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BoM: Malay, Baja, New York (Part 2 of 6)

We’re continuing our series on Book of Mormon geography theories.  This time we’ll hit Malay, Baja, and New York geography theories.

GT:  The next theory that’s definitely different is the Malay theory by Dr. Ralph Olsen. Ralph passed away about five years ago, unfortunately. I actually spoke with Ralph before he passed away. This is a really fun theory. I know a lot of people will look at this theory and say, “Asia? Southeast Asia? How can this be?” But, one of the nice things about this is, number one, you’ve got a north/south orientation on a peninsula here. So, it kind of matches Mormon’s Map that we mentioned a few slides ago with Dr. [Sorensen]. The word Thailand means land of the free. We talk about the Book of Mormon being–or in the Book of Mormon, it mentions that America will be, or the Promised Land; I shouldn’t say America.  It never says America.  The Promised Land is a land of liberty. This area has never been colonized by any of the Western powers, so that could be a case where you could say, “Oh, I did not know Thailand means land of the free,” but that’s kind of interesting.

GT:  K.C. Kern did a four part review of this theory on Wheat and Tares [blog]. I’ve got a link there, if you’d like to see. So, this could include modern day Thailand, Malaysia and Burma. I’ve actually got an interview with K.C. coming up in about a month, and we’re going to go into a lot more detail than I’m going in this presentation. But, the thing that I like about this is a lot of the anachronisms that the Book of Mormon critics complain about [including] gold, horses, elephants, that sort of thing, disappear completely with this theory. So wheat, barley, has been used in the right time period. Dr. Olsen’s first manuscript is called The Malay Peninsula. I’ve actually got it on my website. Voni Rivas is Ralph’s daughter. She’s on the call here tonight. She gave me permission to put this on my website. So, if you’re interested, this is a kind of the free version of the book here. You can purchase the book there, but the free version is now on my website. That link there. The website is down right now. Voni is trying to get it back up.

GT  22:24  The Baja theory: I interviewed David Rosenvall, him and his dad. His dad was a geographer. I think he was at BYU, if I remember right. You can see his website there. I’ve got the interviews. I interviewed him a while back. He basically believes the Baja Peninsula [theory,] which is, of course, just below Southern California, and across the bay there from mainland Mexico. Once again, it has a north/south orientation. So, that seems to be a benefit. It’s got a similar climate to the Mediterranean, a lot of times. Nephi says that they took seeds with them, and the seeds grew. They probably wouldn’t grow very well in New York. But, being a Mediterranean climate, theoretically, these seeds would have grown. David also says this is compatible with the Mesoamerican theory. He says that maybe they started in Baja and then perhaps migrated over to mainland Mexico. The peninsula matches, the distances match. He says there are no anachronisms. I take a little bit of issue with that. I’ll talk about that in just a moment.

GT:  The Book of Mormon and early church leaders said the Book of Mormon was about the inhabitants of this continent. So, that would be another advantage there. One of the things that David has done is he says that there are some similarities between Uto-Aztecan language and Semitic languages, and so they’ve done some research on there. I think we need to get some more on that. But he thinks that there are elements of Semitic languages in Aztec languages.

GT:  Some of the cons: the biggest is that he said that there are no anachronisms. One of the claims is the elephants, horses, plants are found here. The problem is the elephants, and the horses are found in the La Brea Tar Pits, which are in the Baja Peninsula. But the carbon dating dates those to the last Ice Age, which is 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. So, yes, there were elephants. There were horses. But we haven’t found anything that dates to the time of Lehi. So, that’s one of the problems. But, yes, there have been some things found in the La Brea Tar Pits.

GT: Another theory that’s kind of a fun theory is kind of this New York/Great Lakes theory. The one that I’m familiar with, is, can be found at With this theory, it’s kind of a limited geography theory in the fact that, basically, it that takes place among the Great Lakes.  You can see between the lakes [a narrow neck of land.] Those lakes could be called seas. The Dead Sea in Israel is much smaller than the Great Lakes. So, if you refer to the Great Lakes as seas, you could argue that.  You’ve got lots of places for narrow necks of land there.

GT:  This is the one theory that I’m most familiar with. There were some reviews done on a website called, and these were done back in 2008, so they’re a little bit dated. The website has definitely changed since then. My impression is the guy, and I wish I knew who it was that runs [] He’s not a scholar at all. If you challenge him on anything, he gets really, really defensive. But being in New York/Great Lakes, one of the things about the Book of Mormon is it never mentioned snow or cold. I can’t imagine, especially being around the Great Lakes, there would have been a lot of snowstorms and even a lot of cold. I know everybody likes to say the Hill Cumorah is in New York.  You would think that they would have mentioned a snowstorm in the Book of Mormon. So, Sorenson and most other people think that it was more of a tropical climate. So, that’s another problem with the Great Lakes theory. As far as pros, it’s not a north/south peninsula, but it has several candidates for a narrow neck of land. The lakes could be reasonably construed as seas.  Limited geography is more appropriate than say, a hemispheric model.

Check out our conversation….

We look at Malay, Baja, and New York Theories of Book of Mormon geography.

Don’t miss our pvious conversations with KC Kern and David Rosenvall!

543: Further Considerations on Malay Hypothesis (Kern)

542: Intro to Malay Hypothesis (Kern)

058: What are the Strengths of the Baja Theory? (Rosenvall)

David Rosenvall put together and is co-author of Baja Theory of Book of Mormon

057: Solved!  DNA & Book of Mormon (Rosenvall)

056: Can David Answer Critics Questions about Animals, Steel, and Cumorah?  (Rosenvall)

055: Baja vs Meso:  Who Wins? (Rosenvall)

054: Book of Mormon on the Baja Peninsula?  (Rosenvall)

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Best Reasons for the Baja Theory

This is our last conversation with David Rosenvall.  In our last few episodes we’ve tried to poke holes in David’s theory of the Baja Theory of the Book of Mormon.  In this episode, we’ll talk about strengths of the theory.

I think one of the other things that makes Baja a little unique is this concept of being isolated.  The text over and over seems to imply that they were alone.  They didn’t have encounters with other people.  They were always the kings.  They were always fighting with their brothers.  When they found the Mulekites they were so excited that they put it in their record.  When they found evidence of another culture that had been wiped out, they put it in their record.  So you have to have some location that seems very isolated.  How do you isolate a group of people for that long that they don’t talk about anyone else?  In a peninsula like Baja, even today is isolated from mainland Mexico, even with all we have, so it’s a great place for isolation.  It’s a semi-arid, isolated environments are probably two of the strongest strengths that we have.

We’ll talk about the narrow neck of land.

There’s only one place you can actually see mainland Mexico from Baja.  It’s in the area just a little bit north of halfway down here at a place called Bajia De Los Angeles where you can actually see across here.  Everywhere else you can’t actually see, which is interesting because the text talks about, in this very location, the text says where the sea divides the land.  We assume they could see it, so here it’s about 40 miles.  Everywhere else it gets up into 60, 70, 80 miles.  The only place they could have seen mainland Mexico is right where it was described, right where the narrow neck, the line of defense.  We actually look at that geographically that their one location, and the only on Baja where you have a place that you can across, it’s kind of exciting.

You might want to watch this episode on YouTube.  We will zoom in on his map as he talks about different geographical features of the Baja Peninsula that he thinks correlate with the Book of Mormon.  (Don’t forget to check out our previous post on DNA.)  I hope you check out our conversation….


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Baja vs Meso: Who Wins?

We’re continuing our conversation with David Rosenvall.  He’s the guy who came up with the idea that the Book of Mormon lands may have occurred in the Baja Peninsula.  I’ve also asked him to critique John L. Sorenson’s theory.  Sorenson has the dominant theory where the Book of Mormon took place in Central America.  I’ll ask David to critique John’s theory.

David:  One of the things that I think the Mesoamerican models do is they focus very much on the human geography, and I think they’ve done a really good job at identifying things in Mesoamerica that can be tied back to the Book of Mormon culturally: language perhaps, structures, some of those types of things.  Where they get in trouble is where they try to place the physical geography on top of that, things start turning sideways, distances and so forth, you get all sideways.

GT:  Well let’s talk about that for a second.

David:  You bet.

GT:  To me that’s one of the biggest problems.  When you think of North and South America, well north and south makes a lot of sense.  But when you get to Mesoamerica, the narrow neck of land is actually situated east and west.  It’s not north and south.

David:  Yeah, so the orientation is a problem.  One thing we do in the text is we assume it was given to us by the gift and power of God.  We don’t need to retranslate it.  If it says east, it’s east.  If it’s west, it’s west.  If the swords rusted, they’re made of steel.  Animals are the animals stated and so forth.

When you get into some of the other geography, you’re having to rotate things and stretch distances.  That’s ok; let them work that out.  But our model is, what does the text say?  And apply it using the science we know today.  We find a location that can fit.  That’s the basis.  That’s it.  Read the text and use science to try to review it.

There is a post at Wheat and Tares where someone explains why Sorenson’s model is ok.

I also want to point to an area that David has focused on is the area of language.

There’s a great work done by Brian Stubbs that has followed the language of some of these people.  He’s tied a group of Native Americans called Uto-Aztecan people, identified by their language and you can see how they have moved and they ended up as the Aztecs in Central America.  If that’s who are the Book of Mormon people, you would see their culture where they were found when the Europeans found them.  But trace them back to where their language came from and you’ll find it’s southern California and northern Baja.

We’ll talk more about language in a future episode, but let me ask you.  Do you see think the east-west orientation is a problem for Sorenson’s model?  What do you think of the Baja model?

Check out David’s introduction to the theory in the previous post, and check out the video below or audio above.  Don’t forget there are less than two weeks to sign up for the free book!