Editor's Introduction:
A Tidy Garden

Editor’s Introduction:
A Tidy Garden

Louis Midgley

When Daniel C. Peterson began
what is now known as the FARMS Review, he indicated that his plan was to
provide a venue for carefully written reviews and genuinely competent
commentary on the literature being produced in what he called “the garden
of Book of Mormon studies.”1 “We hope,” he added, “for a plenteous harvest, but weeds must be
recognized for what they are. Where there is shoddy writing or shallow reasoning
we hope to point it out.”2 He also indicated that “the garden of Book of Mormon studies will produce
more abundantly and healthily if its gardeners and consumers are adept at
distinguishing edible plants from weeds.”3 Subsequently
the Review has, of course, morphed into something even more ambitious,4 but attention
to the Book of Mormon has not slackened.

We are not, Professor Peterson insisted, engaged in proving to a skeptical world that the Book of Mormon is true. Such proof is, he
correctly maintained, “probably impossible, and almost certainly inconsistent
with the noncoercive plan of salvation adopted before this world was.”5 What ultimately both warrants the dedication of the Saints to the Book of
Mormon, and hence grounds our own deepest convictions, is the work of the Holy
Spirit. This can and does happen if and only if we are willing to yield to its
importuning. Since we have received the book, we search for a deeper comprehension
of and fidelity to its contents and messages, both of which we believe the Lord
has graciously given to us to drive our deeds and save our souls.

In 1989 Professor Peterson argued (correctly, I believe)
that it is our solemn duty to be both willing and ready to state our reasons
and thereby make our defense to anyone who demands from us an accounting for
the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).6 We are thus
enjoined to respond as well as we can to criticisms of the Book of Mormon and
the faith that identifies us and gives our lives meaning and direction. Our
endeavors, to borrow an old formula, fit nicely under the rubric “faith
seeking understanding.”7

Nourishing the Seed

Those responsible for the Review, including those who
supervise or operate the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship,
are eager to see improvement in the literature published on the Book of Mormon.
We welcome readings of the Book of Mormon if they can be shown to yield genuine
fruit rather than weeds. We have sought to set in place a venue for, among
other things, some vigorous yet disciplined weeding and pruning in an effort to
promote and improve this literature. “We hope,” as Professor Peterson
has indicated, “for a plenteous harvest, but weeds must be recognized for
what they are. Where there is shoddy writing or shallow reasoning, we hope to
point it out. Not that we necessarily enjoy doing so—although on those
rare occasions where there is dishonesty or bad faith, it is a positive if not
altogether saintly pleasure to draw attention to it.”8 Subsequently,
Professor Peterson has proved himself adept at both exposing and collapsing
some of the bizarre opinions advanced by critics of the Book of Mormon and
those hostile to Joseph Smith and his entire legacy.

We cannot, of course, shy away from responding to apparent
weaknesses in the literature on Mormon things. Weeding the garden of Mormon
studies is especially troublesome when it is necessary to address the work of
fellow Latter-day Saints. Doing this, given the norms that must regulate the
community of Saints, is a painful necessity—one that we seek to
accomplish in a courteous, accurate, and yet forthright manner. We much prefer
advancing the conversation by publishing and otherwise drawing attention to
what we see as important additions to the growing store of literature with
which the Saints ought to be familiar. We believe there are many avenues for
understanding the Book of Mormon, and all are welcome if they genuinely bear
good fruit. Professor Peterson has also indicated that “although this Review will not hesitate to point out bad work, we will enjoy much more the
opportunity to draw attention to things that have been done well.”9 This is true, of course, for treatments of our other scriptures.

A Plenteous Harvest

In this issue of the Review we are pleased to include
a portion of the preface to a remarkable new book by John W. Welch on the Sermon
on the Mount.10 Our intention is to promote this fine book. George Mitton11 introduces
the excerpt from Welch’s The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple as
well as Gaye Strathearn’s review of this fascinating new study.12

We have included an essay by John Tvedtnes responding to a
common sectarian claim that Joseph Smith was guilty of plagiarism. Readers will
also find in this issue an essay by Steven Olsen on a prominent theme in the
Book of Mormon.13 This essay is a portion of a much larger and, I believe, important study of a
network of crucial themes found in the keystone of our foundational scriptures.

Our Book Notes often draw attention to books that we believe
would be helpful for Latter-day Saints to consult. One examines Matthew Brown’s
recent study of what is known about the initial visionary experience of Joseph
Smith.14 We also draw attention to a fine history of Christian theology by Roger Olson
and Adam English15 and to Olson’s candid history of evangelical theology.16 Both of
these “pocket” books were written by competent evangelical scholars
who are not in thrall to an Augustinian or Reformed worldview. Daniel C.
Peterson reviews two fine studies: Grant Hardy’s fruitful literary analy­sis
of the Book of Mormon17 and William Hamblin and David Seely’s book on Solomon’s temple and its
influence on religious imagination, culture, architecture, art, and more
through the ages.18 The last volume in Hugh Nibley’s collected works, One Eternal Round,
the culmination of his research on the Book of Abraham, is also reviewed.19

Some Unavoidable Weeding

We revisit Reverend Ross Anderson’s Understanding
the Book of Mormon
20 with essays by Ben McGuire21 and Robert Boylan,22 who expose flaws in this effort to persuade readers not to take the Book of
Mormon seriously.

In addition, John Gee surveys the various meanings
associated with the Greek word charis, which in the New
Testament is usually translated as “grace.”23 He finds
that the word is hardly ever attributed to Jesus of Nazareth but turns up,
instead, mostly in the writings associated with the apostle Paul. Gee
demonstrates that charis has a much wider semantic range than commonly
attributed to it in contemporary conservative Protestant circles, or than was
attributed to it by Martin Luther (1483–1546) or John Calvin
(1509–1564) and much earlier by Augustine (354–430). This is
significant since a key element—some say the one key on which the
Reformation either stands or falls—is contained within the formula “justification
by grace through faith alone.” A better understanding of the range of
meaning associated with charis seems to open the possibility that some of the
more belligerent opining that the Saints face from contemporary conservative
Protestants—that is, Fundamentalist-style countercultists as well as much
more sophisticated evangelicals—is grounded in part on a misunderstanding
of a key Greek word.

Gee provides support for
my own argument that the Book of Mormon teaches that our discipleship begins as
we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ in a symbolic rebirth at
baptism, and hence make a covenant in which we solemnly promise to keep the
commandments, as well as consent to open ourselves to the mercifully purging,
cleansing, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, as we strive in both deeds and
words to become genuine Saints.24 What must then follow our initial oath and covenant is described in the Book of
Mormon as a subsequent baptism of the Holy Spirit (or of fire) in which we are
gradually transformed from being sensual, devilish, and carnal by our merciful,
forgiving God. In the final judgment, if during our mortal probation we remain
true and faithful, we can confidently hope to be justified by a just God, who
is also merciful and forgiving. This understanding, of course, flies in the
face of the common sectarian idea that we are justified in our sins the moment
we confess Jesus.

Crackpottery about Geography

Knowing where the events described in the Book of Mormon
took place could and perhaps does help illuminate the meaning of some passages
in the Book of Mormon and thereby feed our faith. A good test of whether a Book
of Mormon geography is fruitful is its capacity to open our understanding of
aspects of the text. However, all such efforts must be tentative and open to
later refinement, revision, or qualification. Unfortunately, many and perhaps
most of the books written on Book of Mormon geography do not yield a deeper
understanding; they also tend to lack appropriate caution and modesty.25 Some authors even eschew the host of cultural and geographical clues found in
the Book of Mormon and, instead, impose problematic or even unwarranted notions
on the text; they have engaged in some bizarre, wooden, poorly grounded, and
highly factious speculation on Book of Mormon geography.

In an effort to remedy this regrettable situation, the Review provides a venue for genuinely competent critical assessments of the growing
shelf of speculation on Book of Mormon geography. For example, in the first
issue of the Review, Richard Hauck’s effort to locate a geography
for the Lehites in a portion of Mesoamerica26 received
trenchant criticism in an important essay by John Clark entitled “A Key
for Evaluating Nephite Geographies.”27 Clark demonstrates
the necessity of drawing on all of the many direct and subtle geographical
clues found in the Book of Mormon to construct what he calls an “internal
map.” Only when this has been carefully fashioned should one begin looking
for a real-world location for the Lehites. There are, however, those who begin
by picking a favorite location like Japan, the Baja, New York or the area
around the Great Lakes, Mesoamerica, or places in South America and then start
looking for language in the Book of Mormon to support their hunches. Brushing
aside crucial geographical information on directions, distances, and other
relevant geographical clues in the text is a fatal mistake.

Despite the fact that some partisans insist that everyone
they associate with the Maxwell Institute has a dogmatic ideological commitment
to a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, the Review began with essays pointing to the defects in one such theory.28 We have always urged caution and modesty, as well as strict fidelity to the
host of geographical clues found in the Book of Mormon, in dealing with efforts
to locate the events described therein.

The prize for the most bizarre effort to fix a geographical
setting for the Book of Mormon must go to what might actually be a joke—a
theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Africa (specifically Abyssinia).29 Others have tried to place the events depicted in the Book of Mormon on the
Malaysian Peninsula,30 in Peru,31 in western New York,32 and in an area beginning in the south in Panama and including the area from
Texas to Florida and farther north, as well as in the entire Caribbean, which
its author actually insists was dry land and hence had Lehites living where
there is now an enormous ocean.33 A survey of this literature might yield the conclusion that there are a few
toadstools in the garden of Book of Mormon studies. Fortunately, however, these
theories have not garnered much attention among the Saints. There is thus no
urgency or perhaps even necessity to address them in the Review.
In addition, we have chosen not to evaluate opinions circulated on DVDs or
merely posted on Web sites or sold through the travel industry catering to
Latter-day Saints.

In one notable instance dealt with earlier in the Review,
Wayne May, the author of a series of self-published books entitled This Land,34 has been offering as “proof” for the Book of Mormon the so-called
Michigan artifacts, which are apparently fakes, in an effort to advance a Great
Lakes Book of Mormon geography.35

The Beginnings of a New Movement—A “Heartland Model”

More recently, DVDs have been circulated, rallies held, and
tours conducted selling the idea that there is compelling DNA evidence for the
truth of the Book of Mormon, an effort linked to something like Wayne May’s
version of a Great Lakes geography and including the fake Michigan artifacts.
One center for this new “movement”36 is a
business venture known as the Foundation for Indigenous Research and Mormonism
Foundation (or FIRM Foundation).37 This is not a scientific or historical research institution but rather a firm that markets what is dubbed a “Heartland” Book of Mormon geography
(or “Heartland Model”) by selling at sales rallies products such as
DVDs, tours through the travel industry that caters to Latter-day Saints, patriotic
paintings, encounters with relics, and most recently two books.38

Much like what we have done with other amateur, ephemeral efforts
to locate a place for the events described in the Book of Mormon, the editors
of the Review,
along with others at the Maxwell Institute and after a careful review of an
initial set of DVDs sold by the FIRM Foundation, decided not to challenge this
ideology unless it was set out in printed form, which is now the case. We were
aware that the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR)39 had undertaken an exhaustive examination of the new Heartland geography and had
offered the author the opportunity to address FAIR’s concerns and objections
before posting them on its webpage.40 If no books setting out Heartlander beliefs had been published, we would not
have commissioned essays responding to this new geography and its related

The Heartland ideology rests on the assumption that there
must necessarily be DNA proof for the Book of Mormon and that in fact such
proof is now available that places the Lehi colony in the area around the Great
Lakes—now dubbed “Heartland”—which is also believed to be
the promised land for both the Lehites and their remote descendants.
Heartlanders downplay or even brush aside the host of geographical clues in the
Book of Mormon in favor of what is considered proof that the promises to the
remote descendants of the Lehites must now be known solely through DNA. The
Heartland must necessarily be located only in the United States of America,
where it is claimed there is now compelling evidence of their existence, and
hence not in Central and South America or in the islands of the Pacific.

When this Heartland business was launched in 2007, no attention
had been given to the work of competent LDS geneticists, who had demonstrated
that, given the current state of DNA research, it is not at all likely that the
maternally inherited DNA markers brought by the Lehi colony to the New World
could have survived being inserted into a much larger population.41 Hence the competent LDS response to a claim made by two dissident Latter-day
Saints that research on the DNA of Native Americans disproves the Book of
Mormon42 is that at this point such research simply cannot address the question of
whether there have been small insertions of peoples into a much larger
population, even if one could be at all confident of the genetic marker one was
looking for. But Heartland advocates eschew such findings since they do not
yield a DNA proof for the Book of Mormon. Heartlanders insist that there must
be DNA proof for a Lehi colony in the New World. In addition, they insist that
not having such proof makes it impossible to scientifically identify a remote
remnant of the Lehites to whom the Book of Mormon stands as a prophetic

The Heartlander ideology
consists of the claim that there is DNA proof for the Book of Mormon that
settles the question of where the events described in that text took place.
This premise is then supplemented with the additional assumption that all the
events in the New World depicted in the Book of Mormon must have taken place in
the United States, not in Central (or South) America. The Heartland Model is a
Great Lakes–centered Book of Mormon geography,43 versions of
which have already been assessed in considerable detail in the Review.44

A Trendy Jingo Geography

Heartland disciples are thus led to believe that the
prophetic promises as set out in the Book of Mormon for the eventual blessing
of the remote remnant of the Lehite colony are strictly limited to some of the
indigenous peoples currently living in the northeastern United States.45 If this is true, then those indigenous peoples living elsewhere, including
south of the U.S. border or on the Pacific islands, cannot genuinely claim the
promises offered to the future remote and now very heavily genetically mixed
descendants of Lehi. Instead, Heartlanders seem to hold that the prophetic
promises mentioned in the Book of Mormon are extended only to the indigenous
peoples now living in the United States. This seems to also explain some of the
appeal of the Heartland political ideology. This new jingo geography makes up
for its lack of coherence with a stirring appeal to those who, in troubled
times, insist on seeing the flag waved.

Following the Brethren

It is not at all well known, but on Saturday, 25 May 1903, a
group of Latter-day Saints held a two-day “Book of Mormon Convention”
at the Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah. Those who attended included
President Joseph F. Smith, his counselor Anthony H. Lund, local church and
community leaders, students, and apostles John Henry Smith, Reed Smoot, Hyrum
M. Smith, Charles W. Penrose, and Orson F. Whitney, as well as Elders B. H.
Roberts and Seymour B. Young of the Seventy. During the afternoon session of
the first day, “the meeting was devoted to the consideration of the location
of the lands and cities inhabited by the Nephites after landing on this

President Joseph F. Smith, at the close of the Saturday
session, gave sound prophetic counsel that the location of Book of Mormon sites
“was one of interest certainly,” but if such sites could not be located,
it “was not of vital importance, and if there were differences of opinion
on the matter it would not affect the salvation of the people; and he advised
against considering the question of such vital importance as are the principles
of the Gospel.” At the end of the conference, President Smith again “cautioned
. . . against making . . . the location of cities and lands of equal importance
with the doctrines contained in the book.” Exactly nothing was said about
Joseph Smith knowing the place in which the Book of Mormon took place. And the
Brethren subsequently declined to identify the location on this continent of
the events described in the Book of Mormon. Geographical issues are, of course,
interesting, but they are clearly of much lesser significance than the messages
it contains. Heartland advocates grant that “the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints has made no official statement on the geography of the Book
of Mormon; that is a well known fact.”47 But
Heartlanders insist that Joseph Smith knew by special divine revelation exactly
where the events depicted in the Book of Mormon took place.48 If so, it follows that the Brethren have made a serious mistake when they have
indicated that the question of where the Book of Mormon took place in the New
World is neither settled nor crucial, and hence must remain open to genuinely
competent scholarly inquiry. The Brethren seem inclined to allow others to tidy
the garden of Book of Mormon scholarship.

Heartland advocates do not claim, as some theorists once did
and perhaps may still do, that the Book of Mormon is the history of all the
pre-Columbian inhabitants of the American continent. There are, of course, no
longer reasonable objections to efforts by Latter-day Saint scholars to place
the events described in the Book of Mormon in a limited geographical area or to
see other peoples in the Americas besides those migrations mentioned in it.
There are, however, as I will demonstrate, good reasons not to limit the
prophetic promises given by Lehi and others merely to the boundaries of the
place where the events described in the Book of Mormon actually took place,
wherever that might have been.

Dismay at a Miasma

Heartlanders seem to restrict blessings to the distant
remnants of the Lehites who now live in the United States of America, and perhaps
even to what they describe as the “Heartland,” and also to those who
carry the X2a genetic marker. There are numerous objections to such an
ideology. One can easily find solid evidence that many thousands and perhaps
even hundreds of thousands of faithful Latter-day Saints currently living
outside the continental boundaries of the United States have appropriated the
prophetic promises set out in the Book of Mormon. Are they mistaken, or have
they been deceived? The Brethren have for a long time embraced the concept that
indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, as well as in some of the islands
in the Pacific, may rightfully consider themselves for covenant reasons to be,
in some way not fully understood, authentic descendants of Lehi.

Evidence of this can be found in many temple dedicatory
prayers in Mexico and farther south on the American continent and even in the
Pacific. For example, President Heber J. Grant, on 27–30 November 1919,
when he dedicated the Laie Hawaii Temple, the first LDS temple outside
continental America, thanked God “that thousands and tens of thousands of
the descendants of Lehi, in this favored land, have come to a knowledge of the
gospel, many of whom have endured faithfully to the end of their lives.”49 Later, when the Hamilton New Zealand Temple—the first one in the South Pacific—was
dedicated by President David O. McKay on 20 April 1958, he expressed to God his
own “gratitude that to these fertile Islands Thou didst guide descendants
of Father Lehi.”50

A Final Note

We have attempted in this issue
of the Review to tidy a portion of the garden of Book of Mormon studies by including Gregory
Smith’s examination of the array of “scientific” claims found in Remnant
through DNA
.51 His conclusion is that there is much confusion and garbled science in that
publication. In addition to Smith’s review essay, Ugo Perego provides an astute
unraveling of the Heartlander claim that a maternally transmitted genetic
marker—a mutation (known as X2a) of the older marker called
X—provides DNA proof of Lehites in the New World.52 These two
essays thus demolish the claim that a mutation of that marker now identifies a
remnant of the Lehi colony. Smith and Perego demonstrate that X simply cannot
mark the spot.53

Editor’s Picks

Although always a difficult task, we hereby undertake to
assign levels of merit to the books that are reviewed in this issue of the Review.

This is the scale that we use in our rating system:

Outstanding, a seminal work of the kind that appears only rarely

    ***     Enthusiastically

    **     Warmly

    *     Recommended

And now for the

Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round

    ****      John
W. Welch, The Sermon on the Mount in the Light
of the Temple

Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide

    ***     William
J. Hamblin and David Rolph Seely, Solomon’s
Temple: Myth and History

    **     Matthew B. Brown, A Pillar of
Light: The History
and Message of the First Vision


Without the selfless efforts of those whose essays we
publish, there would be no Review. We depend entirely upon those who consent to
write for us. We wish to thank these authors, who receive no compensation other
than a copy of the current issue of the Review, the satisfaction of
seeing their work in print, and the pleasure of defending the kingdom of God.
(Some may also receive a copy of the book they are invited to review.) We also
thank Alison Coutts for editorial review and typesetting; Don Brugger and
intern Rebekah Atkin for their meticulous editorial work; Paula Hicken, Jacob
Rawlins, Shirley Ricks, and Sandra Thorne for final manuscript preparation; and
all others who have assisted in making editorial decisions.


1. See Daniel C. Peterson, “Introduction,” Review
of Books on the Book of Mormon
1 (1989): ix.

2. Peterson, “Introduction,”

3. Peterson, “Introduction,”

4. The original title was Review of
Books on the Book of Mormon
. A gradual enhancement of the content of
this journal signaled the change in 1996 to FARMS Review of Books, which
better reflected its expanded scope and contents. In 2003 the title was shortened
to The
FARMS Review

5. Peterson, “Introduction,”

6. Peterson, “Introduction,”

7. This is an English
translation of fides quaerens intellectum, which was fashioned by
Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109).

8. Peterson, “Introduction,”

9. Peterson, “Introduction,”

10. See John W. Welch, “From
the Preface to The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple,”
in this issue of the Review.

11. See George L. Mitton, “Basic
New Perspectives on the Sermon on the Mount,” in this issue of the Review.

12. See Gaye Strathearn, “A
Unique Approach to the Sermon on the Mount,” in this issue of the Review.

13. See Steven L. Olsen, “Prospering
in the Land of Promise,” in this issue of the Review.

14. See George L. Mitton, review
of A
Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision
, by
Matthew B. Brown, in this issue of the Review.

15. See Louis Midgley, review of Pocket
History of Theology
, by Roger E. Olson and Adam C. English, in this
issue of the Review.

16. See Louis Midgley, review of Pocket
History of Evangelical Theology
, by Roger E. Olson, in this issue of
the Review.

17. See Daniel C. Peterson,
review of Understanding
the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide
, by Grant Hardy, in this issue
of the Review.

18. See Daniel C. Peterson,
review of Solomon’s
Temple: Myth and History
, by William J. Hamblin and David Rolph
Seely, in this issue of the Review.

19. See Louis Midgley, review of One Eternal
, by Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, in this issue of the Review.

20. See review of Understanding
the Book of Mormon: A Quick Christian Guide to the Mormon Holy Book
by Ross Anderson, in FARMS Review 21/1 (2009): 234–37.

21. See Ben McGuire, “Understanding
the Book of Mormon? He ‘Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks,'”
review of Understanding
the Book of Mormon
, by Anderson, in this issue of the Review.

22. See Robert Boylan, “On
Not Understanding the Book of Mormon,” review of Understanding
the Book of Mormon
, by Anderson, in this issue of the Review.

23. See John Gee, “The Grace
of Christ,” in this issue of the Review. In this essay, Gee builds
on and extends the material he initially set out in his review of Robert
Millett’s By
Grace Are We Saved
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989). See Gee’s
comments on this book in the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 2 (1990): 100–106.

24. See Louis Midgley, “The
Wedding of Athens and Jerusalem: An Evangelical Perplexity and a Latter-day
Saint Answer,” FARMS Review 21/2 (2009): xxxiii–xxxix.

25. These efforts can be
contrasted with Brant Gardner’s Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual
Commentary on the Book of Mormon
, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford
Books, 2007). Instead of trying to find the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica,
Gardner reverses the direction; he seeks to find Mesoamerica in the Book of
Mormon. Doing this, he argues, opens up the meaning of the text.

26. F. Richard Hauck, Deciphering
the Geography of the Book of Mormon
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book,

27. See John Clark, “A Key
for Evaluating Nephite Geographies,” review of Deciphering the Geography of
the Book of Mormon
, by F. Richard Hauck, Review of Books on the Book of
1 (1989): 20–70. See also, in the same issue, William
Hamblin, “A Stumble Forward,” 71–77, another review of Hauck’s

28. See Michael J. Preece, review
of Exploring
the Lands of the Book of Mormon
, by Joseph L. Allen, Review of
Books on the Book of Mormon
3 (1989): 32–51. See also Brant A.
Gardner, “With What Measure?” review of Mesoamerica and the Book of
Mormon: Is This the Place?
by John Lund, FARMS Review 21/2
(2009): 153–67.

29. Embaye Melekin, Manifestations
Mysteries Revealed: An Account of Bible Truth and the Book of Mormon Prophecies
(self-published, 2000). See Michael R. Ash, “Lehi of Africa,” FARMS Review
of Books
13/2 (2001): 5–20, for comments on this bizarre bit
of nonsense.

30. Ralph Austin Olson, A More
Promising Land of Promise: For the Book of Mormon Prophecies
Vivid Volumes, 2006). See also Olson’s essay entitled “A Malay Site for
Book of Mormon Events,” Sunstone, March 2004,
30–34. Olson is a retired chemistry professor at Montana State University
and, unlike Melekin, is not joking.

31. George D. Potter, Nephi in the
Promised Land: More Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is a True History
UT: Cedar Fort, 2009). By placing the geography of the Book of Mormon in Peru,
Potter seems to be following in the footsteps of Arthur J. Kocherhans, Lehi’s Isle
of Promise
(Fullerton, CA: Et Cetera, 1989). For a response, see
James H. Fleugel’s review in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 3 (1991): 96–100. An earlier version of the argument that the Book of
Mormon took place in Peru can be found in Venice Priddis, The Book and
the Map: New Insights into Book of Mormon Geography
(Salt Lake City:
Bookcraft, 1975).

32. See W. Vincent Coon, Choice Above
all Other Lands: Book of Mormon Covenant Lands According to the Best Sources
(Salt Lake City: Brit Publishing, 2008), for a version of this theory.

33. See Peter Covino Jr., A Promised
Land, the Land of Promise, the Land of Ancient America: A Nephite Perspective
ed. Vince and Kim Covino and Heidi Luekenga (Meridian, ID: Alpha Publishing,

34. Wayne N. May’s three-volume This Land series appeared in 2002, 2004, and 2005. He published these books under the
Ancient American Archaeology imprint.

35. See Brant A. Gardner, “This
Idea: The ‘This Land’ Series and the U.S.-Centric Reading of the Book of
Mormon,” FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 141–62, for a survey
of grave problems clinging to May’s effort to use the Michigan artifacts as “proof”
for the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

36. On 9 June 2010, two items
appeared on a new Web site entitled “The FIRM Foundation,” accessible
at www.firmlds.com (accessed 2 July 2010). Under the heading “Further
Evidence of a ‘Heartland’ shift,” it was reported that “even the most
avid supporters of Mesoamerican models now admit that the Heartland Model Book
of Mormon geography has become a movement sufficient to warrant their utmost
attention and concern.” This item was immediately followed by a heading
announcing “Heartland Model declared a ‘movement.'”
This was followed by the claim that “both LDS and non-LDS people are now
officially calling the ‘Heartland Model’ research a ‘movement’ within the
membership of the Church!” These claims were based on two newspaper
reports, cited on the organization’s webpage, calling attention to the fact
that some Heartland disciples claim that there is a new “movement”
that will, they believe, soon sweep through the Church of Jesus Christ and
radically transform the opinions of the Saints concerning the Book of Mormon
and other matters.

37. See “Book of Mormon
Evidence” at www.bookofmormonevidence.org (accessed 2 July 2010).

38. See Rod L. Meldrum, Rediscovering
the Book of Mormon Remnant through DNA
(Honeoye Falls, NY: Digital
Legend, 2009); and Bruce H. Porter and Rod L. Meldrum, Prophecies
and Promises: The Book of Mormon and the United States of America
(New York: Digital Legend, 2009). The latter volume has been issued in two
somewhat different versions, identified as either “First Printing: Oct
2009 (V5)” or as “Third Printing: Dec 2009 (V6)” on the
publication pages of these editions. The reason for two closely published
editions is that, it seems, those at Deseret Book insisted that changes be made
to V5, which resulted in V6. It is not clear whether the presumably offending
edition continued to be sold at Deseret Book outlets until the supply was

39. See www.fairlds.org. FAIR is
a nonprofit endeavor by a large group of volunteers to explain and defend the
faith of the Saints. They do this by answering questions, making available
accurate information on puzzling and controversial issues, and by holding an
annual conference.

40. For the results of the
careful examination of the Meldrum’s stance by a group of FAIR volunteers, see “Misguided
Zeal and Defense of the Church,” at
www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/MisguidedF.html (accessed 28 June 2010). For a
PDF version, see www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/MisguidedF.pdf (accessed 28
June 2010); for an “Executive Summary,” see
www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/MisguidedS.html (accessed 28 June 2010). Meldrum
worked briefly on a degree in marketing at Utah State University. Subsequently,
among other entrepreneurial endeavors, he “was President and CEO of High
Country Gourmet in Orem, Utah,” which sold a dehydrated soup mix to those
anxious about the Y2K scare. “More recently he was Director of Business
Development for Interact Medical,” which sells electronic “training
systems for surgeons and patients in the medical device industry.” In
addition, he “served as senior scientific researcher for 7 years on a
natural science book to be published in the near future.” This 1200-page
university-level text “will be the culmination of over 12 years of
research.” His role as “researcher . . . on a university-level text”
seems to have involved fashioning a young earth creationist/anti-evolution
ideology. All quoted material above is found in “About the Author” in
Meldrum’s book Rediscovering the Book of Mormon Remnant
through DNA
, v.

41. See Daniel C. Peterson, ed., The Book of
Mormon and DNA Research
(Provo, UT: Maxwell Institute, 2008),
especially the chapters by John M. Butler, “Addressing Questions
surrounding the Book of Mormon and DNA Research,” 71–78; Michael F.
Whiting, “DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic Perspective,”
79–97; and David A. McClellan, “Detecting Lehi’s Genetic Signature,”
99–155. See also Kevin L. Barney, “A Brief Review of Murphy and Southerton’s
‘Galileo Event,'”
(accessed 28 June 2010); and the extensive review at
(accessed 28 June 2010).

42. Thomas W. Murphy, “Lamanite
Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics,” in American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of
, ed. Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City:
Signature Books, 2002), 47–77; Thomas W. Murphy and Simon G. Southerton, “Genetic
Research a ‘Galileo Event’ for Mormons,” Anthropology News 44/2 (February
2003): 20; and Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA,
and the Mormon Church
(Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2004).

43. The Lehites thus are pictured
in the Heartland ideology as either identical to or closely related to those
Native Americans who built the extensive mounds scattered around the area in
which Joseph Smith lived. This is also one of the favorite explanations for the
Book of Mormon fashioned by its earliest critics, who sometimes claimed that
Joseph had fashioned fiction to explain those mounds. There is, however,
evidence in the Book of Mormon of urban centers, fortifications, towers,
temples, and so forth, but little or nothing to suggest anything like the mounds
that so fascinated early European settlers. But the Heartland Model points only
to those elaborate mounds.

44. See, for example, John E.
Clark, “The Final Battle for Cumorah,” review of Christ in
North America
, by Delbert W. Curtis, Review of Books on the Book of
6/2 (1994): 79–113; Clark, “Two Points of Book of
Mormon Geography: A Review,” review of The Land of Lehi, by Paul
Hedengren, FARMS
Review of Books
8/2 (1996): 1–24; and especially Clark, “Evaluating
the Case for a Limited Great Lakes Setting,” FARMS Review of Books 14/1–2 (2002): 9–77.

45. Heartland partisans do not
indicate whether they have in mind the United States as it was originally, as
it was when the Book of Mormon was recovered, or as it is presently
constituted, which would include Alaska, Hawaii, and other insular territories
currently under the hegemony of the government of the United States of America.

46. “Book of Mormon
Convention,” Provo Daily Enquirer, Saturday, 23 May 1903, also
quoted in “Where Was Zarahemla?” Provo Daily Enquirer, Monday, 25
May 1903. Essentially the same news report was published under the title “Book
of Mormon Students Meet,” Deseret Morning News, Monday, 25
May 1903, p. 9. All subsequent quotations are found in both accounts. Matthew
Roper deserves full credit for identifying these items.

47. Porter and Meldrum, Prophecies
and Promises
, first page of the preface in both version 5 and 6.

48. “This book,”
according to the Heartlanders, “is dedicated to the historically
documented position that the Prophet Joseph Smith did, indeed, have much
knowledge and insight into the geographical setting for the Book of Mormon and
that he did actually claim inspiration for numerous statements he made in that
regard” (Porter and Meldrum, Prophecies and Promises, version
6, p. 95). “Joseph Smith was not a confused bystander in the unfolding to
our view the realities of ancient America and Book of Mormon historicity,
indeed he was the leading expert on those events certainly regarding the
general whereabouts of the Book of Mormon saga and as we have seen in some
cases, the exact location of certain events.” They also insist that, “in
contrast to the confusion and perplexity that has dogged this subject over the
ensuing years, Joseph himself was clear and concise in his declaration of
inspiration and in his knowledge of the geographical setting for the Book of
Mormon” (p. 120).

49. This prayer can be accessed
at www.ldschurchtemples.com/laie/prayer (accessed 28 June 2010).

50. This prayer can be accessed
at www.ldschurchtemples.com/hamilton/prayer (accessed 28 June 2010).

51. See Gregory L. Smith, “Often
in Error, Seldom in Doubt—Rod Meldrum and Book of Mormon DNA,” in
this issue of the Review.

52. See Ugo A. Perego, “The
Book of Mormon and the Origin of Native Americans from a Maternally Inherited
DNA Standpoint,” in this issue of the Review.

53. Neither Greg Smith nor Ugo
Perego argues for a Mesoamerican location for the Lehi colony in the New World.
In addition, while I believe that a Mesoamerican location is by far the most
plausible, I have never addressed this topic in anything I have published, and
this is, I also believe, true for my colleagues George Mitton and Daniel C.