Many proposed Book of Mormon geography theories were originated using a method proposed by Dr. John Sorenson and others who taught that the first step was to create a hypothetical or “internal” map using the 500+ geography related passages. This has lead to more than 150 different proposed geographies. The book was not written for its geography, but for its prophecies. Can we learn more about its geography through its prophecies than we can by speculating using hypothetical maps?
How Many Promised Lands Are There, When Were They Established, And Where Are They Located?
The first recorded instance in scripture of a “land of promise” is a land called Cainan, named after a great-grandson of Father Adam (PGP Moses 6:17). Three years prior to his death, Adam called his righteous posterity together, including Cainan, and gave them his last blessing in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman (D&C 107:53). Thus, the original or pre-flood “land of promise” was a land near what is today the state of Missouri, USA (D&C 116:1).
Following Noah’s flood God gave Abraham a land known as Canaan (Gen. 13:14–15, Abraham 2:18–19), which is present day Israel (see map), for his posterity, together with a covenant that as long as his children would keep His commandments, they would be blessed with posterity (seed), security (protection) and prosperity (economic) Gen. 13:14–16, D&C 132:30, 1 Kings 2:3, 1 Chron. 22:13. This covenant, according to Abraham, “came down from the fathers…before the foundation of the earth” (Abraham 1:2–3) and was provided by God for the purpose that His covenant people, whilst they lived on their covenant promised lands, could be a blessing to “all the nations of the earth” (Gen. 22:18).
These two covenant lands, one New World and one Old World, would be provided with the necessities for their success and would be located conducive to the fulfillment of this responsibility. Just as ancient Israel was situated amidst the civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria and Persia, yet remained among the later civilizations of Rome and Greece at the time of Christ, so too the New World covenant land would be provided with all things necessary for its success. It would also be situated to best take advantage of its location to bless other nations and peoples, to become a shining beacon of hope and light and bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world as had ancient Israel. These two lands were covenanted and promised by God for the inheritance of His covenant people throughout the history of mankind and these same two promised lands are designated as the final gathering place for God’s chosen people, Israel. They are, namely, Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem. Both of these physical locations are known through history and through revelation respectively, and are not speculative (D&C 84:1–4).
The Book of Mormon is Consistent With Recorded Old Testament History
According to Christ’s recorded words to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, there are only two covenant lands of promise for the house of Israel; Jerusalem (3 Nephi 20:29) and New Jerusalem (3 Nephi 20:22). It is known by revelation that the location where the New Jerusalem will be built is currently the state of Missouri, USA (D&C 84:1–4). Missouri is also the location of the ancient land of Cainan, the original “land of promise.” The scriptures have been consistent throughout time because these covenant lands of promise were established before the foundations of the world.