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Question

 

Gramps,

Did the Nephites or Lamanites ever meet Christopher Columbus.  Is he mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

Kayla

 

Answer

 

Kayla,

Thank you so much for your question.  With our study of the  Book of Mormon this year it’s a timely question.

You ask if the Nephites or Lamanites met Christopher Columbus.  As far as the Lamanites during Book of Mormon times the answer would be no or not that we are aware of.  However,  I would point out that the modern-day descendants of the Lamanites are called “Lamanites” by the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants. So in that sense, even though we can’t be 100% sure who’s a descendant of Lehi and who isn’t, it’s likely that Lamanites (that is, descendents of the ancient Lamanites) did meet Columbus. That being said, Christopher Columbus was prophesied of in the Book of Mormon.  Nephi had a vision of the discovery and colonizing of America.

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters; even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.  (1 Nephi 13:12)

The above scripture is referring to Christopher Columbus.

Some of our leaders have shared some of their thoughts regarding him.

James E. Talmage:

“Unto Nephi, son of Lehi, was shown the future of his people, including the degeneracy of a branch thereof, afterward known as Lamanites and in modern times as American Indians.  The coming of a man from among the Gentiles, across the deep waters, was revealed in such plainness as to positively identify that man with Columbus; and the coming of other Gentiles to this land, out of captivity, is equally explicit. …  The establishment of a great Gentile nation on the American continent, the subjugation of the Lamanites or Indians, the war between the newly established nation and Great Britain, or “their mother Gentiles,” and the victorious outcome of that struggle for independence, are set for with equal clearness in the same chapter.” James E. Talmage – Jesus the Christ

Elder Mark E. Petersen:

When Columbus went to King Ferdinand, he said, “I came to Your Majesty as the emissary of the Holy Ghost.” When he stood before the clergy of San Esteban, he insisted to them that he must be regarded as a man inspired. Columbus’s own son, Fernando, in a biography of his father, quotes the discoverer as saying on one occasion, “God gave me the faith and afterward the courage so that I was quite willing to undertake the journey.” And the last will and testament of Christopher Columbus includes this expression: “In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, who inspired me with the idea and afterward made perfectly clear to me that I could navigate and go to the Indies from Spain by traversing the ocean westward” (Wasserman, Columbus, pp. 46, 61). Columbus was inspired, and Nephi looked upon him and beheld him coming to the Western Hemisphere”  (Elder Mark E. Petersen – The Great Prologue, BYU Speeches, Sept.29, 1974).

Lastly from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“The entire world is celebrating this month the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.  Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, his biographer, says, “This night of October 11-12 {1492} was one big with destiny for the human race, the most momentous ever experienced aboard any ship in any sea.” (Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1942, p. 223.)

 

“In my private commemoration of this event, I have read and reread one important and prophetic verse from the Book of Mormon {1 Ne. 13:12} and also a very long biography of Christopher Columbus. …We interpret that {verse} to refer to Columbus.  It is interesting to note that the Spirit of God wrought upon him.  After reading that long biography, a Pulitzer winner of forty years ago, titled Admiral of the Ocean Sea-I have no doubt that Christopher Columbus was a man of faith, as well as a man of indomitable determination” (Building Your Tabernacle – Gordon B. Hinckley – October 1992)

While not part of your question I would like to add some interesting information regarding Christopher Columbus.

In August of 1877 Columbus and several other prominent figures in history appeared to Wilford Woodruff.  Wilford Woodruff was then president of the newly dedicated St. George Temple.  This is what he wrote that appears in the Journal of Discourses regarding this:

“The spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” . . . They waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them . . . I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon brother McCallister [J. D. T. McCallister, first counselor in the temple presidency] to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others.” (Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 19:229. Also see Benson, Ezra Taft This Nation Shall Endure, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, 22.)

President Ezra Taft Benson had this to say:

“The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it.” (Benson, Ezra Taft This Nation Shall Endure, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, 22.)

Kayla, I hope this answers your question.  The life of Christopher Columbus is so very interesting.  Add the fact that he was led by the hand of God makes it even more special.  This is a subject that is definitely worth researching and reading more about.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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