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BOOK OF MORMON STUDENTS MEET, Interesting Convention Held in Provo Saturday and Sunday.

TitleBOOK OF MORMON STUDENTS MEET, Interesting Convention Held in Provo Saturday and Sunday.
Publication TypeNewspaper Article
Year of Publication1903
Corporate AuthorsDeseret News Staff
NewspaperDeseret Evening News
Issue Date25 May 1903
CitySalt Lake City
KeywordsBook of Mormon Geography; Book of Mormon Names; Pronunciation

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Interesting Convention Held in Provo Saturday and Sunday.


Rules Adopted for the Pronunciation Of Proper Names — Location of Zarahemla Discussed.

Special Correspondence.

Provo, Utah Co., May 25.—College hall at the Brigham Young academy was filled with a large audience Saturday forenoon, when President Joseph F. Smith called the Book of Mormon convention which met Saturday and Sunday to order. There were representatives from many parts of the state. On the stand were President Joseph F. Smith, President A. H. Lund, Apostles John Henry Smith, Reed Smoot and Hyrum M. Smith, Patriarch John Smith, Elders C. W. Penrose, B. H. Roberts, Seymour B. Young, O. F. Whtney, James Sharp, George Reynolds, M. H. Hardy, President David John and President B. Cluff, Jr. Among the prominent people present were Hon. John T. Caine, Elder Joseph E. Taylor, Prof. J. H. Paul, Andrew Jenson, Charles D. Evans, Thomas Hull, J. S. Page, Jr., Abel J. Evans, Oliver B. Huntington and B. S. Hinckley.

The convention opened by the congregation singing, "Our God, we ralse to Thee,” etc. Prayer was offered by Bishop O. F. Whitney.


President Smith made a brief introductory statement of the object of the convention, which had come together, he said, for the purpose of considering the Book of Mormon, and the people of whom it gave a history, and the lands to which it refers; not for the purpose of discussing the divine authenticity of the book, for that had been accepted when we accepted the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the testimony of the witnesses to the book; that it had been brought birth by the power of God. President Smith Introduced Dr. M. H. Hardy as the first speaker.


Dr. Hardy took up the pronunciation of proper names In the Book of Mormon. After a brief reference to the changes which were constantly being made in spelling and pronounciatlon and warning the students against fads —as common In pronounciatlon as In everything else—he stated that the Book of Mormon and the Bible were not strangers and that there was a great similarity In the proper names of the two books. He had prepared a list of Bible proper names and Book of Mormon proper names, which were alike, and after eliminating them he found comparatively few to consider.


A general discussion followed, in which President B. Cluff. Jr., Prof. J. E. Hickman, Prof. J. H. Paul. Andrew Jenson. Gorge Reynolds and others took part. President B. Cluff, Jr., suggested that It would be a good plan to observe recobnized rules of pronunciation to a point where they offend against euphony when applied to Book of Mormon names and in those exceptional cases adopt a more euphoneous pronunciation. This brought out Idea from Prof. Hickman that "euphony" is generally the pronuncation a person is accustomed to regardless of whether It agrees with the rules of pronunciation.


Prof. Hickman moved that the presidency of the Church appoint a committee to decide upon a method of pronunclation of Book of Mormon names in regard to which there is a question. President Smith expressed himself in favor of the motion, adding, "provided you do not afterwards cut me off the Church If I don't pronounce the words according to the rule adopted by the committee.” The motion was unanimously carried and the following committee was appointed: George Reynolds, C. W. Penrose, J E. Hickman, B. Cluff. Jr., and M H. Hardy.

President Smith suggested that the committee would probably be able to report during the convention.


Elder George Reynolds, briefly addressed the meeting on the question of pronunciation, and was in favor of a uniform arbitrary rule as being preferable to the present diversity. He did not think the committee could complete its work during this convention. The speaker was sure that some of the pronunciations which had been given by Bro. Hickman and others were wrong und he supposed these brethren would be just as certain that they were right, and he expressed a doubt about his ability to convert them or their ability to convert him in a day or two, or even a month or two.

President Smith, by way of illustration, showed the differences of pronounciation of even common words; related a number of amusing examples, and advised the committee not to be too technical, or too insistent, upon the adoption of favorite individual methods.

"We thank Thee, O God, for a prophet." was sung by the congregation, and benediction was offered by Elder James Sharp, after which the convention adjourned till 2 o’clock.


The afternoon session commenced by the congregation singing: "Come, let us anew." etc. Prayer was offered by Elder Charles W. Penrose.

The meeting was devoted to a consideration of the geography of the Book of Mormon—the location of the countries and cities inhabited by the Nephites after they landed on this continent.


Prof. B. CIff. Jr., was the first speaker. He referred to the indefinite manner in which the Book of Mormon writers described the land of Zarahemla, and the consequent uncertainty in the minds of Book of Mormon students on the matter of its location. He accounted for the lack of definiteness by the Book of Mormon writers on this point, by calling attention to the fact that, unless a person is writing a geography, he is not, as a rule, exact in the geographical description of the place where he lives. This was so with the Book of Mormon writers; but they wrote of other countries and places. locating them with reference to Zarahemla. Prof. Cluff read a great number of passages from the Book of Mormon, thus describing other cities and lands, which Indicated that Zarahemla was located south of a narrow neck of land, that it was north of a plateau or higher country than Zarahemla, and that it was on one of the banks of a river having a north and south direction. This with other historical and descriptive Book of Mormon data, to which reference was made by the speaker, caused him to believe that Zarahemla was situated on the Magdalena river— the river Sidon of the Book of Mormon — in the United States of Columbia and Venezuela. The speaker referred to the fact that some students could not reconcile the statements as to time consumed In traveling from one place to another with Zarahemla bring at the point claimed by him. This the speaker did not think was incompatible with his claim, and in support of this cited the rapidity with which the Indians, now in that country, the descendants of the Nephites and Lamanites, travel. From this initial point Prof Cluff located a large number of cities and countries mentioned in the Book of Mormon.


Elder Robert Holmes, of Spanish Fork, had a different opinion as to the location of the land and city of Zarahemla and believed it was situated at some point In Honduras, and gave his reasons from Book of Mormon writings. Elder Holmes was quite earnest in his opinion and had evidently studied the question very closely.


At the close of Elder Holmes' address, President Smith spoke briefly and expressed the Idea that the question of the situation of the city was one of interest certainly, but if it could not be located the matter was not of vital importance, and if there were differences of opinion on the question it would not affect the salvation of the people; and he advised against students considering It of such vital importance as the principals of the Gospel.

The academy orchestra rendered a beautiful selection and Willard J. Andelin sang, "Not Ashamed of Jesus." Patriarch John Smith offered the bene-

Words of two syllables to be accent- till Sunday morning.


The Sunday morning session commenced by the congregation singing: "Redeemer of Israel,” etc.

Prayer was offered by Patriarch Charles D. Evans.

Elder Charles W. Penrose, of the committee on pronunciation of Book of Mormon proper names, reported that the committee had decided upon the following rules.

Words of three syllables to be accentuated on the first syllable.

Words of four syllables to be accentuated on the second syllable. There are nine exceptions to this rule.

Words of four syllables to be accentuated on the third syllable, with the following five exceptions. Abinadi, Abinadom, Amalikiah, Aminadi, Aminadab.

“Ch” always to be pronounced as “K.”

“I,” final, always pronounced long.

“G," at the beginning of a word, always pronounced hard.

The accepted pronunciation of Bible names to be followed.

The committee recommended that the report be printed.

On motion of Prof. J. B. Keeler the report and recommendation of the committee were adopted.


Elder B. H. Roberts expressed pleasure to be privileged to address the convention. and spoke of the apparent necessity for such a gathering. He desired to speak upon the question of locating the Nephite lands, and some-what upon the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon. Where the peoples of Nephi. Mulok and the Jaredites were was a matter of secondary consideration. The Book of Mormon was not a physical geography but a history of the hand dealings of God with this people on this continent, to be brought forth in this day for the purpose of bringing salvation to the descendants of Nephi and to testify of God to all the world.

Elder Roberts took Issue with some of the speakers, who thought that but slight physical changes had taken place on this continent at the time of the crucifixion of the Savior; he believed that great changes had taken place. In support of this theory he read from Jacob, the brother of Nephi, who speaks of his people being on an island. He believed that Jacob knew what an island was; and he believed that the country had so changed that it would be difficult now to designate any place mentioned by Book of Mormon writers from the present topography of the country. He took issue with the statement that most of the Book of Mormon writers had written in the land of Zarahemla. This was only true of a few of them, and further, the Book of Mormon is an abridgment made by Moroni and Mormon, who lived In the North American country.

The speaker read from the Book of Mormon a description of the great tempest and earthquake that took place at the time of the crucifixion of the Savior. This so changed the face of the country that the definite location of the lands and cities of the Nephites cannot be made with certainty, but only in a general way. He was of the opinion that the country the Nephites occupied was not a mountainous country at the time the Nephites located there, for the reason that comparatively little reference is made to mountains In the writings of the Nephites. which then naturally would have been in their descriptions of wars when the mountains would become Important features in the movements and operations of armies.

Prof. B Cluff. Jr., and others had views different from those of Elder Roberts, and considerable discussion followed.


Dr. James E. Talmage spoke of the Internal evidence of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, which had been admitted, not only by our people, but by others who had examined it. Those evidences were the diversity of style among the writers, which proved it to have been written, as is claimed, by different writers at different times; the consistency of its claims with the external evidences; its agreement with the Bible, tc.

Dr. Talmage related several Instances showing that educators and scientists were interested In the book and becoming acquainted with it; and he believed the time would come when it would be accepted as having an important bearing on the history of this continent and its people.

President Smith endorsed the remarks of Dr. Talmage and Elder Roberts, and again cautioned the students against making the union question—the location of cities and lands—of equal importance with the doctrines contained in the book.


Bishop O. F. Whitney spoke of the great disturbance of nature at the time of the crucifixion as recorded In the Book of Mormon, for the purpose of showing that the contour of the country had been greatly changed, reading from the Book of Mormon in proof of this theory. He had committed himself in verse and prose to that theory and did not like to see his idols shattered, and he believed that the tempest and destruction which preceded the first appearance of the Savior on this continent were typical of the greater destruction that would precede His second glorious coming.

President Cluff suggested that when the conference adjourn it be for one year, and that a program for the meeting be shared soon, so that speakers could have time to prepare themselves.


President Lund was not in favor of appointing a certain time for the convention, for the reason that he thought It should adjourn subject to the call of the President. He advised those present to study the Book of Mormon, and be guided by the advice of President Smith In their studies.

On motion of Elder Penrose the conventlon was adjourned subject to the call of President Smith.

The congregation sang, "An angel from on high." etc.

Orin Jarvis announced that one of the classes of the academy had commenced to collect a library of American antiquities, and they would be pleased to learn of any books and pamphlets on the subject.

The benediction was pronounced by Elder Reed Smoot.