In a sort of introduction to the book version of Journey of Faith: From Jerusalem to the Promised Land, S. Kent Brown tells a short, little-known story about an experience he had while working at the BYU Jerusalem Center in April of 1996.
My friend, the late Charles E. Smith of Simon and Schuster Publishers, came to my office and brought a close associate, Mr. Emanuel Hausman, who was the president of Carta, the publisher of the most important atlases and maps of the Bible. During our conversation, unexpectedly, Mr. Hausman said, “I think that you ought to write an atlas of the Book of Mormon. I have read the Book of Mormon and believe that it is possible to create a series of maps for it. Carta would be willing to publish such an atlas.” I tried to hide my surprise. The thought darted quickly through my mind: “You just heard the publisher of the most distinguished series of atlases on the Bible say that he would be willing to work on an atlas of the Book of Mormon. Unbelievable.” (p. 2)
Brown mentions this only in passing, as it served as the first in a series of events that eventually lead to something very different: the Journey of Faith film. Brown is not clear whatever became of that project itself, but given that 20 years later nothing like that has been published, it is safe to say that it ended up not going anywhere. Still, I do not think that makes Brown’s initial thought any less relevant: the publisher of the most distinguished series of atlases on the Bible was willing to publish a similar set of atlases on the Book of Mormon. This is nothing that will make headlines 20 years later, but it is an example—and small one, to be sure—of a reputable non-LDS publisher taking work on Book of Mormon geography seriously. I guess Book of Mormon geography is not a TOTAL laughingstock among non-Mormons.