Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2 departments of Cumorah

There remain some Latter-day Saints who think the "real" Hill Cumorah is somewhere in southern Mexico. In fact, next month a group of Mesoamerican activists are holding a conference to try to persuade people of this idea. I'll comment more about that in coming posts.

It's comical, really.

The New York location of the Hill Cumorah has been known since before Joseph even got the plates. In one part of the hill was the stone and cement box that Moroni constructed to put the abridgment. But in a separate area of the hill, Mormon "hid up" all the other Nephite records.

Here's a graphic to depict this:

Here is how Orson Pratt explained it:

“The prophet Mormon, the father of Moroni, had been entrusted with all the sacred records of his forefathers, engraved on metallic plates. New plates were made by Mormon on which he wrote...

“These new plates were given to Moroni to finish the history, and all the ancient plates Mormon deposited in Cumorah, about 384 years after Christ. When Moroni, about thirty-six years after, made the deposit of the book entrusted to him, he was, without doubt, inspired to select a department of the hill separate from the great, sacred depository of the numerous volumes hid up by his father.

“The particular place in the hill, where Moroni secreted the book, was revealed by the angel to the Prophet Joseph Smith, to whom the volume was delivered in September, 1827. But the grand depository of all the numerous records of the ancient nations of the western continent, was located in another department of the hill, and its contents under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of Zion.”  

Orson Pratt, “The Hill Cumorah,” Millennial Star, Vol. 28, July 7, 1866, p. 417

Reclaiming Cumorah

The Hill Cumorah has played a significant role in the history of the Church since at least 1823. Well, since at least about 385 AD, when Mormon "hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni" (Mormon 6:6).

The Church purchased the Hill Cumorah in 1928. A wonderful article titled "Reclaiming Cumorah" is available on, here:

To commemorate the purchase, on April 6, 1928, President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency spoke in General Conference about the Hill Cumorah in New York:

“Without doubt, these treasures lie concealed today, some of them, at least, to be brought forth in the not-distant future. How soon this will be we do not know, but this is certain, we are more than a century nearer that time than we were at the time when Joseph Smith took from their resting place, in the hill Cumorah, the plates from which he translated the contents of the Book of Mormon.

“All of these incidents to which I have referred, my brethren and sisters, are very closely associated with this particular spot in the state of New York. Therefore I feel, as I said in the beginning of my remarks, that the acquisition of that spot of ground is more than an incident in the history of the Church; it is an epoch—an epoch which in my opinion is fraught with that which may become of greater interest to the Latter-day Saints than that which has already occurred. We know that all of these records, all the sacred records of the Nephite people, were deposited by Mormon in that hill. That incident alone is sufficient to make it the sacred and hallowed spot that it is to us.”

Thursday, February 16, 2017

18 Feb. 2017 - Orem - Book of Mormon Symposium

I'll be speaking about my book, Whatever Happened to the Golden Plates?, at the Book of Mormon Symposium. Here are the details:

I hope to see you there!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Whatever Happened to the Golden Plates?

Traditional LDS history assumes Joseph Smith translated the entire Book of Mormon from the set of plates he got from Moroni. 

This is the set of plates Moroni hid in the stone-and-cement box he constructed around 321 A.D.

Traditional LDS history is correct regarding Mosiah through Moroni, but the plates of Nephi (D&C 10) were not in that box.

Joseph got them later. 

This book explains how and when.

I love this explanation because it answers so many questions about Church history. It demonstrates the reliability and credibility of the Three Witnesses, Joseph Smith himself, and all those associated with the early history of the Church.

Whatever Happened to the Golden Plates? is about 200 pages long in the 5 x 8 format most people like. It's also available on Kindle. 

The book includes 107 footnotes. I've reduced footnotes and details in printed versions to keep page counts and prices low, but more material is available to readers online as explained in the book.

This is the latest of my books on Church history and Book of Mormon geography.

The book is only $9.99 on Amazon, $4.99 for the Kindle version. Plus, you get access to the premium content online.

You can go on Amazon and read sample pages, here. The sample includes the Introduction, which explains why I wrote the book.

I wrote this book to share what I consider an exciting new development in Church history. It has always been assumed that Joseph Smith translated one set of plates—the ones he got from the box in the Hill Cumorah. But my research suggests that there were in fact two sets: one set containing abridgments by Mormon (Lehi—the lost 116 pages—and Mosiah through Mormon 7) and Moroni (Mormon 8 through Moroni 10), which Joseph translated in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and the other set containing the small plates of Nephi (1Nephi to Words of Mormon), which Joseph translated in Fayette, New York.

If true, this insight may reconcile details of Church history that seem out of place, random, or just strange.

We can’t accept every historical account on its face, unexamined. But in the cases of the evidences I’ll discuss in this book, previously inexplicable accounts seem to fit together to answer important questions that continue to gnaw at us today. Questions such as:

“Where did Joseph get the plates of Nephi?”

[If you think they were part of the record Moroni left in the box on Cumorah, you may be surprised when you take another look at material you’ve read your entire life.]

“Where was the repository of Nephite records Mormon mentioned in Mormon 6:6?”

“Where did Joseph get the plates he showed to the Eight Witnesses?”

And, of course, “Whatever happened to the golden plates?”


Chapter one tells you everything you need to know--except all the details.


My basic thesis could fit in a tweet: “Joseph translated two separate sets of plates.”

This concept is so obvious to me now that it’s difficult to remember thinking he translated only one set.

And yet, the one-set interpretation of Church history has been taken for granted for decades. Maybe it’s never been challenged before.

Arthur Schopenhauer’s observation is overused, but I think it applies here because my simple tweet, by itself, is not going to overcome the long-held assumption.

All truth passes through three stages.

First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

The rest of this book explains the rationale for my thesis. It’s possible that for some people, the idea alone will suffice. They’ll think back on what they know of Church history and realize that the two-sets-of-plates theory explains a lot of things. It makes sense of the Title Page and D&C 9 and 10. If you already get it, you’re done.

Quickest read ever.

But if you’re like me, you want to explore the facts and the reasoning. So here goes.

I hope you get as much out of this new paradigm as I have!