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Intro to Malay Hypothesis (Part 5 of 6)

Where did the Book of Mormon take place?  Most people think it is in Central or South America, or maybe North America.  However, we’re going to talk about the most unusual theory around called the Malay Peninsula, as in Malaysia, as in Southeast Asia.  It’s a very unusual theory.  It’s a fun theory, and we’ll find out more about how KC Kern and Greg Pavone got acquainted with this.

KC:  So, with that in mind, I encountered this [Malay theory.] I can’t remember where it was. Honestly, I think it must have been a blog post. I don’t know if it was on Mormon Matters, or the blogosphere circa 2006-2007. There was some comment about it. It’s like Malay theory.  Seeing [the comments about the Malay theory], it just did not register. I was just like, what the heck is this?  But [these comments] kept coming up. I’m like, “Why do you keep talking about the Book of Mormon in Malaysia?” This makes no sense.

GT:  That was my reaction, too, when I first heard about it.

KC:  It’s just completely bonkers. I’m thinking, “Why doesn’t this guy get banned?” Okay, so, I’m just like, okay, Malaysia, what are you even talking about? So I opened up Google Earth, and I type in “Malaysia.” And then Google Earth starts spinning—goes across the world, starts zooming in, and I see it.

KC:  I see this. [The shape of the internal map from Mormon’s Map]  It was a jaw-dropping moment.  It was like—how has nobody noticed this before? That was just the first impression. I started digging more, and then I came across Ralph Olsen’s work where he basically proposes that the Book of Mormon took place on the Malay Peninsula. The narrow neck and the land northward and the land southward, it all took place there. Now, Lehi and his family left the Arabian Peninsula and traveled the coast around India, the Bay of Bengal and then landed and stayed on the Malay Peninsula. That’s just so like, “Wait, what? No, the Book of Mormons is about America.” So, the first concession to make is, this is absolutely 100% incompatible with any traditional reception history of the Book of Mormon and that has to be established upfront.  You can’t make it work—pretty much at all. There’s no question that for Joseph Smith and early Saints and everyone—this was about America.

KC:  But, there’s one thing that I think is really worth noting. What I have found is, as I’ve looked into various geography theories, a lot of them turn into dead ends very quickly. What I have found is that the Malay one, has continued to be a fruitful line of inquiry, meaning that the more you press against it, the more it yields. Let me give two examples there. The Karen, like I said, they’re an ethnic minority in Burma, and they’ve had a lot of military conflicts with the Burmese Government. They’ve set up their own militia. In their history, and this is in the early 90s, there was this one confrontation where they had the stronghold around this oxbow lake thing on a river on the border of Thailand. They named that stronghold Kawmoora (Cumorah.) I kid you not. I read this in a book, and it’s just like all the Karen, their last outpost was Kawmoora. I’m just like [wow!]

KC:  If any of this, in any remote sense, was emerging from the Ohio River Valley, or from Mississippi or from Chiapas, Mexico, a lot of people would be making a lot of noise on the apologetic side. The other thing is after I published that article on the blog, I got a note from this guy in Kentucky. He said, “I can prove this theory true.” I’m like, “Okay, I’ll bite.” So, I respond, I get his phone number. I have a conversation and he says that there were some Karen students they were refugees in the U.S. in Kentucky. He was a shop teacher or auto mechanic and he had some [Karen] students that he was talking to.  He had somehow gotten his hand on the Caractors Document. Do you know which I’m talking about? The one that was copied by John Whitmer and may or may not have been the Anthon Transcript.

GT:  That Mark Hofmann made a forgery of it, too.

KC:  Right, or at least was inspired by that.  He [the teacher] supposedly had that, things copied from the gold plates. This Karen student looks at that and says, “Oh, I know this.  This is chicken scratch script.”  It was just like, what? Okay, what is this about? So, I look it up.  The proper name for the script is called Leke script. It’s unique to the Karen people. They teach their youth in these camps, how to how to write in this script. I contacted an expert in the script. There’s not a lot [of experts]. I gave them the Caractors Document and said to them, “Does this check out? Does this look familiar at all?”  The expert said, “Well, are many iterations of [the script]”  They had examples from the 1800s, and stuff like this. [The Caractors] would be coming from 500 or 400 AD.  It’s not going to be a match. But, they mentioned that there were certain characters that looked similar. At that point, it’s like—I know, Dan Vogel’s is like, “Oh, well, it’s just 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in Arabic numbers and [Joseph is] just reconfiguring them.” The characters are simple enough and abstract enough that you can squeeze in anything, but just the fact that the aesthetic was—completely unsolicited—recognized by a Karen student, and made enough of an impact that they contacted me out of nowhere, in response to the article. It was just like [Wow!] This should not be happening. If this is completely nonsensical, we should not see any of this. And if anything like this was happening about Mayan glyphs, you know there would be entire volumes of apologetic works written about it.

Are you familiar with the Malay Theory?  What do you think of it?  Check out our conversation….

Dr. Ralph Olsen believes the Book of Mormon took place on the Malay Peninsula. KC Kern introduces us to the theory, discussing strengths & weaknesses.

Don’t miss our other conversations with KC and Greg.

541: Clearing Out the Mormon Cave

540: Finding the Mormon Cave

539: History of Mormon Cave

538: Raiders of the Lost Mormon Cave

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Clearing out the Mormon Cave (Part 4 of 6)

As you know, KC Kern and Greg Pavone hit pay dirt and found the Mormon Cave.  Now we’re going to talk about the dig inside the cave where they tried to clear it out.  What did they find in the cave?

Greg:  So, at the base of the cave, there were these wooden boards, and we, honestly, not being archaeologists, didn’t want to damage anything. So, we dug down, probably 10 feet or so.

GT:  Inside the cave?

Greg:  Inside the cave, cleared all the dirt out, but there So, at the base of the cave, there were these wooden boards, and we, honestly, not being archaeologists, didn’t want to damage anything. So, we dug down, probably 10 feet or so.

GT: Inside the cave?

Greg: Inside the cave, cleared all the dirt out, but there were these wooden boards that we didn’t want to necessarily fully [destroy.] We didn’t want to keep going down.

KC: We were running out of time.Greg: And we were running out of time.

GT: Kind of like a boardwalk.

Greg: Yeah. What I would love to see if I had the time and the resources and the expertise, would be to have a full archeological dig occur on that site. To go down, dig farther down, like I said, and to really do it right with experts and professionals who can both safely and properly archive and protect anything that could be there. It’d be even better, I would think, if the Church, if they were interested, would maybe purchase the property, and then restore the cave to its original 40-foot dimensions to say, hey, this was a part of the Restoration and maybe turn it into a visitor’s center, so people can see what it originally looked like. That would be interesting.

KC: That would be a big project. It would require, probably like installing a big culvert or some sort of structure that would keep things in place. Then, of course, do all the earth moving to bring it back.GT: You’ll have to get [some universities involved.] I know BYU has got an Archaeology Department. Of course, Utah State and Utah both have Mormon Studies departments. I think you should talk to them. I know Utah State has done some archaeological research with the Bear River Ma were these wooden boards that we didn’t want to necessarily fully [destroy.] We didn’t want to keep going down.

KC:  We were running out of time.

Greg:  And we were running out of time.

GT:  Kind of like a boardwalk.

Greg:  Yeah.  What I would love to see if I had the time and the resources and the expertise, would be to have a full archeological dig occur on that site. To go down, dig farther down, like I said, and to really do it right with experts and professionals who can both safely and properly archive and protect anything that could be there. It’d be even better, I would think, if the Church, if they were interested, would maybe purchase the property, and then restore the cave to its original 40-foot dimensions to say, hey, this was a part of the Restoration and maybe turn it into a visitor’s center, so people can see what it originally looked like. That would be interesting.

KC:  That would be a big project. It would require, probably like installing a big culvert or some sort of structure that would keep things in place. Then, of course, do all the earth moving to bring it back.

GT:  You’ll have to get [some universities involved.] I know BYU has got an Archaeology Department. Of course, Utah State and Utah both have Mormon Studies departments. I think you should talk to them. I know Utah State has done some archaeological research with the Bear River Massacre site.

Check out our conversation….

What did KC Kern & Greg Pavone find when clearing out the Lost Mormon Cave?

Don’t miss our other conversations with KC and Greg!

540: Finding the Mormon Cave

539: History of Mormon Cave

538: Raiders of the Lost Mormon Cave

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Finding the Mormon Cave (Part 3 of 6)

KC Kern & Greg Pavone feel like they have enough evidence to find the Mormon Cave.  But how will the property owner react?

GT:  So, this was the same house that a few years before you had knocked on and they weren’t home. Is that right?

Greg:  One year before, yes.

KC:  Like six, nine months.

Greg:  I mean, June 2014 is when we knock on the door, they’re not there.  In May of 2015, I return.

GT:  Okay.

Greg:  Yeah. So he was very friendly, a very nice guy. We’re still on very good terms to this day. Right off the bat, he’s like, “Yeah, I’ll take you up there.” So, we grab a shovel. I’m wearing a suit. We grab a shovel. We walk up the hill. There’s this huge impression, almost as if, like KC was talking about earlier, that the cave had been detonated and something fell in on itself. So this is a big hill, and then there’s an impression in the hill, almost like a crater hit it. Imagine that. We have pictures posted. Then, in the middle of that impression is a single tree. It’s about that big around. I was like, “Huh, that’s interesting. What is that? What is this on your property?”  Then, there’s clearly a tractor trail that somebody had driven a tractor up to this location.

GT:  Just one second. Had he heard anything about this cave before you guys said anything to him?

Greg:  He had heard.  I think so.  He had heard. People had contacted him before.

KC:  I think he said some sister missionaries came and visited him.

GT:  Oh, really?

Greg:  Yes. He had heard about it.

GT:  Okay.

Greg:  So, I started digging. I had a shovel. I started digging. Unfortunately, you can only go so far. I came to the conclusion very quickly that wearing a suit, carrying a shovel, I’m not going to get far. I’m going to need more firepower. I’m going to need an excavator. I’m going to need to cut that tree down because it’s right in the middle of where we thought it was. I took a picture of it, and when you match that impression with Dan Vogel’s picture.

And how are they going to get time off to conduct an archaeological dig?

KC:  We self-funded it. Full disclosure, renting an excavator for a weekend cost about $700. We split all the costs.

Greg:  We had to pay the lawyer fees for the contract.

KC:  Yeah, we had to pay the lawyer fees, too.

GT:  Which was probably $700 an hour, right?  (Chuckling)

Greg:  It was all well worth it. We’re not rich people. It was definitely worth it for what happened next. I graduated from my program in late August.  The Navy training pipeline typically has about two weeks or a month of leave sometimes between your next training. So, I had about a month off. So, now fast forward to September 2015. That’s when we decided this is when we’re going to do it.

KC:  I’m in Korea.

Greg:  Remember, he’s in Korea.

KC:  So, just doing a weekend trip to New York is no small deal. But we had this window of opportunity that was from while after you had graduated, but before you had your next post. Meanwhile, I was on a project that involved some market research in the U.S., and it involved going to various retailers throughout the US, pretty much one meeting one day at a time. We were mainly looking at the pharmacies and drugstores. On Monday, I was at a Walgreens in Illinois. On Tuesday, I was at Costco in Washington. On Wednesday, I was, where did I go? Oh, [I was] in Ohio. Then, the schedule was I was supposed to meet Rite Aid on Thursday, and then Walmart on Friday.  The Walmart meeting got canceled, and that pretty much opened it up, because I was planning on being in Arkansas on Friday, and then being able to maybe take some time over the weekend to go fly up to Palmyra.  But that meeting got canceled. That left me in Pennsylvania, meeting Rite Aid on Thursday. I was literally, a three-hour drive away from Palmyra as my business trip was ending. It was really just like, whew, the stars are really aligning. We were both busy people.

Check out our conversation….

KC Kern & Greg Pavone rented an excavator for help in finding the lost Mormon Cave.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with KC & Greg!

539: History of Mormon Cave

538: Raiders of the Lost Mormon Cave