Debunking MormonThink’s “Early American Influences on the Book of Mormon” (Part 3)

Please read Part 1 and Part 2 of my series debunking Thomas E. Donofrio’s MormonThink article “Early American Influences on the Book of Mormon” article if you have not already done so. To review briefly, Donofrio attempts to prove that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work of fiction by identifying key words and phrases that are found in popular literature of Joseph’s day and the Book of Mormon, but are not found in the Bible. His argument is that if the Book of Mormon were an authentic translation of an ancient document, then it would not share so many similarities with early American history and literature.

As shown in Part 1 and Part 2 of my answer to their article, most of the similarities identified by Donofrio are also found in the works of Flavius Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian whose works were written between 78 and 100 A.D. and translated into English in 1737. The purpose of Part 3 of this series is to point out that there are many key words and phrases that are shared by Josephus and the Book of Mormon that are not found in the list of parallels provided by Donofrio or the Bible. Since the English translation of Josephus accounts for most of the parallels listed in the MormonThink article, and since there are many more phrases shared by Josephus and the Book of Mormon that are not listed, we cannot assume that the appearance of 19th century language in the Book of Mormon proves that it is not an authentic translation. If we were to use Donofrio’s criteria in evaluating the authenticity of the works of Josephus, we would have to conclude that Josephus and his accounts are works of fiction borrowing ideas from 18th century literature.

Below are just some of the similarities I have found between Josephus and the Book of Mormon that are not found in the Bible or Donofrio’s list of parallels:

  1. Office of the High Priesthood
    • “from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high priesthood and the dignity of a king for a long time” (Life of Flavius Josephus, 1)
    • “But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God” (Alma 13:18)
  2. Points of the Law
    • “in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law” (Life of Flavius Josephus, 2)
    • “there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the law should be altered” (Alma 51:2)
  3. Learning of the Greeks/Jews
    • “who were men very skilled in the learning of the Greeks” (Life, 65)
    • “which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2)
  4. Hope of Deliverance
    • “when he heard that he was coming to meet him with such a number of men, was greatly afraid: however, he committed his hope of deliverance to God” (Antiquities, Book I, Chapter XX)
    • “and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him” (Alma 58:11)
  5. Lazy
    • “The Egyptians grew delicate and lazy” (Antiquities, Book II, Chapter IX)
    • “Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people” (Mosiah 9:12)
  6. Supreme Being
    • “the Supreme Being is able to do whatsoever he pleases” (Antiquities, Book II, Chapter IX)
    • “all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (Alma 11:22)
  7. Contrary to the command of God
    • “how the Egyptians were destroyed when they attempted to detain them, contrary to the command of God” (Antiquities, Book III, 1:4)
    • “for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds” (Alma 30:7)
  8. Way of Deliverance
    • “he request God for some succor for the people, and some way of deliverance from the want they were in” (Antiquities, Book III, 1:5)
    • “And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 9:11)
  9. Proceedings of the people
    • “These proceedings of the people of those countries occasioned perplexity and trouble to Moses” (Antiquities, Book III, 2:2)
    • “And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people” (Helaman 3:13)
  10. Governor and Protector
    • “yet were they exceeding sorry upon the supposal that they were deprived of a governor and a protector” (Antiquities, Book III, 5:7)
    • “my brother Nephi, unto whom ye look as a king or a protector” (2 Nephi 6:2)
  11. Firmness of mind
    • “she went to her death with an unshaken firmness of mind” (Antiquities, Book XV, 7:5)
    • “Look unto God with firmness of mind” (Jacob 3:1)
  12. Settle the Affairs
    • Ventidius called for Silo and Herod to come to the war against the Parthians, but ordered them first to settle the affairs of Judea” (Wars, Book I, 16:4)
    • “and it was at the same time that they had begun to settle the affairs of their contentions concerning the chief judge” (Alma 51:12)
  13. Deliver themselves up
    • “he had proclamation made, that they should come and deliver themselves up to him” (Wars, Book I, 16:4)
    • “And Alma and his brethren went forth and delivered themselves up into their hands” (Mosiah 23:29)
  14. Stand in need
    • “and petition their emperors, in great multitudes, for what they stand in need of” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:4)
    • “And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor” (Mosiah 4:16)
  15. On account of their fear
    • “it was not on account of their fear of dangers, nor on account of their laziness, that they made this request to him” (Antiquities, Book IV, 7:3)
    • “and this we do for our brethren, on account of their fear to take up arms against their brethren” (Alma 27:23)
  16. Tortured in a cruel manner
    • Cherea tortured this woman after a cruel manner” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:5)
    • “they did murder them in a most cruel mannertorturing their bodies even unto death” (Moroni 9:10)
  17. Destruction hangs over them
    • “the destruction which hangs over all men, by the means of Caius” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:9)
    • “and the sword of destruction did hang over them” (3 Nephi 2:19)
  18. By way of exhortation
    • “And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you” (Moroni 10:2)
    • “but at length perceived that it was by way of exhortation” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:10)
  19. State of ignorance
    • “it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance” (Alma 9:16)
    • “informed them of the death of Caius, and by this means put an end to that state of ignorance that men had been in” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:18)
  20. Preserve our liberty
    • “which course of virtue it is alone can preserve our liberty” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 2:2)
    • “Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph” (Alma 46:24)
  21. Laws of their country
    • “have striven one with another to overthrow the ancient laws of their country” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 2:2)
    • “whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country” (Helaman 6:23)
  22. Skill in war
    • “one of the highest fame, both for his skill in war, his strength of body” (Wars, Book VI, 1:8)
    • “exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war” (Alma 51:31)
  23. Born of good parents
    • “virgins that are free, and born of good parents” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book IV, 8:23)
    • “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1)
  24. Change in affairs
    • “But these sons were not able to bear this change in their affairs” (Wars, Book I, 23:2)
    • thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom” (Mosiah 11:4)
  25. Clear conscience
    • “but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day” (Mosiah 2:15)
    • “He was enabled to justify himself, not only by a clear conscience, which he carried with him” (Wars, Book I, 23:3)
  26. Magic arts
    • “the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land” (Mormon 2:10)
    • “what I do is so much superior to what these do by magic arts and tricks” (Antiquities, Book II, 13:3)
  27. Overthrow their liberty
    • “And now I am persuaded that every one of you here comes satisfied before I speak, that these overthrowers of our liberties deserve to be destroyed” (Wars, Book IV, 3:10)
    • “which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty” (Alma 50:32)
  28. Maintain their liberty
    • “everybody caught up their arms, in order to maintain the liberty of their metropolis” (Wars, Book IV, 4:2)
    • “gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented” (Alma 46:28)
  29. Trampled the Laws
    • “And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah” (Helaman 4:22)
    • “tyrants that have infringed the rules of our regular tribunals, that have trampled upon our laws,and made their swords the arbitrators of right and wrong” (Wars, Book IV, 4:3)
  30. Gain some advantage
    • “nevertheless, the people of Nephi did gain some advantage of the robbers” (3 Nephi 2:17)
    • “that he should undertake to accuse other men before the Roman governor, and endeavor to gain some advantages to himself” (Wars, Book I, 10:2)
  31. Able to bear arms
    • “Now the number of the rest of the Israelites was nine hundred thousand men, who were able to bear arms and go to war” (Antiquities, Book VII, 13:1)
    • “and I also caused that all my old men that could bear arms, and also all my young men that were able to bear arms, should gather themselves together” (Mosiah 10:9)
  32. Change their disposition
    • “which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2)
    • “and being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their dispositions and their acts for the better” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book I, 3:1)
  33. Murderous disposition
    • “greatly affected by every terrible accident, and on that account of a very murderous disposition where he durst show it” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book XIX, 2:5)
    • “the Amalekites were of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were” (Alma 43:6)
  34. Strength and Courage
    • “And indeedthis man deserves to be admired for his courage and strength” (Antiquities, Book V, 8:12)
    • “never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength and courage” (Alma 43:43)
  35. Liberty of worshiping God
    • “And he also declared unto them that they might have the liberty of worshiping the Lord their God according to their desires” (Alma 21:22)
    • “it proves to be much more desirable, by its affording us the liberty of worshiping God” (Antiquities, Book XII, 7:3)
  36. Happy and blessed
    • “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God” (Mosiah 2:41)
    • “you must either recover that liberty, and so regain a happy and blessed way of living, which is that according to our laws” (Antiquities, Book XII, 7:3)
  37. Fight Desperately
    • “But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately” (Alma 57:19)
    • “making the Jews despair of escaping, excited them to act more boldly; for nothing makes men fight so desperately in war as necessity” (Wars, Book III, 7:4)
  38. The affairs of the people
    • “Moroni received an epistle from Helaman, stating the affairs of the people in that quarter of the land” (Alma 56:1)
    • “This was the state of the affairs of the people of Jerusalem at this time” (Antiquities, Book XI, 8:7)
  39. No time to gather
    • “their march was with such exceedingly great speed that there was no time for the Nephites to gather together their armies” (Helaman 1:19)
    • “Now when Judas was deserted by his soldiers, and the enemy pressed upon him, and gave him not time to gather, he was disposed to fight with Bacchides’s army” (Antiquities, Book XII, 11:1)
  40. Trouble of mind
    • “he fell into despair and trouble of mind, as confounded at the unexpected ill success of this siege” (Antiquities, Book XIII, 1:5)
    • “for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon” (Alma 22:3)
  41. Body and Mind
    • “But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind” (Mosiah 2:11)
    • “and indeedthat city had in it men that were very stout both in body and mind” (Antiquities, Book VI, 14:8)
  42. Fresh Men
    • “But the Jews grew weary with defending themselves continually, and had not enough to come in their places, and succor them; while, on the side of the Romans, fresh men still succeeded those that were tired” (Wars, Book III, 7:27)
    • “for they were wearied because of their march, and the men of Lehi were fresh” (Alma 52:28)
  43. Firm Determination
    • “However, he still made no firm determination in his case; but when he had dismissed those assessors that had been with him that day, he deliberated by himself about the allegations” (Wars, Book II, 2:7)
    • “they marched forward to the land of Noah with a firm determination” (Alma 49:13)
  44. Obtain a Passage
    • “they began to dig down their banks of earth that they might obtain a pass to their armies” (Alma 49:22)
    • “Herod had prevented them, and was come to Pelusium, where he could not obtain a passage from those that lay with the fleet” (Wars, Book I, 14:2)
  45. Overrun the land
    • “for as he set a part of his army round about Gaza itself, so with the rest he overran their land, and spoiled it, and burnt what was in it” (Antiquities, Book XIII, 5:5)
    • “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8)
  46. True Friendship
    • “It does not give leave to conceal any thing from our friends, because that is not true friendship which will not commit all things to their fidelity” (Against Apion, Book II, 28)
    • “and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever” (2 Nephi 1:30)
  47. Wicked Practices
    • “they are taxed to death, and in what ways of luxury and wicked practices that wealth is spent which was gotten by bloodshed” (Wars, Book I, 26:2)
    • “began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old” (Jacob 1:15)
  48. Fought Valiantly
    • “and when the battle was joined, they fought valiantly, and put the enemy to flight” (Antiquities, Book VIII, 14:4)
    • “they were depressed in body as well as in spirit, for they had fought valiantly by day and toiled by night to maintain their cities” (Alma 56:16)
  49. Great Warrior
    • “But behold he met with a disappointment by being repulsed by Teancum and his men, for they were great warriors” (Alma 51:31)
    • “He had been a man of valor and a great warrior, and mindful of the commands of their father Matrathins” (Antiquities, Book XII, 11:2)
  50. Fatigue
    • “sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day” (Alma 51:33)
    • Sohe fell upon the Jews unexpectedly, when they were fatigued, and thought they had already vanquished the enemy, and made a great slaughter of them” (Antiquities, Book XV, 5:1)
  51. Much Bloodshed
    • “he foresaw that this could not be done without much bloodshed, both of the senators, and of those of the equestrian order that were present” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:14)
    • “there was also a contention among the people, insomuch that there was much bloodshed” (Helaman 4:1)
  52. Give them Battle
    • “who did not think it safe to go up to the mountain, and give them battle, because many of the enemy were on the higher part of the ground” (Wars, Book III, 7:32)
    • “Now it was not Amalickiah’s intention to give them battle according to the commandments of the king” (Alma 47:8)
  53. Bear with Patience
    • “and earnestly exhorted them to bear with patience whatever they suffered” (Antiquities, Book II, 6:4)
    • “and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give you success” (Alma 26:27)
  54. Perform with Exactness
    • “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21)
    • “their daily sacrifices and purifications, and every branch of their religious worship, was still performed to God with the utmost exactness” (Wars, Book I, 7:4)
  55. Placed his Army
    • So the king of Syria took his army with him, and came to Samaria, and placed his army round about the city, and besieged it” (Antiquities, Book VIII, 14:1)
    • “And thus having placed his army according to his desire, he was prepared to meet them” (Alma 43:33)
  56. Admonitions from God
    • “But the Israelites, though they were in heaviness at these admonitions from God, yet were they still very unwilling to go to war” (Antiquities, Book V, 2:7)
    • “Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord” (2 Nephi 4:13)
  57. Enjoy our Possessions
    • “without regarding their former insolence, do enjoy their own possessions in safety” (Wars, Book IV, 2:2)
    • “we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance” (1 Nephi 17:21)
  58. Sorrow and Lamentation
    • So there was sorrow and lamentation among the women and children, who had nothing but destruction before their eyes” (Antiquities, Book II, 15:4)
    • “And they did grow in their iniquities in the sixty and eighth year also, to the great sorrow and lamentation of the righteous” (Helaman 6:33)
  59. Filled with Robbers
    • “for the country was again filled with robbers and impostors, who deluded the multitude” (Antiquities, Book XX, 8:5)
    • “But behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites” (Mormon 2:8)
  60. Gain Possession
    • “But Adonijah, who, while his father was living, attempted to gain possession of the government” (Antiquities, Book VIII, 1:2)
    • “had given them power to gain possession of those parts which were within the walls” (Alma 55:20)
  61. Preservation of the People
    • “And when Moses had recapitulated whatsoever he had done for the preservation of the people, both in their wars and in peace” (Antiquities, Book IV, 8:46)
    • “All his brethren also fell down before him, weeping and delivering
      themselves up to destruction for the preservation of the life of Benjamin” (Antiquities, Book II, 6:9)
    • “for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people” (Alma 10:5)
  62. Much Disturbed
    • “However, the fear he was in much disturbed the greatness of his soul” (Wars, Book I, 21:12)
    • “and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually” (Helaman 16:22)

An Answer to the Vernal Holley Map Theory

Vernal Holley made the argument that the geography described in the Book of Mormon is strikingly similar to geography and place names of the Great Lakes region of the United States. He therefore concludes that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work based on the author’s personal experience. For reference, the Holley map can be found here. This argument has since been regurgitated by Jeremy Runnells, who compiled his somewhat well-known “Letter to a CES Director” where he concludes the argument by saying “Why are there so many names similar to Book of Mormon names in the region where Joseph Smith lived? This is all just a coincidence?” (It should be noted that Runnells has removed many names from Holley’s original list such as “St. Agathe/Ogath,” “Conner/Comnor,” and “St. Ephrem/Hill Ephraim” because there is demonstrable proof that they were founded well after the Book of Mormon was published).

FairMormon, Daniel Peterson, and Wheat & Tares have all provided thorough rebuttals  to this theory. Peterson rightly concludes that the theory “has been exploded, detonated so many times that it’s exasperating to see it keep coming back.” FairMormon does a very good job debunking this theory by pointing out that many of the locations identified by Holley do not match what is described in the Book of Mormon. For example, Holley places the Nephite city of “Morianton” (which is supposed to be similar to “Moravian Town”) on the west side of the map, when it is described as being near the eastern seashore (Alma 51:26). In addition, Holley places the Nephite city “Jacobugath” (which is supposed to be similar to “Jacobsburg”) in the land south when the Book of Mormon clearly places it in the land northward (3 Nephi 7:12).

From what I can tell, however, none of the apologists answer the question “Why are there so many similar names between the Great Lakes region and the Book of Mormon?” This is an easy question to answer. First, it is important to know that many of the names mentioned on Holley’s list are names found in the Bible. The Book of Mormon tells the story of Hebrew people coming to the Americas and basing their society on Biblical writings. It should not surprise anyone that a 500-600 mile region of the eastern United States founded by Protestants would share some Biblical place names. For example, the fact that Jordan, Jerusalem, Noah, Midian, and Boaz are the names of locations in both the Book of Mormon and the eastern United States is not miraculous.

In addition, just because names sound similar doesn’t mean that they are similar, especially since most of the Book of Mormon names on the list have roots in the Bible. I have made a list refuting some of the supposedly similar place names identified by Holley by providing an explanation of their possible Biblical origins.

  1. Moravian Town = Morianton (Alma 51:26)
  • These names look sort of similar (even though Holley placed it in the wrong location). The name “Morianton,” however, clearly has its roots in names in the Bible such as “Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1) and names with the ending “-ton” such as “Eshton” (1 Chronicles 4:12), which is a much stronger correlation than “Moravian Town.” In addition, there are Book of Mormon names similar to Morianton such as “Corianton” (Alma 39) and “Gadianton” (4 Nephi 1:42). I doubt Joseph Smith based these names on cities named “Coravian Town” and “Gadavian Town.”

2. Shiloh = Shilom (Mosiah 10:8)

  • First off, Shiloh is a name found frequently in the Bible (Judges 21:12). In addition, the Bible has many derivations of the name Shiloh such as “Shelomith” (1 Chronicles 26:28), “Shallum” (Ezra 7:2), “Shiloni” (Nehemiah 11:5), “Shelemiah” (Nehemiah 3:30), and “Shillem” (Numbers 26:49). “Shilom” looks like a perfectly suitable derivation of a Biblical name.

3. Jacobsburg = Jacobugath (3 Nephi 9:9)

  • Other than the fact that “Jacobsburg” on Holley’s map isn’t anywhere near where the Book of Mormon describes “Jacobugath,” these names do sound similar. However, the name Jacobugath has more in common with the Bible than it does with the name Jacobsburg. It is likely a combination of the Biblical names “Jacob” (Genesis 29:1)–who founded the city–and “Gath” (2 Chronicles 11:8); not a creative derivation of Jacobsburg.

4. Sherbrooke = Shurr (Ether 14:28)

  • Like so many of the names on Holley’s list, “Shur” is a name found in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:7) and is much more similar to “Shurr” than Sherbrooke. I doubt Joseph Smith or Solomon Spaulding saw the name Sherbrooke and decided to derive the name “Shurr” instead of simply using the Bible as its source.

5. Hellam = Helam (Mosiah 23:19)

  • Once again, “Helam” (2 Samuel 10:16) is a name found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon contains its original spelling. There would be no reason to use the town of “Hellam” as a source for the location.

6. Rama = Ramah (Ether 15:11) 

  • “Ramah” (1 Kings 15:17) is found many times in the Bible, and the Book of Mormon contains the correct spelling.

7. Ripple Lake = Waters of Ripliancum (Ether 15:8)

  • This might be a compelling similarity if “Ripliancum” didn’t have roots in the Bible and other Book of Mormon names. For example, the name “Riplah” (Alma 43:31) is a name found in the Book of Mormon, which contains the suspect letters “Ripl” which sounds like “Ripple.” Was this name also based on “Ripple Lake?” No, because it is a variation on the Biblical name “Riblah” (Numbers 34:11). Another name in the Book of Mormon is “Riplakish” (Ether 10:4), which is a combination of “Riplah” and “Kish” (1 Samuel 14:51) or “Riphath” (1 Chronicles 1:6) and “Lachish” (Joshua 10:3). Ripliancum makes more sense as a derivation of “Riblah” and the Book of Mormon names “Moriancumer” (Ether 2:13) or “Teancum” (Alma 52:1) rather than a mindless variation on “Ripple Lake.”

8. Minoa = Minon (Alma 2:24)

  • This is an obscure comparison considering the land of “Minon” is only named once in the Book of Mormon. “Minon” is likely a derivation of “Pinon” (1 Chronicles 1:52), or “Minnith” (Ezekiel 26:17) and any other of the hundreds of Biblical names that end in “-on” such as “Maon” (1 Chronicles 2:45). “Manoah” (Judges 13:2) is also a Biblical name which sounds more similar to “Minoa” than does “Minon.”

9. Monroe = Moroni (Moroni 1:1)

  • This similarity Holley identifies is quite a stretch. To me, it makes much more sense to see how the name “Moroni” has its roots in Biblical names such as “Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1) or “Beth-horon” (Joshua 16:3), and names like “Hachmoni” (1 Chronicles 27:32), “Shiloni” (Nehemiah 11:5), and “Gideoni” (Numbers 10:24).

10. Lehigh = Lehi (1 Nephi 1:5)

  • The actual name “Lehi” is found in the Bible (Judges 15:14).

11. Tecumseh/Tenecum = Teancum (Alma 52:1)

  • In my opinion, Teancum is one of the more difficult names in the Book of Mormon for which to identify a Biblical correlate, only second to the name “Gimgimno” (3 Nephi 9:8). It seems, however, that Teancum may have some relation to the Biblical name “Teman” (Genesis 36:11) and any of the other Book of Mormon names with the letters “c-u-m” such as “Ripliancum,” “Moriancumer,” “Cumorah,” or “Cumeni” [which seems to be a derivation of names like “Cush” (1 Chronicles 1:8) and “Temeni” (1 Chronicles 4:6)].

12. Antioch = Ani-Anti (Alma 21:11)   

  • “Antioch” is a name found frequently in the New Testament (Acts 11:19). To suggest that “Ani-Anti” was based off of a location named “Antioch” in the Great Lakes region falls apart when considering the root “Anti” is used in other Biblical names (see “Antipas” in Revelation 2:13) and many times in the Book of Mormon for locations such as “Antionum” (Alma 31:3), city of Antiparah” (Alma 57:1), “mount Antipas” (Alma 47:7), the “city of Manti” (Alma 58:1), and for character names such as “Antionah” (Alma 12:20), “Anti-Nephi-Lehi” (Alma 27:2) and “Antipus” (Alma 56:9). An “antion” (Alma 11:19) is also a Nephite monetary measurement. The “Mantua = Manti” connection is also explained with this line of reasoning.

13. Morin = Moron (Ether 7:5)

  • Both of these names are similar to Biblical names such as “Beth-horon” (Joshua 16:3) “Merom” (Joshua 11:5), and “Shimron-meron” (Joshua 12:20). There is nothing special about these two names being similar that can’t be explained by appealing to the Bible.

14. Sodom = Sidom (Alma 15:1)

  • Both “Sodom” (Genesis 19:1/2 Nephi 23:19) and “Sidon” (Genesis 10:15/Alma 43:22) are found in the Bible and Book of Mormon. The fact that there is a place in the Book of Mormon called “Sidom,” which looks like a combination of both of these names, should not be surprising to anyone.

15. Kishkiminetas = Kishkumen (Helaman 2:3)

  • “Kish” is a name found many times in the Bible (1 Samuel 9:1). “Kishkumen” is most likely a combination of the name “Kish” and Book of Mormon names such as “Kumen,” “Kumenonhi,” (3 Nephi 19:4), or “Cumeni” (Alma 57:7) [a derivation of names like “Cush” (1 Chronicles 1:8) and “Temeni” (1 Chronicles 4:6)].

16. St. Agathe = Ogath (Ether 15:10)

  • Even though “St. Agathe” wasn’t founded until after the Book of Mormon was published, I thought I would go ahead and talk about it anyway. The name “Ogath” is most likely a combination of the name “Gath” (2 Chronicles 11:8) and similar sounding names like “Oboth” (Numbers 33:43).

17. Oneida = Onidah (Alma 47:5)

  • The name “Onidah” has its “oni” roots in names like “Hachmoni” (1 Chronicles 27:32), “Shiloni” (Nehemiah 11:5), and “Gideoni” (Numbers 10:24), while it has its “dah” roots in names like “Adah” (Genesis 36:2). The Book of Mormon also contains the city “Onihah” (3 Nephi 9:7).

18. Antrim = Antum (Mormon 1:3)

  • “Antum” is derived from Book of Mormon names like “Coriantumr” (Ether 14:3), “Irreantum” (1 Nephi 17:5), “Seantum” (Helaman 9:26), and “Moriantum” (Moroni 9:9). It is not very plausible that Joseph Smith heard the name “Antrim,” changed it to “Antum,” and then used it as a root word for other location/character names as well. See the commentary on “Antioch = Ani-Anti” as well.

19. Comoros = Cumorah (Mormon 6:2)

  • While not on Vernal Holley’s list, Runnells argues that it is an impossible coincidence that there is an island nation off the coast of Mozambique called “Comoros” “Comore,” “Comorra,” or “Camora” (depending on who you ask) and had a settlement called “Moroni” or “Meroni” which today is its capital city. Cumorah, however, has its roots in the Bible, sounding similar to “Gomorrah” (Genesis 14:2) or “Deborah” (Judges 4:4) with the inserted letters “cu” much like other Book of Mormon names such as “Ripliancum,” “Teancum,” and “Cumeni.” The potential origin of the name Moroni has already been discussed.


After seeing these comparisons, what we are left with is a map of the eastern United States that has some names that sound a little similar to very obscure Book of Mormon locations (that are in the wrong place) that share more in common with the Bible than the eastern U.S. It is not difficult to find similarities in names if one looks hard enough. If Joseph Smith lived in southern California, critics would argue that “Riverside” sounds like the “River Sidon,” that “Tonner Canyon” sounds like “Teomner,” that “Monrovia” sounds like “Moronihah,” that “Moreno Street” look like “Moroni,” and that “Corona” sounds like “Cumorah” (not to mention I drove in my Toyota “Tacoma” which sounds like “Teancum”).