This book was written in 1978, which was during the peak of the Mesoamerican, 2-Hill Cumorah concept acceptance from the experts at BYU. Author and BYU archeologist Paul Cheeseman covered many concepts that focused on the possibility of the Book of Mormon events happening in Central America.
What I found interesting about the book was how many North American examples were used. I am just assuming that at the time there was no argument between North and Mesoamerica for the location of the Book of Mormon. It was just “if it’s in America, it’s the Nephites” kind of mentality.
But one interesting thing Cheesman wrote in his book that presents the problem was that the three civilizations (Jaredites, Mulekites and the sons of Levi) never met each other for several hundred years. Which means groups of people were rather concentrated. Who knows whoever else was here!
Cheesman used Heartland examples such as The Bat Creek Stone and Native stories from tribes that originated in the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys to support claims for the Book of Mormon, while making the Meso theory its primary study.
There was also talk of the 2-Hill Cumorah theory and I was a little confused if he supported that theory, or didn’t, or was just presenting both cases and and letting the reader decide. He gave quotes from Zelphs Mound incident, other early church leaders and the great quote from Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation where he pretty much asks the question “what is with this new 2-Hill theory? (maybe not exact quote, but pretty much the same flavor).
He did list other quotes by leaders from early church history, mostly post-Utah-exodus till the turn of the century, that were leaning toward another Hill Cumorah or Mesoamerican theories, but none from an actual prophet (that I remember).
In the chapter that talked about theories of the location of the Book of Mormon, it listed 9 (of the time). Most of them were pretty much focused on central and South America. What I was surprised at was at the beginning of the maps, there was one theory outline that was circled around Florida and up to New York (theory number 9), the only one that actually included Cumorah on the map. He gave detailed explanations of theories 1 through 8, but pretty much ignored number 9. I bought two copies of “The World of the Book of Mormon”. One printed in 1978 the other a reprint in 1984. One book called theory number 9 the “Florida Theory” and in the other book is was just called “number 9”. But there was still no explanation of the theory.
This book is actually a pretty good and fair reading of where our minds were at the time when it came to where the Book of Mormon happened. I am starting to create a theory as to what Cheesman was thinking is presenting North American ideas to the evidence of The Book of Mormon while living among his peers that believed otherwise.
More to come on that…