S. Kent Brown has an excellent response to critics who have challenged the significance of finds in the Arabian Peninsula dealing with the place Nahom. His article, “On NAHOM / NHM,” is posted on The Nephi Project.
I’ve noticed some folks afflicted with the dread EXMO virus have been ranting about how ridiculous the evidence from the Arabian Peninsula is (though I appreciate their increased traffic to my site). Most of their comments seem to be verbal eye rolling and otherwise ignoring the issues, but some of the more meaningful comments have raised the possibility that Joseph Smith could have learned about the place Nehem in Arabia from some eighteenth or nineteenth century sources. We will need to add a few more volumes to the vast frontier library of that ultimate scholar, Joseph Smith, to accommodate this theory. Unfortunately, that frontier library remains hypothetical and probably would not have helped even if it existed for, as S. Kent Brown shows, it is unlikely that Joseph could have gained access to this information even if he were a bookworm anxious to learn all he could about Arabia. Even if he were able to acquire all that was available in print to Western scholars of his day, there does not appear to be any way that he could have learned about some of the accurate details in the text, such as the fact that one can turn eastward at Nahom and continue eastward to safely reach Bountiful.
To date, the critics have been unable to explain how so much of First Nephi has become so plausible in recent years. Showing a 1780 map in Europe that has the name Nehem in Arabia does very little to explain the accuracy of Nephi’s journey as described in the Book of Mormon. It does not explain the accurate description of places that our critics have long claimed did not even exist, such as the River Laman and the Valley Lemuel or the place Bountiful. It does not explain the plausibility of details such as the place Shazer or the accurate route that includes a plausible due-east turn at Nahom that bypasses the empty quarter and provides a plausible route to Bountiful. Issues that they raised to discredit the Book of Mormon have now become some of the most impressive evidences supporting the authenticity of the text.
Stay tuned for more! I’m sure the Lord is not interested in absolutely “proving” the Book of Mormon is true and reducing the need for faith at this time, but I am grateful that He has allowed such finds to come forth in this day of intellectual assaults on our faith, and I am grateful to those who have dug into the Book of Mormon and gone to Arabia and other locations to search for clues. I expect additional faith-strengthening insights to come forth, and definitely expect areas of alleged weakness to become strengths as we learn more.