I have been conversing with a minister friend about the Book of Mormon. He brought up the following passage: Alma 7:10
And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
My friend asked why Joseph Smith would not have gotten that portion of our Savior’s life correct? What was the location of Bethlehem missed? I told him that Bethlehem was part of the area of Jerusalem, like saying you live in Los Angeles but actually you live in one of it’s suburbs. He did not accept that answer. What are your thoughts?
Your minister friend may not truly be your friend. The answer to your question is clearly evident in the very scripture that he quotes. He has apparently attempted to deceive you by subtly trying to induce doubt in your mind that Joseph Smith was indeed a true prophet, or, through his ignorance he has not understood the passage that he quoted. In the first place, he is inferring that Joseph Smith wrote that scripture. That of course is a false statement. The Prophet Joseph merely translated (and did so by the gift and power of God) Mormon’s abridgment of that which was written by Alma. In the second place, by reading the scripture it is perfectly obvious that Alma is not talking of the City of Jerusalem, as inferred by your minister friend. You don’t read the phrase, the city of Jerusalem, you read, Jerusalem, in the land of our forefathers. So they’re writing about land of Jerusalem in which is the little town of Bethlehem.
One additional thought–your minister friend is probably visualizing the city and country boundaries as they are today. It is essential in reading ancient literature to at least try to visualize the ancient conditions, and at least try to understand something of the way the ancients wrote and what they meant by what they wrote. If your minister friend would read the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he [would] manifest the truth of it unto [him], by the power of the Holy Ghost. Then his problem would be solved.