Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship


Book of Mormon, geography, Joseph Smith, prophet


One of the issues that swirls around discus- sions of Book of Mormon geography is the rightful place the editorials in the 1842 Times and Seasons must take. The story of the editorials begins with Joseph’s receipt of John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood’s Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chaipas, and Yucatan, published in 1841. In early 1842, the Times and Seasons published several enthu- siastic articles that drew attention to the discoveries of Stephens and Catherwood in Central America and compared them favorably with the Book of Mormon. Two of these articles were signed by the editor, while three other articles were unsigned. Historical sources indicate that the Prophet Joseph Smith served as editor of the paper for all of the issues published between March 1 through the October 15, 1842. During this time, however, apostles John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff assisted the Prophet in his work in the printing office. Since these articles were not specifically signed by Joseph Smith, some have questioned whether the Prophet wrote them himself, or if someone else wrote them, with or without his approval.