Just got the latest issue of Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, published by the Maxwell Institute. This edition is not yet available online (hey, why not become a member and get it mailed to you?), but when it is, be sure to read S. Kent Brown’s article, “The Hunt for the Valley of Lemuel.” While our critics are busy claiming that there isn’t one scrap of evidence for the Book of Mormon, LDS thinkers are busy evaluating which of several good candidates are the most plausible for sites that uninformed critics have scoffed at as being too funny for words. A green, hospitable place called Bountiful on the eastern shores of Arabia?! Hah, every moron knows that the Arabian Peninsula is nothing but sand and desert – except, perhaps, for those modern and ancient morons who have explored Wadi Sayq or the Salalah region on the coast of Oman. And the mighty Valley of Lemuel with a “continually flowing” river of water that empties into the Red Sea? Every fool knows that there are no such rivers in Arabia! Except, perhaps, for those fools, ancient and modern, who exercised faith and traveled to Wadi Tayyib al-Ism about 75 miles south of Aqaba. Of the three candidates for the Valley of Lemuel, this is the one that S. Kent Brown finds to be powerfully compelling, though some questions remain unanswered.
Some questions remain unanswered about exciting developments in Book of Mormon evidence, but more troubling is the fact that most questions remain unasked. Questions like, “What does the Book of Mormon actually say, and is there anything that provides plausibility for its message?” Or more specific questions like, “If Joseph Smith made up the Book of Mormon, how could he have gained access to detailed information about the Arabian Peninsula given in First Nephi – information that has eluded some of the most intelligent and highly educated anti-Mormon authors for decades?”