How Manifest Destiny Destroyed Book of Mormon Evidence

Egyptian Temple Clinch River East Tennessee

Newspaper photo graph of the Hopewell Temple site on the Clinch River East Tennessee see:


In 1934, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), was constructing a dam which would flood a portion of the Clinch River in East Tennessee. Because the area to be flooded included a Hopewell Native American mound, a group of archeologists were called in to excavate the site. The archeologists came upon an amazing discovery when they uncovered the ruins of a large stone and wood structure. So unlike any other find found at a Hopewell site, British Egyptologist, James Rendel Harris from the London Museum, was consulted. At the site, Harris identified the structure as an “Egyptian Temple”. A single newspaper article documents this account.

I know! Amazing! An Egyptian temple in East Tennessee of all places, AND why is this fact not widely known??!! I’ll tell you why, Dear Reader, our ignorance of the Egyptian temple ruins in East Tennessee is the consequence of Manifest Destiny.

When European colonists settled North America they found immense earth mounds and earthwork enclosures, larger than Giza in Egypt. Manifest Destiny and all that, it seemed prudent to plow it all under.The vanquished Native inhabitants were deemed ignorant savages. In regards to the Native Americans, consequentialism was the morality of the day, in other words “the ends justify the means”.








“The geography of the Book of Mormon has been a complex issue with multiple factors involved.  For example, when the book was first published, it was commonly thought that Native American Indians had never achieved the level of “civilization” as defined in the book Ancient Society by Lewis Henry Morgan which had become the handbook of instruction for the US government in dealing with the Indians.  Morgan proposed that all human societies evolve through three stages of development, from being ignorant savages (a term he then used to label the Native Americans) to barbarism and finally on towards civilization.  John Wesley Powell, Ephraim George Squier and Morgan were three highly influential men in science, politics and Native American affairs, governing such organizations as the AAAS (American Association for Advancement of Science), the Bureau of Ethnology, the Smithsonian Institution, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and were very active politically.  Both Powell and Squier’s fathers happened to be Methodist ministers in Palmyra New York in the 1820’s when the Book of Mormon was first published and these men began what non-Mormon scholars have called the “wanton destruction” of the ancient history of the Mound Builder civilization.” -Rod L. Meldrum  see:

Over parts of the eastern half of the United States, farmers put their plows to what they wanted to believe was virgin turf. They uncovered arrowheads by the bucketfuls, clay pots, long metal “knives” and occasional stone boxes with the bones of the dead. Thousands of mounds and earthwork stockades were leveled with shovels.  Native American pottery, and other artifacts, and even the bones themselves sometimes made it into private collections. For the most part the metal was melted down and recycled. For a time, bones were ground up into fertilizer, and the unwanted artifacts were thrown into trash piles. European civilization was the victor, and it was in the best interest to promote a Anglo-Saxon version of history. As the immense earthworks were leveled, the North American Native population was completely conquered by wiping away the history and accomplishments of the ancient inhabitants.

Least we frown and waggle our forefingers at our European ancestors with our modern 21st century morality; this conquering business was nothing new to humanity. One group of humans subduing another group of humans seems to me pretty typical human behavior. Conquerors all over the world, throughout recorded history, and across all civilizations, have made it part of their conquering to erase the traces of the previous dynasties.

Battle of Franklin

Battle of Franklin

A perfect example of what occurred in the eastern US, both north and south and including the mid-west, happened where I live. Just south of the town of Franklin Tennessee, on the southern edge of the Eastern flank of the Battle of Franklin where the Army of the Ohio soundly beat the Army of Tennessee on that fateful afternoon of November 30, 1864, is a completely demolished Hopewell Mound Site of the Mississippian period (900-1450AD) identified as the DeGraffenreid Site.

Our house sits on the edge of a ridge just a few yards from a large bend in the Harpeth River, right outside of the approximately 20 acre DeGraffenreid Site in a quiet middle-class subdivision of modest red brick homes. Most people would never guess the rich and varied history of land which has been inhabited by humankind for at least a thousand years. I, in fact did not know about the DeGraffenreid site literally right under us, until very recently, and we have lived here for 22 years.

Harpeth River

Harpeth River

To give you a little history lesson, Dear Reader, the first known inhabitants of our little piece of heaven were the Hopewell Natives of the Mississippian period. Later American settlers, most notably a family of moonshiners who spanned several generations, before, during and after the Civil War, who proudly claimed to be the “biggest moonshining outfit in the county” lived on our property situated between a narrow neck of  land between the 20 acre DeGraffenreid site and 5 Mile Creek which empties into the Harpeth River. The moonshiners were shut down in the 1930’s by a no-nonsense county sheriff who filled the family car with bullet holes and threatened to do the same to the family if they didn’t cease and desist with the illegal distillery. During the Civil War, several skirmishes happened nearby and a Confederate Calvary regiment commanded by Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest camped on our property after the Battle of Franklin.

The DeGraffenreid mounds, one large and eight significantly smaller, were enclosed by an immense stockade. Farmers in the 1800’s greatly damaged the site by leveling the mounds and the stockade. Amateur archeologists shortly after the Civil War carted off some of the artifacts. At the turn of the last century, an early Monsanto company mined the area for phosphate, so by 1919 all traces of the mounds were gone.

Red dot is where the Benson homestead is probably located

Red dot is where the Benson homestead is probably located

After extensive damage was done, during the late 1960’s, we can thank University of Tennessee-Knoxville archeologist H.C. (Buddy) Brehm who visited the site and conducted a meager salvage of the remaining items and more importantly provided documentation of the  DeGraffenreid site. Without Mr Brehm we would know, even less, of the DeGraffenreid site. Unfortunately where these relics are today, cannot be determined. An interesting bit of information from burial mound H1:

four copper crosses (copper plates embossed with a copper cross design)”. From Potash From Pyramids: Reconstructing Degraffenreid (40WM4)–A MIssissippian Mound Complex in Williamson County Tennessee


I did a little digging to find out more about Buddy Brehm and I came across this forehead slapping tidbit:


SIAS members Bob Ferguson (center) and Buddy Brehm (right) discussing the sabertooth cat find with an unidentified worker, summer 1971. Photo courtesy of Les Leverett.

 “During this time there was not a State Archaeologist or antiquities laws in Tennessee, nor were there any universities interested in the archaeology of the region. State laws did not yet protect prehistoric human remains, and when an ancient graveyard was encountered during development, the graves were open to whoever wanted to dig them. My memories from that time include seeing Boy Scout troops digging graves to earn their “Indian Lore” badges, and housewives digging with their kitchen utensils. SIAS members were also present on these sites, though with the intention of recording as much information as possible before graves were bulldozed away. ” John T Dowd


If this all weren’t so tragic, it would be really hilarious in a Keystone Cops kinda way. Think about it, Dear Reader, if this chunk of tantalizing history could exist unknown to me, a person who loves history, right under my nose for two decades….

This brings us to Wayne May and Rod Meldrum. Neither of these gentlemen hold degrees in history or archeology, but instead are Book Of Mormon enthusiasts who are able to think outside the box and have spent many years studying and visiting the Hopewell Civilizations, documenting their discoveries. They maintain that the destruction of other Hopewell sites, similar to the DeGraffinreid site, was repeated over much of the eastern half of the United States, including the mid-west. May and Meldrum believe the North American Hopewell civilizations were the People of Lehi and the Jaredites, and the events described in the Book of Mormon played out not in Mesoamerica, but right here in the United States. May and Meldrum have amassed an amazing amount of data to support their claims.


You can look at the vast evidence they have collected in two presentations available on Youtube. These presentations by Wayne May are long, but well worth your time. We popped a whole lotta popcorn and watched the videos for a couple of Family Home evenings (parent, young adult, high school and elementary age family members). I am happy to report a good time was had by all.




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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009

27 thoughts on “How Manifest Destiny Destroyed Book of Mormon Evidence

  1. Joanna, you post rarely, but when you do it is a doozy. Very thought-provoking stuff. I am always interested in finding new things to blame on Lincoln, and now I can blame him for destroying BoM evidence! Cool. (Only partly joking).

    On a more serious note, there is absolutely nothing wrong with coming up with new geographical explanations for the BoM, but I would caution readers not to base their faith on whatever explanation modern-day writers come up with. The Book of Mormon does not say where in the Americas in took place, and there have been literally a half-dozen locations proposed over the years. All we know for sure is that it took place in the Americas.

  2. Hi Geoff! Good things and hard things at our house have taken it’s toll on blogging. I am much better now. I am pleased you found this post interesting.
    I think we can blame the destruction on my fellow Tennesseans Andrew Jackson and James K Polk. Much of the destruction happened before the Lincoln presidency.
    I agree testimonies should not be rooted in historical evidence which can change on a dime.

  3. With all the discoveries and history that is coming forward, I believe more than ever that the Book of Mormon is scientifically and historically probable. Ironically, I also believe that it is less likely to be provable because there are is too much contradictory evidence.

  4. While I personally don’t believe that the main narrative of the Book of Mormon occurred in North America as depicted above, I do expect that you are correct that we (as a nation) have literally bulldozed evidence that would have been supportive of the historicity of the Book of Mormon. While that was more than likely not the intent of the individuals driving the bulldozers, one suspects that they were urged on by a power who did have an interest in the destruction of that evidence.

  5. Hi Joanna, thanks for the nice article. If you saw the guest post I did a few months back you’ll know that I’m the author of a different model of the lands of the Book of Mormon. While my model generally shows Book of Mormon events happening in Baja California and the North American Southwest, chapter 3 of Helaman describes migrations to “exceedingly great distance(s)” in the “land northward”. While I tend to think that the distances traveled by these migrants probably didn’t extend all the way from Baja to Tennessee, the text does not necessarily exclude it as a possibility. With that in mind, I’d be interested to know the basis for Harris’ claim that the site was “Egyptian”.

    Please let me know if you know what newspaper the quotation appeared in or any other information describing Harris’ involvement and statements regarding the site. While it would be a tremendous boost to Book of Mormon archaeology and American archaeology in general if the site is Egyptian in nature, the case will need more substantiation to gain any real acceptance outside of the circle of people like you and me who already want it to be true.

  6. Thanks for the post, I love discussing the BoM. In fact I just got done reading Mormon’s Codex again, and he discussed how the proposed location of Zarahemla at Santa Rosa, is now the location of a dam, and under water. Combined with what I’ve studied about looting in Egypt and amateur Indiana Jones figures, I’m not particularly convinced that we could have BoM evidence for Heartland models if only. I think the generally neglectful and damaging attitudes of the past are deplorable and not unique to America. There are larger issues such as culture complexity, the presence of writing, and population models that rule out many other locations for me. Thanks again for the thoughtful post. I particularly enjoyed seeing the battle diagram from the Civil War.

  7. Beau- Thanks for stopping by to comment. I did read your post. One of my boys was especially intrigued by it. He is now reading the Book of Mormon looking for clues as to the geography of the Book of Mormon.
    December 12, 2012 photo from Ancient American Magazine Archeology of the Americas Before Columbus Facebook page link located on the photo. Perhaps those folks know the original source. I sent them a message and I sent a message to Mr May to see if he knows. The impression I have gotten that the source was a local newspaper in East Tennessee. Unless the newspaper was in Knoxville, this would be a rural publication. Harris was a supposed prominent Biblical scholar of his day, and it was his opinion. I think this is the guy:

  8. Thanks Morgan for stopping by to comment. It is an interesting subject. I live with the Civil War legacy everyday of my life. If you are ever in my area, stop by and we will go on tour. Not only do we live on Civil War land, we live on moonshine land and now possibly Lamanite land (squee..!)

    Michael Davidson-Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree individuals are not culpable, nevertheless it is a national tragedy. I was sick to my stomach when I first learned that we were living on the Degriffenried site. I first heard about it reading the Civil War novel “Widow of the South” set during the Battle of Franklin. Later when I asked a local historian as to the location of the Indian Mounds, she told me, “Right where you live”. I was relieved that the extensive damage had occurred nearly a 100 years before our home was built.
    Jettboy- Thanks for reading. The damage was done. The sites and artifacts removed were not documented properly, ultimately what is important is the message found in the Book of Mormon.

  9. I’m not not going to comment on Book of Mormon theories, but I would like to point out that the looting of archeological artifacts as describe in the OP was very common throughout the US even just 50 years ago. Widespread respect for artifacts and the valuable info they tell when studied in situ is a very recent development. Mormon pioneers participated in these same activities wherever they settled. Among rural communities it is still very normal to participate in activities that archaeologists define as looting. Even just 15 years ago while doing surveys in the St. George area we came across a rich Anasazi site where some idiot had used a bulldozer to cut large trenches to get at the artifacts, probably to sell on the black market. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the guys in the OP did this because of some vendetta. Most often the motivation is money.

  10. Hi Mary Ann- Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I am pleased you brought up this point. Thank you for sharing your valuable experience. I agree greed is/was the major motivation behind the destruction, especially sites destroyed in the last 50 years. So maddening!
    The architects of Manifest Destiny erroneously touted the Native Americans as “violent savages”. This gave European Americans the “right” to do what they wanted with the Hopewell sites.

  11. I have missed your posts. This is great. I did not know about the Hopewell mounds until recently. I am very fascinated by this theory, and believe it more than others on where the Book of Mormon took place.

  12. Great post, Johnna. While I hold to a Mesoamerican Geography Theory, I also hold to a Hagoth theory, that many Nephites and Lamanites migrated northward, to include the area found in the Hopewell Indian area. Not impressed with Meldrum’s evidence, as much of it does not fit the proper timeframes, etc. He is sloppy. For example, he’s using the new info on DNA and American Indians to “prove” his theory, even though the DNA traces back to pre-Clovis times, and therefore could not be Nephite or Jaredite.

    That said, as a trained amateur historian, I’m fascinated by the history of your land. Being in Indianapolis, I hope to be able to swing by sometime for a tour.

  13. It is interesting that there is such a wealth of evidence that points to a sophisticated, complex culture in various parts of the ‘New World’. One of the mounds that still exists is located just east of St. Louis at Cahokia. Artifacts found there point to trade with Central America. I tend to think that we limit ourselves when we try to pin down the events in the Book of Mormon to a limited area. Consider the broad landscape of just the first few chapters. I think it is easy for us to underestimate the capacity of movement in an age without planes. One of my ancestors, Joseph L. Heywood, made multiple trips between the east and west. Others were not as likely to travel often, but they traveled far. Jonathan Harriman Holmes, born in Massachusetts, traveled to San Diego and San Francisco as part of the Mormon Battalion. Presence of written language is often difficult to discern, especially when a deliberate effort to suppress any evidence of civilization existed as general policy.

  14. Thanks for commenting Rame-Please do bring the family and visit us. Franklin is an awesome tourist attraction.
    I do not have an opinion on the Hagoth theory. While I think the Mesoamerican peoples have Lehite/Jaredite influence. I believe the BofM events took place in the Eastern US and southern Canada.
    I cannot give an opinion on Meldrum and his DNA studies. I am leery of DNA evidence. After 500 years it gets sketchy. Also when the Native American peoples came in contact with the European peoples, the death rate was about 90% mainly because of disease. Then you have 500 years of admixture with Africans and Europeans. That’s a whole lotta DNA wiped out. Also kinda unrelated, but interesting to me was some of the DNA in my DNA test showed Mestizo. Essentially the NA DNA in my family has been mixed for 500 years and has created it’s own ethnicity. I found ancestors living in Northern Georgia right smack down in the Cherokee nation. Probably them: Scott, Hood, Carter.
    I have found DNA tests done on the Hopewell graves to be interesting. Here are a couple:
    I am not going down this path, because old DNA is just too complicated and is subject to frequent change, but there you have it.

  15. Hi Pat Chiu,
    Thanks for stopping by to comment. According to author Charles C Mann, he wrote “1491” and “1493”. There is a big super highway that extends from South America to North America. Just as you mentioned evidence in all the trading items that are found hundreds of miles away. Did you know the Apache and Navajos once lived in Alaska? You are right! People do get around!

  16. Thanks Joyce, Take a look at the videos. There may be errors in May and Meldrum’s theories, but as the big picture goes, I think they are right.

  17. Trade was extensive. You can find jewelry from prehistoric cultures in Utah (not necessarily all that sophisticated) that come from materials (shells, for example) that naturally occur only in far away locales in California or Mexico. It’s possible people trekked the long distances, but you also get the objects via the extensive trade networks that we know existed.

  18. In relation to the extent of trade, just yesterday archaeologists announced that they have discovered a stone box which they believe was an offering that the Aztecs made to their deities in the 15th century. Besides the fact that the buried stone box is reminiscent of the description of the box that the gold plates were deposited in, here is what’s really interesting regarding the extent of pre-Columbian trade networks:

    “Significantly, 40 species come from an area which includes the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the West Indies, the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela and Brazil, and 66 from Baja California to Ecuador.”


    I mentioned in my earlier post that I favor a shorter distance than the distance between Baja and Tennessee for the “exceedingly great distances” mentioned in Helaman 3…but it’s discoveries like this that make me really question whether I’m wrong. Perhaps Mormon is describing the Nephite/Lamanite version of the Louis & Clark Expedition where they finally discovered just how much more “promised land” existed than what they might have thought during years of confinement in the Baja peninsula 😉

  19. Delightful post and comment string!

    As I often say about any number of things, I love the idea of an omniscient God who someday will share.

    Looking foward to any number of “A Ha!” moments.

  20. Meg, I’m anticipating being able to read the English translation of the Large Plates of Nephi. Or at least getting resurrected early enough in the Millennium that I have time to learn Reformed Egyptian or Reformed Hebrew (whatever the _Large_ Plates were written in, we needn’t assume they were written in same language as the Plates of Mormon). And if there’s not enough time for me in the Millennium, hopefully copies of the Large Plates will be in libraries in the 3 Kingdoms of Glory.

    The Millennium is when “all things will be revealed” (according to some verse in D&C) so I conclude the Large Plates will be made available sometime in that period, and continue to be available in the post-millennial kingdoms.

    And the 116 pages, too.

  21. I think the degradation and destruction of physical evidence, by natural and man-caused forces, was intentional on the Lord’s part. Discovery of a sign reading “Welcome to Zarahemla!” would almost compel belief. That is not the style or modus operandi of the God of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible describes a God who hides things in plain sight. The necessary evidences are there for those who know what to look for and how to look. They are hidden from the proud and the faithless.

  22. Would it be considered snarky of me to make a comment about the sixteen stones being found?

    I think of the 116 pages as akin the the parallel histories we have in Kings and Chronicles, where sometimes the events recorded are not at all the same (in one version Mannasseh is an evil, unrepentant dude, and in the other he repents).

  23. “Discovery of a sign reading “Welcome to Zarahemla!” would almost compel belief. That is not the style or modus operandi of the God of the Old and New Testaments.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. It would actually be cruel of God to deprive us of an opportunity to make exciting spiritual discoveries based on our faith.

    I recall an experience I had where, for about twenty seconds, I had the Holy Spirit pouring truth into my heart and mind. I say heart *and* mind because it was a borderline overwhelming encounter. When it finished, I was physically impacted with fatigue. I came away from it knowing a few things that previously I had believed with an eye of faith. Due to this experience, there are things that I just don’t have to question or reinvent the wheel.

    The mere memory of this event causes me to feel better attuned to the Holy Ghost. Naturally it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime gift from God to me. But because it was firmly in the realm of supernal/spiritual, and not based on some artifact or some piece of archaeology, I can enjoy the spiritual dividends for the real of my life (assuming I endure to the end.)

  24. “Discovery of a sign reading “Welcome to Zarahemla!” would almost compel belief. That is not the style or modus operandi of the God of the Old and New Testaments.”

    I disagree. Mormon and Moroni clearly describe God as being a God of miracles. The Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the history of the restoration all have many instances where public miracles were performed but which did not diminish anyone’s agency.

    God sent plagues upon Egypt, parted the Red Sea, caused manna to fall from the sky, caused water to issue from a rock, and a tremendously long list of other public miracles in the Old Testament. For instance, when the prophets of Baal faced off against Elijah:

    “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” (1 Kings 18:38-39)

    Jesus turned water into wine, healed the sick, raised the dead, fed thousands with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, and…once again…a tremendously long list of other public miracles. At his death the earth shook and the veil of the temple was rent. In like fashion, the twelve apostles continued to work public miracles after his death.

    Alma and Amulek were miraculously delivered from prison in full view of the people of the city. Helaman’s 2060 stripling warriors fought with miraculous power. Hundreds of Lamanites saw Lehi and Nephi survive standing in the midst of fire, saw them conversing with angels, were surrounded by darkness, were themselves surrounded by fire, and themselves saw angels. Samuel the Lamanite predicted many public miracles in detail and all of the miracles he predicted came true including a night as bright as day and a new star rising at Christ’s birth. He also predicted in great detail the destructions accompanying Christ’s death and his subsequent appearance to the Nephites (granted that the most wicked Nephites were destroyed in this case, but still, the miracles were very public). Christ performed similar miracles in America as he did in Jerusalem. The three Nephites could not be killed, despite repeated public attempts by the wicked. The entire Nephite nation learned that the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem actually happened because they met the Mulekites whose ancestors witnessed the destruction. For the hundreds of years previous to meeting the Mulekites, an unbelieving Nephite could easily argue that there was no proof that Lehi’s prophesies were true, but that didn’t stop God from proving it true in his own due time…hundreds of years later. Again, the list goes on and on.

    When it comes to the Nephites, there is also the subject of the plates of Ether. These plates were artifacts preserved from an older civilization that was destroyed. They were found by the people in such a manner that it was not reasonable to think that they were anything other than authentic. To me, they were “the Book of Mormon for the Nephites”. In other words, they contained the words of God and an account of an ancient civilization as an example that they could choose to learn from or ignore. While it’s true that there were parts of the record that Nephite prophets were told to keep from the people (the secret codes and combinations), the fact that the records were considered authentic by the Nephite public did not hinder God’s plan or force anyone to believe.

    God is a God of miracles…but one thing is certain about miracles: They are not what changes hearts.

    Laman and Lemuel saw an angel and were shaken by the power of God. They saw Nephi obtain the brass plates. They witnessed God calm the storm and sea. They experienced the prophesied journey from Jerusalem to the promised land…but none of this forced them to believe.

    The Israelites were not converted by the miracles performed through Moses.

    The Nephites were not converted when Nephi III prophetically told them about the murder and murderer of their chief judge.

    The Nephites were not converted by the fact that the three Nephites could not be killed.

    I cannot predict exactly how God will perform upcoming miracles like the restoration of the Lamanites into the House of Israel and the conversion of the Jews, but I know that it has a lot to do with the Book of Mormon and other scriptures (See 1 Nephi chapter 14).

    I think that there is often a mindset among the general populous of the church where we assume that the growth of the church will continue largely like it does now until the 2nd coming. We think that it’s at that moment, in the middle of great physical tribulation, that the “wisdom of our wise men will perish”. While I’m not qualified to interpret prophesy, I don’t see justification for that mindset when I read the Book of Mormon:

    “And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, that it came forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren. And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true.”

    I know for myself that it doesn’t take archaeological proof to convince someone (ie: me) that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles is true, so I really don’t know if the restoration will include physical evidence of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon…but after all these years of the Book of Mormon being a target of mockery by the “wise” and “learned” of our times, I wouldn’t find it inconsistent with prophesy if evidence were to turn up, causing the “wisdom of our wise men [to] perish”.

    Right now, there are many among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people where are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. Most of the people that I know do not reject Mormonism out of the hardness of their hearts, they simply refuse to consider it because they’ve heard from others that it’s a fraud. If the Book of Mormon were to be proven to be an historic record, it would not take away anyone’s agency. No signpost to Zarahemla is going to change someone’s heart. The path to gaining a testimony through study and prayer would remain the same, but more people with soft hearts are likely to think it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

  25. Like Meg, I think the 116 plates are a parallel history to what we already have. However, there might be some interesting added tidbits. For example, some early members claimed Joseph Smith said this or that about their contents (on the whole, he seems to have kept very quiet about it, which seems like the sensible thing for him to do) and one of the more plausible claims is that the 116 pages included an account of Lehi constructing a traveling temple on the model of the MosaicTabernacle in the Wilderness. That account wouldn’t add much to our doctrine, but it might be interesting to have.

    I think we already have some of what is on the sealed plates, in the form of later revelations in D&C and in the temple ceremony. My recollection is that the part of the Boof of Mormon that we have tells us that the sealed portion contains a full account of the oaths and signs of the secret combinations, which would probably be as bad for the world to have today as ever.


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