(by Warren Aston ldsmag.com 4-11-14)
As the “keystone” of Mormonism, the Book of Mormon has drawn attacks by critics from the very beginning of the Restoration. One such person began publishing stolen pages of the manuscript even before it first appeared in print, using them to ridicule the new book and mock the young farmer who claimed he had translated it from gold plates. From that day until now, the book has been criticized on almost every point. Few of these attacks, however, have been as strident and sustained as those heaped upon Nephi’s story of his family arriving at a place of “much fruit and also wild honey” (1 Nephi 17: 5-6) and also timber suitable for building a ship (1 Nephi 18: 1-2).
That such a place could exist in the dry and inhospitable Arabian desert seemed impossible. “Arabia is bountiful in sunshine, petroleum, sand, heat, and fresh air,” wrote one critic as recently as 1985, “but certainly not in much fruit and also wild honey,‘ nor has it been since Pleistocene times.” The same article went on to claim that there has never been “ample timber“ in Arabia for building a ship. 1 Such statements were based on usually-authoritative sources such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Encyclopaedia of Islam which denied the existence of rivers and forests anywhere in Arabia. 2
They are, as it turns out, completely wrong.
This is the story of how actual exploration in Arabia trumped armchair critics, revealing one of the most profound vindications of the Book of Mormon yet and shedding new light on Nephi‘s account.
(for the rest of the article please follow link)