R. A. Olsen

Warning: the following model was never viewed from the ground level by the modeler.

“The Malay Peninsula as the Setting for the Book of Momon” R. A. Olsen, 1997

Short Version: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/131%2030-34.pdf

Full text: http://www.sunstoneonline.com/Download/bom/Olsen_Complete_Manuscript_sm.pdf
MP3: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/audio/SL02216.mp3


The Malay Peninsula is located in Malaysia, south of Thailand. Olsen believes the Lehites “island hopped” from Israel and stopped at the Malay Peninsula. He believes there are many “Promised Lands.”

While we cannot rule out the possibility that other lands may have promises from God, The Book of Mormon is clear what promises are associated with its lands:

  • Where The Book of Mormon would come forth
  • Where a New Jerusalem would be built
  • Where the Gentiles would flee for safety
  • Where the Gentiles would become a blessed nation, above all other nations
  • It would bless Israel
  • It would have no kings/queens
  • The inhabitants will serve God
  • Jesus will be their king

These and many other promises are tied specifically to Book of Mormon lands, none of which were fulfilled in Malaysia. In fact, Malaysia is an Islamic State.

On the judgment day, how will we feel if we know we may have known the truth about the geography of the Book of Mormon but kept quiet because of the fear of man? (Olsen, p. 246)

Tying The Holy Book of Mormon to Muslim lands is not something to be proud of, regardless of how many “hits” with languages, culture, etc. there are. It is a spiritual record, of spiritual prophecies. One must explain how those are fulfilled before anything else, which Olsen has failed to do. We have reviewed several of his topics here.

A map of his model is also on our H38-Virus page as well as the above referenced documents.


Because the Malay Peninsula is a long narrow peninsula running north-south, the two MAIN seas are the east sea and the west sea. They, not surprisingly, are the seas most commonly refered to in the BM. The Jaredites called the east sea “Ripliancum” [Ether 15:8]; the name means “large to exceed all” [BM Index]. (p. 89)

This statement is plain conjecture. If we read the verse in context, we will see that Ripliancum was on the north because the armies fled south:

7 And when Coriantumr saw that he was about to fall he fled again before the people of Shiz.
8 And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum, which, by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all; wherefore, when they came to these waters they pitched their tents; and Shiz also pitched his tents near unto them; and therefore on the morrow they did come to battle.
9 And it came to pass that they fought an exceedingly sore battle, in which Coriantumr was wounded again, and he fainted with the loss of blood.
10 And it came to pass that the armies of Coriantumr did press upon the armies of Shiz that they beat them, that they caused them to flee before them; and they did flee SOUTHWARD, and did pitch their tents in a place which was called Ogath. (Ether 15)

Thus, Ripliancum is the Sea North.


Olsen claims that the Nephite Land Southward is bounded on the south by the Sea South:

And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward. (Alma 22:32) This clearly indicates a narrow peninsula extending southward into the sea. (p. 88)

As can be seen, there was no mention of a Sea South in Alma 22:32, that was pure conjecture on Olsen’s part. Nor are there any references to a sea south of the Land Southward. The “nearly surrounded by water” phrase in Alma includes the “Sea that Divides the Land” on the northern side of the Land Southward, which Olsen’s model is void of.

Later, Olsen said this regarding the Sea South:

Throughout BM times the south end of the Malay Peninsula is thought to have been occupied by illiterate hunter-gatherers. It comes as no surprise that there is very little reference to a sea south; none of the BM was written by these hunter-gatherers. There nevertheless WAS a sea south [Helaman 3:8]. (p. 89)

Olsen fails to recognize that Helaman’s statement was only about the Jaredite Land Northward – not the Land Southward:

8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the LAND NORTHWARD, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the SEA SOUTH to the SEA NORTH, from the SEA WEST to the SEA EAST. (Helaman 3)

To miss this is a major mistake in understanding Book of Mormon geography.


Olsen contradicts himself:

They went ashore and “did shed tears of joy” [Ether 6:12] at having completed their arduous journey. Not only was it a land of promise but it was an ideal dispersal site from which some intrepid souls could easily go forth into UNINHABITED LANDS touched by the Pacific Ocean as had been earlier commanded by the Lord [Ether 2:5] (p. 11)

The Jaredites were in that “quarter” of the earth in which there were UNINHABITED REGIONS. THE MALAY PENINSULA ITSELF, HOWEVER, WAS ALREADY POPULATED. Mongoloid peoples, e.g., had migrated into Malaysia as early as 6,000 BC. (p. 11)

Olsen did not understand that it was only the Jaredite Land Northward that was never before inhabited, not the Nephite Land Southward.

5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter WHERE THERE NEVER HAD MAN BEEN.
7 And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had PRESERVED FOR A RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE. (Ether 2)


On another site (Mormon Heretic) I reviewed Olsen’s model and stated that his Land Northward suffers from the same deficiency as others – the Jaredite Land Northward is NOT surrounded by FOUR bodies of water. Heretic responded that it was, despite my having posted Olsen’s map showing that it was not.

Here I quote from Olsen in his own words that his model does NOT have a Sea North:

The proposed Jaredite land was on the north end of the Malay Peninsula and EXTENDED SOME UNKNOWN DISTANCE INTO THE MAINLAND OF THE ORIENT.” (p. 19)

The Sea North was the furthest place north. Olsen then makes this claim:

The Jaredites originated in the dry and desolate [except where irrigated] Middle East. They landed on the western shore of the “Land Northward”. Their new land of promis was refered to as being “choice above all other lands” [Ether 2:10] Surely such a land would have been blessed with an adequate rainfall, a warm temperature regime, luxuriant vegetation, a beneficial assortment of animals and productive soils.

This is conjecture, we do not know where on the Land Northward they landed.