I remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me.
6 And it came to pass that I, being eleven years old, was carried by my father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla.
3 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and twenty and seventh year the Lamanites did come upon us with exceedingly great power, insomuch that they did frighten my armies; therefore they would not fight, and they began to retreat towards the north countries.
4 And it came to pass that we did come to the city of Angola, and we did take possession of the city, and make preparations to defend ourselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that we did fortify the city with our might; but notwithstanding all our fortifications the Lamanites did come upon us and did drive us out of the city.
Angola is located in the north countries, being north of the south countries, where Zarehemla was located.
Jacobugath is located north of Zarahemla:
3 Nephi 7:12
12 Therefore, Jacob seeing that their enemies were more numerous than they, he being the king of the band, therefore he commanded his people that they should take their flight into the northernmost part of the land, and there build up unto themselves a kingdom, until they were joined by dissenters, (for he flattered them that there would be many dissenters) and they become sufficiently strong to contend with the tribes of the people; and they did so.
Jacob, being the king of this group, led them into the northernmost part of the land.
9 And behold, that great city Jacobugath, which was inhabited by the people of king Jacob, have I caused to be burned with fire because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth, because of their secret murders and combinations; for it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land; therefore I did cause them to be burned, to destroy them from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them.
Jacobugath was the name of the city of the king Jacob. It was located in the northernmost part of the land. Definitely north of Zarahemla.
Valley of Almais north of Lehi-Nephi:
A man named Zeniff, a Nephite, left the land of Zarahemla to dwell among the land of the Lamanites. The Lamanites dwelled in the Land of Nephi, located south of Zarehemla. To show this would not be too difficult, but it is attested to more easily by the map in question.
The king of the Lamanites allowed Zeniff and his people to establish themselves in a region called the Land of Lehi-Nephi. (Mosiah 9:1-6)
After a generation the people of Zeniff became wicked under the wicked king Noah, the son of Zeniff. Alma, a priest of King Noah, was converted to the gospel by the prophet Abinadi. Alma began to preach and baptize near the waters of Mormon, hidden from the knowledge of the King. (Mosiah 18:30-34)
After King Noah discovered them there, they fled north into the wilderness, eventually reaching the land of Zarahemla.
After fleeing for eight days they settled and called their settlement Helam. (Mosiah 23:1-5, 19)
They were discovered by the Lamanites, who placed some of the wicked renegade priests, led by Amulon, of the now deceased King Noah as rulers over them. (Mosiah 23:39)
The righteous people of Helam sought to flee from their wicked masters. They fled in the night to a place they named Alma. (Mosiah 24:18-20)
They then departed from the valley of Alma, and after a 12 day journey arrived in Zarahemla. (Mosiah 24:24-25)
This people fled from the land of Lehi-Nephi in the south eventually arriving in Zarahemla in the north. Along the way they stopped at a place they called Alma. Since they were traveling from the south to the north, Alma was north of Lehi-Nephi.
Jerusalembordered the Land of Lehi-Nephi
As shown above, the waters of Mormon were located in the land of Lehi-Nephi, in the territory of the Lamanites.
1 NOW when Ammon and his brethren separated themselves in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, behold Aaron took his journey towards the land which was called by the Lamanites, Jerusalem, calling it after the land of their fathers’ nativity; and it was away joining the borders of Mormon.
Jerusalem should be near or in the Land of Lehi-Nephi.
Morianton is in the land southward
The people of the land of Morianton sought to flee into the land northward, and the path they took was via the narrow neck of land.
29 Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward.
33 Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward.
34 And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east.
Therefore Morianton was located in the land southward. This is contrary to the map created by Holley.
Ramah/Cumorah in Canada?It is also interesting to note that Mr. Holley proposes that the hill Ramah/Cumorah is in Canada, when Cumorah is insisted by the anti-mormon world at large to be located in New York. Another popular anti-mormon challenge is that Cumorah is named after Comoros Island. It seems the critics cannot agree amongst themselves.
How many?Mr. Holley’s map includes a number of cities, lands, and rivers that do not have corresponding locations on it’s opposite map. This might be an attempt to make the situation appear worse than it really is, or it may be just that he thought we would enjoy a lesson in New England geography.
The place-names that have corresponding locations on both maps include:Jacobugath/Jacobsburg
Valley of Alma/Alma
While Holley’s map is interesting, it is far from being an accurate reflection of the Book of Mormon lands. Of the 15 place names proposed to have been taken straight from the New England map, 5 of them are in the wrong place according to the Book of Mormon. That is 1/3, or 33%. Certainly that qualifies as “many”. And these are not the only problems with Holley’s map, others not so obvious exist. But these suffice to show that Holley’s map is not a correct portrayal of the Book of Mormon lands. As for the point you make that a significant number of them are depicted as in the same place as their New England sources, this conclusion is entirely wrong. One source I consulted (pronunciation guide at back of BoM) said that there are 337 proper names in the Book of Mormon. Mr. Holley provides a mere 15 as evidence that Joseph Smith simply took from his surroundings. Of those 15, only 10 are compatible with the geographical descriptions found in the Book of Mormon. That would make 10 out of 337 that Joseph could possibly taken from his surroundings, assuming he even was aware of their existence.
That is about 3% of all the names in the Book of Mormon.James