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From the East to the West: The Problem of Directions in the Book of Mormon

TitleFrom the East to the West: The Problem of Directions in the Book of Mormon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGardner, Brant A.
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture
KeywordsBook of Mormon Geography; Mesoamerica

The 1985 publication of John L. Sorenson’s An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon presented the best argument for a New World location for the Book of Mormon. For all of its strengths, however, one aspect of the model has remained perplexing. It appeared that in order to accept that correlation one must accept that the Nephites rotated north to what we typically understand as northwest. The internal connections between text and geography were tighter than any previous correlation, and the connections between that particular geography and the history of the peoples who lived in that place during Book of Mormon times was also impressive. There was just that little problem of north not being north. This paper reexamines the Book of Mormon directional terms and interprets them against the cultural system that was prevalent in the area defined by Sorenson’s geographical correlation. The result is a way to understand Book of Mormon directions without requiring any skewing of magnetic north.