Drifting Away with the Book of Mormon

Google has a cool service for reading old newspapers at http://news.google.com/newspapers. Here’s an example I found by searching for Book of Mormon articles. It’s an interesting story from the Montreal Gazette in 1958 about some enthusiastic Mormons who put their lives at risk to see if a raft could drift from California to Hawaii. They succeeded, eventually, which proves, uh, that the Book of Mormon, um, or that Lehi, or maybe Hagoth, or um, well, I’m not quite sure what, maybe that ancient Nephites could have drifted away from California if they weren’t careful. But I’m glad they survived. What I find especially interesting is how the Book of Mormon is summarized. Lehi, according to the journalist, used the drifting method to take the lost tribes of Israel from the Red Sea to Central America. Pretty close, except for the drifting (not necessarily drifting: the use of the Liahona on the vessel implies directional control), the Red Sea (they never set foot in that body of water as far as we know, and depart from the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula), and the lost tribes (the lost tribes were lost before Lehi’s day and he wasn’t leading them anywhere, though he was part of the House of Israel himself, a descendant of Joseph). I’ll give the article a B+ for fewer errors than average in Book of Mormon coverage. Yes, I’ve got low standards (when it comes to expectations of journalists, that is).

I do understand the desire to demonstrate that ancient transoceanic voyages were possible. There really is quite an interesting story about the intrepid Book of Mormon fan, Devere Baker, who sacrificed so much to demonstrate that ancient transoceanic voyages might be possible. See “DeVere Baker and his Ocean Rafts” by Warren Aston. In this regard, Thor Heyerdahl’s gutsy work with the Kon-Tiki expedition deserves attention. I’m not sure I grasp what Baker’s later work demonstrated beyond Heyerdahl’s, so if you’re more familiar with the story than I am, please let me know.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

2 thoughts on “Drifting Away with the Book of Mormon

  1. The Book of Mormon Narrative describes that Lehi and company went nearly eastward for EIGHT years after they buried Ishamael at Nahom. Most think the set sail for the new world from the south of Arabia.. but this doesn't make a lot of sense.. A friend of mine suggests and I agree – Think Shanghai. Eight years of nearly eastward travel on what would end up being the OLD SILK ROAD.. Shanghai in 600 BCE would certainly be the land of bountiful .. and the trans-Oceanic crossing to the Americas is not such a problem. Food for Thought.

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