Here's an interesting coincidence to ponder: The Book of Mormon name, Moroni, is also an Italian last name, and the name of the capital city of Comoro, a nation in the Comoros Islands. Whoa, hold on a second: Comoro?? Isn't that suspiciously close to the name Cumorah, the hill where the Nephite armies of Mormon and Moroni were defeated in the last great battle that wiped out the Nephite civilization? Moroni at Cumorah, and Moroni in the Comoros Islands. Hmmm, looks like Joseph Smith just lifted those names off the map, right? So goes an increasingly popular argument for the theory of Joseph Smith plagiarizing the Book of Mormon, or just making it up by drawing tidbits of information from all around him.

So did Joseph Smith just pull out a handy map from his vast frontier library, stick his finger into the middle of the Indian Ocean, and pluck out a couple of place names to insert into his fabled text? Or is the similarity in names just coincidence?

"The Comoros Islands and Moroni" at examines these charges and finds them implausible. An examination of gazetteers from Joseph's era suggests that even if Joseph were looking for names from maps, he would not have found both. There is no evidence that Joseph had access to maps with the name Comora on it. But if he had access to major maps, he theoretically could have stumbled upon one source to find the name Comora, but Moroni does not show up there. This is not surprising since the tiny settlement of Moroni did not become a capital city until 1876, long after the Book of Mormon had been published. A century later, in 1958, its population was still on 6500. Not a big draw for 19th century maps, and not likely to fall into the hands of eager 19th-century plagiarists who had to open random books from their vast collections to come up with names, words, and phrases--a tedious process for a busy plagiarizer cranking out the large Book of Mormon text in about 65 days.

Coincidences happen. It's an interesting one, but too obscure and implausible to add anything to the debate over the origins of the Book of Mormon. Keep trying!

Related resource: LDSFAQ on Plagiarism in the Book of Mormon
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